righteous

God brings us joy through the law.

God brings us joy through the law.

Nehemiah 8

Ah, the law. The one topic that is the time-honored whipping boy of Christianity. Is the law still in effect? Was it nailed to the cross? Done away with? Is there a difference between law and grace? And what does "law" mean? Are we talking about the Ten Commandments? The Mosaic Law? The Law of Love as defined by Jesus in Matthew 22:36-40?

The Sacred Chestpiece {ex28:29}

exodus-high-priest-the-sacred-chestpiece-poem.png

By the time Jesus came,
the office of the high priest
was highly sought after,
often secured by bribery
and fraud
and murder.

The position had become
synonymous with
power
and prestige
and an opulent life.

But it was never meant to be that way.

The high priest was supposed to be
the one man in Israel
most like God:
consecrated to a life of service
sold out to truth
dedicated to all things right

his only luxury
the burden of bearing the beloved
forever close to his heart.

 

God reveals our hearts.

God reveals our hearts.

Ezra 4

I was recently discussing the topic of The Judgment with some friends. I think this is a widely misunderstood concept. I believe that when most people think of The Judgment, they envision some sort of heavenly court where we are each going to stand before God and hear Him pronounce a verdict about us. Are we wicked? Are we righteous? He will make His decision and bang His gavel, and that will be that.

God cares more about attitudes than rules.

God cares more about attitudes than rules.

2 Chronicles 30

After Hezekiah repaired the temple, he called the Israelites together to celebrate the Passover—something that hadn’t been done for a long, long time. It was a grand celebration—with music and feasting and thousands of sacrifices. The people were having such a great time that, at the end of the prescribed seven days, they decided to extend the celebration for another seven days. There was one slight problem, however: "Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, 'May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone who sets their heart on seeking God—the Lord, the God of their ancestors—even if they are not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.' And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people." (vs 18-20)

God's love is not passive.

God's love is not passive.

2 Chronicles 28

In this chapter, there is a wonderful example of God’s principle of returning good for evil, inspired by leaders of Ephraim who urged the people of Israel to release the captives from Judah they had defeated in battle: "'You must not bring those prisoners here,' they said, 'or we will be guilty before the Lord. Do you intend to add to our sin and guilt? For our guilt is already great, and his fierce anger rests on Israel.' So the soldiers gave up the prisoners and plunder in the presence of the officials and all the assembly. The men designated by name took the prisoners, and from the plunder they clothed all who were naked. They provided them with clothes and sandals, food and drink, and healing balm. All those who were weak they put on donkeys. So they took them back to their fellow Israelites at Jericho, the City of Palms, and returned to Samaria." (vs 13-15)

God is truly just.

God is truly just.

2 Chronicles 19

I was recently having a conversation with friends about justice. Particularly about our "justice" system and whether it correlates to God’s definition of justice. I don’t believe so, and I’ll tell you why. In this world, we are typically limited to a style of "justice" that is more retributive than anything else. For instance, if one person murders another, the only option available to us is to inflict some sort of punishment on the perpetrator for their wrongdoing—whether that be prison time or even sentencing them to death.

God is beautiful on the inside.

God is beautiful on the inside.

2 Chronicles 3

All I saw in this chapter was gold, gold, gold. Gold on the floors, gold on the ceilings, gold on the walls. Gold, gold everywhere. It must have been something to walk into that dazzling temple, with every surface sparkling and shining. It must have been incredible to walk into the Most Holy Place (if you were the high priest) and see the wings of the sculptured cherubim spanning the room from wall to wall.

God is the greatest.

God is the greatest.

2 Chronicles 2

After Solomon became king, the first thing he set out to do was build a temple for God. As you might remember from the story in 1 Kings, Solomon enlisted the help of Hiram king of Tyre for building materials and skilled craftsmen. He wanted the temple to be the most glorious, most elaborate sanctuary ever built for a god on the face of the Earth—and indeed it was.

God lets go.

God lets go.

1 Chronicles 10

Well, we made it through the genealogies. Now on to something a bit easier—or so I thought. As someone who is educated in the principles of journalism, I have to say that I encountered a bit of a problem in chapter 10 regarding the death of Saul. There are two seemingly-different accounts of his death within a few paragraphs of each other!

A Rondel on Boys Who Weren't Necessarily Bad {ex12:13}

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For where there was no blood on the post,
the Angel brought heartbreak deep in the night.
Those oldest boys may have been perfectly upright;
no wickedness in them had been diagnosed,

no judgment that they were, to evil, a host,
but doomed even if they were kind and polite.
For where there was no blood on the post,
the Angel brought heartbreak deep in the night.

Even a Hebrew who thought smeared blood the most
distasteful and gruesome of any known sight,
who neglected to paint the jambs crimson-bright
would suddenly find his own firstborn a ghost,
for where there was no blood on the post…

 

Rondel: a French form consisting of 13 lines—two quatrains and a quintet—with a rhyme scheme of ABba abAB abbaA (the capital letters are the refrains, or repeats).

God deals with us according to our righteousness.

God deals with us according to our righteousness.

2 SAMUEL 22

In this song of praise from David, there was an interesting little line that jumped out at me: "The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me." (vs 21) Doesn’t this seem totally contrary to what we always profess? We normally say that God doesn’t treat us according to our unrighteousness. That’s what we understand grace to be.

God prefers right to rite.

God prefers right to rite.

1 SAMUEL 15

I decided to go with the "softer" title for this blog. My first choice was God doesn’t care about your "good deeds." This was what Saul learned in 1 Samuel 15. He expressly disobeyed God’s command when he went into battle with the Amalekites. Nobody was to be taken alive, and everything that belonged to the Amalekites was to be destroyed.

God wants you strong.

God wants you strong.

JOSHUA 1

Here’s one of my favorite Bible passages (from The Message paraphrase): "God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels." (Eph 6:10-12)

God cannot be manipulated.

God cannot be manipulated.

NUMBERS 23

I love this! Right on the heels of yesterday’s blog, God is not a manipulator, comes today’s message: Neither can He be manipulated by others! Both of these are important, right? We don’t want God to be someone who pulls puppet strings and manipulates us. But neither do we want Him to be someone that we can push around.

Righteousness By Faith {gn15:6}

Photo © Unsplash/Mohamed Nohassi

Photo © Unsplash/Mohamed Nohassi

Abram was regarded as perfect because he
believed what God had said. He trusted in
the unbelievable promises the
Lord had made to him,
and he was set right with God
that very moment. The Creator who
made us wants only this: for us to know
him and to trust that he will always do
right by us. If we have that sort of friendship
with him, there's nothing our miracle-working
God can't accomplish in us.

 

God does not love the poor...

God does not love the poor...

EXODUS 23

...any more than He loves the rich! (I hope you made it to the latter part of the sentence!) Because of Jesus, those of us who follow Christ have a special place in our heart for the poor. We see the outcast and downtrodden in society, and something in us cries out. If you’re like me, you feel like there is so little you can do, but you are compelled to do the small things you can to try to make a difference to those who come across your path.

God cannot be manipulated.

God cannot be manipulated.

EXODUS 10

I know I’ve read the stories of the plagues in detail at least a dozen times in my adult life. But as I write these daily blogs, I am once again struck by Pharaoh’s audacity. Once again, in chapter 10, it’s his officials who are trying to talk some sense into him: "Pharaoh’s officials said to him, 'How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the people go, so that they may worship the Lord their God. Do you not yet realize that Egypt is ruined?'" (vs 7)