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The Value of Human Life

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“Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.”  Genesis 2:7  (ESV)  “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.”  Genesis 9:6  (ESV)

Are you really just a higher form of animal life, the most recent iteration on top of the evolutionary chart?  Think about what that means to the value of human life.  No transcendent purpose to your life.  No absolute moral principles to live by.  Nothing beyond the grave.  On an increasingly crowded planet life is cheap; and who determines which of us deserve to live?

God changes the calculus. Unlike the plant and animal life he spoke into existence, human life was hand-made.  The very breath of God animated Adam.  (Breath and spirit are the same word in Hebrew.)  We have a soul.  While the most important element of God’s image – perfect holiness – was lost in the fall into sin, there remains the reasoning and feeling echo of our God.  Love is the over-arching ethical principle that God bequeathed humanity, a reflection of himself.

Human life is so valuable that God protects it.  Only he has the right to end human life.  Capital punishment is the deterrent he mandated for the post-flood world, life for life.  That bit of divine irony confirms the sanctity of life.  There are no qualifiers to the value God placed on life, as though viability outside the womb or contribution to society establishes our worth. 

So priceless is human life that our Father in heaven sent his Son to death in our place, his blood shed to redeem us from everlasting death for our sins.  The sanctity of life established by the Creator is multiplied by the life given for us by the Savior.  You are worth the price God paid for you – the innocent blood of his Son.  That’s greater meaning to what you see in the mirror each morning.  And that changes how you see the people you meet during the day.

Forgive me, Lord, for demeaning the life you gave me and failing to care for it as your precious gift.  Forgive me, Lord, for diminishing the value that Jesus’ death has placed on the lives around me with thoughtless words and actions.  Thank you, Lord, for your love and for the significance you have given my life.  Guide my life with your Word and by your Spirit.  Amen.

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Psalm 119 (Part 1)

opened book selective focus photography
 
Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! [Psalm 119:1]
 
Psalm 119 is long. Really long. 176 verses long. And this makes it a very intimidating Psalm to read.

But Psalm 119 is a beautiful poem, containing some beautiful truths about the Word of God. And, even though it takes 176 verses, the Psalm doesn’t exhaust how much can be said about God’s Word for us and to us.

And, tragically, our English Bibles hide some of the rich imagery of Psalm 119. You see, the poem is an acrostic of the entire alphabet. Eight verses dedicated to just one letter, then on to the next. Our vocabulary finds its fulfillment in the very vernacular of our God. From A to Z, Alpha to Omega, Aleph to Taw, our language is rooted in the loving law of God. So, what follows this week is an attempt at bringing some justice to the aspect of God’s all-encompassing Word to the poem, Psalm 119.
 
א
All your commands are good,
Anyone who perfectly keeps them- blessed.
Ah! If only I could… I will Lord, bless me!
 
ב
Boys have a huge hill to climb to get to holiness,
But I am doing it by dwelling on your word day and night.
Behind every action of mine is the desire to honor and praise you.
 
ג
Give me life, Lord, do good to me.
Going on this path, I see only what you show me, since my home is with you.
Governors and statesmen mock me, but I find my peace and delight in you.
 
ד
Deal with me, Lord, when I’m down in the dust and weary with worry.
Determining my path based on your word, my heart is set on understanding.
Don’t let me be bound up, for I run fast and free on the way of truth.
 
ה
Halt, stop, the evil within me, Lord, and turn me toward your righteous words and ways.
Here, right now, I demand you take me by the hand, instruct my head and heart in your holy decrees.
How I long, o Lord, for the fulfillment of your promise! Preserve my life in your righteousness.
 
ו
Words come at me from all directions, but I hold fast to yours Lord. Keep them coming!
Where obedience means freedom- that’s where I will walk.
Whenever words are demanded from me, I will put forth the ones I love- yours.
 
ז
Zeal for your ancient words brings me comfort, even when people are zealous for wickedness.
Zap my name, you arrogant mockers, but you cannot take away my hope and promise.
Zero songs will I sing, O Lord, if my song is not your decrees, your name, your Torah.
 
Prayer: Lord God, thank you for Your Word. It gives us life, guidance, peace, and hope. Lead us always by the power of Jesus, Your Word made flesh! Amen.

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Wait, Wait, There’s More! (Part 3)

blue book on white table

While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” 36 Overhearing[a] what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Mark 5:35-36

After you buy the miracle chopper, tube of caulk or knife set, there is one more problem. You did everything on a whim. You saw the commercial, heard that you would get two sets of knives if you ordered right now and so you did. You called and now you wait. For all that energy and immediate action, you would think that somehow the knives could show up this afternoon, or tomorrow at the latest. No. Remember the theme of these commercials: “Wait, wait, there’s more.” They meant it. Wait, wait, you’ll wait some more before they show up.

