Radiance

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When I was a boy, my dad took me to his construction site, and told me, “Don’t look directly at the welding light; it can blind you.” But a welding flame is cool and dangerous. As my father was talking with the foreman, I fixated on the light. I saw spots for the rest of the evening, but didn’t tell anyone. I secretly feared that the radiance had actually blinded me.

The radiance of Christ is blinding—it was for Paul (Acts 9:1–31). In an epic hymn about the work of God’s Son throughout history, the author of Hebrews calls Jesus “the radiance of [God’s] glory and the representation of his essence, sustaining all things by the word of power” (Hebrews 1:3). It’s easy to wonder if sustainability is possible, if the world will one day crumble and fall. But in Christ, there is hope.

Jesus is much like the sun. You don’t always notice its power, warmth, or even that it’s there. That is especially the case for the cloudy days. We forget that without the sun, there would be no life. It’s easy to forget that it is warming us even through rain and clouds.

The same is true for Jesus in our lives. It’s easy to forget Him until we desperately need Him. It’s easy to overlook the daily miracles, such as life itself, when searching for something extraordinary. But the extraordinary is always present. It’s here in the work of Christ, every day. His radiance shines upon us, even when we don’t realize it.

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JDB; Connect the Testaments
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the Lexham English Bible, LEB © 2012 by Logos Bible Software.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Links open in new window and are in the New King James Version®, NKJV, unless otherwise noted.
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Filipino Expat Encouragement RL081

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FOLLOWING THE RAINBOW

January 24, 2023

Genesis 9:13
I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign
of the covenant between Me and the earth.

Do you remember the first time your eyes caught sight of a rainbow arching through the afternoon sky? The rain beat down on the pavement followed by the stripes of God’s love gleaming through the newly sunlit atmosphere after the drifting clouds shifted—truly a wondrous sight! Your childhood imagination was surely set on finding the treasure at the end of the multicolored trail.

Following the path to the rainbow’s end with your eyes may have been fun as a child, but as a beautiful woman of God, the multihued exhibit signifies so much more than an appealing display. God created this dramatic miracle as a sign and a promise to all the earth that we will never again be destroyed in a flood such as in Noah’s day.

Noah was not a fairy tale character; he was a follower of God Most High who obediently built the ark just as the Lord had instructed. Noah and his small family became faith-filled pioneers of a new beginning for the earth—and for you and me. That rainbow you have chased more than once in your life is a promise to you of God’s mercy and love.

His love is unfailing and unceasing. Today, as you start your day, praise God for His abundant love for you and His mercy toward the earth.

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Quiet Reflections of Hope (Revell, 2009)
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, NKJV © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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Undue Favor

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Genesis 38 interrupts the climax of the Joseph narrative with another tale: Judah and Tamar. Switching protagonists is surprising enough, but the tale itself shocks us. We’re hardly given time to process the strange cultural practices of the ancient Near East, prostitution, deception, and the sudden death of those who displease God before we’re returned to Joseph’s struggles in Egypt.

The story is additionally confusing because it seems to lack a hero. Judah uses Tamar, as his two sons did—though he at least acknowledges his actions. Tamar uses her wits and risks her life to secure a future for herself, but she does so through deplorable means.

Attempts have been made to justify the characters and put it all in perspective, but there is no neat packaging. The characters in this story face dire circumstances and a unique cultural context—one that is nearly impossible for modern readers to understand. But we don’t need a lesson in ancient Near Eastern cultural studies to see that they are fallible, and that they exploit others for their own ends. And we don’t need a history lesson to be able to identify with them. An honest look at ourselves reveals our own sins—subtly deplorable, and respectably wrapped.

So, why is this story in the Bible? Why this tale of woe? Surprisingly, there is a hero. As we read, we see that God also uses people for redemption, not exploitation. Perez, the son of Judah and Tamar, is one in a long list of names that will lead to the birth of Christ. Through unlikely characters like Judah and Tamar, God prepared a way out of the sin that defined us.

Just like these characters, we are unlikely recipients of His favor.

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RVN; Connect the Testaments
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the Lexham English Bible, LEB © 2012 by Logos Bible Software.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Links open in new window and are in the New King James Version®, NKJV, unless otherwise noted.
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Filipino Expat Encouragement RL080

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Do-It-Yourself Religion

IN a world in which the motto often is “do your own thing,” people frequently develop self-styled religious beliefs and practices. For some this means a pick-and-choose, take-it-or-leave-it approach to established Christianity. For others it means coming up with outlandish ideas about God and eccentric ways of living. Either way, the ultimate authority becomes the individual, who assumes the prerogative of ignoring any demand or discipline that feels too limiting or imposing.

A somewhat similar attitude seems to have characterized the Israelites as they prepared to enter the Promised Land. Apparently they were doing whatever was right in their own eyes when it came to religious observance (Deuteronomy 12:8). Not that they were necessarily turning away from God, but the lack of a permanently located worship center seems to have brought about a degree of laxness in regard to the ritual obligations of the Law. Moses warned them that that must change once they entered the land and God designated a site for worship (Deuteronomy 12:13-14). They were to follow the detailed instructions of the Law concerning sacrifices, holy days, tithes and offerings, and other elements of religious life.

Is the same true for Christians today? In answering that, it is important to note that NT instructions and descriptions of worship are not nearly as detailed as those given to Israel in the OT Law. There seems to be a great deal more freedom given to individual believers and to their communities of faith. But that does not mean a do-it-yourself approach to religion. Scripture gives us an objective set of truths to be believed and behaviors to be lived. There may be latitude within those boundaries for cultural, ethnic, and geographic applications, but all believers fall into sin when they move outside the clear teaching of Scripture. In whatever manner we worship God, He still calls us to worship Him “in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24).

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Pride In Disguise

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Sometimes recognizing our sin for what it is can throw us into deep shame. In Matthew, we find that two of Jesus’ disciples experience this moment of remorse—Judas after he betrays Jesus, and Peter when he denies Jesus. From their responses, we learn what true repentance looks like.

Judas is remorseful when he realizes the enormity of his betrayal. But he doesn’t move from remorse to repentance. He tries to absolve his guilt by returning the payment he received for betraying Jesus—an attempt to buy back his innocence. And when the “blood money” is refused and he is unable to eliminate the guilt, Judas hangs himself (Matthew 27:5).

Peter, the disciple with an impulsive, childlike loyalty to Jesus, denies his Lord when questioned by a mere servant girl. When Peter remembers Jesus’ prediction, he leaves, “weeping bitterly.” However, the Gospel of John tells us that Peter glorified God in his death (John 21:15–19).

When sin is exposed, stopping at realization and remorse is tempting. Reveling in self-hate and self-loathing can seem fitting—we feel like inflicting punishment on ourselves will somehow absolve our guilt. But this is simply another form of relying on ourselves—it is pride in disguise. We diminish the sacrifice that Christ has completed. We deny the freedom from guilt and shame that Jesus has bought for us at a costly sacrifice.

It’s only when we reach the end of our self-reliance and pride that we can look to the one who actually bore the guilt for us.

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RVN; Connect the Testaments
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the Lexham English Bible, LEB © 2012 by Logos Bible Software.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Links open in new window and are in the New King James Version®, NKJV, unless otherwise noted.
Posted in A CLICK A BLESSING TODAY, BIBLE DAILY DEVOTIONAL, CHRISTIAN NUGGETS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment