Saturday, December 31, 2016

Encapsled in Who God Is

There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,
nor are there any works like yours.
All the nations you have made shall come
and worship before you, O Lord,
and shall glorify your name.
For you are great and do wondrous things;
you alone are God.
Teach me your way, O LORD,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your steadfast love toward me;
you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
(Psalm 86:8-13 ESV)
Here is a prayer for the year... Simple, memorable, dependable.  It can be done because it is surrounded by our awesome God - incomparable, powerful, and amazingly loving toward us.  Any heart moved to understand this character of God will be moved to a humility that prays this prayer in sincerity and truth. "Teach me to obey, LORD, and to want to obey, because I fully trust in You."

Friday, December 30, 2016

Before the Resolutions...

Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation toward us! Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations? Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your steadfast love, O LORD, and grant us your salvation. Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land. Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky. Yes, the LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before him and make his footsteps a way. (Psalm 85:4-13 ESV)
In a sense, today is one of the quietiest days of the year.  All of the craziness of the Christmas season is winding down, and we stop to take a deep breath before kicking of the new year and getting back into the grind.  We have a second to stop and think, to evaluate where we are at and where we need to be heading. Before jumping into our new year's plans and resolutions, let's stop and listen. Let's listen to Him speak, so that we don't just dive back into the fooling living, the same old rut that we get stuck in.  May we ask Him for true revival this year, and commit ourselves to follow His footsteps.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Still Reflecting on The Gift...

For to us a child is born,
to us va son is given;
wand the government shall be xupon4 his shoulder,
and his name shall be called5
Wonderful yCounselor, zMighty God,
aEverlasting bFather, Prince of cPeace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
dthere will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
ewith justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
fThe zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
(Isaiah 9:6,7)
Have you ever gone back to the Christmas tree a day or two later, when the gifts are still around the tree, opened, and looked at them?  Reflecting on the love shown, how well the person knows you and poured themselves into giving you just the right gift?
Have you done the same with this Gift God has given, His Son? The tree picture above gives only half of the passage. We really need to move on to verse 7, and the ongoing rule and reign of Christ in righteousness. What we need is not just a passing fancy or fantasy, but a real life Leader and Lord Who will make life right, and bring life's relationships where they need to be, both with God and with others.  Don't let the wonder of Christmas fade. Keep looking at the Gift. Appreciate Him every day. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Complete Arrangements...

Then the king called Ziba, Saul's servant, and said to him, “All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master's grandson. And you and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him and shall bring in the produce, that your master's grandson may have bread to eat. But Mephibosheth your master's grandson shall always eat at my table.” Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. Then Ziba said to the king, “According to all that my lord the king commands his servant, so will your servant do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David's table, like one of the king's sons. And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Mica. And all who lived in Ziba's house became Mephibosheth's servants. So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate always at the king's table. Now he was lame in both his feet.
(2 Samuel 9:9-13 ESV)
David demonstrated great wisdom in making sure Mephibosheth was provided for.  In the way he did things, he provided job security for Ziba and his family, and delegated responsibility for Mephibosheth's care, so that he could carry out his own duties as king.  Most of all, David was able to honor his covenant with Jonathan, providing a place in the palace for his son and family, ensuring safety and security in a time of certain uncertainty.  May we plan our day and lives in such a way that includes blessings for others.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Character of the King's Court

And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?” Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David. And the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “I am your servant.” And the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.” The king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.” Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar. And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, “Mephibosheth!” And he answered, “Behold, I am your servant.” And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.” And he paid homage and said, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?”
(2 Samuel 9:1-8 ESV)
At the end of the last chapter, we saw David's commitment to justice and shared leadership when he finally became king. Here he goes out of his way to show kindness to any descendents of Saul.  This was unheard of(and still is today!), as when an oppositional leader takes over the office from an adversary, they might just eliminate them from the face of the earth.  This is the opposite - not only showing grace and mercy, but doing so intentionally.  But this is what a man after God's own hear looks look.  When we do so, we shock a watching world, as David did with Mephibosheth here. Let's go out and shock someone with kindness today.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Shared leadership...

