Day 225: The Resurrection Life

2 Chronicles 35-36; Romans 8:1-17

Key Verses

2 Chronicles 36:15-16
The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, until there was no remedy.

Romans 8:1-2
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

We finish 2 Chronicles today with not much fanfare… The Chronicler flew through the last four kings of Judah in lightning fashion – and blasted through the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile to end with hope…the declaration of the re-building of the temple by the Persian (Gentile) king, Cyrus.

The Davidic Covenant stands strong. The rebuilding of the temple is the first step toward restoration for God’s people as they look forward to the coming of their Messiah!

Fast forward to Romans 8, and we find one of the most hope-filled chapters in all of the New Testament. It is Paul’s celebration of the gospel and the Messiah’s saving work on the cross. You can sense the exuberant joy in his words as he describes the work of the Spirit in the believer’s life to both save and sanctify.

Let me tell a story that illustrates the beautiful principles in Romans 8…

My daughter, Anne, was injured in a horrible automobile accident when she was 5 years old. She almost died, but God in his mercy preserved her life. She now lives with a traumatic brain injury.

She continues to make great strides in her recovery, but in the first year after the accident, if you corrected her… “Anne, please don’t touch that,” there was something in her brain that made her touch “that.” She couldn’t stop herself. She would touch it over and over and then start to cry because she knew she shouldn’t do it, but she couldn’t stop herself. It was heartbreaking.

In a way, her struggle was an allegory of Romans 7-8…. In her heart, she loved the “law” and wanted to obey, but her flesh was broken and she had no power to fix it (7:22-23). Her desire to do what was right caused her to grieve the brokenness in her flesh. She needed help from outside of herself. She needed to be rescued…

Since then, Anne has experienced much physical healing so that she can now overcome her impulse to disobey a command. But she doesn’t take that for granted! She knows that obedience with a pure heart is only possible with the help of God’s Spirit in her. And the Spirit is so evident in her life! She has a miraculous ability to understand deep spiritual concepts and Biblical truth. She looks to God for help and trusts him with a precious child-like faith. The Spirit inside her is evidence that she is a child of God. Romans 8 is Anne’s testimony!

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him! (Romans 8:15-17, The Message)

These verses also describe the restored people of Israel. Christ is their hope, and Christ is their salvation!

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Day 60: The Man Who Tried to Outwit God

Numbers 22-24; Mark 8:1-21

Key Verses

Numbers 23:19
God is not man, that he should lie,
or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

Mark 8:17-18
And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “[…] Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember?”

The King of Moab was scared. He watched as his neighbors were destroyed by those people – the Israelites. He knew he couldn’t defeat them in battle because He had heard of the power of their God. Instead of doing physical battle, he chose to do spiritual battle… He called upon the great pagan seer, Balaam. Surely, the seer could curse those people, and he, Balak, King of Moab, would stand victorious….

Ha! This king actually thought he could outwit the living God as he tried to manipulate the circumstances to his favor. The story that follows in Numbers 22-24 mirrors the absurdity of the Moabite king!

What do we learn from reading about God opening the eyes of the donkey and closing the eyes of the seer? Or opening the mouth of the donkey and watching the seer grovel on the ground? What do you think about God using the pagan seer, Balaam, to speak truth and blessings upon Israel?

Now contrast Balaam’s spiritual insight to the disciples in Mark 8. Their eyes had not yet been opened! They failed to see the spiritual truth in Jesus’ words about the leaven. How do we make sense of all this?

I’ll tell you what I learn… God can and will do whatever he wants whenever he wants. God also has ultimate control over spiritual understanding. He opens eyes to see and ears to hear. He does this in His own time and in His own way to accomplish His own purposes.

I’ll be frank… I’m sympathetic to the Moabite king… because just like Balak, I don’t like my circumstances! My days are spent caring for my brain-injured daughter. This is not the life I signed up for – but what can I do about it? Can I outwit the living God? No. The only thing I can do is throw myself at his feet and beg for mercy. I ask him to open my eyes to see his purposes. I ask him to give me ears to hear his Word. I ask for spiritual understanding and grace to serve my daughter with patience and compassion. I am at his mercy. And thankfully, He is a merciful God.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones (Proverbs 3:5-8).

