Posts

Showing posts from 2018

Learning Well

Image
Scripture:
Luke 2:41-51
The Boy Jesus in the Temple Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know t…

The Gift

Image
Scripture:
Revelation 21:5-7
And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children.
Observation:
The beautiful promise of the Lamb is to make all things new. We are called to trust in God for his “words are trustworthy and true.” All the work required for this gift has been completed. There truly is nothing to worry about because the God who was at the beginning continues until the very end.
For those who have never been satisfied, who have searched for water to quench their ever-present thirst, the gift has been given. This gift is satisfying water, which quenches every thirst, and provides the water of life.
This gift comes…

Wisdom’s Closing Appeal

Image
Scripture:
Prov. 8:32   And now, my children, listen to me: happy are those who keep my ways. 33Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. 34Happy is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. 35For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD; 36but those who miss me injure themselves; all who hate me love death.”
Observation:
Some commentators have referred to this chapter as the autobiography of Wisdom. This closing segment is an appeal to her children, to those who should listen to and heed her ways. Now, just imagine the Christmas season and the arrival of the Messiah. His presence informs our understanding of wisdom, for we receive this wisdom in and through our relationship wth the Messiah.
Jesus admonishes us to come to him as little children, to listen to him and to keep his ways. Daily we are invited into a place of reading, meditation and prayer, where we hear the Lord’s voice. We are to create space for this instruction, an…

Praise and Provision

Image
Scripture:
Psa. 148:13   Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven. 14He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his faithful, for the people of Israel who are close to him. Praise the LORD!
Observation:
The Psalmist draws us into a center of praise for the LORD. We respond because the very character of God is revealed in that which we see and hear and we have no choice but to respond to the revelation. We serve a transcendent God who is above everything in heaven and earth. This is a great mystery and yet, it is one into which we have been invited, for God has a people.
Those who call upon the name of the LORD are his people and for them there is a horn of plenty, or provision. God rejoices in those who are close to him. The response of the people is to praise the LORD, and this is God’s plan to share the good news. Those who are close to God will share their praise of God and this is how the world will get to know th…

Freedom from Oppression

Image
Scripture:
Isaiah 9:4For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.
Observation:
Isaiah was writing to a people who were living under the oppression of life in exile. The yoke of slavery was heavy upon their shoulders as they lived lives of servitude to those who controlled their lives. The bar across the shoulders represents the power to be controlled. Just as oxen are yoked together to keep them plodding in unison in the same direction, so that which oppresses has power to control our lives and keep us moving in the direction of the one who has the power. In this case it was a political power and the people were to be freed. The oppressor used the rod to beat those who refused to submit to the authority of the bar. The promise of God was that this slavery would come to an end, and the tools of the oppressors would be destroyed.
There was another yoke to be destroyed, and that was the oppressive yoke o…

Let Your Face Shine!

Image
Scripture:
Psa. 80:0   To the leader: on Lilies, a Covenant. Of Asaph. A Psalm. 1Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth 2before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh. Stir up your might, and come to save us!
Psa. 80:3   Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.
Psa. 80:4   O LORD God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers? 5You have fed them with the bread of tears, and given them tears to drink in full measure. 6You make us the scorn of our neighbors; our enemies laugh among themselves.
Psa. 80:7   Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.
Observation:
Humanity, created in the image of God is to reflect The image. That is only possible when the face of God shines upon the people. It’s in this face to face relationship that we are able to discover our salvation. The people of Israel realized that they had moved far from God’s holy presence. The Psalmist c…

Embracing a Warm Delight

Image
Scripture:
Jer. 31:31   The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the LORD,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.
Observation:
The promise of the new covenant found in Jeremiah is inspiring and encouraging. In comparison, the law may have been seen as a cold prescription. Now, the new covenant will be…

