Life is not for the faint of heart. Although it is not a Bible word there is a certain RESILIENCE that is necessary to successfully meet the intrinsic challenges of life with a gracious and enduring spirit. The way the Bible describes it is “patient endurance,” “steadfastness”, “constancy” or “persevering to the end.” And that is what we are exhorted to do – To meet trials with smiles (figuratively, at least). Job is the paramount example of the struggle to do so.
You might be wondering why I am calling one of the most famous chapters in the Bible, Hebrews 11,”The Hope Chapter” – since its claim to fame is the topic of faith, not hope. This serendipity of Bible study never fails to delight – when subsequent readings of parts of the Bible (we think we know well) morph into new and fascinating territory for exploration.
As I was reading Hosea 2 today, I wondered if this is where Jesus got the idea for the parable of the Prodigal Son. I found, as I compared and contrasted the stories, that they complement and complete one another. Together they are like a musical composition that has various parts that combine synergistically to make exquisite, melodious harmony.
I don’t know about where you live – but in my corner of the world, Halloween decorations, orange lights and grotesque lawn paraphernalia have become commonplace. When you drive through local towns you see faux cemeteries in front yards with scary fake body parts climbing out of graves, ghosts holding hands and dancing in the wind, or smashed witches on broomsticks crashed into trees. Are there really disembodied spirits floating around our lives – often with evil intent – as these things suggest? I think it is a good time of year to remind our selves (as avid God-seekers) of scriptural teaching on the state of the dead.
Many years ago, my grandfather-in-law was given a beautiful oak Mission-style sofa by his neighbor. This neighbor told GrandDaddy that he could keep it until he asked for it back again. GrandDaddy owned that sofa for so many years that the neighbor finally died. Fast forward more years, and the neighbor’s children look up GrandDaddy (now living elsewhere) and ask him to give the sofa back. He refused – on the grounds that the neighbor originally said he could keep it unless he (the neighbor himself) asked for it – and he was long since dead!
Did you ever notice that there is one great Bible exception to the second of the 10 Commandments? You recall that it is the one that forbids the “making for yourself any graven image or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them…” The great exception is found both in our readings today in 2 Chronicles, and frequently in the Book of Ezekiel (also currently in our readings). “What is it?”, you ask? Da da Daaa…The adornment of the tabernacle – and specifically for our consideration today – The Cherubim!
The Apostle Paul was a man that had it all figured out. In a world where many are struggling to find meaning and peace, we would do well to listen to this wise and experienced man’s advice. Like the Lord Jesus, Paul “learned obedience from the things which he suffered.” Hebrews 5:8 We cannot dismiss him, by thinking he did not understand how hard life can be. If there’s any doubt of this you might want to remind yourself of his incredible list of life experiences to know he was a victor.
As I was contemplating the days after the resurrection outlined in Luke 24, the caring behavior of Jesus struck me. Here he was, resurrected and all-powerful, immortal and finished with the great sin-battle, and yet what is he doing? He is more super than all superheroes and yet he is condescending to mortal, fallible people to offer them encouragement and wisdom. I find it so very lovely. So very humbling.
Do you lead a super busy life? You probably chuckle because you are just getting around to reading this two weeks later than September 26 – since you’ve been too busy to peruse it until now, right? I think most of us could claim the dubious reality of living jam-packed, crazy-busy lives. The pressures of being students, or holding down jobs, or family obligations, or social activities, or travels, or maintaining homes, or a mixture of all of the above, can usually fill our time – and then some.
As a person who loves words, and how they can be strung together in fascinating and enchanting ways, I have always enjoyed a phrase in 2 Timothy chapter four. Paul says: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires…”