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VotD 4/8/19

We’re not as familiar these days with the concepts of “king” and “kingdom” as we used to be. We assume that we, as a nation, will have some sort of say in what kind of government will be in charge. But if that isn’t the case – if government rules by fiat and the people have no control – then we should hope for a good ruler. In this context, it’s helpful, important, and exciting that God claims to be king over our lives. God as King owns the whole world – owns us. But unlike a human king or…
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VotD 4/5/19

I immediately think of Martin Luther King, Jr when I see this verse. It reminds me that he didn’t do his work alone – justice rolled like a river, not like a firehose. It reminds me that justice is worth every effort: let it wash over everything. MLK’s use of the phrase makes me think also of Revelation, and Jesus’ condemnation of the lukewarm church. I am a very lukewarm Christian, and it’s hard for me to get out of that mode. I don’t want to rock the boat. But Amos (along with Jesus and MLK) is reminding us to…
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VotD 3/20/19

Thank goodness we don’t have to make actual animal and plant sacrifices to God anymore. I don’t know if I could handle all of that. In fact, we don’t have to make any sacrifices to make atonement, because to make a sacrifice to God would be to imply that Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t enough to cover our sins. So what does the author of Hebrews mean here, by saying that God is pleased with the sacrifices of doing good and sharing? Not that doing good and sharing are necessary for salvation, but that they please God – and they are sacrifices….
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VotD 3/19/19

I’ve always thought that washing feet is an unfortunate cultural holdover from Jesus’ life. It’s beautiful and perfectly meaningful, but also super awkward in modern American culture. I never liked Maundy Thursday services for that reason! But it’s a perfect metaphor: feet get dirty really quickly, especially when wearing sandals. They stink. And they’re necessary to get us where we need to go. Washing feet was commonly what servants did for respected guests. It represents welcome. And, at the same time, it’s like a mini foot massage – it feels good, and it makes you feel refreshed and clean. So…
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VotD 3/18/19

When’s the last time God did something so amazing for you that you just had to tell someone? Generally we reserve that kind of excitement for medical miracles which, to be fair, also include the efforts of many, many intelligent professional people through the ages who have developed and then, finally, enacted the care we get excited about. What about the last time you heard and answer to prayer from God, regardless of how happy that answer made you? What about finding a renewed sense of God’s amazing creation? What about remembering how wonderful it is that God is good…
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VotD 3/14/19

God is with us in the struggle. When things go wrong, it doesn’t mean that you’ve sinned and are being punished, and it certainly doesn’t mean God isn’t with you. Even if you are being punished, it’s not because God hates you, but because God loves you. God does everything out of love. But one thing God doesn’t do is tempt people to evil, which is what this verse is talking about. God would never put you through a trial that tempts you to do something wrong; God only tempts us to do what is right, according to James. So…
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VotD 3/13/19

This isn’t normally what we think of when given the question, “What would you wish for if you had one wish?” We might think of world peace, of infinite wealth, or even to live forever. But to live in the house of God – that doesn’t come up much. This, however, is something worth asking for because it’s something God offers us. It’s not something you get from a vending machine, but from a relationship with God. The Psalmist asks it in the context of trust in God: that God will protect, that God will accept (“If my father and…
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VotD 3/12/19

Praying this requires courage. God always know our hearts and our thoughts, but to fully embrace this means one of two things: either you think you can stand up to God’s testing, or you know you can’t. Since none of us can stand up to God’s testing, inviting God consciously into our hearts means inviting God to see how far we’ve fallen. And indeed, this Psalm comes out of a kind of desparation: the Psalmist can’t escape God. No matter where you go, God is already there. So God, search me. Know me. See if there is anything bad in…
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VotD 3/8/19

Thirst is one of the most dangerous things when you’re lost in the wilderness. You can go days without food, but you can’t go long without water. A lack of shelter is equally dangerous – how appropriate then, that “shelter” is another important metaphor for how God cares for us. Like going without water, going without God is spiritually dangerous. Our souls need sustenance, no matter what religion (or lack of religion) you claim. We get that sustenance from other people, from natural beauty, from scripture or poetry or prose, or even from religious experiences. Christians get spiritual sustenance through…
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VotD 3/7/19

Again, context makes all the difference with this verse. On the face of it, this verse means what it seems to mean: that no matter what, no matter when, you can always return to God. This interpretation makes it unclear: can you only return to God if you return with all your heart? The verse in context is clearer. This is not a request. It’s not God announcing the possibility, like now is the time for amnesty and you have the opportunity to take advantage of it. God is telling the people, through the prophet Joel, that now is the…
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