Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Jesus In My Place

Psalm 22:1-31

This is a Messianic psalm - a prophetic picture of Jesus. The Holy Spirit moved David to write it, but David's heart is here also. Near despair, he cried out, "My god, my God, why have You forsaken me?" And while he sang he was delivered, "I will proclaim Your name to my brothers; I will praise you in the congregation." Between the agony and the ecstasy God intervened. David did not self-talk himself into hope. He cried out to God, and God delivered. I do not know if David understood that the Messiah to come would bear all the agony he expressed in the first verses of this psalm, but I do know that Jesus knew. David's heart's agony was born by Jesus, the Messiah. What an amazing thought. David cried out in agony of soul and God did not just deliver him. God delivered Him by sending His own Son, Jesus, to bear all of David's agony (and all ours) so that we could begin to be the people who sing forth the praises of the one who has delivered us from darkness into the kingdom of His marvelous light.

Friday, January 25, 2013

One Greater Than Jonah

Jonah 1:1-4:11

Jonah did not want to go to Ninevah. It was an Assyrian city, and the Assyrians had been enemies of his people for years. At first glance, Jonah's flight from God doesn't make sense. If God tapped you on the shoulder and said, "I want you to go and declare my judgment upon your enemies," you might jump at the chance. But, Jonah knew something about God. "I knew that You are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to become angry, rich in faithful love, and One who relents from sending disaster." (Jonah 4:2)  It is sad how poorly we read the Old Testament, how many of us don't get that the God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament and that "The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9) Jonah knew that if he preached to his enemies, they might repent, and then God would forgive. He didn't want that. He wanted his enemies judged. Do you? Or are you ready for God to forgive and deliver them, just as He forgave and delivered the Ninevites from His own wrath?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

When It Seems Like Forever

1 Kings 8:1-21

It took a large part of two lifetimes to see the temple built in Jerusalem. David wanted to build it, and was blessed by God for that desire. Solomon, his son, took all that David had prepared and added to it, finally completing a place to honor God. It must have been an incredible day when Solomon turned toward the people and said, "May the Lord God of Israel be praised! He spoke directly to my father David, and He has fulfilled the promise by His power." It had been approximately 500 years since their deliverance from Egypt. David reigned for decades, died, and then Solomon reigned and began work. It must have seemed like forever, but God was faithful to His Word and His glory finally filled that place. It may seem like forever, but He will fulfill His Word.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

When The Snake Looked Like Jesus

Numbers 21:4-9

It seems strange that God would tell His people to create a bronze snake, mount it on a poll, and look toward this image for healing and life, but He did. The people had complained that God was not providing for their needs, and the consequence was an invasion of poisonous snakes that bit the people so that many of them died. When they repented, Moses prayed and God told them to make an image of their curse, hang it on the pole, so that whoever chose to look upon the image of their curse would be saved. Then Jesus said that His crucifixion was like the snake, that He must be lifted up (becoming the curse for us), so that whoever would look on Him in faith would be saved. It's a strange story. It's an even stranger reality that the Son of God would take on the sins that we committed against Him, bearing the penalty for our disobedient to Him, and offering us redemption from our rebellion against Him . . . all by His own will and hand.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

God's Provision

Exodus 16:1-35

"I'm starving," is a phrase spoken by children in every age. The immature are so controlled by physical desires. Whether its our children, the children of Israel, or ourselves,  we starve foro attention, pleasure, and prestige. "I'm starving," sounds like a complaint against parents, but it isn't. While Israel directed their complaints against Moses and Aaron, they were too immature to realize their complaint was really against God.  Since He is sovereign and the faithful father of His children, to complain about circumstances is to complain about the God in charge of our circumstances. We correct our children. They are not starving. They are just hungry. Yet we still put food down on the table in front of them. God did the same with Israel.  More importantly, many of us don't trust that Jesus is a sufficient provision for our salvation. We spend our lives trying to work for our salvation rather than working out our salvation by trusting in Christ alone for our redemption. Those who work for salvation usually end up sounding like Israel, "I'm starving," when all they need has been provided in Jesus.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Jesus Our Passover - A Special Celebration

Exodus 12:1-30

Jesus is our Passover. "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!" (John 1:29)  This festival of freedom provided by God alone is our eternal celebration and practice. The only appropriate response to all He has done is to live in that freedom. "Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch. You are indeed unleavened, for Christ our Passover has been sacrificed." (1 Cor. 5:7)  This first Passover was an annual event. Jesus is the Everlasting Passover. The first required continual sacrifice. Jesus is the finished sacrifice. Yet the picture of Christ in the first Passover is clear and rich. Jesus is our new beginning (v.2). He sets us free the moment we believe (v.11).  His blood is fully sufficient to protect us from the wrath of God coming upon all unrighteousness and the unrighteous (v.12-13). He cannot be approached lightly (v.14-16). He is our hiding place (v.21-23). He is our Gospel (v.24-30).  He is God, the God who saves sinners.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Call To Repent

