Today is Saturday, the thirteenth of March, 2021, in the third week of Lent.
Peace be with you!
Oddly, that number of days does not divide equally by 63, which is how many times I have traveled around the sun, as of early this morning.
22 days until Resurrection Sunday
We had another great time, yesterday. After a brunch of eggs and accessories (and a somewhat failed experiment with an egg bite maker), C and I headed up to the Electric Starship Arcade, where we spent a couple of hours playing various video games and pinball machines. It was great fun! They have a Tempest game, which is one of our favorites. The pinball machines were also fun, but I have to say I miss the days of the more simple machines. These days, there are so many flashing lights and things to hit and ramps to aim for . . . it’s really hard to tell what’s going on.
We also played Guitar Hero for about a half hour, which was also fun. I played Pac Man, Centipede, Q-Bert, and a few others, including a golf game and a bowling game. It was great fun. It only cost us $10 to play all we wanted. I’m sure we will be back.
Today, we will attend our WW Workshop at 10:30, after which we will figure out our lunch plans. Right now, I think Hoffbrau Steakhouse is in the lead, but I’m also thinking about seafood/pasta, as well. I’m probably planning to go into my “weekly” points for the day.
At this point, however, there are no other plans. I need to get the oil changed in my car, and C has said she would do that for me today, since it’s my birthday.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Giver of all good things, we thank you: for health and vigour, for the air that gives the breath of life, the sun that warms us, and the good food that makes us strong; for happy homes and for the friends we love, for all that makes it good to live. Make us thankful and eager to repay, by cheerfulness and kindliness, and by a readiness to help others. Freely we have received; let us freely give, in the name of him who gave his life for us, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen. (Giver of All Good Things, Thomas Ken (1637-1711)
But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.”
(Psalms 50:23 NLT)
Today I am grateful:
- To be beginning my 64th time around the sun, today
- That I am alive and breathing
- For Tempest, Pac Man, Guitar Hero, and pinball
- That Christ died for us while we were “still sinners”
- That, because of this work of Christ, our Father is not angry with us any more
Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year
LENT – DAY 22
They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!”
(Isaiah 6:3 NLT)
Take a moment to quietly express gratitude to the Lord for something in your life.
A psalm of David.
Ascribe to the LORD, you heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon leap like a calf, Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the LORD strikes with flashes of lightning. The voice of the LORD shakes the desert; the LORD shakes the Desert of Kadesh. The voice of the LORD twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD is enthroned as King forever. The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.
(Psalms 29:1-11 NIV)
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
(Romans 5:6-11 NIV)
DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION
There was a course that used to be taught at The Exchange Church. It was called “Equipped for Life.” I never went through the course (mostly because they insisted on having it at 7:30 on Saturday mornings), but I know a few of the principles involved.
One of those was a loose, perhaps over-simplified, definition of “propitiation.” EFL stated that propitiation means that God is not angry with us any more.
This is a hard pill for some of us to swallow, who were raised believing in an angry, wrathful God. And, while it is true that God is angry at sin, I now believe that the Scriptures teach us that, once we have received the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as our own, and believed in Him for our salvation, God is, in fact, no longer angry at us for sin. If He were, there would be something amiss in the sacrifice of Jesus, and we believe, of course, that there is nothing at all amiss in the completed work of Christ.
And, while the definition is, as I said, a bit over-simplified, it is not inaccurate. This astonishing passage from Romans 5 bears this out. “Christ died for the ungodly,” we first see in verse 6. Verses 7 and 8 explain why this is so amazing. In human terms, it would be rare for someone to die for another person, even one who is “righteous.” Paul does allow that someone “might possible dare to die” for a “good person,” whatever that means.
But Christ died for us while we were “still sinners!”
It would probably do us well to sit on that thought for a few minutes.
God does not wait for us to get our lives together before offering salvation to us. He does not wait for us to become “good” or “righteous.” In fact, the only way that we are considered “good” or “righteous” is because of the fact stated in Romans 5:8, that Christ died for us while we were still sinners!
This is, and always has been, most astonishing to me. It is a powerful verse and displays perfectly an important piece of the Gospel message.
Then, Paul goes on, though. Since we are justified by the blood of Christ, we are also spared from the wrath of God, hence the simplified definition of propitiation, that God is not angry at us, any more. We are saved from God’s wrath. Once and for all.
Before being brought into Christ, we were enemies of God. But we have been saved through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, and will be His enemies no more. Ever. And this is the only grounds we have for boasting.
Father, I praise You for these truths. I am grateful that You are not angry with me, because of the work of Jesus Christ. Help me to remember this, each day, as I walk in Your kingdom. Thank You for the fact that Christ died for us while we were still sinners, and that You didn’t decide to wait for us to become “good” or “righteous” on our own. Because that simply would not have happened. All glory to You, Father!
Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, I praise you, worship you, and love you. On the cross you shouldered the weight of God's just anger against my sin and restored for me the righteousness and life, setting me completely free and making me right with God. There are not enough words to thank you, my Savior. Amen. (Heidelberg Catechism 17-18)
Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.
(Psalms 32:1-2 NIV)
“But I have a few complaints against you. You tolerate some among you whose teaching is like that of Balaam, who showed Balak how to trip up the people of Israel. He taught them to sin by eating food offered to idols and by committing sexual sin.”
(Revelation 2:14 NLT)
John begins the letter to the Pergamum church by displaying Christ as having a double-edged sword. If you recall, this sword was coming from the mouth of Jesus, earlier, in chapter 1. This tell us that He will have “something decisive to say,” words that will make a difference.
Eugene Peterson refers to the writer of Hebrews, who told us this:
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.
(Hebrews 4:12-13 NLT)
Peterson surmises that, because Jesus is introduced in this way, the Pergamum Christians had “become sloppy with their words . . . their faith had become fuzzy.”
However, Jesus does begin with some praise, showing that He knows that they have held fast to His name, even though they live “where Satan’s throne is.” They, just as the people of Smyrna, were experiencing persecution. This was illustrated through the life of one Antipas, a martyr from Pergamum. This church was heroic.
(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)
Father, I pray that You help us with our words. Give us wisdom to know what words to use when talking about our faith. May our words be salt and light to the world around us. All too often our words are brutal attacks on those who don’t believe like we do. We criticize and shame; help us, rather, to edify; to build up; to be uplifting and encouraging. There are plenty of critical words being spewed in the world, plenty, more than enough, hateful words. Let the words of Your people be good and true, but also filled with love, not hate. Help us to love as Jesus has loved us.
Lord, I pray diligently for unity and holiness within Your Church. We are divided, sadly, and most tragically, it is politics that divides us. I pray, Father, that Your people would get their eyes off of men and put them on Christ, the hope of glory, and our only hope of salvation. I lift up the families in our little church community, Father, that You would keep them under Your protection in whatever they need to do in their lives. I pray for wisdom for those of us who are leaders in this little band of believers. Help us to know how to best serve You and others.
I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Lord, have mercy on us Christ, have mercy on us Lord, have mercy on us
Grace and peace, friends.