Tag Archives: life

Valuing Life (2 Samuel 1-4)

It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the blatant disregard for human life in the Old Testament. This was a dark time in the history of the Jews. I mean, they were killing each other for sport. We read about a relentless pursuit that ended in murder, a deadly trick, the murder of a man sleeping in his bed. All these people thought they were right in what they did. They had a “cause.” I truly believe they expected to be applauded for their efforts.

We need to remember God was not in this. He never wanted his children to have a king except Himself. He warned them what life would be like if they chose a human king, but they didn’t listen. The result was as brutal as God had said it would be. And human life was expendable.

We are all about saving lives these days. It’s been on the news 24/7 for weeks. People are up in arms right now because businesses are slowly opening again and they think someone might contract the virus if they do. I could chase a rabbit trail.

But are we really all about saving lives? I don’t see it. Christians are still being martyred around the world, Chinese people are still oppressed. Many people, like in Italy, are being denied medical treatment from government run health care (Please pay attention all you who think Socialism is the answer for America). And abortions are still happening every day. Where is the concern for those human lives? I don’t see it.

It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the blatant disregard for human life in our world today. We’ve tried to disguise it with masks and gloves, with closed businesses, churches, and schools. We take all the precautions we can to avoid getting sick. We have a “cause” and think we should be applauded for our efforts.

I wonder who determines which lives are worth saving? How do we know which lives we should value, and which lives are expendable? A Christian in Iran or China? An elderly person in Italy? A baby newly conceived? Who decides? Is it you? Is it me?

Or is it God who so loved the whole world that He gave His Son Jesus to die to save anyone who believes? I don’t believe God considers any life expendable!

So, dear one, let’s continue to make good choices for our health and that of others. But let’s not forget that all life is valuable to God, and all life is eternal. Let’s not get so focused on this disease that we forget about the disease of sin.

I wonder what it would be like if people would put as much effort in protecting their immortal souls as they do protecting their mortal bodies. I wonder what it would be like if the same people out there protesting the opening of hair salons would protest the killing of unborn babies. I wonder what it would be like if those people wearing masks at the grocery would protect their hearts and minds in the same intentional way.

I wonder what it would be like if we actually lived valuing life even after covid19 is behind us.

 

 

Ecclesiastes 1-2; Life Worth Living

Solomon was unhappy. The wisest man who ever lived, arguably the most wealthy, most powerful ruler who ever walked this earth despaired of life. After a concerted effort to find meaning and happiness, he’d come to the conclusion that life was futile. From where he was standing, I’d have to agree.

And, like Solomon would remind us, nothing has changed in the thousands of years since he wrote this book. We can see that fact in our 2018 world; people who are the richest, most famous, most powerful, those with astronomical IQ’s and multiple doctorates are some of the unhappiest people. Suicides, divorces, substance abuse, health issues relating to stress are symptoms of rampant unhappiness.

Yet, aren’t the “things” these people have the very things millions of people are working toward or dreaming of? Solomon would advise, “Don’t bother.”

I remember when I was in college, hearing it said that achievement is the birth of despair. Because once you’ve reached your goals, now what do you do? Do you start over again? Do you just sit on it? Because the truth of the matter is, someone is eventually going to surpass you. The euphoria you feel as a result of achieving your goal is short-lived. Then often, despair follows.

Meaningless, Solomon would say. A chasing after a wind.

The key to Solomon’s despair, and to so many others who relate to what he is saying, is that the pursuit of happiness apart from God is hollow at best. Solomon is right to think “if this is all there is, it’s not that great.”

Those of us who know God know this isn’t all there is. We know there is nothing new under the sun, and we’re ok with that because we know what’s above the sun. We don’t put our lives in the hands of money, or fame, health, or people. We know all of that will pass away, like everything else.

But we would not say that this life is meaningless, or a puff of wind. We know life is a gift from God, and He is the giver of all good things. We believe Jesus when he said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

We know that (our) labor is not in vain. (I Corinthians 15:58). There is meaning, and purpose, joy, and assurance in the Lord, every day of this amazing life we live in Him.

And, God’s mercies are new every morning! It’s God Himself who makes life worth living.

Deuteronomy 12-15; Life Is In The Blood

When Moses was teaching the Jews what animals were ok to eat and which ones to avoid, he kept repeating: “you must not eat the blood.” In 12:23 he tells them why:

because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat.

I know of people who will not eat a rare steak because of this directive. Is that what we’re to take from this passage?

For thousands of years, Jews refused to drink blood, while other nations did that as part of their worship of pretend gods. And for thousands of years the Jews taught their children, the life is in the blood.

The life is in the blood.

Then one day, Jesus sat with His disciples at dinner and said, “Take, eat. Take, drink.” The body (meat) and the blood, together. Why?

Because Life is in the blood.

I believe the disciples eventually understood exactly what Jesus was saying, because of the way they were raised. Jesus had told them He IS the Life. And Life is in the blood.

What we read in Deuteronomy isn’t just about dietary restrictions. It’s a picture of Jesus. It points to Calvary, where blood was shed so we can have life.

Life is in HIS blood.

Jesus did what the blood of millions of bulls could not do. He willingly shed His precious blood so that we can have life, abundant life, eternal life.

 

July 8 – Life Matters

2 Kings 14, 2 Chronicles 25

My heart is heavy today. I can hardly watch the news reports from Dallas without going from great sadness, to anger, to confusion. I am tempted, like many, to point a finger and assign blame. But here is my heart:

My nephew is a cop. He will strap on his weapon today, and pray he doesn’t have to use it. He will kiss his wife and children goodbye, force a smile, and say “See you tonight,” and hope it’s true. He’ll drive away from his home toward a job where he knows he will be insulted, spit on, and lied to.

He doesn’t even know if he will live through the day. But he has sworn to protect the very people who want him dead simply because of the uniform he wears. He will confront drug dealers and child molesters, thieves and abusers because he wants you to be able to sleep in your home tonight without fear. He’ll ticket speeders because he wants you to be safe as you drive to the grocery.

I read these chapters in Kings and Chronicles today and am struck by the blatant disregard for life even thousands of years ago. Have we learned nothing? I guess not. Sin is still in this world.

Please don’t perpetuate the hate. Let’s cover the families of these dead heroes in Dallas with our love and prayers.

Let’s quit finding excuses to hate. The media would have it be a racial issue. People, it’s a heart issue, a sin issue, and it’s time that we realize that.

Let’s quit allowing social media to fuel the fire that is already raging out of control. Don’t watch those videos and be a part of making them go viral. You’ve got to realize those videos are not the whole story.

Let’s stop making criminals the heroes. And for goodness sake, let’s stop making villains of those people who put their lives on the line every day for you.

My nephew wears his uniform along with other men and women, white and black, gay and straight, Christians and atheists. They are people who will show up to work today, because YOU matter to them.

Yes my heart is heavy. I’m just so tired of the hate.

 

June 18 – This Could Be The Day

Proverbs 27-29

A dear lady who lives in the condo complex where I live in Georgia stepped outside her front door today to take her dog for a walk. She’s been looking forward to this day for quite some time. Her daughter and son-in-law are missionaries in Bosnia, and are home on furlow. My friend hasn’t seen them in over a year, including her newest grandson. They’d flown into Atlanta, rented a car and were driving the five hours to the island for their happy reunion.

I know you probably guess there was an accident. And there was. But I doubt you could guess the nature of the accident.

My friend stepped onto the sidewalk in front of her condo, and the palm tree in front of her place cracked, and fell on her. She died instantly. It wasn’t storming. The tree just fell.

The reunion between mother and daughter will take place at a funeral home instead of at the condo. This daughter will plan a funeral instead of planning outings with her mom.

I share this after reading these chapters in Proverbs today. I read these and wonder why any of us spend a minute being angry or contentious, or career driven, or dishonest, or foolish? Why do we waste time playing with religion instead of worshiping God as He deserves? Why put so much effort into things that don’t mean a whole heck of a lot in light of eternity?

