December 30 – The Hand of God

Read: Hebrews 1:1-14

The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” (Psalm 110:1 ESV)

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (Hebrews 1:1-4 ESV)

I like working with my hands. In a career where my primary responsibilities usually revolve around study, communication, and spending time with people (all of which also love) using my hands to make, repair, or lift something can sometimes come as a nice change of pace. Even in the hobbies I enjoy like guitar, video games, and art—my hands are vital to the process. Hands are important.

Jesus sits at the right hand of God. It’s a place of honor for the God-man and King. It’s not a subservient place. It is equal footing. As Jesus is the Hand of God.

When I want to work to fix something I use my hands to do the job. I have to pick up the pieces, I have to make the repairs, and I have to hold the tools. God did something similar, but eternally and infinitely more wonderful than my weak analogy could ever capture.

God reached into human history, as Jesus. Jesus is the handprint of God that marks all of human experience. Jesus is the touch of kindness and measure of mercy. Jesus is the grip of compassion and strong arm of justice that guides the course of eternity. Jesus holds the rod that will rule the future of all futures forever. Jesus is the Hand of God.

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December 29 – Jesus Far Above

Read: Ephesians 4:7-10

You ascended on high, leading a host of captives in your train and receiving gifts among men, even among the rebellious, that the Lord God may dwell there. (Psalm 68:18 ESV)

He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) (Ephesians 4:10 ESV)

In about 1000 B.C. King David prophesied that Jesus would ascend into heaven. It was written that Jesus would take the the souls of departed Christians with Him. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians mentions the fulfillment of that prophecy.

Jesus did come down out of Heaven. He was murdered for our sin. He descended into the depths of the grave. He took back themes to life. And he ascended again into Heaven—first stopping by to encourage and pastor his disciples for 40 days.

Today, Jesus is far above. In metaphysical terms I believe that he is omnipresent. He is able to be everywhere always. In speaking of his exalted status as King of all—he is far above. We serve a King who sits in authority over, and even far above, all things.

How does that play out in your life? If you’re struggling with some terrible need, whatever it may be, Jesus sits in authority above the powerful captivity you might be facing in light of your need. He holds in his hand the power and authority to release a good work on your behalf. And perhaps the best thing about this King of ours who sits far a above is that he will often do just that. He is far above all, but he is not far from.

September 22 – Jesus, the Christ

Mark 14: 53-65

But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” (Mark 14:61 ESV)

Jesus was put on trial as a sham. Those in power had predetermined the trial’s outcome. They had orchestrated false witnesses, with disagreeing testimonies. All of it was done under pretenses of maintaining Judaism. In reality, it was about squeezing Jesus out. The religious fat cats were afraid of the affect Jesus would have on their coffers.

But the seeds had been sown. Not all of those in power doubted Jesus’ claims. Many of the common people had been undeniably touched by Jesus’ miracles. The disciples and many others had come to see Jesus as the Christ. The Messiah the Old Testament writers promised would bring redemption to Jews and the rest of the world.

The high priest was a different matter all together. He had the most to lose because of Jesus. And using a tool straight out of the pit of Hell, a tactic used by Satan himself during the temptation in the wilderness, he attacked Jesus’ identity.

Jesus answered boldly. He loudly declared the truth of his identity for all in attendance to hear. He gave them a chance to believe. Jesus, the Christ, gives all who would ask of him the chance to believe.

August 13 – All She Had

Luke 21:1-4

For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:4 ESV)

Worship done in the form of giving is not always easy. I love to give. My wife and I make it a regular part of our life, but it can be a stretch sometimes. It is especially difficult during a tough financial season. That kind of giving takes a level of faith that really stretches me.

Jesus, observing the widow’s offering, pointed out the enormity of her small gift.
Financially speaking, it would not set any records, and it wouldn’t bankroll the ministry for the foreseeable future. But in terms of faith, she gave an incredible sum. She gave her livelihood.

I wonder what passed through her mind as she released the small coins. Was she fearful? Was she confident? I don’t know. Perhaps she was merely caught up in the sweet reality of her act of worship.

