Hosea: Repentance to Bring Blessing / Paul: God’s Sovereign Choice: July 25th 2021

Hosea 11:12-14:9

God complained through Hosea that Judah was unruly against God and they must return to him. They should maintain love and justice and always wait for God (Hosea 12:6).  

Israel would not be saved by its wealth, particularly when this had been obtained through dishonest means. God would repay his people for their contempt. They would disappear like the morning mist because of their idol worship and human sacrifice.

When God fed the people, they were initially satisfied but then became proud and forgot God (Hosea 13:6). This is easy for us to do. We can cry out to God when we need a job or a house but once we have got them, we think that we earned them. We do not give thanks to God and we can forget him in our prosperity. We have to remain humble and give praise and thanks at all times.

God had given them a king when they had asked for one, even though the request made him angry. The kings proved themselves repeatedly to be disasters and so God took them away in his wrath.

Israel must bear its guilt. It would be plundered and its people would fall by the sword. The Israelites would once again have to live in tents in exile, as they had in the desert during their exodus.

God called on Israel to repent. He would then heal their waywardness and freely love them (Hosea 14:4). God would send the Messiah to break the hold of sickness and death over the human race (Hosea 13:14). Israel was the unwise baby who couldn’t even find its way out of the womb (Hosea 13:13). Its dangerous delay in choosing to be born into God’s arms risked death. We were all destined to be rescued by the wisest child in history delivered by a sinless, virgin mother.   

They would realise that rebellion never triumphs against God. Rebels stumble and fall. God’s ways are right and wise; righteous people walk in them (Hosea 14:9). When Jesus Christ returns to earth, Israel will blossom like a lily as finally its people are converted. Its “splendour will be like an olive tree, his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon” (Hosea 14:6). As the Messianic Jews preach to the globe, they will flourish, they will receive worldwide fame and admiration and people will dwell in their shade (Hosea 14:7).  

Romans 9:1-21

Paul had great sorrow in his heart for the Jews. They had been adopted as sons. They were chosen as God’s holy people. He had nurtured and fed them. God had made covenants with their Patriarchs and from them had come Jesus. Despite all these blessings, they had persistently rebelled against God. Paul was prepared to go to hell himself, to be cut off from God, if it would mean that all his people would be saved. We can feel this pain about our own family, friends and acquaintances. Why can’t they understand the gospel? Why don’t they repent and ask Jesus into their lives? Why do they keep worshipping worthless idols and ignoring God’s loving voice, calling them back to him?

However, if the Israelites had not rebelled, God would not have sent Jesus to save us, and his salvation has extended to all the world, not just the Jews. Everything is according to God’s plan and he brings good out of any bad situation. He has mercy on who he wants to have mercy and, in order to push his plan of salvation forward, he hardened the hearts of those people he wanted to harden (Rom.9:18).

God designed us the way we are as part of his plan. He has an individual mission for each of us. He has given us all sufficient grace to respond to his call and will keep putting people and situations in our path to prompt our conversion even if ultimately this has to be suffering, temptation, sin, agonising illness or imminent death. We should not have the disrespect to ask him why he made us so. He is the potter and we are his clay. With the help of his Holy Spirit, we can become his masterpiece.

Psalm 89:9-13

God founded the world and all that is in it (Ps.89:11). He rules over the surging sea (Ps.89:9).

We exalt his strength and power. He can still the crashing waves in all of our lives and scatter our enemies.

We should sing for joy at his name.

Rahab and the Spies / Fall of Jerusalem: April 22nd 2021

Joshua 1:1-2:24

It was time for Joshua to step up and replace the Old Testament’s greatest leader, Moses. No pressure! He had to lead millions of people across the Jordan to conquer the promised land. They must wrestle it from well organised hostile tribes, some of whom were giants, living in walled cities. This was a task impossible for men, but nothing is impossible for God!

God promised to never leave his new servant Joshua or forsake him (v.5). The Israelites, in return, just had to obey the law that Moses had given them. The Israelites all exhorted themselves and their leader to be ‘strong and courageous’ (v.18). They knew the challenge ahead of them.

God would give Joshua ‘every place where you place your foot’ (v.3). Joshua had to have enough courageous faith in God that we would actually step into enemy territory. He couldn’t just wait on the safe side of the Jordan and believe the land would be given to him. Joshua actually had to boldly step out in faith, in partnership with God, to conquer the land.

Joshua sent out two spies who are hidden by the wise prostitute, Rahab, who lived in Jericho. The great walled city, Jericho, was first on the list to be conquered. Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, was descended from Rahab. She reformed her ways after she teamed up with the Israelites and married a man called Salmon. They were the parents of Boaz – a key figure in the book of Ruth (see the genealogy in Matthew 1:5).

Rahab was courageous enough to defy the king of Jericho by hiding the Jewish spies. She knew that the Israelites would conquer the city, ‘for the Lord your God is heaven above and on the earth below (v.11). The news of God drying up the Red Sea and defeating the kings of the Amorites had gone before them. By her faith, courage, and (let’s face it) lies for a good cause, Rahab saved both herself and her entire family. The Israelite spies promised her and her family would be spared when when the city was overthrown.

The spies told Joshua that the Lord had given the whole land into their hands because ‘all the people are melting in fear because of us’ (v.24). We should feel as positive as those spies when we pray for people to be delivered from demonic powers. We have power and authority over them because of the name of Jesus, which is above all other names. At the name of Jesus, all evil spirits melt with fear.

Luke 21:5-38

Jesus prophesied the destruction of the temple in AD 70 by the Romans. All architecture and nature itself will come to an end at the final judgement. Everything on this earth is temporary.

Jesus predicted that there would be wars and great trials: ‘earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven (v.11) before he came again. Before this, Christians will be persecuted. We should not worry about how to defend ourselves (v.14). Jesus will give us ‘words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict’ (v.15).

Jesus warned Christians that ‘all men will hate you because of me’ (v.17). It certainly feels like this when we campaign for pro-life issues and stand up for basic morality. Jesus strengthens us not to give up and join in with modern secular society, the society of death, ‘by standing firm you will gain life’ (v.19).