Amos 5:1-27

Amos was a poor farmer sent by God with a message for the elite of his day. His nation was at peace, self-sufficient, and prosperous - but at a cost. Spiritually, the cost was a sense of self-sufficiency from God. A full bank account is often a greater hindrance to true faith than a belly full of beer. Self-sufficiency always gives birth to sin. The rich oppressed the poor, robbing them of justice, oppressing them from a position of assumed privilege. God did not tell them to get rid of their wealth. He told them to get rid of self-sufficiency, seeking Him so they could live, and in the seeking they were to seek justice and goodness for all people. Do we think God is more impressed with our personal quiet times than He is with the way we treat others? In these days prosperous Christians must not let the government's attempt to redistribute wealth keep them from seeking justice and goodness for the poor. Perhaps the most incredible thing in Amos is that, as passionate as God is about the poor, He still offers the prosperous the opportunity to repent of their self-sufficiency, and once again become an active part of His plan.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sin, Consequence, Redeemer

Isaiah 59:1-21

Sometimes our prayers are not answered because of unconfessed sin. It is not that God cannot hear. He hears but will not respond to a heart that is barracaded behind unconfessed sin. Unconfessed sin multiplies; especially sin that effects others. "Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;" (Heb. 12:14-15)  When we are walking in the consequences of our own unconfessed sin, experiencing the terrible consequences of a broken relationship with God, there is still an answer. "The Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those in Jacob who turn from transgression. This is the Lord's declaration." (Isa. 59:20)  Jesus will deliver those He has saved, when they turn from their transgression back to Him. Consequences may remain, but forgiveness is given.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Old Hymn - No One Does Good

Psalm 14:1-7

David wrote this song before there was a temple, probably during the time of the tabernacle of David. Worship then was different than it was in the wilderness and than it was during the time of the great temple in Jerusalem. Some scholars say it was more like God's desire for our worship today. Can you imagine walking into church today, the choir director raising his hands, the instruments playing the introduction and the first words you hear are, "The fool says in his heart, 'God does not exist.' They are corrupt; their actions are revolting. There is no one who does good. "? The good news of the salvation of God is good news only for those who have believed the truth of the bad news. The bad news is that, apart from God's intervention, we are all fools, corrupt, those who do no good. If we admit that, believe in Jesus the Messiah, confessing Him as our Lord we will be saved from ourselves and from the captivity of self-assurance.  This hymn keeps us humble, hopeful, and compassionate toward others.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Rebellious People

Exodus 32:1-33:6

Moses interceded three times for Israel. When God declared His intent to destroy them in their rebellion, Moses interceded. God declared His intent just as He did to Jonah regarding the Ninevites, but He had not decreed their destruction. His decrees are unchangeable, His intent is often conditional upon our response. Those who repented that day were saved. Again Moses interceded for the people and God spared them, but there were consequences for their sin. The people would live, but they would live without God's presence. Even within this punishment there was mercy. God told Moses that He knew the heart of the Israelites, that they were stubborn, and that if He went with them He would destroy them for their stubborn rebellion. Then all Israel repented, and Moses interceded for them again. He knew that without God's presence, they were nothing. "Then He (God) replied, 'My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.' 'If Your presence does not go,' Moses responded to Him, 'don't make us go up from here.'" (Ex.33:14-15)  Sin impairs our relationship with God. It imperils His presence, but we have an intercessor greater than Moses. Our intercessor is Jesus. His salvation does not give us permission to sin, but rather the provision of forgiveness and cleansing. We still have to respond. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Monday, January 14, 2013

The First Sin

Genesis 3:1-24

Our beginnings are filled with paradise, temptation, self-protection, consequences and redemption. God created us and gave us a paradise to live in with only one command - do not eat of the one tree. The serpent tempted us to doubt God's command, God's provision, and God's sovereignty - encouraging us to be like God. We believed the serpent rather than God, and the consequences were immediate. Our fellowship with God was broken, shame replaced innocence, self-protection replaced self-awareness, and accusations began to fly. That was not the end of the story. It was not even the beginning of the story. While paradise was lost to Adam and Eve, they were not lost to God. In spite of their sin, He covered their shame. He covered their shame with clothing made from animal skins, meaning He had shed the blood of innocent animals to cover the shame of guilty humans just as He would one day shed the blood of an innocent Lamb, Jesus. He redeemed them. That has always been His plan, to redeem sinners.