“Prayer for Spiritual Strength”

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Eph 3:14–19.

Normal Anxieties

Remember how I was excited about getting back to my goals? Well, I ended up catching a cold. Coughing, sneezy, runny nose, body aches. So much for watching my diet and exercising. Haven’t eaten much. Haven’t moved much. Pretty much sucks. This kind of sick just has to run its course. It better hurry up, because I’ve got stuff to do!

One week until I start seminary school. Later this week is orientation. I’m super excited to get started already! I’m ready to learn! I’m also getting nervous. What if it’s too hard? What if I can’t keep up? What if I fail? These are normal anxieties. A lot of people feel this way when they step up to something big. But that’s why they’re big dreams. Not everyone has the courage, will, and determination to do it. So here I am, making my attempt, answering the call. And I will be successful. It’s a path that I’m ready to take on. Each step will lead me to bigger and bright things in the future.

 

“May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
that your way may be known on earth,

your saving power among all nations.”
(Psalm 67:1–2)

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”
(Isaiah 60:1)

Isaiah 43:2

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.”

Isaiah 43:2 ESV

 

Jesus

Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. He died. He was God’s only son. The one and only. God sent him to live a life of suffering. He suffered so much. All of those things you’ve been through, Jesus has gone through as well. He was rejected. He was bullied. He was ostracized. He was laughed at. He was called a drunkard. People said he was a lunatic. People did not believe him. He was betrayed. He was tested in the wilderness by all the things that frequently lead us astray, but he endured it. He endured it all until the very end. His death was prolonged agony, the epitome of suffering. It was horrific. But he endured it. Until is life gave out, he cried out “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:48 ESV). Fully man, separated from God the Father. This was God’s sacrifice of his only son for one purpose. The purpose of Jesus on the cross was while Jesus was perfect, he took on the sins of the people of the world as his own sin. And he put them to death. In the most terrifying way possible. So sin is put to death. Woo hoo! Then Christ is miraculously retuned. He came back . He stripped off all our sins. So that we can live a life forgiven and free. We are no longer slaves to our sins. We no longer have to be ashamed. Jesus took our shame for us. We no longer have to feel abandoned. We are God’s children. We are no longer hopeless. Jesus IS our hope, “For in this hope we were saved” (Romans 8:24 ESV).

Read Scripture: Judges

An overview on the book of Judges to get you a little up to speed before reading my take.

 

My Take on Judges Ch. 2

“And they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the LORD to anger.” (Judges 2:12)

The book of Judges goes through several stories after the rule of Joshua during which there was peace and obedience to the Lord. During this time the Israelites had forgotten all the things that the Lord had done during Joshua’s time. They were a generation that was corrupted by the world around them. They served other gods above the Lord.

“Whenever the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways.” (Judges 2:18-19)

These Israelites literally served other gods. Idol worship existed in every household at that time. Although the god of the Israelites asked them to follow only him, they went their own way and basically tried to assimilate into this local culture and it brought them destruction.

In our world today idol worship means a very different thing. In our world we worship wealth, prosperity, power, relationships, careers, sports teams, politics, hobbies, comfort, all these things. You could add a multitude to this list of things that we put above god.

Now, there’s this story in the New Testament about a Samaritan woman at a well that meets Jesus. (See John 4:16-26). They chat a bit. They talk about worship. Jesus says to the woman, “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” (John 4:22-23)

The Old Testament God was angry. “Whenever [the Israelites] marched out, the hand of the LORD was against them for harm, as the LORD had warned, and as the LORD had sworn to them. And they were in terrible distress” (Judges 2:14). But god keeps giving them rulers (judges) to bring them back to himself. He gives them chances to be redeemed and forgiven.

In the story of Jesus and the Samaritan, he is telling her that worship should be directed at the Father and no one or thing else. Everything else is a false idol when we put them above god. They can be tools to bring others to god, but they cannot replace god. Plus these idols do not have the ability to forgive our sins the way Christ can. Ultimately we are all ruled and judged by Christ himself and he is good, forgiving, and gracious. The story of the Israelites and the Judges is what we deserve when we are disobedient. When Christ died, he was sacrificed with all of our sins on him so that we no longer bear them. We are free from the wrath that the LORD would have put upon us. Because he has already done it by sacrificing his son.

Psalm 40

Psalm 40
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

I waited patiently for the Lord; 
he inclined to me and heard my cry. 
He drew me up from the pit of destruction, 
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock, 
making my steps secure. 
He put a new song in my mouth, 
a song of praise to our God. 
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.

Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!
You have multiplied, O LORD my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told.

In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted,
but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.
Then I said, “Behold, I have come;
in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
I delight to do your will. O my God;
your law is within my heart.”

I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips,
as you know, O LORD,
I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.

As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me;
your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!
For evils have encompassed me beyond number;
my iniquities have overtaken me;
and I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head;
my heart fails me.

Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me!
O LORD, make haste to help me!
Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether who seek to snatch away my lfe;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
who delight in my hurt!
Let those be appalled because of their shame who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”

But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the LORD!

As for me, I am poor and needy,
but the LORD takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer; 
do not delay, O my God!”