In 1 Samuel 12:6-18, Samuel outlines to the people of Israel their checkered history of following the God who chose them and rescued them. The retelling largely contains rebellion and idolatry on Israel’s part, including their most recent mistake – requesting that they have a king to rule over them. The people rightly despair at their sin (v. 19). However, Samuel’s response is probably not what they were expecting:
“Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet, do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.” (1 Samuel 12:20-22)
God, through his chosen prophet, offers grace in face of sin. He offers covenant-faithfulness in the face of unfaithfulness. This is the character of our God and his relationship to his people. Samuel does go on to urge them to serve the Lord faithfully (v. 24), and to warn them of the punishment to come if they fail (v. 25). Even so, what a beautiful expression these verses contain of the grace and covenant love that rises within the heart of our Lord, even in the face of our sin.
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Did you know that Jesus was born in a beautifully quiet, warm barn, in Northern Europe somewhere? I didn’t. But I could swear that this is precisely how we think about our Lord’s birth.
You see, when we enjoy our “Hallmark-Christmas“, everything is calm, warm and peaceful in the stable where Jesus was born.
“Away in a manger, no crib for a bed. The little Lord Jesus lays down his sweet head.”
No mention of the pain that Mary was surely still enduring after the birth, and no mention of the blood our baby Saviour was covered in when he was born.
“The cattle are lowing, the poor baby awakes. But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.”
No mention that the goats smell really terrible, and probably are bleating and breaking wind. No mention of cow dung. No mention of rodents which might Continue reading
You may not have realised, but we are in a season called Advent. When we reach December (or is it October?) we start to think of Christmas. We are all too hasty, though. It is not yet time for that! Advent is a season of expectant waiting. And wait we should.
You see, before Jesus was born, Israel had been waiting for centuries for their promised deliverer. From the beginning of the story of God and his people (found in the Bible), God had promised a deliverer – a Messiah. See Genesis 3:15. Continue reading
Frank Turk, over at Pyromaniacs, has written a powerful post on the birth of the seven billionth person.
“First of all, congratulations on making it here at all. You have been born into a world where 1 child in 5 is aborted. What is fascinating about this is that, when you were mentioned by the Secretary General of the United Nations, and he brought us the fact that you are born into a world of “contradictions,” he didn’t mention that one child in five is aborted prior to birth — making it 86 times more likely than maternal death in childbirth, and 240 times more likely than death by malaria. This is a morose way to welcome you here, but that you were born at all is a miracle not just because you are a unique person in the image of God, but because you had to overcome the brutality of mankind against itself to get here. At the very least, you are a credit to your parents who did not tap you out because they were too poor, or they would rather have a child of a different sex.”
He goes on to say the following:
“Listen to me: if there is hope for the world (and there is), it doesn’t lie inside you. In spite of every human philosophy, what changes the world is not your best effort — because look: there haven’t just already been 7 billion best efforts before you, but more like 107 billion best efforts before you, and this is all we could come up with.”
No my little friend: the best hope for human kind is from outside of us.
Read the whole thing here.