WE SERVE A MAGNANIMOUS GOD

Matthew 5:43-45 (New Living Translation)

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.

 

As long as planet Earth continues to exist, and the cycles of day and night, wet and dry seasons do not cease, the planet will continue to support human life. The seasons and cycles were established by God when he created the world, to sustain life on Earth, irrespective of our moral choices, whether good or bad.

Sunlight is not just good for plants, but allows for human activities of all kinds during the day, and has a powerful influence on our moods and emotions. The rain nourishes the soil and is a delight to the human soul – just ask the billions and billions of children throughout human history with great memories of playing in the rain.

God in his magnanimity – in his great generosity and kindness towards all people, just and unjust – has given us a world where all the elements, living and non-living things, exist partly to be a joyful blessing to humans on the planet.

Our daily troubles often make us blind to the joys and wonder of creation freely available to all. Lets take a moment this week to appreciate God’s magnanimity to us all, and his great heart of love towards us that is behind it all.

Take a minute every morning this week, before you get busy, to pray ‘thank you Lord for the sun and rain, trees and flowers, birds that sing, people that are nice to me, and for your love that makes it all possible – Amen’.

 

Image: Enjoying the rain (Wikimedia

OUR DESTINY IN JESUS CHRIST

Jesus

Acts 10:34-38 (New Living Translation)

Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.

You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

 

In the above passage from the book of Acts, Peter is preaching to Cornelius, a high ranking official in the Roman army, recalling how Jesus went about ‘doing good and healing’ all who looked to him. The Jews had many prophets in their history, who did amazing things, but Jesus surpassed all of them.

Since the death and resurrection of Jesus, the world has been experiencing the Christian era, the period between the resurrection and ascension of Jesus to heaven, and his second coming, this time around to rule the world. What would the rule of Jesus look like? It will be similar to what happened when he came the first time.

A critical difference will be that the goodness and healing powers of Jesus will extend to people in every nation around the world. It will be a time of peace, love, prosperity, and health. His coming again, will usher in a time of joy and gladness for all peoples on the planet, Jews and gentiles. All the world will see Jesus doing good, healing all.

This is our destiny and nothing can stop it from coming to pass, hallelujah!   

Image: Jesus the Redeemer (Source: Wikimedia)

THE REAL SUPER-MAN!

Taking a swig. (9363480922).jpg

 

Matthew 11:2-5 (New Living Translation)

John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”

Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen – the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.

 

When news that the actor Christopher Reeve, who played the role of the children’s comic book hero Superman, had broken his neck while horse riding in May 1995, I was shocked and sad. Like millions of children who adored Superman, I was sad to accept the truth that the man who acted as Superman was flesh and blood, like myself.

As I think back on the Superman movies, I see that the producers did an excellent job in presenting Superman to us children as the solution to human problems. Here was a handsome young man, who could fly, see through walls, lift any object, defeat all the evil people in the world, but was a humble and nice person to be around.

The creators of Superman presented him as a messiah – and as a child I believed them!

Contrast this with John the Baptist, a firebrand preacher, who had been locked up by the King Herod, for his strong preaching against the King. Jesus did not fly like Superman to go free John from jail, neither did he go beat up the King to release John. So messengers from John, came to Jesus to question whether he is truly the Biblical Messiah.

The response from Jesus is beautiful – “the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” It says to John, I may not be flying in to release you, but see what it is that has preoccupied me, judge for yourself if this is messianic work!

To strengthen his messianic status, Jesus rose from the dead, and is now in heaven, from where he continues his ministry to the blind, the lame, the leper, the deaf, the helpless, and the hopeless, in every generation, in every nation. This is a hero who cannot broke his neck while horse riding, who is divine not flesh and blood.

Jesus was full of godly power while he walked on Earth, but was kind, gentle, and compassionate. In him, we find a precious, faithful friend, who understands our pains, as we live in this tough world. He is our Superman – call on him today and every day, and you will find help in the day of trouble, Amen! 

Read – Pray – Share!

