Trust

Trust sees God doing things here & now.

Faith rises to a lofty eminence & looks into the invisible & the eternal,

Trust realizes that God has done things & regards them as already done.

Trust brings eternity into the annals & happenings of time,

Faith transmutes the substance of hope into the reality of fruition

Faith changes promise into present possession.

We know when we trust just as we know when we see,

just as we are conscious of our sense of touch.

Trust sees, receives, holds. Trust is its own witness to Jesus.

Adapted from E M Bounds

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We’re so weak

We are experiencing fears — fears about the future, fears about relationships,

fears about work and finances, fears about our health, fears about our ones we love,

Even fears about You Lord being so distant & so far from us.

These ugly terrible terrors that so often emerge & linger.

Show how to fight these terrify thoughts.

We feel helpless & powerless before their threats.

When our life is facing daunting circumstances or overwhelming trials,

Keep us from the temptation to doubt Your promises

Deliver us from questioning Your faithfulness.

By Your Spirits Filling make us to “Be strong & courageous”

Remind us over & over that You have said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,”

In Your glorious infinite patience gently speak in our memories,

“I am with you always, to the end of the age”?

Remind us God of all Your wonderful promises, and then call us & empower us to follow

Let us draw on Your strength & courage & joy —

we’re so weak, we can only follow by Your power, to be free from these nasty fears.

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Let us rest

Our nervous hands, our antsy feet, sometimes we feel like manikins.

We feel weak & so unable to move & the distress is unnerving. We feel so lifeless

O Lord gives the faith to rest in You as our outward mobility declines.

Let our inner person have more of Christ. We need more evidence of Your presence.

Deepen our confidence of Your love.

Deepen our understanding of the cross, the empty tomb, the Holy Spirit dwelling in us.

Our bodies don’t function like they did. We admit our fear.

Help us to trust when we’re still afraid.

Help us move forward through our weaknesses.

We fear Your silence, we’re surrounded by our loneliness as we feel so useless.

Let us hear Your clear voice; You are our God You are our savior Lord Jesus.

Speak Your empowering creative words in our hearts.

When we’re so afraid drown us in the river of Your grace.

The fires of our afflictions are consuming us.

Let us hear Your voice clearly every moment saying

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; when you go through the rivers,

they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,

and the flame shall not consume you”

Isaiah 43:1–2

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Fitted & Resized

It wasn’t so long ago that we were stupid & stubborn & dupes of sin,

We were ordered every which way by our feelings, going around with a chip on our shoulder,

We felt hated & then we did the hating back.

But when God, our kind & loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that.

It was all His doing; we had nothing to do with it.

He gave us a good clean scrubbing & we came out of it new people,

washed inside & out by His Holy Spirit.

Our Savior Jesus poured out His new life so generously.

God’s gift has restored our relationship with Him & given us back our lives.

And there’s more life to come— an eternity of life! We can count on this.

Titus 3:3-8 the message

God’s power is perfectly fitted for our weakness;

and whatever brings us to our weakness

is just a fitting & resizing for God’s power, so we suit each other.

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War

I don’t want to sound unpatriotic but War is so savage.

Of course the National line is we were fighting for freedom.

So is it conjecture to say that if we never fought a war then we’d all
be captives to something worse?

Is it actually true that through war we’ve improved our world?

Jesus said there will continue to be wars & rumors of wars.

That doesn’t mean Jesus sanctions war.

We all know people who speak & the words of their mouth is smoother than butter,
but war is in their heart:

Their words are softer than oil, but in their heart they have drawn swords.

Psalms 55:21

James 4:1-3 notes that war is caused by unhealthy desires

Where do you think all these appalling wars & quarrels come from?

Do you think they just happen? Think again.

They come about because we want our own way & fight for it deep inside ourselves.

We lust for what we don’t have & are willing to kill to get it.

We want what isn’t ours & will risk violence to get our hands on it.

We wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would we? And why not?

Because we know we’d be asking for what we have no right to.

We’re spoiled children, each wanting our own way.

James 4 paraphrased

We have pictures of deceased friends.

For some of us we decorate our living areas with these lost loved ones.

We love to sit by the hour, trying to recall the living features which are so
feebly portrayed in the pictures.

But it’s impossible to resuscitate the history of expression on those countenances back to life.

But a picture or a painting can’t reasonably fix the real life on a canvas.

Our own memory, or at least mine, is becoming treacherous.

I can’t clearly recall the memories of those I loved.

I struggle in the twilight to make past expressions and experiences live again.

