March Memories: odds ‘n’ ends ‘n’ sparrows.

I’m kind of a collector of lost causes.  I’ve got a couple of plants people where I work have thrown away.  Both survived and are growing.  Then there’s the newborn pigeon on the balcony where I work.  The balcony seems to be a favorite breeding-ground for them.  Already two messes of babies this year.  [I don’t know what you call a group of pigeons, “flock,” I suppose.  Considering how dirty they are, “mess” seems like a good choice.]  This last batch consisted of two yellow fuzz-balls.  One was contentedly settled down in what passed for a nest; the other was having troubles.  I didn’t think it would make it.  It didn’t.

And…?

Got me to thinking about the time our Lord was teaching His disciples and talked about sparrows.  In Matthew 10:29, He said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin?”  Luke 12:6 records it like this, “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins?”

That fifth sparrow.

A “throw-away, as it were.  A lost cause.

Yet, in both instances, the Lord said that God knew all about it.  Then, He continued, even the hairs of our head are numbered, v. 7.  Not counted – numbered.  So the next time you comb or brush your hair, you can say, “Well, there go numbers …”

Then He said, and I think it was with a tender smile, “Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

All of us are bent and broken and full of imperfections and problems.

Lost causes.

Yet, through the Lord Jesus, God is pleased to take those bits and pieces, those imperfections, that lostness, and to build Himself a dwelling, which He beautifies and glorifies with His presence.

No wonder the Psalmist, in considering the work of God in his life, said, Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it, Psalm 139:6.  Then in v. 17, he wrote, How precious are your thought to me, O God!
________________

(originally published July 12, 2013.) slightly edited.

Advertisements

March Memories: “Look Now Toward Heaven.”

When my wife and I were first married, we started each evening to read a chapter of the Bible before we went to bed, beginning in Genesis.  We would alternate verses.  We hadn’t been doing this for very long when we came to Genesis 15.  As we were reading through this chapter, I noticed something I had never seen before.  It made me exclaim aloud, “Now, wait a minute!”  As I looked at this thought, the chapter, as well as the Bible’s teaching on faith, opened up to me in a way that was unbelievable.

One word of caution.  There’s a standard understanding of this chapter that’s pretty much universally held.  I held it myself.  In fact, I’ve never seen or heard the approach to this chapter that I now hold.  I believe that my view is right.  It’s just that every so often someone comes up with some new teaching “from Scripture” – some hare-brained idea that’s all the rage for a couple of weeks, and then fades back into the woodwork.  I’m not interested in novel ideas about the Scripture.  I agree with Paul in Romans 4:3, where he asked the question in another connection, What does the Scripture say?

..really say?

So, before you go any further in this post, I’d like for you to read Genesis 15 – yes, right now.  Close your laptop and open your Bible.  Read Genesis 15.  It’ll just take a few minutes.  Or look it up online, if you’re inclined that way.  I’m an old geezer myself and prefer books, though, obviously, I do use a computer. 🙂

I wonder how many will actually do that.

Anyway, the usual reading of this chapter concludes with the idea that Abraham goes out at night and looks at the starry heavens.  “Whoa!” he says.  “That’s a lot of stars.”

The trouble with this idea is that men HAD counted the stars, or so they thought.  The ancient Egyptians catalogued 1025 stars.  That’s not a very large posterity – not even really a good sized town.  Even as late as 1627, the German astronomer Kepler had only catalogued a little over a thousand stars.  It’s only been with the invention and improvement of the telescope that science has discovered that there are innumerable galaxies, each one with innumerable stars.  Just in passing, how did the “ignorant goat-herder” who is alleged to have written Scripture know about innumerable stars, when only a handful, relatively speaking, are visible to the naked eye?

There’s another, even more interesting, challenge to the usual understanding of the chapter.  That’s why I asked you to read it.  There are two phrases which caught my attention that long-ago night, and forever changed my conception of the chapter.  Did you notice them?

