My class this morning was moved to a classroom containing a real human skeleton. While waiting for all my students to arrive I tried to remember the names of all the bones. I haven’t done that since high school biology class. I need to bone up a bit to get all of them. While lecturing he was looking over my shoulder. I wanted to turn around and say, “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; . .” Hamlet Act 3. And I wanted to add from Act 5, “To be or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them? To die: . . . ’tis a consummation devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep; to sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub; for in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause.”
If only Hamlet really had known Jesus his fear would been stilled. But then we would be missing one of the world’s greatest soliloquies, which should give all of us pause to reflect on the wonder of the promises we have received from Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life. Surely Satan cringed with contempt when he heard Jesus say in front of a tomb of a man who had been dead four days, “Lazarus, come forth.” It was a hallmark moment in the history of mankind. If you are a friend of Jesus, death is temporary. A fleeting moment of nothingness and then the trump of God blares across the universe. Please refresh yourself by rereading the close of I Corinthians 15.
Current research in the field of child development posits that the most important foundational thing a baby learns is trust. Can they trust their caregivers to be nurturing and to respond to their needs? Can they trust older siblings? Trust is the basis of every relationship that will follow in their entire lives.
Trust is also the building block for faith and for the development of a relationship with God. When Jesus told us to call God “Our Father” He was hoping we had ideal fathers and we could use that relationship as an avenue to love His Father. So often we are not ideal parents and we sometimes betray our children’s trust unknowingly making it more difficult for our children to grow up trusting God.
Therefore Proverbs 3:5-6 is one of the more important texts in Scripture. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
One of my greatest blessings was to never doubt my human father’s love. Therefore, it was easy for me to go to the cradle roll division at church and accept that my heavenly Father also cared for me the very same way. The greatest form of evangelism is always keeping your word when you make a promise to your children. If you promise to read three stories if Michael or Alicia goes to bed right away, be ever so faithful to read those three stories without skipping pages so you can hurry and go watch TV. Being faithful to one’s children is completing the great Gospel Commission found at the close of Matthew.
There truly is a lot of fake news and most of it circulates on Facebook. It seems the more outrageous the story the faster people pass it on. It was said that President Trump gave Germany’s Angela Merkel a multi-billion dollar invoice for past NATO expenses. Both the United States government and the German government have stated it did not happen. But it made for an interesting few moments when we first read it.
Spreading fake news is nothing new. Please note the story of Jesus’ resurrection in Matthew 28:12-15. “When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.”
So there is fake news, real news, bad news and best of all Good News. When one thinks seriously about the Good News, it really is outrageous. The disciples would have loved Facebook. Outrageous news spreads. Paul addresses this issue in Romans 5:19. “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” And so the Good News spread. Yet the task is not yet finished. It is up to us in the 21st Century to use the modern tools God has given us. Today there isn’t any corner of the world that cannot hear. Isn’t it time we all posted the Good News instead of what we had for breakfast?
I witnessed an argument between two earnest souls. One had taken the position that Jesus miraculously, creatively produced more bread and fish at the feeding of the 5000. The other took the position that the miracle was the opening of the hearts of those present to share what they had with them as had the little boy with his basket.
I would like to take a third position. What does it matter? The real point is the people were fed. But the arguers were adamant as if they had been there and personally saw what happened. While I tend to lean toward the creation of more bread and fish, I also think changing the hearts of selfish people is a great miracle.
Sometimes we get worked up, generate a lot of heat and hard feelings over issues that really are insignificant. Issues that relate to our salvation – these are what matter. How Jesus did or did not do something has not been shared with us.
I confess that through the years I found myself sucked into meaningless arguments and afterwards I always regretted it. I went away wishing I had not spoken. Silence on issues of which we were not witness to, issues on which God has not given us definitive information, issues that tend to divide us when we really don’t know the actual facts seem to me to be a ploy of Satan to draw our attention away from Jesus and His command to love each other.
I have some young men in my classes that are studying to be pastors and I see the fervor and fire that burns in their hearts. Hopefully they will always use that zeal to lift up Jesus and proclaim Him and only Him to be our savior.
It’s spring and the goldfinches are turning their lovely canary yellow. It’s fascinating to note the different stages of maturity at our bird feeder. One or two are bright yellow while some are still gray. Others show various shades of transition.
