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 64: A Picture Lesson in Discipleship

Numbers 32-33; Mark 10:1-31

Key Verses

Mark 10:29-31
Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Have you noticed that Jesus’ discipleship lessons center around one topic… Sacrifice.  Today’s reading illustrates the importance of sacrifice in the story of the rich young ruler. I’m borrowing today’s post from my personal blog (which details my journey as a mom to a disabled child). I hope you enjoy it :)

An Unfair Exchange May 18, 2012

Remember the rich, young ruler? He wants to follow Jesus, but Jesus asks him to sacrifice the one thing he loves most – his possessions. The man can’t and leaves broken-hearted. His disciples are incredulous. “Who can be saved?” they ask. Jesus gives the good news. “With man this is impossible, but not with God. All things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27).

I cannot muster the ability to sacrifice from within myself.

I have dreams you know… And they aren’t selfish desires. They are good desires, but for now, I can’t pursue them because of the time it requires to care for my disabled daughter. I have it easy actually. God has given me a clear choice.

  1. Pursue your own desires and let someone else care for my daughter. OR
  2. Sacrifice and care for her myself.

Like I’m going to choose not to care for my own daughter.

But here’s where the mystery is revealed. Here is the paradox that I could have never uncovered on my own. You know what you find when you sacrifice your own desires and wants and dreams? And I don’t mean the “sacrifices” that make us feel better about ourselves. No, I mean the gut-wrenching, I HATE THIS kind of sacrifice. Because that’s how I feel most of the time. I HATE THIS.

You know what I’ve found. Do you know what’s at the bottom of the deep well of sacrifice? What’s waiting when you really let Jesus be the King and surrender to that horrible thing he’s asked you to do – the thing you could never do by yourself? Do you know what’s waiting for you? Satisfaction.

As gut-wrenching as the sacrifice is, the satisfaction on the other side is… well, it’s other-worldly. Jesus doesn’t ask us to sacrifice because He wants to make our lives miserable. He does it because He knows that it is the only way to find true, soul-filling satisfaction in this world. He asks us to sacrifice because He loves us.

And Jesus, looking at [the rich young ruler], loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

The rich, young ruler couldn’t. And neither can I. Yet, somehow in the letting go and asking for help, Jesus does the impossible and sacrifices through me – and I get to experience that joy that surpasses all understanding. It’s not fair actually. I definitely don’t deserve it. But I’ll take it :)

Day 63: The 2nd discipleship lesson

Numbers 30-31; Mark 9

Key Verses

Mark 9:35-37
And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”

Mark 9 is very similar to Matthew 17… They both begin with an account of the Transfiguration, and then as Jesus comes down the mountain he is confronted with the boy with an unclean spirit.

Jesus then predicts his death for the 2nd time. And he follows it with his 2nd lesson on discipleship found in today’s Key Verse.

The disciples were seeking glory and power. They were arguing over who would be the greatest in the new Kingdom… except that they thought that the new kingdom included Jesus overthrowing the government and becoming King over a new, powerful Israel.

But instead, Jesus suffered and died – and ushered in a Kingdom whose currency was humility and servanthood.

I know a lady. She would never be considered young. She has two daughters in college. She supports her family by working in my daughter’s school as a teacher’s aid. She also volunteers at her church to work with special needs kids. This woman takes care of my disabled daughter at school. Her job is to help her… with everything. She helps her write. She makes sure she eats her school lunch. She wheels her through the school halls. She hugs her and teaches her to read.

This woman is more valuable in God’s Kingdom than ten presidents. Our world doesn’t place much value on weakness… But Jesus does. Jesus essentially says, if you want to be great in my Kingdom… take on lowly tasks that don’t get much fanfare – like caring for people with little status in this world… care for the homeless, the incarcerated, the elderly, the widow, the single mother, the victim of sex trafficking – or the disabled child.

Jesus doesn’t want your status. He doesn’t care about your title. He wants humility. He wants your sacrificial service.

Day 6: Relentless help

Genesis 15-17; Matthew 5:27-48

Key Verses

Genesis 15:5-6
And [the Lord] brought [Abraham] outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

Matthew 5:44-45
“But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.'”

