Good Friday One-a-Day Friday 4/19/19

A life worthy

Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me (Psalm 41:9).

Betrayal

It’s a bitter, ugly word for a bitter, ugly deed.

Perhaps the worst thing about betrayal is that, by its very nature, it involves someone you trust.  In a sense, you have to give the betrayer the power to hurt you by making yourself vulnerable. Those who never make themselves vulnerable to others can never be betrayed.

But then, they can never really love, either.

The most powerful of all persons made himself vulnerable, opened himself to rejection, let himself be betrayed, to rescue his beloved.

That would be you.

Good Friday, Beloved

No Surprises One-a-Day Thursday 4/18/19

A life worthy

I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting (Isaiah 50:6).                          

He knew what was coming.  

It was no surprise.

He knew he would die to pay the price for our sins.  He also knew that more than death would be involved. There would be pain, and humiliation, and loneliness. The soldiers would slap him around. They would laugh at him. They would dress him up to look like a petty king, complete with crown of thorns. They would take his clothes. They would spit on him.

And he would take it.  

For you.  

For me.

The thing to remember today is that Jesus was not surprised by any of this. He didn’t accidentally let his guard down. He didn’t get caught up in circumstances beyond his control.

There are no circumstances beyond his control.

As he spent this day teaching in the temple, he was moving purposefully and steadily toward the pain that waited for him.   At any point along the way, Jesus could have said, “I’m done.” He chose to wait until he could say, “It is finished.”

The spiritual accomplishments of the Cross are so monumental that sometimes we forget about the physical agony Christ endured both after his arrest and on the Cross.  Remember it today, Beloved. Remember what he suffered, and why. And don’t ever, in all the days ahead, wonder if you are worthy of any good thing.

You are worthy of every good thing.

You, Beloved, are worth dying for.

Happy Thursday

New Covenant One-a-Day Wednesday 4/17/19

A life worthy

“The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.  It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

Most Christian churches take communion on a regular basis.  If you have been part of a church for many years, you can probably recite Paul’s words from memory

“The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread…”

How many times have you eaten the bread…or gluten-free cracker, and sipped the wine…or juice?  What does it all mean?

The first communion took place during the Passover, a reminder of the Old Covenant.  The Passover celebrated the night that God supernaturally broke the power of the Egyptians over the Hebrews. He established a covenant with them, promising that he would be Israel’s God, and they would be his people.

Always.

For the most part, people in today’s world deal with each other through contracts.  A contract is a business relationship between partners.  Each side has obligations to and expectations of the other.  If these obligations and expectations are not met, the contract is broken, and the terms become invalid.  The people who were wronged by the violation of the contract can seek justice through an impartial third party, the court.

A covenant is more like family.  When my children were little I gave them rules to follow, but those rules were for their benefit as much as, or more than, for mine.  When they violated those rules I disciplined them, but they did not cease to be my children. My covenant with my children to love and support them as their father remained, even if, from time to time, they didn’t live up to their end of the bargain.

Which they didn’t.

Because…children.

Jesus brought his disciples, and all of us, a new covenant.  This covenant was not based in rules, but in relationship—in the person of Jesus himself.

Think about the relationships in your life.  Do they feel more like covenants, or contracts?  What about your relationship with God? Do you feel like you are under the grace of his covenant, or like you are bound to a contract which you cannot possibly fulfill?

You are a child of the covenant, Beloved.  He makes the promise. He paid the price. All you need do is accept the grace that he offers.

Walk in that grace today, Beloved.

Happy Wednesday

Stand One-a-Day Tuesday 4/16/19

A life worthy

…zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me (Psalm 69:9).

Jesus entered the city and went up to the temple.  It was Passover, the biggest holiday of the Jewish year, so the joint was really jumping.  Many people had come a long way to be part of the celebration. Rather than transport all the animals you would need for the various sacrifices, it was normal and acceptable to buy what you needed when you got to Jerusalem.  The customary practice was for vendors to set up shop at a convenient place near the temple.

What Jesus saw when he arrived was dramatically different. The vendors had their booths and tables set up in the temple itself. They were operating in an area called the Outer Court, the only place in the temple where non-Jews could come to worship God. There they were, selling animals and changing foreign currency into local currency, and just generally carrying on noisy business, all while people were trying to worship.

Jesus was furious.  He knocked over the tables and chased the vendors out of there.  John even says that Jesus made a whip and used it to drive the blasphemers away.  He yelled at them, “It is written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers!’”

This is not the meek and mild Jesus we think of from Sunday School flannel boards.

He is not holding a lamb on his shoulders.

He does not have little kids crawling all over him.

He is not smiling.

This is the Messiah, the Lion of Judah.  This is a man of righteous integrity, protecting the purity of his father’s house.

Do the insults of those who insult God fall on you?  There are a lot of people out there who mock Jesus, and this is a prime season for doing it.  Does that bother you, Beloved? What are you doing about it? Do you stand for Christ in your daily world?  Look, I’m not calling you to grab a whip and chase the heathen out of town—

but if you do, send me pictures and I promise to post them.

There is no sitting for Christ.  You stand, or you fall.

Stand for him today, Beloved.

The Crowd One-a-Day Monday 4/15/19

Note:  Time to celebrate Holy Week.  Not that every week isn’t holy, but you know what I mean.   

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!  Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9).

