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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Corollary to Grace in the Midst

Yesterday we looked at Exodus 9:16 (I won’t rehearse the point).  There is more.
Corollary to Grace in the Midst

Look at Exodus 10:1 – 2, while it is the case that the purposes of God in all that He does that we experience, either good or bad, is to reveal His nature and character to the world.  Look at what He expects from us.

“…that you may tell in the hearing of your son, and of your grandson, how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and how I performed My signs among them, that you may know that I am the LORD”

We are expected to relate to our children and their children what we have seen God do in and for our lives.

Men that is primarily your responsibility.  Look at Deuteronomy 6:4 – 7, 20 – 21.

Incredible opportunity and assignment.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Grace in the Midst

Exodus 9:14 – 16 is just after the sixth plague that God sends on Egypt.  It wasn’t a good time to be an Egyptian.  Reading through this section at some level it was like reading Revelation 6 – 11 and 16.  God is raining significant difficulty down on His creation.
Grace in the Midst

Why?

In the midst of Exodus 9:14 – 16 there is purpose given that is stunning:

“…in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth.”

One purpose of the plagues, the seals, the trumpets, and the bowls is to reveal God.  It is to draw people to Him, to demonstrate His power and nature.

Man is stubborn.  Committed to disobedience.  In Genesis 7, God wiped out the world and started over.  He promises in Genesis 8:21 He will never do that again until He creates the new heaven and the new earth, 2 Peter 3:10 – 16.

In the meantime, when He sends difficulty, the purpose is to demonstrate to us, this stubborn people, that it is He who is in control.  It is, as Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3:15, a call to us to accept His grace.  To acknowledge our rebellion and come to Him and have our relationship restored.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Taken Away

The parable of the soils, or the sower, is one of my favorite passages.  It shows up in Matthew 13:2 – 23; Mark 4:3 – 20; and Luke 8:4 – 15.  My reading project this year took me through the Luke version a few days ago.
Taken Away

As many times as I have read, studied, and shared this parable, I saw something that I had not seen before.

In both Mark and Luke’s account they record Jesus following the soil/sower with the lamp under a bushel parable, Mark 4:21 – 25 and Luke 8:16 – 18.  There is a phrase in Luke that is repeated in both parables.  Look at the middle of Luke 8:12 and the end of Luke 8:18.

  • Luke 8:12 – “takes away the word from their heart”
  • Luke 8:18 – “even what he 1thinks he has shall be taken away from him.”

In verse 12, the devil takes away the word because the ground is hard.  In verse 18, the one who hides light has what he thinks he has taken away.  The repetition of that idea of the word and what one has taken away is not accidental.  Not accidental, that is, if we hold to what the Bible says about the Spirit inspiring every Scripture.

That association seems to indicate that hiding what we know has the same effect as the Word of God falling on hardened ground.

When I consider this, it is congruent with Christ’s commission to us is it not?  We are to both share all that we know of Him with others, Matthew 18:18 – 20, and we are to be about seeking His kingdom first, Matthew 6:33.

I missed that connection here.

I was too focused on one part of the passage and missed the connection in the context.  It reminds me that I need to continually look at the passages surrounding those I am studying or sharing with others.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

What’s the Rush

Ever find your mind wandering during the time you are supposed to be having your devotional?  Ever feel like you have to speed it up because you have more important things to do?
What’s the Rush
I have.

I find that the enemy knows me pretty well.  He knows how to distract me.  He does all that he can to keep me out of the Word and especially from thinking and praying through what I am reading.  He brings projects to mind.  He reminds me of stuff that I haven’t finished or need to get done.  He shares a great idea with me that has to be written down or I will forget it.

I find myself thinking I need to speed this up and get to what is really important.

Really?

You remember Mary and Martha in Luke 10:40 – 41.  Jesus told Martha what was important.  Hint, it wasn’t getting on with the day’s business.

Everyone I know is busy.  All of us have calendars that tend to get full – quickly.  We are always in a rush.  We are always connected – where is your cell phone?  Right?

In John 15:1 – 16 the word that is translated abide or remain in your Bible is repeated 11 times.  That may suggest it is important; don’t you think?  Observation, it takes time to abide.  One cannot be moving and remain.

It is counter to the times to slow down.  We are encouraged to do everything faster, more efficiently, and better.

Perhaps we need to reconsider Matthew 6:33 in light of the message of Luke 10:40 – 41 and John 15:1 – 16.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Joy

Yesterday I asked you to look at John 15:11 and 1 John 1:3 – 4.
Joy

What did you see?

Did you notice that John said essentially the same thing that Jesus said?  Think about that.

John was physically in the presence of Jesus Christ for 3 years.  Yet, his joy is not complete unless he shares Jesus with us.  Further he states that if we accept his message, we have the same relationship with Jesus that he has.

Mind blowing.

It is also what Jesus prayed for him and for us in John 17:20 – 21.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Men of Understanding

A while back my reading program took me through 1 Chronicles 12:32.  I was struck by the two fold description of the sons of Issachar:

Men of Understanding
  • Men who understood the times
  • Men who knew what Israel should do

Is that not what we need in the Body today?  Understanding and wise direction on what to do.  The difference is that our assignment is to seek His Kingdom, Matthew 6:33.  The New Testament seems to have several men who understood and knew.

Paul leaps to mind as one of these.  1 Corinthians 9:19 – 23 describes his mindset.  He does all for the sake of the gospel.  What drives him, was introducing people to Jesus.  It wasn’t getting ahead as a tent maker.  It wasn’t getting recognized as a great orator.  It wasn’t gaining the respect of the other apostles.  It wasn’t even getting along with everyone.  He was laser focused on doing all that he could to introduce people to Christ.

