Weekly Devotional

Each week a devotional is sent to recipients around the country.  It begins with a story taken from my personal life, history, news media, or a current trend in society.  The story then connects with relevant passages from the Bible, and concludes with a challenge to consider personal applications.  These devotionals are intended to present the truth of the Bible to a non-christian, enlighten a new believer, as well as provide scriptural insight to the mature Christian.  This week's devotional  is provided below; don't forget to check this page when you return.  Anyone can join the list of recipients by contacting me at know.doubt.268@gmail.com .  There is no charge.  Your address is not shared with anyone.  And you can drop off the mailing list at any time.

sky father and earth mother  (july 20, 2024)

If you had wanted to celebrate New Year’s Eve in July, you should travel to New Zealand. Each year around this time, the indigenous Maori people celebrate Matariki, the appearance of the Matariki star cluster (aka Pleiades) that appears just before each sunrise1. In their culture it is an occasion to pray to those who died the previous year and migrated to the Matariki constellation. In ancient times they were always fighting and killing each other; thus, no shortage of ancestors to pray to.

When the British began to colonize New Zealand in 1814, Anglican missionaries proclaimed the gospel to the Maori. In 1823 Henry Williams, a missionary, stood in the middle of a battlefield and told the Maori to stop fighting because God commanded them to live in peace. The people chose peace.

By 1860 more than 80% of Maori people attended church, and read the Bible translated into their native language. As tribes in the northern regions began to read scripture, their chiefs decided having multiple wives was wrong; so, they built a village where the excess wives could live while the tribal leaders sought husbands for the women.

However, shortly after 1860 the government started confiscating large areas of Maori land for British settlers. The Maori began to lose confidence in the gospel and Christianity as their heritage and culture disappeared. For the past 100 years Maori tribes have been trying to rebuild their identity. The Matariki festival has returned to a pagan celebration. Schools are using Maori prayers and incantations. In 2018 only 30% of Maori people claimed to be Christian.   Christian churches are trying to regain the trust of Maori people, but now many have a blend of pagan and Christian practices in worship and prayer.

Authentic New Zealand Christians are upset with new translations of the Bible that include the names of local deities. For example, the creation account now says that God created Sky Father and Earth Mother, instead of Adam and Eve. Whenever Maori prayers are offered in public, Christians are advised it is okay to say the prayer, just don’t say “amen.”

Suppose we reversed the situation, and asked New Zealand Christians and Maori tribal chiefs to read about America, and tell us what they see. I suspect it would parallel their own history. Colonial missionaries brought the gospel to American Indians, then the government took most of their land. Native Americans are struggling to regain their identity. Modern times brought an influx of non-Christians and an indulgent attitude to accept whatever anyone wants to believe.  We have come to sensationalize violence, and desensitize murder.  Syncretism has crept into many of our churches, resulting in beliefs not supported by scripture.

The Bible tells us to be on guard against false Christs and prophets who attempt to deceive us (Mark 13:22-23). In the last days, we are to have nothing to do with those who love pleasure more than God (1 Timothy 3:4-5). Yet we are to remain faithful followers of Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:24) and committed to taking the truth of the gospel to the lost (Mark 16:15). Like Ezekiel, we are to be the watchmen giving warning to both the uninformed as well as the wicked (Ezekiel 3:17).

The hymn “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus” is more than a pleasant song, it’s a calling.

 1  https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2024/july-web-only/