Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Hardening of the Heart

Thoughts from my reading in Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy by Paul David Tripp. The devotional is indented.

Uphold me with a willing spirit. Psalm 51:12

Could there be a scarier spiritual dynamic than the hardening of the heart? Could anything be sadder to watch than a warm and tender man become cold and hard? Could anything be more spiritually dangerous than the capacity of a sinner to grow quite comfortable with doing what would have once assaulted his conscience? What's worse than coming to a place where you actually have the capacity to feel right about what God says is wrong? What could be more threatening than the thought that, as sinners, we have an amazing capacity to deceive ourselves? David's story is a case study of this kind of danger. David prays for a broken heart because, in his confession, he's realized that his heart has become hard.
An amazing capacity to deceive ourselves – If we really believe that, we will be very careful in what we allow to influence us. The gateway of our eyes, ears and senses need to be protected. Small compromises lead to huge disasters.

When you read the story in 2 Samuel 11 and the words of confession in Psalm 51, you can't help but ask, "How did David get from the anointed king of Israel to a murdering adulterer? How could this good man end up in such a bad place? Such is the dangerous deceitfulness of sin and the disaster of the hardening of the heart. Here's the thing we all need to remember: sin isn't an event; no, it's a progressive movement of the heart that results in disobedient behavior.
The progressive movement starts with the small movement; the little thing that causes a prick of conscience but is ignored or suppressed. Next time it’s easier and we sink a little deeper.

Let's consider David's story. David inadvertently saw Bathsheba bathing. The fact that he saw her wasn't sin, but what he did with what he saw began the process of sin. It's clear that David wasn't repulsed by the temptation. It's clear that he didn't seek God's help. Why is this clear? Because of what he does next. David sends a servant to try to find out who this woman is. This isn't the action of a man who's running away from temptation. David immediately begins to move toward what he knows is wrong, and so in his heart he would have to be justifying what he was doing. David finds out that this woman he was lusting after was married. But again he doesn't stop; he doesn't run. No, he uses his political power to bring her to the palace. What did David tell himself he was going to do next? How did he justify what he was about to do with a married woman?
There a lot of things in this story left unsaid. What kind of woman was Bathsheba who bared her body in a place where someone like David could see. Is she like the women today who prance about with breasts mostly exposed and clothes so tight or revealing that little is left to the imagination? How hard was it to persuade her to come and hang out with the king?

Did David see her one time or was her bathing a ritual that he observed on other occasions? Did he give in right away or did he turn away and then come back for another peek. My guess was that it wasn’t a big fall all at once. I imagine that he gave into the small things that became bigger things that enabled him to become very public in his actions in ways such as enlisting a servant to bring her to his bedroom.

As you read the story, at each point you want to scream, "David, stop; don't do what you're thinking of doing!" But he doesn't stop. Upon bringing Bathsheba to the palace he has sexual relations with her. As you read the account, you find it hard to believe that this is the same man that Samuel anointed to be king because of the character of his heart. But the plot thickens as Bathsheba becomes pregnant. Once more, instead of the pregnancy awakening David from his self-deception, it becomes the occasion of even deeper and greater sin.
Today we would have another quick solution for David that also leads to murder – abortion. An appointment could have been made that would have taken care of the problem and no one would have known.

David does his best to use Uriah to cover what he has done. If he can get Uriah to sleep with Bathsheba then perhaps the pregnancy will be attributed to Uriah, and David's sin will be hidden. But Uriah refuses to participate in David's scheme. So what David does next, in lust-driven anger, is hard to imagine, even though by this time you know that sin now has a firm hold on him. David has his soldiers set up Uriah so that he'll die on the battlefield. And then David marries Bathsheba.
So Uriah was aborted and David marries Bathsheba. Talk about a dysfunctional situation; what kind of woman marries the killer of her husband? It’s clear that sin marred both of their lives. Did they somehow think that after all this they were going to live happily-ever-after?

Don’t we see the same today in adulterous situations where deception and scheming are essential? The lovers run around in darkness as families are destroyed. Children are sacrificed to the power of lust. When the dust settles, the couple goes on only to act surprised when one of them repeats the behavior with someone else.

It's a tawdry and disgusting story, one you wouldn't read if it were a paperback at your local bookstore. But the story is helpful, for it pictures how sin is a progressive system of sinful desire and self-deception. It stands as a pointed warning to us all.

