Tuesday, February 28, 2017

reversed kingdom

Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.
Matthew 21:31b

Those who thought themselves righteous
smugly confronted Jesus
but they never saw the power of God
even when watching the glory of God
in what Jesus did
they thought their religion got them in

But Jesus challenged their thinking
with truth that He was saying
they could not enter the kingdom of God
without humbly repenting before the Son of God
they were such blind
leaders of the blind

Cheaters and whores entered heaven's streets
instead of self-righteous Pharisees
because they repented and believed
and the truth of Christ received
not on works they did to please Him
but only by trust and believing Him

No righteousness I do is right
to get the kingdom by my own might
only faith in the Son of God
through the gospel truth in the Word of God
will open heaven's door
for me to enter forever more

Monday, February 27, 2017

courage not complaint

And the brothers there, when they heard about us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us. On seeing them, Paul thanked God and took courage.
Acts 28:15

Paul's response upon meeting members of the Roman church was meaningful. This was the end of a long journey and the culmination of a desire he had been pursuing for many years. He longed to preach the gospel in Rome. His path to that opportunity was led by God in ways he never would have guessed. But here he was in Rome, thankful to God to have gotten there alive, and encouraged to meet fellow believers.

Paul was encouraged in these circumstances not because of hospitality (he was still the prisoner of Rome with a soldier as his constant guard) nor was it because of any single gift the brothers brought him. Rather, it seems Paul was thankful to God that he was privileged to meet the people for whom he so faithfully prayed, to whom he had written passionately about the gospel (the epistle to the Romans), and now he was able to see God grant this request. He thanked God to be in Rome. It didn't matter how long it had taken, or how limited he was by Roman chains. God had answered his prayers.

Paul was able to see God's provision of an answer, even when things did not go right. He thanked God and praised Him and was encouraged even in the most difficult of circumstances. He did not complain, but instead rejoiced. He did not shrink away in discouragement. Rather, he took courage in the sovereign hand of God and the beauty of Christ's church. What an example of unwavering faith for me, because I tend to lose heart when the least thing does not go my way!

Friday, February 24, 2017

God's big heart for me.

You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told.
Psalm 40:5

God is good to me. He has blessed me. He is pouring out His grace upon me in Christ Jesus. I am given so much mercy, love, and good pleasure than I as a sinner ever deserved. God has not just added good things to my life, He has multiplied them.

I love how this psalm tells me that God is gracious not only in deeds toward me, but in His thoughts about me. Because I am forgiven in Jesus, God sees me as His child. I am infinitely loved and thought about. I am never far from God the Father's thoughts. God loves me like a dad. I know that my own adult kids are never far from my thoughts. Even in my busy workday I surround myself with photos and reminders of them. I can't help it. I want to think about them. They are my own family. I love them. I plan to be with them. I still want to give them good things. It is perfectly part of me and I think about them so much.

And now I look at God's love in the same way. He multiplies His actions and thoughts toward me because He loves me. It is His Father's heart for me that is the living foundation of all that amazing grace. It is worth it to love and worship Him back because He loves a sinner like me, saved me through His Son, and made me His child. And nothing compares to being loved like that!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

holiness, sacrifice, and atonement

Then he shall offer the second for a burnt offering according to the rule. And the priest shall make atonement for him for the sin that he has committed, and he shall be forgiven.
Leviticus 5:10

God is holy and to worship Him in His holiness requires that we take our own lack of holiness very seriously. God must atone for our sins. And Leviticus has a heavy emphasis on God's holiness, human sinfulness, and the way in which God provided for atonement for sin via sacrifices through the priestly system under Aaron and Moses. The intense regulations for sacrifices emphasize the degree of sin's offense against God. The ways in which the sacrifices could atone for anyone regardless of economic ability (they could bring a bull to be sacrificed, down through a list of smaller animals, or simply fine flour if they had no livestock), emphasizes the grace of God in atoning for sin. 

Yet each of these levitical sacrifices was only temporary. Repeated sacrifices had to be made so that sin could be atoned. The priests were constantly bloodying the altar with the sacrifices of repentant sinners. It was a brutal and demanding reminder of the pervasive depth of sin. It kept Israel always aware of the need for God's wrath to turned as the price of sin was constantly being paid in sacrifices that brought atoning mercy to the nation.

