Friday, April 30, 2010

Sadhu Sundar Singh (cont'd) Third Question

The Question of the Origin of Sin

Living in a world where it is not hard to find beauty or perfection, we have all wondered and asked the questions ... "Why is there sin? Why did God allow it? What IS sin?"

Sadhu Sundar Singh also asked the questions of Jesus and Jesus answered him.

WHAT is Sin ??
Sin is not something that is created, it is simply a state or condition- a delusive and destructive state of being.
A good Creator could not create sin, it would be against His nature, and there is no Creator but God. Therefore Satan, being himself a created being, cannot create, he can only spoil what has already been created.
Light has existence but darkness not having existence in itself , is only a state of the absence of light.
So also sin or evil is simply the absence of good -- and good is always defined by God's character

Jesus defined sin this way, "Sin is to cast aside the will of God and to live according to one's own will."

Isa 53:6 "All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one to his own way."

Jesus, in His answer to Sandu, explained an interesting insight that I had not thought of in that way.
He stated that sin comes out of man's driving desire for happiness.

To desire happiness is not sin, because that is God's will for His creatures - that they enjoy true happiness! But when man tries to find happiness by seeking to fulfill his own will or desires, happiness becomes illusive -- neither does he attain it nor enjoy true pleasure.
Not only does he in the end not possess happiness but in his selfish grasping, sins, because he has chosen disobedience. He has chosen his own way, instead of God's.

How did this state of Sin come to be?
Sin came to be because first Satan and then man after him, sought to carry out their own desires.

Satan did not know pride existed until he found himself in that state of sin and was thrown out of heaven because of it.
Adam and Eve then fell prey to Satan's wiles because they did not know about such things as lies and deceit.

The question is often asked, "why would God create man with the ability to fall into the state of sin?"
The answer from an all wise God is that if He had created man like a machine that is limited in its doing to do only what it had been designed to do .... then man would never be able to reach the height of happiness that can only be achieved through action in accordance with one's own choice. And God desires the ultimate happiness for His children.

Therefore, He has given the state of sin a new aspect so that even from it He has brought forth the noblest results.
ONE -- It is because of the state of sin that God's boundless love was made manifest to man through the incarnation and redemption accomplished by Jesus.
Except for 'the state of sin' we would never have known the depths God's love would go to save us.

TWO--Because man has tasted the bitterness of sin , he will more richly enjoy the happiness of heaven. How easily we take take things for granted until we experience the lack of them.
Jesus said to Sadhu,
"In heaven they sin no more, but in meekness and obedient love they serve their Father God and abide with Him in joy for evermore."

I think this thought of relationship between suffering and capacity for joy, is aptly expressed in this verse,
1Pe 4:12.13 "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you ...... but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy."

What causes the Callousness of Man toward Sin ?
While some people are so sensitive to quickly turn from or repent from a committed sin, others appear to be completely unfeeling and callous to the fact that sin is present in their lives.

Jesus used the example of a leper, whose disease has made him completely insensitive to the things that are destroying his body. So also the heart and mind of man, by reason of unconfessed sin, become dull and unconscious of the disgust and pain sin awareness should bring him.

Jesus expressed a warning to Sandu. He pointed out that it is not necessary that every part of the body become weak or useless before death occurs. A blow on the head can suffice to cause death even though the rest of the body is in perfect health.
So also one sin can have such a poisonous effect on the mind and heart of man that it can ruin his spiritual life.

The Allure of Sin
Why is it that we struggle so hard against the temptation of sin?

Jesus used the example of a moth.
We have all watched a moth, fascinated by the brilliancy of a flame fly straight into it and die. It did not think or consider the burning and destructive power of the flame.
So man is like the moth. He too disregards the destructive poison of sin and feeling only its alluring power rushes in to his eternal destruction.

In contrast, Jesus, the Light of this world, desires to rescue the sinner who comes to His Light and to bestow upon him life and enduring happiness.

