My memory verse this week:
"You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.' (Acts 2:28 NIV)
NT Challenge - Day 2
Matthew 3-4 and Acts 4-6
Even though John the Baptist did as God led him to: prepare the way for Jesus...I have always thought of him as a little crazy. He lived by himself in the desert, wearing rags and eating locusts and honey. And when I read what he preached, I think of those "fire and brimstone" preachers who yell at everyone to repent or die! What a strange way to begin Jesus' loving and compassionate teaching ministry!!
But, if you think about it, it's kind of like the tongues of fire and wind God used at Pentacost to bring the Holy Spirit....He wanted to get the attention of the people. John did that...people took notice of this strange man preaching about the coming Messiah. That just further proves that God can use the unlikely person to get his point across.
And what about the ranting about "repent or die?" One of the biggest complaints I hear from non-Christians is that everything fun and pleasurable is against "the law." Why would a loving God make it so that everything that comes natural to us and that brings us pleasure is sin that we need to quit and repent for?
In my studies, I have found that most of the THINGS we do are not sin in God's eyes...it's the selfish way we do them that is sin. Sin is basically when we put ANYTHING in front of our devotion to God. Excess is the thing that makes natural things become sin. Having a glass of wine (if you are of age) is not sin...getting drunk on wine is. Having sex with your husband is not sin...having sex with someone else's husband is. Having lunch with your girlfriends is not a sin...gossiping about others during that lunch is. We all sin, it IS human nature and we CAN'T help it. When you put your needs and desires above God, or forget about God altogether, that is when you sin. BUT, just because we can't help sinning doesn't give us the right to knowingly keep sinning. THAT's why we need to repent.
Repenting, as John the Baptist and Jesus and many others have said, is getting right with God...getting connected with God again after you sin. It is a way for us to have hope and to keep trying. If you couldn't go to God and ask forgiveness and try to do better...what is the use of trying in the first place? THAT is the reason our world is in such a mess...not enough people turn to God...not enough people fear God. I mean fear God's consequences....kind of how I would fear my dad and the consequences I would face from him when I did something bad. When you don't fear or don't even think about the consequences of your actions, you don't care what you do.
The other thing that struck me about today's readings was the WHY question found in Acts 24:4. David is quoted from the Psalms - "Why do nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?" I have questioned that too...why did so many hate Jesus enough to want him killed, and why do so many hate him now?
I still don't totally understand, but I think it is all part of God's plan. Acts 4:28 says: "They (Herod and Pilate) did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen."
Perhaps for people to believe, there has to be some who don't believe?
That is why I continue to read and study...I have so many questions and want to learn more! I am NOT a blind fool, following anywhere...I do want to educate myself and seek answers. I look forward to the rest of this NT Challenge!