Good morning. It’s Thursday, May 3, 2012. Today is “National Lumpy Rug Day.” I swear I’m not making this up. Today is also the birthday of Niccolo Machiavelli. I don’t really know this stuff. I have to look it up.
For some reason, I don’t have much introductory stuff to talk about this morning. Yesterday was a pretty average day. Christi’s day went okay, even though she got more responsibility thrown at her. My day was pretty good, definitely better than Monday and Tuesday.
We have our lifehouse group tonight, which is always interesting. Never a dull moment, it seems like.
I’m still thinking about yesterday’s reading about patience. I have to ask myself if I’m in danger of becoming spiritually satisfied, or if I have given up on the vision that I have had. Or…has my vision changed? That is something that I have to seriously consider.
Father, I pray for some insight today, some wisdom that will guide me along the path of righteousness today. Help me to live this day looking to the risen Christ.
My Utmost For His Highest
… praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. Ephesians 6:18
Chambers speaks of our obedience costing other people. I have to figure out exactly what he means by that. He speaks of a danger of interceding with people in sympathy. I think I understand that. Sometimes we pray for God to get a person out of a situation, but he has them in that situation for a reason. “Whenever we step back from identification with God’s interest in others into sympathy with them, the vital connection with God has gone, we have put our sympathy, our consideration for them in the way, and this is a deliberate rebuke to God.” That was a lengthy sentence, but I think it ties this all together. We can’t let personal sympathy or prejudice get in the way of vital intercession. We say “I will not allow this thing to happen,” and we are instantly “out of vital connection with God.”
He caps this reading off with a statement that seems, at first glance, to be not quite related. “Discernment is God’s call to intercession, never to fault finding.” All too often, discernment leads to gossip. Gossip becomes a “prayer request.” We must guard against this with all sobriety. In order to seriously intercede, we must be “completely and entirely identified with God’s interests in other lives.”
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:20-23
Yesterday, Tabletalk mentioned two benefits of Christ’s resurrection, our justification and sanctification. Today, a third benefit is mentioned, coming again from the Heidelberg Catechism. The resurrection of Christ is “a sure pledge of our blessed resurrection.” We can get a glimpse of that truth from the passage quoted above, in 1 Corinthians 15. Jesus is called “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Paul was addressing an apparent error in the chapter, one that taught that most, if not all, of the “end times” events had already happened. (There is an eschatological system today that believes this…it’s called “Preterism.”) There were many who believed and taught that there would be no physical resurrection of the dead. Some taught that the resurrection had already occurred, and others taught that it was spiritual only. Both views were heretical. “Though our spirits dwell with Christ when we die, they will be reunited with our glorified physical bodies on the last day, and we will dwell in a new heaven and earth (Dan. 12:1-2; Rev. 21:1-4).”
Paul uses an agricultural metaphor in the verse. The “firstfruits” of the harvest are a “foretaste and sure sign of the full harvest to come.” When Paul described the resurrection of Jesus as “firstfruits,” he indicated that “our resurrection will be of the same kind as our Lord’s.” Both “are physical, bodily resurrections.”
The Bible Panorama
Luke 24; Psalm 10; 2 Samuel 15
Luke 24 continues as thought there is no break between the two chapters. “They” went to the tomb on the first day of the week, “they” being the women referenced in verse 55 of chapter 23. The ones who “saw the tomb and how his body was laid.” When they got there the stone was rolled away, and the body of Jesus was not there. Two apparent angels appeared next to them and asked them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” I tell you, those are some of the sweetest words ever spoken. The angels called upon them to remember the things that Jesus had told them. They went back and told the disciples. The disciples who had been the ones who walked most closely with Jesus for the past few years. Their reaction was that “these words seemed to them an idle tale and they did not believe them.” (v 11) I shouldn’t be too hard on them…I probably would have felt much the same. Or would I have been more like Peter, who “rose and ran to the tomb?” The very same day, he appeared to two nameless disciples (well…I’m sure they had names; we just don’t know them) on the road to Emmaus, who, in turn, went back to the eleven remaining main disciples, reporting their encounter. As they were all talking together, Jesus just appeared in their midst, saying, “Peace to you!”
Now, indulge me just a moment, here. I simply cannot help thinking that there must have been a sparkle of mischief in Jesus’s eyes when he did that. Don’t you think he might have been having just a little bit of fun, skipping along beside the two disciples on the Emmaus road (yes, I did say “skipping”), saying, “Whatcha talkin’ about?” and then just, whoosh, appearing right in the middle of the whole lot of them in Jerusalem? The probable expressions on all their faces must have been priceless. Anyway, Jesus encouraged them to touch him and see that he was real, flesh and bone. Then he asked them for some food, and ate with them. He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures about him, and promised that they would be “clothed with power from on high.” (v 49) They wall went out to Bethany together, where he ascended into heaven. Needless to say, they were filled with great joy afterward.
I assure you, I don’t take the resurrection of Christ lightly. I hope no one is offended by the way I portrayed it. I just can’t help but think that Jesus wasn’t all totally somber during those events. I believe that Jesus, being human as well as divine, did, in fact, have a sense of humor.
In Psalm 10, the Psalmist bemoans the godlessness of the wicked, who believe that God either doesn’t exist, or that he simply is so high that he doesn’t see them and their despicable acts. In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.” (v 4) He says in his heart, “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.” (v 11) The Psalmist begs God to rise up and remember the afflicted. It ends with this proclamation. The LORD is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land. O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more. (vv 16-18)
In 2 Samuel 15, Absalom conspires to steal the hearts of the people away from David, resulting in David having to flee Jerusalem.
Father, I pray this morning for a little more understanding of intercession. I believe in praying consistently for others. It is difficult, though, to always know how to pray in certain situations. We pray for healing, we pray for deliverance, we pray for material needs to be met. All of these things are good, but do we truly understand your mind and will for those for whom we are praying? That is what true intercession is about. I pray that you would help me to be fully identified with your interests in the lives of others as I pray for them. Let me not be swayed by sympathy. Let me not pray for someone to be delivered from a situation just because I feel sorry for them. It is more important to pray for your will to be done, and that is where discernment comes into play. We must be wise when we pray, not just throwing words out there.
I thank you for the assurance of the resurrection, provided to us by the resurrection of Jesus. I believe in this, Father, no matter what skeptics may say. You have given me faith to believe, and I cherish and embrace that faith. The resurrection of Christ has given me justification, sanctification, and assurance of what is to come.
I continue to pray for the patience to wait for the vision that you have given me. However, I must work while I wait, and I pray for both inspiration and motivation to do so. As I follow you through reading Scriptures and meditating on them, as well as through prayer, I ask for guidance by your Spirit, for direction in my life. Let me know what I am to be doing during this time. If you have shown me, then open my eyes so that I may see it.
I pray for this day, that Christi will have a good and productive day at her new job. I pray for the tension to decrease as she becomes more familiar with the environment and people. I pray that expectations will not be unreasonable, and that she will be able to set limitations on demands that are placed on her. I pray for Stephanie today, that she will get homework done and turned in as her teacher visits this afternoon. I pray that my day at work will also be a smooth day with no issues.
May we maintain our vital connection with God.
Grace and peace, friends.