How do You Discern this Present Time?

“The sky is really red this morning.  We’ll get plenty of rain today,” said my Dad one morning last week.  He was referencing an old saying, “Red sky at night—sailor’s delight; red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.” I was struck by how people, over the generations, have taken notice of various patterns and have come up with such pithy ways of expressing what they observe.

Later that morning, a devotional turned my attention to Luke 12:54-56. [Jesus said to the Crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A rainstorm is coming,’ and it does. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and there is. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky, but how can you not know how to interpret the present time?”]

Jesus had just finished sharing with his disciples that the kingdom of God was bursting upon the earth.  Things were being shaken up!  Many were resisting the changes.  The leaders were working hard to keep their grip on power from evaporating.  

Those listening to Jesus were struggling to know what is right.  They were amazed by this new teacher.  His authority and his works of power were compelling.  Yet, he was turning the teachings of the leaders they have followed on their heads.  Not only was the loyalty of the people divided, so were they.  Arguments arose amongst them as they tried to understand it all.  Families were divided (Jesus said that they will be) .  Friends mistrusted each other.  

Jesus turned to something they understood as an example—the weather.  He noted that they have learned a lot about the consistent patterns and nature of the weather by longterm observation.  The rhythm of the seasons, the consistent movements of heavenly bodies, the relative reliability of weather phenomenon brings security when things are developing.  When things are changing, fall back onto long-term fundamentals to keep one grounded. Jesus challenged his listeners to apply these same principles to the spiritual world.  God doesn’t change.  

In today’s highly polarized climate, how do you discern the voice of God, the leading of His Spirit?  Christian friends of a certain political persuasion passionately voice their adherence to certain beliefs.  Other Christian friends resist these proposals with fervor. With an equal level of passion, they argue for an alternative view.  What are your  longterm observations of God and His character that ground your beliefs in such cacophony of ideas?

Here are a few central ones of mine:

  1. God is just and fair
    • Deut 32:4 “He is a reliable God who is never unjust, he is fair and upright”
  1. He takes the side of the defenseless and the oppressed.  He demands justice to those, who are most vulnerable, including the foreigners
    • “You defend the fatherless and oppressed, so that mere mortals may no longer terrorize them.”
    • ““The LORD does what is fair, and executes justice for all the oppressed.”
  1.   God demands economic justice
    • “The righteous person cares for the legal rights of the poor”
    • “When you gather in the harvest of your land, you must not completely harvest the corner of your field, and you must not gather up the gleanings of your harvest. You must leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God.’”
  1.   How we treat others is a reflection on how we value God, since He is their creator.
    • “The one who oppresses the poor insults his Creator, but whoever shows favor to the needy honors him.”
    • “‘I tell you the truth, just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me.’”
  1.   God loves those, who consider themselves to be his enemies and commands us to do likewise

“But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you,  so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

6.  God is the source of peace and expects us to be peacemakers.

  1. God commands us to communicate with others in ways that will promote peace and understanding, not to tear down.

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