Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Jesus seemed to always have people who asked him questions. Questions are not a problem, in fact Jesus himself from time to time asked people questions. It is a teaching and learning technique. For some like the Sadducees and Pharisees their questions were not about learning or teaching, but about testing and trapping. They were hoping to trip Jesus up or expose him as a false teacher.
Jesus was faithful to God’s word and lived it as The Word. Jesus often didn’t agree with the tradition’s interpretation and expansion of the law. Religion comes up with more rules and interpretations trying to make things easier to do. What Jesus said was quite simple to understand just hard to do. That’s why we must trust him.
The greatest commandment? Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. Love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and Prophets. Love our neighbors is easy to say, but sometimes it can be hard to do. Neighbors can make it hard for us to love them, and at times we may be the unlovely neighbor. Loving God leads us to loving our neighbors, and our neighbors are placed in our lives and not chosen by us. Are you a lovely neighbor?Are you a loving neighbor? It’s easy to say and hard to do, let Christ help you to do it!
Monday, December 11, 2017
The opening to the Book of Revelation describes that an angel appears to John while he is banished to the Island of Patmos. John was a witness to the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all he saw. For people of faith we are today the bearers of the testimony of Christ and should share with those we have opportunity to.
During Advent we are reminded of Christ’s birth. We are also reminded that Christ is coming back again. One of the things we are reminded of in Revelation is how much God loves us and will make things right at his return. Verse five and six, “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom.” The same God that freed us from sin, by the costly blood of his Son is coming back again.
It is in our freedom that we find our identity as a people of God. It is in that freedom that we become linked with one another as believers in Christ. It is his blood that makes us a family and a kingdom. We ourselves are not the king, but we do participate in the kingdom. In a kingdom the rule is absolute. The king makes all the decisions and we are subject to the king. In our country we like to vote on things and feel like we have a say, but in a kingdom, you do the will of the king.
On the surface that sounds bad, but what if there was a good king? What if the king protected and looked out for his people? What if we could trust him to provide for us when times were bad? What if we could always trust him to do what was best? Would you follow the king?
Sunday, December 10, 2017
God has no limitations, and our praise for God should not have limits either. The Psalmist writes, “Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens!” Praise God whenever and wherever you are! Why? No matter when or where you might be, God has not stopped being God. God is still worthy of worship, honor, and praise. It has nothing to do with how we feel, but rather who he is.
“Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!” There are enumerable things that we can praise God for. We worship God through our lives. Just as there is great diversity in music and musical instruments, so too are there many different ways to worship and honor God. The God of wonder and creativity enjoys the unique and creative way in which we worship him.
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” For the God of creation, the most creative and unique form of praise is your individual voice. Will you praise him in every place and time? Will the Heavenly Father hear the unique praise of your voice today?
Saturday, December 9, 2017
Amos was a Prophet, but he was a farmer to earn his living. When God speaks, he responded. When the message was not one they wanted to hear, they told him to go away to another kingdom and prophecy there. There were court Prophets during this time that spoke directly to the king and his court in that kingdom. They were saying to Amos, “Go, be someone else’s prophet.” He was a farmer that God called to speak his truth to his people.
There are many waiting the day of the Lord to come. Amos warns be careful what you wish for. The Lord’s coming could be inviting judgement. How certain would we be about our condition before God? Some might say I go to church to do churchy things. Verse twenty-one states, God despises the celebration feast, and solemn gatherings. He will not accept burnt and grain offerings, or peace offerings not looking at them. He calls their worship songs noise and will not listen. God says, “But let justice roll down likes waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
What are we to take from this? God does not delight in shallow worship that offers only lip labor and not our lives. Peace offerings made to God are hallow if we don’t seek peace for all. God doesn’t delight in the ceremony, but in the heart. God desires justice and righteousness. Let our lives be the context for corporate worship. In doing so, we embody Christ, honor God, and change the world.
Friday, December 8, 2017
Our day-to-day lives are filled with many things that make life efficient. We are a culture of immediate gratification. We have wants and desires and for many there should be no delay. We have instant news and weather updates from our phones we carry with us. We get fast food, shop from our phones and computers, and with the push of a button, have our heart’s desire delivered in a day. What then do we do with God who is not obligated to work to our demands or time tables?
We must learn to wait for the greater blessing. Wait and be persistent in seeking God. Many in the older generations are better at this. They saved for things they needed and didn’t get to have everything they wanted. There is a satisfaction in waiting. The Psalmist cries out to God for mercy, and sometimes they must wait. Verse three mentions if God kept a record of all wrongs, who could stand? Verse five, he shares his soul waits, and in his word, there is hope. Waiting and hopefulness are tied together. Waiting in hopefulness is an indication of trust. Why does the Psalmist hope? God’s love is steadfast, and redemption is plentiful.
Will you wait on the Lord? Will you wait full of hope, because you trust God’s love for us and his redemption is plentiful? Let’s wait together in hope, redemption is at hand!
Thursday, December 7, 2017
Advent is as much about the coming of Christ as it is about his coming again. Today’s scripture is a parable (or teaching story) about tenants. The master has planted, put up a fence, dug a winepress, built a tower for observation, then leased it to tenants, and then the master went to another country.
There are different tenants, some will let the property fall into neglect because it is not theirs. Others will treat it as their own trying to possess what is not theirs. This is the case with the tenants in this parable. Then there is a third option which is taking care of the property like it is your own, preserving both its value and your integrity. This is what we call stewardship.
When the time of fruitfulness came the master sent multiple servants and eventually his son. They were all killed, by those trying to possess what was intended to share by participating in the process. When we try to possess what is not ours, the yield and blessing will be taken away.
It is important to remember during this consumer Christmas time, that to have a yield we must plant seeds, and participate in the master’s plan and provision. Can we participate without possessing? If so we lessen our burden and increase the yield!
Wednesday, December 6, 2017
2 Peter 3:1-10
There will always be people who doubt the Lord and His second coming. Many also didn’t believe who saw him at his first coming. The people in Peter’s time questioned the promise of the return by saying since the fathers have fallen asleep, nothing has changed since the beginning of creation. While they speak about creation they ignore the Creator. The words he spoke that bought forth creation will at some point bring the conclusion of judgement.
The time of eternity and our timeline cannot be compared. We, from our limited perspective think God may be taking “too long” or “forgotten” about His return. Are we so certain of our righteousness that we would ask for the day of Christ’s return to happen quickly? Slowness to fulfill the promise is called patience. This patience allows for the opportunity that others may yet repent and turn their hearts to Christ. Just because someone thinks things are going slow doesn’t mean that when the promise is fulfilled, that it will not be swift and without warning.
Advent is the season of expectation and anticipation. The people waited a long time for a word from the Lord. Then Jesus was born. The expectation of all creation was met in Jesus. Just as we see their journey in the expectation in Jesus’ coming, it parallels our own journey of expectation and anticipation of Jesus coming again. Look for him, he’s always on time, just wait and see!