Tag Archives: Christ

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

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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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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Genesis 30, 31; Psalm 11, Mark 12

Some people make Christianity sound like a complex set of rules; others describe believers as an elitist group or cult. Yet if we Christians were to truly follow our Lord’s commandments, the world would see the essence of our religion summed up in the words of Jesus, “The first of all the commandments is: “‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’”  He went on to say, “This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.’”

Perhaps the world is hard pressed to see a Christian live out these simple commands, at least on a day to day basis. For daily, we live in a fallen world where the public eye is more important than the covenant our God and Savior made with us. We, like Laban, have found ourselves worried that God is not trustworthy.

Trust was certainly a sore issue in Genesis 31. Laban was worried that Jacob was not trustworthy, and Jacob also distrusted Laban to keep his vow of peace.  Both developed a plan to protect their interests even when no one was looking. (Genesis 31:49.) Jacob built a memorial out of stones in the place where he and Laban made a vow to never cross the boundary lines with evil intent, only to do commerce or visit. This place was called Mizpah which means Outlook Point or Watchtower. Knowing that when no one is watching, man may not hold to the agreed terms, Jacob told Laban these words, “May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent one from another…although no man is with us –see, God is witness between you and me!”

I work with clients, some of whom have legal issues and are thus on court supervision – probation, house arrest, etc. What most have told me is that staying out of trouble is easier when they are under supervision because they believe there are ‘eyes’ watching them all the time. Is it paranoia to believe that someone is watching over you? A believer knows that God watches us all. That fact should not make us shudder. Ultimately, my sins are against God and His commandments to love Him and to love others.  Yet, where else can I bring my failures to light in hope of redemption, if not before my Savior, Christ Jesus who has already taken the punishment for those sins and nailed them to a cross?  Should I fear the One who made this covenant with me and who sealed it with His own blood? Or can I rest in the knowledge that God watches over me to do me good?

Psalm of trust – “In the Lord I put my trust; How can you say to my soul, Flee as a [helpless] bird…” (Psalm 11:1.)

The Lord is in His holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven, His eyes behold…”(Psalm 11:3.) His eyes watch over me. I’m not sure how that affects others, but knowing this comforts me.

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