Save Me, Lord

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S (Scripture): Romans 3:9 So what are we saying? Are we better off? Not at all. We have already stated the charge: both Jews and Greeks are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written,

There is no righteous person, not even one.

11 

There is no one who understands.

    There is no one who looks for God.

12 

They all turned away.

    They have become worthless together.

There is no one who shows kindness.

    There is not even one.

O (Observation): Here, when Paul says “we,” he is referring to the Jews who follow Christ. He wants to ask if the Jews have an advantage over the Gentile Christians, since the Jews had the Scriptures from which to study and learn about God. But even with the Scriptures, they have to realize that even they – as first recipients of God’s covenants – are sinful, too!

Paul uses Scripture to support the notion that no one people are immune from the power of sin, not even the Jews.

The words above in italics are Psalm 14:1-3. From the Scriptures, Paul reminds the Jewish Christians that none are without sin.

A (Application): While this all seems hopeless, we also keep in mind that God’s grace saves us all. The reminder of sin affecting us all is simply a tool for humility. We (however defined) are not by default better than anyone else. We all sin. And so therefore any good we do comes because we are forgiven – forgiven sinners, but still forgiven.

So the ground upon which we stand as forgiven people is established God, by Jesus suffering, dying, and being resurrected.

Therefore, we ALL can receive grace. We ALL can receive mercy. Not by our own doing, but by what God has done for us, for me.

P (Prayer): Lord, save me, a sinner. Amen.

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Somehow…God Redeems

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S (Scripture): Genesis 27:5 Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau went out to the field to hunt game to bring back, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I just heard your father saying to your brother Esau, 7 ‘Bring me some game and make me some delicious food so I can eat, and I will bless you in the Lord’s presence before I die.’ 8 Now, my son, listen to me, to what I’m telling you to do. 9 Go to the flock and get me two healthy young goats so I can prepare them as the delicious food your father loves. 10 You can bring it to your father, he will eat, and then he will bless you before he dies.”

O (Observation): Rebekah and Jacob (mother and son) conspire to steal Esau’s blessing as first-born son. (Yes, Jacob and Esau are twins, but Esau was born first. And in Hebrew tradition, first-born gets a double-portion of the inheritance.)

How conniving and under-handed is this! Rebekah leads this endeavor, and Jacob is not only complicit, he outright lies to his own father. And he succeeds in receiving Isaac’s blessing of Esau’s inheritance.

And over time, God is referred to as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (and not Esau). How bizarre! Such a terrible act…and somehow, Isaac’s descendants are still blessed and numerous and destined to still have descendants who will honor God…one of whom will eventually bring salvation to all: Jesus!

Later on in Genesis, we will see a reckoning between Jacob and Esau…but the origins of this story are quite challenging.

(But we also cannot forget the Lord’s word to Rebekah when she was pregnant. God said to her in Gen 25:23 –

“Two nations are in your womb;
two different peoples will emerge from your body.
One people will be stronger than the other;
the older will serve the younger.”

Is this God fulfilling God’s prophetic word? Did God simply foresee this action by Rebekah and Jacob? Did this impact Rebekah’s decision to choose Jacob?)

A (Application): What can this mean? Should we go around bringing about thievery and deceit? I should think NOT!

Instead, I am led to think this: even through our deceit and misdeeds…God can still work through our crap and redeem God’s promises.

We make monumental mistakes at times, but God somehow finds a way to work within our systems and makes a way forward.

Where have you seen God working out a plan through your own faults and misdeeds?

Every day, as a husband and parent, I see my own mistakes and wonder how God will work through me and my family, even though I find ways to mess things up? And the church I serve…how does God cover my faults or the faults of our leadership (for none of us is perfect)?

Perhaps being the Church means we are redeemed and covered through God’s forgiveness. Yes. I believe this is the only way I can contribute to God’s work in this world – as a forgiven sinner, redeemed by God’s grace.

P (Prayer): Lord, our misdeeds do not define us. Being your daughters and sons define us. Peace.

Christ: Our Priest… Forever

  S (Scripture): Hebrews 7:23 And the others who became priests were numerous, because death prevented them from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently since he lives forever. 25 So he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. 26 For it is indeed fitting for us to have such a high priest: holy, innocent, undefiled, separate from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need to do every day what those priests do, to offer sacrifices first for their own sins and then for the sins of the people, since he did this in offering himself once for all. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men subject to weakness, but the word of solemn affirmation that came after the law appoints a son made perfect forever.

O (Observation): The author of Hebrews points out a difference between priests appointed by humans, and THE priest appointed by God AFTER the law.  Obviously, human priests come and go, but Jesus lives forever, and is thus our priest forever.  Jesus needs NOT make a sacrifice for his own sins – he did this once and for all – before making a sacrifice for the sins of the people.  

Jesus truly is the priest of all priests.  

A (Application):  Has someone ever spoken up for you?  What did that feel like?   What if someone spoke up for you, but you didn’t deserve it?   

These questions point to what I experience when I’m praying the Lord’s Prayer (when I’m not reciting it by rote : )  

I’m reminded of a God who is for us. …a God who is with us and saving us…even before we knew what God was up to…even while we are steeped in sin. Jesus intercedes for us. And now, we are free to forgive others and seek glimpses of God’s Kingdom actively arising in our midst.  

What will you do with this freedom?

P (Prayer): Lord, we give you thanks for bringing us to a point where we are able to join you in your work in this world.  Give us strength and courage.  Amen.