Thursday, April 17, 2014

God of the Living

What the Prophets Foretold
Jesus and the Davidic Covenant

The Third Day

Mark 12:18-27

The Message

Our Intimacies Will Be with God

18-23 Some Sadducees, the party that denies any possibility of resurrection, came up and asked, “Teacher, Moses wrote that if a man dies and leaves a wife but no child, his brother is obligated to marry the widow and have children. Well, there once were seven brothers. The first took a wife. He died childless. The second married her. He died, and still no child. The same with the third. All seven took their turn, but no child. Finally the wife died. When they are raised at the resurrection, whose wife is she? All seven were her husband.”
24-27 Jesus said, “You’re way off base, and here’s why: One, you don’t know your Bibles; two, you don’t know how God works. After the dead are raised up, we’re past the marriage business. As it is with angels now, all our ecstasies and intimacies then will be with God. And regarding the dead, whether or not they are raised, don’t you ever read the Bible? How God at the bush said to Moses, ‘I am—not was—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? The living God is God of the living, not the dead. You’re way, way off base.”
 
For Reflection
The mystery that is God.  God does not operate by humankind rules.  The bush is burning but not consumed.  The Son is dead and yet alive.  To God, time is not past present and future but now.  God lives in us, with us and through us in the eternal now.
 
Pray
Praise God for God's presence in our lives.  Praise God whose promise is eternally fulfilled.  Confess your humanity to God and bask in the glory of God's grace.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Received by God with Honor

What the Prophets Foretold
Jesus and the Davidic Covenant

The Third Day

Psalm 73:16-28

The Message
15-20 If I’d have given in and talked like this,
    I would have betrayed your dear children.
Still, when I tried to figure it out,
    all I got was a splitting headache . . .
Until I entered the sanctuary of God.
    Then I saw the whole picture:
The slippery road you’ve put them on,
    with a final crash in a ditch of delusions.
In the blink of an eye, disaster!
    A blind curve in the dark, and—nightmare!
We wake up and rub our eyes. . . . Nothing.
    There’s nothing to them. And there never was.
21-24 When I was beleaguered and bitter,
    totally consumed by envy,
I was totally ignorant, a dumb ox
    in your very presence.
I’m still in your presence,
    but you’ve taken my hand.
You wisely and tenderly lead me,
    and then you bless me.
25-28 You’re all I want in heaven!
    You’re all I want on earth!
When my skin sags and my bones get brittle,
    God is rock-firm and faithful.
Look! Those who left you are falling apart!
    Deserters, they’ll never be heard from again.
But I’m in the very presence of God
    oh, how refreshing it is!
I’ve made Lord God my home.
    God, I’m telling the world what you do!

For Reflection
Are we all destined to drive a slippery road on crash course into a ditch of delusions?  If not under the guiding hand of God, yes!  We are easily seduced by an illusion of self control, trying to face life alone.  Our few successes at self sufficiency obviate the number of failures.  Like a gambler, mindlessly pushing slot machine buttons, anticipating a payoff that never materializes, we place hope in ourselves.

Our only hope is in the loving, compassionate arms of God.
Pray
for the confidence in God's plan for your life in God's kingdom.  Pray for all who have found themselves by losing themselves in the presence of God.  Pray that you might sacrifice your self for a God self.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ransomed From the Power of Death

What the Prophets Foretold
Jesus and the Davidic Covenant

The Third Day

Psalm 49:5-15

The Message
5-6 So why should I fear in bad times,
    hemmed in by enemy malice,
Shoved around by bullies,
    demeaned by the arrogant rich?
7-9 Really! There’s no such thing as self-rescue,
    pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.
The cost of rescue is beyond our means,
    and even then it doesn’t guarantee
Life forever, or insurance
    against the Black Hole.
10-11 Anyone can see that the brightest and best die,
    wiped out right along with fools and dunces.
They leave all their prowess behind,
    move into their new home, The Coffin,
The cemetery their permanent address.
    And to think they named counties after themselves!
12 We aren’t immortal. We don’t last long.
    Like our dogs, we age and weaken. And die.
13-15 This is what happens to those who live for the moment,
    who only look out for themselves:
Death herds them like sheep straight to hell;
    they disappear down the gullet of the grave;
They waste away to nothing—
    nothing left but a marker in a cemetery.
But me? God snatches me from the clutch of death,
    he reaches down and grabs me.

For Reflection
The offense attacked and attacked again.  Fear gripping them to the core, "Defend to the death," the defenders cried, "Counter attack!"  Power against power, wealth against wealth.

Is this what life is, a constant never ending battle -- a descending death spiral -- or as E.L.Doctorow put it in his new novel, Andrew's Brain,  our "pathetic intention to survive.  Because, of course, [we] never do."

Christ has shown us the futility of capturing and commanding the material world. After all the threats, after all the bloodshed, after all the winning is done death ends it all.

Without God there is no survival.  Without God death is the end of life both physically and figuratively.
Pray
for the courage to take up the cross and follow Jesus. Pray to discover God's will for your life in the Kingdom.  Praise God for the risen Christ.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Death and Dispair

What the Prophets Foretold
Jesus and the David Covenant

The Third Day

Job 30:20-31

The Message

What Did I Do to Deserve This?

