From Glory to Shame and Back Again

Genesis 49:28-50:26 & Habakkuk 1:1-3:19

“Drink from the cup of the LORD’s judgment, and all your glory will be turned into shame.” Habakkuk 2:16

This verse took me by surprise this morning as I was reading. It brought to mind another cup that Jesus mentioned in Luke 22:42 when He was praying on the Mount of Olives just before He went to the cross. He knew what was coming and it was distressing Him greatly so He prayed, “Father, if You are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from Me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not Mine.”

The LORD’s cup of judgment would certainly be a cup of suffering would it not? And as Jesus hung naked from the cross His glory was turned to shame with people passing by and spitting on Him and taunting Him saying, “He saved others, let Him save Himself if He is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” The soldiers mocked Him as well, calling out, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” Even one of the criminals who hung beside Him on his own cross said, “So You’re the Messiah, are You? Prove it by saving Yourself – and us, too, while You’re at it!” Luke 23:35, 36 &39

And yet, was that not one of His MOST glorious moments of all? Sure He was utterly humiliated in that moment, and yet He remained filled with the Grace that only God can maintain! I mean, seriously, what was His response to all the mockery and shame, “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.” Luke 23:34 Only Jesus in the height of His glory could do something like that. There He was drinking down the Father’s cup of judgment on our behalf and people are mocking Him while He’s doing it. In that moment Jesus was fully human and fully God. He was fully naked and yet still fully clothed in the robe of righteousness that He bestows upon OUR shoulders when we choose Him as our Lord and Savior by accepting the gift He paid for that day on the cross. In that moment every shred of earthy glory was stripped from Him and yet with each lash of the whips His glory shone ever brighter and more glorious! He was utterly humiliated and yet in the process utterly humiliated the Enemy of our souls.

He was so brilliant in that moment, so glorious, that even from a distance of two thousand plus years we have to shade our eyes in order to see it. LORD You are SO BEAUTIFUL! THANK YOU FOR DRINKING THAT CUP!

Categories: 365 Life, Genesis, Habakkuk, Season 3 | Leave a comment

Decisions, Decisions…

Genesis 49:28-50:26 & Habakkuk 1:1-3:19

“The righteous shall live by his faith.” Habakkuk 2:4

Life is filled with decisions isn’t it? Big ones, small ones, life changing ones and some that you wouldn’t expect to change anything yet they do. What clothes to wear today? How to do my hair? Should I shower now or later? What to have for breakfast? To be, or not to be? We make a million decisions every day and each one has the potential to turn into a life changing decision.

My husband and I met in high school and were both in the band. Yup, I’m a band geek; I was in the Color Guard and loved every second of it. Anyway, this week our high school band director went home to be with Jesus. Her visitation is tonight and her funeral is tomorrow during the day. Band meant so very much to both of us as did she. So of course we want to go pay our respects. The only problem is, the services are over an hour away and we really don’t have the time or the money to go. A decision needs to be made, like ASAP. I’ve been praying about it and as I sat down to re-read the passages today and type this all up I had my Bible open and ready and breathed a prayer, to go or not to go. And when I opened my eyes they were immediately drawn to Genesis 50:7-8 “So Joseph went up to bury his father. With him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, as well as all the household of Joseph, his brothers, and his father’s household. Only their children their flocks and their herds were left in the land of Goshen.”

Now, some may say that’s an uncanny coincidence, but I don’t really believe in coincidences. If my God knows the number of hairs on my head and the number of steps I will take in my life (which He does), then that’s a God who’s pretty into the minute details of my life. And if He’s that into minute details, I’m fairly certain that when I’m praying and asking Him for decision making guidance and my eyes fall on a scripture that points in a definite direction for that decision, well, I think it’s pretty safe to say that it’s not a coincidence. It’s God.

And that leads me to today’s point. With all these decisions we’re making throughout every day, the fear of making a wrong one can become pretty overwhelming. I mean, we see the decision of what to have for breakfast as a minor decision, but it isn’t. If I decide to make myself an egg instead of having cereal, an egg is going to take longer to make. That decision will lead to me leaving the house later than I would have if I had chosen cereal. Running late might tempt me to speed in order to get to work on time. Passing a cop while speeding usually leads to a ticket and being even later for work. A little way down the road there’s a huge traffic back up, there’s been an accident. An accident that had I eaten cereal and left the house on time and not gotten pulled over I would have been in.

Do you see what I mean about small decisions perhaps not being quite as small as we think they are? One small decision CAN affect the big things that happen later in the day, week, and year.

And that’s the beauty of a personal relationship with Jesus. When He died on the cross His last moments were recorded in John 19:30 “When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished,’ and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”

In Acts chapter one, after Jesus has risen from the dead and is preparing to return to heaven He tells His Disciples, “you will receive power when the Holy spirit has come upon you,” (verse 8) And in the gospel of John chapter 16 Jesus tells them, “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come.”

Proverbs 24:6 says, “for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but victory in my life sounds pretty good. And through the Holy Spirit of Jesus we can have victory in our lives in every decision we make.

In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve made a pretty bad decision. And while they walked with God and talked with God, there was one thing they didn’t have; His constant guidance through the Holy Spirit. However, when we make the decision to choose Jesus, we can also ask His Holy Spirit to come into our lives and be our guidance counselor. And He will.

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Luke 11:1`3

Have you made that decision to choose Jesus as your Lord and Savior? It’s a lot simpler than Satan would like to have you realize.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord (or the authority figure over you) and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on Him. For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'”

You see, simple.

Step 1) Believe that Jesus is who He has said that He is; the Son of God who died for your sins completely erasing them from your account with God; then walking out of the prison of death, completely alive, effectively pronouncing the sentence having been served on your behalf. According to Romans 10:9-13 through belief, you are justified through the cross of Christ.

Step 2) Confess this belief out loud. You can whisper it, you can shout it from the mountaintops of Facebook, and it’s up to you. See, simple.

Many people believe that your salvation comes when you pray the sinner’s prayer, and I’m certainly not against that. In fact I think it’s a GREAT idea to start step 2 with a prayer to God confessing your belief in His forgiveness of your sins against Him. But I don’t believe that your salvation hinges on a prayer; at least not according to Romans 10:9-13. As fragile humans, it’s good for us to have a process or ceremony to help us create this milestone moment that we can remember vividly later in life. But as far as my experience goes, some of the biggest milestone moments in my relationship with Jesus have been the most ordinary moments of all. One in particular that comes to my mind first, was a moment that brought me straight to my knees as I was walking from the kitchen into the living room while I was eating a bowl of yogurt. J God has His ways of doing things and they are nothing like our ways. We love pomp and circumstance; He loves to catch us off guard. So if you made the choice to follow Jesus’ leadership in your life, while you were sitting in your recliner eating cereal don’t think that that moment doesn’t qualify as a salvation moment because it absolutely does! God meets us where we are, not the other way around! He come to us instead of requiring us to come to Him.

I mean that’s the entire point of the cross and Grace! We aren’t able to come to Him on our own. That’s why Jesus stepped down out of heaven to pave the way for us to get there. Before the cross the road had been broken and impassable. But Jesus came and made a way for us.

And the same is true in your life today. Absolutely positively nothing that you say or do can get you to heaven. No amount of good deeds or ceremonial prayers will get you to heaven; ONLY a belief in JESUS and then speaking that belief out loud. That is the heart of salvation. That is the heart of justification. That is the heart of being redeemed. Confess with your mouth that Jesus is YOUR Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead and you will be saved. Period.

It’s a simple decision with a profound effect! J

Categories: 365 Life, Genesis, Habakkuk, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | 1 Comment

Mustard Seed Faith

Today’s Reading: Habakkuk 1:1-3:19

Here I sit today under the tulip tree in our front yard, sunlight dappled upon the pages of the book I’m reading when the author quotes the story from Matthew (17:14-21) of the father bring his demon-possessed son to the disciples and they can’t cast it out. So the father brings his child to Jesus. He is able to immediately cast out the demon and the child is instantly healed. Later the disciples question Jesus why they couldn’t do it and He says to them: “Because of your little faith. Truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move and nothing will be impossible for you.”

I can’t even begin to count how many times I have read this verse or heard this verse, and never caught the message like I did today. Jesus wasn’t rebuking their faith in Him! He was rebuking their faith in themselves!!! Look at the situation, the disciple’s faith was in Jesus and His ability to heal the boy, that’s why they brought the boy to Him. But whose faith was in the disciples? Jesus and the father’s. The father brought his son to the disciples for healing, he trusted these men to heal his son because they had done it for others. But in that moment they were unable to perform the miracle, why? Most likely for many reasons, but I propose that perhaps Jesus wasn’t talking about the demon that possessed the boy, rather the Doubt that hindered his friends. You see they didn’t doubt in His ability to perform the miracle, they doubted in their own ability to be part of it. Why? Perhaps they were really doubting how much Jesus loved them. They hadn’t been chosen to go up the mountain like Peter, James and John and perhaps they were a little hurt by that. Perhaps that was the foothold the Enemy used to get into their heads and totally psyche them out of their God-given ability to heal in His name.

Satan did the same thing to me last summer with swimming. It had been so long since I had been swimming in a real pool that I became afraid of going into the deep end of the pool without a floatation device. It took me all summer to work up the nerve to jump off the stinkin’ diving board for Pete’s sake! My dad was a swim instructor, I grew up in the water and here I was suddenly afraid of it for no reason! Ridiculous! I doubted my own ability to swim, something I had always been able to do. The disciples doubted their ability to perform miracles, we believed the Lie.

I want you to pay close attention to the words Jesus uses to finish His lesson on faith: “Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Woah, woah, woah, hold the phones, hang on, what!?! For who? We started this story yesterday hearing from an angel who had seen so many of the wondrous things that God is capable of that we could never even begin to imagine them all and he’s telling us with a laugh “nothing is impossible with God.” Yet here stands God in flesh saying to us that nothing will be impossible for us! When we hold fast to our faith; our faith in our mighty God AND our faith in our ability to do what God made us to do, to be who God made us to be – then NOTHING will be impossible for us. NOTHING! I pray that your ears hear this word for you today, THE Father believes in you – His friend, His child. He believes in your ability to do what He has called you and made you to do. He has placed hopes and dreams deep within your heart, don’t lose sight of those dreams, they are from Him, they are His call on your life don’t you dare give up on them. “For still the vision awaits its appointed time, it hastens to the end – it will not lie. If It seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” (Habakkuk 2:3) He is faithful. “Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.” (Joshua 21:45) Nothing, nope, nothing is impossible. Not for God, and not for you. Keep on believing my friend, your miracle is right around the corner. He is faithful because He loves you!!!

Categories: Habakkuk | Leave a comment

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