Friday, February 5, 2016

Genealogies, Anyone??

Yes...  I'll admit it ... I like to wander in cemeteries and I enjoy genealogies.  Not because I have a morbid fascination with death but because I value people's lives and feel a desire/need to honor someone who once lived, even if it is only to read their name on a gravestone or in a genealogy.
I don't find the genealogies in the bible boring - God has hidden some interesting details in what could be viewed as a boring list of names.  But God is not the author of 'boring' -  His creation and His word are equally beyond our limited ability to absorb all there is hidden therein.

 I was recently looking at the genealogies of Jesus.. the genealogy of Jesus through Mary, found in Matthew 1:1-17 and the genealogy  Luke records in Luke 3:23-38 that is Jesus 'legal' lineage through Joseph, his 'supposed' father.
 Both genealogies overlap from Abraham to David but then Mary's continues through Solomon and Joseph's continues through Nathan, - Solomon and Nathan both being sons of David.

In Jesus' lineage through Mary, we see from King David , a consecutive succession of kings - sixteen of them, while in contrast, Joseph's lineage contains no king after David.
We have Jacob's prophetic word over his son Judah recorded in Genesis 49:10 - "The sceptor shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh comes and to Him shall be the obedience of the people."   In plain English it is saying that "There will be a continuous line of kings from Judah ...  until the Messiah comes!"  And so we see it was ...  The continuous line of sixteen kings until the captivity to Babylon followed by the 400 years of silence - during which period there were no kings - until Jesus was born.

But there was another detail in Mary's genealogy that I found fascinating ....
As I studied this long list of Kings, I noticed something that caught my attention. Jeconiah is listed as 'the son of'  - not his father -  but his grandfather. I had to know why, and I found the answer  proved how the smallest detail of God's word does not return to Him void. When God speaks, we can always follow it with "and so it is already done!"

In Deuteronomy 29:18-20, God warns the Israelites  that if any man walked in rebellion and idolatry, turning away from the Lord God, that God's curses would come upon him and God would "blot out his name from under heaven!"

In Jeremiah 36:30,31, we read "Therefore says the Lord concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah 'He shall have no one to sit on the throne of David and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day the front of the night .. and I will punish him ....all the doom that I have pronounced against them..."
Jehoiakim was cursed by God for all his iniquity....  and it is his name that is missing in the genealogy of Jesus - literally blotted out!  It should be listed between Josiah and Jeconiah..

I can't think of a greater disgrace than to be blotted out - disowned- and not recognized in your family tree or lineage.

I think of the words of Jesus when He said there would be those who cried out "Lord, Lord!" but would be barred from the kingdom of heaven by His words, "I never knew you, depart from me!" 
Oh ... let us make sure that we are not in that number but that we stand and sing with countless saints the refrain of  Daniel Whittle 's 1883 hymn... 
"I know Whom I have believed, 
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I've committed, 
Unto Him against that day."

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Attitude to Obey

speed limit 1

Imagine yourself driving down a country road and you see a speed limit sign that reads "Speed  Limit 30". What thoughts, attitudes are your automatic reaction?   If you are 'typical' you probably check your rear view mirror and put foot pressure on the gas pedal if you judge the road to be safe and yourself in no visible danger. After all, you are in a hurry, right?

Now imagine yourself driving down a country road and you see a sign that reads .. "SLOW DOWN, visibility low, road washed out around next curve."   Now, what is your automatic reaction? Rear view mirror check and foot to the pedal? No, if you are 'typical' and without a death wish, you quickly put your foot to the brake and take all the necessary precautions indicated by the warning sign.

What caused the difference in attitude?

In the first scenario, you took the speed sign to be a 'good suggestion', but it was somewhat optional. As long as you judged a faster speed was safe - for you - and you didn't get caught, no harm done! The worse that would happen was that a police cruiser was lurking in some tucked away spot and you would have to pay a fine, but you considered it worth the minimal risk.

