That They May Be One

An impossible standard? Perhaps. But Jesus not only doubles down on it, He triple downs, and even quadruple downs. If repetition is emphasis, then the Spirit is shouting this morning.

“And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, which You have given me, that they may be one, even as We are one. . .

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one, just as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. The glory that You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one even as We are one, I in them and You in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that You sent me and loved them even as You loved Me.”

(John 17:11, 20-23 ESV)

Christian unity a big deal? I’m thinkin’. So, this is why we are to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3)? Thinkin’ that too.

What is a done deal — that we are ARE ONE in the Spirit even as Father and Son are one — is also to be a lived into reality. Positional attainment doesn’t preclude practical out-working. So that the world may know that the good news we proclaim, that the Father has sent the Son, really is good news.

Heavy sigh when that which is meant to draw people to Christ is absent, or at best clouded, when contending for the things of Christ. When our concern for the work of the gospel creates a wedge in the gospel. When our desire to do the right thing results in relational destruction and, by extension, a reason for the world not to believe.

Many are the reasons to lament the absence of goodness and the lack of pleasantness when brothers and sisters fail to dwell together in unity (Ps. 133:1). But when lament leads to repent, then the gospel is ready to present.

. . . that they may be one even as We are one, I in them and You in me, that they may become perfectly one . . .

That they may become perfectly one . . .

We are one in Christ. We are becoming one through Christ. We are being perfected into one (YLT). We are being made completely one (CSB). We are maturing in this oneness (MSG).

In the midst of division, we gotta believe that the gospel is still able to work a unifying revision — in fact, reconciliation is what the gospel does best (Eph.2:14-16). At some point we come to our senses, repent of our divisiveness, and place ourselves under the blood of Jesus to restore our cleanliness. Knowing that while we ARE one even as Father and Son are one, we are also becoming perfectly one as we come together as one at the foot of the cross.

Four times Jesus prays the prayer . . . that they may be one. Sounds like shouting to me.

Only by His grace. Because He is worth of the glory.

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A Shelter and A Shepherd (2017 Rerun)

It’s been five+ years since my wife went home to be with the Lord. 10 years before that her sister experienced the reality of being absent from the body and present with the Lord. In March of this year, her mother was promoted into glory. And on November 26, her brother “fell asleep” and awoke face to face with Jesus. Don’t know for sure about reunions in heaven, but thinking they just might be a thing. Seeing Jesus is the prize, seeing one another however has got to be part of the joy of a place where there are no more tears.

This morning, as I read in Revelation 7, I hovered over a few verses that cast my minds eye towards the reality of being before the throne. Couldn’t help but think of Sue and Kathy, and mom and Guy. What’s it like right now for them? I can only imagine. And these verses helped fuel the imagination. Here’s some thoughts from 5 years ago.

While there may be debate as to who exactly they are, it seems pretty clear to me where they are. Those “coming out of the great tribulation” might specifically refer to believers martyred after the opening of the fifth seal (Rev. 6:9) or generally speak of all believers who have suffered through trial while on earth. Either way, I think I’m on solid ground when I think that their experience recorded in Revelation 7 is but a glorious “spoiler alert” of heaven for all who, one day, will be absent from the body and present with the Lord.

Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will shelter them with His presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and He will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

(Revelation 7:15-17 ESV)

Here’s how William MacDonald summarizes the blessings which are theirs:

Perfect nearness: They are before the throne of God.
Perfect service: They serve Him day and night in His temple.
Perfect fellowship: He who sits on the throne will dwell among them.
Perfect satisfaction: They shall hunger nor thirst anymore.
Perfect security: They will never again be struck by searing sun nor scorching heat.
Perfect guidance: They will be led to springs of living water by the Lamb Himself
Perfect joy: God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

And what grabbed me this morning, as I hovered over this insight as to the current experience of those who have “gone before”, was the Shelter and the Shepherd.

He who sits on the throne will dwell among them, He will shelter them with His presence. Literally, He will tabernacle among them. He will pitch His tent over them. And that tent will be the awe-invoking, face-to-the-ground-compelling, worship-illiciting glory of His presence.

