If you have stumbled here by accident let me first insist that there really are no accidents in life. If however, you came on your own free will then please by all means open your hearts and your minds to the "New Wine" that God has prepared for you!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

One wish

There is an old children’s tale about a young Arabian street urchin who finds a magic bottle and discovers there is a genie inside. The child is very poor and has grown up alone on the streets without the support of his parents. Suddenly, all that is changed! He is granted three wishes by the ethereal form spilling out of the neck of the bottle.  Carelessly, the boy frivolously uses up his first two wishes on a magic carpet and a banquet hall feast that included every culinary experience imaginable.

Stuffed to the gills and now down to his last wish the boy carefully calculates his best options for his last wish. So what would be your last wish if given the opportunity to ask for whatever you wanted? Some would try and tempt fate by asking for more wishes but that is not allowed. Others might crave for great wealth, power or glory but those too fall short of the importance of that one final wish.

King Solomon got just that opportunity one night when God appeared to him in a dream and spoke “Ask! What shall I give you?” And to which Solomon replied “You have shown great mercy to Your servant David my father, because he walked before You in truth, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with You; You have continued this great kindness for him, and You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. Now, O Lord my God, You have made your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” 1Kings 3:4-14.

The bible instructs us to ask God, our heavenly father, for the desires of our hearts, without putting   limitations on our requests other than asking within His will. If we think about it, there are no limits to what an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God can do! Do you believe that? Keeping in mind that the only parameter that needs to be considered when making a request is, are you asking within the will of God? The only way to know what the will of God is to study and search through the bible. All the answers to life’s questions are hidden away on the pages, just waiting for us to discover them.

Solomon’s answer pleases God. “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you. And I have also given you what you have not asked; both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days. So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statues and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”

The half brother of Jesus wrote “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5. It’s one of those truths in life comparable to the sowing of seed and reaping the labor of what you have sown that if we ask for anything in God’s will then it will be given to us. 

So do you know what the will of God is for your own life? Both David and Solomon knew and at times made choices outside the will of God.  Our free will allows us to make choices and to reap from the seeds we have sown. God isn’t a disciplinarian who is just waiting for us to mess things up, but rather He loves us and has given the answers to the test within the bible. It saddens Him to see us make bad choices. But we all must choose to walk with God or walk away from God.  Jesus instructed us to “But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.” Luke 12:31.

Remember, we can’t take riches, power or anything else with us when pass on through the veil to the other side. So make your one wish to do the will of God.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The last word

What will the end be like when you finally reach the finish line? What will be the last words on your lips; words of praise, curse or confusion? Some people, the world considers important, have mouthed some of the most ridiculous things imaginable. Here is a couple. “Friends applaud, the comedy is finished.” Ludwig van Beethoven, composer, d. March 26, 1827. “I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis.” Humphrey Bogart, actor, d. January 14, 1957. “Damn it . . . Don't you dare ask God to help me.” To her housekeeper, who had begun to pray aloud. Joan Crawford, actress, d. May 10, 1977.

King David was very old when he passed on into eternity. A thriving kingdom, not without its share of problems, was being given to his son Solomon. He had survived many ordeals and buried his share of children. But if I could manage to murmur something intelligent before giving up my spirit, I hope it would resemble what King David said to his son Solomon.

“Now the days of David drew near that he should die, and he charged Solomon his son, saying: “I go the way of all the earth; be strong therefore and be a man. And keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statues, His commandments, His judgments and His testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn; that the Lord may fulfill His word which He spoke concerning me, saying ‘If your sons take heed to their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne in Israel.’ ” 1 Kings 2:1-4.

We know that David finished well, but the road he chose was often full of potholes. His heart was quick to admit his failures and sin against God, driving him back to repentance. David left this world in peace; however it wouldn’t take too long for the kingdom to be divided and engaged in a full civil war. History would reveal a few good kings, a couple of great kings but a long list of evil kings that did not follow the last words of David, not walking with God but following their own evil desires.

David indeed finished well. The last snapshot of his life portrays a scene where David is commanded by Gad to erect and alter to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite..” As Aaunah sees the king coming up to the top of the mountain he bowed before the king with his face to the ground. As David approaches him he tells him that he is here to purchase the land on which the threshing floor was built so that he can build an alter and sacrifice to the Lord.

