On Wings Of Eagles

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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Living God's way


Psalm 119:112 (ESV)
I incline my heart to perform your statutes
    forever, to the end.

As you drive around town you find very few drivers that come to a complete stop at a stop sign. Maybe they think the sign is only a suggestion.

Are God’s laws merely suggestions? The psalmist treats God’s law with the utmost seriousness. He declares, “My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end.”

Jesus taught his listeners how serious God’s law is. He explained that he did not come to abolish the law or any of God’s commands; he came to fulfill them. And he said that not even the smallest letter (a reference to yodh, the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet) or the least stroke of a pen would be eliminated from the law. Moreover, Jesus says there will be great rewards for keeping God’s laws and great penalties for not keeping them.

The problem, though, is that none of us can keep God’s law perfectly because—at heart—we are all in rebellion against God and his Word. What can we do?

We need the grace that only Jesus can provide through his death and resurrection. Once God has forgiven and redeemed us, we see his laws and words differently. The Spirit of God helps us to see them not as a source of condemnation but as a call to love both God and our neighbors. And by the Spirit’s power we understand they are not a mere suggestion, and we follow them as a guide for thankful, obedient living.

Dear Lord, give us understanding, Lord, so that we may live in gratitude for all You do for us. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Trusting God with the timing


Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)
The heart of man plans his way,
    but the Lord establishes his steps.

A good story in a movie or book can make us nervous—even anxious. As the characters find themselves in trouble or nerve racking conditions, we fear for them.

But when the story is our story, we really don’t like to see trouble coming. That’s what Saul, the first king of Israel, discovered. God had chosen him as king and was prepared to bless him. But the vast Philistine army was headed straight toward the Israelite forces. Everyone was nervous, especially the young King Saul. The prophet Samuel had given him God’s instructions: wait for seven days and then Samuel would lead in a sacrifice to pray for success in battle. But as tensions rose, the king took matters into his own hands: he offered up the sacrifice himself, despite God’s clear instructions.

Samuel’s voice rang out just as Saul finished making the offering: “What have you done?” Saul tried to explain that he felt compelled to offer the sacrifice because the enemy was near and his men were scattering.

“‘You have done a foolish thing,’ Samuel said.” It turns out that this had been a test, a chance for Saul to decide in whom he would trust for his security. Saul’s nervousness showed that when it came right down to it, he trusted in his own efforts more than in God. That day proved to be the beginning of the end for Saul.

When God is “slow to show up” in your life, do you get nervous? What does that show? Are you willing to wait for him?

Dear Lord, forgive us when we trust in our resources more than we trust in You. Help us to have the faith to trust and an You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Anger


Ephesians 4:26 (ESV)
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.

Anger is the first recorded deadly sin after Adam and Eve’s exile from the Garden of Eden. Because God accepted Abel’s sacrifice, Cain became angry and killed his brother. Anger and murder have been sinister cousins ever since. When Cain became angry, God warned him: “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” But Cain let his anger rule him, and that led to murder.

Though anger doesn’t always lead to murder, it is nonetheless a powerful emotion. Few of us have escaped anger’s destructive effects on our self-discipline. Anger shows that hatred of God and neighbor are tightly interwoven.

“In your anger, do not sin.” That’s easier said than done, even though it’s possible to be angry and not sin. When we do become angry, we need to ask God’s help in dealing with it and letting it go. Cain refused God’s instruction, opened the door to sin, and killed his brother.

A lifetime of Christian self-discipline knows the truth about the primal sin of anger. But we also know that along with our other sins, our anger was crucified through Christ’s death on the cross. And we know that with Christ’s help, we can curb and control our anger and seek the higher good of others. Following the Lord’s example, we can even forgive.

Dear Lord, forgive us the sin of letting anger affect our actions. Guard us from giving the devil a foothold. May your love fill our life, keeping anger and hatred out. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, October 18, 2019

You are loved


Ephesians 1:16 (ESV)
I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

When we write letters or emails today, we place our signature at the end. And, depending on whom we are writing, we adjust the way we sign. You don’t sign an email to your boss with “Love, George.” And you don’t treat your spouse aloofly by signing “Regards, Jane.”

