Monday, 5 May 2014

"GOD WHO KNOWS THE HEARTS ..." Thoughts from Today's Bible readings - 5/5/14

"GOD WHO KNOWS THE HEART..."                                                                                               

Today we read about a conference of a serious nature that took place in Jerusalem among the disciples and other principal brethren, it was about problems that had arisen among the believers.  Some of the Pharisees who were now believers in Christ were saying that the Gentiles whom Paul had been converting, that “it is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses”   [Acts 15 v.5]
Peter recounts to the assembly how God had acted to bring about the conversion and baptism of Cornelius, a Roman, and also his relatives and friends so God ordained, says Peter, that “by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God who knows the heart, bore witness to them …” [v.7,8]  How powerful to fully realize that “God knows the heart”!  We  must meditate on that fact.
The result of the conference is that they decide to write to the Gentiles saying that “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality.  If you keep yourselves from these you will do well …” [v.28,29]   
Nowadays, at least in this country, there is no sacrificing to idols or drinking blood or animals strangled so that they retain the blood in their bodies.  The one thing that there is – here and it seems in all countries – is an increasing abundance in “sexual immorality.”  It was widespread in those days as we see it is mentioned in nearly all the letters of the apostles and in the final messages of Jesus to the churches (Rev. 2 v.15,20)  
The final message of Jesus in the last chapter in the Bible has Jesus telling us. “Behold I am coming soon (in God’s sense of ‘soon’ for he sees “one day is as a thousand years” [2 Peter 3 v.8])  bringing my recompense (reward) with me, to repay everyone for what he has done … Outside are the … sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” [Rev.22 v.12,15]
Let us all know God in our hearts and realize he knows us – so let us keep ourselves from these. To really “know” God, which must include having an intimate prayer life, provides the strength to do this – and our regular reading and meditation on his word is an essential part of achieving this.
Deuteronomy 22:1-4 lays out wonderful exhortation on looking after the welfare of our brothers and sisters.

Notice the words that are used and where this is used by Christ and the Apostles:
"Sheep go astray" / "bring them again" - Matt 18:12-13, Lu 15:3-8
"Lost" / "found" - Lu 15:4,9,32
"Lift them up" - Lu 10:34, Heb 12:12
"Restore" - Gal 6:1

Also note exhortation of not to "hide thyself" (used x3 in these verses 1-4), which literally means to veil from sight, therefore to close ones eyes to.  When we are presented with a need of our brothers or sisters, we must respond to it, it is our duty as a disciple of Christ.

When we follow this Hebrew for "hide", it has echoes of "forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors (those who sin against us)".

We must show the same character and behaviour as we would like our Heavenly Father to show to us, Ps 55:1:
"Give ear to my prayer, O God; and HIDE not (same Heb as Deut 22) thyself from my supplication. Attend unto me, and hear me..."