“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

In this one verse, Paul gives a personal testimony regarding his identity and what motivates him in his daily life. Our identities are shaped by a variety of ways such as family experience, a traumatic event, etc. Once those identities are defined, they motivate our daily decisions. In the movie, saving Private Ryan, an elderly Ryan visit a grave site remembers the sacrifice of Captain John Miller and his men. Ever since the rescue, Private Ryan decided to live a life worthy of their sacrifice. Paul felt the same way. Paul remembers Jesus who came from heaven on a rescue mission to save him and all mankind (Galatians 1:4). However, it is easy for the cross to lose its meaning in the busyness of life. It is easy for this foundational message to become white noise in our lives. I pray we may grasp and renew the message of the cross so that we may be truly changed people and a source of transformation around us.

One of the most common metaphors describing our relationship with God is marriage. It is described throughout the Old and New Testaments. Isaiah says, “For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth” (Isaiah. 54:5). Marriage rests on the biblical idea of a covenant. It is not like a business relationship, where it is dependent on profit and other benefits. If the agreement is not met, then the relationship is terminated. The marriage relationship intensely relational and personal. God binds himself to us no matter what happens. What Christ brings to our relationship perfectly meets the deficits, disabilities, and disqualifications we bring to the relationship as sinners. Let us think about a few assets that Christ gives in our marriage to him.

Isaiah 29:1-14

In this chapter, Isaiah speaks of both God’s judgment and his hope for restoration of the nation of Israel. Today, we want to think about these two aspects of God’s nature so as to understand Him on a more fundamental level. The prayer is that when we see this full picture of God more clearly, we may be naturally drawn to worship and love him.

Woe to you, Ariel, Ariel, the city where David settled!

We often ascribe feelings of righteous anger and judgment to the word, “woe”. This only captures part of the sentiment behind this word. If we want to get the full thrust of this, we must look at the context. Jerusalem was a city filled with a people whom God dearly loved, a people he rescued out of slavery centuries ago in order to be his own treasured possession. He graciously gave them a sacrificial system so that they could atone for their sins. In fact, the city where David settled, Jerusalem was the site of Solomon’s temple wherein the altar was repeatedly kindled in order to consume sacrifices for the sin of the nation. This reminded them of the LORD’s mercy to forgive their sins and also taught them about the costliness of sin, that it literally consumed life itself. Ariel, which means alter hearth (the part of the altar upon which sacrifices were consumed by fire), was then a fitting name for Jerusalem.