Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lent Day 13: Three big questions

I'm on a 90-day reading plan through the Bible. Some use the Bible as a random guidebook, flipping through its pages to support their choices. But the Bible isn't a soothsayer's manual of, "Apply for this job" or "Don't make that investment."

Others gather wisdom like popcorn, a verse here, a chapter there. But the Bible isn't a fortune cookie collection, either.

Instead, Scripture teaches us to worship the One True God, seek his guidance, and trust that he is in control. God calls us to build our lives on the foundation of its pages. To plan for a good harvest.

I'm asking three questions as I read: what does this section say:
  1. about God?
  2. about people (including us today)?
  3. about life and how we should live?
Finally, I've made it to the Gospels in the New Testament. The Old Testament seemed endless. Each time I read the adventures of people in the Bible, I'm amazed by God's endurance. By his unchanging nature. By his unfailing love.

I'm also discouraged by who we are. Why can't we get it right?

When the kings of Israel serve God, the nation's enemies are defeated. When they depend on their own strength or serve idols, disaster is just around the corner. The predicability of the outcome surely would lead Israel to cling to God, wouldn't it?

No, apparently not. The prophets warn that God notices the inclinations of the heart and the outcomes. God responds to obedience by blessing his people. Just like the people in Bible stories, we know what to do today. And we often choose our own way, over and over again.

Scripture doesn't promise that we become rich and healthy and life is perfect. The enemies come to the gates. People around us make bad choices that hurt us. Yet we are saved from our enemies. God brings us through illness and disappointments. We live life abundantly under God's mercy.

Today I eagerly turn to the stories of Jesus. I read what he taught his disciples and other listeners about God. I marvel how he healed the sick and cared for people. 

My takeaway for the day? We are living in the years of God's favor, invited to serve him with all our hearts. He will care for us if we do, through the ups and downs of life. He carries us from our youth into old age. Wherever he leads us, our privilege is to follow.

What are you reading today? How is God opening his heart to you through his Word?

Read more:
*I will save them from all the apostasies into which they have fallen, and will cleanse them. Then they shall be my people. Ezekiel 37:23 ESV

*May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13 ESV

*Jesus Christ gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds. Titus 2:14 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Equip your people, Christ, so we may serve. Purge our hearts and purify our minds, that we may undertake God's vision to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, free the prisoner, and proclaim the love of God everywhere. Amen

From C. S. Lewis, Collected Letters, Vol. III: 25 March 1954. "You ask ‘for what’ God wants you. Isn’t the primary answer that He wants you. We’re not told that the lost sheep was sought out for anything except itself [Matthew 18:12-14; Luke 15:3-7]. Of course, He may have a special job for you: and the certain job is that of becoming more and more His."

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