Friday, February 23, 2018

February 23: Matthew 6:30-56; Too Busy to Eat

            As I read about Jesus feeding the five thousand, walking on water, and healing many at Gennesaret, I was impressed that Jesus and the disciples “had no leisure even to eat (Mark 6:31). Even after feeding the five thousand, the disciples climbed back into the boat and left. Jesus was praying (Mark 6:46). In the meantime, the disciples were not sailing but rowing against the wind (Mark 6:48). None of them hadn’t had time for leisure. When the got to Gennesaret, they were recognized and again brought people to them for healing (Mark 6:53). Wherever they went, the same thing happened (Mark 6:54).
            How did they keep going under these circumstances? Jesus recognized their need to get away for a while and rest (Mark 6:30), but their attempts to find that rest only brought them in contact with crowds of needy people. When they fed the five thousand, they were busy carrying loaves and fish to the people. They most likely had time to eat but it wasn’t in leisure and then it was followed by an all-night rowing marathon.
            Jesus didn’t have it any better. He was praying. While most of us would fall asleep trying to pray at night after an exhausting day, Jesus was wide awake and even cognizant of the predicament of his disciples. Jesus didn’t get any rest that night either.
             They were working in God’s power and I’m convinced it was only by his power that they were able to do his. I’m sure Jesus was aware of it but the disciple were most likely oblivious to it. Our problem with being too busy is seldom because of ministry. We may convince ourselves that it is but unless we prioritize our lives around God’s desires for us, we will most likely be too busy because of other things.
            If you find yourself too busy to eat a leisurely meal with your family, it’s time to pray and examine what you are doing with your time. It isn’t time to get back in the boat and start rowing against the wind hoping Jesus will come walking on the water and rescue you. It’s time to go up on the mountain and talk to Jesus about what you are doing and what he want you to do.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

February 22: Psalm 39; Surprising Twists

            Psalm 39 has a couple of surprising twists like a mystery novel. You start reading a mystery and think you know the answers when the author throws in a twist that you didn’t expect. You then have to rethink what is going on before you try to guess “who done it.”
            This is what happened as I read David’s musing in this Psalm. I could identify with him at the start when he wanted to avoid sin by what he said. I hope that is all our goals. We want our mouths to reflect the change in our hearts that comes when Jesus resides in us. But then he applies that to when he is among ungodly people and his turmoil became worse. Ah, I thought, he isn’t being a good witness to the lost and he really needs to speak truth when he is with them. That is another thing we should do. We can’t keep silent when should be explaining the gospel to people who desperately need it. Paul said, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16). So, finally, David speaks.
            Surprise! He starts by asking God to remind him just how short his life is. What! He doesn’t start telling these ungodly people about God and their sin? No, he starts looking at his own life and how short it is. This is something that we should all get a good dose of before we start telling others how to live. We need to be humble and one of the most humbling thing we can do is compare out life span to God. Doing so puts us in our place immediately.
            David gets around to witnessing to others as he speaks of how we all are short-lived. He expresses the futility of getting all worked up to find riches in this life but not knowing who will get it after we die. Shakespeare must have been inspired by Psalm 39:6 when he wrote:

“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts … Last scene of all, That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness and mere oblivion, Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” (As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII)

David gave a very powerful and short thing for all of us to ponder. Sometimes this may be all a person needs to start thinking about eternity as Shakespeare did.
            But again, David turns the tables and confesses his own sin and asks God to deliver him from it. What is the sin, what is the meaning of this Psalm? It is possible that he viewed his silence in the face of the ungodly as his sin when he said he didn’t open his mouth. Whoa, is it possible that keeping my mouth shut about the gospel is not just about me but is actually a sin against the Lord? David felt the Lord’s disciple in physical ways. Are there things in my life that would be different if I were more obedient about sharing the gospel or helping those who have wondered from the faith? David sees life as too short to spend it being rebuked for his sin. What a waste of the short lives we have if they are clouded with sin and we are being disciplined by the Lord because of it.
            The last twist is not really a twist at all if we want to live a godly life. David asks the Lord to hear him. We pray and ask the Lord to hear our prayers. David admits that he is only here because the Lord wants him to be alive, just as the Lord kept his ancestors. We also need to admit that we depend on the Lord and recognize his sovereignty over us. We need to trust in the Lord.
            But David asks the Lord to look away from him so he can smile again before he dies. Is this another twist? It sounds like he wants God to leave him alone, as if he is giving up and only wanting to feel good again before he dies. I don’t think this is the meaning of what he is asking. When we look at the description of our glorified Savior it says, “His eyes were like a flame of fire” (Rev 1:14). I think David was asking the Lord to forgive and turn his convicting gaze away from him. We should do the same thing when we are convicted of sin. We can confess our sin and ask for forgiveness. We can come to Jesus and know that he will turn those burning eyes away and welcome us to his throne of grace. And if any of us are not Christians, then we should definitely do that before we depart and are no more (Ps 39:13).

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

February 21: Matthew 5:21-43; Deadly Interruptions

            You are probably familiar with the episode in Jesus’ life when Jairus came to him in desperation. Jairus is a synagogue leader and his daughter is dying. He has had to swallow his pride and even risks offending the chief priest, scribes, Pharisees, and elders to ask Jesus to come and touch her so that she will get well. These religious leaders had already plotted how to kill Jesus (Mark 3:6) and had recently said that Jesus only heals by the power of Satan (Mark 3:22). We often have to decide if we are going with the crowd or we are going with the Bible when we are in desperate situations. We have to decide to trust in Jesus or in what people say. It probably didn’t take Jairus long to make up his mind since he may have even seen Jesus heal others.
            But what happened? A woman, of all people, sneaked up behind Jesus and touched his robe. Not just a woman, but an unclean woman because of her unceasing flow of blood. The Bible doesn’t say what was going through Jairus’ head at the time, but we can put ourselves in his position as a religious Jew of the day and a man of position. How dare that woman stop Jesus on a life and death mission? She could have come later; after all, she has been ill for a long time and she isn’t about to die right now. Come on Jesus, let’s get this show on the road. My need is greater than hers. We may not have such dire interruptions in our lives, but we nonetheless treat them in the same way. We put our needs ahead of others. We don’t look at each interruption as a divine appointment. We don’t acknowledge that God is in control.
            Then it gets worse. Someone comes to Jairus and tells him that his daughter has died. Again, we can put ourselves in his shoes and imagine what is going on in his head. If only this woman had not stopped Jesus. If only Jesus had understood how close my daughter was to death he wouldn’t have stopped. It’s the blame game. When misfortune happens, we want to blame someone, even when we are at fault. Jairus wasn’t at fault so that means someone else has to take the fall and we often come to the conclusion that it must be God. This is a very dangerous road. The advice Jairus received was to not bother the teacher. We often give up on God, we stop praying or we become angry with him. We need to be careful because we would be no better than those Pharisees who claimed he healed by Satan’s power. Blaming God is accusing him of evil and that is true blasphemy. It doesn’t end well until we repent.
            However, it doesn’t look like Jairus had much time to think about it because Jesus gave him the same answer he give us today. “Do not fear, only believe” (Mark 5:36). Jesus worked it out for his glory and the good of all involved. The woman got to tell her story which glorified Jesus. Jairus’ daughter was raised from the dead, which glorified Jesus even more than a healing would have done. A bunch of professional mourners were put in their place. And we can learn that waiting on the Lord and trusting him may bring interruptions into our lives that are divinely orchestrated for our good and God’s glory.