After great signs in the heavens, Jesus will come ‘in a cloud with power and great glory’ (v.27). Most of the world will be terrified at this site but not Christians. We will stand up and lift up our heads, because our redemption is drawing near (v.28). This passage seems to imply there is no such thing as ‘the rapture’, when some think Christians will float off up into the air before the second coming of Jesus. Jesus said we will need to stand up and lift up our heads – which we couldn’t do if we had already floated up into space.

We must not be weighed down with depression, lack of energy, drunkenness and anxieties (v.34). We must keep soldiering on positively until the end, watching out and praying that we will be able to stand confidently before Jesus when he arrives.

Jesus was a fantastic teacher speaking anointed words. People got up early in the morning and flocked to the temple to hear him. His words will never pass away and are enshrined in the precious Bible. Let us get up early each morning and rush to read his word. It is the perfect start. Each day, we can reflect on what we have learned and apply it to that day’s experiences.

Proverbs 10:11-20

If we choose to say words that are righteous, we can bring life to people (v.1).

There is a lot of dissension in the world stirred up by hatred. In contrast, ‘love covers over all wrongs’ (v.12).

If we work in a worthwhile job, we will thrive. We should not earn an income by damaging the environment or acting immorally, ‘the income of the wicked brings them punishment’ (v.16).

We should heed positive criticism and discipline. Persistent rule-breakers lead others astray (v.17). It is easy to say to ourselves, ‘well, everyone else is doing it’ about an illegal or immoral act.

We need to forgive others – with both our lips and our hearts as ‘he who conceals his hatred has lying lips’ (v.18). It is wise to keep quiet when we don’t have anything good to say about people. Before speaking, we should ask ourselves: ‘is it true, is it kind, is it necessary?’ Our words should build people up, not slander them in a sinful way: ‘the tongue of the righteous is choice silver’ (v.20). A wicked heart is of little value but baptized Christians have the Holy Spirit residing in their hearts, sanctifying them and making them holier day by day.

Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Death of Moses / The Widow’s Offering: April 21st 2021

Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12

Moses blessed each individual tribe of Israelites before his death. God would ride on the heavens to help them (v.26). The eternal God would be their refuge and drive out their cowering enemies before them (v.27), before trampling down where their enemies worshipped their demonic gods (the ‘high places’ (v.29)).

The nation of Israel was blessed – ‘a people saved by the Lord’ (v.29). God would be their ‘shield and helper’ (v.29).

Moses climbed Mount Nebo and, before he died, God showed him the whole of the promised land. It must have been so emotional for Moses to see the beautiful, fertile land that God had promised his people.

Moses died at the age of one hundred and twenty in remarkably good shape. ‘His eyes were not weak nor his strength gone’ (34:7). That’s what working diligently for God does for you. It’s retirement that will age you. Never retire. Keep doing something positive for God.

Moses was buried in the valley of Beth Poar by God and no-one knows exactly where his grave is. God did not want his tomb to become an idol for the Jews. The book of Jude (v.9) tells of a dispute between Saint Michael, the archangel, and the devil ‘about the body of Moses’. I presume that Michael was arranging the burial for God and the devil was trying to set up Moses’ tomb as an idol. Jude remarked at how polite Michael was during this tense encounter merely saying, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’.

The Israelites grieved for Moses for thirty days. He had been a fantastic leader, a great man of God, willing to put his own life on the line to save his people. The Lord knew him ‘face to face’ (v.10).

Moses had laid his hands on his successor Joshua and imparted to him ‘the spirit of wisdom’ (v.9) i.e. the Holy Spirit. Because he had been given the Spirit, ‘the Israelites listened to him’ (v.9).

He remains the most important prophet for the Jews: ‘For no-one has ever shown the mighty power of performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel’ (v.12). However, Jesus said that John the Baptist, who bridged the Old and New Testament was greater: ‘among those born of women there has never risen anyone greater than John the Baptist’ (Matthew 11:11). As baptized Christians justified and made righteous in the sight of God through the death of Jesus, we have all entered the kingdom of God: ‘yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he’ (v.11). We have the Holy Spirit actually living within us. God resides in us. Jesus is the greatest prophet, Lord and Saviour. His name is above any other name in heaven or on earth. Hallelujah.

Luke 20:27-21:4

Jesus said that the immortal God’s children, the people of the resurrection, ‘will neither marry nor be given in marriage; ‘for they are like the angels’ (v.35).

He then confirmed that we can pray to the dead to intercede between us and God. Just as we can ask our living priest or pastor to pray for us, we can pray to any historical saint – or even Moses – to pray on our behalf to God because to God they aren’t dead. They are just as alive as when they were on the earth: ‘He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive’ (v.38). Saints in heaven are just twiddling their thumbs hoping someone will turn to them in prayer and ask them to do something for us. Many people have favourite saints and others are great for specific topics. For example, if we need help as a father, we can pray to Saint Joseph. Some saints have privileged access to the Trinity. Prayers to Mary, Mother of God, are particularly effective as she has such a direct line to her son. Exorcists have a particular devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary as she is so effective at crushing the head of the demonic.

Jesus warned us against ostentatious forms of religiosity, funded by bequests from widows who presumed their money would earn them salvation. Godly people shouldn’t place themselves on a pedestal to be admired. Christians should be mainly undercover, wearing ordinary clothes and mixing with ordinary people. If people ask them to pray for us, we should mainly do this in our private place with God – we don’t need to do it in the open to show off.

The poor widow showed her total trust in God. She gave to the temple ‘all she had to live on’ (v.4). When Jesus taught the disciples to pray he said, ‘Give us each day our daily bread’ (Luke 11:3). Of course, there were wealthy people who followed God: Abraham, David and Solomon (until he went rogue) and they didn’t give away all their wealth. Their ‘daily bread’ must have been more spiritual. They realised that wealth and status weren’t important. They didn’t ‘trust in their wealth or boast of their great riches’ (Psalm 49:6). What mattered was their daily relationship with God, that brought them fresh inspiration, love, comfort and internal joy every new day. They trusted in God, not their money.

The rich people were giving into the treasury: ‘gifts out of their wealth‘ (v.4) These donations were obviously a public spectacle with onlookers able to see what each person was donating. The rich would have got some smug satisfaction from showing off in front of the crowds with their large offerings. However, they should have diverted some of their money to the widow and given the rest in secret. Jesus loves orphans and widows. ‘Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself being polluted by the world’ (James 1:17).

