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.

PODCAST!!!

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

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Good News of Great Joy

Today’s reading is Luke 2.

When Luke was written, “gospel” or “good news” was not a religious word. It was a political word. That is, “gospel” or “good news” usually referred to some great news about the emperor, the empire, or victory. It was the word used to describe the birth of the coming emperor or the ascension of a new emperor or the victory of the emperor over Rome’s enemies. When the angels used this word to describe the birth of Jesus, it was a powerful word for those Jewish shepherds. The anointed King of Israel, the descendant of David was born. He would be both Lord and Savior of the Jews. Rome would not be able to withstand this King. It was very much a challenge to the politics of the day. It was good news of great joy because finally the real King had been born, and victory over all enemies was coming. What good news of great joy this still is today. Our King was born. He lived. He conquered. He reigns. Follow Jesus today. He is the Savior. He is the Lord. He is the King. He is the Emperor. He is the only way to victory over and salvation from every enemy, including sin and death. And that is good news of great joy.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 2.

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Hate is No Surprise

Today’s reading is John 15.

It is surprising to me how many times throughout the Scripture the Holy Spirit prepares us for hate. Considering how good, loving, compassionate, and kind Jesus was, it is amazing that He was hated. But He was. In fact, so hated, He was taken to the cross. This was the very point those around Him didn’t grasp. If He was the Messiah, even if hated, He shouldn’t suffer for it. And this is, perhaps, one of the largest aspects of following Him that we miss today. If we are walking in the footsteps of Jesus, we heedlessly believe, everyone should like us. The world and the worldly will be so impressed with our Christlike love and compassion that they will long to hear what we say (if we are doing it right). The world shouldn’t hate us, we think. If they do, we are doing it wrong, we believe. And yet, Jesus prepares His followers again and again and again. It will not be different for us. Hate is no surprise. The world is going to hate us. The world is going to make us suffer for it. Obviously, we aren’t trying to be hated. But be ready. And be ready to keep loving one another and also loving those who hate us. That is what Jesus did when hated.

Tomorrow’s reading is John 16.

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Servants

Today’s reading is Jude 1.

If history and tradition are correct, and there is no reason to believe they aren’t on this issue, Jude was actually the biological half-brother of Jesus. Jude and James were sons of Joseph and Mary. They shared a mother with Jesus. Think about what that means for Jude and this letter. If he wanted a surefire way to get everyone’s attention and declare that they ought to listen to him, he could have called himself, “Jude, a brother of Jesus Christ and James.” But he didn’t. He said, “a servant of Jesus Christ.” What humility. What surrender. What discipleship. And what an example for us today. Too often we (read that in the editorial sense of “I”) try to puff ourselves up, make ourselves seem grandiose, convince others we are something special. And we are, we are servants of the King of kings. But we are His servants. Instead of lifting ourselves up, let’s lift Jesus up and be His servants today. Really, is there anything better to be?

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Corinthians 1.

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Almost a Disciple

Today’s reading is Mark 10.

In our congregation, we remind ourselves a disciple is someone who honors God, learns from God, loves like God, and leads others to God all while abiding in God’s Word. Here we find a man who was almost a disciple. He comes to Jesus as if to honor, learn from, and lead others to him. But in the end he falls short. And what is the ultimate difference? In the end, he honored himself (Sure, he called Jesus “good” but his own ideas were better). He learned from himself (yes, he called Jesus “teacher,” but when taught what he didn’t want to hear, he went his own direction). He loved himself (whatever it was about the many possessions that attracted him, it was because of what they did for him). He led himself away from God (that one is obvious). Don’t be an almost disciple, because there really is no almost. Be a disciple.

Tomorrow’s reading is Mark 11.

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