God told Abraham, “Look now toward heaven….”  Some of the later versions omit the word, “now,” but I think my interpretation is still valid.

After the conversation in v. 5, we read in v. 12, now when the Sun was going down, and in v. 17, when the Sun went down and it was dark….  My wife would have read v. 12 and I would have read v. 17.

Now, I don’t know if it was the reading of those phrases, or hearing them read out loud, or what, but they caught my attention.  They caused me to exclaim, “Now, wait a minute!”  To me, these phrases indicate that it was broad daylight when God told Abraham to look at the stars.

Now, I hear you say, “Wait a minute!”

It doesn’t make sense, does it?  The idea that God would ask someone to count stars in the daytime?

It seems to me that there are several lessons we can learn from this incident.  There are a lot of things in Scripture that don’t “make sense.”  That’s why unbelievers and skeptics have so much trouble with them.  God told Noah to build a huge boat because a flood was coming, and it have never even rained up until that time.  God told Israel to walk around Jericho for seven days, and on the seventh day they were also to yell real loudly.  What kind of warfare is that?  The Lord fed 15,000 or more people with a few sardine-sized fish and a couple slices of bread.  Pretty slim pickings.

Yet, in each case, “sense” was wrong, or at least very inadequate.

In addition, Abraham had to choose between what he could see, or what God said.  To do that, he had to go against the “science” of his day.  That’s still true.  At least here in the US, it seems that God hardly exists.  Violence and immorality are increasing.  Atheism has pretty much become the law of the land and the Bible is illegal in a good portion of our society.  As for science, no comment is needed.

But there’s more.

Abraham was a shepherd.  He’d spent a lifetime of nights under the stars.  And he could expect to spend a lot more nights under them.  But God said, “Look now….”  Abraham couldn’t look to his experiences.  God said, “Look NOW.”  He couldn’t count on his expectations.

As Christians, we can look back and see how God has blessed us.  For example, the way I met my wife involves about 7 years, four states, quitting a job, a long move, several people, a telephone book, and a phone call.  But that’s a story for another time….

We can see many times that God has been with us.  And, by His grace, we look forward to an eternity which will infinitely eclipse the things of this world.  It’s the “now” that’s the problem.

I’ve known and know people going through things I can’t even begin to imagine.  And this blog has led me to people who are also suffering.  For all these, “now” is anything but enviable.

“All” Abraham had to go on was the naked word of God.  There was no “tangible, verifiable evidence” – the kind skeptics and unbelievers are always asking for – just God and His promise.  But you see, that’s what “faith” boils down to: an absolute reliance on and trust of, God and His Word, even when everything around us says, “Why?”  Why do you think there are such attacks on the Bible?  “Faith” isn’t about us getting God to do what we want, it’s about trusting His Word and what He says He will do.

Abraham had to wait 13 years for the beginning of the fulfillment of that promise.  He did some foolish things in the meantime, things which echo today in the Middle East.  Even though Abraham was foolish, God was faithful to His promise.

For all believers, Paul wrote, the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us, Romans 8:18.

Let me encourage you, dear readers of this blog.  I don’t know anything about your “now,” but God does.  I don’t know what to say to ease your burden.  I just hope and pray that He will use these few words to encourage and bless you.

Look now toward heaven….
___________________

(originally published March 26, 2013.)  edited.

odds ‘n’ ends ‘n’ sparrows

I’m kind of a collector of lost causes.  I’ve got a couple of plants people have thrown away where I work.  Both survived and are growing.  Then there’s the newborn pigeon on the balcony where I work.  The balcony seems to be a favorite breeding ground for them.  Already two messes of babies this year.  [I don’t know what you call a “group” of pigeons, “flock”, I suppose.  Considering how dirty they are, “mess” seems like a good choice.]  This last batch consisted of two little yellow fuzz-balls.  One was contentedly settled down in what passed for a nest; the other was having troubles.  I didn’t figure it would survive; it didn’t.

And…?

