Friday, April 20, 2018

I will praise.

With my mouth I will give great thanks to the Lord;
I will praise him in the midst of the throng.
For he stands at the right hand of the needy one,
to save him from those who condemn his soul to death.
Psalm 109:30-31

I will praise
The Lord has saved
me in my need
my soul is freed
from death’s door
saved forevermore!

I will sing
my heart will bring
joy and praise
to Him Who saves
me from sin
all glory to Him!

Jesus I love
Who came from above
my soul to free
from sin’s tyranny
and bring me safe
to His eternal place!

Freed from death
upon this earth
I praise His name
spread His fame
telling the gospel story
upholding His glory!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

exiled, but protected

And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah his father's brother king in his stead, and changed his name to Zedekiah.
2 Kings 24:17

So at this point, with Babylon controlling the palace in Jerusalem, the Exile of the Jews has begun. The Chaldeans began deporting the Jews to Babylon. Having a puppet ruler on the throne to facilitate the control of the people only helped to serve this purpose. But really, all of this occurred by God’s direct decree. He warned the people through His prophets that it would happen. And now as the consequences of their repeated unfaithfulness became reality, the curses of the covenant would bring judgment.

For the next seven decades the Jews would be forced to live in Babylon. But they would thrive there. God would keep them safe. Many of them would even rise to positions of authority in their service to their captors. Men like Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, and especially Queen Esther, would be used to save and to encourage the exiled nation. And God would eventuallly lead them back, a humble and newly worshipful people of His own, ready to rebuild in repentance what their sins had torn down in judgment.

Exile leads to renewal for the Jews. And God can use consequences of our sinfulness to draw us back to Him. At the end of a season of such suffering and reflection can come strong and new redemptive work from God. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Jesus gave Himself.

“For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
John 10:17-18

This is a very bold claim by Jesus. He has authority over His own life... something no human as a creation of God can really claim. But Jesus is both Creator and created. And in the Father’s plan (to which Jesus totally agreed and yielded Himself) Jesus will die for the sins of the world. Jesus boldly says He will lay down His life by His own choice (not really so hard... any human can choose to die) AND He will take it up again! Jesus claims authority to be raised from the dead! That’s where the impossibility of Jesus being merely human happens. 

The death and resurrection of Jesus then are no conspiracy. He did not die by accident. He pleased the Father by giving Himself to His mission to die for sin. He knew it would be completed in His resurrection from the dead. Jesus came to do the Father’s will. And the atonement is the climax of human history as God and man are one in Jesus. And human sinful enmity against God is eradicated by the death and resurrection of Christ!

Thank You, Father, for loving and sending Your Son! Thank You, Jesus, for laying down Your life and taking it up again for us! Amen

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

what false worship looks like

They exchanged the glory of God
for the image of an ox that eats grass.
They forgot God, their Savior,
who had done great things in Egypt,
wondrous works in the land of Ham,
and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.
Psalm 106:20-22

Psalm 106 is a song that sings about the history of failure. It recounts the sinful failures of the nation of Israel, beginning at the Exodus, all the way through the Babylonian Exile. As it looks at the way Israel abandoned God, it gives us insights and warnings into our own tendencies toward false worship. We may think ourselves too sophisticated to worship idols or carved images. That is probably our first step into idolatry.

Israel exchanged God’s glory for a “made thing”. They made an idol. It represented something in creation. False worship always pulls the focus away from our Creator, and in unhealthy ways, onto His creation. When we expect a created thing to satisfy us, we are caught in the downward spiral of idolatry.

Israel also forgot God’s salvation. God had just delivered them from slavery in Egypt when they made the golden calf. They began to ascribe to their idols of comfort the salvation that God had brought them. And in that way they were thinking they had saved themselves. They had a god they could manage and control.

And finally, God’s people had forgotten God’s works. The miraculous signs of Moses, the deliverance across dry land at the Red Sea, the destruction of Egypt’s army... all this faded into common background noise in their glamorous pursuit of a false gold god. Idolatry ruins us and robs us of God’s power at work among us. We are satisfied with too little, with what our senses can see and be tingled with rather than with the extraordinary, amazing work of God that is beyond our ability to fully understand.

Monday, April 16, 2018

God saves for His name’s sake.

“Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the Lord. For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”
2 Kings 19:32-34

And with this promise, God protected Jerusalem for what looked like certain destruction. Hezekiah, king of Judah, had already stripped the temple of gold to pay tribute to Assyria as Sennacherib threatened to invade Jerusalem. Most of the cities of Judah had already fallen to the unstoppable Assyrian army. It didn’t look good for Jerusalem.

But Hezekiah sought the Lord in tearful prayer. And the answer came back through Isaiah the prophet. Jerusalem would be spared. And the Assyrian army would be humiliated without a battle even beginning. The very night of the reassuring prophetic message, the angel of the Lord killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers as they slept. And Sennacherib quietly left Jerusalem’s outskirts with a meager few troops. Once he returned to Ninevah, he was assassinated by his own sons. All his boasting against God was silenced.

God protected His people for His own name’s age. He delivered and kept covenant with David because of His own name. God’s name is great. His word never fails. His power always prevails. Great is God to His people!

Friday, April 13, 2018

not mine, but his

So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.”
John 7:16

And in this way Jesus dealt with the people who hated him most. He simply spoke and did the will of His Father in heaven Who had sent Him. He spoke the truth boldly. He just did the Father’s will. He was perfect in His obedience to the Father.

And in that obedience Jesus showed us how every one of His disciples should act. We sense Jesus perfectly obeying to fulfill the mission for which the Father sent Him. And those who are now sent by Jesus into the world should say the same thing as we share the good news of the gospel with those around us: the gospel is not ours, but is from Jesus, Who sent us.

Lord Jesus,
You were willing to obey the Father in what You taught and did, perfectly following the Father’s will all the way to the cross. And that obedience brought my salvation. I am always so thankful for the life-giving gospel.

Now Lord, I pray I might follow You in my commitment to obey Your call to bring the gospel in my words and deeds to my world. May they see You and not me.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

under a true and better King

I will look with favor on the faithful in the land,
that they may dwell with me;
he who walks in the way that is blameless
shall minister to me.
Psalm 101:6

The hundred and first psalm is an interesting bit of poetry. It is written by David, but the king doing the speaking is the idealic King of the Davidic Covenant. As such this is obviously not fulfilled in David, whose own story and reign is full of sin and failures. Rather, this song is fulfilled in Jesus. Jesus is the true and better King. Jesus is the Son of David Who can do all that this psalm says about the King.

With that in view, some powerful promises are seen in this psalm. And I think verse six is one of the clearest: Jesus brings God’s favor to the faithful. Those who by faith in Him and in faith follow Him will know God’s grace. They will dwell with the King living with them. They will be in the presence of the King every day.

And because of Jesus, with sins forgiven, they can serve the king. They can bless others because the King has blessed them. They can do the King’s will because the King has made them His servants. The King that is an intimate friend, that brings us to His palace, is also the One we serve. We do the will of Him Who loves us in this way.