Simple. Not Easy.

At first I think it’s a gimme. A tap in. An easy shot. A no-brainer. But as I chew on it, while I may think it’s simple, if I’m honest with myself I know that far too often it isn’t easy.

Reading in John 15. The importance of abiding in Christ. Apart from Him I can do nothing. In Him I can bear much fruit. But the key is to be abiding.

So, how do you abide? For sure it has to do with being in His word and His word in you. Equally for sure it’s hard to imagine abiding with anyone without at some point talking to them, and them to you. So, prayer’s gotta be a part of it too.

But as I read further in John 15 this morning Jesus makes pretty clear another dynamic of abiding. He does so through the use of transitive truth, where if A=B, and B=C, then A=C. Here’s what I read, you do “the math.”

“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love . . . This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

(John 15:10, 12 ESV)

See the math? Keeping His commandments is abiding (add obedience to reading my bible and prayer). And His commandment is to love others as He has loved me. Thus, abiding in Jesus happens as I love others as He has loved me. If I want to experience abiding in Jesus’ love then all I need to do is love others like Jesus loved me. Simple, right? Yeah, I think so. But a gimme? Easy? Hmmm, not so fast.

What about the brother who’s kind of bothersome? Or, the sister who can be kind of sinister at times? What about the saint with whom you don’t quite sync? And don’t even talk to me about the family member who’s constantly frustrating? Not so easy to love sometimes.

But isn’t that why purposing to love others is so helpful in abiding in Christ? Just as reading reveals Christ through His word, and praying engages the presence of Christ through conversation, so loving others, especially those we have a hard time liking, drives us to Christ for divine power — the power to love others as He loved us.

And how exactly did He love us?

God showed His love for us when, while we were still weak, and while we were still sinners, and while we were still determined enemies, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:6, 8, 10). That’s how Jesus loved us. That’s how we should love others.

But God is love, and Jesus is the Son of God, the fullness of God dwelling perfectly in and through Him. And me? Well, not so much. So, if I’m gonna love those who are hard to love as Jesus loved me, I’m gonna need Jesus living through me, and that’s gonna happen as I abide in Him.

If I am willing to obey Jesus and love others, then it will drive me to abide in Jesus in order to have the capacity and resources to love as He loved.

Really easy to love the lovable and to like the likeable and to get along with those who are on my same wavelength. But I don’t think that’s who Jesus has in mind here. He loved His own when they were yet sinners, and even loved them afterward as sinners saved by grace but not yet perfected through sanctification. Loving Peter, even as He denied Him, even when he stood up to Him and said, “Not so, Lord.” Loving Thomas when He doubted. Loving John and James as they jockeyed for top spot in the kingdom. He loved them with the steadfast love of the Father, and He loved them to the end.

How am I going to do that with the Peters and Thomas’s and Johns and James’s in my life? By leaning into the source of love. By confessing, repenting, and asking Him to love in and through me. By abiding in Him, and He in me.

Simple. Not easy. But doable.

By His grace. For His glory.

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Don’t Let It Go

Hovering over the last church in Revelation 2, Thyatira. What a complex church.

On the one hand, within their gathering there’s all the stuff that you’d want to see in a church, all the stuff that the Lord who is in the midst of the church wants to see. Works characterized by “love and faith and service and patient endurance.” What’s more, far from being static or being satisfied with a certain status quo of righteous, kingdom pursuit, their “latter works exceed the first” (2:19). Yeah! That’s what you want to see. Three cheers for the church at Thyatira!

But then this from “the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire” (2:18b):

But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.

(Revelation 2:20 ESV)

Think about it . . . under the same roof — love, faith, service, and patient endurance along with false, seductive teaching, sexual immorality, and idol worship. Like I said, what a complex church. How does that happen?

