Daughters of Promise

My Scared, Scared Heart

February 11, 2019

For in subjecting everything to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. As it is, we do not yet see everything subjected to him.  Hebrews 2:8

When I read some of God’s claims, I explore every possible thing I fear might disqualify me from His outrageous promises.

“I will always love you.” “Really, but what if I do the most despicable thing?  There’s got to be limits!”

“I am more powerful than anything that can hurt you.” “Really, but what about the things I’m most afraid of?  Failure, sickness, death?” 

“I will forgive all your sins.”  “Really, but I can think of a few you couldn’t possibly forgive. I worry constantly that I’m the exception.”

In today’s scripture, the writer treats the subject of Jesus’ authority like that.  He had just written these words in previous verses ~

“He put everything in subjection under His feet.”  But then he adds ~“He left nothing that is not subject to Him?” 

Can’t you hear his thoughts?  “People will wonder ~ but what about this?  Is that really under His feet too?”  Down deep, all of God’s claims seem too good to be true.  The world is a dangerous place.  Most things are more powerful than we are.  People can also be dangerous as the world  becomes unhinged.  Sin is cancerous and I can’t replace what it has eaten away.  Can I really trust that everything is in subjection under Jesus’ feet?

Each one of us has some area of our lives where it appears the enemy is winning.  The current worldview seems irreparable.  It also appears Satan is winning if I live around people who sin against me and aren’t sorry for it.  I feel that way about my own heart at times.  I want to be like Jesus and yet I often take steps backward.  What happened to Jesus’ power?

Jesus didn’t eradicate all evil when He lived here for thirty-three years.  Yes, He came to destroy the works of the devil but He did it in the lives of individuals.  He didn’t come to overthrow the Roman Empire but He overthrew demonic possession in various people and delivered others of a spirit of infirmity.  Sprinkled throughout these miracles were displays of His control over nature, too. If the fullness of time had come, He could have destroyed the Roman Empire with a look, with a breath, and it would have been no contest.

Make no mistake.  “One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Romans 14:11 For now, there is a timeline that is under the feet of Jesus.  We are afflicted, yes, and Paradise has not yet been restored to this earth.  Ah, but the power of sin has been broken for everyone who repents, gives his life to Christ, and lives through the indwelling power of the Spirit.  Paradise, dwelling with God, is mine now.  “The kingdom is here now,” Jesus said.

Oh Jesus, You are biding Your time until all the world sees Your power on full display and bows to Your authority.  For now, I see it.  I bow.  I believe.  The power of sin that once held me captive is under Your feet and I am seated with You in heavenly places.  To You be all glory and honor.  Amen

He Restored What Had Once Gone Wrong

February 7, 2019

For in bringing many sons to glory, it was entirely appropriate that God—all things exist for Him and through Him—should make the source of their salvation perfect through sufferings. Hebrews 2:10 [ESV]

It makes good sense that the God who got everything started and keeps everything going now completes the work by making the Salvation Pioneer perfect through suffering as he leads all these people to glory.  Hebrews 2:10 [The Message]

The Message so beautifully captures this verse.

God got everything started.  He made Adam and Eve in His image.  His glory was on display in their perfection.  No sin marred His reflection.  But then it all went wrong . . .

God kept everything going.  Instead of punishing sin with instant annihilation, His mercy kept everything moving along by introducing a model for the sacrifice for sin. Man could pursue God through repenting and then shedding an innocent animal’s blood in order to receive forgiveness.  It was brutal.  It was violent.  It was grotesque.  But even this severe manner of atoning for sin was imperfect.  A Savior was needed who could finish the atonement through sacrificing Himself.  And then mankind, even Abraham, looked toward the future with a longing for the Messiah . . .

God gave His Son as the Salvation Pioneer.  A pioneer is one who begins, leads, and finishes something successfully.  Jesus did all three.  He created, He made provision for sin up until His incarnation, and then made a way for paradise lost to be restored.  It was brutal.  It was violent.  It was grotesque.  It was not inflicted on an animal this time but on a man.  The cost for sin was displayed on the broken body of Jesus.  He was no innocent victim but fully in charge in offering up Himself.  And then Jesus called out to sinners to look to Him and live . . .

God perfected our salvation through the Pioneer’s suffering.   Future salvation had been secured. Tears, gratitude, and celebration marked the lives of His disciples because He suffered what we could not.  We could not give enough, pay enough, or suffer enough to atone for our sins. Only forgiven people, made holy through the shedding of innocent blood, could become sons and daughters.  Only Jesus could bring many sons to glory . . . 

It’s told so beautifully in Stuart Townend’s modern hymn.

