Thursday, 13 February 2014

TFTD - 13 February 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

13 February 2014

Exodus 23
Psalms 77
Mark 9
Exodus 23 we find Israel being reminded by God to learn from their own experiences, and therefore help others in difficult situations and in need of help:

"Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt".

We are reminded by Paul, that we were once strangers:

"ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and STRANGERS from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world"

We were strangers, under bondage to sin and death in the world (Egypt), yet as Israel we have been brought out by the mercy and grace of God.

How well do we empathise with those who are still strangers, but who have opened their ears to the gospel. To what lengths do we go to, to make disciples as Christ commanded.

With this in mind, Paul's attitude:

"...when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge...yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew...to them that are under the law, as under the law...To them that are without law, as without law...to the weak became I as weak...I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel's sake"

And Timothy amplifies this character when he was circumcised, not for himself, but so that his uncircumcision would not be a stumbling to those to whom he was trying to preach to:

"Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters:for they knew all that his father was a Greek"

Consider that Timothy had absolutely no personal reason to do this, but every reason not to. Would involve great pain for days afterwards, and add to this that there would be potential of it killing him due to infection etc. he did this for those not even yet his brothers and sisters.

Questions I have to ask myself:
1. How much do I empathise with the struggles and burdens of my brothers and sisters. And do I make their spiritual welfare my priority over what I my feel of want?
2. How much do I empathise with those who come seeking the gospel. And do I make their spiritual welfare my priority over what I my feel of want?

"SALT IS GOOD"

Joining hands is a physical sign of friendship, but Moses uses the term in a metaphysical sense in our Exodus reading [Exodus 23]. This contains warnings about joining hands for bad reasons. Moses makes some down-to-earth statements of things that God sees as wrong. Yet many are things which are sadly part of life today as men and women act in devious ways to cheat and deceive one another. "Now these are the rules you shall set before them," God said to Moses [Exodus 21:1] and we read today, "You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice" [Exodus 23:1-2]. When Jesus said that we should love our enemies [Matthew 5:44], he surely had in mind things which Moses had said - as we read today, "If you meet your enemies ox or his donkey going astray you shall bring it back to him" [Exodus 23:4]

Our chapter in Mark's Gospel [Mark 9] finishes in an interesting way, "Salt is good, but if salt has lost its saltiness how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves …" [Mark 9:50] What did he mean? On another occasion he told his disciples, "You are the salt of the earth" [Matthew 5:13]. The point is, those who follow Jesus are to be the "salt" that influences and gives flavour to all that in which it is mixed. But what if the salt has lost its saltiness? What if those that should provide the influence of "salt" have instead joined hands with those who ignore God, or at least, turn a blind eye to their ungodly ways of living? Jesus said that such useless salt "is thrown away" [Luke 14:35]

That is really the blunt message in Mark 9:42 onwards; but it aid in more complex language. The hell or hellfire mentioned there is Gehenna; that word in the Greek refers to the rubbish dump just outside one part of the wall of Jerusalem where fires continually burnt to consume the rubbish thrown over the wall. Jesus means get rid of everything that causes you to sin ­ with special words of condemnation to those who cause others; "little ones" to sin. [Mark 9:42] Meditate on Colossians 4:5-6
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- DC


Thought for the Day

13 February 2014

"A leaf is not a leaf simply because it is fastened to a tree. It must take its life, its colour, its shape, its character, all that it has must be from the tree, or it becomes dead. So with ourselves, fellowship implies all this. All that we are, all we have, all we can be, is of the Lord."

- G. Folwell
The Fellowship of the Spirit (1939)