Saturday, November 20, 2010

Who He Is

In Genesis, He is the Creator God.

In Exodus, He is the Redeemer.

In Leviticus, He is your sanctification.

In Numbers, He is your guide.

In Deuteronomy, He is your teacher.

In Joshua, He is the mighty conqueror.

In Judges, He gives victory over enemies.

In Ruth, He is your kinsman, your lover, your redeemer.

In 1 Samuel, He is the root of Jesse.

In 2 Samuel, He is the Son of David.

In 1 Kings and 2 Kings, He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

In 1st and 2nd Chronicles, He is your intercessor and High Priest.

In Ezra, He is your temple, your house of worship.

In Nehemiah, He is your mighty wall, protecting you from your enemies.

In Esther, He stands in the gap to deliver you from your enemies.

In Job, He is the arbitrator who not only understands your struggles, but has the power to do something about them.

In Psalms, He is your song and your reason to sing.

In Proverbs, He is your wisdom, helping you make sense of life and live it successfully.

In Ecclesiastes, He is your purpose, delivering you from vanity.

In the Song of Solomon, He is your lover, your Rose of Sharon.

In Isaiah, He is the mighty counselor, the Prince of Peace, the everlasting Father, and more. He's everything you need.

In Jeremiah, He is your balm of Gilead, the soothing salve for your sin-sick soul.

In Lamentations, He is the ever-faithful one upon whom you can depend.

In Ezekiel, He is your wheel in the middle of a wheel, the one who assures that dry, dead bones will come alive again.

In Daniel, He is the ancient of days, the everlasting God who never runs out of time.

In Hosea, He is your faithful lover, always beckoning you to come back, even when you have abandoned Him.

In Joel, He is your refuge, keeping you safe in times of trouble.

In Amos, He is the husbandman, the one you can depend on to stay by your side.

In Obadiah, He is Lord of the Kingdom.

In Jonah, He is your salvation, bringing you back within His will.

In Micah, He is Judge of the Nation.

In Nahum, He is the jealous God.

In Habakkuk, He is the Holy One.

In Zephaniah, He is the witness.

In Haggai, He overthrows the enemies.

In Zechariah, He is Lord of Hosts.

In Malachi, He is the messenger God.

In Matthew, He is King of the Jews.
In Mark, He is the Servant.
In Luke, He is the Son of Man, feeling what you feel.

In John, He is the Son of God.

In Acts, He is Savior of the world.

In Romans, He is the righteousness of God.

In 1 Corinthians, He is the rock that followed Israel.

In 2 Corinthians, He is the triumphant, victorious one.

In Galatians, He is your liberty ... He sets you free.

In Ephesians, He is Head of the Church.

In Philippians, He is your joy.

In Colossians, He is your completeness.

In 1 Thessalonians, He is your hope.

In 2 Thessalonians, He is your patience and discipline.

In 1 Timothy, He is your faith.

In 2 Timothy, He is your stability.

In Titus, He is the truth.

In Philemon, He is your benefactor.

In Hebrews, He is your perfection.

In James, He is the power behind your faith.

In 1 Peter, He is your example.

In 2 Peter, He is your purity.

In 1 John, He is your life.

In 2 John, He is your pattern.

In 3 John, He is your motivation.

In Jude, He is the foundation of your faith.

In the Revelation, He is your coming King.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Are you Listening?

At this my heart pounds and leaps from its place.
Listen! Listen to the roar of his voice, to the rumbling that comes from his mouth.
He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven and sends it to the ends of the earth.
After that comes the sound of the his roar; he thunders with his majestic voice.
When his voice resounds, he holds nothing back.
God's voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.
He says to the snow, "fall on the earth," and to the rain shower, "Be a mighty downpour."
So that all men he has made may know his work, he stops every man from his labor.
The animals take cover; they remain in their dens.
The tempest comes out from its chamber, the cold from the driving winds.
The breath of God produces ice, and the broad waters become frozen.
He loads the clouds with moisture, he scatters his lightning through them.
At his direction they swirl around over the face of the whole earth to do whatever he commands them.
He brings the clouds to punish men, or to water his earth and show his love.
Listen to this Job; stop and consider God's wonders.
-Job 37:1-14

This past week I discovered how much I do not necessarily appreciate reading through the book of Job. Its an awesome story of faithfulness and trusting God in uncertainty, but after 30+ chapters of Job and his three friends debating the source of his suffering and repeating their arguments, I was definitely ready to move on to the next chapter in my study. This passage, though, was one that really stuck out to me, and I was left rather awestruck at Elihu's speech to begin chapter 37.