How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

I do not turn away from the memory of what was brutal, what was violent and grotesque.  Your sacrifice is every before me when I break bread and remember Your broken body.  Thank you for bringing me, just one of your daughters, to glory.  Amen

Face In The Dirt

February 6, 2019

You crowned him with glory and honor and subjected everything under his feet.  Hebrews 2:8

The word subjected does not describe something pleasant.  Prisoners are subjected to cruel treatment.  New military recruits and new fraternity members can be subjected to bullying, even hazing.  When Hebrews says that everything is in subjection ~ under Christ’s feet, Jesus’ rank is being shown.

In ancient times, those victorious in battle would hunt down, and then present the leaders of the opposing army.  Subjecting them to a posture of submission, they were forced to lie face down in the dirt.  The highest ranking commander of the winning army would put his foot on the back of their necks as a sign of conquest.  Usually, they then lost their lives.

Jesus, our conquering King, rules over every principality, dominion, every ruler and authority in high places.  These terms encompass every rank and level of authority in Satan’s kingdom.  While we are no match for the power of the enemy, he is no match for our Commander.  Every one of our spiritual enemies is defeated and in subjection to His authority.  That is comforting when we feel the forces of evil coming against us.  Yes, it is a daily battle.  Yes, I need a daily reminder that the war was won at Calvary.  And here’s the thing.  Satan will act like he still has all the power if I let him.  The church needs to be the church and call his bluff.  We have been given the authority to enforce the victory of Calvary in Jesus’ name.  We use our mouths, with the sword of the Word on our tongues, to put him in his place.  At the name of Jesus, and at the sound of His Word, he trembles and flees.

Remember the movie, The Passion?  At the very beginning, music plays softly and we see Jesus in the garden praying.  It is a lush, blue/green world and all seems peaceful.  All of a sudden, a serpent rounds the trunk of the tree that Jesus is kneeling beside and with a deliberate force of violence, Jesus stomps on the head of the snake.  This is a powerful reminder that Jesus does not tolerate evil.  He threw Satan (and all the angels who defected with him) out of heaven.  He defeated him again at the cross and removed all power and authority from him.  The authority Adam had lost so long ago in the Garden of Eden was given to Satan.  He admitted it outright when he told Jesus to worship him in the wilderness.  “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.  Worship before me and it will all be yours.”   Luke 4:6   Oh, the arrogance!

My father in law, a gifted evangelist, signed every letter with this closing ~ On the victory side.  We do not need to cower in fear in the presence of enemies we cannot see.  There is no suspense.  There is no tug of war.  Victory has already been declared and it’s up to each of us to declare it again and again to this arrogant foe who is hoping we’ll forget the power of the blood of the Lamb.

Martin Luther captured this subjugation in just one line of his hymn, A Mighty Fortress.  “One little word shall fell him.” 

I know my place Jesus.  I am not clever to fight the battle.  I am not eloquent against his cunning speech.  Your name and Your Word are my weapons. It was enough for You and it’s enough for me.  Make me a mighty arrow in your quiver.  Amen

Oh, What They Saw!

February 5, 2019

You made him lower than the angels for a short time; You crowned him with glory and honor and subjected everything under his feet. Hebrews 2:7-8 

The angels were with God before the earth was created.

The angels were with God when he touched this dead planet and everything barren and brown turned green with promise.

The angels watched as Adam took his first breath and as Eve joined him to walk in perfect love.

The angels watched God walk with Adam in the Garden and felt the wonder of God giving man dominion over all living things.

The angels watched as Adam and Eve turned mutinous.  They saw God’s heart break when paradise disintegrated.

The angels pondered the news throughout Israel’s history that a Messiah was coming.  Did they know it would be Jesus?

The angels watched the ebb and flow of obedience and disobedience, blessing and judgement.  Loving righteousness, they wept with their Sovereign.

The angels quickened at the news that Mary was chosen to birth God’s Son. Michael, one of their own, had a story to tell.  Perhaps he prepared them for a cataclysmic change.

The angels were sent to sing and announce the birth of the One they had served throughout time.  He would lie in a manger instead of sit on a throne.

The angels rushed to Jesus’ side in the wilderness.  They served him there just as faithfully as they had in heaven.  They ministered to His frailty; hunger, thirst, and discouragement.

The angels saw Jesus’ miracles and having witnessed much greater things, they thought to themselves, “People haven’t seen anything yet!”

The angels watched the world reject Love.  They saw their King beaten, scourged, and crucified.  I believe the throngs of heaven wept in disbelief.

The angels witnessed and took part in the resurrection.  Their Jesus was glorified and was coming back home.  Was there feasting, singing, and dancing?

The angels celebrated as new children of God were born.  They trembled with joy when they heard the sons of men call their God, “Abba.” 

How could such a thing happen?  A Holy God chose to take on flesh and make Himself lower than the angel’s estate.  The world witnessed humility being defined by incarnation.