Araunah, without skipping a beat offers to give the land, his oxen and yokes of wood for the fire to the king as a gift but David will have none of it. Here is David’s reply to Araunah “Then the king said to Araunah, ‘No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.’” 2 Samuel 24:24.

There are many interesting things about this last chapter in David’s life story. One is the fact that about one thousand years earlier, Father Abraham took his son Isaac to this very same spot to offer him as commanded as a burnt offing to the Lord. “Take now 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 will show you.” Genesis 22:2.

As the story goes,  Abraham is obedient to God but at the last moment, before the knife is driven into Isaac’s chest, God intervenes and provides a substitution; a ram who was caught in the thicket.  In verse 8 of the Genesis 22 passage Abraham informs his son that God will provide for Himself the lamb for the sacrifice. This mountain top of Moriah and the rock cropping where Abraham and Isaac were standing, would become the threshing floor David is trying to purchase from Araunah. This beautiful picture, of a father willing to give up his own son in worship of God, was planned by God to demonstrate His own love for the world He created.

You see, unlike Isaac who was spared, the Father was willing to send His one and only son to that same mountain to be humiliated and sacrificed as payment for the world’s sin on a wooden cross.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Wedding promise

“And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning, made them male and female, and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father  and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” The words of Jesus Christ from the gospel of Matthew 19:3-6.

Marriage is indeed a picture of Jesus Christ’s own love for His church.  The biblical model for marriage is a monogamous relationship between one man and one woman. The marriage ceremony is a public declaration where the couple promises to make a lifetime commitment to each other. The key words here are “lifetime commitment”.

However, in our fast paced world of instant messages, frozen microwaveable dinners and convenient drive through establishments, we tend to expect our marriages to function that way. Our expectations are that we want our needs to be met right now and we don’t have time for proper communication as our problems get worked out.  Our relationships have also fallen into this trap to the point where divorce becomes the answer because  “you don’t meet my needs anymore” instead of “until death do us part”. 

Since marriage is an institution designed by God for God’s people then it follows that He would have fashioned it in a way that would remind us of His incredible love for His creation. In fact, every aspect of an ancient Hebrew wedding ceremony was designed to be prophetic of God’s ultimate future plan of salvation for all people and the union of God’s Son to His bride; the church.

The first part of the wedding was the covenant or “contract” where the groom would draw up a contact detailing how he was going to provide for his wife stating the “bride price” which was what he was willing to pay for the opportunity to marry his bride. The groom would then pour a cup of wine and if the woman and her father drank from the cup then the deal was sealed. At this point the couple was considered betrothed which was legally binding even though the marriage had not yet been consummated.

At this point the bridegroom would present the bride with special gifts to remind her of his love for her while she waited for him to return sometime during the long betrothal period. Next, a ritual or cleansing bath would be taken by the bride. It was the idea that the bride was cleansing herself for the union with her husband. Her old life of being single was being transformed into a beautiful new life in union with her husband.

The main reason for the long betrothal period was so that the bridegroom could prepare a place for his bride to live. Usually an additional room was added to the father’s house and it was the father’s decision to decide when it was complete. At which time he would tell his son “Ok, go get your bride!”

So what was the bride’s responsibility during this extended period of time while the groom prepared her a dwelling place? It was during this time that the bride was consecrated, set apart and bought with a price. She was to cleanse herself and always be ready and on alert for the grooms return.

When the groom returned he would blow the shofar (ram’s horn) to announce his return. The groom usually came during in the middle of the night. This surprise return would determine if his bride was found ready and awaiting his return. Finally, he would take her back to the home he had prepared for their reunion where the marriage would be consummated. A grand feast and celebration would last for seven days.

The church is the bride of Christ. Jesus paid the bride price for us with His death on the cross and His own blood. At the last supper Jesus raised a cup of wine and made a new covenant with us in His blood sealing our fate and future in Him for eternity. Then He went to prepare a place for us to live with him in eternity. As Jesus left the earth, He gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit to remember Him by. 

Just as the bride was expected to keep herself pure, clean and ready for the wedding day we were also told to be baptized and abstain from every form of evil while we awaited bridegroom’s imminent return. Our bridegroom has made it very easy for us by providing His blood; the very essence of our purity. While our sins were as scarlet, He has washed us white as snow!