Morning
April 4

Deuteronomy 11:13-14 (NIV) 13So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today–to love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul– 14then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil.


Many of the promises of God are conditional. There is an "if you..." and a "then I will..." In this passage God tells the Children of Israel that their economy is dependent on their obedience. God did give them certain laws that would make their agrarian lifestyle more productive. He also brought them to a land that was dependent on seasonal rains. Farmers throughout the ages have had to depend on the Weather Maker. It was an incentive to obey God. When they turned from God and had drought, they tried other gods that claimed to bring rain, like Baal.

At the moment of writing this, the place I am living is experiencing extreme drought. The government of the area recently repealed what they called 'antiquated laws', laws that had to do with sexual morality. "Those came from the Bible and we don't all believe in the Bible anymore," they say. But that is not true. All western law is Biblically based. Society has just chosen to pick and choose the laws they will enforce. That does not change the promises of God.

In this drought with devastating forest fires, I have not heard one person say there is a need for us to repent. I hear, "Pray for rain." That is general enough so as to offend no one. We have forgotten that God is the Weather Maker, and that many of His promises are conditional.

Consider: Difficulty can be an expression of grace to turn us back to God.


Evening
April 4

Matthew 27:17, 21b-22 (NIV) 17So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, "Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?"

21b"Barabbas," they answered. 22"What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" Pilate asked. They all answered, "Crucify him!"


It hadn't been that many days before this that they were shouting for Jesus to save them, save them from Rome. That week was spent sharing the words of life with all who would hear in the Temple. They had come to a crossroad. Would they ask for the release of Barabbas, the zealot that killed Roman soldiers, or Jesus, the healer and teacher? Will they choose the physical answer to their needs, or the spiritual answer? Will they choose the way of the flesh or the way of the Spirit? "They all answered, "Crucify him!"

We are often faced with the same choice. We have to decide whether we will proceed with our lives on the basis of what man can accomplish, or take a whole new path led by the Spirit of God. Will we choose the physical answer to our needs or the spiritual answer, the way of the flesh or the way of the Spirit? One is death, and the other is life.

Pilate did not have just cause to execute Jesus and told the crowd as much. They didn't care. They said they would personally bear the guilt. "His blood be on us and our children." We look back at the history of suffering the Jews have endured and wonder at the connection with their readiness to accept the blame for His murder. We trust that in God's time that expression will mean their salvation.

Pilate had Jesus whipped. It was a process they called 'half death'. Those who wielded the whips were medically trained to recognize shock. They wove into the end of the whips pieces of bone or lead so that the muscles of the back would be shredded. It was so brutal that sometimes the organs were exposed. Those wielding the whips were not held responsible should the victim die. Isaiah said, "By His stripes we are healed."

Prayer: Thank you Lord, for enduring that for us!