Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘Old Testament’

Too Many Cooks

In Leadership, Politics on August 20, 2013 at 8:10 am

toomanycooks

Alexander the Great conquered the entire world.  After his death it was divided up among the generals because they could not agree on who should rule.  There is scarcely any series of wars more mind-boggling to follow than those of the successors of Alexander. For twenty years after the death of Alexander his generals fought for control of his empire, and even after the critical Battle of Ipsus, which settled the division of much of the old Persian Empire, wars raged for control of Macedonia and Asia Minor for another generation. The principals involved in these wars were Macedonian Generals who served under Alexander, and their descendents. They were not fought between states or principalities, but between armies, sometimes composed of regional troops or mercenaries, but always led by Greek and Macedonian officers. Also, the regions controlled by the various dynasties changed during the war years, so in several cases one cannot even form a permanent association of a particular dynasty with a fixed sphere of influence.

Herod the Great ruled over Israel and Galilee.  After his death it was divided up among his sons because they could not agree on who should rule.  At his death, all parties appealed to Caesar, who divided the dominions of Herod among his children, giving Archelaus Judea, with the title of Ethnarch. But Archelaus became so unworthy a governor, that the Roman emperor, wearied by the complaints urged against him, deprived him of power, and banished him into Gaul, Judea was now formally made a Roman province, and subjected to taxation. The Jews were very reluctant to submit to taxation, and frequently took up arms against the publicans, or tax-gatherers. ‘Herod is dead. It is safe now’ Well, it wasn’t so safe, really. Herod’s son, Archelaus, was now King and was more hated and more cruel than his father. There’d been riots and disturbances and mass executions.

The church at Corinth faced an almost similar fate.  They were divided over whom they should follow:  Peter, Paul, Apollos, or Jesus.  Now, there was the trouble at Corinth. These were not schisms yet; they had not split off into other congregations, but there were four cliques, or factions within the congregation.  Often, these same divisions are found in organizations like your business, church, and even family today.

1.  The Devotees said, “We are of Paul. He started this church. We came to life in Christ by Paul, and Paul is the one we’re going to listen to above all others.” So undoubtedly there was a big group that followed Paul.  We find these in organizations today, especially those going through adjustments, reductions, or changes at the top.  If someone has been in charge for several years there will be a strong following for that person regardless of the qualifications of the new leader.  Once they are gone or retired, those feelings remain and can cause problems in the future.  The new leader is unfairly compared to the former.  Unrealistic expectations are placed on the new leader based on the personality of the former.

2.  The Fashionistas were attracted by the different kinds of preaching, and they had especially been drawn to Apollos. I am sure there were many in Corinth who were saying, “Oh, I love to hear Apollos! He’s a great preacher, a warm, capable, eloquent man, who can make the Old Testament come alive!”  Paul might have been the better leader, but this group loved Apollos.  You are a stylist if you are attracted by the fad of the day.  You find yourself drawn to those who are electric and funny and cool and hip.  They fill you full of warmth and love.  Who wouldn’t?  However, if the leader/manager God has provided isn’t that person we are still directed to honor, obey and follow.

3.  The Classicists say, “Well, I don’t know about Paul or Apollos. Let’s get back to the beginnings. Let’s go back to Jerusalem. We are of Peter.”   Every organization has a group like the classicists.  They will always think back on the golden years of the organization.  They will desire, and often try to implement methods and processes to get back to those days.  The problem is that those days are in the past.  Developing organizations learn from the past without living in the past.

4.  The Spiritualists were drawing themselves up and saying, “Well, you may be of Paul or of Peter or of Apollos, but we are of Christ! We go back to the Lord alone. What he says we’ll listen to, not Paul or Peter or anyone else — it makes no difference to us.”  This sounds holy but is, in practice, unbiblical.  God has placed us under human authorities in every area: Parent/Child, Manager/Worker, Teacher/Student, Pastor/People, and more.

Greece would soon fall as would Rome.  The church at Corinth remained because of one knowledgable person.  Paul wrote sternly to them and said that there were to be no divisions in the fellowship.  Proverbs teaches the same truth in 28:2, When a land is in rebellion, it has many rulers, but with a discerning and knowledgeable person, it endures.  Many organizations are failing today not because of the economy but because everyone wants to be boss.  Too many bosses leads to chaos and rebellion.

Which group describes you most often?

