The Joy of Glory

Discovering endless joy in the boundless glory of God…

Lent Devotional: Micah 6:8

Micah 6:8 
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

Reflection
On January 24th, 2004 my life changed forever. It was on that day that Holly and I were united in marriage.

This union changed everything.

It literally affected every aspect, every moment of my life. And I’m not just talking about the big things being affected… like my living arrangement, my priorities, my love, etc… I knew that marriage would bring about a huge shift, but I didn’t realize it would work itself out to the point that nothing about me was left unchanged.

I mean the way I cooked, the way I slept, and even the way I sneezed changed! Ok… that last one didn’t actually change, but I am constantly told that it needs to!

This union changed everything.

In truth, marriage is a mere picture, a shadow or a deeper union… the union of Christ with his people, the Church. When you came to faith in Jesus Christ, you became a part of his people and as a part of his people you were united to him… like a bride is united to her groom.

This union should change everything.

This is what the Lord says to through the prophet Micah. He is the God who redeemed them out of slavery and made them his people… and that union should change everything about them. Because they have been united to a God of justice they should be a people of justice. Because they have been united to a God of loving kindness they should be a people of loving kindness. Because they have been united to a God of humble faithfulness they should be a people of humble faithfulness.

Notice that doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly is not what makes them the people of God. No… they do these things BECAUSE they ARE a people who HAVE BEEN united to God.

I don’t act like I’m married to Holly in order to be married to her. No. I act like I am married to Holly because I AM married to her.

In my marriage and in the church’s union with God through Christ… we find ourselves in a union that changes everything!

1 Peter 1:15, “…as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct…”

2 Timothy 1:9, “[God] saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace…”

1 Thessalonians 4:7-8, “For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.”

As we talk about being a people who mirror the Christ to whom we have been united… a people who reflect the cross… a cruciform community… as we talk about this, we must know that we do not seek to reflect the holiness of God in order to be his people, but because we are his people!

He has given us the Holy Spirit to empower us to live holy lives that show the world that our union with Jesus is real! As we continue to put sin to death by the Spirit’s power, we know that we will not be perfectly holy, but we can be truly holy, truly live as the Saints we are!

This is what the Lord requires of his people… to be just that… to live as just that… HIS PEOPLE.

 
*All previous devotionals may be found at www.thejoyofglory.com
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

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Lent Devotional: Amos 5:10-15

Amos 5:10-15 (click here)
They hate him who reproves in the gate,
and they abhor him who speaks the truth.
Therefore because you trample on the poor
and you exact taxes of grain from him,
you have built houses of hewn stone,
but you shall not dwell in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
but you shall not drink their wine. (Amos 5:10-11)

Reflection
It’s hard to read the prophets sometimes… isn’t it? I mean, all our passages for the past few days have just felt heavy as they have exposed some extremely negative images of community.

However…

We need this don’t we? The Bible is true to life, and not all of life is pretty, easy, and light. There are dark, broken difficulties… even in community. And, God specifically raised up prophets to call his rebellious people back to himself. Amos is no different.

Amos calls out with warnings to a community that hates “justice for all” because they love “just all for me.” They are willing to oppress, abuse, and harm anyone as long as it means gain for themselves, and they will silence anyone who tells them differently.

In ancient cities, the older men of the city often spent much of their day seated at the city gates to observe the comings and goings of the people. From this vantage point, they served as judges in the city. People brought their disagreements and grievances to them in hopes that their wisdom would render a just judgment.

Yet… Amos says that many in the community hate those old men specifically because they speak the truth and reprove them for their abuse of others.

This is a massive sign that cruciform community is breaking down and that people are no longer sacrificing themselves for others, but rather sacrificing others for themselves… the community hates correction.

The despising of wisdom, accountability, and correction is evidence that we consider ourselves our own supreme judges. We are unwilling to hear correction because we believe that we are always correct.

The warning from Amos is that even if we reject the justice of a wise community, justice will ultimately be served by an all-wise God. These people may find success in oppressing others so that they can build fine houses and plant great vineyards, but they won’t get to live in their mansions and drink their wine. In other words, even if they get their way for a little while, they will ultimately lose everything. Justice will be done… and the things they thought would bring them lasting satisfaction will pass away, and they will find themselves not in community with the only one who truly satisfies forever… God.

The question we need to ask ourselves is how do we receive correction from our community? Do we love the faithful wounds of a friend, leader, or church who are after our eternal good? Or, do we reject all correction because we believe that we are always correct?

Correction in community is a gracious gift from God that teaches all of us how to live cruciform lives where we give up sacrificing others for the good of ourselves, and become a people who sacrifice ourselves for the good of others.

*All previous devotionals may be found at www.thejoyofglory.com
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

Lent Devotional: Hosea 3

Hosea 3 (click here)
And the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” (Hosea 3:1)

Reflection
God speaks.

Imagine it… you actually, literally hear his voice. This is something you’ve always hoped would happened, but doubted that it ever would… and then… out of nowhere… a voice. And what does God say?

“Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.” (Hosea 1:2)

Don’t worry… that’s not exactly what I was expecting either.

What would you do? Hosea obeys… he marries Gomer… and she doesn’t quit her adulterous lifestyle. In fact, she runs into the arms of so many lovers and risky situations, that she apparently landed herself in slavery.

What was Hosea to do? What was he supposed to tell their children? What would God have him do?

“Go AGAIN, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel…” (Hosea 3:1)

Hosea buys her back.

Hosea loves Gomer and refuses to let her go. She will be his, and he will be hers. He will pay any price to make sure of it.

Why did the Lord call Hosea to this lot? Why was he called to marry a woman he KNEW would be unfaithful? Why was he called to STAY with her?

WHY?

God has actually been telling Hosea and us why all along. At the end of Hosea 1:2 God said that the reason Hosea was to take a prostitute as a wife was because, “the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.”

Hosea’s marriage was a living reflection of the relationship that the LORD shared with his adulterous, rebellious people who were constantly seeking after other gods. Hosea was not just going to speak a message to the people about God’s unfailing, faithful love in the face of their faithlessness… no… he was going to live that message!

Hosea would not just declare to the community what was on the heart of God… he would feel the very heart of God. Hosea’s heart and the heart of the LORD would beat in rhythm with one another to the broken beat of love.

Gomer and Hosea are a small-scale picture of a much larger reality… a larger story… the story of the people of God… an adulterous people who continually have a love affair with sin… and whose faithful groom buys her back again… this is the Gospel!

Jesus is the Gospel… and we are Gomer.

We are Gomer? I thought we began this whole “Hosea-story” by putting ourselves in Hosea’s shoes and imagining what it would have been like to hear the voice of God calling us to marry one who would be unfaithful. However, the truth of the matter is that we are not supposed to identify with Hosea… that is not our part in the Gospel story.

We are Gomer.

And to every Gomer out there… Hosea 3 has good news… Gospel news for you… God has come to redeem you and bring you back to himself. He has paid the price for your life with his own blood that you might be his and he might be yours. This is grace… undeserved, unimaginable, unlimited grace…

…and grace is good news… because grace is the only thing that can hold God and Gomer together.

*All previous devotionals may be found at www.thejoyofglory.com
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

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