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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Least Among us Are the Greatest; Welcoming the Children

Today's Reading:
  • Luke 9:28 - 50
  • Psalm 73:1 - 28
Read Bible Passages Online

Luke 9:28 - 50
"Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me also welcomes my Father who sent me.  Whoever is the least among you is the greatest."
This quote is verse 9:28 and is spoken by Jesus to his disciples.  The disciples had been arguing over who was the greatest disciple, and this was Jesus' response to their argument.  On the surface this verse seems to say (to me anyways) that those who welcome the children -- the innocent, the mold-able --  in the name of Jesus welcomes him.  Well, that most certainly would be true.

My study bible points out something more to this verse.  It says that in Jesus' day, children were viewed as their parent's property and had no social status within the community.  Hence children were being compared to the lowest and most vulnerable children in the community. 

Just like Jesus befriended the tax collectors and other people of lowly status in his time, so must we remember that the people we deem to be lowly -- prisoners, the homeless, people with addiction problems, people on welfare, people who are straight out disagreeable -- these are the people that Jesus wants us to reach.  It's a beautiful thing to be able to worship with Christians in church on Sunday, to hang out with them during the week, and to socialize with them.  Beyond that, however, we have to remember to show the love of Jesus to those we are most inclined to turn away from. 

Psalm 73:1 - 28
This is the first Psalm in the third book of Psalms.  It is a psalm of Asaph -- a person I do not yet know anything about.  The psalm speaks from the heart of a person who is trying to understand why the wicked prosper and the godly struggle. 

The writer of this psalm says that he used to envy the wicked and struggled not to abandon the Lord.  In the end, however, he realized that the destiny of those boastful, wealthy, wicked people was nothing but a path to destruction. 

This psalm was a great reminder that we are not alone in our struggles of remaining close to the Lord while the seemingly unworthy people prosper.  Let this psalm serve as a reminder that this is not just a problem of our day, and we are not the only ones to struggle with this.  The path of those who are wicked always leads to destruction -- always.  Our path leads to eternal life.  And to quote Jesus in verse 9:28 listed above: "Whoever is the least among you is the greatest."  The inverse to that implies that the seemingly greatest are the ones who are the least among us.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Witchcraft is Forbidden in Deuteronomy

Today's Reading:
  • Deuteronomy 18:1 - 20:20
  • Proverbs 12:10
Read Bible Passages Online

Deuteronomy 18:1 - 20:20
Moses instructs the people of Israel on a variety of topics today.  These topics range from the Levites, to cities of refuge, to judgement and punishment of people's crimes, to prophecy and witchcraft.  The part I want to focus on is in Chapter 18, verses 10 & 11:
Do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead.
What I find most interesting about verses like these is the confirmation that things such as witchcraft, sorcery, and communicating with the dead certainly exist.  I recall how shocked I was, when reading the story of the Exodus from Egypt, of how the Pharaoh's sorcerers were able to perform many of the things Moses had done (though to a much lessor extent) using magic.

I am finding that being a Christian and truly studying the Word of God shows that there is more to the spiritual world than many people believe there is.  In the New Testament we are told of the casting out of demons and sickness.  In the Old Testament we are told of sorcery and of communication with the dead.  And that's just the parts of the bible that I've studied, which is only 1/4 of the bible.  I can't even imagine all that I will learn by the time I am done with this first thorough study of the bible.

Proverbs 12:10
The godly care for their animals, but the wicked are always cruel.
This is a seemingly odd verse out, and at the moment I'm not sure how to interpret it right it this second.  As visions of puppies and kittens are dancing in my head, I have to first stop and realize that the bible is likely referring to livestock in this case -- aka, work animals -- not fuzzy little kittens.

This verse is also hard for me to interpret when I apply the definition of a "wicked" person as being a person without salvation.  But from my studies of the bible so far, I see being wicked as being more of a condition of the heart.  If your heart is wicked -- if you long to spite people, cause trouble, speak rudely to those around you, spread mischief and rumors, hurt others, etc -- then I can't imagine that you'd treat your work animals very well either. 

So when I take this verse under the conditions that (1) animals == work animals and (2) wicked == a condition of the heart; then the verse finally makes more sense to me.

Conclusion
I am 1/4 of the way through this bible study!  I have complete read: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Matthew, and Mark.  I am currently studying Deuteronomy, Luke, Psalms and Proverbs.  I have learned and questioned so mch around me.  I have opened up spiritually in ways I have not before.  In short, this experience is fulfilling.  It's enlightening.  It's outstanding.  It's life changing.