Everything Elihu says to describe the majesty and glory of God brings him such pure delight: At this my heart pounds and leaps from its place! His wonder and joy for the Lord overwhelms him, and then overflows to those around him. "Listen!" he urges, "Listen to the roar of his voice, to the rumbling that come from His mouth." He launches into a fervent dialogue identifying example after example of tangible, earthy examples of God's power. Elihu's passion for this subject practically leaps off the page as he pleads with Job to really listen to what he has said:
Listen to this Job; stop and consider God's wonders. His ardor for the subject is so evident I can just imagine him taking hold of Job's shoulders to look him in the eye. "Are you listening, Job? I mean, really listening? Can you even begin to comprehend such glory?"

This kind of passionate response to God's marvelous glory is so often lacking in my understanding of God. Its easy to worship God for the wonderful things He has done for me, but His inherent praise-worthiness beings simply with who he is, the awesome and powerful creator of the world and of us. Yet how often do I emanate uncontainable praise for my Lord for this reason? Certainly not often enough.

The Temple

I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.
-2 Chronicles 7:16

Its so easy to breeze through Old Testament readings without really taking the time to contemplate them. Its understandable, though, since they were written for and about a people so long ago, right? Certainly, there is very little relation between these thirty-nine books and our faith today. The Israelites may have served the same God we serve, but that was the Old Covenant. Christ came and did away with all that sacrificial stuff. We're part of the New Covenant. That all may be very well and true, but if today's Christians completely dismiss the value the Old Testament writings have, we're missing out on a beautiful picture of our relationship with Christ. The New Testament doesn't eliminate the need for the Old Testament, but instead becomes a companion to it, so that studying it leads to a deeper understanding.

In the Old Testament, the temple was the place where the glory of God resides. Immediately after being built and dedicated, Solomon's temple is overwhelmed by the presence of God:

When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the could filled the temple of the Lord. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple.
-1 Kings 8:10-11

(Did you catch that? The glory of God was so overwhelming, the priests couldn't even perform their duties... and the Levites were the MVPs of holiness amongst the Israelites, the only ones who were called to do God's work directly. Wow! Our God is just that marvelous!)

Fastforward a thousand years or so, and Paul is writing to encourage the church in Corinth. He strives to provide answers to their struggles to act as believers in the midst of the world that surrounds them and play out their faith as a unified body of believers. To illustrate his point, he draws a comparison from their former Jewish faith in order to create a picture they can more fully comprehend:

Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?"
-1 Corinthians 3:16
God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.
-1 Corinthians 3:17b
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, who you have received from God? You are not your own.
-1 Corinthians 6:19

It is here, where the Old and New Testament collide that we find a beautiful portrait of our faith. In the same way that the Temple bore God's name, we bear the name of Christ and represent Him to the world that we live in. As the Old Covenant declared the Temple to be chosen and consecrated, we are God's chosen people, and he has consecrated us, setting us apart from the world as something drastically different (John 15:19). And we have the beautiful promise that, like the Old Testament Temple, the eyes and heart of the Lord are always fixed upon us!
Such a captivating passage that provides so much elaboration of our faith, but would be hidden if we forget to regard the Old Testament for the value it has.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Awaiting an Answer

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and everyday have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer O Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
for he has been good to me.
-Psalm 13

I love this Psalm for the simple fact that the psalmist never receives an answer. These six short verses are filled with pleading and longing for God's intervention into their bleakest hours, with just a glimmer of hope and trust in the faithfulness of the Lord. But when all is said and done, the writer has not heard a reply from the heavens, and we are left with the understanding that he still finds himself in the same desperate situation he began with.

