Digging in Deeper: Isaiah 30:1-5

“Woe to the rebellious children! This is the Lord’s declaration. They carry out a plan, but not mine; they make an alliance, but against my will, piling sin on top of sin. Without asking my advice they set out to go down to Egypt in order to seek shelter under Pharaoh’s protection and take refuge in Egypt’s shadow. But Pharaoh’s protection will become your shame, and refuge in Egypt’s shadow your humiliation. For though his princes are at Zoan and his messengers reach as far as Hanes, everyone will be ashamed because of a people who can’t help. They are are of no benefit, they are no help; they are goo for nothing but shame and disgrace.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Think for a minute about who you turn to when you need advice before anyone else. Call to mind this person’s face. Think about the conversations you’ve had with him and the counsel he’s given you. What is it about this person that makes you so inclined to seek him out before anyone else? Is he particularly wise? If so, what garnered him this distinction in your mind? Have the two of you shared particularly significant experiences together and so you feel like he knows you better than anyone else? Do you seek him out because of his position? Let me ask one more question: Did you even fleetingly think about God as the person you turn to first for advice? The places we go when we need help say a lot about us. They said a lot about Israel too. Today and tomorrow, I want to look with you at an example from Isaiah that has much to teach us about where to seek help first and the character of God.

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Morning Musing: Mark 13:19-20

“For those will be days of tribulation, the kind that hasn’t been from the beginning of creation until now and never will be again. If the Lord had not cut those days short, no one would be saved. But he cu those days short for the sake of the elect, whom he chose.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

The one thing that is consistent about our understanding of the apocalypse is that we don’t understand it very well. Oh, we have lots of creative guesses, some offered with all the confident assurance of knowledge, but we really don’t know very much. Because of this, we greedily grab up anything that seems like it might tell us something. For instance, in 2012, the big news of the year was that an ancient Mayan calendar ended in that year because they believed that’s when the world would end. They even made a fun, global disaster movie about it called…wait for it…2012. Happily, we sailed right on past the December calendar date of the end and are still chugging along nine years later. Let’s look some more this morning at another thing Jesus had to say about it. This bit of teaching really doesn’t add a whole lot of clarity, but it does give us something else worth keeping in mind.

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Morning Musing: Mark 13:5-8

“Jesus told them, ‘Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, saying, “I am he,” and they will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, don’t be alarmed; these things must take place, but it is not yet the end. For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

We love telling end-of-the-world stories. I’m not really sure why. There’s probably a psychological explanation out there somewhere. But whatever the reason, we love it. Don’t believe me? Do a quick search for how many books and movies and television shows are set in an apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic setting. Not only are there dozens and dozens of movies, but each decade of film history has produced more than the previous with 2010s producing more than double the number of any other decade. It’s almost like there’s a sense of impending doom that is growing with each passing year. Perhaps there’s something to that, but feeling like the end is near is not something unique to this generation. Every generation has had some point at which they felt theirs might be the last. When He began explaining His observation about the destruction of the temple to His disciples, Jesus started with a bit of perspective that seems more important today than it has ever been. Let’s look at this together.

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Morning Musing: Mark 11:9-10

“Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I love magic. I’m not any good at it, but I love watching it. Fool Us with Penn and Teller is one of the shows I make sure to catch every time it’s on. One of my favorite kinds of tricks are the ones when the magician seems to have lost control of the trick, but reveals at the end that he was totally in control of things the entire time. Similarly, I love tricks where the magician leaves you feeling like you know how he did the trick only to do something a few moments later that you can’t even imagine how he could have done it. Those tricks give the audience a brief feeling of having an edge on the magician. But the truth is things were always going exactly how he planned for them to go. As Jesus rode into Jerusalem for what would be the final time, there were points along the way when it seemed like things were flying out of control. The final act, though, revealed that He had things perfectly in hand the whole time. Let’s talk about it.

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Morning Musing: Mark 10:13-15

“People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me. Don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

The lot of children used to be difficult one. They were generally seen as a drain on a family’s resources until they were old enough and strong enough to contribute meaningfully to the household. Vaudeville-era comedian, W.C. Fields was famous for his rather sardonic quotes about children. For instance, “There’s no such thing as a tough child – if you parboil them first for seven hours, they always come out tender.” Today, the place of children in some circles is so high we can scarcely imagine a world where it wasn’t. In fact, in many segments of our culture, we’ve swung the pendulum so far in the other direction that we are sometimes guilty of creating equal, but opposite, problems for them as we work out our own issues through them. That being said, there’s something wonderful about the wonder a child brings to this world. Jesus agreed. Let’s talk about it.

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