Psalm 49:1-20

We can’t redeem anyone’s life with money (v.7). ‘The ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough’ (v.8).

Even the richest billionaire in the world is going to die no matter what plastic surgery or medical interventions they afford. We can’t take earthly riches with us – there are no pockets in a shroud.

Jesus won for us the priceless gift of eternal life through his death on the cross. When we die, our wealth is left to others. I gave up my secular job so I could write this blog. When I was working I was just building up wealth to leave for others. Of course, I could have carried on working just to give my wages to the poor and maybe I might do that some day – but I would also want to work in a Godly worthwhile job.

We shouldn’t trust in ourselves or our wealth. We should only trust in God to raise us from the dead. The psalmist was confident that, ‘God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself’ (v.15). He must have received this prophetic word of knowledge from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit living within us raised Jesus and he will raise us as well. The gifts of the Holy Spirit we exhibit, such as praying in other languages, are the initial deposit guaranteeing our resurrection from dead.

It is wonderful to be blessed by God and have a comfortable roof over our heads and food on the table but he has blessed us far more than that. He sacrificed his precious son to give us eternal life. We must not have ‘riches without understanding’ (v.20). Our real riches are the eternal ones we build up in heaven by working for God.

Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/frted/8186047545/

The Song of Moses / Parable of the Tenants: 20th April 2021

Deuteronomy 31:30-32:52

Moses recited God’s song to the Israelites, so that ‘it may be a witness for me (God) against them’ (31:19).

His teaching was meant to fall like rain on eager young grass / tender plants for the Israelites to lap it up. However, we all know they were doomed due to their innate disobedience. In contrast, God’s ways are perfect and his ways are just. He does not do wrong (v.4).

The foolish Israelites would unwisely spurn God’s love so severely that: ‘to their shame they are no longer his children’ (v.5). When we become a baptized Christian we become an adopted child of God, a co-heir with Christ.

That was not the way to repay the Lord. He is our creator, ‘who made you and formed you’ (32:6). This is God speaking, through Moses, and so, if you believe in evolution, you are calling God a liar.

God shielded, guarded and cared for the Israelites in the desert (v.10). God alone led them, ‘no foreign god was with him’ (v.12). They will anger him by unfaithfully sacrificing to demons (v.17) and worthless idols (v.21).

As they made God jealous, he planned in return to make the Jews angry and jealous of the Gentiles (v.21), who were destined to be saved and redeemed by Jesus Christ. There is a terrible list of calamities that God would send against the Israelites (v.23-25) including ‘consuming pestilence’ and ‘deadly plague’. He would send ‘against them the fangs of wild beasts, the venom of vipers that glide in the dust (v.24). It is interesting that up to 50,000 people a year die from snake bite in India, many from the bite of a dust-coloured viper. Only 2.3% of the Indian population worship Christ. https://censusindia.gov.in/Census_and_You/religion.aspx

God does in fact care what people say about him: ‘I dreaded the taunt of the enemy’ (v.27) and this stopped him wiping out the Israelites completely.

God puts to death and he brings to life. He wounds and he heals (v.39) and ‘no-one can deliver out of my hand’ (v.39). Nothing happens in life without God’s permission. He is omnipotent, omniscient and omni-present – all powerful, all knowing and everywhere. Many of these aspects of God’s character are a mystery but he always knows what he is doing. Bad things only happen to us so that good can come out of it – even if we don’t realise what the benefit was in this lifetime. His works are perfect and his ways are just (v.4). That is total obedience and total faith, to fully trust God in the bad times as well as the good.

It would be extremely foolish to be an adversary of God. ‘He will take vengeance on his enemies and make atonement for his land and people’ (v.43). Jesus made atonement once and for all for those who believe in him through his precious blood. If people don’t embrace this gift of salvation, God will require the blood from his adversaries.

God told Moses to ascend Mount Nebo in Moab to view the promised land from a distance. There he would die and ‘be gathered to his people’ (v.50). This seems sad but for God’s friends there is no death. The next time we read about Moses, (over 1,400 years later), he visited Jesus on another mountain at the Transfiguration. Jesus is the new Moses but the original one also had an epic life.

Luke 19:45-20:26

Jesus cleared the conmen out of the temple area who were ripping off the religious tourists: you have made it ‘a den of robbers’ (v.46). We are not meant to make money from religious activities. Of course, full-time ministers deserve their wages from our tithes but we must remember we received the message of the gospel without charge and so must give without charge.

The chief priests and teachers of the law asked Jesus by what authority he was teaching (v.2). Jesus loved to answer questions with another question. Both John the Baptist and Jesus shared the same authority to teach – the authority of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit seems to have been ignored by the religious leaders, who were so tied up with ceremonial rites and religion they could not recognise the work of the living God.

Jesus predicted his death through the ‘parable of the tenants’. Just as God’s prophets had been historically ill-treated so Jesus, the Son of God, would be put to death. The religious leaders were trying to replace God in the eyes of the people: ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours’ (v.14). God would replace the Jews, after they rejected the Messiah, with Christian Gentiles. We would be given the vineyard (v.16). Jesus would become the cornerstone for the worldwide church that would spread to the end of the earth.

Jesus was far too wise to be trapped by their spies. Money decorated by Caesar’s head would be meaningless in heaven. We are meant to be build up riches in heaven, where thieves cannot steal them. God is our number one priority but as Christians we must also pay our fair share of secular tax, returning the notes and coins to the government who printed them. However, it is distressing that our government should use the money we return for such immoral acts as the state-sponsored abortion of unborn children.

Psalm 48:9-14

We don’t want to practice ‘New-age’ type meditation – emptying our minds, creating a vacuum and opening ourselves up to demonic attack. We want to carry out Christian meditation – meditating on God’s ‘unfailing love’ (v.9). God is righteous and thanks to the diligent work of missionaries (and now the internet), Christians are praising him to the ends of the earth (v.10).