Does a loving God throw men into hell?
Jesus spoke of animals who have been removed from their natural kind and who become familiar with the man who has taken them into their home.
If at some point they are returned to their own kind, they are not accepted. They no longer fit in, their habits and ways have been irreparably changed.

Jesus explained that in the same way, men who have accepted the ways of this world and become comfortable living intimately with wicked men would never be accepted in heaven, nor would they themselves wish to be there. If they were uncomfortable associating with righteous men on earth how could they be happy in their company for all eternity ?

It is never God that turns anyone out of heaven and casts them into hell. It is rather the foul life of the sinner that brings him to hell. As he walks through his given time on earth he chooses either eternal heaven or eternal hell, according to the good or evil nature of his heart.

God's heart and desire for every man is that he choose life and not death ... that he may forever dwell in happiness with his Lord and Master.

2Pe 3:9 "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. "

next - Sadhu's Question - What is the Purpose of Prayer?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sadhu Sundar Singh - (cont'd) The Second Question

I know that you have , as I so often have.... prayed for unsaved loved ones. We have asked that God reveal Himself to them in some tangible way so that they will know without a doubt that He is real.
And we wait... and watch... and feel disappointment when nothing seems to change.

Sadhu had this same concern for the lost... He said to the Lord..."If you would only manifest Yourself by special revelation to the world then men would not longer doubt the existence of God and all would believe and enter on the path of righteousness."

I know Jesus' answer will encourage you in your faith, as it did me.

His answer doesn't really say anything we don't know from scripture , we know God has promised to answer our prayers.
Joh 14:13 "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son."

But the enemy is soo quick to plant seeds of doubt in our minds... maybe we aren't asking right, maybe we are not asking according to His will.

God reveals Himself personally to every man

Jesus answered Sadhu assuring him that yes, indeed, there is no better way to bring people into the path of righteous than by a manifestation of Himself. Man was created that he might know God. A God who is not terrible and foreign but a God that is full of love and like him, for man was truly made in God's image.

Jesus explained that He is intimately acquainted with and understands the inner heart of every man, and to every man He makes Himself known according to his personal needs.

What will melt one person's heart will not melt another ... how precious of God to personally draw each person according to his personality or his life situation.

When we pray for God to reveal Himself to someone so they will know He is real... it is already His will to do so ! We can know without a shadow of a doubt that He will answer our prayer.

God has Revealed Himself to the World

While God manifests Himself to every man in a personal way ... .. He has revealed Himself to the world so that every man can find Him.

1< The Father is manifested in Jesus --- The Father cannot be seen so Jesus came to dwell among us , in the form of man so that we could see and understand Him. He said .."If you have seen Me , you have seen the Father."

2< God is manifested to man through love --- God is love and to all His creatures, especially man, He has given the faculty of love. It is as we love God with all our heart and our neighbour as ourselves that we allow ourselves to be melted and moulded in the fire of love ... and so be established in the Kingdom of God.

3>God has manifested Himself through nature -- His attributes are clearly seen in the things He has made.

4< God is manifested to man through His Word -- To those who seek Him with a sincere heart He gives the Holy Spirit through whom the spiritual language of His word is understood.

Does Doubt stand in the Way of Faith?

This statement is often made... "If only this or that doubt of mine could be removed, I would be ready to believe!"

Is doubt really a deterrent to faith ? Jesus explained that every man has been endowed with faith. It is man's choice who he fastens this faith to. If it is not fixed on God, it will be shattered by the shock of sin and transformed into doubt.
To ask to have the doubt removed is like someone with a broken arm asking the doctor to take away the pain before he sets the limb. The pain comes from the breaking of the limb and when that is set the pain will of itself go away.
Sin causes the breaking of man's tie with God and doubts are the resulting spiritual pains.
For the spiritual pain of doubts to disappear, union with God must first be renewed.