However strong the sense of His presence here on earth has been, when faith gives way to sight, that presence will be tangible . . . unavoidable . . . and altogether delightful. We will bask in the radiance of His emanating glory. Though He never leaves the throne, He will ever cover us. The resplendent rainbow that surrounds the throne (4:3) will be light upon our face. The flashes of lighting, and the rumblings and peals of thunder, that come from the throne (4:5) will be music to our ears – an irresistible invitation to join all those under the shelter to declare the holiness and worthiness of our God.

And if heaven were only about such shelter, that would be more than enough.

But there is also the Shepherd – the Lion of the tribe of Judah who we will behold as a Lamb, “as though it had been slain” (5:6). Our Redeemer in the midst of the throne – the One worthy to “receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (5:12). And He will be our Guide. Not only welcoming us into Divine presence but leading us to springs of living water. The Source of eternal life will be the Shepherd for eternal life.

He will tend His flock. Furnish them with pasture. Supply every need of their eternal souls. Fulfilling His promise that He would give them life and life more abundantly (John 10:10).

Shelter and a Shepherd. The experience of those who have “fallen asleep” in Christ.

Shelter and a Shepherd. The hope of those who remain, known even now, though dimly, by faith through the Spirit who indwells us.

Shelter and a Shepherd. The promise of eternity.

By His grace. For His glory.

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Behold the Lamb

I’m chewing on the phrase this morning not because I particularly like dwelling on judgment, but because I’m reminded that our God is a full-dimensional God. That to pick and choose what attributes of God we want to be the attributes of God is really just to create a God after our own liking. But our God is a multi-faceted God and we don’t get to select the facets. He is the perfect, eternal, source — and thus definition — of all that comprises the nature of a living being (save for sin, that one’s on us alone). And honestly, these multi-facets sometimes create a holy dissonance. Case in point? The phrase I’m chewing on: The wrath of the Lamb.

Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

(Revelation 6:15-17 ESV)

The sixth seal has been opened (Rev. 6:12). A cataclysmic, world-wide earthquake occurs creating indescribable meteorological and geological upheaval. And everyone on earth — everyone, from king to slave, from the rich and powerful to the poor and weak — hides as they scramble for cover under the displaced mountains for refuge. Refuge from what? From the holy face of Him who is seated on the throne. And, from the wrath of the Lamb.

The Lamb? Yeah, the Lamb. The Lamb that came in flesh to offer Himself as a once for all sacrifice for the sins of mankind? Yes, Him. The One pictured in Isaiah, the suffering Servant who like a lamb was “led to the slaughter and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Isa. 53:7), that Lamb? Yup. We’re talking the meek and lowly Jesus here, right? Right.

The Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, between the throne and the four living creatures and elders (Rev. 5:6). The Lamb recognized by those in heaven as “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Rev. 5:5). The sacrificial Lamb also the sovereign Lion. The Lamb who gave Himself fully, one day requiring all to give an account fully. For those who by faith are the ransomed — those resting as the people of God under the cover provided at Calvary — their plea will be the blood of the Lamb. For those who refused Him, they’ll cry out to be covered by “mountains and rocks” as they try to hide from the wrath of the Lamb.

Behold our God in His fullness. Just as God is love, so He is wrath. Just as His love is holy and perfect, so too His wrath. Hard to wrap your head around, nevertheless true. It’s the stuff that overloads the brain, overwhelms the heart, and compels those who see the Lamb to fall to their knees.

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”

(Revelation 5:11-12 ESV)


Behold the Lamb.

By His grace. For His glory.

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Suffering and Sweet Anticipation

I read Job 29 and 30 this morning. A stark contrast. A compelling before and after picture.

There’s Job’s recollection of the days when he was in his prime and the “friendship of God” (29:4) was upon his tent, versus his current days, days when God had cast him “into the mire” and he had become but “dust and ashes” (30:19). The before when he knew “the Almighty was yet with me” because his children were still with him (29:5), versus the after when Job’s cries for help went unanswered (30:20) and all he could discern was that God had “turned cruel” to him (30:21). The yesterdays of Job’s wide-spread renown and popularity (29:7-11), versus the todays when both young and old derided him (30:1). Oh, those were the days, my friend, when Job thought that the prosperity he enjoyed then would be his dying prosperity (29:18). Instead, he finds himself with the life sucked out of him and “the days of affliction” binding him (30:16). Heavy sigh.