I know you're like me, and you too would like to tell yourself that you're not like David; but you know you are. Like me, you too get attracted to things that are outside of the boundaries that God has set for you. Like me, you're quite skilled at covering, minimizing, rationalizing, justifying, defending, or otherwise explaining away your sin. Like me, you don't always stop at the first warning that something is wrong. You permit yourself to step even closer to evil, telling yourself that you'll be okay. Like me, you allow yourself to meditate on things you should repudiate. Like me, you participate in the hardening of your own heart even as you tell yourself that you can handle it, that you'll be okay.
As I think about this I see that we can’t do it by ourselves. We are no match for the deceptive power of sin. We need God’s power and we need good friends who will grab us by the neck when they see us straying. When things are good we need to give friends like these access to our lives – we sure won’t when we are on the way down. They can see what is normal and if things start to go bad they will know.

The physical acts of sin are not actually where the real action takes place. By this I don't mean that behavioral sin isn't sin. What I mean is that the real moral war of sin and obedience is fought on the turf of the heart. It's when the battle for the heart is lost that the battle of physical resistance to sin will be lost as well. When the heart becomes hard, the system of internal restraint that keeps one pure ceases to function as it was designed to function, and we say yes to that which God has called us to say no.

But there's hope for us. Jesus came to give sight to blind eyes. He came to release the captives from their prison. He came to give us new hearts. He came to break sin's dominion over us. He came so that we'd have the power to say, "No!" when temptation comes our way. He came so that we could live with open eyes and soft hearts. He came so that we could turn to him in confession and receive his forgiveness, just like David.
And just like David, we need community; God never intended for us to live alone. Victory comes as we join with the ones He has placed around us; the Lone Ranger is a myth.

A question from the meditation

Where has your conscience grown hard to something that ought to prick and trouble it? Conversely, is there a place where you have been unwilling to do what God is calling you to do?
Where am I blind to the answers? Can I even see when my heart is hard? Is the answer I would give only a smokescreen to hide what is really going on? I need friends and I need you Lord.

Philip


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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Komen, Race for the Cure and Abortion

It’s about the time for the Race for the Cure. It’s a fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen foundation. They fund research, screening and treatment of breast cancer.

Too bad that they also give money to Planned Parenthood which is the largest abortionist in the world.

And be sure that every dime that goes to Planned Parenthood frees up other monies so they can promote and fund more abortion.

If you want to see for yourself, Google “race for the cure” abortion. You will find out they indeed do fund Planned Parenthood and don’t plan to stop.

Here are a few of the links I came across in a quick search:

Life Issues


Abortion Breast Cancer

This is from Colorado Citizens For Life:

Since Breast Cancer Awareness month is coming up, we need to discuss the abortion-breast cancer  (ABC) link…and also talk about the abortion industry’s effort to conceal it.  Here are some key points:

All six of the criteria necessary to confirm a cause-and-effect relationship between abortion and breast cancer have been met.  (Eight medical organizations have now acknowledged this risk.)

The first study confirming the ABC link was published in 1957, 60+ years ago.  Since then, at least 72 epidemiological studies (those assessing disease trends in large populations) have been conducted around the world.  Eighty percent of them show abortion increases breast-cancer risk.

The only quantitative and comprehensive analysis of all the scientific literature on this subject found an overall 30% increased risk for post-abortion women.  A National Cancer Institute study, conducted in America by a pro-abortion researcher, revealed even more disturbing findings:  a 100% increased risk for those who’d aborted when they were under 18 or over 29…and an 800% increased risk for those with a family history of breast cancer who’d aborted as teenagers.

Now consider:  Planned Parenthood (PP) has done more than 3 million abortions since 1977.  In light of the ABC link, this means the nation’s largest abortion chain may be liable for another 22,500 deaths.

That’s why pro-life people are so upset that Komen/Race for the Cure officials around America have taken some $3,000,000 raised by well-meaning supporters…and given it to abortion businesses.  (For example, the Aspen affiliate is giving PP $22,947.  The Denver affiliate is sending grants to PP in Aurora, Ft. Collins, and Greeley and to another abortion facility, the Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center.)

Thanks for thinking,

Philip

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Wisdom Is a Person

Thoughts from my reading in Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy by Paul David Tripp. The devotional is indented.

You teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Psalm 51:6

Sin is all about foolishness. Sinners are fools who are able to convince themselves that they are wise. When I sin I convince myself that my way is better than God's way, that my thoughts are wiser than God's thoughts, that what I desire is better than what God has planned for me. Sin is all about how a fool is able to swindle himself into thinking that what's wrong is actually right.
Sin makes us stupid. When we give way to sin, we lose logic and common sense. We do things that anyone in their right mind would run from.

Think of sin in its original form in that awful moment in the garden. There would have been no disobedience if Adam and Eve had refused to listen to the voice of another counselor. What was this counselor seeking to get them to do? He was enticing them to question, if but for a moment, the wisdom of God. He was enticing them to think that he was wiser than Wisdom himself. And he was tempting them to believe that they could be as wise as God.
Adam and Eve may have started it but each of us keeps it going. Whenever we do things “our way”, we listen to the lie. We think we know more than the Old Man.

Check out what Moses records as being one of the things that attracted Adam and Eve to the forbidden fruit. Here's what's said in Genesis 3:6b: ". . . and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise." Now, this phrase is worth unpacking.

You and I will never understand the full range of the temptation of Adam and Eve, David, or ourselves until we understand the fundamental nature of wisdom. Wisdom, in its purest form, is not an outline; it's not a theology; it's not a book; it's not a system of logic. Wisdom is a Person. You don't get wisdom by experience, research, or logical deduction. You don't get wisdom by education and experimentation. You get wisdom by means of a relationship to the One who is the source of everything that's wise, good, and true. In talking of Christ in Colossians 2:3, Paul says that "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" are hidden in Christ.
Probably the biggest way to get the wisdom and knowledge of Christ is by letting the Bible infuse us with its truth.

Adam and Eve had all the wisdom they needed; no, not in their independent ability to figure out themselves and life, but in the relationship they had with Wisdom, a relationship that hadn't yet been tainted by sin. Tragically, they took the bait, turned their back on Wisdom, and received foolishness-the exact opposite of what the snake had promised them. This act of foolishness and disobedience began a storm of foolishness that has flooded humanity ever since.
How true that is. It’s a bad trade off and in the end we are left with a poor substitute for wisdom.

No longer wise, now born into the world as fools, we all need to be rescued from ourselves. And yet, even though there's empirical evidence that we're fools (debt, addiction, obesity, conflict, anger, fear, discouragement, fear of man), we convince ourselves that we're wise and head confidently down pathways that lead to destruction and death. The way that seems wise to us isn't wise, and the way that is wise looks to us to be the way of the fool.

You can't argue us into wisdom, because every wise thing you would say is filtered through the grid of our own foolishness.
If we are honest, we have to admit that we have been fools. Even in the midst of suffering we go on in the stupid way somehow thinking things will turn out better; our ears shut to all the cries of warning.

And so we need what David needed. Blinded by his own false wisdom and able to take tragically foolish actions that would forever alter his life, David needed rescue. No, he didn't need rescue from Bathsheba. No, he didn't need rescue from the temptations that accompany positions of power. No, David needed to be rescued from himself. He was held by the hands of his own foolishness. What David needed was Wisdom to come near and break David's hold on David. Like us, David needed the rescue of the Wisdom Redeemer. Then and only then would he be wise. Then and only then would he see, confess, and turn from the foolishness that had so deceived him.
I confess I need that too. I need rescue from me and from my ways so I am free to follow the path of wisdom.

Thankfully, the One who is Wisdom is also a God of grace. He delights in transforming the hearts of fools. He finds joy in gifting us with the wisdom that can only be found when he's in us and we're in him.
A question from the meditation:

Where do you need to be rescued by Wisdom? Where does Wisdom need to teach and enable you to live in a way that is wiser? Consider eating, relationships, decision making, private choices, finances, work, thoughts, daily habits.
One place I need help is in overeating. I know the frustration of not being able to do it by myself. I know I would feel much better if I lost some weight but logic and good intentions don’t help. I would like God’s help and power and the wisdom to help me to live wiser.

Philip


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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Breath or Blood?

Will it be breath or blood?

It’s been a long week and it’s time to unwind. Or maybe it’s been a long day and it’s time to unwind. Or maybe, as it must be for some people who go to a bar near me, it’s been a long night because they show up at eight in the morning. Or maybe the stated intent was to get drunk.