Between Tulips and Chaff

In Evangelism, Jesus, Missions on October 10, 2012 at 9:17 am

 

The gift had been paid for and delivered.  The title already has his name on it.  Yet, until he got in and turned the key he didn’t really own it.  He could have assumed it to be a scam, payoff, or threat.  He could have called the police and reported a missing vehicle.  He could have called a taxi.  Instead, he thanked God, got in, and drove away.

A great gift has been given to you.  It has already been paid for and delivered.  Many would like to argue how it all happened, let me tell you my opinion.  We will use a familiar verse as our guide through this process.

God loved the world in this way:
He gave His One and Only Son so that
everyone who believes in Him
will have eternal life.

1.  Sovereignty of God.  God is in charge. He is the author and finisher of your faith. He is the One who has furnished the gift.  He has done it His way and elected that Jesus was the only path by which a person can receive forgiveness.  Too often we feel that humanity is in control.  The reality is that only God is sovereign.  In that position He has chosen to allow humanity to decide whether to refuse or receive his sovereignty.

2.  Sacrifice of God.  Without a nominal understanding of the Old Testament, you might miss this significance.  The covenant agreement in place demanded a blood offering to cover one’s sin.  Because humanity had refused to honor this covenant, God was establishing a new covenant while simultaneously fulfilling the current one.  A pure lamb had to be slaughtered for sin to be forgiven. This was required by God in light of the depravity of Man. When God gave His One and Only Son He was providing Himself as the sacrifice (Trinity).

3.  Sufficiency of God.  Jesus Christ’s death is sufficient for all mankind.  There is not one person for which His death is insufficient.  No human, who approaches in repentance by faith will be refused because of insufficiency.  May we not twist the scripture to fit our theology!  Jesus did not die for a few.  He died for all!  His death is sufficient for those who receive and refuse.   Grace can be resisted.  God has given you the freedom to follow His predetermined path or your own.  While He knows what your decision will be, He has forced you to make that decision.

4.  Supremacy of Christ.  He rose from the dead 3 days later.  He rose from the dead.  Jesus called for Lazarus. God called for Jesus.  He got up…and he walked away.  How much more do you want?  He was dead.  Now He lives.

Living he loved me.
Dying is saved me.
Buried He carried my sins far away.
Rising He justified freely forever.
Someday He’s coming O glorious day!!!!!

So far God has done everything.  Why? Because you and I have sin.  Sin separates us.  The reason for the sacrifice was to forgive sin.  This was a gift.  A free gift.  God has given this gift to humanity.  What you do with it is up to you.

 5.  Salvation is a Choice.  When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus in this passage, He used an action word: Believe.  Anyone who believes means that humanity has a part, albeit small, to play in this process.  Mankind has done nothing to deserve this gift.  Mankind, because of depravity, has no way of earning this gift.  However, they can choose receive this gift or refuse this gift. Those who would suggest that Man has no choice has passed over this part.  I include Acts 2 (repent) and Romans 10 (confess, believe) as further examples of the choice we must make.  The “Sinner’s Prayer” does not do the saving.  In fact, those words have no value eternally outside of them being a way you respond.  It is in your choosing to receive this gift that a response comes into play.  To pray a prayer like the “Sinner’s Prayer”, is to be an initial vocal response to what you have chosen to do in your heart.  To vocalize this response helps to solidify it in your mind and give accountable support from the one helping you.

****

The gift has been wrapped and tagged.  Will you receive it?  Will you open it and experience the fulness of joy you’ve longed for your whole life?

 

Everyday Superheros

In behavior, Decisions, Jesus on September 20, 2012 at 9:41 am

Do you remember Underoos?  Which superhero was your favorite?  I had Superman and Spiderman.  As a child, you thought about being that superhero.  Did it save you from Ed the bully?  No, but you sure felt confident before leaving the house.  There were enough options you could be a superhero everyday if you wanted.

I have some great news for you…being a superhero everyday is still possible!!

You, like me, probably feel like unlikely candidates for such honor.  Yet, there is a source of unlimited power that waits to flow through you.  Thankfully, this does not involve special underwear.  It involves a very special relationship.  There is a family willing to adopt you and give to you the source of unlimited power to carry out unimaginable tasks.  Cool, right? Interested?

When Moses stood before God, he wondered whom he would say sent him to the Israelites in Egypt.  God replied, “I AM”.  God has always existed.  Always.  That’s a long time for us to fathom.  In fact, we cannot really understand forever.  It is just the left pointing arrow on the timeline that goes off into space….not to Middle Earth.  That left arrow goes into the infinite, where God was and is and will be.

God is.

