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: Proverbs 21:17Whoever loves pleasure will suffer want; whoever loves wine and oil will not be rich. Observation:
Some have said that this verse speaks of the dangers of an Epicurean life-style. What does that mean? Generally we have attributed this to the teaching of Epicurus, a philosopher who was born in 341 BC. He encouraged people to find a static state of pleasure where one was satiated — or full. When the pleasures have been completely, or entirely satisfied, then one feels full. Later Epicurean societies adopted a motto: Non fui, fui, non sum, non curo ("I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care”). In contemporary society this phrase has been adopted to be used at humanist funerals, or to be carved as an epitaph on a headstone.
The problem is that they don’t understand what Wisdom was trying to say. Pleasure alone would ultimately leave one wanting. The Epicurean life of rich foods and drink, as well as the investment in oils and cosmetics could not be sustained. T…
Proverbs 15:17Better is a dinner of vegetables where love is than a fatted ox and hatred with it. Observation:
The guests are invited to dinner but the host is concerned that there is little to offer. Without the financial resources of the wealthy, they are unable to kill a fatted ox and can only serve vegetables. While some may be discouraged by this, wisdom tells us that the satisfaction depends upon the appetite of the guest. If the guests who are invited are hungry, then even a small meal will be enjoyed and received with gratitude. They will experience the love of the host who was willing to share all he had with his guests. Application:
I was born in Germany where my parents served as missionaries. It seems that our financial resources were often limited, and yet, there was an endless supply of guests at our table. Not only did we have our dear German friends gathering with us at the table, but also many visitors from other countries who would stop by, wanting to see “t…
Scripture: Job 38:1-2 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Observation: Trying to give a reason for Job’s circumstances, his friends had provided every explanation imaginable to the human mind. Now, it was time for God’s response and reality is brought into focus. The friends were bringing counsel to Job, but they did not have knowledge. There was far too much that they did not understand. Following this question God reminds Job that God alone has power over creation, and this knowledge is far beyond Job’s understanding. Therefore, the words of Job’s friends are hollow with misunderstanding. They do not know God, and should not presume to speak for God, for their counsel becomes words without knowledge. Application: If our first instinct is not to run to the Lord in difficult circumstances, we may be allowing ourselves to be counseled by words without knowledge. There are plenty of people who are willing to give us ad…