Good morning. It’s Friday, May 4, 2012. Today is International Firefighters Day. We should support and give thanks the many men and women who put their lives on the line daily to protect and save the places and lives that we hold dear. Today was also the day in 1970 that the National Guard fired into a crowd of protesters at Kent State, killing four students. This picture has been etched in my brain since I was 12 years old.
Things continue to be stressful at Christi’s job, and seem to be getting more so. I don’t think she can do this. It’s very sad and very disturbing. That’s all I’m going to say at this point, other than, all prayers to rectify this situation would be greatly appreciated. We thought this was the right decision. Unless something changes drastically very soon, it would appear we were very wrong.
Father, I pray this morning for some inspiration to guide me on the path this morning. Show me more of you, that I might live this day (and my life) looking to you. Before I even start, I lift up Christi and her situation to you. You are sovereign and your mighty hand is in control of this situation. Give us the faith to trust this. Right now, it’s hard to see your hand in the chaos that is her work life right now. Give us the supernatural sight that is necessary to see your hand at work, and if we are unable to see it, then please help our faith to know that it’s there. What did the song say? “If you can’t see his hand, trust his heart.” That’s where we need to be right now. Not only trusting your heart, but trusting your sovereignty.
My Utmost For His Highest
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus… Hebrews 10:19
“Beware of imagining that intercession means bringing our personal sympathies into the presence of God and demanding that He does what we ask.” Is that what I have just done?? I’ll work that out later. We are to approach God based on our “vicarious identification” with Christ with sin. We have “confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus!”
Chambers then proceeds to discuss something that I don’t believe that I have an issue with. He says that some have the idea that there are “right and virtuous things in us which do not need to be based on the Atonement.” I don’t believe that for a minute. Let me rephrase that. I don’t believe that there is anything virtuous in me or anyone else that escapes the scope of the atonement. I do believe that there are people who think there is. But there is nothing right and virtuous in me, outside of my identification with Jesus Christ. There might be in another person’s eyes, but not in the eyes of God. When we get stuck in that mindset, we cannot intercede. If I believe that there is anything virtuous in me, I have stopped identifying with the sacrifice of Jesus, and I can’t effectively intercede for anyone. My sympathies get in the way. “We have to realize that the identification of Jesus with sin means the radical alteration of all our sympathies. Vicarious intercession means that we deliberately substitute God’s interests in others for our natural sympathy with them.” This is almost a re-wording of yesterday’s idea.
So am I determined to have my own way, or am I determined to be identified with Christ? I know what my desire is, but I’m not sure what reality is. Especially in light of my prayer above. This is something that I’m going to have to work out during the day today. How should I be praying for this situation? Am I being totally selfish? I don’t think so, because I desire good for my wife. This isn’t about me. But is it about what God wants?
And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Acts 1:9-11
It’s very interesting that I’ve run across this subject multiple times in the last couple days. Yesterday, I read the end of Luke’s gospel (who also wrote Acts), which concludes with the ascension. Then I started listening to a sermon by Timothy Keller on the ascension (I’m only about halfway through it, but it is very good), and now Tabletalk is addressing it.
We can only be reconciled to God through trusting in Christ. That is part of the gospel message. In order to do that, it helps to understand who Jesus is and what he has done. One event in the life of Christ that is largely ignored by the evangelical church is the ascension of Christ. I suppose part of the reason for that is that Luke is the only one who gives a solid account of it. It is included in Mark’s gospel, but in the part of the last chapter that most scholars believe was not written by Mark in the original document.
One thing that is revealed by the ascension is the nature of the return of Christ. Jesus was taken from earth to heaven in full sight of the apostles. He didn’t just disappear, but his physical body moved upward so they could watch. Verse 9 in the passage above says that a cloud took him up. He ascended visibly. According to the testimony of the angels who appeared there, his return will be just like that. “He will return visibly when He comes in final judgment.” The angels said that he would return just as he ascended. He will return on a cloud, possibly the same cloud that indicated God’s presence in the Old Testament.
The Bible Panorama
John 1; Psalm 11; 2 Samuel 16
One interesting thing about the gospel of John is that there is no genealogy. But John stresses the divinity of Christ; since Christ is God, there is no genealogy, for God has always existed. I just got goosebumps while typing that because I cannot wrap my head around something/someone always existing. I just can’t fathom that. Can you? Eternity doesn’t fit in my brain. Oddly, I don’t have a lot of trouble thinking about eternity forward. It’s eternity backward that boggles me.
John begins by describing Jesus as God right from the beginning. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (v 1) “Word” is “logos,” and, in this case, refers to Christ. This is evidenced by verse 14, And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John packs a lot of information in a short amount of writing. By the end of chapter one, Jesus has already called four disciples. Oddly, though, almost the entire second half of John’s gospel is taken up by the last week of Jesus’s life.
Psalm 11 describes the Lord in his temple.
The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face. (vv 4-7)
David has settled the matter of trust in this Psalm. He takes refuge in the Lord, and will not flee trouble.
2 Samuel 16 includes the interesting event of the cursing of David by Shimei. David’s men want to kill Shimei, but David will not allow it, stating that if God has told this man to curse him and throw stones at him, who is he to object. So David and his men continued down the road, while Shimei followed along, throwing rocks and spewing curses at David. Verse 14 says that David and his men “arrived weary at the Jordan.” I imagine so.
As the scene shifts to Jerusalem, Absalom has entered the city and taken reign. At the advice of Ahithophel, Absalom pitches a tent on the roof and had sex with all of David’s concubines, in full sight of all Israel. Nathan’s prophecy in chapter 12 has been fulfilled!
Father, I praise you today for your sovereign hand in our lives, even though I may not be able to see it. I pray that you give us wisdom to know what is right for us. Help us to know what we should be learning from our current circumstance. I pray that Christi can either be gotten out of this situation (with something better), or that the situation would drastically change. Something needs to happen. In the meantime, give us patience to wait while we depend on you for strength. Whatever the case, I pray that you lay your hand on Christi this morning and give her whatever she needs to get through this day. Give her strength for this day only, and no worries about what tomorrow may bring.
Help me to know how to pray, not only for Christi and us, but for anyone else for whom I might be praying. May my sympathies never get in the way of what I should be praying for. Rather, I pray that I might fully identify with my Savior and his sacrifice for our sin. I also pray that, as I continue to ponder the event of the ascension, you would help me glean from it what I need. Teach me, Lord. Teach me. Open my mind and my spiritual eyes that I may see what it is that I need to learn.
Like David, I declare that you are my refuge, dear God! You are my fortress, my rock, and my refuge. I will hide in you. I will reside in you! My very life depends on you, both now and forever. Suddenly, I am drawn to the act of breathing; I ponder my heartbeat; I realize that all of this happens only by your grace! I ponder the miracle that makes my fingers move to type these letters. There are things that are happening inside my body that I will never fully comprehend, all because you put it together. I am, O glorious God, fearfully and wonderfully made! I praise you, my God.
Your grace is sufficient. Keep teaching me this.
One day, Jesus will return just as he left. Visibly and on a cloud. I believe it.
Grace and peace, friends.