Friday, March 6, 2015

When the Advocate Comes

The Spirit Comes
The Pledge of God's Presence


Jesus Promises an Advocate

John 15:18-27  The Message

18-19 “If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me. If you lived on the world’s terms, the world would love you as one of its own. But since I picked you to live on God’s terms and no longer on the world’s terms, the world is going to hate you.
20 “When that happens, remember this: Servants don’t get better treatment than their masters. If they beat on me, they will certainly beat on you. If they did what I told them, they will do what you tell them.
21-25 “They are going to do all these things to you because of the way they treated me, because they don’t know the One who sent me. If I hadn’t come and told them all this in plain language, it wouldn’t be so bad. As it is, they have no excuse. Hate me, hate my Father—it’s all the same. If I hadn’t done what I have done among them, works no one has ever done, they wouldn’t be to blame. But they saw the God-signs and hated anyway, both me and my Father. Interesting—they have verified the truth of their own Scriptures where it is written, ‘They hated me for no good reason.’
26-27 “When the Friend I plan to send you from the Father comes—the Spirit of Truth issuing from the Father—he will confirm everything about me. You, too, from your side must give your confirming evidence, since you are in this with me from the start.”
For Reflection
 Lets face it squarely.  Godlessness and Evil inhabit the world.  We see it every day; racism, favored injustice, allegiance to the wealthy or most popular at the expense of others, self-absorption, psychopaths, who make killing a religion.

The only real solution is to fill the world with God fearing people who act with compassion, forgiveness, mercy, and have a preference for justice and peace.

Pray
prayers of thanksgiving for the living God, found in Jesus Christ.   Pray so that you remain in an intimate relationship with Christ.  Pray that you will emulate the living Christ.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Shepherd's Comfort

The Spirit Comes
The Pledge of God's Presence


Jesus Promises an Advocate

Psalm 23  The Message

A David Psalm

23 1-3 God, my shepherd!
    I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
    you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
    you let me catch my breath
    and send me in the right direction.
Even when the way goes through
    Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
    when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
    makes me feel secure.
You serve me a six-course dinner
    right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
    my cup brims with blessing.
Your beauty and love chase after me
    every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
    for the rest of my life.
 
For Reflection
 Sometimes reading an unfamiliar translation of a familiar passage is strange.  But, making the familiar, strange, is sometimes useful.  After the shock of the transformation subsides, what have you seen in this familiar passage that is new or understood in a new way?
 

Pray
prayers of thanksgiving for the living God.  Thank God for Gods abiding protection.  Praise God for providing your needs.  Praise God for the comfort found in God's household.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

This Is My Comfort

The Spirit Comes
The Pledge of God's Presence


Jesus Promises an Advocate

Psalm 119:49-64  The Message

49-56 Remember what you said to me, your servant—
    I hang on to these words for dear life!
These words hold me up in bad times;
    yes, your promises rejuvenate me.
The insolent ridicule me without mercy,
    but I don’t budge from your revelation.
I watch for your ancient landmark words,
    and know I’m on the right track.
But when I see the wicked ignore your directions,
    I’m beside myself with anger.
I set your instructions to music
    and sing them as I walk this pilgrim way.
I meditate on your name all night, God,
    treasuring your revelation, O God.
Still, I walk through a rain of derision
    because I live by your Word and counsel.
57-64 Because you have satisfied me, God, I promise
    to do everything you say.
I beg you from the bottom of my heart: smile,
    be gracious to me just as you promised.
When I took a long, careful look at your ways,
    I got my feet back on the trail you blazed.
I was up at once, didn’t drag my feet,
    was quick to follow your orders.
The wicked hemmed me in—there was no way out—
    but not for a minute did I forget your plan for me.
I get up in the middle of the night to thank you;
    your decisions are so right, so true—I can’t wait till morning!
I’m a friend and companion of all who fear you,
    of those committed to living by your rules.
Your love, God, fills the earth!
    Train me to live by your counsel.

For Reflection
 What about your faith gives you the most comfort?  When you are confronting difficulty, what do you remember that gives you strength?  What is the mark of God's love and promise in your life?

