Reflections at Pentecost

[4] And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; [5] for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
(Acts 1:4-5 ESV)

[1] When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. [2] And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. [3] And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. [4] And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
(Acts 2:1-4 ESV)

Pentecost is often referred to as the Feast of Weeks (Ex.34:22; Deut.16:10) and occurs fifty days after the first Sunday after Passover (Pentecost comes from the Greek word for fiftieth).

At the beginning of the Book of Acts we are presented with the disciples of Christ meeting together, most likely talking over and discussing the final instructions from their Lord, “Go and make disciples” (Matt.28).

Why were they there?  What were they waiting on?

Jesus knew the task before these men and women in this room.  They walked with him throughout his ministry and saw him do amazing things.  They wondered at the things he did and taught. Then, Jesus says they would do even greater things (Jn.14:13-14).

What was before them?

A revolutionary movement.  The church.  Making disciples.  Baptizing believers.

These disciples of Christ had a daunting task… one they were unqualified for and most likely felt ill-prepared for.  Jesus tells them to wait in Jerusalem until they are baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts.1:5).  Why?

Because they were unqualified men and women, they did not have within their capacity to accomplish the task that Jesus set before them.  He knew, if left to themselves, they would fail.  So he said, “wait.”  “Wait for my strength, my timing, my power.”

This is a difficult passage for me.  I don’t wait.  When something needs to get done, I’m usually the first to say, “I’ll do it!”  Not because I have an unusually strong work ethic but because I’m prideful.  First, I often identify myself by the things that I am able to do and accomplish.  Second, I often think I’m more qualified and capable than I really am.  Third, I’m impatient and don’t like to wait.

What these men and women were instructed to do was wait on Christ to fill them with what they were lacking.  For the Type A personality in the room, it was probably killing him.  For the go getter of the group… she was probably tapping her feet up and down wondering why they’re all in the room rather than in the streets preaching the gospel of Christ.

How many of us find ourselves moving when God says, “wait?”  How many of us assume we’re qualified and capable when in reality we know we’re not?

Throughout Jesus’ ministry he was constantly reminding the disciples, “this isn’t about you and what you can do, it’s about me and what I’m going to do”.  

For many of us, our personality wants to take things into our own hands.  We see something that needs to be done… we get a vision from God… and then we move before hearing any other instruction.  We’re presumptuous in our understanding of our own strength and often we forget that we may be lacking in ways that only the Spirit of God can fill.

I’m not saying that in every situation we should sit and wait.  Sometimes God is calling us to act immediately, but he usually makes those moments clear.  What I am saying is we should assess each aspect of our lives and examine the things we may have been doing in our own strength, out of haste and pride.

In our families, we are tempted to raise our kids on our own… God gave them to us and makes promises to us if we would just surrender our children to him.  But rather we work and exhaust ourselves raising children in our own strength and wonder why our marriage is falling apart.

In our work we exhaust ourselves to no end only to leave our spouse and children at home wondering if our first love is our job.  As if everything would fall apart without us.

God gave his people a command to work six days a week and on the seventh day, rest.  Why?  Because there’s a rhythm to life and relationship with God.  We work and then we rest.  He restores us and we work again.  There’s a time each week that God made clear… “you need to rest in me.  Be dependent on me.  Don’t make this about you, make this about me.”

We live in a world and culture that makes everything about “me”.  It’s a consumer world that’s really no different than what Adam and Eve experienced when they ate from the tree that would make them like God.

That’s really our struggle.  We want to be our own god.  We want to be like God.  So we throw the responsibility of God on our shoulders and we work as if our world would stop spinning if we sat down for a moment.  All the while, Christ is saying, “cast your cares and burdens on me, I’m capable.”

What a freedom Christ offers us!  What a freedom he offered the men and women that would change the world through the church with the gospel.  It wasn’t on their shoulders, it’s on Christ’s.  It’s not on your shoulders, it’s on Christ’s.

1. What aspects of your life have you taken the responsibility and weight from Christ and put it on our own shoulders?

2. What relationships need mending because you were operating in your own strength only to leave it more broken than when it started?

3. What task has God set before you that you feel unqualified for?  Ask him for the power of the Spirit to fill your life.  You know, that’s the same power that raised Christ from the dead, and now Christ offers it to you.

For more info on Pentecost (Festival of Weeks) click here.

