Sunday, April 24, 2011

He Has Risen!

Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! (Lk 24:5-6)

The women who went to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus were looking for a dead man, and if they had found him we would never have heard about it. Generally speaking dead people stay put. But Jesus is different. Everybody thought they knew that. Of course he’s different! He is the Messiah – a miracle worker and a prophet. But then he died, and it wasn’t supposed to end like that. These women were filled with sorrow because they loved Jesus. But they expected to find him there that morning, in the cemetery with the other dead people. Until that moment they didn't understand how different he is. Until they saw the empty tomb and heard the angels proclaim, “He has risen!”

He has risen! This morning that wonderful cry will ring out from the lips of two billion Christians. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, incarnate in human flesh, died for our sins but he didn’t stay dead! The tomb is empty. You won’t find him at the cemetery. The moment that might have been forgotten centuries ago is instead celebrated as the most singular event in human history. He lives! Our Savior lives! Alleluia!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Open Wide Your Mouth

I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it…you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you. (Ps 81:10,16)

In this psalm the Lord reminds Israel that he will vanquish all their foes and fill their every need, if only they will listen and obey him. These verses evoke the days in the wilderness when God fed the people manna, the mysterious bread from heaven that “tasted like wafers made with honey.” (Ex 16:31) At no other time were they ever more dependent on him, and God sustained them with consistent, daily miracles.

Why do I often fail to be receptive to what God wants to do for me? What command could be simpler than “open wide your mouth?” Perhaps because when you open your mouth really wide you can’t see too well what’s about to be placed in it: honey wafers or bitter herbs. I miss out on God’s blessing because I do not want to give up control. I must practice a child-like faith. I must learn to trust his goodness and his mercy.

Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Mt 7:9-11)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sin's Bitter Aftertaste

Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious! (Pro 9:17)

This is the siren call of Folly, personified in Proverbs 9 as a woman who lures the foolish into her house. What is the enticement she offers? It is something for nothing: sin without consequences. But she is a deceiver, because sin always has consequences. God’s commandments are good, and when we break them we are acting against our own best interests. Even what we do in secret – what we think we can get away with – will lead to our destruction. The thief thinks he will not be caught, but will he truly evade justice? Even if he is never found out, he will reap the consequences in his own soul. Sin is corrosive to our spirits. The unbeliever brings condemnation on himself when he sins, and the believer breaks fellowship with God. God calls us to repentance when we sin, but what he truly desires is our obedience. The Holy Spirit empowers and God’s Word instructs. We are not fools. We know that the sin which tastes sweet in our mouths will turn to bitterness in our hearts. By God’s grace we can choose obedience. Lord, I choose your way. Amen.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Trail of Trials

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. (Ex 13:17-18)

Ever wonder how God chooses the path he leads us on? It should be obvious by this point in our lives that it’s not the easiest or shortest path. We can see that in this passage. If you are in Egypt and you want to get to Canaan, the easiest and quickest way is to follow the Mediterranean coast up through Philistine country. You certainly wouldn’t strike out across the desert toward the Red Sea. Even if you could figure out how to cross it you would find yourself in the desolate Sinai. In fact, by leading them to the shores of the Red Sea God led them, on purpose, into a trap. With the sea before them and the army of Pharaoh behind them they were in need of a miracle – which was precisely God’s plan! That day God miraculously defeated both the army and the sea. By taking them on this path, what did God accomplish?
  1. They saw God’s final, miraculous triumph over their Egyptian slave masters. 
  2. They were in a desolate region where they were utterly dependent on God for food and water. And 
  3. There was absolutely no way they could turn back because the Sea was now between them and Egypt! 
In fact, if they had taken the coast road they would have had to fight their way through Philistia, and God knew they were not ready for that.

Lord, I know you go behind me and before me. You mark out a path for me that is wiser than I can imagine. It is a path full of trials, but they are the trials you have chosen for me. There are other trials I am not ready to face, but you have chosen these trials for me so that I may learn to depend on you. You are my provision and my protection. I will trust in you. Amen.

For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end. (Ps 48:14)