Friday, June 20, 2014

The Separation

Matthew 27:37
37And they put over His head the accusation written against Him: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
Remember that before Pilate the Jews shouted to crucify Jesus. Well the NKJ Study Bible notes that the crucifixion of Jesus is not just documented in the gospels but also by non-Christian writers Tacitus, Josephus, Mara bar Serapion and Thallus. In many PBS programs that research the life of Jesus, the writings of Josephus are often referred to. So even non-Christians admit that Jesus was not made up, nor is His crucifixion a fable. But going back to the Study Bible translation, it notes, "the Jews detested this inhumane act of execution." So if it was a detested practice, why would the Jews elect to have Jesus crucified? In further study, Deuteronomy 21:22-23 records that a man had a to commit a sin deserving of death in order to hang on the tree. But more importantly, that if hanged on a tree, a man had to be taken down immediately because he was hanged in a blessed place. The one hanged was considered to be "accursed of God." In other words, he suffered God's wrath.
What does all this mean you ask? Remember, Jesus said Himself that He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. So his crucifixion was based on the law because He became sin for us, hung on a tree and suffered death so that those who believe Him will have everlasting life. Many may have had the question how was Jesus separated from God. He was considered to have sinned so badly by the Jews for saying He is the Son of God that He suffered what was considered by law the wrath of God. His crucifixion was the separation. How many times has your sin been worthy of death? Because you believe Jesus to have died for the remission of your sins, raised from the dead and repent sincerely by the blood of Jesus, you have everlasting life.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Where Your Blessings Come From

Deuteronomy 8:18
18"And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
The Word of God is very clear. Anything you have attained is because the Lord gives you the power to do so. Remember, God owns the cattle on a thousand hills as said in His word. Jesus said in John 14:2 "In my Father's house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you." Would that not imply that God has unlimited wealth? People wonder why the Word says seek first the Kingdom of God and all else shall be added unto you in Matthew 6:33. It's because God has abilities and wealth beyond what any earthly man or woman can conceive. In seeking Him first and doing what He needs of you in His kingdom, He has the ability and will supply your needs. You think you know wealth? Revelation 21:21 tells us that the new heaven has streets paved with gold. When was the last time you saw a city paved with pure gold and pearls?  So God having all of this, gives you wisdom, ideas, creativity, inventions, strategies, etc . Solomon didn't ask for money, He asked for wisdom and God gave him wisdom and wealth because He sought God with sincerity of heart and desired to serve God's people. The NKJ Study Bible translation says, "in the desert, the Israelites depended on God for their food, clothing, and shelter. Once they had settled in the land, it would be easy for them to attribute their gains to their own abilities. Moses warned against this, stating that even the ability to produce their own shelter, food, clothing would be a gift from God."
Remember where your blessings come from.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Not a Demonstration of Love

Genesis 2:27
27And Adam said:
"This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man."
Your spouse is part of you not just spiritually but physically. The word says that the two become one flesh. So abusing your spouse is the same as abusing yourself. Where there is abuse there is lack of respect. I am not attaching male or female to the abuser as unfortunately, abusers can be men or women. Jesus said we are to love others as we love ourselves. How is hitting or constantly verbally attacking your spouse showing love? It doesn't. If anything, it shows that there is a lack of love and a huge amount of insecurity and fear in the abuser. If you treat your spouse as you would yourself,  you would never raise a hand to them. For men, your wife is a gift to you from God. Proverbs 18:22 states it as so. And just before it Proverbs 18:21 says the power of life and death lie in the tongue. Women,  Ephesians 5:23 says that the husband is the head of the wife , also as Christ is head of the church. The marriage covenant is reflective of Christ's relationship with the church. When did Jesus raise a hand to his disciples and the women who followed? Jesus told Peter, "If you live by the sword you shall die by the sword."  How is one demonstrating the love of Christ when abuse is present? They aren't. For women there are shelters where you can go for assistance. For men, it is a lot harder but if you have to leave for the violence to stop, then it must be done. There are support groups for battered husbands. Abuse must be treated just like an addiction to substance abuse. One must first admit there is a problem before help can be effective and sustaining and that's on both sides of the table. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Package Deal

Matthew 1:20
20But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
Joseph was contemplating divorcing Mary because the baby she carried in her stomach was not conceived with him. But God had another plan for Joseph. Joseph would raise God's son, someone else's flesh and blood that was not his. From an earthly and emotional standpoint, it's not an easy job by no means.
Most people don't go around planning to raise someone else's child. It's unfortunate that sometimes stepparents get a bad reputation as a whole because of the mistakes of others. I will tell you that I understood blended families before my stepfather came along. But when he came, it was during a time in my life when I really needed a lot of love and extra special care. When a child is abused, they don't feel so good about themselves. The teenage years are difficult enough but I had an additional cloud over my head and in my heart. I will tell you personally that I have a lot of respect for stepparents because it takes a lot of love to raise children you didn't help conceive. It takes love for children in general but even more love because you realize the natural parent was with someone else and likely loved someone else before they fell head over heels in love with you.
My stepfather passed away nine years ago. I had a tough week with little reminders of things that happened the week before he died. So yes, I have shed a lot of tears over the last few days leading up to Father's Day this year. Father's Day 2004 I was dealing with some issues. I was in the minivan with my stepfather crying on his shoulder. I was thanking him so much for being there for me as a father. He attended every awards ceremony, choir and dance performance he could. He even displayed his culinary skills for one of the an international program I was in back in high school. He bought needed items for the move to my first place and even parted with sentimental items of his to give to me for my move. As I cried on his shoulder he said, "How could I love your mother and not love you? You are part of her. It's a package deal." My late Dad used to carry around my picture in his wallet just like he did the children that were from his loins. As we helped my mom plan the memorial, I was crying on my stepbrother's shoulder, he shared with me that our late Dad talked of me just as he did them and knew I was loved.  I had no idea at the time that God gave him as a living example of sixteen years for me to understand how to love children I had not birthed. Within a year after he died, I became a volunteer mentor through the education company I began working for, part of a team working with children through AWANAs (Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed), a godmother for the first time and had been set up by God to teach Vacation Bible School for the first time in what I didn't know was the set up He used for being nominated to teach Children's Sunday School. My mentor in education, Baltimore City School Board Commissioner Mrs. Jerrelle Francois knew I was running from the call to teach Sunday school because I didn't think I was capable and equipped. She has spent more than 30 years loving, teaching and caring for children she had not birthed. She had a heart to heart with me that God confirmed later that night. When God chooses you, He will equip you.
They say parenthood is the toughest job you'll ever love. Well loving, caring and teaching children not from your loins is a close second. Stepparents are still parents and they deserve respect too. The parents who deal with the complicated exes, and the children who sometimes don't appreciate them because they know, it's a package deal. If you are a stepparent, I extend a bow to you, because you are displaying the love God as Joseph did. I extend a bow to you because you deserve to be appreciated for the love you give. I want to extend a bow to educators who teach children too because they are the ones outside the family who help stretch and strengthen children and it takes love to do it well.