We are Daughters and Sons of God.

We are all created by God – but more importantly, we are God’s daughters and sons if we do God’s will. This is not to be taken lightly.  Do you think of yourself as God’s child – really?

Any person who chooses to serve God – and does it, is a “Chosen” person. It isn’t a birthright, but something that is available to people of all nationalities.

Exodus 19:3-6

Moses went up the mountain to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain: “This is what you must say to the house of Jacob, and explain to the Israelites: ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Me. Now if you will listen to Me and carefully keep My covenant, you will be My own possession out of all the peoples, although all the earth is Mine, and you will be My kingdom of priests and My holy nation.’ These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.”

Note the conditional “if”.  If you listen to the Lord and follow the covenant, then you will be unique among all people of the Earth. The corollary to that is that if you don’t follow the Lord’s commandments, then you will not be special. Your commitment to doing what the Lord commands is what distinguishes you.

John 1:11-13

11 He came to His own,
and His own peopledid not receive Him.
12 But to all who did receive Him,
He gave them the right to bechildren of God,
to those who believe in His name,
13 who were born,
not of blood,
or of the will of the flesh,
or of the will of man,
but of God.

Note that we can become children of God, namely daughters and sons of God.

Notice the Lord’s Prayer, to be found in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:1-4. This is the Condensed Gospel rendition, which blends them together –

Jesus was praying, and when he was through, one of his disciples said to him “Lord, teach us how to pray, just like John taught his disciples.”

He said “You should pray like this:

Heavenly Father, we give honor to your holy name.

May your kingdom come soon.

May your will be done here on earth just like it is done in heaven.

Give us our bread for tomorrow,
and forgive our faults in the same way that we forgive the faults of others.

Do not cause us to be tempted, but instead rescue us from evil.

The kingdom and power and glory are all yours eternally. Amen.”

It starts with us saying that God is our Father. This is a bold statement. God is directly approachable by us. If God is our Father, we are daughters and sons of God.

Matthew 12:46-50

46 He was still speaking to the crowds when suddenly His mother and brothers were standing outside wanting to speak to Him. 47 Someone told Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to You.” 48 But He replied to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49 And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven, that person is My brother and sister and mother.”

If you do God’s will, you are the brother or sister to Jesus.  If you are his brother or sister – you are a son or daughter of God.

Hebrews 2:11-12

11 For the One who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father.That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying:

I will proclaim Your name to My brothers;
I will sing hymns to You in the congregation.

Jesus says he is directly related to his followers. 

See Psalm 51:16-17, 1 Samuel 15:22-23, Hebrews 13:16, Micah 6:6-8, Isaiah 58:3-11 for examples of what God wants. 

God isn’t interested in sacrifices.  All the detailed rules in Leviticus are about what kinds of offerings were appropriate in the time of the Temple.  But what God really wants is for us to take care of people. Who cares if you keep kosher or you cover your head if you ignore the needs of your neighbor who is hungry or homeless?

I’ve read before that atheists serve God better than many religious people.  They don’t think there is a divine being who will take care of people, so they know it is up to them. Actions speak louder than words.

Advertisements

The Garden

I am struck by the parallel of the story of Adam and Eve, and the story of Jesus.
The very first example of disobedience happened in a garden – the Garden of Eden.

garden-of-eden

Adam and Eve went against the will of God and decided to do things their way.  Because of their choice, they were banished from the place of peace and harmony, where their every need was provided for.  Because of their choice, they were subject to pain and death.

The ultimate expression of obedience to God also took place in a garden – the Garden of Gethsemane.

jesus-praying-in-gethsemane-39591-print

Jesus knew what God wanted him to do.  He’d read the words of the prophets and knew that this is what had to happen.  He didn’t want it.  He said “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42, NIV).  He was hoping that there would be a way out, like the ram that appeared when Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac due to God’s command. He was hoping that there would be another way, that he would not have to suffer and die.