In the second scenario, you believed the sign was there for your safety and that in disobeying you would suffer harm or injury or some other disaster that was in your best interests to avoid. You did not consider this sign to be a good suggestion subject to your consideration but rather a warning put there to 'save you' from dire consequences if you did not heed it.

We, far too often - whether we admit it or not - take God's laws and commandments as 'good suggestions' and we make it our personal prerogative as to what degree we will obey them.  We judge and make allowances as to how important the 'suggestion' is relative to our own life situations or even inclinations. We believe we can get away with it; no harm done.

But God's commandments are not 'good suggestions' but rather fit into my second scenario.  To disobey God's commandments is to foolishly rush into a harmful situation.  The harm of disobeying is not a mere inconvenience - a fine, or slap on the wrist. It is sure destruction, causing pain, not just to ourselves but also those around us, even if we do not feel the effects immediately.

How different our attitudes are to the 'laws of nature' - which are also God's laws.  The law of gravity makes no allowances for it being taken as a 'good suggestion'.  Jump out of a ten story window and harm to you is sure to follow.  Fire burns, water drowns, lightning strikes, hurricane winds destroy, black ice on the road is hazardous, poison kills. Why do we have obedient respect for the laws of God we attribute to 'nature',  but  make our obedience to God's moral/spiritual laws for how we are to live, conditional on how we feel?

Every one of God's laws/commandments are given to us to keep us safe and happy within the security of God's love over us. Instead of questioning them or trying to skirt around them or find a personal loop-hole, why not simply put our foot on the brake and avoid the wash-out around the next curve of life?

A new year is beginning, and it is the time when we have the 'clean' feeling of starting afresh. Would it not be a good new year's resolution to determine that we will accept all of God's laws, as being good, and obeying them being necessary for us to enjoy the 'good life' that God desires for all His children?

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Are you Prepared?

Wishing you and your loved ones a very blessed Christmas season – 
filled with the love, joy and peace that Jesus came to bring ! 

At this time of year, we are repeatedly  asked the same  question....
 "Are you prepared? Are you ready ?"   
We began weeks ago - planning, making lists, shopping, baking, cleaning - 
all in preparation for the holiday season. 

I think back to the first 'preparation' for Christmas ... 
when John the Baptist cried out that the time Isaiah had spoken about had come -
 the time to prepare was NOW. 
 "For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: "THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS: 'PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD; MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT.' " 
Matthew 3:3 
Is this command, "Prepare the way of the Lord", still for us today? 

How do we 'prepare' for the Lord? 
 In our preparations to celebrate His coming, do we make straight paths for Him, 
or does He have to meander around our plans and step over our 'stuff' ?
 Are we only concerned with nostalgically remembering an event that happened a long time ago?
Or do we consider how we might focus on preparing our hearts for Him today?

Do we use this time of 'preparation' to remind ourselves that He is coming back? 
He is coming again!  
We are called to prepare so that we will be ready! 
 "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect."
Are we prepared for Him to return?  Are we abiding in Him and He is us. 
Are we obedient to His every word...  our hearts full of love for Him and for others? 
Are we eagerly watching for Him to appear?

We all look forward to Christmas dinner .. a feast with all the trimmings! 
but Jesus Himself is preparing a feast for us when He comes back ...  
a banquet of heavenly proportions! 
The invitations have gone out - 
 "Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready."
 Rev. 19:7
will you be ready? All preparations completed?   

Friday, December 11, 2015

A Sermon - the Hive and the Death's-Head Hawk-Moth

BULGARIA - CIRCA 1975 Hawkmoth — Stock Photo

I have always been fascinated by honey bees - they have such an intricately designed order of life, - their brain soft-ware so complex only God could have created it.
I learned something interesting from a recently watched documentary about honey bees.
An interesting aspect of the bee's life immediately pictured for me a spiritual object lesson.

