Part the Red Sea, Please – Another Take

The Israelites, following God’s instructions, were camped by the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21, 22). Pharaoh’s army was in hot pursuit of Egypt’s departed slaves. Traveling to and reaching the Promised Land seemed to be in jeopardy. But God! He caused a strong wind to part the waters and dry up the river bed. Crossing was then easy.

So it is when I approach God in my morning devotions. My mind is muddled with the demands of the day. I pray, “God, part the Red Sea for me.” He does. My concerns are pushed back and, in ease, I cross to where God is. We visit. He shares His thoughts and desires. I listen and comply. When our special quiet time is over, I look back to the standing sea. The waters close in.

So it was with the Israelites. Standing on the other side of the Red Sea, God released the walls of water, trapping the enemy who had marched on the same river bed path.No more enemies. No returning to the land of slavery. They were now free to move forward.

Same with me. The enemies that would thwart my purpose to live life, God-style, I no longer see. No slave to yesterday’s disappointments. No fear for tomorrow’s failures. Today, I move forward, content to march to the rhythm of discovering unfolding promises and unexpected delights.

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Death of a Child – Another Take

Based on 1 Kings 14

Voice 1:     If he recovers, what kind of future awaits him?

Voice 2:     He will follow the evil ways of his father. There is no one to show him a different way to live.

Voice 3:     His ability to accomplish good will not be recognized and nurtured. His life as an adult will not be fulfilling. Even if he tried to do well,      there  will be no one to mentor him. The ways of society will be too strong for one man to fight against. He is already doomed.

Voice 1:     What if he came to live with us?

Voice 2:     That would be a merciful thing to do. Then his illness would be addressed in the best possible way.

Voice 3:     His parents will surely oppose such a decision.

Voice 1:     But we have the power and authority behind us. They will have no say in the matter.

Voice 2:     I do take pity on this lad. He would have a better life with us.

Voice 3:     It’s settled then?

Voice 2:     The lad’s mother has an appointment today with our spokesman concerning her son’s illness.

Voice 1:     Very well. Inform Mr. Ahijah that the child known as Abijah, son of Jeroboam, King of Israel, will be removed from his house this day.

Voice 3:     The mother will be devastated.

Voice 1:     Nevertheless, we can provide for the lad better than she and her husband can.

Voice 3:     Mr. Ahijah’s words will sustain her as she and the lad’s father make funeral arrangements.

Voice 2:     A place is already prepared for Abijah.

 

Freedom! What Next? – Another Take

Based on John 18

“You’re free to go!” These words still echo in my ears – as if they were spoken yesterday.

I didn’t believe the guard until he loosed my chains, led me to the outside door, opened it and then shut it behind me.

That day I moved among the people as if cloaked with invisibility – an important requisite for my profession as thief. I listened to their comments about a man called Jesus, supposedly King of the Jews.

I thought that if I had to be captured, it was lucky for me that it was close to Passover. And, if I was going to be put to death, lucky for me that this man called Jesus came along.

As the guard led me through the prison halls, he answered my questions of “Why?” He explained that the mob had requested me to go free – a tradition at this time of year. In my place Jesus would be crucified.

Common sense told me to quickly leave the city and keep a low profile. I certainly didn’t want to be recaptured for another time of judgment. But curiosity prompted me to hang around, to find out more about my replacement. Telling a fellow thief that he would be in paradise with Him was most confusing.

I was extremely grateful that He was on the cross and not me, but the sorrow of His mother and friends stirred up emotions within me that had been buried for many years.

Today, as I pass through these same streets, I hear the priests complaining about the significant drop in Passover offerings each year. They blamed it on the increase of Believers that Jesus was God’s Passover Lamb.

I know from past experiences that people in the villages and cities around Jerusalem and beyond are celebrating the crucifixion and resurrection of their Messiah. Hearing them singing praises and lifting up prayers of thanksgiving, I feel like barging in and shouting, “You should thank me. Without me, Jesus wouldn’t have been put to death. I was the first to benefit from His substitution.” But I don’t. I just steal away.

