The Hope of Glory

“Christmas arouses longing for the Parousia, the Second Coming. It awakens hope in that heralded upheaval, that upcoming earthquake that makes radical discipleship possible, ushering in as it will the ultimate fulfillment of human history.”~~Brennan Manning

Good morning. It is Monday, December 29, 2014. Only three more days in 2015. 98 days until Opening Day.

Today’s Word of the Day is “scission.” 1. “Division of a previously united body of people into mutually opposing parties; a split, a schism.” 2. “The action of undergoing division; an instance of this. Also: a rent, a fissure. Now rare.” 3.”The action of cutting something. Now rare.” 4.a. “Chem. Breakage of a bond, esp. in a long-chain polymer so as to produce two shorter chains; an instance of this.” b. “Nuclear Physics. The event of separation of the parts of a nucleus undergoing fission, as opposed to the process as a whole.”

Today is Tick Tock Day, a day designed with no other purpose than to stress you out and put pressure on you to make last-minute efforts to complete you goals for the year.

Yesterday seemed busy, but it was mostly in the late morning, early afternoon. Christi went out to run some errands, including the grocery shopping. She called me at one point, and asked me to help her bring in the groceries at her mom’s place, which I gladly agreed to do. After we got stuff put away over there, I suggested that I take her car and get the groceries brought in at our house while she went to Sonic and the BBQ place for our late lunch (she can stay in the car at both locations, so I’m doing the more physical work while she picks up the food). That worked out nicely. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and watching TV. We watched the finals of the Chameleon Bowling Championship, in which we saw Ronnie Russell bowl a 300 game! I’m pretty sure that was the first time I have ever witnessed that. He lost the final round to D.J. Archer, who finally won his first title match ever. It was a great match that went down to Archer’s final shot in the tenth frame. We spent the rest of the evening watching episodes of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia on Netflix. I probably shouldn’t admit that I like that show.

Back to work today, for three days, off Thursday, work Friday. Last holiday until Memorial Day. I would like to have a serious conversation with whoever thought that up. Why are all the holidays in the last seven months of the year?


(From The Divine Hours)

Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!

Psalm 103:20-22
Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you; over it return on high.
The LORD judges the peoples;

Psalm 7:7-8
Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
Psalm 115:1
The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
Psalm 118:14
It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre.
For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.

Psalm 92:1-4
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to
be born of a pure virgin: Grant that I, who have been born again and made your child by
adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through my Lord Jesus Christ,
to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Thoughts for the New Year
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Psalm 51:6
Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.
Proverbs 16:3
Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.
Psalm 28:26

Today’s Gospel Reading

Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.
Matthew 22:15-22

At this point, it is possible that Jesus has grown visibly weary of this constant badgering by the religious leaders, as he calls them out on this question. That’s just my speculation, however. His answer to their question shuts them up to the point that they “marveled . . . left him and went away.” But the Sadducees are coming next.

Jesus’s advice holds true for us today. “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Coming in Glory.”

“Contemplating the crib (meaning, looking at Jesus while loving him), the Christian’s faith flames into joyous expectation that the Christ who came in history will one day come in glory.” We read Paul’s words in Colossians 3:4, When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Paul is obviously referring to an event yet to come. “Christmas arouses longing for the Parousia, the Second Coming. It awakens hope in that heralded upheaval, that upcoming earthquake that makes radical discipleship possible, ushering in as it will the ultimate fulfillment of human history.”

This goes hand in hand with our recent sermon series at church, in which our pastor said that the fact that Jesus came once, combined with the promise that he will come again, compels us to make disciples.

I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have,
so that no one may seize your crown.

Revelation 3:11

Father, as the new year approaches, that time when we make a really big deal out of starting over (in reality, it’s just another day, isn’t it?), I pray that my thoughts would be drawn to gaining wisdom from you, that I might not be found a fool in your eyes. Help me to not care if the world thinks me a fool, as long as I am doing what is expected of me in your Kingdom. Teach me to number my days, that I might gain a heart of wisdom. Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. Teach me to commit my work to you and to trust you implicitly.

I also pray that I might look at Christmas in such a way that my faith is indeed flamed into joyous expectation of your Second Coming, and that, in doing so, I am compelled to obey your commands to make disciples. Take away the fear that has crippled me so badly over the years, in this endeavor. Give me the boldness and confidence that can only come from you, that can enable me to share the Kingdom.

I pray for this day, that our travel to work will be smooth and safe. I pray for the work day ahead, that it will not be stressful, and that, in all things, our hearts will be set on you, and that we might love you, follow Jesus, and share the Kingdom. I pray for Stephanie, that you would show your unfailing, overwhelming love to her.

As this new year approaches, look to the manger to excite your faith about the promise of the return of Christ in glory.

Grace and peace, friends.

The Bottom of His Love


Okay. Got that out of my system. Yes, it’s Friday, February 3, 2012. It’s 64 degrees, right now, with a projected high of 72. Scattered Thunderstorms predicted today. Also, apparently, Punxatawney Phil saw his shadow yesterday. I’ll take six more weeks of this weather anytime.

We didn’t work out last night, due to it being Thursday. We had our lifehouse group meeting, which is the small group network for our church. We’ll be back at it tonight, though. And next Thursday, we aren’t having lifehouse meetings. Something about encouraging lifehouses to get together to watch the “boring bowl” Sunday night. We’ll probably be at 24 Hour Fitness during said football game. Perhaps all by ourselves…I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in this game. Maybe that’s not quite true. I definitely don’t want the Giants to win. But not enough to watch it. Not even for the commercials.

My Utmost For His Highest

For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things. 1 Corinthians 4:9-13

Chambers is keying off of a phrase in verse 13, which, in the King James Version, is rendered, “We are made as the filth of the world.” However, Chambers states that this is not true of most, today, who call themselves “ministers of the gospel.” He says “we have too many discreet affinities to allow ourselves to be made refuse.” I’m thinking that in this day, almost eighty years after Oswald Chambers wrote these words, the “affinities” aren’t so discreet. “I won’t stoop, I won’t bend,” we say. “You do not need to, you can be saved by the skin of your teeth if you like; you can refuse to let God count you as one separated unto the gospel.” Going back to yesterday’s reading, remember that many are saved, but not called to be “disciples.” But a true “servant of Jesus Christ is one who is willing to go to martyrdom for the reality of the gospel of God.” We are not separated in order for God to show us what great and marvelous people he can make out of us. We are separated for God to reveal his son in us. “The marvel of the Redemptive Reality of God is that the worst and the vilest can never get to the bottom of His love.” I should know…I’ve tried.

Tabletalk Magazine

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:3-4

“Diving forgiveness is truly marvelous, and we magnify the excellencies of God’s mercies when we think on our sin and what we deserve as fallen creatures in Adam.” But even more marvelous, and frequently forgotten, is the fact that God is able to forgive without “ignoring sin and compromising His justice.”

Paul recognized, as is evident in Romans 3, that God could not sacrifice his holiness in order to forgive us. Through the sacrifice of the cross, he accomplished this. Question 12 of the Heidelberg Catechism says this: “Since then, by the righteous judgment of God, we deserve temporal and eternal punishment, is there no way by which we may escape that punishment, and be again received into favour?” The answer is, “God will have his justice satisfied: and therefore we must make this full satisfaction, either by ourselves, or by another.” Either justice will be paid by the sinner, or it will be paid by someone else who can stand in his place. “Jesus Christ alone can stand in a sinner’s place and receive the punishment that the sinner deserves.”