When people came to church in Thyatira on Sunday morning did the ushers seat Jesus people on the left and Jezebel people on the right? The faithful at the front and fornicators at the back? Those who were planning on partaking of the Lord’s table here and those who were going to dine with demons there? Probably not. For what was so clearly identified by the One “who searches mind and heart” (2:23) had become indistinguishable among the congregation. And that because they had come to “tolerate the woman Jezebel.”

Thinking it’s the word tolerate which put this on my radar. I’ve been thinking a lot lately that as a culture we need to recapture the practice of true tolerance. Not the popular view that tolerance is agreement, acceptance, and therefore advancement of a concept or practice. But the idea that tolerance is actually respectful, civil, “hear me out even as I listen to you” disagreement. We need more true tolerance in our culture, I think.

But, as I’m reminded this morning, that shouldn’t necessarily be the case for some things within the church. Particularly when it’s allowing the coexistence of teaching aimed at leading people into sin and away from faithfulness to the Lord. In that case, you can’t just let it go.

That’s literally what the word tolerance means, to let it go. To leave alone. To not address. To not discuss. Thus to permit, allow, and not hinder. And that’s what the Lord of the church had against the church at Thyatira, they tolerated that woman Jezebel and her wayward-leading teaching which seduced others into grave sins of the flesh and sacrifices to idols. And this, amidst those who at the same time were increasing in love, faith, service, and patient endurance.

So, what am I picking up from what I think the Spirit’s laying down this morning? Don’t let it go. Don’t leave seductive, false teaching alone. It needs to be addressed.

Not talking about everyone becoming heresy hunters ready to split hairs with those who don’t dot their interpretive i’s, or cross their theological t’s in the same manner. Not talking about majoring on minors. Rather, it’s being willing to speak up when worldly wisdom, “the deep things of Satan” (2:24b), is being sold as new and improved freedom for the church. Seductive, insidious teaching which leads others into personal impurity and toward divine infidelity.

Can’t just let it go. We can’t tolerate such teaching in our churches.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ~ Jesus

(Revelation 2:29 ESV)

Don’t let it go.

By His grace. For His glory.

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I Know

Hovering over the first seventeen verses of Revelation chapter two this morning. Chewing on the first three of seven letters written to the churches in Asia. Casting an eye on the pages I’ve just marked up which reflect the well-known pattern of each letter: truths about Christ; truths about the church He is addressing; an exhortation to have ears to hear; and, a promise for those who would be conquerors through Him. And within the cacophony of color on the page, two words evoking peace stand out. I know.

The One John saw on that Lord’s day on the Isle of Patmos is the One who is “in the midst of the lampstands” (Rev. 1:12-13a). And the lampstands are the churches (1:20). Thus, a reminder that among the body of Christ is the Head. Ever before the Bride of Christ is the Groom. Always in the middle of whatever is happening within the Family, is the One who calls them brother and sister.

And regardless of the character of Christ highlighted in each letter, apart from the conduct of each church addressed, are these two words spoken by Jesus to each church, “I know.”

“I know your works . . . “
“I know your tribulation . . . “
“I know where you dwell . . . ”

(Revelation 2:2a, 9a, 13a ESV)

He knows all that we do — the good, the bad, the ugly. The stuff done in the Spirit, the stuff done in the flesh. The stuff worthy of the manner of our calling, and the stuff not so worthy. He knows.

He knows the full extent of the burdens we bear — the pressure, the affliction, the stress. The stuff we’ve brought on ourselves, the stuff we had no hand in. The stuff we can control, the stuff we can’t. He knows.

He knows exactly where we are situated — our physical address, our cultural moment, the external influences, the pervasive spirit of the age. The pandemic, the polarization, and all the popular practices bent on preventing us from thriving. He knows.

He knows. Not just with a cognitive understanding that comes simply from Him being an All-Knowing One. But through up-close and personal experience. Knowing because He is also the Ever-Present and All-Seeing One. He sees with His eyes. He feels within His being. Intimately aware, able to sympathize with our weakness (Heb. 4:15).

