Tag Archives: Christ

Zephaniah; Psalm 74; II Corinthians 8

One of the most frequent arguments of man about God goes something like this, “If God rules over the day, the night, the light, and the sun; if He sets seasons and limits the oceans from covering all the land, how is it that He allows chaos and destruction in the world?” (Paraphrased, Psalm 74). A more personal, contemporary grudge with God begets questions like, “If God is a loving, caring God, then why did He allow this addiction, divorce, death of my loved one, bankruptcy, job loss, declined health… in my life?” Throughout history man has cried out to God, yet, I sense a subtle change in the way New Testament Christians are called to perceive the difficulties of life. I am reminded of Courtney’s September 22nd post quoting II Corinthians 6:3-5:

3We try to live in such a way that no one will ever be offended or kept back from finding the Lord by the way we act, so that no one can find fault with us and blame it on the Lord. 4 In fact, in everything we do we try to show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure suffering and hardship and trouble of every kind. 5 We have been beaten, put in jail, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, stayed awake through sleepless nights of watching, and gone without food. 6 We have proved ourselves to be what we claim by our wholesome lives and by our understanding of the Gospel and by our patience. We have been kind and truly loving and filled with the Holy Spirit.

Do you see the shift? It isn’t as though we are to stop asking God to intervene. There are too many Scriptures that challenge or command us to pray for self and others. The wild, uncontrollable impulse to question God’s goodness, His intentions, and His desire to deliver His “turtledove” from destruction is the difference I see in Paul’s discourse. There need be no doubt in an anno Domini son’s or daughter’s heart that God’s will is being accomplished in the lives of His children.

This is not to say that the children of Israel before Christ were not chastised for unbelief. Zephaniah warns that God will “…punish men who are settled in complacency, who say in their heart, ‘The Lord will not do good, nor will He do evil,” (v 12). Only the foolish believed that God was uninvolved with His people and inactive.

Yet, today many still question God’s interaction with man. (Of course, I am not talking about nonbelievers who use this same argument to try discrediting God.) Focusing on the inequality in the world leads many to think that God neither blesses nor curses, and neither comes to the aid of or punishes His own. But do our circumstances evidence God’s apathy, or does complacency expose hearts fallen prey to life’s circumstances?

Maybe I just want an end to the questions. Then I remember that Jesus Christ put to rest all arguments when on the cross, He said, “It is finished!” What a relief! Like the Apostle Paul’s advice to the Corinthians, we must push on in our Christian walk, “doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago;” [a month ago, a decade ago] (my words); but now you also must complete the doing of it; that is there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion of what you have.” Whether in giving good gifts to the saints as is intended in this Scripture or in living a sacrificial life, I pray,

Dear Lord Jesus, help us to walk in victory over our circumstances. Help us demonstrate our belief in the personal intervention of a risen Savior who proved unequivocally that God is involved in our lives. Help us to focus on becoming “kind and truly loving and filled with the Holy Spirit” so that others will see You in us. Thank You for hearts dependent on the grace and mercy You daily bestow!

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, 66 Books, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms

Isaiah 26-29; Psalm 65; I Corinthians 4

Do you have problems with trust? I often say that I trust others to do what they say they will do, only to think silently that I doubt they will adequately fulfill the promise made or complete the requested task. Just yesterday, I spoke on the phone with someone who asked if I wanted to cancel my services since I moved. This is the third time I have “cancelled” the services by phone, and I just knew there would be some extra charge. After droning on about the inefficiency of the company, my unwillingness to accept further charges, etc., the agent repeated, “Would you like to cancel the service today?” Polite but frozen calmness and the use of fragmented sentences and monotone voice relayed my irritation. Ever the diplomat, the agent cancelled the service and assured me there were no further charges on my account. This is just one example of how I step in to gain control, become overwhelmed, and realize too late that I have failed at doing what someone else was really capable and more qualified to do. This pattern of thinking and behavior has infected personal and working relationships, but mostly my relationship with God. It all boils down to trust.

Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” If I am stressed, worried, or anxious, then do I really trust in God? And does my cynicism about the state of this world interfere with the belief that “With my soul I have desired You in the night; yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early; for when Your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9)? Do I really trust that the judgments of God will one day right the world? Also, do I trust in my abilities and knowledge to affect change in others, open those proverbial doors and set me in high places? Or do I seek the source of all good counsel? Isaiah 28:29 says, “This [wisdom] also comes from the Lord of hosts, who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance.”

Psalm 65:9 reminds us that God visits the earth and waters it, and that God greatly enriches it, so that “The pastures are clothed with flocks; The valleys also are covered with grain,” (v13), yet I toy with thoughts that the good we receive in life is circumstantial and coincidental. I say that God is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance, yet do I boast about what I have received and judge others (and even myself) for what we lack?

I could go on with evidence of lacking trust…but beating me up for a lack of trust serves no other purpose than confessing my weakness. I Corinthians 4:5 says, “Therefore judge nothing before the time until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.” Come, let us learn to hand over the need for control to the One who with absolute perfection will accomplish His will in our lives.

God, I will trust You today to teach me how to be a faithful servant in the field You have provided me to tend. Though, as the Apostle Paul said, I might have a thousand teachers, only You, Lord Jesus, are rightfully called the Wonderful Counselor. I will not judge others by my standards nor interfere when Your righteousness is being poured out. I will trust that You know my needs (and those of all Your creation), and that You will increase the fruit of our labor and drop, as from an overflowing cart, abundance. Thank You Almighty God and Lord Jesus Christ for providing me opportunities to trust You today as I dwell in Your presence.  Amen.

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Filed under 1 Corinthians, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Isaiah, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms

Proverbs 6-7; Psalm 7; Romans 11

Murmuring sounds rising like iridescent bubbles, then softly falling; unintelligible languages punctuated by “Amen!” joining my heart, tender with the fresh washing of a new believer seeking a deeper walk with Christ. The congregational worship suddenly quiet as our pastor gently commanded a woman to come forth – a woman whose description perfectly fit me. Surely another woman in congregation attending this special prayer meeting would stand up. But no, so at the third call I rose and walked to the altar. Elders and Pastor prayed over me and then interpreted their impressions. Curious but confused and disappointed by their words – I knew the wrong person was standing before them. Pastor, with concern in his voice, said, “May I pray for you, again? I truly believe God has a word for you.”

I trusted Pastor J then and now, 30 plus years later, due to his gentle authority and fundamentalist interpretation of Scripture. These were his words, verbatim to the best of my memory:

When I prayed for you, I saw a vision of a little girl, five or six years old. There was a gravel road in front of a small, white house. The child stood behind the gate of the covered porch watching her parents get into a gray, family sized car. The little girl watched as they drove away; and without outward emotion, turned around, walked to the screen door, and entered the house.

Twice Pastor J repeated, “Before you speak, please do not tell me this happened just to agree with me.” Then he asked, “Has anything like this happened to you?”

How could he have known this about me? Dry mouthed, emotionless, I confirmed the accuracy of this vision which matched one of my first vivid memories of childhood. (The following day, my mother substantiated the details of that event, describing without prompting the day she left me at my grandmother’s house for six months due to moving the family to another state. Even the color of the big Rambler station wagon was accurate.)

But the words that came next on that evening of revelation undid me completely: “Your Father in heaven wants you to know that He will never leave you nor abandon you.”

This was the first of many immersions into God’s lovingkindness, deepening my desire to continue in His grace, listen for His voice, and walk out His commands. For example, when I read Proverbs 7 which says, “Keep my commands and live, and my law as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart,” I accept these words without hesitation. Or as declared in Proverbs 6, “When you roam they [God’s commands] will lead you; when you sleep, they will keep you. And when you awake, they will speak with you,” I have access to God 24/7. And I delight in the emotionally packed letter from the Apostle Paul in Romans 11, “Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen!”

I am still overwhelmed by God’s intimate knowledge of my life’s journey; I am still comforted by His daily concern for my needs; I am satisfied knowing His mercies are new every morning. All this and more when all I can say is “Thank You, Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father from whom all blessings flow.”

