WHO’S THAT IN THE MIRROR?…Judges 3: 7-11

Can’t believe what I’m reading.  How could they do this?  God’s own people.  A nation He saves from slavery and brings into the promised land.  I’m furious.  Indignant.  Beside myself.  But then again, you know what I’m going to say.  I look in the mirror, and I don’t see only them.  I see me.  And you, too!

The Old Testament book of Judges exposes one of the worst times in the history of God’s people.   Shouldn’t be, but it is.  You’ve read the stories.  One bad leader after another.  The next one worse than the one before.  That last verse says it all–‘In those days there was no king in Israel.  Everyone did what was right in his own eyes’ (Judges 21:25).  Their own eyes.  If they crave something, grab it.  No restraints.  No moral boundaries.

Not only do they do what’s evil in God’s sight, they forget all about Him (v.7).  Do they have a collective lapse of memory?  Hardly.  They choose to ignore Him.  Willfully put Him out of sight, out of mind.  Throw Him out of town.  Forgotten and rejected.  That’s what the Bible says.  All done without even one good excuse.

How many times have we neglected God?  Didn’t even give Him a thought concerning a big or little decision.  Shot off my mouth never considering what Jesus would have said.  Sinning willfully, creating mess after mess, crawling back on all fours, presuming His forgiveness.  Get the picture?

You can paint your own.  Times when you walked alone, leaving Him in the lurch.  A prideful swagger, propelling you along.  Not very nice, is it?  He who creates us, gives us life itself, blessings flowing all over the place, comes to this earth to die for us, to redeem us, making sure we’d be with Him forever in heaven.  All this…and more!  Are we satisfied to give Him only a passing nod of thanks, if that?  Are we?  No.  Not at all.

We’re going to live the way He wants us to live.  To be His and mean it.  Thoughtful.  Prayerful.  Grateful… sitting comfortably at His feet.

Prayer:  Lord, we want to genuinely live for you.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

WHAT HAPPY ENDING?…Psalm 88

Here’s a psalm that ends without a glimmer of hope.  Psalm 88 concludes with the psalmist shunned by friends and family, leaving him with darkness as his only companion.  What happened?  No happy ending?  Will find it elsewhere in the Psalms, but not here.

This psalm tells us what we already know.  Life, even as believers, isn’t always neat and tidy.  Things don’t always turn out the way we’d like them to.  We feel hemmed in.  In a fix that never gets fixed.  A fog that refuses to lift.  Through an exit leading to nowhere.  We know this.

Remember a time when you cry out to God, and no one seems to be there?  I do.  When friends quickly disappear.  Tongues wag with gossipy glee.  Did God let go of me?  Left to my own devices?  Too bad I couldn’t blame it all on others… or Him.

You know what I needed most?  Someone to sit by me.  Let me vent.  Use their two ears rather than a big mouth.  Possibly then I’d listen to the Lord.  Better chance than when you bomb me with guilt and unwelcome advice like Job’s friends did to him.  Or lob pointed Bible verses my way.  Here’s something else–pray with me.  Not blather some sneaky sermonette.  Pray.  Cry out to God.

In my story, life got better in some ways and not so great in others.  Not everything collapsed around me as I feared.  Neither did I get everything I hoped for.  You know how this can be.  Your experience as well?  I’m not surprised.

Looking back at Psalm 88 again, I notice something in that first verse– ‘O Lord, God of my salvation; I cry out day and night before you.’  Wait a minute.  He hasn’t lost his faith in the Lord.  He’s hanging on to Him for dear life as best he can.  You can also.  I did.  And I’m still holding on to the One who is my salvation.  No matter what.  Even if the happy ending will not be in this life.  Even then.  Especially then.

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, that we can trust you in the darkest of times.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

 

AMAZING IN ANY LANGUAGE!…Daniel 4

Reading Daniel chapter 4, I tripped over one verse that I had to go back and re-read.  Puzzled me.  What does it mean?  But the more I thought about it, the more I was comforted by the Lord.  Who doesn’t need God’s shoulder to lean on?

Want to know which verse I’m looking at?  Here it is–verse 17.  What do you think?  Now, I must admit something strange.  Will the men in white coats come after me with a straight jacket?  Not only do I still review my biblical Hebrew and Greek languages, but now I’m studying Aramaic!  What!  Why?  Well, parts of the Old Testament are written in the Aramaic language.   So?

Aramaic.  Similar to Hebrew.  The ‘lingua franca’, common language, in biblical times.  How much of the Old Testament is in Aramaic?  Five chapters in Daniel, three in Ezra, one verse in Jeremiah and two words in Genesis!  That much, huh!?!

In Daniel 4:17 there’s an Aramaic word.  It’s the plural noun ‘watchers’.  Some translations say ‘messengers’.  The context in Daniel is judgement upon prideful King Nebuchadnezzar.  His sentencing is carried out by these ‘watchers’.  They’re called ‘holy ones’.  Who are they?  Angels?  Most likely.  Messengers of the Lord?  Without a doubt.  For judgement on the prideful.  For protection of God’s own children.

Angels watch over us.  Serving our God who knows all.  Nothing escapes His attention.  Nothing gets by Him.  That thought is most comforting.  Isn’t it?  We can feel so alone in this world.  As if no one really gives a hoot.  Even the ones we love the most often care only if it benefits them.  Love attached by many strings.

But God watches over us.  Has His angels care for us.  If we could only see all that He does for us.  Shouldn’t we stop worrying?  Can we?  Why not?  He watches over me…and you.  Constantly caring and loving.  Our ‘watcher’ for sure.  That’s amazing in any language!

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for guardian angels watching over us.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

THE KING’S DREADFUL DREAM!…Daniel 4

Oh, no!  The king suffers a dreadful dream.  All in his kingdom shudder in anticipation.  Now what?  He calls for Daniel.  The king can’t quite connect the dots that his pagan, polytheistic Wise Men are not so wise after all.  But Daniel has connections on high–with the One true God, Yahweh.  Daniel makes his royal, court appearance.  What of this dream, the king asks?

A tree grows, not in Brooklyn, but in ancient Babylon!  As big as a millennia-old California redwood, with branches reaching far and wide, shading the earth with its abundant foliage.  Is this a shadowy image of Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom?  All due to his own greatness, power and intellect?  His and his alone?  Or so he’d like to think.  Until a dream rears its ugly head, displaying his face!  He’s bragged and boasted one too many times.  He thinks all this is due to HIM.  NEBUCHADNEZZAR…all in capital letters!

But like Humpty-Dumpty, he falls off the wall, shattering and scattering in a million pieces!  God has judged him.  The patience of the Lord is great, but not without limit.  The king has exceeded it.  Nebuchadnezzar thought himself a god, now he’ll graze like a goat in the wet, dewy morning, eating its grasses.  Only this comeuppance will cause him to come to his senses, realizing that he is but a fallen human being.  For only God is God.

Why is that so hard to comprehend?  Applies to the ancients alone who have a plethora of gods?  Not for us modern-types.   We’ve gone to the other extreme.  We want nothing of God mentioned in society or our lives.  Nothing.  No gods or God.  It’s all about me…me…me.  Such is the prevalent mood.

God is patient but not forever.  Best to embrace Jesus while there is still time.  When will His patience run out?  I don’t know.  Neither do you.  So, wait no longer.  Accept the Lord Jesus.  Turn your life over to Him.  And tell others about Him with an urgency that this gap of God’s mercy has allowed.

When will this world wake up and bow down before the One and Only?

Prayer:  Lord, we pray for others to come to Jesus, bowing the knee to Him alone.  In His name.  Amen.