The One who founded the church walks among the church, interacting and inspecting the church. He who has redeemed for Himself lost sheep, abides among the flock, knowing each of His sheep by name. Aware of their walk. Empathetic towards their experience. Ready to provide grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:16).

Jesus knows.

And, as I let that sink in, from my earlier reading in John this morning I recall other words spoken by Him.

There too He was in the middle of His disciples. There too He knew, from up close and personal knowledge, the anxiety and stress they were feeling as, with confused uncertainty, they tried to come to grips with His soon departure. And while, as with the seven churches, He would also exhort them, and encourage them, and promise them, something else He said to them echoes within.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

(John 14:27 ESV)

Jesus knows. Our works. Our tribulation. The exact time and space and circumstance of where we live. And while He might commend us for how we’re hanging in there in this moment, or perhaps lovingly rebuke us, call us to repent, and tell us to obediently rely afresh on His enabling, His heart for those who would be conquerors is that they would know His peace. A peace gifted to us. A divine tranquility, beyond earthly understanding, bestowed upon us. Found not in the things of this world, but in Him alone.

Therefore, says the Savior, let not your heart be troubled. For I know.

According to My limitless grace. All for My everlasting glory.

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The Lion Who Heals

When the going got tough they turned to the world to keep going (Hosea 5:13). Not surprising, for long ago they had stopped seeking their God. They had forsaken the Lord of heaven for the fleeting pleasures of spiritual adultery with the things of earth (4:10b). Thus, they no longer even knew what it meant to be faithful to their God, or to love their God. In fact, they had no knowledge of their God (4:1b). So immersed where they in their worldly lovers and their sensual desires, their deeds did not permit them to return to their God –“for the spirit of whoredom” was within them (5:4). So, when they were oppressed, crushed by judgment, they turned to the lovers and filth they knew instead of the Holy One whose desire to love them they had rejected.

Bottom line, says the God who now confronts them through Hosea, they saw no value or advantage to seeking the God who had delivered them from Egypt, established them in the promised land, and for centuries had cared for them as His people.

But I am like a moth to Ephraim, and like dry rot to the house of Judah.

(Hosea 5:12 ESV)

But our God is not a moth. He is a lion. And while a moth can be ignored as inconsequential, that may not be the best approach to take when you’ve provoked a lion.

For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear and go away; I will carry off, and no one shall rescue. I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me.

(Hosea 5:14-15 ESV)

He would tear. He would carry off. He would return to His place. But God the Lion doesn’t tear to destroy forever. He doesn’t carry away to remove all hope of rescue. He doesn’t return to His place determined to never return again. Even in His judgment, He demonstrates His kindness — doing what needs to be done so that His people might confess their sin and seek His face.

And so the prophet pleads:

“Come, let us return to the LORD; for He has torn us, that He may heal us; He has struck us down, and He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live before Him. Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; His going out is sure as the dawn; He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”

(Hosea 6:1-3 ESV)

Those are the verses I’m chewing this morning. For in them I think I’m seeing a picture of the dynamics of our salvation.

He heals us. Cures our disease. Fully deals with the problem of our sin as He applies the shed blood and saving grace of the cross. Through His finished work at Calvary, the Great Physician cuts out the cancerous, sin-controlled heart and replaces it with a new heart — a heart able to know Him and to embrace righteousness. By His wounds we are healed (Isa. 53:5).

He binds us up. Not only does He rescue, but He restores. Bandages are applied, splints are put in place, so that we can again grow in strength and walk as we should. And all this through the giving and sealing of His Spirit. Jesus dispensing the Spirit to bind up the brokenhearted (Isa. 61:1).

He revives us and raises us up. Rescued not to live out our days regretting the life we should have lived, but to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4), knowing what real life is, life to the full (Jn. 10:10). Never more jazzed by life. Never more able to enter fully into life. Raised up on the third day (has a familiar ring to it doesn’t it?) in order to fully experience eternal life.

