My Satisfaction: Part Three

Mark 6:33 ESV

Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.

We all are pretty needy and we all want something(s). But we’re dumb humans and we like to attempt all types of wrong solutions. It’s like washing a broken cup, hoping the chipped part will magically be fixed.

My Satisfaction Part 3 - quote.jpgAll the people in the verse recognized who Jesus was, the solution to their needs. When they came to listen to Him preach, their souls were satisfied. When He touched their diseased bodies, they were healed. When He smiled at them and treated them kindly, they knew they were loved. They were so desperate for Jesus they were racing on foot to meet Him.
The Roman republic couldn’t satisfy them, neither could Caesar. They were still poor and living under Roman occupation. The Sanhedrin and their Rabbis couldn’t satisfy them, and neither could strict observation of the Law. They still failed to find peace with God. Jesus alone is able to satisfy us.

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My Satisfaction: Part Two

Mark 6:42 ESV

And they all ate and were satisfied.

My Satisfaction Part 2 - quote 1.jpgThe events the disciples recount in their gospels are more than neat stories. They have a purpose, often to prove who Christ is by recounting His compassion, His power, or how He fulfills the Scriptures. Their stories are profound in meaning. In the pericope (a fancy word for Biblical passage) of The Feeding of Five Thousand, Jesus breaks the bread, and blesses it.  Mark  then says that the people were “satisfied”. But this is not just referring to a physical hunger.

The word “satisfaction” comes from the 14th century ecclesiastical term satisfactionem which means the act of a priest or other church authority to atone for sin. The word “satisfy” comes from the Latin satisfacere which means to make amends and pay in full.¹

Jesus is the Bread of Life broken on the cross, the satisfactionem for my sin. Satisfying (satisfacere) the debt of death because of my sins. He is truly our satisfaction!

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1 Online Etymology Dictionary, http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=satisfaction&allowed_in_frame=0, (September 13, 2016)

Barren: The Story of Hannah

When I was in the 6th grade, I began a journal filled with prayers and letters for my future husband.  I filled the pages with my hopes and expectations. I naively believed I was going to be wedded no later than 21 years of age, after that your eggs begin to rot.  He was going to sweep me off my feet and I was going to enchant him with my grace and beauty.  He would give me my first kiss at the altar and we would spend the rest of our lives working together in ministry and building the kingdom of God.  Twelve years later and I was a disgrace to my naïve hopes and dreams.  Every holiday break when I was in college was a cringe fest. “Anybody special in your life?” “Are you dating someone?” “Are you a lesbian?” I was a twenty-two-year-old graduate with no fiancé, boyfriend, or even prospects.  I had plenty of interest in other guys, but the right one never pursued me.  How it’s even possible to attend a Christian liberal arts college for four years without a single date is baffling.  Twenty-two and my eggs were beginning to pickle in my uterus.  My childhood friends were dating, married, and mothers. This is not what I expected when I was twelve years old.  What was wrong with me?

From a young age, I knew that I was called to ministry and missions.  In college I found myself drawn to trauma therapy as a vehicle to ministering to refugees.  I wanted to be a wife and a mother someday, but my passion for missions and pursuing a professional career as a behavioral therapist gave me this single-minded focus and drive.  If it didn’t help me achieve my goal, I had no space for it in my life. Too many that seemed to include dating.  And I was completely fine with that.  Because it didn’t hurt as much to be ignored, if I was ignoring you first.  But in the backstage of my mind, and in the dressing room of my heart, there was this question: what is wrong with me?

In 1 Samuel chapter 1 we find Hannah, the wife of Elkanah, asking herself the same question, “What is wrong with me?”  After years of wedded bliss, Hannah was still unable to give her husband a child, an heir.  We read in verse 2 “He had two wives.  The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah.  And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.”  Elkanah loved his wife Hannah and she had his favor (1:5).  Because Hannah is named first in the text, it is likely that Hannah was Elkanah’s first wife but because of her bareness he took a second wife and married Peninnah.

Not only does Hannah have to deal with the disappointment of her bareness but she also has to deal with her husband’s second wife Peninnah.  1 Samuel 1:6 we read, “And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb.” From the text we read Peninnah vexes Hannah, therefore Hannah was distressed.  It appears that Hannah’s bareness wasn’t an issue until she began to listen to her rival.  She had the favor and love of her husband.  And her husband had difficulty understanding her discontent. “Am I not more to you than ten sons?” He asks her (verse 8).  Elkanah valued his relationship with Hannah as his wife more than her role as a mother to his children.  But Hannah had gotten her identity twisted because she was listening to the wrong person, her rival Peninnah. The problem is, there is no problem.  Hannah wasn’t unable to bear children; God had closed her womb, the womb just needed to be opened. Again, we read in verse 6 “…because the Lord had closed her womb.”  But because Hannah allowed herself to listen to the wrong voice, Peninnah had her convinced that she wasn’t enough, she was a failure, and she had failed as a woman, tormenting her.

