Crouching at the Door

Today’s been long, but good, I think. First day back to work after our week-long break, and even though getting up at this morning at 5:30 was pretty much impossible, I managed to get to work at 7:01(ish) and didn’t sleep through a single minute of the day. Thank God. Meeting with Renee to plan for group was a joy (and not at all a burden), too, and now that I’ve finally finished my Life Journal reading, I feel like I can go to bed having accomplished good things.

Well. I did have cereal for dinner. Probably could have done better on that.

Today’s reading assignment was Genesis 3, 4, and 5, along with Luke 2. We’ve got the fall of man (watch out for that serpent), Cain killed Able (and a lot of begats afterward that I’ll admit to skimming through)…all the way through Jesus ditching his parents to hang out in His Father’s house. Woot!

Crouching at the Door (sort of spooky and suspenseful, don’t you think?)

Selected Scripture:

“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

-Genesis 4:7

Observation and Application:

I love the very visceral image the Lord presents here: sin is like a living thing (perhaps is a living thing: Satan himself) waiting to catch us unaware, hiding where we can’t see behind the door or on the other side of the wall, unbeknownst to us. He/it/sin is lying in wait and means to capture us before we even leave the house. Seeing as it’s next to impossible for me to manage being sinless much beyond opening my eyes in the morning, this isn’t a comforting thought.

There are two things in this passage that I want to note and remember; the first being that sin is, primarily and foremost, of concern pertaining to God’s acceptance of us—whether He will or won’t. His warning to Cain serves also as a warning and promise: do what’s right and God will always accept you; give in to sin and you will(must be) rejected. Cain knew this before he killed his brother, so no one can say God was unfair in His judgement. Likewise, we know what is good, and must live by it lest we risk the consequences.

(Note: the Father isn’t promising that we will always be accepted by men for doing right—contrarily, it is right to expect opposition when we make a stand for what is good. Also, the fact that Cain makes a choice whether or not to do what is right clearly suggests premeditated sin in his case. I suspect this is a big deal to God.)

Next, I cannot hope to escape sin’s clutches if I am reactive rather than proactive. Sin lies in wait for me, and succumbing to it is the easiest, most natural thing in the world. I’ve got to know it’s there, waiting, and I’ve got to know what it is so I’m not surprised by it—its existence in my heart, its strength, and ultimate purpose: to distance me from God and make me an ineffective witness. I need to understand my weaknesses and fortify those places that accept sin too easily.

Prayer:

Father, show me my weaknesses and help me to grow beyond them. Give me the power to overrule the things that distance me from you. Thank you for your promise—that you will accept me when I do right, and that when I fail, your Son himself will make up the difference.

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Trust in the Unfailing

I discovered a nifty little trick with BibleGateway, today. Wanna see?

That link, there, will take you to today’s LifeJournal reading. Not only so, but it’ll show you the day’s reading in three parallel translations: the English Standard Version, the New International Version, and the New American Standard. You can choose whatever translations you like to compare side by side, and it’s really pretty interesting. I tried out the Contemporary English Version, too. Interesting, but a little weird.

Anywhoo. Allons-y!

Trust in the Unfailing.

Selected Scripture:

“For no word from God will ever fail.”

-Luke 1:37

Observation:

Zechariah and Mary have similar, yet fundamentally different responses to the angel’s birth announcement. Upon hearing that his wife, Elizabeth, is to bear a son in her old age, Zechariah disbelievingly responds, “Why should I believe you?” He is so focused on his apparent reality that he is unable to see that God is bigger than circumstances or “common sense.” Mary, however, responds simply by saying, “How will God do what He promises?” From the angel’s positive response, we can infer that it wasn’t disbelief prompting Mary’s curiosity, but rather faithful acceptance and wonder. Gabriel explains some of God’s plan and reiterates what Mary already knows:

“…no word from God will ever fail.”

Application:

For the believer, for me, this verse is so loaded with implication. It implies that God is sovereign, that His plans are final, and that He is eternal in victory. It means, quite frankly, that God’s will is absolute and that my life is what He intends it to be in all my joy, my suffering, my wealth, and poverty. I don’t know this is what I’m meant to take from this lesson, but I do know that the angel is telling Mary—and all of us—that God is powerful enough to keep His promises whatever our circumstances. Can I be satisfied with that when I’m at my lowest? Can I believe in this aspect of God’s nature even when the Enemy uses my outward circumstances to suggest the Father has abandoned me?

Prayer:

You asked me once if I would love You…even if You never healed by body, never healed my family, never allowed me to finish school or do what I love for a living. With all my heart, God, I want my answer to be, “Yes,” always. Help me to trust in Your unfailing nature, to remember that You’ve promised to redeem my suffering, and that You are always good, whatever I experience.

He is worthy

I know! Two posts in one day! I can’t say this will be a regular thing, but I am on vacation, and I’ve got more time than I know what to do with.

Here’s my Life Journal for today.

(I was gonna write out how the LJ works, but it turned out really boring and really, I don’t need any help in that regard.)

He is Worthy.

Selected scripture:

“I wept and wept because no one was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

-Revelation 5:4-5

Observation:

I love John’s grief here—he grieves over our inability to see/hear God’s proclamation and purpose. The elder comforts and reassures Him that there is one who is worthy to be God’s mouthpiece, to speak for Him and with His authority. That all the beings in heaven (aside from Christ) were unworthy to do so despite their sinless state is astounding to me. How great Christ must be! I can’t even fathom it.

Application:

I want to be the kind of believer who grieves when I’m not hearing God. I want to be continually aware of His word and my need for it. I want to know what the multitudes of heaven know—that He, Christ, is eminent. He is worthy.

Practically, this entails a renewed commitment to daily reading and especially prayer.

Prayer:

God, You know me—how I’m lazy and selfish. You know how I fill my time, and how I use reading (among other things) as a mechanism to cope with stuff I don’t want to face instead of buckling down and depending on You. I haven’t been reading Your word, and I’ve neglected prayer. Help me to be diligent in seeking You, and let my spirit be grieved by the distance between You and I. I know you want that, Father, and I want it, too.