And that’s where my Job reading ends for today. No happy ending. No clean resolution. No obvious redemption. We’re still chapters away from the epic God reveal that puts Job’s sorrow and suffering into a much, much bigger context. Today’s reading ends and Job’s “fiddle plays nothing but the blues” and his “mouth harp wails laments” (30:31 MSG). Heavy sigh, again.

So, as I chew on it what do I do with it?

First, though Job looked up at an empty sky and wondered if God was even there much less aware, the fact that these chapters were recorded and have been preserved through the millennia reminds me that God does know, that He is intimately aware of our suffering. And not just theoretically aware but, because of the incarnation, He is personally and practically aware.

In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. Although He was a son, He learned obedience through what He suffered. And being made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.

(Hebrews 5: 7-9 ESV)

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

(Hebrews 4:15 ESV)

Does Jesus know all about our sorrows? You know He knows!

Does Jesus care? O yes, He cares!

Then, I’m reminded that I’m not done the story yet. That there are more chapters yet to be read. That through Job’s suffering there will more about God to savor. That despite his present darkness there will come the promised light. That through his current season of barrenness there will be unimaginable glory to behold. And that brings me back to Job’s million dollar question at the beginning of the book seasoned with some New Testament perspective.

“Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”

(Job 2:10 ESV)

. . . but [God] disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

(Hebrews 12:10b-11 ESV)

So, while I finish this morning’s reading with Job still in the middle of his continuing suffering, confusion, and despair, I also leave with a sense of sweet anticipation. Reminded that today’s “after” picture will itself one day be but a faint “before” memory.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

(Romans 8:18 ESV)

By His grace. For his glory.

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Agree with God

One of the tricky things about reading Job is trying not to snooze when the other guys are speaking. You know, the other guys — the “friends”, the “counselors”, the “comforters” — those who knew a thing or two and so decide to share a thing or two. Their narrative, at a high level, is that Job is suffering great suffering because Job must have sinned a great sin. So confident are they in their assertion, they rotate among themselves in speculating on what nature of sin must be at the core of Job’s sorrow. And yet, we know from the opening chapters of Job (as does Job) that Job was “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1,8; 2:3). So, when one of the amigos grabs the mic, the temptation is for the reader to tune out as they “blah, blah, blah” and “yada, yada, yada.”

But here’s the thing. These guys do know a thing or two. Sure, they misapply it most of the time, but broad misapplication doesn’t equate to total misinformation. So, when reading Job, we’d do well to have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying, even if it’s through these schmucks.

Case in point, Eliphaz’s last discourse in Job 22. There are gems to be mined and truths to be seen in this continuing diatribe by one of Job’s miserable friends. There’s stuff worth chewing on here.

For example, Eliphaz encourages Job to “receive instruction” from the mouth of God and to lay up God’s word in his heart (22:22). Who’s gonna argue with that? And, this confused counselor is right on when he exhorts Job that the Almighty is better than gold or silver and that Job should “delight yourself in the Almighty and lift up your face to God” (22:25-26).

But here’s the treasure that was worth the price of admission for me this morning.

“Agree with God, and be at peace . . . ”

(Job 22:21a ESV)

That’s it. Just those seven words. Chew on them for a bit and tell me they don’t satisfy; that they don’t bring you to a place of contentment regardless of the circumstance.

Want peace, says Eliphaz? Agree with God. Literally, be familiar with God and you’ll be whole. Know intimately the Almighty and you’ll be complete, wanting nothing more. Show harmony with the Creator and shalom is yours.

Sounds too simple? Maybe. But savor it for a bit and you know it rings true.

If God says He rules over all heaven and earth (1Chron. 29:11-12), agree with God and be at peace. If you can be as familiar with His promise to “never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5) as you are with your own right hand, you’re gonna be whole. Know intimately the God who has makes Himself known and believe He really will make all things beautiful in their time (Eccl. 3:11) and shalom is not far away.

