My posts come from my personal daily scripture readings and a part of my personal accountability. If we are going to grow as followers of Christ, we must be in the Word! If you miss these a few days, something has kept me from it; but if they're gone for too many days, call me on the carpet. We need to hold one another accountable. Join me on this journey as our lives are to Reflect the Image-and Jesus IS the image. Peace, Carla Sunberg
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Arms Folded: Refusing to Participate
Participation in a Prayer Gathering, Grace Point Fort Wayne, 2009.
“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.’
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 their own sins, they could not see the encouragement of God’s people to join in the revival. The people prayed and wailed, but arms remained folded, resistance setting in, and there would be no weeping.
Here we are, in the midst of advent where God is breaking into our world, calling us to repentance and joy in new life. The advent didn’t end in the first century, but continues to this day, an invitation to participation. Some may be folding their arms and looking upon the church in disdain and frustration. Yes, there have been hurts and wounds, but those have been by people, not by Jesus. Jesus plays the flute and invites you into a holy dance where you can be set free. Standing on the sidelines and refusing to participate only hurts ourselves. The call to repentance remains and God weeps with us in our pain and suffering. Holding it all in, we continue to suffer on the sidelines, physical and emotional pain attacking our bodies. The invitation is to let go, repent of the ways in which we have been living and allow God to work.
For those who are followers of Christ, we must look for ways in which we ourselves participate in the advent. We are to become the flute players, sending forth the beautiful notes of invitation. How can anyone join the holy dance if they’ve not been invited. We may be critical of those who stand on the sidelines, but if we provide no invitation, who is going to join in? I’m not too sure that the most outgoing of individuals would simply invite themselves into a party. The relationship of holy love foundin the Triune God is the beautiful invitation which we are to share. This is an invitation to participation in the Triune God, which is simply amazing. It’s the greatest gift possible, and yet, far too many of us are holding onto it, not willing to share it with others — possibly because of the fear of rejection.
Then there’s the invitation to repentance. That doesn’t sound too vogue these days, and yet, without the invitation to wailing and mourning, we will be unwilling to put to death those things which keep us under their control. Why would we want others to suffer in the grip of that which will suffocate and bring death? As the light dawns, the cure for for the ills of this world begins to shine brighter and brighter. We are to carry that light to those who are in need of healing, weeping and wailing for the who continue to suffer. Followers of Christ are to bear the burden in prayer for those who remain on the sidelines. Our hearts are to be broken for the things that break the heart of God, interceding with tears for those who refuse to participate.
Advent is an invitation to participation. It’s cold on the perimeter and we tire of just looking on. Come close. Join the dance, and be willing to weep. Jesus is coming.
Lord, move me closer to your light today, and give me boldness to pass it on. Amen.
Scripture: Rev. 3:14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin of God’s creation: Rev. 3:15 “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’ You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich; and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19 I reprove and discipline those whom I love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. 20 Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. 21 To the one who conquers I will give a plac…
Rom. 6:22 But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. Rom. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Two sides of life are presented here in great contrast. One is a life of sin and enslavement to evil. The other side of life is freedom which provides the advantage of sanctification (or holiness as some translate the word) that leads to eternal life. The options here are a life of sin, slavery and death; or freedom, holiness and eternal life.
The advantage of holiness or sanctification is the benefit of the life of freedom. Jesus died so that we might be made holy like him and this is something that is offered as a “fruit” or “advantage” right now. The end is eternal life — but the living of life is that it can be lived out in holiness.
The next verse is really just an affirmation of the verse 22. Sin will lead …
Scripture: 1Sam. 2:18 Samuel was ministering before the LORD, a boy wearing a linen ephod. 19 His mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year, when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. Observation:
Little Samuel was being raised in the presence of Eli’s wicked sons. They were doing things wrong, and stealing food from the sacrifices they were supposed to be making on behalf of the people. In their midst was a precious little boy whose mother was influencing him to do everything right. She brought him a new robe every year so that it would fit properly and he wore the linen ephod, a priestly garment, over the top. This was what he should have been doing and he did it right, when Eli’s sons took short-cuts in everything that they were doing.
Hannah came back year after year to check in her son and give him a new garment. One can imagine that she encouraged him to do the right things and to serve God faithfully. Surely, day after day, whi…