For me, that's where we find the beauty of this Psalm: in the silence from heaven. For in the midst of an unanswered plea, the author retains his faith and trust that the Lord will deliver in accordance with His perfect plan. He responds to the silence by praising God, "for he has been good to me." Although the context of these six verses do not include an answer, they end with worship.

This leads me to the question, how often do I worship in the waiting? I mean, its one thing to worship after receiving an answer (although that is still something I so often fail at), but to praise his name as I am waiting in silence? The thought seems so foreign in my thinking, and in our society's. To thank and praise someone before they have even given a reply to your request? Ridiculous! But that is the reality of our relationship with Christ. He deserves our worship with every moment of our lives, simply for who he is, and even more so for what he has done in our lives, including the times of silence.

"My heart rejoices in your salvation."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"Wow Moment" for the day:

"Prayer is not a matter of pouring out the human heart once and for all in need or joy, but of an unbroken, constant learning, accepting, and impressing upon the mind of God's will in Jesus Christ"
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "Life Together"

Monday, March 1, 2010


Let's be really honest for a moment: most Christians simply do not devote oodles of time reading through books in the Old Testament like Leviticus or Numbers. They contain pages and pages of long lists of rules, specifications, measurements, population counts, and other such practices of the Israelites that do not have much immediate meaning for those of us walking with Christ today. After all, we do not perform animal sacrifices, worship in a temple, or march into physical battle as we move into the territory God has promised us.
Tonight, however, I was reading through a few chapters in Leviticus as part of my "Through the Bible in a Year" study. I was almost to the end of tonight's portion when I read the following:

You must therefore make a distinction between clean and unclean animals and between unclean and clean birds. Do not defile yourselves by any animal or bird or anything that moves along the ground- those of which I have set apart as unclean for you. You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.
-Leviticus 20:25-26

Okay, so unclean animals and birds. Don't eat them. Got it. But Jesus declared that was unnecessary as part of the New Covenant God was making with those who chose to follow him in Mark 7:18-20, right? So this all has little application to Christian life today, right? On the surface, of course. We do not have to go through the same rituals the Israelites were succumbed to in the Old Testament in order to retain purity, because we find our identity in Christ. But as I was reading this, something really stuck out to me:

You must therefore make a distinction between clean and unclean animals and between unclean and clean birds. Do not defile yourselves by any animal or bird or anything that moves along the ground- those of which I have set apart as unclean for you. You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.

Those first six words hit me like a ton of bricks. We are to make a distinction. For the Israelites, these pages and pages of laws were designed to retain their purity and show that they were different, set apart, from the rest of the world and did not conform to the standards of the people groups around them. They were different, and they were different because they were God's people and sought to represent their Lord in the best possible human way. Today, we are called to do the same thing. We are called to be set apart and show the world that we find our identity in Christ and we do not want to be related to anything apart from Him. As Christians, we bear the name of Christ, literally, and that name is something the world can see and immediately make a judgment about us for. How often, though, do we bear the name alone and fail to make any other statement about our Savior? As representatives of Christ, we are called to show the world around us that we are different and that difference comes in our sanctification in Christ.
We are to make a distinction.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Terrifying Submission

Test me, O Lord, and try me,
examine my heart and my mind;
for your love is ever before me,
and I walk continually in your truth.
-Psalm 26:2-3

This verse stands in my mind as such a dichotomy of a wonderful promise and a terrifying invitation. Verse two brings an alarming series of requests to God: Test me. Try me. Examine me. Push me. Stretch me. Bring me through valleys. Lead me over mountains. Show me my failings. Reveal my weaknesses. Asking the almighty creator and ruler of the universe for this and giving total control of your life over to Him for His own plans... that absolutely scares me out of mind! The severity of this lies in total submission to one who you know has the power to both destroy you and lift you up.
But its the promise of verse three that diminishes all those fears: because of God's love, we constantly walk with Him and in His plans. That's what dissolves the fear with handing everything over to God. He promises that what he does in our testing is not going to be more than we can handle with him by our side. Through the pushing, pulling, stretching, trial, difficulties, and hardships comes strength, as God molds and makes you into more and more a picture of His glorified servant. We can have confidence in knowing that His testing and trying can be endured as we walk continually with Him and that He makes us into a stronger child of God.