It’s Tuesday, March 27, 2012. It’s a cool 59 degrees, this morning, but the high will be in the mid eighties. It looks like March will give a final gasp of storminess, Friday, with potential thunderstorms in the forecast. If the forecast holds true, April will start out rather mild. I can’t see the Easter forecast yet…it doesn’t go that far.
My mother’s birthday is on Easter this year. So we will be visiting with her that day. If they are able, we will attend church with them. If they are not, we won’t…we’ll just visit with them and have lunch. What??? Not go to church on EASTER??? You know…I really don’t have that much of a problem with that. For the true Christian, Easter is just another Sunday. *Fights off excommunication threats…* Seriously…we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ every Sunday! In fact, that’s why we attend church on Sunday (well, most of us do…there are a few branches that still believe Saturday is the day that we should worship).
There is one more day in this “Biggest Loser” challenge. If I ever talk about doing something like this again, someone please remind me how weary I am of this competition. I will be so glad after that final weigh-in tomorrow. At this point, I have to say that, no matter what the result of the competition, everyone who ended up losing weight is a winner. I’ve been in third place for several weeks. If I at least stay in third, I win some cash. If I can advance to second or first, I win more cash. I toyed with the idea of not eating at all today. But frankly, it’s just not worth putting myself through that. I’ll be very strict today, though. If I can drop one more pound by tomorrow morning, I will have lost 46 pounds in 10 weeks…almost five pounds a week! And a total of 12.64% loss! I’m sorry if some are getting tired of hearing about this…it won’t be nearly as prevalent after Thursday (the day the winner is announced).
Enough of that stuff…
Father, I pray that you will teach me something today. Give me something to “chew on” as I travel to work today. Keep me mindful throughout this day of what you have shown me this morning.
My Utmost For His Highest
“Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” Revelation 4:1
If I think I am living up to the highest standards I can, God will challenge me to go higher. “When you get higher up, you face other temptations and characteristics.” Oddly, both Satan and God will used the “strategy of elevation” in our lives. When the devil gets us in an elevated place, our whole sense of propriety gets screwed up. We get high and lift up ourselves! And it’s like being balanced on a tightrope…we don’t dare move for fear of spoiling it. “But when God elevates you by His grace into the heavenly places, instead of finding a pinnacle to cling to, you find a great tableland where it’s easy to move.” What a great word picture that is! There is safety in God’s “high places!”
Chambers challenges us to compare this week in our “spiritual history” to the same week last year. So I looked back at this day’s devotional blog last year. Turns out it was Sunday. I’m not sure where we went to church that day…probably City View Church. We had not yet discovered The Exchange. Although I can’t see a lot of difference between that writing and today’s, I know that God has definitely called me to a higher place. In light of this, Chambers also encourages, “Never let God give you one point of truth which you do not instantly live up to.” That’s why I pray for something to chew on as I drive to work…something to ponder during the day. If God shows me something here, I don’t want to forget about it by lunchtime. It needs to become part of my life. This is the great challenge with morning devotions, you know. Making something real out of them…it’s terribly easy for it to just be a cursory few minutes of casual Bible reading. As soon as God reveals something me, I need to start living it!
“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-21
Tabletalk continues looking at the Heidelberg Catechism, which, in turn, is examining the doctrines in the Apostles’ Creed. Question 29 focuses “on Christ’s role as Savior, looking to the name Jesus and its significance.” The passage quoted above is one that shows Jesus’s role as Savior being tied in with his name. The name Jesus is a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yehoshua, or “Joshua,” which means “Yahweh is salvation.” “In that child, the name ‘Yahweh is salvation’ reached its fulfillment because it was given to the incarnation of Yahweh Himself.”
It was said that Jesus would save his people from their sins. There are two aspects of this truth. The first is that he would, indeed, save us from the penalty of sin through justification by bearing the wrath of God on the cross. The second is that he would save us from the power of sin through sanctification. “Having been exalted to the Father’s right hand, Christ pours out His Holy Spirit on His brethren that they might receive new hearts, empowering them to stare down sin and live in holiness.” I like that phrase, “stare down sin.” So, we see that the role of Jesus was not simply to save us from the penalty of sin, but also to enable us to live a life with power to resist sin.