They have seen it all, Lord.  They are witnesses to Your glory.  They are still active serving us because of Your love.  Is someone entertaining one today?  Are they singing to the one who is reading this – the one who is weak and afraid?  Are they fighting for another who reads these words and has dropped her hands in battle?  Don’t let me lose the wonder of worlds I can’t see but the worlds You still rule.  I am safe in the arms of Love no matter how chaotic it all appears.  You hold me fast, Good Father.  Amen

I Thought About You The Other Day

February 4, 2019

But somewhere it is testified in these words: “What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You care for him? Hebrews 2:5-6

A little boy attempted to recite the Lord’s prayer.  He said, “Our Father, who art in heaven, how do you know my name?”  That child had no idea he was capturing the wonder of these verses.  He misquoted the prayer but correctly summarized this direct quotation from Psalm 8.  On a distant hillside, a shepherd boy gazed into the heavens and was awestruck by the privilege of being thought of by God.  All David had to go on were the stories of his ancestors, truths about God from the Torah, and the experience of being part of a nation God called ‘Israel, my glory.’

In 1968, when Apollo 8 circled the moon, the astronauts took turns reading the story of creation.  You might have heard them recite it on archived recordings.  What’s more meaningful than that is when Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon and celebrated communion.  As he did, he read this verse from Psalm 8.  “What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You care for him?”  It was under radio silence so no one got to hear it.

What does it mean that God is thinking of me today?  Am I a fleeting thought?  Is it like when I run into an old friend and hear them say, “It’s really strange that I would see you today.  Last week, out of the clear blue, I thought of you.”  While that’s slightly meaningful, it’s not life changing.  It’s clear that I was just someone’s stray thought whereas God is preoccupied with me.  With the billions of people on earth, He doesn’t divide His time to think about me for just a split second before moving on to someone else.  He is ever conscious of my every breath, every sigh, every joy, frustration, tears and celebrations.  He is intimately acquainted and eternally committed in Covenant love that He initiated.

On this day, right now, how are you feeling?  Alone, challenged, intimidated, forsaken, perhaps even betrayed?  Savor every word of this love letter.  If it’s familiar, don’t read it on auto pilot.  Take your time.  It’s one of many expressions of love but a perfect one for this moment in time.  Allow the wonder of what it means to belong to God infuse new iron into your foundation.

But now the Lord who created you, says: Don’t be afraid, for I have ransomed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up—the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, your Savior, the Holy One of Israel. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.

Isaiah 43

Are Confirmations For The Weak?

January 31, 2019

This salvation was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, and was affirmed by God through signs, wonders, various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will.   Hebrews 2:3-4

How kind God is to His children.  He knows how we are wired and how impaired we are to see and understand spiritual realities because of the fall.  We don’t easily believe things we cannot see.  Kingdom truths are abstract and outside of our human logic.  His thoughts are far from our thoughts.  Faith does not come naturally to us at all so He is gracious to reveal spiritual things creatively and through many people.  Today’s scripture is a good way for me to see how He announces, confirms, and then affirms again in order to build our confidence.

  • Jesus announced that He was the Messiah, that He was God in the flesh.
  • Those who heard Him and believed in Him announced it through personal witness.
  • Then, Jesus confirmed it again through signs, wonders, miracles, and through the display of supernatural gifts He gave to His disciples.

Confidence in God and the assurance that we have heard His voice correctly is important to Him and so very critical to us.  Confirmations are part of this picture.  They are often misunderstood so what is it I’m allowed to ask for in prayer?

It is not wrong to need to hear confirmations about things related to direction. It is not faithless to ask for signs that confirm important decisions. God wants me to get it right.  He promised to be my shepherd and to lead me.  He promised that I would know His voice. He promised that He would plant my steps securely and that I would not stumble.   I think of how many signs God gave His people.  Here are just a few.

God gave the shepherds a sign for how to find baby Jesus.  “You will find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”  He gave the disciples signs about how to find the Upper Room, following a man with a water jug.  He gave Gideon signs with a piece of fleece.  But how does He do it today?  Additional scriptures, His still small voice in prayer, a word from a brother or sister in Christ, a line from a book, circumstantial evidence that has been divinely rearranged, and even in dreams.

Some would warn that the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes asked Jesus for a sign but Jesus rebuked them and called them an evil and adulterous generation.  But they wanted signs to make Him prove Himself and His identity.  That’s altogether different.

Asking for confirmations as God’s child is the privilege afforded to those who call God ‘Abba’. The skeptic, however, is inclined to put God to the test by saying, “If You are really who You say You are, prove it!” This is arrogance from the heart of one who really doesn’t want to humble himself to believe.  God does not bend to whims of the unregenerate.

Thank you for every creative way You have spoken to me.  I’m sure I’m missing many cues but continue to teach me all the times You try to speak in unsuspecting ways.  Amen