Friday, February 26, 2010

Only Believe

"As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, 'Do not be afraid; only believe.'" Mark 5:36 (NKJV)

How many of the days do I need to hear the voice of Jesus boldly proclaiming these words? He said them to a man who was very powerful, but just found himself to be utterly powerless. This man had just received the word that his daughter had died. I have never had news that bad in my entire life. My bad days consist of things not working out to plan, people not being as kind as I would have hoped, or my own bad attitude. I don't know how I would have reacted to the confidence and care of Jesus saying these words to me in spite of the tragedy setting in. I can only imagine that the look in the eyes of our Savior was rich, tender, compassionate and full of confidence. Each death must have cast his thoughts back to the Garden of Eden where man first chose his plan over God's perfect plan. Where man first dared to doubt God's goodness and care. This is the result.

It reminds me of other words that Peter later wrote, "Cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you." Another way to bring this last clause into English would be, "for you are His charge." The Lord takes responsibility for you and for me. The reminder to you and to me is that we never need to be afraid, we only need to believe in He who has taken responsibility for each of us.

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." Rom. 8:28 (NKJV)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Culture War

"According to the doings of the land of Egypt, where yo dwelt, you shall not do; and according to the doings of the land of canaan, where I am bringing you, you shall not do; nor shall you walk in their ordinances. You shall not observe My judgments and keep My ordinances, to walk in them: I am the LORD your God." Leviticus 18:3-4

Culture has become something of a "buzz word" in America today. Culture has been defined as "what we do without thinking about it." And an old middle eastern proverb tells us that "Custom is the fifth element in the universe." The way we get used to doing things dictates a great deal in terms of how we go about our day and governs many of our most important social interactions. While the children of Israel were wandering through the desert en route to their new promised home in Israel Moses was commanded by God to put some time aside to explain how important culture was to be to them. They were not to bring the pagan customs and godless habits that they may have picked up from the Egyptians, and they were, furthermore, not to adopt the customs of the idolaters whom the Lord would be displacing in order to give them the land. Their culture was to be defined by their relationship with the Lord their God.

Our situation is a bit different. God is not marching us up to the gates of a physical city to displace them. We are waiting for our redemption when our Lord calls us home. Until then we are to live as sojourners here on this earth (1 Peter 2:11). While our true citizenship is in Heaven (Philippians 3:20). The question that we need to be answering about each custom, each issue of culture is whether this action, habit, or pattern is fitting for a citizen of Heaven, or if it does not agree with the culture of the redeemed. As we studied this week, every believer has died to the ungodly world system. I pray that you live this week in the fullness of the freedom from the world that would enslave you if you let it.