Day 212: The Folly of the Earth

1 Chronicles 28-29; Acts 25

Key Verses

1 Chronicles 29:11b-13, NIV
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honor come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.
Now, our God, we give you thanks,
and praise your glorious name.

Today we see David – publicly ordaining Solomon as king of Israel. And as the entire assembly is gathered for this grand affair, David prays. In this prayer, we see his heart, and amazingly, it is a humble heart… After 40 years of experiencing strength on the battlefield, influence over other nations, the power to judge his own people, and the sovereignty to govern as he wills – he still defers to his Creator…

But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand (1 Chronicles 29:14, NIV).

How many current world leaders would be able to genuinely pray David’s words? Power seduces and can dull the mind to the truth of God’s absolute sovereignty over the earth. Despite David’s dance with greatness, in the end, he still recognized that God was the True King of Israel, and he, David, was just a steward of God’s resources and power.

In Acts, we read of tribunes, governors, and kings – each with their own limited power delegated through Caesar. With each subsequent chapter, we are introduced to a different inept ruling authority. Injustice is on center-stage as Paul is imprisoned for years without a fair judgment.

I wonder if these men had the same view of the world that David did? Did they understand that they were just stewards of God’s resources and power? Unfortunately, they all seem like foolish men drunk on their pomp and circumstance! (but maybe that’s just me…)

David, albeit flawed, was the precursor to Christ. If any man had the right to  “pomp and circumstance” it was Jesus! But He traded the grandeur of heaven for a stable… and absolute, universal power for a criminal’s death.

Apart from the grace of Christ, we are nothing. How do you think Paul was able to endure the years of unjust imprisonment? Only through the comfort of Christ! Our dignity comes from being made in the image of God and being redeemed by the blood of His Son. Our hope is found In Christ… alone!!

Day 144: All Who are Thirsty

1 Kings 14-16; John 6:22-44

Key Verses

1 Kings 15:4
Nevertheless, for David’s sake the Lord his God gave [the evil king, Abijam] a lamp in Jerusalem, setting up his son after him, and establishing Jerusalem (1 Kings 15:4).

John 6:35
“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

Asa ruled Judah after Abijam, and did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. There are few “good” kings after David, but all of them reigned in Judah. The author makes a stark contrast between the kings of Israel and Judah as he lists all of the evil kings that reigned in Israel during the reign of Asa. God’s blessing remains on Judah only for the sake of David and the fulfillment of His promise.

The Davidic line must be preserved for the Promised One. the Bread of Life, who died to give life to the world.

We are all hungry. The question is… what are we hungry for? The satisfaction that the world offers is fleeting. Only Jesus satisfies the deep longing in our souls for life and purpose. He is the bread of life!

All who are thirsty…

Keeping up with the Kings
Judah: Rehoboam, Abijam, Asa (good), Jehoshaphat
Israel: Jeroboam, Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, Ahab

Day 143: Give me Jesus

1 Kings 12-13; John 6:1-21

Key Verses

1 Kings 12:16
And when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, “What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, David.”

John 6:21
But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”

Today we read of the division of Israel into two separate nations: Judah and Israel. Israel rejects king Solomon’s son Rehoboam so Judah splits away from Israel and becomes a separate nation. The line of David stands alone in Judah with his own kinsmen.

There is a stark contrast between the kings described in 1 Kings – and The King depicted in John…

First, we read of Rehoboam, Son of Solomon and king of Judah, threatening “a heavier yoke” and “discipline of scorpions” to the people. Whereas we see Jesus being followed by large numbers because of his kindness to the sick. Jesus doesn’t “lord over” the crowds with cruelty, rather He feeds them, generously, and blesses them.

Then there is Jeroboam, king of Israel, who created his own religion to further separate Israel from Judah. God sends a prophet to destroy his new altars as a sign of His Power. Jesus… walks on water and shows his power over creation as he calms the storm in John 6:16-21.

Who are these kings? Besides having names that rhyme, they are power-hungry fools. They are the very antithesis of Jesus – and their arrogant cruelty brings God’s judgment on the people. My response to reading about these kings is… “Give me Jesus.” -Fernando Ortega

In the morning, when I rise… give me Jesus.
You can have all this world. Give me Jesus.

And when I am alone…give me Jesus.
You can have all this world. Give me Jesus.

And when I come to die…give me Jesus.
You can have all this world. Give me Jesus. -Fernando Ortega

Day 299: God’s far reaching Grace

Psalms 7-91 Timothy 1

1 Timothy is the first of Paul’s three pastoral letters (1 & 2 Timothy and Titus). In it he encourages Timothy to stand strong against false doctrine and to rely on Christ to lead the church in Ephesus effectively.

