Rahab

Today we get the opportunity to read about another person who put their faith into action.  That in this faith they trusted God to fulfill His promise. These men and women of Hebrews 11 tell how by our faith, God is pleased.  Hebrews 11:6.

Hebrews 11:1-2 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation.

Today’s Readings is from Joshua 2 and Joshua 6.  The story of Rahab is shared. As I have reflected on the story of Rahab and her faith I’m reminded of a few points we can apply to our lives today.

  1. God loves us, He uses the most unlikely people to build His kingdom.  Rahab was a prostitute who lived in part of the city wall. Joshua 2:1.  What sin has held you back? Do you know anyone who thinks that God couldn’t love them because of choice they made? Let today be the day that you tell them for the first time or remind them that Jesus was sent to Earth to die for their sins and ours. Yes, just like Romans 3:23 says, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  still God takes us wherever we are at. Whatever sins we have made, and washes us clean.  Hebrews 10:22 says let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 
  2. Rahab risked her life for the Lord. The king of Jericho could of easily had her killed if he knew she was lying or would of got caught.  Still she had faith.  Maybe, our lives may not be in danger in America but there are many places where that is still real.  Today, we are blessed with the opportunity to show our faith freely, will you take that opportunity.  You may not need to hide people in your attic, but could you share your faith with someone? After all, you never know if the courageous conversation will plant a seed to change the eternal destination for them. 1 John 5: 11-13 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.
  3. Rahab feared the Lord, that their hearts melted in fear.  She says that the Lord our God is God in heaven and on the earth below. Joshua 2:11.  God wants us to fear Him.  A fear that reminds us through the day that He is in control.  A fear that provides us with the trust and faith that He does reign in heaven and here on earth. In Ecclesiastes 5 and 12  I’m reminded that there are so many meaningless things that we pursue and make part of our lives.  Solomon says, Fear God and keep his commandments. 
  4. Rahab was given a new life. Her faith and fear of the Lord saved her and allowed her and her family to live.  We have been given an new life.  Our faith in God takes our past, washes us clean, and leaves us with the opportunity to share this new life with others until the day comes where He comes to bring us home.  Will you have the opportunity to share this new life with someone?  1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 

Dear Almighty Father,

Thank you for sharing this story of truth with people of faith like Rahab.  Knowing that our sinful past is washed clean through our faith, love, and the relationship we have with you. Thank you for this new life.  We pray that we can be a testimony and witness to others today.  We love you. Amen 

Noah

Good Morning and Happy Tuesday Bible-journal family,

Today’s readings is Genesis 6:1 – 9:17. (Noah)

Last week I asked my oldest son who Noah was? He said he built the ark and brought all the animals with him.  I said that was a great start, and followed up with, Do you know why Noah was chosen for this? Why did God have this flood happen? Response… I forgot.  So…to answer my own question and for his answer lets reflect on the life of Noah in these few chapters, lets dig deeper into his life as we will see who Noah was and why he was chosen by God to build the ark and why the flood happened.

Let’s look back at chapter 5 for a look at the creation of mankind.  Genesis 5:1-2 says that, “when God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them.  And he named them “Mankind” when they were created.”   This was God’s plan for how mankind would be.  In the likeness of God! Verse 3 says, “When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.” Do you see the difference? God created Adam and Eve in His image.  Once sin had entered the world, Adam’s son was made in his likeness, in his own image. This would include all the people that were on the Earth when the flood happened.

When made in our own image we can be very selfish.  Personally, I daily pray about my own selfish battles.  Many days have ended in repentance from a sinful worldly focus.  I continue to ask for prayers to seek His will and not my own in all things!

So why the flood? Why Noah? Let’s get to chapter 6-9.

 

Genesis 6:1-3 When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with[a] humans forever, for they are mortal[b]; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.

God had seen how His beautiful, perfect world,  and people change. He was hurt, and at the time sorry that He had made man. As I looked at the various population growth formulas its amazing to think of the number of people that were on the earth.  Depending on the formula it ranged from 750 million to 4 billion people. Wow! At this moment is when God decided he was going to wipe everyone out.  Well deserved with our sinful nature.  Yet, God saw hope, he saw favor in someone that proved he was staying faithful and righteous for our Lord. Noah.

Verse 8  But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord!  Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.

Thank you Noah for your faithfulness. Through God’s grace,  Noah was chosen, He found favor in the eyes of the Lord.  I’m so thankful for this grace that God showed Noah then and the grace that God shows us in our flood of sins.