John was the same way.  I will expand that tomorrow.  In prep look at John 15:11 and 1 John 1:3 – 4.

It seems to me we may need more men like this in our midst.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Sorry for Your Loss

As I mentioned yesterday I cannot count the number of times people have said that to us in the past month.  It is a good thing to say, appropriate, nothing wrong with those words, or the thoughts behind them.
Sorry for Your Loss
Dad with 4 of his 7 greatgrandchildren
However, at a significant level this was not a loss for us.

Mom fell at home 10  years ago and was home with the Lord six hours later.  Dad watched her fall.  For the past 10 years he would break into tears at “odd” times.  At 0538 on January 21st, his tears became those of joy.

Mom and dad experienced five miscarriages between me and my brother.  There were five children that dad never knew.  Mom has been with them for the past 10 years.  At 0538 on January 21st, dad met those five people for the first time.

During the first of August my oldest son and his wife experienced a miscarriage.  Mom has been with that greatgrandchild for the past seven months.  At 0538 on January 21st, dad met his greatgrandchild.

Also his sister, her son, his mom, his dad, his mother in law, and many more of whom I am not aware.

James 4:13 – 14, reminds us that this life is a vapor, it vanishes after a little while.  Psalm 78:39, describes our life as a wind that passes and does not return.  Job 7:7, 16, describes this as a breath.

Dad missed being with mom, those kids, and his greatgrandchild for part of a breath.  He will spend eternity with them in the presence of Jesus.  How is that a loss?  For him an immeasurable gain.

For us, sure.

But for me to focus on loss in light of all that dad is experiencing now seems epically selfish.  Rather, at a significant level, I am jealous.

I have struggled with Philippians 1:21.  I am beginning to understand more and more Paul’s heart.

So while it is still a good thing to say.  It does not capture the full reality of the situation for one who has accepted Christ’s gift of eternal life.  I am going to be apart from dad for part of a breath.  We will spend eternity together with all of the above members of our family and countless brothers and sisters in Christ.  The loss is fleeting.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Death with Dignity?

Getting his first chemo treatment
Yesterday I shared that my dad passed away on the 21st of last month.  There are many who talk about death with dignity.  My dad was dignified.  More times than I can count the week after his passing he was described to us as a southern gentleman.  He was always concerned about whether he was dressed properly.  It was not an issue of pride but more a conviction that he had to continually put his best foot forward.

He was a hero especially to his unit in WWII.  For a better picture of this you can read what I said at the funeral here.

His death though was anything but dignified.  For the last several weeks of his life he was increasingly unable to care for himself.  He needed help to bathe.  He needed help to go to the bathroom.  He was an incredibly modest and proper man.  In those weeks he was helped by some really gracious people.  All of them were women.  While he never complained, I know he was embarrassed.

When I got to his room the morning of the 21st there were four medical personnel working on him.  They had the hospital bed sitting up and he was leaning to his left with his head tilted forward and his mouth open as if he was gasping for air.  He was unresponsive.  There was some black matter on the front of his gown.  It seemed that it had finally come out of his lungs.

A few minutes later he was gone.

This hero, this man who had been described as a southern gentleman, who was always concerned about making sure that his external presentation matched his commitment to excellence in all that he did, in his final moments had been exposed, had expelled matter from his lungs, and had lost control of his body.

Dignity.  No.

We were not created to physically die.  Physical death is the consequence of rebellion against God, Romans 6:23.  We were created in the image of an infinite God.  We were meant to live with Him forever.  Our choice of sin resulted in our eventual physical death.  However, our soul continues to live on.  In dad’s case, he had trusted Christ.  He had accepted that he needed Christ’s death as a substitution and payment for his sin.  So as he took his last breath, he entered into the presence of His savior.

There is dignity in that.

Not in the consequence of our sin.

Since dad has passed away many people have told us they were sorry for our loss.  I want to share some thoughts on that tomorrow.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Death

Death
The last post was on January 16th.  That was my dad’s 94th birthday.  On Wednesday the 18th, my wife and I were driving to his home in Huntsville, Texas.  We were going to take him to M. D. Anderson for his appointment on the 19th.  He was to have blood work and a PET scan to re-stage his cancer.

We were about a third of the way through the 7 hour drive when we got a call from my brother.  He told us that we needed to take dad to M. D. Anderson as soon as we got to Huntsville, he was having trouble breathing and had pneumonia in his right lung.

When we got to my dad’s home, I was shocked to see how weak he was.  It took a major effort to get him from the kitchen table to the car.  We got to MDA at about 6 PM.  We went through the emergency room triage and finally got to a room at around midnight.  The first doctor that saw him in the ER felt that his condition was caused by a resurgence of his cancer and that he would probably not last the week and possibly that night.  She asked one of her colleagues to consult.  The second doctor felt that he was stronger and that we should be able to deal with the breathing and get him well enough to return home.  The first doctor was right.

I am not going to share the details, but shortly after dad was hospitalized, so was I.  I was in isolation two floors below him.  The last time I saw him conscious was in the ER before we were both assigned our rooms.

My wife stayed with dad for the entire time he was in his room.  Saturday morning at about 5:20 AM my wife came to my room and told me to get to dad’s room, he was in respiratory distress.  I had to gown up, put on gloves and a mask.  The nurse helped me and helped get me and my IV tree to dad’s room.  Five minutes later, at 5:38 AM he went home.

Since August first, our family has experienced a miscarriage, a pregnancy concurrent with an aggressive form of cancer, emergency surgery for my dad, my mother in law experiencing a massive stroke and subsequent death, my father’s final hospitalization and death, and my concurrent hospitalization with my father.

It has been an interesting six months.

There are some things I wish to share from this.  Things that the Lord has led us through.  Things that deal with life and death.

I will start that tomorrow.