Jairus certainly knew about this. The miracle that he hoped for wasn’t working out. He had hoped that he could hurry Jesus along so that Jesus could heal his daughter. But he had to wait, wait for the healing of the woman who had touched Jesus and then was found to be reassured of her healing.  All this is well and good, but look at the time! Then the messengers come to say that his daughter has died. It’s all too late. All that waiting and he couldn’t deliver Jesus in time to his door.

But Jesus knew exactly the gifts he was bringing and that his delivery was perfectly on time. Don’t despair, Jairus, just believe. And so, Jesus calmly, fearlessly goes to the little girl, takes her hand and raises her up. Jairus hoped that Jesus would bring healing. But wait, there was far more in Jesus’ plan. He brings resurrection and a fearlessness even in the face of death.

When we ask for this year’s blessings, we are like Jairus. We ask for the blessings we’ve seen others receive and we hope that our share comes quickly. But perhaps the first gift is waiting, trusting God’s delivery plan. And then with faith, we see that God can provide all we need, both what we might have expected and also far more. Wait, wait, this new year, there’s more to what God can do.

Our heavenly Father, thank you for the first gift of your presence with us as we wait. Give us patience and trust in you as you bring all we need for this year, both what we expect and the more you have in mind. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


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Work of God

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“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (ESV)

We hear the preacher remind us to share the Good News.  We are called to support Gideons International as they take the world of God into our community and throughout the world.  We are called to support missions on faraway continents.  This is the work of God.

The work of God also happens closer to home.  As a matter of fact, the work of God should be accomplished in our homes!

Our greatest mission work is accomplished within the realm of family.  As parents and grandparents we are given the responsibility and the privilege of sharing the Good News of Jesus with our children and our grandchildren.

The Lord has established the family and the home as the primary place that faith building occurs.  The Church assists the parent in training up a child in the nurture of the Lord.  The Sunday School, the Christian day school and the Youth Group serve to assist parents in faith development of children.

It is the duty of the home to provide growth of the body through proper nourishment; growth of the mind through solid education and growth of faith by fostering an environment where the Word is shared, prayers are spoken and the faith openly lived.
 
Loving Lord, You created us and placed us into families that we would be nurtured in faith, hope and love.  Grant to us Your Holy Spirit that parents would see and embrace their privilege of raising their children in the faith.  We pray this to your glory.  Amen.  

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Wait, Wait, There’s More! (Part 2)

Faith Wallpaper, Wallpaper Of Faith

And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Mark 5:25-18

Those TV commercials that sell the magic chopper, tube of caulk or set of knives always promise something more. But besides telling you that you are getting two magic choppers for $19.95, they also tell you to hurry. If you call within the next 30 minutes, then you get the second set of knives free, plus a separate charge for shipping and handling of course. There’s a deal here but don’t wait. Hurry!

Jairus would have understood that urgency. In Monday’s devotion we left Jairus as he hurried Jesus along to his house to heal his desperately ill daughter. But wait, Jairus, there’s more here!  This woman has come through the crowd to be healed. She is the complete opposite of Jairus as she comes without notice and hopes to touch Jesus for an instant only. But wait, there’s also more for her.

The healing comes instantly just as she hoped, but then Jesus stops walking. To everyone’s’ surprise, and likely to Jairus’ annoyance, Jesus wouldn’t go forward until the woman came forward and he could assure her that her faith had made her well and she could go in peace. What a wonderful blessing beyond merely the hidden touch. She could go home in peace and wake up the next morning confident that her healing was complete.

Meanwhile Jairus has had to wait. But don’t despair, Jairus. Jesus knows exactly what he is doing and what is happening. Even when it seems that Jesus has taken time and energy to solve a problem that is not life-threatening, while Jairus’ daughter is actually dying, it will all work out.

Perhaps as you begin this new year, you feel like Jairus. Your needs are crushing and urgent. And yet, you see God healing others and solving problems that don’t seem nearly as important as yours. Wait, wait, there’s more to come. Have the faith of the woman who hoped for only a brief touch and got so much more. Stay near Jesus to hear him say to you also, “Your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

Our heavenly Father, thank you that you see all our needs, large and small. While our own needs seem so big, remind us that you have all of us in your hands and in your time, you bring us your answer, more than we had expected. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen


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