Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 25 October 2017

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.  Hebrews 12, verse 28.

Awe.   That concept comes from Malachi 2:5, which mentions revering God with awe.  When was the last time you really felt awe about something?   One time when I was at sea, I felt in complete awe being caught in the middle of a storm off the coast of Alaska.   And standing on the ridge of the Grand Canyon was awe-inspiring (and awesome).  The courage of my son standing up to give his very real confirmation testimony gave me a feeling of awe.   And now, during my last days on my east Texas farm, when I look out at the simple beauty of morning mists shimmering off the pond my heart is full of awe and wonder at the beauty of it all.

God has that effect on us.  Imagine the feeling of awe at falling at the feet of Jesus when this life is over, of having Him reach down and take your hand and lift you up.   “I’m so glad to see you,” He might say.   Imagine the awe of having the very much alive Jesus speak those words to you.   Of simply being in the presence of the Alpha and the Omega.  Of knowing He chose you and I to be with Him forever.

All that is possible because His kingdom is unshakeable.   The verse doesn’t just talk about the temporal, earthly kingdom here.   No, it’s talking about His kingdom inside us.   We are the church; we are His church and His vessels for carrying Him to the ends of the earth.   We do that because He lives and reigns within us.   When we live our lives following Jesus, we can’t be shaken.   The world around us may quiver, tremble, and quake, but we won’t.   We may get knocked down but we won’t be knocked out.   We may be hurt but we won’t be vanquished.   With Jesus as our lead, we will always advance.

That’s because His kingdom is within us.   Noodle that thought for awhile and you’ll find it’s awesome as well.  It will inspire real awe, real star-struck feelings within you.  He who died on the cross thinking about you, He who faced down the moneychangers and Pharisees and Pontius Pilate, He who walked on water and talked with Moses and Elijah on the mountain, He who was born in that manger, He who told Sarah she was pregnant, He who walked in Eden, He who spoke and made everything appear:  He has built His church on your heart and lives day to day here on this earth through you.   He’s real and He’s now.  When you live in godly ways, you’re letting Him work through you.   When you have mercy, you’re letting Him act out through you.   When you choose real love, you’re letting Him love through you.  You are a knight in His kingdom because His kingdom is alive and in your heart.  The world of hurt and pain can inflict those on you but it can’t destroy what Jesus has instituted within you.   Nothing can.

Yet His kingdom is also physical, tangible, and on its way.  Jesus’ coming kingdom will be a real, physical place here with real, physical work and real, physical actions.   There will be true government that is un-corrupted by sin.   There will be true justice that is measured by love.  There will be true leadership that is exemplified by Jesus on His throne yet walking with each of us.   There will be real people and real angels and real apostles and real work to be done.   To paraphrase my friend, Phil (of Calvary Chapel here in Paris), our personality, passion, character, and skills – core traits of Christian servants – will be put to work in service of Jesus’ real kingdom, even more than they are here and now.   In that day we will live in the kingdom He intended for us all along:  a place for us to thrive in harmony with Him and in unity with others and even nature.   Remember those words about the lion and the lamb living together?   They weren’t poetry.   They were an advance preview of what’s to come.   Real peace in the life we’ve all longed for.

And it is awesome to think of it all.

My friend, Mark (of Water’s Edge in Frisco), is fond of saying “you’re part of eternity now.”   Right on brother.   You and I get to choose that awe right now.  We don’t have to wait for the end of this life to be in awe of Jesus.   We get to do that now because He has made us righteous and worthy of Him now through what He did at Calvary.   That’s more awesome than an Aleutian storm, or a misty morning in Paris, or even the love of my kids and grandkids.   You and I:   we’re part of Him now, and it is an awesome God we can ponder.

For further reading:  Psalm 15:5, Isaiah 11:6, Daniel 2:44, Malachi 2:5, Hebrews 13:5.

My Lord I am in awe of you, of Your love, Your power, Your heart.   Align my life more and more with Yours.

 

 

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Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 2 August 2017

And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.  And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.  Hebrews 11, verses 11-12.

The story of Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac is a miracle.   If you aren’t familiar with it, the 50000 foot synopsis is that God tells an 80 year old Abraham that he will have a son from his similarly elderly wife, Sarah.  Abraham believes it…and God then waits another generation before making the promise come true.  Sarah initially laughs at God’s messenger when said messenger delivers the news.   Yet nine months later, Isaac is born.   Eventually, Isaac has children, and their children and children’s children become the nation of Israel.   In time, they are as numerous as stars in the sky.   In time, Abraham also blesses all people after him because one of his descendants is Jesus of Nazareth.

