Thursday, January 31, 2008

Day 31/90: Num 31-33, Ps 139-144, Jn 19-21

Updated my links on the blog today with some new blogs I've been reading lately. Take time to poke around and see some of the new writers. Great stuff.

Key Points in Today's Reading:
  • The Numbers' reading has the first instance of a challenging part of OT narrative - a command by God to wipe out a neighboring tribe that was threatening the holiness and solidarity of Israel. Here, the people were the Midianites, and they were worshiping other gods and their women were serving as temple prostitutes and leading astray the Israelite men - this may be why God says to save only those girls who were not sexually active yet. However, all-in-all, this is a tough issue as we think about the character of God. Of course, we believe theologically that we all deserve death, but to see God actually command His people to wipe out another tribe - chilling. And if we think He's not serious about it, check out the final words of this section in 33:55-56 where God says that He will do to Israel what they fail to do to other tribes. If anything I walk away with today from this section, it is that God hates idolatry that much - and that in order to keep His nation devoted to Him, this kind of severe action was required. I am thankful today, however, that Jesus is working to change hearts in every nation and that God in His mercy has made a way for all peoples. Because surely we all are idolaters, and without Christ, we would all be leading people away from the living God.
  • Psalm 139 is one of my favorites - I love the intimacy between David and God expressed in its words - the fact that David trusts in God's sovereignty over his days and in God's love for him. I echo David's prayer: God, search me and know me, and reveal any offensive ways in me (139:23-24).
  • The challenge of all the psalms in relation to those who threaten us is do we take our needs to the Lord or do we take them into our own hands? My conviction lately has been that I tend to talk about issues more than I pray about them - I need to repent of that & start praying more specifically on issues of concern.
  • John 19-21 - this is what our whole faith is about - the death, resurrection, and call of Jesus Christ. This section contains the amazing testimony of his crucifixion, then tells of many appearances after his resurrection, and finally leaves us with the call of Jesus: (1) believe on Him, even though we've never seen him personally, (2) be sent by Him in the same way that the Father sent Him, and (3) follow Christ regardless of the cost.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Day 30/90: Num 26-30, Ps 133-138, Jn 16-18

Had a great coffee this morning with Bob Christensen from HCBC NW who is serving now as the interim pastor for global outreach. Bob has been at NW a long time and served on their elder board, so it was exciting to hear his perspective on HCBC's mission work over the years. I'm excited to see how God leads our church as we pursue His heart for the nations...

Key Points from today's reading:
  • Struck by the need that Moses feels in replacing himself in Numbers 27, and how the Lord leads him to choose Joshua as the next leader that He will work through. Two principles at play here that I think are extremely transferable: (one) we always need to be looking forward to the time when we should replace ourselves as leaders - this is hard to say, but so necessary for our organization. I wonder how many churches have been hurt by pastors who don't reproduce themselves. (two) people need good leaders - even though God was leading the Israelites in such a personal way during the OT, you can tell that the people still needed a human leader to follow.
  • The message of psalm 136 - maybe the message of the whole Bible - His Love Endures Forever. Great reminder about the unchanging character of God.
  • Something so powerful for me in reading the prayer of Jesus in John 17. I never get tired of looking over his words. I will have a quicker step tomorrow knowing that Jesus prayed for me to have joy in Him and for me to be protected from the enemy - awesome. Also scary, though, when you see that Jesus is praying for unity in His church at the end of chapter 17. I'm excited that next week I will be spending some time at a pastors' prayer gathering with other pastors from all over the city of Austin - a great sign of unity at work in the church here in our town.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Day 29/30: Num 21-25, Ps 127-132, Jn 13-15

Finished DWAP (a discipleship study) with the staff today (20 whole weeks of study & memorizing verses) - it was a great time with two awesome guys - Nick & Douglas. We are so blessed to have them on our team. I've also been trying to do DWAP with my lovely wife, but every time we get together to work on the study, kissing seems to ensue and greatly impedes our progress.

Today's key points:
  • So much to learn from the Balaam - Balak narratives in the Numbers reading today. What really stood out to me was Balaam's commitment to only speak the words that God wanted him to speak, regardless of the pressure put on him or the reward promised him - great life lesson there. Also, the messianic prophecy at the end of Numbers 24 always impresses me - in Balaam's final oracle, God gives him a vision of Christ.
  • I have to quote Psalm 127 at length tonight: "Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate." Amen & Amen - so contrary to our world that sees children as a burden to manage instead of a blessing to enjoy.
  • I love Psalm 130 - gives me words to express my heart so clearly.
  • Nothing rocks you more than to read about your Savior on his hands and knees washing the dirty feet of his disciples, serving them in the lowest position in order to teach us about true humility and service. I have a long way to go.
  • I have to comment also on John 13:17, because I think it summarizes our struggle in the American church today: "now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them." Again pointing out the fact that knowledge is not the same as obedience. God, save us from our disobedient over-information.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Day 28/90: Num. 16-20, Ps. 121-126, Jn 10-12

Had an awesome date with my wife tonight - a little Gino's Italian (some home-grown stuff here in RR), then the $1 movie - August Rush - not bad for a super-sad, slow, chick movie. I really liked the music & the gal sitting next to me, though. Then we wrapped it all up at the place we always finish out dates these days - HEB - something about shopping without the kids is just too appealing.