The best defense against false doctrine is truth! But Paul doesn’t deliver a dry sermon outlining systematic theology…No! He writes to Timothy of the grace he experienced through his own conversion…

…formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 1:13-14).

Who is this God that saves the worst of sinners? He has stooped so low to have a relationship with us!

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:3-4)

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. (Psalm 9:1-2)

Day 298: Striving for simplicity

Psalms 4-62 Thessalonians 3
(Psalm 3 was read on Day 119)

Even though we live in a fallen world, we are still created to enjoy God – and often, we do this through simple pleasures…working our hands in the tilled ground, washing away our thirst with cold water, rising early to watch the sun rise or sleeping after a hard and satisfying work day.

There’s a simplicity to following God that is hard to find in the busy-ness of our western culture. If we can break through all the many demands on our time and attention – and just be in the presence of God, we will find rest.

There is no striving at the foot of the cross. Only trust. A very still sense that God is faithful and he will accomplish it – whatever the it is that we are anxious about…he will accomplish it.

The truths of Scripture can lead us into rest. Paul’s words in 2 Thessalonians 3 remind me of the elegant simplicity of following God… trusting in his faithfulness (3:3), working quietly to earn a living (3:12), and praying for God’s peace and presence (3:16).

Even the Psalms echo these sentiments. They speak of pondering in our hearts (Psalm 4:4), sleeping in peace (4:8), seeking God in the morning (5:3), and the comforting truths that God hears our weeping and accepts our prayers (6:8-9).

It’s a paradox, but I challenge you to strive to live a simple life. For in simplicity we find… rest, a quiet trust, and peace. Ultimately, we find Jesus.

“You can have all this world. Just give me Jesus.” -Fernando Ortega

Day 256: Come Awake!

Daniel 3-4; 1 Corinthians 15:35-58

Oh the folly of this world’s power and might. Who was this Nebuchadnezzar? He was the king of Babylon – the most powerful man of his time. He was so powerful that he commanded the death of others on a whim. He commanded limbs be torn and houses be demolished… and for three men who refused to bow before the golden statue made in his likeness, he commanded that they be thrown into a fiery furnace.

He sounds like a spoiled toddler to me – but unfortunately, he was no toddler. He was the king.

But he wasn’t The King.

Nebuchadnezzar got too big for his britches. He failed to realize he was just a pawn in God’s hand. God tried to warn the king through Daniel… (Dan. 4:27), but unfortunately… he didn’t listen.

“O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will” (Daniel 4:31-32).

How the mighty fall! But do you see that even this severe act of God towards Nebuchadnezzar was an act of grace? Because of God’s humbling hand upon Nebuchadnezzar, he could say, “I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble” (Daniel 4:37).

For ultimately, our goal is heaven. It must not be earthly power, success or comfort – for these will all be wiped away. Just as our very bodies are perishable – all the things of this earth will be destroyed in the final day.

But. But…

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:51-55)

This is our hope. This is our song!

Day 231: Worthy of our worship

Isaiah 4-6; Romans 12

In today’s reading, Isaiah 4 opens with a prophecy of hope – and then Isaiah 5 turns dark as it describes how the people of Judah had rejected his grace (5:4) and consequently, would experience God’s wrath (5:13-14).

It is this context of future hope (chapt. 4) and imminent judgment (chapt. 5) that we see God’s grace and calling to Isaiah in Chapter 6.

Isaiah’s vision is truly awesome. He is face to face with the glory and holiness of the Lord, and he is terrified. Never has Isaiah been more aware of his own shortcomings – he was absolutely destitute in his sin.

But see God’s severe grace. Forgiveness does not come cheap. Sin always bears a price…

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for” (Isaiah 6:6-7).

Then God gives Isaiah his calling and purpose. Isaiah was called into a life of suffering – as he would proclaim God’s impending judgment on a hardened people.

But look deeper into the text and notice that Isaiah is describing the very throne room of God! God’s robe fills the temple and the foundation of the temple shook at the power of His voice. Isaiah, in his sinful state, could only crumple under the Holiness, but the seraphim, the pure seraphim, were engaged in worship.

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3)

This song is echoed in Revelation 4 – where we are also transported through vision to the throne room of God – and there we find the four creatures (representing all of creation) gathered with the 24 elders (who probably represent the unity of Israel and the church – combining the 12 tribes of Israel + the 12 apostles) – and what are they ALL doing??!! Worshiping the Lord!

And the four living creatures, …day and night they never cease to say,
“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!”

And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:8-11)

What is our response to the God we serve?? First, we say with Isaiah, “Woe is me!” And then, we must worship.

Romans 12:1 instructs us in this worship. We don’t contain our worship to Sunday mornings. No! We worship with our very lives!

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Jesus demands our all. How will you worship Him today?

 

Day 212: The folly of the earth

1 Chronicles 28-29; Acts 25

Today we see David – publicly ordaining Solomon as king of Israel. And as the entire assembly is gathered for this grand affair, David prays. In this prayer, we see his heart, and amazingly, it is a humble heart… After 40 years of experiencing strength on the battlefield, influence over other nations, power to judge his own people, and the sovereignty to govern as he willed – he still defers to his Creator…

Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;

you are exalted as head over all.

Wealth and honor come from you;

you are the ruler of all things.

In your hands are strength and power

to exalt and give strength to all.

Now, our God, we give you thanks,

and praise your glorious name.

But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand (1 Chronicles 29:11b-14, NIV).

How many current world leaders would be able to genuinely pray David’s words?? Power seduces and can dull the mind to the truth of God’s absolute sovereignty over the earth. Despite David’s dance with greatness, in the end, he still recognized that God was the True King of Israel, and he, David, was just a steward of God’s resources and power.

In Acts, we read of tribunes, governors and kings – each with their own limited power delegated through Caesar. With each subsequent chapter, we are introduced to a different inept ruling authority. Injustice is on center-stage as Paul is imprisoned for years without a fair judgment.

I wonder if these men had the same view of the world that David did? Did they understand that they were just stewards of God’s resources and power? Unfortunately, they all seem like foolish men drunk on their pomp and circumstance! (but maybe that’s just me…)

David, albeit flawed, was the precursor to Christ. If any man had the right to  “pomp and circumstance” it was Jesus! But He traded the grandeur of heaven for a stable… and absolute, universal power for a criminal’s death.

Apart from the grace of Christ, we are nothing. How do you think Paul was able to endure the years of unjust imprisonment? Only through the comfort of Christ! Our dignity comes from being made in the image of God and being redeemed by the blood of His Son. Our hope is found In Christ… alone!!

Day 144: All who are thirsty

1 Kings 14-16; John 6:22-44

Nevertheless, for David’s sake the Lord his God gave [the evil king, Abijam] a lamp in Jerusalem, setting up his son after him, and establishing Jerusalem (1 Kings 15:4).

Asa ruled Judah after Abijam, and did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. There are few “good” kings after David, but all of them reigned in Judah. The author makes a stark contrast between the kings of Israel and Judah as he lists all of the evil kings that reigned in Israel during the reign of Asa. God’s blessing remains on Judah only for the sake of David and the fulfillment of His promise.

The Davidic line must be preserved for the Promised One. the Bread of Life, who died to give life to the world. “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst'” (John 6:35).

We are all hungry. The question is… what are we hungry for? The satisfaction that the world offers is fleeting. Only Jesus satisfies the deep longing in our souls for life and purpose. He is the bread of life!

All who are thirsty…

Keeping up with the Kings
Judah: Rehoboam, Abijam, Asa (good), Jehoshaphat
Israel: Jeroboam, Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, Ahab

Day 143: Give me Jesus

1 Kings 12-13; John 6:1-21

Today we read of the division of Israel. No longer will the nation be unified, but Israel rejects King Solomon’s son Rehoboam and Judah becomes a separate nation. The line of David stands alone with his own kinsmen.

There is a stark contrast between the kings described in 1 Kings – and The King depicted in John…

First we read of Rehoboam, Son of Solomon and King of Judah, threatening “a heavier yoke” and “discipline of scorpions” to the people. Whereas we see Jesus being followed by large numbers because of his kindness to the sick. Jesus doesn’t “lord over” the crowds with cruelty, rather He feeds them, generously, and blesses them.

We also see Rehoboam, King of the one tribe of Judah, fail to force his rule over all of Israel – whereas Jesus has to withdraw from the crowds because he perceived “that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king” (John 6:15).

Then there is Jeroboam, King of Israel, who created his own religion to further separate Israel from Judah. God sends a prophet to destroy his new altars as a sign of His Power. Jesus… walks on water and shows his power over creation as he calms the storm in John 6:16-21.

Who are these kings? Besides having names that rhyme, they are power-hungry fools. They are the very antithesis of Jesus – and their arrogant cruelty brings the judgment of God on the people. My response to reading about these kings is… “Give me Jesus.” -Fernando Ortega

In the morning, when I rise… give me Jesus.
You can have all this world. Give me Jesus.

And when I am alone…give me Jesus.
You can have all this world. Give me Jesus.

And when I come to die…give me Jesus.
You can have all this world. Give me Jesus. -Fernando Ortega