Got me to thinking about the time our Lord was teaching His disciples and talked about sparrows.  In Matthew 10:29, the Lord said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin?”  Luke records it like this: “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins?” Luke 12:6.

That fifth sparrow.

A “throw-away,” as it were.  A lost cause.

Yet, in both instances, our Lord taught that God knew all about it.  Then, in Luke 12:7, He said that even the hairs of our head are numbered – not counted, numbered.  So, the next time you comb or brush your hair, you can say, “Well, there goes number …”

Then He said, and I think it was with a tender smile, “Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows,” Luke 12:7.

All of us are bent and broken and marred, full of imperfections and problems.

Lost causes.

Yet, through the Lord Jesus, God is pleased to take those bits and pieces, those imperfections, that lostness, and to build Himself a dwelling, which He beautifies and glorifies with His presence.

No wonder the Psalmist, in considering the work of God in his life, said, Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it, Psalm 139:6.  Then, in v. 17, he wrote, How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!

“…others were tortured,” Hebrews 11:35b.

I just finished reading Hebrews (NKJV).  This time, chapter 11 really seemed  to stand out.  I’ll admit, writing this blog has me looking for ideas, but there was more to it than that as I read.  As I went down through the catalog of faithful ones, each one seemed to be alive.  Then I got to v. 32, where the writer seems to have run into a common difficulty of writers:  having more to say than he could really put down.  So he summarizes, as it were:  who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.  Women received their dead raised to life again. 

Wonderful.  Examples of great blessings.  Incredible deliverance.  Brave actions.  Courage.  Victory.

Things worthy of those who believe in and serve God.

But he didn’t stop there:

Others were tortured,…

What!  How can this be?  How could God let this happen – to His faithful people!?  Why would people go through such things?

Since I have started writing this blog, I have met, via the Internet, people who are suffering incredibly.  Terrible illnesses,  stressful home situations, personal grief and familial sorrow.  People whose testimonies and praise of God shine like a searchlight at midnight.  Incredible testimonies.  Wonderful faith.  Simple trust in God.  Not perfect, no, but their focus is on God.

The writer didn’t stop with the suffering of these Old Testament brothers and sisters of ours.  He continues: not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.

Ah!

There is the answer:

they knew this life wasn’t all there is to it.

The world looks at all this and says, “Well, if God is so all-powerful, loving and good, why doesn’t He do something?”  They fail to realize that He is.  He is showing His power, not in making everything rosy for all His people, but by demonstrating that even in the worst of times, He is there, strengthening them and giving them grace to go on with life.  He’s showing that there are people, like Job, who love and serve Him for Himself, not just for what they can get out of Him.

The world wants nothing to do with and scoffs at such thinking.

But this life isn’t all there is.  The grave isn’t the finish line.  In some ways, it’s the starting line, because then all these terrible things will be gone for the believer, and only good is left.  As Paul put it, Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.  For the things that are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal,  2 Corinthians 4:16-18.

Love Is Not A Four Letter Word.

“Sure it is!” someone might say.  “L-O-V-E.  Four letters.”

That’s true, but that’s not exactly what I mean.  The “four letters” to which I refer are those short four-letter words which express profanity and/or obscenity.

“Love” has been so dragged into the cesspool of our modern society that it’s really hard to find true examples of it.  Or to get a correct definition of it.  Hollywood has no clue.  Sadly, neither do a large percentage of people of all ages.

Especially in Hollywood, or on what passes for TV in our time, “love” is almost always limited to the physical – how quickly A and B can get into bed.  Sex has become just “casual,” with couples meeting together, maybe only once, for no other reason than to satiate their physical desires. Even where there is a “relationship,” instead of the consummation of something in which a man and a woman have pledged themselves to lifelong fidelity, it almost seems as if sex has become the commencement of a relationship, which no longer is “til death do us part,” but “til desire does depart,” and one or the other or both go off to find greener pastures.  Or “the love” turns to hate, usually on the part of the male, and he begins to abuse the woman.

