Up From the Grave

Today’s reading is Psalm 30.

Did Yahweh literally bring David’s soul up from Sheol? Had Yahweh literally restored to David life from among those who go down to the pit? Of course not. Just as Peter and Paul could refer to Psalm 16:10 and say, “Well, we can take you to David’s tomb, so he is actually a prophet pointing to someone else,” we can do the same thing here. We could go to David’s tomb today and discover his soul is actually still in Sheol and his life is actually among those who go down to the pit. But there is One whose tomb we haven’t simply lost. Rather, it was emptied. There is One whose life was among those who went down to the pit, but on the third day was restored. There is One for whom the disciples wept through the night, but in the morning came joy. And because of that, our mourning may be turned into dancing, our sackcloth may be replaced with gladness. And we will be able to give thanks forever. Not just for the rest of our earthly lives, but forever. Jesus rose up from the grave, and because He did, we look forward to resurrection ourselves. We look forward to dwelling in the Lord’s house forever, giving thanks to Him forever. Praise the Lord!

Next week’s reading is Psalm 31.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk podcast conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post!

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I’m the Nail

Today’s reading is Psalm 22.

If the victim in this psalm is ultimately Jesus, who is ultimately the victimizer? I leave that question with you and the answer in the form of a poem I read while studying this psalm:

To have been the cup
His lips touched and blessed,
To have been the bread
Which He broke;
To have been the cloth
He held as He served,
Or water He poured
As He spoke.

To have been the road
He walked on the Way,
To have been His print
in the sand;
To have been the door
That opened the tomb,
But I was a nail
In His hand.

“Remorse” by Sue Fife*

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 22.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes and listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier that expands on this post!

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Ready for Prison

Today’s reading is Acts 21.

“I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

I believe Paul fully thought he was about to walk into Jerusalem and follow the footsteps of his King all the way to a cross. After all, a prophet cannot die except in Jerusalem, right? (See Luke 13:33). And Paul was ready. Why? Because Jesus had resolutely walked into Jerusalem ready to die for Paul. Turnabout is fair play, don’t you think? Paul did. Paul had once fought against Jesus, but he had been conquered, taken captive, and enslaved to the greatest Master he could ever know. In a shocking turn of events and emotions, he was excited to be a captive of Jesus Christ. He never once called himself a prisoner of Caesar. He always called himself a prisoner of Jesus Christ. And he was happy to follow Jesus right to his own death. I pray God will strengthen me to be ready to face whatever the enemy throws my way. Jesus was ready to die for me, I want to be ready to do so for Him.

Today’s reading is Acts 21.

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Simon: A Picture of Discipleship

Today’s reading is Luke 23.

Yesterday’s picture of discipleship was great, wasn’t it? Learning that Barabbas is us and we are Barabbas is just awesome. Jesus died in my place so I don’t have to. Wow! Today’s picture is just as great, but we rarely see it that way. In fact, this is a picture many Christians forget and ignore. We love the picture of Barabbas. We rush through the picture of Simon of Cyrene. Here is a fellow seized by the Romans to bear a burden because they could do that to subject people. Now imagine in your mind’s eye watching these two men walking up Golgotha’s hill–Jesus leading the way with Simon following in His footsteps while carrying a cross. That is discipleship. Discipleship is not waving at Jesus as He walks up Calvary and then heading on our merry way. Discipleship is placing the cross on our shoulders and falling in line behind Jesus. He is still the one that does the dying, praise the Lord, but we carry the cross. We walk in His footsteps. We follow Him wherever He goes, even if it is up the hill of death. Bearing the cross is not merely going through some hardship. Bearing our cross is walking in Jesus’s footsteps. In today’s story and yesterday’s, we find the complete picture of discipleship, confessing Jesus as both Savior (the picture of Barabbas) and Lord (the picture of Simon). We take comfort in the salvation from His sacrifice, and we willingly lift up the cross to bring glory to His name.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 23.

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What’s Up with Barabbas?

Today’s reading is Luke 23.

What on earth is this about a guy named Barabbas? Okay, okay, you may have read the other gospel accounts about this guy and understand what is going on. But imagine for a moment that this was your first exposure to the gospel story. Luke doesn’t give us many details. All we have is some rebellious, murdering insurrectionist who gets to go free because the people ask that he be set free while innocent Jesus gets executed essentially for the same kinds of crimes Barabbas actually committed. And in this trade off, we see a powerful picture of what is actually happening as Jesus dies on the cross. A man, whose name literally means “son of the Father” by the way, guilty of insurrection and murder should go to the cross. He should be executed for his crimes. However, he doesn’t. On the other hand, a man, whose name means “God is salvation” by the way, completely innocent should never see a cross. But He does. Barabbas is us. We are the children of the Father who are guilty. We deserve the death. However, we are released. Jesus endures the death in our place. The one contrast between us and Barabbas is he was freed because the word of the people prevailed, we are freed because the Word of God prevailed. I often wonder how Barabbas behaved after witnessing Jesus condemned for his crimes and sins. How should he have behaved? How should he have thought of and related to Jesus from that day forward? That leads me to wonder about me. How should I behave? How should I relate to Jesus? What about you?

