22 March 2013

Ask and you shall receive

Yesterday I was driving with my neighbour on an errand to inner city Sydney. Out of the blue she quoted this Bible idea that if you don't ask, you won't receive. Biblical formation aside, it was fascinating to hear her share this bit of truth as we rode along. She has made it in an industry (hair salon) where the competition is fierce and she is only a young woman. I'm pleased to count her a friend, and proud of her at the same time.

Still the quote, from Y'shua, "ask and you shall receive" is ringing in my ears today. And, if we don't ask, we won't receive. That's so obvious, isn't it? God wants us to ask Him for blessings, for help, for life considerations. And like a good father, He loves to pour out such on us.

So, the question is begged, why don't all our askings result in such benefits? James, the half-brother of Y'shua, asked that same question in the First Century. First his concern was for wisdom. I told a Jewish woman last week in Wichita, a lovely lady I met at a Bat Mitzvah, that Hashem would send her wisdom if she asked.

James said this, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." (Chapter 1.5-8)

OK< a bit of a caveat is there.

But that's not all he says on the matter. Later on in his very short letter, James says, "What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures." (chapter 4.1-3)

So asking is not the only consideration, is it? BUT that said, without asking you won't receive. So ask God today. Ask Him to help you in your life. Ask Him for wisdom. Ask Him for help in your circumstances, your family, your hopes and dreams. And be honest about your heart. Lay it before God also, with all your demands and expectations. Let Him change you from the inside. He loves you and wants you to share in that life with Him today.

Nu? Ask already.

21 March 2013

Preparation

RedCarpetPrep by bobmendo
RedCarpetPrep, a photo by bobmendo on Flickr.

The POTUS Barack Obama and many dignitaries would grace this rug in a few hours. The scene is the tarmac at Ben Gurion airport in Israel. I was there in November, but saw no red carpet. Obviously I was too early. But this man, vacuuming the carpet Tuesday was there on time. And his work is of such limited concern that no one is there watching him. No one is there to monitor his activities. He is simply preparing the way for the others.

The report in the New York Times written by JODI RUDOREN and ISABEL KERSHNER and published March 19, 2013 from
JERUSALEM said, "Obama administration officials have made it clear that the top agenda item for the president’s visit here this week is to win the hearts of the Israeli people. He has a lot of work to do."

The pair chronicle the encounter on the red carpet and then commented on the tensions between Mr Obama and Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, actually between Obama and Israelis at large.

"The well-documented tensions between Mr. Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tell only part of the story: even Israelis who are harsh critics of their own leader felt snubbed when the American president skipped their homeland during his 2009 trip to the Middle East.

Many have never gotten over the speech he made then in Cairo, where he twice referred to “Palestine” in the present rather than future tense, and insinuated that Israel was rooted in the tragedy of the Holocaust rather than ancient history. "

Making the scene ready was important on Tuesday for this cleaner. Making the Israeli public ready to receive Mr Obama ... that's another story.

Nearly 2,000 years ago another ready-er was in town. Not in Lod, but down by the riverside along the Jordan River. His name was Yochanan. He was calling the Jewish people to listen to his message, to repent, to make ready the coming of the Lord. When he told his own people to be baptised, a rite used in many circumstances, but in most Jews's minds, reserved for Gentiles who wanted to convert to Judaism, Yochanan was met with derision. "How dare you!" they cried. "We have Abraham as our father."

But Yochanan replied, "God is able to raise up sons of Abraham from these rocks." Yochanan didn't win any popularity contests, but he was instrumental in making the road ready for another fiery preacher who would follow. The One Yochanan introduced was Y'shua. They were actually cousins.

Y'shua came in a quiet way, not on Air Force One with military fanfare. Y'shua came along to be baptised by Yochanan, to fulfill righteousness. When Yochanan baptised Y'shua, the Spirit of Hashem came on Him like a dove. A voice from heaven cried, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

That's an amazing fanfare. And a holy one. And from the Holy One.

You want peace in Israel? Turn to Y'shua. You want peace in your life? Turn to Y'shua. You want a Passover that's full of hope and joy? Get the personal redemption promised by Yochanan and promised and fulfilled in Y'shua.

Isaiah said, "Prepare the way of the Lord." John (Yochanan) the Baptist said the same thing. I'm joining those prophets in declaring it to you as well. He's worthy of the red carpet, and the media attention, and all things in your life. Call on Him today. He will hear you.

Happy Passover 5773.


15 March 2013

Flawed...aren't we all!

Flawed...aren't we all! by bobmendo
Flawed...aren't we all!, a photo by bobmendo on Flickr.

Alexander Pope said "to err is human; to forgive divine." And although I think I understand and embrace that, others have different perspectives on that. For instance, former US vice president Hubert Humphrey said, "To err is human. To blame someone else is politics." Confucius said, "The cautious seldom err." The ancient Greek Euripides said, "Forgive, son; men are men; they needs must err."

However you state it, we make mistakes. We commit crimes. We fail in our duty. We sin. We fall short of God's standards. We all blow it.

But do we agree with this rego plate, that we are flawed? That is, that by nature we have an non-correctable error in us. Something inside is broken. Is that true?

One of the Jewish phrases which stands out in modern conversation is "tikkun olam" a Hebrew phrase meaning "repairing the world." The term used to mean something like "in the public interest" but the actual definition has become more what moderns use.

If the world needs repair, then who broke it and how do we fix it? If the world needs repair, then what does that say about my world, or my situations? What about my car? My house? My family? My own spiritual life? And if it needs repair then it must by definition be broken. When did that happen?

So I think I'm of the opinion and I think the Bible bears witness to this as well, that I'm flawed and that the world is flawed, and that we all need repair. I suppose the great reality of the faith of the Book is that not only did God demonstrate how sinful we are through the record of the Scriptures, but He also showed us the way out.

It is not by human effort that we fix things. That would be like wiping an oil spill with a wet rag, but rather that by a Human's effort, Y'shua, we can be forgiven. That's pretty substantial. And pretty amazing.

Because Y'shua died, was buried, and rose again, we can be forgiven of our sins. That's where the world's repair begins. In the human heart. Because of The Human, the Man Y'shua, and His love for us.

Flawed? Yup. Forgiven? Hallelujah, that's me!