Know God, then you will be able to rest in God. Agree with Him, trust Him, find refuge in Him, and hear Him say to the raging seas of life, “Peace! be still!” (Mk. 4:39)

Agree with God. And be at peace with life — all of life.

By His grace. For His glory.

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Lord, Will I?

Okay, the problem with being captivated with the first part of a passage is that it kind of sets you up for the next part.

Yesterday, I was in awe of a Sovereign who would bow at His subjects’ feet as a Servant. Of a King who would towel-up and before His followers bend down. Of a Creator who would condescend to clean His creations’ feet. Peter’s words reverberated with awe and wonder yesterday, “Lord, do You?”

This morning, have been set up yesterday, I am compelled to chew on another question, “Lord, will I?”

When He had washed their feet and put on His outer garments and resumed His place, He said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.

(John 13:12-15 ESV)

You also ought to wash one another’s feet . . . do just as I have done to you.

A command to obey; underline it in purple. An example to follow; don’t just color it, do it!

Lord, will I?

Will I take off the fancy schmancy garments of persona I’ve been so careful to put on and want to make sure are seen by others? Will I wrap the towel of servitude about my waist, bow at the feet of another — even if it’s one just waiting to betray me — and wash their filthy feet and touch up their tainted toes? Will I do what I really want others to do for me, but really want very little to do for others?

Even if, in my heart, I don’t want to esteem others better than myself (Php. 2:3), will I? Even if, everything in me wants to put my interests above others (Php. 2:4), will I? Even when I find the flesh within me wanting to act out of “selfish ambition or conceit” but hear the Spirit within me saying, “No sir, follow Jesus’ example”, will I?

I want to, Lord. Because I love You.

When I fail to (oh, You know I’m gonna fail to), in Your kindness, Lord, lead me to repentance . . . again. Meet me at the cross . . . again. Cleanse me . . . again. Let me know Your everlasting love and your limitless grace . . . again. And speak to me, “Follow My example, do just as I have done to you” . . . again. And remind me of the power of Your life in me which is able to live out Your command to me . . . again.

Lord, will I?

I will.

By Your grace. For Your glory.

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Lord, Do You . . . ?

It did not compute. Nope, didn’t make sense. Try as he might, Peter couldn’t wrap his head around Jesus wrapping the towel around.

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside His outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around His waist. Then He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around Him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?”

(John 13:3-6 ESV)

Jesus knew Himself, He knew who He was. That He was in charge of everything. That He had come from the source of glory and would soon return to the fullness of glory. He knew what was to befall Him in but a few short hours and that prayer-born preparation would soon need to be made for Himself in order to drink the cup appointed for Him. But in this moment, He would love His own, and “He loved them to the end” (Jn. 13:1).

And so, just as He had laid aside His unearthly glory some thirty-three years earlier (Php. 2:6-7), this night He laid aside His inglorious earthly robe and lowered Himself again a notch. He took a towel, tied it around His waist, poured water into a basin, and Jesus — the king of Kings and the Lord of Lords (Rev. 19:16), the Creator and Sustainer of all things (Col. 1:16-17), the Fullness of deity in bodily form (Col. 2:9) — bowed Himself at the dirty toes of His creation.

And Peter said, “Lord, do You wash my feet?”

Pause. Full stop. Lord, do You wash my feet?

Chew on that for a bit and you’re full! What more can be taken in?

Lord, do You . . . ?

Do You come as God in flesh? Do You come as the Lamb of God? Do You come as the Good Shepherd? Do You come and call me friend?

Do You love me with an unbounded, unending love? Do You view me as part of Your spotless, unblemished bride?

Do You bear the debt of sin I could never repay? Do You clothe me in Your righteousness which I could never deserve?

Do You abide in me, really? Do You perfect me, perfectly? Do You claim me as Your own wholly and eternally?

Lord, do You . . . ?

Chew on that.

Be filled with His grace. Be free to give Him the glory.

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Rerun Week – Day 4

Feeling a need to ponder and pray more and produce less during my morning devos this week. So after my readings, my plan is to go back through my archives and let the thinking of the past minister to me in the present. That which particularly sticks with me I’ll share with you. Here are some thoughts from 7 years ago.

