Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Archive for March, 2013

Child Sacrifice—Who is Guilty?

Molech was a pagan idol god of Old Testament times.  “Parents would sacrifice their children to this god and watch without showing emotion or care. A fire was lit inside of the idol which would turn its arms white from the heat. When they were at this level of heat, the parents would come with their children, lay them on the arms of the idol and watch while their child burned. The onlookers would beat drums as loud as they could so the child could not be heard and this would keep going until finally the child died.” (from Into the Light Ministries website)

God commanded that anyone who sacrificed their child to Molech should be killed by stoning.  (Leviticus 20:2-5) But that wasn’t all—He also ordered that anyone who knew about this happening but “tolerated” it by not reporting and prosecuting the offenders would be just as guilty! 

A modern-day equivalent of child sacrifice is abortion—destroying a precious life as an offering to the gods of Lust, Convenience, Pride, or Money.  We may believe that is wrong, but are we guilty of looking the other way and tolerating it?  God doesn’t tolerate that kind of tolerance!  How many sins are committed under the guise of “tolerance”?  God demands holiness from His people. (See the whole book of Leviticus.) That means being different from the crowds around us. 

No compromise. 

Maranatha!  Come, Lord Jesus!

Bible Up, Idol Down

This sounds like a slogan from the Old Testament, but it’s actually what I read in a headline a few days ago.  American Idol (a title I always considered blasphemous) is sagging in popularity, and the success of The Bible miniseries is baffling critics.  I just have to smile.  Won’t they be surprised when God’s kingdom finally comes in all its glory and wipes all those imitations “gods” completely off the charts! 

My Treasures

Here are some of my special treasures:

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They are gifts from my grandchildren.  When I see them, I think of me and my heavenly Father whom I aim to please with my heart-felt gifts, doing my best with what He’s given me to work with.  I like to imagine Him smiling on me, pleased and delighted with my efforts and the love that goes into them.  Does He proudly show them around to the angels? 

Something for Thee

Savior, Thy dying love Thou gavest me,
Nor should I aught withhold, dear Lord, from Thee;
In love my soul would bow, my heart fulfill its vow,
Some off’ring bring Thee now, something for Thee.

O’er the blest mercy seat, pleading for me,
My feeble faith looks up, Jesus, to Thee:
Help me the cross to bear, Thy wondrous love declare,
Some song to raise, or prayer, something for Thee.

Give me a faithful heart—likeness to Thee,
That each departing day henceforth may see
Some work of love begun, some deed of kindness done,
Some wand’rer sought and won, something for Thee.

All that I am and have—Thy gifts so free—
In joy, in grief, through life, O Lord, for Thee!
And when Thy face I see, my ransomed soul shall be
Through all eternity, something for Thee.

By Sylvanus D. Phelps

Times to Celebrate

Today we are celebrating many things:

–37 years since my husband and I became parents for the first time.  Happy Birthday, Nathan!  You fill us with love and pride.

–Two years since I started this blog.  I pray it is a blessing to others; it has been so to me.

–And our five-day committee work session on Old Testament key biblical terms is finished—though that work has barely begun.

And now I celebrate the beginning of a weekend and this evening at home.  Thank you, God, for times to work and times to rest.  Thank you for your presence and the hope of seeing you one day—perhaps soon.  Now, that will be the ultimate celebration!

Maranatha!  Come, Lord Jesus!

God’s Self-Introduction

If God came to you in person and introduced Himself, what do you think he would say?  Incredibly, this actually happened to Moses, and those words re-echo through the pages of Scripture.

On Mount Sinai, Moses had seen powerful signs of God’s presence, including thunder, earthquake, fire, trumpet blasts, and more.  But still not satisfied, he begged God for the privilege of seeing His own glory.  God did not allow Moses to see His face but he did let him see his “back” as He passed by.  This was accompanied by a full introduction to His name and character:

The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out,
“Yahweh! The LORD!
The God of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty.
I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren;
the entire family is affected—
even children in the third and fourth generations.”

This foundational description of God’s character is cited at least seven more times throughout the Old Testament.  It is the way He wants us to remember Him.  (Numbers 14:18; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalms 86:15; 103:8; 145:8; Joel 2:13, Jonah 4:2) 

God’s primary nature is love:  compassion, unfailing love, faithfulness, forgiveness, mercy, patience.  But He is not a big teddy bear in the sky!  He is also holy and cannot tolerate sin and rebellion.  For more about God’s love and patience, Israel’s rebellion and then God’s response, read Psalm 78.  It’s quite a story! 

God as Fire

Is fire good?  It’s good under my cooking pot (I like a gas, rather than electric, stove) but not inside a pan of grease.  It’s great to have as a campfire, but not loose in the forest.  Fire is awesome, powerful, purifying, destructive, fearful, enlightening….

In Exodus, God appeared as fire several times.  First to Moses in a burning bush (Exodus 3), commanding his attention and obedience as He commissioned him to go to Egypt to rescue his people.  Imagine listening to a fire and even arguing with it, as Moses did!

