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Teach us how to pray?

Chapter 26

Good Monday Morning to this week 26 of 2022

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? 
Psalm 13:1-2

Following is a passage out of a journal of S. Lee visitting the boarder to the Ukraine a few weeks ago.

When prayer is more a rasp out in gasps.

One refugee I met, broke down as he recalled his horrible year even before the war. His firstborn daughter was born with a permanently damaged brain due to a botched delivery. Sometimes she suffered more than 300 seizures a day, and D. and his wife had spent sleepless nights trying to keep their little baby alive. Because of their child’s condition, evacuating Ukraine was near-impossible, even as shelling and bombing rattled their home. Through the help of others, they were at able to flee to Warsaw.

D. didn’t quote verses about God working all things for the good or testify about finding purpose in his sufferings, which have not ended. He recounted the past year with hollow eyes: “We lived life as though already dead.”

But D. too, has an expression of faith—a real, living one. He continues to pray. He doesn’t pray “leap of faith” prayers declaring healing over his daughter; his lips burned through miracle-seeking prayers long ago. And yet, he prays. There is a name he calls out to, even if his prayers aren’t red-hot passionate or peppered with statements of profound conviction and Bible passages. He prays because, he explains simply, “I can’t imagine any other way of living.” His faith isn’t anchored in mission, in purpose, or in the miraculous. It is more like breathing, even when those breaths sometimes rasp out in gasps.

Wishing God to hear our breathing, our prayers and our rasp out in gasps.

Philemon

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Giddy and unsettled in your pursuits?

Chapter 25

Good Monday Morning to this week 25 of 2022

I have discovered only this: God made human beings for righteousness, but they seek many have sought inuention or alternatives.” Ecclesiastes 7.29

The Hebrew word implies an ingenuity exercised mainly for evil but takes within its range, the varied acts of life which are in themselves neither good nor evil.

This inventive faculty, non-moral at the best, was what struck the thinker as characterising mankind at large.

In this thought again we have an unmistakable echo of the language of Greek thinkers. Of this, the most memorable example is, perhaps, the well-known chorus in the Antigone. In this play, a central theme is the tension between individual action and fate. 

“Many the things that strange and wondrous are,
None stranger and more wonderful than man.
And lo, with all this skill,
Wise and inventive still
Beyond hope’s dream,
He now to good inclines
And now to ill.”

Solomon, in his search into the nature and reason of things, had been miserably deluded.
Vain man would be wise, wiser than his Maker; he is giddy and unsettled in his pursuits, and therefore has many inventions. Those that forsake God wander endlessly. But he here speaks with godly sorrow. He alone who constantly aims to please God, can expect to escape.

We can’t really know for certain what Ecclesiastes thinks about God—but that’s part of his point, in a way. God is a mystery, and he’s forced the rest of us to work inside that mystery, never knowing exactly where we are or what it’s all about. That seems to be Ecclesiastes’s real position on the God question. Although his God may not care about humans, he does require one thing that might seem pretty familiar: humility. “

Wishing you a good week as you seek the God of mystery in humility!

Philemon










Did Jesus pay the price for our sins?

Chapter 24

Good Monday Morning to this week 24 of 2022

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5.8

A little bit of theology, along with a few questions this morning!

The technical, theological name for this belief is “penal substitutionary atonement.” This theology was not part of Christian doctrine for the first 1,600 years after Jesus was crucified. Penal substitution derives from the idea that divine forgiveness must satisfy divine justice, that is, that God is not willing or able to simply forgive sin without first requiring a satisfaction for it.

Picking up a long and old discussion …

Was the death of Jesus a substitute or penalty because of our sins.? Did His death scrub us clean of the sins we would commit in the future, or give us a “free for all” pass to do whatever we wanted? Is His death an excuse for our sins, which this theology alludes to?

A few questions and points to this:

Dying for our sins is not the same thing as dying to pay the penalty for our sins. If an innocent person dies because of another person’s wrongdoing, the person who did wrong is still guilty. Whenever the Bible talks about penalties, it always attaches them to the one who committed the offense. We are still held responsible for the sins we commit. In the end, each of us will have to pay for our deeds and there is no way around that. Are responsible for the totality of our actions?

When we look at the world now, we can tell that it has yet to be saved. There is still so much evil and hurt in this world and it’s easy to see simply by watching the news. Dying on the cross did not save us from the darkness of today’s society, and those who choose not to believe in Jesus and commit sins freely will answer for their actions. Jesus didn’t take the sins on Himself to set each of us free. It was only to open a pathway for us to forgive?

Megan Bailey continues with her explanations

As John 15:13 states, however, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus died on the cross to show us what love truly looks like in action.

God is love, and the most important lesson that Jesus teaches us is that when we act in unloving ways, we distance ourselves from God. When asking yourself if something you do would be considered a sin, you should ask yourself if the action comes from a place of love. If it doesn’t, then it’s pulling you further away from living like Jesus.

