Thursday, February 22, 2018

Save now!

And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”
Mark 11:9-10

Messianic fervor is in the shouts of this crowd as Jesus enters Jerusalem at the start of Passion Week. The entire episode is direct fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9, as Jesus rides into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey. The cries of “Hosanna” (literally “save now!”) are more in hopes of ending Roman occupation than they are hopes for eternal salvation. Ultimately Jesus would die to end a tyranny more cruel and more globally repressive: He would, by His death and resurrection, save His people from Satan’s global empire and would destroy the domination of sin and death over human experience.

But in this scene we see the gentle majesty of our Savior. He has the authority and power of the King of kings over all that rules this earth. He has the calm and controlled majesty of the Prince of Peace. He brings the hope of deliverance with him every yard further into the city as the donkey carries Him. He is worthy of praise because He is indeed humanity’s only hope.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey just a week from His death and resurrection. There, He would show His authority at every teaching moment: in the temple, to His challengers, and ultimately display it vividly in His crucifixion. There He would die to “save now”. And His resurrection from the dead on the third day would save us “in the highest”! Hosanna!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

It’s OK to be broken.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Psalm 51:17

David wrote these words in the broken experience of being confronted in his sin, in a season of repentance, still carrying fresh in his thinking the consequences of muliple sins for which God was forgiving him. And on the human scale they were really big sins: adultery, murder, lies, and conspiracy. And God assured David of deep forgiveness of these sins. Yet the consequences would still continue to make big waves the rest of David’s days.

Still, at this point, David knows that the broken feeling, the powerlessness, the waiting, the enormity of the sins revisiting him, and the need to cast his soul on a merciful God were all the right state of mind for him. He needed to keep expressing a broken spirit before God. This was not unbelief, but rather an expression of belief and his need for only God to bring relief. His raw, painful awareness of his offense before God and his desire for repentance were a kind of worship, as important as the offerings of sacrifices to atone for these sins under the law.

I have known broken seasons where the Spirit of God and the Word of God confronted me on the seriousness of my sins. I know what it is to grieve the sin and still have to grieve the consequences of sin at the same time. And God’s mercy and grace never feel closer to me than those times... and they may last for days... a season of brokenness that soaks my soul in mercy. God’s nearness is known in repentance. He is the Father that runs to the broken, repentant prodigal. God welcomes the broken-hearted sinner because He sent His Son as the friend of sinners to put an end to their sin by suffering death’s consequences for them! Amen! It is great to find such grace when broken.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

before the LORD

So Moses said to them, “If you will do this, if you will take up arms to go before the Lord for the war, and every armed man of you will pass over the Jordan before the Lord, until he has driven out his enemies from before him and the land is subdued before the Lord; then after that you shall return and be free of obligation to the Lord and to Israel, and this land shall be your possession before the Lord. But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out.”
Numbers 32:20-23

Moses instructed the leaders of Gad and Reuben on their responsibility to God in the conquest of Canaan. Early on, Israel defeated Midian east of the Jordan, and the tribes of Gad and Reuben desired to make that territory their homeland. Moses is willing to do what they desire, but there is still God’s mandate for them to continue to fulfill. Four times in this passage Moses reminds them that God has purposed to use them in the continued conquest. They are still warriors. The repeated reminder is found in the phrase “before the LORD.”

Gad and Reuben must take up weapons “before the LORD.” They must cross the Jordana with their fellow Israelite soldiers “before the LORD.” The land will be subdued “before the LORD.“ Then they can take possession of their east-Jordan homeland “before the LORD.”

They were obligated “to the LORD and to Israel.” Moses also points out that failure to do this would be sin “against the LORD.” All the hard work, and the fight ahead to win the Promised Land was an act of obedience. Life lived “before the LORD” obeys Him out of worship with a desire for God’s will to be accomplished with and through us.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Do you not yet understand?

And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
Mark 8:21

This morning I feel like Jesus has asked this question of me as His disciple. Just like His twelve were so earthly focused that they were worried about only having one small loaf of bread on the boat to share among them all, so I worry over the perceived shortages of stuff I see in my hands, missing in that short-sightedness what God has in Christ for me. It is the way self-focus robs my faith, and just at it operated among the disciples with Jesus in their very midst, so it also is disruptive of my trust in my Lord Who has promised to always be with me.