The next time Moses encountered God as fire was when the Israelites left Egypt (13:21-22).  God led them in the form of a pillar of cloud by day which turned into a pillar of fire at night.  This fire guided them and gave them light, comfort and protection.  God’s presence was actually visible to them.

Thirdly, God appeared as a fearsome, blazing fire that came down onto Mount Sinai (19:16-18) producing thick, black smoke and causing the whole mountain to quake.  The terrified people were forbidden to come near, nor did they want to.

Is God a tame God whom we can control like a campfire or a flame under our cooking pans?  As the writer of Hebrews says, “Our God is a consuming fire.”  No, I can’t control God, nor would I want to.  My prayer is that He will control me! 

Here’s an article that has more on this topic:  http://www.gotquestions.org/consuming-fire.html

Stay tuned for another post on the other side of God’s character which was revealed on top of that fiery mountain.

Watching and Working

My mom tells me that I used to “sit onna ‘tool, wats Mommy” while she baked.  I took it all in and learned by watching.  In fact, whenever I make a pie, I remember how she used to make a paste to blend into the dry mixture and then chill it for a while before rolling it out.  I remember how she would put dabs of butter over the fruit before fitting the top crust, and prick a design of holes in it.  And her goodies were the best!

Then I think of Jesus’ disciples.  They spent years with Him, watching Him work—doing miracles, teaching, and caring for people.  Then it was their turn as He sent them out to do the same things. And they did!  God’s power also flowed through them to heal and bring the words of life.  What a privilege to be with God, watch Him at work, and then participate in that work!

God is still at work.  We don’t read much about that on the major news networks, but if we know where to look, we can “watch” His amazing work going on all over the world.  And we can be part of it—by praying for that lonely Christian in prison halfway around the world and for our neighbor next door.  By being faithful in the assignment God has given to us, even if it seems insignificant.  And much more.

Just ordinary people,
God uses ordinary people.
He chooses people just like me and you,
who are willing to do as He commands.
God uses people that will give Him all,
no matter how small your all may seem to you;
because little becomes much
as you place it in the Master’s hand.

Oh, just like that little lad,
who gave Jesus all he had;
How the multitude was fed
with a fish and loaves of bread.
What have may not seem much,
but when you yield it to the touch
of the the Master’s loving hand,
then you will understand how
your life could never be the same.

           Lyrics by Danniebelle Hall

Lasting Legacy of a Loving Act

When Mary poured a fortune in perfume over Jesus’ head (Mark 14:3-10), she was simply expressing her profound love for Him in the best way she could think of.  She had no idea of the all implications of what she did:

–Jesus considered it as preparation for His burial which, unbeknownst to her, would happen in just a few days.

–Jesus promised that she would become world-famous for her loving deed.  And it’s true–it’s in our Bible for all to read.

–This act, and Jesus’ positive response to it, prompted Judas to instigate his treachery which would lead to Jesus’ death.  (Of course, this was God’s plan from ages past.)

I wonder what will result from the things I do for Jesus?  Will I have some surprises in heaven? Smile

[God] uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume.                                                                                (2 Corinthians 2:14b-16a)

Maranatha!  Come, Lord Jesus!

Through the Eyes of a Blind Man

After Jesus restored Bartimaeus’ sight, he followed Jesus (and his whole entourage) up the road to Jerusalem.  Connecting the dots, this puts Bartimaeus in the very crowd that celebrated Jesus as their coming King with waving palm branches and shouts of “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!” 

And how appropriate, because even before he was healed, Bartimaeus had twice addressed Jesus as “Son of David” as he called out to him for healing.  This Son of David who had healed him was the coming King and worthy of his highest praise! 

How long and far do you suppose Bartimaeus followed Jesus?  Did he witness Jesus throwing the merchants out of the Temple?  Did he listen to Jesus’ wise answers to the religious leaders bent on trapping him?  Did he watch Jesus being crucified and did he see Him after he was raised to life?  Do you suppose Bartimaeus was one of the first 120 believers who gathered in the upper room and  then experienced the coming of the Holy Spirit?  So many questions to ask Bartimaeus when I see him in heaven…

Maranatha!  Come,  Lord Jesus!

Your Wish is Granted

My granddaughter and her family are at Disney World right now, enjoying a week of pure grace provided by a foundation that delights in making wishes come true for very sick children.  She was happy about this, but I suspect that it means even more to her younger sister who had been fervently praying that someday she’d get to go to Disney!

Many times Jesus invited people to pray for what they wished.  And if they had faith, it would be granted.  So here came James and John to make a request.

Jesus:  What do you wish me to do for you?

They pridefully asked for the places of honor in the Kingdom but didn’t get their wish.  (Mark 10:35-40)

Right after that, blind Bartimaeus shouted out from the side of the road as Jesus walked by.

Jesus:  What do you wish me to do for you?

Full of faith, he asked for his sight, and it was granted!  (Mark 10:46-52)

Why was one request denied and the other answered?  How can we be sure ours will be granted?

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