The Bible Panorama
Luke 4:1–30; Judg. 1–3
In the Luke passage today, it begins with the temptations of Jesus. This came at a time when he would be physically weak (as well as emotionally) because he had just fasted for forty days. He was hungry. And the devil tempted him first at that point of weakness. “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” We know that Jesus could have done that…he fed 5000+ people with a few loaves of the stuff. But Jesus, even in his weakened state, did not succumb. His defense has been touted for centuries as evidence of the importance of Scripture memory. Jesus quoted Scripture at the devil. In all three of the temptations, Jesus was ready with a verse of Old Testament Scripture. Of course, the devil knew some of that, too, because, in the final temptation, Satan quoted from the Psalms. After the temptations, Jesus went back to Galilee, “in the power of the Spirit,” and it was then that he began teaching in their synagogues. After that, he went to Nazareth, where the people got all indignant with him because he was, after all, just a carpenter’s son.
Today I start reading Judges, the second of the historical books of the Old Testament. There are differing opinions as to when it was written, possibly between 1043 and 1004 BC. The author is also not clear, but could be Samuel. The MacArthur Study Bible says that the Jewish Talmud names Samuel as the author. Some of the key things in Judges are Israel’s failure to completely conquer Canaan, the appointment of thirteen judges to rule Israel after the death of Joshua, Israel’s roller-coaster ride between faithfulness and decline, highlighted by the constant repetition of the phrase, “And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord…” Chrispin states, “The reminder is that humanity is unable to rule itself righteously without divine involvement.”
Judges 1 chronicles more of the battle to conquer Canaan, including the capture of Jerusalem. However, it ends with the tragic listing of tribes that did not successfully drive out the inhabitants, instead subjecting them to forced labor. At the beginning of chapter 2, the angel of the Lord calls them out on their disobedience. They are told that, as a result, “I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.” Almost immediately after the death of Joshua, the slide begins. 2:11 says, “And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals.” The remainder of chapter 2 seems to be a summary of what is to come. Chapter 3 lists the nations that will be a hindrance to Israel, and then begins the stream of judges. First was Othniel, then Ehud. After Ehud was Shamgar, who only got one verse.
Father, I do pray for you to take me even higher. But not so that I can look down and proclaim, “Look at me, how high I am!” Why then? Because I desire to be closer to you. I also desire to walk around on this “tableland” that Chambers speaks of. I long for safety in your arms. Do I feel safe now? Yes, to some degree I do. While there are always little things that threaten my peace, I rarely feel threatened, right now. Nevertheless, there are still things that trouble me. For some reason, my spirit was troubled yesterday evening. I don’t know why. I just know I was in a bad mood. I pray that your Spirit would take over when I get like that…give me your peace. Let not my heart be troubled. You, the sovereign God of the universe, have deemed it acceptable to fellowship with me, and others like me. I, who am nothing, am able to converse with you, who are everything! This truth is more than I can fathom. I feel safe, yes. I feel joy. Let my circumstances not dictate my feelings of safety and joy, though. Peace is from you, not from this world. Nothing in this house can bring me peace. You are the only source of true peace in my life. So let me climb higher, being prepared to face a totally new set of temptations and challenges that come with this. I am not satisfied to stay here. Draw me closer.
I thank you, Jesus, for your role of Savior, both in justification and sanctification. I believe that we, too often, focus only on the justification and not enough on the sanctification. You have given us the power to resist sin. I have experienced this ability…this power. It is amazing. The very thought that, through the power of your Spirit, I am able to resist sin which plagued me at other points in my life…this is, again, something that I am barely able to comprehend. But I praise you for this!
Father, I pray for memory…give me Scriptural ammunition to use against temptation. I thank you for the example of Christ, who withstood all of the possible temptations that Satan could throw at him.
I pray for Jennifer this morning, Lord, who finds herself in a less than satisfactory home situation. I pray that you strengthen her to deal with this in a positive way.
Your grace is sufficient.
Let us find that “tableland,” not a treacherous peak, where we are safe with God and able to walk around in his presence.
Grace and peace, friends.