So David reigned over all Israel. And David administered justice and equity to all his people. Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the army, and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder, and Zadok the son of Ahitub and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar were priests, and Seraiah was secretary, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites, and David's sons were priests.
(2 Samuel 8:15-18 ESV)
David had finally become king-something that had taken a good fifteen years to accomplish, since his being anointed by Samuel.  Two things stick out about his administration: first: he was known for justice and equity to all people.  He was not going to treat a small, select few differently like Saul had done.  Secondly, and related to this, he shared leadership with a number of people. He appointed those who would serve well, both in the political and spiritual life of Israel.  He did not let his power go to his head.  These two characterics go hand in hand, as they reveal what we think about ourselves, and about others.  He maintained his humble spirit, realizing he could not do it all, and others had a lot to offer.  How do you view yourself? Others around you in your family, at work, in the church?

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Wonder of Worship

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
(Luke 2:8-14 ESV)
The message of the Angels to the shepherds was the same as it is to us: "Come and Worship the Messiah, the newborn King and Savior. May we do that today. Instead of seeking warm feelings and emotional and physical satisfaction, may we find what we really need: fulfilment through worshipping the Savior. May you have a blessed Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Different Kind of Throne...

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
(Luke 2:1-7 ESV)
Christ was at the Father's right hand.  Then He chose to come to earth. "Thou didst leave Thy throne..." we sing, and rightfully so.  At the incarnation, he chose another throne - the manger.  It may not look, or smell, like much, but it was still His throne, because that is where He chose to be.  To make it clear that this was a throne, The Father moved the shepherds to come and see, and worship Him.  It is not because the manger scene makes the perfect Hallmark card picture that things happened the way they did.  It is because the Lord, Savior and King, for a time, relocated to earth.  Wherever He is, is where His throne is.  He rules the world. Even though He has ascended back to the Father's right hand, He still is the King on the throne, over all.  That's what we recognize when we come to the manger.

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Throne NOT in a Palace...

Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.
(Hebrews 8:1-2 ESV)
The writer of Hebrews starts in chapter 1 talking about Christ being on the throne at the right hand of the Father, and being in every way His equal.  But he also emphasizes that this throne is not merely a throne from which He rules as a prince or king.  He is also the Priest, who intercedes for us, in the true tabernacle or temple - the place of God's holy presence.  Since this is the case, Christ, and only Christ, is in a position to do what we need - reconcile us to God through the forgiveness of our sins, making us His people.  

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Following the throne...

Remember, O LORD, in David's favor,
all the hardships he endured,
how he swore to the LORD
and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob,
“I will not enter my house
or get into my bed,
I will not give sleep to my eyes
or slumber to my eyelids,
until I find a place for the LORD,
a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”
Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah;
we found it in the fields of Jaar.
“Let us go to his dwelling place;
let us worship at his footstool!”
Arise, O LORD, and go to your resting place,
you and the ark of your might.
Let your priests be clothed with righteousness,
and let your saints shout for joy.
For the sake of your servant David,
do not turn away the face of your anointed one.
The LORD swore to David a sure oath
from which he will not turn back:
“One of the sons of your body
I will set on your throne.
If your sons keep my covenant
and my testimonies that I shall teach them,
their sons also forever
shall sit on your throne.”
For the LORD has chosen Zion;
he has desired it for his dwelling place:
“This is my resting place forever;
here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
I will abundantly bless her provisions;
I will satisfy her poor with bread.
Her priests I will clothe with salvation,
and her saints will shout for joy.
There I will make a horn to sprout for David;
I have prepared a lamp for my anointed.
His enemies I will clothe with shame,
but on him his crown will shine.
(Psalm 132 ESV)
The throne is in heaven, yet in a sense it was on earth, with the Ark of the Covenant, representing God's presence with His people.  The problems the people of Israel experienced were they limited it to His presence, and did not see it as His throne of authority.  There was always this looking forward to another throne - not one in or on a box, not even the physical throne of the Davidic king, but the Throne of One born in the area of Ephrathah (check Micah out for that one...).  The throne goes wherever He goes, not vice-versa.  He is the One Who brings true joy, and the one worthy of our worship.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Established Throne