Pray
"Train me to live by your counsel."  Pray for your friends who support your faith.  Pray that you will never forget God's Plan for your life.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Here Is Your God

The Spirit Comes
The Pledge of God's Presence


Jesus Promises an Advocate

Isaiah 40:1-11  The Message

Messages of Comfort

40 1-2 “Comfort, oh comfort my people,”
    says your God.
“Speak softly and tenderly to Jerusalem,
    but also make it very clear
That she has served her sentence,
    that her sin is taken care of—forgiven!
She’s been punished enough and more than enough,
    and now it’s over and done with.”
3-5 Thunder in the desert!
    “Prepare for God’s arrival!
Make the road straight and smooth,
    a highway fit for our God.
Fill in the valleys,
    level off the hills,
Smooth out the ruts,
    clear out the rocks.
Then God’s bright glory will shine
    and everyone will see it.
    Yes. Just as God has said.”
6-8 A voice says, “Shout!”
    I said, “What shall I shout?”
“These people are nothing but grass,
    their love fragile as wildflowers.
The grass withers, the wildflowers fade,
    if God so much as puffs on them.
    Aren’t these people just so much grass?
True, the grass withers and the wildflowers fade,
    but our God’s Word stands firm and forever.”
9-11 Climb a high mountain, Zion.
    You’re the preacher of good news.
Raise your voice. Make it good and loud, Jerusalem.
    You’re the preacher of good news.
    Speak loud and clear. Don’t be timid!
Tell the cities of Judah,
    “Look! Your God!”
Look at him! God, the Master, comes in power,
    ready to go into action.
He is going to pay back his enemies
    and reward those who have loved him.
Like a shepherd, he will care for his flock,
    gathering the lambs in his arms,
Hugging them as he carries them,
    leading the nursing ewes to good pasture.
 
For Reflection 
It is said that one does not fully appreciate help unless one is on one's last legs.  We all, at one time or another, have been on our last legs.  So desperate that we would grab onto anything that promises a good end.  We must fight to remember that any act out of desperation must be doomed for failure if God is not at its core.  Wait with patience on the Lord.  God will lead you out of desperation.

Pray
prayers for those whose times lead to desperation.  Pray that they will find a righteous path out of the darkness that confronts them on all sides.  Pray that you will have the patience to wait on the Lord for righteous solutions.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Is There No Balm in Gilead?

The Spirit Comes
The Pledge of God's Presence


Jesus Promises an Advocate

Jeremiah 8:18-22  The Message

18-22 I drown in grief.
    I’m heartsick.
Oh, listen! Please listen! It’s the cry of my dear people
    reverberating through the country.
Is God no longer in Zion?
    Has the King gone away?
Can you tell me why they flaunt their plaything-gods,
    their silly, imported no-gods before me?
The crops are in, the summer is over,
    but for us nothing’s changed.
    We’re still waiting to be rescued.
For my dear broken people, I’m heartbroken.
    I weep, seized by grief.
Are there no healing ointments in Gilead?
    Isn’t there a doctor in the house?
So why can’t something be done
    to heal and save my dear, dear people?
 
For Reflection
 Have you ever been deceived by your confidence and sense of security that you thought would result in a peaceful unchallenged existence? 

These People of God were so confident in God's protection that they began to take God's promise for granted.  They turned away from God thinking that the pressures they faced should have been resolved by God.  They were sure they were abandoned.  And so Jeremiah laments and the people could not see the solution, simply a return to God.

Pray

for all who think God has abandoned them. Pray that they will be able to find their way back to the living
God.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Why Are You Baptizing?

The Spirit Comes
The Pledge of God's Presence


The Lamb of God

John 1:24-28  The Message

24-25 Those sent to question him were from the Pharisee party. Now they had a question of their own: “If you’re neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet, why do you baptize?”
26-27 John answered, “I only baptize using water. A person you don’t recognize has taken his stand in your midst. He comes after me, but he is not in second place to me. I’m not even worthy to hold his coat for him.”
28 These conversations took place in Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing at the time.


For Reflection
 Baptism was practiced in the Jewish faith.  It was some times used after a circumcision as a rite of purification. 

John baptized as a purification rite.  John baptized to prepare people for the coming of Christ.  John baptized at a place which may have been the place where Israel had passed over Jordan into the land of promise.

And so it is today, baptism purifies in preparation for a life in God.  Baptism is a rite of passage, passing from the old life into the new life lived in righteousness.

Pray
pray prayers for the church which sustains the baptism of us all.  Pray that you will remember the meaning of your baptism and abide in God.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Make the Way Straight

The Spirit Comes
The Pledge of God's Presence


The Lamb of God

John 1:19-23  The Message

Thunder in the Desert

19-20 When Jews from Jerusalem sent a group of priests and officials to ask John who he was, he was completely honest. He didn’t evade the question. He told the plain truth: “I am not the Messiah.”
21 They pressed him, “Who, then? Elijah?”
“I am not.”
“The Prophet?”
“No.”
22 Exasperated, they said, “Who, then? We need an answer for those who sent us. Tell us something—anything!—about yourself.”
23 “I’m thunder in the desert: ‘Make the road straight for God!’ I’m doing what the prophet Isaiah preached.”
 
For Reflection
 The Spirit of God moves John into action.  Who in today's world is "thunder in the desert?"  Who is making straight the path to righteousness?  Are you?
 
Pray
That you will follow the spirit with the zeal of John.  Pray that you are making the path to righteousness easy for others to follow.