Posts Tagged ‘God’

Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’ Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:22-31, NRSV)

God does not need us.

He does not need us to make dwelling places for Him.

He does not need us to serve Him.

He created everything, including us.

Paul looks around Athens and discovers what theAthenians need to hear and he tells them.

He looks at their context and talks to them in ideas and concepts they will understand.

That is how the message of God is received by others. By us understanding who they are and us speaking to them in concepts and ideas they understand.

Here is a cute cartoon about this:

Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They answered, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.” The Jews replied, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.” (This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.) Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him. (John 18:28-38, NRSV)

What is truth?

That is a great question. We live in the age of alternative facts. Where it seems as though we can just say something isn’t true and it isn’t.

But isn’t there really some absolute truth?

The picture above shows 2 people one on either side of a number. To one it looks like a 6 and to the other, it looks like a 9. It says, “Just because you are right, does not mean, I am wrong. You just haven’t seen life from my side.” Which is a somewhat true statement. But when the person wrote or drew the number, they had an idea in their mind which it was, a 6 or a 9. So, therefore, one of those in the picture is ultimately wrong. But why is it we have to say and feel that everyone is correct?

There is an ultimate truth. Gravity will always win and until the sun explodes the earth will rotate around it. But the ultimate truth is God created everything that exists and still cares for you as one of His most prized creations.

That is truth.

The fear of the LORD prolongs life,
but the years of the wicked will be short.
The hope of the righteous ends in gladness,
but the expectation of the wicked comes to nothing.
The way of the LORD is a stronghold for the upright,
but destruction for evildoers.
The righteous will never be removed,
but the wicked will not remain in the land.
The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom,
but the perverse tongue will be cut off.
The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable,
but the mouth of the wicked what is perverse.
(Proverbs 10:27-32, NRSV)

When we follow the path that God has set before us it may not be smooth. It may not be easy. It might go up and down and over some pretty hard terrain. But it is the easy path for sure.

The way of the Lord is a stronghold for life and in that way, we will not be removed and will be accepted because of God.

So walk in His way, and know He is always with you.

Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD to them: I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you pushed with flank and shoulder, and butted at all the weak animals with your horns until you scattered them far and wide, I will save my flock, and they shall no longer be ravaged; and I will judge between sheep and sheep.  I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them; I, the LORD, have spoken. I will make with them a covenant of peace and banish wild animals from the land, so that they may live in the wild and sleep in the woods securely. I will make them and the region around my hill a blessing; and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing. The trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield its increase. They shall be secure on their soil; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I break the bars of their yoke, and save them from the hands of those who enslaved them. They shall no more be plunder for the nations, nor shall the animals of the land devour them; they shall live in safety, and no one shall make them afraid. I will provide for them a splendid vegetation so that they shall no more be consumed with hunger in the land, and no longer suffer the insults of the nations. They shall know that I, the LORD their God, am with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, says the Lord GOD. 31 You are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture and I am your God, says the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 34:20-31, NRSV)

Since the rulers of Israel had fallen away from God, God interveined.

That is good news, God does not leave His people to flounder out of the water like a fish gasping for air, trying to get back into the water forever.

God will intervene and help His people when they stray too far and long from Him.

He will bring His leaders, those who fill cling to Him to lead His people.

Follow after God and know He is always there, walking side by side with you.

Then he said to Moses, “Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship at a distance. Moses alone shall come near the LORD; but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.” Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, “All the words that the LORD has spoken we will do.” And Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD. He rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and set up twelve pillars, corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel. He sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed oxen as offerings of well-being to the LORD. Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he dashed against the altar. Then he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” Moses took the blood and dashed it on the people, and said, “See the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.” Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there was something like a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. God did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; also they beheld God, and they ate and drank. (Exodus 24:1-11, NRSV)

I find it interesting the last part of this reading. We have God telling Moses to come up the mountain with 73 elders to worship at a distance. So Moses tells the people what God has said, builds an altar, does a sacrifice and dashes the blood on the altar, and then Moses and the 73 went up to be with God, and they saw the God of Israel!

And God did not lay a hand on them. And this is the part of the reading that gets me because it is so nonchalant, “also they beheld God, and they ate and drank.”

It’s kind of like in casual conversation, “oh yea, I went up the mountain the other day and I saw God, and we like had a meal together, you know.”

Also they beheld God! No one can see God, that is why the angels in Isaiah cover their faces, not even the angels can see God!

Maybe they just saw His feet, but still, they make it seem like such a small thing!

We need to live into the moments that should take our breath away and this is one of them.

Do not downplay the role God has in your life! Shout it from everywhere you are!

The LORD appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. He said, “My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.” Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate. They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” Then one said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” The LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too wonderful for the LORD? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.” (Genesis 18:1-14, NRSV)

Sarah and Abraham entertain messengers from God.

And Abraham is a good Wisconsinite, as he serves cheese curds as an appetizer for his meal with the angels.

We need to not question a message from God or think it impossible to do anything for God. Sarah who is near 90 here and Abraham 100, but the angels say they will have a son. Nothing is impossible for God, even when we don’t understand, or can figure it out. God can do whatever God wants to do.

Believe it and follow where He is leading and always be ready to entertain God.

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them,  but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. (Luke 24:13-35, NRSV)

I love this passage because I always wonder why they did not know who Jesus was. And the reading is plain why they don’t know who he is, “their eyes were kept from recognizing him.”

But why?

So He could open the scriptures for them?

For Him to explain what the Messiah really came to do?

To break down the misconceptions about who God is and what the Messiah was going to do?

We have our notions about who God is and what Jesus did. How many times do we miss Jesus right in front of us>

How many times do we miss God working in our midst?

Do you always see God?

How can we see clearly and understand what God is calling us to?