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Promises delayed

The Israelites spent 400 years in Egypt.  They were invited to settle in Egypt to escape the famine in their own land.  At first they were honored guests but that status changed.

Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” 

Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses.  (Exodus 1:8-11)

The people prayed to God for freedom from their bondage and God chose Moses to answer their prayers.

Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”   (Exodus 3:7-10)
 

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Is God ever unfair?

Have you ever believed that God was treating you unfairly?  I think everyone has at one time or another.  I know I have and the Bible tells us about a man named Job who felt this way.

There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east.

His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.

Job 1:1-5

Job feared God and turned away from evil.  He cared about the welfare of his children and offered sacrifices for them in case they had sinned, and God had blessed him with great wealth.  It appeared that he was all set to live a life of piety and comfort. Read the rest of this entry

Feeding the multitude

A large crowd of people went to listen to Jesus speak when he was in a deserted area far from any towns because they saw the miracles he had done in healing the sick.  At the end of the day they were hungry but there was no place nearby where they could buy food.  There was a boy in the crowd who had five loaves of bread and two fish.  He shared what he had with his immediate neighbors.  By giving each person one loaf of bread or one fish he was able to feed himself and six other people.  The rest of the crowd went hungry.

Have you ever read this story in the Bible?  Neither have I, but there is one that is very similar to it.  The only difference is what the boy did with the food he had. Read the rest of this entry

Come down from the cross

When Jesus was being crucified some of the spectators challenged him to prove he was the Son of God by coming down from the cross.

And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”

So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.”
Matthew 27:39-42

If he had chosen to do so he could have come down from the cross.  He had earlier stated that if he asked, God would send twelve legions of angels to help him.

And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”
Matthew 26:51-54

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The faith of Bartimaeus

On his final trip to Jerusalem, Jesus stopped to heal a blind man named Bartimaeus.

As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”

And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Read the rest of this entry

Isaac’s faith

Abraham’s faith was tested many times.  The first test that we are told about came when God told him to leave his home in Ur and go to an unknown land.  (It is likely that he faced tests while he was still living in Ur.  If his faith hadn’t previously been strengthened by exercise he wouldn’t have been willing to leave his home at God’s command.)  When he entered the new land God told him he would become the father of many nations and he continued to believe this promise even though it was 25 years before Isaac was born.

His greatest test came after Isaac was born.

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!”

And he said, “Here I am.”

He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.
Genesis 22:1-3

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You can’t win Pascal’s Wager

Pascal’s Wager is an argument for believing in God even if you see no convincing evidence that he exists.  It was proposed by the 17th century mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal.

It is based on the premise that by the way we live we are betting on whether or not God exists.  If we bet that God exists and we are right we gain eternal life.  If we are wrong we simply cease to exist when we die and don’t suffer any penalty.  If we bet that there is no God and are wrong we suffer eternal pain.  If we are right we cease to exist at death and gain nothing.

Pascal’s conclusion is three fourths correct.  If there is no God it doesn’t matter whether or not we believe in him.  If we live as if there is no God and in fact there is one we will suffer eternally.  But if there is a God, simply living as if he exists is no guarantee that we will receive eternal life. Read the rest of this entry

A lamp or a flashlight?

Imagine that you have to go somewhere at night on a road that has no lights on it.  You will need to take a source of light with you and there are two available.  One is a flashlight and the other is an oil lamp.  The flashlight has fresh batteries and you can see a long distance by its light.  The lamp only gives off enough light to illuminate the area immediately around you.  Which one would you choose?

This question is a no-brainer.  With the flashlight you could see a long way ahead and know what to expect as you travel.  You wouldn’t be surprised by unexpected obstacles.  When you use a lamp only the area immediately around is illuminated and you have no idea what lies further ahead.  If there are obstacles you won’t know about them until you reach them.

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Don’t be afraid

When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the LORD your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.
Deuteronomy 20:1

When the Israelites invaded Canaan they faced enemies who were stronger than they were.  They won only because God helped them.

Israel was a nation and like any other nation it sometimes waged wars with other nations.  The church isn’t a nation but is a body of people from all nations who have put their faith in Jesus Christ.  Because we aren’t a nation we don’t have an army and we don’t engage in physical wars but we are involved in warfare of a different kind.

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The sinner’s prayer

One technique used by evangelists is to ask those who respond to their message to pray what is called the “Sinner’s Prayer”.  The wording of this prayer varies; here is one version.

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name.
Amen.

This practice isn’t found in the Bible.  There are several accounts of people believing the gospel and being saved but there is no record of any convert being asked to say this or any other prayer.

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Insanity

On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, Jesus was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.”
Luke 5:1-5

Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.  By Einstein’s definition Simon’s response to Jesus was insane.  Not only had he fished all night without results but he was a professional fisherman while Jesus was a carpenter.  Logically he should have been the one telling Jesus how to fish.

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A Canaanite woman’s faith

Matthew 15:21-28 describes an encounter between Jesus and a Canaanite woman.

And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.”

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Reaching safety

Once three men went on an ocean cruise.   One of them was an athlete who was in top physical condition and was a champion swimmer. The second knew how to swim and occasionally exercised but generally didn’t attach much importance to keeping fit. The third was a couch potato who didn’t know how to swim and was too lazy to ever exercise.  There were plenty of things they could do on the ship to occupy their time and they became so interested in these activities that they didn’t bother to keep track of where the ship was.

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Snake handling

In Mark 16:17,18 Jesus tells his disciples of signs that will accompany those who believe.

And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.

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