The “Already/Not Yet” Tension of Christmas and Our Lives

As I sit and write this blog post, it is Christmas Eve, and I find myself sitting and reflecting about this season, this story, and my life. I would assume that the majority of individuals spent this day rushing around and buying last minute gifts, wrapping the ones that they plan to give, or cooking and cleaning in anticipation of tomorrow’s events. Not me. I have been sitting, (sometimes in quiet solitude, sometimes in a noisy room) and reflecting on what all this really means.

As I consider what Christmas is all about, I could easily get caught up in defending it’s true meaning or complaining about the consumerism that surrounds the event. There is even the temptation to ignore those inconsistencies by just focusing on the importance of family relationships or the occasional heart warming stories that are often told during this season. However, today I find myself reflecting on certain, maybe unnoticed, aspects of what this season should really represent.

First of all, as I have been reading passages from the gospel chronicles, I can’t help but notice the “Already/Not yet” dynamic that is so evident in almost every story. The birth narrative can serve as an example of this. We read that this event was a “present salvation” in the first century. Salvation had come to the world through the birth of the messiah. I find this fascinating that this is the proclamation because even at Jesus’ birth, sin is still reigning in the hearts of humanity. Creation is still affected from the curse. Even throughout the narrative of the life and ministry of Christ we see example after example of how sin is still present.  But, in conjunction with this evidence of sin is also a beautiful picture of Christ’s power over sin: Healings, forgiveness, confronting religiosity. There is just so much about the life of Christ that makes me want to jump out of my seat and say, “Yes! Take that!” or, “Yes! We need more of this!” and yet in my own life I still feel the effects of sin: Bad choices, selfishness, and insecurities. Where is this salvation in my own life that I so want to cheer on when I see it displayed in others? Certainly I can see evidences of salvation in my life. For sure, I am not the same man that I was before Christ called me. There is an emerging new life; there have been many victories; there have been new battles grounds identified that have become the focus for further advancement of God‘s sanctification in my life. With this reflection I began to notice the theological parallels between my own experiences and the birth narrative of Christ. Specifically, the “already” and “not yet” distinctions.

Already. This will be my little girl‘s first Christmas. For her, it’s just another day. For all of us, it’s a whole new experience filled with joy and wonder at this new addition to our family. I love to just sit and watch her play, taking in all the uniqueness of this season, from lights to decorations. I often wonder what she is thinking? What does she think of all of this? Does she think that we have gone overboard, making too big of a deal of it all. There is no doubt this little girl has enriched our lives in the present. There is so much anticipation for her future… What will she look like as a little girl? Will she want to dance or will she play sports? What will her favorite color be? What kind of dad will I be to her? These are the thoughts that flood my mind as I look into her innocent little eyes that are full of wonder… full of potential.

Not Yet. Compare that feeling with the reality that has hit me of this also being the first Christmas without my mom. As Christmas festivities begin there will no doubt be a sense of loss in my heart. My mom provided us with so many Christmas memories that still flood my mind. If I closed my eyes right now, its almost like I can still smell the apple cider heating up on the stove and the smell of our traditional Christmas morning French-toast breakfast. Man, it was the greatest! Mom and I were always the ones that decorated the tree and I will always remember the freedom she gave me in that. Some years, that tree was quite gaudy, as I loved putting icicles on the tree. None of the ornaments matched, but each one had there own story and significance behind it.

I was by her side as she passed from this life into her reward. Watching her every breath as if it were a precious watch counting down the seconds. Sitting in the room that night, holding her hand, my heart was flooded with memory after memory of my experiences with her; some long forgot by my conscience memory but seemingly resurrected from my subconscious as a gift from God for this very time. As she breathed her last breath it was almost like time stood still… I think my heart stopped momentarily in tandem with hers. But as hers ceased to rejuvenate, mine picked up its rhythm again as I had to continue on in this life. In that moment it became apparent to me that my life was going to be very different from that day forward. I went home and held my little girl. I looked into her eyes and knew that there was something bigger than me going on here. Somehow, I believe that I experienced, in very tangible way, one aspect of “already/not yet.”