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Filed under Bible in a year reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Proverbs, Psalms, Romans, Uncategorized

Judges 9-11; Psalm 17; Luke 23

The Book of Judges is about a wayward people who grieved God continually, yet there is one verse that struck home with me – Judges 10:16b “And His [God’s]soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel.” Like a parent who can barely endure the suffering of her child, God’s compassionate heart breaks when He sees our helplessness – and we are all helpless to save ourselves from a life of sin and want.

King David was loved by God who testified concerning him, “I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart.” David understood God’s marvelous love to be deeper than the familial love of parents who desire to provide for and give to their children. Because David knew He was loved, he knew hope for God’s favor when he prayed, “Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings . . .” (Psalm 17:8). Prophetically, though, David ended His prayer with a hope for eternal nearness to God, “As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness,” (Psalm 17:15). This is the prayer of a man who is looking beyond his need for comfort on earth to his spiritual life with God for all eternity.

I wonder about the broken heart of God that many years later heralded the birth of Jesus Christ. God’s compassion burst the heavens with song and joy for the coming Savior of mankind. Then our Father endured the sacrifice of His only Son to bring salvation to a helpless people, not because we merited or earned this Gracious Gift, but because He never changes – He loves.

Like the thief on the cross who recognized Jesus as the Son of God, we, in the midst of sinful death, can cry out, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And because Christ knew that we would sin in ignorance, He prayed for us then and prays for us now, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do,” Luke 23:34.

I am so grateful for the forgiveness of my Lord and Savior, and I long for even more from Him. I look forward to the day when in the twinkling of an eye I will be changed by the sweet words of Christ welcoming me home. Just as Jesus spoke to the thief on the cross that pivotal moment in time, He will speak to me, saying, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

What a glorious day that will be!!

 

Lord Jesus, whether You come for me in this life or when my spirit leaves my body, I am comforted knowing that You will come for me. That also means that those whom I have loved and who also loved You will be among the saints at Your side. To awake in Your likeness in the brightness of Your righteousness forever – how marvelous! Amen!

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Deuteronomy 32-34; Psalm 13; Luke 13

Song of Moses – trust

Lamentation of David – mercy

Declaration of Christ Jesus – salvation

I was literally surprised when I realized that the ‘Song of Moses’ and the blessings he declared to the 12 tribes of Israel (Deuteronomy 32-33) were actually spoken by Moses. These words formed from the man who told God from the start, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue” (Exodus 4:10). Aaron had died and was buried at Mount Horeb. Joshua was not yet ordained as the next leader of the Israelites. So, these parting words by Moses tell us that he, in fact, is the orator testifying to the faithfulness of God.

The revelation that God opened the mouth of Moses to speak His truth to His chosen people is a refreshing reminder to trust God – trust that He will accomplish all that He has promised to each of us who lean on His everlasting arms. No matter that I doubt my abilities or even my purpose on life, God is still in the heavens and intimately mindful of me. I am, you are, the apple of His eye. How can we not trust the God of the past, the God of our future, and the ever-present, lovely Christ to finish what he started is us!

Sing praises to God!

As in David’s lamentation, however, there are dangerous trials to our trust such as living among the enemies of our Christian faith – worldwide, in the workplace, in difficult relationships. Even more troublesome is wrestling with the eruptions in my own soul to rebel against God or throw in the towel of defeat in my weakness. Yet, we can look to King David who exercised His trust in God, a trust built on years of praying and receiving answers from His God. His testimony is a reminder to ask for mercy, God’s loyal love. David’s heart rejoices in the mercy that brings salvation. David’s song makes me think of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem, “Life and Love” stanza IV:” So, when Life looked upward, being Warmed and breathed on from above, What sight could she have for seeing, Evermore . . . but only Love?”  This love exchange is what I crave, live for, and bask in. What is more healing than God’s mercy?

Sing praises to God!

I enjoy this meandering through the mysterious woods, hills, and valleys of the Old Testament stories and Psalms, yet they always lead me to Mercy’s gift of New Testament truths and assurances illuminating the clarity of Christ’s divine walk on earth and His holy Presence in the believer’s life today. During His walk on earth, even Jesus laments over the unwillingness of His creation to trust in His mercy. Still, what was His death sentence – His determined push into the very city of His sorrow – was, in fact, His promise to us of salvation. Christ told all who feared for His earthly life, “Behold, I cast our demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected,” (Luke 13:32). What a headline for the eternal story that followed Him and our eternal stories that continue to be written because of His glorious resurrection promise.

