Wednesday, December 17, 2014

3rd Wednesday of Advent 2014

Paul opens his letter to the Corinthians with a praise of the grace of God. He goes on to reflect on how God has enriched the church, leading up to his plea for unity in the church.

While the passage for today, 1 Corinthians 1:3-9, does not get into Paul’s exhortation to eliminate division, it lays the groundwork for that plea. He points out that all the believers have is a gift from God. All of their riches? From God.

Therefore, all that the church has is a gift from God. It is evidence of God’s work in His people that we have knowledge, wisdom, and the fruit of the Spirit like love and joy.

It’s not from anyone else—those who are able to exhibit these are not better than others. They are allowing God to use them. This is where we are, and what we should do:

Be useful to others in the name of God. Be useful by living out grace, truth, and peace and living lives of thankfulness.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

3rd Tuesday of Advent 2014

Take your Bible and look at Psalm 80, especially Psalm 80:7.

The Psalmist, of Asaph’s line, is looking at the situation in the nation of Israel. Times are hard, troubles have come. The difficulties mentioned could fit one of the oppressions in the time of the Judges or could go with invasions and assaults later on in the time of the kings. (Both the invasion of Shishak and the Assyrian Invasion would fit the mood.)

The exact setting is not as big of an issue for us today as this question: Do we long for better days like the Psalmist?

We typically do. As much as we will make a pious show of “being content” we often want things better. And why shouldn’t we? There is crime and hatred, broken homes and broken hearts.

We want something better than what we have, but we are not capable of making it happen. What is the solution?

The same as the Psalmist’s: cry out for God to restore us, ask for His face to shine on us. Only through the Good Shepherd’s coming do we have any hope. For the Lord Almighty has come, first to gather His flock. Then, He continues to feed and defend it—and someday, He will return to take us home.

Monday, December 15, 2014

3rd Monday of Advent

What happens when you have a church website on the super-cheap plan? It goes down all morning and your support request gets filed in the “yeah, maybe later” box. It’s a Monday.

Isaiah 64:1-9 is our passage for today, and it’s a good one. (Note: I kind of misread the schedule and did week 2 first, followed by week 3, so we’re dropping back to week 1 this week.)

Take a look at the first verse: Isaiah longs that God would rend the heavens and come down! He wishes for God’s presence on this earth…

And this is exactly what we get at Christmas. Jesus rends the heavens and comes down…as a baby. Where does our hope and help come from, then?

From that baby, grown to manhood, crucified, risen, and exalted! For He is Jesus. Look further at Isaiah 64:8: He is the potter, we are the clay.

Part of our purpose as God’s people is working, in whatever small ways are available to us, to make happen the cry of Isaiah for justice and mercy. Both belong together—and both are part of the work of God.

Truly, it will take until the reign of Christ for these to happen in the whole world. But what can you do about them right now?

Find someone who needs mercy—and share it. Find a place where justice is needed, and bring it.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Second Friday, Advent 2014

Mary’s song, The Magnifcat, in Luke 1:46-55 is a remarkable celebration of what God had done in the life of Israel. I would note these things, but encourage you to read, and reread, her words for yourself:

1. Her focus is entirely on God. The terms she takes for herself are: bondslave and humble. She notes that future generations will call her blessed—but this word contains very little sense of accomplishment. It reflects one who was blessed with grace.

2. Her praise is rooted firmly in the past. The past? Yes, the remembrance of what God has already done. Do not look down on the old times, the things which God did for generations both near past and long past. We are too often more concerned about what will be than we are grateful for the positives of what has been. Take a look here and remember that His mercy is upon generation after generation.

3. Her hope is in the greatness of God, not her own strength going forward. Where is ours?