He Will Be With You

Image by Annie Spratt from Pixabay

 

Acts 17:22-31

1 Peter 3:13-22

John 14:15-21

Psalm 66:7-18

Let’s look today at the work of Peter. Today’s passage is a nice parallel to the words of Jesus in today’s reading in John.

To do justice to Peter, we should back up to at least 3:8-9: To sum up, you should all be of one mind living like brothers with true love and sympathy for each other, generous and courteous at all times. Never pay back a bad turn with a bad turn or an insult with another insult, but on the contrary pay back with good. For this is your calling—to do good and one day to inherit all the goodness of GodPhillips This passage follows several similar statements in chapters one and two.

He follows that with a quote from Psalm 34:12-16, ending with, he turns his back on those who do evil thingsMSG

Turning now to verse 13, we read; For who will hurt you if you become zealots for what is good? CJB In the Greek, Peter begins the verse with, who is the one doing evil to you? Actually, the sentence reads, And who the one harming you if of the good you become zelots? United Bible Society Interlinear

Peter wants us to connect this thought with Psalm 34. The opening verse is; I bless the Lord at all times; praise of Him is ever in my mouthJSB The second half of the Psalm stresses our actions and included the words, mouth, tongue, lips, eyes, ears, face, bones. It is a call to action.

Peter wants us to always speak and act the Will of God.

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessedNIV This is the most common and most accurate English translation, minus the two underlined words. But what does Peter mean by being blessed? Phillips has it; that is a privilege, and The Message writes; you’re still better off. Both give us a glimpse of what it means to be blessed.

Verse 15; treat the Messiah as holy, as Lord in your heartsCJB Only by asking every day, What Would Jesus Do, can we begin to do what is right in the eyes of God. Doing good is not easy. Christians are guilty of many evils which we believed were good. Keeping our focus on the Messiah and on God is not easy. But we must work at it every day.

 

For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evilESV

How do we know the Will of God? Now we turn to the work of John, vs 15-17. If you really love me, you will keep the commandments I have given you and I shall ask the Father to give you someone else to stand by you, to be with you always. I mean the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, for it can neither see nor recognise that Spirit. But you recognise him, for he is with you now and will be in your heartsPhillips

The Holy Spirit is the Presence of God, the Power of God, and the Sustenance of God. Some people can see the Spirit, but most of us must trust that he is beside us in all we do, even when we fail to do God’s Will. There is no shame in failure. God’s Plan for the earth will happen with or without our help. We simply try to help more than we hurt.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Summer of the Big Bachi

Mas Arai was a successful Japanese gardener in California after WWII but his life was less successful. By 1999 his wife was long dead and his only daughter no longer spoke to him, especially since moving to New York. His idea of athletic competition was betting on horse races.

While Mas was American born, he spent much of his youth in Hiroshima after his parents decided to return there before the war. He might have remained if it had not been for the atomic bomb. As the sole survivor of his family, he had to decide at age 16 to make a life in a ruined city or return to his birthplace.

Returning meant that he carried some powerful secrets with him, secrets he shared with no one else. In 1999, those secrets hit him in what the Japanese call a bachi–what mistakes you make will haunt you–mistakes result in bad karma–what goes around comes around–your sins will catch you out.

This is Hirahara’s first mystery and she chose to set the story within her own family’s history. Her father was born in California, returned to Hiroshima as a child, survived the bomb by begin 3 miles away. Her mother’s father was killed in the blast. After they married they returned to California and he became a gardener.

This is a short read and a great read. Hirahara’s writing style is top-shelf. I checked the Amazon review ratings and tried to see why she only had 58% five stars. Most of the complaints were that Mas was not likeable and there were too many characters. OK, I see the point. But as one reviewer put it, the book is “about a curmudgeonly Japanese gardener whose many sins are catching up with him.

I give her a 4.5-star rating.

Mike Lawrence