Trust in God. Pray for His mercy. Accept His salvation. Then Lift your voice —

Sing praises to God!

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Numbers 30-33; Psalm 35; Luke 3

Luke 3:4 One crying in the wilderness…Prepare the way of the Lord… Who is the one crying and how must one prepare to receive the Messiah? The Gospels record the messenger as John the Baptist, the audience was the chosen people of God, and the message was repentance. Lately, I have felt as though this message is being preached to me anew. I stand with a crowd of believers, much like John the Baptist preached to, who were raised in the knowledge of God. Yet, without a doubt knowing that I am saved by Christ, I still am puzzled by this voice proclaiming repentance, and I find myself asking, “What shall I do?”

According to historians, life for the Jews in this epic time of Christ’s walk on Earth was one of servitude. Judaic communities lived a life of poverty and brevity at the unmerciful hands of Romans and labored under an impoverished spirit of fear and distance from God at the collaborating hands of the Jewish religious leaders. I ponder the similarity of the political climate then and the so-called, religious freedoms we have today. Of course, we are not rounded up, jailed, or impaled at the whim of a despot simply because we are Christians. I am disturbed however, by the more insidious silencing of Christian voices by the few who often are approved by our own executive, legislative, and judicial leadership. I also wonder if our spiritual leaders today are stepping as gingerly as I on the thin ice separating faith from politics. Will the plunge be a baptism with the Holy Spirit or with fire?

Interestingly enough, John the Baptist’s answer to “What shall we do,” was pragmatic and specific to the one asking the question. So what am I asking? Certainly, it makes little sense for me to ask that others change more to my own opinion or understanding. Even more crazy would be to ask that I be given some miraculous power to change the laws of the land with a ball point pen. No, the call to repentance was not given to me for that other guy, so I must make another sweeping examination of my need be changed. What has crept into my daily routine distracting my attention from meditating on God’s word? When have I missed an opportunity to speak truth in love, and why have I backed down in the face of dissension? More specifically, who have I shortchanged or taken advantage of – yes, when driving, when standing in line, and when reaching for the last sale item on the store’s shelf? This self-examination is not an effort in preparing me to be good enough for the Lord’s mercy and grace. In fact, this work in my heart is not even of my own doing, but comes about through the work of the Holy Spirit given to us by Christ Jesus.

Repentance that answers the question, “What shall I do,” serve as a reminder to self to practice a changed heart in keeping with unending gratitude to the King of Kings.

Psalm 35:9, 10 And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord; It shall rejoice in His salvation. All my bones shall say, Lord, who is like You, Delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, Yes, the poor and the needy from him who plunders him?

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Luke, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

Exodus 32-34; Philippians 3

Life is clean and clear when I am on my knees and quiet before God.  I ask God, “If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor.” Exodus 33:13. Then I get up and the day starts. Before I go, fear flickers and I pray with Moses:

“If you don’t personally go with us [me], don’t make us [me] leave this place. How will anyone know that you look favorably on me—on your people—if you don’t go with us [me]? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.” Exodus 33:15-16.

I am beginning to feel my years. I don’t have the energy to fake it nor to endure the numerous distractions that entice me to join Alice down some rabbit hole.  I weary so easily. Paul understands this. He has been battered and beaten, yet continues to get back up and keep at it. What is it that gets him back up on his feet?

Focus on the truth. Focus on the reality of Christ Jesus and what he has already obtained for us.

“We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort.” Philippians  3:3

Good bye precious, ego, Good bye, pride.

“I once thought that these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Philippians 3:7

I am freed from the messiness of myself and my dependence on getting things right. I am free to focus on what is real and important:

“But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me…I focus on one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus is calling us.” Philippians 3:12…13.

Forgiven sinner that I am, I am Christ’s possession. This is my hope and my future. His work has been done for me. In confidence, I hold on to this and go into the day.

Klueh

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