And all this so that we may live before Him.

His people considered Him as relevant as a moth and as useful as dry rot. But in His mercy and grace He revealed Himself to them as a consuming lion so that they would come to their senses and return again to their God.

The God who heals. The God who binds up. The God who revives. The God who raises up. The God before whom, and with whom, we can live.

All praise be to the Lion who heals. And to the Lamb who saves.

Because of His grace. Always for His glory.

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A King and A Kingdom

Turned the corner and headed down the homestretch of my reading plan this morning. Started in on the minor prophets and Revelation which, along with the rest of Job and the culmination of John’s gospel with the finished work and resurrection of Christ, marks 25 more sets of readings until “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen” (Rev. 22:21).

And, as is most often the case when I open my Bible to its last book, I experience a sense of walking onto holy ground as I read the opening verses of “the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants” (Rev. 1:1a). Given by the Father . . . to the Son . . . to show us, His servants. Oh, to have ears to hear and eyes to see this gift of the Father. For in reading it and hearing it there is a promised blessing (1:3). Not only, I think, because of what we can learn, but perhaps more because of the One we’re able to see.

And what’s struck me in particular this morning (I’m guessing because of some the extended conversations I’ve been involved in this week), are a couple of verses that speak of a king and a kingdom.

. . . from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father . . .

(Revelation 1:5-6a ESV)

I know Jesus is the King of kings and the Lord of lords (1Tim. 6:15), but I wonder how often I’m inclined to act as if I’m waiting for His return to see His rule. But I’m reminded that my Savior, God’s faithful witness, the evidential hope of resurrection, is — not will be the ruler of kings on earth.

He reigns right now. Don’t quite understand some of His edicts. Think I might lobby for a little more control and calm and a little less chaos and collateral damage, but Jesus Christ is the ruler of kings on earth and that rule is currently operative and active. It was yesterday. It will be today. And, it will be tomorrow.

How I need to read that. How I need to hear that. How blessed is the one who knows that? Pretty blessed, I’m thinking.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.

(Matthew 28:18 ESV)

What’s more, we are a kingdom. Those who have been loved with an everlasting, steadfast love. Those freed from the bondage of sin by His blood shed on the cross for our transgression. He has made us a kingdom.

Us. You and me. A kingdom.

Pause. Chew on it. Let it sink in.

Am I a child of the King? Absolutely, (thank you for the reminder Billy G.) But I’m also a subject of the King.

I’m to operate under laws and constitutions that transcend those of earth. Our beliefs and platforms dictated by things above, not things below. Our primary allegiance to a heavenly kingdom even as we seek to be faithful ambassadors within our earthly lands.

And in that ambassadorship I need to know afresh that, as a subject of the King, I am under His protection — a degree and depth of protection that no other king affords to His subjects. Grace-infused protection. All sufficient protection. Abundantly sourced, always available protection. The true foundation for freedom. The only hope for life and life to the full.

His is the King. We are a kingdom.

. . . to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

(Revelation 1:6b ESV)

And God’s people said? . . .

By His grace. For His glory.

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Strengthened and of Good Courage

Many mornings my whispered prayer, as I ready my colored pencils, bring up my reading app, and open my bible, is Psalm 119:18, “Lord, open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law.” On some mornings though it can be more of a somewhat desperate, 911 prayer, “Lord, give me something from Your word. I need something from Your word. Word of God speak!”

This morning was a little more reflective of the latter prayer than the former. Been a week of wrestling. With the Word. With others. With myself. So this morning, I needed something. And God, in His grace, and through His living and active word, answered my prayer. And that, through words spoken by who I think just may be Jesus Himself, but if not Him, then one of His faithful, mighty angelic messengers.

Words spoken to Daniel. But I’m receiving them as words spoken for me. Out of context of the specific Scripture? Sure. But not out of character for what the child of God so often needs to hear.

