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Praise

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awestruck

In today’s Bible reading, Jesus tells His Disciples that one must come to Him as a child. In fact, one who comes like a child will be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 18:3-4)

What is it about coming as a child that Jesus praises? Well, He mentions one thing: humility. Like I’ve said before, the first rule in Christianity 101 is God is God, and the second is, you’re not God. If you want to come to Jesus, you have to come in humility. You have to lay aside your claims to privilege. You have to lay aside your preferences. You have to accept His preferences. And the more you can do that, the better things will go for you in your life.

I’m not saying that your life will only go well. On the contrary, your life may look like it’s falling apart from the outside. But as you seek His priorities, the more you will see higher purposes for the things that happen in your life, the good things and the bad things that come through the hands of your loving Father. Nothing happens apart from His control. Nothing happens apart from God’s very decree.

But not only is humility part of coming as a child, so is coming with a sense of wonder, a sense of awe concerning the things of God. You may see children as being gullible. They tend to believe everything. But not only that, they also have a sense of recognizing wonder in the universe.

“As much as children ask why, when it comes to the wonder of the world around them, they do not ask why because they are skeptics, but rather they ask because they believe and thirst to know the world’s secrets. The miraculous is everywhere, and the children embrace it. There is something about growing older that turns us off to wonder, making our visits to Narnia less and less common. David Bentley Hart contrasts the way of children with the way of adults: ‘As we age … we lose our sense of the intimate otherness of things; we allow habit to displace awe, inevitability to banish delight; we grow into adulthood and put away childish things.'” [1]

Application

If you are a Believer, where is your sense of awe? Where is your sense of wonder? Where do you find delight? What childish things have you put away?

When was the last time you were awestruck by an encounter with God through His Word? When was the last time you were rendered speechless with thoughts of the things of God?

In what ways do you need to recapture the humility, awe and wonder of childhood?

[1] I just happened to read about this just this afternoon in None Greater: The Undomesticated Attributes of God by Matthew Barrett. © Copyright 2019 Baker Books, p. 42.

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Jesus teaches about giving, praying, and fasting.
Image source: LumoProject

Jesus tells us how to give, how to pray, and how to fast in today’s Bible reading.

You really can’t separate Jesus’ teaching on these three Spiritual Disciplines. Why? Because He uses the exact pattern in all three: Whenever you ___, don’t be like the hypocrites who practice their ____ to be seen by people. Indeed they have received their reward in full. Instead, when you ___, go it secretly and your Father Who sees in secret will reward you.

Application

So should we not give openly? Should we not pray publicly? Should we not fast openly? That’s not what Jesus is saying. What He is saying is look at your heart. Look at your motivations. Make sure that when you give, that you’re not looking over your shoulder to make sure that people see you give big. When you pray, don’t concentrate on saying the right words with the right vocal emphases. And when you fast, don’t make a big deal of it.

Actually, that’s the central point of all of the Spiritual Disciplines: Don’t make a big deal of it. Spiritual Disciplines (and the others) are for you to deepen your walk with God. They aren’t to be paraded around in front of other people so they give you their accolades. He says that if you’re doing it for the praise of people, that’s all you’re going to get. If you want the accolades of your Father, you need to do these things with your Father in mind.

Your Father wants to reward your giving. Your Father wants to answer your prayers. Your Father wants to reward your fasting. Seek Him in secret. He’ll meet you there.

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The stone has been rolled away.
Image Souce: LumoProject

Have you ever done something and realized half-way through it that you forgot one of the most important parts? Maybe it was buying a dozen eggs to make that cake for the sick neighbors. You have just enough time to mix the ingredients and pop it in the oven. You lay out all of the ingredients. And you don’t have any eggs. What do you do?

Well, in today’s Bible reading, three women went to anoint Jesus’ body for burial. Because the Sabbath was approaching with the sunset, Joseph of Aramathea barely had time to get Jesus’ body in the tomb and covered. He rolled a heavy rock to cover the entrance and went home to prepare for the Sabbath.

And here we are on Sunday Morning. These women are about to round a corner and it dawns on them that they have no way to roll back the stone “door” to the tomb. The stone weighs over a ton. How will they anoint Jesus’ body with that big fat rock in the way?

Just then, as they round the corner, they see that the stone has already been rolled back. Looking inside the tomb, they don’t see Jesus’ body. Instead, they see a man who tells them that “Jesus is not here. Go! Tell His Disciples that He has risen from the dead — just like He said He would!”

