Re:verse–Hosea 1,3,14 (day six)
God didn’t use a vision, or a dream to reveal the heart of his message to Hosea; he used real life. God commanded Hosea to marry, only to rescue his wife years later from a life of rampant adultery. The message was clear. It was not lost on Hosea just how devastating and painful sin could be, nor the cost of covenant keeping love.
The real life of Hosea spoke volumes about the ugliness of sin and the extraordinary love of God. I wonder what our real lives have to teach us?
“It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land…” Luke 23:44
It was the great day of the Lord fallen on Jesus’ shoulders. That’s what Luke wants us to see in the darkness (Amos 8:9). This was much more than the noble death of an innocent man, but the wrath of God poured out; it was judgement day. Not just anyone’s judgment day, but everyone’s, yours and mine, with Jesus receiving the full brunt of sin’s reward.The grace we receive has never been free. Jesus died in the darkness, so we could live in the light.
Re:Verse reading–Luke 15:1-2, 11-32 (day six)
“I didn’t come into the world to condemn every sinner, I came to forgive and give life even to the worst sinner.”-Jesus, (John 3:17, my own paraphrase)
The older son wanted his dad to condemn his brother, rather than rejoice in his restoration. The whole point of the story is to expose the disparity between the pharisees’ condemnation of sinners and God’s mercy and grace towards sinners (that’s us). In keeping with the story, Jesus’ purpose in telling it was not to stick it to the pharisees. He wanted them to come to their senses too; he wanted them to repent and know the grace and mercy of the Father that the younger son enjoyed.
The question for us is the same Jesus had for the pharisees, will we rejoice when God redeems the most unworthy of sinners (for sometimes we think somehow we are worthy) and gathers them in our church family? Are better yet, should we repent (as a church family) of our indifference towards sinners?
Re:Verse reading–Luke 7:36-50 (day six)
What I admire most about this woman is her shear guts, her no-one-is-keeping-me-from-Jesus courage. She wasn’t walking into friendly territory; she had been marked with a letter s, for sinner. The pharisees were smug; they would never come in contact with such a sinful woman. She was a dark stain, the other, the one that doesn’t belong; she was the, “that’s what wrong with our society.” She was walking into a room full of daggers for eyes,..and she couldn’t have cared less, because in the heart of that room was her Jesus!
I don’t know what having her kind of guts would mean for me; I know I would likely be different in how I talk about Jesus to others, how I worship, how I love the least of these. All I know is that I want more of it! Guts!
Re:Verse reading–Acts 15:1-29 (day six)
The stakes were incredibly high. For some Jewish believers it may had more to do with self-preservation than salvation (gentile believers would soon outnumber them). But for Paul the stakes couldn’t have been higher; the very salvation of humanity depended on the church elders in Jerusalem getting this decision right. For Paul it was simple, you cannot hold on to Jesus, if you are clinging to something else, i.e. circumcision or the Law. Telling gentiles that they must be circumcised in addition to believing in Jesus to be saved is like insisting someone carry an anvil while hoping to stay afloat wearing a life vest. The anvil is not meant to be a life saving device, nor the Law of Moses or wearing a nice tie on Sunday. This why Paul would declare to the Galatians, “If anyone teaches you a different Gospel than the one I taught you, let him be accursed.”
The stakes are still high. What obstacles are in the way of saving faith today? What kind of gospel do we articulate to those who are not like us? Maybe one of those obstacles is our silence.
Re:Verse reading–2 Corinthians 8:1-15 (day six)
2 Corinthians 8 teaches us very important lessons on giving. Have you ever given any thought as to why we don’t give? What keeps us from giving of our time, energy, and resources? It’s a worthwhile question. The Macedonians gave, not out of their abundance, but out of their poverty. In other words, they gave of what little they had not knowing where their next meal would come from. I don’t give like that. One, God has tremendously blessed my family; we are not poor. Two, we give regularly, but it is always out of excess; it never hurts to give.
Paul didn’t make that a requirement of course. He wasn’t expecting the Corinthians to unwisely put themselves in a financial bind, nor us, but I do think he wants us to see that whenever we give, we are always giving out of abundance. The Macedonians gave because they knew that although they were poor financially, they had been made rich in grace through Jesus, and therefore were eager to give of what they had to meet the needs of others.
You are rich! So give.
Re:Verse reading–Romans 8:1-17 (day seven)
“Therefore, brothers, we are under obligation. . .for all who are led by the Spirit are the sons of God.” v 12, 14.
It is not what we expect. The Scripture, in other places, communicates Spiritual life as an INVITATION. An offer. A king gives a party for his son and sends servants out to invite people to come. (Matthew 22)
Paul looks at it from a different perspective. As an OBLIGATION. Same word that he used of himself in Romans 1:14. “I am under obligation.” As a recipient of grace, how could he refuse to give it to others?
He says the same of us. Christ died and rose and sent the promised Holy Spirit! Those who are joined to Him by faith are, thereby, OBLIGATED to live and walk in that gift.
“How dare you benefit from Christ and owe him nothing in return!”, says Paul. Not an offer. Not an option. It is our OBLIGATION.
Re:Verse reading–Romans 6 (day six)
I think it is very important to note this is not a “fire and brimstone” text. Paul is not trying to intimidate sinners into being righteous out of fear that they may not “be saved.” (You can go to Hebrews 10:26 for that.) Paul is in fact answering critics who argued that this “faith” business would only lead to more sin, not less. So, Paul is not trying to scare anyone, but is actually writing matter-of-factly about the nature of God’s grace at work in the Christian’s life.
He began his argument in chapter five when he wrote, “how much more shall we be saved by his[Christ’s] life.” He makes the case that in the same way sin and corruption struck like a virus in humanity through Adam, so shall the life of Jesus spread into the life of those who believe in the Gospel by faith. If this is true, Paul believed that the resulting life is one given to more and more righteousness, or fruits of the Spirit. By God’s grace, the Christian is freed for the first time to fight the fight of faith, or to increasingly give themselves to the righteousness of Christ. It is a given reality, not just a possibility.