He has presented Himself to us in three forms to help us wrap our minds around his greatness.  He has been God the Father through the Old Testament.  He still is God the Father, but His expression of this form was greater in the OT.  God the Son, Jesus Christ, helped us understand the great lengths to which He would go to provide a pathway back to Himself.  Through Jesus Christ we can be adopted into the family.  Jesus’ death paid for our sin.  Jesus’ resurrection provides hope for a future after physical death.  God the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, is currently the form He engages humanity with today.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus refers to Himself 7 times using the words “I am”

I am the bread of life. John 6:35
I am the light of the world. John 8.12
I am the door. John 10:7
I am the good shepherd. John 10:11
I am the resurrection and the life. John 11:25
I am the way, the truth, and the life. John 14:6
I am the vine. John 15:1

God used a verb of being and presence with Moses.  Jesus used a similar phrase in the first century.  He even went a step further and said He and God were one in John 8:24, 28.  Jesus is God!  He is the Great I Am.  The One who would come after is of the same essence.  The Spirit is God also.  When, by faith you turn your life over to God, you receive forgiveness, hope, and the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit inhabits your soul.  The Great I Am resides in your life.

The One who resides past the left arrow having unlimited power has chosen to house Himself within you.  Listen to how Paul explains this new state.

19 For through the law I have died to the law, so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ 20 and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

Because of Christ we can be everyday superheros.  We can accomplish tasks never before imagined.  For those receiving this love, help, and hope will be ready to hear how they can be adopted into this superhero group.  Look what Jesus had to say on this service matter.

34 Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

35 For I was hungry
and you gave Me something to eat;
I was thirsty
and you gave Me something to drink;
I was a stranger and you took Me in;

36 I was naked and you clothed Me;
I was sick and you took care of Me;
I was in prison and you visited Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You?

39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?’
40 “And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’

Matthew 25

Being an everyday superhero is not about your underwear, but your innerwear.  Are you clothed with the righteousness of Christ so that you can be sealed with the promise of the Spirit creating an everyday superhero?

Be that hero today.

Dating God

In Commitment, deuteronomy, Direction, Faithfulness, Jesus, Journey, love, Uncategorized on March 25, 2011 at 11:18 pm

A good date doesn’t happen at the movies, dance clubs, or any place loud.  A good date, should you want to get to know them.  In our age of hook-ups and one-nighters, there is not much getting to know a person. We have minimized the emotional entanglement that sex brings.  The depression and lack of self-respect takes it toll sooner or later.  To talk about being emotionally involved with God is something of an anomaly.  In fact I believe it to more than irregular.  We just flat do not understand how to be in an intimate relationship with God because we have lost the art of intimacy altogether.

Intimacy:

  1. a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group.
  2. a close association with or detailed knowledge or deep understanding of a place, subject, period of history, etc.: an intimacy with japan.

Do you have a close, familiar, loving personal relationship with God?  So many people simply answer

  • “I know God.”
  • “I love God.”
  • “I grew up in church.”

None of these answers reflect intimacy.  What is doe reflect is superficiality.  We know parts of God. We worship the God we have created through the cafeteria spirituality we enjoy.  We attend when convenient.  We give rather than tithe.  There is no intimacy.  It is like dating at the movies.  You enjoy the moment, but there is no knowledge of the other.  Who are they?  Where are they in life?  What do they believe?  What are their convictions?  These questions and discussions lead to intimacy.  Through the knowledge a love grows.  You can’t do that at the movies.  You can’t do that in club.  You can’t do that on hook-ups.

It takes time.

It takes talking.

It takes listening.

It takes interest.

Do you have a close, familiar, loving personal relationship with God?  Are you intimate with God?  He is with you.

16 “The Lord your God is commanding you this day to follow these statutes and ordinances. You must be careful to follow them with all your heart and all your soul. 17 Today you have affirmed that the Lord is your God and that you will walk in His ways, keep His statutes, commands, and ordinances, and obey Him. 18 And today the Lord has affirmed that you are His special people as He promised you, that you are to keep all His commands,

19 that He will elevate you to praise, fame, and glory above all the nations He has made, and that you will be a holy people to the Lord your God as He promised.”