Arms Folded: Refusing to Participate

Image
Scripture:
Luke 7:31-32
“To what then will I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep.’
Observation:
John the Baptist had come calling the people to repentance and Jesus had come to bring them new life. Instead of becoming active participants in God’s kingdom work there were those who refused to become a part of what God was doing. Mostly, they were the religious officials who thought that they didn’t need to respond to the messages that they were hearing. What were they like? They were people on the sidelines, arms folded, and refusing to participate.
The flutes were played and people began to celebrate but they would not dance. Looking stiff with a frown on their faces, they looked on with a steely glaze. The joy of the Lord remained far from them, as did the message of repentance. Unable to mourn over…

An Incomplete Story

Image
Scripture:
Acts 28:30   He lived there two whole years at his own expense and welcomed all who came to him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.
Observation:
These are the final two verses in the book of Acts. It does not bring us to the end of Paul’s life, nor his ministry. We are left with Paul under house arrest in Rome, subsidizing his own imprisonment, but using it to the benefit of the gospel. Unhindered by his circumstances, he continues to proclaim and teach boldly and without hindrance.
Application:
As we continue the Advent journey we suddenly realize that we are invited into the story. The book of Acts finishes rather abruptly and there are a number of theories, the most common of which is that that Luke had finished his writing while Paul was under house arrest in Rome. In other words, this was real-time information. We believe that after this Paul was released and went on to write some additional …

The Advent of Character

Image
Scripture:
Hebrews 13:13 Let us then go to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. 15 Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Observation:
The author of the letter to the Hebrews is pointing out something very unique about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The altar was within the walls of Jerusalem, and the place of burial was outside the city gates. To go outside the city was to leave the holy sites and become unclean. In Christ the unholy becomes holy. It is outside the camp that Christ suffered and died and in his death, he sanctified that which the Jewish leaders would have condemned as unclean.
For the Jews the message was clear, for to identify with Christ was to break with Judaism. This meant leaving the “…

The Dawning of a New Light

Image
Scripture:
Is. 19:18   On that day there will be five cities in the land of Egypt that speak the language of Canaan and swear allegiance to the LORD of hosts. One of these will be called the City of the Sun.
Observation:
Isaiah’s words were prophetic. A time would come when the people of Egypt would become followers of God. The good news would spread to the Gentiles and the transformation would be dramatic. This would be demonstrated by the work that God would do in the City of Sun. Some translations refer to this place as the “City of Destruction.” It represents a stronghold of heathenism, a place where the sun is worshipped and sin runs rampant. The dawning of a new light will result in the replacement of the sun, with the Son of God. The power of the Gospel will be enough to reform the most vile of cities into a place of God’s holiness. This is the promise of the advent of the Messiah.
Application:
Far too often we fail to see the magnitude of the hope that is offered through the adve…

Preparing the Way

Image
Scripture:
Luke 3:3 He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, 4 as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; 6and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

Observation:
John the Baptist came preaching and proclaiming repentance to the people. He didn’t have the power to remit, or to forgive peoples’ sins, but he was preparing the way by a call to turn from their sins. This call was a fulfillment of the prophecy from Isaiah. It was time for the voice in the wilderness to call the people back to faith. In this way John was helping to make the paths straight, removing the barriers that existed so that the people could clearly see the Messiah when he arrived.
A…

Proclaiming Christ!

Image
Scripture:
Phil. 1:15   Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill. 16 These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defense of the gospel; 17 the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment. 18 What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,
Observation:
After Paul was imprisoned there were those who chose to exacerbate his circumstances. Because they didn’t like Paul, they thought that they would preach the gospel to incite the anger of the Empire. By doing so, they hoped that Paul would be punished even more. While Paul recognized that some were sincere in their preaching, his honest recognition of the motivation of others is fascinating. However, he refused to allow this to get him down because the only thing that really mattered to…

Living Well While Waiting

Image
Scripture:
2 Peter 3:14-18
Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures. You therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, beware that you are not carried away with the error of the lawless and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
Observation:
Peter is talking about the second coming of Christ. The believers of the first century were awaiting the Messiah’s return, but Peter had reminded them that God’s time was much different than ours. A day could be many years, and many y…