There is an OT example of this in 2 Samuel 13 (NKJV): the incident of Amnon, a son of David, and Tamar, the sister of another of David’s sons.  Amnon lusted for Tamar because she was lovely and pure.  Instead of Amnon being honorable and seeking to marry her, 2 Samuel 13:13, a friend of his devised a stratagem whereby Amnon could satisfy his lust.  Without going into the sordid details, we’re interested only in the result of all this.  After he raped her, we read in v. 15, “Then Amnon hated her exceedingly, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her,” and he had her thrown out.

You want to know why there has been such an increase in “domestic violence”?  2 Samuel gives us a lot of the answer.  A distorted definition of “love” has permeated our society, but where there is only a physical attraction and nothing else, the attraction can turn to loathing and hatred.  Since the moral foundation of our society has pretty well been destroyed, violence is often the result.  Even when the couple stays together, because the man has no understanding of his responsibility toward the woman, he often makes her life miserable, with verbal and physical abuse.  There is no excuse – ever – EVER – for a man to hit a woman.

Now, lest we be misunderstood, God designed and created men and women as sexual beings.  One of the first things He told them to do was to have children, and this was before they sinned against Him.  Sex is not some sordid result of their Fall, but an integral and vital part of their creation.

We ought to be thankful that God has made those things which are necessary for the survival and continuation of the human race is pleasurable, not painful.  If eating, for example, always produced severe nausea, or sex was painful like a root canal, or sleep, instead of being restful, was filled with nightmares, how long would the race have survived?

Because sex is pleasurable, and can result in children, God set boundaries in which, and only in which, sex may be enjoyed.  Hebrews 13:4 says Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled.  It is only in marriage that sex may properly and with God’s blessing be enjoyed.  And I say, “enjoyed.”  Proverbs 5:18b-19 says, …rejoice with the wife of your youth.  As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love.  And this isn’t just for the husband.  In Genesis 18:12,  after eavesdropping on the conversation of three strangers with her husband, in which they assure him that his wife Sarah would bear his child, she said to herself, “After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”   And marriage isn’t just two people living together.  In John 4, when talking to the Samaritan lady, Jesus told her that she had had five husbands and the man she was now living with wasn’t her husband. Jesus gave no sanction to her relationship.

Because children may be the result of sexual activity, it is only in marriage that such activity is permitted.  Children need the stability of a family, mom, dad, maybe brothers and sisters in which to grow and learn to live in society.  The woman needs the stability of marriage in order to be able to properly “mother” her children and raise them as they ought to be raised.  The man needs the stability of marriage to settle him down to the responsibilities of marriage and fatherhood. The children need the stability and security of marriage and the family as they navigate the shoals of growing up and going through adolescence.   And, yes, I can hear the howls of the feminists at such patriarchal “male chauvinism.”  What does the Scripture say, Romans 4:3.

At work one day, I heard a young man boasting about the fact that he had eight children by five different women.  I don’t know if he were telling the truth or not, but he was now talking about having become a “man,” because he finally had a daughter.  He probably had no idea that “a man” would take care of those women and children (even though polygamy isn’t favorably portrayed in Scripture.  Though I doubt he was married to any of the women).  Another man, one of his “achievements” in life was that he had 21 children.

Beyond that, there is the spread of STDs, the poverty of single women trying to raise children by themselves, the misery of the children as they are often neglected or subjected to a succession of men in their mother’s lives.  Debauchery, deviancy, degeneracy, disease, death.  These are just some of the sad results of the abandonment of God’s wisdom in this part of human life.

You see, there is wisdom in the limitation of sex to within the boundary of marriage.

Love is not simply an emotion, or emotionalism, or sentimentality.  It isn’t just feelings, or hormones.  It might involve feelings or hormones, but it is so much more than that.  Even at the physical level, it is so much more than that.  Love is an attitude.  So much of the world thinks that love is about “me,” if you “love” me, you’ll let me do what I want.  It’s all about my happiness, my wants, my satisfaction.  Seldom if ever does such an attitude really think about the other person.  This is not love, it is selfishness.  True love thinks mainly about the other person.

