The Bible makes many references to God’s wisdom. Some compare it to the wisdom of mankind. Ours tends to come up looking like foolishness in this comparison. Sometimes, as in 1 Corinthians 1:21, the wording is confusing: but that just makes it all the more fun to tease out the meaning.
1 Corinthians 1:18-25
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” 20Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks[b] foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Around Easter we tend to think about new beginnings. For believers this involves the resurrection of Jesus, for others bunnies, chicks and eggs symbolize Spring, revitalization, and a new growing season. For me, Easter of 2015 holds a special meaning.
For an indeterminate number of years now I have been dealing with emphysema – a result of having spent 30 years as a furniture maker, breathing wood dust and lacquer fumes. Five or six years ago I attributed the shortness of breath and fatigue to advancing age. The summer of 2012 brought occasional chest pains. By November 2012 the pain was so constant and pervasive I was fearing congestive heart failure. In December I finally admitted that it wasn’t getting any better, went to see a doctor and was diagnosed with emphysema. Since then I’ve been on inhaled steroids to slow down the degradation, but it’s been just a matter of time as I feel my strength and stamina slipping away and the pain increasing. Medical science says emphysema cannot be cured, just slowed down. I had resigned myself to this. Continue reading “Resurrection from Emphysema”
About two months ago my left shoulder started hurting. I have no idea what I did to it. About the time I started thinking that it wasn’t getting better on its own and I might need to see a medical professional, Marie got sick. I spent a few weeks carting Marie around because she could not stand upright. We used a wheeled hassock as transport, but I had to push or pull and lift the little caster wheels over the strips that join carpeting to tile or tile to wood. That didn’t help any. By the time Marie was better my arm was a wreck. We again thought about seeing a doctor, but finances were a problem.
This morning it hurt so bad I almost didn’t go to church. The pain ran from my left ear to my left elbow to my left shoulder blade. It was not a sharp pain or a burning, but a battered, bruised feeling like some invisible possum-devil has been beating me with a ball bat. But it would hurt just as much at home as it will at church, so I decided to go to church. If I didn’t I’d miss out on something because every lesson Pastor Dan gives teaches me something wonderful.
I sat in the pew fidgeting and shifting because I hurt. This morning our Pastor led us in a prayer for healing. Several people are dealing with major problems. Continue reading “Faith and Healing”
When God created mankind (Adam and Eve) he gave them dominion over all the earth, (Genesis 1:26). Satan and his minions were already here, having been expelled from the abode of God: the spiritual or high heaven, for rebelling against God (Isaiah 14:12-15). These roamed the lower heaven: our physical universe including the earth. In their innocent state, Adam and Eve had dominion over everything except Satan. Satan enticed them into rebelling against God by breaking the one rule God had set for them, “do not eat of the fruit of this tree”. In so doing, mankind relinquished dominion over the earth to Satan and brought upon themselves death.
I once worked with a young woman who was a member of an emotional church. They did a lot of shouting affirmations at the preacher as he spoke and hooting and yelling “as the spirit moved them”. As they left the service, they often spoke of how they “really felt the spirit today”.
I found such experiences unsettling. They obviously enjoyed it, and so that’s fine for them. But there is a danger here.
This young woman once said to me “I need to be saved again.”
You need to be saved a second time? Why?”
“Oh, no; this will be the fourth time.”
Her explanation was that she no longer felt The Spirit working in her life, so she must have lost it and needs to be saved again to get it back. I tried to explain that this is not how it works, but she was adamant. “I need that feeling again!”
We, my friends, are in the middle of a war: a spiritual conflict. Humanity is accustomed to war because for most of our history we have waged war amongst ourselves. This conflict is not one where we are civilians caught between armies fighting over some prize; in this battle we (humanity) are the prize.
Who are the Combatants?
In this spiritual conflict we have two sides: God the Creator and his Heavenly legions fighting against Satan and his fallen angels. Humanity is the prize, and Christians are involved in the form of a resistance movement.
Long ago Satan, then known as Lucifer, was the greatest of all angels. But he grew proud, vain, and ambitious: he desired to make himself equal with God, and led a revolt: the original spiritual conflict. As a result, Lucifer and 1/3 of the angels in heaven: those who had followed him, were cast out of Heaven. They inhabit Earth and the lower heaven, but cannot pass through the barrier into the Abode of God.
We are among them. We don’t normally see them because they are spirit, we are flesh. But they are here, and they mean us harm because we are God’s pride and joy. Continue reading “Spiritual Conflict”
In our Sunday School class we’re studying the Old Testament books of Joshua, Judges and Ruth. These books occur just after the Israelites have occupied Canaan; The Promised Land, and after Joshua, the last of the patriarchal leaders has died. Without a patriarch to hold them to their religion, the people fall away from God, following the pagan practices of the Canaanites who were not driven out of the land as God had instructed the Israelites.