But I’ve tried to remember the positives of the past of those God has let me love.

We’re warned

If we bite & devour each other, watch out or we will be destroyed by each other.

Gal. 5:15

So we’re to Love others as you love ourselves.

That’s an act of true freedom.

If we bite & ravage each other, watch out— in no time at all we’ll be annihilating each other,

and where will our precious freedom be then?

In 1 Cor. 6:5-8 Paul warns

I say this as bluntly so I can to wake you up to the stupidity of what you’re doing.

Is it possible that there isn’t one levelheaded person among you

who can make fair decisions when disagreements & disputes come up?

I don’t believe it.

Wouldn’t it be far better to just take it, to let yourselves be wronged & forget it?

All you’re doing is providing fuel for more wrong, more injustice, bringing more

hurt to other people of your own spiritual family.…

1 Corinthians 6:5-8 MSG

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The tests of bitter water

One of the more obscure practices in the ancient times of the Bible is the test of bitter water.

As to how many individuals had to be subjected to these barbaric practices it’s hard to know.

But God is His sovereign permittivenesses (not a word but a concept) seems to allow each of us to go through unscheduled occurrences, irregularities in relationships & down right oddities of exceptionally weird happenings.

In our natural responses when we’re under disagreeable conditions, or sensing rejection or worse
maybe we’re under a social assortment of ridicule or challenged by feeling judged by another

We can give way to reactions of resentment & drink in the bitter gall of it all

Or

We can be lifted to responses of gratitude & joy seeing God in the test of bitter water

The way we embrace our unsavory experiences has everything to do with whether we

Wither & rot inside

Or

Worship & grow in Jesus

Jesus raised the bar high when He said blessed are you when
others revile you & say all manner of evil against you deceptively

When stuff starts getting way off the charts & there are unusual campaigns to target us

View it as an answer to prayer & pray on!!!

There are several passages in the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, that seem odd to us who are reading them thousands of years after they were written. As well as seeming odd, a few also seem unfair to women. Perhaps one of the strangest passages in the Hebrew Bible is Numbers 5:11-31which outlines the ordeal of bitter water. This ordeal was designed to test the fidelity of a wife who was suspected by her jealous husband of being unfaithful.

This experience must have been humiliating and distressing for innocent (and guilty) wives, but just how fair or unfair was this trial? Sarah O’Connor, who has an MA in biblical studies from Denver Seminary, discusses Numbers 5:11-31 on her blog here, and I have copied it below with her permission.


CHEATING WIVES, THE DOUBLE STANDARD AND A BIZARRE BIBLE PASSAGE

by Sarah J. O’Connor

I don’t know why I have a fascination with strange Bible passages, but I do. They represent a challenge, a puzzle I feel obligated to solve, at least in my own mind. One of these is the ancient Israelite process used to determine whether a married woman had messed around a bit on the side, found in Numbers 5:11-31.

Maybe you’ve read it, though I don’t blame you if you haven’t. Tucked away in a less popular part of Scripture, undoubtedly getting fewer likes than Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, we encounter the magical test for the notorious unfaithful wife. What was a husband to do if he suspected his right-hand woman but wasn’t fortunate enough to catch her in the act?

Well, the one thing he was not permitted to do was to take matters into his own hands.[1] No, he had to take her to the priest.

If a man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him so that another man has sexual relations with her, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act), and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure – or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure – then he is to take his wife to the priest. (Num. 5:11b-15a)

The woman was brought to the priest, true enough, but the priest was not permitted to take things into his own hands either.

The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the Lord. (Num. 5:16)

No human judge, jury, executioner here. No support for community organized honor killings of wayward women in this Middle Eastern society. The woman was to stand trial before the Lord, the one being who could and would judge her fairly, who knew what had and had not occurred and who was and was not guilty as charged.[2]

The only case in biblical law, as it turns out, where God all-knowing, rather than an earthly representative, was to preside over a human court.[3]

This type of trial by ordeal was a typical ancient practice found in various law codes of the era. The person’s guilt or innocence was determined by a physical test rather than by the usual court proceedings with testimony and witnesses. If the accused survived the ordeal without any negative effects, they were vindicated by the gods. If not, they were guilty.

Babylon had a similar law that involved tossing the suspected adulteress into a raging river.[4] In the unusual case that she survived, the Babylonians believed the gods had intervened to prove her innocence. If she perished, the gods had demonstrated she was guilty as charged.[5]

In other words, guilty until proven innocent.