Key thoughts on today's reading:
  • Moses' lesson to those who lead is simple: when people grumble against our leadership and doubt our integrity, what do we do? Do we take it into our own hands and suppress the opposition OR do we go the Lord and ask Him to work it out? Moses teaches us to get on our face before God and trust Him to work out His will in our situation - either leading us to repentance or removing our opposition. What a powerful challenge - allowing the Lord to defend us and not feeling like we have to do it on our own.
  • This section of psalms is called the psalms of ascent because they were the songs that the people of Israel would sing whenever they would approach the city of Jerusalem for the festivals and feasts. I love how the psalms of ascent describe the Lord as the one who turns our weeping to joy. That is what they were literally celebrating - that God had turned their weeping in Egypt to joy in the Land. And they continued to sing this song as a celebration of what God had done and a statement of faith about what God would do.
  • How can you not be moved by the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead by Jesus? I don't know how many times I've read this passage, but I still stop and pause when I read, "Jesus wept." I'm not sure why, but maybe just because it so powerfully reconnects me with His humanity and his compassion - He actually cares for us so deeply - I love it.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Day 27/90: Numbers 11-15, Psalms 115-120, John 7-9

Key Points:
  • The Numbers narrative is so instructive to me because is points out a real weakness in faith that is sometimes hard to see. Up to this point, the people of Israel had obeyed the commands of God about the sacrifices and the tabernacle faithfully. As we've noted in previous readings, they did exactly what the Lord commanded them through Moses. But, when God asks them to do something completely by faith, to go into the promised-land and trust that He would deliver them from the enemies in the land, they stumble. This is key: though we may be following God in the small things, we can stall out in our spiritual growth when we are not willing to walk by faith and take a risk when God has asked us to step out and trust him. I don't want to be like that - willing to obey with what I can see, but unwilling to obey when I don't see how it's going to work out. The point again: Trust God!
  • So, after chugging all the way through Psalm 119 tonight, one thought struck me as the most powerful: the words of God bring wisdom & understanding. This intrigues me, because I want to live my life in a wise way, making discerning decisions and following the smart path. And though I am young, scripture clearly teaches that I can grow in wisdom by saturating my mind with God's Law.
  • Money quote from today's reading: John 7:46: "No one ever spoke the way this man does," the guards declared. No doubt.
  • When you read John quickly, you can't help but notice that Jesus just says it like it is - he doesn't pull any punches and he speaks right to the people's greatest needs. Powerful words from the lips of Jesus about life, death, faith, and hope.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Day 26/90: Numbers 6-10, Psalms 109-114, John 4-6

Key Points:
  • I love the fact that Israel was sure to follow God very closely as He led them as a people. They made sure to not move without Him in any way. When He told them to stay put, they did that. When He said it was time to move, they moved. I need to up my sensitivity to the Spirit in order to walk closely with Him.
  • Laura Murray sent me a note in an email that I thought was also captured in this passage today - this crew that is setting up and tearing down the tabernacle is like our facilities crew at the church-plant, faithful to set up everything in order for God's people to connect with Him.
  • Interesting note: Psalm 110 is a much-quoted messianic psalm used in the NT. Just a reminder that though we don't tend to consider the psalms prophetic, the book of Psalms is the most-quoted OT book in the NT.
  • Money quote of the day: Psalm 112:1: "Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands." I'm always challenged by whether or not I fear God properly, but challenged especially today with delighting in God's word. Do I delight in Him?
  • John is so packed-full of great stuff that it is hard to comment on just one or two points. Make sure and note the words "believe" and "send" and their derivatives as you read John - they are the two key words in his gospel account & say a lot about what point He's trying to make.
  • Love the discussion of Jesus in John 5:39-40 where He says that the Pharisees study the Scripture but lack true understanding because they don't meet Jesus in those Scriptures (the OT). Just a reminder that right interpretation of the OT points us to Jesus of Nazareth.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Day 25/90: Numbers 1-5, Psalms 103-108, John 1-3

Struggling with the reading today - not feeling well. Worked long today on Sunday's sermon and have an infected tooth that is killing me. I'm on some strong pain medicine for it, so there is no telling what I'll write tonight. On to the reading:

Key Points:
  • Numbers makes me feel better about my detail-oriented nature - it seems I get from God himself. :)
  • I like how Numbers 3:51 talks about Moses giving to Aaron in obedience to the law - just a clear reminder that even the great spiritual leader Moses who giving the law to the people was also responsible to live under it.
  • Another command tonight from the psalmist in Psalm 105 to give thanks to the Lord, so I thought I would. I am thankful tonight for...
    • the work of Jesus on my behalf
    • the most awesome wife a man ever had anywhere at any time
    • the three most beautiful and fun boys any father could wish for
    • the scriptures
    • the Holy Spirit who continues to work on me daily
    • good Mexican food
    • funny movies
    • good friends
    • awesome elders at RR-N
    • huge spiritual giants for mentors
    • baseball season starting soon
    • being able to provide for my family by doing what I love
    • grace
  • I love the insight that John gives us about the person of Jesus - just those little side comments that lets you know that he spent a lot of time with Jesus -- stuff like "Jesus knew what was in man."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Day 24/90: Leviticus 24-27, Psalms 97-102, Luke 22-24

Too tired tonight to write much. A few notes:
  • After completing Leviticus tonight, I am challenged by the justice of God's character (revealed in His law) and His grace (see the chapter on the Year of Jubilee). Check out these words on treating the poor with dignity:
    • "If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you. Do not take interest of any kind from him, but fear your God, so that your countryman may continue to live among you." Interesting how fear of God and treatment of the poor are connected. So much for predatory lending --
  • Thought from the Psalms tonight: I need more rejoicing, singing, and shouting in my life.
  • Thought from Luke tonight: The way of Jesus is the way of the cross, the way of suffering.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Day 23/90: Leviticus 21-23, Psalms 90-96, Luke 19-21

I'm trying to prepare myself for Day 27 when we get to Psalm 119 - I will have to set aside more time that day. :)
Key Points from Today's Reading:
  • The laws of Leviticus teach us many truths about God and about ourselves. The commands many times teach us about those things that we struggle with - God commands us to do things that He knows we will not do on our own. For example:
    • The major theme of Leviticus, as I mentioned before, is the holiness of God. We tend to diminish the holiness of God and make Him in our own image, but the Scriptures will not let us do that - He is completely holy and different from us.
    • Leviticus calls us to take our sin seriously, which we tend often not to do, but to make excuses and compromises because we compare ourselves to others and not to God.
    • Leviticus continually challenges the people to take a day of rest and dedicate it to the Lord, because God knows our tendency not to trust Him with our rest, but to continue to produce.
    • Leviticus lays out that those who approach God must do so in reverence and fear, because God knows that many time we will approach Him flippantly and without concern for His holiness.
    • Leviticus commands that we give of our firstfruits to God and we leave our extra for those who need it most, again recognizing our tendency to hoard and not trust God with our resources.
    • Leviticus lays out the calendar of festivals to call God's people to regularly remember God's greatness and His work on their behalf because we tend to forget so easily and ask regularly, "what has God done for me today?"
  • Today's psalms reading reminded me to count my days and live with wisdom in the short time I've been given (Ps. 90:12) and to give all glory to God (Ps. 96:7-8).
  • What a wonderful picture of the life-change that Jesus brings - Luke 19:1-9 - because he was willing to spend time in a "sinner's" home.
  • Gut-check today about why we do what we do - if we do it for our own glory (Luke 20:45-47), we have received our full reward and are in the line of fire from Jesus Himself.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Day 22/90: Leviticus 16-20, Psalms 84-89, Luke 16-18