God was gracious to provide the means through priests, altars, and sacrifices for His people to receive mercy. The near constant stream of sacrifices kept humility and confession visibly in front of the people. And the atonement at the altar kept forgiveness at great personal cost always on their minds. Looking back on Leviticus now through the gospel, I am so grateful Jesus made complete atonement at the greatest cost so my sin is forgiven completely, once for all forever.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The wonder of His glory; the awe of His voice

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.
Matthew 17:1-2

This is Jesus in all of His glory. The earthly veil of His human appearance was briefly removed on the mountain of transfiguration and all the glory of God shone through -- quite literally according to this account. His face was a radiant burning star of God's glory and His clothing became light itself. That would mean that these three disciples saw what nobody on earth has yet seen. They alone of all the people on this planet saw the blinding radiance of the reality of complete glory of deity in Jesus.

Not only did Peter, James, and John see Jesus in His glory, but they heard God the Father directly speak to them in loud command to focus on Jesus and obey His beloved Son. And in that voice they fell in fear to the ground, quite overwhelmed by it all. They saw God's glory and were amazed. They heard God's Word though, and were very afraid.

I find it interesting that the really powerful moment during the transfiguration came at the Word of God spoken by the Father. We may long to see God's glory wth our eyes, but it is His Word coming to our hearts that will make us tremble. The power of God moves in the Word of God. It has been that way since the creation of the universe. And God's Word should be what brings awe to His people. The Word of the Father knocked Jesus' disciples to the ground in reverent awe (Matthew 17:5-8). And I can "hear" the Word of my God every day in the pages of scripture... do I let it sink in powerfully as I should?

O God,
Speak as You have already spoken. I will listen. I know Your Word is life and truth. I know Your voice in what You say in Your Holy Scriptures. I repent of my desire to "see" without listening. Oh my I listen to and obey the voice of Your Son!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

advantage: divisiveness

And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided.
Acts 23:7

God used generations of theological divisiveness to save Paul's life in the Sanhedrin's trial of him. Paul was accused before the Jewish religious authorities of breaking the Law by bringing a Gentile into the inner courts of the temple. But this was a manufactured accusation with no factual support. As he stood before the governing body, composed of both theologically liberal and ultra-conservative Jews, his stated belief in the resurrection of the dead (the centerpiece of the gospel's power) became the issue dividing those who were judging Paul. Paul boldly declared his conviction and let them degenerate into bickering from there.

The Sadducees disavowed all miraculous theology, including resurrection, while the Pharisees believed in all that is miraculous. The Sanhedrin's effort to attack Paul quickly splintered off into a sort of theological cage match. As Paul's stated faith sided with the Pharisees, they switched to his defense strangely, and soon the Sanhedrin was in chaos. God used theological fighting to advance the gospel ministry of Paul. How wonderfully sovereign!

The Roman tribune was so afraid of the physical violence that erupted from the frenzied mob of distinguished clergy that he took Paul out of the Sanhedrin by force. Paul is rescued by Rome and by the sovereign God Who uses even theological bickering in the tapestry of His wisdom to advance the gospel.

God is in control, even when human disagreement turns dangerous or violent. He will work His will even when people cannot figure God out. He can use even our struggles ove theology and scriptural teaching to advance His goals. You cannot understand God's power if you only allow humans to be saccharine in their interactions with one another. Even the most deeply rooted of human arguments will be won by God!

Monday, February 20, 2017

the power of negative examples

Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.
Psalm 37:1-2

Contrasting righteousness with wickedness gives us warning and encouragement. Observing the end of wicked living has power to call us to God. It does not matter how long or how happy the lives of the wicked seem to be. The truth is that they will give account of themselves before a holy God, and in the end their lives will be as fading and as short as a field of grass that flourishes for a short summer but then browns and is cut down. All throughout this thirty-seventh psalm, king David contrasts the rewards of trusting God in righteousness with the bleak judgment outcomes that come to those who live for wickedness.

The psalm begins with two negative commands... not a popular way to preach today. There is power in these warnings however that we should understand. We should not worry about the apparent success of evil doers. That seeming happiness is short-lived. We should not envy the lives of those who do wrong. Their glib attempts at happiness will wither over time. God will punish the evil and reward the good. And those who disobey Him will fade away and wither like dying plants.

