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Archive for the tag “Throwing Stones”

God’s Equality

The other day, a man was arrested for sharing the Good News. Of course, he doesn’t live here in this country. He lives in a predominately Muslim country so he is in a very bad situation. His family may be targeted next. He and his family need a miracle. It seems so foreign to me because of where I live; I can’t imagine that people all over the world have the same kind of risk when sharing the Gospel message.

There are women all over this world who are looked down upon because of their gender – not their skin color, but gender. They can’t walk on the streets without their husbands or brother or father with them. Even then, the men walk ahead of them. They can’t vote or even drive a car. They have no rights when it comes to civil affairs. Again, this is just so foreign to me that I can’t imagine a time when I couldn’t go where I wanted and do anything (within reason) I wanted to do.

We see in ancient times the same thing happened – women were second class citizens. It wasn’t until Jesus came along when He elevated them to equal standing before His Father. When the woman who was caught in adultery was brought before Jesus (the man wasn’t accused of the same act), everybody expected Jesus to accuse her and stone her – it was the law in that day. However, Jesus said that the man who had not sinned could throw the first stone. One after another left that day, because the only one who could actually condemn her would not do so – Jesus was the only one who had never sinned, yet He did not pick up a stone. He said in John 3:17 “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” It was His right to do so, but He chose another way.

Women were counted among those who were in Jesus’ circle of influence. Many women were acknowledged for helping support the disciples in their work. After Jesus was resurrected, Jesus appeared to the women first. They came to anoint His body with oil as they do for all dead people. But Jesus wasn’t in the grave. He appeared to them outside the grave, alive and glorified. The stone was rolled away; there was nothing left to hinder their approach to Him. The door had been opened to a greater role for women to play in God’s plan along with every man of every color and nationality.

However, I have come to the conclusion that life on earth isn’t fair in any shape or form. Skin color, economic status, background, sexual or verbal abuse in the home, or sexual orientation; there are many different shapes to an unfair disadvantage. However, I am told through the Gospel message that everyone is equal in the eyes of God – Jesus came for us all.

The cross of Jesus is on level ground. We have either received the grace of God by Jesus’ death and resurrection or not. Doesn’t matter of nationality or gender, we are all one in Him if we have received the grace. We are brothers and sisters of the same family – there are no grandchildren, just children of God. We all have a role to play in the family – with no hierarchy to it; every role is important. That’s pretty special!

This “take a knee” for the anthem doesn’t upset me like some. Of course, I haven’t served our country and risked my life for the freedoms I enjoy. I recognize the importance of the good that this country has done through the years. The sacrifice of all who have served throughout the years to give me a right to freedom of speech and the fearlessness of being a believer in this country; to keep us all safe from those who would destroy us if given the opportunity. This country as great as it is, is not my first citizenship – my first citizenship is in the Kingdom of God. My knees hit the ground for Him alone. I am His disciple.

I will stand for an anthem because it’s a respect for those who came before me and for all the rights and privileges I enjoy today because of where I live out this earthly presence. But one day, we will all come to a place of understanding – this is not our home. This is just a journey through until we one day will stand in the Promised Land – a land so rich and beautiful that we can’t even imagine; where streets are paved with gold and waters flow from a throne. And we will all stand before that throne. One day, everything will be equal at that throne. In the meantime, let’s pray for one another and encourage one another. Life is tough for many right now. We have a great God who listens to the prayers of His children. He will meet every need as we lift them up together. Let’s stand together – united as one in Him!

I looked again. I saw a huge crowd, too huge to count. Everyone was there—all nations and tribes, all races and languages. And they were standing, dressed in white robes and waving palm branches, standing before the Throne and the Lamb and heartily singing:

Salvation to our God on his Throne!
Salvation to the Lamb!

All who were standing around the Throne—Angels, Elders, Animals—fell on their faces before the Throne and worshiped God, singing:

Oh, Yes!
The blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving,
The honor and power and strength,
To our God forever and ever and ever!
Oh, Yes! Revelation 7:9-12 (MSG)

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Doing Good

I have been challenged in my discipleship class to read the Gospels in a month’s time. I decided to go to the Gospel of John first. I was struck one morning when I came to the passage in John 11:9, Jesus had been asked a question by His disciples, and He responds to the question in a very strange way. At least to me it was strange. The disciples were trying to talk Jesus out of going to see Lazarus after he had fallen ill. The Jewish rules had tried to stone Him last time Jesus was in the area. The disciples were fearful that the Jewish rulers would succeed in their quest. Maybe Jesus saw beneath the question they asked. “Yet, you are going back there?” Then Jesus responded, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world’s light. It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light.” (John 11:9-10)

What were the disciples really asking that Jesus was responding to? Were they fearful that they would be stoned too? I have been listening to James MacDonald (Walking in the Word) who has been talking about the Gospel of John. So I pulled out the notes from this passage to see what had been revealed to Pastor MacDonald. His thoughts were that “no matter what the circumstances we’re facing, as long as we are doing good and walking in submission to the light, then we are in the center of God’s will.” Nothing else matters. We can’t shy away from going into the hard places. We are called to be the light in this dark world. We cannot change the reactions the world will offer, but we can change our attitude concerning them.

I thought about the Duck Dynasty controversy. Phil Robertson called sin, sin. It’s clearly labeled as such in the Bible. We shouldn’t respond to the reaction of the world by hating those who disagree with the truth. We are to continue in the light even if there are threats to “stone” us for our views on sin. We are on the narrow path with very few joining us. Yet, our job is to go to the ones in love and respond in kindness not hatred. Jesus did not come to condemn the world but to love them and save them from themselves (John 3:16-17). I was once like those who walk in darkness. I didn’t understand the truth. As I have grown in my knowledge of Jesus, I have gained understanding of what it means to do good even when I have to go to dangerous places to do it.

As I finished up my quiet time that morning, I read Titus 2:11-3:8. The writer encouraged the readers to continue doing good. It’s by God’s grace that salvation came for all people. We are to say “No” to ungodliness. We are to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age (Titus 2:11-12). Timely passage that still is relevant today even in the midst of controversy. Yes, it’s hard when all the ones around us pick up stones. But when we are walking in the will of God, we are in the perfect place to show love. “These things are excellent and profitable for everyone” (Titus 3:8b).

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men. At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior. Titus 3:1-6

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