Watched United 93 last night - so powerful - brought back a lot of emotions.
Key Points on Today's Reading:
  • The atonement description in Leviticus 16 is a beautiful picture of the work of Jesus Christ. The high priest had to enter the most holy place before God once a year in order to make atonement for all the people of Israel and their sin. God commands that the high priest make a sacrifice for his own sin before he atoned for the people because it was important that the one who made the atoning sacrifice for the people be pure and holy. What an awesome picture of what Christ would come to do.
  • I've already mentioned this before in my rantings on the OT, but it comes through so clearly again in these chapters of Leviticus - the peoples of the ancient near east were a sexually perverse group - not so far from our culture today. This is another way in which the Bible is relevant to our lives today - speaking to people from all generations who abuse sex for their own purposes.
  • It stands out again that God's main purpose in the Law is to help set-apart His people from the other nations that surrounded them. He wanted them to worship Him alone and also to live in such a way that the nations would know that their God was Yahweh. (see especially Lev 20:26)
  • Psalm 84:12 summarizes the whole message of the psalms: "O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trust in you." - which is amazingly the same message of the NT, though the object of that trust is more clearly revealed in Jesus Christ.
  • Psalm 86:11 is my prayer so much of the time - "give me an undivided heart." I love the Lord with all my heart, but sometimes I find my desires drifting away, my heart becoming divided - I need to grow in single-mindedness toward the Lord.
  • Money quote of the day: Luke 18:8: "When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" Obviously, in His first coming, He did not - will he find it in us when He returns again?
  • A lot could be said about Luke 17:21 - the kingdom of God is within you. What is Jesus getting at in this statement? Most likely that are players in the Kingdom when we live according to the Kingdom's values - which as I have said many times on this blog and the pulpit - are completely different from the values of this world. But most of the time, we get those confused.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Day 21/90: Leviticus 11-15, Psalms 78-83, Luke 13-15

Anyone else tired of presidential politics yet?

Key Points in Today's Read:
  • Money quote of the day from Leviticus: 11:44: "I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy." Simple enough: we are to be like our Master, our Father - we are to strive for holiness because we desire to be like Him, not because we desire to be better than others. Heart check.
  • Chapters 11-15 contain the ritual law that describes the food, diseases, bodily emissions, etc. that make a man or woman unclean before God and how to become clean. There are obviously some hygienic issues at play here as God is teaching them to be clean, but there are also some simply distinctive commands given to Israel to help them stand out from the other cultures around them. Thankfully, Jesus ends these regulations in the NT when He declares all food clean and talks about the condition of the heart as more important than the condition of the exterior.
  • I love the challenge of Psalm 78:1-8 to pass on our story to our children, to make sure that they don't forget what God has done in our lifetime. I also resonate with 78:72: I want to lead like David, with integrity of heart and with skillful hands.
  • The psalms continue to articulate a global vision for the glory of God - that He would be known as the Sovereign over all the earth - that all nations would praise Him as the One true God. The Scripture challenges me to continue to develop a global view of God's work.
  • The kingdom teaching of Jesus is so challenging to me - so counter-intuitive. Jesus talks about giving up everything we have to follow Him, he talks about giving to those who cannot give back to us, he talks about trusting God with our good deeds & being humble, not publicizing our work for Him, about going after those who are farthest from Him. Just a reminder to me about why we need to raise up whole disciples of Jesus Christ and not just converts - because this picture of Kingdom-living is very different from what I see in my own life and in much of the church.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Day 20/90: Leviticus 6-10, Psalms 72-77, Luke 10-12

Big day at church this morning - we had a great turn-out. God is really stretching us as we grow...challenging us to walk closely to Him and stay very dependent on Him.
Key Points from today's reading:
  • Leviticus 8 tells of the amazing preparation that went into the priests going before the Lord, again because the book emphasizes the holiness of God and the sinfulness of His people. It was a general reminder to me to speak less and stand more in awe of who God is (see Ecclesiastes 5 for more on this).
  • The phrase "and they did everything the Lord commanded them to do" is repeated regularly in Leviticus to show the care that Moses and Aaron and the priests took in implementing God's commandments. A great reminder that reverence to God (awe and fear of Him) always leads to full, complete, and immediate obedience.
  • The message of the sacrificial system (besides pointing toward the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ): God is unbelievably holy and set-apart from us, and sin always leads to death. This death is pictured in the destruction of these animals, but also powerfully displayed in chapter 10 when God takes out two of Aaron's sons for mistreating the altar. Wow -
  • Interesting combination of emotions in Leviticus 9:24 - after the people saw the glory of the Lord come down, they shouted in joy and fell face down. My encounters with God have left similar emotions in my heart - a great excitement and joy from connecting with God and yet a great trembling knowing that you stand in the presence of the Almighty.
  • Psalm 72 - another messianic psalm talking about the great king who is to come, the Son of the Most High, who will reign forever and will bless all the nations - all Scripture points to Jesus, from Leviticus to Psalms. Might be a fun sermon series to do some time to show how every book of the Bible is ultimately about Jesus.
  • The psalms are hard to read quickly because they contain so much imagery that requires you to stop and think before you can understand its meaning. However, one of the repeating themes I'm getting from the psalms is their desire for God to bring justice on the earth. They look longingly toward that future date when all injustice will end, the poor and hungry will be well-fed, and God's perfect desires will be fulfilled on earth as they are in heaven.
  • Mary & Martha's story at the end of Luke 10 reinforces the point I made this morning in my sermon about saying "no" to good things in order to say "yes" to the best things; I still have much work to do in this area of my life.
  • So challenged by Jesus to increase my prayer life: "keep asking and seeking and knocking."
  • Quote of the day: Jesus in Luke 11:28: "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey."
  • When you read the gospels, you can't help but be captivated by the fact that Jesus' harshest words are left for those who are self-righteous and legalistic, two qualities that I believe kill the spiritual life. God, I hope I don't have them.
  • Jesus' parable in Luke 12:13-21 seems like he wrote it for our culture today - lots of passionate pursuit of wealth, but very little passionate pursuit for God.