When we come together as a group and pray together in the Spirit for long enough, we can tangibly feel the presence of God in the room. Worship is powerful as a community: ‘within your temple’ (v.9) but all baptized Christians are temples of the Holy Spirit and so we can let the Spirit of God meditate twenty-four hours a day within us – vocalising his perfect prayers via our lips through the supernatural gift of praying in tongues.

God is our everlasting Father and guide – ‘even to the end’ (v.14).

We must keep the faith until our dying breath.

Image: John Everett Millais, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Choose Life / Use your Minas wisely and Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem: April 19th 2021

Deuteronomy 30:11-31:29

God gave the Israelites an offer of life that was not too difficult for them or beyond their reach (v.1). ‘The Word (of God) is very near you; it is in your mouth and in you heart so that you may obey it (v.14).

Moses said that the Israelites did not need someone to ascend into heaven to fetch the word of God and proclaim it to them (v.12). They already knew it. However, because of their persistent rebellion and disobedience, in the end Jesus, the actual word of God, did have to descend from heaven to rescue us.

Moses gave them a clear choice which we all still face today, ‘See, I set before your today life and prosperity, death and destruction (v.15). Each of us has to decide whether to love and follow God: listening to and trusting in his voice, walking in his ways, enjoying his blessings and being granted eternal life or rejecting him, following other idols and choosing eternal separation from him. We all choose between, ‘life and death, blessings and curses’ (v.19). I have chosen life. Have you?

Moses had to retire just before he died at the age of 120. His assistant, Joshua, would cross the Jordan as the new leader of the Israelites. Moses encouraged his people to be strong and courageous as, ‘the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you’ (31:6).

Moses encouraged Joshua, in the presence of all Israel (v.7). Moses might have felt disappointed that he would not be allowed to enter the promised land but he did not sulk and become bitter. He magnanimously handed on the baton of leadership to Joshua with his blessing and encouragement. We all have to retire someday – if God spares us until that time. It is marvellous to hand over to competent people that we have selected and trained.

Moses wrote down the law (v.9). Trendy Christian theologians dismiss the tradition that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible and suggest it is an amalgamation of up to three different writers’ work. I think they are just trying to make a name for themselves, to massage their own egos. When to comes to the Old Testament, it is logical to stick with Jewish tradition. Moses wrote the Torah under the direction of God. It may appear as different styles depending on how much God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit were dictating / inspiring any particular section. Moses wrote the book of the law ‘from beginning to end‘ and it was placed ‘beside the ark of the covenant’ as ‘a witness against you’. Moses is the best-selling author in history.

The Jews were instructed to read out the law at the end of every seven years when debts were cancelled (v.11). It would be particularly important to educate their children (v.13). So many children are open to faith today but ignorant of the gospel message. Sunday schools are vitally important.

God knows all our futures and so he predicted that the Israelites will soon go astray (v.16). When they inevitably turned to other Gods, he would turn his face from them and they would be destroyed (v.17). Moses would die and ‘rest’ with his fathers (v.16). It must have been intimidating for Joshua to lead the Israelites into numerous battles knowing that they were ultimately doomed, because of their free choice to sin. They just had to take one day at a time, God promised Joshua success in the relatively short-term project of conquering the promised land. Joshua had to choose to be strong and courageous (v.23). He drew his strength from the knowledge that God was always with him.

Our society is still just as ‘stiff-necked and rebellious’ (v.27) as the Israelites were, despite salvation being offered to us on a plate. Millions of people have used their gift of free-will to prostitute themselves with other gods. Covid-19 highlighted our society’s lack of obedience with some people even refusing to believe the existence of the deadly virus and steadfastly fighting the temporary imposition of masks / lockdowns that was imposed for their own safety. The spirit of lies and unbelief has formed a stronghold in many people’s hearts. Ask yourself if unbelief has set up a camp within you. If so, command it to leave ‘in the name of Jesus’ and open yourself up to a childlike faith and trust in God.

Luke 19:11-44

Jesus taught ‘the parable of the ten minas’ to illustrate that God’s kingdom was not going to appear immediately. Jesus has temporarily ascended into heaven and has left it to us, his disciples on earth, to get on with advancing his kingdom. He has given each of us a certain amount of faith and talent and expects us to multiply God’s work throughout the world before he returns. We will rewarded when he returns and assesses the fruits of our labour. Jesus said that the servant with the single mina should have put in on deposit. I think ‘putting it on deposit’ relates to Christians who only go to church and do nothing else with their faith. Their faith is just ticking over with hardly any gain – just minimal interest – waiting for Christ to return. The servant in this parable performs even worse than this and hides the gift they have been entrusted with in a piece of cloth. This is like baptized Christians who don’t even make the effort to attend church once per week to worship and give thanks to God.

The enemies who are executed in the front of the King are like secular campaigners who fight to remove religion from every aspect of life – from trying to remove bishops from the House of Lords to stopping prayers being said in school. They actively work against the eternal king and by rejecting the gospel and the kingship of Jesus choose for themselves eternal separation and death – ‘bring them (unbelievers) here and kill them in front of me’ (v.27).

Jesus humbly rides on a colt, the foal of a donkey, into Jerusalem to fulfil the prophecy in Zechariah (9:9): ‘Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’

This is the start to the greatest cataclysmic struggle between good and evil that the world has ever witnessed. All of creation had been waiting for it. If the people watching it had kept quiet, ‘the stones will cry out (v.40)’. This showed how Jesus, as the creator of the whole earth, was so in tune with everything in it. Even the stones were on his side and longing for mankind to be justified by his blood that would pour onto the earth.

Even though he was coming to conquer the devil, Jesus still wept over Jerusalem (v.41). Its people did not recognise the type of everlasting victory he would achieve. Even though Jesus has provided a path to eternal life and happiness he doesn’t want us to suffer in this life. He did not want his people to suffer the devastation that would come in a few decades time when the occupying Roman forces destroyed the temple.

Psalm 48:1-8

God is great and most worthy of our praise (v.1).

Jerusalem is the holy city of God. It is meant to ‘be the joy of the whole earth’ (v.2) but its holy sites are hotly contested by Jews, Christians and Moslems. Abraham proved himself righteous by being prepared to sacrifice his son, Isaac, at Jerusalem, which led to him founding God’s holy people. Jesus won our redemption from death at Jerusalem and so the city is a site of joy for all Christians. The Christian church is the new Jerusalem, the glorious bride of Christ.

