Jude 1: 9-10
9But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10Yet these people slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct— as irrational animals do— will destroy them.
I DON’T GET IT
In seminary my husband had a teacher who told them while they were preaching not to refer to obscure references as illustrations because they would lose the congregation’s understanding. This scripture is a perfect illustration. No one knows what Jude is referring to. No where in the Old Testament is Michael recorded arguing with the devil over the fate if Moses’ body. There are some traditions advanced scholars have flushed out such as God hid Moses’ body to keep it from becoming an idol, but even those ideas are scarce.
We understand Jude Is making a contrast. Even Michael when doing something as important as protecting the great Moses’ body did not stoop to slander. But we feel left out because we do know about the incident to which he refers.
Now we know how many people feel when we speak “Christian -eeze.” We understand what we mean. Perhaps people of our own denomination and church understand what we mean, but the further we get away from the church the less people know the illustrations.
To me this passage is a challenge to study and understand what the terms and illustrations (examples or references) we use originally meant so I can reword them before I use them outside the church.
Our traditions are rich. We don’t have to abandon them. But as society around us grows more secular, we will have find new ways to express our faith so we remain Christ’s representatives today, not merely yesterday’s symbols. And we need to teach people the traditions, what they mean. We need to keep teaching what the symbols mean. We need to teach the Old Testament to understand how we can expect God to relate to us today by seeing how he related to them. We cannot assume even our own children understand. These days life changes radically from one generation to the next. We all must teach by what we say and what we are.
God does not change. The way he relates to us, his love for us, his understanding of us will not ever change. I relax in he presence as I become convinced of that, but the way that relationship looks changes from society to society and generation to generation. We need not be frightened of that.
Review People of Faith in a Changing World
By David Ramous
I love devotionals (hence why I’m writing a whole series of them). A good devotional is like ahealthy snack The author has to really understand what they want to say and then communicate the truth in a short, digestible means – one that is also powerful and true.
This book does that extremely well.
Now, this book is not a short one. It’s300+ pages with literally hundreds of devotions ranging across all of Scripture. The author writes clearly, and I felt recharges as I brought this book with me on my recent trip to Georgia.
The book contains both honesty and variety. I never got bored, and there was a nice mix of stories, poetry, deep theology and much more.
Anyone looking for a large anthology of devotions should definitely check this book out.
Thank you to David Ramos for the kind words. I have been following David’s blog and he has written a book of devotionals called Climbing with Abraham. I have ordered it and read most of it. See a review on my page ‘Book I read’. It is worth your time.
Us. That’s what the world needs.
We who have learned fractious living is unproductive.
We who have learned there is a time and place to give voice to our inner critic.
We who tire of both extremes insisting they are the only proper and right choice.
We who are adopting peacemaking as life’s philosophy.
We who share grace instead of insults in life’s stress filled moments.
You. That’s what the world needs.
Your individual voice that soothes your world’s hurts.
You who rub balm instead of salt into open wounds.
You who understand just because you know gossip doesn’t mean you have to share it.
You who are aware of and mindful of other’s feelings and reactions.
You who, by example, can teach our world about balance.
Me. That’s what the world needs.
Me, who God has redeemed and refined to reflect who God is.
Me, who has dedicated talents and self to God’s expression.
Me, who can change the atmosphere in which I dwell by sharing the quiet joy of God.
Me, who can make a difference in the world when I give that which makes me unique.
Me, who the Holy Spirit empowers me so others can see God.
God’s People. That’s what the world needs.
God’s people to be present and active.
God’s people to step up and be the means of Grace for a fractured world.
God’s people to give positive input instead of dropping out and criticizing.
God’s people’s witness to build-up, and not tear down.
God’s people to face reality but re-enforce good, wherever it is found.
And so I pray:
God, I realize the world needs more than one word solutions. It’s not a simple world we live in, and we have left you out. Help me be part the positive movement leading the way back to you as our world begins to realize what we have is not working. But to do that, help me live each day in your presence and be a reflection of you in the part of the world you have put me in.