Days 18 & 19 out of 90

Sorry, crew, for the late post tonight - we were on the road for five hours Friday and again today as we went back and forth to East Texas for a first cousin's wedding today. I had no internet in Gladewater, so I'm just now posting for yesterday and today's reading. See you in the morning for church --

Day 18/90; Exodus 36-40, Psalms 60-65, & Luke 4-6
Key Points:
  • The people of Israel obeyed all that God gave them to do, down to the smallest detail – a reminder to me that obedience matters, and that obeying quickly and fully is important to God.
  • I was impressed in Exodus 36 how the people of Israel collected more than enough gold and silver to do what God had asked them to do. This is just a reminder that God provides for His mission through the generosity of His people when they believe their giving is significant to His work.
  • I liked the end of Exodus 40 – as we complete the book and Moses completes construction of the tabernacle, God’s fills the tabernacle with His presence and glory. And Israel was led by the glory of God – exactly how I desire our church to be led – moving directly in step with God’s Spirit.
  • As I said before, the psalms challenge us to trust in God alone and in nothing else (notice Psalm 62:6 – He alone is my rock and my salvation). One fruit of a heart that trusts God is the prayerful life. One who trusts God alone cries out to Him in times of blessing and in times of trial. I have a way to go.
  • I love Psalm 63 because it describes a passionate pursuit of God that I long to have. So many of us have been lulled to sleep by religion and become self-righteous and proud – which kills our passionate intimacy with Christ.
  • Verse of the Day: Psalm 66:16: ‘Come & Listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what He has done for me.”
  • I am always impressed that Jesus rebuke the devil with three verses from Deuteronomy. If I only had Deuteronomy to protect myself spiritually, I would be in trouble.
  • You also can’t help but notice how Jesus slips away by himself regularly to pray and be alone with God. Obvious, but needing to be said: if Jesus needs prayer time alone with God, then so do we.
Day 19/90; Leviticus 1-5, Psalms 66-71, & Luke 7-9
Key Points:

  • When I read the beginning of Leviticus, I’m reminded of the verses throughout the OT (psalms and the prophets) where God says that He doesn’t need or even want sacrifices from the people. What He wants is a contrite heart and a broken spirit – he wants repentance. Even the commands of Leviticus seem to drive at the heart – God wants them to bring their best animal, their best grain, their best oil – to show that their heart is repentant before Him. And to show that they trust Him. By giving God their best, they are saying that they trust Him with the rest.
  • Leviticus also repeats the powerful atonement theme (sacrifice for another) that will define the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. But here in Leviticus we start to grasp the seriousness of sin before God that will require the atoning death of Christ.
  • Psalm 67:1-2 is one of theme verses for my family – we pray that God will be gracious to us (because we definitely don’t deserve all the favor that He has shown us) and that we would then respond by making His name great among all the nations. He is worthy of praise from every corner of the globe.
  • Verse of the Day: Psalm 68:20: “Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.”
  • Luke’s gospel at this point turns up the heat in each chapter with the tension building between Jesus and the Pharisees – the Jewish leaders always concerned with outward appearance and external legalism while Jesus is always concerned with grace and mercy and heart-change. I am constantly challenged by this difference, especially as a religious leader. We all need to make sure that we get more complaints about being a “friend of sinners” than we do about “keeping the outside of the cup clean.”
  • Luke continues to weave together the joint themes of faith and obedience (as do all the gospels). Our faith in the person of Jesus (who He is) and the power of God (what He can do) should lead us to obey whole-heartedly. The two are not in conflict – they build on each other.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Day 17/90: Exodus 31-35, Psalms 55-60, Luke 1-3

Key Points:
  • Exodus 33 is one chapter that I think every spiritual leader should re-read on a regular basis. My heart so connects with Moses' words, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here." We declare that if God does not go with us on this journey, we don't want to go - it is a confession of trust and desperation and it honors God's right place in our lives. I also love Moses' ask to see God's glory in 33:18 - I can so relate to Moses' desire to see more of God. As I'm serving Him and following Him, there are days when I just want to see more of God's greatness and glory. And I love that God says I can't show my full glory to your face or you will die. What an awesome God we serve --
  • Also challenged in Exodus today by all the reminders to observe the festivals and the Sabbath day. It seems to me that God is calling the Israelites to those behaviors that will help them not forget what God had done. Personal q: what do we do in our lives to make sure we don't forget God's work in our past?
  • The psalmist challenges me to put my trust in God when it comes to bringing justice on those who are mistreating me. My gut response is to take justice in my own hands, but the psalmists continue to look to God for their deliverance. This is a great habit to get into and frees us up to be gracious and compassionate when we can leave the judging to God.
  • Two other actions that show we are trusting in God and not ourselves: first, we wait for God to move instead of taking everything into our own hands and our own time frame; second, we praise God even when things are not going well.
  • Quote of the Day: "Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth." Psalm 57:5
  • I love the detailed nature of Luke's gospel account, especially when you read it right next to Mark's account, which is the high-speed, short version. Luke obviously did his homework and desires to communicate the exact details of the story to the reader. As a detail-guy, I really appreciate his work.
  • Protestants get scared when talking about Mary, the mother of Jesus, because of all the abuses that they Catholic church have done to her character in the NT. However, we would be remiss if we didn't stop to see the beauty of her song in Luke 1:46-55 - she expresses wonderful faith in God and His character.
  • Jesus is definitely the Jewish Messiah; it's hard to miss Luke's implications of this with the angel's promise (he will sit on David's throne forever), Mary's song (God has remembered His promise to Abraham), and Zechariah's song (God has raised up from David's line the horn of salvation). As I'm reading this in conjunction with the OT, I'm reminded how intimately the two are connected. It is unfortunate that the church is so weak in the OT because it really does lead to a wrong reading of the NT.
  • I love Luke's narrative of the birth of Jesus and his childhood, I think because it is the only snapshot we get of Jesus as a boy in the NT. I really like 2:40 and 2:52 about Jesus having God's grace on his life and him growing in wisdom. You can't think too long and hard about the God of the universe growing in wisdom, but there it is for us to wrestle with...another pointing to His full humanity.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Day 16/90: Exodus 26-30, Psalms 49-54, Mark 15-16