Just as the chick in the shell can not understand or believe the wonders of life outside its shell, even if it were told it, so also many people are uncertain about the future life or the existence of God because they cannot see beyond this shell-like body of flesh.
All the chick need do is receive life-giving warmth from the mother hen until it hatches from its shell.
So also we, if we receive by faith the life-giving warmth of the Holy Spirit, we will one day put off this body shell to enjoy eternal life.
Jesus said about those who believe on Him .. "I give them eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand." John 10:28
tomorrow.... Sadhu asks..."what is sin , and how did sin come to be?"

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sadhu Sundar Singh (cont'd) First Question

As Sadhu sat at Jesus' feet, he asked ..."Why do you hide yourself, O Master, from those that love you and long to see you?"

Is that not a question we have asked, sometimes envying the Old Testament saints who had such visual evidences of God and the people who lived when Jesus physically walked this earth?

Here is how Jesus answered Sadhu's question.

He said, "True happiness does not depend on physical sight, but rather on spiritual vision and depends on the heart."

He went on to speak of those who looked upon Him the years He lived among men but they did not all receive Him and gain happiness. Simply seeing Him with physical eyes is not enough, we must see Him with our spiritual eyes because God is a spiritual Being. We cannot see our own spirits, so how do we think we can see the Creator of them?

Jesus asked, "Do you think those who saw me in Palestine all had their spiritual eyes opened, or did I Myself become mortal?
The answer , of course, is that I took on a mortal body so that in it I might give a ranson for the sins of the world. When the work of salvation was completed for sinners then that of me that was immortal tranfigured what was mortal into glory! Therefore, after the resurrection only those who had received spiritual sight could see me."

Act 10:40,41 "Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. "

Jesus spoke of how many people only know about Him but do not have a relationship with Him, do not know Him as their Lord and Savior.
You can talk to a blind man about colors. Tell him all about red and blue and yellow, yet he has no concept of the colours charm and beauty. His eyes being blind, he attaches no value to them.
In the same way, no matter how learned a man may be , until his spiritual eyes are opened he cannot know Jesus, he cannot behold His glory nor can he comprehend that He is God Incarnate.

To be aware of Jesus presence is not dependant on physical sight.
When the physical eye is clouded, medicene can be dropped into the eye , the eye does not see it but the presence of the medicene is felt cleansing the inner eye and promoting the power of sight.

"So also people cannot see the peace that I bring into the hearts of those who are born of Me, but they feel it and become happy in it. It is the same with the tongue and sweet food.
The sense of taste in the tongue and the sweet flavor in the food are both invisible yet they give pleasure.
In the same way I give of the hidden manna, which the world cannot see, to My children and give them life and joy!"

Rev 2:7 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God."

When we are sick, often our sense of taste is interfered with, and we lose our enjoyment of food. The food may be ever so tasty but the sick person has lost his appetite for it and turns away.
In the same way sin interferes with the taste for spiritual things. God's Word and presence lose their attraction to us and instead of profiting by them , we begin to argue about them and criticize.

Take a piece of charcoal and try to wash it. Scrub as hard as you can but it will never lose its 'blackness'. However, if you allow fire to enter it, the dark color vanishes.
So also the Holy Spirit in the hearts of God's children does His work and all the blackness of sin is driven away, and we are made lights to the world.
"As the fire in the charcoal, so I abide in My children and they in Me and through them I make Myself visible to the world."

