29th May 2008

John the Baptist

Jesus said of John the Baptist:

“I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist;”

Just as I often wonder what God loved so much about King David, John the Baptist’s elevation to the ‘greatest man who ever lived’ causes me to want to see what it was that defined him. From Matthew 3 I can see:

  • He preached about the need for repentance (v2)
  • He spread the good news about Jesus’ coming (v3,11)
  • He was completely selfless (eating locusts and wild honey, having humble clothes) (v4)
  • He was effective at ministry (v5-6)
  • He took men through a new birth and repentance in baptism (v5-6)
  • Men confessed their sins to him (v6)
  • He confronted religious hypocrisy (v7)
  • He saw the connection between repentance and works/fruit (v8)
  • He acknowledged that position means nothing (v9)
  • He preached the power of God to raise up His people from anywhere (v9)
  • He elevated Jesus and humbled himself (v11-12)
  • He prophetically predicted the baptism of the Holy Spirit (v11)
  • He preached the gathering of God’s chosen people (v12)
  • He preached the destruction of sinners (v12)
  • He recognized his own need for repentance (v14)
  • He instantly offered/gave up his position to Jesus without any hesitation (v14)
  • He was part of God’s plan (v15)
  • He baptized Jesus (v15)
  • He heard the voice of God (v17)

In following these points it is apparent that his defining characteristics are humility and faithfulness. He also has a strong and serious view of God’s wrath for His enemies and His love for the chosen. I pray that I, and those in my family and my local church can aspire to this level of humility. If we can become less, then He can become more and we will be able to effectively communicate the good news of the kingdom to others. We should hate religious hypocrisy and love those who are repenting, helping them to bear much fruit for the kingdom. I also see that John understood the relation between repentance and fruit or works, knowing that repentance cannot truly occur without change.

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27th May 2008

Job 38 – I’m not God

It is never apparent how much I’m (we’re) NOT God than when He lays it out for Job in the 38th chapter (an onward). From this reading we can determine a lot about God – and how so NOT-God we are. With all our abilities and supposed collective “knowledge”, we can’t do anything in comparison to the capabilities of our creator. Just for perspective, God:

  • God was here at the beginning (v4); we just guess at how things were created
  • God determined the exact size of the planet and how it was made (v5-6)
  • God gave the exact dimensions of the seas and sky; defining the land masses (v8-11)
  • God causes the sun to rise and set through the rotating earth (v12-15)
  • God knows how deep the oceans are (v16)
  • God knows what happens when we die (v17)
  • God understands and knows every facet and inch of the earth (v18)
  • God understands the presence and absence of light and its role (v19-20)
  • God knows exactly how much snow and hail there will be and when it shall be imparted to the earth (v22)
  • God knows how light is spread across the earth through clouds and how the winds will blow (v24)
  • God knows how waters will flow, even during overflows, and where lightning will strike – even its very path (v25)
  • God cares about the earth even when no man is present, to cause the earth to grow of itself (v26-27)
  • God created rain, the dew and the ice (v28-30)
  • God created the stars of the heavens (v31-33)
  • God determines the timing of rain and lightning (v34-35)
  • God is the very author of man’s wisdom and ability to feel, yet it is nothing compared to God as it doesn’t allow us to be anything close to His ability (v36-38)
  • God provides instincts to animals, and food for them (v39-41)

I am not God. Despite all that man has achieved, this persepctive is good in order to understand the breadth of God’s ability and control over the universe – His creation.

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26th May 2008

Job 37 – God’s Unlimited Power

Sometimes we (I) think we’re smart. Gravity is what causes objects to attract. Space is a vaccuum and objects transfer heat due to chemical reactions. The clouds hang in the sky because they are lighter than air until they fill with enough water.

But that’s not really true according to Job 37:

“For He says to the show, ‘Fall on the earth’; Like wise to the gentle and the heavy rain of His strength.”

How is it that God controls even the most basic of things? And not in some “set it once in motion” mystical way, etither. I now believe that God is so powerful that He really controls nature. After all, Man didn’t do such a hot job when he was put in charge. We kind of botched the job and cared more about ourselves than the task at hand.

It’s easy to think that God is “too busy” to worry about what we call the mundane, but I am now starting to believe that He is so vastly powerful and omnipotent that simply turning His attention away would make the rain stop falling. Would cause gravity itself to cease, and the sun to stop setting in the sky. He doesn’t just cause these things to be, He is everything in which all that we know consists. Removing God from the universe would stop the universe from working as it should.

Lord, you are literally everything. You made the heavens and the earth, and your power is in what everything subsists. You are life and you bring death. Your omnipotence and omnicience extends to everythinig, be it small or large, important or trivial. You are truly bigger than I can possibly imagine.

Forgive me for not understanding your power or the extent of your greatness. Forgive me for not treating you with the majesty and respect you deserve. Forgive me for not wanting my family to get a better picture of who You truly are.

Thank you for second (and third) chances. Thank you for giving us nature to show us your beauty and for the beauty of your Son who came to die for us. Thank you that you have blessed me and my family with the ability to see your gift to us and understand the real significance to our existence here on earth.

Please help me to ‘see’ you in everything. In the earth, while I am parenting (all the time), when I am eating, as I am working. Help me to focus on you and truly see your greatness – and as a result alter my life to reflect that greatness more fully.

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13th May 2008

Why Didn’t Jesus Come Down from the Cross?

In Mark 15:22 we see the chief priests and scribes mocking Jesus, asking him why He doesn’t simply come down from the cross so that they “may see and believe”. I see much in this passage:

  1. God is consistent and resolute. He does not change based on man’s actions or statements.
    If God were subject to anything we said or did He would not be God. Instead, God exercises His plan, regardless of what man does. He cannot be threatened, taunted, cajoled or goaded into any action. God has an authority, ego and position that is above man.
  2. Satan is trying his hardest to tempt Jesus, and he will do the same to us
    Satan’s last temptation of Jesus wasn’t in the garden, but was while he hung – in His last remaining moments – on the cross. “Just come down and you’ll accomplish your goal, everyone will believe in you.” Instead, God executes His plan. Jesus was not be swayed by Satan, though he was tempted. When I think if how I am tempted, it is nothing like this – a temptation that centers around saving your very life and proving wrong (human ego) those who persecuted you.
  3. Jesus is the perfect example of perseverance and faith
    God shows us that if we hold fast to His plan and if we don’t sway to give in to temptation, then He is faithful and true to His word. Jesus held out and followed through and the end result was so much better than any instant gratification that would ultimately have led to destruction.
  4. I seek this perseverance
    Lord, may I handle sin in the same manner. Focus on you. Hold on to your plan. Not seek the easy or quick way out. Ultimately know that Your ways are best and good for me.

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12th May 2008

Lesson from Daniel 1:8-16

I find it interesting that Daniel could have easily justified eating the portions of delicacies, meat and wine provided by the King – since God had allowed him to come into captivity. Instead, he kept God’s commandment, acknowledging that God had put him in this place and not allowing his circumstances to permit sin. This somehow reminds me of Proverbs 30:8-9

8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.

9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the LORD ?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.

While the verse above deals mostly with contentment, Daniel doesn’t allow his situation to determine his ability to be brought to a position where he feels he is “allowed’ to sin.

In my life I must remember that my position and circumstances are always a factor of God’s Will – and thus there is never an excuse for me to ignore his law or justify sin. I must always remember that God is in control and has determined, through His perfect will, my situation.

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