However it starts, it doesn’t end up well. The flashing lights appear, the siren blips and the truck slowly pulls over. The officer contacts the driver then goes back to his car. A second police car pulls up and joins the first. They talk and then talk to the driver of the truck. Eventually the second leaves. More time passes and finally a third police car comes. It must be the alcohol specialist; the DUI car. He seems to take over. He talks to the driver of the truck, spends some time conferring with the first officer and then the magic words are spoken, “Will you step out of the car.” No it wasn’t a question, he is now in control of the drivers life and things are about to change.

This was how my night went. I wasn’t even sure what time it was. Oh, no, I wasn’t in the truck, I was seized out of a deep sleep. It must have been the siren blip and then I saw the lights. I find out it’s the golden hour of 2–3am.

I dislike alcohol. I have some friends who lost their mother because of a drunk driver. I have other friends who lost a child because of a drunk driver. I know of many homes where alcohol turned what should have been a place of comfort, care and nurture into a place of distress, neglect, fear, and abuse.

I dislike alcohol because of my past. I was one of those people who didn’t know the meaning of moderation. If I drank it was to get ripped. I didn’t spend hours nursing a drink. All of my drinking days were as a minor so there were times when quantity was a problem. Those times were met with forced moderation. Then there were the times where marijuana was the primary drug and alcohol was a booster on the side. In any case, if quantity wasn’t limited, my objective was to go to the edge which usually meant falling off onto the other side.

On a side note, don’t be fooled by the marijuana propaganda that it is safer than alcohol. There were many times where pot alone resulted in loss of control of my actions and where I spaced out while driving, ending up somewhere and having no idea how I got there.

Well I’m much older now but I have no desire to find out if I could be a responsible drinker. Maybe I could but it seems like I would be playing a game of Russian Roulette. The cost is way too high if things go wrong.

Another thing is that I keep thinking of the words of Proverbs where it says this:
Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.  (Proverbs 20:1 ESV)

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder.  (Proverbs 23:29-32 ESV)

It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.  (Proverbs 31:4-5 ESV)

I do quite well messing up my life and making bad decisions on my own. I don’t need any help from alcohol.

So things changed for the driver of the truck last night. He was given the roadside sobriety test and failed miserably. The officer announced to him that he had failed and then asked if he wanted a breath or blood test. He also told him that if he refused the test then certain penalties would automatically come into play. The man said something about wanting to go home. The officer, somewhat laughing, said that home was not one of the options. Did he want breath or blood? The man finally answered that he wanted a breath test. The officer then put handcuffs on him and loaded him in the police car. Soon after a tow-truck showed up and took the truck away.

I would assume that in the best of cases, the driver of the truck took a sharp turn in his life last night. He didn’t wake up in his bed today. He will wake up in jail and hopefully he will have to pay a high enough cost so this doesn’t happen again. Sadly, for many like him, it will be just a bump in the road. They will soon be back on the road without a driver’s license, steering a metal missile down the road and leaving a trail of devastation in their wake.

Philip

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hoping for a Broken Heart


Slow down; I know you are busy. Reading this post right is going to take some time. If you just scan it, you will miss something good. I've spent the week going over it each day and there is still so much more. Relax, take a deep breath...okay, let's go.

Thoughts from my reading in Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy by Paul David Tripp. I have broken up the original format a bit by putting space between thoughts. My comments are in red.

A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Psalm 51:17

I am too satisfied
with the things I say
the things I do
the attitudes
of heart
that shape my reactions
day
after
day
after day.

A deeper dissatisfaction might lead to less frequency of these things. Lord, stir my heart.

I too easily
accept
quick assessments
of my own righteousness
in situations
where I have been
anything but
righteous.

It wasn't too bad. At least I'm not like....

I am too skilled
at mounting
plausible arguments
structured
to make me feel okay
about what I think
what I desire
what I say
what I do.

If only people could see things my way. If only they could understand my superior view.

I am too defensive
when a loved one
makes an attempt
to call me out
and suggest
for a moment
that what I
have decided
said
or done
is less than
godly.

I am not!

I am too
comfortable
with the state of things
between
You and me
too relaxed
with the nature
of my love for You
too able to
minimize
my need for Your
grace.

I'm sorry Lord that I forget how awesome You are and how small I am without You.

In the recesses
of my private
world
there is so much
that is wrong
that I am able
to convince myself
is right.
There are attitudes there
that should not be.
There are words there
that should not be
spoken.
There are thoughts
that do not agree
with Your view
of me
and mine.
There are desires
that take me in a
different direction
than what You have planned
for me.
I make decisions
based more on what
I want
than on what
You will.