The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty;
the LORD is robed; he has put on strength as his belt.
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
Your throne is established from of old;
you are from everlasting.
The floods have lifted up, O LORD,
the floods have lifted up their voice;
the floods lift up their roaring.
Mightier than the thunders of many waters,
mightier than the waves of the sea,
the LORD on high is mighty!
Your decrees are very trustworthy;
holiness befits your house,
O LORD, forevermore.
(Psalm 93 ESV)
The throne.  A piece of furniture.  A Place to sit.  But not This Throne. It is the focus, the foundation, with everything build around it.  It is more stable than the ground upon which it sits.  It is stronger than the rock upon which it sits because of Who occupies it. No storm can assail the throne.  And it is the place of action - all action.  Ultimate power resides there.  The LORD Is there.  All else revolves around HIM.  He gives life and all that is its stability, purpose, and truth. What a call to worship at His throne!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Throne of the Anointed...

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.

The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness;
you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;
your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.
From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad;
daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor;
at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.
(Psalm 45:6-9 ESV)
The throne of the Messiah is much more than a piece of furniture.  It represents the very character of the One Who sits upon it: righteous and eternal.  What vivid imagery we have here of what He will expereience.  The One anointed by God to come "out of the ivory palaces" will also be anointed with myrrh at His death for our sins.  But His throne is eternal.  He cannot and will not be replaced by another.  He will sit there and rule with righteousnesss.  It'si only right.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Throne of Thrones

I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever;
with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.
For I said, “Steadfast love will be built up forever;
in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness.”
You have said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one;
I have sworn to David my servant:
‘I will establish your offspring forever,
and build your throne for all generations.’” Selah
Let the heavens praise your wonders, O LORD,
your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones!
For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD?
Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD,
a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones,
and awesome above all who are around him?
O LORD God of hosts,
who is mighty as you are, O LORD,
with your faithfulness all around you?
You rule the raging of the sea;
when its waves rise, you still them.
You crushed Rahab like a carcass;
you scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.
The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours;
the world and all that is in it, you have founded them.
The north and the south, you have created them;
Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name.
You have a mighty arm;
strong is your hand, high your right hand.
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
(Psalm 89:1-14 ESV)
Here is an objective view on the Messianic promise to David.  God promised him someone would be on his throne forever.  But it becomes quickly apparent that the throne at issue, and the One upon it has to with far more than being a descendent of David. This throne is one based on God's very character: His power, righteousness, justice, love, and faithfulness.  The throne represents everything about Him that makes Him worthy to rule and reign - everything He is and does.  This psalm of praise gathers us around the throne to worship Him.  The Messiah draws us to Him.  Everything about Advent, Christmas and how we commemorate it should bring us to the Throne.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Hint, Hint...

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.
(Revelation 19:11-21 ESV)
In this revelation, John sees and hears some amazing things about the Messiah, the Christ Who has come and is coming again.  He is the Word of God to men, the Lamb of God slain for our sins, the Judge before Whom all will stand, and He is this mighty Warrior who will come and deal with those who rebelled against the LORD and His Anointed (Psalm 2). No one will be able to stand before His truth.  Justice will be served.  The Evil One will be defeated once and for all.  The Warrior Son will rule and reign with the Lord God, His Father. An overwhelming story, which for us began in this small city with the little Baby in the barn.  What a story to read, to get glimpses of, and to become a part of.  Choose well the role you will play. Here's a hint: the One on the white horse wins.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Greater Conflict...