Application

Jesus isn’t in the tomb! Jesus is alive! I mean, He’s really alive! Yes, really!

What difference does it make that unlike every religious leader, Jesus’ tomb is empty? What difference does that make in the reality of the universe? And what difference does that make in your life?

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"The Coming King" sculpture by Max Greiner www.maxgreinerart.com
“The Coming King”® is the copyrighted & trademarked creation of Christian artist, Max Greiner, Jr. of Kerrville, Texas © (www.maxgreinerart.com)

In today’s Bible reading, there is great rejoicing by a vast multitude of people even before the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords defeats the beast and his sign-performing false prophet.

Over and over, John hears the cries of God’s people, “Hallelujah!” as they praise God, hailing Jesus as the conquering King.

After this I heard something like the loud voice of a vast multitude in heaven, saying, Hallelujah! Salvation, glory, and power belong to our God, because his judgments are true and righteous, because he has judged the notorious prostitute who corrupted the earth with her sexual immorality; and he has avenged the blood of his servants that was on her hands. A second time they said, Hallelujah! Her smoke ascends forever and ever! Then the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who is seated on the throne, saying, Amen! Hallelujah! A voice came from the throne, saying, Praise our God, all his servants, and the ones who fear him, both small and great! Then I heard something like the voice of a vast multitude, like the sound of cascading waters, and like the rumbling of loud thunder, saying, Hallelujah, because our Lord God, the Almighty, reigns! Let us be glad, rejoice, and give him glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has prepared herself.” (Revelation 17:1-7 CSB)

Application

How spontaneously do you respond in worship when you encounter the Word and works of God? If you are not at least occasionally staggered by the awe and wonder of God, you may need a fresh taste of Him in His greatness and majesty. Take a look at a post I wrote a few years ago.

Maybe you need to step up your game in expressing your worship outwardly. Now, this is not a plea to emotionalism, but rather to express your worship for God in a manner similar to how you worship in other contexts.

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Sinclair Ferguson on God's acceptance of us

In today’s Bible reading, John says something that is difficult to grasp. “These have one purpose, and they give their power and authority to the beast. … For God has put it into their hearts to carry out his plan by having one purpose and to give their kingdom to the beast until the words of God are fulfilled.” Revelation 17:13,17 (CSB)

What’s difficult to grasp is that these kings give their power and authority to the beast because God put it in their hearts to do so. Did they not have a say in the matter?

Is there anywhere else in the Bible where something like this occurs? Look at the story of the Exodus. When Moses asked Pharaoh’s permission to take the Hebrews to the desert to worship God, Pharaoh hardened his heart, right? Yes. (Exodus 8:15, 8:32, 9:34)

And yet, no.

But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had told Moses.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may do these miraculous signs of mine among them,
But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the Israelites go.
But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was unwilling to let them go.
Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his land.

(Exodus 9:12, 10:1, 10:20, 10:27, 11:10 CSB)

We want to think that we are completely independent and can do whatever we want. After all, we have free will, right? Not so fast.

Jeremiah tells us that our hearts are wicked (Jeremiah 17:9) and Isaiah says that our righteousness is worthless. (Isaiah 64:6) The Fall affected us to the core of our being. Human beings were radically corrupted by the Fall in Genesis 3. The Reformer Martin Luther pointed out that even our will was affected by The Fall. So no, our will is not as free as we think it is!

God is capable of bending our will. And He must do so if we are to hear and respond to the Gospel message. Otherwise, we will never respond to His call to salvation. Because of The Fall, our natural inclination is to choose other than God.

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him,
and I will raise him up on the last day.

John 6:44 (CSB)

Application

Without God’s intervention, human beings — you and I — are lost. We are destitute. We are objects of God’s wrath. We are separated from God. We are dead in our trespasses and sins. We are enemies of God. We are hopeless! (see Ephesians 2 for the condition of those without Jesus)

Sinclair Ferguson said, “It is misleading to say that God accepts us the way we are. Rather, He accepts us despite the way we are. He receives us only in Christ and for Christ’s sake. nor does He mean to leave us the way He found us, but to transform us into the likeness of His Son.”

Praise be to God that God accepts us despite the way we are! Spend a few moments today praising God for His grace and mercy.

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