On the other hand, true love is not to be confused with indulgence.  Even God’s love, and perhaps especially God’s love, is not mere indulgence.  Hebrews 5:5, 6 says, My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, not be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves, He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.  Read the section down to v. 11 to get the whole thought.  This has something to say about the relationship between parent and child.  Although this post isn’t primarily about parenting, “love” is.  The world has the idea that the child should be able to do, apparently, whatever it wants.  The parent can’t discipline the child, just give him or her a “time out.”  Any sort of physical discipline, i.e., “spanking,” is strictly forbidden.  I remember listening to a lady radio psychologist several years ago when the subject of spanking came up.  The caller was in favor of it.  The lady became so upset and irate at such a thought that she was practically incoherent in her response.  That’s a lot of the attitude today.

There is a difference between a spanking properly administered and abuse, which is often how it’s categorized.  Actually, the abuse comes in, partly because the parent doesn’t understand discipline at all, or because the parent becomes so frustrated that he can’t do anything to the child without getting into trouble that he finally lashes out and oversteps the boundary between discipline and abuse.  Society contributes to this by encouraging the child to turn his parent in if the child doesn’t like what they do to him.  No child is going to like a spanking.

My grandmother used to tell a story.  She was born and raised in Indiana, a few miles south of where I live now.  Became a school teacher.  She never said why, but she moved to Boulder, Colorado – now affectionately known as “The People’s Republic of Boulder.”  (I lived in Denver, 30 miles away, a good part of my life.)  There was a school there looking for a teacher.  She applied for the job.  Remember, we’re talking about 1918 or so. She was around 20.  The school board warned her that there was an unruly student in the school who had driven out the last three teachers.  Did she still want the job?  Would the school board back her up?  They would.  So she took the job.

Sure enough, the boy began to make trouble.  Grandma was the youngest of 11 brothers and sisters, so she knew what to do.  She grabbed him by the ear, or arm, and took a yardstick to him.  Took one to me a few times, too.  I deserved it.  Anyway, fast forward about 30 years to 1947.  On vacation, Grandma and Grandpa were driving through New Mexico on their way to Carlsbad Caverns, when the car began to overheat.  Grandpa stopped at a gas station to get some water for the car, went around the back of the building, and fell over, dead.  The assistant district attorney for this little town out in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico, who came to help, turned out to be this same boy, now grown up!  He thanked her for whipping him all those years ago.  Said that without it he probably would be on the other side of the law.

You know what would happen if a teacher were foolish enough to try that today.  She would be the one in trouble and the boy would be soothed and pampered because he was “a troubled youth,” physically abused by an out-of-control school teacher.  You know as well as I do that that would happen.

That’s what’s wrong with our youth today – no discipline.  “Love” has been redefined as indulgence.  I know that not all “troubled youth” go on to lives spent in jail, but that’s no thanks to society.

Ephesians 5:25-29 says, Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church,…holy and without blemish.  So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies….  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord the church.

We husbands are pretty good about v. 22, where the wife is to submit to your own husband, as to the Lord, but we fall down pretty badly on the nourishing and cherishing and loving her the way Christ loves us.  This post really isn’t about marriage or parenting, but it is about love, love that is concerned about the other person and seeks their welfare.  That’s where it starts, humanly speaking, between a husband and wife and then between them and their children – and children and their parents.  I appreciated my own mother a lot more after I had kids of my own than I ever did growing up.  But by then it was too late to tell her that.

Finally, love isn’t about “tolerance,” that is, we’re not to judge another person’s beliefs or lifestyle or anything.  It is said that there are no absolutes, at least not the ones taught by Scripture.  While it may be true that love covers a multitude of sins, it is also true that love doesn’t rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth, 1 Corinthians 13:6.  John, “the apostle of love,” wrote in 1 John 4:1, Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  There’s a lot out there that claims to be from God that has nothing to do with Scripture, or Him.