The Bible Panorama

Matthew 22:1-22; Exodus 31-33

Matthew 22 begins with an “Invitation” (1-14). Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven is like a king who sent out invitations to a wedding feast. The servants carrying the invitation were abused and, in some cases, even killed. The king takes justice on those who abused and killed his servants, and then sent others out to the “highways and byways” to gather people for the feast. One, however, shows up without the proper clothes and is cast out into the darkness. The invitation to the kingdom is for all, but only those wearing the proper “clothing” of the righteousness of Christ will be allowed to enter. Next, we see the “Intuition” of Christ (15-22), as a group of people try to trick him. They ask him if it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. After he asks them why they are trying to trick him, he asks to see a coin. He asks whose likeness is on the coin. Of course, they have to answer “Caesar.” He then utters these famous words, <"Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."

In Exodus 31, the Lord sets apart some “Spirit-Filled” people to work on the sacred items for the tabernacle (1-11). In verses 12-17, the Lord commands “Sabbath Faithfulness.” God then gives Moses the two tablets containing the ten commandments as a “Statute Forever” (18).

Chapter 32 is another dark chapter in Israel’s history. As the people are “Waiting” for Moses to come back down (1), they get impatient. Aaron shows great “Weakness” as a leader (2-4), and allows them to pressure him into creating a golden calf out of their jewelry. They engage in “Worldliness” as the ensuing feast turns into an orgy (5-6). But God is “Watching” (7-10) and lets Moses know what is going on. God tells Moses to “Go down, for your people…have corrupted themselves.” This reminds me of how we refer to our children when they do something wrong. My wife will say to me, “Do you know what your daughter has done?” Not to make light of it, though, it is significant that the Lord refers to them as “your people,” not “my people.” In fact, the wrath of God is such that he wants to completely obliterate them and start over with Moses. Moses intercedes and asks God “Why?” (11-14) God responds to Moses’s plea and agrees not to do this. As Moses descends the mountain, he knows he has serious “Work” to do (15-16). As they get closer, Joshua asks, is that the sound of “War?” (17-18) Sadly, it is the sound of raucous singing. Moses’s “Wrath” (19-20) reflects the wrath of God as he smashes the golden calf and grinds it up into powder. He then throws it in their drinking water and makes them drink it. Oh, and he smashes the tablets with the ten commandments on them, too. Moses then holds Aaron accountable for the “Waywardness” of the people (21-24). Aaron’s excuse is pathetic. He says he took their gold, threw it in the fire, and out came this calf. If it weren’t so tragic, it would be comical. Moses, with a strong “Will” (25-29) gathers up all who are on the Lord’s side and has them slaughter all who were not. Around three thousand people died that day. He then proceeds to plead for God’s “Willingness” to make atonement for the sin of Israel (30-33). He even offered to have his own name blotted out of God’s book, for the sake of Israel!! Through all of this, I gain a great deal of respect for Moses. If it had been me, I probably would have taken God up on his initial offer to start over. God, however, says that each one will be accountable for his own sin. God then states that his angel would lead the “Way” as they proceed to the promised land (34-35).

In chapter 33, the Lord renews his “Promise” of the land to Israel (1-3), but states that he will not be in their midst on the way. The people show “Penitence” as they mourn this, and cease wearing any kind of ornaments after this day (4-6). They do, however, realize that the “Presence” of the Lord is with Moses (7-16). I really like verse 13, where Moses says, Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people. It also says of Moses, Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. (11) I don’t think a greater statement could be made about a man. The Lord makes a “Proclamation” (17-23) that he will separate his people and honor Moses. Moses asks to see God’s glory, and will be given that opportunity, although he cannot bear to see the full glory of God.

Father, I praise you for the grace and mercy that you have shown by providing the cross of Christ to satisfy your justice. I thank you that it is impossible to reach the bottom of your love! I pray that my “affinities” will not keep me from serving you as I should. Let me be willing to be counted as “refuse” or “filth” in order to serve you. Let pride never be a barrier to my service for you, Father!

I thank you for the testimony of people like Moses, Lord. He was a great man, willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of your people. We need more people like that. I pray that you would raise up people in this generation that will stand before you for the sake of your people. Let us be people of prayer and faithfulness, Lord. Let us be people of passion and peace. It has been said that we are warriors, but our weapon is peace. Let that be so, Father. Let us be people who are not afraid to speak the truth, but can manage to speak it in love.