God made a promise to Abraham, and Abraham lived in the tension between faith and doubt – between belief and unbelief. Just listen to the narrative…

  • Abraham questioned how God would give him descendants since he had no children. (Gen. 15:3)
  • God promised that Abraham would have a son and his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. (Gen 15:5)
  • Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. (Gen 15:6)
  • Abraham waited for God to fulfill his promise of a son. He got impatient and slept with his wife’s servant, Hagar, and Hagar bore him a son. (Gen 16:2-4)
  • God reappeared to Abraham and reaffirmed his promise of a son from his wife, Sarah. He restated his covenant promise and instructed Abraham to be circumcised along with every male in his family as a sign of this covenant. (Gen 17:1-16)
  • Abraham “fell on his face and laughed to himself” at the thought of his wife, Sarah, bearing him a son. But he obeyed the difficult command of the Lord to circumcise his household. (Gen 17:17; 23-27)

Do you see the ebbs and flows of faith in Abraham’s life? I can totally relate. It reminds me of the father who cried to Jesus… “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

My life is filled with the responsibility of caring for a disabled child. This responsibility is relentless. It never goes away. It causes me to long for relief – to long for heaven. I need help from God to fulfill my responsibilities with joy and gratitude. Thankfully, God’s help to me… his grace toward me is also relentless. It never goes away. Even when my faith ebbs and flows, God continues to fulfill His promises to me. His promise to never leave or forsake me. His promise to work all things for my good. His promise to conform me more into the likeness of Jesus. His promise to give comfort and peace. His promise. His promises. They never fail. They are relentless.

Day 237: The foolishness of God

Isaiah 22-23; 1 Corinthians 1

Isaiah looks forward to a day when Israel will be threatened by foreign invaders…

In that day you looked to the weapons of the House of the Forest, and you saw that the breaches of the city of David were many. You collected the waters of the lower pool, and you counted the houses of Jerusalem, and you broke down the houses to fortify the wall. You made a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the old pool. But you did not look to him who did it, or see him who planned it long ago (Isaiah 22:8-11).

Do you see the irony? The people of Judah were working so hard in their own strength – but they failed to look to the only source of salvation – the God of Israel. He was the one who ordained their plot, and he was the only one who could deliver them. They chose to trust in their own wisdom – and they perished as fools in their self-reliance.

The ways of God are contrary to the wisdom of men. Worldly wisdom says that salvation comes through power. The gospel says that salvation comes through death.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians that “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1:18, NIV).

What other world religion teaches that the way up is down – or that the weak of this world are really the strong – and the lowly and despised are really the most valued?? This is foolishness in the world’s eyes! But this is the wisdom of God!

For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength (1 Corinthians 1:25).

In God’s kingdom, people like my daughter, who suffer with debilitating disability, find hope in the “foolishness” of God. My daughter might be looked upon as “lowly” in this world, but in God’s kingdom, she is priceless. She is valued in the Kingdom of Heaven because she knows no pride here on earth. In many ways, her disability is a blessing. Her hope is in Christ, alone.

God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, […] so that no human being might boast in the presence of God (1 Corinthians 1:28-29).

In God’s kingdom, self-reliance is a liability and pride is the way of death. Christ stands as the world’s only true hero and we are left with nothing but worship. We must put off our “strength” and embrace our weakness. Our hope must be in Christ, alone!

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 64: A picture lesson in discipleship

Numbers 32-33; Mark 10:1-31

Have you noticed that Jesus’ discipleship lessons center around one topic… Sacrifice.  Today’s reading illustrates the importance of sacrifice in the story of the rich young ruler. I’m borrowing today’s post from my personal blog (which details my journey as a mom to a disabled child). I hope you enjoy it :)

An Unfair Exchange May 18, 2012

Remember the rich, young ruler? He wants to follow Jesus, but Jesus asks him to sacrifice the one thing he loves most – his possessions. The man can’t and leaves broken-hearted. His disciples are incredulous. “Who can be saved?” they ask. Jesus gives the good news. “With man this is impossible, but not with God. All things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27).

I cannot muster the ability to sacrifice from within myself.

I have dreams you know… And they aren’t selfish desires – they are good desires, but for now, I can’t pursue them because of the time it requires to care for my disabled daughter. I have it easy actually. God has given me an clear choice.

  1. Pursue your own desires and let someone else care for my daughter. OR
  2. Sacrifice and care for her myself.

Like I’m going to choose not to care for my own daughter.

