Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Should Women Submit to Men?

In Paul’s first letter to Timothy he writes a few lines that make modern women want to scream. Here’s chapter 2: 8-12:
8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. 9 I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
 11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.
Okay, ladies and gents, let’s examine these verses carefully.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Teens in the Bible - Timothy

Chapter 28 teen Timothy

Timothy was a teenager when he first met the apostle Paul. His father was Greek and a Gentile, but his mother was Jewish, an Israelite, and one of the first Christians along with Timothy’s grandmother. The apostle Paul speaks highly of them and in his second letter to Timothy he says, “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (Contrast his upbringing with that of Lot’s daughters from last Saturday’s post. What a difference, huh?)

Paul took Timothy with him on his travels and trained him up in the faith. Timothy was a servant to Paul and, as time went on, he was a pastor as well.

This is my favorite teen of all the ones we've looked at throughout the Old and New Testaments. I like being a detective and figuring out all the little clues about him hidden in the Scriptures: Timothy had a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. He had followed the good teaching of Christ. He trained himself to be godly. He was a comfort to others. Much had been entrusted to his care. He wasn't afraid to show emotion – Paul remembers Timothy’s tears when they parted.

Timothy also had a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline. And if he followed Paul’s instructions, and I’m sure he did, then he preached the Word; he was always prepared; he was ready to correct; rebuke and encourage; he was patient; and he gave careful instruction. He kept his head in all situations; he endured hardships; he did the work of an evangelist; and he discharged all the duties of his ministry. 
What a teen. What a man.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Habakkuk - part 2

What’s Habakkuk’s next complaint? He cannot believe that the most Holy God would look at, let alone use, the evil Babylonians to punish Israel. Habakkuk is incredulous and waits for the Lord to answer him.

In Chapter 2 God gives his answer.  He points out the 5 things bad people (bad nations) do: thievery (verse 6), dishonesty (verse 9), murder (verse 12), drunkenness (verse 15) and idolatry (verse 18). There’s a sermon in each one of these. Babylon is guilty of these things and God will eventually punish them, too. He says that someone will destroy Babylon. In verse 5 we read, ‘wine will destroy Babylon’. Read the book of Daniel and you’ll find out that this really happened, about 70 years later.

God may use bad people, but be in no doubt that He makes sure that they will get their punishment at some point. It always happens because God is in control.

Chapter 3 is Habakkuk’s prayer or psalm, complete with musical direction as you can read in verses 1 and 19. I especially like verse 2 (NIV):

 2 LORD, I have heard of your fame;
       I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD.
       Renew them in our day,
       in our time make them known;
       in wrath remember mercy.

Habakkuk expresses a strong faith in God despite the adverse situation. In the rest of the chapter he sings of the great events of 800 years before when God led them out of Egypt. He remembers the plagues and pestilences that God used to punish the Egyptians. I think he has grasped the concept, which is that God will do what God reasons to be righteous and just at the exact time that He, in His infinite wisdom, deems to be the right time.

Finally, Habakkuk sees that, although he (and we) may question God’s actions and timing, he (and we) must be patient and, in all things, praise God. If things are bad for us (verse 17) we should still rejoice in the Lord and be joyful in God, or, as written in verse 18 of The Message translation:

I'm singing joyful praise to God.
   I'm turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God. Counting on God's Rule to prevailAmen.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Teens in the Bible - Lot's Daughters

Chapter 27 Lot’s daughters

Usually incest happens when a male assaults a female relative, but the story of Lot’s daughters shows us the perverted thinking of two sisters who essentially raped their drunken father on consecutive nights. What were they thinking?

Lot and his family lived in Sodom – you know the story – Sodom and Gomorrah received a horrible judgment from God when, because of their grievous sins, He rained down burning sulfur on the two cities from out of the heavens.

Wicked, wicked people inhabited Sodom and Gomorrah, hell bent on practicing sexual perversions: rape, sodomy (hence the name), orgies – they even were eager to get their hands on the angels, to defile them, too. Lot’s teen daughters were undoubtedly influenced by their surroundings. You can’t live in an evil society and not be affected. Lot and his wife had not protected or sheltered their daughters well enough, had they? Lot himself was reluctant to leave and the angels had to grab his hand and lead him out. His wife also was hesitant. She looked back after she was warned not to and she was turned into a pillar of salt (I picture the ashy human shadows left on stone walls after nuclear bombs fell on Hiroshima).

These teen girls got pregnant by their father and each had a son. One became the father of the Moabites and the other the father of the Ammonites. In Deuteronomy we read that “no Ammonite or Moabite or any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, even down to the tenth generation.” But that’s another story.

Next Saturday last up: Timothy

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Habakkuk - part 1

Habakkuk is a small, but important book in the Old Testament. This little book was written by the prophet Habakkuk, whose name means either “the embracer” or “the wrestler”. Interestingly, Habakkuk wrestled with the question of why God would let evil go unpunished and why God would bring tragedy and misfortune on His own people. But at the same time he embraced salvation by faith.

Let’s read Habakkuk’s 1st complaint in chapter 1, verses 2 through 4 (New International version):

2 How long, O LORD, must I call for help,
       but you do not listen?
       Or cry out to you, "Violence!"
       but you do not save?
 3 Why do you make me look at injustice?
       Why do you tolerate wrong?
       Destruction and violence are before me;
       there is strife, and conflict abounds.
 4 Therefore the law is paralyzed,
       and justice never prevails.
       The wicked hem in the righteous,
       so that justice is perverted.