Mat 3:11 " ...... He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."
tomorrow - Sadhu's request/question ... "If you would only manifest yourself by special revelation to the world then men would no longer doubt the existence of God and all would believe and enter on the path of righteousness."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sadhu Sundar Singh (cont'd) A Vision of Jesus

Early in Sandu Sundar Singh's Christian life, he developed a habit of walking into the forest after a long day at work. There he would sit on a favorite rock and spend time in prayer.
Sometimes he would see visions.
One day after work, when he was sitting on his 'prayer rock', a being appeared before him. At first Sadhu's impression was that this being was a revered and devoted servant of God .... but when he spoke he seemed to breathe an odour of hell.
This being addressed him ... "Holy and Honoured Sir, pardon me for interrupting your prayers......... " He went on to sympathize with him that he had not successfully influenced more than a few thousand Christians. He suggested that if only he would become a Hindu or a Mussulman he could become a great leader. People were looking for such a spiritual leader and if Sandu would accept this being's suggestion, he promised him hundreds of millions of followers who would render him reverent homage.
Sadhu recognizing the being, was quick with his answer... " You, Satan ! get away from me! I knew immediately you were a wolf in sheep's clothing. You desire me to give up the narrow road in exchange for the broad way that leads to death.... My Master is my lot and my portion -- He gave His life for me and I can but give my life for Him. Get yourself gone for I have nothing to do with you !"
The being left growling with rage.
Sadhu, dissolved into tears and poured his heart out to God in prayer. Finally, he rose from his prayer and looking up saw a glowing Being arrayed in light and beauty standing before him. Such love flowed from this Being it filled his heart and bathed his soul. He knew it was none other than his beloved Savior.
Jesus seated Himself on the very rock that Sadhu had just risen from, and with Sadhu seated at His feet, Jesus began to teach him.
We know from scripture that the apostle Paul after his conversion was taught not by "flesh and blood" but by "revelation of Jesus Christ". (Gal.1:11-16) Jesus revealed Himself to Paul and taught him . If Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever .... then we should not be surprised if He still appears to people many years later.
Although Sadhu echoed the words of Paul that heavenly things revealed to him were difficult to be explained in earthly tongues, he, being pressured by his friends set some of Jesus' teachings down on paper. His writings have been preserved for us today.
Reading through his little book, I found nothing that contradicted or took away from the scriptures by which all other words must stand or fall. There is no other truth. But I found his teaching to be confirming and clarifying.
Sadhu said, "When the truths set forth in this book were revealed to me by the Master they deeply affected my life and I used them in my sermons and addresses in Europe, America, Africa, Australia and Asia."
His prayer was that "As God by His grace and mercy has blessed me by these truths, so also they may be a blessing to every reader."

In the next several devotionals I want to share some of what he recorded as the words of Jesus to him. Because he writes in old English, which I know for many of you may to be difficult to follow, I will take the liberty of expressing in my own words the teaching he received.
tomorrow- Jesus answers Sadhu's question ... "Why do you hide yourself, O Master, from those that love you and long to see you?"

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Hero of Spiritual Proportions

There is a need within us to admire. It is a God-given incentive to move us to worship Him.
But as man's inclination is not toward God but to himself, the human trend is to choose as heroes those who have attained to some level that is enviable. Often heroes are idolized in proportion to how much of this world's goods they possess.
I prefer to choose as my heroes those who have attained an enviable level in God's Kingdom. Men/women who have lived their lives worthy of the One to whom they have given their all.
I read of one such man recently. His name is probably not one you are familiar with -- Sandu Sundar Singh who was born in 1889.
He was a godly man, sold out to the heavenly Kingdom and his story reads as though it was lifted from the pages of scripture.
Here is his life story .....
Sundar Singh was born into a wealthy family in India in 1889.
His mother trained him from birth to become a Sikh holy man, and by age seven he could quote by heart vast portions of Hindu holy books.
Seeing his intelligence, his mother eventually sent him to a Presbyterian school for a one-year’s course in English. There Sundar, forced to read the New Testament, rebelled, his hot-blooded heart raging against his missionary teachers.
Being tall, good-looking, and muscular, he quickly became the leader of the anti-Christian students, on one occasion burning a Bible page by page before them.
But Sundar’s white-hot emotions couldn’t absorb the tragic death of his mother, and he found himself at age fifteen overcome with despair. On Sunday night, December 17, 1904, he went to bed planning to commit suicide before breakfast. He rose according to plan at three a.m., took a ceremonial cold bath in keeping with Hindu custom, and prepared to cast himself in front of the five a.m. express train speeding by his house.
But as Sundar prayed, a light suddenly illumined the room, shining so brightly that he thought the house ablaze. A strong, serene figure seemed to appear in a vaporous white cloud and in perfect Hindustani spoke these words: “Why do you persecute me? Remember that I gave My life for you upon the cross.”
Sundar was instantly converted to Christ.
When he later shared the news with his family, they were appalled, and failing to dissuade him, they tried to poison him.
But Sundar, not to be denied, was baptized on his sixteenth birthday.
He sought theological training, and soon put on the yellow robe and turban of a sadhu, a wandering holy man, to go forth preaching the gospel.
Through the mountain passes and over the rugged hills of northern India he journeyed, braving hardship and persecution.
He was imprisoned. He was stoned. He was tortured.
He was thrown into wells, naked, to die.
His travels were so rigorous that he was called the “Apostle of the Bleeding Feet.”