This Christmas, my dad will wake up in his house alone; his sense of loss greatly trumping mine. But I don’t sit and dwell on what is not; instead, I choose to dwell on what is. Or better yet, what the gospel makes possible. My mom’s absence from us this Christmas is our loss, not hers. I am rejoicing in the promises of Scripture that foresaw the difficulty we would all have when we lose loved ones in Christ and provided so many reassuring promises of greater days than this. The promise is of a glorious reunion in a much larger family. There are promised feasts, singing, rejoicing, dancing, and true freedom. A freedom from even a thought that someday any of these things would be taken from us again by death or sin because they have been soundly defeated!

Today, I am thankful for the blessing of a little girl in my home that promises to bring much joy in the present. Simultaneously, my heart yearns for the day I will experience the incredible presence of God alongside a lady that has gone on before me. I am thankful for the gospel story that is true already, but one day, will be experienced in a much more unfettered way. Already/Not Yet.

Yes, this Christmas I will be reflecting on how the gospel speaks directly and practically to our lives… right now… and yet that same gospel transcends our present existence and speaks to something beyond our comprehension. Brothers and sisters, we have much to be thankful for, much to remember and much to rejoice over! Merry Christmas, and may the Lord bless you and keep you! Amen.


The Dual Nature of Christ

How are we to understand the temptation of Christ in light of the doctrine of “Dual Nature”? Meaning, if Jesus was fully God and fully man, how serious was the temptation that he endured in the Wilderness, or for that matter, throughout his entire life?

It is easy to understand how Jesus as a man would undergo temptation as it is common to the human experience. So, it would seem that the issue lies within the implications of Jesus’ deity. James 1:3 says, Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” But in Hebrews 4:15 we are told that “…we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One (Jesus) who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” These two passages seem to create a conflict between the two natures of Christ.

Before I tackle this issue let me first demonstrate from Scripture that Christ indeed had two natures within his singular being:

As God, Jesus:                                                          However, as man, Jesus:

-was worshipped (Mt 2:2,11; 14:3)                             -worshipped God (Jn 17)

-is prayed to (Acts 7:59; 1 Cor 1:1-2)                          -prayed to God (Jn 17:1)

-is called God (Jn 20:28; Heb 1:8)                               -was called man (Mk 15:39)

-called the Son of God (Mk 1:1)                                  -was called son of man (Jn 9:35ff)

-is sinless (1 Pt 2:22; Heb 4:15)                                   -was tempted (Matt 4:1)

-knew all things (Jn 21:17)                                            -grew in wisdom (Lk 2:52)

-gives eternal life (Jn 10:28)                                         -died (Rom 5:8)

-and is indwelt by the fullness of God (Col 2:9)        -had a body of flesh (Lk 24:39)

Do you see the difficulty of synthesizing these texts into an easy to understand doctrine of Christ’s deity and humanity? Well, I am going to give it my best shot in 300 words or less. Here it goes:

We see in Scripture that the divine nature and human nature of Christ coexisted within his person. The scriptures mentioned above tell us that God cannot sin and is not even tempted by sin, and yet the passage from Hebrews states clearly that Christ has been tempted in every way as we are and yet he remained sinless. From the vantage point of the divine I think it would be safe to conclude that Jesus could not have sinned. But from the human perspective Jesus MUST have been truly tempted. So the question becomes, if the divine nature of Christ keeps him from sinning then how could he have even been truly tempted?

Everything Jesus did, he did by looking at the Father. In John 5:19 Jesus said “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner…” Here is my question… Is this anything different than what our own experience should be? I would say no. Jesus was modeling for us, in every aspect of his life and ministry, exactly what we are supposed to do and be. Since we are not divine beings but are indwelt by the divine, I believe Jesus modeled this aspect of redeemed humanity for us. Looking to the Father and empowered by the Spirit.

Here is another example: In Matthew 12:22 Jesus was casting out demons. The Pharisees accused Jesus of casting them out by the power of Beelzebub (Satan). Jesus accused the Pharisees of being guilty of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Why the Holy Spirit? Why not Jesus? I believe it was because every miracle he preformed he did by the power of the Holy Spirit, just like the apostles. If Jesus operated in his deity, it would seem that all of his miracles would have been done in his own power, but over and over again Jesus performs the miraculous through the power of the Spirit and by the prompting of the Father.