Every year Elkanah would take his family to Shiloh to worship the “Lord of Hosts.  Shiloh was the city where the tabernacle and ark resided.  This is the first time this name “Lord of hosts” appears in the Bible, which is the plural of an abstract noun meaning “plentifulness” or “numberlessness”.  In the very beginning of the narrative we see Hannah’s bareness, but also how God is the Lord of plentifulness and numberlessness. In verse 4, we read that Elkanah would give portions of the sacrifice to his wives and because of his love and preference for Hannah, he would give Hannah a double portion.  Because he is sharing the sacrifice with them we know that this is the Peace Offering, which was a covenant meal that affirmed Israel’s relationship between God, the worshiper, and each other. But  Hannah is in such anguish that she is unable to eat. This is significant to note because her family is in Shiloh to participate in a covenant meal, the Peace Offering.  Hannah has no peace in her life; she needs to participate in God’s peace.

Burdened by her distress, Hannah makes a vow before God.  “And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of Hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head” (vs. 11).  This is not a prayer of faith that Hannah prays, rather a prayer of unbelief.  This is the way pagans prayed to their gods.  They would vow a vow in exchange for the favor of a god.  If you give me what I ask, I will do such and such.  Their prayers are about manipulating the gods, rather than their faith in the gods.  In the scriptures, God permitted vows, but He never instituted vows as a part of the prayer life.  Rather He disapproves of them.

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’  But I say to you, do not swear at all…let your word be ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.”  (Matthew 5:33 )

 “It is a snare to say rashly, it is holy, and to reflect only after making vows.” (Proverbs 20:25)

And again, in Deuteronomy 23:21-23,

“If you make a vow to the LORD your God, do not postpone fulfilling it; for the LORD your God will surely require it of you, and you would incur guilt. But if you refrain from vowing, you will not incur guilt.  Whatever your lips utter you must diligently perform, just as you have freely vowed to the LORD your God with your own mouth.”

God permitted vows, because we must be held accountable to what we say.

In verse 19 God “remembers” Hannah and answers her prayer. This doesn’t mean that God had forgotten Hannah, and because she prayed, she came to His mind and His attention. It means He is thinking kindly of Hannah.  When we see this idiomatic expression concerning God, it never involves anything the person has done, but always involves His faithfulness to His covenant or His love and kindness towards His people.  When we see that God “remembers” someone it indicates His unmerited favor, for example in Genesis 9:15 and Exodus 2:24 and numerous times in Leviticus and Numbers.  Hannah’s name comes from the Hebrew word chanan which means “to show favor, be gracious”, “to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior” (Strong’s Exhaustive Dictionary and Concordance).  God doesn’t answer Hannah’s prayer because of her vow but because of His favor and graciousness towards her, because of His faithfulness and goodness!  I love the image of God stooping down in kindness towards Hannah.  Despite her doubts, God shows Hannah His great mercy and love for her. The story of Hannah isn’t about her faith; it’s about God’s grace.

Hannah’s suffering was needless.  God’s purpose concerning Samuel had already been decided before time began.  Hannah just needed to wait for the fullness of that appointed time.  Sometimes we misappropriate what we think to be “problems” in our lives, like Hannah.  I allowed myself to listen to the wrong voice, causing me to doubt my identity and to harm my self-esteem.  There wasn’t anything wrong with me, I just needed to wait for God’s timing.  Instead of worrying and beating myself, I should have looked to God in faith.

So there I was a twenty-two year old single working at a middle school as a paraprofessional.  And there he was, a psychotherapist contracted with the same middle school.  He met all the requirements on my list I wrote as a naive twelve year old and then some.  Five years and two kids later, I look back and see God’s wisdom in hiding me and keeping me those twenty-two years.  There was never anything wrong with me.  But everything right with His will and His purpose for good in my life.

Be encouraged, dear brother and sister!  God is faithful concerning all His promises to you! Sometimes the issue is there is no issue.  He is just asking us to wait.

To view the other posts in this series click HERE.

My Satisfaction: Part One

Mark 6:31 ESV

And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.

Serving others is exhausting as every parent, minister and teacher knows! I love Mark’s telling of the five loaves and two fishes.

See what had happened in the beginning of the chapter is Jesus commissioned and empowered His disciples to preach the Gospel and cast out demons. They were so busy Jesus had to command them to rest. But while they are trying to get a break, everybody, that is five thousand plus individuals, hears where Jesus and His disciples are and interrupt their much needed rest. And all the moms say, “This is what happens every time I escape, I mean, go to the bathroom!”