It must have been a pretty impressive sight. The burning fiery furnace, big enough to hold multiple full size adults, glowing red hot as it was heated to seven times its normal temperature. And in it, four men walking in the midst of the fire. Astonishing, not just that they were unscathed by the raging fire around them and were moving about, but that there were four of them–for only three had been delivered to the flames and to what should have been certain death. But four there were. And four remained untouched by the furnace. And then the three emerged. The hair of their heads unsinged, their cloaks not harmed, not even a hint of the smell of the fire upon them. The evidence was irrefutable–the fire had not had any power over the bodies of the three men.

Like I said, a pretty impressive sight. An “all glory to God” sight as the king who had sentenced them to the furnace now looked beyond the men delivered from the flames and realized something about the God who had delivered them.

Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants, who trusted in Him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. . . . for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.”

(Daniel 3:28, 29b ESV)

I’m hovering over that last phrase this morning, there is no god who is able to rescue in this way.

And I’m thinking, Nebuchadnezzar, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

For sure, no god could rescue from the flames as did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s God. But their’s was but a warm up act (pun intended).

These three were already devoted to God. They had already determined to remain faithful to the Almighty and were ready to lay down their lives for the King of Heaven. Makes sense to fight the flames on their behalf.

But what about those who are indifferent to God? Or those who shake their fist at the Almighty? Or those who stand in opposition to, and are counted enemies of the King of Heaven. Can they be delivered from the eternal flames of hell? Can they be freed from their bondage to sin? Can they be rescued from themselves? Is there a god who can rescue in this way?

My God is able to rescue!

And He rescues through the Fourth Man. The One who saves, not from afar, but by entering the arena of the flames. Experiencing the heat as any other man would, yet without blemish or spot. Giving Himself to the flames of judgment on behalf of those He comes to save. Delivering unscathed those who put their faith and trust in Him.

What’s more, not only are those who are rescued delivered from the flames, but they emerge as new creations. Not who they were . . . not what they were. The Fourth Man replacing spiritual deadness with eternal life. Exchanging sin-stained cloaks for His own robe of righteousness. Replacing hearts of stone with hearts of flesh. Making blind eyes see and deaf hears hear. Converting enemies of God into children who cry, “Abba, Father!”

Is there a god who is able to rescue in this way? Only my God!

Able to rescue? Yes He is. So testifies one who has been delivered from the flames . . . one who has been extricated from the furnace . . . one who has been made new . . . one who, by God’s grace, desires to give God glory.

All praise and honor to the God who is able to rescue.


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Rerun Week – Day 3

Feeling a need to ponder and pray more and produce less during my morning devos this week. So after my readings, my plan is to go back through my archives and let the thinking of the past minister to me in the present. That which particularly sticks with me I’ll share with you. Here are some thoughts from November, 2012.

Never fails to happen . . . there is always a joy and excitement about hitting the book of Daniel . . . like when the kids come home from Christmas . . . it’s familiar territory to them . . . they like finding things decorated and in place as they’ve always been . . . but there’s a freshness, a wide-eyed re-encounter that puts a bit of electricity in the house. The themes in these opening chapters of Daniel are familiar, touchstones that have been used to ground my life for years . . . like purposing in my heart to not defile myself with the kings food (1:8) . . . like being reminded that Daniel’s favor with men and his meteoric rise to the top of the class was less about him and all about God’s divine hand upon His life (1:9, 17) . . . like being repeatedly told that God is the God of heaven (2:18, 19, 28, 37, 44) . . . and finally, of being reminded that my God is the Revealer of Mysteries (2:28, 47).

A Revealer of Mysteries. The One who can make known the unknown. He who can take the hidden thing and bring it to light. That’s our God.

Usually what captures me about this thought is that, by His grace, I have been the recipient of such revelation of mystery. Through the Word of God . . . by the illumination of the Spirit of God . . . I have been allowed some level of understanding into the mysteries of God. True enough . . . but funny how I tend to think about me. This morning my thoughts tend to be more about Him, the Revealer.

