The Jews had a belief that the spirit of the dead kept vigil by the tomb for three days, watching for a chance to come back into the body; but on the fourth day, when the disintegration of the body has fully set in, the spirit flies away. (1926 Peloubet’s Select Notes on the International Sunday School Lessons, page 66) By waiting until the fourth day to raise Lazarus, Jesus was dismissing the validity of this belief. Obviously there was much more addressed in the miracle, but it is interesting that the Jews had this superstition.
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I am sure there are others on this list who have been to mission fields where one must be careful when making comments of praise when in homes. I had been told to be careful with praise when in Ukrainians’ homes. If you make a highly praised comment about a picture or item of clothing you just may leave with that item. It is considered proper hospitality to offer something the guest finds attractive or interesting. And it is taken as an insult if you refuse to take it.
On my second trip to Ukraine I was invited to a non-Christian’s home. This young couple had met me on my first trip. They had even named their first child after me (I still do not understand that one…). They lived in a very small apartment. It had 2 rooms. They had very little earthly possessions. They were so excited that I accepted their invitation and had prepared a wonderful meal. While the wife was serving our soup, I noticed she was using one of those very colorful painted spoons that you normally see in gift shops or as decoration on walls. I made a comment that it was the first time I had seen such a spoon used. She asked me if I thought it was pretty. I acknowledged that I did indeed find such spoons beautiful. When I was preparing to leave their home, the woman brought me the spoon and told me it was now mine. I told her that I never intended to give her the idea that I wanted the spoon (she only had one more). She insisted I take it as thanks for being in their home. While I wanted to argue and refuse the spoon I knew I could not without insulting them. I treasure that spoon as much as anything I have ever obtained overseas.
Our Lord physically visited our world. He lived as a man so that he might die as a man for our sins. What do we give him as thanks? Does the gift of the non-Christian Ukrainian woman make our gifts of thanks appear small and trite?
A New Year
Adam B. Cozort
If two thousand ten is like two thousand nine,
Opportunities will abound for the Lord’s work to shine.
But if the latter year is not like the first,
Will it be better or will it be worse?
The good news, my brethren, is it does not matter,
For our God will be with us for worse or for better.
As we usher a new year in once again,
God will remain with us as He has always been.
However, our God requires action from us.
Will you be counted among those He can trust?
Will you stand with the faithful on the front line of battle,
or will you try to just stand in the back and prattle?
As we start this new year the time is at hand,
To present God’s Word to all that we can.
Will you stand faithful and use all your might,
To stand for what is godly, true, and right?
There is no individual God does not want.
None who cannot help with the task from the front.
In this new year our task should be clear:
To spread the Gospel both far and near.
Will you resolve to put God first in your life,
Whatever the conflict, whatever the strife?
To resolve to fulfill our Lord’s commands,
Even if it makes you unpopular with friends.
The new year approaches, it has reached the front door.
It is time to decide what you will use this year for.
Will you come with me and stand by my side,
To hold up the banner, to fight and not hide?
With God on our side who can stand in our way?
Only ourselves, if we choose not to stay.
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