Last point for this short blog: Jesus said he came to fulfill the law. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus says, “17 Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them…” I believe that Jesus is speaking of his humanity here. God has no reason to fulfill his own law, the law was created for man. God would have no problem fulfilling His own law, but man has always fallen short of God’s law. It makes sense, that in his humanity, not in his deity, Jesus came to show how a human should live under the law of God. Again, Dominion of the world was given to a man, was lost by a man, therefore I conclude it must redeemed by a man. This is why Paul says in Philippians 2:5,  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Paul seems to be saying that Christ laid aside his deity to embrace and live in his humanity. This doesn’t not mean that Christ ceased to be Divine, only that he worked from the perspective of his humanity as an example of servanthood and humility for us. Also in 2 Corinthians 4:4, In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” This is an obvious allusion back to the creation narrative in reference to the creation of man in Genesis 1:26. In 1 Cor. 15:45 Paul says, 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” So, Paul seems to picture Jesus as the prefect human, the perfect image of God, His perfect likeness. Jesus is what Adam should have been but he sinned. Therefore, Jesus is the perfect example of what man was intended to be from the beginning.

Ask yourself this: If there is no way Jesus could have sinned, what was the purpose of the temptation in the wilderness? To prove who he was to Satan? Nope, Satan already knew who he was. Was God trying to prove it to Jesus? Nope, He already knew too. It seems to be because Jesus could have really given in to the temptations and yet he never did. Notice that the first two temptations consisted of Satan trying to get Jesus to exit out of his humanity and make use of his deity. The last temptation is Satan tempting Jesus as a human to take a short cut in reclaiming lost creation.

Jesus never sinned because, as man, he kept his eyes on the Father, keeping perfect fellowship with Him… and yet, as the Divine he was the Word. As a man, Jesus was sensitive to the Spirit’s leading in his life, and because he did these perfectly, he never sinned. Could Jesus have sinned? Sure, he was human, but because he trusted in the power of the Spirit and the Word of God and the will of his Father, he did not succumb to temptation and he never sinned. Also, from the perspective of the Divine nature, Jesus would never choose sin. The issue has more to do with capacity than it does with weakness. There are many things in my own life that I have the capacity to do, but because of my predisposition I will never act on that capacity. I believe the same is true of Christ and his nature and capacity.

These are just my thoughts, and I do see this as a third order issue. Therefore, there can be disagreement and continued fellowship. However, I believe there must be agreement that Christ was fully divine and fully human. That is non-negotiable. How those two natures were utilized (or unutilized) will always be an interesting inquiry!

Day 9: Do Not Bear False Witness


“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
Exodus 20:16

This is one command that most of us struggle with more than any other.  Often we assume and even read this command as simply, “Do not lie.”  But the actually words are, “Do not bear false witness.”  What is false witness?  It’s saying something or testifying against what you know to be true.

In reality, this command has more to do with our we live our lives than it does with the words we say.  If we understand what God has done for us, who He is, and who He has created us to be… than why do we live our lives as if he doesn’t exist?  Why do we live our lives as if He doesn’t matter?  Why do we give a false testimony of who God is to those around us?  If we are to imitate who Jesus is and represent him to the rest of the world… why sort of Jesus do they see in us?

Throughout these commands we can see a system that God has created.  A system that works if followed.  There’s light and there’s dark.  In creation we see that on day 1 God made a distinction between the two.  The light he called day, the dark he called night.  We chose the darkness.  When God was inviting us into the light, we chose the dark.  Why?  Because the darkness conceals who we are, what we’re capable of.

Over and over again God has called his people to come out of the darkness and step into the light.  To expose the darkness and be healed in the light.  He’s called the church to shine the light into the darkness because the darkness cannot comprehend it, it cannot understand it, and it cannot overcome it.  We do this by recognizing who we are, embracing the gospel of Christ and all that he has redeemed us from, confessing the darkness within and being healed.

This is what the church’s response should be.  Instead we continue to hide in the darkness out of shame, guilt, pride, or even our own love for sin.  The church has become a place where we misrepresent and bear false witness to one another of who we are and who God is.  God is calling us to love one another, bear one another’s burdens, and build bridges of healing to one another.  May we step into the light and out of the darkness.  May we embrace the gospel in our lives and understand what Christ has truly accomplished on the cross.  May we no longer judge one another for our sin but love one another and see that we are capable of the same things.

Spend some time confessing to Jesus the parts of your heart that is still hiding in darkness.  Ask him to heal you.  Repent and turn from evil.  Step into the light and shine through the darkness.  Represent to the world the love and grace that is our God.