20-23 “I shout for help, God, and get nothing, no answer!
    I stand to face you in protest, and you give me a blank stare!
You’ve turned into my tormenter—
    you slap me around, knock me about.
You raised me up so I was riding high
    and then dropped me, and I crashed.
I know you’re determined to kill me,
    to put me six feet under.
24-31 “What did I do to deserve this?
    Did I ever hit anyone who was calling for help?
Haven’t I wept for those who live a hard life,
    been heartsick over the lot of the poor?
But where did it get me?
    I expected good but evil showed up.
    I looked for light but darkness fell.
My stomach’s in a constant churning, never settles down.
    Each day confronts me with more suffering.
I walk under a black cloud. The sun is gone.
    I stand in the congregation and protest.
I howl with the jackals,
    I hoot with the owls.
I’m black-and-blue all over,
    burning up with fever.
My fiddle plays nothing but the blues;
    my mouth harp wails laments.”
 
For Reflection
There are times in each of our lives when despair takes over.  We ask God, "Why me?"  Is our suffering a consequence of our own behavior?  Is it punishment for disobedience to God? The simple but unsatisfying answer is that we are human and suffering is the human condition. This answer does nothing to take away the pain. 

 It is not God's will that we suffer.  It is God's will that we seek comfort in his arms.  It is God's will that we find compassionate care in the kindnesses of others.  It is God's will that we, in spite of our troubles, find strength in the promise of God and the transforming healing power of the Holy Spirit.
 
Pray
Offer prayers and thanksgiving to the the living Lord who suffers as we suffer. Pray for all who suffer so that they may find peace in the healing power of Jesus name. Pray for those who provide compassionate care.

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Better Hope

What the Prophets Foretold
Jesus and the Davidic Covenant

A Messianic Priest-King

Hebrews 7:11-19

The Message

A Permanent Priesthood

11-14 If the priesthood of Levi and Aaron, which provided the framework for the giving of the law, could really make people perfect, there wouldn’t have been need for a new priesthood like that of Melchizedek. But since it didn’t get the job done, there was a change of priesthood, which brought with it a radical new kind of law. There is no way of understanding this in terms of the old Levitical priesthood, which is why there is nothing in Jesus’ family tree connecting him with that priestly line.
15-19 But the Melchizedek story provides a perfect analogy: Jesus, a priest like Melchizedek, not by genealogical descent but by the sheer force of resurrection life—he lives!—“priest forever in the royal order of Melchizedek.” The former way of doing things, a system of commandments that never worked out the way it was supposed to, was set aside; the law brought nothing to maturity. Another way—Jesus!—a way that does work, that brings us right into the presence of God, is put in its place.
 
For Reflection
You can't legislate morality.   Neither can you dictate faith. Predicting all circumstances that might separate us from God is impossible.  Obedience to the will of God is not a grand computer processing challenge where all possibilities are known.  We live lives in a human realm where tomorrow is unknowable.

What is knowable, however, is the truth incarnate in the life of Jesus Christ and God's promised life in God's household.  Live by the code of God's love.
 
Pray
that you will follow God's will for us to transform our selves in the image of Jesus, talking the Way, and walking the Way.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Kingdom of God's Beloved Son

What the Prophets Foretold
Jesus and the Davidic Covenant

A Messianic Priest-King

Colossians 1:9-14

The Message
9-12 Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.
13-14 God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.
 
For Reflection
Paul prays for the church as we should pray for the church.  The church of Paul's time is not the church of our time.  The church has evolved and is evolving. It is not a static institution.  Reformation is the constant both in the church and in the lives of the faithful.  There must be a reason for what some researchers are calling a world- wide decline of religiosity.  Some suggest that God is preparing us for reformation.  I am not disturbed by the arguments that seem to divide the church.  On the contrary, I am encouraged by it. God will "rescue us from dead end alleys and dark dungeons."
 
Pray
for the church universal.  Pray that conflict will lead to change where God wills change.  Pray that you will be encouraged by evolution toward the Kingdom of God.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Seated on the Throne of Glory

What the Prophets Foretold
Jesus and the Davidic Covenant

A Messianic Priest-King

Matthew 19:23-30

The Message
23-24 As he watched him go, Jesus told his disciples, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for the rich to enter God’s kingdom? Let me tell you, it’s easier to gallop a camel through a needle’s eye than for the rich to enter God’s kingdom.”
25 The disciples were staggered. “Then who has any chance at all?”
26 Jesus looked hard at them and said, “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.”
27 Then Peter chimed in, “We left everything and followed you. What do we get out of it?”
28-30 Jesus replied, “Yes, you have followed me. In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields—whatever—because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life. This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.”
 
For Reflection
Entering the Kingdom of God is easy.  It is not a result of the amount of riches you possess.  It is not about how you act.  It's all about what guides your life.  It's about giving up your SELF, (Who you think you are), and adopting your Godself.  In doing so, your obedience to the will of God will transform the world.  You will be the God's agent of change.
 
Pray
that you will follow God's will for God's creation.  Pray that when the hard choices come you will be prepared to choose those which are aligned with God's will for humility, peace, compassion, and justice.