Again one having the appearance of a man touched me and strengthened me. And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened . . .

(Daniel 10:18-19a ESV)

. . . but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.

(Daniel 11:32 ESV)

You are greatly loved. Fear not. Peace be with you. Be strong and of good courage. You know your God, so stand firm, take action. When the going gets tough and you’re not quite sure which way you should be going, there is much benefit in hearing words like these.

Not that it confirms a confidence in your own understanding, but it counsels you to have confidence in the One who has said He would never leave you nor forsake you, the One who promises He will direct your paths. Thus, such exhortations help you plant your feet anew on a solid foundation, reminded again that you really can trust in the Lord with all your heart (Prov. 3:5-6).

Not because you’re something, but because He’s everything. Not because, in the frailty of your flesh, your love of God is so good, but because, with a perfect and steadfast love He has first loved you, and His love is so great.

Sometimes the child of God needs to hear words like these spoken again by his Father.

Word of God speak.

Thankful for His grace. Strengthened and of good courage for His glory.

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A Triad for Revival

So, if I’m doing the math right and Daniel was in his mid to late teens when we was scooped up and relocated to Babylon (Dan. 1:3-6, 605 BC) then, when he has the vision recorded in Daniel 9 in the first year of Darius the Mede (Dan. 9:1, 539 BC), Daniel’s probably in his early 80’s. And he’s still doing devo’s! He still reading and learning from “the books” (9:2).

And after 65+ years in exile, he sees in “the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet” that the desolation of Jerusalem was prophesied to be seventy years (Jer. 29:10). The end of exile is near. And it intrigues me that this man, who gets the sovereignty of God and believes that God will do what God says He’ll do, instead of selling his house, packing his bags, and getting in line for the first camel-train outta Babylon, instead is moved to prayer — deep prayer.

Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking Him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession . . .

(Daniel 9:3-4a ESV)

A reminder that God prepares His people when fulfilling His promises. He readies the heart in order to revive the soul.

And hovering over Daniel’s pray to “the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love” as he confesses the sin, rebellion, and open shame of an exiled people (9:4-8), I’m struck by one sentence in particular which seems to hold some keys for preparing the heart in anticipation of seeing the promises of God fulfilled — an apparent triad for revival.

As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the LORD our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by Your truth.

(Daniel 9:13 ESV)

Prayer, Penitence, and Pondering would seem to be some keys for preparing to see God move according to His promises.

Seeking God’s favor, even though He’s promised His favor, would seem to be integral to realizing God’s favor. Daniel confessed that after six decades in exile their prayers may have become more focused on asking for comfort in a foreign land than for a return to God’s promised land. That their temporary time-out had taken on a permanence that had caused their yearning for home to fade. Thus, they no longer sought God’s ultimate favor. They had fallen from the needful habit of truly humbling themselves and praying, “Thy kingdom come.” Prayer is a key for realizing God’s promises.

What’s more, in preparation for the restoration he saw in Jeremiah’s revelation, Daniel saw the need for a clean heart. To not only confess their sin but turn from their sin. Daniel’s list is long: we have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly, we have rebelled, we have not listened, we have not obeyed. And Daniel’s pleas for forgiveness were founded solely on God’s mercy and grace.

Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of Your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for Your own sake, O Lord, make Your face to shine upon Your sanctuary, which is desolate. . . . For we do not present our pleas before You because of our righteousness, but because of Your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act.

(Daniel 9:17, 18b, 19a ESV)

Penitence, it would seem, is vital for knowing God’s promises.

And finally, Daniel confesses that they needed to seek to “gain insight from Your truth.” Comfortable and wrapped up in their present pursuits, they failed to unroll the scrolls and be reminded of God’s future plans — failed to discern the significance of the signs of the time. They weren’t living in anticipation of God’s next great move because of their inattention to God’s revealed word. Forgetting their future for failure of meditating on God’s faithfulness. God prepares His people for the fulfillment of promise as they read and ponder and gain insight from His holy word.

