Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 2: When the Good News Gets Even Better

Some interesting tidbits from day 2:
On Herod:

He suffered from paranoia, always fearful that his crown would be stolen from him. Ruthless and bloodthirsty, he put to death anyone he even mildly suspected of usurping his authority. He had 3 of them (his wives) and at least 3 of his sons killed for that very reason...He was deeply hated by the Pharisees because of his contempt for the laws of God and by the Sadducees, who resented him for severely curtaining their power and influence....he supposedly converted to Judaism but was never considered a true Jew...he was well aware of his unpopularity among the Jews and feared that no one would mourn on the day he died. He ordered that prominent families (men, women, and children) be gathered together and herded into the Hippodrome (a large stadium area) and put to death the moment he died so that there would be mourning throughout the land on that day. Upon his death, his wife mercifully released all of the people, subverting his evil wishes...Herod the Paranoid may be a more fitting title for him at the end of his life.

On Zacharias:
Because no one but the priest may enter into the Holy of Holies, a rope would have been tied around his waist in order to pull him out in the event that he died performing his duties...where the angel stood was the cause of his great fear...if the priest entered the Holy of Holies and an angel appeared at the right side of the altar, God was displeased with the offering and the priest would die. Though there is no record of this ever happening, the possibility was always on their mind...

This little quiz was included....which of these quotations are from the Bible?
--"Charity begins at home."

--"Above all, to thine own self be true."

--"God helps those who help themselves."

--"Never a borrower or a lender be."

--"Cleanliness is next to godliness."

--"The Devil can cite Scripture for his own purpose."

(For the record, none of these are found in the Bible!

Can you think of any Christian traditions that are more cultural than biblical?

Many of our traditions surrounding Christmas are cultural. Anything related to Independence Day is cultural, of course.

On Elizabeth:
Consider the fact that Elizabeth is childless. Her barrenness would have been considered a great shame in first-century Jewish culture. This cause-and-effect mentality would foster the natural assumption that she and her husband had secretly sinned against God and were paying the price. many believers still think that way today.

Imagine being saddled with this kind of guilt all your life. Consider for a moment what God is doing here. This faithful couple painfully accepts their plight of childlessness. At the point where they have finally given up the dream of having children, God comes through against all odds. What does this say to you about learning to give up? We are taught always to persevere and to persist however, it is often when we finally give up our desires and dreams that God comes through in miraculous ways.

Question: Write what it means to "die to your dreams."

I think that this means that when we finally realize that we can't do it on our own, that we can't reach that goal in our life by our own might and power, that God is able to work. When we give up control and stop focusing on the GOAL instead of GOD, that He shows us that our faithfulness is really what He desired to see in us all along!

Thus ends Day 2...let's not even talk about how many days it took for me to get this one done!