And yet, he accepted what had to happen. Knowing what was going to occur, yet trusting in his Father, he submitted.  He was fully obedient, knowing that it would cost him his life.  Because of God’s love, he gained his life back.

Because of his example of total obedience to God, we now have a pattern for how to live our lives – trusting, without fear, knowing that even death has no hold over us if we are following God’s commands.  The doors to heaven are open to us if we follow his example.

 

Honor the Sabbath

I’m really trying to get into the idea of making rest of part of my day. In fact, making rest of part of my life would be a good idea. Just like with the mental health days that I schedule at work, if I schedule in time to rest then it won’t have to sneak up on me and force me to rest.

In yoga there is always at the end of a practice the corpse pose. It is 10 or 15 minutes of just laying there and receiving everything that is happened to you. Mozart says that the music is the space between the notes. Rest isn’t a new idea, space isn’t a bad thing. It is rest and space and time off that gives shape and meaning to everything else.

I have a new devotional that I’m using. It incorporates rest into it. Every seven days it has a time of reflection. On the seventh day you’re supposed to think about all the things that you’ve learned the week before from that devotional. You are supposed to reflect on all that that God has shared with you in those past six days. I feel very fortunate that I happened to start reading this devotional on a Sunday, so that means that the seventh day is Saturday. While I am not Jewish, I am trying to incorporate the Jewish idea of the Sabbath being Saturday into my religious life. By not doing some of my routine on Saturday mornings now, it means that they are a lot more peaceful and restful.

I have to be at work every other Saturday at 8:30 in the morning. This is earlier by 30 minutes than any other time I have to be at work. By taking out my devotional time and turning it into reflection time, I actually have a little more rest on Saturday morning.

I’ve also decided that I can skip putting out a blog post on the Sabbath. While I don’t want to get in the habit of skipping I also don’t want to be worn out by this. It’s important for me to remember that I am not being paid to produce this blog. And also the Sabbath ends at sundown. When I get off of work on Saturday I can write a post if I want, therefore I have still fulfilled my goal of posting one thing every day. That way I am obedient to God and to my own desire to observe the Sabbath at the same time.

There is something very freeing about seeing rest as a commandment. It means I’m not goofing off or not being a good steward of my time. If God says I have to rest, then I’m not being mindless with my life. I’m doing what is best and healthy for my body, mind, and spirit.

Isaac – on the relay race of faith.

Imagine what it must have been like to be Isaac. His father, Abraham, takes a whole different turn from everybody else. He starts hearing the voice of God. He starts following this one God instead of the myriad other gods that people followed those days.

This was a radical departure. This was way out there. This alone would mark your family as weird. This alone could cause Isaac to not carry on his father’s plan.

Then his father tries to kill him. His father continues to hear this strange voice, this unusual voice, and it says to sacrifice his son. This is his son who has been promised to him in his old age. This son who is promised will be the source of all his descendants. He’s told to go kill him, and he obeys. It is only in the last moments that there is a reprieve and Isaac is spared.

Isaac had to be terrified. Here’s his father acting stranger than normal, binding him up and laying him on an altar, holding a knife over him.

If I were Isaac, I think I’d run away from home at the nearest opportunity.

Yet Isaac is responsible for the continuation of the faith. This whole story could have ended with Abraham. Isaac could have shrugged it off as a bad story of a bad childhood and forgotten it all.

But he didn’t.

Abraham is amazing, for being brave enough to go against the norm and following the one God. He trusted God even when God asked him to do some crazy things.

But Isaac kept the message going. Isaac kept the faith and the word that there is one God. And then every generation since then has kept the faith and the message.

It is like a relay race. At any point the baton could have been dropped, and the race would be over. At any point the word of the one true God could have been lost and forgotten.

Every new thing needs people brave enough to take that first step outside of the lines that society has drawn. But it also needs loyal followers to keep it going. Let us remember and praise Isaac, and all of the others who carried this message to us.