Day 10: The Healer

Matthew 9

Key Verses

Matthew 9:6
But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home.

This is another chapter filled predominantly with scenes of Jesus’ healings. Which leads me to a question…

Why doesn’t Jesus heal the way He healed when He walked the earth? Have you ever tried to count how many people He healed in the gospels? He heals 6 people in this chapter alone! When you consider sweeping statements like “He went from town to town healing and teaching,” we can surmise that one of Jesus’ primary acts on earth was to heal. Why did He do it then and not now? We all have stories of people dying from cancer, struggling with a chronic illness, suffering from a disability. Why doesn’t GOD HEAL??!!!

I have an answer. It’s actually a very satisfying answer. I learned it from Nancy Guthrie, author of Hearing Jesus Speak Into Your Sorrow. The answer is found in the story of the Paralytic…

And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men (Matthew 9:2-8).

My gut reaction to this story is usually disappointment – which reveals my lack of understanding. I tend to think, “How in the world does forgiving his sins help this poor paralyzed man? I want to shout, “HEAL HIM! DON’T FORGIVE HIM!” Oh, how wrong I am…

My daughter, Anne, suffers from a severe traumatic brain injury. If God came to me and gave me a choice…  “Would you rather me heal Anne spiritually so she’ll live forever in heaven with a perfect body? Or would you rather Anne be healed physically, right now, but knowing that she wouldn’t be able to go to heaven?” Well, I would choose for Anne to be whole in heaven.

Jesus healed on earth to give us a physical representation – a word picture of sorts – of how he heals us spiritually. When we have a saving faith, we are healed for all eternity. Our current bodies are broken and temporal. Sometimes He heals us physically and sometimes He doesn’t. But really, God cares more about our eternity with Him than our ease and comfort on this earth. God knows the TRUE, BIG picture which we don’t see clearly…

Sometimes, God chooses not to heal because when we are broken physically, we are better able to see our spiritual brokenness. Jesus says in this chapter,

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means,  …I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:12-13).

God loves the broken-hearted, and the humble in spirit. He must have seen this brokenness in Matthew – as He called him to be a disciple and chose to dine at his house (Matthew 9:9-11). Matthew, a hated tax collector, turned to Jesus as his only hope. Jesus lifted him out of his hateful, lonely lifestyle and gave him a new heart with a new purpose and hope. He does the same for me. And he does the same for my daughter, Anne. Why? He is the healer!

Day 9: The Promise Continues

Genesis 23-24; Matthew 8

Key Verses

Genesis 24:7
The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my kindred, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your offspring I will give this land,’ he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there.”

Matthew 8:16-17
That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”

Yesterday, we saw the small beginnings of God fulfilling His two-fold promise of legacy and land to Abraham… Isaac was born and Abraham bought a well.

In today’s reading, we see Abraham purchase a full-fledged plot of land (in Canaan, of course) that contains a cave in which to bury his wife, Sarah. We also read of the miraculous way in which God provides a wife for Isaac. Rebekah is kind-hearted and full of faith. She is a good wife for Isaac. God’s promise to make Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the stars and to give them the land of Canaan continues to unfold…

It’s fun to fast-forward in history to Matthew 8 where we see Jesus in action. Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of all of God’s promises. In this chapter, we read several stories of Jesus’ healings… First the leper, then the centurion’s servant, then Peter’s mother-in-law.

There is a scene painted in just one sentence that boggles my mind. Jesus is in the home of Peter and…

That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick (Matthew 8:16).

Can you imagine the flurry of people scampering to Jesus to be healed? I would have been one of them. I would have done anything, anything, to get my brain-injured daughter in front of Jesus. I would have bowed low and begged him to heal my daughter. I know, because I do this every day.

In the very next verse, Matthew refers back to Isaiah’s prophecy of the Servant:

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted (Isaiah 53:4).

