Establish the Work of Our Hands

ps9012cMy first New Year’s Eve in the home of my future in-laws, my wife’s father read Psalm 90 just before midnight. While appropriate any time, it is especially fitting at we look at the end of one year and the beginning of another.

Count your days. Learn to number your days. Life is brief. The title identifies the author as Moses. Think of him leading Israel through the wilderness. Israel had experience magnificent displays of the redeeming power of God, first in the Exodus, then in the theophany at Mr. Sinai. But they had turned in rebellion and hard-hearted unbelief, refusing to enter the promised land. Now they were wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, and wandering while a generation died, after which they could enter the promised land. 1 Corinthians 15 is realistic about death, decay, and destruction. The Psalm talks about death, vv. 3, 5, 9, 10. The 70 or 80 years of v. 10 likely contrast intentionally with the great ages of the pre-flood patriarchs. Life is brief, and often painful—and Psalm 90 wrestles honestly with that. Count your days, and count them properly. We count all kinds of things, the rise or fall of the stock market, the percentage of unemployed people, the win-loss ratio of the Blazers. How much attention do you pay to what is really important? Do you understand the brevity of life? Do you act as though life is going on forever? More importantly, do you understand why life is brief? Do you realize the impact that the sin of Adam has had on you? Do you understand that your sin bars you from fellowship with God for eternity—unless you turn to Christ in faith? Continue reading “Establish the Work of Our Hands”

The Lord’s Servant

luke_5287aMany Americans begin their employment history in the fast food industry. Crucial skills developed there include an ability to listen and to respond with appropriate action. Mary never worked at McDonalds, but she listened to the angel and, as Luke 1:38 tells you, responded with appropriate faith and obedience.

Listen as a servant. Listen to God’s greeting. Essential to being a servant is listening to what you are told. That was true for a butler or maid—and is true for a person in a service industry. Mary listens to the angel’s message, and Luke wants you to listen in as well. Beware of assuming because you are familiar with this story, because you have read and heard it often, that there is nothing here for you to listen to. Gabriel brings good news again. The heavenly messenger is the same, but the setting is much more humble. Instead of the temple at Jerusalem, this is a home in the town of Nazareth, far to the north, far from the center of religious life and political power. Mary is highly favored. She is the recipient of God’s grace, in that sense highly favored, or full of grace. She is not full of grace in the sense of being a source of grace to others. Bengal describes her “not as the mother of grace but as the daughter of grace.” By faith she looked God, and specifically to her Son as her Savior, v.47. God’s greetings come to you as well. Gabriel’s greeting of Mary would lead to the message to the shepherds. Luke records the good news which is too great to confine to one person, or even to one nation. Continue reading “The Lord’s Servant”

And They Will Listen!

sunrise_12154cpYou live in a culture that seems to be rapidly rejecting the gospel of God. Is there hope? Acts 28:28 focuses on the growth of the kingdom of God. The gospel brings out rejection and faith. Many of the Jews rejected the gospel Paul preached. Paul had finally arrived at Rome, the capital of the world empire. But he entered the city as a prisoner. While awaiting trial he presented his case to the local Jewish community and proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ. As had been true on his missionary travels, some responded in faith, others rejected the good news. Paul himself is an example of the remnant of Israel who believed. Particularly the early chapters of Acts describe large numbers coming to faith in Christ. But many rejected the Messiah, and that pattern characterized the response to much of Paul’s evangelistic preaching.

To those who rejected his message, Paul quoted Isaiah 6:9-10. An unbelieving response to God’s word was nothing new. The Old Testament prophets had experienced it. That rejection culminated in the cries to crucify the Messiah, who had been arrested by their leaders, and was being sentenced to death. But unbelief gy the Jewish community at Rome was not the last word. Continue reading “And They Will Listen!”