Ephesians 2: 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

Still Noah’s obedience is amazing. I pray for obedience like this when God is telling us to follow His will. The work put in to build the ark is indescribable. Building, remaining faithful when I’m sure the onlookers thought he was crazy. From a worldly perspective doing everything Jesus asks can seem frightening.  What will people think? I pray for boldness for us all to live like the righteous Noah God saw, in the face of others today.  Be the example of kindness, love, joy, and thankfulness for all that God has given us.

Genesis 7:5 And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.

Noah, his wife, his three sons Shem, Ham, and Japeth, and their wives entered the ark in addition to all the creatures. They listened to the Lord. According to the Flood Chronology of my bible the total time on the ark was 370 days, from Genesis 7:1-8:17.  Of course in that time was the 40 days and 40 nights of straight rain.

1 Peter 3:20 reminds us of Noah… God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. (the above noted) 

So after the 370 days what would you do?

Noah’s first action after exiting the ark was to give thanks.  Build an alter to the Lord thanking Him for the Lord’s deliverance of him and his family. Thank you Noah for the reminder of how grateful we need to be for God’s deliverance every day.  Will you thank God today.  God has created us, saved us, and has promised a place for us to be eternally.  So with our faithfulness, when the floods come, we can find peace that God will be there.

God thank you for your child Noah, who remained faithful.  Help us to remain faithful in our doubts.  To be obedient in following your will for our lives and not our own. We love you and are sorry for our selfish ways.  Help lead us back to you.  Amen

Converted Coward

And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

Are you a converted coward? When I first read this I had to read the chapter a couple times before I landed on this word fear tucked in at the end of verse 17.  The word fear I would associate with coward.  The words fear and coward are not popular these days.  It seems often you should’t show fear or let anyone call you a coward because you won’t say or do something.  But here, Peter talks about fear as a healthy respect for an all-powerful Lord. That ultimately God, who is the only judge, will one day make an eternal decision. In having the reminder of eternal decisions I reflect on 2 Corinthians 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in my infirmities, in reproach, in needs, in persecution, in distress, for Christ’s sake. For when i am weak, then I am strong. 

 

So how am I passing the time while I’m on this Earth? What does our pilgrimage on Earth look like? Honestly, many days and hours I can take for granite when I get caught up in my own desires.  My prayer is to consider this short time on Earth. Like verse 24 say, All people are like grass, and all their glory is like flowers on the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall This reminds me that the kind of fear Peter is talking about encourages a healthy reminder of God’s holiness and judgement as believers.    It’s been timely to land on 1 Peter 1 for today’s reading.  Peter provides encouragement for any suffering we may be going through as Christians.  Maybe you have some suffering going on today.  I would encourage you to continue to read 1 Peter 1 & 2.

Dear Heavenly Father,

We pray to be converted cowards.  To be reminded daily that you are coming back and each day is our opportunity to live out our lives obeying your truth with sincere love. That in each day we are fully alert to your presence and the promise that you are coming back and our hope is set on You! We believe in your words and ask for belief in our unbelief moments.  Lord, in our struggles we can reminded that you are near.  We love you and thank you for people like Peter who was there through your suffering and suffered himself when he struggled with his own beliefs.  Help us to remember our identity in you, that we may seem like exiles on this earth but will be part of your family eternally.  God I can selfishly fall short, please continue to build a coward that fears you and makes a difference in how I live.

Amen

Rome at last

Today’s Reading: Acts 28:16-31

During the summer months many people attempt and make successful family trips to various places. Some may be right in your backyard while others take you to far off exotic places.  Now, I’m not even going to try to connect these trip to that of Paul’s journey to Rome in Acts 28, but want to just dig a little deeper into Paul’s legal trip to Rome and highlight the influence he had in a specific place God divinely brought him to, in order to influence others.

Mindset’s, or lets say faith-sets make a difference. Paul’s trip to Rome was a “legal matter“, he was a ward of the military system and placed on house arrest and guarded in Rome for two years. What did he do? Paul thanked God, he took courage. verse 15 This wasn’t the way Paul planned to reach Rome but knew God had blessed him by allowing him to get there.