 

Image: A very human superman (Source: Wikimedia)    

 

HEALER OF THE BROKENHEARTED

 

John 4:7-9 (God’s Word Translation)

A Samaritan woman went to get some water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink of water.” (His disciples had gone into the city to buy some food.) The Samaritan woman asked him, “How can a Jewish man like you ask a Samaritan woman like me for a drink of water?” (Jews, of course, don’t associate with Samaritans.)

 

The meeting of Jesus and the Samaritan woman happened early in his ministry. He was going back north on foot to Galilee after a short visit to Jerusalem. Samaria was in-between both places; the people, the Samaritans, were children of Jews who had inter-married with gentiles for many generations. Sadly, they were considered impure by Jews, and contact with them was strongly forbidden by Jewish laws.

Relationships between Jews and Samaritans were often hostile, bitter, full of mistrust and pain. So it was a shocking surprise to this woman in the passage from Chapter 4 of the Gospel of John that Jesus is speaking with her, and even asking her for water. Adding to her surprise was that Jesus knew all about her five failed marriages, and about her current living situation with a man who was not her husband.

A normal Jewish religious leader would not associate with this Samaritan woman, but Jesus did. He not only interacted with this woman, he did not condemn her, he instead offered her redemption and salvation. This woman who came to the well to draw water alone with no friends coming with her as was the custom back then; a woman with a bad reputation; with deep emotional wounds; found a savior in Jesus.

This woman’s story in John Chapter 4 shows an aspect of God’s character revealed in Psalm 147:1-3 (God’s Word Translation) –  Hallelujah! It is good to sing psalms to our God. It is pleasant to sing [his] praise beautifully. The LORD is the builder of Jerusalem. He is the one who gathers the outcasts of Israel together. He is the healer of the brokenhearted. He is the one who bandages their wounds.

John Chapter 4 is about Jesus truly bandaging the wounds of outcasts, bringing salvation to a troubled woman and to a despised people. This woman with no friends to accompany her to the well, was so full of joy and went to call everyone in her city to come see Jesus. He spent two days there and we are told that: Many Samaritans in that city believed in Jesus because of the woman… (John 4:39).  

What is it that could be causing you deep inner pain? Failed relationships? Unsuccessful career? Financial hardship? Health problems? Discrimination against you because of racism, because of your ethnicity and tribe, because you are a woman, or because you believe in Jesus? What is it that has left you brokenhearted?

Don’t lose all hope; look to Jesus, connect with him through prayer – He is the healer of the brokenhearted. He is the one who bandages their wounds.

Read – Pray – Share! 

 

Image: Jesus and the Samaritan woman (Source: Wikimedia)

JONAH AND THE GOD OF ALL PEOPLE

Jonah_the_Prophet

Jonah 4:1-3 (New Living Translation)

This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. So he complained to the LORD about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, LORD! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”

Prophet Jonah was sent to preach to Nineveh, capital of Assyria, that their cup of wickedness was full; either they repent or face judgement from God. Assyria was a mighty country at that time similar to present day USA, or Germany, or China. Israel as a smaller neighbor feared Assyria, so the relationship between them was poor.

Nineveh was a great city, like New York, London or Paris; when they heard the message from Jonah, they were touched, and they all repented, including their King. God forgave them and the city was spared his judgement. What a happy outcome!

Not so for everyone though, Jonah became very angry, and said: That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, LORD! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”

I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God – think about this…

This is a passage from the Old Testament half of the Bible; a passage from a narrative where God is extending his love and mercy to a gentile city, Nineveh. The God of the Bible is clearly not just a God of Israel, but a God of all people. Jonah saw this more than three thousand years ago; this merciful and compassionate God has not changed.

I pray your goals in 2018 include getting to know more of the God of the Bible, through studying the Bible a little more on a regular basis. Don’t be satisfied with my blog, or the word you hear from the pulpit, the radio or the TV, read the Bible a little more!

May the merciful and compassionate God of all people give you understanding and light as you study the Bible to get to know him a little more, Amen!