Back in Paul’s day, people signed their letters at the beginning, and the greeting often gave a preview of what was to come. In Philippians we can tell right away that this letter is going to be full of love and warmth. Paul calls his readers saints, “God’s holy people,” and showers them with grace and peace “from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Then he makes clear how thankful he is for them. They are gospel partners, coworkers in whom God is doing a great thing—and this comes with a promise that God will bring his work to completion. Paul reveals his pastor’s heart here by offering great encouragement and displaying deep care and affection for the Christians living and working in Philippi.

We all need to know that we’re loved, and we all need encouragement. We need someone to see God’s work in our lives, call it out for us, name it, and give thanks for it.

The Philippians needed that kind of encouragement. So Paul makes sure it is the first thing they receive in this loving, pastoral letter.

Dear Lord, thanks You for loving us and for encouraging. Thanks You for giving us Your grace and each and every day. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.


Monday, October 14, 2019

Scars

John 20:19-20 (ESV)
19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

There is a story behind every scar that we have. Maybe it’s a reminder of back surgery that has helped to walk again. Perhaps a scar reminds you of an accident, and you’re thankful for the recovery you have experienced. Some scars are emotional and psychological, reminding us of deep hurts inflicted by others.

When appropriate, we should be willing to share the stories of our scars. As we do that, we can show our gratitude, humility, and need for community. A drawback to the popularity of social media today is that people often portray their life as a bed of roses. It’s easy to share news about vacations, happy family gatherings, and celebrations. But true fellowship emerges when our scars are exposed in personal communication with others.

Today we see Jesus in one of his post-resurrection visits to his disciples. And when “he showed them his hands and side,” his followers were overjoyed as they recognized the Lord.

And what a story His wounds tell! He was not some comic-book superhero who easily accomplished great feats. Rather, as we see in Isaiah 53, Christ’s victory came through deep personal sacrifice. We are also reminded of our sins, our transgressions. When we embrace these two realities—Jesus’ wounds and our need—we find healing. Indeed, “by his wounds we are healed”!

Dear Lord, our scars remind us of how vulnerable we are. Thank You, Jesus, for making Yourself vulnerable for our sake and for providing us healing. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Sharing with people in need


Ephesians 4:28 (ESV)
Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.

Again and again, the Bible calls us to share with people in need: in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, in Jesus’ teaching, and here in the letters of Paul.

The command to work hard, “doing something useful with [our] own hands,” earning enough that something might be left over, goes hand in hand with being compassionate.

What’s more, Paul presents working and sharing as a way to climb out of a dishonest way of life. There’s something clean and good about doing something useful—and then giving the surplus away. It reverses the old way of life in which a person would steal from unsuspecting, innocent passers-by, often by lurking in dark places and waiting to prey on them.

Paul calls us back from the abyss of a corrupt life to the truth that our first ancestors had God-given work to do. How good to plant seeds, water them, and see them send up shoots; how good to tend and prune and sweep, taking care of the garden of creation we were given (Genesis 2:15).

Paul shows us a way of life that is characterized by growth in Christ, in a loving community of believers who do something good and useful—not sitting around idly gossiping, sniping at each other, fueling conflict and bitterness. How wonderful is the fellowship of loving, kind, compassionate people redeemed by Christ!


Dear Lord, we long to grow into a loving community in Christ.  Help us to be useful and compassionate to people around us in need. We pray that You will Guide us, In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Inheritance


Proverbs 13:22 (ESV)
A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children,
    but the sinner's wealth is laid up for the righteous.

Lawyers are often needed to ensure that a large inheritance is divided properly—as stated in a legal will. Without that framework, the people in some families would tear each other apart over the money or things they expect to get as their entitlement.

Inheritance issues can be controversial, but, in the Bible, inheritance is also a great example of a good gift: it’s given by grace— not earned—a windfall received from God, who loves us. Psalm 136 celebrates the way God gave the promised land to Israel “as an inheritance.” Again and again the refrain echoes, “His love endures forever.” As history shows, Israel had done nothing to earn that inheritance. God was creating a new nation that would bless all nations by providing a Savior.

The tribe of Levi, though, did not receive land as their inheritance. They served in the ceremonial worship of God as priests and teachers and temple workers. And because of this intimate relationship with God, it was said, “The Lord is their inheritance” (Deuteronomy 10:9).

In the New Testament, Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). And 1 Peter 1:4 describes salvation as “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”

What a heavenly treasure we have in Christ! All by grace, through faith!

Dear Lord, thank You that You are our inheritance, and that to know You, and the Son whom You sent, is eternal life, greater than all earthly treasure. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.