What is my response?  So…maybe the trip you take for work, or the family vacation to “not your ideal location“, or a stay at the your in-laws or your own extended family is like house arrest or a trip that you don’t have any control over.  Maybe its sitting at the practice or game with other parents? Talking outside with neighbors?  Either way, let’s make these summer trips or even just our daily routines like we have the mindset of Paul.  Our journey today may not include chains, being shipwrecked, and the many other trials in a physical sense or maybe it has? We all have a story and trials we face daily. So if it has felt that way like it did for Paul, trust that God is working all things out for good (Romans 8:28) for you as well.  God may not always allow us to feel comfortable and secure, but He provides us the opportunity to do His work.  Look at the work Paul was doing. When our journey is feeling difficult, we need to lean in a little closer to God and trust in His plan for our varied journey’s or storms like Lynden mentioned yesterday.

God called Paul to see and speak with both Jews and Gentiles in Romes.  Paul knew that the hearts of the people were calloused, ears were dull for hearing, and their eyes were closed (Acts 28:26-27) still, Paul would speak of God and speak of the glorious message that can convert a heart,can heal deafness, or any loss of sight. This is the same message that have changed our hearts, opened our eyes, and opened our ears to hear His Living Word.   These verses are originally quoted in Isaiah 6:9-10 where God was using Isaiah in Jerusalem to convert hearts.

God uses Paul, He used Isaiah, He is using us to share His message.  That even today in the spaces and places where it may seem hard or not favorable to share because of hardened hearts, closed ears, and blind eyes. Jesus will use His words spoken through us to convert, change, and heal those who are hurting. Those who feel like they have nowhere to go. Those who have lost all trust and faith in others… you can point them t to God.  Maybe this was your story? I know it was mine.

This summer we have some mini trips planned, many days will be spent around our home and neighborhood. some days will be spent at work, at the pool, practices or games.  Although, we may not be on house arrest, the fact is that without others knowing about God and His love for us, many will be in a lot worse place then jail for eternity. I’m humbled and amazed to think that Paul wrote letters like Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians, (the Prison Epistles) during this time. Paul wrote these letters for the millions that have read them through the centuries, he wrote them for you and me. Paul wrote while changing the hearts of many who were in his presence in these years at Rome.  Rome, a place that had many gods, similar to the many gods that we can focus on today.  Let’s not let these worldly things get in our way.  Let’s take today, and every day in our short lives here on Earth to preach about the Kingdom of God, and those things which concern the Lord Jesus, with all boldness and without hindrance.

Welcome to Rome biblejournal family, don’t worry about the words to say, God is with you, go with boldness.

 

Preparing for the end

Today’s Readings: 1 Thessalonians 3 and 4

Its difficult to think about death and when our end is to come. I would honestly say, I take my life for granite most days. Selfishly, I have three children under the age of eight and would love to see them grow up to be both wonderful men and women of God. I just celebrated our 10 year anniversary and would love to have at least 50 more. But, I realize that I’m not the one who will decide that.  God will!  I recently attended a funeral for my late Uncle Rob Voltz, which was a reminder of the brevity of our lives. I haven’t attended very many funerals, they are hard to attend. Since putting my faith in God, I tend to reflect and wonder about any opportunities I could of had to share how much I cared for them and the promises God had made for those who believe.  I remind myself of Psalm 90:12 which says Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Even now as the rest of my family is in bed, I think about the lost opportunities today to share Christ in actions, words, and love.  

Uncle Robs card showed him hitting a golf ball into a beautiful sunset.  It said,

“Lord, when my last putt has dropped into the cup and the light of my last day has faded, may I be able to turn in to You, a scorecard to show I did my Best. 

This quote reminds me of one of my favorite verses written by Paul in 2 Timothy 7 where he knew his life was coming to an end as he sat in prison.  He said, ” I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”

How will you finish the race? How will you turn in the scorecard showing your best?

1 Thessalonians 3 and 4 share wisdom from Paul earlier in his ministry that tells the Thessalonians and us as believers how we should prepare for His coming.  And, even though we don’t know the precise moment when Jesus will return we know that our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. Romans 13:11. 

A few reminders from Paul in preparation for this day are;

  • Keep the faith – that we will face trials in this life still our endurance comes from our hope in the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 1:3 That we pray for any area that is lacking faith. verse  3:10 Read more in 1 Peter 4:12-19
  • Live in order to please God –  God’s will sanctified – verse 4:1-3.
  • Live in a way that controls your own body and is Holy and Honorable.  verse 4:4-7. Read more in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.
  • Lead a quiet life – not stirring up conflict, living peacefully in the midst of trials.
  • Be sanctified by God. 1 Thessalonians 4:3 Let the Holy Spirit lead your life.  Allow him to change you from the inside out.

