Waking Up to New Life in Christ
The Jewish calendar has a period of time called Teshuvah, meaning “to turn,” in the last month of the year, Elul, which means “search.” The purpose is for people to turn to God and search their hearts in preparation for the Day of Atonement, when they ask themselves, “Am I ready to die?”
This is reflected in their clothing for the day. Every married Jewish male wears a kittel, a white linen robe that eventually serves as their burial shroud. The robe has no pockets, symbolizing that nothing can be taken along on that journey. It’s a dress rehearsal for death.
Keep in mind that Jesus is Jewish, and He prepared Himself to die. The good news is that when Jesus wore His burial shroud, He left it in a tomb and is raised forevermore.
And we have this wonderful promise in Colossians 2:12:
“You also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”
Are we ready to walk into the goodness and provision of God? Sometimes it’s easy to allow bitterness, complaining and anxiety to build up, robbing us of our joy. The more we are asleep to our disobedience, the more we drift away from God without even realizing it.
We need to wake up into the newness of life He has for us. That’s why it is important to examine ourselves to see where we fall short, to ask God to forgive us and set us free. He is merciful and gracious, and He wants to bring us into the Promised Land.
Start by remembering that He loves you. Song of Solomon 6:3 says,
“I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.”
You don’t have to beg Him; He wants you to succeed, and He is in your corner.
Meditate on God’s attributes in Exodus 34:6-7:
“The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.”
Then search your heart for anything that is keeping you from wholeheartedly pursuing the promises God has for you.
For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise (Psalm 51:16-17).
We need to guard against complacency by asking ourselves, “Am I right with God? Am I ready to meet Him? Am I fully appreciating the salvation that Jesus paid that price for?” This brings a whole new appreciation of what Jesus did for us in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the cross, and in the resurrection.
You get a different perspective on life when facing death. I experienced that first-hand when I nearly died of cerebral malaria in Manila. In that time, the things you used to think were important don’t matter at all. It’s just you and God.
In 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, Paul shared what he learned while facing death:
We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead (NLT).
He expected to die—and as a result, he learned to rely on God, for He will raise us, too.
When we go through hardships, our reaction should be, “This is great because it means God is going to be glorious. He will see me through this and I am going to learn how great He is.”
Jesus came to give you abundant life. In Him, we have new life. No matter what we go through, we can rely on Him. Our hope is in the One who raises the dead. God bless you.
A cure for care
‘Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.’ 1 Peter 5:7
Suggested Further Reading: Jonah 4:6–11
Believe in a universal providence; the Lord cares for ants and angels, for worms and for worlds; he cares for cherubim and for sparrows, for seraphim and for insects. Cast your care on him, he that calls the stars by their names, and leads them out by numbers, by their hosts. ‘Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and thinkest O Israel, my way is passed over from God and he has utterly forgotten me?’ Let his universal providence cheer you. Think next of his particular providence over all the saints. ‘Precious shall their blood be in his sight.’ ‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.’ ‘We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.’ While he is the Saviour of all men, he is specially the Saviour of them that believe. Let that cheer and comfort you, that special providence which watches over the chosen. ‘The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him.’ And then, let the thought of his special love to you be the very essence of your comfort. ‘I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.’ God says that as much to you, as he said it to any saint of old. ‘Fear not, I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.’ O I would beloved, that the Holy Spirit would make you feel the promise as being spoken to you; out of this vast assembly forget the rest and only think of yourself, for the promises are unto you, meant for you. O grasp them. It is ill to get into a way of reading Scripture for the whole church, read it for yourselves, and specially hear the Master say to you, ‘Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.’
For meditation: While we should not be so preoccupied with ourselves that we are unable to see the wood for the trees, there is also the danger of neglect or ingratitude resulting from a failure to see the trees for the wood. ‘They made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.’ (Song of Solomon 1:6). Never forget how personal the Saviour is—‘who loved me, and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20).
Streams in the Desert – January 12
Reckon it nothing but joy… whenever you find yourself hedged in by the various trials, be assured that the testing of your faith leads to power of endurance (James 1:2-3) Weymouth
God hedges in His own that He may preserve them, but oftentimes they only see the wrong side of the hedge, and so misunderstand His dealings. It was so with Job (Job 3:23). Ah, but Satan knew the value of that hedge! See his testimony in Job 1:10.
Through the leaves of every trial there are chinks of light to shine through. Thorns do not prick you unless you lean against them, and not one touches without His knowledge. The words that hurt you, the letter which gave you pain, the cruel wound of your dearest friend, shortness of money — are all known to Him, who sympathizes as none else can and watches to see, if, through all, you will dare to trust Him wholly.
Bringing my Neighbor to Jesus
Scripture Reading — Luke 5:17-26
Large crowds were following Jesus wherever he went. People were hungry for his teaching. Many people came mainly to see his miracles or to ask for one for themselves.
Hope for healing could be huge for people who had no medical care. We can imagine the paralyzed man living without hope, until he heard about Jesus the miracle worker. Some neighbors got together and carried this man to Jesus.
When they arrived and saw that they could not get into the house because the crowd was so big, they hoisted their friend to the roof and lowered him “right in front of Jesus.”
Jesus did not disappoint. First he met the man’s deepest spiritual need, forgiving his sins. Then Jesus met the man’s physical need, making him able to walk again. The man “went home praising God.”
About seven years ago, a dear colleague was hospitalized with terminal cancer. Inspired by this story, four of us who were friends of his met him in his room, wheeled him out to a patio, and shared Scripture and prayer with him in the presence of Jesus.
Jesus did not heal his cancer that day. But Jesus had already forgiven our friend’s sins. And some weeks later, our friend “went home praising God” for all eternity.