The Indian Christian Sundar Singh once ventured into the forbidden land of Nepal on the borders of Tibet to preach Jesus.
In a village there, as he distributed copies of Mark’s Gospel, one of his listeners ripped the Gospel apart and hurried to notify town officials.
Sundar was promptly thrown into jail, but he used the time to witness to his fellow prisoners.
When the jailer forbade him from evangelizing, Sundar, sounding much like Peter, replied, “I must obey my Master and preach His gospel, regardless of threats and sufferings.”
The jailer ordered the prisoners not to listen, but they replied, “This man tells us how we can become better, which is what we need.”
Sundar was taken from the cell to a filthy cattle shed. The jailer stripped off his clothing, tied him down hand and foot, and threw upon him a swarm of leeches that had been collected from the jungle. The loathsome creatures latched onto his body and began sucking his blood.
But, in his words, "I lifted up my heart to God in prayer, and He sent such heavenly peace into my soul that I soon began to sing His praises."
After he had grown weak from loss of blood, the authorities released him and returned his clothes.
Sundar was soon seen again in the center of town, preaching the gospel and telling the people.
He said , "It is a joy to suffer for my Savior. In bearing my cross, I hope to direct men to His cross with its offer of peace and pardon. In the cross of Christ alone I will ever glory."

Yet his dark, shining eyes, full beard, and graceful poise reminded people of the Savior, and many believed he looked expressly like Jesus.
Great crowds gathered to hear him, and his fame spread throughout the Orient, then around the world. In the years that followed, he preached in some of the greatest pulpits of Asia, Europe, and America. Biographies of him were written and stories about him printed. His face was known everywhere.
Then he disappeared.
Being a missionary at heart, Sandu longed to take the gospel into the mysterious and forbidden land of Tibet.
In April, 1929, spurning the advice of friends, he set out into the Himalayan foothills, heading upward and inward, disappearing from sight.
He was never seen again.
Early in Sundar's walk with the Lord, he had a very supernatural encounter with Jesus. In an open vision, Jesus sat with him, answered his questions and taught him.
Over the next couple of weeks, in mini devotionals, I would like to share with you his experience. So, I invite you to come back!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Judging by My Own Default

I love hummingbirds and have a hummingbird feeder hanging where I can easily see it from my kitchen patio door.

I watch the tiny birds come flitting in , land on the feeder, take a drink and with whirring wings fly off to find the next source of sweet nectar.

I think .... silly bird.... working so hard to get enough to eat. If it was smart it would just make its nest and night time perch in the trees close to my feeder and enjoy a life of ease. My feeder would provide abundantly all its needs. It wouldn't have to look any further.

But I suddenly realized that I was judging the little creature by my own human default.

It is such a natural thing for us to look for a comfortable place to 'stay' and we hold onto it, protect it and pitch our tent.