Sin leads to death. So evil will make only decay. It is the reason that entropy, sickness, and death are part of life on planet earth. And nobody escapes this reality.

But there is a better experience. The hope of God's reward for trusting Him is the only way out of the declining future that is life. We must believe God, reject evil, choose good, and find life. God has promised we can dwell safely (Psalm 37:3), have the desires of our heart by delighting in Him (Psalm 37:4), know His justice (Psalm 37:6), inherit what evil doers forfeit (Psalm 37:8), find peace (Psalm 37:11), know abundance in lean times (Psalm 37:19), and find joy in giving back to others with the blessings that we gain from God (Psalm 37:21). I will take abundant hope over a withering loss every day! And I'll do it by heeding negative examples for the better.

Friday, February 17, 2017


And the Lord said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.”

Exodus 34:27

On a mountain
Stone tablets in hand
Moses received the Law

A covenant was made between God and man

In accordance
With God's Words
Israel was to keep the Law

A covenant to be kept between God and man

The Words of God
Were the covenant made
No human addendums stipulated

A covenant made only by God for God and man

And in the words
From God's own heart
The truth and holiness revealed

A covenant holy between God and man

Thursday, February 16, 2017


He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?"
Matthew 15:3

Which has more weight: what God says or what I want? Which is the most important: God's revealed Law or my personal spirituality applications? Those questions are at the heart of Jesus' confrontation with the Pharisees. It is God's revealed truth that has the only weight. It is God's Word, and not any one thing I want, that is most important.

The Pharisees are easy targets of my ridicule when reading the gospels because after all, they were so obviously missing what Jesus was saying. But hold on... am I really any better? If I take pride in my perceived righteous actions, I am no better. If I want to be noticed for my good behavior, sound doctrine, and public persona, I've become as dangerous to the gospel as those who hated Jesus enough to seek His execution. I've become a grace killer.

Forgive my self-righteous thinking. I am so prone to break Your Law for the sake of my beloved tradition. I can make an idol of my self-righteousness. I want to be a man saved by grace and who despises my own filthy works. Keep the Pharisees away from the gospel in my heart! I will pray for You to be merciful to me, a sinner. Oh, keep me humbly in need of You, Lord Jesus.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

shepherding from the gospel

how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Acts 20:20-21

Paul is doing a personal reminder to the Ephesian elders of his commitment to always be preaching the gospel. It was a pattern that marked his ministry to Ephesus from his arrival there. It still set the agenda for him. Paul was all about that wonderful gospel!

As we read his charge to the Ephesian elders to shepherd the flock, to guard it from false teaching, and to keep it from attack, we must remember the gospel is the motive and the standard for shepherding. Without the gospel there is no flock over which Jesus is the Chief Shepherd. Without the gospel there is no way to know what is true from what is false. Without repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ there is no way to correct our doctrine or practices. The gospel is the center of what pastors are all about.

So I am reminded to keep the gospel at the center. It is where I live. It is what I teach first and foremost. It is what I must model with my life to the flock. It means I repent when I sin against God or against people. It means I turn in faith to trust the Lord Jesus Christ. It means I willingly share that to the precious people God has placed with me and for whom I will give an account to Christ.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Wait. Trust. Hope.

Our soul waits for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.
Psalm 33:20-22

Trusting God is what faith is all about. It is putting our commitment to the Lord into the hardest test of its seriousness. To trust God is to believe Him with real life effort in real life situations. Three words are used in this psalm's ending to convey what it means for us to do so: Wait... Trust... Hope.

All three of those words are a challenge for us to do, but by far the hardest is probably waiting. In the age of microwave meals, one click purchasing on-line with same day drone delivery, and Google instant answers to any questions we can imagine, waiting seems so passé! We want it now and we think because we want it now we need it now. But the process of waiting on the Lord is very biblical. It is meant to build faith and not frustrate it. It is meant to live on eternity's frame of reference and not our sin-cursed mortal time scale. We must be diligent to repent of our fickle impatience with God. We are promised His help and protection if we will wait for it.

