Sunday, December 6, 2015
Background: 2 Thessalonians 1:5-12
Focal: 2 Thessalonians 1:10-12
Advent is the coming of Christ and is often linked with his coming again. Although no one knows the day, when he does come he will be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. Those who have faithfully proclaimed the message and those who trusted what they have heard will not be disappointed, but will be amazed and blessed.
We should pray for one another, that God would help us to be worthy of what he has called us to do. Pray that he would fulfill his work in each of us. Since we do not know the day or time we must be faithful and true in all seasons know that the Lord will return. It is not anything we can accomplish apart from his power. It is instead God’s power working through us for His will and good purposes.
The foreshadowing of this Second Advent is found in the lives of the believers who collectively live as the body of Christ. He is coming in power, strength, and might, but his spirit too is coming among his people. This is so that the name of Jesus will be glorified in us and then us in him. We have no glory of our own but receive glory in Christ and that is an act of great grace for those who would believe in him.
Thank you Lord that as we wait for your Second Advent we receive glimpses of your coming in the body of Christ. Amen!
Saturday, December 5, 2015
Background: Amos 5:18-27
Focal: Amos 5:21-24
The words of God that Amos shared are ones of contempt for empty worship, religious ceremony, offerings without heart, and songs without soul. Amos is sharing God’s desire about a right relationship with him and not just ceremonial “punching the time clock” or worse “glorifying ourselves.” One is devoid of honesty and feeling looking only for an end result rather than a lifetime commitment. The other is misplaced love and affection, valuing our desires, pride, preferences, and glory about that of God.
Amos’ prophetic message acknowledges that the people meet, eat, and give as prescribed in the law and following in their tradition. However, it is not those specific “religious” actions that obligate God as if God where spiritual vending machine, rather it is a right heart that will seek righteousness. Singing our favorite songs for our pleasure and entertainment, while missing the heart of God isn’t praise but pride. All worship flows from a right heart with God and flows out to others from there.
The sounds that are pleasing to the ears of God are justice and righteousness rolling and flowing like rushing waters and ever flowing stream. Are we caught up in our gatherings, meals, ceremonies, and songs and missing the very heart of God? Does your cup, soul, life, and heart overflow with the righteousness of God and desire justice in our world today? Our gathering together may be great but it must also be godly.
Friday, December 4, 2015
Background: Amos 5:1-17
Focal: Amos 5:14-15
The Prophet Amos was in a unique position. He was called by God to speak to the people a harsh truth about the coming days. The days about which Amos is speaking seem to be far removed from their day-to-day lives and during a time of perceived prosperity and good favor. The other difficulty is, that not many people knew Amos, he was a farmer, not a Prophet of the court. Yet he is sharing a direct word from God about the days to come.
He tells them to “seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you.” The mandate to seek good and not evil seems to be personal in nature to the hearers of Amos, however it is in seeking good, not evil that we find life and find ourselves closer to God, “and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you.” It is in fact a personal and relational message as we soon find out.
“Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate.” Justice is about what is good for everyone as God looks at it. What we see sometimes as good for us may not be good or beneficial for everyone. It is personal because it begins with a change of heart and action by the faithful. It is also relational because it seeks the good for the whole. As the Christmas song proclaims, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” Pray that we are transformed by his peace, and we will be the presence of peace to others.
Thursday, December 3, 2015
Background: Matthew 21:33-46
Focal: Matthew 21:42-44
One might be tempted to think why include such a passage in the Advent Season? However, even after all these years, just like in Jesus’ time there will be those that reject Jesus. Perhaps they don’t believe he was who he claimed to be, or perhaps they didn’t believe the affirmation of God at his baptism. The point here is those who they believe are building this world have chosen to leave the creator out of the equation. What man chose in rejecting the cornerstone was themselves instead. It is God’s marvelous doing and it is God’s way, not man’s way.
Scripture goes on to say the kingdom of God will be taken away from these builders, and given to a people producing fruits. It is impossible to reject the cornerstone of the kingdom, the piece that holds it all together, and think that you have any part of the kingdom. In accepting Christ as the centerpiece of the kingdom we agree that God is right and then we submit our lives to him to yield his kingdom’s fruit.
Builders reject things for many reasons. Sometimes they reject a material because they do not think it strong enough, other times because they do not want to pay the cost, still others because they just want to do it their way. What they didn’t see fit to be the cornerstone will prove it’s worth by demonstrating their weakness and the folly of their pride. Please to not take the cornerstone, Christ, out of Christmas.
Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Background: 2 Peter 3:1-10
Focal: 2 Peter 3:4, 8-9
There was a period of time between the Old and New Testaments that was a period of silence. God had not sent word through any Prophets for nearly 400 year and many had begun to doubt if God was going to do anything. Then there was the birth of his Son, Jesus.
Peter also mentions here in verse four about those who scoff at the second coming, continue in their sin, saying nothing has changed since creation. That is simply not true. Jesus, God’s only Son was born of a virgin, lived a sinless, life, died for you and me, and rose on the third day. Part of the problem is many didn’t acknowledge the first Advent (the birth of Jesus) and still believe that God has been silent all these years. God did not send a word but the Word become flesh.
God’s timing is not our timing. God’s timing is perfect, he is never slow but patient with us. Thank you, Lord, for being patient with us. You do not wish for anyone to perish. We may be tempted to see your delay as inactivity instead of grace. In your patience, others will have the opportunity to acknowledge and turn from their sin, being saved. Thank you, Lord, that you showed patience to us and may we have the grace to be patient as you seek to save those that are lost. For I too, “once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.” Thank you, Lord for your patient grace with us.
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Background: 2 Peter 1:12-21
Focal: 2 Peter 1:16, 20-21
Peter acknowledges that even in the years following Jesus’ death that there were accusations that it was made up, a myth. He speaks plainly to this when he says “we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It was not a myth or made up, rather these events where part of their experiences. “We were eyewitnesses of this majesty.” They saw it firsthand and with their own eyes. This removes all doubt for them. For eyewitness testimony to be true at least two had to agree. The disciples were in agreement to the point it cost most of them their lives.
Prophecy comes not from man or their interpretation but from God. There has been no prophecy spoken just by the will of man. Men did speak from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. If it came only from a man’s mouth and not God’s heart, then a man could not make it true. If the word is from God it is true always.
What is the point you may ask? The prophecies of scripture point to the Messiah, Jesus. Throughout the Old Testament the word of God spoke to the promise of the Messiah. We learn of his miraculous birth, his confirmation at his baptism, the earthquake at his death, the empty tomb on the third day, his appearances to many people, and his promise to return. God spoke and is faithful. We celebrate this Advent even at we look expectantly to the second. God’s word is truth!