I need Your transforming power in my life; I'm not doing very well when things are done my way. May I have eyes to see, a heart like Yours, pure thoughts and complete submission to your will.

So I am hoping
for
wise eyes
that are able
to see through
the cloud of
self-righteousness
and see myself
as I actually
am.

Can I bear this? Will you hold my hand?

I am praying
for
wise ears
that are able
to hear through
the background noise of
well-used platitudes
and hear myself
with clarity.

The sound of my doings can be unpleasant at times.

And I am longing
for
a humble spirit
that is willing
to
accept and confess
what You reveal
as You break through
my defenses
and show me
to me.

The mirror must be dirty...that isn't really me is it...?

I am hoping
for
a broken heart.

A question from the meditation:

Where specifically is God calling you to spiritual unrest and dissatisfaction? How would this dissatisfaction change the way you live?

That my spiritual disciplines would not just be "good works" but produced by a heart whose highest desire is relationship with God. The change would produce a longing for genuine prayer, lingering in Scripture beyond checking off the day's reading and power to serve.

Philip



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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Islam and Freedom of Religion

A couple of weeks ago I read a column in World magazine that has had me thinking about the Ground Zero Mosque and freedom of religion. Here it is. In the article, Joel Belz recounted a time as a young man when he and a group of friends made a curiosity visit to a small country church where there were going to be snake handlers. Coincidently, at the same time the county sheriff showed up. He announced that, “the U.S. Bill of Rights did not include the right to endanger the lives of worshippers.”

Next Joel reminded us of November 18, 1978 when over 900 people died in a mass suicide at the hands of the “Rev.” Jim Jones. The group had been in California before moving to Guyana. A couple days before the deaths, the “county sheriff” showed up in the form of Congressman Leo Ryan. Ryan said, “these folks have the right to practice whatever weird religion they want. But there are some limits." At the end of his visit, Ryan and several others who were with him were shot to death. Soon after, the Kool-Aid was passed out and people either drank or were forced to drink.

So what about “freedom of religion”? Did anyone complain that these people should be left alone and that the government was abusing its power? What about when the government told the Mormons that polygamy wasn’t acceptable in this country? Would we tolerate a religion that wanted to practice human sacrifice? How about if sex with children was a deeply held religious belief?

The article concludes with this:
…Americans have always made room for common sense—even for what we call guaranteed rights. That's why we've said it's OK to limit the "religious rights" of snake handlers and cultish weirdos.
But doesn't such limitation of Muslims' rights prove that we're bigots—that we're really a nation of Islamophobes? No, it simply reminds us that in a world where Muslims just last week barbarically stoned a man and a woman to death; where the week before they shot and killed a selfless eye doctor and his team; where even now it's hard to name a single predominantly Muslim country where construction of a Christian church is allowed—in such a world, common sense says there's room to call in the county sheriff and let him ask a few questions.

That makes a lot of sense to me. I know it’s a hard issue. We worry that if we allow the government or anyone else to tell the Muslims they can’t build this mosque where they want to then soon the government will be telling Christians what they can or can’t do.

Think about this: Islam is making inroads into nations where “freedom of religion” is held sacred. With that freedom they begin their takeover. When it is complete, Shariah Law rules and opposition isn’t tolerated. Here is what the Quran says: “If they turn against you, you shall fight them, and you may kill them when you encounter them in war. You shall not accept them as friends, or allies.” Sura 4:89. That doesn’t sound like we are going to be able to peacefully coexist. As Joel reminded us in his article, just look around the world at what the Muslims do when they are in control or trying to gain control. Is that the “freedom or religion” we want here in America?

So to broaden the subject, I say it’s time to wake up. If we don’t rouse ourselves and start to fight, Christians will soon lose their rights regardless of what happens to the mosque. A good example is the forcing of the acceptance of homosexuality that is barreling toward us. The homosexual agenda is to silence opposition by defining it as hate-speech. It’s not just Islam that is the problem. What once made America great is fading into a distant memory. It’s too easy to take the rights we have for granted. It took a fight to bring this country into existence and it will take a fight to keep it on the right track.

What is happening at Ground Zero with the mosque is symbolic of many other problems in this country. As we remember the slaughter that happened nine years ago – on our soil, may we get a better understanding of how our enemy is approaching; our lives and freedoms depend on it.

