II Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare…14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation…17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. [NIV]
History records the action of evil we remember of “yesterday.” It’s over and done with and we emerged still standing. “Today” feels like it’s a heads-up time. There are a lot of signs Satan is working hard to destroy our world ahead of time and that makes it especially important for each of us to consider just what it is we are “looking forward” to and begin to let that impact our own daily life.
Here’s what I know: Jesus wins. I intend to invest my time, my behavior and my efforts to “to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” I’m looking forward to a new heaven and earth: a kingdom of Grace. I’m not looking forward to the destruction of the heavens disappearing, or the elements being destroyed by fire and the earth being laid bare even though I trust God’s word all that is somewhere between today and tomorrow.
“Today” is teaching me how important it is to read Scripture, to stay informed and most of all to pray. Those three things are the heads-up for me. My prayers in the midst of “today” aren’t targeted, eloquent or lengthy. They are dependent on the sovereign power of God: “Be present here Lord. Watch over this world you created and protect us. Raise up your people and give me the courage to trust that you are. Amen, Amen and Amen again!
Colossians 3:22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
I know my heavenly master but I haven’t paid enough attention to the awareness that while I don’t have a job and a boss, real life is my earthly master. I spend many hours each week in the Word and in thought dedicated to learning to live in this world “with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.” That’s where “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you” comes into play for me.
I struggle to string together a coherent prayer built on God’s perspective for the dismal realities of that earthly master. Those are situations so far removed from my own life; serious world situations and leaders that I have absolutely no control over. I’m startled by the realization that I’ve let what I work at with all my heart, my dedicated preparation to know my heavenly master, insulate my mind from the only possible option I have to obey that earthly master. It’s a revelation for me to accept the only frame of reference I have for those dismal situations I can’t control is prayer. May that new “sincerity of heart” continue to be so!
Ephesians 5:3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. ” [followed by the rest of Paul’s long list].
Most of us know how to control our behavior so we “look” acceptable but we’ve all been tripped up by “stinkin’ thinkin’.” That’s the root of every thing on the list of things Paul says to avoid. That’s the darkness he’s talking about. Where in the world does that come from?
Good behavior can clean up the outside but it doesn’t wipe away the hidden and unbidden ideas that slip into our mind or show up in a dream. What if they are our personal moments of awakening when what is buried in our mind is revealed to us? “This is why it is said: Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
“…Ideas have consequences — consequences that bless or destroy. People’s behavior — good and bad — does not come out of nowhere. It comes from prevailing views of reality that take root in the mind and bring forth good or evil.” From John Piper in Solid Joys.
Don’t miss your opportunity to “wake up;” to pray and confess those hidden and unbidden thoughts so Christ can change and renew that which is beyond your control – the secret parts of your mind.
Justice: to support fair treatment and due reward.
This simple word pair, Justice and jurors was selected at the end of January to be my topic for this post. It’s coincided with the heartbreaking reality of the latest mass shooting of innocent young people and teachers this week in Parkland, Florida. I know I can trust God’s ultimate Justice [with a capital J] but I’m struggling to understand man’s priority of justice right now that allows assault weapons even to exist. To own an assault weapon is NOT a right. The right to own any gun is NOT more important than a life…EVER! There are no circumstances when those statements are not true, even with the assurance of personal rights to own a gun.
Luke 18:1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ 4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” 6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Each of us now find ourself in the position of having been designated one of the jurors: one of a group of persons sworn to deliver a verdict in a case submitted to them. Is owning a gun specifically designed to automate the killing of people more important than life?
What this widow was showing us is persistence and prayer are what we’ve been given to arm ourselves against judges that seem to fear the loss of guns more than the loss of life. “For some time he [the judge] refused. But finally he said to himself, Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!”… And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says…”
Contact your Congressmen [click this link to find yours], share this post, speak to your friends and family whether or not they are gun owners. All the necessary evidence is already in. We know everything we need to know. Innocent people are dead! It’s time for a verdict of NO ASSAULT WEAPONS. Let’s persist with what we’ve been given to fight back with: prayer, the phone and the post office.
Posted in Luke, Practice, Sunday
Tagged And the Lord Said..., Fight Back, Innocent Lives, It’s Time, Jurors, Listen, Persist, Pray, Share, Sworn to Deliver a Verdict
I Peter 3:9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. 11 They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
I wish I was writing about something else today. I read this chapter over and over looking for something other than this passage but it was stuck in my mind in light of current events. The airways and print media are filled this week with reports of the very public loss of the ability to keep the “tongue from evil” and “lips from deceitful speech.” It’s impossible to watch, listen and read about them and believe there are “good days” ahead.
These scripture verses are obvious and absolute truths that seem so contrary to those events that all I could think was “They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. ” That’s absolutely true but they don’t care, and I can’t change them. The shocker is with all my highly sensitized awareness of a truth that’s so needed for “them,” I haven’t been willing to do the one thing the Lord’s watching and listening for from me that can help.
“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer…”
Current events make our country seem like an x-rated, made-for-TV production but God promises a something very different if we will watch, listen AND pray for his reality.
Luke 22:39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. 45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them.
This is our Savior…sweating blood…in anguish…pleading with God to tell him if there’s any other way. This is our Savior completely aware of just how bad it will be to be punished for our sin. This is our Savior who’s repeated concern is still that his disciples “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”
It’s heartbreaking to read later in Luke 22:61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.
The rooster’s crow confirmed the worst…the Lord’s prediction had come true. They’d all fallen away…and Jesus was going to pay for it.
Repent, pray and remember… Jesus paid for you too.
Psalm 119 – א Aleph
1 Blessed are those whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the law of the Lord.
2 Blessed are those who keep his statutes
and seek him with all their heart—
7 I will praise you with an upright heart
as I learn your righteous laws.
8 I will obey your decrees;
do not utterly forsake me.
There’s mystery in the acrostic use of the Hebrew aleph-bet in this 22 section Psalm. Our alphabet is a sequence of letters but theirs is a sequence of symbols that have a particular meaning. That symbol is the first letter of the word that begins each verse of a section in the Hebrew text. I found a chart of the meaning of those Biblical Hebrew symbols that I’m going to use as I read and think about each of these 22 sections.
א Aleph – ox head, yoke, learn.
The blessing is clear in this first section: be blameless, walk according to the Lord, keep his statutes and seek him with all your heart.
This must be what the writer had in mind for that first symbol, Aleph. It seems to fit. We need strength [ox]; we need yoke [Christ]; we need to [learn] how to be blessed.
We need strength [ox]; we need yoke [Christ]; we need to [learn] to pray these honest words “do not utterly forsake me” as this mystery of blessing becomes a reality in my life.