Love, when properly understood, is the best of human characteristics.  Misunderstood, it can become the worst.

I understand that a lot of what I’ve written is controversial, because it goes against the grain of current thinking.  I can’t help that.  What does the Scripture say? Romans 4:3.

“Look Now Toward Heaven”

When my wife and I were first married, we started each evening to read a chapter of the Bible aloud before we went to bed, beginning in Genesis.  We would alternate reading verses.  We hadn’t been doing this for very long when we came to Genesis 15.  As we were reading through that chapter, I noticed something I had never seen before.  It caused me to exclaim aloud, “Wait a minute!”  As I looked at this new thought, the chapter, as well as the Bible’s teaching of “‘faith,” opened up to me in a way that was unbelievable.  It’s the subject of this post.

One word of caution.  There is a standard understanding of this chapter, which I once held, and it’s pretty much the only way it’s looked at.  In fact, I have never seen anywhere else or heard the approach to this chapter that I now hold.  The eventful evening described in the first paragraph was more than 40 years ago, so there’s been enough time for someone else to see it.  But apparently nobody has.  I don’t think I’m wrong.  It’s just that every so often someone comes up with some hare-brained idea “from Scripture” – some new teaching – and it’s all the rage for a couple of weeks, then fades back into the woodwork.  I’m not interested in novel ideas from Scripture.  I agree with Paul in Romans 4:3, when he asked the question, “What does the Scripture say?”  Actually say?

So, first, before you go any further, I would like for you to read Genesis 15 – yes, right now.  It’ll take you less than five minutes.  Close your laptop and open your Bible.  Read Genesis 15.  Or look it up online, I guess, if you’re inclined that way.  I’m an old geezer myself and I still prefer books, though, obviously, I do use a computer.

Did you do it?  Thank you.  Did you notice anything?  Now, I’d like you to read my remarks and tell me what you think.

The usual reading of this chapter concludes with the idea that Abraham goes out at night and sees all the stars in  heaven.  He thinks, “Whoa! That’s a lot of stars!”  The trouble with this idea is that men HAD counted the stars, or so they thought.  The ancient Egyptians catalogued only 1025 stars.  That’s not a very large posterity.  Even as late as 1627, the astronomer Kepler catalogued only a little over a thousand stars.  It’s only been with the invention and improvement of the telescope that science has discovered that there are innumerable galaxies, each with innumerable stars.  (Just in passing, how did the “ignorant goatherder” who is alleged to have written this know about innumerable stars, when only a few, relatively speaking, are visible to the naked eye?)

There’s another, even more interesting, challenge to the usual understanding of Genesis 15.  That’s why I asked you to read it before reading this.  If you haven’t, please do it now….  There are two phrases which caught my attention that long ago night and changed forever my perception of this chapter.  Did you notice them?  God had told Abraham to “look now toward heaven….”  Some of the later versions omit the word “now,” but I think my interpretation is still valid.  After the conversation in vs. 1-5, we read in v. 12, “Now when the sun was going down…,” and in v. 17, “when the sun went down and it was dark,…”  My wife would have read v. 12, and I would have read v. 17.

Now, I don’t know if it was just the reading of these phrases, or hearing them read, or what, but they caught my attention.  They caused me to exclaim, “Wait a minute!”  To me, these phrases indicate it was broad daylight when God told Abraham to look at the stars.

Now I hear you say, “Wait a minute!”  It doesn’t make sense, does it?  God asking Abraham to count stars in the daytime?  Well, there are some lessons I think we can learn from this incident.  Sometimes we have to trust God when it doesn’t seem to make any sense.  There are a lot of things in Scripture that don’t “make sense.”  God told Noah to build an ark because a great flood was coming, and it had never even ever rained.  God told Israel to walk around Jericho seven days, with the priests blowing trumpets, then on the seventh day, Israel was also to give a great shout.  What kind of warfare is that?  Jesus told the disciples to feed a crowd of 15,000 or more with a few sardine-sized fish and a couple slices of bread.  Pretty slim pickings.  Yet, in each case, God was right and sense was wrong, or at least, inadequate.

