Sunday February 4, 2018 – Fully Committed to His Way
I have been reading my way through the Bible again this year, but I am also reading a daily devotional and another with excerpts from writings from C.S. Lewis. Today I am including an excerpt from the devotional reading for today. For it is not so much of our time and so much of our attention that God demands; it is not even all our time and all our attention; it is our-selves. For each of us the Baptist’s words are true: “He must increase and I decrease.” He will be infinitely merciful to our repeated failures; I know no promise that He will accept a deliberate compromise. For He has, in the last resort, nothing to give us but Himself; and He can give that only insofar as our self-affirming will retires and makes room for Him in our souls. Let us make up our minds to it; there will be nothing “of our own” left over to live on, no “ordinary” life. For He claims all, because He is love and must bless. He cannot bless us unless He has us. When we try to keep within us an area that is our own, we try to keep an area of death. Therefore, in love, He claims all. There’s no bargaining with Him. I am thankful that I can, and have been fully committed to God and open to wherever He leads.
Saturday February 3, 2018 – Stand for Something, Don’t Fall for Anything!
Today I was reading that wise people determine their convictions before trouble comes, not when it comes. With all that is going on in our society with sexual harassment allegations and people in conflict about their sexuality we need to understand that the tensions of life will always be there, regardless of the options we choose to live by. Systems of values will always be on a collision course with one another, and we will always have to defend what we believe from the assault of a conflicting belief system that much of the world holds. If we have no firm commitments and haven’t already determined which of our national convictions are nonnegotiable, our whole system will implode under the weight of momentary decisions. It is critical, therefore, to preserve those convictions or values that have already been tested and have proven to be a firm foundation. Only then can we test conflicting realities against what has shown itself to be reliable so that the foundation is left intact. This is as true for individuals as it is for nations.
I believe strongly in the phrase that if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything and God provides us clear guidance on what and where we should be proud to stand.
Tuesday February 13, 2018 – Once and For All
As I read through this portion of Leviticus it is almost overwhelming all the different offerings that the Jewish people had to offer dependent on the situation. There was guilt offerings, sin offerings, fellowship offerings, burnt offering, grain offering, etc. Jesus “does not need to offer sacrifices day after day” (Hebrews 7:27). His single sacrifice is completely effective: “once for all! This phrase “once for all” denotes “once for all time, never to be repeated,” not “once for all people.” I am glad that Jesus paid the price once and forever for all my sins.
Thursday February 1, 2018 – Jesus Made Himself Known So We Can Know God
One month of the year, one book of the Bible, it is amazing how quickly time passes. As February commences I anticipate many exciting developments in the month ahead. God’s love for His people is demonstrated by the way He would show himself to them through the cloud that followed them in the desert and the many visible appearances of His power through Moses. During this time people stood at a distance, out of both fear and awe. Jesus willingly laid aside the glories of heaven to take the form of a servant in order to allow us to have a personal relationship with God. Jesus demonstrated and declared to the world the nature and character of God in a way that allowed humanity to see not only a temporary glimpse of his glory but the nature of God in power, mercy and love. Jesus made himself known so that fallen men and women can know God. I know that my live has been forever changed.
Wednesday January 31, 2018 – He Knows Where We Are Going
Understanding God’s view of humans and understanding of what we are or aren’t going to do is an interesting paradox. God allows us to make our own choices, but he knows exactly what we are going to do. Everyone who believes in God at all believes that He knows what you and I are going to do tomorrow. But if He knows I am going to do so-and-so, how can I be free to do otherwise? Well, here once again, the difficulty comes from thinking that God is progressing along the Timeline like us: the only difference being that He can see ahead and we cannot. Well, if that were true, if God foresaw our acts, it would be very hard to understand how we could be free not to do them. But suppose God is outside and above the Time-line. In that case, what we call ‘tomorrow’ is visible to Him in just the same way as what we call ‘today’. All the days are ‘Now’ for Him. He does not remember you doing things yesterday; He simply sees you doing them, because, though you have lost yesterday, He has not. He does not ‘foresee’ you doing things tomorrow; He simply sees you doing them: because, though tomorrow is not yet there for you, it is for Him. You never supposed that your actions at this moment were any less free because God knows what you are doing. Well, He knows your tomorrow’s actions in just the same way—because He is already in tomorrow and can simply watch you. In a sense, He does not know your action till you have done it: but then the moment at which you have done it is already ‘Now’ for Him.
This is still hard for me to fully understand, but then again understanding how BIG and omniscient God really is exceeds my own comprehension. As I read Exodus 40 and realize how God lead the people of Israel I think having that type of divine guidance would be nice, 36 In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; 37 but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. 38 So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels. The reality is that God does care about where we go and what we do, but he actually already know where and what that will be.
Tuesday January 30, 2018 – Christ is Enough!
