Focus on Christ for Easter – Psalm 91

Mark 1:12-13 CSB – 12 Immediately the Spirit drove him [Jesus] into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and the angels were serving him.
Psalm 91:1-16 CSB – 
1 The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty.  2 I will say concerning the LORD, who is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust:  3 He himself will rescue you from the bird trap, from the destructive plague.  4 He will cover you with his feathers; you will take refuge under his wings. His faithfulness will be a protective shield.  5 You will not fear the terror of the night, the arrow that flies by day,  6 the plague that stalks in darkness, or the pestilence that ravages at noon.  7 Though a thousand fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, the pestilence will not reach you.  8 You will only see it with your eyes and witness the punishment of the wicked.  9 Because you have made the LORD — my refuge, the Most High — your dwelling place,  10 no harm will come to you; no plague will come near your tent.  11 For he will give his angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways.  12 They will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.  13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the young lion and the serpent.  14 Because he has his heart set on me, I will deliver him; I will protect him because he knows my name.  15 When he calls out to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble. I will rescue him and give him honor.  16 I will satisfy him with a long life and show him my salvation. 
 
It seems so easy to say, Jesus was tempted, yet he was without sin (Hebrews 4:15) because, after all, Jesus is God . . .
But remember all that Jesus “laid aside” (Philippians 2:5-10) and what it really means that he took on the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of man. He was hungry and exhausted, after 40 days in the wilderness with no food. He wasn’t staying at a hotel or even a state park run campground; he was in the wilderness, alone, exposed to the elements. He was there because the Spirit told him to go . . .
 
If you read the temptation account in the gospels, especially in Matthew’s account, you see how Jesus conquered the devil’s schemes. He relied on the Word of God. He quoted God’s Word. He depended on the Father. Maybe this psalm was in his mind . . .
 
Jesus’ example in dealing with temptation is so helpful. I can’t deal with temptation in my own strength. Not shouldn’t; can’t; as in, unable. “In Christ” is not just a comfy-sounding phrase that makes everything feel warm and fuzzy — I must have a Redeemer. As I am powerless to save myself, to earn a place in heaven — I am powerless to fight sin in my own strength. 
 
The hymn, “I Need Thee Every Hour,” written in the late 1800s, is just as true today . . .
 
1 I need thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
no tender voice like thine can peace afford.
Refrain:
I need thee, O I need thee; every hour I need thee!
O bless me now, my Savior, I come to thee.
2 I need thee every hour, stay thou near by;
temptations lose their power when thou art nigh. [Refrain]
3 I need thee every hour, in joy or pain;
come quickly, and abide, or life is vain. [Refrain]
4 I need thee every hour; teach me thy will,
and thy rich promises in me fulfill. [Refrain]
Authors: Annie S. Hawks; Robert Lowry (refrain)
Source: Hymns of Promise: a large print songbook #113
And, in needing Christ to fight temptation, there is no “magic potion.” Jesus relied on God’s Word, believing God’s truth. That was his “way of escape” (1 Corinthians 10:13) and God’s Word is ours as well. Knowing God’s Word renews our mind. Believing God’s Word and relying on the power of the Holy Spirit helps us to say “no” to sin.
Psalm 119:10-11 CSB – 10 I have sought you with all my heart; don’t let me wander from your commands.  11 I have treasured your word in my heart so that I may not sin against you. 
 
Psalm 119:101-105 CSB – 101 I have kept my feet from every evil path to follow your word.  102 I have not turned from your judgments, for you yourself have instructed me.  103 How sweet your word is to my taste — sweeter than honey in my mouth.  104 I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every false way.  105 Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.
 
Thank you, God, for not leaving us to battle sin on our own. Thank you that you never leave us nor forsake us. Thank you for giving us this example in your precious word. Thank you, Jesus, for enduring temptation for us. What a Savior!
amen
 

Read Through the Bible in 2019 – Days 60-66

Exodus 29-40; James 1-5


We saw man’s depravity and God’s incredible mercy.We saw the law introduced, and the results of “law without faith.”Temptation is real. Sin is costly.


James 4:4 CSB – 4 You adulterous people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the friend of the world becomes the enemy of God.
Romans 8:7-8 CSB – 7 The mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit to God’s law. Indeed, it is unable to do so. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Knowing this makes the debacle of the golden calf not at all surprising. Knowing this makes the favoritism, the wars and quarrels not at all surprising.


