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On taking second place...

Martin Luther said: 'A Christian is a perfectly free Lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.'

This quote is taken from the chapter in Richard Foster's book 'Celebration of Discipline' on the discipline of submission. He talks about how great it it to be freed from the need to come first! I guess that even if Abram hadn't found eventual blessing in the land he was left with he would still have come closer to God just be making the choice to submit.

Rob


Matthew 5 :39-41

I used to think that these verses were about passive acceptance or acquiescence. Now when I read them it seem that they are about challenging situations in a creative yet provocative way.

Turning the cheek - only the right hand would be used to strike someone; the left hand was the unclean toilet hand and never used in public. You would naturally hit someone on the right cheek with the back of the right hand as an insult to an inferior. To turn your other cheek, your left cheek to your attacker would force them to use the palm of the right hand - which you would only do to someone who was your equal. Basically you are asserting your equality.

Stripping naked - In Judaism nakedness was a taboo but the shame was always on the one who was looking on. In this example it is the creditor who is shown up.

Going the second mile - Roman soldiers could legally command a civilian to carry his pack for a single mile but no further. To insist on going on for a second mile shifted the balance of power as the soldier was forbidden from allowing his pack to be carried for more than one mile.

It seems that we mustn't shy away from challenging oppressive systems but we need to do so in a creative and non confrontational way.

Kerrie

Last year, reading in Hebrews, I sent a comment telling you to remember that Melchisedec was pre-incarnate Christ. Your comments caused me to keep digging and I have now changed my mind!!! Most believe he is a picture of Christ.

I liked several different commentaries on who Melchisedec really is. On his being without father or mother basically was saying that history did not record this info, his parentage was either humble or unknown. Also, it was noted that "the Son of God is NOT said to be made like unto Melchisedec, BUT Melchisedec to be made like the Son of God." He seems to be the last representative of the Noahic covenant, as Christ is the enduring representative of the Abrahamic covenant. It is said that he is the Old Testament picture of our coming Savior - a "figure" of Christ, but NOT Christ! Melchisedec the shadow - Christ the real deal.

I liked this summary from John Gill's Exposition of the Bible: "...others take him to be a mere man, but an extraordinary one, eminently raised up by God to be a type of the Messiah and think it most proper not to inquire curiously who he was, since the Scripture is silent concerning his geneaology and descent and that as it seems on purpose, that he might be a more full and fit type of Christ." Interesting stuff, huh?!

I think this Abram story captures a distinct characteristic of believers setting them apart from the rest of the world. From a worldly perspective, One needs to take care of number 1 because no one else will. Therefore one forces his/her way to the front and elbows their way to secure their individual justice. This story shows us that circumstance and personal gain is an afterthought. We are genuinely secure and content knowing that we are ultimately taken care of so that we don't have to lose sleep over the fear of drawing the shorter straw. It reminds me of a child who was raised in a loving home where they developed a strong sense of security rather than coming from a dysfunctional home where they lack a model of consistency and love. Their resulting future lifestyles reflect their foundation.

Yes Matthew 27 and 28 talks about adultery. But Matthew 5:29 & 30 is talking more than just adultery.

Out of the NAS version...V.29 And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. V.30 And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you, for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell.

This is very harsh. Jesus is emphasizing how bad, horrible, and dangerous ALL sin can be. Sin does lead to eternal condemnation. So it is better to lose the hands or eyes that cause you to stumble, for it is only temporary, comparied to losing life eternally.

In Matthew 5:48...Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect... Does this mean we are to be totally perfect? Well...I am leaning toward more than this meaning we are to strive to be without sin but also we are to strive to become spiritually mature and complete in the likeness of God.

Heavy post or speaking the truth in love? Mike, I also felt like the passages today were "ganging" up on me. But the fact remains that our loving Father in heaven must deal harshly with sin. We also see how sin is not just on the outside, but comes from within.

Lot started out by pitching his tent "towards" Sodom, but when we next hear about him, he is living in Sodom, that seat of wickedness and evil. As our hearts, minds and lives relate to adultery, the first steps are inside, in lustful thoughts.

43 "You're familiar with the old written law, "Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, "Hate your enemy.'
44 I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer,
45 for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best--the sun to warm and the rain to nourish--to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty.
46 If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that.
47 If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

Guys, you think keeping your thought life pure is a challenge -- just try to love the way Jesus is talking about here. Either way, we just can't do it on our own! That's why God sent us our wonderful Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.

Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Mark

Genesis 13:5-15:21

I Corinthians 10:
6Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.

11These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.

I’ve placed the above scriptures in my journaling as a reminder of why we have the Old Testament because I want to focus on the effect that Lot had on Abram’s life as a case study. First Lot should not have been with Abram because the text says God spoke to him and said in the twelve chapter, 1The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.” Now Lot was Abram’s “people” and I don’t think he should have been there. Sometimes we add to what God has said or put our own interpretation on “Thus saith the Lord.” Whether I’m off the deep end or not the following is my perspective or take and not to be followed as doctrine.