Day 4: Sabbath

TEN DAYS OF AWE- DAY 4[8] “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. [9] Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, [10] but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. [11] For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
(Exodus 20:8-11 ESV)

The fourth word is one that is difficult for me when I begin to really dissect what this really means.  Most of us have grown up hearing about the Sabbath Day.  On this day we go to church, and then, if we we’re good Christians we would go home and eat so we wouldn’t have to make the people at the restaurants work. We would make sure we cut the grass on Saturday so we didn’t have to do it on “the Lord’s day”.

Is that what this command is really getting at?  Maybe.  In my heart I really think it goes much deeper than not going to restaurants on Sundays or making sure the only work you did was turn the TV on to watch the Saints’ game while your kids play in the backyard.

What was the Lord really wanting from his people?  Why is he COMMANDING them to rest?

In our culture today I think this command is more important that we might think.  Most of us define ourselves by what we do.  Some of us may have well paying jobs or a high status job that gives some position of authority or stature.  Some of us may be full time moms or dads and we define ourselves by how well of a parent we might be.  Some of us may be artists or musicians.  Some of us may work just so we can have the material things that define us (a nice house, car, the right phone, etc.).

The Israelites knew what it meant to have your worth defined by what you produced.  For 400 years they were enslaved to Egypt, producing crops, making bricks, etc.  In one account of the Old Testament, Pharaoh makes it clear that these slaves are only worth what they are able to produce.  This is what they did, all day long, every day… make bricks until you die…

[10] So the taskmasters and the foremen of the people went out and said to the people, “Thus says Pharaoh, ‘I will not give you straw. [11] Go and get your straw yourselves wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced in the least.’” [12] So the people were scattered throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. [13] The taskmasters were urgent, saying, “Complete your work, your daily task each day, as when there was straw.” [14] And the foremen of the people of Israel, whom Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten and were asked, “Why have you not done all your task of making bricks today and yesterday, as in the past?”
    [15] Then the foremen of the people of Israel came and cried to Pharaoh, “Why do you treat your servants like this? [16] No straw is given to your servants, yet they say to us, ‘Make bricks!’ And behold, your servants are beaten; but the fault is in your own people.” [17] But he said, “You are idle, you are idle; that is why you say, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the LORD.’ [18] Go now and work. No straw will be given you, but you must still deliver the same number of bricks.”
(Exodus 5:10-18 ESV)

Here is a moment when God’s people are desiring to worship, so they ask for time to do this.  Pharaoh’s response: “If you have time to worship then you must not be busy enough”.  Now he requires them to make more bricks with less materials.  They knew what it meant to be defined by what you did.

What defines you? 
In a world where we are more prone to define ourselves by external things (careers, status, children, money, etc.), think about what has defined you.  What do you live for every day?  What is worth so much to you that you couldn’t live one day without it?

Has your work replaced God?  Is it your work that sustains you?  God desires to be those things for us.  He desires to be what sustains us.  He tells us to rest and focus time each week on him.  Thinking of the things he’s done, who he is, and how he has sustained us.  He desires to be the thing that defines us.  Not only do we need rest, he created us to need to rest, we also need him.  What does it say about us that we work all day long, every day, think about it when we get home, dream about, think about it when we’re eating dinner with our families?  What does it say about the priorities in our lives?

Take some time to stop.  Think about the things that God has done in your life.  Take some time to rest in him.  Put the work aside… it will always be there when you get back.  Stop defining yourself by what you produce and begin to define yourself the way God does… a child of the King.

Day 3: Name in Vain


The Third Word (Exodus 20:7) is perhaps the most misunderstood of the Ten. When most people read, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,” they typically understand it as a prohibition against the notorious swear. But that’s not really what the Word is about. God is getting as something much deeper than simply barring us from cussing with his name. Of course, that is one aspect of this Word, but it’s not the whole thing.


So, what is the Third Word all about? There are two Hebrew words in Exodus 20:7 that will help us answer that question. The first is Kisah, which means ‘to carry with you permanently.’ The second word is Shav, which means ‘vanity or emptiness’ and conveys the idea of disappointing the hope that rests upon something.

These two words, Kisah and Shav, are what make the Third Word more than simply cussing. God is telling us, his people, not to disappoint the hope that rests upon the name of God, a name that we carry with us permanently.

