Once For All

Sunday morning, getting ready for worship time. I’m curious to see how today goes. Apparently, our pastor is planning to preach, in spite of his car-totaling wreck on Friday. He was in the hospital briefly, but went home with a possible sprained shoulder.

We had a wonderful day yesterday, for Christi’s birthday. My parents came to town (my Dad’s birthday is Wednesday), and we all went to Zio’s Italian restaurant for lunch. We had a great lunch, then some of us went to Half-Price Books (Steph, my parents, and I), and the other three (Christi, Rachel, and Justin)(yes, I use the Oxford)…well, I’m not sure where they went, but we all met at home later. Then we had pie. Lemon yogurt/jello pie. It was delicious. We sat around and talked for a while, then Mom and Dad had to leave. Rachel and Justin stayed a while longer, wherein we talked some more, tried in vain to think of something fun to do (we wound up starting “The Office” series over on Netflix), and eventually went across the street to Fogata’s for dinner. The nice people at Fogata’s sang “Happy Birthday” to Christi, and gave her a free desert. Good times. Great times!

Today’s Bible readings:
Hebrews 9; Ezekiel 17-18; Proverbs 26:13-22

Father, teach me something from your word today.

The writer of Hebrews describes the setup of the Holy Places in the temple. He then makes it clear that, as long as this arrangement was in place, the sacrifices offered are imperfect. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. (9:8-10) There’s a very important “but” in verse 11. But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. So, then, Christ, the perfect High Priest, has entered the true “holy places,” and secured our eternal salvation with his perfect sacrifice. Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. (v. 15) The holy place that Christ has entered is not one made with human hands. Rather, he has entered into heaven itself, “to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.” (v. 24) Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (vv. 25-26) “Once for all…to put away sin.” This is the Gospel, folks. Here is an old hymn by Phillip P. Bliss:

Free from the law, O happy condition,
Jesus has bled and there is remission,
Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall,
Grace hath redeemed us once for all.

Once for all, O sinner, receive it,
Once for all, O brother, believe it;
Cling to the cross, the burden will fall,
Christ hath redeemed us once for all.

Now we are free, there’s no condemnation,
Jesus provides a perfect salvation.
“Come unto Me,” O hear His sweet call,
Come, and He saves us once for all.

Once for all, O sinner, receive it,
Once for all, O brother, believe it;
Cling to the cross, the burden will fall,
Christ hath redeemed us once for all.

“Children of God,” O glorious calling,
Surely His grace will keep us from falling;
Passing from death to life at His call;
Blessed salvation once for all.

Once for all, O sinner, receive it,
Once for all, O brother, believe it;
Cling to the cross, the burden will fall,
Christ hath redeemed us once for all.

Verses 27-28 assure us that, since Christ has come once to deal with sin, the second time, he will come to fully redeem us who are waiting for him. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (Verse 27 has also been used to refute the belief in reincarnation.)

Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! (Psalm 106:1)

In today’s reading from Grace For the Moment, Max Lucado gives us a definition of worship. “Worship is a voluntary act of gratitude offered by the saved to the Savior, by the healed to the Healer, and by the delivered to the Deliverer.” I like that definition. It’s not definitive, as there are many good definitions of worship, but it is definitely a good one. Max also cautions us against trying to make a “science” out of worship.

Father, I praise you for the perfect sacrifice of Jesus, that was made “once for all.” We don’t have to “get saved” over and over again. He has done it once, and that is all that is needed, because it is perfect. We look forward to the time when you will return to ultimately save us. We pray for the strength to live a life worthy of that return. We know that it is impossible to do without your Holy Spirit, so we pray for the indwelling power of the Spirit in our lives. This is starting to sound like a “church prayer.” But, Father, you know that my words are sincere and that I am not just parroting words that I have heard before.
My worship to you is, indeed, a voluntary act of gratitude that I offer to you, for you are, indeed, my Savior, my Healer, and my Deliverer. I praise you, Lord, and worship you daily. And now, we depart to go to a worship celebration where we will worship you with others of like mind. I pray that this morning’s worship will be a delight to you, as we sing songs of praise and hear your word spoken to us. I especially lift up Joel this morning, and ask you for extra strength for him. I pray for rapid healing for whatever was hurt in his body in the wreck on Friday.

