Obeying God is not always a walk in the park. Sometimes, it’s a flight for your life.
After baby Jesus was born, an angel appeared to Joseph and told him grab his family and flee to Egypt so they can escape the infanticide that Herod was going to order. If you think that story is simple and easy, imagine moving to a foreign country in a hurry. Chances are that you can’t do all the packing in one night, especially if your wife just gave birth to a child and your makeshift house is a mess after you got invaded by a herd of shepherds and philosophers you didn’t even know.
Joseph and Mary’s flight to Egypt was never easy. Was it even safe for a mother with a newborn child to ride on camels and cross the vast desert? Don’t babies need proper air conditioned rooms and soft baby clothes? Didn’t they need to sort out their bank accounts first, consult with the ob/gyn, and manage email forwarding?
…He is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. [Hebrews 8: 6]
If there’s one word that sums up the book of Hebrews, it’s the word BETTER. Everything here is better. Better priesthood, better sacrifice, better living, better intercession, better promises. What once was good, now it’s better.
In Old Testament, we saw some snapshots of God at work in the course of human history. In the New Testament, we find Jesus in physical form, walking the streets of Jerusalem.
That doesn’t happen, actually.
There is no such thing as non-talking, non-hearing Jesus. Heaven will never, for all eternity, have a sign at its door saying it’s Out of Order or that its communication lines are jammed. The times when you feel like God is silent, it’s because you are seeking His voice only from the usual places- your feelings.
For some reason, many people often forget that there’s a place where God’s guidance is always available any time of the day- the pages of the Scriptures. The Bible is a guide. It contains precepts and principles on Christian living.
The older brother in the story of the prodigal son is the epitome of a hardworking, model citizen. He took care of his father’s business, we could categorically say he was honest, and he was never irresponsible. He was the guy who was self motivated. If we are to look at him, he is the type who would probably win the number one outstanding young man award.
But Jesus sees things we don’t. Underneath this veil of “perfection,” He saw a man who was just as lost as the wayward prodigal son, a man who needed the same dose of grace and the same love from the father.
I have one problem with prosperity gospel- some people equate it with getting rich. The worst I heard from the lips of a prosperity believer is that if you are a Christian and still not rich, then there is something wrong with your faith. You might as well be an unbeliever. They quote verses from around the Bible to prove their point and the damage they inflict on other believers simply appall me.
Try to reason with them and they’ll say you lack the vision and the drive to succeed, that you’re far too accepting of your present condition, that you are not fully realizing your God given potential and that you don’t have what it takes to be on top. You’ve probably heard all that before and believed it to some extent. Don’t. It’s time to wake up to the truth.
Sometimes we think that our action is a retaliation of the wrongs we suffered from others. We often say, “Sure, what I did was wrong, but didn’t he deserve it?” Well, maybe so, but don’t we all deserve punishment?
The behavior of others is really not an excuse for our own. Those who wronged us will ultimately be held accountable for their wrongdoing.
The Bible says that vengeance belongs to God. Our responsibility is only for our own behavior. As long as we harbor bitterness and unforgiveness in our hearts, we will continue to be tormented by our fears and painful memories.
One of the most heart-breaking scenes in the New Testament was when Jesus wept over the coming destruction of Jerusalem.
“If you had only known on this day what would bring you peace- but now it is hidden from your eyes… because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” Luke 19: 41, 44
If Jerusalem only had the sense to recognize that the deliverance it needed was actually right there walking in its streets, history could have been a bit different.
After the anger has subsided, let clarity and understanding come in. And much grace to forgive.
Listen with your eyes. Look at the person when he’s talking. If you keep pressing those cellphone buttons under the table while pretending to be listening, it only means that you DON’T care enough to give the person your undivided attention. In Mark 10: 21, Jesus looked at the rich young ruler in the eyes and loved him.
That looking in the eyes and loving a person are embedded together in one sentence strikes me as odd. In my years of doing discipleship, I have never really understood the connection between the two until few years ago when I talked to a church leader to seek godly counsel. The guy didn’t look at me straight in the eye. He was busy texting and saying “Hi” to everyone who passed by us. In the middle of our uncomfortable conversation, I had the unmistakable feeling that he didn’t care enough to listen closely.
When a farmer plants a seed, he does so with definite faith that the seed will not stay dead under the ground. When I was a kid, I was amazed at the precise dates my father could predict the start of the planting schedule. I’d often hear him tell my mother that we’d start planting, say, on a Wednesday and true enough, the rice seedlings will be ready on that same day. I didn’t understand it at first until I realized that my father actually counts the number of days the seeds will be on the seed bed.
I’m pretty sure he wasn’t being spiritual about it. My father only knew Jesus few years before he died in 2004. What he was doing was actually a simple belief in the fact that nature would cause the seeds to grow in time given the right environment. He may not have believed God at that time but he trusted that the system itself will work the way it should. In principle, he trusted the God of nature.
When God said in Genesis 12 that we will become a blessing to others, I’m pretty sure He wasn’t talking about us sending Facebook, email and text messages with a “God Bless You” clincher at the end.
No sir, I’m guessing it’s more than that.
The curious thing is that most Christians have gotten so used to throwing around lots of “God Bless Yous” everyday that most of the time it sounds like an empty benediction, devoid of power, spirituality and conviction. Not that I don’t want to hear it, I mean, if you ask me, I would like to be blessed everyday. Everybody does, too. But the question is, to be blessed with what, exactly?
Convergence is “a time in your life where, after intense preparation, including successes and failures and many testings, God brings you to a place in life where your strengths are maximized and your weaknesses covered.”
If you’re 18 or 20 right now, the idea might not hit you as powerfully as it would if you’re thirty. I am thirty, and the more I think about my age, the more I realize that Farrar is talking much sense in this book. Many people pass by their twenties in a blurry haze, making decisions like they’re gonna stay 20 for the rest of their lives. I urge you to check your calendar because chances are that you might not have noticed that time flies really, really fast when you’re busy doing life.