Read – Pray – Share!

 

Image: Jonah the Prophet By Sargis Babayan – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32665853   

THE BOOK OF PAIN

Grenfell Tower Tributes

 

When the Grenfell Tower fire happened in June in London, I am certain many asked the question, why did God allow this to happen to me? Why did he allow my apartment, my home, and all I possess to be lost in the fire? Like the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire disaster, we have all asked the ‘why did God allow this’ question.

There was a man who experienced great pain, loss, and sorrow; his name was Job, and the Bible has a book with 42 Chapters about him. It’s a terribly uncomfortable book, with sad description of how Job lost his many properties, all his adult children, his health, the comfort of his wife, and became an outcast in society.

In his own words he states in Job 6:2-3 (NLT) – “If my misery could be weighed and my troubles be put on the scales, they would outweigh all the sands of the sea.”

I weep reading of Job’s experience. I call the book of Job, the Book of Pain. Nonetheless, there is a great light in the Book of Pain about pain.

Job 1:6-12 (NLT) (shortened) has this to say:

One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the LORD, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them… the LORD asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth… fears God and stays away from evil.”

 Satan replied…“Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper… take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!”

“All right, you may test him,” the LORD said to Satan.

The passage shows that Job feared God and prospered; but Satan who has established himself as God’s adversary, was unhappy. Rather than celebrate God’s goodness to humanity, Satan wants to replace it with pain. Why? So that we can curse God to his face! Unfortunately, pain has made many to even reject that God exist.

Job refused to curse God, what incredible love of God! His pain was for a season; it passed away, and the Book of Pain closes with this testimony in Job 42:12-16 (NLT)‘the LORD blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning… [with] 7 more sons and 3 more daughters… no women were as lovely as the daughters of Job… [he] put them into his will along with their brothers. Job lived 140 years… to see four generations of his children and grandchildren.’

May the LORD by his grace and love, deliver us from pain, and empower us to live long healthy prosperous lives, Amen!

 

Image: Tributes for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy in London,  By ChiralJon – Grenfell Hearts, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60219506

LAY IT ALL TO JESUS THE MERCIFUL GOD

Luke 7:7 – 10 (NLT)

Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to the crowd that was following him, he said, “I tell you, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!” And when the officer’s friends returned to his house, they found the slave completely healed.

A great need all over the world is healing, from spiritual, physical, emotional, and psychological illnesses, bitterness, pain and sorrows. No one is spared this unwanted cup of affliction – rich and poor, enslaved and free, white and black, old and young. It is a constant reminder of human weakness despite our advanced technologies and medical knowledge.

Jesus healed people of different kinds, ages, and levels of faith. The centurion, a senior Roman soldier, was not Jewish but understood more than most Jews that Jesus is God and has great spiritual power. He understood that Jesus did not need to be physically in the presence of the sick person, for his word to cure, heal, and bring life back into that sick person.

This is an incredible level of confidence in Jesus, considering that we who now have a record of the miracles of Jesus, still find it difficult to trust and call on him for help. Many of us read of Jesus miracles and just don’t believe; some of us think we are too sinful and cannot receive anything from Jesus; others prefer to cry in front of their Pastor for prayers.

This Bible passage is for everyone. This senior army officer was not even a Church goer; but he strongly believed in God’s goodness and power in Jesus. He made his request in all humility, Jesus was amazed, and next thing was  ‘they found the slave COMPLETELY healed.’ Please don’t suffer in agony and in silence – open up your mouth and pray to Jesus.

Do not be afraid, do not think I must find a Pastor and present him or her a large gift to pray for me. It does not require many words or high sounding grammar – simple sincere humble prayers like ‘Jesus, have mercy on me, deliver me from pain, compassionate God heal me from ill health, in your great love return me to good health’, are acceptable to him.

Lay it all before Jesus the merciful God, and let him bring healing into your life, Amen!

 

Image: Jesus and the Centurion by Paolo Veronese [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons