Morning Musing: John 3:16

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I don’t know about you, but this has been a powerful Advent journey this year. It has been for me a time to reflect deeply on the coming of Christ into the world and into our lives. It has filled me with a renewed hope in His return one day to complete His work that began in a stable. None of our reflections over the past month have been on passages that were at all unfamiliar. But in spending time with words we’ve read and studied before, we have discovered deeper truths that affirm even more powerfully just how great is our God. This morning as we bring this journey to a close (tomorrow will be a special Christmas Eve edition of our Songs of the Season series), I want us to land on the most important Gospel truth of all. Let us ponder for a moment together just how great is the love of our God.

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Morning Musing: Ephesians 1:4

“For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Do you remember Magic Eye books? They had a brief surge of popularity when I was growing up. Each picture looked like some kind of a random, repeating pattern of shapes and images when you just glanced at it. But if you looked at it just right, all of a sudden, there was something else there. I remember getting a book when I was little and spending hours trying to master the technique of seeing the hidden image. The standard approach is to hold the image right up to your nose and pull it away slowly while trying to look through it. When you got to just the right distance, your eyes would begin to perceive the depth of the 3D image hiding beneath the pattern. I finally figured out my own technique which is to cross my eyes and then slowly uncross them. What got me thinking about Magic Eye images this morning is what Paul wrote here in his opening comments in his letter to the Ephesian church. Most folks who look at it see one thing, but as I was spending some time with it recently, I saw in it something just a bit deeper. Let me share with you what I saw.

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Morning Musing: Mark 15:29-32

“Those who passed by were yelling insults at him, shaking their heads, and saying, ‘Ha! The one who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself by coming down from the cross!’ In the same way, the chief priests with the scribes were mocking him among themselves and saying, ‘He saved others, but he cannot save himself! Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, so that we may see and believe.’ Even those who were crucified with him taunted him.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever made somebody’s bad day worse? There aren’t many things that can make you feel smaller than that. It often happens in a moment when, at first, we don’t even realize what’s happening. The other person is dealing with some awful bit of bad news, and in a moment of weakness offends us somehow. For our part, instead of responding graciously, we snap right back and then double down on our retort, adding insult to the injury she’s already suffering. Then we learn the truth. Or perhaps you’ve been a victim of this kind of thing. You were having a terrible day for some reason and somebody else came along and started dumping their junk all over you, making you feel even worse than you already did. That’s an awful place to be. It’s also a place Jesus understands with intimate familiarity. Let’s talk about it.

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Morning Musing: Mark 14:36

“And he said, ‘Abba, Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever done something you didn’t want to do? How many of you do that at about 8:00 every morning? Life is filled with times when we are faced with having to do things that are not our first choice. In fact, they may not even be our second or third choices. It may be they are so far down the list that you could scroll for days and never find them. But we do them anyway. Why? Many reasons. It could be a sense of duty or obligation. It could be out of compassion for someone else. It could simply be that we like to eat and live indoors. Whatever the reason, though, we set ourselves aside and push through. As you do this, you should know there’s no one who understands this so well as Jesus does. Let’s talk about why.

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Morning Musings: Isaiah 53:5-6

“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned–every one–to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”  (ESV – Read the chapter)

Here, some 700 years before it would happen, Isaiah declares what is perhaps the deepest wonder of the cross.  On the cross, Jesus bore our sins.  All the things we have done wrong were placed on His shoulders.  He took the punishment that should have been ours.  And by ours, I mean everybody’s.  The sins of the whole world living at the time, of those who had died before He did, and of those who have lived in the years of human history since were credited to His account. Read the rest…