Remember the story of the disciples who climbed the mountain with Jesus?
I'm sure they thought it was just a hike to a quiet place to pray as they had done countless times before. But when they reach their destination, they were tired and fell into a slumber.
Suddenly, they awakened to the supernatural world breaking into their natural world and they saw Jesus transfigured , talking to Elijah and Moses.
What an amazing experience that left them stunned and overwhelmed with emotion.

Their reaction ? "Oh, lets build tents and stay here .. this is a holy place, a good place to live!!"
But what was Jesus response to them ? He took them back down to the valley below.

I had to admit that the little hummingbird is not foolish after all but wise.
If it depended entirely on my feeder -abundant as its supply may be- there could come a day where I was away on vacation and couldn't replenish it. Then what would the little bird do ? It would be lost not knowing where else to go .

But in not ever becoming dependant on just one source ... but rather flitting here and there , from feeder to flower ... its trust remains in its Creator to provide its nourishment. Never is its trust misplaced in man's provisions.

We could learn a good lesson from this tiniest of birds.
What if we let go of our 'comfort' zones, our securities that this world offers, and just trusted in God to provide for us? What if it no longer mattered to us where we lived , what the stock market was doing, whether our job was secure, if we had enough money stashed away for a rainy day, if our day/life was going the way we planned or wished it to go.
I'm talking about attitude. The bible admonishes us to work and provide for our families, but what it we let go of all the worry that we mix in with it -- the stress of thinking it will not be enough.

What if we, like the hummingbird, simply believed that God would provide and we allowed ourselves to fly free without a care in the world?

Mat 6:26 "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? "

Mat 6:30 "Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?"

Sunday, April 11, 2010

You Don't Belong

Yesterday, when my husband and I were driving through New Westminster , we passed the city junk yard where a back hoe was crushing and piling scrap metal. Absentmindedly, I gazed at the unattractive pile of twisted rubble.
I saw no reason to take a photo until we passed the back corner of the junk yard.
Something red caught my eye. "Stop, stop!" I cried, scrambling for my camera.
Miraculously , at that very moment the light turned red and I was given the gift of time.
Was it what I thought it was ?

Yes, it was ! Perched on top of the scrap heap remains of long-ago valuables was boy's dream of a 'sit-in' truck.

I wondered at it being doomed for destruction. I could understand the boy-owner outgrowing his toy car .... but surely there were many other little boys whose eyes would have gleamed with delight at the thought of rushing to a pretend blaze in that shiny red Fire Fighter.

Obviously, no one cared enough to find one such little boy, and the 'dream toy' was about to be crushed indiscriminately with the scrap metal. Soon it would be unrecognizable.

I stared at the pretty truck -- it just didn't belong.
If I could have , I would have gone and rescued it. But, even though regret gripped my heart, I knew it was too late!

Milena ago, before time on earth began, heaven was a perfectly divine place. There was no stain of sin , no evil intent to lurk in nonexistent darkness.
Angels created for beauty and glory, worshipped and fulfilled God-designed purposes.

Then the unthinkable happened. The highest, most beautiful angel of all by the name of Lucifer, fanned to flame a flicker of pride in his heart. Once inflamed, pride determined its own destruction and took Lucifer and one third of God's angels with it.
God condemned them to everlasting punishment, in the place He created for them --
Hell !
A place of twisted brokenness, darkness and gloom and worthlessness. A place of crushing destruction and torment.

Though Satan, alias Lucifer, and his demons may deserve their punishment, there will be those ending up in the scrap heap of hell who 'do not belong'.

Mankind was not meant to go to hell. God desired every human being ever born to be saved and live in God's Presence -- forever delighted by untold wonders of the New Earth created just for him. Blessed is the man who opens his heart to receive God's free gift.

Sadly, not all do.

Man is so protective of his God-given right to free choice and is so quick to exercise it - to his own hurt.

Some flippantly refuse God's loving invitation, others outgrow their need of Him, others curse Him to His face, others just put off seeking God until it is too late.