As hostile kings advanced on Jerusalem they saw how God protected the city, were astounded and fled with trembling and fear.

God makes Jerusalem secure for ever. We have heard of his mighty works regarding this city and, if we believe, we can see his mighty works of salvation operating in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

Image: https://pixabay.com/photos/palm-sunday-easter-torrevieja-ramos-4903110/

The Rich man and Lazarus: April 15th 2021

Deuteronomy 23:1-25:19

Today, there is a list of dozens of Old Testament laws.

The Lord would not let eunuchs (v.1) or people in incestuous relationships (v.2) enter the assembly of the Lord. In the New Testament, Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-39, which demonstrates that anyone willing to repent, believe and be baptized can now enter the Kingdom of God.

There is a lasting prohibition ‘even down to the tenth generation’ (v.3) against the Ammonites and Moabites. No-one who plots against the Israelites prospers. In contrast, the Israelites are encouraged to coexist peacefully with Edomites and Egyptians.

The Israelites were given regulations on hygiene to keep their camp holy. Looking at these, the old fashioned arrangement of having a toilet at the end of the garden was a good idea. The Israelites had to give shelter to any escaped slaves – as they were escaped slaves themselves. We should always remember that we are escaped slaves too. We were in slavery to sin and death before Jesus’ death on the cross.

The Israelites were only allowed to charge foreigner’s interest on money they lend.

We must always be careful about what we say. As soon as we vocalise something it is binding on us and, if it is a sin, the devil will pick it up. ‘Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the Lord your God with your own mouth’ (v.22). The Israelites were allowed to pick and eat their neighbour’s produce with their hands, but they mustn’t harvest it methodically into a basket or use a sickle.

Moses temporarily allowed divorce until Jesus banned it in the New Testament (Luke 16:18). Newly wed men were allowed to stay with their wives for a year, rather than go to war (24:5).

The Israelites must not take away tools as security for a debt (v.6). People’s livelihoods have to be taken into consideration. Similarly, modern magistrates might not rush to ban someone from driving if they needed a car for their job.

Some pastors claim that God doesn’t cause us to be ill. Illness comes from the devil. However, God is omnipotent – he is in charge of everything. Of course, God does not want us to become ill. He wanted us to live with him in perfect health and happiness in the garden of Eden. Some illnesses are caused by mutations / pollution etc. because we are living in a fallen world degraded by our own sin and greed. However, sometimes, if a greater good will come out of it, God will take the shackles of the devil and allow us to become ill. We might need to learn to depend on him more, become more obedient or remember our normal good health with gratitude and appreciate it once we have recovered. Letting the devil make us ill is the same as God doing it himself and Deut. 24: 9 clearly shows that sometimes God brings disease: ‘Remember what the Lord your God did to Miriam long the way after you came out of Egypt’. Miriam was temporarily given leprosy as a punishment for challenging God’s friend, Moses (Numbers 12:10).

The Israelites were told to be generous to the poor and not to take advantage of them (v.14). Fathers were not accountable for the crimes of their children and vice versa (v.16). They were told not to harvest every last olive or grape but to leave some behind for the needy (v.19-22). A maximum punishment of 40 lashes was set (25:3). A man should marry his sister-in-law, should she become widowed, to preserve the family name (v.6). The Israelites were instructed to be honest in terms of weight and measures when trading (v.13-16). The Lord God detests anyone who deals dishonestly (v.16) and he also detested the Amalekites, who were to be annihilated because of their earlier merciless attacks on the Israelites.

Luke 16:19-17:10

Jesus told the story of the ‘Rich man and Lazurus’. Poor Lazurus, the beggar, died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side (v.22). This implies that the angels have a role in taking us up to heaven.

The rich man, in contrast, goes to hell. However, Abraham was very wealthy during his lifetime and so wealth in itself can’t have been the cause of the rich man going to hell. It must have been greed, love of money, lack of repentance and steadfastly refusing to share that sealed his fate. The beggar, Lazurus, was actually at the rich man’s gate. The rich man would have had to almost step over him to get into his luxurious house and he would have to remember this for all eternity. We might not have beggars living literally outside our door but there might be one just a couple of streets away, who would appreciate us speaking to them and giving them some food. All we have to do is to turn on the news or look at our phone to see people who are suffering. Many of us live relatively prosperous lives in the West. We need to make sure that our blessings from God are shared with people less fortunate than ourselves. A homeless charity like https://centrepoint.org.uk/ would appreciate your help. As James wrote, ‘faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead’. (James 2:17). As Christians, we can’t sit in a luxurious house and think we are right with God, if we don’t do anything for the needy: ‘You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone (James 2:24).

Jesus predicted that even after he died and was resurrected, many people would still not believe and be saved, ‘if they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead (v.31).

We must not provide things that cause people to sin (17:1-3). We need to critically assess our careers. If we work in the gambling, cigarette, alcohol or pornography industries these wouldn’t be compatible with Christianity.

We need to forgive everyone who sins against us, if they repent, even if they do it repeatedly (v.4). Forgiveness is a blessing both for them and us. Unforgiveness can cause a serious rift in our relationship both with others and with God.

We shouldn’t expect gratitude or thanks from God when we work for him. We are only doing our duty (v.10). Our body and our time are his anyway. We are simply doing what we were put on earth to do.

Psalm 45:10-17

Today in 2021 is Israel’s 73rd Independence day https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/happy-birthday-to-israel-a-celebration-in-pictures-665189. The Psalm today talks about remembrance: ‘I will perpetuate your memory through all generations (v.17).

As the living church on earth, we should approach Jesus, the bridegroom, with joy and gladness as we ‘enter the palace of the king’ (v.15). Jesus is enthralled with the beauty of his creation. We honour him because he is our Lord (v.11).

All nations should praise Jesus for ever. His name is above all others.

Image: Hans Leonhard Schäufelein, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

‘You cannot serve both God and Money’: April 14th 2021

Deuteronomy 21:1-22:30

Whenever an Israelite was found murdered out in the countryside and no-one, except God, knew who the culprit was, the priests from the closest town had to sacrifice a heifer (cow) to atone for the crime (v.1-9). It was specified that the neck of the heifer must be broken. However, blood is the universal spiritual currency for atonement and so we can presume that the poor cow’s blood would have been spilled when it died.

