John 18:2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he…” ESV
Today is the beginning of Lent, Ash Wednesday. The observance of Lent is considered a time of repentance observed through personal denial. It’s so easy to see in this passage how Judas’s betrayal has separated him from God. I ask you to consider two things to remember about observing Lent: 1) Betrayal is what separates US from God and 2) repentance requires acknowledging OUR betrayal.
Jesus has provided us a simple example of three little words with so much power they knocked his betrayers to the ground; “I am he.” Don’t miss the power of those three little words when recognizing your sins have been a part of that betrayal too. “I am He” acknowledges the reality that our identity with Jesus is what turns a simple act of personal denial into an act of repentance with the power to change us.
97 Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.
98 Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies.
99 I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.
100 I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.
101 I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word.
102 I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me.
103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.
Right >§§§> Left
All day long I meditate on your law. Oh, how i love it! I am made wiser than my enemies because your commands are always with me. I meditate on your statutes for I have more insight than all my teachers. I obey your precepts for I have more understanding than the elders. So that I might obey your word, I have kept my feet from every evil path. You yourself have taught me. I have not departed from your laws. Sweeter than honey to my mouth are how sweet your words are to my taste. I hate every wrong path therefore I gain understanding from your precepts.
The Psalmist recognizes there is a purpose for God’s laws, commands, statutes and precepts. He’s used the Hebrew letter “Mem – waves, water” to reveal it to us as eye-catching waves rising repeatedly from the ocean of truth that is God’s knowledge. Those waves regularly break the surface of the water as they begin their push toward the shore to deposit their power and become one with it before ebbing back into the vastness of depths that are unseen.
Waves and water are the imagery the Psalmist chooses to show God’s persistence to raise up His laws, commands, statutes and precepts as a recurring opportunity to release His power upon the shore…His people…and in that moment become one with them.
The Psalmist has seen God at work repeatedly in his own life. He recognizes those waves have touched him with wisdom, insight and understanding. They’ve risen from the depths of God’s knowledge to break upon him with new realities that sustain him over and over. The imagery is God’s laws, commands, statutes and precepts are “waves”that have broken on him and united him in that moment with the unseen depths of the “water” that created them to enable him to “obey” and keep his “feet from every wrong path.”
EPH 4:26 “In your anger do not sin.” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. ESV
One easy response to conflict and anger is the the ostrich effect: a cognitive bias that causes people to avoid information that they perceive as potentially unpleasant.
The ostrich effect may be comfortable but it has no power to make things right. Anger is uncomfortable but it’s powerful and often feels right. Don’t miss the reality this Scripture warns us of; “In your anger do not sin.” Your personal faith is the power over those emotions of anger and conflict. “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” and give “the devil a foothold.” He plans to steal the power of your faith in the darkness.
Isaiah 12;1 In that day you will say:
“I will praise you, Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. 2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” 3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
Today I will praise you Lord:
You are faithful even when I deserve anger:
Faithful to intervene because of need
Faithful to love even before obedience
Faithful to teach that need can lead to obedience
You are the Comforter:
When I am uncomfortable
When I am sorrowful
And finally when I am repentant
You are Salvation:
From life with no purpose
Or purpose with no life
You are the reality of life and purpose
You are the power and defender of my salvation:
You make known what seems unknowable
You defend the faith you’ve given
You draw life-giving water up from the deep wells of salvation so we can drink together.
You have become my Salvation for the sake of your own joy:
Your joy has become my shared joy.
Thanks for sharing Lord!
6. Matthew 6:9 This, then, is how you should pray:..[“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”]
I was surprised to discover the familiar last line I know of the Lord’s Prayer is only footnoted in many versions of the Bible. There’s a complicated issue of texts, dates and translations but the bottom line is many Christians have used it in worship since about 90AD when the Bible was completed. [click here for more details]
The words “familiar” and “complicated” in the same paragraph seem important to me. Familiar is comfortable and that’s what makes it complicated. I’m often quite comfortable in this complicated world. It’s easy to remember this is definitely not heaven…but forget it’s still part of God’s kingdom. He’s given familiar things to remind me His glory can be found even in such a complicated place. There’s comfort in the power of his Word and prayers to strengthen my desire to pray for the assurance he will unite our today with His forever.