Give us this day our daily bread,
For years I have prayed for people by making lists of the things I thought they needed.
And when I finished the list, I didn’t know how to continue praying for them. The other day I came across a new idea from the scripture as this verse from the Lord’s Prayer jumped out at me.
I suddenly realized I’ve wandered from the idea of God giving us what we need. I find this idea fascinating and have written about it before. But I have not applied the idea to prayer.
I imagined someone for whom I pray regularly. I could not know everything they might do in one day. I could not come up with a list of things I thought they might need for the day. This scripture suggested I pray that God would fill in the needs.
So, I began to pray for their health and needs and moved to asking God to give them whatever they needed for that day.
I was reminded that we don’t need the same things every day. One day I need courage and the next I need hope. Unless I call and request you to pray for certain things, you don’t really know what I need, but God does. And when I pray ‘God, give them everything they need for today,’ he goes into action.
That is so simple, yet so deep. Everything you need. I really like it. It comforts me and helps my worry that I am not praying for the right things for you, yet I am praying more specific than ‘help her/him/them.’
Give them everything they need for today. And tomorrow I pray for that day.
And when we need wisdom in making decisions that will affect the future, God sends the kind of help we need to make the best decision today.
Tomorrow we will pray for what we need and God sends what we need to follow through .
It is a fact of nature that big things come from small.
Trees and adults alike start as seeds and embryos.
Songs are often born of feelings, poems of a passing conversation
And many a good marriage is born of a smile.
God help me remember who I am today didn’t happen just yesterday.
Yet what I am tomorrow is happening today.
That seems a contradiction, but life is made up of small steps.
Daily reactions and decisions from the situations you put me in.
Help me be sensitive to your leading in small things,
The way I react to a person, what I say to him or her,
How I decide to act on any given situation
Can begin molding my character and determine opportunities for witness.
Planning and looking to the future are good and necessary.
But help me attend to the sacredness of daily growth.
Give me wisdom to identify and implant the best daily activities
For me to grow into what you have for me in the future.
Scripture speaks of a party spirit, (Galatians 5:20 Amplified Bible)
But it’s not the University par-ty! par-ty! Spirit.
It’s using ideology, religious bent, difference in life style
As the excuse to angrily part ways – break fellowship
Humans draw lines.
Kids wearing school uniforms may have stopped violence over clothes envy,
But I witnessed kids drawing lines characterized by
How many and the message of the arm bracelets they wore – bling.
Some societies still use ‘good families’ – we use money, position, and religion as our chalk.
We could stop there, acknowledging wealth, position, heritage and religion separate us.
But instead of stepping over the line, we use it to enable and feed our scorn and disrespect.
We personify the Biblical Party Spirit: derision becomes a journalistic tool,
We pit generations and geographical areas against each other, calling it demographics,
We attack opponents’ worth, and disrespect is a political weapon or even justifies homicide.
Why do humans draw lines?
What drives us to scorn people who bring change we fear?
Why do we generate hate over differences?
And if we say we draw lines because of some need for safety,
It is not a product or measure of the distance between us and God?
I don’t think it’s God’s fault or a defect of our design.
I’m afraid it’s when I am the only controlling interest in my life,
When all I care about is me and mine,
And all my life is centered around getting ‘us’ what we want,
Respect – the simple idea that everyone’s value is equal – is lost.
There’s a math set theory concept that puts a different spin on equality.
Two sets that contain the same number of items
Are considered equivalent – not equal in the sense of being the very same,
But of the same value.
I like this idea applied to people.
It allows for all the differences in us.
The things we value, how we are hard-wired,
Creative, spiritual, logical, color of skin,
Scientific, romantic, military bent, primarily heart belief,
Or thinking, scholarly belief, no belief, and everything between –
God equipped us, giving us the same rights and position in His consideration.
