BY JOYCE PELLETIER
Continuing with Psalm 139:17-18:
How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!
Were, I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I awake, I am still with you.
Have you ever considered counting the grains of sand on a beach? Or in a cup? You are probably thinking, “that is impossible.” You’d be correct on that assessment!
Does it mean we don’t comprehend it? No, if anything, the truth is we’d all be hard pressed to even consider doing that. Now, if it were cups of sand to fill a bucket, well, that is possible. However, this is not what this Psalm says. When we consider that God already knows the numbers, He doesn’t have to count them. What is being said, is that it is a countless number to state, but God’s thoughts are far greater than the grains of sand. The number guess would indicate endless thoughts. How awesome is that?
Recently, I had an issue with the control button for my implant for my pain management in my spinal cord. It prompted me to do an update on the control. Following it asked for a Passcode, which I didn’t have before. Thinking that they were indicating that it was required. I put a code in, then forgot to write it down. When I went to lower the number for the strength, well, I could not do it because of the missing Passcode. Another problem is that it was a Friday, and no one was available until Monday. Stressor #2
This put me in a medical dilemma. One I didn’t anticipate. Well, that morning anxiety and stress built up and the next day came to a head, because the pain was increasing. I contacted the company responsible for this lovely device and they couldn’t help me. I could not get into the program because they had my incorrect phone number on file to send a code. Stressor #3.
After speaking with the third technician, she suggested going to the Apple Store to have the control wiped out of its programs, so they could have me go through another encounter with the rep. It seemed like there was one thing after another.
I followed their recommendation and contacted the rep in charge of my case and he was busy all day so we never connected to get this resolved until the next afternoon. We worked on the phone to correct this and after putting the login info in a number too many to count, like the sand. So, we gave up. He was sending me a temporary control until we could get together to see what the problem is. The device never showed up. A week after his attempt to send me a temp controller, we talked. He decided to overnight another control and once I got it, we’d get it connected on the phone.
The next morning the control arrived 5 minutes after its designated time of arrival. After texting the rep, he called me to set it up for me to use. Eureka! I am now on track again and they will fix the original control, once they are in the area to get together. From the moment I was back on the program, I felt all the stress fall off me like a walk on a rainy day.
All through this ordeal I know God is walking with me. He had lessons to teach me. The day I had to drive to Williston, was sunny and the air was fresh, mild and the whole time coming home, I knew God used that little journey to show me that He was in control, not the little 2 X 4” iPod device to push the buttons.
Now that this pesky incident is behind me. I look at Psalm 139:18 read what it says that when I am awake, I am still with God. All these little things to remind me I do not walk alone. Also, that even though things don’t get done on “My Scheduling,” God’s schedule works better. This three week delay after delay, ordeal is all normal again. All these lessons that God allows seem pesky for the moment, but if I would consider the grains of sand, I am lifted out of yet another “pot-hole” on the Highway of life, knowing my GPS is controlled by our amazing Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Insight from a cup of countless grains of sand!
BY JORDAN MAYER
“I therefore, a prisoner of the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with on another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit - just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call - one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
There's an oft-used church saying that when you see a "therefore" in the Bible, you should be asking yourself, "What's the 'therefore' there for?" Paul has just spent three chapters laying a foundation for the Ephesians before beginning chapter four. This "therefore" marks a turning point in his letter. In essence, Paul is saying that, in light of what he has just written, there is now an application and implication. So what has Paul been saying?
First, we must begin with our natural state before God. We are said to be spiritually dead in our sins (2:1), children of wrath by nature and by choice (2:3). We are trespassers against God's holy and perfect law. The works we carry out are in pursuit of our own sinful passions and desires (2:3). We are without hope and without God (2:12).
Just as God spoke light into the dark and formless void (Genesis 1:2-3), He speaks life into our spiritually dead state. God makes us alive together with Christ (2:5)!
But what we learn about God in this passage is that His plan of redemption was not reactionary, but preordained. Before the foundations of the world were even laid, God chose us and sought us for adoption (1:4-5). He came, not because we were so lovely or worthy of saving, but because He was rich in mercy, glorious in grace, and great in love.
And yet, the Gospel is not merely what saves us from our sin, it is also the power to live a transformed life. For upon accepting the Gospel, we are given the promised Holy Spirit (1:13). We are strengthened with His power (3:16). This is what is made available to us in Christ. And yet, how quick we are to pray for more of His grace, or more peace, or more strength. But how can He give any more of what He has already freely and fully provided? As Paul reminds us in the opening chapter, we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (1:3)! Thus, our task is not to petition Him for a greater portion, but merely to seek to be filled by His fullness (3:19).
