You Crucified; God Delivered

Today’s reading is Acts 2.

Peter demonstrates the intersection of God’s foreknowledge and man’s action. Jesus’s crucifixion was not a shock to God. He had known it was going to happen. Not only that, He had planned for it to happen. Yet, Peter tells the Jews, “God delivered Jesus up, but you crucified Him.” When folks try to walk through the issues of foreknowledge philosophically, they get wrapped around the axle. Were the Jews bound to crucify Jesus? Of course not. If they hadn’t crucified Him, God would have foreknown something else. However, before our minds explode trying to keep all of this straight, can we simply notice what Peter, by inspiration of the Spirit, explains? Even though God foreknew this was going to happen, these Jews were still responsible for their actions. They chose their actions. They were not bound to those actions. They were not manipulated by God to accomplish those actions. They were not forced by God. In like manner, whatever God knows about us and our future, when we choose to do it, we are responsible for it. However, let us never think we are going to outsmart God. These folks crucified the Son of God, but they did nothing but accomplish what God wanted. We can fight all we want against God, He will be glorified in the end. He will either be glorified by our defeat as we try to fight against Him and fail, or He will be glorified by our surrender, as we give our lives up in service to Him and He saves us. No matter what, God is glorified. We might as well pursue the side that allows us salvation. Praise the Lord He has offered that option to us.

Today’s reading is Acts 2.

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Who Wins?

Today’s reading is Luke 19.

Which of the servants won? I mean, obviously the servant who wrapped up his mina in a handkerchief lost. But what about between the other two. Which one won? Both are congratulated by the nobleman/king. Both are awarded cities to rule in the nobleman’s new kingdom. Granted, the 10 mina fellow received more cities and even got the 1 mina man’s mina. But the question seems silly because we understand this wasn’t a competition. Both the 10 mina servant and the 5 mina servant won, but neither of them beat the 1 mina man. Neither did one beat the other. In fact, when I recognize that both of them attributed their success to the mina they were given and not to their own investing prowess, I realize even more how little competition there was between them. Were the mina’s competing? Of course not. This is a problem I often have. I compete. I tend to view everything as a competition. If my wife and I are driving separate cars to the same location, it automatically becomes a race, and I think getting there first says something about my personal value and self-worth. It’s really kind of ridiculous. I find it hard to listen to other preachers because in my mind I’m thinking how I could have done it better or how I could never have done as well as they did or how I would have done it differently. Then I’m wondering if the audience likes the preacher they are hearing now better than they like me and my preaching. I recently read this line in a book:

“Relationships that involve competition may give us a fleeting sense of connection. ‘At least we’re all in this together,’ we may think. But in the end it’s hard to count on a friend who is also an opponent.”*

When I grasp that it is the Master’s mina that is doing the heavy lifting, I can drop the competition. It’s not about me. My job is merely to put the Master’s mina to the best use I can. The Master can decide what kind of return to give it and what kind of fruit to let it bear (just to mix metaphors). In the end, whether the Master’s mina produces 10 minas, 5 minas, or only 1 mina for us, we win. The only time we lose is when we think it is a competition about our ability and decide not to use the Master’s mina.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 19.

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Repent and Give God the Glory

Today’s reading is Revelation 16.

Of course, there are some differences, but don’t these bowls of wrath sound familiar? Painful sores, darkness, water turned to blood, hail. Obviously, the Holy Spirit is again calling to mind the plagues of God on Egypt. Further, He is calling to mind Pharaoh’s own hardness of heart that refused to repent and give glory to God. However, notice right in the middle of this the interjection, “Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!” Does that sound familiar to you? It should. It is a mixture of what Jesus said to the church at Sardis in Revelation 3:2-3 and to the church at Laodicea in Revelation 3:18. Smack in the middle of all this judgment coming on the Bride’s enemies, there is a reminder that these messages are for us, the Bride, the church, as well. This is not simply an issue of insiders and outsiders. This is not just an issue of having gone through some entrance requirements, having our name on the role, paying our weekly dues, and now it doesn’t matter how we live. We who make up the Bride are to stand against the enemy as much as God is to judge the enemy. How often do Christians end up turning their back on the Lord because of hardship instead of repenting and giving glory to God. Remember, no matter what, God is the Savior. He is the Lord. He is the deliverer. Even when it looks like He is going to lose, even when we can’t understand why He is behaving as He is, He deserves glory. Whether you are in the church or without, let God’s disciplines accomplish their goal. Do not curse God and die, rather surrender to God and give Him the glory. I promise you, in the end, you’ll be glad you did.