 

Dear Awesome Father,  We love you.  May our lives reflect the truth even in the face of difficulties. That in our day to day interactions with our family, friends, and strangers we model a fearless faith-filled attitude that pours out love to theirs. That in our moments where we are lacking in faith you lift us up.  Lord, as we wait and prepare for your coming gives us courage to share with others your promises and how you have changed our lives; and as you call us one by one God, we can be sanctified awaiting to be in your presence.  Amen 

The last temptation

Happy Tuesday June 4, 2019

Today’s Reading Mark 15

Mark 15: 29-32

29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!” 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself!

The last temptation. I know that at any point Jesus could of taken himself off the cross that day.  But He didn’t.  He was obeying His father, and following through with the plan had set since His humble birth. As a human, Jesus was tempted many times by Satan. Look back at Matthew 4: 1-11 after He was just baptized. Jesus never gives into the temptation. He understands how we are all tempted by the world daily. Temptation from Satan was coming in in the moments when Jesus hung on the cross, still, in this last attempt from Satan, Jesus kept himself on the cross for the sins of those present then and for everyone since then. Amen!

How is Satan tempting you today? For me, is it by the way I’ve been responding to my children 1 week into summer break? Is it the times I take my wife for granite daily instead of loving her like the church? Is it in my thoughts as I judge others in their various circumstances? Is it in my workload and my selfish ambitions to attain and do more? Is it the entertainment factor from a TV or phone that keeps me mindlessly engaged in time that has no eternal impact… for anyone? The list can go on and on.  We see, feel and are tempted.  We have been tempted since Adam and Eve and have failed just like them in Genesis 3. We are broken.  Still, Jesus knows this, says in these temptations, turn to Me.  Am I doing that? Are you doing that? Through all the temptations Jesus went through, He turned to His Father. Does someone you know right now going through some circumstance where temptation is staring them in the face? Maybe its you today?

Turn to God’s words.  Turn to Him in prayer.  The world is full of worldly things that tempt us daily.  On this day in Mark 15 the temptation to take Himself off the cross was there.  Soldiers, onlookers, priests saying hurtful mocking words and acting out in violence towards Him. Telling Jesus,  Take yourself down from the cross if you are the Son of God.  The human side of me would of pulled myself down and shown them, maybe even in my moments of displaced anger I would of did something to these mockers just to set an example.  Yet,this final mockery of Jesus on the cross to abandon His sacrificial death didn’t succeed. Jesus stayed on the cross to pay for our sins. Revelation 2:10 reminds me how Satan is always putting us to the test and Jesus wants us to remain faithful.

We are wrestling with various sins and temptations? Go to battle against them, let others know.  Know that we have a Father who has already declared victory when we turn our life over to Him.

Dear Jesus this fleeting pleasure pales in comparison to the joy and satisfaction we have in you.  Today, I choose an obedience to you then this temptation put before me.  Better is one day in your courts, then thousands elsewhere. We long for this day, please remind us in our struggles of this hope, strength, grace, and love you have for us always.  Thank you for your Son Jesus to be our perfect example of how in the flesh He resisted the temptations. I pray to draw closer and closer to His presence daily.  We love you! Amen

I love this song by Matt Maher because it reminds me of how much I need Jesus every day!

 

Mission Improbable

  1. After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.

The heading for for today’s bible journal is called Mission Improbable, at first when I thought about this heading I needed to remind myself of these two words.  The definition of mission is: the calling of a religious organization, especially a Christian one, to go out into the world and spread its faith.  The definition for improbable is: not likely to be true or to happen. 

What makes this mission improbable?

As we read the Lord sending out the 70 or 72 (depending on the version you read) why would it be so improbable? Then I read verse 2-3, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 

Looking back at Luke 9, Jesus had just sent out His 12 disciples.  Now, those who had seen, heard, and believed in Jesus were willing to go into the harvest field.  The 72 were appointed by Jesus, given instructions, and sent out in pairs.

Consider these questions.

  • Where and who has God purposely placed in your  life today to be on mission?
  • What faithful role does God wants me to have in His work? (not my work)
  • Am I doing all I can for the harvest, or am I just watching?

As you reflect on those questions today be encouraged by these points.

