Run the race

Dt 34

This passage reminds me of the sovereignty of God. He has the ultimate authority in our lives, even if we don’t acknowledge his existence but especially if we do follow and believe in him.

My finish line may not be the finish line. I trust God to lead me in his way. I confess that I typed those words with trepidation.

Moses got to climb a a mountaintop and see the goal line but he would not get to cross it. The Israelites were camped on the east side of the Jordan river. The promise land was on the west side. 40 plus years Moses had led the people. He was 80 when God spoke to him from the burning bush. He was now 120 years old and as strong as ever yet God said he could not cross over.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have now allowed you to see it with your own eyes, but you will not enter the land.” So Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, just as the Lord had said. The Lord buried him in a valley near Beth-peor in Moab, but to this day no one knows the exact place. Moses was 120 years old when he died, yet his eyesight was clear, and he was as strong as ever.”

Deuteronomy 34:4-7 –

It seemed so minor, Moses’ infraction, his blunder, his sin and yet it kept him out of the promised land.

“But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!” This place was known as the waters of Meribah (which means “arguing”) because there the people of Israel argued with the Lord, and there he demonstrated his holiness among them.”

Numbers 20:12-13 –

God is sovereign. We may think we have a plan but God’s will prevails.

“But the Lord’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken. What joy for the nation whose God is the Lord, whose people he has chosen as his inheritance. The Lord looks down from heaven and sees the whole human race. From his throne he observes all who live on the earth. He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do. The best-equipped army cannot save a king, nor is great strength enough to save a warrior. Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory— for all its strength, it cannot save you. But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love. He rescues them from death and keeps them alive in times of famine. We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.”

Psalm 33:11-22 –

This morning I read Ruth chapter 1.

It is a simple little book about a family from Bethlehem who suffered great loss. Naomi went with her husband and 2 sons to Moab to escape a famine in Israel. Her sons find Moabite wives. But then one by one her men die and she is left with her 2 daughters in law, Orpah and Ruth.

(I want to mention that the family were called Ephrathites. I live in Ephrata Washington and am also an Ephrathite. Our town was called Ephrata because it reminded a visitor of the area around Bethlehem.)

Naomi heard that God had blessed Israel with a good harvest so she decided to go back. Her daughters in law both said they would return with her. She dissuaded them and Orpah returned to her parents but Ruth said this: “But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”

Ruth 1:16-17 –

Ruth’s devotion is touching, but it becomes history changing. Because she would become a part of the lineage of Jesus.

Thank you Ruth for you loyalty and dedication and thank you God for having a plan to save me…and all the other folks too.

Peter James!

(originally posted July 20, 2016)

When you get called by your formal name….

“Peter James!”

Just typing that sent chills of fear through my body because even though you couldn’t hear it, there was my mothers voice in my ear ringing with an angry tone as I typed.

John 21

I think that is what the apostle Peter heard in our text today. Jesus used his given name, Simon son of John.

“15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”’

Jesus used his given name, Simon son of John. There is language here that’s worth looking into if you have the time but what I got this morning was Jesus telling Simon Peter that he would never deny Jesus again.

He had denied Jesus. He denied him 3 times. The last denial was vehemently and with cursing.

On this day, through the catch of fish Jesus provided for this ex-fisherman, he gave him his mission, feeding the sheep Jesus would provide for him and he told him that peter would die a horrible death rather than deny Jesus again.

It’s a good thing to hear that Jesus doesn’t hold grudges. Even open denial can be forgiven.

Thank you Jesus for forgiving that Peter and for forgiving this Peter all of our sins.

God’s amazing use of brokenness

Joshua 2

This morning I read this. It is Rahab the prostitute speaking with the Israeli spies.

“I know the Lord has given you this land,” she told them. “We are all afraid of you. Everyone in the land is living in terror. For we have heard how the Lord made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt. And we know what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River, whose people you completely destroyed. No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things. For the Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below.

Joshua 2:9-11 –

I believe in and serve a ancient God. He is the lord God of the heavens above and the earth below. He is also a God of compassion and forgiveness.

People with a past can have a future because God uses broken people. Rahab the prostitute became part of the human lineage of Jesus. Rahab believed in God and God used her in his plan to provide a savior for the world.

An excerpt of Jesus’ lineage from the book of Matthew:

“Salmon was the father of Boaz (whose mother was Rahab). Boaz was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth). Obed was the father of Jesse.”

Matthew 1:5 –

Jesse is King David’s Father.

God can use broken people, people like me and people like you.

On that hill.

7 On this mountain he will destroy

the shroud that enfolds all peoples,

the sheet that covers all nations;

8 he will swallow up death forever.

The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears

from all faces;

he will remove his people’s disgrace

from all the earth.

The Lord has spoken.” Isa 25:7,8.

The hill was Golgotha, the place of the skull where Jesus died once for all. He defeated death and sin. Sin and death like unholy debt collectors waiting to haul us each away but Jesus paid it all for everyone of us. that day. On that hill.

A doubter transformed

(Originally posted July 14, 2016)

There were 2 missing. One was dead, suicide, and the other was AWOL.

John 20

Where was the second guy? The group had been tight for 3 years now it seemed to be unraveling. The missing mans name was Thomas.

I speculate that Thomas was being proactive. He was moving on to plan B. Plan A had been a miracle working messiah but he was dead. I think Thomas had seen Jesus body some where, either on the cross or on the way to the tomb. He couldn’t shake the sight of his teacher/leader/friend/messiah being dead.

“Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin,[a] was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

The Purpose of This Book

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

I don’t blame Thomas. I have seen dead bodies before. My uncle Charlie and my mom. They don’t look the same. Jesus was dead. But not for long. Thomas said “unless I see, unless I touch”. He got to do that but today we don’t have that option. We do however receive a blessing by believing without seeing.

Jesus suffered and died. He was dead. But he came back to life in a way that a doubter could see and believe.

What do you believe about Jesus?

There is a lot weighing in the balance of your answer. Believe and come home to our Father.

No cape, just a cross

He did it without a cape.

No costume. No mask. No sidekick.

It cost him his life but he did it. Jesus saved the world.

John 19 & 20

Superheroes are doing it all the time, supposedly saving the world but they never fight our two worst enemies; sin and death.

Jesus took on the battle over sin and death and beat them both.

“After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Jesus’ Side Is Pierced

31 Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35 He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. 36 For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”’

It doesn’t read like a victory but wait, there’s more to the story.

Jesus rose from the dead.

“11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic,[b] “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.”

From the cross Jesus said “it is finished”. The battle over sin in our lives has been won. Sin wants to enslave us but Jesus paid for all of us and all of it on the cross. What is left for us is to confess our need of forgiveness and to receive the gift. It sounds too simple.

Paul summed it up in his letter to the Romans, ” if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”’

Today could be the day that changes eternity for someone. If you have already received Jesus’ gift then take the next step and tell someone. Once everyone has heard we get to go be with Jesus in the home he has built for us. Maybe the last person that’s waiting to hear the good news is sitting across the aisle from us at work, or lives across the fence from us, next door. We need to Tell our story.

Jesus has defeated sin and death.

No cape, just a cross.