Isaiah 40:28

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.

Romans 16:27 (NIV)

To the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ!

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There are times when God’s reign over all things is obvious and pleasant. A business deal goes well. Investments make a good return. A medical test comes back with a favorable result. A child is allowed access to a great scholarship program. God is on his throne, and he has drawn the line in pleasant places (Psalm 16:6).

Then there are those times when God’s reign is neither obvious nor pleasant. His goodness and rule is dimmed by harsh realities like cancer, financial failure, war, famine, and disasters of many kinds. Is God good when my life is falling apart? Is God reigning when evil so clearly has the upper hand?

Two thousand years ago on a Friday afternoon God’s very Son hung on a cross outside of Jerusalem. The sun was darkened. Every outward indication was that the powers of darkness had overcome the light of the world. Was God not reigning in that moment? He certainly was – even in that moment. In his wisdom and might he was sacrificing himself for a greater glory and victory. Jesus’ death would bring life and salvation to all who believe in him.

We can wonder about God’s plans. We can yearn for better times when things are going poorly. But God’s wise rule and powerful wisdom never waiver. In fact we may need to be reminded: “Do you not know? Have you not heard?” Our God reigns. May we sing his praises and rejoice in his glory through Jesus Christ now and forever.

Psalm 75:7

It is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.

Revelation 16:7

Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, your judgments are true and just!

  

 “No justice; no peace!” So goes the chant, and rightly so. Whether or not those who call for such justice is legitimate or true justice, the truth remains: peace does not come to us apart from true justice. For example, we all want to be treated justly at work, in financial dealings large or small, in travel arrangements, seating at a restaurant, checking out at the grocery, or getting into the HOV lane on the highway.
And when it comes to legal troubles, civil lawsuits, child welfare, or matters of medical need, the issues of justice and truth are even greater. How much more so when it comes to our very being throughout eternity! God is perfectly just and wholly righteous in his ways. 

That, however, would be very bad news were it not for God’s grace and mercy, foriveness and redemption. Truth be told, we have all sinned and stand under the condemning judgment of God because of our sins. So while we want judgment – especially if we are not being treated fairly according to our understanding of justice – there are other dimensions to our desire for justice that may not be so appealing to us. 

But the justice of God has been satisfied  by his Son. Jesus perfectly obeyed God and offered his life as the atoning sacrifice for ous sins. Through Jesus Christ our desire for justice is a totally pure and good. 

Perhaps, however, as we seek justice from others, we would do well to remember that God’s justice has been mediated through his mercy and grace on Jesus. Because of that justice will be served mingled with God’s grace and love. We can do better than to reflect that justice tempered by grace and love to those who seek justice from us.  

Psalm 25:5

You are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.  

Colossians 4:2

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving.

  
How good are you at waiting? What about praying? I’m not great at either; I’m inclined to be impatient, and my prayer life is no where as consistent or robust as it ought to be. Consider how these two are related: waiting and praying. As we wait for God we are to pray.

Waiting, hoping, and trusting are the three-cord strand of a deep connection to God. Praying, watching, and thanksgiving are the outgrowth of that three-cord strand. We wait for God’s salvation, praying to him with his ultimate deliverance in mind. We hope for God’s deliverance even as we watch in altert anticipation of God’s work in our lives. We trust in God as we give thanks to him for all his gifts.

Perhaps a hope recalibration is in order. Maybe we need to trust God more fully. Certainly we may all learn to pray more earnestly. Without a doubt we could be more alert to God’s presence and work all around us. We could all definitely be more thankful. 

But the key to all this lies not only in our repentance and commitment to doing these things. The key to all this is the salvation of our God. He has saved us. He has acted in our behalf. He is the God of our salvation who is at work in restoration of all things, our redemption from our futile short-sighted hopes, and the reorientation of our desires by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

God is worth waiting for, trusting in, watching for, hoping for, in thankful prayer. His salvation is at hand. His deliverance is near!

Jeremiah 30:11I am with you, says the Lord, to save you. 

Philippians 1:6
Paul wrote: I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. 

  
A few questions this morning…What if we really, really did need to be saved? What if our sins and our sin was actually so bad that only the intervention of God in the affairs of the world could deal adequately with them and that condition? What if the things we know and feel – guilt, shame, discouragement, loneliness, doubt, and the like – were only the tip of the iceburg that is our sinful, fallen nature? What if God really is holy, righteous, just, and all knowing? What if our sins actually separate us from God so that he does not hear when we pray?

Those rhetorical questions may seem silly and unnecessary to those who read this blog. They speak to the reality of our sinful, fallen nature. We know these things to be true. We know we are part of the “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) reality. We confess this regularly. 

God, however, knows all that and has committed himself to our redemption and salvation. He has intervened in the affiars of the world in Jesus Christ and appeased his own wrath through Jesus’ death on the cross. As if that isn’t enough, he then vindicated Jesus, raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand. And those who look to him have the promise of abundant, eternal life. 

This bit of good news reported to us from Jeremiah and reiterated by Paul is more precious than we can even imagine. When we do encounter the reality of our fallenness and need for salvation, and then the joy of God’s mercy and grace in Christ, we at best get only a glimpse of how profoundly good this news really is. 

God has saved us. And he won’t give up on us until the saving is done. That will certainly be some Day! In the mean time, however, as we encounter the reality of our sinfulness, let us rejoice even more in God’s love, redemption and eternal commitment to our glory and joy in Jesus. 

Psalm 75:1 (NKJV)

We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks! For your wondrous works declare that your name is near.

Colossians 1:12

Joyfully give thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.

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I recall the deep sense of relief and thankfulness on the day that we learned the results of the sweat chloride test. Negative: Our son did not have cystic fibrosis. Diane was less worried about the outcome; she knew he was healthy. I was worried; I was thinking of the implications of the terrible disease: CF. No cure. Expensive medications. Extensive treatments each day. We would have gladly and faithfully provided all we could for our son, but it would have been a life-changing moment, and a challenging few decades. My heart goes out to any who must battle this terrible disease.

We are thankful for our son’s health and wellbeing today – and the two delightful granddaughters he and his wife have given our family. We have reason to be thankful, also, for other blessings we have received. From our other seven (7) grandchildren, to delightful and edifying travel experiences, to church health, together with all the blessings of this life we give thanks. But the deep-felt sense of relief and sincere gratitude at the news of those test results are worth reflecting on in light of these verses.

Although gratitude and thankfulness may be a healthy lifestyle choice, there is an urgency in these verses easily overlooked. The psalmist is thankful for his wondrous works. Paul urges the Colossian Christians to give thanks for their ability to share in the inheritance of the saints. Asaph says, “Look with thankful hearts at what God has done for us!” We have been rescued. The verdict in the face of our sin and shame has been overturned and we are free. God has provided a remarkable gift – better than dodging the bullet of a grave medical diagnosis.

I notice, too, that we are called to more than an attitude of gratitude – as good and salutary as that may be. We are called to thank God specifically and explicitly. His works declare his name. The Father has enabled us to experience eternal salvation and join the company of the faithful in eternal light. This isn’t a matter of karma, good luck, or happenstance. This is the gracious gift of the King of the Universe; this is the grace of God whose fatherly goodness and mercy has been expressed in his Son and who deserves that we should thank, praise, serve, and obey him.

Psalm 17:7

Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge. 

1 John 3:16 (NIV)

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. 

Bob Goss has written a book titled, Love Does. He has taken the title to an extreme in his personal life, doing acts of kindness, and organizing his life around this simple principle: if I say I love someone, I must show that love or prove myself to be a liar. I’m sure Bob would admit to failing in some attempts – after all, he is limited by time and space, and even though he is a wealthy man, he is also limited financially.

But the One who owns “cattle on a thousand hills,” to whom all the gold and silver in the world belongs, and who is the Creator of time and space is not limited in resources nor desire to show love. He is the One who first showed the world that “Love Does”. 

With everything at his disposal – all the world’s resources, all the necessary time and space, God chose to give his Son as the testimony of his love for us. Jesus laid down his life for us so that we could have eternal life and salvation through faith in him. 

For God, Love Does is more than a book title – good as that title and book may be. It is a reality that gives us the riches of his glory and the gift of abundant eternal life. 

1 Samuel 2:6

The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.

Hebrews 13:20–21

May the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good.

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I receive these daily Bible verses from a Moravian Daily Texts email subscription. The Moravians are the older cousins of Lutherans with their roots reaching back to 100 years before Martin Luther to Jan Huss, aCzech reformer who was martyred for his faith. The Moravian Church, or Unitas Fratrum (Unity of Brethren), as it has been officially known since 1457, arose as followers of Hus gathered in the village of Kunvald, about 100 miles east of Prague, in eastern Bohemia, and organized the church. This was 60 years before Martin Luther began his reformation and 100 years before the establishment of the Anglican Church. This Christian group publishes these daily texts – both the two-verse variety which i use for these devotions as well as a more lengthy reading for those who wish to delve more deeply into Scripture.

Today’s texts pair two verses from disparate parts of the Bible; one from the Old Testament, the other from the New Testament. As is often the case, these verses align in such a manner that I gain new insights or “aha” moments fairly quickly. This is certainly true today. As Hannnah prays (1 Samuel 2), she acknowledges the ultimate reign of God. She has seen the power and grace of God at work in the birth of her son. She has taken him to serve in the Lord’s temple under the care of Eli the priest. Her prayer will be echoed by Mary as she meets Elizabeth before the birth of Jesus.

In Jesus’ resurrection we see how God actually does bring to life – not only giving a child to Hannah who had been barren, and to Mary who was a virgin, but to Jesus who was killed. Consider Isaiah 53:10

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
    he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
    he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

The fullness of God’s reign over life and death is seen in these three verses; and Jesus’ full participation in that reign becomes clear. God put Jesus to death, but raised him back to life. This was not, however, some careless act on God’s part. It was part of God’s will and redemptive plan.

We believe that Jesus’ death was not an accident, and that his resurrection was a vindication of his life and faith. Would it not be true that God’s plans are being worked out in our lives as well? If that is so, we can be confident of God’s good and perfect will to establish us in the same hope and glory that was displayed in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Perhaps that will put into perspective all that happens in our lives and the world around us – both in times of joy as well as times of trial.

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