When the Israelites waged war against enemy tribes that were not on the total annihilation list (Deut. 20:17), they were allowed to marry women they captured. If the marriage didn’t work out, the women were allowed freedom and were not to be treated as slaves (v.14).

The firstborn son was due a double share of his Father’s inheritance (v.17). The penalty for being a persistently rebellious son, a profligate and drunkard was to be stoned to death. This make the ‘Parable of the Prodigal Son’ – in yesterday’s blog – even more amazing. The Father gave his youngest son his share of the Father’s estate – even while the Father was still alive. This is highly unusual as it would have been considered the height of disrespect for a son to demand an inheritance from a living father. The prodigal squanders all his inheritance i.e. his Father’s property. Yet, instead of being executed according to the law, he is welcomed back with loving arms.

‘Anyone who is hung on a tree’ is under God’s curse (v.23). God had to turn his back on Jesus on the cross, because Jesus had become sin and was hung on a wooden cross (which represents a tree). According to medieval legend, the wood that Jesus’ cross had been fashioned from had grown from a branch of the ‘Tree of Mercy’ originally from the Garden of Eden.

The Israelites were told to care for each other’s property and return straying sheep / lost cloaks etc. Cross dressing was banned (v.5). Health and safety laws were introduced (v.8). Promiscuity, fornication and adultery were regarded as capital crimes (v.20-22). These laws seem harsh by modern standards but when we think of how many thousands of unwanted pregnancies are aborted due to the immoral behaviour of their adult parents, we kill more individuals for sexual sins than the Israelites did.

Mary, Mother of Jesus, would have been stoned to death for becoming pregnant while unmarried (v.23-24). Joseph saved her life by becoming her husband / guardian. Rape is another crime that attracts a death sentence. So it should really have a mandatory life sentence in modern times.

Luke 16:1-18

Today, we have the highly unusual, ‘Parable of the Shrewd Manager‘. This is probably the strangest of all parables when heard for the first time. Basically, non-Christians can be very good at using money wisely, negotiating with their own kind, acting dishonesty for their own gain and planning shrewdly for the future. In this parable the shrewd manager cancels some of the debt people owe his master, so they will owe him friendship / loyalty / new employment in return. The manager helps himself to someone else’s resources to secure his future. Of course we should never emulate his unscrupulous behaviour. We should use the monetary blessings that God provides to further his projects not ours. We should use our money to support worthy Christian projects such as missions abroad. In some countries, Western people can do more harm than good blundering in and trying to evangelise. It is often much better to financially support pastors who know the local language and the culture.

When we spend our money during this life on people with real needs and holy projects – if our beneficiaries pass away before us, they will join in with the welcoming committee when we get to heaven.

If we are a trustworthy steward handling money and aren’t a slave to acquiring it, God will trust us with true riches: faith, revelation, words of knowledge. The Pharisees ‘loved money‘ and sneered at Jesus (v.14). The best way to grow a healthy attitude to money is to give it away with a cheerful heart. Tithing to your local church is an ideal practice to engender generosity.

Jesus clearly said that divorce and remarriage is not allowed for Christians as this would be adultery (v.18). Sex has caused some of the major splits in Christianity over history. Henry VIII started the Church of England so he could commit adultery with Anne Boleyn. Priests flocked to sign up to Henry’s new religion that allowed them to marry and have sex. However, Jesus’ commands never change. Jesus can forgive all our sins but, once we have been forgiven, we then need to stop sinning.

Proverbs 9:13-18

The opposite of wisdom, folly, ‘is undisciplined and without knowledge’ (v.13).

Foolishness is easy to come by and it calls out to us.

Sexual sins such as adultery may seem appealing, ‘Stolen water is sweet, food eaten in secret is delicious’ (v.17) but foolishly indulging in them leads to eternal separation from God, ‘her guests are in the depths of the grave’ (v.18).

My wife banned me from bringing chocolate into the house while she was going through a health phase. I hid some ’emergency’ chocolate bars in cupboards in the garage and helped myself whenever I was passing. Of course, my wife soon sniffed them out like a bloodhound and they were gone. However, I found that after the initial thrill of having a piece of chocolate, it wasn’t any sweeter when I ate it in secret. It is much better for one’s spirituality (and one’s health) to hospitably share treats with others rather than secretly hoarding and selfishly devouring them.

The Parable of the Great Banquet: April 12th 2021

Deuteronomy 16:21-18:22

The Israelites were told not to erect any sacred stones, ‘for these the Lord your God hates’ (v.22). Here in Wales, they always used to erect a permanent circle of standing stones whenever they held a National Eisteddfod – a annual gathering for Welsh poetry, prose and music. We have one down the road, a Gorsedd circle. I can see it down in a field as I walk my dog. It is a dodgy looking structure with a flat altar in the middle, just right for blood sacrifices. I avoid getting in close proximity to it. The ancient druids sacrificed thousands of innocent children to placate the demonic spirits they revered. A according to the Roman writer Tacitus: ‘they considered it a pious duty to slake the altars with captive blood and to consult their deities by means of human entrails‘, https://resourcesforhistory.com/celtic_druids.htm. When the Romans invaded a territory, they added the local native gods into their assortment (pantheon) of deities that it was permissible for Roman citizens to worship. The Romans only deemed it necessary to ban two religions: druidic practices and Christianity as both were considered too powerful – even if located at the opposite end of the holiness spectrum. Nowadays, the ‘druids’ of the modern Eisteddfod have toned down the heathen roots of their celebration so much that a former Archbishop of Canterbury allowed himself to be sworn in as a bard. They only set up fake stones today. Presumably, real stones are too expensive.

The Israelites were told to be zealous in purging evil from among them, putting to death anyone found worshipping other gods or celestial bodies (17:1-7). They were also instructed to have respect for the verdicts of judges and priests (17:8-13).

Moses predicts that the Israelites will appoint a king when they eventually settle in the promised land. He must be chosen by God and not obsessed with horses, women or wealth. Several of our modern royal family seem pretty keen on collecting horses. He predicts the fall of Solomon who took on too many wives, who lured him to worship other Gods,. ‘He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray (v.17). Kings are called to humility and must read the law of God all the days of his life.