Every single person who walked on this earth has come to the day that was his last -- and has faced the eternity he choose. There are only two choices -- heaven or hell.

God says He 'has no pleasure in the death of the wicked'. (Ez.33:11)
Does His heart constrict with regret for the human soul, the one He longed to embrace in His love, tossed onto the scrap heap of hell's fury?

I believe He would so gladly give those who 'do not belong' in hell another chance, if it were only not too late!

"It is appointed unto man once to die, and after that the judgement". (Heb.9:27)

If you know Jesus as your Savior , if your sins are forgiven and you walk daily with your Lord -- you need have no fear of death, but a joyous awaiting of eternity.

But if you do not know Jesus, if you have never confessed your sins and forsaken your sinful ways.... please , my friend, seek God today. He will not turn you away, His heart yearns to change you, inside out, and give you a new life and a new hope.

He never intended hell for you, please - choose God's love revealed in His Son who died for you. The price is paid....but you must accept it. Make God Lord of your heart and soul today. It will be the best thing you ever did !

God's Word tells us all we need to know.
Love it, read it, know it, believe it ! It will lead you in the way that you should go - lead you to God and show you how to avoid the place where
'you do not belong'.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I Needed an Earthworm

(and found one!)
There are some interesting, little referred to, verses about the worm in scripture.

I love that God is a God of infinite detail in all truth. That makes Him past finding out, every layer of detail leading but to a deeper layer.

When God says that we can learn things about Him and His ways by studying the things He created... He meant just that. So there is really nothing in our earth that does not hold some kind of lesson for us to learn if we just take the time to look and consider.

Take for example the earthworm.
Who as a child has not been fascinated with the earthworm? What little country boy has not looked for them to put them on his fishing hook?
But most of us never consider that this little wiggly thing might have something to teach us.

I recently read about the earthworm... not on purpose... but I stumbled upon the information by accident.

I was interested - immediately seeing the lesson.

Though it is hardly a comparison we are attracted to ... man to a worm... it is a fact in scripture that the comparison is made.
Job 25:6 "How much less ... a son of man , who is a worm."
Psalm 22;6 "But I am a worm, and no man...."
Isaiah 41:14 "Fear not, you worm Jacob.."

Why would God choose to compare man to a worm?

Perhaps for the following reasons.
The earthworm has no eyes and no ears, yet it has an inherent attraction to the darkness. Put an earthworm in the light and it is not long before it disappears into the darkness of the earth. It has a love for the darkness even though it is blind to the light.

The carnal man is not so very different , is he ?

The natural man, is spiritually blind to the light, and yet has an inherent desire for the darkness. He seeks the darkness that hides his deeds, to hide who he really is. John 3:19 "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."

How natural this tendency is - we see it in our young children, who go hide when they have done something forbidden. Just as children think they can hide from their parents, man thinks he can hide from God.
The 'darkness' is a false security - a lie from the enemy. Of course God can see everywhere and 'will bring to light the hidden things of darkness' (I Cor. 4:5)

Does this 'bent' toward the darkness disappear when our 'spiritual eyes' have been opened and we have been "delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of his love" and have been "made partakers of the inheritance of the saints of light"?

We have been delivered from the 'power' of darkness and yet our flesh still tempts us to draw back into it. The kingdom of light is governed by 'love' ... the 'darkness' is governed by 'hate'. How easily we think less than 'loving' thoughts toward someone who has slighted or wronged us. Yet the scripture warns.....
I John 2:11 "He who hates his brother is in darkness and walks and walks in darkness and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes."

There was one other thing I learned about the earthworm . His brain is so small that if it is removed, he doesn't notice -- he simply carries on.

This reminded me of what God says about people who deny His existence. "The fool has said in his heart, there is no God." (Ps. 14:1)
A fool is someone who does not use his mental ability, but prefers to just carry on with what comes naturally.
He is someone "lacking in common powers of understanding" , according to Webster.

