Peace for the Day

Devotions for our daily angst.


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Honor

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier GuardsThese people draw near Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts hold off and are far away from Me. Matthew 15:8

Instead of a donkey (Numbers 22), God used a television show to start me thinking about honor. (Such an old fashioned notion.) The use of cursing God’s name as a basis for the majority of the dialog caused me discomfort and led to intense internal discussions. I cringed every time I heard the characters swear but, in truth, I didn’t want to stop watching. It took me a few weeks and a lot of wheedling with myself and God to finally conclude I could no longer watch the show. By doing so, I was not honoring Him.

About the same time, I stumbled across Mark 6:4-6 NIV. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

The wonderful thing about reading the Word is that no matter how many times I’ve read one verse, in a moment of clarity, I understood it in a totally new way. I noticed a link between honor and faith and miracles. The people in his hometown did not honor Jesus; therefore, He could not do any miracles there.

Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology defines honor this way – “to give weight or to grant a person a position of respect and even authority in one’s life”.[i] We hear about very few miracles across the church in America. Could it be, I wondered, connected to our lack of honoring Him? We don’t grant him the position of respect and authority that we once did. Bringing it closer to home, I examined my life. Do I honor God?

Honor is not an idea to be worn like a badge. It’s a core value that requires action. At the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery, the Honor Guard protects the tomb 24-7 365 days a year. The maid of honor helps the bride prepare for the wedding. Medal of Honor recipients acted valiantly beyond the call of duty. Students elected to the National Honor Society maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average and participate in extracurricular activities.

I want to honor God, in practice. I yearn for the Holy Spirit to nudge me when I’m not. Like Chris Tomlin sings in the song Amazing Love “It’s my joy to honor You. In all I do, I honor You.” That’s my prayer.

[i]  http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/honor.html

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Jehovah Sofar – The Lord God the Writer

Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness. (Isaiah 30:8 NIV)

This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you.” (Jerimiah 30:2 NIV)

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5 NIV)

God is the greatest writer I know. He authored 66 books written by 40 people over 1500 years centered on one theme – the rescue of mankind.

People read the Bible like it’s a flat one-dimensional document. So boring! I read it like a newspaper describing current events. Or better yet like a script. It pops!

God gets foreshadowing. After Judas left to betray Jesus, John 13:30 says, “And it was night”. Dun, dun, dun-dun. The lights dim, the music changes, and we know something bad is coming for our hero.

How about when Jesus yelled, “Lazarus, come out!” Do we just read the words like Charlie Brown’s adults speak? Blah, blah Lazarus come out oh blah, blah, blah. If I staged this scene, I’d heighten the tension to the breaking point, direct Jesus to pause long enough for the audience to wonder what he’s going to do, and then have him shout the life giving words.

Conflict. Every story in the Bible has someone trying to do right and someone else trying to thwart him. It starts in the Garden when the snake tosses a wrench into peaceful Eden. “Psst. Hey. Eve,” he whispers. “Come here a minute. There’s something God doesn’t want you to know.” It continues through the Old Testament to the New Testament when Simon Iscariot accepts thirty coins to betray Jesus. Like a Mafia don, he seals Jesus’ fate with a kiss. (Was it a dark, stormy night that night in the Garden of Gethsemane? We know it was cold because later on Peter warmed his hands by a fire.)

Plot twists. God knows plot twists better than any soap opera writer. He understands the human condition with all its weaknesses.

Joseph bar Jacob or Joseph Jacob’s son. He’s the protagonist of one of the most interesting sagas of all time. The story of his life should be a mini-series. Our hero was a brat, a pain in his brothers’ behinds. They, grown men every one of them, hated him so much they wanted to kill him so they tossed him into a pit. What happened next? With their little brother pleading for mercy from the depths of a deep hole in the ground, they ate. Yep. They sat around the campfire and had lunch. Oblivious to his terror and pain.

Opportunity arose in the form of a caravan. Can you see it? They’re stretched out by the fire, full of food, burping, picking their teeth, figuring out what to do next when they see a dust cloud in the distance. As it moves closer, they realize it’s a caravan.

“Hmm,” one of them says. “Maybe we don’t have to kill him.”

“Yea,” another adds. “We can…”

“Sell him.”

Now that’s a plot twist.

Jehovah Sofar, God the Writer, has written a book to us, his children. A special book so we can know him better. As we read The Book, -Bible means book- we take heart. He understands us. He gets humans with all our warts, angst, fear, and self-absorption. And he still loves us everyone. Amazing.

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