I have always been fascinated by Paul’s addressing his letter to the Corinthians to the saints at Corinth. When you read the letter one soon becomes aware that these people were far from perfect. A very important lesson may be drawn from this. Each church member at Corinth was at their own personal stage of maturation. Yet each qualified to be a saint. To Paul, the person who was an infant Christian qualified compared to the old hands who had weathered the battles of character growth and development.
Just as our gray goldfinches are still goldfinches, so everyone who makes Jesus the Lord of their life is a precious saved child of the Lord. Justification makes us saints and sanctification is a reflection of our growth. We are saints before we are sanctified. Just as I am looking forward to all the goldfinches displaying their dazzling summer plumage, so our heavenly Father is anxious to see us radiating Jesus in our attitudes and actions.
There is a wonderful hymn with the words, “Just as I am without one plea, But that Thy blood was shed for me, And that Thou bidst me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.” Jesus never told anyone to go, clean up their act and come back later. He first touched the leper and then said, “Be thou clean.” Awesome. Just plain awesome.
I have a friend who lives in Africa. On occasion we send him funds from Spring of Life to help with various projects. Sometimes I am a bit amused and a tad offended by him. When he needs something he begins his email with a plethora of compliments. “You will never know how wonderful your devotionals are. I am translating them into my native tongue and going to publish them so thousands of people in Uganda can be saved.” When I read that I know what follows. He needs something!
I am reminded of the literally thousands of prayers I have heard in churches since I was a child. Often the suppliant begins, “Oh, mighty God, ruler of the world, master of the universe, Father of our magnificent savior Jesus Christ.” That goes on for a while and the second half of the prayer is a list of prayer requests.
Have we never read Matthew 7:11? “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
As a father I would have been extremely put off had my sons ever approached me when they needed something by saying, “Oh, wonderful and generous father, who truly lives up to the greeting cards that say, ‘Best Dad Ever.’” I think that would have most likely guaranteed they would not get what they wanted.
God knows our needs and our wants. He wants us to live the abundant life and yes we should thank Him and praise Him for His goodness to us. But when it borders on psychologically trying to manipulate Him I doubt if He is pleased. When Jesus told us to call God Father there was an important reason.
U. S. News and World Report has proclaimed Massachusetts to be the best state in which to live because of health care, infrastructure, etc. Apparently the people at U. S. News and World Report have never tried to contact the Massachusetts Registration of Motor Vehicles. I was put on hold an hour ago and this very moment while I am writing I am listening over and over again to the same insipid music. In fairness I have to say when I called the machine warned me my wait time would be over an hour. If we are such a great state can’t we hire a few more employees? Or, at least, how about getting a bigger musical play list when put on hold?
We are so blessed not to be put on hold when we need to talk to God. If His system was comparable to the RMV and calls were coming in from all over the universe we could have a century or so wait time! At least the music would be heavenly.
There are several promises in the Psalms regarding God’s listening ear and His response. Psalm 91:15 is an example. “He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him.” Psalm 139 is fabulous. Please savor these words. “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” We get instant response time because He is always with us. How grand! (The final wait time with the RMV was 2 hours and 24 minutes.)
I have a student who genuinely believes all the science involved in a search for a cure for cancer is a scam designed for a few people to get rich and all we need to do to cure cancer is eat raw foods and drink lemon juice. At first I thought she was just spoofing me but she convinced me she was serious. Oh, how I wish she was correct. How wonderful it would be if it were that simple. Something that wonderful could not be kept secret. Good news spreads quickly. This is the same student who did not know that our sun was a star.
Ignorance is not a sin. At the same time to be ignorant is not a crown of glory making someone the envy of the world. On my way home I thought of Paul’s counsel to Timothy, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” II Timothy 2:15. I understand Paul was telling Timothy to be the best pastor he could be. But inherent in the idea is a message for all who are not pastors. Be good at what you do. And to be really good at what you do, one needs to study. We learn from those who have gone before us. We stand on the shoulders of our parents and they on the shoulders of our grandparents. We don’t have to start from scratch every few years.
We should study to rightly understand Scripture. On top of that we should be informed about knowledge connected to our occupation and then to other arenas. Unfortunately, knowledge is growing faster than any of us can assimilate. Therefore, eternal life isn’t just a great idea. It is a necessity.