Lot’s wealth, was it because of his own business and livestock skill or did it come from being under the “cover” of his uncle Abram? Sometimes we enjoy the fruit of someone else’s orchid and mistakenly think what we have has gained by our own strength. We do this to God a lot. The things he has given to us to exercise stewardship over we think belong to us. Although 10”Lot took a long look at the fertile plains of the Jordan Valley in the direction of Zoar. The whole area was well watered everywhere, like the garden of the LORD or the beautiful land of Egypt (Genesis13),” and chose this land which was east of where the family had pitched their tents, God showed everything to Abram east, west, north and south and said He was giving that land to Abram’s descendents. So it is not what you take that is important it is what God gives you that will last and stand the test of time. Mike in his commentary stated that it is taking the second choice, but the second choice as far as Abram was concerned is God’s choice the best choice.

By the time the four kings came against the five kings (one being the king of Sodom) where Lot wound up, nothing is mentioned of Lot’s “wealth.” He had taken the Land that was NEAR Sodom and wound up IN Sodom a place the text states, “The people of this area were unusually wicked and sinned greatly against the LORD. (Gen. 13:13). You can’t play with sin or it will play with you.

Because of his (Lot) association he was caught up on the battle between two warring evil, sinful factions. We know that both were evil because after Abram rescued his nephew and retook the cities with all of his 318 men, he refused to accept any kind of payment from the five kings because he didn’t want people to think they had made him rich. Associations stamp us with the identity of those we associate with, good or bad. We know this as the saying that says, “Lay down with dogs you get up with fleas.”

The promise to Abram of reward and blessings as well as descendents that outnumber the stars in the sky is important but I was fascinated by the Lot experience. And despite not following the exact command of God, the promise was still given. God knows everything about us and though we may not follow Him at all at a given time, He knows those who will eventually surrender their will to His will. We operate with time, in time and measure things with time lines, but God is eternal and outside of time He has no measurement of time everything is always in the Now. This stuff is better than Star Trek.

Matthew 5:27-48
As I reread this passage I was pondering what to put here. I went back and read Mike’s comments about this and was struck and inspired by his mentioning of “internal” or interior lives. This struck a confirming cord within me and I immediately thought of some words spoken by Jesus that are also echoed in Proverbs. Jesus is recorded in Luke as saying the following in the six chapter of Luke, 43“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. 45The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. [Proverbs 4: 23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.]
Out of the overflow, King James says, out of the abundance, the mouth speaks. However we just don’t communicate with our mouths, we communicate by jesters and with our spirit. How we communicate with the things and people around us shows what is in our heart. My pastor has stated,
“We behave wrong, because we think wrong, and we think wrong because we believe wrong. What do you believe about yourself and more importantly what do you believe about God? Answer that question truthfully and you will find out why you do the things you do.”

Psalm 6:1-10
This is David getting “real” with God. He is in despair and we can deduce that he has had some sin going on because he asks God not to rebuke him in anger. David just lays in all out hiding nothing.

Do I pray cover-up prayers, prayers with pretty facades instead of getting down with God with the real truth of my situations, which God knows anyway? Do I let shame and embarrassment keep me from getting real? The mercy that I seek, we seek, can only come when I deal in truth about my situations and my “stuff.”

Proverbs 1:29-33

29For they hated knowledge and chose not to fear the LORD. 30They rejected my advice and paid no attention when I corrected them.

I pretty much go through the entire book of Proverbs every month, except when I take a couple of months off because I’ve begun reading out of sense of duty and stop receiving any king of revelation from this powerful book. Yet, I’ve never taking in this powerful indictment. To fear or not fear the Lord is a conscience choice. We are not without information, we are not without knowledge we are in full control of our senses when we decide to either fear or not fear.

Grace and peace,
Ramona

Sometimes I wonder if God hates sin so much because he knows the damage it does to the sinner as well as to those sinned against. Jesus tells us where it starts with the hard teachings here-pointing again to our desperate need of Him since we can't even think purely, but I think Proverbs sums it up well-we will bear the consequences (fruit) of our ways and if the path is one of disobedience and sin, it will be reflected in our lives. As any parent knows, when your child does something stupid that will impact his life in ways he can not understand, you are heartbroken because you know the price to be paid-how could God feel any less sorrow for our poor choices when He knows how much He has to offer us and how much we will suffer from sin when we spurn Him. Yep, this is heavy stuff. Thank you God for your Son and Saviour!

Thank you all for your comments. I truly enjoy reading them. I am very early on in my walk with Christ, and I don't have a tremendous amount to add at this time, but I suppose I should contribute what I can.

My interpretation of going the second mile is that it's what we should do because it will relieve the burden of another of having to carry the pack. I read another's interpretation of this earlier, and since mine is different, I felt I should share it. Until next time.

PBWY

One of the things I found encouraging in todays reading was the part about Abram's belief in God- and it being credited to him as righteousness (or declared righteous by Christ - so cool)...this tied into the Part when Jesus says we should be more righteouse than the Pharisees --"But I warn you--unless you obey God better than the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees do, you can't enter the Kingdom of Heaven at all!" That's from yesterday's reading.

I believe he is basically saying that we can not attain our own righteousness, but through Christ we are righteous. I believe he is drawing us towards the only solution which is utter dependence on him. He is setting us free from the law of sin and death! I just think it's cool to see Abram's belief parallelled with what God desire's- our sincere belief in Him to make us righteous.

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