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 17.

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The Glory of God

Today’s reading is Revelation 15.

When the Babylonians took Solomon’s temple apart, the glory of God was gone. When Zerubbabel and Joshua rebuilt the temple, however, there was no visible manifestation of the Lord’s glory. When Herod refurbished the temple, there was no manifestation of the Lord’s glory in the temple. However, under Jesus Christ, the sanctuary not made with hands in the heavens is full of the glory of the Lord. Here is the picture of victory. In fact, it is the same picture that demonstrated victory in Exodus. We often think the crossing of the Red Sea is the climax of Exodus. Not so. The climax is when the glory of the Lord enters the tabernacle. God had sent the plagues on the enemies, He had delivered Israel through the Red Sea, He had brought them to Mt. Sinai. But the climax is when God shows His abiding presence by entering the tabernacle. That is exactly what is going on here. God has sent plagues of judgment and will continue to do so in the next chapter. But the real glory is that He is in the midst of His people. He takes residence in the sanctuary, which is His church. The promises of restoration are fulfilled not in a temple rebuilt on earth, but in the heavenly temple of God’s house. Praise the Lord! He dwells with His people.

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 16.

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God’s Glory Matters; God’s Authority Matters

Today’s reading is John 7.

Why does the issue of authority matter? Is it because we have to prove we are better at keeping rules? Is it because if we don’t cross all the Ts and dot all the Is we’ll go to hell? Is it because we have to earn our way into heaven by following the pattern? No. None of these things is the reason. The reason authority matters is because God’s glory matters. When I act on my own authority, I’m seeking my own glory. When I’m seeking God’s glory, I act on His authority. It’s just that simple. Whose glory are you seeking? How can you tell?

Tomorrow’s reading is John 8

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A Modern Pharisee

Today’s reading is Matthew 23.

“Then Jesus said to the crowds and his disciples, ‘The Pharisees do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their social media reach wide and the posts of their actions long. They love the likes and retweets they receive. They love to have the place of honor on the internet, competing for friends and likes. They love to have the greetings of those who agree with what they say and jump to their defense when someone disagrees. But you are not to be called Teacher or Father, for you are all siblings. And you have one Teacher who is Jesus. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.'”

So says the guy writing a blog post. Yes, I get it. And I’m talking to me as much as to anyone else. This platform can accomplish great good. At the same time, it can lead us down a subtly dark and sinful path. As we navigate it, let’s be fearlessly and thoroughly honest about what we are doing here. And let’s make sure it is always and only God whom we are glorifying.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 24.

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The Body is for the Lord

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 6.

God did not give us bodies so we could be involved in sexual immorality. Expanding that point, we recognize God didn’t give us our bodies so we could do whatever we pleased with them. Rather, He gave us bodies so we could serve Him with them. The body is for the Lord. But also note that the Lord is for the body. In other words, any restrictions or requirements God gives us are actually for our benefit. After all, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Whatever God tells us to do with those bodies will be for our good because that is also for God’s good. Further, what God tells us is for His good will be for ours as well. He is glorified in our bodies not by putting us down or diminishing our bodies, but by lifting us up in our bodies. Therefore, let’s be excited to glorify God in our bodies. That will be best not only for God, but for us as well.

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Corinthians 7.

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