Tag Archives: Christian

Providence

I’ve been mulling over the word providence this week. Perhaps it’s because the word has a prominent place in one of the chapters I am writing. The word makes me think of providing evidence. My iPhone defines providence as “the protective care of God or of nature as a spiritual power.” When I put these two ideas together, it raises an interesting question. Is there evidence of God working in my life?

Perhaps you have asked yourself the same question. It has been helpful for me to take a look back over the course of my life to see when and where God may have had a hand in certain situations. This could be evidence of some good coming out of a bad situation.

Did a past disappointment spare me from an even worse situation? Were there any blessings in my past that I brushed aside or blindly took credit for? Whatever the evidence, consider that God was involved. Let it serve as a reminder that God is continually at work in our lives and knows what our future holds.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

Abstaining from late night holiday snacks

Here is a suggestion anyone attempting to eliminate snacks from your diet after 6 p.m. on the days leading up to the Christmas holiday. One common decoration found in many homes is a nativity set featuring Joseph, Mary, the baby Jesus lying in a manger, and a host of other figures that were drawn to the place of our Savior’s birth. Instead of grabbing a handful of Christmas cookies and washing them down with a glass of eggnog, why not abstain from munching and add a figurine to the manger scene each day instead. As you are adding the figurine, reflect on something you are thankful for. Perhaps you will feel inspired to pray for someone also.

For those who do not consider themselves people of faith, you could substitute adding an ornament to your Christmas tree. Make a deliberate ritual out of it. While you’re adding the ornament, could set your mind to recall a song such as The twelve days of Christmas and add an ornament each day while reflecting on family or friends. Additionally, you can try to come up with a good deed you could do for someone else in keeping with the spirit of giving.

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:5

Joshua 20-21: Our refuge

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In biblical times, the Israelites were instructed by God to set up cities of refuge for a specific purpose.  They offered protection to anyone who accidentally committed a crime, which normally carried the sentence of death.  Intentionally committed crimes were settled using  “an eye for an eye” principle. The sentence was carried out by the avenger of blood (nearest living relative). 

Accidental killings were to be handled differently. The person responsible for the killing was to immediately flee to a city of refuge where he could present his case to the elders of the city. If his explanation was judged satisfactory, he would be admitted to the city and given provisions and a place to stay. He (or she) would be protected in the city from the avenger of blood. If he left the safety of the city for any reason, he was fair game to the avenger of blood. Under the instructions provided in the Torah (Numbers 35), the person had to remain in the city until the high priest died. The guilty person could then return home relieved of his guilt and be safe from any reprisals.

If we fast forward to the time of Jesus Christ, we can see how this ancient practice was instituted by God as a way of modeling the concept of salvation, which He would offer to the whole human race.  Salvation from what?  Romans 3:23 and 6::23 offer a sobering statements: everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s standard of perfection and the wages for this sin is death.  Romans 6:23 goes on to say, God offers a gift (a place of refuge) in the person of his son Jesus Christ.  Anyone who accepts this gift will experience forgiveness and have eternal life.

Jesus Christ is a sinner’s city of refuge.

  • Jesus was divinely appointed as were the cities of refuge
  • Jesus, from the cross proclaimed, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” ( Luke 23:34). This statement validates humanity’s guilt as accidental or involuntary manslaughter granting us access to a place of refuge.
  • In Christ the guilty can find safe haven
  • The way to Christ must be clearly revealed just as the roads were leading to the cities of refuge back in the time of Joshua.
  • Jesus is our high priest (Hebrews 7, 8, 9). His death and resurrection have set us free from the penalty of our sin
  • Since Jesus is God’s Son, then God will be the avenger of blood to all who have not found refuge in Jesus

There are two more points to be made found in Joshua chapter 21.  After the cities of refuge were established by the Levites (Israel’s priests), God gave the Israelites rest on every side (v44).  The second point: None of the Lord’s promises to Israel failed, every one was fulfilled (v45).

We can find refuge in the person of Jesus.  When we enter his refuge we can experience rest on every side and begin to enjoy the promises of God; not one of them will ever fail.

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New life from lifelessness

For over the past half a century, I have witnessed the coming of spring.  Each and every year it comes according to its preordained time.  In the midst of intermittent snows and the cold temperatures the grass greens, flowers arise, and trees bud.  Mankind has nothing to do nothing with its arrival.  That which is ordained remains unaffected by any chaos overshadowing it.

Each year we witness new life springing forth from lifelessness, as if creation has suddenly been given a signal to awaken from its slumber.  For people of faith, spring is a time of renewal.  It reminds us of a day long ago when the Savior of the world was crucified, entombed and rose to new life.  Easter is the season of resurrection, when new life is possible from lifelessness.  

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I am reminded of a scripture passage found in Luke 5:35-43, in which Jesus of Nazareth gives new life to a twelve year old girl.  Everyone surrounding the little girl’s family knew she was dead, including the town’s people, the professional mourners, and her family.  Yet Jesus’ response was, “Don’t be afraid, just believe.”  What was it Jairus, the little girl’s father, was supposed to believe?  When Jesus arrived at the residence of the dead child he said, “why all this commotion and wailing?  The child is not dead but asleep.”  Is this what the father was supposed to believe, that the child was not dead only sleeping?  He certainly knew the child was dead.  It is more likely Jairus needed faith to believe new life could come from lifelessness.  Luke, the author of this book of the Bible, intended this story to be a foreshadowing of the miracle which occurred on Easter morning; when new life came from lifelessness, when hope sprang forth from hopelessness.

A chaotic pandemic will overshadow this Easter season.  Remember Jesus’ words to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid, just believe.”   Hold fast to the certainty that the resurrected Jesus, the author of spring, is still in control.  Hope can spring forth from hopelessness!

The List

44200771._SY475_The List, by Buck Storm and Bill Perkins is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.  The novel falls into the Christian fiction genre and captures the essence of what life must have been like in Israel under Roman occupation at the time of Christ.  

The storyline follows the lives of Joseph of Arimathea (a Saducee) and Nicodemus (a Pharisee), both of whom were part of the Jewish religious council called the Sanhedrin. The unlikely pair become friends and secretly set out to prove/disprove that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah.  They accomplish this by creating a list of prophecies Messiah must fulfill.  

My favorite part of the book was how the authors  managed to capture the tension between the people’s love for Jesus and the religious leader’s loathing of him.   A must read for people of faith. I was excited to learn there will be a sequel.