Jesus died, “once for all.” Glorious news. I hope you will find time to worship him today.

Grace and peace, friends.

Back Into the Old Routine

I don’t quite know where to begin with this today. I will start by saying that that the weekend in Glen Rose was glorious. Hopefully, I will get around to blogging about that on my Other Blog later. We have pictures to share, as well. But after we got home, it was the same old thing. Rachel graciously stayed at the house with Stephanie while we were gone, and was doing some testing for school on her when we got home. As soon as we got home, the trouble started. Instantly, Stephanie didn’t want to cooperate any more. We got her to, though, and she finished the tests. But then an argument started over what time she was going to leave to take her to “Echo,” the Sunday night church youth meeting. Rachel was going to drop Steph off on the way home. Stephanie had told us it started at 6:30. At 5:45, she started asking what time they were leaving. We all looked at the clock and said, probably around 6pm. “But everyone starts getting there at 5:45!” “Well, you told us 6:30!” Somehow, we managed to jump from that argument to another one about school. When we went to pick her up at 8pm, that argument continued. She’s stressed out about school. Now she’s talking about quitting altogether. Granted, we had threatened her with withdrawal if we had to leave work to pick her up again, so I’m not sure why it bothers me that she is thinking dropping out. And I’m not sure why I feel like a failure if my kid drops out of school. It’s certainly not doing anything for her, and, even if she stays and graduates, she won’t have a “high school” education. Needless to say…we are very down this morning. The thing that has us boggled the most, I believe, is that week before last was nearly perfect for her at school. We’re not sure what has happened. We need serious prayer.

Today’s Bible readings:
1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11; Jeremiah 15-16; Proverbs 21:16-23

The passage beginning in Thessalonians 4:13 describes the second coming of Christ. Paul is encouraging the people by assuring them that, when Christ comes, those who have already fallen “asleep” will be raised first. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (vv. 16-18) I’m not convinced that this is describing anything other than Jesus’s second coming. Many people see this as something called the “rapture” (a word the Bible never uses…), but I’m not sure I believe that. One reason is that, in chapter 5, Paul calls this thing he just wrote about the “day of the Lord.” When Scripture uses that phrase, it is referring to the final coming of Jesus. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. (vv. 2-3) Paul encourages the people to be ready, so that they are not surprised. Jesus, himself, even cautioned his disciples to be ready, because we don’t know when this will occur.

I want to include something that I underlined in the weekend reading from Tabletalk Magazine. The reading was called “Blame It on Babylon.” Essentially, the author says that we all live in “Babylon,” which is not a place so much as it is a cultural influence. At one point, he provides a possible solution for the Church. “It’s being supremely relevant to a dying world by smashing the idol of relevance. If you want to always be relevant, you must deal with the things that touch eternity, and if you are dealing with eternal things, you always seem a bit irrelevant.” The reason this quote resonated within me the way it does is that, for many years, I have believed that one of the biggest enemies of the Church is “relevance.” The modern (or “post-modern”) church has bowed down to the “idol of relevance” to the point that it has made itself irrelevant to the Kingdom. In order to have a true impact on our world, the Church must smash that idol.

Father, I look forward to the day when you come back to take us home. Right now, I am so weary of this battle. There seems to be no end to it. It doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy life, because I do. But I know that the life that is waiting for me is infinitely better than the one here. I pray that I am ready. By your Holy Spirit, I pray that you help me be alert and ready when Christ comes, should I be alive still. If not, I will rejoice with all the rest of the saints when our bodies are raised to live with you for eternity.
I pray that the church can be “relevant” without falling prey to the “idol of relevance.” The only way to be truly relevant is to preach your word with no alterations; with no clever marketing schemes; to understand that there is nothing that we can do to make you more beautiful than you are.