In light of what Christ has done and in the power of the Holy Spirit, we are urged to walk. The Christian life does not end at conversion, it is there that it begins. As the Gospel transforms our hearts, it begins to transform our lives.
In particular, it revolutionizes our relationships. In Paul’s day, there were few relational dynamics more stark than that of Jew and Gentile. The Jews enjoyed a rich history as God’s chosen people, well acquainted with the law and prophets. By all intents and purposes, they were as near to God as anyone could be. On the other hand, the Gentiles found themselves alienated from Israel, not even being allowed to go beyond the outer temple court to worship. They were ignorant to the things of God and strangers to the law. And yet, in the end, those who were near and those who were far off were equally lost.
In Christ, those who appeared far off are brought near by His blood (2:13). Once strangers and aliens, God declares them fellow citizens and members of His household (2:19). In Christ, those who were near, but condemned by the law, find peace with God. And in reconciling our relationship with God, Christ reconciles us to each other. Suddenly, whatever social, economic, political, or cultural divides fade away. Whatever we were before Christ gives way to who we are in Christ. In Him we are one body together (2:16).
We are unified through the Spirit and bonded together in peace. Notice that we are not called to create unity or peace, but to maintain it. Peace does not come within ourselves, but in Christ. For He, himself, is our peace (2:14). Likewise, it was the purpose and plan of God to unite all things in Him (1:10). Christ has accomplished the work, now we must bear it out in our own lives. So to walk in a manner worthy of our calling is to walk in the power of the Gospel, the power of a life transformed by Christ. We are given new natures and new affections, we are made new creations. And in being made new, we are joined together as one. One body. One Spirit. One hope. One Lord. One faith. One baptism. One God and Father of all.
As many of you know, I have made the decision to leave Daybreak Community Church. As such, this is my farewell post of sorts. My aim in writing has always been to draw attention to and meditate upon the great riches of the Word of God. In a phrase, to divide the spoils of His Word. So I can think of no fitting end than to dwell on the immense treasure of the Gospel. For all of Scripture points to the person and work of Jesus Christ. It is in light of the truth of the Gospel that several Daybreakers have reminded me of its implication, much like Paul did to the Ephesians. Though we may be apart, we are truly one in Christ, connected together in the peaceful bonds of His love!
So it is my ernest prayer that we all “may have the strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that [we] may be filled with all the fullness of God” (3:18-19).
“To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (3:21).
May it be so!
Hold My Hand
BY GABRIELLA FECHER
“Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.”
Today, I held my father’s hand in mine as he lay in the hospice bed, unresponsive.
I had held that same hand so many times in my life and it never once felt like this. The fingers were cold and weak— and not gripping mine back— but I desperately held on because I didn’t want it to be the last time I held his hand like this. Once I let go, I wouldn’t get the chance again.
This was the same hand that I had clenched so tightly that my knuckles were white back when I was seven years old and scared of going on the ferris wheel. He hadn’t let go from the moment we stepped into that brightly-colored Contraption of Doom until the moment my glittery purple sneakers stepped off. This was the hand that held mine as we jumped off the dock into the green lake, the cold water enveloping us both. The hand that spun me in circles across the dance floor and the kitchen like they were one in the same. The hand that pulled me up from the snow heap after he himself shoved me in, giggling the whole way.
When a parent holds a child’s hand, it often brings about a sense of security, protection, peace, affection, and comfort. There’s a reason so many children cling to their parents when they encounter something scary or even new; that small gesture contributes to a sense of not being alone. We are assured that someone wiser and stronger is there, sharing the moment and the space with us. That “someone” is guiding us, reassuring us, or simply making the moment more special.
In my own grief journey this week, I stumbled on Isaiah 42:5-6:
“Thus says God, the Lord,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it
and spirit to those who walk in it:
‘I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness;
I will take you by the hand and keep you;’”
I’m drawn to the visual of a God stretching heavens and earth, breathing life into its inhabitants. The power and majesty that is exemplified here is one that demands reverence and glory. He is the Creator, the Life Giver, the Artist who molds and shapes, the LORD of all. This picture demonstrates a handiwork of greatness that our human mind can’t even fathom.
And yet He holds my hand.
The placement of that one phrase— “I will take you by the hand and keep you” — right after this majestic scene is no mistake. It fits perfectly into this space that calls for the glory due to His name. The Alpha and Omega connects with us. Our fingerprints— our very identity— comes into contact with His. After all, His nature is simultaneously one of power and tenderness, magnitude and intimacy, protection and comfort.