The biblical trial was different. Like Hester Prynne, the protagonist of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter, the suspect woman stood with loosened hair, held an offering in her hands, and agreed to the outcome of the ordeal with an “amen, amen.”[6] Then she was given holy water to drink. Mixed into this water were symbolic elements: a bit of dust from the tabernacle floor, along with the curses she would experience if proven guilty, “washed” from the scroll upon which the priest had written them.

The obscure curses, which functioned as both evidence and punishment,[7] had to do with a “falling thigh and swelling abdomen.” Right. Based on the reference to retaining “seed” in verse 28, however, many scholars think “thigh” and “abdomen” are euphemisms for reproductive organs.[8] Here’s how the NIV translates:

If she has made herself impure and been unfaithful to her husband, this will be the result: When she is made to drink the water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering, it will enter her, her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry, and she will become a curse. If, however, the woman has not made herself impure, but is clean, she will be cleared of guilt and will be able to have children. (Num. 5:27-28 NIV)

Now we’re talking. If she was innocent, the water would have no effect on current or future pregnancies. Which, by the way, was the most likely outcome.[9] There was nothing in the water, the dust or the “curses” that was toxic: no arsenic, cyanide or strychnine; no hemlock, nightshade or curare.[10]

Innocent until proven guilty.

Think about that for a minute. In a world dominated by men, where a man’s honor was often valued above a woman’s life, the Bible stands out in its protection of women.

Remember that the next time you read Numbers. If you ever do, I mean.

On the other hand, if our biblical Hester was guilty she experienced divine judgment that resulted in a miscarriage and, potentially, loss of the ability to bear children at all.[11] A heavy sentence, for sure, in a culture that valued a woman’s reproductive function above just about everything else.

Yet there was no judgment by human beings, no sentence handed down by a jury of men. And no death penalty, no capital punishment, no honor killing.[12]

Which is another very important point.

The most important fact about this trial, however, is revealed in the divine punishment: loss of the baby. This statute was not really about morality or marital unity: it was about inheritance.[13] The husband became suspicious because his wife was pregnant and he had reason to doubt the baby was his.[14] In a culture where land was gold, where you worked hard to provide for your heirs, where all of this was a ridiculously big deal, messing with the family line was a grievous sin indeed.

A man had a right to know if a child was truly his.[15] His wife’s bulging belly made the identity of the mother obvious, but was he the father? How could he know for sure? An expectant mother, on the other hand, knows the identity of both parents. At least she ought to.

Before the era of DNA testing, our ancient dad was at a disadvantage. Though it seems like it on first reading, this is not just one more example of the double standard. Not at all. It was a leveling of the playing field, a means to provide a husband with the information his wife already possessed.

But it did so in a way that, compared to its era and surrounding cultures, was protective of women.[16]

Now that’s something to remember.


FOOTNOTES

[1] Dorothy Irvin, “Numbers,” in IVP Women’s Bible Commentary (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2002), 77.

[2] Roy Gane, Leviticus, Numbers (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), 525.

[3] Gane, 525-26.

[4] R. Dennis Cole, “Numbers,” in Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Old Testament, vol. 5, ed. John H. Walton (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009), 348.

[5] Baruch A. Levine, Numbers 1-20 (New York: Doubleday, 1993), 204.

[6] Katherine Doob Sakerfeld, “Numbers,” in Women’s Bible Commentary, ed. Carol A. Newsom and Sharon H. Ringe (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1998), 53.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid., 201.

[9] Cole, 348.

[10] Irvin, 77.

[11] Levine, 198; Jacob Milgrom, Numbers (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1990), 350.

[12] Milgrom, 350; Irvin, 77.

[13] Irvin, 76.

[14] Baruch A. Levine, Numbers 1-20, (New York: Doubleday, 1993), 193.

[15] Elaine Adler Goodfriend, “Adultery,” in The Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. 1, ed. David Noel Freedman, (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 82.

[16] Irvin, 77

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Be tolerant

Through Tolerance
We Maintain our discipline

We individually
Have not reached our longings & goals

But we have purposed to keep
pressing toward Christlikeness.

We don’t live as though we have already attained,

We’re drastically far from what
we long to be in Christ:

but we follow after Him
with all our heart

We desire to embrace Jesus
The way Christ Jesus
has embraced us

We don’t consider ourselves
to have achieved at all:

but this one thing we do,

forget what’s in the past,

We reach for what’s ahead

We with all our energies
press toward this supernatural prize

The voice of God

Calling us to all we are in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:12-14 paraphrased

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