Well, people just don’t seem to follow God’s rules and Habakkuk doesn't seem to understand why God allows this to go on. The law is paralyzed and justice doesn't prevail. The evildoers are surrounding the righteous and justice is perverted. This sounds pretty current to me. Think about it. Here are the same verses in a really modern translation (The Message):

1-4 The problem as God gave Habakkuk to see it: God, how long do I have to cry out for help
   before you listen? How many times do I have to yell, "Help! Murder! Police!"
   before you come to the rescue? Why do you force me to look at evil,
   stare trouble in the face day after day? Anarchy and violence break out,
   quarrels and fights all over the place. Law and order fall to pieces.
   Justice is a joke. The wicked have the righteous hamstrung
   and stand justice on its head.

We find God’s answer in verses 5 – 11 and essentially God says He is going to use the Babylonians to punish Israel.
(part 2 next Wednesday) 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Teens in the Bible - Mary, mother of Jesus

Chapter 26 Mary, mother of Jesus

What do we actually know about a teenage Mary? Lots. She was a teen, a virgin, engaged to an older man, and she was highly favored. Just what exactly does “highly favored” mean? The Hebrew word from which this is translated (χαριτοω) also means “accepted”, “made graceful, charming, or lovely”, “agreeable”, “to peruse with grace”, “to honor with blessings”.   When the angel went to Mary and told her that she was highly favored it didn't mean she was perfect, she wasn't, but it certainly implied high regard. The angel also said that the Lord was with her. Mary was greatly troubled at his words. Notice that she did not immediately puff up with pride at the compliment, but rather shrank in fear and humility. How many young teens then or now would react that way?

When the angel told her that she would get pregnant she had no haughty retort or snarly denial to fling at him. She simply was curious as to how she, a virgin, could conceive. The angel explained and Mary accepted the explanation of something even in those scientifically challenged times was known to be emphatically impossible. She answered, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” How wonderfully accepting she was of God’s plan for her. No resistance even in the face of what she should have assumed to be the consequence, for in those days to be found “with child” outside of marriage meant death by stoning.

Lesson for teens: God has a plan for you. Even if it seems impossible, know that nothing is impossible with God.

Next Saturday Lot’s daughters

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Today is Brought to You by the Hebrew Letter LAMED

Lamed + Titus
The 12th Hebrew letter pictures a shepherd’s staff or an ox goad. As a verb “lamad” means teach, learn, point, prick or goad. In my book, Crossing the Scriptures, I explain how each of the 22 Hebrew letters matches up to three books in the Bible, all 22 books equidistant. You’d expect to see the word teach show up a lot in this little New Testament book of Titus since it's the third book that matches up to lamed and, in fact, it does by a rate of about 10 times more (per 1000 words) than any other book.
What does Paul’s letter to Titus tell us? See chapter 2 for a list of what should be taught. Here’s my summary:
1.       Teach older men temperance, to be respectable, to be self-controlled and to be sound in faith, love and endurance.
2.        Teach older women to be reverent, not to be slanderers, not to be addicted to alcohol and to be teachers of what is good.
3.        Older women are to train younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home and to be subject to their husbands.
4.       Young men are to be encouraged to be self-controlled and to do what is good, to show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned.
But wait, there’s more. Slaves are to be taught, too. Here it would be helpful to substitute employees for slaves (some would argue they are the same thing nowadays).
5.       Slaves/employees are to be subject to their masters/bosses in everything, to please them, not to talk back, not to steal from them and to show trustworthiness.
Think about these things from a boss’s perspective. How pleased would he be to have such an employee?
The end of chapter 2 tells us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives.
Read Chapter 3 for more – we are to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good. We are to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate and to show true humility toward all men. Some synonyms for humility are humbleness, modesty and meekness.
Can you see how well our Hebrew letter, lamed, relates? Throughout this epistle I envision Paul holding a staff and teaching, exhorting, explaining, and pointing with it. There is plenty to learn in this short book; take some time now and study it.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Teens in the Bible - the Jeering Youths

Chapter 25 The Jeering Youths

This is a pretty serious story and yet it makes me laugh in that way that happens when you’re watching a movie and the bad guys get what’s coming to them in a quirk of fate – satisfying – ha! What do you think? Here’s the nutshell of the story:

The prophet Elisha went up to Bethel and as he was walking along the road some teen boys, ruffians, came out of the town and jeered at him. It must have been frightening since there were over forty of these young boys. Town toughies. I’m picturing long hair, dirty robes, and the beginnings of scraggly beards.

They jeered at Elisha. What do you think they said? Well, I’ll tell you what they said because the Bible records their words. I’ll loosely translate: “Get outta here, baldy! Get outta here, baldy!”

I laugh because there were dozens of kids and that was the best they could come up with. My, my, my, but Elisha must have felt threatened because look what he did. He turned around, locked eyes on them, and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Whoa! Things got serious in a hurry. The next thing we read is that two bears came out of the woods then and mauled forty-two of them. Wait – what? They couldn't run away in their sandals? Just two bears took revenge on all those teens? Yup. That’s what a curse can do.

Lessons for teens: Don’t jeer at your elders and stay out of gangs.

Next Saturday Mary, mother of Jesus


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