Friday, December 22, 2006
The presents are purchased and most of the wrapping has been done. I still have the grocery shopping and cleaning to do. The cooking will be done tomorrow. Everything is on my list, and I am right on schedule.
But, this morning as I sat to write to you and read your Word, I thought, what would you like for Christmas?
The Holiday preparations have kept me bound to the world. Shopping, wrapping, parties, cooking and cleaning have all occupied my mind on physical things instead of spiritual things. The wrappings will be destroyed in less than a week along with the food I prepared. The gifts will perish long before their receivers, and even the memories I am creating will fade in a generation.
But, my relationship with you, my Love, will last forever. So, what would you like for Christmas? What can I give to the Master of the Universe? What would the Lord of time and space ever need from me? You who move with a thought and create with a Word, what would be worthy of such a King?
I will give you me - it is all I have to give. So, take me Lord. Take my hopes, my dreams, my ambitions. Take my thoughts, my words, my laughter and my tears. When you created me my spirit already belonged to you and will return to you. My body belonged to earth and will return there - but it is my soul that is the battleground. I must decide who owns my soul.
Will it be me who owns my soul or will I give it away to world? No Father, I give my soul to you. Unwrap my soul; tear off the bow and discard the colored paper for it is my gift to you. Use it for your purpose and Merry Christmas.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven." Matthew 10:29-33 RSV
Many perceive God as a mighty figure dressed in white with a white beard and long flowing hair. He sits on a throne of gold and as we approach the throne our stance is just a little larger than his big toe.
I know at one time, I had this vision of God for it is a vision of his majesty, his judgment, his wrath against all that is evil. However, when I accepted his mercy through the death and resurrection of Jesus, my perception of God altered dramatically.
As a new Christian, I envisioned God sitting centrally on a small hill in the middle of a beautiful garden. His back was facing me and he looked out at all the world from that hill. He was still dressed in white with white hair, but he was small and unimposing. I would come to him through the garden delighting in the scents of fresh earth and greenery. I would climb the small hill and sit next to him. I perceived that I was not to look upon his face, but I could feel the comfort, love and peace radiating from his form to mine. I would speak to him and he would speak to me, but at other times, all I could muster was to sit there with him and drink in his love.
Today, a more matured Christian, my imagination has changed this vision of God depending on my spiritual well being. Sometimes he sits beside me like a friend. Other times he is above me whispering in my ear like a sprayed vapor. But, no matter how my imagination interrupts his countenance, I feel the same Spirit of peace and love.
In Matthew, Jesus said that God has numbered all the hairs on our head. When I wake each morning, I find that there may be hair on my pillow from my nocturnal tossings. After my shower, I must remove the hairs that have fallen from my shampoo. We are constantly losing hairs and just as constant, new hairs are growing.
If God knows the number of hairs on my head at any given time - then surely he must notice every little thing that I do.
Monday, December 11, 2006
"It is my life, after all." How many times have I said this statement? Probably a little less than the times I thought - "It is my life", but it is a lie. Our rationalizations affect not only our lives, but the lives around us. It can even affect centuries of generations.
"And Samuel said to Saul, "The LORD sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore hearken to the words of the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'I will punish what Am'alek did to Israel in opposing them on the way, when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and smite Am'alek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.'" 1Samuel 1:1-3 RSV
So God set Saul as king of Israel and ordered him to destroy Am'alek sparing not a woman, child or even their livestock. At first glance, this passage portrays a ruthless and hard hearted God possibly leaving questions and unrest in the mind of Saul.
" And Saul defeated the Amal'ekites, from Hav'ilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt. And he took Agag the king of the Amal'ekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them; all that was despised and worthless they utterly destroyed. " 1Samuel 1:7-9 RSV
So we see that Saul did not obey the Lord's command to destroy everything and we should question - What did God know that Saul did not?
"After these things King Ahasu-e'rus promoted Haman the Ag'agite, the son of Hammeda'tha, and advanced him and set his seat above all the princes who were with him. " Esther 3:1RSV
"Then Haman said to King Ahasu-e'rus, "There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the king's laws, so that it is not for the king's profit to tolerate them." Esther 3:8 RSV
Haman was a direct descendant of the spared Agag and we find him in the book of Esther coercing the king of Persia into ordering the execution of all Jews in their land. So we see that Saul's disobedience centuries before now threatened the people of Israel.
God knew the future, and knowing, he wanted to protect his people by ordering Saul to destroy all of the Amalekites. However, even Saul's sin was covered by the mercy of God. Esther was now the Queen of Persia and she called the people of Israel to fast for three days. She then presented herself before the King at great peril to herself as no one comes before the King unless summoned. The King finds favor in Esther and accepts her presence in court. So Esther invites the King and Haman to a banquet.
"Then said the king, "Bring Haman quickly, that we may do as Esther desires." So the king and Haman came to the dinner that Esther had prepared. And as they were drinking wine, the king said to Esther, "What is your petition? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled." Esther 5:1-7 RSV
"Then Queen Esther answered, "If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request. For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have held my peace; for our affliction is not to be compared with the loss to the king." Then King Ahasu-e'rus said to Queen Esther, "Who is he, and where is he, that would presume to do this?" And Esther said, "A foe and enemy! This wicked Haman!" Then Haman was in terror before the king and the queen." Esther 7:3-6 RSV
"And the king rose from the feast in wrath and went into the palace garden; but Haman stayed to beg his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that evil was determined against him by the king. And the king returned from the palace garden to the place where they were drinking wine, as Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was; and the king said, "Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?" As the words left the mouth of the king, they covered Haman's face. Then said Harbo'na, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, "Moreover, the gallows which Haman has prepared for Mor'decai, whose word saved the king, is standing in Haman's house, fifty cubits high." 10 And the king said, "Hang him on that." So they hanged Haman on the gallows which he had prepared for Mor'decai. Then the anger of the king abated." Esther 5:7-10 RSV
God saved the people of Israel from death and destruction in spite of Saul's sin, and since we know that God is consistent, he will save the people of Israel once again from the descendants of the Amalekites - Iran.