A Morning Reflection

As I read God’s Word in both the Old and New Testaments, over and over again, I see it ties together. It fits. It’s beautiful.

Today, I read the Law, the Ten Commandments (Deut. 5). I read the command to love the Lord my God with all my heart and soul and might (Deut. 6). I then read in the New Testament that the commandments are summed up in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:9-10). Love of God, love of man. These are the two that Jesus Himself identified as the most important commands (Mark 12:28-31).

Against the law, I recognize I fail; I sin at every point. Yet I rejoice in the finished work of Jesus Christ at the cross for my sin. No longer do we need the sacrifice of bulls and lambs, that could never truly save, again and again and again. (Hebrews 10:4, 11). We have the once for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:12-14), the blood of Jesus, who gave us a new and living way, through whom we can have confidence. “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

As the Israelites placed the blood over the doorpost so that death would “pass over” and pass them by (Exodus 12), Jesus’ shed blood covers my life, so that I will not experience death, but instead have life in Jesus Christ by faith in Him. This is why Scripture calls him “Christ, our Passover Lamb” (1 Corinthians 5:7).

As we are about to enter Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter, take time to read the Gospel accounts (in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. This Sunday, Palm Sunday, we will remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem where He would soon be betrayed, arrested, tried, mocked, and crucified for the sins of the world. This will take us to Good Friday next week. And just when hope would appear lost, we will arrive at Resurrection Sunday. 

While God’s law shows me my sin, His love and mercy bring me salvation. I thank Jesus for His atoning sacrifice that is sufficient to cleanse us from all sin, to give us life and hope. I praise Him that for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2).

If you live in Chicagoland, I invite you to College Church for upcoming Easter services to find out more how Easter can change your life. This Easter, may we all worship and praise and thank Him. He is worthy.

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom
and might and honor and glory and blessing!” Revelation 5:12

2018 Bible Reading – January

For those of you reading through the Bible in a year, I wanted to provide a space for sharing insights at the end of each month. Locally, I’ll be meeting with a group of women in late January. Online, perhaps this might serve as a place to comment and encourage one another.

As we are in the last week of January and ending the first month of reading, here are some questions to reflect on:

  1. What have you seen about God this month as you have read the Bible?
  2. Have there been new truths or insights that you have discovered through the reading? 
  3. Was there a psalm that particularly stood out to you?
  4. How did you find God’s Word speaking to you in the circumstances of your life?
  5. Is there a way you need to apply something you have read?
  6. Was there a verse or passage that you would like to memorize?

Happy New Year 2018!

Happy New Year! As I type these words, my son’s plane should be taking off, flying him back to college. It’s been wonderful having him home for the last three and a half weeks. This brings an end to the holidays, and I’m thankful for a quiet morning to reflect.

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The Revelation of God

Bible Study

My heart has been bursting all week! First, we started Women’s Bible Study at our church for the new school year last Wednesday. It is thrilling to study God’s Word together in fellowship with others. We are studying the Psalms. I believe it’s the first time in 13 years, since 2004-05, that I have been able to attend the morning session. Though I love the evening session, too, I was often tired or had a hard time sticking with it after work. There’s something special about starting my Wednesday mornings in this way, both in our small group, where we go over the week’s lesson, and then in the large group session where we hear a message tying it all together.

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Just for Today

There’s nothing quite like the awareness of our own mortality to give us a change in perspective. I remember being hospitalized for nearly a month before my daughter was born three months early. Life had become complicated by a rare, life-threatening pregnancy. Each day the hospital chaplain would visit, and she would say, “Just for today.” We took things one day at a time. We couldn’t project the outcome for my daughter or for me. We could pray and hope while we waited to see. If we looked too far into the future, it might overwhelm us. So the chaplain would remind me each day, “You made it another day. Just for today.”

How often and easy it is for my focus to be fixed far off into the future, planning and dreaming, counting on certain experiences and outcomes. Already, I am looking to the fall with my son starting college. I am joyously, if not somewhat anxiously, anticipating taking him to college. But two months lie in between now and that trip. I don’t want to lose these days, these last two months. So while I look forward with gratitude, I also don’t want to run past these moments and how we can make them more significant.

We live in such a future-oriented world, thinking of what we might do and be, which—though sometimes necessary to plan, and even a good thing when done with a proper motivation and recognition of God’s plan for us—can keep us from living this day. And while I do want to live with an eternal perspective with eyes fixed on God, I also want to remember that I’ve been given the gift of today and ask how I can use it for His glory.

Living This Day Highlights God’s Provision

I love these words from the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).

Like the manna in the wilderness that God provided each day for the Israelites (Exodus 16), there was enough just for that day. If they gathered more than they needed to store it up, it would spoil. If they gathered less than they needed, there was no shortage. (On the sixth day, they would gather two days’ worth so they could honor the Sabbath on the seventh day, thus providing them rest.)

There was an intended result in their hunger being daily filled: “Then you will know that I am Yahweh your God.” In this miraculous provision, they would see God’s glory, and God would see if they would follow His instructions. They had to trust God that His provision would be there again each day, and it indeed was for the 40 years they spent wandering in the wilderness. God faithfully provided just for the day.

In the New Testament, we come to find that Jesus Himself is the bread of life. Jesus said:

“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that anyone may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh” (John 6:48-51).

So when we ask God to give us our daily bread, we think of His provision for today in that new light. The One who laid down His life for us with that ultimate provision of salvation will also provide for our needs today.

Living This Day Guards Us From Anxiety About the Future

Later in Matthew 6, Jesus tells the multitudes not to be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself; each day has enough trouble of its own. We can trust God for today by seeking first His kingdom and righteousness and trusting that all the other things we might worry about (life, the body, clothing, what we will eat and drink) will be provided for us as well.

Living This Day Reminds Us of God’s Faithfulness and Love

In Lamentations 3:22-23, we are told that God’s steadfast love and mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Each day gives us a fresh supply of God’s love, mercy, and faithfulness. As sure as the sun rises, God demonstrates again his faithfulness to us in bringing about that new day, in holding together the world he has created, and in supplying us with His mercy and love that never ends. When we awaken to a new day, it’s good to remember this stunning truth.

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What if today, I rejoice in God and His faithful provision for me, resist the temptation to be anxious for the future, remember that He is God and that His mercy and love are new this day?

What if today, I simply ask: Will I trust God with this new day? What can I do today to follow God and do His will, to bring Him honor and glory? How can I love and serve those around me today? Where do I see God showing me His glory and providing for my needs?

Just for today.

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Firsts and Lasts

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We are in the two weeks leading up to my son’s high school graduation. Things are getting a little sentimental around here. He just received the senior superlative for the person most ready for high school to end. And this comes as no surprise. Ever since he decided on a college, that’s been in the forefront of his mind. He’s eager for the next phase, and we are excited for him.

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