Knowing this is why we so desperately need Jesus. Without his complete payment for all our sin, his complete fulfillment of God’s law we are truly without hope.


Romans 8:9-10 CSB – 9 You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to him. 10 Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.
James 4:6-8 CSB – 6 But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.  7 Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

God’s mercy is incredible! Not only does he give the law again to Moses after the golden calf, and then complete the tabernacle so that he can meet with the people . . .but God gives us the Holy Spirit so that we can actually live in obedience to God’s law!


As we move into our reading of Job, I would like to give a “spoiler alert;” read chapter 42 to see who God said had a right idea about God and his ways, and who did not. Keep that in mind as you read the opinions and observations of Job and his friends.
Thank you for joining me on this journey. Our God is amazing!

Focus on Christ for Easter-the Messianic Psalms

Easter is in seven weeks. During this time let’s turn our attention to some of the psalms that speak of Jesus, our Messiah.

Psalm 2:1-12 CSB – 1 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?  2 The kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers conspire together against the LORD and his Anointed One:  3 “Let’s tear off their chains and throw their ropes off of us.”  4 The one enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord ridicules them.  5 Then he speaks to them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath:  6 “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.”  7 I will declare the LORD’s decree. He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.  8 “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance and the ends of the earth your possession.  9 “You will break them with an iron scepter; you will shatter them like pottery.”  10 So now, kings, be wise; receive instruction, you judges of the earth.  11 Serve the LORD with reverential awe and rejoice with trembling.  12 Pay homage to the Son or he will be angry and you will perish in your rebellion, for his anger may ignite at any moment. All who take refuge in him are happy. 

When Jesus came to earth as a man, Philippians 2:6-8 CSB – 6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited.  7 Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man,  8 he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death — even to death on a cross. Psalm 2, however, gives us another facet of the picture —Philippians 2:9-11 CSB – 9 For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name,  10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow — in heaven and on earth and under the earth —  11 and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 

As we enter this season leading up to Easter, when we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, let’s remember .  . .


He is the Sovereign God.


His sacrificial death on the cross was sufficient for all of our sins.


He died, and was buried, but death could not keep Jesus. He raised from the dead, and Hebrews 7:25 CSB – 25 Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, since he always lives to intercede for them. 


Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Read Through the Bible in 2019 – Days 53- 59

Exodus 14-28; 1 and 2 Thessalonians; Philemon

 

 

It is so easy to get bogged down in an onslaught of detail. Details are important. Details merit study and consideration. All Scripture is inspired (breathed out) by God, and is profitable . . .2 Timothy 3 reminds us. “All” means, yes, even the lists of names; even the measurements of buildings; even the selection of jewels for the breastplate. It is all profitable, or God would not have included it in his word.

Remember, though, that this venture is an “overview and a salt lick.” In an overview, you do not seek to absorb every single detail of every single word. You are reading to answer the generalized question — What do I learn about God? How does God relate to the different characters encountered in his word?

 



In this overview style of reading, you will encounter “salt lick” passages/chapters/books. Those are the ones that you say, “I want to come back to this and study deeper.” That is where you absorb detail, memorize, turn around to appreciate all the facets . . .

 



So, please, don’t give up because buildings and bowls and turbans and cubits are not your “cup of tea.” Appreciate the truth that God cares about detail. God is a God of order.  Consider “how” the different artisans made all of these various items (remember, they were slaves in Egypt for 430 years, and their “skill set” was making bricks from straw to construct pyramids. They did not engineer or decorate; they collected straw, mixed it with mud, put it in a form, let it dry, picked it up and put it where someone told them to put it). God gave them their skills, and their wisdom (Exodus 28).

 



Consider that God designed all of this detail so that he could meet with his people. (Exodus 25, for instance). The sovereign of all creation wants to meet personally with his people!

 





Consider the different laws and rules for how to interact as a society. Remember, they were slaves for 430 years (to give perspective, A.D. 1589 was 430 years before now, 2019). The Israelites had had no “voice” politically, or in the marketplace, or even in religious life, for longer than anyone could remember. And now, they were embarking on a journey to become a nation in a new place, with no experience. And God took the time to teach them how to live . . .

 

What else did you “consider” in your reading? Yes, I know that I didn’t even get to the Thessalonians . . . but you certainly are welcome to comment . . .

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