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
(Revelation 12:7-12 ESV)
Christmas is war.  We like it's warmth and peace and joy. But behind it all is a battle that the Incarnation presumes: Satan rebelling against the LORD and His Anointed, and waging that war on earth, in unseen ways.  That is not depressing; Christ is the Victorious warrior.  We can count on Him to win.  But the battle is real and ongoing.  Let us not be lulled to sleep.

Friday, December 16, 2016

At His RIght Hand

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalm 16:7-11 ESV)
It is this passage that Peter and the other apostles find fulfillment in the resurrection of Christ, the Messiah.  David did not  fulfill this; only Christ has. And only Christ can speak alternatively that He is at the LORD's right hand, yet the LORD is at His right hand: the place of power, privilege & pleasure.  He is the only one by Whom we can have that hope of forevermore, eternal life.  This is where DAvid found his hope and joy, and where we can too: Christ crucified, risen, and coming again.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Winning Man's Greatest battle...

“Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”’
Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
(Acts 2:29-36 ESV)
David was a great king and mighty warrior, but there was one battle he could not win: the battle with death.  He knew his place, and he knew that there would have to be another King and Warrior who could and would do that. Messiah. He is the One, the Only One able to win that battle. David foresaw that, but could not fully comprehend it as he wrote in the psalms.  We can look back on it now, as Peter did, but it is still way beyond us. The how, the why overwhelms us. Praise the Father; thank the Son; He is risen from the dead, and He is Lord.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Warrior: With or Against...

Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
(Psalm 2:10-12 ESV)
The Messiah - this coming King, Servant and Son of God will be so many things, including the One to wage war against those who determine to rebel against the LORD.  There are two, and only two choices: trust and take refuge in HIM, or try to turn against HIM and fall.  The kiss here really is two-fold: It is one of true love and affection (as opposed to the false kiss of Judas) and it is also a kiss of respect, honor and submission to the King.  Those who refuse, or who only go through the motions miss the point: it is all or nothing, for or against, trust or be a traitor.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Winning Warrior...

The Lord is at your right hand;
he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
He will execute judgment among the nations,
filling them with corpses;
he will shatter chiefs
over the wide earth.
He will drink from the brook by the way;
therefore he will lift up his head.
(Psalm 110:5-7 ESV)
The Lord's Anointed. So many things He is and does.  All side by side with the LORD and His power.  He will also win over the nations that stand up against Him. (Psalm 2) Everyone and everything in His path will kneel or be defeated. Then He will rest, look up and around and see no enemies left. They will all be defeated before Him: every adversary.  Do we picture Jesus that way? We get a glimpse in the temple, but often overlook this aspect of His plan and power. If we believe He is such, what will our lives look like? Will we be so defeated?

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Greater Warrior

Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
who trains my hands for war,
and my fingers for battle;
he is my steadfast love and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield and he in whom I take refuge,
who subdues peoples under me.
O LORD, what is man that you regard him,
or the son of man that you think of him?
Man is like a breath;
his days are like a passing shadow.
Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down!
Touch the mountains so that they smoke!
Flash forth the lightning and scatter them;
send out your arrows and rout them!
Stretch out your hand from on high;
rescue me and deliver me from the many waters,
from the hand of foreigners,
whose mouths speak lies
and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
I will sing a new song to you, O God;
upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you,
who gives victory to kings,
who rescues David his servant from the cruel sword.
(Psalm 144:1-10 ESV)
In the midst of this psalm, David uses a phrase that jumps off the page: "What is man that You regard him, or the son of man that you think of him?" Those words also appear in another Psalm of David, Psalm 8, considered to have Messianic undertones.  The Son of Man is one of the titles Jesus took for Himself, which emphasized His being the God-Man.  Here the emphasis is on his being warrior. David was a great warrior, but he also realized there was a Greater Warrior at work in his victories, One who could come down and win the greatest victory.  Christ is King, Priest, The Prophet, Judge of Manking, Lamb of God, and also the Victor, all in One.  Who is fighting your battles today?

Sunday, December 11, 2016

No Compassion for the Christ...

