21 Mar

WWJD-Rest/Resting

This last week has been busy so I’m just getting around to posting.
In the hustle of our daily lives, busyness has become a constant. Sadly, resting and getting enough rest has become anathema to our society. To many it may even be considered sinful and equated with laziness and lack of productivity.
So what does Scripture say about “rest”?
First, we know that God rested on the seventh day after the creation. (Gen. 2:2-3)… check out that He blessed the 7th day.
Jesus promised rest to all who came to Him (Matthew 11:28–30)
In fact, throughout Scripture ‘rest’ is a prominent theme. The Lord rests from activity (Gn. 2:2f.); the Sabbath is to be a day of rest (Ex. 31:15); the land of promise was to have rest every 7th year (Lv. 25:4f.); and the Temple was the Lord’s resting-place among his people (Ps. 132:8, 14).
In its theological sense ‘rest’ is even more prominent in the Bible. Israel was promised rest by the Lord in the land of Canaan (Dt. 3:20), and to this rest the exiles would return from Babylon (Je. 46:27). Rest and felicity were to be David’s great gifts to Israel (1 Ch. 22:7–10). Alas, this great ideal of rest remained unfulfilled in Israel’s experience (Heb. 3:7–4:10) because of unbelief and disobedience (Ps. 95:8–11).
However, although rest in the OT remains in the sphere of promise, in the NT there is fulfilment. Christians, by faith in Christ, have entered into rest (Heb. 12:22–24). He is their peace. To all who come to him he gives rest, rest that is relief, release and satisfaction to the soul (Mt. 11:28–30).
But ‘rest’ in Scripture has also an eschatological content. ‘There remains a sabbath rest’ for the Christian as for Israel (Heb. 4:9). The celestial city and the heavenly country (Heb. 11:10, 16) are still in the future. Today there is the task (1 Cor. 3:9), the good fight of faith (Eph. 6:10–20), the pilgrimage (Heb. 11:13–16). And even the rest to which death is the prelude (Rev. 14:13) is not fullness of rest (Rev. 6:9–11). But those who have entered into the rest of faith, by casting anchor within the veil where Christ has gone, know that the final state of rest is secure. (Wood, D. R. W., & Marshall, I. H. (1996). In New Bible dictionary (3rd ed.). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.)
As we enter into Holy Week, I am taking a rest! A rest from all the worries, political discussion, cultural divisions and anxiety and fear that too much news contains.  Instead I will be focusing on the victory that is already mine because Jesus was born (of a virgin), was crucified, and overcame the penalty for my sin by conquering death at His glorious Resurrection!
His final journey toward the Cross began on what is commonly referred to as Palm Sunday or “the Triumphal Entry”. This is one of those times when all four Gospels record the event. (Mt. 21:7-11, Mark 11:7-10, Luke 19:35-40, John 12:12-19) and was prophesied in Zech. 9:9 !
As we collectively prepare to celebrate the victory, be confident that it’s ok to rest-to reflect-renew our relationship with God and be thankful for all He has provided. Forget the “things of this world” and worship our King Jesus!
What are your plans for Easter? Are you taking the time to rest, refresh and renew? I’d love to hear what you are going to be doing to celebrate the victory and how you usually rest.
09 Mar

WWJD-DISCRIMINATION (aka Racism, Bigotry, Bias, Prejudice HATE)

A lot has been in the news about this broad and yet frightening issue. Recently portrayed was the banning of people from a political rally not just because of their protesting but also because of their skin color  and/or religion. This same candidate has blatantly and need I stress it, PROUDLY, spoken out against a number of ethnic groups.

Additionally, in a recent Supreme Court decision, it was ultimately decided that certain voting provisions were no longer necessary because racism was no longer an issue. Soon after this decision a number of states; primarily southern with large poor and minority populations, enacted voter ID laws that disenfranchised a number of voters because of “voter fraud”. If you want to see how much fraud is going on, go ahead and google “voter fraud statistics”.

Our Constitution specifically prohibits discrimination and specifically states No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. To my mind voting is a right of every citizen.

So, what does Scripture say about it? John’s vision of “every tribe and tongue and people and nation” standing before God and singing His praise (Rev. 5:9) gives us assurance that in the end, we will all experience full equality.

In the ancient world race was not an issue. People were identified by  family, tribal, city, national, ethnic, or religious ties.

Shepherds (who were typically Semitic) were an abomination to the (non-Semitic) Egyptians (Gen. 46:34). When the Jews lived outside Palestine, racial differences became more significant (Esther 3:1–6; cf. Luke 4:25–28). Paul reports an accepted Greek maxim stigmatizing the Cretans as always being “liars, evil beasts, slow bellies” (Titus 1:12–13; “lazy gluttons” NIV). Because there is no racial distinction in Christ (Gal. 3:28–29; Eph. 2:19), the church was able to spread rapidly to the Gentile world to encompass persons of all races. Divisions and prejudice based on race are unacceptable for Christians.

Paul argued against bigotry (Paul’s Argument against: Rom. 3:1–23; Rom. 4:1–16, 23–25 )

And consider this Jesus followers:

  • Acts 17:26: “He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.”
  • Deuteronomy 10:19: “Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”
  • Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

One of my favorite fun stories in the Old Testament is about Miriam and Aaron, Moses’ siblings being upset because Moses had married a Cushite woman. Cush, today, is most often identified with Ethiopia and the inference from Scripture is that she was black. So guess what the Lord did: When the cloud removed from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, like snow. And Aaron turned toward Miriam, and behold, she was leprous. ( Num. 12:10 ) The effect of this was that Miriam was now a pariah, separated from the rest of the people.

In the New Testament is Jesus’ parable of “The Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25–37) . Hatred between Jews and Samaritans was fierce and long-standing. It dated to the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 b.c,.  Knowing that, this parable is even more meaningful when it comes to discrimination. (see John 4:9 –woman at the well).  Jesus told this parable after being asked “…and who is my neighbor” –Luke 10:29. Right before that He had been asked by a lawyer who was messing with Him “How do I gain eternal life”. Jesus had asked him what the law said… and after stating that after loving God was loving one’s neighbor. But go ahead and read it for yourself.

Lastly, for this post (I could go on for days!) James talks about how favoritism is forbidden. (James 2:4) . James goes on to say “ If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”  you are doing right.  But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. (James 2:8-10)

I think you get what I’m saying now, right? If you are one who identifies with our Lord JESUS, call yourself “evangelical” or “born again” and yet consider candidates who discriminate or associate themselves with people and organizations that do,  you might want to go into your prayer closet and talk to God some more!

At the center of our beliefs is this:

For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten SON that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life! -John 3:16 .