10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, Lord;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
spouting malicious accusations.
13 I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
Unlocking a Mystery
This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel. Ephesians 3:6
When I came home from work one day and saw a pair of lady’s high-heel shoes next to the driveway, I was sure I knew whose they were. So I put them in the garage to give to my daughter Lisa when she returned to the house to pick up her children. But when I checked with Lisa, I found they didn’t belong to her. In fact, no one in our family claimed them, so I put them back where I’d found them. The next day, they were gone. Mysterious.
Did you know that the apostle Paul wrote of a mystery in his letters? But the mystery he described was so much more than some kind of “whodunit.” In Ephesians 3, for example, Paul spoke of a mystery that “was not made known to people in other generations” (v. 5). This mystery is that, while in the past God revealed Himself through Israel, now, through Jesus, Gentiles—those outside of Israel—could be “heirs together with Israel” (v. 6).
Think about what this means: all who trust Jesus as Savior can love and serve God together. We can all equally “approach [Him] with freedom and confidence” (v. 12). And through the church’s unity the world will see God’s wisdom and goodness (v. 10).
Praise God for our salvation. It unlocks for us the mystery of unity as people of any and all backgrounds become one in Jesus.
Thank You, Jesus, for the unity all believers can enjoy in You. Help us to serve together as equal members of Your body.
Unity in Christ breaks down barriers and builds the church.
Sword of Praise
From: Our Daily Journey
With my focus on my computer screen, I was vaguely aware of the worship music playing softly in my headphones. But after the first chords of a powerful song began to play, I could suddenly feel the strength of God’s presence filling my heart just as it had the first time I’d heard it. My soul was like parched ground, cracked from the trials of ministry, and the delicate notes and powerful lyrics refreshed me during a season when I felt like giving up.
Typically discussed as a story to remind us of the importance of standing alongside others in prayer, as Aaron and Hur do for Moses (Exodus 17:12), the battle at Rephidim also illuminates the power of living under the banner of God’s covering. While we may not have experienced the physical deliverance of God on an actual battlefield, God’s power realized in our spiritual battles is no less significant.
Exodus 17 details a heated battle between the Israelites and their Amalekite neighbors (Exodus 17:8,10). As a sign of God’s delegated power, Moses raised his staff (Exodus 17:11). Many years prior, he had taken off his sandals in the presence of a holy God. Now, far from the burning bush and far into the wilderness, he still worshiped. Though there was no music to be sung, no responsive readings to be heard, Moses’ worship was in his recognition of God’s worthiness, his very claim to God’s authority, strength, and power.
A seemingly simple staff became the sword of praise as the people of Israel routed their enemy (Exodus 17:13-14). How very beautiful and appropriate then that the same worship that ushered in victory found its expression before the altar of Yahweh-Nissi, “the Lord is my banner” (Exodus 17:15). May we too worship God in the midst of the battles we face today!
Love to Jesus
From: Charles Spurgeon
“O thou whom my soul loveth.” Solomon’s Song 1:7
Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 103
The Christian, if he had no Christ to love, must die, for his heart has become Christ’s. And so if Christ were gone, love could not be; then his heart would be gone too, and a man without a heart is dead. The heart, is it not the vital principle of the body? And love, is it not the vital principle of the soul? Yet there are some who profess to love the Master, but only walk with him by fits, and then go abroad like Dinah into the tents of the Shechemites. Oh, take heed, ye professors, who seek to have two husbands; my Master will never be a part-husband. He is not such a one as to have half of your heart. My Master, though he be full of compassion and very tender, hath too noble a spirit to allow himself to be half-proprietor of any kingdom. Canute, the Danish king, might divide England with Edmund the Ironside, because he could not win the whole country, but my Lord will have every inch of thee, or none. He will reign in thee from one end of the isle of man to the other, or else he will not put a foot upon the soil of thy heart. He was never part-proprietor in a heart, and he will not stoop to such a thing now. What saith the old Puritan? “A heart is so little a thing, that it is scarce enough for a sparrow’s breakfast, and ye say it be too great a thing for Christ to have it all.” No, give him the whole. It is but little when thou weighest his merit, and very small when measured with his loveliness. Give him all. Let thy united heart, thy undivided affection be constantly, every hour, given up to him.
For meditation: The members of the Godhead are the only joint-owners of the Christian. May God teach us his way—that our hearts may be united and wholly for him (Psalm 86:11-12).
Opening Doors to the Messy Places
By: J.A. Marx, Author
A while back, my three-year-old granddaughter, Grace, faced a harsh disturbance. No, she didn’t come down with any sickness, nor did she break a bone. Neither had her brothers taken her toys, heaven forbid.
This time, Grace was denying passage into her bedroom. Sitting on the tiled floor in the hallway, the door shut behind her, she stretched her little arm across the entrance and pressed her hand against the door frame. The youngest protester.
Every quarter or so, her dad blesses the family by hiring a husband and wife team to professionally deep clean the house. This day, Grace said, No, and her adorable pout could’ve softened Attila the Hun. Her reasoning? She feared these strangers would touch her sheets and blankets.
Who doesn’t need a deep clean once in a while?
“I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit … that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in.” Ephesians 3:16 (MSG, emphasis mine)
The Apostle Paul prayed for believers to be strengthened and to know the height, width, length, and depth of God’s love, a growth process that involves bravely inviting a Holy God into the most vulnerable and messy parts of us. Into the intimate places where we make our bed. Where, in the dark of night, we dream and wrestle with the aftermath of that day’s affairs. Where we cry ourselves to sleep and occasionally suffer nightmares. A place where some use their imagination to conceive unholy ambitions that will hinder their maturity.
Jesus longs to come in and do a deep clean. Is there a “room” He cannot enter? Like the unknowing three-year-old, how often do we protest God’s deep clean that would restore a pure environment for refreshment and increased intimacy with the Lord?
When I take time to search my heart, I encounter that vulnerable area that I think I’ve got under control. I manage it through worrying and over-thinking. Unwittingly, or perhaps knowingly, I stretch my arm across the door to that room in my heart and resist Love. Just as little Grace, who thinks as a child, I misinterpret God’s intentions toward me. But when nothing gets better, I complain, “Lord, why did You let this happen?”
“For God is at work within you, helping you want to obey him, and then helping you do what he wants. In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing,” Philippians 2:14-15 (TLB, emphasis mine)
In everything. That’s a tall order. When I’m complaining and arguing, I’m not believing or obeying. My protesting then sabotages my maturity process.
Friends, I’m done with complaining and arguing. I desire a clean room. The Holy Spirit is here to help me to will and do the Father’s pleasure. Knowing Jesus is making Himself at home in me, I can rejoice in everything.
How did Grace’s story end? She took six dolls with her on an outing while the work was being done at home, sparing her prized possessions from the cleaners’ scrutiny. Upon returning to her bedroom, she cautiously looked around to assure herself everything was in place, then she took a nap in peace. Yes, a nap, in the cherished bed and blanket she’d tried in vain to “protect.” She now understood her father had plans for her well-being, not for bad. Her room was clean, and all was well with her soul.
When a season of the Lord’s cleansing and purifying our hearts comes to an end, we’ll probably feel like napping, too.
Is there an area of your heart you’ve been blocking? Jesus wants in.
Are your prayers more like complaints? Remember Who is at work within you.