Philip

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fall Morning

Watching the world come alive from my porch this morning. The geese flew over, the first bird showed up to the feeder and there is the symphony of a breeze and birds in the background. The squirrels will soon show up and I hope I will see the chickadees again.

This is one of my favorite pleasures that will soon come to an end as I am pushed back inside in the mornings. I won’t give up easily though: warmer clothes will be added until something like a snow storm will force my retreat. God willing, I will be back in the spring.

Thank you Lord for such beauty and variety in creation. Thank you too for the gifts inside my home; a wonderful wife and the blessing of children. May we honor you as the rest of creation does.

Philip

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Immanuel

Thoughts from my reading in Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy by Paul David Tripp. The devotional is indented and abbreviated.

Cast me not away from your presence.
Psalm 51:11

You haven't really understood Psalm 51 until you have realized that every word of this penitential psalm cries for Jesus. Every promise embedded in this psalm looks for fulfillment in Jesus. Every need of Psalm 51 reaches out for help in Jesus. Every commitment of Psalm 51 honors Jesus. The sin that's at the heart of this psalm will only ever find its cure in the grace of Jesus.

Yes, Psalm 51 is a prayer of confession. And it's true that Psalm 51 is all about what true repentance produces in the heart and life of a man. Psalm 51 defines how true repentance always produces heartfelt worship. But more than anything else, Psalm 51 is Immanuel's hymn. The forgiveness of Psalm 51 rests on the shoulders of the One whose name would be Immanuel. The Jesus who would provide everything that David (and we) need took a glorious name. It is a name whose implications are almost too wonderful to grasp and too lofty to imagine. It's a name that summarizes every thing the biblical narrative is about.

How different it was before Jesus came. I’m glad I am not living in the time of animal sacrifices; a time when there was only hope of redemption to come. Speaking of animal sacrifices, can you imagine what the present day animal rights people would have done in a time of animal sacrifice?

Genesis 1 reminds us that people were created for relationship with God. This was to be what separated us from the rest of creation and defined our lives. Genesis 3 chronicles the horror of people stepping out of the fellowship in pursuit of the vaporous hope of autonomy. The covenant promises of the Old Testament are God saying that he'll make a way for that fellowship to be restored. The cloud of glory in the holy place of the temple was a physical manifestation of God's presence with his people. All of these things were steps on a ladder that was leading to Immanuel. The announcement of the angels to those bewildered shepherds was God's announcement that Immanuel had come. The promise of the Spirit, fulfilled in the visible flames of Acts, declares that Immanuel had come to stay. The hope of heaven is understood only when you grasp what it means to dwell in the presence of Immanuel forever.

People hung up on religion don’t realize that what God really wants is a relationship with us. That’s what it’s always been about. It’s not about rules, doctrine or dogma although if you don’t have those right it will mess up or prevent a relationship with God.

What is all of this about for you today? David's hope is your hope because David's confession is your confession. You will only get what God has given you when you understand that you need much more than a system of answers; what you actually need is a Redeemer. Why? Because only a Redeemer can rescue you from you! And so God didn't simply offer you legal forgiveness. Praise him that he did that. But he offered you something much more profound. He offered you himself. He knew that your need was so great that it wouldn't be enough to simply forgive you. He literally needed to unzip you and get inside you, or you would never be what you were supposed to be and do what you were supposed to do.

The line above, “He literally needed to unzip you and get inside you” really stood out to me this week. I asked Jesus to come into my heart and I believe in the indwelling Christ but that sentence made me look at it in a different way. I believe it but do I live it? How should I live realizing that Jesus in inside of me, living with the decisions and choices I make; hearing what I say and looking at what my eyes focus on?

And so the whole redemptive story marches toward Immanuel, the Redeemer who would destroy sin's dominion in our hearts by making our hearts the place where he, in his power, wisdom, and glory, would dwell. So pray Immanuel prayers. Sing Immanuel songs. Exercise Immanuel faith. Live in Immanuel obedience. Be motivated by Immanuel glory. And be glad the hope of hopes has come. Immanuel is with you now and forever!

A question from the meditation:

Read Galatians 2:20. Reflect on what it means to live believing that Jesus lives inside of you and empowers you to do what God has called you to do where you live every day.

Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. This week’s meditation has really made me think about this. I pray daily to be filled with the Holy Spirit. I want God to live through me so I get to see Him living through me rather than Him watching me live. I know there is a big difference.

Philip


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