Monthly Archives: July 2014

In Awe!

Very basic and the starting place to understand God- “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”- Ok so the Hebrew says ‘God in the beginning’….. regardless this still is a very humbling concept.

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More On Strait and Narrow -Seeking and Finding

Matthew 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

The word ‘find’ in the above verse is interesting. It’s a Greek word which means ‘discover’. Used alone is usually has a sense of ‘not seeking’. The same word in used in previous verses: Matthew 7:7,8.
In these two verses ‘seeking’ is included in the verse and a prerequisite to finding. Without seeking, few people will discover what they are looking for.

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Strait and Narrow

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Stait doesn’t mean straight!

Sometimes it is hard to cut ties with something you have been involved with for a long time. Whether it is a change of job, a change in location or a change in affiliations, change is hard. The Israelites in Exodus had a difficult time leaving Egypt despite the hard times they had there. Even as they were on their way, they questioned whether they were doing the right thing.

In the the record labeled ‘The Beatitudes’, Jesus talks about a lot of very practical things about life. When I was thinking about the records of Exodus, a couple of verses popped into my mind and I dug in and found some gold.

Matthew 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

The gate can be strait (small) or wide and the way can be narrow (compressed, hemmed in- check this link out to see how this word is used elsewhere- narrow is not a very good translation) or broad (spacious). There are a couple of ways one can look at this verse: from the legal point of view or the love point of view, or both. From a purely legal point of view only it sounds hard, but when a person understands God as a loving Father it makes so much sense.

We have often heard people talk about ‘the strait and narrow’. After devoting so much time to studying Genesis and Exodus where God’s love and grace is so visible, I have come to the place of realization that these words shouldn’t send shivers of fear up the spine, but instead generate great thankfulness for a loving Father (read the context- verses 7-12).

Yup, the gate is small and the the road it leads to can be pressed in, but the pressure is not from God.  Jesus Christ is the way, that was God’s decision. The world is full of forces pressing in on human lives, just turn on the current news and see. Pressure starts the moment we get up and there is a broad spacious avenue that tantalizes us to deal with it in various ways. Life is not easy because of the pressure of evil that strives and vies for the dominion of the world. That doesn’t change the fact that there is a gate to the way to life that the Father lovingly provides us with.

Sometimes those pressures make us feel like God is not around, that He is not real or that he doesn’t love us. We should push back those thoughts. Making Jesus Christ Lord and believing that God got him out of death is the wall that holds back the pressure big or small. Jesus Christ was  and is God’s plan. There’s a lot that has been written, interpreted, theorized  and opined about him, but God is the ultimate authority on him. The gate is small and there is pressure on the way it leads to, but we are to trust God and therein we truly find life that is exceedingly abundant (John 10:10).

At the side a narrow driveway, brush and greenery needs to be constantly clipped back or it will overgrow the roadway or at the very least, scratch the side of your car.  Sometimes I just hate to cut back raspberry bushes, but it has to be done.  Sometimes in our spiritual lives we need to clip back the branches that grow into our path and move on ahead. When it was time for the exodus this was true for Moses and his crew.

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The Ten Commandments

While the Israelites stayed near Mt Sinai, Moses ascended and descended Mt Sinai several times. It was after one such descent he brought back the 10 commandments from God. This occurred after Moses had already divided them up in groups and put rulers over the groups.

The ten commandments are pretty simple. The first four listed have to do with loving God and the second group with loving each other. Later on, Jesus Christ narrowed the ten down into the same two basic categories.

As Moses was sharing them with all the people, they saw thunder and lightening, heard the noise of the trumpet and saw the mountain smoking. Scary! They were affrighted:

Exodus 20:19And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.

Moses’s answer was comforting:

20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.

God wanted them to remember how he had brought them out of bondage. He wanted them to know Him. He didn’t want them to be afraid but He also wanted their respect (also written as ‘fear’) so that they would benefit from His love as he provided the best way to live. Remember all the complaining these guys had done. They almost went back to the grind again. Sin is missing the target that brings the best results.

God created this world. I should think He knows how to run it best. If it were up to natural man, he would redesign all of creation (and continues to try to do this). These commandments are not grievous. Just love the God who has blessed us so much already and don’t do your neighbor in.

In the gospels, there is a record of a rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16ff, Mark10:17ff, Luke 18:18ff) who asked about eternal life. Some of the commandments are mentioned in this dialogue between Jesus and the young guy, the ones dealing with loving one another. The young ruler says he had done all those commandments from his youth. Jesus establishes in that record at the very start that there is none good but God. He told the ruler that if he wanted to be mature, he should sell everything he had and give to the poor. This young man was proud of himself to the point of it being a stumbling block. I don’t know what happened to this guy later on after the resurrection, but pride was a challenge to him as his life seemed to be all about him. Eternal life is based on “What I trust” rather than “What must I do”.

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Who Are Those Guys? The Road To Emmaus Revisited

The record of the road to Emmaus has always amazed me. Luke records the journey in Luke 24:

13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. 16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.

17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? 18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? 19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: 20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.

22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; 23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. 24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.

25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of  heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory. 27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. 29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.

30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. 32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, 34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.35 And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread. 36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

I don’t think I ever really looked at verses 28 and 29 closely. It is interesting that Jesus acted as if he was going on and leaving them at this point. However, they constrained him. Jesus hadn’t tried to persuade them; he simply just shared God’s word. By their own free choice they wanted to hear more. They had been blessed by his expounding of the scriptures from Moses, the prophets and the Messiah. Can you imagine how illuminating that would have been? When they broke bread together, the men put it all together as their eyes were open, and then Jesus vanished. They were deeply moved (big case of heartburn, the good kind) and returned to Jerusalem to join the disciples. It is so interesting that these two men were back with the others when Jesus came in and stood in the midst of them. Not much else is said about these guys, so we don’t know really who they were, but it is interesting to think about the length and substance of the record of their interaction with the risen Christ!

Question: How is Christ building his church today? Would love your thoughts!

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