Day 133: Disbelieving for Joy!

Proverbs 18-19; Luke 24:36-53

Key Verses

Luke 24:39-41
And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”

Jesus appears to his disciples and proves to them that he is flesh and blood – not a spirit. They touch him. He eats. And they marvel.

“Disbelieved for joy.” Imagine if someone told you that you had just won $5 million? Or if you or your wife had been infertile for years, and at a regular checkup, she learns that she’s pregnant? You would wonder if it could really be true. It would just seem too good to be true! …Or if a man offered to take the punishment for your sins by dying in your place – and then rose from the dead??!!

Sometimes I think the gospel is too good to be true. And the idea that God will make a new heaven and a new earth and we will get to live in perfect communion with God and each other for all eternity. Well… that seems too good to be true, too! I understand how the disciples felt. I resonate with “Disbelieving for joy.”

But it is this hope that gives us the strength to persevere through this difficult world. And it is God’s grace that gives our hearts and minds understanding into the gospel – and all the joy that it contains…and we dare to hope that it’s true. And we marvel. :)

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Day 132: Understanding

Proverbs 16-17; Luke 24:1-35

Key Verses

Luke 24:32
They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”

Proverbs 16:16
How much better to get wisdom than gold!
To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.

Understanding. Jesus’ followers needed it. They needed it during the darkness of the Crucifixion and during the darkness of His burial. They needed understanding during the hours that passed – with all hope lost – in utter despair.

Understanding. The women didn’t understand when they came to the tomb Sunday morning. The angel asked, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” Could it be? They didn’t understand. Not yet…

And Jesus – walking with the men on the road to Emmaus. Luke tells us that He opened the Scriptures to them – revealing from the Law and the Prophets that the Christ had to suffer and die. And then – their eyes were opened. And they understood.

Understanding. True understanding of the Scriptures – how Jesus is the culmination of all redemptive history – is a gift from God. A gift that should be valued over all this world can offer!

Day 131: Among the Crowds

Proverbs 13-15; Luke 23:44-56

Key Verses

Luke 23:48-49 (The Message)
All who had come around as spectators to watch the show, when they saw what actually happened, were overcome with grief and headed home. Those who knew Jesus well, along with the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a respectful distance and kept vigil.

What did the crowds see that caused them so much grief? Wasn’t this the same man about whom the crowds were shouting, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” just a few hours before? It seems like they would have been pleased to see Him die. But instead, they went home, “beating their breasts (ESV).”

Imagine yourself there…in complete (inexplicable) darkness – with rumors circulating that the 4-inch-thick veil that guarded the Holy of Holies in the Temple had split in two. Impossible. That was impossible. And then your eyes would look on the man and you would know – just know that this man must have been innocent. And then the centurion said what you were thinking, “Certainly this man was innocent!” And hearing the words said aloud – you realize that they are absolutely, and horribly – true. And you think, “I have just killed an innocent man.”

I have just killed an innocent man. You don’t have to be a bystander in the crowd watching the crucifixion to relate to that statement. It’s true for all of us. Jesus died in the sinner’s place. Jesus died because of me. It’s a sobering fact. One that should be life changing…

Day 130: The Path of the Righteous

Proverbs 10-12; Luke 23:26-43

Key Verses

Luke 23:32, 40-43
Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. The [criminal said,] “…we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Two convicts hung on either side of Jesus – one mocked and the other was accepted. Why? Proverbs gives us the answers…

The wise of heart will receive commandments,
but a babbling fool will come to ruin. 10:8

Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life,
but he who rejects reproof leads others astray. 10:17

What the wicked dreads will come upon him,
but the desire of the righteous will be granted. 10:24

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with the humble is wisdom. 11:2

With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor,
but by knowledge the righteous are delivered. 11:9

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but he who hates reproof is stupid. 12:1

The thoughts of the righteous are just;
the counsels of the wicked are deceitful. 12:5

In the path of righteousness is life,
and in its pathway there is no death. 12:28

There were two men dying next to Jesus. But one took responsibility for his sins and accepted his punishment as just. He was humble and teachable of heart. This man was counted righteous – not because of his gleaming record (he was a criminal!) but because of the humble state of his heart and his trust in the person of Jesus. God declared him righteous by His GRACE. The righteous man would live with Jesus in Paradise.

The book of Proverbs consistently teaches that those who receive reproof with teachable hearts are considered righteous – but those who despise reproof are fools. And so it is with the gospel, you have to know you’re a sinner to recognize your need for a Savior. Those righteous in their own eyes will perish.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:8-9).

Day 129: Wisdom and Folly

Proverbs 8-9; Luke 23:1-25

Key Verses

Proverbs 9:10
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”

Luke 23:20-22
Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” A third time he said to them, “Why? What evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death.”

