Friday, February 27, 2015

Letter to Cancer.215 version

               When will you leave us alone? We are tired of your wreaking havoc in people’s lives. No one wants to hear your name. In this week alone, we have heard of two bad reports and an alert about you and your presence.
               You have brought yourself into the lives of a family of a ten-year-old girl. She is a very sweet child who already had special medical needs. Did you absent yourself after she received surgical help to remove your presence? Oh no! You had to be a rare and aggressive type.
On Wednesday night, we heard of a lady who has already dealt with you last year underwent biopsies of her skin to check whether you have chosen to invade her physique again.

               Less than a half-hour ago, I received a prayer call from church. The granddaughter of one of our women recently had a brain tumor removed. This was not her first bout with you. The message today is this 30-year-old granddaughter has maybe a month left on this earth.

               Each time we hear of brain tumors, we think of our lady who passed away two months ago and left behind her husband and two children, her parents, four sisters and one brother and their families, and a church family. She left us 25 days after she was diagnosed—way too soon.
               While you think you have the upper hand in all of this, you don’t. God is in control. Those of us who hear of your disrupting someone’s life will pray for that person and his or her family.

               Don’t you see? We love these people and their families. God loves them and will watch over them all. We pray that God will guide the patients and the caregivers through each day and give them adequate rest while they sleep.

               While you think you have the last say in each of the lives you touch, God is the one whose word is final. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Obedience’s Reward

“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant,
 then out of all the nations you will be my treasured possession.
 Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
Exodus 19:5-6a (NIV)

               Moses has let the Israelite people out of Egypt. He goes to meet God on Mount Sinai.  The Lord gives Moses a promise. My study Bible has a footnote about the section that goes from chapter 19-24.

               “This section follows the form of ancient Hittite suzerainty treaties. These treaties identify the author and gives his titles (20:1);  recount what the ruler has done for his people (19:4-5; 20:2) state the principles on which the relationship is to be based (20:3-17; 21:1-23:19); announce blessings and curses associated with keeping or breaking the covenant conditions (23:20-33); and conclude with an oath of acceptance by the ruler’s subjects (24:1-8). This form makes it clear that the Mosaic Law was considered the national constitution of the people whose ruler was the Lord.” 1

               A suzerainty treaty is between a larger land that invades a smaller land but allows the captured nation some internal autonomy. 2

               God told Moses he was to say the words in our focus verses to the house of Jacob and to the people of Israel. The Lord gives a promise with a condition here. The Israelites were to obey God fully and keep his contract with them.  In return, He would look warmly on then and treasure them as His chosen children.

               We know the Israelites were unable to live up to their end of the contract. Even their leaders failed to keep God’s laws. A lot of their kings ‘did what was right in their own eyes.’ During the reigns where the kings lived out this phrase, Israel experienced a spiraling downward until they ‘hit bottom.’

               In reading Nehemiah 8 and 9 recently, I noticed the Hebrew people, who had returned to Jerusalem and had worked to rebuild the city, grieved the misconduct of their forebears as Ezra read from the Book of the Law.

               In our 21st Century, people overall don’t seem to care how their behavior affects those around them. In a lot of places, we see that everyone seems to look out for themselves and ignores their neighbor. Those of us who want to do the right thing don’t always feel free to because of the danger we may put ourselves in. We first need to seek God’s guidance in these times in order to remain safe.

  1. The Discovery Bible, Zondervan, Grand Rapids,©2004 p.95 (footnote)
  2.  My rewording from definition found on Wikipedia. Accessed 2/9/2015 and 2/11/2015.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Obedience and Trust: Old Testament Style

“The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service. But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.” Daniel 1:5, 8 (NIV)
17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[a] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18 (NIV)
               I recently heard a friend preach a sermon in a series on Daniel. This particular sermon dealt with his success in the surroundings of the court of Babylon. He and three of his friends were taken into the court to become workers in the court of Nebuchadnezzar.

               There was an issue of the food that the king had them eat. Daniel knew this food had been presented to idols. This was forbidden in Daniel’s Hebrew belief. He asked for vegetables and water. When he met opposition, He asked that he hand his friends be allowed to do this diet for 10 days as a test and then have the guard compare how the four of them appear against the others who were being ‘trained.’ Daniel and his friends won the test.

               What amazed me was the point my friend made. Her statement was to the effect of: “Daniel and his friends were successful because they were obedient to God.”

               Then in Sunday school, our teacher told us that a pastor once told him that we have two legs on which we stand—trust and obey. They go hand in hand but first we have to trust God in order to obey Him.

               Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Daniel’s three friends trusted God when the king told them of their outcome for not bowing down to his image of gold. They didn’t flinch; they said even if God didn’t deliver them from the fiery furnace, they would still honor their God by not bowing down to an image.

               How do we in the 21st Century trust and then obey God? Do we study His Word, seeking answers to our needs? Or do we sit and focus on our problems? (I’m going to let you in on a secret. I used to do this, myself.) We all, me included, need to learn to have sharing our hurts and problems with God as our “plan ‘A’”, our frontline strategy, rather than our “plan ‘Z’”, our last resort. May God forgive us as we humbly seek His favor for neglecting these very basic building blocks in developing a right relationship with Him.

Fear, Courage: God Is With Us  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD ...