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Archive for October, 2010

In part 1 we looked at the Tawrat and saw that God offers us rest, that is, he offers us peace and safety so that we are free to worship him and enjoy him alone. In this post we will see how God offers this rest as revealed by Jesus Christ in the Injil.

Saydna Isa makes a remarkable promise:

Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

When the Injil was revealed by God there were no chapter division or verse numbers. They were added later to help us reference particular sentences in the Injil. Because of this, we at times fail to see that chapters are linked together. This is a good example of this, for the Messiah makes these comments at the end of chapter 11, but we cannot fully understand them without what he also says (and does) in chapter 12 about the Sabbath (a holy day of rest).

In chapter 12 the disciples were picking grain on the Sabbath, which the religious leaders of the day believed was disobeying the command to not work on the Sabbath. Our master Jesus shows that this is not true because God has always meant for the Sabbath to be a day when people’s needs are met. The disciples were hungry and in need and God never intended the Sabbath to be a burden when people’s needs were not met. Therefore, since the Sabbath was created for man and for man’s good, it was not wrong to meet an immediate need on the Sabbath. Jesus Christ follows this by saying, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:8).

In the very next story we see our master Jesus healing a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. It is good, right and “lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:12). Even though the religious leaders thought Jesus Christ should not heal on the Sabbath, Jesus did it because it is God’s desire that people’s needs are met every day, even (especially!) on the holy day of rest.

God wants us to have rest. He wants us to rest on the Sabbath day and every day. He wants us to trust that he will do us good. Jesus Christ is the lord of the Sabbath and thus he is the lord of rest. This is why he is able to offer rest to all who come to him. Everyday we seek to make ourselves clean and acceptable to God through our own works. It is hard and laborious (and impossible) to try and be good enough. Jesus Christ offers a different way. He invites us to come to him, all who labor and heavy laden (who doesn’t labor and isn’t heavy laden?!). He will give us rest, for he is the lord of the Sabbath

Related Posts:
The Prophet Noah
Rest: The Meaning of Noah – Part 1
Rest: The Meaning of Noah – Part 3

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Pray for Indonesia

Indonesia endured an earthquake that led to a tsunami on Monday (at least 311 dead) and then a volcano eruption less than 24 hours later (at least 28 dead).

The devastation seen in these pictures should compel us to cry out for God’s mercy.

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Praise God for Tong Phuoc Phuc

Al-humdulillah! (Praise God!)

Tong Phuoc Phuc noticed that many pregnant women entered the clinic, but then came out without their babies. He asked if he could take the aborted babies and give them a proper burial. He believes rightly that they are human beings, worthy of all the dignity, respect and rights of other human beings. Then pregnant women started coming to him and gave him their babies rather than abort them. He is father to about 50 children!

HT: Jill Stanek

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Global Pink Hijab Day 2010

Cancer is no respecter of persons. It doesn’t care if you are a Muslim or Christian or anything else. This is why it is good for Muslims and Christians to work together to seek the cure. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and October 27 is Global Pink Hijab Day. Its goal is to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer, while atthe same time display the humanity of Muslim women who cover.

My mom died of breast cancer over 18 years ago. I am thankful for those who seek to find the cure.

Related Post:
Global Pink Hijab Day (2009)

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I mentioned before that our son Noah is named after the prophet Noah. One of the reason’s we gave him this name is that it means “rest” and that is what we are praying he (and we) will receive from God.

Rest is a rich biblical theme throughout the Bible. In this post we will see what the Tawrat says about this rest. In another post we will look at what the Injil says.

In Exodus 20 the prophet Moses wrote the 10 commandments. One of them was to keep the Sabbath holy, that is, to not work on the Sabbath. The reason for this command is given in verse 11, Moses wrote, “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” The story of creation is told in Genesis 1-2. It is clear that God created and ordered the world in six days and then rested on the seventh day, the Sabbath.

Obviously God’s rest on the seventh day is not owing to any deficiency in him. He has all strength and he never grows tired or weary (“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is  the everlasting God,the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable” [Isaiah 40:28].) God did not rest on the seventh day because he was tired. God rested because he was finished. He did not rest in order to recuperate. He rested because his work of creation was complete.

Several times the Bible speaks of God giving his people rest from their enemies. God made this promise to the prophet David who was king over his people, “I will give you rest from all your enemies” (2 Samuel 7:11). This is exactly what we see. By the end of David’s life he had rest from all his enemies so that there was peace in the land.

Shortly before David died he encouraged his son Solomon and the people by saying, “Is not the Lord your God with you? And has he not given you peace on every side? For he has delivered the inhabitants of the land into my hand, and the land is subdued before the Lord and his people. Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God. Arise and build the sanctuary of the Lord God, so that the ark of the covenant of the Lord and the holy vessels of God may be brought into a house built for the name of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 22:18-19).

The rest he describes is a rest of peace. It is a rest that includes safety from those who would destroy them. God had given the people peaceful rest so that they would seek him. He had given them rest so that they could focus all of their attention on worshipping him.

This is the rest he offers us. A freedom from fear. A freedom from working to secure our own safety. A freedom to worship. A freedom to enjoy God. A freedom to be at peace.

 

Related Posts:
The Prophet Noah
Rest: The Meaning of Noah – Part 2
Rest: The Meaning of Noah – Part 3

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Everyday Muslims pray that Allah would guide them on the straight path. Verse 6 of the opening Surah of the Qur’an says:

“Guide us to the straight path”

This is a good prayer. I was thinking about it today when I read Isaiah 35:

8 And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray. 9 No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there (verses 8-9).

The highway is a highway of holiness. There are two key things about it: 1) You must be clean in order to be on it and 2) It is really safe, for even fools will not stray from it and nothing dangerous will be found on it.

Yes, God, guide me to the straight path.

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The Power of a Photo

(this is a photo of a child at 10 weeks)

Jennifer Rego:

For myself, the power of the photograph is precisely that it is the reminder that I need that defending the unborn is not simply “a cause”, or an “issue”, because people are not causes or issue, they unique, unrepeatable human beings that I have a relationship with simply because we both share our human dignity, and it is simply because of that, that I have an obligation to defend them.

Read the rest.

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Chilean Miners Rescued

I don’t know how much it cost Chile to do all the work necessary to save the lives of the 33 miners trapped in the mine for over two months. But as I watched the video of the first one rescued and looked at the pictures I kept thinking about how valuable human life is and that every penny and every hour spent to save their lives was worth it.

Thanks be to God!

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Yesterday I posted the following as a guest post on Life Together. I’ve been so helped myself as I’ve thought about these things that I wanted to post it on my blog as well. For my Muslim friends, this is a good example of how the gospel (Jesus Christ being sent by God to die on the cross for sin and rise again in triumph over sin) produces change in our lives.

Sin – Confrontation – Heart – Idol – Gospel

The heart is the key to behavior and if we want to help one another or be helped we must get to the heart. When we confront we move beyond the behavior and help our brother or sister see how sin is at work. For example, you see a friend speak in anger to his wife. You can ignore it, but that isn’t loving to your friend, to his wife, to his children, or to the others who see Christ dishonored through this man’s sinful speech. You can simply confront him with a bold proclamation against his sin, but that isn’t loving either. We need to gently point out sin and then seek to help him.

You can very gently say something like, “I noticed when we were together earlier that you said ______ to your wife. It seemed as though there was anger in your voice. What was going on?” If your friend is wise he will receive these questions with gladness. If he is like me he might be defensive. Either way, we trust that the same Holy Spirit prompting me to confront is also at work in his heart to conform him to the image of Jesus. He will likely pass the blame for his anger by telling you what his wife did to make him angry. Of course, she may very well have first sinned against her husband, but we know that no one makes us respond in sin. We do that ourselves. So our goal is to help him own his own sin.

He doesn’t need, primarily, better communication tips. He doesn’t merely need a list of do’s and don’t’s in communicating his frustrations to his wife. He needs to see his heart in the midst of his anger. In some way he was living for his own kingdom and his wife had gotten in the way of his goals. Perhaps he had elevated peace of mind as an idol in his heart. His wife then did something that caused stress and he responded in anger because she became a barrier to the peace of mind he wanted. Perhaps he had elevated some activity as an idol in his heart. His wife then did or said something that put the enjoyment of that activity in question so he responded with anger because she became a barrier to that enjoyment. Perhaps having a submissive wife has been elevated to an idol in his heart. He wants the community to know that his wife submits to him so when she did something that calls this into question he got angry at her because she had become a barrier to the status he wanted.

The point is this: Behind his anger is some kind of idol. He had ceased living for the kingdom of God and was living for his own kingdom. His wife did not play by the rules of his kingdom and so he responded with anger. This is the problem of marriage. You bring together two people with two different kingdoms and expect them to live in harmony. You soon learn that the other is not playing by your rules and conflict comes. This is why it isn’t enough to merely give better communication tips. If someone is still living for his own kingdom he will simply use those communication skills to continue living for his kingdom. There needs to be a change of heart. And this is what we want to do when we are confronting friends.

If we are going to help a friend experience heart change we must never forget that there is one means by which a heart is truly changed—the gospel. We cannot love our neighbor without the gospel. The gospel hits at every point of need. This husband needs to change. He needs to love his wife like Christ loved the church. It isn’t enough to merely quote from Ephesians 5 about what a husband is to do. We must help our friend place his story—his life—into the larger context of God’s story. We read the command, “Husbands, love your wife like Christ loved the church.” But we can’t actually understand what that means without understanding the whole story. We need to understand how sin has separated us from God so that God sent his beloved Son as a man in order to die for the sins of his people. And by this death and his subsequent resurrection God has created a new people to whom he promises to use his omnipotent power to work all things for their good.

The gospel makes a claim on our lives. It calls us to change. It calls us to holiness and obedience. So we need to preach the gospel to one another and call each other to greater holiness and obedience. But we will never be able to heed the call of the gospel if we don’t also have the comfort of the gospel. We need to understand that in Christ our sins are forgiven. I can’t live the life God wants me to live if by living it I think God will love me more. I first need to know that God loves me and he couldn’t possibly love me more because his love is already endless. It is the knowledge and experience of that love that enables me to strive for greater holiness. We obey not in order for God to love us, but because he already does.

 

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What an incredible story of forgiveness and grace. A thief in Springfield, FL stole thousands of dollars of equipment from the church. After the pastor went looking for the stuff it was all returned. Apparently he was convicted by what he did, gave it all back and then even came to church on Sunday. The church forgave him and he joined!

Read the whole story.

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