2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself… ESV
One word in this short passage made me ask; am I ready for a New Year? I remember a time when my whole focus of life was waiting for the new, yet-to-come, experience. I wasn’t aware that focus often caused me to miss the blessing of the moment I was in. Now it seems I’ve switched to the opposite focus. It’s often the moments I can never experience again that I wish I’d cherished more. Lord, make my thoughts compatible with yours [reconcile them] and teach me not to revel in the past that can’t be changed or long for the future which is out of my control, but to learn the Patience of Trust that your perfect timing is…NOW. Lord, in this New Year, 2023 make me a “NOW” creation!
Palm Sunday, April 10, 2022
There’s a twist o this Palm Sunday story I’ve never noticed before from John 12:9
“When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. “ ESV
Lazarus is there with Jesus! The twist is that this is a resurrection story but with a different cast! The word of Lazarus’s restoration to life is in fact the catalyst of this growing crowd. V13 “So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” V17 & 18 “The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him [Jesus] was that they heard he had done this sign”
Lazarus has been called out of the grave!
He’s walked with Jesus into Jerusalem, healed and able-bodied, ready to add his presence as verifiable physical testimony to the truth that Jesus is Messiah and has the power to restore life!
Today has become something new and personal because of that simple two sentence paragraph. Of course! This day IS a celebration of the power of Jesus to restore life…then. And here’s the miracle for this
Palm Sunday, April 10, 2022:
You are the verifiable physical testimony to that truth…
John 12:26…”If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also,”
Exodus 1:1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3 Is′sachar, Zeb′ulun, and Benjamin, 4 Dan and Naph′tali, Gad and Asher. 5 All the offspring of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt. 6 Then Joseph died, and all his brothers, and all that generation. 7 But the descendants of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong; so that the land was filled with them. 8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war befall us, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land”…12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. RSV
Exodus literally means “the road out.” The word itself was adopted into English (via Latin) combining the Greek prefix ex- (meaning “out of”) and hodos, “road” or “way.” This book is the way Moses’s story unfolds. The facts of the story are yet another episode of the struggle of men [the generic pronoun] determined to control their circumstances. History has erased the Egyptians memory. They’ve forgotten, over time, that their salvation came through a family of blue-collar farming and shepherding immigrants and a man who’s wisdom saved their nation and their people from starvation and ruin: Joseph, who???
The Egyptians are now consumed by their “dread of the people of Israel” and their need to maintain control even if it means enslavement and genocide of those same people. God has made sure that family will be remembered by name as the foundation of Moses’s story continues to unfold. The title of the Book, Exodus, is more than the history of the promises for God’s people, then. Exodus is going to be like a contemporary mystery story where “in the beginning” we know the “who done it” and now It’s going to ask us to remember what has been forgotten in between – the circumstances, people, choices and time – and watch how the “exodus” then, has become the “way” to our deliverance, now.
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life;
no one comes to the Father, but by me.“
Poetry: Literary work in which special intensity is given to the expression of feelings and ideas by the use of distinctive style, rhythm and structure.a
This is an allegory.
These women are two covenants.
For it is written…
Abraham had two sons;
one by a slave,
born according to the flesh
and one by a free woman,
At that time he who was born according to the flesh
persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit,
is Mount Sinai,
she corresponds to the present Jerusalem.
She is in slavery with her children,
bearing children for slavery.
The children of the desolate one are many more
than the children of her that is married.
It is written…
“Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear;
break forth and shout, you who are not in travail.
We are not children of the slave but of the free woman.
She is our mother!
do you not hear the law,
you who desire to be under law?
The son of the slave shall not inherit
with the son of the free woman.
We, brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise.
So it is now.
a My poetry structure was created from the RSV Bible using sentences and phrases verbatim.
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—
7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant[slave] of Christ.
Poetry: Literary work in which special intensity is given to the expression of feelings and ideas by the use of
distinctive style and rhythm.
I am astonished
you in the grace of Christ,
are so quickly deserting him
who called you,
turning to a different gospel—
to the one we preached to you.
Not that there is another one!
There are some who trouble you
to distort the gospel of Christ.
Let him be accursed.
I say again:
If we or an angel from heaven should preach
a gospel contrary to the one you received,
let him be accursed.
I would not be a servant[slave] of Christ, or of God
if I were still trying to please man,
seeking the approval of man.
Hebrews 3:12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.a” [NIV]
“That day, next day, one day and someday” is a tongue-in-cheek description I recently read to describe the confusion of keeping track of time and days when the routines of life are altered during long-lasting life circumstances like this pandemic. I’ve experienced that confusion about time and days myself. It’s a real thing that caused me read this Scripture as if it was speaking about the confusion of time and days, then, as a danger in the spiritual life of believers in Jesus Christ now…and the much needed protection offered for “today.”
We have been so blessed for so long as a nation, as a democracy and as individuals that we’ve become confused about how real, and subtle, the danger of a “sinful, unbelieving heart” is. “Today” is the one word in this Scripture that made me realize “that day, next day, one day and someday” is really about missing the warning and protection available “now.” “Now” is our God-given opportunity to to “share in Christ” and “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of [us] may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness…Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…a”
a Psalm 95