Now, in a day of invitro fertilization, advanced medicine, and modern sanitation, American women having children at advanced age seems like no big deal.   Janet Jackson, who is a few months older than me, just had a baby…and she and I are both in our fifties.  That simply wasn’t the case in Abraham’s day.   Thousands of years ago (in fact, only a few decades ago), if a woman was beyond her mid-thirties, it was unlikely she would even conceive let alone have a viable, healthy baby.   The risk to both child and woman was too high.   In the Third World today, that’s still very much the case, though even this is improving.

Can you imagine a woman in her eighties having a baby to a man who is 100 years old?   You might read about it in a tabloid…or in the book of Genesis.   I found a story online about a woman in her seventies in India who recently had a baby.   But she had the baby in a modern hospital and benefitted from modern practices.   Sarah bore Isaac in a tent in the desert when she was in her seventies, maybe eighties or older.

It’s a miracle.  What’s the miracle, though?  That God created life out of lifelessness?   That old people had kids?   That a nation of believers was created from a barren couple?   That the Messiah would eventually be born to this couple’s descendants?

Or was the miracle that they believed?

If you think about it, that miracle still happens every day.   In the face of a world that is still hostile to the idea of God (let alone the physical being of Him), that’s miraculous.   People in Abraham’s day rejected God en masse.  After all, Sodom and Gomorrah happened in Abraham’s day.  Of the 7 billion people here on the Third Rock today, most still reject God.   Most people reject this story of Abraham as just a fable.   Most of those 7 billion people reject Jesus as Savior, or even as a fact.

Face it:  if you believe, and if you hold onto that belief despite a world marching in lockstep to vigorously oppose that, then it’s a miracle.  It’s the Spirit of the living God taking hold of your soul.   It’s the Great I AM joining with you to help you live your life for others.   It’s the Savior demonstrating His endless love for you by redeeming you from that world hostile to Him.  Whether or not God will use you to produce a nation of His chosen people remains to be seen.   It did for many years in Abraham’s life, and then it all came true.

For further reading:  Genesis 17:17 – 18:14, Genesis 21:2, 1 Corinthians 1:9, Romans 4:19.

Lord, I praise You for the life of Abraham and the miracles You worked through Him.

 

Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 4 March 2015

When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler,22 Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly.   ×

References for Mark 5:38

Cross References

He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.”23 ×

References for Mark 5:39

Cross References

But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand24 and said to her, “”Talitha koum!”” (which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”).25  ×

References for Mark 5:41

Cross References

Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this,26 and told them to give her something to eat. Mark 5, verses 38-43.

Do we laugh at Jesus when He says (in His word) that He can do whatever He says?

Already in Mark He has had this miraculous baptism, driven out evil spirits, healed hundreds of people , cured a man with leprosy, healed the man who was paralyzed, called out the Pharisees, chosen twelve commoners and imbued them with amazing power, amassed a following of thousands, calmed a storm just by talking to it, vanquished a legion of demons and healed a perfect stranger (in a large crowd) who simply brushed up against His robe.   Now He’s at Jairus’ house, telling the hired mourners there that the girl they think is dead is actually asleep. They’ve seen her die; her heart has stopped; her body is getting cold.   She’s dead.   And Jesus says “she is not dead but asleep.”

Would we laugh at that?   Would we be like Sarah, who laughed at Jesus when He told her, millennia before, that she would have a son when she was in her 80s?

“Of course I wouldn’t laugh at Jesus.”   Riiiiiiiggggghhhht. Um, I’m going to go all Martin Luther on you and remind that that, yes, you would.   If we say we would believe Jesus when He says He can do miracles in our lives then why haven’t we embraced the miraculous power of healing that He’s placed in each of us?   We can heal?   Absolutely we can. Don’t believe me?   Call up a friend who you know is down and just listen.   Reach out and do something kind for a stranger without any expectation of reward.   Do more than is required when someone asks for your help.   ALL those things and more are simple acts that cost us nothing yet heal the broken spirit of folks like us who need it.

And that’s not even counting physical healing.   Jesus did that too.   He did it, in fact, for Jairus’ daughter, making thankful fools (and maybe a few new converts) out of the wailing scoffers. If Jesus says we can do something, then we can do it.   Is that license to be irresponsible?   Of course not, nor is it license to do something foolish, or to unwisely test God.   Yet it is license, even a commandment, to believe.   That’s what He was telling Jairus to do, then the mourners at the house.   “Believe in me.   I will do this extraordinary thing.” And He does it.

He’s telling us to do the same.   To use the faith He gives us to do extraordinary things in our ordinary lives. That’s nothing to laugh at.

Lord, forgive my laughing doubt.   You’re empowering me.  Lead me today to do extraordinary things for You.

Read Mark 6, verses 1-6