Monday, July 31, 2017

The Children

Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the desert. Numbers 14: 33 NIV

Sinfulness and rebellion never happen in a vacuum.  In this passage, the children of the Israelites were forced to live in the desert for forty years because of the unfaithfulness of their parents. God’s plan had been for them to live in the fertile land of Canaan.  Not only the children of the rebellious people had to stay in the desert, but even the children of Caleb and Joshua, the spies who had wanted to obey God and go into the Promised Land.

We are all affected by our own sins but also the sins of those around us. Families in particular are negatively impacted by ungodly behaviour. Husbands and wives refuse to be forgiving of each other or to put the other person ahead of themselves.  If two believers married and followed God’s guidance, there would be no divorce among Christians.  Sadly, that is not the case because people don’t follow God’s light.  They cherry-pick what they want to obey and totally disobey important aspects of the Christian life.  How many Christians hold grudges against family members or members of their church? Way too many!  “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Matthew 9:13 NIV  But we would rather sacrifice our time, our money, our energy, instead of forgiving others. This does and will negatively affect our children and even children outside our families. Sin is always accompanied by some kind of destruction.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Joshua and Caleb

Joshua …and Caleb…said to the entire Israelite assembly,…”do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid…” Numbers 14: 6,9 NIV

Joshua and Caleb and some other Israelites had been sent to scout out the promised land of Canaan. What Joshua and Caleb saw was that it was a fertile land that offered much opportunity.  What the other spies saw were large, strong people who looked invincible. When the spies reported back to the assembly of Israelites, the people listened to the frightening reports and were so upset with Joshua and Caleb suggesting that they should enter the land they threatened to stone them. The truth can be hard to stomach. They didn’t want to face up to their distrust of God and their fears of the battle to come. To hear Joshua and Caleb say that it was possible to enter Canaan was too great a challenge to them.

It happens to us, too.  We don’t want to admit to our fears and are often aggressive to those who challenge our thinking or our faith in God’s promises. How many Christians cower before death? And yet that is our entry into the everlasting land of Canaan.  Or how many Christians get angry if it is suggested that they show kindness and forgiveness to someone who has hurt them. God’s message is meant to be taking down deep into our being, to be expressed by our love of God and others. No amount of Bible knowledge will make up for a rebellious, unfaithful heart.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Do it!

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says. James 1:22 NIV

The Gospel message is pretty simple.  God loves us. Jesus died for our redemption and rose from the dead to eternal life. We are sinners but are brought into right relationship with God through forgiveness of our sins through Jesus. We are commanded to love God and love other people, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ.  

That didn’t take many words. Now I know that the ins and outs of what it looks like to love God and others can be complicated at times, but the longer I live the more I see that it’s the obvious interpretation of the commands that gets put on the back burner. Christians aren’t stumbling because they have misinterpreted some difficult passage in Revelation.  They are stumbling because they are holding grudges, they are being greedy, they are proud and they are not obeying God’s clear commands and directives. Most Christians have lots of knowledge of what the Scriptures say. Some really do follow God in mind and spirit, but there are a sizable number who don’t. It really is not enough to know what the Bible says. We have to do the loving, forgiving, and dying to self.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Revival Times

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15 NIV

In the 1700’s, Europe and America were in the swell of a great revival involving the Protestant churches. A renewed sense of evangelism gripped many people and encouraged some of them to settle in the New World where they set up institutions of higher learning with Christianity as their base. Others became missionaries who preached the gospel to the slaves of the southern United States.  When I hear the beautiful music of an enthusiastic choir of African Americans singing their praises to God, I can thank the people of the 1700’s who took the great commission seriously for bringing this blessing to us. Many Europeans viewed the slaves as dispensable workers, but the missionaries were able to tell the slaves that they were loved by God and precious to him.

I think God gave a lot of wisdom to the early governments in North America. The governments weren’t perfect, no government ever is, but in a very short time Canada and the United States grew into prosperous, peaceful countries. The prayers of the early settlers surely were answered. We still need to preach the gospel in and out of our communities. We need to pray for our governments and know that God will honour those prayers and raise up the leaders that we need at the right time.  Our countries are a huge testimony to the whole world. They will see that countries with a Christian heritage are blessed beyond measure.