Deuteronomy 26

Growing in intimacy with God involves engaging with His passion, His word, and Him.  A loving relationship involves two active participants who care more for the other than they do for themselves.  God has more than showed His position.  What is yours? Someone with whom you’re in love has your interest.  When it comes to God’s Word does He have your interest? Ask yourself four questions:

  1. Do I read His Word? This reading is not fast and furious.  My son will pick up a book and breeze through it for the enjoyment of reading the words.  Yet, he will be fuzzy on the storyline and characters.  He wasn’t always like this.  Once they starting counting points for awards for reading his comprehension waned a little. How often do we mindlessly read through the scripture simply because it is on the list for the day?  How often do we read scripture at all?
  2. Do I think about His Word? No matter when you read the Word, does it stick with you?  Do you think about it through the day?  Was there anything in it that struck you?  Do you stop in the middle and consider the implications of what you are reading?  Being involved with God on an intimate basis means more than just showing up for the date.  You have got to involve yourself in it also.  Have you ever found yourself on a date with someone who constantly checked their watch, texted, or spoke monosyllabically? Why would you repeat?
  3. Do I examine His Word? A good conversation makes you think.  Often I find myself researching after talking with my wife.  We have good talks.  We stretch and challenge each other.  Do you research God’s Word?  What does each book have to do with the other?  What is the overall purpose of the message?  How does the Old and New Testament fit together?  How does the Old Testament fit into our lives today?  What does that phrase mean?  You can’t believe Jesus just said what He did.  Do you research the culture and historical climate?
  4. Do I listen to His Word? You have two ears and one mouth.  Listening is far more important than speaking.  As I read God’s Word I want to listen to the Spirit speak.  Reading God’s word is a dialogue.  I read and listen and then ponder and respond.  I hear what God’s “says” and then respond.  I read and listen more.  I ponder and respond.  He shares His heart and I share mine.  Two people in love having a conversation.

How long has it been since you have had one of those with God?  Why not start right now?

Parenting Without A Net

In Family, Leviticus, Parenting on February 24, 2011 at 7:06 am

We thought we were ready.  We had read the books and watched the videos.  We had our parents with whom we talked.  We saw others and knew what we wanted and did not want. We had a vision of how things were going to be.

Then our firstborn came along and everything changed.  Screams in the night have turned into questions that would turn heads of state.  Sleep is overrated.  Answers are not forthcoming.  In fact, one might actually lead to the other.  The books covered very little.  Extended family only can help so much.  Sooner or later we all are parenting without a net.

Like the trapeze artist who swings and flies through the air in death-defying ways, parenting is both thrilling and dangerous.  One wrong move and everything blows up.  One bad decision and they might be scarred for life, both physically and emotionally.  Meanwhile, the child you think needs protection actually is more resilient than you believe.  Yet, we deeply want a net that isn’t there.  Or is it?

As the Israelites were hanging out by Mt. Sinai, God is giving instructions to Moses concerning behavior and consequences.  Every choice has a result.  Follow along in Leviticus 26. With good decisions come positive responses:

3 “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands,4 I will send you the seasonal rains.

6 “I will give you peace in the land, and you will be able to sleep with no cause for fear.

9 “I will look favorably upon you, making you fertile and multiplying your people. And I will fulfill my covenant with you.

With poor and rebellious decisions come negative responses:

14 “However, if you do not listen to me or obey all these commands, 15 and if you break my covenant by rejecting my decrees, treating my regulations with contempt, and refusing to obey my commands, 16 I will punish you.

Basically, God has taken the children of Israel into His family and will raise them as His own.  He is parenting them.  What can we learn?

We must be clear. God was extremely clear on the issues of obedience and rebellion.  Throughout the message He gives via Moses, God is detailed in the rules of behavior. Much of the last half of Leviticus spells out the expectations God has for his people.  How often are we clear with our families?  Do we spell out the expectations?  Do we go over the house rules regularly so that we are clear?  Clarity is one important factor in parenting without a net.

We must be consistent. As one continues to read through the Bible, God is consistent in his responses.  If the Israelites acted properly God would respond positively as He said he would.  If the Israelites acted in rebellion, God punished them.  He did not do this with  malice, but mercy.  He gave them chances, but there was an end.  So often in families today there is no consistency.  Either the parents don’t agree, or change the rules mid-game.  Parenting without a net requires consistency.  We must do what we say we will do, whether positive or negative.   There is no respect without consistency.

We must be complete. The remainder of the Old Testament reveals to us that God was complete.  He always followed through.  What He said, He did.  If we promise ice cream, ice cream needs to be purchased.  If we promise a spanking, we had better use that paddle.  God knew the need for humanity to see consistency in its authority figures.  Do we complete what we start or fizzle out when it gets hard?  We must finish strong.  I have personally seen so many that threaten with a wispy whip.  There is no follow-up.  God followed through with what He said.  Nation after nation was used to discipline Israel.

When the books fail and advice falters we parent without a net.  In these moments we must remember three things.  be clear.  Be consistent. Be complete.

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