Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Anticipating Snow

(Don't worry!  This picture is not looking out my back window.  It was taken during a trip to New Mexico a few years ago).

Only in Oklahoma do schools close the night before anticipating a snow or ice storm.
With schools closed, I didn't have to help at the book fair and I actually sat down to write a blog.

This predicted snow storm reminds me of waiting.  The anticipation builds!  Like waiting for an exciting trip, you plan, pack, and wait.  Finally, you get to enjoy the much awaited voyage.

It also highlights “prediction.”  In Oklahoma, you really never know the actual forecast for weather.  Poor weather men.  They really try.  I guess people think they are God, the only One who can accurately forecast the weather.  One degree can be the difference between rain and ice, between snow storm and flood.  I find it ironic that people will complain about the forecasters, yet still listen to them.  I think the weathermen (and women) deserve more grace.  If everyone prepares for snow and we never get it, better than not being prepared and it comes.

With a snow storm predicted, people rush to the stores and the gas pump to prepare.  The fool doesn’t prepare.  He drives on a low gas tank daring the weather to change.  He can deny it all he wants, but it does not change the truth.  When the snow begins (when the forecaster are actually right), the fool can continue to deny the truth or change his mind and prepare.  In some cases, the snow may too quickly for him to be safe.  Better to prepare than dare.

Preparing for a snow storm reminds me of preparing for Jesus’ return.
Even though the Bible promises the day (or night) will come, some people live in denial.  The fool chooses to live lives as if they will never be judged for their actions that separate them from a holy God.  Sadly, when Jesus comes, it will be too late to prepare.  
Others prepare wrongly.  Everyone would laugh at the woman at the carwash the day it is predicted to snow.  Does she know the forecast?  Or does she have an obsession for a clean car?  Is she preparing correctly?

Similarly, some people believe if they just “clean themselves up”, try their very best, perform good deeds, they will be prepared for Jesus.  Are they preparing correctly?

The Bible shares the way to prepare, the only way.  Yes, one must be “clean.”  However, the Bible tells us we cannot clean ourselves.  The only way to be clean is through forgiveness.  So how can you have forgiveness?  Hebrews 9:22b says, “without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”

Why blood?  From the beginning of the Bible (Gen 3), God taught the penalty for sin is death.  In the garden, Adam and Eve disobeyed God.  They tried to cover their shame themselves, with fig leaves.  However, God showed them they couldn’t become clean before God in their own way.  God provided the way.  He killed animals and covered Adam and Eve with the animals’ skins.  Animals’ blood was shed for the forgiveness of sin.  Adam and Eve should have died for their sin, but the animals died in their place.  

Later, when God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments, He also gave them a way to have forgiveness.  God instructed the people to build a tabernacle (dwelling place for God).  One special room, the most holy place, contained a wooden box covered with gold.  The lid, called the mercy seat, had two cherubim (angels) facing each other.  God dwelt between the cherubim.  For the people to have forgiveness, God required the High Priest to kill a perfect goat, catch the goat’s blood, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat.  

What an appropriate name, mercy seat.  Mercy is when we don’t get what we deserve.  The people deserved death for their sin (the penalty for sin is death).  Yet, God allowed the goat to die in their place.  

The name of this yearly ceremony: The Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16).  A day that sins of the people were atoned, “purged of sin, wiped clean .“[1]   

Then the next day, the people would return to more sacrifices for their daily sins bringing sacrifices of animals to the altar of burnt offering (Leviticus 4).  God’s continual message:  The penalty for sin is death.  There must be blood for the forgiveness of sins.  The animals died in place of the people.
All of the lessons of forgiveness before Jesus were preparing the people for Jesus.

When John the Baptist saw Jesus (John 1:29) he proclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

Jesus: the perfect Lamb, sinless.  Jesus: the perfect sacrifice, a man (yet, also God) dying in the place of a man (or woman).  Jesus: the substitute for me.  I should die (spiritually separated after my physical death) for my sin.  Yet, Jesus died in my place.  

I could write pages on the details of Jesus being our final High Priest (Hebrews 2, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10).  I will let you read more if you are snowed in today (even if you aren’t snowed in).

Some of my favorite verses are Hebrews 9:24-26:
24 For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. 25 And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal. 26 If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice.”

Jesus’ death provided a way for us to have forgiveness of sin.  If we believe he died on the cross in our place, turn from our way of pleasing God, and ask Jesus to forgive us and take control of our lives, each of us can be prepared for His return.

Jesus provided a way and promises to return.  Unlike unpredictable forecasts, when Jesus gives us a promise, we know He will keep it. 

John 14: 1-6 says “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas *said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

Are you prepared for Jesus?  Or are you preparing in your own way?  Do not be a fool.  Prepare today!

 And yes, we are now getting snow.  Reminds me of the scripture, "Wash me and I will be whiter than snow" (Psalm 51:7)

[1] Mounce, William D. Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Word. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Bottom of the "To Do" List

  from PowerPoint
Why I didn''t write.  Why I didn't _________. 

You know how it goes.  You intend to do something, but decide to do it the next day.  "There will be more time tomorrow," you say to yourself.  And so, it happens again the next day as it did the day before.  Then as time marches on you decide it must not be important enough.

That's exactly what I've done with this blog.

One husband.  Three very diversely talented girls who can't drive themselves.  End of the school year activities.  Ministries.  Time with friends and neighbors.  New friends.  Laundry.  House to clean.  Meals to prepare.  Last minute homeroom mom by default during teacher appreciation week.  OKC Thunder Basketball.

My list is endless and I know yours is too.

The fact is, I make time for anything I truly prioritize.  Whatever is at the top of my list always gets done.  It's the long list and the "to do's" at the bottom that get moved over to the next day's "to do" list.

My blog sat at the bottom of my "to do's" the days it made the list.

Honestly, today it wasn't even on my list.  I sat down to check something on it and noticed it hasn't been updated in so long!  Embarrassing to other blog writers.

So, bottom line.  It wasn't a priority.  And looking at my "to do's", I guess that wasn't a bad thing.

So I thought, Do I have "Spend time with Jesus" as a priority?

Where do I put Him on my list?

I have to admit, I am two days behind in the OT reading the Bible through in a year.  (If I were legalistic in my religion, I would panic.)  It does give an indication of my priorities, though.

I'm also glad "Spend time with Jesus" doesn't limit itself with the time I read my Bible.  I can "Spend time with Jesus" by simply asking Him about my decisions throughout the day.  I can talk to Him through prayer any moment of the day. 

I'm so glad my time with Jesus is a relationship, not a religion.  I want to spend time with Jesus out of love, not obligation.  I always need to check my "To do" list, though.  I should be able to see Him as a priority.

Where is spending time with Jesus on your "To do" list?

If you have more time (or put it on your "To do" list), here is my last post for Word Slingers:  Define "Son of God in 5 Minutes. Go. 

A Holy Experience