It is true. I reaped from this man’s sacrifice. I gained freedom at the cost of His death. But the nagging question never leaves me. It robs me of my sleep, invades my work, and captures my leisure.

Freedom, Barabbas, to do what?

Daniel and the Lion’s Den – Another Take

A Long Awaited Meal

Based on Daniel 6:17-25

   We were hungry and anxiously waited for our evening meal. Beef steak would be nice. So would lamb – a shoulder and leg – would fit the bill. Finally, a tasty morsel was set before us.

   It was incredulous. Had we not performed our duties royally? Were we not deserving of a good meal? Was this a slap-in-the-face? Or was there a new Keeper of the Kitchen who didn’t understand about hefty appetites?

   These were the questions going through our minds as we viewed the tiny bit of food. It wasn’t enough to be even an appetizer. Our pride was hurt! We were insulted.

   I thought about snatching it up just so we wouldn’t have to look at it anymore, but I didn’t because the others would get angry. I didn’t want them turning on me.

   The night of fasting seemed endless. It was as if an invisible force was protecting this food. Our mouths may have been closed, but on the inside we were drooling. We all wanted to roar, “Feed Us!” I even wished I could do my own hunting. Anything would be better than this! Instead, we just waited and watched, waited and watched.

   At the first sign of daybreak our main concern was, “What’s for breakfast?” We weren’t disappointed. The meager appetizer was withdrawn and full scale entrees were set before us. We were like ravenous beasts, forgetting our manners and table etiquette.

   When every bone was picked clean, we decided a nap was in order to make up for our sleepless night. We purred like contented kittens, and upstairs we could hear the sounds of a happy reunion between Daniel and the King.

Creation – Another Take

The Board Room

“Is everything ready for our next and best creation?” spoke the Chairman of the Board.

“Yes,” H.S. answered. “Everything needed for the success of this new product has been put into motion. Nothing has been left undone.”

“Son?” the Chairman asked. “What are your thoughts?”

“Certainly, this will be a most unique and elaborate creation, and, in many respects, our finest.” The words came slowly, contemplatively. “But we know our competitor. Although he won’t be able to copy this product, he will do everything in his power to destroy it.”

H.S. nodded. “True. His attack will be fierce, ruthless and unswerving. He is out to destroy us, and this new line will be a pawn in his hands.”

The Son answered, “This product will be abused, compromised, manipulated, trashed and violated. Its very purpose will be attacked. It will be all-out war.”

There was a hush around the polished olive wood table. Then the Son continued. “To preserve the integrity of this new line will cost me everything.” He glanced around the board room. Gold glistened everywhere from the letters on the cypress door ‘Creations Unlimited’, to the lamp stands to the various articles around the room. Everything was in pristine condition and made from the finest quality materials. Its beauty was unsurpassed.

Waving his right hand he said, “I will have to leave all this. I’ll have to step into the marketplace in order to save the honor and intent of this line. Our enemy will do whatever it takes to destroy my reputation and my mission. Even who I am will be questioned.”

The Chairman spoke kindly, “Son, you won’t be gone long.”

H.S. interjected, “I’ll be there with you. Together we will protect our trademark and good name. After you leave I’ll continue working in the marketplace to redeem and repair those that are broken. I’ll set up centers, call technicians and train them with the knowledge for restoring the products that have lost their identity.”

“What about it, Son?”

“I only want to do what pleases you, regardless of the cost.”

“Then it’s settled,” the Chairman said. They stood in unison and walked toward the door as if they were one. “Let us make man in our image.”

Published in: on April 21, 2013 at 12:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Arrogance – Another Take

It’s always good to get other viewpoints on situations. Here is Heaven’s Take on Arrogance.

Angel 2:     Angel 1, whatever are you doing?

Angel 1:     I’m practicing my trembling.

Angel 2:     Trembling? You have nothing for which to tremble.

Angel 1:     I know that. I just want to experience what humans will feel when they encounter God’s wrath on them for calling Him a liar.

Angel 2:     Oooo! I see what you mean. But, wait. I don’t remember hearing people call God a liar.

Angel 1:     Angel 2, have you never heard humans say, “Your actions speak so loud, I can’t hear what you are saying.”?

Angel 2:     Well, I may have heard that. I just never thought much about it. After all, a lot of what they say is idle talk.

Angel 1:     True enough, but this is a meaningful statement.

Angel 2:     Okay, but give me an example.

Angel 1:     Sure thing. Take the people already living in the land that God promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Israelites didn’t want to see   anyone – enemies, I’ll call them – living there. They just wanted to move in and enjoy the benefits of the land.

Angel 2:     Yes, I believe you are correct in that observation.

Angel 1:     But they didn’t realize that the enemies were serving God’s purpose.

Angel 2:     Correct. God never acts randomly. He always has a purpose – actually many purposes – in everything He says or does.

Angel 1:     Right. Take, for example, the land. If people weren’t living there, fields now cultivated would be covered in weeds. That would add extra work for the Israelites and delay food production.

Angel 2:     And what about the fruit trees and grape vines?

Angel 1:     Excellent point. Without proper pruning they would simply grow wild. Not much fruit would be harvested.

Angel 2:     I have another example. Wild animals (De. 7:22). Without humans to keep their population in check, these animals would create a big safety issue for the Israelites.

Angel 1:     Very good illustration. How about the water supply? Without the human enemies, there would be no wells to provide clean drinking water. Then they would complain about that. (Pause) I can just imagine them walking around, striking rocks like Moses did and expecting water to gush out (Ex. 17:6)

Angel 2:     (Chuckles) And how about the lakes and rivers? Without cleaning out debris from floods, the health of fish could be affected.

Angel 1:     So, do you see why trembling is in their future?

Angel 2:     Well…

Angel 1:     Their actions. Think about their actions.

Angel 2:     Oh. Their action was not to enter the Promised Land.

Angel 1:     Yes, and why not?

Angel 2:     They didn’t believe God would take care of them. You know, keep them safe.

Angel 1:     And did God promise to keep them safe?

Angel 2:     Of course. God said He would go ahead of them. He even said He would drive out before them the nations living in the Promised Land (Ex. 34:11,24).

Angel 1:     So? Do you agree that the Israelites, in turning their backs on entering the Promised Land, showed they didn’t believe what God said?

Angel 2:     Yes, I do.

Angel 1:     Then I rest my case. Their decision actually called God a liar.

Angel 2:     (Long pause) I see.               (Both angels tremble)

 

Jonah – Another Take

Captain’s Log

Hopeless! Hopeless! Hopeless!

What a day. Started as usual. Took on cargo and one passenger in Joppa – all making for a profitable voyage. Weather was perfect. Weighed anchor and set our course for Tarshish.

Then it happened! A great wind like nothing I had ever seen started blowing. Soon angry waves hit the ship and water like pirates pounced onto the deck. We were doomed! If there was ever a time to pray, it was then. Everyone, especially me, called out to our gods, but our cries were met with deafness.

As we hung on for dear life, we hurled the cargo overboard. That’s when we noticed our passenger was missing. I staggered below deck. There he was. Sound asleep! Completely oblivious to our danger. “Wake up, man. Don’t you realize we are headed for a watery grave? Start praying to your god. Maybe he can save us.”

In the meantime, my crew decided that this evil storm was caused by someone on board. When Jonah joined the rest of the sailors, all eyes turned to him. Questions flew as fast as the waves hit. “Who are you? Where did you come from? What is your occupation? What do you know about this awful storm?”

Over the noise of the wind and water, our passenger explained everything. “Throw me overboard, and the storm will stop,” Jonah said.

NO WAY! If his god was powerful enough to cause this storm, then he was powerful enough to punish us for killing his prophet. With that, the crew took to the oars and rowed until all strength was gone. It was useless.

We tossed Jonah overboard but not before calling on his God to forgive us for taking this action.

