From “Me” to “Us”

Today’s reading is Psalm 31.

Track the pronouns in this psalm. Sometimes the main pronoun is the first person singular, sometimes it is the second or third person plural. That is, in some parts it is, “In you, O Lord, do I take refuge.” In other places, it is, “How abundant is your goodness, which you have…worked for those who take refuge in you.” Sometimes it is “I trust the Lord.” Other times it is “Love the Lord, all you his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful…” In this, David moves from praying about “me” the Lord’s anointed to praying about “us” the Lord’s people. This isn’t just some weird poetic thing. This is David setting himself up as the example. This is how God deals with His anointed, the head of His people. Therefore, this is how God deals with all His people. Especially when we get to the ending thoughts. David’s point is, “Look at me, people! Do you see how God has demonstrated himself faithful and loving with me? Do you see how God did deliver? I get it, I had some troubles along the way. But do you see how it ended? The same will be true for you. Hang on through the trouble. Stay faithful. Through me, God has proved Himself faithful.” We should see the same principle in our King. After all, a disciple is not above the teacher but when fully trained will become like the teacher. Do you remember what happened with Jesus? He was persecuted. He was afflicted. It even seemed that the hands of the enemies prevailed against Him. However, on the third day, He burst forth from the grave victorious. That is how the Lord gave victory to our King. We too, though the hand of the enemy seems to prevail, perhaps even killing us, will be victorious. We will also burst forth from the grave. So, commit your spirit into the Lord’s hand and hang on to Him no matter what.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 31.

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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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The Other Side of Jesus

Today’s reading is Luke 19.

When the wicked servant expresses his fear of the nobleman’s severity, the nobleman doesn’t respond, “Come now. Why do you think that? I am gracious and loving. I would never take what I didn’t deposit and reap what I didn’t sow. Here, try again. This time, let me be of more help.” Instead, the nobleman condemns the wicked slave, removes his mina, gives it to another servant. Then, he goes and slaughters all the people who didn’t want him to be their king. Here is the big question. Whom does the nobleman represent in this story? Have you thought about it? Are you ready to say it? The nobleman is Jesus. Never believe that the gracious love of the Lord and King Jesus Christ means He is someone to be trifled with, taken for granted, or taken advantage of. We cannot dismiss Him, ignore Him, or defy Him and then when He comes in judgment protest, “But I thought you were loving and gracious.” For those who put their faith in Him, He is a gracious and victorious strength for deliverance, rescue, and salvation. For those who refuse to surrender to Him, He is a severe and dominating judge for punishment and condemnation. Jesus is not a two-dimensional character in a poorly developed book. He is a multi-faceted complex being who was God in the flesh. Because of His gracious love, we do not have to live in terror of His severe judgment, but we must not forget it either.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 19.

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The Jubilee of Jesus

Today’s reading is Luke 7.

I don’t understand exactly why John began to wonder if Jesus was really the one the Jews had been waiting for. This is another one of of those texts where I’m sure there is some profound point I haven’t grasped yet. However, I do see Jesus’s answer. He fulfills Isaiah 61:1-2 (a passage He had claimed to fulfill back in Luke 4:17-21). Isaiah 61:1-2 is calling to mind the Year of Jubilee described in Leviticus 25. It was a year of freedom and deliverance. It was a year when debts were forgiven, slaves were released, property was restored. Isaiah prophesied that one would be coming who was anointed to institute this great Jubilee. Jesus says, “That’s Me.” Jesus is our Jubilee. He is the one that gives sight to the blind and sets free the captive. He is the one who not only proclaims good news, but is the good news. We are not awaiting the 50th year to receive our freedom. We can have it right now because Jesus is our Jubilee. He will remove our shackles. He will enlighten our eyes. He will be our good news. What wonder and glory we experience as His ransomed ones. He is the one the Jews were waiting for. Let us not miss Him just because He doesn’t look exactly like we might expect. He is the Lord. He is the Savior. He is our Jubilee.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 7.

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Used by God

Today’s reading is Philemon 1.

I get it. It is hard for us to relate to Onesimus. We get so distracted by the issue of slavery in this book, it is hard for us to think about anything else. Yet, Onesimus was a runaway slave. (No doubt, this was not the kind of enslavement we often picture today full of vicious abuse, for Onesimus’s master was a godly man.) When he learned the gospel from Paul, he realized he had been useless to his master and to his Master. Have you ever been there? Have you felt useless? Have you actually been useless? I know I have. Yet, the gospel turned Onesimus around. Rather than remaining useless, Onesimus returned home useful to Philemon, useful to Paul, and useful to God. If someone like Onesimus can be used by God, so can we. No matter how useless you have believed yourself to be, understand that you can be useful to the Master. Simply return to Him today, surrender to Him afresh. Then watch what He can do through you.

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Timothy 1.

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A Slave of Christ

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 7.

What a great equality Paul declares among Christians. Those who were slaves that became Christians had been freed by Christ from their sins. All Christians are freedmen of the Lord. Those who were free that became Christians were submitting to the yoke of Jesus Christ. All Christians are slaves of Christ. It seems a paradox, but what an amazing thing it is. The greatest freedom we can possibly have comes not from pursuing the greatest freedom we can possibly have, but by pursuing slavery to the greatest Master we can ever have: Jesus Christ. Be free. Become Christ’s slave.

Monday’s reading is 1 Corinthians 8.

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Free Slaves

Today’s reading is 1 Peter 2.

“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.”

Wow! We are free. But we are slaves. We are free slaves. How does that work? In the same way that we are under a law, but it is a law of liberty (James 1:25). As the Israelites had been set free from Egyptian slavery in order to serve Yahweh in His land, we have been set free from sin and Satan. But if we use that freedom to cover up evil, we are actually still just living in the slavery of sin. We have been set free from the one, so we might serve another–that is Yahweh. But how amazing that is because His yoke is easy and His burden light. His yoke is not intended to enslave us, use us, and abuse us, but to deliver us, benefit us, and bless us. Praise the Lord! We are His slaves and not another’s.

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Peter 3.

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Who Will Deliver Me?

Today’s reading is Romans 7.

The bad news is I’m a sinner. The worse news is sin is a slave driver that will take me farther than I wanted to go, keep me longer than I wanted to stay, and cost me more than I wanted to pay. Despite my personal attempts to break the shackles of sin, I will find myself ensnared again and again and again. The good news is there is One who can deliver me from this body of death–Jesus Christ the Righteous. Praise the Lord! If you want to overcome sin and have fallen short again and again, may I introduce you to my Savior who provides progressive victory.

Tomorrow’s reading is Romans 8.

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