Key Points:
  • I found it interesting in reading this Exodus passage about the requirements for the tabernacle and the priestly garments and all the sacrificial gear that God wanted so many gifted artists and skilled workers to use their gifts in building His tabernacle - reminds me of how the Lord gifts so many of us in the body of Christ with specific gifts that the whole body needs. We can't do it on our own.
  • The numerous specifics commands for how the people were to approach God (which is only going to increase as we get into the end of Exodus and Leviticus) makes me want to stop and just praise God for sending His Son Jesus Christ to make a better way for us to approach the Father. All of the Law reminds us of how holy God really is - the commands that He asks us to keep and the requirements for even approaching him on our own. God is so holy that He cannot be around our sin. I am so thankful, as the author of Hebrews says, that Jesus is our High Priest and goes before the Father on our behalf.
  • Psalm 49:16-20 needs to be posted on every office cubicle in America - we can't take it with us when we die.
  • Psalm 51 is such a beautiful prayer of repentance, and can help us have the words to express our heart to God whenever we need to turn from our sin and come back to Him.
  • I love the way Mark ends - the short ending at 16:8 is probably the original ending. Most scholars dismiss 16:9-20 as added later. I personally love the short ending - it kind of takes your breath away...you read about the trial and flogging and suffering of Jesus, then the women go early to his tomb, and He is not there...the end. Jesus is alive! What will you do with Him now?



Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Day 15/90: Exodus 21-25, Psalms 43-48, Mark 13-14

Key Points:
  • We get into the beginning of the law today as God gives Moses His direction for how the people of Israel should live (beyond the big ten). What struck me today as I read through it was 1) God's heart for the foreigner and the widow and the orphan stand out - we are to take care of those at the bottom of the power-ladder, and 2) God's grace in meeting with Moses and actually giving the law to the people of Israel - teaching them what it meant to walk with Him day by day.
  • Psalm 44 challenged me with a theme that has been very personal over the last couple of months - who do I give praise to whenever good things happen? The psalmist reminds us that all the great things that happened in Israel's past (including the Exodus from Egypt that we're currently reading) occurred because of God's favor on the country and the people. I have to continually check my heart to make sure that I am giving God all the credit for everything good thing in my life - my family, my work, and my friends.
  • On the flip side of not boasting in our accomplishments, we are encouraged by Psalm 46 to not fear in our trials. If God brings the good times, then He will sustain us through the bad times - powerful truth. I can be still and trust Him.
  • Word from Mark tonight: the gospel will continue to progress around the world and things will get very bad toward the end.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Day 14/90: Exodus 16-20, Psalms 37-42, Mark 10-12

Key Points:
  • Moses' encounter with God on Mt. Sinai reminds me that I am so small compared to God. What a powerful description of God's presence coming to rest on the mountain and Moses meeting with God.
  • The ten commandments that God gave to Israel are listed in Exodus 20, and even today, show us our need for a Savior - we are hopeless in our attempt to follow God with the help of Jesus Christ.
  • The psalm reading today reminded me about the connection between faith and obedience; sometimes I make obedience about love, but really it is about faith. If we trust God's way to better than our way, then we will live according to His commands. If we believe that we can do it on our own OR that the consequences that God lays out will not really be that bad, then we go our own way. The psalmist reminds us to wait on God - His word will always turn out to be true. Though it looks like the wicked prosper now, Scripture teaches us that God's ways are always the best ways - and we need to have faith.
  • Passion so permeates the psalms. While our walk with God can sometimes become dry and stale, and our religious activity can simply become routine, the psalms remind us that our God calls us to a passionate, intimate relationship with Him. As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God - that is a passionate pursuit of our holy God. I pray for that kind of renewed energy and devotion to the Lord.
  • Again reminded by the Mark reading tonight that the economy of the kingdom is upside down from our worldly economy; Jesus says: the greatest of all is the servant of all, that the path to eternal life comes with denying yourself, that suffering comes before the crown, that childlike faith moves the heart of the father, not intellectual acumen. I need to continue to soak myself in His teachings - I am so far from getting these values and living them out every day.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Day Thirteen: Exodus 11-15, Psalms 31-36, Mark 7-9

Great Sunday today at church & playoff football this afternoon - what a day. Go Cowboys!
Key Points for today's reading:
  • The Lord is a Warrior as Moses' song says - He goes to battle for the Israelites in such a miraculous way against Pharaoh and His army. I need to be reminded that we serve an all-powerful God who can do whatever He wants - I wonder if many times my faith is too weak because my idea of God is too mild.
  • Of course, when we see God in all His strength, we are moved to fear Him; this is exactly what happens when the Israelites see God destroy Pharaoh's army. When I see God as He truly is, I will fear Him and stand in awe of Him. And as Proverbs says, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
  • Like I mentioned before, the psalms describe what trust in God looks like over and over again. Today's reading challenged me that trusting Him demands that I wait on Him and not always take things into my own hands - extremely difficult for me.
  • Blessed is the man whose sins have been covered - this is an amazing reminder of the blessing we have in Jesus Christ.
  • In today's reading in Mark, I love how the narrative takes us through the miracles of Jesus and the teachings of Jesus and has the one story in the middle of it all where the blind man is healed. We are just like those disciples - blind to see who Jesus really is and what He is really doing. God, help us to see Jesus accurately.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Day Twelve: Exodus 6-10, Psalms 25-30, Mark 4-6