The whole tribe of Levi, which includes all the priests, were to live on offerings from the other Israelites. Moses listed detestable practices that the Israelites must not inherit from the tribes they conquered such as child sacrifice. The list includes divination, sorcery, interpreting omens, witchcraft, casting spells and consulting the dead. When Harry Potter came out, the local children in our small Welsh village used to ride up and down our street shouting spells from the books at the top of their voices. ‘While he was still a cardinal in 2003, the future Pope Benedict XVI described the books as “subtle seductions which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul before it can grow properly”’, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/sep/02/harry-potter-books-removed-from-catholic-school-on-exorcists-advice

Instead of listening to sorcery or divination which comes from the evil one, the Israelites must only listen to a prophet, like Moses, who God will raise up from among their own brothers. Jesus was the new Moses. All of his prophecies came true such as the Jerusalem temple being destroyed (by the Romans) with no stone left on top of another.

Luke 14:15-35

Jesus told ‘the Parable of the Great Banquet’. The Jews are all invited to God’s banquet of forgiveness and eternal life but they all make poor excuses for not attending. I once heard someone say they couldn’t possibly get to Sunday worship because it would interfere with them cooking the lunch! The people making the excuses have all been highly blessed by God. God has given them abundant wealth so that one man can buy a field and another one five young of oxen. He has provided a wife to another man. They still won’t take time to join in a communal celebration, witness to how blessed they were and give thanks to God.

The poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame were all welcomed instead – the people considered ‘unclean’ by the Pharisees – but there was still room. Finally, all the Gentiles were brought in to be with God. It is a tragedy to turn down God’s priceless invitation due to the cares of the world.

The danger is that if we refuse God’s invitation when we are thoroughly blessed. If we refuse to acknowledge him and give him an offering in return, He might have no alternative other than to take the shackles off the devil and allow him to make us poor, crippled, blind or lame. It might only be when we are brought down to a desperate state that we will respond to God’s invitation. That is why God still allows suffering, disease and death in the world. How else can He get some people’s attention? God will only allow suffering if a greater good will come out of it. The Lord will give us a way out of any affliction if we turn to him.

There is a real cost to being a disciple of Jesus – but it’s a cost worth paying. We might be abused by our family, ignored by the public and have to give up well-paid secular professions. If we work in a secular workplace, everyone around us may be living lives completely opposed to gospel principles. It can be terribly draining to be constantly surrounded by non-belief. It is wonderful to regularly attend a church with a supportive and loving congregation and charge up each other’s batteries and hope for humanity with our shared faith.

Psalm 44:13-26

Sometimes, we can be the only practicing Christian on our street. We are meant to share the gospel with our neighbours. This might intrigue some of them but others will hate us for it, ‘you have made us a reproach to our neighbours (v.13).

Many Christians around the world are still being persecuted and murdered for their faith. We suffer more from mental abuse in the West. Most of society try to side-line us, revile us or, more commonly, ignore us and try to pretend we don’t exist. If I type any Christian sentiment on my brother’s Facebook page, he simply deletes it. We can expect regular scorn and derision from our family, friends and neighbours.

King David called on God to rouse himself and not to reject the Jews for ever. God roused himself in spectacular fashion by sending his only son to die for our sins. God rose up and redeemed the entire world because of his unfailing love (v.26).

Be Generous and Gather God’s Chicks: April 11th 2021

Deuteronomy 15:1 – 16:20

The Israelites were instructed to cancel debts to each other every 7 years (v.1). A commendable system, which would make many people’s lives much better if we applied it today to mortgages. The promised land was going to be so productive, God expected there to be no poor among them ‘if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today. (v.4).’

By the time Jesus arrived, there were many poor people indicating how far away from God’s intentions the people had come. Jesus said, ‘the poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me (Matthew 26:11).

God decreed how financially secure the Jews would become, ‘you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none (v.6).

God called the Israelites to be generous to their less fortunate brothers and ‘freely lend him whatever he needs (v.8)’. They should do so ‘without a grudging heart’ (v.10) then God would bless them in everything they did. God states there will ‘always be poor people in the land’ (v.11). He may have been predicting the Israelites would not carefully follow all his commands or He was referring to widows, orphans and newly-arrived migrants who would rely on the charity of others.

Hebrew servants had to be freed in the seventh year (v.12) and supplied liberally with provisions. The Israelites must remember how they were liberated from Egypt and were given riches by the Egyptian on departure. Slaves could chose to stay with their master if they loved them and were well treated.

The Jews were to eat the firstborn of their herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord (v.20). At Passover, they were to eat unleavened bread – because they had to leave Egypt in haste. No yeast must be found in their possession for seven days (v.4). Yeast also represents sin. It starts as just a tiny amount, grows its tentacles into everything, making problems rise and grow. I read an article in which people complained that supermarkets had run out of yeast in lockdown. This amused microbiologists who pointed out the world can never run out of yeast. To get some, you just have to leave out an uncovered bowl of flour and water and the yeast will find you. The Israelites would have been eating sourdough, with natural yeast cultures blown to them by the desert winds. If we leave ourselves uncovered by the blood of Jesus, sin will also infect and start to grow in us.

‘No man should appear before the Lord empty-handed’ (16:16). We should all give to the Lord in proportion to the way we have prospered.

Justice must be a top priority. Officials must judge fairly with no partiality and must not accept bribes. The kingdom of heaven has the the most honest courts in creation. We would have been condemned for all eternity as sinners if Jesus’ death had not justified us in the sight of God.

Luke 13:31-14:14

Some Pharisees still had enough respect for Jesus that they warned him about Herod. Jesus was not intimidated by Herod wanting to kill him (v.32), even though he knew he was a cunning adversary. Jesus was used to people trying to kill him. Herod’s father had plotted to kill Jesus as soon as he was born. Jesus knew his Father would protect him until exactly the right moment he chose to lay down his life.