What has my awe-o-meter kicking over to the right hand side is that He is the God who knows the mysteries. He is the Revealer because, in many cases He is the Author. He is the Revealer because, in all cases, He is the One who knows everything . . . my God is omniscient . . . the God of heaven is all-knowing. And there’s something about that alone which inspires worship . . . and brings about peace.

Sure, I like to know “what’s behind the curtain.” I want to be brought into the inner circle. I, as much as the next guy, like to have things figured out. But, as I sit hovering over this story of a king with a bad dream, a bad attitude, and a sad bunch of magicians, enchanters, and sorcerers, I’m grabbed less by the revelation then I am by the Revealer. That He knows . . . that His realm of understanding and insight so dwarfs that of kings and prophets and this guy sitting in this chair . . . that He is the Possessor of all truth and Knower of all secrets. He is . . . the Revealer!

Amazing God!

So this morning, though there are many mysteries I might like to have made known to me, I rest in that I know the Revealer of Mysteries. Whether He chooses to allow me to “interpret the dream” or not, it’s enough to know that He knows . . . and to trust in Him even when I don’t know . . . and to rest in Him who will reveal mysteries according to His will . . . and in line with His perfect timing . . . and all for His glory. Amen?

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
to Whom belong wisdom and might.
He changes times and seasons;
He removes kings and sets up kings;
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding;
He reveals deep and hidden things;
He knows what is in the darkness,
and the light dwells with Him.
To you, O God of my fathers,
I give thanks and praise . . .

(Daniel 2:20-23a ESV)

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Rerun Week – Day 2

Feeling a need to ponder and pray more and produce less during my morning devos this week. So after my readings, my plan is to go back through my archives and let the thinking of the past minister to me in the present. That which particularly sticks with me I’ll share with you. Here are some thoughts from November, 2019.

Maybe 2020 will be the year. The year I dig deeper into Ezekiel.

Wrapped up the book in this morning’s reading. A lot of it I think I get. A lot of it, not so much.

The apocalyptic unveiling of the glory of God captures the imagination. The departure of the glory of God is heart-breaking. The return of the glory of God, hope inspiring.

There is judgment under an old covenant and the promise of a new covenant. The weakness of the old exploited by idolatrous, rebellious hearts. The strength of the new found in divine intervention and the making of new, truth-bearing hearts.

There is also the temple destroyed, the city razed, and the land of promise laid bear. But then, a vision of a new land, a new city, and a new, glorious temple. And, whatever the new temple in the new city in the restored land is referring to, it’s intriguing. To be taken literally? Figuratively? I know what I was taught as young man, but not sure how it all fits. I know what others think it may be, but not sure how it all fits in that scenario either. So, maybe 2020 will be the year . . .

But for all the stuff that Ezekiel leaves you not knowing, it concludes with something that is sure . . .

“And the name of the city from that time on shall be, The LORD Is There.”

(Ezekiel 48:35b ESV)

When all is said and done . . . when all is done and said . . . The LORD Is There. Jehovah-Shammah.

There in the place He has promised. There in the kingdom of His coming. There in the midst of the people He has redeemed. There in the temple which houses His glory. Jehovah-Shammah. The LORD Is There.

And however the details of Ezekiel’s prophesied future state play out, what I do know is that those details have begun to be rolled out in our current state. A rebellious people redeemed. A scattered people called into community. A kingdom established in and through them. A reigning King over them. Under a new covenant. With new hearts. Longing for the final state.

Not yet in the place of promise but sojourning to that city whose designer and builder is God (Heb. 11:10). Yet, with God in their midst and with the temple that bears His glory in place –even the people of God. Living stones being built up into a spiritual house (1Pet. 2:5). Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone. Joined together. Growing into a holy temple in the Lord. A dwelling place for God by the Spirit (Eph. 2:20-22). And Jehovah Shammah. The LORD Is There.

A lot I still don’t really get about Ezekiel . . . maybe next year we do the deeper dive. But this I do know: where God’s people are The LORD Is There.

Where they gather, His glory resides. Where they worship, His Son presides.

My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

(Ezekiel 37:27 ESV)

By His grace. For His glory.

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