Just think . . .

Vol. 3, No. 36
For if I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises . . . Romans 9:3-4

Just think what was given to the Israelites!

Alex Haley, in 1976, wrote a well-researched genealogy, Roots: The Saga of an American Family. It was an instant best seller, and became one of the most popular multi-episode television programs. It demonstrated that people are interested in their pedigree.

Several genealogy search sites and software programs have made millions of dollars since that time due to people’s desire to know about their predecessors and get an idea of how that lineage affects them.

In 56 A.D., the Apostle Paul writes from Corinth, a well-researched family tree of the Jewish nation. Paul, in chapters 9-11 of Romans thumbs through the scrapbook of Israel’s history and pulls out some fourteen Old Testament characters to document his story.

The chapters are not an interruption, deviation, parenthesis, or even an appendix. Rather, the intent is to answer the questions about what has happened to the Jewish nation. In the over 2000 years that God has been building His church, Paul deals with the question: What about Israel?

Would you believe that Alexander Maclaren, in his popular Expositions of Holy Scripture, completely bypasses Romans 9-11 as if they do not exist? He has eleven sermons on chapter eight, and then thirteen sermons from chapter twelve; but is totally silent on this section (9-11).

The very character of God is up for examination. If He had been unfaithful toward His chosen people, the Jews, how would we know He would be faithful to us; Christians and fellow heirs?
The emphasis in Romans 9 is on Israel’s past selection by God. The thrust is on the sovereignty of God.

The emphasis in Romans 10 is on Israel’s present rejection. The major theme is the salvation of God delivered to the people of the earth, Jew included.

The emphasis in Romans 11 is on Israel’s future restoration. God is absolutely sincere in His work toward the Jew; He is sincere with us as well. He is the dependable God.

God’s unfinished business — a survey of the movement of thought in these chapters warrants the conclusion that Paul, who has written so penetratingly on the justification of sinners, now turns to write on the vindication of God Himself. We are reminded that the Almighty is free and sovereign in what He does. In the end, God is found faithful to His covenant promises in spite of the unfaithfulness of Israel. –Frank E. Gaebelein

As we read the book of Romans, and I hope you will, do not jump past passages for convenience. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

You will see the Lord weaving His tapestry. We too often examine only the underneath side of the tapestry, with its loose threads, knots, and seeming lack of a theme. However, if we camp out in the Word, our heart gets blessed because we have the Holy Spirit to guide our understanding, and then to encourage us to pour it out so others can have their thirst quenched. We get to see the weavers design.

Pitch a tent, get under your Broom Tree; what often brings tears ends in joy.

Sir?


Vol. 3 No. 10 – John 5:1-23 (3.11.2018)

Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool . . . –John 5:1-23

Charles Kettering, a great inventor suggested that we must learn to fail intelligently. “Once you have failed, analyze the problem and find out why, because each failure is one more step leading up to the cathedral of success. The only time you do not want to fail is the last time you try.”

Within the walls of Jerusalem was a Center for Failures, located near the Sheep Gate, called The House of Mercy. Bethesda. Impotent (from the Latin root for impossible) people by the dozens lived there; blind, lame, and paralyzed. Of the man in our text, it has been written and said, lived there a long time, 38 years. For 38 years he had not gone to church; for 38 years he had no friend to help him; and for 38 years his experience at life only resulted in failure.

The man formed a habit of beginning without finishing, and so had simply formed the habit of failure. One thing about habits: You do not have habits, habits have you!

At Bethesda he was a bust; he gave up. He threw in the towel. There was no use in even trying because he thought he would never win or accomplish, he was destined to be a failure. Christians and Christian Leaders often fall into this trap, even many of you who are reading this blog.
Jesus, seeing him, knew all about his failures, and said to him:

Do you want to get well?

Scores of helpless people were at Bethesda. Why did Jesus focus on this one man? It surely was not because He did not care about the others. While the others made their way to the “healing waters,” this man had given up. The others were still trying, struggling, working hard for healing. They had friends and family to help. It seemed the man had none of these.