I want to be able to give God my best. I want to offer all I have, and all I am, to Him, to be used for His purpose. I really want to. But the truth is that sometimes I hold back. Sometimes I am reserved. All too often I simply miss the point. There are a lot of reasons this happens. None that I am proud of.

The widow’s standard of giving is an incredibly faithful goal to shoot for. She offered all that she had. My prayer is that I would have the faithful courage to do the same.

August 12 – Until You Say

Matthew 23:37-39

“For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (Matthew 23:39 ESV)

Jesus was saddened and upset with the rampant immorality and corruption of Jerusalem. He condemned the city for its history of killing the Old Testament prophets. He prophetically lamented their rejection of him. He also promised that he would not return again until the appointed time, a time when they would welcome him.

Words are powerful things. Many scriptures talk about their power and influence. Their carry confession, conviction, and compassion. They offer forgiveness, hope, and encouragement. Their carry truth, impart life, and unlock faith.

What if Jesus is waiting for you to say something in your life? What if something he has been wanting to do for you is hinging on your declaration? God is good, and loving, and all-knowing. He will not answer a prayer we are not ready for. What if our words were sometimes the act of faith that demonstrated our readiness for His blessings?

I’m not saying we stand up and declare our faithful words in a grab for material things. I don’t think our faith equates to our control. However, I believe scripture is clear, as Jesus repeatedly pointed out, faith makes a difference. Sometimes you might think you believe something, but you won’t really know how strongly you believe until you say it.

August 11 – Escaping Sentence

Matthew 23:29-36

You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? (Matthew 23:33 ESV)

When a criminal is found guilty they are sentenced for their crime. The sentence comes as a punitive price to pay for the wrong done. It follows judgement.

One day each of us will face judgement. And while that may seem terrifying, it doesn’t have to. Judgement comes when we stand before Jesus and he declares our eternal destination. Those who follow Jesus have nothing to fear from judgement—they need only anticipate the joy of eternity with Christ. However, anyone not found to be a faithful follower of Jesus will have much to regret at the judgement. For those people judgment will be immediately followed by sentencing. There is only one sentence for those not in Christ, hell.

Hell is a literal place. A lot of people assume they know all about it. I won’t be quick to declare any detailed knowledge of it other than what I am sure the Bible s consistent about. Hell is miserable. Hell is final. Hell is real.

The religious scribes and Pharisees were in a lot of trouble from Jesus. He forewarned them concerning their impending unfavorable judgment. He told them what would happen. He called them serpents and vipers, directly tying them to Satan by using Old Testament language. How would they escape the sentence to come as a result of their evil acts?

Our answer is the same one that faced the scribes and Pharisees. How will we escape the reality of hell that we deserve? It is only by Jesus. His life. His blood. His sacrifice. He is the way to escape our eternal death sentence. What’s more is that life with him is so much more than merely escaping punishment, it is life, it is full abundant life.

August 10 – Watermelons & Hypocrites

Matthew 23:23-28

So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:28 ESV)

Watermelons are really good when they are ripe. They are slightly crisp and super sweet. But if a watermelon sits for too long some really bad things start to happen inside. All of that crispy sweetness turns into a mushy muck. In spite of the seemingly normal outward appearance the inside is just all wrong.

People are like that too. Unfortunately, people claiming to follow Christ can be some of the worst. We often appear to have it all together on the outside while dying inside. Whether it is secret sin, unrepentant desires, or habitually inconsistent actions—our internal and external lives are so often mismatched, and that is a problem.

Jesus preached a very strong message targeted at this kind of living. Why? Because God wants a better existence for His people than the negligently oblivious life hypocrisy can lead to. We matter to Him, and so does everyone else, but sometimes our hypocrisy becomes a distraction to the unbeliever struggling to find faith.

Evaluation, honesty, and good friends can go a long way in disarming or overcoming hypocrisy. Take a good look at your life, ask an honest friend, and pray about the results. We will never achieve perfection in this life, but that doesn’t mean we have to embrace a continual pattern of unrepentant sin. And we certainly need to stop pretending like we are perfect when we are so far from it.