Jesus points out the irony of their worry over not bringing enough food for the boat trip. Just hours earlier Jesus had miraculously fed 4000 hungry people with just seven loaves of bread. The crowd was fed and they picked up seven baskets full of bread that they literally did not have when they started distributing the seven loaves! God had more than provided for their needs.

But as soon as there was a brief perceived shortage again, the disciples began arguing amongst themselves rather than talking with Jesus. They missed what God could provide. And in that moment of self-doubt and anxiety, Jesus asked them a hard question to pull their focus back onto Him... “Do you not yet understand?” Point made, Jesus... Fear, anxiety, and sinful worldly preoccupation all contributed to a lack of faith and a works-based mindset that blinded them to the truth literally seated among them. And that same faithless combo pulls my heart from understanding Jesus and recognizing His work in my life. I hear the question and the point is made to me: Trust Jesus. He can handle it. He will get me through. I truly do not have the resources to make it through with my meager one loaf. But if I understand Jesus, He will provide.

Friday, February 16, 2018

a song against fear

“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
Psalm 46:10

This is a song against our deepest fears. And in it God Himself calls for us to calm ourselves in His worship, to know Him and know that He is making Himself known by the praise of the nations of the earth. There are three verses to its melody.

The song opens with a strong statement of God’s help as He is our refuge and strength in all trouble. This stabilizes our souls when fear shakes us in catastrophic circumstances (Psalm 46:1-3). It equips us to face the unthinkable.

Then we see how this trust in God helps bring true joy. God’s presence is with those who trust in Him. This makes fearful hearts glad, confident in the help that God brings, despite the threats from nations that rage against God. God will demolish the threats we fear with one simple utterance of His voice, providing safety and security again, and He is so strong that a mere word defeats our fears (Psalm 46:4-7).

Finally, the song in a third verse calls us to behold what God has done. We view the shattered, desolate remains of what we once feared. All the weapons aimed against us are broken, shattered, and burned. And as we stand in wonder in the wreckage of what we once feared, we hear God’s voice calling us: “Be still and know that I am God.” He is with us, always our strong fortress (Psalm 46:8-11).

O God my fortress,
I still and quiet my anxious soul in You. I long for Your peace to make an end of the circumstances that tempt me to fear. I have tried to control them in a vain hope that my own power would save me from the anxiety. I’ve missed seeing Your great power. I repent and I trust. I will see You exalted above this present personal turmoil. You will make an end of what looks impossible to me. Yes, I will trust.

Thursday, February 15, 2018


And you may eat it in any place, you and your households, for it is your reward in return for your service in the tent of meeting.
Numbers 18:31

One of the main “sources of income” for the Levites as they served in the sacrificial system at the altar was found in the grain, wine, and sacrificial animals brought to the Lord in tithes from the Israelites. The Levites were commanded to take a portion of these food tithes for themselves, to feed and provide for their families. They were cared for by the very ministry that they performed.

God did not want the priests and Levites worried about their source of living. They were called to hard, daily, constant work in the worship of the Lord. They were given no inheritance of land or property, but were instead devoted to the work in God’s house. So their provision also came from that same work. God decreed a method for their needs to be met as they devotedly and sacrificially served Him.

And God did not leave His servants empty handed. The Levites would never go hungry as long as they served God. So it is as we minister the gospel and serve Jesus today, no matter what our work environment. He will provide in the service as we serve. We only need to trust, to be willing to make ministry a priority in whatever vocation God has given us, and then know God’s sweet and timely provision.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Hope in Jesus

And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
Mark 5:34

Jesus called her “daughter”.
She had suffered long,
body in pain,
condition worsening.
But still she saw hope with Jesus.

Jesus called her “daughter”,
though for twelve years
she endured disease.
A mystery made her unclean.
But all on her own, she placed hope in Jesus.

Jesus called her “daughter”.
She wanted anonymity.
Hiding in a crowd,
she believed teaching His cloak
would bring health from Jesus.

Jesus called her “daughter”.
He called her out from the crowd,
commending her faith
and her faith-filled honest admission.
She found her new life in Jesus.

Jesus called her “daughter”.
Tender words of family
assured her of His grace
and love’s power healed her disease.
She found her hope in Jesus!