My Satisfaction Part - quote.jpgThe disciples tell Jesus, the people are hungry let them go eat. Which can be translated: “We’re REALLY hungry and REALLY tired of people. Here’s an opportunity to send them away.” But in true Jesus fashion he turns it around on His disciples. “Good job! You see their need! Now go feed them.” Which can be translated: “You are not capable of meeting the needs of others and yourself, my friends.”

Then Jesus is like, but I AM your satisfaction and I am able to take the little you have and meet the needs for those who are called and those who are being called. Jesus takes the bread breaks it and it is miraculously multiplied, satisfying the hunger of a small city essentially and His hungry posse.

 

Read the entire blog series “Who Is He?” HERE.

Our Healer

Mark 5:27 ESV

She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment.

I have two favorite passages that of Jonah and the woman with the issue of blood. What I love about the woman is her risk of faith! Because of her flow of blood (menstruation) she wasaccording to the Law unclean and not permitted to touch a man lest she make him also unclean. (Leviticus 15:19-30)  This woman was at the end of her rope, probably an outcast of her community because of her continued condition.  She had been bleeding for twelve years! She was broke because she spent all her money putting her faith in man. This could be her final act, pounding in the last nail of her ruined reputation and status. But she was convinced that she need only to stretch out in faith to Jesus because He alone had the power to heal her!

Our Healer - quote.jpg

Read the entire blog series “Who Is He?” HERE.

A Teaser Trailer

MRK 4:30 ESV

And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?

There are few things in this world that are more annoying than a comedy whose teaser contains ALL the jokes. And there are few things in this world that are more confusing than a trailer that makes you say, “Huh? What’s the movie about??”

God is like the perfect teaser trailer. He’s been using teasers since the Garden. “You’ll bruise his heel but he’ll crush your head.” And then God makes the first pair of fur underwear.

Why is He all about “it’s going to be like/ it’s kinda like”? I think it’s because He wants to be pursued. He hides these wonderful revelations about Himself in confounding boxes of mystery. He creates mystery by showing you a small bit of a bit of Himself. Enough whimsy to see He’s irresistible and vague enough to stir your curiosity. Except His film is always a Box Office success.

Read the entire blog series “Who Is He?” HERE.

Post Rescheduled

Thank you dear readers for following the series “Do Not Judge or Do Not Mature”.  I had originally planned to publish the final post in the series called about our Righteous Judge.  But earlier this week, I was asked to cover for the minister teaching at our church Wednesday, and instead of writing the post, I have been doing sermon prep.  The publication date has been pushed to next Tuesday, October 11.  Sorry for the change and thanks for your understanding!

I would appreciate your prayer and agreement that God would have His way Wednesday, for the revelation of His Word, and the conviction of His Spirit.  Depending on how it goes, I may post my notes.  I will be teaching on Hannah from 1 Samuel 1-2.

Cheers!

 

God the Son

Mark 3:11 ESV

And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.”

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Sometimes, operative word being some, it can be hysterical when my toddler is caught doing wrong.  Before I have even noticed she’s disobeyed, her eyes get big and her body gets still.  There is this brief pause where we stare at each other.  I’m trying to figure out what she is doing and she is trying to figure out if I have it figured out yet. Then before I can say her name in an exasperated manner, she quickly turns and runs away. Her own guilty behavior “tells” on her. I probably would not have even noticed she was doing something wrong.  My daughter recognizes the authority I have to discipline her and her conscience convicts her of wrong-doing.

What authority Christ commands, so that demons out themselves, crying out in submission “You are the Son of God!” Now that’s exorcism on a whole ‘nother level.

Read the entire blog series “Who Is He?” HERE.

Part 1: Right Judgement

If judging wisely is a mark of a mature Christian, how does one judge wisely and rightly? What is the purpose of judgement? We make judgements everyday to help us decide a course of action. Do we have the right to make a moral judgement or a judgement of value about someone else’s action?

There are two words in the Greek used for “to judge”: krino and diakrino. “Diakrino” can mean to separate, distinguish, discern. “Krino” can mean to determine, to pronounce judgement, to preside over with the power to give a judicial decision (Strong’s Concordance and Dictionary). This is an important distinction. “Krino” emphasizes the court of law. 1 Corinthians 11:31 exemplifies this difference: For if we would judge ourselves (diakrino) we would not be judged (krino).