Father, we pray desperately for some help with Stephanie. I think I can truthfully say that we are at our wits’ end. If she needs to drop out of school, then so be it, but I pray that you help Christi and me to not feel like such failures if this happens. Help us to find our value in you, not in the achievements (or lack thereof) of our children. We have tried to do the best we know how with them, and that’s pretty much that. Sure, we made choices that weren’t ideal. We could have done better, we acknowledge that. But the way we feel right now, Father…we feel like we’ve been “sucker-punched.” We need some affirmation from you today. I pray that we have a good day at work as we go back after this “vacation.”

Grace and peace, friends.

Don’t Bury the Talents

I’m going to jump right into the Bible readings this morning.

The parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1-13 communicates the message of the last few verses of chapter 24. Be ready, because you don’t know when the “bridegroom” is coming. The Reformation Study Bible adds this note: “Being ready means being prepared for a long delay; short-lived zeal is inadequate.” I look at this, and I wonder…is my zeal adequate? I have lived a life of devotion to Jesus Christ. As long as I can remember, I have been following Jesus. Sure, there have been times where my path was crooked (times that I almost lost it altogether), but NEVER have I walked away from my Lord. I have watched friends over the years fade away. Through it all, I have held on to my devotion, my love for Jesus. I am not boasting of anything in myself. I know that it is the grace of God that has held me. I know that, somehow, he still has a plan for me. My efforts to serve him have been feeble, at best. This is not false humility. This is simply recognition of my inability to do anything at all outside of his grace and mercy. Last night, on Facebook, Joel Engle asked us what our favorite song on his new cd was. My answer was a song that he wrote called “Without You.” The reason is that the lyrics to this song describe perfectly my inadequacy to do anything without the mercy and grace of God.
Am I ready? Do I have enough oil in my lamp? I don’t know, but I’m still waiting, and I haven’t given up on his coming.

Jesus tells another parable in verses 14-30, the parable of the talents. Many people have “literalized” this parable to mean talents in the same way we think of them today. Jesus was referring to monetary values, of course. Is the other interpretation valid? Perhaps. My take on this parable is that, whatever our Lord gives us, we need to use for his glory. The one servant buried his in the ground. That was of no use to anyone.

In Isaiah 44, there is prophecy concerning the number of believers that will spring up.
3 For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.
4 They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams.
5 This one will say, ‘I am the LORD’s,’ another will call on the name of Jacob, and another will write on his hand, ‘The LORD’s,’ and name himself by the name of Israel.”

I am part of the fulfillment of that prophecy, and so are you, if you call on the name of the Lord.
Once again, the Lord declares his uniqueness as God.
:6 Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.
7 Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen.
8 Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.”

There is no God besides our God!
The next section of Isaiah is a fascinating description of the folly of idolatry. When put the way Isaiah writes this, it is almost humorous, but also tragic. Verses 9-20 describe the process of making an idol out the same wood that is used to warm the house and cook the food.
14 He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it.
15 Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it.
16 Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!”
17 And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”
18 They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand.
19 No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?”
20 He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”

The Lord calls on Jacob to remember. He tells Israel that they will not be forgotten. Then the most beautiful words…”I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.”

Father, I praise you for your mercy and grace, without which I could do nothing. I can’t even breathe without your Spirit, Lord. I pray that I will keep myself ready, waiting for your return. Let me not “fall asleep” as I wait. Let my zeal for you and for your word not diminish. And I pray that I will use whatever it is you give me, whether it be money or literal talents, to glorify you and to share your mercy and grace with those around me. Let me never be guilty of worshiping something that I have made with my own hands (or that anyone else has made with their hands). Let my worship never be directed at another person. You are the object of my worship and praise. You and you alone are worthy of my praise.

I continue to pray for our friend Kathy. She had to reschedule her followup appointment on the mammogram yesterday, due to other difficulties. I also pray for our dear friend Amy, who has a job interview today. She was hit by the cuts in education budgets this year.