You know my reproach,
and my shame and my dishonor;
my foes are all known to you.
Reproaches have broken my heart,
so that I am in despair.
I looked for pity, but there was none,
and for comforters, but I found none.
They gave me poison for food,
and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.
(Psalm 69:19-21 ESV)
This longer psalm of the Messiah focuses on His suffering, and the mocking that He endured on the cross.  Even this one act of "kindness" was not compassion, but the mere attempt to dry His lips long enough so He could say one more thing they would ridicule.  Earlier in the Psalm it talks about them making up songs and stories to mock Him.  It is severe hardness of heart that turns one to make fun of One Who has shown only grace, love and mercy toward you, Whose only "crime" is to tell you the truth about your sin and self-righteousness so that you can repent and be saved.  What do you see, think, feel and decide when you look on the crucified Christ?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Oh, yes He will!

They say, “A deadly thing is poured out on him;
he will not rise again from where he lies.”
Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.
But you, O LORD, be gracious to me,
and raise me up, that I may repay them!
(Psalm 41:8-10 ESV)
It looked like all the cards were stacked against Him. Even His close friend had betrayed Him, and He was surrounded by people mocking at Him and challenging Him to beat death. He did not.  They thought Messiah was done.  But He knew He was not. It had been written a thousand years before by the psalmist that He would rise again.  The truth of God's Word, and the character of His Father sustained Him when all else failed.  The same is true of us: we can count on Him.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Piercing Poetry...

I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.
(Psalm 22:14-18 ESV)
The description God gives through David of the rejection of the coming Messiah is one of nothing less than total devastation.  He has no support system; his life juices are totally gone; every bone and joint is out of whack, yet intact enough to hurt tremendously.  He raises his head, opens his eyes, and wat does he see? Eyes glaring right back at Him - no compassion, love, mercy or grace. Just pride and self-righteousness.  What a difference from the looks of wonder He once had as a baby in the manger. What has happened? He lived sinlessly, served sacrificially, and brought truth to a world full of lies.  There He is, mocked, rejected, hurting beyond all hurt, the only one on the hill with full greace, love, mercy and truth.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Messiah Mocked...

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
(Psalm 22:1-8 ESV)
Many of us recognize the opening statement as words quoted by Christ on the cross. They were originally penned by David 1000 years before. He was sure of his anointing by God, but unjustly treated. His mistreatment, however, was nothing like that of the Messiah.  As we go on, the words of the speaker may at times have fit David, but they are no more fitting for anyone other than Christ, as he hung on the cross, being mocked, glared at, talked about, and asked to prove that he was more than a mere man.  What agony! To have the authority and ability to save Himself and prove Himself, but to chose to do otherwise for the sake and salvation of His mockers.  He knew the Father was able to deliver Him, and it was the Father's character to do so, but the Father as well,on this occasion, would chose not to do so.  What a mystery - that Messiah would do this for me!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

He saves anyway...

I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
This is the LORD's doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
(Psalm 118:21-24 ESV)
Rejection: that's the word to describe the majority response to the Messiah. He came and received a cold reception.  But the LORD had a plan, that through it all He could still accomplish our salvation.  That is what makes this day a day for rejoicing.  His plan of salvation is amazing, mind-boggling, wonderful.  As the Psalmist David begins and concludes this psalm: "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for HE is good; His steadfast love endures forever."

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

He's not he only one...

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
(Luke 2:7 ESV)
Often in Christmas pageants throughout the years, the Innkeeper as gotten a bad rap - seen as a rough, uncaring scrooge.  But when we take the bigger picture into focus, the lack of room at the inn was representative of an overall rejection of the Messiah by his hometown, his own people, and mankind in general. "His own received Him not," in John's words.  He was the "stone that was rejected" in David's words.  Though the Messiah is EVERYTHING WE NEED: True King, Totally Holy Priest, Righteous Judge, and Prophet of all Truth, by and large he was snubbed, at best, and hostily treated unjustly by most.  It's a wonder He was allowed to live at all. (and in a day of abortion on demand and heat-seeking missles, HE probably would have been attacked sooner. So, don't pick on the poor inkeeper.  His door has a mirror on it. He's not the only one.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Unseasoned Greetings...

Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
(Psalm 2:1-3 ESV)
The LORD sends His Messiah to the earth. How will He be received? Not Well. Just like the prophets sent before him, only worse. Just like the tennants dealt with the son of the Landowner.  John puts it well in his introduction to the Incarnation: "His own received Him not." That is a nice way to say "Rejection." But this is not merely a mild, passive ignoring. It goes further. It is a hostile opposition to holiness and rightful rule, a shaking of one's fist at God.  There is this thread, actually a thick rope, throughout history of mankind doing this.  Today is no exception.  Receive or reject.  Trust or tantrum.  Love or hate.  Of all times of year, this season says: "What will you do with the Lord's Messiah?"

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Finishing His Job...

The Lord is at your right hand;
he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
He will execute judgment among the nations,
filling them with corpses;
he will shatter chiefs
over the wide earth.
He will drink from the brook by the way;
therefore he will lift up his head.
(Psalm 110:5-7 ESV)
The first two verses of this Psalm of David speak of the Messiah as being a King and a Priest, established by God to do what needs to be done with mankind.  In this last verse, He is a powerful judge - not just of individuals, but of nations and their leaders.  He will not relent until his job is complete.  Like a warrior in pursuit of His enemies, He will simply stop on the way and scoop up some water before continuing on His quest.  Thus, the LORD is not slack in coming again in judgement. He will do so, completing His assignment over His creation. He will "lift up His head" to see the world that belongs to Him under His complete rule, those from every tribe, tongue and nation.  As with His being King and Priest, He is full qualified to be the Judge.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

No more Mr. Nice Guy???

Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”
I will tell of the decree:
The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.”
Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
(Psalm 2 ESV)
This Promised Messiah, the King on the throne, the Son of God, is many things... including Judge.  He has every branch of Government in the Kingdom covered. He speaks God's will; He rules to enforce it; He represents God to His people, and His people to God; and He is the ultimate judge of leaders, nations, and people.  Mankind will not tolerate such total power, because we know what we are like with a little power: it goes to our head and we abuse it.   But here is the difference: He is great and good. He really does care about what is best for us. He is worthy and qualified to do it all.  The bottom line is this: we either submit to His rule and judgement, or we give it over to someone much less qualified and righteous. Then we lose. Instead, "Blessed are all who take refuge in Him."

Friday, December 2, 2016

Singing the old Psalm...

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”
(Hebrews 10:5-7 ESV)
As the writer of this letter was prone to do, he quotes from a Psalm of David, which looked forward to the coming of the Messiah.  David, the man after God's own heart, understood His heart.  He does not want rituals or sacrifices, but a life of wanting to please Him.  The Christ lived that life. He came to give the Father both: the life that pleases Him, and the death to pay for our sins.  After saying more about this priestly work of Christ, he implores us to come to God through Him, and to find a confident relationship with Him, where we want to obey Him, we want to please Him, and it is our joy to do so.  Christ is the one we long for in the old psalm, Psalm 40.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The First is Foremost...

See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham. But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.
(Hebrews 7:4-10 ESV)
Christ is the priest after the order of Melchizedek.  Melchizedek is the first mentioned priest in scripture.  So what?  In a sense, that makes his order higher than that of the levitical priesthood.  But could there be One even greater? One before Melchizedek?  How about the Creator who has come?  In the same way that the Christ is a greater King than David, having come from his line, yet at the same time pre-existing him, Christ is also a greater priest than Melchizedek. He is the ultimate priest, Who is truly able to bring us into relationship with God.  We need The Priest of Priests, Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

No Ordinary Priest...