Just as he showed compassion to the crowds and healed their diseases, He has borne my grief and carried my sorrow. Even though He has chosen not to heal my brain-injured daughter immediately, he is still healing her – very slowly. Waiting on God builds godly character, and ultimately the healing of our souls is infinitely more important than the healing of our bodies. But we’ll talk more about that tomorrow :-)

Day 225: The Resurrection Life

2 Chronicles 35-36; Romans 8:1-17

We finish 2 Chronicles today with not much fanfare… The Chronicler flew through the last four kings of Judah in lightning fashion – and blasted through the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile to end with hope…the declaration of the re-building of the temple by the Persian (Gentile) king, Cyrus.

The Davidic Covenant stands strong. The rebuilding of the temple is the first step toward restoration for God’s people as they look forward to the coming of their Messiah!

Fast forward to Romans 8, and we find one of the most hope-filled chapters in all of the New Testament. It is Paul’s celebration of the gospel and the Messiah’s saving work on the cross. You can sense the exuberant joy in his words as he describes the work of the Spirit in the believer’s life to both save and sanctify.

Let me tell a story that illustrates the beautiful principles in Romans 8…

My daughter, Anne, was injured in a horrible automobile accident when she was 5 years old. She almost died, but God in his mercy, preserved her life. She now lives with a serious traumatic brain injury.

She continues to make great strides in her recovery, but in the first year after the accident, if you corrected her… “Anne, please don’t touch that,” there was something in her brain that made her touch “that.” She couldn’t stop herself. She would touch it over and over and then start to cry because she knew she shouldn’t do it, but she couldn’t stop herself. It was heartbreaking.

In a way, her struggle was an allegory of Romans 7-8…. In her heart, she loved the “law” and wanted to obey, but her flesh was broken and she had no power to fix it (7:22-23). Her desire to do what was right caused her to grieve the brokenness in her flesh. She needed help from outside of herself. She needed to be rescued…

Since then, Anne has experienced much physical healing so that she can now overcome her impulse to disobey a command. But she doesn’t take that for granted! She knows that obedience with a pure heart is only possible with the help of God’s Spirit in her. And the Spirit is so evident in her life! She has a miraculous ability to understand deep spiritual concepts and Biblical truth. And she looks to God for help and trusts him with a precious child-like faith. The Spirit inside her is evidence that she is a child of God. Romans 8 is Anne’s testimony!

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him! (Romans 8:15-17, The Message)

These verses also describe the restored people of Israel. Christ is their hope, and Christ is their salvation!

Day 60: The man who tried to outwit God

Numbers 22-24; Mark 8:1-21

The King of Moab was scared. He watched as his neighbors were destroyed by those people – the Israelites. He knew he couldn’t defeat them in battle because He had heard of the power of their God. Instead of doing physical battle, he chose to do spiritual battle… He called upon the great pagan seer, Balaam. Surely, the seer could curse those people, and he, Balak, King of Moab, would stand victorious….

Ha! This king actually thought he could outwit the living God as he tried to manipulate the circumstances to his favor. The story that follows in Numbers 22-24 mirrors the absurdity of the Moabite king!

What do we learn from reading about God opening the eyes of the donkey and closing the eyes of the seer? Or opening the mouth of the donkey and watching the seer grovel on the ground? What do you think about God using the pagan seer, Balaam, to speak truth and blessings upon Israel?

Now contrast Balaam’s spiritual insight to the disciples in Mark 8. Their eyes had not yet been opened! They failed to see the spiritual truth in Jesus’ words about the leaven. How do we make sense of all this?

I’ll tell you what I learn… God can and will do whatever he wants whenever he wants. God also has ultimate control over spiritual understanding. He opens eyes to see and ears to hear. He does this in His own time and in His own way to accomplish His own purposes.

I’ll be frank… I’m sympathetic to the Moabite king… because just like Balak, I don’t like my circumstances! My days are spent caring for my brain-injured daughter. This is not the life I signed up for – but what can I do about it? Can I outwit the living God? No. The only thing I can do is throw myself at his feet and beg for mercy. I ask him to open my eyes to see his purposes. I ask him to give me ears to hear his Word. I ask for spiritual understanding and grace to serve my daughter with patience and compassion. I am at his mercy. And thankfully, He is a merciful God.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones (Proverbs 3:5-8).