  1. The harvest is great: We do the work knowing how important and big it is.  God’s Kingdom!

29 For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. Colossians 1:29 

2. The laborers are few: We do the work knowing that we have a key job. This job involves the opportunity today to possibly leading someone to a glorious Kingdom in contrast to destiny in hell separated from our God. Don’t try to do it all alone.  Be in community. Talk with a brother or sister in Christ about the opportunity you have to speak life into someone else.

“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor, for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.” (Eccl 4:9-10)

3. Pray the Lord of the harvest: We do the work with a lot of prayer.  Our job is to pray, pray for these opportunities. Pray for in your conversations and interactions with others.  Pray to help equip others.  Honestly, I can sit and be a spectators at times.  Except,  Jesus has called us to be laborers. I have to be willing at all times to have conversations as well.

 

4. Go your way:I am sending you, like lambs among wolves: We do the work making ourselves vulnerable. We will be met by opposition. This dangerous mission requires sincere commitment. Let God be our strength today and every day. .

Charles Wesley wrote Lord of the Harvest, Hear. in 1742

LORD of the harvest, hear
Thy needy servants’ cry;”
Answer our faith’s effectual prayer,
And all our wants supply.

On Thee we humbly wait;”
Our wants are in Thy view;
The harvest truly, Lord is great,
The laborers are few.

Convert, and send forth more
Into Thy Church abroad,
And let them speak Thy Word of power,
As workers with their God.

Give the pure Gospel word,
The word of general grace;
Thee let them preach, the common Lord,
Savior of human race.

O let them spread Thy Name,
Their mission fully prove,
Thy universal grace proclaim,
Thine all redeeming love!

On all mankind, forgiven,
Empower them still to call,
And tell each creature under Heaven
That Thou hast died for all.

 

The picture I shared is a sign I drive by daily.  Jesus prepared the 12, He prepared the 72, He is preparing you.  Today, as you go to work, go to school, stay at home, go to practice,… you are one mission, and God has equipped you.

Kingdom Tales – Matthew 13

From childhood to adulthood we all loved to hear fairy tales growing up. These stories have a beginning, followed by a challenge, there’s someone who provides hope, and at some point shows us an amazing future. These stories can include knights, princes, princesses, “bad guys”,  kings and kingdoms. These stories usually have a battle between good and evil.

In Matthew 13 there are 8 parables told in the 52 verses.  Jesus takes common things that we can relate to and constructs short stories within which He communicates  something better than any Fairy Tale.  He tells us what the Kingdom of Heaven is like, They are also known as, Kingdom Tales! And, for those with open ears and open hearts, He reveals the Kingdom of Heaven. Where instead of a Fairy-Tale ending, we get an opportunity to see, hear, and be part of a Kingdom Tale ending.  Amen!   We can believe that while in this interim of time we have on this earth we are promised with open ears and hearts that we should repent and believe.

Mark 1:15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Psalm 103: 19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.

Matthew 13: 11, Matthew 13:24, Matthew 13:31, Matthew 13:33, Matthew 13:44, Matthew 13:45, Matthew 13:47, Matthew 13:52 all tell us what the Kingdom of heaven will be like. I can’t wait to see you there. 

Dear God, thank you for sending us a King, who offered us His Kingdom.  That when we repent and say we believe can enter into this kingdom one day.  God we know He is coming again, and His kingdom is in our midst for those who have welcomed the King to reign in our hearts.  There are battles we will face every day in sin and brokenness. God, I know I don’t deserve a place in this Kingdom, and there is nothing I can do to prove myself worthy.  But through your love, grace, and sacrifice, you’ve provided a way for us all.  We have a King that is victorious over all.  God, thank you for your Living word that we use daily to draw closer to you and your Kingdom.  We love you, Amen.

 

Suffering Servant

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 53

Isaiah 53:1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

In the last few weeks in our home, we have had many conversations about Easter and its meaning. It took a little while to get past the newness of peeps and candy filled eggs with our boys, but eventually we landed on the story of Jesus. Simultaneously, our small group has gone through a six-week study called The Easter Experience by City on a Hill productions. This has led us up to celebrating Easter this past weekend.  In the midst of all of these conversations and scripture reading around Easter it has allowed us more time to reflect around what Jesus physically went through in addition to His willingness to die upon that old rugged cross.
In our group we have read various scriptures leading up to this event and asked each other, ” Who would you most identify with at this moment?” One of the two thieves, Peter, Judas, Mary, one of the guards or on-lookers? We  had the opportunity to watch some difficult video that visually shows his pain and suffering. As we landed on Isaiah 53 its amazing to see how over 700 years earlier Isaiah was prophesizing this day to come.  It’s fitting that Isaiah means “God is salvation” in Hebrew.