But we are not the same –
We are wildly different in ability, station in life, influence, and activity.
We must quit trying to make us be the same – valuing each other by achievements,
And begin thinking about our shared value instead of drawing ‘us and them’ lines.
I’m learning a new kind of respect.
Built on equivalence, not strict equality as we think of it.
That leaves me the right to choose my way,
Without resorting to the parting of ways with ideologies,
Without having to question my respect for people who are so different from me.
It’s such a tiny thing – respect.
Both giving and receiving respect changes us all.
So, is it really that easy? Or even that simple?
Even admitting there are people who will never understand the concept of respect,
Would our world be so different if we lived in respect of each other?
If so, how do I get the desire to respect?
And how do I overcome the desire to drawn lines?
Ho do I learn to value others as I do ‘me and mine?’
How can respect be my first reaction?
Instead of fear, suspicion, scorn or hate?
I long to make the answer easy – God.
If that’s so, why are there so many inward sighted, bitter, arrogant Christians?
Maybe it’s so hard because respect has to come from our core.
We can’t fake it – or we’re merely being civil.
And people know the difference.
So, first it has to be genuine – there can be no point of contact without it.
That means God has to change me inside so my core generates genuine respect.
But first I must want to change, I must ask God to change me, and then live accordingly.
Our society understand some things as reflected in the random acts of kindness movement,
Respect acts that way, rippling out from me. But first God must change me.
Galatians 5: 19-20 Amplified Bible (Read Galatians 5: 16 to 20 for context.)
Now, the doings (practices) of the flesh are clear (obvious); they are immorality, impurity … Idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, (ill temper), selfishness, divisions, (dissensions), party spirit (factions)
When life changes quickly and unexpectedly the foundations are shaken.
And while I accepted and see God’s hand and wisdom in this last upheaval,
I’m very uncertain of the direction the rest of my life is heading – what it will look like.
So with that in mind, I have had a series of really strange dreams.
As each season comes, I dream about the things I will not be doing this year.
Many have brought feelings of release from the pressure of responsibility.
Spring brought a dream of about Bible School that ended in vulnerable tears on my part.
I dreamed about being presented to a group to make a speech and presenting a concert.
And I dream of being disciplined for errors at some unfamiliar workplace.
I know, there is nothing deep, dark, or a mental illness represented here,
But, again, with that in mind, I began to dream about presenting a Christmas Play.
This is the time of year I begin if I’m writing a new play for any given year.
And I rebelled. I woke up in the middle of it, and said,
“A Christmas play! I will not dream about this.” I went back to sleep. The dream continued.
In rebellion, I woke up again. “I will not dream about that stress. It was fun.”
The third time I woke up enough to think about the play
And realized I didn’t recognize the play –
And I laughed and muttered to myself, “God is giving me a new play!”
And now, I have a new Christmas play to write.
It’s the comedy-drama thing I enjoy writing.
God was trying to give me a gift – and I was about to refuse it.
God was helping me understand how ungrateful I’d become in my worry about the future.
God took care of my family in such a dramatic way and brought me to a quiet place
Just when I didn’t know how much longer I could continue doing what I was doing.
As my husband wondered if his current form of ministry
Was drawing to completion,
God provided the next step.
And I have allowed myself to unnecessarily revisit the natural worry
That comes with big, fast changes in life – good or bad.
I have allowed worry to become fretting.
Now, I don’t expect all the worry will dissipate in an instant,
But I will resurrect a practice from the past when I let go of things I couldn’t control.
As soon as the fretful dream comes, or worry pops up, I know what to do.
I’ll immediately turn to God, give the worry to him, and wait for instructions.
Meanwhile, I’ll allow myself to be bathed in grateful thankfulness for the new way of life God has given me;
And learn to recognize God’s new gifts and the new ways He is sending them.
“Fret Not Yourself,” is one translation of “Don’t worry about ….” Apostle Paul told his readers.