Day 10: The Healer

Matthew 9

This is another chapter filled predominantly with scenes of Jesus’ healings. Which leads me to a question…

Why doesn’t Jesus heal the way He healed when He walked the earth? Have you ever tried to count how many people He healed in the gospels? He heals 6 people in this chapter alone! When you take into account sweeping statements like “He went from town to town healing and teaching,” we can surmise that one of Jesus’ primary acts on earth was to heal. Why did He do it then and not now? We all have stories of people dying from cancer, struggling with a chronic illness, suffering from a disability. Why doesn’t GOD HEAL??!!!

I have an answer. It’s actually a very satisfying answer. I learned it from Nancy Guthrie, author of Hearing Jesus Speak Into Your Sorrow. The answer is found in the story of the Paralytic…

And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men (Matthew 9:2-8).

My gut reaction to this story is usually disappointment – which reveals my lack of understanding. I have a tendency to think, “How in the world does forgiving his sins help this poor paralyzed man? I want to shout, “HEAL HIM! DON’T FORGIVE HIM!” Oh, how wrong I am…

My daughter, Anne, suffers from a severe traumatic brain injury. If God came to me and gave me a choice…  “Would you rather me heal Anne spiritually so she’ll live forever in heaven with a perfect body? Or would you rather Anne be healed physically, right now, but knowing that she wouldn’t be able to go to heaven?” Well, I would choose for Anne to be whole in heaven.

Jesus healed on earth to give us a physical representation – a word picture of sorts – of how he heals us spiritually. When we have a saving faith, we are healed for all eternity. Our current bodies are broken and temporal. Sometimes He heals us physically and sometimes He doesn’t. But really, God cares more about our eternity with Him than our ease and comfort on this earth. God knows the TRUE, BIG picture which we don’t see clearly…

Sometimes, God chooses not to heal because when we are broken physically, we are better able to see our spiritual brokenness. Jesus says in this chapter,

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means,  …I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:12-13).

God loves the broken-hearted, and the humble in spirit. He must have seen this brokenness in Matthew – as He called him to be a disciple and chose to dine at his house (Matthew 9:9-11). Matthew, a hated tax collector, turned to Jesus as his only hope. Jesus lifted him out of his hateful, lonely lifestyle and gave him a new heart with a new purpose and hope. He does the same for me. And he does the same for my daughter, Anne. Why? He is the healer!

Day 9: The promise continues

Genesis 23-24; Matthew 8

Yesterday, we saw the small beginnings of God fulfilling His two-fold promise of legacy and land to Abraham… Isaac is born and Abraham buys a well.

Today’s reading we see Abraham purchase a full-fledged plot of land (in Canaan, of course) that contains a cave in which to bury his wife, Sarah. We also read of the miraculous way in which God provides a wife for Issac. Rebekah is kind-hearted and full of faith. She is a good wife for Issac. God’s promise to make Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the stars and to give them the land of Canaan continues to unfold…

It’s fun to fast-forward in history to Matthew 8 where we see Jesus  in action. Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of all of God’s promises. And in this chapter we read several stories of Jesus’ healings… First the leper, then the centurion’s servant, then Peter’s mother-in-law.

And then there is a scene painted in just one sentence that boggles my mind… Jesus is in the home of Peter and

That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick (Matthew 8:16).

Can you imagine the flurry of people scampering to Jesus to be healed? I would have been one of them. I would have done anything, anything, to get my brain-injured daughter in front of Jesus. I would have bowed low and begged him to heal my daughter. I know, because I do this everyday.

The very next verse, Matthew refers back to Isaiah’s prophesy of the Servant:

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted (Isaiah 53:4).

Just as he showed compassion to the crowds and healed their diseases… He has borne my grief and carried my sorrow. Even though He has chosen not to heal my brain-injured daughter immediately, he is still healing her – it’s just slow. Waiting on God builds godly character, and ultimately the healing of our souls is infinitely more important than the healing of our bodies. But we’ll talk more about that tomorrow :-)