Jesus dying on the cross was a sacrifice He made for us. His doing so gave us the opportunity to ask forgiveness for our sins and enter into heaven once we had passed. We only have a pathway to heaven because of the loving sacrifice that Jesus made for the world.

NT Wright takes a walk with or alongside this theology. He encourages readers to broaden their view of the atonement to include other themes and not to emphasize solely penal substitution. In typical Wright fashion, he illustrates this with a musical reference: “Substitutionary atonement is a vital element in the gospel. Miss it out, and the music of the gospel is no longer what it should be. But if you only play that note you are in danger of setting up a different harmony altogether.”

Wright believes that the center of the atonement lies in the Christus Victor theme that explains the cross as the moment of “decisive victory over the ‘principalities and powers.” He believes we should give priority (though a priority “among equals”) to this understanding of the atonement while ensuring we do not lose the many other expressions of the atonement. As the story of the exodus is the story of how God redeemed Israel, so the story of the cross is the story of how God redeemed the world through Israel in person, in Jesus, the Messiah.

On the cross, Jesus took on himself that separation from God which all other men know. He did not deserve it; he had done nothing to warrant being cut off from God; but as he identified himself totally with sinful humanity, the punishment which that sinful humanity deserved was laid fairly and squarely on his shoulders… That is why he shrank, in Gethsemane, from drinking the ‘cup’ offered to him. He knew it to be the cup of God’s wrath. On the cross, Jesus drank that cup to the dregs, so that his sinful people might not drink it. He drank it to the dregs. He finished it, finished the bitter cup both physically and spiritually. After being finished – Salvation was accomplished.

Jesus did die to save us from our sins but was it a moment that wiped us clean from all responsibility? Yes, Jesus’ death showed us just how amazing God’s love is for us and give us an opportunity to escape the evils of the world to be reunited with our Father in heaven! Jesus’ death paved an unprecedented avenue for us.

Wishing you a good start to this week as you ponder the works, life, and love of Jesus.

Philemon

The wind moves as it wills?

Chapter 23

Good Monday Morning to this week 23 of 2022

The wind blows wherever it will, and you hear the sound it makes, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. John 3.8

Ellicott’s comments; the new spiritual birth, like the physical, cannot be explained. We can observe the phenomena yet we cannot trace the principle of life. He breatheth where He willeth, in the wide world , free as the wind of heaven, bound by no limits of country or of race. The voice is heard speaking to the person himself, and through him to others; there is the evidence of the new birth in the new life. We know not when He comes, or where He goes. We cannot fix the day or hour of the new birth.

The more we see into things, behind things, the more we see divine intent in all things.

A beautiful metaphor out of nature;

When did you last blow at a dandelion to see the seeds fly? With their golden flowers in the early spring, dandelions represent the return of life, the rebirth of growth and green after a harsh winter, and a display of abundant strength and power

Dandelions grow so successfully because those puffballs disperse their seeds over long distances in a stiff breeze. Some dandelions don’t need to wait for the wind, though. As dandelions turn to seed, children everywhere rush to pick them, so that they can close their eyes, make a wish, and blow the seeds into the air.

Recently a little article in a paper caught my attention concerning the flight of the seeds.

The dandelion seed holds the record as the farthest travelling passive flying structure that we know of in the plant world, flying up to 100 kilometres. Now, researchers have discovered the secret to the flight of the dandelion. Dandelion seeds fly using a method that researchers thought couldn’t work in the real world, according to a study published. Dandelion seeds bear filaments that radiate out from a central stalk like the spokes on a bicycle wheel, a feature that seems to be the key to their flight. Researchers were curious about how these bristly seeds stayed in the air because they looked so different from the wing-like seeds of other plants, such as maples. Those structures act like the wings of a bird or aeroplane, generating pressure differences above and below the wing to fly. To find the answer, the seeds were put in a vertical wind tunnel and used a laser to illuminate particles that helped to visualize the airflow around the seed. That’s when they saw the vortex (a whirling mass of air, like a whirlwind) floating above the seeds. The amount of open space between the seed’s spokes seems to be the key to the stability and flight of these detached vortices, the says study.

Being born of the Spirit could be like this. There is intent for the seed to fly, it was assumed with the dandelions it was just the gush of wind that would make them fly. But the results showed more, the show that such long distances of flight were not only with one gush.

The Spirits approach, maybe starting with a gush yes, or a tossing wind, but the secret to the long flight, the process of carrying the seeds so far, cannot be seen at first only later in the results. The amount of open space is the key to vortex, the vortex is the key to the long flight!

If we use this metaphor for the moving of Spirit;

The breath of God, the intent of God and the purpose of God have been laid within our structure, but the opportunity to fly, to a fly long and far, to a place where we can be renewed and planted afresh – this s a process of the Spirit needing a lot of space accompanied by a gentle and steady whirlwind!

Wishing a good flight with much open space this week!

Philemon