We must also trust in Him. There is joy promised to those who will trust in God's holy name. This involves another level of repentance and obedience. We must reject self-will and our unholy insistence upon doing things the way we want. We have to find joy in God's work and power on our behalf and not our own efforts. We must trust.

Then hope can be firmly placed in God if we truly trust and wait for Him. The reward of such enduring hope is God's great, gracious, steadfast love. He will not leave us alone. He will help us. God will shield us. God will be the joy of our hearts. God's grace will shower down on us as we hope in Him. And all of this is known in Jesus, Who showed God's love, grace, and faithfulness to us through His life, death, and resurrection so that we might be able to come to God in this way.

Monday, February 13, 2017

hollow commitment

Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.”
Exodus 24:3

It would seem to me that Israel's eager answer to Moses about keeping "all the words" of the Law was rather presumptuous. Did they really have any idea just what they were getting into? I can understand the eager desire to please God. But the commitment to do so seems almost too glib. Yet it could be that perhaps because I know what lies ahead for them, I am letting that knowledge flavor the way I hear the unison recitation of this heavy hitting one sentence response to the Law.

Initially Israel did obey. The Law was kept and commitment to God was enthusiastic. They collected material to build a tabernacle according to God's deliberate and exact design. They worshiped God Who appeared as a pillar of cloud and fire. They were fearful of the trembling at the foot of Sinai. They consecrated a priesthood and brought sacrifices to the altar to atone for sin.

It wasn't long after this early excitement that latent idolatry came roaring to the surface, shoving aside this commitment to obey the Law. The same people who vowed to "do every word" that God had spoken begged Aaron for an idol while Moses had delayed his stay back on the mountain. Even though they had heard the Law, they chose to worship an idol they had seen being made, and committed all sorts of immorality in the worship of a freshly minted golden calf. Knowing how quickly Israel forgot God makes these words promising obedience ring quite hollow.

Without the grace and power of Jesus, my words ring just as hollow. Jesus enables me to live according to God's Word because His righteousness is applied to me. My heart chases idols as badly as Israel did, and I need to trust in Jesus in order to be able to have any hope before God. Only Jesus can complete me so that I have more than a hollow commitment.

Friday, February 10, 2017

intentional kingdom conspiracy

He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”
Matthew 13:33

This short little parable from Jesus is one of the quickest stories He told. And it can be difficult to understand. Parables as a rule make just one main point, and in the case of this one, it is made for us right at the end: all the flour is permeated with leaven (yeast). It seems Jesus is emphasizing the quiet, nearly indiscernible influence of the kingdom of God in the larger world.

This point is heightened by the unusual way the yeast is added to the flour. This is not a story about a recipe for bread making. The woman did not "add" the leaven to the dough like a step in a recipe. She "hid" it in about fifty pounds of flour (which is what three measures works out to from the text). I've never heard that aspect mentioned much, but it seems important to the short story. This isn't about baking bread or making dough. There is something strategically off-center going on with the hiding of the leaven in that much flour. Hiding yeast in flour is not a good idea unless you are going to be making LOT of bread and only bread. The flour can only really be used for bread once it is leavened.

In the story, the woman hid yeast in the flour until all of it was leavened. She "took" it and "hid" it... almost like an intentional conspiracy is at work here. The kingdom of God grows through intentionally leavening the flour. Like the metaphors of salt and light that Jesus used in the Sermon on the Mount, leaven in this short parable emphasizes how just a little kingdom influence can by used by Christ to do a tremendous amount of gospel good in the world.

I believe the best gospel work is done by intentional conspiracy. Grant me that term, OK? We aren't public phoney-baloney Pharisees blowing trumpets to announce our good works. Instead, christians are like that desperate woman who secretly hid yeast in the flour so that it can only become bread! We are doing a kind of gospel espionage to the world system by preaching Christ and serving Him, caring for the neediest and loving people with His love. And that is an appealing picture of what Christ is doing in His kingdom.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

disciple-making disciplemakers

He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.
Acts 18:26

Priscilla and Aquila were disciples who were committed to making disciples. When they heard a great evangelist and preacher named Apollos, they were quick to use their gifts and knowledge to help develop him into an even more effective preacher of the gospel. Their desire was to make the ministry of Apollos even more effective so that under their discipleship the church would be strengthened and the gospel would go forward. God was glorified by their sincere use of gifts given to them to make disciple-making disciples.