This life is all we have this side of eternity. And none of us know if today is the day a tree might fall on our head.

May 26 – For Luke: Psalm 139

Psalms 131, 138-139, 143-145

The newest member of our family, baby Luke, is scheduled to make his appearance in August. Right now he is an adorable bulge in his mommy’s tummy. A sometimes wiggly bump that stretches and turns and kicks so that those of us outside his world can see and feel that precious life, growing and developing fearfully and wonderfully.

So it’s no surprise that I thought of Luke this morning as I read the 139th psalm. “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast the sum of them!” God is thinking about Luke right this minute.

Psalm 139 is so personal and it expresses how intimate a relationship with God can be. It’s how God wants our relationship with Him to be. I hope you take time to read this Scripture today and let it speak to your heart.

For Luke, I pray he will accept Jesus as his Savior as soon as he understands what sin is and what Jesus did for him. I pray he will enjoy a close relationship with God his whole life. I pray Luke will be confident in the fact that God has searched him and knows him, that God encloses him behind and before, that God’s presence is with him even in the darkest times.

I pray Luke will allow God to defeat Satan in his life, that he will hate evil as God hates it, that he will follow God’s lead each and every day.

God knows the number of Luke’s days on this earth. I pray they will be days of blessing, and days that God is pleased to use for His glory because Luke is faithful.

 

May 19 – It Works!

2 Samuel 19-21

So the other day we read where Shimei threw stones and shouted insults to King David. Do you remember how David reacted? He didn’t. He ignored Shimei, and kept walking.

Today we read the rest of the story. Beginning in 19:16 we see Shimei running to meet the king. Absalom is dead. David is the victor. 1,000 men including Shimei met David and his warriors at the Jordan River and helped them cross.

Shimei fell at David’s feet, and begged for forgiveness. David’s men thought Shimei should be put to death for having treated David so badly earlier. David told them to back off. Shimei would not die.

That, my friend, is a picture of grace. It’s a picture of me and Jesus. I was as guilty as Shimei. But Jesus forgave me when I asked Him to. He gave me life instead of death, like David gave to Shimei.

It’s also a picture of what can happen when God’s people keep the course. When we refuse to repay evil with evil. When we love our enemies and pray for those who mistreat us.

By our example, may people be drawn to their Savior.

Jan 28 – I Belong

Genesis 46-47

I was thinking about the famine again today as I read these chapters in Genesis. Joseph, who is sort of a picture of Jesus, held control of the only food in the land. Anyone who wanted to survive had to go to Joseph. He really was the only means of salvation.

But Joseph was accountable to Pharaoh. Every dime Joseph collected went into Pharaoh’s purse. Every animal surrendered went into Pharaoh’s pens. Every person who sold themselves became Pharaoh’s slave. In the end, all the money, livestock, land, and people belonged to Pharaoh. And everything Pharaoh gained came through Joseph.

Once again we see that God has provided salvation. We saw it in the Garden, in the flood, with Lot’s escape from Sodom, and here during the famine. And each time we see God providing one way of salvation. Not many ways. One.

Over and over in the Old Testament God will prepare us to meet Jesus. And each time we read an example of God’s saving grace toward His people, we will see He offers one plan. One escape route. One ark.

God wants all of us with Him. He loves the whole world. And He has provided one plan of salvation for us today. It’s a beautiful plan. It’s a simple plan. Like the people we read about today who had to go through Joseph, we have to go through Jesus. Joseph was their salvation from the famine. Jesus is ours from the consequences of sin.

And here’s what jumped out at me today. The people in Joseph’s day surrendered everything to Pharaoh. Money, all their worldly possessions, even themselves. When the people did that, they belonged to Pharaoh. They were his slaves. Pharaoh, through Joseph, provide food, and seed to plant food, protection, and life.

When I give myself to God, through the blood of His Son, I belong to Him. I am His servant for whom He provides all I need for this life and the life to come. But I, like the people we read about today, have to give Him everything. E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.

