“Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed …” Psalm 2:1-2. The answer to the question: because it works! The world uses cancel culture and the very threat of rejection to control Christians today and keep the gospel message contained within the walls of our church buildings. But it was not always so …. In Acts 4, this passage is quoted by the believers who prayed for boldness in proclaiming the gospel after Peter and John had proclaimed to the very body that had condemned Jesus that no other name had been “given among men by which we must be saved.” Verse 3 of the Psalm calls for us to burst the world’s “bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” God laughs in derision at the weak world’s attempts to stop the ad-vance of His Kingdom because He has set His Anointed, His King on Zion, His holy hill. But do His subjects know this? Do they act as if they believe it? Or is it time for us to pray for boldness once again to proclaim the gospel as we take refuge in Him and not our buildings. Do you live like the world is powerless against Jesus?
“And they prayed … And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles” Acts 1:24-26. A certain hymn asks four questions: “Ere you left your room this morn-ing … When you met with great temptation … When your heart was filled with anger … When sore trials came upon you … Did you think to pray?” God’s people have always gotten in trouble when they go about their lives without prayer. Most notable is when the leaders of Israel made a covenant with the Gibeonites as they came into the Promised Land without inquiring of the Lord. During the ten days that Jesus’ followers waited in Jeru-salem as instructed after the ascension of Jesus into heaven, they spoke of Judas’ betrayal and quoted script-ure that his place should be filled. But, rather than just plunging into choosing who the worthy disciple would be, they prayed first … and this was before they had the Holy Spirit poured out upon them! It’s not a matter of what is too trivial to bother God with. He tells those of us who have been given His Spirit when we’re baptized into His Son to pray without ceasing and to bring all things before His throne. In all things, do you think to pray?
“I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs; I will tear open their breast, and there I will devour them like a lion, as a wild beast would rip them open” Hosea 13:8. To explain the unknown, you always describe it by comparing it to something that is known. In this case, God is explaining through the prophet how deep He cares for Israel and how their sin hurts Him by comparing this to a bear robbed of her cubs. He will bring judgment upon them for their turning away from Him, not because He enjoys dishing out punishment. No, just as a parent says, “this will hurt me more than it hurts you,” and it is true, so God is explaining what He as a good Father must do—in terms of a mother’s love! We’ve all heard the wisdom of not getting between a mother bear and her cubs, and in fact human mother’s who show this same deep love and protection for their kids are called ‘mama grizzlies.’ So God in describing for us what is indescribable uses the ultimate example to explain His fierce love and deep love for His own who have rejected Him from sin—'like a bear robbed of her cubs.’ His love for you and hurt because of your sin is the same. Happy Mother’s Day! Do you bear-ly return His love?
“but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” Psalm 1:2. I heard a widow exclaim as she related her story of what she had endured while losing her spouse, “I just don’t know how people who don’t have faith get through this!” That is true as I had thought the very same thing while going through my own ordeal. The righteous are contrasted to the wicked in Psalm 1, and contrary to popular thinking, God doesn’t speak about any lukewarm middle ground except that He will spit those who try to live there out of His mouth. Despite all the temporary glitz of this world that the wicked seem to have, they are like chaff that the wind drives away and won’t stand in the judgment. The righteous, however, fixes his heart and mind on things above and so is like a tree by the water’s edge drinking deeply from God and bearing fruit “in season” for God because of it. “In season” means that it comes just when God knows you need it at its proper time and in its proper way according to His perfect plan. This is how Christians get through difficult situations —by faith! Without it, the wicked often turn to many negative things to cope. Are you a tree planted by water?
“He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God” Acts 1:3. Since He is eternal, we’ve looked at Jesus during the time periods of eternity to creation, creation to incarnation, and, skipping His ministry for now, how He was fully man to be our sacrifice at the cross and fully God to be our Savior at the tomb. Now we turn to the shortest period yet, a span of fifty days, from the resurrection to ascension. These seven weeks were crucial. The ones who would take the gospel message into the world needed to be absolutely convinced. Jesus didn’t just prove this once to them. He spent forty days with them and gave them “many proofs” that He was indeed alive and had conquered death. He just didn’t appear in secret but to over 500 people at one time. This should convince the most hardened skeptic or even us who live in a skeptical age. Without the Spirit yet to guide them into all truth, they struggled to understand, even as He ascended. Then, not fully understanding, they had to obey His command to wait upon God for His perfect timing. Are you still and waiting upon God, trusting His plan for you?