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follow after God

If you follow my statutes and keep my commandments and observe them faithfully, I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall overtake the vintage, and the vintage shall overtake the sowing; you shall eat your bread to the full, and live securely in your land. And I will grant peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and no one shall make you afraid; I will remove dangerous animals from the land, and no sword shall go through your land. You shall give chase to your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. Five of you shall give chase to a hundred, and a hundred of you shall give chase to ten thousand; your enemies shall fall before you by the sword. I will look with favor upon you and make you fruitful and multiply you; and I will maintain my covenant with you. You shall eat old grain long stored, and you shall have to clear out the old to make way for the new. I will place my dwelling in your midst, and I shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be my people. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be their slaves no more; I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect. But if you will not obey me, and do not observe all these commandments, if you spurn my statutes, and abhor my ordinances, so that you will not observe all my commandments, and you break my covenant, I in turn will do this to you: I will bring terror on you; consumption and fever that waste the eyes and cause life to pine away. You shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. I will set my face against you, and you shall be struck down by your enemies; your foes shall rule over you, and you shall flee though no one pursues you. And if in spite of this you will not obey me, I will continue to punish you sevenfold for your sins. I will break your proud glory, and I will make your sky like iron and your earth like copper. Your strength shall be spent to no purpose: your land shall not yield its produce, and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit. (Leviticus 26:3-20, NRSV)

Why do we follow after God?

Is it to get something?

Here we read about those who faithfully keep the commandments and follow you will be blessed, but if you don’t obey and follow you will receive terror.

We are usually hard pressed to do something for long because of a reward, but all parents know that a reward will work. But is that the real reason we should follow, because we get something?

No, but does it hurt?

 

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Glory of God

170326As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.” They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.” The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.  Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him. Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains. (John 9, NRSV)

Who sinned?

Why did this have to happen?

We always want to know the answer to why things happen. It is in our nature to understand and figure out so we can keep bad things from happening again. So we want to know, why was this man born blind?

Did his parents sin or did he?

Well if he was blind from birth did he sin before birth?

But it isn’t about who sinned. It is about God’s glory being shown through every situation.

Jesus healed the man so he could see, and Jesus works in all of our lives to heal us in ways we do not know.

God’s glory is always there. Sometimes we will not see it and others we may be lucky enough to see the glory of God shining through.

But always look for it, because God is always there!

 

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See the heart…

170319So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.” Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” They left the city and were on their way to him.  Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.” (John 4:5-42, NRSV)

We get so hung up on what we have been taught about the things we believe over actually listening to what God is telling us and showing us.

This woman thought and had been taught that all Jews didn’t like her because she was a Samaritan.  But Samaritans didn’t like her either because of her reputation. She had 5 husbands and was living with a man. Now she needed a man in that time because she couldn’t provide for herself. And she may have had 5 husbands because she burnt toast, which is a valid reason for divorce.

What is this story actually telling us?

I love this story because it shows that Jesus looks at the heart and loves all people the same regardless of what society says. He saw the heart of this woman who couldn’t come to the well in the cool of the morning but had to come at the hottest part fo the day to avoid ridicule.

Jesus loves us as we are.

And that is how He wants us to love those around us.

 

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Why?

In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:1-11, NRSV)

I always loved the question from the angels here: “why do you stand looking up towards heaven?”

Well actually, Jesus was just here talking to us, which in itself is a miracle considering He was dead, but now as He was talking He started floating up into the air! why would we not be watching Him float away!

This would really get me going though. I mean we just saw Him killed 40 days ago, and since then He has been retelling us all the stuff He told us before His death, and now here He goes again!

So this is what set the world on fire, 11 men who didn’t get it and now in 40 days are the ones who deliver the message to the world with zeal and conviction. Would we have had the same reaction?

 

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Where were you?

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy? “Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb?—when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed bounds for it, and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stopped’? “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, so that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it? It is changed like clay under the seal, and it is dyed like a garment. Light is withheld from the wicked, and their uplifted arm is broken. “Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness? Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this. (Job 38:1-18, NRSV)

I love this verse, and the song that it reminds me of that was written from it.

We think we know so much that we can question God.

Now don’t get me wrong, God is big enough to take our questions. But if He were to respond like any parent wants to when a kid keeps asking why, I imagine it would be much like this…

Where were you when I created this place?

Where were you when I set the stars in the sky?

Where were you when I taught the lion to roar?

Where were you when I made that baby look just like her mom with her daddy’s eyes?

Where were you?

When we get to big for our britches that is what God would say…

Where were you?

 

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questioned

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy? “Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb?—when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed bounds for it, and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stopped’? (Job 38:1-11, NRSV)

How would you like God to question you?

Gird up your loins like a man, because I have some things to ask you…

Who laid the foundation of the earth?

Who determined its measurements?

Or stretched the line upon it?

Who laid the cornerstone for it?

Who told the sea to stop?

Well there is an easy answer to this… Yet who would want to be questioned by God?

God is the answer, not only to all of these questions He asked of Job, but to life.

The meaning of life is not 42… The meaning to life is living the life that God has called you to live, and then when He comes to ask the questions there is no need to fear!

 
 

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Why?

Have you seen the commercial recently where the little boy is following a man around and asking him why about everything… and finally at the end of the commercial we discover that this boy is not the son of the man but asking him these questions because of the intelligence the man has because of the type of car he drives…

Why is something we all want to know.

Why do good people have to suffer?

Why is there pain in the world?

Why are my prayers not answered?

Why does God allow those things to happen?

Job is a wonderful story of a man who is a devoted follower of God and does not question what happens to him. Even when Satan comes in and gets God to allow him to do anything to Job except kill him, Job still follows God. Even when Job’s friends tell him that he must have done something and needs to curse God if he didn’t Job still follows God. Why?

Because Job knows that following God does not mean that everything will be good, that it is a walk in the park, that life is suddenly always sunshine and moon beams…

Job 37 tells us about the rumbling of the earth at the sound of God’s voice. About snow falling because God said so. How God does not contain the lightnings that come with the thundering of His voice, or He does not contain the stuff that comes with the falling of the snow. Animals must seek shelter, and the ground and all around will freeze. Things change because God commanded the snow to fall. And Why?

“Whether for correction, or for his land, or for love, he causes it to happen.” (Job 37:13)

Why? Because God made it happen. It really does not matter why, for some reason God had to have it happen in just this way. Maybe for our correction, or so that the land could be nourished or returned to some state, or simply because He loves the person or thing that received a special gift… For some reason God had to have it happen, and that is why.

So trust. Trust that God is who we have been promised He is. And do not worry about why.

 

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