Wisdom and Folly…they are on full display in both of today’s passages. The contrast between Wisdom and Folly is a main theme of Proverbs. Listen to Wisdom…

Hear, for I will speak noble things,
and from my lips will come what is right,
for my mouth will utter truth;
wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
All the words of my mouth are righteous;
there is nothing twisted or crooked in them (Proverbs 8:6-8).

Wisdom was with Jesus in the beginning as He created the world, and Wisdom was with Jesus as he endured Folly. This passage from Luke is filled with Folly. False accusations, gross injustice, cowardly leaders, and even “insurrection and murder.” Wisdom was found in only One person… His speech was noble and He only spoke the truth – and it was this Truth – that He was the Son of God, that incited the people to crucify Him. We see Him stand silently before his accusers, and we know that Wisdom was with Him.

Isn’t it beyond comprehension that God offers this same wisdom to us?

I, wisdom, love those who love me,
and those who seek me diligently find me.
For whoever finds me finds life
and obtains favor from the Lord. (Proverbs 8:12,17 ,35)

We must seek diligently to find Wisdom. Where do we seek? We look to God’s Word and to Jesus. He is the embodiment of Wisdom, and it is Him we must seek.

Day 128: Teachable and Gracious

Proverbs 6-7; Luke 22:54-71

Key Verses

Proverbs 7:6-7
For at the window of my house
I have looked out through my lattice,
and I have seen among the simple,
I have perceived among the youths,
a young man lacking sense,

Luke 22:61-62
And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

There is a family in our church that seems especially wise – and accessible. The dad has used Proverbs 7 to teach his boys the dangers of sexual temptation. The chapter begins… “I have seen among the simple…” And the chapter continues to describe the actions of a foolish young man who chooses to seek out the adulteress instead of abiding by the clear instruction of 5:8 to “keep your way from her, and do not go near the door of her house.”

The dad and his boys keep each other accountable with a single phrase… “I have seen among the simple.” And when any of them speak this phrase – they know they are in danger of acting unwisely.

This is the way of community. Transparent accountability to one another with the promise of grace when we fail (because failure is inevitable).

We see this type of relationship between Jesus and Peter. In Luke 22:61, Jesus looks at Peter after he has denied Him for the third time. And Peter knows. He remembers Jesus’ prediction. He remembers his haughty recourse, and Peter crumbles under the weight of his sin. Jesus held Peter accountable for his actions, and Peter was teachable. He did not forsake Jesus’ reproof but wept with a repentant heart.

We know from the end of John, that Jesus forgives and restores Peter. Jesus is able to hold Peter accountable, but when Peter fails, He gives him grace.

We are called to be in this type of relationship. Whether it’s between a father and his sons, or between friends, or between an older and younger woman – we need someone to hold us accountable and to be gracious when we fail.

The obedient life is a difficult road – one we cannot hope to travel alone. Find a traveling companion – and get ready to be teachable and gracious. And rest together in the sufficiency of the Savior!

Day 127: The hour of darkness

Proverbs 4-5; Luke 22:31-53

Key Verses

Luke 22:53
“When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”

Proverbs 4:18-19
But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
The way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know over what they stumble.

Light and Darkness. Good and Evil. It’s the formula for a good story. And God’s salvation story is the story of all stories!

Today, we read of Jesus, our hero, faced with an impossibly difficult task – He was under so much stress that “his sweat became like great drops of blood dropping to the ground.” But somehow he was under complete control. Even as the soldiers came to arrest Him, He never lost his temper – never shouted – in fact, he was so composed that he healed the ear of a soldier in the middle of the chaos! In the end, He allowed himself to be arrested and attributed the horrible events to “the power of darkness.”

Was Jesus losing the fight? Will the darkness emerge the victor? In order for the darkness to overcome the light of Jesus, well, Jesus had to give it permission. Jesus was the one who allowed the darkness to overcome. Listen to his words:

“Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Luke 22:52-53).

Do you see?! Many times they had tried to apprehend him, but he would slip away, untouched. This was the time that He had ordained. This was the hour that had been decided upon in the inner chambers of heaven – as the Three Persons hatched their plan – their salvation plan. The Darkness would have its time – and this was the appointed time.

Here’s the truth about darkness. It can’t overcome the light. The light will have the final say. The light will have the final say in Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion. And the light will have the final say in our suffering and hardship. Yes, there is a power of darkness in this world. But it doesn’t hold a candle to the LIGHT!

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5).

Day 125: The motivation for obedience

1 Kings 3-4; Luke 22:1-30

Key Verses

1 Kings 3:12-14
“Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”

Luke 22:25-27
And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.”