A bee hive is the center of the bees' life and their life-time workplace - every bee has their own specific job and they know how to do it well. There is the queen who simply lays around laying eggs (pun intended) , the worker bees, who, of course, do all the work ...  building the hive, creating the honeycombs, feeding the larvae, keeping the hive temperature just right, finding the nector sources, bringing endless loads back to the hive and communicating to the other bees where to find the best flowers...etc. etc. They work long 12 hour days - "no rest for the weary" is certainly true for the worker bees who wear themselves out in about a month. Some of the worker bees stand guard at the entrance of the hive, their weapons drawn. They are quick to sting to death anyone approaching the hive who does not have the right 'pass', the distinctive scent of their hive.

While the bees have several predators, there is one I wish to focus on here - the Death's-Head Hawk-Moth, aptly named because of the skull mask on its back. This moth has a weakness for honey and the  sweet hive-scent wafting through the air entices him to follow it to the source. Finding the hive is the easy part - the hard part is to gain entrance to the honey store without forfeiting his life in the process.  Not only does he have to get past those armed guards, but the thousands of workers bees inside the hive would also not think twice to quickly spear to death an unwelcome intruder. But this moth has a fool-proof  bag of tricks.

 First  - there is a distinctive sound made only by a queen bee - and no worker bee will ever argue with a queen bee, she truly is Queen - so this moth learns how to mimic the voice of the queen and the guard bees ignore him as he slips past them into the hive.
Second -  he secretes a scent that mimics the scent of the bee colony he wishes to rob, and this 'fake' scent effectively covers his own smell that would alert the bees to danger. He deceives the worker bees into thinking he is one of their own as he enters the hive, ready to gorge himself, sucking the delicious honey out of the honey comb cells.
Third -  there is one more thing he must do. Even having squeezed past the guards, even having the right 'scent' to fool the worker bees inside the hive, one more thing could draw unwelcome attention to him - his body is far too large to pass as a worker bee. But, no problem, he dresses in perfect camouflage that blends him into the colours of the hive, making him virtually invisible.
And so he slips in without encountering any resistance and enjoys his gourmet meal in peace. The worker bees notice the honey is disappearing, and it stresses them, but they do not identify the thief in their midst.  However, safe as he may be - it is only for a time; he cannot afford to linger over his stolen nectar. His 'fake' scent will quickly wear off  and he must escape before his scent-clock 'strikes midnight'.  If he does not time his escape correctly, his cover will be blown, and he will be executed without a trial.

I'm sure you already see the spiritual parallel of this Death's-Head Hawk Moth.  He is just like Satan, our spiritual enemy who wishes to 'rob' us of the sweet blessings we enjoy in our relationship with the Lord.   Sometimes we just get so busy with the things we have to do that we are distracted enough to be deceived by Satan and  are 'ignorant of his devices'. -- II Co_2:11
 Satan comes in camouflage - transforming himself to appear as 'an angel of light'. He does not come announcing that his intent is to confuse and rob us of blessings.  - II Cor. 11:14 
He speaks with an enticing voice that soothes us into believing he intends no harm.against us. - John 8:4
Though we see the damage happening - our joy is 'sucked' away, our love is being 'eaten' by fear,  our peace 'consumed' by anxiety -  yet, we do not recognize the enemy in our midst.
How foolish we are to let down our guard ...  but we have help in guarding our 'heart-hive'. If we stay abiding in the Lord, He will protect us from all that would come to harm us.
Remember the limited-time the Death's-Head Hawk Moth has to do his damage? So also Satan - even if we stumble and give him a foothold in our life, we can open our eyes of discernment and blow his cover with the word and power of the Spirit within us. He must then flee for his life! - James 4:7
Just as the Death's-Head Hawk-Moth bears the mark of death on his back, so also Satan bears the mark of death on him, of God's condemnation and the eternal lake of fire. - Romans 16:20,
 Rev. 20:10

 "But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one." 
2Thessalonians 3:3