Apollos would go on to have an effective ministry. Priscilla and Aquila would also continue their ministries. Disciples would be made and strengthened as the gospel moved forward in the early church. The pattern they set helped make the church that exists today. We can't have the Christian faith if it weren't for believers obeying Christ's command to be disciple-making disciplemakers.

I am convinced you want me to follow You. And I cannot follow alone. I must be used by you to take people along with me to You. I must invest this life in other people, helping them to live as followers of You. But it is not complete unless I encourage disciples to be disciple-making disciples. And so bless all the meetings that I have with people, every week, in every day. Whether they are in one-to-one conversation or small groups, whether personal conversations or meetings filled with agendas, O Lord, may I be a disciple-making disciplemaker in those interactions!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Lord of Rainfall

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord, over many waters.
Psalm 29:3

My soul seems dry
cracked and parched am I
refreshing rain my cry
as I pray to God on high
Hear me when I call
Lord of rainfall

I need restoring rain
to free me from this pain
broken world where I am
needs the touch of Your hand
You can redeem it all
Lord of rainfall

I hear the thunder break
as in hand Your Word I take
down pours the early rain
to ease my soul's dusty pain
I'm rescued from this fall
Lord of rainfall

Many waters You will bring
and now my soul can sing
You heard my thirsty cry
my soul did not stay dry
You did refresh it all
Lord of rainfall

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

God does the work.

And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
Exodus 14:13-14

As Israel fled Egypt they had seen God already do the impossible. The miraculous plagues that Egypt endured and that Israel was spared displayed God's power and protection in supernatural ways. Moses led the people out of slavery and the Egyptians handed over their finest possessions to their former slaves. It had all been pretty amazing... that is until...

Pharaoh had one of his unpredictable changes of heart and gathered up his army. He pursued Israel with the intention of dragging them all back into slavery. Cornered at the Red Sea with God's pillar of fire blocking Pharaoh's marauders, Israel was afraid and complained to Moses. And the faith-filled answer of God's leader shows the courage Moses had to trust God in the next impossible circumstance.

Moses knew God would save His people. Moses knew Israel would never be enslaved in Egypt again. Deliverance would be worked. God would fight for His people and in faith Moses knew that just like the during the plagues, Israel would watch God work and they would just remain still. And his faith-filled answer back to a faithless nation would instruct Israel on the ways of God.

In that faith, Moses did what God said to do. He stretched his staff over the Red Sea and God parted the water and dried the sea bed. Israel walked across on dry land, and the pursuing Egyptians later drowned in the same sea. God would be glorified in the deliverance of His people once again. Faith kept silent and obeyed. God did all the work.

Monday, February 6, 2017

essential mercy and grace

"I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”
Matthew 12:6-8

Blind adherence to religious rules made the Pharisees miss the meaning of mercy and grace. It set them as enemies of Jesus. It ruined them for real worship because it is humbling to appeal to God's mercies to sinners rather than demanding acknowledgement for our efforts. And it is ironic that it took God in the flesh Who is perfect, sinless, and holy to truly demonstrate to the sanctimonious Pharisees what it takes to truly know and receive mercy. Yet as Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus did so.

There is bound up in the human heart an awful tendency to attempt to steal God's glory. We want to take credit for ourselves. We want our accomplishments to impress God. We are taken with our own achievements, ignoring all the bad with which we have infused even the best actions we've taken or thoughts we have had. But the truth is that we are born in sin and all our righteous acts are the filthiest of garbage to God.

I need mercy and grace to be given to me. Mercy is needed so that I do not get the consequences my sins deserve in judgment. Grace is needed so that my life might overflow with a goodness not my own. And in the truth of Jesus I find both for me. God is merciful to me a sinner, forgiving me through the atoning sacrifice of the Son of God. God is gracious to me, showering me with every blessing in Christ Jesus.

Friday, February 3, 2017

You shook the earth.

Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Acts 16:30-31

God can turn a jail into a revival tent! That's exactly what happened in Philippi. Paul and Silas had been wrongly beaten and imprisoned by mob injustice. The persecution and violence was intense. Yet the two of them sang and prayed in worship as they were bleeding in their jail cell. And in that moment God sovereignly shook the city of Philippi. An earthquake rattled open the cell doors and the gospel was unleashed upon a fearful and repentant jailer.

There was no denying the power of God. The jailer saw it in singing prisoners who worshiped in their woundedness. He saw God's power in the earthquake that rendered his life's work meaningless in one bone rattling instant. He saw God's power as he fell before Paul and Silas wanting most the salvation that they sang about. And in their simple statement of the gospel was the source of all the power of God in their lives. It's a beautiful thing to see the radical transformation that the magnificent gospel of Jesus Christ will bring.

O Lord,
You'll shake the earth if that is what it takes to make Your Son known. As dramatic as the Philippian jailer' conversion is, there are also great salvations in Acts 16 as evidenced with Lydia and a delivered slave girl. Your power changed a city over many days when two men were determined to faithfully preach the gospel even if it meant physical torture and imprisonment. And the gospel broke all the barriers because You will not let Your Word return to You empty. The gospel will accomplish Your purposes. Truly it is the power of God for salvation to all who believe. May I never be ashamed of it.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

instructed sinner

Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
Psalm 25:8-9

God is good, holy, and perfect. Yet He loves to save the lowliest sinner who humbly repents. It is precisely because He is good and upright that He does so. It is the holy thing to extend love and assistance to needy sinners who repent. This psalm reminds us that God transforms repentant people in three ways.

First, the Lord instructs sinners. He warns us to repent and wants us to do so. He provides the means, methods, and mercies of our forgiveness. He instructs us on how and why we must seek His forgiving grace. He warns us of the consequences of refusing to turn from sin to a Savior. God instructs sinners in love.

Secondly, God leads the humble, penitent person in a new, right path of life. He provides the new direction. God will take the lead in helping us find a new life of holy living... a life pleasing to Him. He will gladly lead sinners who will admit their need to be led by Him. He does not leave us to just "figure it out". God provides clear paths to holiness.

Finally, God Himself will teach sinners. He will teach the repentant sinner His righteous ways. That's why we have such an amazing, full resource in God's Word. God will teach us clearly in His Word. He will use the teaching of scripture to show us His way so that we can live in it. If I want to know the best way to live my life, I need only read, obey, and follow the leading of the Bible, for God speaks in it. All of the book points to Jesus, Who shows me how to live life in its fullest, with the deepest purpose, and with the most meaning.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

ridiculous sovereignty

And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.
Exodus 3:9-10

God is sovereign and powerful. He works miraculously to reveal Himself to Moses. At a burning bush God assures Moses He has seen the suffering of Israel in Egypt and will bring the nation out. And then He announces that Moses will be sent to do the task. In one sense, you have to understand why Moses was wrestling with the ridiculous incongruity of God's plan. God speaks supernaturally from a burning bush, a place so holy that Moses is warned to take off his sandals. From that wild display of power God commands Moses to go lead Israel out of Egypt. But he is going to use Moses, a mere man, to convince Pharoah, the "god-king" of an empire, to do what God, whom Pharaoh has never known, wants. Why did God just not appear in flames to Pharaoh and get the job done so much more efficiently? God's sovereignty isn't as orderly as we'd like it to be from our limited perspective.

God had many purposes in play when delivering Israel from Egypt. He was training a leader, Moses, and building his faith and skill as a man of God. God was calling a nation back to Himself. God was humbling an empire and showing His might. But God's sovereign hand, though mighty and wise, was not efficient. He was however effective at everything.... and that required a much bigger story to unfold all of that truth.

And so it is even today. God still is sovereign in this "inefficient" way, weaving many threads into His redemptive tapestry. He doesn't "cut to the chase" in order to satisfy our spiritual ADD. He often uses just "mere people" who have an obedient vision of a holy God and pushes them to to obey His call and advance His purposes. And from our point of view, limited by time, finite intellects, and fallen wills, it can seem so slow and like so much ridiculous incongruity. It is not. We are mistaken. It will all, like the Exodus narrative, lead to a redemptive deliverance taking His people to the place of His choosing. And we shall see Jesus reign forever and ever. Just wait... and see.... and know it is true.