Wednesday, March 21, 2012

In Awe

"But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house, I will bow down toward your holy temple in awe of you."
(Psalm 5:7)

The author of Psalm 5 asks God to hear his prayer.  He remarks how God hates evil, wickedness, liars, braggarts, and the bloodthirsty.  Then he contrasts all those with himself.  "I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house... in awe of you."  He comes into God's presence, not on his own righteousness and merit, but instead out of "the abundance of (God's) steadfast love."

WORSHIP.  I remember hearing that the word originally meant WORTH-ship... testifying that God is WORTH our adoration.  The Psalmist knows that.  He speaks of bowing down in awe of God.

The classic cathedrals of Europe do a wonderful job of evoking awe & reverence.  They are so huge, so majestic, so inspiring, one can't help but feel in awe of the Almighty.  Today's churches & worship spaces tend to lean towards intimacy rather than awe.  We gravitate towards the "friendship and love" aspect of God more than the "reverence and awe" aspect.  But are we missing something?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


"Pharaoh said to his servants, 'Can we find anyone else like this - one in whom is the spirit of God?'"
(Genesis 41:38)

Joseph had a rough life - at least during "the middle years."  As a kid, he was pampered.  Daddy's favorite!  Given the run of the house.  It's kind of what turned his 10 older brothers against him (that and his self-righteous attitude!).  Then he was sold into slavery (by those bros), wrongly imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit, and forgotten after helping others.  But through it all, God was with him.

So when time came for Joseph to interpret the Pharaoh's two dreams (which he did!), God's presence/favor with him was obvious.  And THAT is what touched Pharaoh's heart.  "Can we find anyone else like this - one in whom is the Spirit of God?" he asked those around him.  What a tremendous testimony!  As a father, I'd love for people to say that about my two children.  If, at various stages in one's life, people would say, "Ezra/Emily is such a neat person - they walk so closely with God!" I'd be ecstatic!  That is a life well-lived!!

Joseph didn't have it easy, by any means.  It was a life of ups and downs (and some BIG downs, too!).  But God was with him every step of the way.  That, my friends, is priceless.

Monday, March 12, 2012


"And (Jesus) sighed deeply in his spirit..."
(Mark 8:12)

Those darn Pharisees!  Those religious leaders!  They have "issues" with Jesus and constantly plague him throughout the Gospels.  Much of the time their interactions with Jesus are attempts to test, trick or trap him.  Deep down they're not genuinely interested in knowledge, wisdom, or spiritual insight.

Such is the case in Mark 8.  They come and start arguing with Jesus straight away.  They ask him "for a sign form heaven, to test him."  Jesus, who has all the patience int he world (at least when there's a legitimate inquiry), is not going to play their games.  Mark tells u that he "sighed deeply in his spirit."

Wow.  Subtle.  Powerful.  Telling.

I wonder how often that happens with me and Jesus?  How many times, throughout the course of my lifetime, has Jesus watched me do something (or say something or think something) and then just sighed deeply in his spirit?  "Will Jim ever learn?  Why does he keep doing that?  If only he knew..."  How often do I (knowingly or unknowingly) seek to test, trick or trap God?  (Sigh.)

And yet, I know that God loves me nonetheless.  God wants the best for me - and seeks to guide me along those lines... but His love remains steadfast (despite his sighs!).  And that's GOOD NEWS!

Anger? From Jesus?!?

[From 3/7/12]

"He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart..."
(Mark 3:5a)

What got Jesus angry?  Unbelief?  Doubt?  Sin?  Nope.  He could deal with all those things.  He had boundless patience & grace for those struggling with that.  What really seemed to tick him off was lack of compassion (aka "hardness of heart").

There's a story in Mark 3 where Jesus was at a synagogue on the sabbath.  He saw a man who had a withered hand.  Jesus knew some were waiting for him to do something "improper" - like healing on the Sabbath (which was considered "work," so it was forbidden on the Sabbath).  So before he did anything, Jesus asked a simple question: "Is it lawful to do good or do harm on the Sabbath?"  Despite all of the Sabbath regulations & restrictions, the bottom line was to DO GOOD!  But his detractors couldn't admit this and still hope to entrap Jesus.  So they said nothing.

What struck Jesus was their lack of compassion for the man injured.  They were more concerned about their destructive plans for Jesus than about this man's personal pain.  Their hearts were hard.

Sometimes we get caught up in our own "stuff" (plans, agendas, daily routines, etc.) that we miss the needs of a hurting world around us.  God forbid that we allow our hearts to become hardened beyond softening!  God forbid.

Friday, March 2, 2012


"Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and hold fast to the faith of Jesus."
(Revelation 14:12)

The Scripture Journaling schedule that I follow calls for us to get through the Book of Revelation in a mere 5 days of reading.  It's quite an interesting read to go through it all this quickly.  First of all, it can be overwhelming - so many images & symbols!  Most scholars don't even know what they all mean or stand for, since it was intentionally written to be cryptic (to avoid the "powers that be" from being able to decipher it!).

What I took away from today's reading can be summed up in one word: ENDURANCE!  There is a lot going on in this world... both things we can see and other spiritual realities we can't.  Evil exists.  But we, as followers of Jesus, are called to resist evil and be faithful.  The Scriptures give us a pathway to follow.  We're not called to be perfect (everyone sins), but rather faithful (including seeking & receiving forgiveness).  It won't be easy.  In fact, it can be downright overwhelming at times.

BUT FEAR NOT!  God is with us!  Fight the good fight!  Keep the Faith!  Endure!  Endure!  Endure!!!

(Amen to that!)