Prayer. Penitence. Pondering. Would seem to be at least one triad worth considering for those who would seek revival.

Not according to our righteousness, but according to His grace.

Not just for our good, but ultimately for His glory.

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A Kept Man

Okay . . . honestly I’m a little unsure about that title. While it’s catchy and perhaps an appropriate play on words given what I’m chewing on this morning, the cultural idea of being “kept” is kind of shady. A “kept woman”, or “kept man” for that matter, is someone granted a certain lifestyle in exchange for certain “favors.” But the word “kept” is the word that’s in my Bible. And, not just in my ESV translation, but in every translation I referenced other than the KJV where it’s translated “preserved.” So, call me a bit of a risk taker, but I’m staying with the title, . . . and the thought, . . . and, I submit, with biblical language. This morning I’m noodling on the blessing of being a kept man.

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,
To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:
May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

(Jude 1-2 ESV)

Sometimes, when overwhelmed by the way things are, it’s prudent to pause, be still, and remember who you are. And this morning I’m taking such a pause, reflecting on the declaration of God’s word that I am called, beloved, and kept.

Called. Chosen in God the Son “before the foundation of the world”, that I “should be holy and blameless” before God the Father (Eph. 1:3-4). Not because of anything I would ever be and despite everything I would eventually do. But just because God, in His Sovereign purposes, determined to move in this sinner’s hard heart and redeem him through overflowing grace. Pause. Reflect. Worship.

Beloved in God the Father. Loved to the uttermost by the Creator. Sacrificially loved, as the Father sent His one and only Son to earth as a Lamb. A Lamb offered up once for all in payment for the debt of sin I could never pay. Wholly loved, as my rescue came also with an adoption, being made more than just a freed slave from sin, but brought into His house as a child of God and a joint heir with Christ. Patiently loved, as I stumble through the work He has begun in me, being transformed increasingly into the likeness of the Son while I battle daily with the flesh. A slow process to be sure. But the love of God has determined that I should be a child of God and so I am, and so shall I be.

Called. Beloved. But it’s the thought of being kept that so captures this sinner’s saved heart.

Depending on the translation you’re reading, those who are called and beloved are either kept for Jesus Christ or kept by Jesus Christ. Both are true. But while the idea that I am being preserved by Christ evokes thanksgiving, to think that such divine effort would be made to carefully guard the new life I’ve been given for Christ lights up the awe-o-meter.

Mercy would rescue me and ensure my passage to a promised land. But it’s a love that I can’t fathom which would have a God who is all-sufficient in Himself desire me for Himself.

“Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, may be with Me where I am, to see My glory that You have given Me because You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” ~ Jesus

(John 17:24 ESV)

Kept for Jesus. That having be given to Him we would one day be with Him. Not that He needs us, but that He wants us. Not that we deserve Him, but that He desires us. Trophies of grace for His glory. Children through adoption for His delight.

I’m a kept man. Kept by Jesus. Kept for Jesus.

Kept in His steadfast, unfailing love. Kept by the Spirit, the power of God and the seal guaranteeing the promise.

Kept by His grace. Kept for His glory.

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Wash My Feet (2017 Remix)

Often, I think I jump to what I need to do rather than just chew on what He’s done. I rush to practical application, brushing past the wonder of incarnation. Ready to imitate, before I take time to meditate. Such is the case as I read the opening verses of John 13 this morning.

I imagine that a hush fell over the room as Jesus got up from supper, took off His outer garment, and took up the towel. That all eyes must have been fixed on the Master as, without a word, He filled the basin with water, and started washing the disciples feet. And that, while Simon may have been the only one to articulate the question, they were all thinking, “Lord, do you wash my feet?”