Jesus was arriving in Jerusalem for the Passover.  This week would be the climax of his ministry, and would represent the very reason he came to live among us.  The time had come to declare himself the Messiah. (“Messiah,” by the way, is a Hebrew word that means “anointed one,” or “chosen one.” The same word is translated “Christ” in the Greek. Just so’s you knows.)

So, Jesus did what anyone would do—he sent for a donkey.

This really does make sense.  Zechariah had prophesied that the Messiah would arrive as a king, and would come to claim his throne riding on a donkey.  By arriving in this manner, Jesus was sending an unmistakable signal to the crowds. Now I know that a donkey is not the manliest of animals…certainly not very king-like.  But to the Hebrews, the donkey was significant. A king used a stallion when he rode to war, but a donkey when he came in peace. Thus, Jesus came as the King of Peace, to make peace between man and God.

The crowds loved it.  They spread cloaks and leafy branches on the ground for Jesus to ride upon—sort of a red carpet treatment. They cried out “Hosanna!” which means, “Save us,” and, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”  They were quoting Psalm 118, essentially acknowledging Jesus as Messiah and pledging themselves to him. They treated Jesus like a rock star.

Crowds are so fickle.

As he descended the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem was spread out before him.  Jesus wept over the city, knowing that, though they praised him at that moment, they would soon turn on him.

Are we fickle, Beloved?  Do we praise him when the crowd is cheering and waving palm branches, but turn away when they scream and reach for the hammer and nails?

Serving this King is a serious business indeed.

Serve faithfully, Beloved.

Happy Monday

For His Glory One-a-Day Friday 4/12/19

A life worthy

…to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:11b)

It was all for the Father’s glory.

Exalted to the highest place…

given the name above all names…

every knee bowing…

every tongue confessing him Lord…

All of it

Looking back at these verses, it seems that Christ’s whole purpose was to obey, and by obeying glorify, the Father.  Yes, he came to die for us, but isn’t that also serving the higher purpose of glorifying God? He came, he died, he rose, to bring the Father glory.

For God so loved the world that he sent his Son…

Never has there been a life more worthy.

So, Beloved of Christ.  What within you is “to the glory of God the Father?”  What within you cries out to obey, and by obeying glorify, him?

Listen to that something.

Follow that something.

Happy Friday, Beloved

Every…Meaning Every One-a-Day Thursday 4/11/19

A life worthy

…and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord… (Philippians 2:11a)  

I am so looking forward to this.

Just imagine it.  Everyone who has ever mocked Christianity, everyone who has ever scoffed at the idea of Creation, everyone who has ever lived a life that blasphemed the King of All—every last one will confess Jesus as Lord.

I know I shouldn’t gloat, and hopefully when the moment comes I will be too awestruck, too humbled, too filled with joy and eternity and the presence of my Lord to gloat,

but right now…

thinking about it…

Let’s just call it reason #863 to be glad I’m not God.

Happy Thursday, Beloved.

Bow One-a-Day Wednesday 4/10/19

A life worthy

…that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, in Heaven, on Earth, and under the earth… (Philippians 2:10)

We’re not real big on kings here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Bowing the knee to anyone sort of sticks in our collective craw. After all, we fought a revolution to chuck the King of England over the side of the boat, and we haven’t missed him much.  We’re an independent, self-sufficient, stand-on-your-own-two-feet kind of people.

But we’re gonna bow—all of us.

Californians will bow.

New Yorkers will bow.

Republicans will bow.

Democrats will bow.

Angels will bow.

Demons will bow.

Your neighbor will bow.

The idiot driver who cut you off will bow.

You, my friend, will bow.

The question of the day is this: How does that make you feel?  Do you

(A) shift uncomfortably at the thought of giving up the last wisps of the illusion of independence,

(B) tremble with joy at the thought of finally kneeling before the king of the universe, or

(C) offer a halfhearted “cool” and go about your business?

Far be it from me to intrude, but may I suggest that if your answer is anything other than (B) you spend some time in conversation with the One to whom you will one day bow?  It might make the whole experience more pleasant.

Just a thought for your Wednesday.

Happy Day, Beloved.

Name One-a-Day Tuesday 4/9/19

A life worthy

…and gave him the name that is above all names…  (Philippians 2:9b)

We know him by many names.

Jesus Christ

Alpha

Omega

Emmanuel

I Am

Lamb of God

Prince of Peace

Mighty God

Light of the World

The Bright Morning Star

Wonderful Counselor

The Amen

Man of Sorrows

Lion of the Tribe of Judah

The Word

The Author and Finisher of Our Faith

Bread of Life

Living Water

God calls him by another name,

Son.

And here’s something really crazy.  Because of Christ’s sacrifice, do you know what God now calls us?

Yes, you do.

How can that be?  What can that mean?

Something to chew on as you walk through today.

Happy Tuesday, Beloved.

Exalted One-a-Day Monday 4/8/19

A life worthy

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place…  (Philippians 2:9a)

This is deep and profound and utterly beyond me.

The word “Therefore” indicates to me that Jesus was exalted as a result of his obedience to the Father.  Yet he was raised to the position that was already his very nature—the position he gave up when he came to us as a man.  Why could he not simply claim by right that which was his from eternity?

He could have, of course.

He chose not to.  

He chose to follow the path of sacrifice and submission.  I am continually amazed, not only by Christ’s power, but by his willingness to restrain that power.  I have no doubt that, if I were in his place (as unlikely an image as you’re ever gonna get), I would not have waited for the Father to exalt me.  I would have exalted myself.

Reason #42 to be glad I’m not God.

Happy Monday, Beloved.