The readings this morning are Matthew 5:17-20 and Psalm 60
“Christ Came to Fulfill the Law”
In this short passage, Jesus makes it abundantly clear that he is not here to abolish the law…but to fulfill them. They are here to stay! I think seeing the definition of “fulfill” makes it clear of what Jesus is saying.
1. Bring to completion or reality; achieve or realize (something desired, promised, or predicted).
2. Carry out (a task, duty, or role) as required, pledged, or expected.
When I look at the definition, the words really jump out as to the purpose of the Old Testament laws and how they pointed to Jesus: desired, promised, predicted, required, pledged, and expected. All six of these words, combined, provide a great indicator…Jesus was to be all of these things.
Jesus also made it clear that just because he had arrived to fulfill the laws, that they were not to be taken any more lightly: “Therefore, whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Not mixing words! Personally, I think it goes along with a phrase I heard from the great philosopher Gary York one Sunday morning: “Action follows faith.” If you have faith in Jesus…and that you believe He is Who He says He is…your actions will be in alignment with the laws. In John 14:6-7, Jesus tells us: “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Who can you introduce Jesus to today? He is the only way. Have a blessed day!
Today’s reading is from 2 Samuel 16 and Psalm 48
This has been a stressful week. I’m weary. Some of my weariness is a direct result of my own poor decisions and other things have been out of my control. As I read this passage in 2 Samuel I sense a weariness in David. He’s tired of running from his son Absalom. Tired of hearing stories of people turning on him. Ziba stops him on the road with news that Mephibosheth has plans to get his grandfather Sauls kingdom back. Mephibosheth! He was the one David took in and cared for after Sauls death. How disheartening it must have been to hear this news. Then he has to endure Shimei’s insults and rock throwing for a thing that he didn’t do. Harsh criticism from someone without all the facts. David knew this and because of it he didn’t fight back. He says in verses 11-12, “My own son is trying to kill me. Shouldn’t this relative of Saul have even more reason to do so? Leave him alone and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to do it. And perhaps the Lord will see that I’m being wronged and will bless me because of these curses”. Weary, but faithfully moving forward. Praying for a blessing.
Then in verses 15-23, Ahithophel told Absalom to sleep with all David’s concubines while he was away. This fulfilled the prophecy from Nathan that another man would sleep with his wives.
I would say this is a low point for David. Some of it because of his sin and some out of his control. And while enduring the rocks and cursing he prayed God would bless him through it. He quietly endured.
Are you weary and beaten down by sin or circumstances out of your control? Are there rocks being thrown at you in the form of stress, illness, financial strain, marital difficulties? Perhaps your job hangs in the balance of something out of your control. It’s ok to be weary. But don’t lose heart. Go to the source of peace and truth ….. Jesus. Matthew 28:11-30 “Come to me, all who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yolk upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yolk fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.”
2 Samuel 4, Psalms 36
I know that I can take for granted the amount and timeliness of information we have available to us today…as compared to back when King David lived. In 2 Samuel 4, two guys thought they were doing this great thing by taking King David the head of Saul’s son. When, in fact, they were doing the opposite of what King David wanted. I’m sure these two guys would have loved to have that information. Instead of an incredible reward that I’m sure they were expecting, King David has their hands and feet cut off and then hung beside the pool of Hebron.
The main thing that I take away from this is: “You better be sure, before taking permanent action.” These two guys “thought” they were doing the right thing, in taking the “permanent action” of taking another’s life. Because they didn’t make certain, it ultimately cost them severe pain and death…and the death of an innocent person.
Even if it was something that King David would have been OK with, was it the right or duty of these two guys to kill Saul’s son. In this modern day, while we won’t literally take the life of others, we can “kill” others with words. While they may not physically die, it can cause a lot of pain and misery. Is it your right or duty to spread information that may or may not be true. What could be the end result of your actions? Do others and yourself a favor, only spread the “good news” of and to others. I know that I am much better off when I take that smarter path. May God bless you and yours today!
Today’s reading is from 1 Samuel 23 and Psalm 24
Throughout this chapter of 1 Samuel 23, David is “inquiring of the Lord”. Five different times, David stops to ask God what to do next, and God answered. He cared for David in the midst of his inquiry by bringing guidance and encouragement from trusted people. Abiathar the priest and Jonathon his friend were there to encourage him and confirm he was doing the thing God asked of him. Saul was not spending time inquiring of the Lord. He was on the hunt to kill David. If he had stopped to consider Gods will he would have had to lay aside his jealousy, anger, and bitterness. He was so far from God that he actually believed that David had been delivered into his hands. How deceived we can become when we stop inquiring of the Lord and start following our own desires. We become angry, mean, jealous, anxious, scared, isolated and bitter………just like Saul.
Do you feel “hunted” by a Saul sized problem? Are you inquiring of the Lord or trying to manage things on your own? As you seek Gods guidance, look for the Jonathons and Abiathar’s God has placed in your life to encourage and spur you on. Or perhaps God has given you the opportunity to be the encourager.
1 Samuel 11 / Psalm 12– “OK, so my choices are you kill us now…or each of us has our right eye gouged out to be disgraced the rest of our lives. Say, could we have seven days to see if someone will help us first?” King Nahash of Ammon: “OK”.
In our world today, we can’t imagine what it would be like to be given those two choices. Then, once you’re in that position, it’s not like you can pick up your cell phone and call the police or the pentagon. It amazes me that they thought of asking for seven days. It amazes me even more that King Nahash allowed it. My study Bible addresses that issue saying that King Nahash probably thought there was no way an army could be assembled in that period of time…and it would allow him to take the city without a fight. It is amazing how God used Saul to spread the word and the “invitation card” (cut up pieces of oxen) that Saul used to assemble his army.