Jesus mourned over the spiritual state of Jerusalem. Its people had long rebelled, killing all God’s messenger sent to gather them back to him. Jesus longed to tenderly gather its children together ‘as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings’ (v.34). However, God does not make it compulsory for us to love Him. He gave us free will so that we can freely choose to love, because He loved us first. A hen will give up her life for her chicks and defend them against danger, but it can’t run after each chick. They have to be aware of where she is and run to her at the slightest hint of trouble. It is heart-breaking that churches can offer such a wonderful place of refuge for people, but the great majority chose not to go. We should give the warmest, genuine welcome to both old and new visitors to our church to make them feel they have been gathered under the protective and living wings of God.

Jesus would make a glorious entrance to the city on Palm Sunday, prior to Calvary. The people of Jerusalem would praise him for a day, before turning on him.

Jesus healed on the Sabbath again. He pointed out that the Pharisees would always rescue one of their children or animals on a Sabbath. Why shouldn’t Jesus rescue the people he created if they were in distress? The Pharisees were using the Sabbath regulations as a way to trap and criticise people rather than following the spirit of this day of rest.

We should always take a seat of low importance at a function. We can always be moved to a more prestigious one. Jesus came to serve, not to be served and we should emulate his humility.

We will be blessed if we host people who have no means of paying us back. If we just provide hospitality to our prosperous neighbours and they host us in return, we have given nothing. We need to help the poor and the needy in imitation of Jesus.

Psalm 44:1-12

King David recalled how God helped the Israelites conquer the promised land. The stories had been faithfully handed down by previous generations. God helped them because He loved them (v.3).

David did not trust his own strength or weapons to win battles (v.6). He relied on God.

All victories are due to God’s assistance and for the glory of God. Thanks be to God.

Parable of the Mustard Seed: April 10th 2021

Deuteronomy 13:1-14:29

We must not listen to any ‘prophet’ or ‘dreamer’ who suggests following other Gods. God can allow the devil to tempt us to see whether we love him with all our heart and soul (v.3).

It could be our closest friend who tries to entice us to accompany them to a yoga class with them or visit a non-Christian temple while on holiday, We should just say ‘no’!

Moses listed which meats the Israelites could eat and which types were banned. Rabbit and pork are strictly off the Jewish menu. It is sensible from a public health point of view to ban pork, because pig metabolism is so close to humans that living closely to domesticated pigs could enable one of their animal viruses to jump over to us and cause another deadly pandemic.

Moses reminded the Israelites to tithe – to give a tenth of their wealth every year to the Lord. This is Old Testament and does not apply to Christians. However, it is a very worthwhile practice. It breaks an unholy love of money and engenders a spirit of generosity within us. Pastors need a salary and church buildings need to be maintained. If everyone tithed, think what a difference this could make to the environment where you worship. A church should be full of life, beautiful, warm and welcoming to non-believers and some of this requires adequate funding.

The Jews were instructed to provide tithes (every three years) to the Levites, migrants, orphans and widows (v.29). Generosity gives us many spiritual benefits. The Lord promised to those who tithed that He would, ‘Bless you in all the work of your hands’ (v.29).

Luke 13:1-30

In the Easter readings, Pontius Pilate was desperate to release Jesus as he knew he was innocent. However, he succumbed to constant pressure and permitted Jesus to be executed. He was a weak judge, prepared to sacrifice the sinless to placate a hostile crowd. Here we see that Pilate had a fearsome reputation. Any Roman Commander would have been responsible for the deaths of many people. People told Jesus about ‘the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices (V.1). Jesus knew he would have to face this formidable man in the end. Jesus’ perfect blood was the ultimate once and for all sacrifice.

Jesus told us to repent so we would not perish (v.3). God spares us year after year hoping we will repent / convert and bear fruit. Eventually, time will run out for us. It could be today, so we need to make sure we are right with God through repentance, baptism and fully accepting Jesus into our lives. We can follow God’s example in being patient with people as we help them and pray for them to bear fruit.

We can allow the word of God to ‘fertilise’ us so that we will begin to blossom and bear fruit.

Jesus healed a woman on the Sabbath (v.13). Jesus points out the hypocrisy of the rulers in that they deliberately untied their domestic animals on the Sabbath to allow them to drink (v.15), but they disapproved of humans being unbound from their illnesses. Jesus showed he was the Lord of the Sabbath. It is perfectly permissible to spend the day looking after people or even catering, if we do it in love for other people. We shouldn’t spend it in a selfish secular pursuit of money.

The crippled woman had been crippled by a spirit (v.11) that was working for Satan (v.16).

Christianity has grown to be the world’s most followed religion and is spreading through virtually every nation. However, this has taken over two thousand years. Just like a tiny amount of yeast can change a whole bowl of flour to risen dough if we place it in the correct environment and wait patiently, it only takes one effective missionary to eventually change a whole country. Early missionaries would always try to convert rulers first, who could then lead their subjects to faith. Just one tiny seed of faith, can grow into an enormous living church where every believer can find their home.

Jesus confirmed that not all people will be saved. We need to enter heaven through the narrow door – which is Jesus. In the West, many people suffer from complacency. We can think we live in a vaguely Christian city and that possibly might be enough so save us. Just being in the same town as some Christians isn’t going to save us, ‘you taught in our streets (v.26), ‘Away from me, all your evildoers (v.27). We all need to work out our own individual salvation with fear, trembling and positive action. We each need to make a decisive decision to repent, become baptized and personally ask Jesus fully into our own lives as our Lord and Saviour, accepting his priceless gift of salvation.

Proverbs 9:1-12

Wisdom calls out to us that we should leave our ‘simple ways and you will live’ (v.6).

Correcting people who mock Christianity is a painful process as they will insult and hate us. However, we will receive a reward in heaven for putting up with this type of abuse. It isn’t worth getting into a Twitter or Facebook war with mockers, we must always reply calmly and with love.

Instructing, correcting and teaching wise and righteous people is a much more pleasant process.

As mockers do not fear the Lord, they lack wisdom for ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (v.10).

Wisdom will add years to our life (v.11) and reward us (v.12).

Sarcasm and mockery only harms the person who engages in it (v.12).

Once we have asked the Holy Spirit for wisdom, we should thirst for knowledge of God to increase our learning and make us even wiser. Wise Christian teachers deserve our love and gratitude for their efforts.

Picture:

Sheila Sund from Salem, United States, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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