But here’s where the mystery is revealed. Here is the paradox that I could have never uncovered on my own. You know what you find when you sacrifice your own desires and wants and dreams? And I don’t mean the “sacrifices” that make us feel better about ourselves. No, I mean the gut wrenching, I HATE THIS kind of sacrifice. Because that’s how I feel most of the time. I HATE THIS.

You know what I’ve found. Do you know what’s at the bottom of the deep well of sacrifice? What’s waiting when you really let Jesus be the King and surrender to that horrible thing he’s asked you to do – the thing you could never do by yourself? Do you know what’s waiting for you? Satisfaction.

As gut wrenching as the sacrifice is, the satisfaction on the other side is… well, it’s other-worldly. Jesus doesn’t ask us to sacrifice because He wants to make our lives miserable. He does it because He knows that it is the only way to find true, soul-filling satisfaction in this world. He asks us to sacrifice because He loves us.

And Jesus, looking at [the rich young ruler], loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

And the rich, young ruler couldn’t. And neither can I. Yet, somehow in the letting go and asking for help, Jesus does the impossible and sacrifices through me – and I get to experience that joy that surpasses all understanding. It’s not fair actually. I definitely don’t deserve it. But I’ll take it :)

Day 63: The 2nd discipleship lesson

Numbers 30-31; Mark 9:1-50

Mark 9 is very similar to Matthew 17… They both begin with an account of the Transfiguration, and then as Jesus comes down the mountain he is confronted with the boy with an unclean spirit.

Jesus then predicts his death for the 2nd time. And he follows it with his 2nd lesson on discipleship…

“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”

The disciples were seeking glory and power. They were arguing over who would be the greatest in the new Kingdom… you know, the Kingdom where Jesus would overthrow the government and became King over the new powerful Israel.

But instead, Jesus suffered and died – and ushered in a Kingdom whose currency was humility and servanthood.

I know a lady. She’s in her fifties. She has two daughters, one in college – the other in high school. She supports her family by working in my daughter’s school as a teacher’s aid and is attending classes at night to earn her degree in special ed. She even volunteers at her church to work with special needs kids. This woman takes care of my disabled daughter at school. Her job is to help her… with everything. She helps her write. She makes sure she eats her school lunch. She wheels her through the school halls. She hugs her and teaches her to read.

This woman is more valuable in God’s Kingdom than ten presidents. Our world doesn’t place much value on weakness… But Jesus does. Jesus essentially says, if you want to be great in my Kingdom… take on lowly tasks that don’t get much fanfare – like caring for people with little status in this world… care for the homeless, the incarcerated, the elderly, the widow, the single mother, the victim of sex trafficking – or the disabled child.

Jesus doesn’t want your status. He doesn’t care about your title. He wants humility. He wants your sacrificial service.

Day 6:Relentless help

Genesis 15-17; Matthew 5:27-48

“Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great” (Genesis 15:1).

God made a promise to Abraham, and Abraham lived in the tension between faith and doubt – between belief and unbelief. Just listen to the narrative…

  • Abraham questioned how God would give him descendants since he had no children.
  • God promised that Abraham would have a son and his descendants would be as numerous as the stars.
  • Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.
  • Abraham waited for God to fulfill his promise of a son. He got impatient and slept with his wife’s servant, Hagar, and Hagar bore him a son.
  • God reappeared to Abraham and reaffirmed his promise of a son from his wife, Sarah. He restated his covenant promise and instructed Abraham to be circumcised along with every male in his family as a sign of this covenant.
  • Abraham “fell on his face and laughed to himself” at the thought of his wife, Sarah, bearing him a son. But he obeyed the difficult command of the Lord to circumcise his household.

Do you see the ebbs and flows of faith in Abraham’s life? I can totally relate. It reminds me of the father who cried to Jesus… “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

My life is filled with the responsibility of caring for a disabled child. This responsibility is relentless. It never goes away. It causes me to long for relief – to long for heaven. I need help from God to fulfill my responsibilities with joy and gratitude. Thankfully, God’s help to me… his grace toward me is also relentless. It never goes away. Even when my faith ebbs and flows, God continues to fulfill His promises to me. His promise to never leave or forsake me. His promise to work all things for my good. His promise to conform me more into the likeness of Jesus. His promise to give comfort and peace. His promise. His promises. They never fail. They are relentless.