Several members of baseball’s elite were voted into the Hall of Fame this past week. A couple of the biggest stars, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were not voted in since I think they have become the poster children for all the excesses of steroids. A little over 10 years ago On August 7, 2007, baseball slugger Barry Bonds hit career home run number 756, the home run that broke Hank Aaron’s record. However, many questioned whether or not the new record should count because Bonds was alleged to have used steroids. Sports buffs said if his name is listed in the record book, it should be accompanied by an asterisk to indicate that the record is a sort-of record, a tainted record. In 2008 Mark Ecko, the man who bought the ball Bonds hit to set the record, branded the baseball with an asterisk and donated it to the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. It’s not unusual for Christians to imagine we have an asterisk by our name. We may be destined for that Hall of Fame called heaven, but aware that our lives our tainted, we’re left with a sour taste in our souls. We’re grateful to enjoy eternal life with God, but we wish there wasn’t that sense of being tainted. The gospel is hard to believe at just this point, but it is nonetheless the great truth. There is no longer a need for sin offerings. The forgiveness we are offered through Christ’s sacrifice doesn’t just make our sin null and void, it also erases the asterisk. God doesn’t see a fixed sinner, but someone righteous and pristine. We are in Christ, and Christ is in us. We are a new creation. The old has passed away—so much so that there is no need for an asterisk—and all things have become new.
I am thrilled that I can anticipate entering God’s Hall of Fame when my life here on earth ends and there will be no need for a vote or a review of my history only that Christ is enough!
Monday January 29, 2018 – Payback Would Be Impossible
Today as I was reading through Exodus I found the following statement from Moses and I thought how perfect this statement is as a prayer to God! This is Exodus 33, 12 You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”
Reading through Exodus is an interesting story of the exodus of the nation of Israel from Egypt, but it is also a critical time where God defines His expectations for the temple, but more importantly his expectations for how people live. When God gave Moses the Law, he instituted a system of restitution: Anyone who injured another paid the price for what was stolen or destroyed and added 20 percent to the value. We may think of restitution as justice for the wronged party and punishment for the offender. But restitution offers more: It builds a bridge between the two parties, paving the way for relationships to be restored. By confessing the sin and compensating for any loss, the offender no longer has to deal with guilt. Receiving restitution and more frees the injured party from feeling unfairly treated. It is a great concept, but I am glad that God doesn’t expect payback for all the wrongs that I have done.
Sunday January 28, 2018 – Reminder Not to Panic or Complain
One of the things I find reading through the Old Testament is that the people of Israel are very consistent in their inconsistencies. One day they pledge absolution devotion and the next they are asking Aaron to make them an idol because they don’t see the presence of God. 31 So Moses went back to the Lord and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. 32 But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”
33 The Lord replied to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book. 34 Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you. However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.” 35 And the Lord struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made.
There will be times, and I have had several where even though the Lord leads us, we will find ourselves with sparse resources. Not enough money. Not enough help. Not enough encouragement. But it doesn’t mean that God is not in the situation. These situations sometime test our patience and like the people of Israel we may feel that God has abandoned us, but God is not finished yet. Think about it—God had water stored in a rock, be brought food from the skies and He consistently found a way to lead them to safety against insurmountable odds. That same God is there for you and I, but we need to understand that even though there is a shortage of resources, time or money, it doesn’t mean that God isn’t still leading. God will provide and there is no cause to panic or complain.
Saturday January 27, 2018 – God Will Give Us Light to Know Him
Exodus is filled with great detail on God’s instructions to Moses to build a temple worthy of worship. There are chapters with specific measurements and instructions for how the temple is to be built. As these instructions close the following phase is included in Exodus 29, 46 They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God. Today we know that God is our Lord because He dwells in our hearts.
The New Testament affirms that Jesus came to reveal God to ALL people not just the Jews, displaying the glory of God in the face of Jesus. “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). No one has seen the Father (Exodus 33:20; John 6:46), yet through the face of Christ, God’s people see his glory revealed. And keeping hearts focused on eternity, Jesus’ followers long for Christ’s return—when “they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads . . . They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light” (Rev 22:4–5).
Friday January 26, 2018 – The Last Days of Human History?
Isaiah 24:1-6 24 1 See, the Lord is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it; he will ruin its face and scatter its inhabitants—2 it will be the same for priest as for people, for the master as for his servant, for the mistress as for her servant, for seller as for buyer, for borrower as for lender, for debtor as for creditor. 3 The earth will be completely laid waste and totally plundered. The Lord has spoken this word. 4 The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the heavens languish with the earth. 5 The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. 6 Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left.
The picture that Isaiah paints is of devastation so complete that it will rival the flood God sent in the time of Noah. Ruin its face suggests a disaster that will change the contours of the planet, much like the flood did. Natural disasters such as earthquakes, droughts and crashing meteorites have the potential to do that. This much is clear: God, not human beings, will lay waste to the planet in judgment for sin. So it will not be an errant press of the red button or a lunatic in North Korea that destroys the world.
We don’t know when this destruction will happen. But Isaiah seems to say that after the earth is laid waste (v. 3), God will make a new creation (26:1). Perhaps this will be in the last days of human history, when God defeats evil once and for all. I don’t know what the future holds, but fortunately I have a personal relationship with the one who holds the future!