Responding in Love

“ I will conduct the affairs of my house
   with a blameless heart.
I will not look with approval
   on anything that is vile.

   I hate what faithless people do;
I will have no part in it. “

(Psalm 101:2b-3)

Today’s passage continues from yesterday’s.  Remember that yesterday we saw that David recognized who and what God is, and responded to it, and that response continues here. This passage, then, gives us a reasonable and proper reaction to our realization of just Who we are in relationship with: God.

If we are in relationship with God, and we fully grasp who and what He is, then we will run our households in a blameless (or pure and moral) way, we will not approve of vile acts, and we will not compromise with immorality.

Interestingly, if we look at the entire passage carefully (Psalm 101) we will see that this is not simply a legalistic issue of our following a big list of rules, but rather a voluntary response, rooted in the love and awe of God.

Here, let’s just phrase it in a different way: I love and worship Almighty God, therefore I prefer to live in a way, to the best of my ability, that God whom I love will approve of.

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William McKinley and the American Century

William McKinley was President of the United States when we emerged onto the world stage and became a power.  It’s funny how he has been remembered; some people see him as one of the all-time great presidents because he ended a recession, got people back to work and took the steps necessary to make his Nation one of the world’s leading powers.  These are usually consiered good points in a leader’s resume.

Of course others see him as a mere tool of the evil Capitalist rulers who launched into Imperialist adventures to oppress the poor around the world.  I usually don’t go in for history that is reported in a Marxist model, for it is way too simplistic, and must always cram the facts into a class struggle matrix.

Still others have never even heard of William McKinley, even though people in his time considered him to be in the company of Washington and Lincoln at the top of the presidential heap.

Here’s an excerpt I found on the White House website:

During his 14 years in the House, he became the leading Republican tariff expert, giving his name to the measure enacted in 1890. The next year he was elected Governor of Ohio, serving two terms.

When McKinley became President, the depression of 1893 had almost run its course and with it the extreme agitation over silver. Deferring action on the money question, he called Congress into special session to enact the highest tariff in history.

In the friendly atmosphere of the McKinley Administration, industrial combinations developed at an unprecedented pace. Newspapers caricatured McKinley as a little boy led around by “Nursie” Hanna, the representative of the trusts. However, McKinley was not dominated by Hanna; he condemned the trusts as “dangerous conspiracies against the public good.”

Not prosperity, but foreign policy, dominated McKinley’s Administration. Reporting the stalemate between Spanish forces and revolutionaries in Cuba, newspapers screamed that a quarter of the population was dead and the rest suffering acutely. Public indignation brought pressure upon the President for war. Unable to restrain Congress or the American people, McKinley delivered his message of neutral intervention in April 1898. Congress thereupon voted three resolutions tantamount to a declaration of war for the liberation and independence of Cuba.

In the 100-day war, the United States destroyed the Spanish fleet outside Santiago harbor in Cuba, seized Manila in the Philippines, and occupied Puerto Rico.

“Uncle Joe” Cannon, later Speaker of the House, once said that McKinley kept his ear so close to the ground that it was full of grasshoppers. When McKinley was undecided what to do about Spanish possessions other than Cuba, he toured the country and detected an imperialist sentiment. Thus the United States annexed the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

In 1900, McKinley again campaigned against Bryan. While Bryan inveighed against imperialism, McKinley quietly stood for “the full dinner pail.”

His second term, which had begun auspiciously, came to a tragic end in September 1901. He was standing in a receiving line at the Buffalo Pan-American Exposition when a deranged anarchist shot him twice. He died eight days later.

The Presidential biographies on WhiteHouse.gov are from “The Presidents of the United States of America,” by Michael Beschloss and Hugh Sidey. Copyright 2009 by the White House Historical Association.

Source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/williammckinley

Campaign poster showing William McKinley holdi...
Image via Wikipedia

However you choose to see McKinley’s legacy, he is an interesting person to study, and I would encourage anyone to read up on him, and since his birthday was yesterday, it seems like a good time to give him a thought or two. I’ll say one thing, America is ready for a little prosperity today!