As God’s people we bear his name. Wherever we go people know we are his. They know that we place our hope in God. This means we are his ambassadors (2Co 5:20). If we are poor ambassadors for God, then we vainly represent him with our life. We carry his name in vain.

This is what the Third Word is all about. We are not to take on God’s name as Christians and live our life in a way that misrepresents God. That’s taking his name in vain. This is perhaps what Paul meant when he wrote, “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Col 3:17).”


So, here are the big questions for us all – How have we taken God’s name in vain? How have we disappointed the hope of his name with our lives? How can we keep this Third Word?

Take a moment in prayer to ask God how you’ve taken his name in vain. In an attitude of repentance, ask forgiveness from the only one who’s ever perfectly kept this Word – Jesus.

Then, reflect on how to not take God’s name in vain. Ponder how you can bear his name well and not disappoint the hope that rests upon his name with your life. Remember, the only way to carry God’s name well is through Jesus. Why? Because he is the only one who has ever walked the earth and carried God’s name perfectly. Never forget these words of Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20)”

A New Year, A New Day

A New Year, A New DayROSH HASHANAH slide
Rosh Hashanah – Feast of Trumpets

23 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
24 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation.
25 You shall not do any ordinary work, and you shall present a food offering to the LORD.”
Leviticus 23:23-24

Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the Hebrew New Year.  Rosh Hashanah literally means, the head of the year.  It is observed during the first two days of the month of Tishri (the seventh ‘new moon’ of the year).

Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the Ten Days of Awe which is a period of time for repentance, self-examination, and prayer which culminates on the fast day of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).

Rosh Hashanah is also known as the Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teru’ah).  Tradition states that the universe was created by the Lord and Rosh Hashanah marks the sixth day of creation, when the Lord created Adam and Eve.

In Leviticus 23:24 the Lord commands his people to remember with the proclamation of trumpets.  God’s people would traditionally use a shofar (ram’s horn) for such an occasion.  It is blasted at least 100 times during a traditional Rosh Hashanah service thus satisfying the command to make noise on this day.

The Blowing of the Shofar
The blowing of the Shofar is the only actual command in Scripture as to how this feast is to be observed.  The Bible does not give a reason for the blowing of the Shofar but the Rabbis felt as though there should be some significance to the blasts.  The Rabbis have spent much time in the Talmud concerning the reasons for the blowing of the trumpets.

The Tekiah
The first category of sound, known as the tekiah, is a long, single blast. This is a straight, plain, smooth, continuous note and it is to symbolize the expression of joy and contentment.

The Shevarim
The second category, known as the shevarim, is three short blasts. This is a combination of three broken notes to symbolize weeping.

The Truah
The third category of sound is known as the truah. These are extremely short blasts that are a combination of nine staccato notes in a very quick succession of short trills. This symbolizes trepidation, sorrow, and sobbing.

The Tekiah Gedolah
The fourth category is known as the tekiah gedolah, which means “the great tekiah” or “the last trump.” This one symbolizes the hope of redemption. It is a very long, final note.

In these one hundred blasts, the first three categories are combined back and forth until there is a total of ninety-nine sounds. Then comes the one hundredth, the tekiah gedolah, a very long-sustained note—as long as the trumpeter had breath to hold it—and it is known as “the last trump.”

Prayer, Repentance, and the Gospel
As we observe this Holy feast, we think back through this past year.  How have we lived our lives?  How have you lived your life?  Has your life been spent worshiping the Lord or worshiping you?  Who does your life glorify?  Who sits on the throne of your heart?

What areas of your life do you need to seek repentance and the Lord’s forgiveness?
What areas of your life are not saturated in the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Is there someone in your life in which you need to seek forgiveness?
Is there someone in your life in which you need to forgive?

As we move into these days of prayer, ask the Lord for a humble heart, a trusting heart, and a heart that longs to know him more (Philippians 3:10-14).

How will you live this next year?  Will you allow the weight of sin to defeat you or will you allow the power of the gospel to redeem you?

May we remember the gospel of Jesus Christ and the power that is in his resurrection.  May we know that Christ stands in our place, takes the sin that is in us and replaces it with his righteousness.  May we know Jesus and may we trust that he is enough.

As you move into this week, remember the words of Paul:

[10] that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, [11] that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
[12] Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. [13] Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, [14] I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:10-14 ESV)

Throughout the Ten Days of Awe (Sep.4 – 13) check back here as we post a devotional for each day.