I pray that this day will be a good day, Lord. Let Stephanie have a great day at school today. Yesterday’s ARD meeting seems to have gone very well. We also pray for wisdom and guidance as we continue to work out this guardianship issue.

We continue to pray for much-needed rain in our area, Lord. I also pray for the extinguishing of the many wildfires that are raging in Texas.

Use what you have for his glory, and stay ready.

Grace and peace, friends.

The Righteous Right Hand of God

We had a good day of worship yesterday, as pastor Joel Engle shared some of the new songs he has written for worship, and pastor Ben Carr gave us a message on why he loves his church, going along with our current “I ❤ My Church" campaign. The main point of his message was "I love my church because Jesus loves the church." And of course, the church is not a building or the staff or the things that we do. The church is us. The church is you (if you are a believer in Christ) and me. My worship experience was hindered, though, sadly. For the first service I sat at the very back, because I would be leaving early to come back home to pick up Stephanie for the second service. When I got back with her, I was recruited to run the video camera for the podcast in the second service because the guy who was doing that had to leave. So there I was at the very back again for the second service. The reason that this hinders my worship (I did worship, don't misunderstand me…worship is not dependent upon sound quality or anything like that) is that, sitting in the back, the intensity is not as strong. I like being up front with most of the other people behind me. That way, I'm encouraged by the sound of the other people singing, as well as the band's playing. The sound quality of the music was fine. But there is just something not right about being all the way in the back. I haven't been a "back row Baptist" for years. I like sitting close to the front. Now I know it sounds dangerously like I am attaching some condition to my ability to worship. That's not true at all. I can worship anywhere. It's just more intense when I'm in the middle of a group of people who are also worshiping. There is strength in numbers, and I believe that's one reason we are encouraged commanded to worship together, corporately.

Bible readings from Discovering the Bible, by Gordon L. Addington:
Isaiah 41
The Lord encourages Israel in verses 8-10: But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. In the following verses, the Lord goes on to say that their enemies will be “put to shame and confounded.” Can we claim these promises for ourselves? This is one thing that I have been somewhat confused about for a long time. There are many promises in Scripture that seem to be exclusive to Israel. I have heard many over the years take these and “claim” them for us, saying that, since we are the “new Israel,” all of these promises apply to us. I have to say, I’m on the fence on this one. That being said, I have no problem proclaiming that the Lord is my strength and my helper. I believe that God will uphold me with his “righteous right hand.” I also believe that if I walk in his Spirit, he will “put to shame” and confound my enemies. I believe with all my heart when he says, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” (v. 13)

Verses 17-18 say, When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the LORD will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. We could certainly use some of that right now. I don’t remember when the last time it rained (significantly) in our area. Yeah, we got a couple of hours of a nice soft rain a couple of weeks ago, but that wasn’t nearly enough to put a stop to this drought. And it’s a beautiful 72 degrees in Fort Worth right now, with no highs over 100 predicted over the next 10 days. There is also zero percent chance of rain for the next 10 days! Father, we need rain desperately in our area! We pray that you would supernaturally bring an end to this drought. I say “supernaturally” because the forecast shows no chance of rain. It would be a miracle if it suddenly appeared. Verse 20 explains that, if this were to happen, people would see and know, may consider and understand together, that the hand of the LORD has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.

Matthew 24:1-28
There is much that is discussed and, possibly, misunderstood in Matthew 24 as Jesus talks to his disciples about the signs of his coming and the “close of the age.” But to me the most important lesson in this passage is not trying to understand what the “abomination of desolation” means or any of that. It is verses 26-28. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. When Jesus comes back it will be unmistakable.

Father, I pray that we will not be led astray by false prophets as we anticipate the return of Jesus. Let us take the words of Christ, himself, to heart, as he tells us that his return will be like lightning flashing across the sky. It will be unmistakable. We will all see it, and there will be no denying it. Let us not listen to the ramblings of false teachers and preachers as the day approaches.
I take comfort in knowing that you are my helper and my strength. I pray that I will always avail myself of the resources that come from your hand as I live my life. Too often I find myself worrying or stressing over things, when I know in my heart that you have it all well in hand. You are sovereign, Lord, and you have all things under you control. Let us, the Church, never forget that!