Looking Out for Number One

“I will sing of your love and justice;
   to you, LORD, I will sing praise.
I will be careful to lead a blameless life—
   when will you come to me? “

(Psalm 101:1-2a)

David expresses what it is to live a godly life in this passage; recognize who and what God is, and then respond. To consider God’s love and justice is certainly an awesome thing, and to take that all in and not respond with praise is almost unbelievable.

Yet, it isn’t just praise with which we should respond, for in light of God’s justice, we also must respond in the way we live our lives.  David says that he will endeavor to lead a blameless life, and while he fell short of that goal, the Bible records that he was a “man after God’s own heart”.

It might be a good idea for all of us to see this as David did; to recognize God and to respond with praise for His glory, and to live out our lives in a way that is pleasing in His sight.

Sunday Bible Study Notes: January 29

A Private Conversation with Jesus

Today’s Text:              John 3:1-21

Introduction

Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the ruling council came to Jesus in the night with a question, and although he never actually got around to asking it, Jesus gave him considerably more of an answer than Nicodemus had bargained for.  In fact, Jesus in His answer gave what many commentators believe is an example of His early preaching; a wide-ranging explanation of how a person can be saved through the New Covenant He would make with Man.  He will speak of many things in this conversation, and by the time it concludes He will have set out God’s plan for Mankind.

Points of Interest

 

3:1-3:               Nicodemus opens the conversation with a statement; saying that “we” know that Jesus is from God for His miracles have confirmed the fact.  The use of “we” is interesting, for it implies that as of this early date many or all of the Pharisees had come to the realization that Jesus was the real deal.  In His reply, Jesus goes ahead to answer the question Nicodemus is working up to when He tells him that he must be born again.

3:4-7:               Nicodemus, as most people would do, has taken Jesus’ statement literally; it seems at first to be ridiculous.  Jesus, on the other hand is speaking of an entirely different kind of life, a life that is entirely apart from this physical realm.  This birth is of “water and the Spirit” rather than from flesh and blood.  Keep in mind that from the OT Jewish point of view, a person is born into God’s Kingdom (earthly Israel) through physical birth.  This is a shadow of things to come.  What will become reality through Christ is “rebirth” into the Kingdom of Heaven.  This will be accomplished through water at baptism and the Spirit through the Gospel message ( cf. 1Cor. 4:15 and 1Peter 1:23 ).  This kingdom is not a small and weak little nation that is living under foreign occupation, but a majestic and ultimately powerful kingdom headed by God Himself that will cover the entire globe for ever.

3:8:                  This verse illustrates Jesus’ remark in verse 6: When something is born of flesh, you know where it came from, but something born of the Spirit is like something borne by the wind, you don’t know where it came from or where it is going, because your physical senses can’t quite perceive these things.  Someone or something born of the Spirit can only be perceived by someone else who is born of the Spirit.

3:9-13:             Poor Nicodemus is having trouble following this, and so would we in his place… ad so does anyone who is not “of the Spirit” today.  Jesus’ main point here is that He has been teaching the people about earthly things, and they haven’t believed… even though He has been telling them about things that He has witnessed.  Thus, He has been giving testimony.  In the same way, nobody can testify about heaven unless he has been there; Jesus has come from there and is giving testimony of what He has seen, heard and knows for a fact.  It’s as though Jesus were telling Nicodemus: “Come on buddy, you’re a teacher of Israel, you’re supposed to understand this stuff.  If you didn’t know about it before, you’re supposed to be educated enough to recognize reliable testimony and believe it: stay with me here!”

3:14-15:           Jesus continues to attempt to communicate with Nicodemus by using an illustration fromIsrael’s past that he would be familiar with.  This illustration comes from Numbers 21:4-9 when God sent a plague of snakes upon His grumbling and rebellious people.  When the serpent was lifted up before then and they gazed upon it in faith, they would live.  If not… they would die.  In the same way, Jesus will be lifted up before the people (on the cross).  Those who look to Him on the cross in faith will live.

3:16-18:           This passage is probably the most familiar of all to Christians; it is the very heart of the Gospel setting out just exactly the whole core of Christian Theology.  God has sent His Son into the world to save Mankind from rebellion against God.  Those who believe Him will have eternal life; those who refuse will perish for they have condemned themselves by their refusal.  God loves all Mankind and genuinely wants them to be saved, but He allows them to exercise their free will on the matter: How will you decide?

3:19-21:           This final passage uses the illustration of “light”.  Jesus is the light, the truth that shines in a dark world.  The world has done evil, it has rejected the light; it has rejected the truth.  Yet, if we do what is good, if we believe the One who was sent by God as the light of the world, we will move into the light and our testimony will light the darkness and the world will see that we are doing God’s work.  Again, this is a thumbnail of the Gospel message at work in our lives.  In the remainder of this chapter, John has set forth the testimony of John the Baptist about Jesus.  It is interesting to note that John (the author) has put these passages together in this way.  First, you have the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus in which Jesus sets out the whole Gospel plan to a Pharisee, who presumably will report on it, and second you have the Baptist’s testimony that Jesus is the Christ and about the Gospel as a third-party validation.  One might wonder just what it would take to get people to figure out who Jesus was.

Baby it’s Cold Outside!

It’s getting toward the end of January now; the dead of winter.

Here in Illinois it can get pretty cold.  Some days it’s downright nasty in fact.  It is usually dark, cloudy, wet, icy and foreboding…

Who wants to be outside when the wind chill is well below zero?

Not me!

When you look at your house while standing on the icy sidewalk, when you’re shoveling the snow and you can’t feel your legs, your face is burning with cold and your back is letting you know that it doesn’t like all the lifting of weight… and you take a longing glance at the house, the house sure is inviting.

Inside it’s nice and warm and comfortable.  There isn’t any snow or ice in there either!

When you think about it, this just might be a kind of metaphor!

Our world is often a dark, cold and dangerous place.  It’s often dog eat dog, watch your back and watch your step… and when you’re stuck out there and take a look back at the loving arms of our Lord Jesus Christ you kind of wonder what you’re doing out there.

When I have to shovel snow, I really look forward to going back in the house; when I find myself out in the dark world, I run back to Jesus’ arms.

How about you?

NASA Releases New Image of Earth

I thought I’d share a new image of God’s wonderous creation with you.  It’s a new high-resolution image recently released by NASA, their article is re-posted below:

NPP’s ‘Blue Marble’

January 25, 2012

A ‘Blue Marble’ image of the Earth taken from the VIIRS instrument aboard NASA’s most recently launched Earth-observing satellite – Suomi NPP. This composite image uses a number of swaths of the Earth’s surface taken on January 4, 2012.

Suomi NPP is carrying five instruments on board. The biggest and most important instrument is The Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite or VIIRS. NPP orbits the earth at 512 miles above the surface. The image is composited from 4 orbits. A map projection algorithm is used to put the VIIRS data in the image. The map projection transformation provides the global look of the image.

+ web view | + hi-res image

Credit: NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring

via : Suomi NPP :.

Thank you, NASA!

Salt of the Earth

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”

(Matthew 5:13)

Anybody who has studied the culinary arts realizes that the essence of great cooking lies in its seasoning, and seasoning begins with the basics of salt and pepper.  Jesus, while he is not lecturing on the art of food preparation, is certainly aware of this fact, and uses this as a comparison.

As followers of Christ, we are the salt of the earth in the sense that we bring the essence of good living; Christ Himself.  This is what the world needs to venture from darkness into light: Christ.

When we say “Christ” here, I mean to say that we need His love, His Truth, His essence in order to live in fullness and Truth.  Without Him, there is only darkness, striving and emptiness.

If we lose the essence of Jesus in our lives, what are we good for?  If we lose the essence of Jesus in our lives, we are little more than sanctimonious jerks.

Grab on to Jesus, fill your life with His love and His light: Never let go!