Toward the end of this chapter, the men of Jabesh tell King Nahash that they’ll be out later and “you can do to us as you wish”. However, the morning before they are to arrive, Saul does a sneak attack and slaughters the Ammonites. All of this violence and nastiness…then the final sentence of the chapter: “Then they offered peace offerings to the Lord, and Saul and all the Israelites were very happy.”
Through God, anything is possible. How can He help you overcome your King Nahash today?
Today’s reading: Jonah 3, Proverbs 27
The God of second chances. This third chapter of Jonah is the epitome of the second chance. God tells Jonah (for a second time) to “get up and go to the great city of Ninevah, and deliver the message of judgement I have given you”. Jonah was still feeling like he didn’t want to, but after witnessing the power of God through the storm and the giant fish he couldn’t attempt another trip to Tarshish. The second chance was not to fulfill Jonah’s plan. It was the chance for God to fulfill His plan through Jonah. Again, Jonah had the choice. In his mind the people of Ninevah didn’t deserve God after all their violence and evil. But God, in his mercy and grace had plans for Ninevah beyond what Jonah could comprehend. God asking the same request of Jonah a second time is so powerful. He didn’t give up on Jonah. He pursued Him with a storm and a giant fish until he realized the power he was running away from. Jonah finally submitted to the authority of the Almighty God. He didn’t understand but he said “yes”. And because of his submission to a plan he didn’t understand, the people of Ninevah repented. They didn’t just say they were sorry, they expressed their repentance by turning from their evil ways immediately. Submission. They got a second chance too.
Do you have a Ninevah you are running from? Is God pursuing you with obstacles and struggle as you run towards Tarshish? Stop running. Rest, pray, submit. God will give a second chance to His people. And His plan is always bigger and better than ours.
Thank you Father for the gift of forgiveness and second chances.
Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend”
Joshua 15 Proverbs 15
Chapter 15 of Joshua is divided into three parts: the land given to the tribe of Judah first, the towns Judah inherited last, with the land given to Caleb sandwiched between the two. Full disclosure: I get a little overwhelmed trying soak in the description of how big this land was…or the names of the towns. However, my study bible makes a good point: “Notice that these boundaries and descriptions of the Promised Land are very specific. God was telling Israel exactly what to do, and he was giving them exactly what they needed. There was no excuse for disobedience.”
In regards to Caleb and his receiving of land, who is he and how does he rate to get some special land? I’m sure many of you recall a song from your childhood: “Twelve men went to spy on Canaan, ten (all ten fingers in the air) were bad (thumbs down) and two (two index fingers in the air) were good (thumbs up).” Well, the two “good” ones were Joshua and Caleb. This story can be found in the book of Numbers. Numbers chapter 14 verse 24 reads: “But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went and his descendants shall possess it.”
There is also one little last tidbit provided at the end of chapter 15 in Joshua. It tells of how the tribe of Judah could not drive out the Jebusites…”so the Jebusites live there among the people of Judah to this day.” This piece of information is repeated in Judges 1:21. However, the rest of the story is played out in 2 Samuel 5:6. The Jebusites mess with the wrong Marine in the form of King David.
Proverbs 15 is full of wise sayings, but it starts off with one that hits home with me: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.” While I have an incredibly large amount of room for growth in this area, I have to praise my wife…as this is a tremendous gift of hers. I truly thank God each day for her kindness and gift of a gentle answer.
Where do you have room for growth? Pray that God will help you with that, today.
Today’s reading: Joshua 3, Proverbs 3
Joshua 3 is the marking of the days before the miracle of crossing the Jordan River into Jericho. The people have camped and Joshua moves through the crowds telling them “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you” (Joshua 3:5).
There’s a lot of them! 2-3 million men, women, and children traveling together. Hauling their animals, tents and possessions. Have you ever travelled with extended family? There’s typically a few squabbles or disagreements along the way right? This trip is extended family on steroids! I’m sure there were lots of distractions and commotion along the way. Millions of imperfect people following the arc of the covenant representing the presence of God. Trusting, waiting, watching. Joshua reminds them to spend time setting themselves apart from all the distraction in anticipation of what God is doing.
Joshua gives Gods instruction to the priests to start moving the arc towards the Jordan River. I’m trying to imagine the priests dipping their toes into the shores of the water. Taking the first steps of faith before they could see the miracle. Trusting that Joshua knew what he was doing and moving forward. Carrying the presence of God in the ark to the shores of the Jordan with millions of people behind them waiting and trusting that the thing they were doing was not crazy. How wet did their feet get before they noticed a change in the tide? At what point did they realize what was happening and feel the surge of adrenaline as their trust materialized in the miracle before them. The flow of water was stopped by the mighty hand of God when they faithfully stepped to the shore. The people of God were allowed to walk on dry ground to the other side. Miracle!
How am I consecrating or sanctifying myself today for the miracle that will come tomorrow? Do I have faith and trust the miracle will come or am I anxious about the future?
Today, because of Jesus, we have the presence of God with us all the time. We have personal access to the creator of the universe who has miracles in store. Miracles come in all shapes and sizes. From a full night of sleep for this worrier of a mother to her nonverbal toddler finding his words. The common denominator is miracles point us towards Gods plan. As I spend time with God (consecrating, sanctifying myself) my mind is transformed to His ways and I can get my toes wet to see the miracle.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).