A cycle is set up where the people fall away and begin worshiping Baal, his sister Anoth and Baal’s wife: Asherah (who was known to the Greeks as Aphrodite, and to the Romans as Venus, figures who appear in society even today). God becomes angry with Israel and delivers them into the hands of an enemy for a period of time. Israel cries out to God for forgiveness, God provides a deliverer who leads them in a miraculous victory over their enemy and guides the nation for a time. But upon that leaders’ death, Israel slides back into pagan religion and the cycle begins again. Over and over and over.
Why Don’t They Remember?
Why, when the nation has been delivered so many times from its enemies, beginning with the exodus from Egypt led by Moses, would the people keep sliding back into paganism? Why is it so hard for them to remember the God who keeps delivering them?
There is a Sabbath principle in life that must be observed if we are to be healthy and productive. It simply means that we cannot work nonstop without some time to recover our emotional and physical stamina. We cannot endure long periods of stress without some wholesome diversion. Our human physique has many limitations which requires periods of rest and relaxation. God made us this way. When He rested on the seventh day of creation, He punctuated the Sabbath principle for all His creatures. The fact that we have night and day, sunshine and rain, summer and winter reminds us that there is a time to work and a time to rest. This law of God is carved into the cycle of the seasons. How well have we learned it?
In our scientific world where nature no longer restricts our work, we tend to ignore the Sabbath principle. We fail to listen to the alarm system within our own weary bodies and, in so doing, we bankrupt our souls before our years are spent. Insecurity and greed have sent us on an exhausting search for that pot of gold at the end of a very demanding rainbow. We are often overwhelmed by life’s circumstances as stress takes its toll.
Yet, we are reluctant to find our rest in the Lord. God gave us the Sabbath principle, not to restrict us, but to restore us. God does not wish to inhibit our days of productivity. He wants to give our days a greater sense of fulfillment. Anxiety and fatigue will never allow us to be at our best. Overwork results in underachievement. Perhaps keeping a Sabbath day holy makes all our days holy unto the Lord.
On several occasions Jesus our Lord needed downtime and turned aside for uninterrupted moments with the Father. His human limitations left Him exhausted from dealing with the crowd. He taught His disciples and He is teaching us the need to stop what we are doing long enough to revive our mental, spiritual and physical energies.
It is a sin against our spirit and the spirit of God that lives within to destroy the house in which they dwell. Of course we are not equipped to live forever on this earth, but we are equipped to make the most of our years. In our mad rush to be materially secure, we must be still and know that He is God. In knowing Him we discover His Sabbath principle of rest for our work-weary lives. It is possible to find rest and recreation in the Lord.
Life is like driving a car. There are many, many things vying for your attention, some of them important, some of them best ignored. Knowing which is which is key.
Among the most important is the road ahead. Look as far down it as you can and watch for signs of trouble. By seeing a potential problem ahead of time you can slow down, look it over, and steer around it safely.
Watch for the signs and signals posted along the way. They are there to guide you. When you reach a cross-road, be alert for traffic which may not yield to you, and know which way you need to turn. Driving around aimlessly is not likely to get you to your destination.
It is good to glance in the rear view mirror from time to time to keep tabs on what’s behind you, but don’t focus on it. Becoming fixated on analyzing the past will only blind you to what’s ahead and cause a collision with something you could have easily avoided had you been paying attention.
God is the trustworthy traffic reporter hovering high above. He sees all the roads and crossroads, knows where the trouble is and how to get around it. Tune Him in and He’ll advise you on how to avoid the snarls and frustrations of life. Tune Him out and you won’t know you’re heading for trouble until you’re caught up in it with no way around.
If you remain aware of what’s behind you, but focus on what’s ahead and stay open to advice from above, life will be much more simple and you’re more likely to arrive at your chosen destination safe and sound.
We are creatures created for growth. This process starts at conception and continues throughout our lives. Even when our bodies seem to be growing backwards; as we lose our hair and our bodies wither, our minds and our spiritual lives continue to grow and develop.
Christians are part of God’s growing process, His tools in perfecting and completing His creation. The more we grow personally, the more useful we are to God. A single mustard seed; one of the smallest seeds in nature, is of little use by itself but, if planted, the mustard plant that grows from it; the largest of all herbs, offers shelter to small creatures and will produce many more mustard seeds. We can be like that seed if we choose well. Continue reading “Godly Growth”