Good to see everyone at our men's meeting this morning - what a great time at Rudy's!
Key Points:
  • God says He sends the plagues on Egypt and on Pharaoh so that the world will know that He is the Lord and that He has all power in the earth. Interesting that God's highest passion is for His name and renown to be known in all the earth - are we on board with what God is doing?
  • The passages that describe Pharaoh's hard heart are some of the most difficult in the Scriptures because the description changes back and forth between giving Pharaoh the responsibility and then giving God the responsibility. What's doing on here? I think the Bible is pointing us toward both realities - Pharaoh's heart was hard on his own, but God also hardened his heart for His own purposes. Reminds us that God is in control of all things.
  • This section of the psalms continues to challenge me to trust God in every situation in my life, especially the times when it feels like I'm in the pit - like David does in many of these psalms.
  • One major reason I think the psalms continue to speak to powerfully in every generation is the range of emotion that we find in them - from honest description of very dark times to great moments of praise for God's goodness. We can all find words in the psalms to help us describe the emotions we are going through at any certain point in our lives.
  • In the Mark section of today's reading, I was especially reminded that Jesus calls his disciples to do things that are simply impossible to do. But that is when His power is most on display!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Day Eleven: Exodus 1-5, Psalms 19-24, Mark 1-3

Sorry for the late post tonight - long day today!
Key Points:
  • Moses' story parallels our experience in so many ways, especially when God calls us to do things that we cannot possible do in our own strength. I can relate to Moses in his feelings of inadequacy before God when being called to go speak to Pharaoh. However, you would think after God shows up to you in such a visible way and speaks to you so clearly, you would be ready to obey and go. I guess the Lord is showing us what a fine line we all walk between humbly accepting our weaknesses and just doubting God's strength to overcome them.
  • Psalm 19 is such a powerful word - I echo his prayer - let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O God.
  • Psalm 22:27-28 reminds us (as some of my meetings today did) that we serve a global God who cares about people from every tribe and tongue around the world. You can always visit www.operationworld.org to see what is happening all across the globe.
  • I think I need to read Psalm 24:1 every day just to remind me that all my stuff is not really my stuff.
  • I love the book of Mark because it teaches us so much about discipleship (following Jesus). 2:5 is such a challenging passage because Jesus works supernaturally in response not to the man's faith, but in response to his friends' faith. The other key issues related to discipleship in these first three chapters is the resistance one will get when deciding to follow Jesus - from religious leaders, friends, and family. Not much has changed in 2000 years.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Day Ten: Genesis 46-50, Psalms 13-18, Matthew 27-28

Key Points:
  • Finishing Genesis felt awesome today - what a great book full of wonderful stories. I'm going to have to preach through Genesis at some point - I'm just nervous it would take two years to do it - which might be worth it. :)
  • Another messianic note in Jacob's blessings to his kids - that the scepter would not leave the line of Judah - that royal blood would flow through this line. And of course, this is the line out of the twelve sons of Jacob (twelve tribes of Israel) from which Jesus came.
  • I love the compassion of Joshua highlighted in these last chapters where he is shown weeping and so deeply moved over his brothers, his dad, and how God had provided for him.
  • Key line of Genesis: "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is not being done, the saving of many lives." Can't you almost substitute Jesus as the author of this quote? Awesome...
  • An interesting exercise sometimes when we read the Psalms is to take ourselves out of the author's seat and put Jesus in it. Obviously, David, or someone from the royal house, wrote most of these psalms, so it isn't too far of a stretch to read them like the true Son of David is the one writing them. Of course, this is a little more scary as Jesus is the now the righteous One and we are his enemies coming against him. Of course, the parallel is not one-to-one, especially when David is praying about his sin, etc., but it does change the way you look at the psalms - from always making ourself the hero of each psalm and looking at them as more about Christ.
  • Well said: "the Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior!" - Psalm 18:46
  • How can you not be moved by the last two chapters of Matthew - the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord - so powerful to read again. Amazing that His death was so powerful that at the time of His death some were who dead came back to life.
  • The cross and resurrection of Jesus is such a beautiful picture of God's love and a awesome reminder of God's power - even over death.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Day Nine: Genesis 41-15, Psalms 7-12, Matthew 25-26

Key Points:
  • 2 years in jail waiting for God to deliver you because you are innocent - wow, Joseph had very strong faith. And of course, God rewarded that faith and made Joseph 2nd only to Pharaoh - just a reminder about how quickly our fortunes can change.
  • I personally love Joseph's story, as a I said yesterday, because it always reminds me that whatever happens in my life (and how random it may seem at the time), God is the true author of my story - He knows what He is doing all the time.
  • The psalms always seems to point me toward evaluating where my confidence is placed. The psalmist write about God as their refuge and strong tower, meaning that they would run to God in times of trial and trouble. Do I do that? I think many times I may miss what God is doing because I too quickly trying to figure out how He is going to work, rather than just waiting on Him to move. My faith continues to need to grow, because God honors faith, but also because the strength of my faith will lead to the strength of my obedience.
  • God knows everything we do - a good reminder from Psalm 10:11 that we can't hide any part of our life from God, though we may try hard to hide it from others. God knows us.
  • Jesus demonstrates again in his teaching in Matthew 25 that God's heart beats for the the underprivileged in our world today. I wonder sometimes if we have Jesus pegged wrong (maybe too American) because we don't reflect his work with the poor and needy.
  • Jesus' experience in Matthew 26 reminds me that He can identify with all of our struggles - He has been through betrayal, darkness, injustice, and unanswered prayer just like we have. And yet, He remained faithful to God through it all.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Day Eight: Genesis 36-40, Psalms 1-6, Matthew 22-24

