They Stripped Him Naked

To my knowledge, there are only three stories about naked people in scripture. The first is of Adam and Eve. The second concerns Ham seeing his father, Noah, naked and drunk. The third story concerns Jesus crucified.

To hide Adam and Eve’s shame and sin, God clothed them. But when Christ died for us, God the Father allowed us to see what sin really makes us look like.

David prophetically writes in Psalm 22, “But I am a worm, and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people.” And Isaiah writes, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. Isaiah 53:2b NIV

Sin is ugly. It makes one feel wormy. I know from experience. Thank God He is forgiving. Thank you, Jesus, for taking my stripes for me, for all of us.

Phil

Would I let him/her get hit by a bus?

Sometimes I hesitate giving a piece of good advice to people because I wonder how they are going to take it. Will they appreciate it? Will they slough it off? Will they think, “I don’t need this guy. Why am I hanging with him?” Yet from my own experience, I have found that just a few words of advice can change or protect a life.

When I was drafted into the Army in 1968, my boss, Tom Cavanaugh, told me as I left his office one day, “Be sure to tell them you can type.” At the Army induction center, I remembered Tom’s advice. The clerk wrote “Types 33 word per minute” on the back of my personnel folder.

During my two years in the service, I served at two stations: Fort Monmouth, New Jersey and Long Bihn, Vietnam. I walked into the headquarters and presented myself to the sergeant in charge to find out where he would assign me. The first thing each did was look at the back of my personnel folder. When they saw I could type, they asked me, “You can type, Matous?”

“Yes, sergeant”, I replied.

Both said, “You’re not going anywhere, Matous. Sit down right there.” And they pointed to a nearby desk.

I spent my Army career typing even though I had become an excellent marksman in basic training. Due to Tom’s advice, I wasn’t sent out into the fields and rice paddies of Vietnam for combat. I am so thankful for his few short words of advice.

Now, when I think about whether I should give someone some advice, I picture myself standing on a street corner with him or her, waiting for the traffic to clear. I see a bus coming down the road towards us. I picture my friend or the stranger not seeing the bus and stepping off the sidewalk in front of it. Do I say to myself, “I don’t want to hurt his/her feelings. I’m not going to warn him/her about the bus.” Or do I give the warning and save him/her from the bus?

While some people may at first feel I have no right to interfere with their lives, I hope they will come to appreciate that the advice I gave led them to a better life, or may have even kept them from death as Tom’s advice could very well have done for me.

I have to maintain the courage to warn others and not worry about their feelings. I have to “Love one another. As I have loved you, so must you love one another” as Jesus said. Have courage and take the risk.

Do Babies and Little Children Go to Heaven?

This seems like such an incredulous question to ask. One would answer, “Where else would they go? They certainly wouldn’t go to hell. They haven’t done anything wrong.” That’s what common sense tells us, but those of us steeped in Christian faith sometimes wonder about that answer because we know that those who believe in Christ go to heaven and the babies and innocent children haven’t had the opportunity to believe in Christ. Consequently, sometimes troubling doubt may come to our minds.

I stand on the side of common sense that innocent babies and children who die early are indeed in heaven and I think scripture backs this up.

In Deuteronomy 1, just before the Israelites are to enter the Promised Land, Moses recounts to Israel the history of their forty-year travel in the wilderness. He reminds them that other than Caleb and Joshua, God swore, “Surely not one of these men of this evil generation shall see that good land of which I swore to give to your fathers.”[1] The Promised Land is a foretaste of heaven.

Then Moses continues, “Moreover your little ones and your children, who you say will be victims, who today have no knowledge of good and evil, they shall go in there; to them I will give it, and they shall possess it.”[2]

The children and those who had no knowledge between good and evil were allowed to enter the Promised Land. Heaven is our promised land. God’s guide for allowing people into heaven is the same today: Do they have knowledge between good and evil?

Christ said, “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin.”[3] Those who are guilty of sin do not get into heaven until they believe in Christ and accept salvation from Him.

Moreover, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”[4]

Jesus himself says that heaven is populated with people such as these children. In fact, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”[5]

Yes, innocent children get into heaven.

[1] Deuteronomy 1: 35 NKJV

[2] Deuteronomy 1:39 NKJV

[3] John 15:22 NIV

[4] Matthew 19:14 NKJV, also repeated in Mark 10:14 and Luke 18:16.

[5] Matthew 18:3 NIV

Q. Why Did Jesus Go Up to the Mountain to Pray?

A. Because His Father is real and is a real Father, a caring Dad. God the Father cares for us.

Would Jesus have gone out alone so often to pray if His Father brushed Him off when Jesus came with a request and problem?

Like Christ, we have to appreciate that Our Father is real. He really cares. He demands the respect a Father deserves and gives the love a loving child needs. Even at thirty plus years of age, Jesus went to His Father as His Father’s child, as His Son humbly, not as a know-it-all, even though Jesus really did know it all!

My Dad is real and a real Dad. Let Him adopt you too.

The One Who Calls Me to Be Near Him

Wow! The Holy Spirit’s name took on a completely new meaning for me today.

I knew that the Holy Spirit’s Greek name is parakletos. Some bibles translate that as counselor or comforter.

Studying Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance this morning, the root meaning of parakletos is “to call near  … be of good comfort.”

Imagine that. The God of the universe calls me to be near Him. I have never seen it put this way before, but I think His name could be translated Come Near to Me for Comfort.

Boy, who couldn’t use some comfort in life? All the troubles that we have to deal with; and here, the third person of the Trinity says, “Come to me for comfort.” I love it. I love Him. Who can imagine that God calls us to be near Him but He does! Imagine the strong arms of the Holy Spirit wrapping you in comfort. Wow.

God Wanted to Look Like Adam, Like You and Like Me.

Self-image is so important, especially to God our Father. So, it is important to realize that when our Father created Adam in His image, our Father wanted to look like Adam looked. When He created Eve, He wanted to look like Eve looked. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. Genesis 1:27 KJV.

Do you realize what that means for you and me? Before the beginning of time, God intended you and me to look the way we do, and He is thrilled to look like you and me! God is not disappointed in His looks when He sees you and me. Why are we?

He may be disappointed with our hearts, but whether we are short, average or tall; skinny, right-on or fat; clear skinned or pock-marked face; maimed or not, before God created anything, He found it thrilling to think of presenting Himself in the way you and I look.

So don’t worry about your looks. God did not see your looks as a drawback or negative to accomplishing His will through you. He knew beforehand the body into which He would place His Holy Spirit for those who believe in His Son. Be thrilled. Be thrilled. He plans great things through you and me. Listen to Him. Read His Word daily.

If we want to be like our Father, our words should be covered in mercy.

Exodus 25:21-22  New King James Version

21 You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you. 22 And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.

God would meet Moses on the mercy seat.

Every word God says, He covers with His mercy.

He never says anything that is not merciful and from truth and righteousness.

All our words should also flow through mercy before they come out of our lips.

Holy Spirit, help me to think and speak mercifully at all times, in Jesus’ name.