And when I do, He forgives me, lavishes me with Himself, protects me from Satan, and prepares a place for me where I will live with Him forever. I belong to Him.

And I like it.

Jan 3 – And He Died

Genesis 8-11

Noah’s death is marked in chapter of 9 of Genesis with the words, “and he died.” Noah, who was one of only eight people saved from the flood. Noah, who built the ark according to instructions given by God Himself. Noah, who can be traced to be the father of us all. He lived an extraordinary life.

And he died.

God is reminding me today that that just about says it all for all of us. You will  have quite a few years less than Noah’s 950 years on this planet. But your days are equally extraordinary because you are the only you. Your experiences have never, and will never be repeated. Your choices are your choices. Your joys, your hardships, your dreams, your accomplishments, and your failures are yours alone.

And in every second of every day you live, God is seeking you as though you were the only person on Earth. Your’s is an extraordinary life.

And you will die.

And just like Noah, or Adam, or Peter, or Paul, or Suzie Q down the street, you will stand before God to account for your extraordinary life. The only thing that will matter at that point is your relationship with the living God. Did you believe or not? Did you obey or not? Are you a child of God according to Scripture (and not according to your own thinking) or not?

Dear God, I am reminded that this life I am living is going to end some day. I will die. And, although I don’t want to obsess about that event, I want to live my life with the goal before me. I want to enjoy these days as I prepare to meet You face to face. You, who died for me, who frees me from the chains of sin. You who loves me, guides me, molds me, uses me, and blesses me every day. You make my life extraordinary. And I love you.

Like Chasing the Wind

I had the privilege of holding my newest great-nephew yesterday only a couple hours after he was born. Tiny fingers and toes, perfect little ears, when he opened his eyes and looked at me my heart melted.

Ok. I know he didn’t recognize me, maybe didn’t even see me other than a fuzzy blob staring down at him. But I’m pretty sure I recognized love there. Right?

Then today in my devotions, I read Solomon’s book of Ecclesiastes. You know the one, the one that laments over life itself. All is meaningless, like chasing the wind. Solomon tells us he’s tried everything to find meaning to life. He’s tried wealth, education, entertainment, sex, power. And all of it fell short of what he was looking for. His conclusion was: we all live, we all die. Life is hard and often unfair. It would be better if we’d never been born.

So I look at my nephew’s son. Is it better if he’d never been born?

You’ll never convince me of that. Because, you see, little Carson is a gift from God. He was fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator. Will his life be easy? Probably not. Will he be treated unfairly some time in his life time? Undoubtedly. Will he sin and face consequences for poor choices? He’s human so I’d say, yes. 

But I pray that he will come to know Jesus as his Savior at an early age. I pray that he will love God his whole life and serve him. I pray that he will grow to be a man who touches the lives of people for Jesus’ sake. And I pray with confidence that no matter what paths he takes, no matter in what circumstances he finds himself, God will be with him.

You see, Solomon was looking at the wrong things to find meaning to life. In fact, looking at “things” will never result in the kind of joy knowing God can bring. Looking at “self” will only bring disappointment. Jesus, however, never fails. That void in our lives can only be filled by the One who put it there in the first place.

I pray baby Carson will allow God to fill that void in him, that Carson will live his life with the joy of the Lord, that people will recognize God in Carson and be drawn to Jesus because of him. And I pray that when his life is over, Carson will spend eternity with his Savior.

Life doesn’t have to be like chasing the wind. It can have meaning and purpose. There can be peace in storms, strength in weakness, joy in sorrow because of Jesus. I hope you know him.

Dear God, thank you for Carson. Thank you for his Mommy and Daddy who love you and who are intentional about encouraging their children to love you, too. I pray that Carson will accept Jesus as his Savior as soon as he understands what sin is and his need for forgiveness. May he be a child who has you on his heart. May he grow into an adult who loves and serves you unashamedly. May he find the true meaning of life, which is Christ in him, the hope of glory. Use him, dear Lord, to draw people to you. Bless him and make him a blessing to others for Jesus’ sake.