It is like that today for many we know; even on occasion it is that way to the person we see in our mirror in the morning. Heaven help us!

However, God takes the initiative: Rise, take up your pallet and walk!

At once the man was made well, and did as Jesus commanded. Not only was he completely healed, he could immediately walk – something he could not do for 38 years.

If our salvation depended upon our recognizing Him or reaching out a hand toward Him, who might be saved? The answer is: No one! Yet, instead of waiting for us to come; instead of waiting to help those who help themselves, Christ comes to us and speaks the words that give life. –James M. Boice

This impotent (“failured”) man was asked to do three things: stand up, pick up, walk up.

Faith turned this fiasco into fulfillment. They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true.

Come to Me and I will give you rest; all of you who work so hard beneath a heavy yoke. –Matthew 11:28-30

Hey, Teacher (Businessperson, Church Goer, or Retiree . . .)

Vol. 3 No. 4 – 1-28-2018

Teacher, I beg You to look at my son, for he is my only boy. –Luke 9:38

Almost 52 years ago, the doctor came down the hallway in the hospital. He did not say hi, or anything close. He just said, “Mr. Lightner, you are never going to take that boy home.” Having said that, he turned and walked away. My heart cried, and my body trembled. What was I going to say to Donna? How was I going to be the helpmate God expected me to be; how could I push my emotions back to lovingly speak to the dearest of gifts God could give me?

Religiously speaking, we are hooked on spiritual ecstasy. We are programmed to expect the big, the unusual, and the spectacular; and we often miss the glory God places in our ordinary lives. –Bruce Larson

They had been to the mountain; had a mountain top experience. Then they came down, Jesus and His followers, to the valley floor. It had been a great seminar; it was an advance, not a retreat. Think on that for a moment.

They came upon a father emotionally wrought over his son. The followers fell flat on their spiritual faces trying to help this heart-broken dad. Some of you reading this have been in the dad’s place; just as I was almost 52 years ago.

Perhaps the disciples though inwardly, “we should have stayed on the mountain. We could be worshipping and celebrating; but now we have descended to the plain of conflict and work. From the atmosphere of heaven, to the reality of hell itself. It seems we are in the presence of the devil-possessed. One day we are in the glory of the extraordinary . . . the next day we are in the ordinary! Our mountain-top experience has suddenly faded. Mondays after Sunday are the pits!”

The disciples lost their grip on things. This situation with an epileptic son was out of control. This disgraceful “disease” and the tragedy of demon possession drove the father to a point of despair. Peter, James, and John who knew so many victories now faced failure.

      I begged your disciples to cast it out, and they could not. Will you help? (9:40).

Jesus’ response was to have the father bring his boy to Him. Demons were active – they seized the boy, made him scream, threw him into convulsions. He had been thrown into fire and into water, influenced by the demons, all the time foaming at the mouth. The father and mother were in a state of helplessness. The boy would grind his teeth; his body would go rigid, giving the appearance of being deaf and dumb. Jesus was there to help at the right place and the right time – He is never late.

Christ is always equal to the challenge. He, the Son of God, rebukes His disciples for their lack of faith. He, Jesus, dismisses the evil occupant of the young son; Jesus heals the boy, then delivers the man’s only son to the grateful parents.

      Awe gripped the crown of people as they saw this display of the power of God (9:43).

Guy King sums up the miracle with this thought:
      The dad was sad
      For his son was mad
      The devil was bad

      Then . . .

      The crowd was glad
      For Jesus had done His thing!

Oh, you might want to know about my son, the one the doctor said would never go home from the hospital. He is almost 52. He was born with heart difficulties, a lung that would not work, paralysis on one side, and a growth on the base of his skull, and a variety of other difficulties. However, God had other plans. He is principal at a Christian School, married to a wonderful young lady, and father of two beautiful girls. God is good. And this son has spent his life as an educator with the focused goal of leading students to Christ, and preparing students to live with a Christian Worldview in our broken world!

      Yes, God is good; all the time God is good!

How are your connections with people who suffer in our world; do you take the other fork in the road?

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