Today: Psalms 47; Luke 18:1-30; Deuteronomy 28:15-68

Psalm 47

Clap your hands all ye people!
Shout unto God with a voice of triumph.
Clap your hand all ye people!
Shout unto God with a voice of joy!

Luke 18 – The Persistent Widow

Thank you, Luke, for giving us brief explanations for the two parables that begin Luke 18. The message in the parable of the persistent widow is that at all times we ought to pray and not become discouraged.

What an appropriate message for today. There appear to be no shortage of judges who do not fear God nor respect any person. Jesus encouraged the people to keep crying out for justice. As the world today seems to be crumbling all around us, remember Jesus has promised that God WILL bring about “justice for His elect who cry out to Him day and night” …and He will bring about this justice “quickly.” (v.6-7) This is a promise!

Notice the strange way Jesus ended this parable, “However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (v.8) True “justice” will not come until Christ returns. When God uses the word “quickly” it is always relative. “Quickly” might mean a thousand years to someone eternal like God. So we have no idea of the timing but it WILL come some day.

I  believe Jesus ended this parable that way to warn us that the state of this world is going to get much worse before He comes back… much MUCH worse. Are we going to keep believing His promise of coming justice? Are we going to keep crying out to Him day and night?

Luke 18 – The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

I have been this Pharisee! It is so easy to be this Pharisee. I used to go to a church where the leadership was very liberal and openly scoffed at conservative Christians. It was so tempting to get caught up in the pridefulness, to look down on those poor old fashioned Christians all caught up in trying to suffer for Christ and be holy, to be arrogant about all our liberal “freedoms.”

I’ve been pulled out of that toxic church now (thank you, God) but now I swing the other way. It is so easy to remember those days and become prideful about where I am NOW, to look down on those still caught up in that worldly ideology.

But no matter where I swing on that ideological spectrum, I am STILL a sinner who desperately needs a savior. There is only one prayer that any one of us should be praying, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!” (v.13)

Luke 18 – The Rich Young Ruler

Here was a man who outwardly followed the commandments of the Jewish faith. But his heart was consumed by his wealth rather than by God. His treasure was on earth rather than in heaven. We cannot really follow Jesus unless He alone is our greatest treasure. We cannot truly follow Him is our identity is all caught up in ourselves.

The disciples had begun this journey of treasuring Jesus first by leaving their homes to follow Him. (v.28) Jesus told them that anyone who leaves everything, house, wife, brothers, parents, children, “for the sake of the kingdom of God” will “receive many times as much at this time, and in the age to come, eternal life.” (v.30)

These are spiritual promises and spiritual directions. I don’t think God often calls us to physically leave our families (but sometimes He does). This is, instead, an invitation to examine our hearts. What is the treasure of our hearts? Certainly we are to love and treasure our families. But if our love for Jesus is so intense that everything else pales in comparison, our spiritual rewards will be amazing.

Felix Bloch’s “Arrival of a Transport, Theresienstadt Ghetto,” 1942-1944, watercolor and India ink on paper.

Deuteronomy 28

The long list of curses in Deuteronomy 28 likely has many meanings. But every single one of them came true during the holocaust. Being the Lord’s chosen people comes with a terribly heavy price. Throughout history we see how anti-semitism has reared its hideous head repeatedly. God loves the Jewish people unlike any others. And Satan hates them with a ferocity that we cannot begin to fathom. They will be a target of his hatred until Christ returns.