Jonah was right. As soon as he hit the water, the storm stopped. We looked into the water to see where Jonah was. The only thing we saw was a huge shadow slowly swimming away from us.

I must admit, I was relieved that we didn’t see the man bobbing in the water. Otherwise we would have felt guilty leaving him there. Now I am left to deal with his disobedience. All our cargo is lost. No cargo – no money.

Jonah’s name meant ‘dove’, but to us his defiant presence was more like a vulture signaling devastation and death.

Excerpt from How to Kill the Giant of Hopelessness soon to be released.

The Good Samaritan – another slant

Story based on Luke 10:25-37

“The sun is quickly moving, signaling the end of another day. The market place hums with people getting those last minute items before the Sabbath starts.

“I don’t need anything, but I love to be in the midst of the hustle and bustle of shoppers. I seem to draw from their energy. I also like to see who is here.

“Hurried buyers nudge me. I turn to look in their direction and see a face from the past. It was the lawyer who asked Jesus, ‘What shall I do to inherit eternal life?’

“Just as Jesus knew Nathanael’s secret (John 1:45-49), I think He knew that this man was well trained in both the written and oral Jewish laws because He asked, ‘How do you read the law?’

“Not satisfied with giving a good answer, he smugly asked, ‘Who is my neighbor?’

“Jesus proceeded to answer him with a story about a Jew who fell victim to thieves. Left for half dead, a priest and a Levite came upon him but continued their travels without giving aid. Only a Samaritan took pity on this man. He used his resources to dress the wounds, thought nothing of inconveniencing himself by walking while the injured man rode to the inn. There his needs were attended to. More than that, the Good Samaritan’s compassion extended to his purse.

” ‘Go, and do likewise,’ thus acting as a neighbor left me confused. Not by what Jesus said, but by what the man didn’t say. After all, he was used to debating. He enjoyed making a show of his knowledge. Why didn’t he argue the point? Why didn’t he say, ‘Well, Jesus, that is just a story. Considering the animosity between Jews and Samaritans, this would never happen.’

“I walk home, pondering possible reasons for his silence. Did Jesus tell this story because it was true? Was the lawyer at the inn when a Samaritan arrived with a wounded Jew? Was the inn keeper a friend or family member who relayed this incident? Or, better still, did this actually happen to him?”

Published in: on April 16, 2013 at 12:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

How Did You Feel…? – Part 5 of 5

How did you feel, O Priests…

when your enemy was hung on the cross? Did you think that finally people would no longer follow this man who had such radical ideas? How did you feel when the veil which separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple was torn from top to bottom? Did you remember Jesus’ words, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God,”? Were you afraid that, indeed, Jesus was God’s Son and you were responsible for rejecting Him? When you ordered the repair of the curtain was it business as usual? Did you really think you could stay the hand of God? Did some of you believe that the man on the cross was really the Son of God?

How do you feel, O People of the World…

when you read the Bible verse: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him may have eternal life? Are you included?

How do you feel, O People of the World…

when you read the Bible verse:…first must He (Son of Man) suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation? Are you included?

How Did You Feel…? – Part 4 of 5

How did you feel, O Cross…

when wood from Creator’s Hand and nails from man’s hand met to crucify the precious Lamb of God? How did you feel when the spear was thrust in His side and blood and water ran down to the ground? Did you understand that you would replace the altar of the old covenant? Did you know that the Son of Man told His followers, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Me”? How did you feel, O Cross, when your burden was made heavier as the sins of the world were laid upon Jesus?

How did you feel, O Sign…

when you became a witness written in three languages declaring Jesus to be King of the Jews? You bore the words of judgment against the chief priests when, in answer to Pilate’s question, they responded, “We have no king but Caesar.”

Part 1: How Did You Feel, O Earth…O Stones…O Alabaster Box…blogged 3/27/13

Part 2: How Did You Feel, O Garden of Gethsemane…Peter, James and John… blogged 3/28/13

Part 3: How Did You Feel, Malchus, servant of the high priest…O High Priest…blogged 3/29/13

Part 5: How Did You Feel, O Priests…O People of the World…