Who would have thought that we could learn something from the simple earthworm.
But his example is an example to be avoided.
Someone once wisely said... "We do not learn best from our own mistakes, we learn best from other's mistakes".
Maybe we could rephrase that to say ... "The wise man avoids the 'teaching' of the earthworm"

"A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise council." (Prov. 1:5)

The Shroud of Turin

It is again that time of year when we think of the event that changed the world.
A death.... but not just any death. The death of the perfect Lamb of God. Put to death, not for His own sins, but for yours and mine.
He was laid in a tomb, but the tomb could not hold Him. Angels rolled away the stone so that those who came to the tomb could see that the tomb was empty.
Jesus had risen from the dead.

Some time around 1353-1357 historical records show that there began to be talk about a Shroud , a Shroud that bore an imprint of a crucified man. Whether this was the Shroud of Turin is debated but without controversy The Shroud of Turin can be traced back to the middle of the 16th century.
It has been said that it is the most important religious artifact and the fascination with it has not died down over the centuries.
That it is mysterious and unexplainable by science, even with today's technology and advanced knowledge, is undeniable.

Christians have long been intrigued with the idea that Jesus' burial cloth could supernaturally hold His image, created by the power of His resurrected body.
Books, films, documentaries have been written and distributed. Even You Tube offers visual proof of the enhanced image using new techniques.
The History Channel showed a new documentary this week ... "The Face of Jesus" , keeping the interest of people in the Shroud alive --- whether they are Christian or not.

But, I ask the question ... is it or is it not the burial cloth of Jesus? Can we know?

Really the answer is amazingly simple. A very obvious detail is overlooked by those who argue that the Shroud of Turin does indeed bear the image of Jesus and was His burial cloth.

We have in the gospel of John the account of Jesus' burial.

Joh 19:38-42
After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus.
And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds.
Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.
Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.

So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews' Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.

We see from this account that Jesus was not buried in a one-piece-Shroud. Jesus' body was bound with STRIPS of linen.

We also know that Jesus' had a separate cloth for His head...

Joh 20:7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.

It is noted in our John passage that Jesus was buried according to the Jewish customs. I did a bit of research to see what the customs were.

A body was wrapped with alternate layers of spices and strips of cloth. To use 100 pounds of spices meant many layers of wrapping . The head was not 'embalmed' with these strips of cloth and spices but the head was wrapped separately, and the face was usually left uncovered.

Our conclusions can be none other but that the Shroud of Turin is not the burial cloth of Jesus and therefore the image is of another crucified man.

Does it matter to our faith if the Shroud would or would not be Jesus' burial clothes? No, because we have scripture that we base our faith on.

What concerns me is how easily we are taken in by myths or speculation or deception. It is soo tempting to reach for the offered physical proof of our faith.

I have seen another circulating e-mail that claims a secret message was left by Jesus in the folding of His burial head napkin. The message is based on Jewish table customs at the time... that a folded napkin meant the person was coming back to the table - and the servant boy knew not to clear away his plate.

So when Jesus folded His napkin , He was leaving a secret message to His followers.. He was coming back. The secret message idea appeals to our love of intrigue and delights our senses. But here again , those who accept this speculative story as true ignore a very obvious fact.

Table napkins were not used until the middle ages... There was no ancient Jewish table custom that involved personal napkins - they used water.

I did find one article that described modern napkin etiquette. If a person wishes to leave the table and is coming back, he leaves his napkin on his chair. If he is finished eating and will not be returning he folds it loosely beside his plate. Perhaps this custom inspired the e-mail version .

This is a sobering/joyous week for us Christians. Jesus, our Messiah, the perfect God/Man came to earth to be The Way , The Truth and The Life. He was buried and He rose again to offer us eternal life in Him. We do not need His burial cloths, we do not need a secret message that indicates He is coming back.

We have the record... the angels said...

Act 1:11 who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."

and Jesus said so in His own words...

Rev 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming quickly." Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!