For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.
So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him,
“You are my Son,
today I have begotten you”;
as he says also in another place,
“You are a priest forever,
after the order of Melchizedek.”
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.
(Hebrews 5:1-10 ESV)
Priests.  Just the mention of the name can stir up all sorts of emotions in people in our culture - some good, some not so much.  But in the purest understanding of what a priest is and does, he is someone who humbly serves for God, being an intermediary between God and man.  People, tend to be stubborn on their end of things - at best, ignorant of how the relationship should go.  True priests are not in it for any selfish gain of power, possessions or passions, but because they are chosen by God to live this sacrificial life.  Christ, the Messiah, is the ultimate priest.  He is perfect, making him the only fully-qualified priest, able to bring together God and Man.  Being Son of God and Son of Man did not hurt. Are you willing to trust such a priest with your soul?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Man with the Multi-syllable Name...

After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley). And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) And he blessed him and said,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
and blessed be God Most High,
who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”
And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
(Genesis 14:17-20 ESV)
As David sings about the Messiah, the Anointed One to come, God has him tell us that he will be this "priest forever after the order of Melchizedek."(Psalm 110) (say that name fast five times...) Who is this priest? A priest of the Lord who came out and prophetically blessed Abram after he had rescued Lot. Why did he do so? To point out to everyone around that it was God Who brought the victory - not Abram or any of the other kings who had joined together. To God alone be the glory!  For the Messiah, the Son of God Who came to earth to be our Deliverer, it was also about the Glory of the Father, the will of the Father. He came to point us all back to Him. He Himself will receive glory from the Father, but when He came, He came as priest, to point us to God.  When we do all we do this year to celebrate Messiah's coming, may we not just look down into the manger to see a Baby.  May we then look up and give thanks to the God who sent Him, and stand in awe of His great love and salvation.

Monday, November 28, 2016

What kind of King is this???

A Psalm of David. The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours. The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Psalm 110:1-4 ESV)
In this description of the King of Kings, David writes something that trips us up, throws in the monkey wrench, and stops us in our tracks. The King is a priest... Our American minds rush to the thought: "What ever happened to separation of church and state?" Our critical Bible Scholar minds say: "But what about Uzziah the king, who presumptively went into the temple and was stricken by God with leprosy for his act?" How can this be, that the King could also be a priest? Can He do that?
I can remember when our oldest son was young, he said he wanted to be President and Part-Time Pastor, and we laughed within, thinking: "Sure, you do..." But yes, it's real, it's right, even required that the Messiah be both King and Priest. Who else could handle the sacrifice that would be required for the sins of the whole world? Such power, such authority cannot be entrusted to just anyone, or to anyone we know. Only one can be trusted to handle it correctly.
Of course, we object. It is hard enough to relinquish the rightful right of rule to the deserving King; it is at least as hard for us to say that we are wrong, sinful, and needy, and turn ourselves over to a priest in all honesty and trust Him with our forgiveness. If we do not entrust Him with one office, we are not likely to trust Him with the other. Is He your King, your Priest?

Sunday, November 27, 2016

For a little while...

For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere,
“What is man, that you are mindful of him,
or the son of man, that you care for him?
You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned him with glory and honor,
putting everything in subjection under his feet.”
Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
(Hebrews 2:5-9 ESV)
It is always interesting to see the slight modifications the New Testament writers make in quoting the Old Testament in order to help us better understand what God has said and done.  In helping us to wrap our minds around the fact that the Messiah was both God and Man, and that he came as the Incarnate Word of God, he makes it clear that this application of Psalm8, written by David, was "for a little while." Paul speaks about this in Philippians 2 as His setting aside the manifestation of His full Glory.  However you put it, the reality is that we have not yet seen the full Glory of Christ. We anticipate it at His second Advent. The important thing for us at this point is to understand the "why" of the incarnation. Why did God have to become man. That is clear: to "taste death", to die in our place for our sins.  That truth should lead us to place Christ where he belongs: above the angels, above all people and powers we know, as King of our lives.  He deserves the glory and honor.