The mighty hand that “laid the foundation of the earth” and “spread out the heavens” (Isaiah 48:13) is the same hand that “will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:16-17), uphold us (Isaiah 41:10), and support us (Psalm 18:35). We’re told that no one and nothing can take us from this hand (John 10:29) that holds our own.
And He never stops holding it. The Psalmist wrote, “Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand” (Psalm 73:23). Only a few verses later, he writes, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” That connection with God and the corresponding strength, guidance, and comfort bolster us when our hearts fail, the discouragement creeps in, and the grief washes over us. This connection is the Comfort of all comforts, the type that speaks to the soul without always needing words.
This attachment between Heavenly Father and child is beautiful. He, like a Father, loves us and gives us “eternal comfort and good hope through grace” (2 Thessalonians 2:16). His presence is one that assures us that Someone is already looking out for us— that nothing is going to happen without His guidance and His support. We can, in fact, get on that ferris wheel because He’ll be doing it with us and He knows better than we do. We can jump into unknown waters. We can dance with even more joy because we’re sharing the moment with Him. We can get back up after we fall.
What a comfort it’s been to know that I never have to let go of my Father’s hand.
I Cast My Mind to Calvary
BY JORDAN MAYER
“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”
During this Holy Week, I've found myself thinking back to the Advent season we celebrated just a few months ago. Christmas marks the coming of Emmanuel, God With Us. Though many in the world secularize Christmas enough to remove any mention of "Christ", others are still content to leave the manger scene as a cutesy story and holiday tradition. A miraculous baby boy, a quaint little stable with lovable farm animals, angels heralding peace and goodwill, and shepherds passing on the good news. On the surface, it sounds like a peaceful bedtime story, and many try to keep it that way. But eventually this baby boy grows into a man, and eventually this man goes on to suffer and die.
There is no sugarcoating the Easter story. Christ's suffering was brutal and horrific. It was undignified and humiliating. His body, bruised and beaten, and blood trickling from His many wounds, is a startling and disturbing sight to envision. Yet, what is more disturbing is not the manner in which He suffered, but the fact that He suffered at all. In a world obsessed with justice, there is no greater injustice than an innocent man suffering a wrongful death. How much more than the perfect Son of God? Though He committed no crime, He was nailed to a criminal's cross. Though He spoke of only truth, He was condemned as a liar (Mark 14:64). He was despised and rejected (Isaiah 53:3), oppressed and afflicted (Isaiah 53:7).
Yet, Jesus willingly suffered. Though He was fully God, enjoying perfect fellowship within the Trinity, he emptied Himself and became a man. The Creator entered into His own creation, humbling Himself and even allowing Himself to be put to death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8), Though the people mocked and jeered, it was within His power and ability to come off of the cross or to summon legions of angels to rise to His defense. But instead, He submitted Himself to His Father's will. "Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?", Jesus says to Peter in the garden of Gethsemane (John 18:11). Or, as Isaiah prophesied several hundred years prior, it was the Father's will to crush Him (Isaiah 53:10).
Why would someone, why would anyone, choose to suffer and die when they did nothing wrong?
He was pierced for my transgressions. He was crushed for my iniquities. The chastisement He bore and the wounds he suffered, He endured on my behalf. Jesus' sacrifice was necessary because it is what my sin demanded. A just and holy God demands wages to be paid for sin, and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Jesus paid what I could not. As the nails pierced His hands, they also pierced the record of debt that stood against me (Colossians 2:14).
He died because He loved me, because He loved you. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). And yet, the Bible says that even while we were still enemies of God, Christ died for us (Romans 5:10). While God’s wrath was poured out on Him, Christ’s love was being poured out on us.
The story does not end with our sin. Oh the depth of our sin, but oh how much greater the depth of His love! If I begin as Paul does, "Oh wretched man that I am. Who can deliver me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:24), I can also end as Paul ends, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25). For it was on that cursed tree that our Savior declared, "It is finished!" (John 19:30)
If I may offer an encouragement this week, as much for myself as for you, do not be too quick to pass over the pain and anguish of the cross on your way to the empty tomb. Ponder the sacrifice that was made on your behalf. Dwell on the suffering He endured. For as Christ was crucified, our old selves were crucified with Him (Romans 6:6). Boast in the cross and the crucified Savior (Galatians 6:14). For the word of the cross is the power of God to those who are saved (1 Corinthians 1:18). Carry with you the death of Jesus knowing that in Him is also life (2 Corinthians 4:10).
But then rejoice that He did not stay in that grave. For if Christ didn't rise from the dead, we truly are a people to be pitied and we remain in our sin (1 Corinthians 15:17-19). But just as He conquered sin on the cross, He conquered death in the tomb!
He is risen, He is risen indeed!