I pray that, as we observe this holiday, we will be safe and have a restful day. I also, as already done above, pray for rain in our area. We are desperate, Lord.

If things look bad or out of control for you, remember who’s in charge. And it’s not “Charles.”

Grace and peace, friends.

There Will Be A Day

It’s Tuesday morning. I had to stop before I was finished yesterday morning, as is often the case on Monday mornings, since I go in to work an hour earlier on Mondays. I could get up earlier, but…
Yesterday was one of those afternoons/evenings where my spirit just kept getting more negative. You know how they go. Christi wound up having to work late, and I went out to get some BBQ. There were four or five cars in the drive through, and they weren’t processing orders the way they usually do, so it took longer. On the way back, some guy crossed the road to turn left and stopped with the back half of his SUV blocking the left lane (which I happened to be driving in), so I almost spilled BBQ sauce all over the front seat. Then we had a bit of a struggle with Stephanie over an unexpected ARD meeting that had been scheduled for next Tuesday, after Christi is already taking off Friday to take her to an appointment regarding Steph’s SSI benefits, AND having to take off Monday to help her mother move again. And then to top it all off, the Red Sox lost to the Rangers. Admittedly, the last thing was the least bothersome…but I just didn’t do well last night. But today’s another day, and we’ll try again. Moving forward and not worrying about what is behind.

Bible readings from Discovering the Bible, by Gordon L. Addington:
Isaiah 24
This chapter speaks of judgment on the entire earth.
1 Behold, the LORD will empty the earth and make it desolate, and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants.
Could that be speaking of earthquakes? He goes on to speak of how lines of demarcation between people will be destroyed. There will be no difference between slave and master, creditor and debtor. 3 The earth shall be utterly empty and utterly plundered; for the LORD has spoken this word. Verse 11 says all joy has grown dark; the gladness of the earth is banished.
But then suddenly, in verse 14, there are songs of praise! I guess verse 13 describes a remnant (the grape harvest?) which praises the Lord for salvation.
14 They lift up their voices, they sing for joy; over the majesty of the LORD they shout from the west.
15 Therefore in the east give glory to the LORD; in the coastlands of the sea, give glory to the name of the LORD, the God of Israel.
16 From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One. But I say, “I waste away, I waste away. Woe is me! For the traitors have betrayed, with betrayal the traitors have betrayed.”
Isaiah is simply unable to join in the praise, because, as God’s prophet, he sees the corruption around him.
The ensuing earthquake is terrifying.
18 He who flees at the sound of the terror shall fall into the pit, and he who climbs out of the pit shall be caught in the snare. For the windows of heaven are opened, and the foundations of the earth tremble.
19 The earth is utterly broken, the earth is split apart, the earth is violently shaken.
20 The earth staggers like a drunken man; it sways like a hut; its transgression lies heavy upon it, and it falls, and will not rise again.

When the Lord reigns in his ultimate glory, the sun won’t even be able to shine, out of shame.
23 Then the moon will be confounded and the sun ashamed, for the LORD of hosts reigns on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and his glory will be before his elders.
Perhaps the most important message through all of this is that, when Christ returns, status will not matter. All will be affected in the same way.

Proverbs 6:6-11
Here we have a warning against being a sluggard.
6 Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.
7 Without having any chief, officer, or ruler,
8 she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.
9 How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,
11 and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.

There are, if I remember correctly, quite a few proverbs that describe the sluggard. But here, there is a warning against being lazy to the point that poverty will overtake. We are all to be about our business; whatever work the Lord gives us to do with our hands, we are to be doing it, not being lazy, not being sluggards. Otherwise, before we know it, poverty and want will strike.

Matthew 17:1-13
1 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.
3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.
4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified.
7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.”
8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
9 And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.”
10 And the disciples asked him, “Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?”
11 He answered, “Elijah does come, and he will restore all things.
12 But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.”
13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.

This is the event most commonly known as “The Transfiguration.” What happened here? Well, this occurs six days (the timeline is exact) after Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. This is a supernatural validation of Jesus’s ministry, and, in some way, a preparation for what is coming next in his mission. The appearance of Moses and Elijah at this event tie together the Law, the Prophets, and the Gospel. The message of God will soon be complete, and we see that the Law and the Prophets point to Jesus Christ. Peter got all excited, as is his way, and wants to put up some tents, but before he can even get finished talking, we hear, for the second time, a voice from heaven declaring who Jesus is: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” This absolutely terrified the three disciples. They fell on their faces before Jesus, and when he touched them and had them rise, no one else was there. As they came down the mountain, Jesus told them not to tell anyone about this vision until he was resurrected. They begin asking him about Elijah, and Jesus tells them that Elijah (as prophesied by Malachi 4:5) has already come, in the person of John the Baptist.

Isaiah 25-26
Isaiah begins chapter 25 with a declaration of praise.
1 O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.
2 For you have made the city a heap, the fortified city a ruin; the foreigners’ palace is a city no more; it will never be rebuilt.
3 Therefore strong peoples will glorify you; cities of ruthless nations will fear you.
4 For you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat; for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall,
5 like heat in a dry place. You subdue the noise of the foreigners; as heat by the shade of a cloud, so the song of the ruthless is put down.

The Lord is, indeed, our stronghold when we are poor, needy, or in distress; when we are battered by the storm and heat. Heaven help us if we are one of “the ruthless!” A child of God should never act in a way that could be described as “ruthless.”
Then we have a description of a most glorious event!
6 On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
7 And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations.
8 He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.

The Lord will swallow up death forever! Hallelujah! We have waited for the Lord, the his salvation would come to us! (v. 9) We will be glad and rejoice in the salvation of the Lord!
Chapter 26 is a song of praise sung by Judah. Verses 3-4 are popular memory verses: You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock. As the righteous of God, our path is made level (v. 7).
The prophet expresses great desire for God in verse 9: My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. He prays in verse 11 that the world might see the zeal the Lord has for his people. The resurrection of the saints is predicted in verse 19: Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.

Proverbs 6:12-19
Verses 12-15 describe the telltale signs of a crooked, wicked person. He speaks with crooked speech, he winks, he signals even with his feet, points with his finger. He is constantly devising evil plans.
Then, in verses 16-19, there is a list of seven things that the Lord despises. Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. I have heard messages that claim that the last one is the one the Lord hates most, but I don’t necessarily believe that. But we should take note that people who sow discord among God’s people are definitely in the top seven list if the things that God hates.

Father, this morning, I pray that I might do better at any tests or trials that come my way today. I pray that my aggravation level will be lower and that my tolerance level will be higher. Help me to remember that I belong to you. I pray that you keep this list of seven things at the front of my mind today, so that I might avoid all manner of things that displease you.
Along with Isaiah, Lord, I celebrate your salvation. I thank you that you are a fortress to us when we are poor and needy; that you are a shelter to us when we are in the middle of a storm or being battered by the heat. I pray that my mind will be centered on you so that I might achieve this perfect peace that Isaiah speaks of. I look forward to the day when you will ultimately swallow up death forever; that day when there will be no more tears, no more sorrow, no more pain. May I not try to hold onto the things of this world in light of the fact that this day will eventually be here.

I praise you for that coming day, Father! Maranatha, Lord Jesus! I look forward to the day when I see you face to face. But until that day, help me to hold onto you, Jesus!

I pray for this day, Father. Give Stephanie another great day at school. Let us not have struggles at home this evening. I pray that she will be a light to everyone around her this year as she shines with your love in her life. Give Christi and me a good day at work today.

Yes, there will be a day. But until that day, we must hold on to Christ with all we’ve got.

Grace and peace, friends