The answer is that we are already judged (krino) and condemned to death because our old nature is sinful and it was natural for us to sin (Romans 3:23, 6:23). And God has already told man what is expected of him and how to live rightly, what is moral and what is immoral, what is acceptable to Him, and what is unacceptable (Acts 17:30-31, Romans 1:18-32). But we must judge (diakrino) for ourselves what it is God requires of us (Ephesians 5:6-17) . There are explicit commands (Exodus 20:1-21) and there are personal convictions (Romans 14:22-23, read entire chapter for context). Also we must discern and judge (diakrino) so we are not tricked into exchanging the truth for a lie (1 Timothy 4:1, 6:20-21; 2 Timothy 4:3-4).

Often times it was the work of the prophet to pronounce judgement. God used prophets like Samuel, Nathan, Jonah and John the Baptist, to warn a nation or individual person about their sin and God’s judgement in order to show them His great love and mercy (1 Samuel 3:10-18, 2 Samuel 12:1-15, Jonah 1-4, Mark 6:17-29).

When the Word of God is preached, the world takes offense at the Word of God and their pride denies what they know to be true, and they call it “being judgmental” (1 Corinthians 1:21-25). But the intent of the message is not to burden the people with guilt but to lead to repentance (Romans 7:7-13). Not to display one’s self-righteousness (Isaiah 64:5-6) but to encourage others to walk in righteousness by looking at Christ and not to themselves (Romans 3:21-24).

 

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The story in John about the ” Stoning of the Unfaithful Woman” illustrates well what is right judgment (John 8:1-11). The religious leaders were justified by the Law to stone the adulteress¹.  Though they were right to stone her, their heart was not right. Their intention was to trick Christ into blaspheming so they could do away with Him. They had no care, love, or concern for the woman. They had no mercy (Matthew 23:23-24) and did not understand the intent of the Law, which is all fulfilled in love (Romans 13:8-10). Jesus rightly judges (diakrino) what is the intent of the leaders’ harsh judgement (krino) and forces them to consider themselves first. Because in their haughtiness they thought their own works and strict observance of the Law made them exempt from any punishment of the law, that they were indeed holy (Luke 3:7-8). “He who has no sin, cast the first stone.” And then their own hypocrisy is made clear to the leaders and they are forced to walk away.

But it didn’t end there. The woman knows she deserves to be stoned and Jesus knows she deserves to be stoned. But the Father didn’t send the Son condemn us, but to take our punishment so that we can be free from the power of sin (John 3:17), so that we may “Go and sin no more”. ” Where are your accusers?” Jesus asks her, “Neither do I accuse you.” Jesus says this because he knows what is His mission. He now stands before our Accuser the Devil and says “It is finished. I have taken the wrath of God and they have taken up my righteousness (1 John 2:1-2; Revelations 12:10-12).”

We come to faith in Christ because we receive by revelation of the Holy Spirit that we “is nasty”and are incapable of meeting God’s requirements. We need to accept the work of the Son so we can be in right standing with the Father.

When you judge:

  1. Examine yourself first (Matthew 7:1-5).
  2. Be humble not self righteous (1 Corinthians 6: 9-11).
  3. Know the issue is the heart (John 7:24).
  4. Be led by the Spirit, speak because the Father is speaking first (John 5:30), not because you have a point to make (1 Timothy 6:3-5).
  5. Speak the truth in love with the intent to build up not to tear down (Ephesians 4:14-15).
  6. Always give the Answer, which is Salvation, our confession of faith that Jesus is the Son of God (2 Timothy 4:2).

 

¹It may seem a harsh punishment, but what it should teach the Believer is how harshly God despises sin. Praise God! That on the Cross, Jesus took the punishment of the adulteress and the murderer, the liar, the thief, the heterosexual who has sex outside of marriage, the homosexual etc. And because He has risen victorious on the third day, we too rise up in victory because we are a new creature, our identity found in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Do Not Judge or Do Not Mature: An Introduction

Did you know God never definitively said “Do not judge” in His Word? But He does warn us on how we judge.

Often times we hear someone quote Christ, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Except Matthew 7:1 is not a command, it’s a statement of cause and effect. You see this when you read in context for the following verse says, “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-3)  Jesus is warning His disciples of the consequence of making a judgment.

Right judgment is a trait of a mature Christian (John 7:24).  In fact, Paul admonishes the church in Corinth for not pronouncing judgments concerning conflicts within the church and even teaches that we will judge the world and even angels (1 Corinthians 6:1-11). When we espouse the belief “do not judge” it causes us to remain immature in the faith because we are not growing in discernment or in the knowledge of God. What we should say is “God says to judge rightly.”

In this two part series we are going to explore righteous judgement, what it means to judge rightly, and what it means to say that God is the Righteous Judge.

Thursday, September 29: Part 1 – Right Judgement

Tuesday, October 4: Part 2 – The Righteous Judge

If you have any comments or questions, please share them below in the comment box below.  Don’t forget to subscribe to Theology Cake so you don’t miss out any posts in this series.  Cheers, fam!