Archive for the ‘Daily Devotion’ Category

In Everything Give Thanks

December 29, 2006

In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

It doesn’t say to give thanks for everything — I can think of a few things not to be thankful for.  But in everything, we are to give thanks.

Sometimes, that’s a strain.  Sometimes, the only thing I can find thankfulness for is that it could be worse!

But maybe that’s OK.  Maybe the whole point in every circumstance is to just be thankful, because it turns your eys to God.

Psalm 107:2-8

  2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of
the enemy;
3 And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from
the north, and from the south.
4 They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to
dwell in.
5 Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.
6 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out
of their distresses.
7 And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of
habitation.
8 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful
works to the children of men!

Selah.

The Seventh from Adam

December 27, 2006

Enoch, the Seventh from Adam, said this:

Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints.

To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among
them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all
their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

Little harsh there, Enoch. And yet, as much as he hated wickedness and called for judgment, he was a man who came so close to God that at one point, God just took him to heaven without dying.

It’s interesting to read this quote from Enoch that pops up out of nowhere. In no scripture in Old Testament or New is this quote from Enoch recorded, except in the Epistle of Jude.

All Genesis tells us of Enoch is this:

And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

It falls to probably the single most obscure book in the New Testament to fill in the gaps from one of the best recognized. Jude reminds us that Enoch was the 7th from Adam (Adam -> Seth -> Enos -> Cainan -> Mahalaleel -> Jared -> Enoch), and tells us furthermore that he made this prophecy.

Hebrews also speaks of Enoch’s faith, in the famed “Hall of Faith” of Hebrews 11, which makes it clear that “God took him” means that God “translated” him from this world to heaven, without death.

The Westminster Confession says, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Apparently, for Enoch, it was as simple as walking with God.

Maybe it should be that simple for us as well…

A Christmas Wish

December 26, 2006

Christmas always reminds me of the story of the wise men who came from afar to see the new King. The coming of Christ was nothing less than world-changing, and these wise men came to see it. But equally as compelling, though much less sweet, was the aftermath of the story. The wise men may have been wise, but they were not familiar enough with the prophecies to go to Bethlehem. Instead, they went to the capital city, Jerusalem, and spoke to the king there. But that king was not David or Solomon, or even of their line. The king was Herod, an Idumean, of the descendants of Esau. And he was the very picture of a despot in the Roman Empire — willing to do absolutely anything to protect his power.

Herod, of course, cared nothing for the Jewish religion or its prophecies per se. But the promise of a king born in fulfillment of those prophecies spoke a language he understood all too well: a threat to his own kingship. And so, when wise men were reported to be seeking a king, he immediately invited them to the palace and feigned great interest in their quest. After diligently extracting every bit of information he could from them, he secretly called in experts in the Jewish scriptures and asked where this “king” should be born. They, of course, told him Bethlehem.

So Herod told the wise men to go to Bethlehem, begging them to let him know if they’re able to find this king, saying he would come and worship, too. Then he let them do the hard work of finding the child, waiting for the word of where he was.

All so he could kill this threat to his power. Machiavelli was a piker compared to Herod.

And he waited. And waited. Until it became obvious they were not coming back.

So he went to Plan B. Unable to find the exact child to destroy, he settled for destroying all that might be the one — all baby boys in or around Bethlehem under the age of 2.

As astonishing as this cruelty appears to us, it was not all that unusual in the ancient world. After all, Bethlehem was a small town. A few lives lost, and the throne was secure.

As transcendant as the promise of Christ was, as much as it was heaven touching the dust of our earth, the powers of the world cared only for themselves.

It’s tempting sometimes to question whether the birth of Christ could really be called a “world-changing” event. There’s certainly been plenty of cruelty and death in the world since then.

But for many nations across the earth now, the act of Herod, the slaughtering of innocent babies to protect political power, is now unthinkable. The coming of Christ and the influence of Christianity has changed what we see as “acceptable.”

And if that’s not world-changing, then you don’t appreciate the mundane cruelties of life before Christ.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”