What they didn’t know at the time is what John, through the Holy Spirit, reveals to those would later read his account of that final meal. That Jesus determined to serve His disciples in such a lowly manner “knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going back to God” (13:3). At that moment Jesus was fully aware of His deity, His authority, and His destiny. If ever there was a time to stand before them as Lord, and command them as Master, this was the time. But first He would kneel at their feet and serve them. Because He had purposed to love them to the end.

. . . when Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

(John 13:1 ESV)

That’s what Jesus does. He loves His own to the end. He is with them not only as they run the race, but until they cross the finish line. Draws alongside during the battle, until victory is finally won. Having started a good work in His own, He is committed to seeing it through until the day He comes again to gather His own to Himself. And if along the way, it means washing their feet (and it does), He does that too.

Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered Him, If I do not wash you, you have no share with Me.” Simon Peter said to Him, Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean . . ”

(John 13:8-10 ESV)

Jesus told Peter the washing was necessary. That getting dirt on his feet was inevitable. That if Peter were going to continue to abide with Jesus, it would be necessary to pull out the towel, from time to time. Not that Peter would need to again be fully bathed, but would continually need to be ministered to through the basin. Jesus being prepared to continually wipe off the feet of those He already declared completely clean.

Made clean, completely clean, through His finished work on the cross. The shed blood of Christ removing the stain of sin and transgression forever. But the water of the Word needing to be applied often to deal with the defiling effect of the ways of this world and the weakness of the flesh. Jesus willing, again and again, to take up the towel and basin and wash away our failure that we might continue in fellowship with Him. Determined to love us, and love us to the end.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

(1John 1:8-9 ESV)

I know I need to follow the Master’s example. That just as He humbles Himself to wash my feet, I need to humbly draw alongside and serve others. That a servant is not great than his master. And that there is a blessing in knowing these things and doing these things (13:16-17).

But before I go there, I need to sit here and humbly confess, Lord Jesus, I need You to wash my feet.

Before I go and do, there is merit in remembering what He has already done and availing myself of what He is continually willing to do. Before I act, maybe it’s best to be still, to simply adore, and to humbly appropriate.

To know the love of God, as manifest in the Son of God who, through Spirit of God, has determined to love me and love me to the end.

O’, the wonder of grace. To Him be all the glory.

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Heaven Rules

Talk about losing an election. Talk about being shown the exit from the seat of power. Talk about a humbling. Talk about God’s unearthly effort to reveal Himself to an arrogant, self-glorifying ruler. Then you’re talking about King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.

Hovering over Daniel 4 this morning and the thrice repeated explanation of why Nebuchadnezzar was suddenly deposed from office, driven from among men, sent out into the fields for a timeout, and became a vegan (4:32).

” . . . to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom He will and sets over it the lowliest of men.”

(Daniel 4:17 ESV)

The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to who He will. There it is in verse 17, again in verse 25, and again in verse 32. Or, as restated by Daniel with but two words — two words that echo in my brain and capture my heart — Heaven rules!

“And as it was commanded to leave the stump of the roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be confirmed for you from the time that you know that Heaven rules.”

(Daniel 4:26 ESV)

It really would be just a timeout for the glory-seeking king. God having determined to preserve “the stump” and “roots of the tree” so that Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom might be restored to him when he had learned the lesson — the lesson that Heaven rules.

And I find myself praying this morning for all those wrapped up in this crazy political season, that we all would learn the lesson, or as the case might be, remember the reality that Heaven rules.

From past presidents, to presidents elect, to us plain people, how we need to have “reason returned” (4:34) to us so that we can put our current chaos in the context of the Most High, confessing anew that God rules the kingdoms of men and gives it to whom He will.

Heaven rules. Yes it does.

By the grace of God. For the glory of God.

. . . and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored Him who lives forever,

for His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and His kingdom endures from generation to generation;
all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and He does according to His will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay His hand
or say to Him, “What have You done?”

(Daniel 4:34b-35 ESV)

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