Key Points:
  • Reading through Genesis quickly like we are now makes you appreciate why all these guys had so many problems - they married so many wives. :) In all seriousness, the amount of sex in this book is stunning - it seems like every other chapter is about someone sleeping with someone they shouldn't be sleeping with and the consequences that come from it. The gut-check verses in this section came for me in 38:7-10 where Scripture says that Judah's sons were evil in God's eyes and they died - just like that, God takes them out...wow.
  • It is the fact that this narrative is about so many broken people that makes the life of Joseph stand out so strongly. Not only does Joseph choose the path of integrity over and over again, he actually does it in the face of negative circumstances - life is not cozy for Joseph when we leave him in chapter 40 - still in jail, completely forgotten about again. But Joseph is faithful to God's call on his life. Just like today, a man or woman who lives for God is not the rule, he or she is the exception to the rule.
  • The book of Psalms is such a powerful book to me because of the imagery, metaphor, and poetry that make up its songs. These psalms start us on the path of seeing the contrasts that the book as a whole lays out - mostly between those who trust in themselves and those who trust in God. Psalm 1 and 2 are especially meaningful to me: Psalm 1 a treatise on why living by God's Word is so important and Psalm 2 one of the most quoted messianic prophecies in the NT.
  • Wow - how much could be and has been written on this section of Matthew - how do you do it justice in a few sentences? The words "amazed at his teaching" jumped off the page at me during this reading - am I amazed at his teaching any more? Or have I become too complacent with it? The harshest words of Jesus' ministry come in Matthew 23 and are aimed at religious leaders. As a pastor, I need to go back and spend more time in this chapter - I hope I'm not becoming a Pharisee. And chapter 24 gets me excited again about His return - just like our study in Revelation 19-22 did in December.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Day Seven: Genesis 31-35, Job 37-42, Matthew 19-21

Key Points:
  • Again, it amazes me that Scripture is so raw and transparent about the sinfulness and depravity of the patriarchs of our faith. This amazes me because I wonder how so many churches can become so stiff and inauthentic and act like we are perfect people without any struggles. The first book of the Bible doesn't sugar-coat anything, but gives us the unfiltered picture of these sinful people. A reminder to me to keep it real in church and not play games. We all struggle and we all need help.
  • Besides the craziness of the lives of the patriarchs, the other repeated theme is the faithfulness of God to His promises. When God speaks his blessing on a people, he is faithful to His word. This is an encouragement to me - we can have hope that God will fulfill His promise to those of us who believe in Christ even though our lives are not perfect. Our hope is not based on our behavior, but God's promises.
  • This section of Job may be one of my favorite parts of the whole Bible. After 30 chapters of men talking about what God might think about Job's life and why Job has encountered all his hardship, God finally speaks. What He says is both powerful and beautiful and cause for our reflection. He asks Job a series of questions (reminds me immediately of Jesus' pattern of asking questions in the NT) - mostly to point out to Job that he needs to remember who he is talking to. God's reminder to us all: I am the sovereign, wise, just, all-powerful God, and while I am not threatened by any question you might have, in the end, you need to remember that I am God and you are not. My favorite verse: 38:36 - God reminds Job that He gave Job the wisdom and understanding to even argue with God - thinking on that very long will blow your mind.
  • I love that Job comes to a place of repentance in 42:6 - repentance is the only place to come to in our relationship with God - changing our mind and our heart and our actions to line up with the reality of God's character and presence. And God blesses him for seeing truly and repenting honestly before Him. The end of Job is bitter-sweet- God restores everything to Job.
  • This Matthew section continues to deal with issues of Jesus' identity and His mission. I love the way that Matthew weaves in the sections about blindness and faith. I think Matthew is using these narratives to make statements about the blindness of the Pharisees to Jesus' identity and the blindness of the disciples to Jesus' mission. Are our eyes open to see the true Jesus and see His true mission?

  • In the end, Job s

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Day Six: Genesis 26-30, Job 31-36, Matthew 16-18

Key Points:
  • When we devise ways to make God's plan happen by our own means, we are asking for trouble. Jacob's story highlights the trouble with thinking that we know how to make God's plan happen better than He does. I'm reminded that waiting on God is sometimes just as spiritual as moving forward.
  • God continues to bless the line of the patriarchs, even though they seem so dysfunctional. I don't think this is permission to live however we want and expect God's blessings - I think it is a reminder of how God is faithful to His promises despite our own sinfulness. God had promised to bless Abraham and his descendants because of Abraham's strong faith, and God keeps His word. I'm also encouraged that God can use anyone - even those with very weird families.
  • Today's reading in Job started with Job's final words about his own good deeds and then turned primarily to the words of the young guy in the story, Elihu. Elihu states that he has been silent up to this point because he didn't want to assume on his elders, but listen to them in respect to his youth (real wisdom in that for me as a young leader - knowing when to speak and when to listen is sometimes hard). Elihu takes Job's friends to task for assuming that they know the mind of God, and then he takes Job to task for assuming that he is blameless and sinless before God. I think both points are very well made. We are in dangerous waters when we assume we know what God is doing (when we don't) - I've written and talked about this at length before. We are also in dangerous waters when we assume our good deeds eliminate our need for God. Even in Job's case (where he had lived a good life and tried to honor God in all his ways), he still at his core was a sinner in need of grace. Bottom-line: we don't deserve anything from God just based on our own goodness. Everything He has given us has been by His grace.
  • This Matthew passage is very powerful. I am always intrigued by the Transfiguration in Matthew 17, especially because it comes directly after the passage where Jesus talks about His death. The message to those early disciples would have been clear (as it is today): the glory comes after the cross. I love the power and glory displayed in Jesus at the transfiguration.
  • Jesus' teaching in Matthew 18 are some of the most challenging teachings to live out in our daily lives: handle conflict by taking our issues directly to the people we have a problem with, go hard after those who are far from God, and show mercy to others in the same way that God has shown mercy to us. Life-changing stuff...

