Have you ever had to draw a boundary with someone you love that was excruciatingly difficult? The kind where you feel you have been cornered at last – and you have no other option but to cut them off somehow? The kind where their choices and/or behavior have tied your hands so that you are no longer able to reach to them, help them or have relationship any more? It’s a difficult place to find oneself. I think we sometimes live in denial that it is a real place because it is so painful to have to arrive there. But the Bible is full of stories of this kind of extreme breaking of relationship. Isaiah chapter one describes the raw emotion of just such a scenario.
I find it very exciting in our daily Bible readings to have entered the wonderful world of the mind of “the Disciple whom Jesus loved” – John, Son of Zebedee. This is such a beautiful account of the Gospel message! A dear friend once pointed out to me that John possibly described himself in this book in this way, not in arrogance, but rather in the humblest of connotations. He meant it to express an idea something like this, “Jesus – the exalted Son of God Himself – loved me, even me. Isn’t that an astonishing and wonderful-beyond-belief thing?!!” I like to approach it like this because I think John was more in-tune with Jesus than most anyone else at the time. He saw his Lord and Savior as both his best friend and his King of Kings. He was so very thankful for Jesus’ love.
The faith of Joshua and Caleb is rather startling when you consider it carefully. Here are two men who had spirits within them that were superior to their peers on every level. These peers, however, were the “leaders’ of their nation. They were well-respected members of the elders of Israel – each a mighty man representing his own tribe. Unfortunately, when a true life-test of faith came along, these men melted into puddles of fear and unbelief. It is worth asking ourselves if we have an exceptional world-view of faith like Joshua and Caleb, or whether we fall into the doubter category.
Last night I was happily surprised to hear lots of croaking frogs down by the creek. I also have been delighted, once again, at the number of singing and squawking birds that are flittering through the trees in our yard. I guess it is true that Spring has begun! The frogs brought to mind a lovely Haiku poem that I have had running through my head ever since.
It is an excellent Bible study technique to take special note of the first occurrence of a given word in Scripture. Often many clues to the hidden wisdom of certain concepts can be ferreted out by exploring their first use very carefully. I was reminded of this as I read Luke Chapter One today. Let’s take “Jesus 101” Class together, shall we? You know the textbook – and the tuition is free!
I trust you are continuing with a commitment to daily reading of the Bible in this new year? For a variety of reasons, you may have decided to try a different reading plan this year. That is fine as long as you are still reading – that is the overall goal of this devotional I write. Namely, to encourage all participants (including myself) to see the daily reading of God’s Word as an integral part of our lives. If we persist, it becomes something that we cannot live without – because it just gets our heads in the right place to face the great variety of experiences each day offers.
Violence is a hot topic in our world. From bullying, to domestic violence, to police brutality, all the way up to terrorism and war; violence fills our homes, our schools, our cities, our nations and our daily news. It is impossible to get away from it. Speaking for myself, however, I sometimes get taken by surprise – as though violence is a new thing in human societies. Today’s readings in Mark 15, reminded me that violence is as old as the hills. It started with Cain (and his murderous seed) and will continue until the Prince of Peace comes to set things right.
For some reason, when I read John 7 today, I thought of all the comments you see at the end of news articles and controversial discussions online. It is especially apropos when considering political and public figures. Read it for yourself and you will see what I mean. Similar to the public forum of the internet, there are a great many people “having their say” about this guy, Jesus from Galilee, aren’t there? It’s worth considering which opinion category we might fall into. What comments might you make at the end of a news article about Jesus from Galilee?
Our God is not a legalistic God. If the obvious condemnation of legalism (like Jesus’ scourging renunciation of the Pharisee mindset) isn’t enough, we can find plenty of more subtle reminders that God’s grace has far-reaching effects. The message of His mercy shines forth in so many layers that, as we read the Bible, we sometimes have to step back from details and notice big picture symbolism to discover lessons.
As I was contemplating the days after the resurrection outlined in Luke 24, the caring behavior of Jesus struck me. Here he was, resurrected and all-powerful, immortal and finished with the great sin-battle, and yet what is he doing? He is more super than all superheroes and yet he is condescending to mortal, fallible people to offer them encouragement and wisdom. I find it so very lovely. So very humbling.