People in the Bible
Joy is deeper than happiness. It can become a state of mind that unequivocally transforms you. Here is the catch – if you go looking for joy, you are actually pushing it further away from you. How do we let joy find us and change us in our everyday experiences?
The future of the world. Knowing what it might look like can be both a scary thought as well as an exciting one as well. Think about it – what if the future of the world is dark and ominous – would you want to know about it? What if the future of the world was bright and promising – would you want to know about it? While we cannot know the minutia of our world to come, there is an amazing amount that we can know and I will tell you this – both of the previous future examples of the world are true! How would I know that? There is an easy one word answer: Daniel.
A few weeks ago we began to tell the story of the dramatic events that led up to the conversion of the Centurion Cornelius to Christianity. Because the expansion of Christianity to Gentiles was such a radical shift in God’s methods, radical measures had to be taken! Today we will finish the story and see how its conclusion would change the history of Christian faith by the inclusion of you and me!
Sometimes things need to change. When there is a great plan in progress, the need for great change is likely to be a part of that plan. Since Adam’s fall from grace, God’s plan for man’s redemption has been punctuated by changes, including the great Flood which ended the old world, the calling of Abraham which began the age of the Patriarchs, and the death of Jacob which ushered in the age of Jewish favor. Each change had a distinct purpose. Today’s story about the conversion of Cornelius signaled that another change was on the horizon – a change that would be played out through the experiences of the Apostle Peter and Cornelius, the first Gentile convert. God’s plan was progressing and great change was necessary. But why Cornelius? Why a soldier?
Several weeks ago we looked into the life and times of Noah, the righteous man of God who built the Ark upon dry ground in obedience to the will and direction of God. The flood came and destroyed a world that had not only become a society without God, it had become a society that destroyed God. Spirit and human being alike took the goodness of God’s creation, mixed it into a forbidden hybrid formula of intelligence and form that may have resembled God’s intentions on the outside, but on the inside was a force that rebelled against all that God stood for. The Bible tells us that the resulting destruction was a preview of future destruction to come…has the full length feature of that preview arrived?
There are many accounts in the Bible that really run along the edge of reality for many of us here today. Think about it – Balaam’s donkey talks, the sun stands still for Joshua in a battle, Jesus rises from the dead and goes to heaven… These are fantastic and unbelievable to many. And then there is the story of Noah. Here is a man around 500 years old who builds a boat to save his family and the animals from a devastating flood! Now THAT is amazing! So, what is there about this story of Noah that rings true for us today? Is his experience a warning for us here and now?
So much of the philosophy of our society today is built around the idea that “I am the center of my universe, therefore what I want, I truly must have,” so the whole concept of sin becomes very subjective and often not even really relevant in people’s lives. So, is sin as relevant today as it was in the past, or have we outgrown the concept of sin in favor of a much more fluid and progressive understanding of right and wrong?
When you begin to grasp the life and times of Daniel the Prophet, what you find in your hands is pure inspiration, integrity, faith and courage. Here is a man who lived out his entire life far from his home in Israel and who, by God’s grace, turned captivity to a pagan nation into an opportunity to reveal the greatness of the One God and eventually win over the King who made him captive. When we grow up, we should all want to be like Daniel! Stay with us as we continue his story!