…Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith… Hebrews 12:1b-2a
Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. . . And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’
Jeremiah 23 holds another prophecy of the Messiah. Again, He is referred to as a descendant of David, as a King, and another name is given – the Lord is our righteousness.
This is hard news for those of us who believed we could be good people, good enough to tip the scales of eternal justice in our favor. We can’t. But what we can do is follow God’s plan – the rescue plan He made from the beginning – and accept His Messiah, the Lord, as our righteousness.
There are several passages of Scripture that talk of putting on Christ – Ephesians 4:20-24, Romans 13:14, and Galatians 3:27 to name a few. The idea here is that we are naked and exposed before the Throne of Divine Justice. All we’ve done, all those times we’ve forcibly silenced the voice of our conscience and done what we know to be wrong, completely unmasked.
But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Then Christ comes, the One who died to pay the price for us, and if we accept His help, He covers us with His righteousness like a cloak of dignity. His dignity. But we have to accept it and put it on.
By doing so, we implicitly agree to honor His righteous name as well.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.
This crazy year…
It’s possible I may ruffle a few feathers or step on some toes here, but may I say I’m an equal opportunity ruffler? I try to dishevel and tread equally without taking sides… except the Lord’s side. When it comes to the Way, the Truth, and the Life, I won’t budge a millimetre. I belong to Him, you see.
We kicked off 2020 with wildfires in Australia. Of course, there was also the now-standard biological dementia which is Relativism’s crowning achievement… and it’s all been downhill from there.
A global pandemic, COVID-19, brought widespread lock-downs and economic closures, disrupting the rhythms of an entire planet.
In its wake came economic instability, fear, and the inevitable conspiracy theories. These began a fatal feedback loop, drawing fear out of a tense environment, amplifying it, and pumping it back into the social current.
Thus was born COVID-Madness. Riding the wave of this new socio-psychological pathology came a series of social-media opinion wars cleverly disguised as “facts.”
The pandemic is real and will kill all of us. The numbers of COVID deaths are crazily high, killing more people than the seasonal flu – and here’s a graph to prove it.
NO, the numbers are inflated by the rich and powerful for… reasons. The flu kills more people – and here’s a graph to prove it.
You’re a hopelessly deluded sheep if you wear a mask in public.
You’re a callous, selfish humanity-hater if you don’t wear a mask in public.
People, we need a vaccine to fix this thing so we don’t all die!
No, the vaccine is an evil plot to microchip everyone and infect them with retroviruses so the rich and powerful can become richer and more powerful …
(…I suppose so they can spend their vaccine-inflated wealth burying everyone they slaughtered with their vile plan as they skillfully document graves via microchip technology, then dance about a lonely world populated solely by giant murder hornets and other wealthy mask-wearing vaccine-givers, clutching their money and laughing manically ???)
Thanks, guys. All very helpful and supportive. Really, we needed more division in the country. And this only gets us through April or so.
As if my country wasn’t already on edge, yet another series of what appeared to be racially-motivated killings slammed racial tensions back to the forefront. Many people I love who happen to have more melanin in their skin are hurting and angry – for good reason. I am hurting and angry.
I may be a white woman but I’m still human. So are my brown friends and family. The last thing I want is for a single one of them to be gunned down in the privacy of their home, chased down and shot in the streets, have the life literally squeezed out of them, or some other atrocity all due to a social sickness birthed in slavery and perpetrated by the bizarre human love-affair with evil, division, self, and sin.
Protests were begun – rightly so. But of course, peaceful protests have a tendency to morph into riots. Especially when a country is already pregnant with unrest from a pandemic, quarantines and lockdowns, disinformation wars, and financial trouble.
And July is just around the corner…
I confess: Some days I am just tired.
Tired of hearing angry rhetoric and useless hype.
Tired of social justice movements that ignore actual justice from the perspective of the One who not only made the world but is its sole rightful Judge. Not to mention bearing the only correct assessment of right and wrong by merit of creating all the things…
Tired of a Church too willing to adopt social trends and too lax in her handling of the Word of Truth. (Note: I don’t mean a specific church body but the American church in general here…)
Tired of a people who are too busy defending their opinions to listen to the voices of others; too busy to listen to the Voice of Truth.
Tired of trying to speak of my God only to find my voice is only adding to the global cacophony.
And yet, I dare not stop speaking. I dare not stop trying. Lives are at stake. Eternally.
Lord, guide my words and my heart. Let them both be pure before You and purely Yours. You are the answer – the ONLY answer – to the problems we face. And though we may not like to hear it, the answer lies not necessarily in the here and now but in eternity.
In this world, we will have trouble. You have promised it! But in Your Son and through Your Spirit, we may also have peace – shalom – and we can take heart, because Your Son has already overcome the world. Help me remember that no matter how large the horde of propaganda is, this battle is Yours and Yours alone, amen.
… Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.
If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Daniel 3:17-18, NASB
YHWH Adonai, You are the great and mighty God; the God who saves us and in whom is found compassion, mercy, justice, and forgiveness. Whether our lives are filled with difficulty or ease, You are good, for You are unchanging even in the midst of a world in constant flux. Our opinion of You has no effect on the reality of You, our God, nor do our feelings towards you make any difference in who You are. Thank You for Your solidity in an unstable world.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
Today, we thank You for the many times You have rescued us from some disaster or kept us safe from some evil scheme. However, Lord, we also recognize that You do not always protect us in this world. Sometimes, terrible things happen. Sometimes there is sickness, terror, pain, sorrow, torment, and death.
Faith in You does not guarantee us a pain-free life. If anything, faith in You prepares us to take up our crosses, daily choosing to die to ourselves and follow You. Choosing faith in Christ means choosing to participate in His suffering, but also to participate in His ultimate exaltation. Choosing to follow Jesus also means declaring open war on the enemy of our souls, opening us up to a greater scale of attack from his forces as he seeks to destroy and discourage us.
And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.
Knowing this, we choose You anyway, Lord. You are able to rescue us from any danger, yet even if You do not, we will serve You. Our choice to give our lives to You is not based on what You do for us but on the fact that You are who You are. The King of kings; the Prince of peace; the Mighty God; the Beginning and the End; the Holy One. We serve You because You are our God and because we love You, and no scheme of hell nor pain of life can ever tear that away.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And so it is that we praise You for saving us from ultimate and eternal disaster through the sacrifice of Jesus. Thank You that You chose to draw us to Him, to enable our hearts to trust in Him. Without Jesus, we would be doomed to the futility of our own poor choices now and eternal suffering, but in Christ, we are renewed and redeemed to be useful to You once more and promised eternal life in Your presence.
Use us, Lord, as You see fit. Give us an eternal hunger for You and for Your word, and pierce our hearts with sorrow for those who suffer in this world without the eternal hope we have in You. May this tenderness compel us to share Your truth boldly with others, pleading on our knees in intercession on their behalf that You might see fit to draw them to saving faith as well, amen.
And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.”
And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.
When my first child was born, one of my sisters had two young daughters. The first time I visited my old hometown with the baby, my nieces were fascinated by the tiny little boy and flocked around me. While visiting, I recall having to change him on a bed. My sister told her girls as they catapulted with the enthusiasm of the young onto the bed, “You can watch Aunt Heather change him, but DON’T HELP.”
A couple of years and two babies later, I understood the wisdom in these words.
It seems a child’s enthusiastic help sometimes falls a little short of the adult standard.
Take Sarai (later known as Sarah). The Scriptures do not say specifically, but I have a strong suspicion the imbroglio involving her servant, Hagar, began as an attempt to help the Almighty fulfill His promise to her husband.
Certainly by now, her beloved Abram (later known as Abraham) had shared with her the Divine Promise of descendants as numerous as the dust. The Lord had even reiterated the promise that a direct descendant of Abram/Abraham would be his heir.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the anticipated event added spice to their dinner conversation for many weeks to come. Yet when months, then years, passed and there was no child, it seems they became discouraged.
I can imagine their suppers gradually becoming less and less about dreaming of their son and more and more about fueling up for the dreary days ahead. And despite the barbed nature of her own words (see verse 16:2 above), I rather doubt Sarai thrust Hagar into the mix as an act of revenge.
Surely, she must have rationalized the choice. After all, she wasn’t getting any younger. It seemed pretty clear by now that God must have meant to use some other mode or method than her to fulfill His word. And besides, other people did it this way.
But despite what we ought to assume were the best of intentions (after all, isn’t that what we want others to assume about us?), Hagar’s pregnancy did not initiate an era of familial warmth and unity.
And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the LORD judge between you and me!” But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.
Oy. Not a pretty picture.
(If you want to find out how the story turns out, go ahead and read the rest of Genesis 16. Heck, while you’re at it, read the rest of the Bible. There are plenty of little lessons like this one tucked in those pages.)
You see, this story came to me recently in a very personal way. Around the same time God was chopping up a root of bitterness to bake into the humble pie He was preparing for me, He also pointed out a little corner of misplaced childish enthusiasm.
While I can’t share details, suffice to say there was an area of my life where I, with absolute sincerity, was driving forward full-tilt, eager provide an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to work.
I thought I was tilling the soil but in actuality think I was just making scratches in the dust. Over time my endeavors consumed increasing amounts of energy for decreasing amounts of fruit.
And when I’d finally had enough, I cried out to my Father, begging Him to tell me what I was doing wrong. And He did.
First, He reminded me of Sarai’s story. Persistently.
And then, of course, He reminded me that if I want to see His power at work, the best thing I can do is wait on Him.