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 23.

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Counting the Cost

Today’s reading is Luke 14.

If we want to be Jesus’s disciple, we must count the cost. We don’t want to be like the fellow who starts to build a house, couldn’t actually afford it, and leaves a half finished monument to his poor planning. The cost? Renouncing everything. Isn’t it interesting that the cost is not paying everything? Even when the fellow we often call the rich, young ruler came to Jesus, Jesus didn’t say, “Sell all you have and give it to Judas my treasurer.” Jesus was no cult leader trying to get rich off the backs of gullible followers. However, this isn’t just about money. This whole teaching was actually based on Jesus’s claim that before we come to Him, we must hate our father, mother, wife, children, siblings, and even our own life. We are giving our allegiance to Jesus. We must be ready to renounce everything, including our family, our livelihood, anything we believe makes up our life right now in our service to Him. In other words, Jesus is to become our life. Renouncing doesn’t mean getting rid of everything. It means renouncing our claim on everything and everything’s claim on us. What is ours becomes His to be disposed of, dispersed, distributed, deposited, destroyed, defended as Jesus sees fit. Am I really willing to hand everything over to Jesus? Is there something in my life that if Jesus asked me to give it up, I’d say, “No.” If so, I need to keep counting. Don’t answer that question thinking, “Well, yes, there are some things I’d never give up, but Jesus would never ask me to give those up.” He may not. But He may. Is Jesus more important to you than anything else? Your reputation, your mother, your house, your spouse, your car, your business, your father, your acclaim, your children, your job, your pleasures, your pursuits, your goals, your desires, your identity, your money, your sexuality, your savings, your trophies, your retirement. We live in a culture that says no one has the right to ask this of us. In fact, no one does…except one. Our Creator, our Savior, our King. The good news is knowing that Jesus only asks of us what is best for us eternally. Understand, this is not really a question of whether you will renounce everything. You will. You already do. There is something in your life that holds sway over everything that might be considered important to you. There is something for which you will sacrifice everything no matter how painful or traumatic. It is different for each of us. Jesus says make it Him. Have you counted the cost?

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Pick Up Your Cross One Day at a Time

Today’s reading is Luke 9.

I like Luke’s record of the teaching about cross-bearing because of its use of the word “daily.” Cross bearing is not done annually, monthly, or even weekly. It is done daily. If I did a great job bearing my cross yesterday, I’m not done. I need to pick it up again today. If I did a terrible job bearing my cross yesterday, I’m not finished. I can pick it up again today. Additionally, there is no sense in putting my cross down today simply because I fear I can’t carry it for a week, a month, a year, a decade, or even a lifetime. After all, today is the only day I have. I may not even live to see tomorrow. Tomorrow can worry about itself. Let’s just go ahead and pick up our cross for today. Are you ready?

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 9.

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A Cross to Bear

Today’s reading is Luke 9.

“We all have our cross to bear.” I think this statement should be stricken from our communication. At least, it should be the way most people use it. Someone talks about having a tough boss, an old car, a leaky roof, a wayward child, an ongoing illness and then says, “Well, I guess we all have our cross to bear.” Bologna! Bearing the cross doesn’t mean putting up with some hardship in life. Jesus tells the apostles, “I must suffer many things and ultimately be killed.” Following that, He says, “If you want to come after me, pick up your own cross and follow me.” Bearing a cross doesn’t mean facing a difficulty. It means picking up the very implement of your death and carrying it to the place you are going to die. Jesus meant if we are going to be His disciples, we are going to follow in His footsteps. That doesn’t mean simply bowing at the foot of His cross. That means picking up our very own every day. The path to resurrection is through the cross. That is, the only way to actually gain life is first to lose it. Today’s question is not what burdens are we bearing. Today’s question is are we actually bearing our cross or just substituting life’s difficulties for really following Jesus?

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 9.

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God’s Power

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 1.

I understand why the world thinks it is foolish. I understand why it is a stumbling block. How could death demonstrate life? How could being nailed to a cross demonstrate power? How could such submission demonstrate strength? But that is exactly what the cross demonstrates. God is so powerful, His King can be led to and nailed upon a cross, but still be the victor. Why? Because for most people death equals the ultimate failure and loss. Not with Jesus. Death on the cross was merely the doorway to another enemy to defeat. That enemy was death and the grave. On the third day, Jesus was raised in accordance with the Scriptures. From then on, the word of His cross has been to us God’s power for our salvation. We have no need to be ashamed. Jesus is the victor. We are the victors. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Corinthians 2.

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In Heavenly Places

Today’s reading is Ephesians 1.

As we read¬†Ephesians,¬†stay tuned to “power.” It’s a competition. There are powers attacking us. But there is Power for us. The attacking powers were demonstrated when Jesus was hung on the cross and executed. But God’s power was demonstrated when He raised Jesus from the dead and enthroned Him in the heavenly places far above every other rule and power. Whatever comes at us, remember the Power that is for us. He is the one who provides blessings in the heavenly places.

Monday’s reading is Ephesians 2.

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