In addition, Abraham had to choose between what he could see, or what God said.  Further, he had to choose between God and the science of his day.  That’s still true.  At least in this country, the US, it hardly seems like God exists.  Violence is increasing, immorality and perversion are becoming the law of the land, and the Bible is illegal in a good portion of our society.  As for science, no comment is needed.

But there’s more.  Abraham was a shepherd.  He had spent a lifetime of nights under the stars.  It was likely that he would spend a lot more nights under them.  However, God said, “Look NOW….”  Abraham couldn’t depend on experience.  God said, “Look NOW….”  Abraham couldn’t count on his expectations.  “NOW”.  “NOW”.

As Christians, we can look back of how God has blessed us.  The way I met my wife involves about 7 years and at least four states and several people, a telephone book and a phone call, but that’s a story for another time.  We can see many times God has been with us.  And, by His grace, we look forward to an eternity that will eclipse a million times what this world has to offer.  It’s the “NOW” that’s the problem.  This blog has led me to many others, telling of people and experiences I can’t even begin to imagine.  Things people are suffering.  Their “NOW” is anything but enviable.

“All” Abraham had to go on was the naked promise of God.  There was no “tangible, verifiable evidence” for him, the kind that skeptics and unbelievers keep asking for – just God and His promise.  But, you see, that’s what “faith” boils down to: an absolute reliance on and trust of God and His promise, His Word.  Why do you think there are such attacks against the Bible?  “Faith” isn’t about us getting God to do what we want.  Faith is about what God wants or has said.

Abraham had to wait 13 years for the beginning of the fulfillment of that promise, and did some foolish things in the meantime, things which echo even today in the Middle East.  Even though he was foolish, God was faithful to His promise.

Let me encourage you, dear friends, readers of this blog.  I know nothing of your “now,” but God does.  Trust Him.  Look to Him.  I don’t know what to say to ease your burden.  I just hope and pray that He will use even these few words to encourage and strengthen you.  “Look now toward heaven….”

The following was added after the post was published:

Sorry, I got to thinking about this and didn’t like where I ended it.  For all believers, Paul wrote in Romans 8:18 that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”  Not “to us,” but “in us.”  I can’t wait!

“The God of My Salvation”

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NKJV).

I find it interesting that three of the greatest confessions of faith in God are found in the Old Testament.  I think a lot of people have the idea that the Old Testament is stern and foreboding, all thunder and lightning.  And it’s true that there are verses and events in it which are strange, even contrary, to our modern way of thinking.  Another of these confessions of faith is found in Job 13:15, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”  The third one is the famous, or infamous, I guess, depending on your viewpoint, “sacrifice” of Isaac by his father, Abraham.  I’m working on a post on that one.  It’s grossly and unfairly categorized as a terrible event.

You also need to note that not a single one of these confessions happens when the sun is shining and all is well with the one making the confession.  Job is sitting in the shambles of what’s left of his life, family, possessions and health all gone.  All that’s left is a wife with no sympathy for his integrity.  Habakkuk is looking at the coming destruction and dissolution of his beloved nation.  Abraham is weighing what he’s been asked to do against the promises of God concerning this very son.  I wonder how many of us could echo their sentiments in similar circumstances.

I was reading and thinking about the verses in Habakkuk one morning, and they almost rearranged themselves into verse form.  Here they are.

Though the fig tree may not blossom,

Nor fruit be on the vine.

Though the harvest of the olive fail,

And food be hard to find.

Though the flock may come to nothing

And no oxen in the stall –

Yet I’ll rejoice in Yahweh

My joy, my God, my All.

May God bless it to you as He did to me.