Another interesting fact that I learned this week while learning more about Isaiah 53  is how the total chapters in Isaiah is equal to the old testament and the new testament. (66) our Sovereign Lord always shows his authority in so many ways.

Now Isaiah 53 has so many truths we can take away.  I would encourage you to read slowly Isaiah 53:1-12.  If we had only had Isaiah 53 we would understand the birth, life, death, and resurrection of our Lord. We have fallen short, and like sheep needing a shepherd,  there is only one person who can save us,  Jesus.  The suffering that Jesus went though He did not deserve.  All of it. Its unimaginable that the sins He died for on the cross include my sins today.  And even though Jesus didn’t deserve any of it, He took them all.

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

It’s hard to even imagine, I take it for granite daily.  No,  there’s nothing I can do to pay Him back.  I simply give thanks, pray to be obedient, lovingly trust Him with all aspects of my life to the best of my human possibility.  We deserved the death, but Jesus took it for all of us.  We thank you, praise you, and love you.

 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin[b] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:20-21.

From Suffering Servant to Glorious King.

Ezra 3 – Returning Home

Ezra was a priest, a scribe, and a great leader. His name literally means “help” and this is exactly what Ezra did.  Ezra helped fulfill the promise of the Jewish people returning to Jerusalem. In this short chapter,  Ezra 3 has some powerful insights and reminders that can speak to your heart today.

The first insight is noticing one of the most important things the Jews did upon returning to the city.  Their first focus was on creation and use of the alter.  It was the symbol of God’s presence back in Jerusalem .  What does God’s presence look like to you? Is there a presence in your home? For me I think of some of the little things that represent and remind me of our trust in Him.  The verses that hang on our walls, the calendar that shows family pictures with verses written, the kids Sunday school handouts hanging on our fridge, the Resolution certificate framed from our marriage small group study sitting in our dining room.  In a kitchen you can find a mason jar full of prayers and praises from this year.  I also reflect on what do we model when others come stay? What are we modeling when we are alone? Are we intentional in having a place where we can rest in His presence and show our trust in His protection and presence like the Jews did upon returning home?

3 Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening sacrifices.

The second focus was on building of the temple, the people didn’t look ahead at the finished product, or the walls to protect the city, they focused on the foundation.  This could be a sermon on its own but I’ll keep it short.  Our foundation is everything.  It doesn’t matter if you are building  temple, house, or a fort.  The foundation is essential.  It’s Just like in our lives.  Our marriages, decisions about jobs, raising a family, making a decision to move…  really anything we do has to be given to God first. Our foundation has to be in God. If you short change, alter the appropriate materials, or modify the accurate dimensions of a foundation it can lead to disaster.  For some of the Jews, this had already happened to them once.  They didn’t want it to happen again. If our foundation is not strong, and when pain kicks in, hardships, fear, anxiety or lowliness sets in, without a solid foundation you will waiver and eventually fall.  Take time daily to build your foundation! Now, think about how the people reacted once the foundation was done. It says they sang, praised, and gave thanks. For He is good, and His loving kindness endures forever… Ezra 3:11 Take time today to sing, praise, and give thanks! Amen

2 Timothy 2:19 says, 19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”

Lastly, look at the end of Ezra 3.  At first I was unclear about verses 12-13. The contrast between shouting for joy and weeping? In my study bible it talks about the mix of emotions being felt at that time between the generations.  That some Jews had lived when their first temple was originally built, while others were part of something for the first time.  How many times does the Holy Spirit produce that same emotion in us?  I can be standing in church arms up, praising God singing,  without any care for my pitch.  The next moment, my hands wiping tears from my face convicted once again.  I can often become sobered by my shortcomings, and full of joy, thanksgiving in other moments. In these moments I can see how there are times when it is hard to decipher.  Only God can move us that way.

12 But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. 13 No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.

 

Where do you turn when your world has been flipped upside down? Maybe it was a marriage, job, your own child, a bad decision? Where do you return? You return home to the Lord.  If you have been lost, or maybe just need to rebuild.  Head into the wonderful arms of our Lord.

Have a blessed Tuesday.