Solomon loves the Lord, and the Lord gives him great wisdom, but Solomon falters in the nitty-gritty daily-ness of his faith. He doesn’t obey God in all areas of his life, and eventually, his missteps lead him further and further away from God and God’s blessings. Specifically, we read of Solomon acquiring many horses (4:26) and turning back to Egypt to find a wife (3:1). These actions are in direct opposition to the laws for Kings written in Deuteronomy:

Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you,‘You shall never return that way again.’ And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold (Deuteronomy 17:16-17).

Solomon’s mistakes are a familiar road for many of us. Compromising obedience in daily life can slowly turn us completely away from our faith. Many times, apostasy is a slow burn and not a quick blaze.

In order to keep ourselves from falling away, we must cling to the hip of our Savior. His grace and help are our lifeline to an obedient life. The sacrament of communion (instituted in today’s passage from Luke) is a gift to us to help us remember the great Sacrifice of our Savior. His death is the evidence of His incomprehensible love for us! It is this love that should motivate us to obey…

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again (2 Corinthians 5:14-15, NIV).

Day 124: David’s Dynasty

1 Kings 1-2; Luke 21:20-38

Key Verses

1 Kings 2:1-4
When David’s time to die drew near, he commanded Solomon his son, saying, 2″I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, 3and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, 4that the Lord may establish his word that he spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.'”

Luke 21:33
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Today we begin 1 Kings which is the story of the continuation of David’s dynasty. David’s oldest remaining son, Adonijah, plotted to make himself King apart from his father’s knowledge. But God, and therefore, David had chosen Solomon to succeed David as king. 1 Kings 1-2 is the story of David establishing his dynasty through Solomon.

David’s dynasty echoes the promise of Genesis 3 – that the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent. And then the rest of the Old Testament plays out as a mystery novel as we try to determine… out of which family line the Promised One would come.

The seed passed from Adam to Seth – on down to Noah and through Shem to Abraham – through Isaac, Jacob, and Judah – through Boaz, Jesse and then to David.

The Davidic covenant narrows the search for the promised seed. The covenant reveals that the Promised One would be descended from David, and He would establish David’s throne forever! But who would it be? Would Solomon be the promised King? Or would it be Solomon’s son, Rehoboam?

With each subsequent king, the author of 1 & 2 Kings builds the tension of waiting for the revelation of the Promised Eternal King. 2 Kings ends with the fall of Jerusalem and the capture of Judah. Was all hope for the King lost? Would the King ever come? Was God’s word just not true??

We know who the seed of the woman is. And we know who the promised King is. Jesus. And in today’s reading in Luke, we find him in Jerusalem – warning of its destruction – and promising that he will return.

Jesus’ words are permanent – the forever kind of permanent. When he says he will come again – there is 100% chance that he will come again. Even though the story seems hopeless at times – we must never stop waiting for His return. He tells us to be ready. When he comes, not if, but when he comes, will he find us faithful? Oh God, I hope so – but only by Your grace!

Day 123: David’s Eternal Throne

2 Samuel 23-24; Luke 21:1-19

Key Verses

Luke 21:5-6
And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

2 Samuel 23:5
“For does not my house stand so with God?
For he has made with me an everlasting covenant,
ordered in all things and secure.”

2 Samuel ends in today’s reading. Chapter 23 begins with “David’s last words,” a poem reaffirming the Davidic covenant, the promise that his throne would be established forever.

The book ends with David purchasing the threshing floor on which the temple would one day be built…

So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. And David built there an altar to the Lord and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings (2 Samuel 24:24-25).

Fast forward to today’s reading in Luke – and there we find Jesus – in the temple – teaching the values of the Kingdom.

Jesus is the son of David standing in the city of David in the temple that was rebuilt on the very site that David sacrificed to the Lord. How amazing is that?

And what was Jesus teaching? That the temple would be destroyed. Consider this… What was the purpose of the temple? The temple was where the priests led the people in worship through the sacrificial system. And the temple was where the presence of God dwelled.

Can you see how Jesus’ final sacrifice and resurrection made the need for the temple obsolete? Do you think David could have imagined the future? The splendor of Solomon’s temple being destroyed and rebuilt and then desecrated by the moneychangers of Jesus’ day and then ultimately, David’s heir would sit on the eternal throne and because of His suffering and atoning death – open the way to the Holy of Holies to all people from all nations?

Never could David have imagined anything so terrible and wonderful! And neither can we imagine the wonder of the end of the age when Jesus will come again and make all things new!!! There will be no sun, for his glory will give light to the world. There will be no temple because the dwelling place of God will be with man. There will be one King – who will reign in peace forever!

Yes, David’s throne is established forever… in Jesus!!!!