I pray for this day, Lord. Let it be a good Friday. I pray for a good work day for Christi and for me. I pray that no severe storms will hit our area, as Stephanie is greatly afraid of thunderstorms. Be her peace today, Lord. Give us a good workout tonight.

I also pray for Andy, as two potential jobs are on his horizon. I pray that he could land both of them.

Your grace is sufficient.

Go ahead…just try and find the bottom of His love! I dare you…

Grace and peace, friends.

Love Covers All Offenses

It’s Friday morning, but I have to work tomorrow, so that’s not quite as meaningful this week. The good news is, it looks like I will be able to work from home tomorrow. I’ll bring the Nextel home with me, and any important numbers that I might need, and unless something critical happens, I won’t need to actually make the trip into work. I’ll still have to be available and monitor the radio most of the day, though. Looks like I can access my email from the Internet, too.

Bible readings from Discovering the Bible, by Gordon L. Addington:
Matthew 22:1-22
The parable given in verses 1-14 is a little difficult, at least it has been to me. There seems to be some correlation at the beginning to the two previous parables, where Jesus said that the “heirs” of the kingdom have rejected it, so it has been extended to all nations. This seems to be the meaning of the two different invitations to the wedding. However, not everyone who is “invited” to salvation will receive it. Everyone who hears the gospel at any point in their life has been “invited” into the kingdom. However, only those who wear the righteousness of Christ will be allowed to enter. And, as has been noted previously, any kind of prior status has no bearing on our salvation.
Then the silly Pharisees tried to trick him with a question about taxes. It is then that he utters those famous words, “”Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (v. 21) I love the next verse. When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.

Isaiah 38-39
These two chapters relate the same events that 2 Kings 20 tell, but not verbatim, as some of the other chapters do. Chapter 38 includes a writing of Hezekiah that was written after he had been sick and recovered, perhaps a song. I won’t quote the entire writing, but will include the last part.
17 Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back.
18 For Sheol does not thank you; death does not praise you; those who go down to the pit do not hope for your faithfulness.
19 The living, the living, he thanks you, as I do this day; the father makes known to the children your faithfulness.
20 The LORD will save me, and we will play my music on stringed instruments all the days of our lives, at the house of the LORD.

Chapter 39 contains the story of the envoys from Babylon and Isaiah’s response to that event.

Proverbs 10:10-14
10 Whoever winks the eye causes trouble, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.
11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
12 Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.
13 On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks sense.
14 The wise lay up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool brings ruin near.

There’s a subtle difference between the first two. In verse 10, the fool who cannot control his tongue will “come to ruin.” It’s bad enough to be one who “winks the eye,” and causes trouble, but the “babbling fool” is worse. However, verse 11 does not describe the babbling of a fool. This is the mouth of pure wickedness. I like the contrast (and in most of the Proverbs, there is a similar contrast) between the mouths of the righteous and the wicked. Life versus violence. Verse 12 is significant. Hatred or contempt looks for things to stir up, but love looks for ways to cover the offense. Hatred will point out the offenses, while love will find a way to overlook them. We are to be people of love.

Father, I pray for the kind of love that is described in this passage of Proverbs. I pray that I would be the kind of person who can cover over offenses, rather than looking for a way to stir them up. I pray that my lips would be those that become a fountain of life. Let me not have a mouth that conceals or spews forth violence.
I pray for this day, Father. I pray that Stephanie will have a good day at school today. I’m going to take her to school in a few minutes because the bus still can’t get her there on time and she wants to be there in time for the pep rally. I pray that Christi’s day will be a good day today. I also pray that my day at work will be a smooth and successful day, as well as tomorrow’s Saturday deliveries.

Look for love…look for ways to overlook offenses. I’m pretty sure I can find quite a few just in a normal day.

Grace and peace, friends.