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Day Five: Genesis 21-25, Job 25-30, Matthew 13-15

Time: ? (I read it in a couple different settings)
Key Points:
  • Abraham shows great faith in taking his son, Isaac, up to the mountain. The Scripture tells us that he was willing to kill his own son in obedience to God, even though Isaac was Abraham's only hope of producing a great nation. What a powerful testimony to the fact that his fear of the Father was greater than his love for his own children. This challenges me deeply as I love my own sons so much. I need to grow in my fear and reverence and obedience to the Father.
  • Job's passage today is causing me to think that these guys are so wordy - just being honest. However, I think the book is so expressive because in its pages anyone can find something to connect with. I really connected today with both 28:28 (the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom - also connected with the main point I got from Abraham's story) and with Job's deep grief in chapters 29-30. He doesn't understand why God doesn't care that people are mocking his faith now that it seems like God has abandoned his favor on Job's life. In all this, I find it interesting that Job and his friends do the same thing we do when we encounter very hard times - we sit around and talk about it. Very rarely do we sit and just listen. God is eventually going to break through the noise and speak to Job and his buddies at the end of the book, but I wonder as I read if they wouldn't have heard from Him earlier if they would just quit talking.
  • Jesus teaches in many parables in this section of Matthew. He teaches deep things about the nature of the kingdom of heaven and about the spiritual life, but as the Scripture says, he does it in a way that is hard for people to understand - he is bringing light to some and confusion to others. The other amazing thing that continues to crop up in these chapters is Jesus' heart for the masses - several times, great crowds come to him with disease or blindness or some other infirmity and Jesus heals them. Even when He is tired from his ministry, He takes time to serve those in need.
  • The only other fact that always stands out to me in the gospels is how faith moves Jesus to great acts of power. Transversely, lack of faith (as Jesus experienced in his hometown) somehow limits what Jesus can do - wow.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Day Four: Genesis 16-20, Job 19-24, Matthew 10-12

Time: 50:34
Key Points:
  • The biblical account of the patriarchs is unflinching. The Bible paints such a realistic picture of their great moments and their terrible moments that we can be challenged by them at one moment and disgusted by them the next - kind of like our own lives. And just like today, sexual misconduct brings many people down.
  • I am always challenged by the way Abraham talked with God so intimately - his fellowship with the Father is something we should all strive for.
  • The Job account today really challenged me. Job's discussion with his friends wrestles with some of the hardest questions of faith we have -- (1) how do we deal with unanswered prayer? (2) how do we deal with unhelpful friends who condemn us rather than comfort us during times of trial? (3) how do we deal with the injustice we see around us, the prosperity of the wicked and the suffering of the righteous? (4) how do we wait on God whenever our expectations are not met? -- these are huge issues and probably the reason Job has always been a celebrated book for our faith. We all ask these immensely personal questions at some point in our lives.
  • The Matthew narrative continues to challenge me to walk by faith, as faith continues to move the heart of Christ in all of these stories. Also, we see Jesus talking again about loving Him and pursuing Him above every other pursuit in our lives - what a challenge. In a world with so much to distract us, we were ultimately made to connect with God.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Day Three: Genesis 11-15, Job 13-18, Matthew 7-9

Time: 39:01
Key Points:
  • God's choice of Abram to bless among all the nations is a testimony to both God's sovereign election and His abounding grace. Scripture is unflinching about the wrong choices that Abram made along the way (especially with his wife), but still declares that his faith in God was credited to him as righteousness before God. Another reminder that faith moves the heart of God, and that faith in God leads us to obedience.
  • Job's friends continue to question Job about his attitude toward God. The conversation is honest, revealing, and completely in-your-face. Job continues to look to God as his strength even as he takes his complaints directly to God. It reads to me like his friends see this as a disconnect - that you can't trust God and question Him at the same time. In fact, they go so far as to challenge Job to repent and turn from his sin (maybe sinful actions they believe happened in the past, but maybe also how they see his attitude toward God right now). I think the whole book is a word to us from God that we can understand his character and walk by faith and still have honest questions. I think the Scripture is giving us permission to come to God with all our issues - He's big enough to handle our questions.
  • The ministry of Job's friends reminds me to sometimes just have a ministry of silence, a ministry of presence, and not feel like I always have to say something when I'm with people who are hurting. Usually, whatever we say is not going to help. We see this with Job - the wounds of his experience are too fresh for him to sit and entertain this theological conversation with his friends. I see him just longing for them to sit with him and weep with him, not argue with him.
  • Matthew's passage reminded me today Jesus has an authority unlike anyone that has ever walked the earth - authority over disease, nature, death, and the spiritual world. The call from Matthew is submit to this Kingdom authority and to have faith. In all the stories of this passage, faith plays a key part. Do I believe in the power of Jesus?
  • Most penetrating verse personally: Matthew 9:12 - it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Amen.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Day Two: Genesis 6-10, Job 7-12, Matthew 4-6

Time: 44:52
Key Points:
  • Noah's story is an amazing look at the judgment of our God against sin and his grace and mercy in saving Noah's family and making a covenant promise never to destroy the world again. Without this promise, one has to wonder if God would have already been moved to judgment again with the sinfulness of our world.
  • Job's discussion with his friends is a revealing examination of how we process suffering and pain. His friends, in their attempt to help, keep point Job to find the sin in his own life that provoked God to bring such terrible events into his life. Job, for his part, states that he knows God well; in fact, he goes on to speak at length about God's character in some beautiful verses about God's justice and sovereignty and mercy and strength. However, Job is honest that he has questions for God - he wants a hearing with God to argue his case. His story is our story when we go through extremely hard trials - leaning on God's eternal character while having difficult questions for God that can't be easily answered.
  • I see a great picture of the gospel in Job 9:33-35 where Job says that he just wants someone to mediate between him and the Father. He asks for someone to remove God's judgment from him - this is such a wonderful picture of what Jesus Christ did for us. He is, as the NT says, the only Mediator between God and man.
  • I'm preaching on the sermon on the mount section of Matthew this spring, so I see more in this passage than I could possibly mention here. However, one word jumped out at me in a fresh way during this ready: secrecy. God wants us to practice our walk with Christ in such a way that we guard against always trying to get credit for doing good. Very challenging - especially pushes me to work at the discipline of silence.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Day One: Genesis 1-5, Job 1-6, Matthew 1-3

Time: 38:30
Main Points:
  • God is the Creator. He created everything good and with purpose.
  • Men & women have broken God's law from the beginning. We not only have inherited the guilt of our first parents, but their nature to easily twist God's intention for our lives and go our own way.
  • Suffering is a reality in this life, but the question is always how we handle that adversity in our relationship with the Father. Can we maintain our integrity and question the circumstances without cursing God?
  • Jesus is the Jewish Messiah - from the line of Abraham and David, the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies about the coming King. For me to fully understand his identity, I need to understand Him inside his own culture, not mine.
Happy New Year!