Wait Patiently

Today’s reading is Hebrews 6.

Today’s passage is one of those that gives me real hope. When the author of Hebrews looked around for an example of patiently waiting on God’s promises, he landed on Abraham, whom he claimed “having waited patiently, obtained the promise.” Waited patiently? Is this the same Abraham who lied about Sarah, claiming she was only his sister…twice? Is this the same Abraham who got upset at God for not fulfilling the promise yet and threw Eliezer of Damascus in God’s face? Is this the same Abraham who fell in line with Sarah’s suggestion to have a child with the handmaiden, Hagar? Is this the same Abraham who fell on his face laughing when God renewed the promise of a son with Sarah and then begged God to just let Ishmael be the fulfillment of the promise? Is this the man who waited patiently and obtained the promise? Yep. That’s the guy. Of course, none of this is to suggest we have permission to be impatient. None of this is permission to doubt, stumble, fall, lie, laugh at God’s plan, or straight up sin. It is simply a recognition that we all do those things sometimes. So did Abraham. But in the overall picture, because despite his struggles he did hang on to God, the Hebrews author looks back and says he waited patiently. I don’t have to give up because I’ve struggled. I don’t have to give up because I can see all my own failures, fumbles, and falls. Instead, I can get back up and put my hand in the Lord’s. That is waiting patiently. That is receiving the promises.

Tomorrow’s reading is Hebrews 7.

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Read This Post, Cuz I’m So Spiritual

Today’s reading is Matthew 6.

“Beware of posting your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then your likes and retweets will be all the reward you get.”
Matthew 6:1–The Modern Application Bible

Okay, I admit it. I made up “The Modern Application Bible.” (At least, I Googled it and couldn’t find one.) But maybe that would be a good exercise for us. The desire to be authentic, real, and transparent in social media has really blinded us on this one.  Truly, nobody cares what we had for dessert last night, but honestly, we would be better off putting that picture or another cat video up than the selfie of our volunteering, the Instagram of our good deeds, or the blog post about what we learned in our family Bible study. And, to be blunt, the whole, “I want people to see what God is doing through me,” is some powerful, mind-bending, mental gymnastics from our adversary whispered in our ear to deceive us. If God really wants people to see what He is accomplishing through us, let Him post about it. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills; if He needs PR, He probably won’t ask us (see Psalm 50:10-12). Trust me, when Jesus said not to let our left hand know what our right hand was doing, He didn’t mean to take your selfie one handed. Let’s do some soul-searching before we post. Maybe we should all ask, “If this post, tweet, snapshot is really about God, why is it so full of me?” Then, maybe we should delete and just wait for God to reward us in secret.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 7.

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Blessed are the Poor

Today’s reading is Luke 6.

One of the big mistakes we make when we get to the Beatitudes in Luke’s account of the gospel is to immediately jump back to Matthew’s version of them, decide what they mean there, and then just read it into Luke. Whether these are records of two different teaching events where Jesus said something similar or whether they are two versions of the same event, Jesus clearly didn’t mean contradictory things. However, Matthew and Luke are using them to make distinct, but complementary, points. Matthew focuses on spiritual humility, but Luke really is focusing on financial poverty. However, notice Luke’s good news for the poor, the hungry, the mourning, the despised. His good news is not, as so many try to make it today, a better life now. His good news is not, “Turn to me and I will give you sumptuous meals, fine clothes, the house on the hill, and leisurely retirements.” Rather, it is “Turn to me and I will give you the kingdom of God and your reward in heaven will be great.” In fact, the very thing many today make out to be the reward is what Jesus says the rich, well-fed, merry, honored people have now, and it is all the reward they are going to get. That is not a good thing. Why would we want to make that the great blessing of turning to Jesus. No, this doesn’t mean we ignore helping those around us in need. That is covered when Jesus teaches us to do good and give expecting nothing in return. However, let’s understand what the good news really is. It is so much better than social justice, benevolence, and equity. It is eternal life. It is the kingdom. It is the very presence of God throughout all eternity. The true good news is unsurpassed. And I am unashamed. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 7.

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What is My Reward?

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 9.

Paul provides an amazing principle in 1 Corinthians 9:18. “What is my reward?” he asks. That is, what is the reward he gets for preaching as a stewardship from God? “That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge.” Wait! What? What is his reward for all that preaching he is doing? The reward is getting to preach. Wow! Too often we miss what is really obvious. What is the reward for being a disciple maker? It is getting to make disciples. Who else gets to do that? Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Corinthians 10.

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