In the years that the young man David spent fleeing from jealous King Saul, a story in 1 Samuel 23:1-14 tells of a time when David actively led his band of outcasts to rescue a town of Judah, named Keilah, from marauding Philistines. Before David set out on his rescue mission, he inquired of the Lord whether he should go or not and was assured that he should go. Some of David’s men were afraid, so David inquired a second time and was again assured by God he should go, and that God would give him victory over the Philistines. David did win a great victory, as promised, winning spoils of war and saving the inhabitants of Keilah.

In six days, God created all that is. Having created the heavens, the earth and all that is in them, He owns it all. “Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD'S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is” (Deuteronomy 10:14). Other scriptures that express this same concept are Psalm 24:1; Psalm 89:11; Genesis 14:19, 22; Exodus 19:5; and 1 Corinthians 10:26 to name a few. The truth of His ownership is spread so pervasively throughout scripture that we ought to consider its implications for us. God owns all that is.  Therefore, anything that I have is His.

In May, 2017, The Gospel Message published an article entitled “The Church & Our Sisters” in which I offered what I believe to be the Bible’s answers to the following two questions: (1) What does it mean to be “in church” (1 Corinthians 14:28, 35)? and (2) What is the role of our sisters “in church”?   In response to that article, as well as to public teaching on the subject before and since, several questions have consistently come up which deserve attention.  In this article, I’d like to take up just a couple of those (and, perhaps, in a future article, we can address others).

In Luke 15, Christ tells the parable about a man who goes to his father with a presumptuous request: to receive his inheritance now.  His father grants his requests, and in a short time the son leaves home and squanders his inheritance on, as the Bible describes it, prodigal living.  Just prior to the man making a change in his life and going back to his father, we find him penniless and feeding pigs.  He is even jealous of their food because it is better than what he is eating.  What brought him to this place, or started him on this path, can be traced back to that first decision:  he decided that he wanted what he felt like was his right now.  Had he never made that decision he probably would not have found himself in the company of swine, jealous of their food.  

Another spiritual being described in the Bible is an archangel. Michael is the only being called an archangel who is called by a name. Having a proper name is very rare among angels with only two to four named depending which terms are to be taken as proper terms (Michael, Jude 9; Gabriel, Luke 1:26; Lucifer, Isaiah 14:12; Apollyon, Revelation 9:11). Despite the name archangel literally meaning “chief messenger,” Michael never appears in the Bible carrying a message. The archangel Michael is likely connected to the prince Michael in the book of Daniel.  Michael contended with demonic powers to allow an angel to bring a message to Daniel (10:12-13). 

In Luke 12:13-15, we read the following account, 

“Then one from the crowd said to Him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’ But he said to him, ‘Man, who made me a judge or an arbitrator over you?’ And he said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.’”

Jesus, who would rebuke the disciples for not letting the little children take up his time, would not arbitrate between this man and his brother. Plainly, he told this man, “No.” The Son of God did not have time to deal with this situation of the flesh.

It is not an uncommon experience for me to be asked a thousand questions a day. This is part of being a parent, a teacher, and having a reputation for always having an answer. I know that I’m not alone in having to field all these questions, and most of us don’t like to say, “I don’t know.” Though, sometimes that is the best answer we can give. A small example of this came up recently during a class. We were discussing the Tabernacle and what was used to make it. Exodus 25:3-5 gives a small part of this list: 

“Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:5-7).

As you know, the above are well-known and well-loved verses intended to impart comfort to those of us flailing in the grip of anxiety and fear.  You may wonder how such dreadful feelings as anxiety and fear could be a blessing to anyone.  “Really?” you ask.

The Bible positively affirms that creation includes more that just the material world. This is hard to grasp considering the overall materialistic outlook of the 21st century world. Our excessively material outlook is in large part an overreaction to the medieval superstitions. In the Dark Ages, everything that happened on earth had a spiritual cause; milk spoiled because an evil spirit visited you, and walking under a ladder would disrupt the trinity, giving bad luck. Today, the intellectual consensus is that all things can be explained on a strictly physical level and therefore spiritual things do not exist.

The past couple of decades in brain research has yielded amazing and unexpected discoveries.  Using MRI technology, brain researchers have better refined our understanding of the brain’s structure as well as how the brain responds to various stimuli.  For example, to better understand how the brain of a smoker works, scientists would tell the test subjects to think about cigarettes and observe how the brain responds through MRI.  All good research requires not only test subjects but also a control group.  In such studies, the control group would be told to empty their minds and think of nothing.  What we accidentally discovered is that the human brain does not default to think about nothing.  Our “default setting” is to think about the future.

The answer to that question now depends more on the person asking the question than on God.  Through God's mercy and grace, He has provided and revealed to us all a plan by which we can be forgiven if we will humbly submit to the terms of His offer.  And really, that is what a good portion of the Bible is about. 

When God spoke to Moses from the “burning bush” at Sinai he told him, “I have come down to rescue Israel from the hand of the Egyptians” (Exodus 3:8). After some resistance and some adventures along the way, Moses went to Egypt and shared God’s message and miraculous signs with the people there, “And when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped” (Exodus 4:31). A few days later, the Israelites who had believed and worshiped were disillusioned and frightened and angry. Egypt’s king had rejected Moses and God’s message and had made the work load of the enslaved Hebrews more difficult and demanding than ever. Moses’s own reaction was a complaint to God, asserting that “you have not rescued your people at all” (Exodus 5:23).

Have you ever found yourself in a tight spot?  One that appears dire and dangerous?  One that provokes intense fear and frustration as pressures firmly outside of your control begin to constrict you?  One that leaves you feeling abandoned and alone?  I know I certainly have.  In such circumstances, it’s easy to begin wondering whether God really cares, to assume that the apparent absence of immediate, tangible aid and intervention is proof He is not concerned.  If God is truly our mighty, powerful and loving Creator – if He really sees everything – wouldn’t He have pity and use His immense power and resources to help me in my time of desperate need?

Failure is an inevitable part of the human experience. Everyone fails:  in small things and even in the biggest things. Some of these failures are inconsequential and easily forgotten, but failures in the spiritual life are not so simple. As we deal with these spiritual failures, understand that God is dealing with them too…

The love of God determined that Christ depart the realm of glory to make Himself of no reputation. The result was redemption and a return to glory. It was done for our sakes. This was and is the supreme compromise. By following Jesus, we are clothed to reflect that great love.  We do this by finding a meeting point, a compromise with our neighbors in the world and with our family in Christ….