“If you tie two cats’ tails together, and drop them over opposite sides of the clothesline, you may have unison, but you surely won’t have unity!” Although I’ve never seen or done this, visualizing the chaos and caterwauling that would result provides insight to “unison” and “unity.” Unfortunately, “unison” is often what we have instead of “unity” in our churches. Despite having a “tie” that binds us together, true “unity” often does not really exist. So, we act and treat one another about the same as we imagine our illustrative cats would, and the fur flies- and unbelievers have a more difficult time understanding why they should become Christians, cf. John 17:21.
There is a huge difference between being patient and being dead, obviously. This is true physically and spiritually- which is equally apparent. In our last article, the importance of “patient faith,” and trusting God and His ways, was emphasized through the story of Abraham and Sarah. Eventually, as we learned, they stopped trying “help” God (through adoption and surrogacy) fulfill His promise to give them a son. Instead, Abraham and Sarah finally learned to patiently trust and obey God. He then, in turn, blessed them with Isaac, the son He had promised. But…
When God promised a son to Abraham and Sarah, they were already old. But they had some faith, so they believed and waited- for a while anyway. However, they eventually decided to “help” God fulfill His promise. They first purposed to adopt the eldest son born in their household (the son of a servant) so that he could become the promised heir. God said this wasn’t the way. So they again waited, at least until Sarah decided she might be the problem, and gave her handmaid to Abraham as a wife so that the heir could be born through her. God reiterated His promise that Abraham and Sarah would have a son. So again, they waited. Then, as promised, Isaac was born, and the nation that was to come from the aged couple had its beginning. What has any of this to do with “The Power of God to Save”?
“Passive” means that we are not the primary one acting in an event, even though we are present and may participate to some lesser degree. Perhaps this is an over-simplification, but it is the difference between being “active” and being “acted upon.” Many believe that man is entirely “passive” in regard to his own salvation- that he is “acted upon” by God, and has very little, if any, “active” responsibility himself. Let’s see if this is how God saved Noah in the very first case of salvation. Please consider the Word of God with me:
Some 700 years before the time of Christ, God’s prophet Isaiah warned of the foolishness and futility of idolatry in clear and remarkable language the logic of which cannot be denied. In Isaiah 44, he first points out that although a man may plant a tree (or forest), it is God who sends the rain that makes it grow in v.14. But the reasoning of the next few verses is amazing. The man depicted cuts a tree from this forest and: 1) burns some of it to build a fire for warmth; 2) burns some of it to bake his bread and roast his meat; and, 3) “But the rest of it he makes into a god, his graven image. He falls down before it and worships; he also prays to it and says, ‘Deliver me, for thou art my god’,” v.17. The point is crystal clear: Why would anyone worship and pray to a “god” he himself fashioned from the same tree that he also burned to warm himself and to cook his food? Moreover, why would anyone reasonably expect such a “god” to deliver him from trouble or oppression?
“Hearing voices” can be an indication of mental illness or mental health- it all depends on the voices and what they say. For instance, “voices” that urge you to: hurt yourself or others; do things morally reprehensible; or act in ways contrary to sound logic and reason are obviously problematic whatever their source. But what about “voices” that instead urge you to: help yourself and others; act in morally upright and righteous ways; and conduct yourself in reasonable, logical, and sound courses? What “voices” do this?
(For those who may not know, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 T-Cell Lymphoma in May of 2004, but by the grace of God, modern medicine, and the loving support of my families- both physical and spiritual, I’m obviously still hanging around.)
One of the advantages of having been forced to face your own mortality is the perspective it provides. The platitude, "Live each day as if it could be your last- because one day it will be," has only limited effects and benefits toward providing real impetus for changes in perspective and focus. This is especially true in spiritual matters.
Run and hide from an omnipresent God.” Just ask Jonah (Jonah 1-4). God told Jonah to go and urge the great city of Nineveh to repent to avoid complete destruction for their exceeding wickedness. But Jonah viewed the Assyrians, of which Nineveh was the capital city, as Israel’s enemy. So, he attempted to “run and hide” from God’s requirements. Obviously, that didn’t work for a very simple reason: God is everywhere, Psalms 139:7-12. We simply cannot “run and hide” from the God who is everywhere, or from His requirements of us, Luke 11:30.
I seriously doubt that Pilate meant the question he asked Jesus, shortly before surrendering Him to the Jews for crucifixion, to be anything other than rhetorical. But even if the Roman Governor was not really looking for a reply, it is a question that currently needs to be asked and answered.
The so-called “Lord’s Prayer” really isn’t His. He taught and gave it to the disciples for their use, Matthew 6:5-9a (one of His prayers is recorded in John 17:1-26, and is very different). The prayer is not a formula to be ritualistically recited,but it does contain a form that preaches as well as it petitions. For instance, note that the prayer includes: