Wednesday, October 28, 2009
How about today?
As I read that I wonder how pervasive that attitude is supposed to be in me, in us? So much of my energy is focused on creating something for myself and my family that is better than it is today. So much so that I'm not too happy with today.
As I think of prayer I realize that all prayer looks forward. All prayer is asking for something to happen or be different in the future. Am I not supposed to be looking to the future, especially in prayer?
Then my mind is drawn to the prayer in the beginning of Matthew 6 - "give us this day ..." The focus of the Lord's prayer is upon what I do today. As I meditate my mind travels to Hebrews 3,4 where three times Psalm 95 is quoted "today if you hear His voice do not harden your heart."
I'm beginning to feel that my prayers and focus should be more on today and less on tomorrow. It's so easy to live so far in the future that I don't seek my rest or contentment for today. I keep thinking it will be better tomorrow ... when this is fixed, or that is paid off, or he finds Jesus, or this issue is finally resolved.
The only day I have to seek His kingdom is today. My thoughts and prayers are supposed to be primarily for today, not tomorrow. And if I hear Your voice, Lord, help me not to fear it, despise it, or doubt it.
Actually this reminds me of Romans 8 - the creation anxiously awaiting.
I am awaiting Your voice, Lord, but I'm also anxious about it. Afraid that it will be in the midst of another tragedy or another sacrifice. Something too hard or too weird for me. Father, forgive me for fearing you for evil, and for trusting that bad will happen. You are all good, all the time. Help me hear your voice today, for good - mine, or someone else's.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
God is a God of redemption - even when we have to pay
In Chapter 8, Ezra read the law to the people. The prayer of repentance and the re-establishing of the relationship with God is an incredible example of this. The praise that comes to God (9:5) is above all blessing and praise! They recognize that the they were sent into exile because of sins of their fathers, but also that they now are receiving renewal because (v17) God is a God of forgiveness - gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness!
What an incredible meditation when in need of restoration! Even when we're paying the price for our sins, God is going to use the obstacles in journey back to bring greater glory to Him.
They knew they were punished for their sins, and yet they knew also that they could pray "do not let all the hardships seem insignificant before You." (10:32)
Nehemiah ends the book with a prayer to God "remember me for good."
This is such an amazing picture of the journey, even on a personal level, from spiritual exile back to restoration. The key? 9:17 - Because of Who God is. He did not forsake them. Same message for me today: "I will never leave you nor forsake you." and "even if we remain faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself!"
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Be careful what you talk your wife into!
I think Abram had the hots for Hagar. And I think he had been dropping hints to Sarai. He probably even brought up the prophecy regarding the descendants as stars.
I say this because, given that culture, he could have just taken Hagar. But I think he was a smart man, and wanted Sarai to think it was a good idea, so we see in Ge 16 that Sarai suggested it. I also say it because of her reaction when Hagar despised her because she couldn't conceive. Sarai wasn't angry with God, or with herself for dreaming up the solution. No, she was angry with Abram.
The idea had spawned with him and somehow over time (10 years since the prophecy) he convinced Sarai that this was what God wanted for them. In the aftermath of the conception Sarai realized that many months prior, she had convinced herself that Hagar was God's solution, God's way of fulfilling the prophecy. Then later, she realized it was Abram's solution. That's why she was angry with him. If it was her idea, she'd be lecturing herself about being so stupid.
No wonder, years later, she laughed at the angel's prophecy for her - the prophecy of her pregnancy. She laughed because she had spend over 10 years being angry and perhaps bitter towards her husband, her handmaiden, her God, and her husband's son.
She's probably thinking "and now you offer me this easy solution? Now? Where were You 20 years ago?"
Where was He 20 years before? If the angel had come 20 years earlier with the prophecy for Sarai what would have been different?
1. Abram would not have considered the deadness of Sarai's womb, believed God and had it credited to him as righteousness. We wouldn't have the great example of faith ("he did not waver in unbelief ...").
2. Ishmael's descendants - a good percentage of the Arab nations, would not be on the earth today.
3. The covenant of circumcision might not have occurred.
4. There would not be the tremendous historical animosity between the house of Isaac and Ishmael that may very well culminate in the return of Christ.
So, what's the point? I see two points:
The first is that God is an amazing Redeemer. He will allow us to make our bad choices, but then He will turn them around and bring good out of them.
The second is that there is still a price to pay for our bad choices, so I can see I need to be careful when I begin dropping hints to my wife and waiting for her to suggest I go ahead and do what I wanted to do!
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