Friday, December 9, 2016

The Promised House for David

Creation: A Divine Cycle
The Savior Has Been born


The Affirmation of the Promise

2 Samuel 7:11-17  The Message

8-11 “So here is what you are to tell my servant David: The God-of-the-Angel-Armies has this word for you: I took you from the pasture, tagging along after sheep, and made you prince over my people Israel. I was with you everywhere you went and mowed your enemies down before you. Now I’m making you famous, to be ranked with the great names on earth. And I’m going to set aside a place for my people Israel and plant them there so they’ll have their own home and not be knocked around any more. Nor will evil men afflict you as they always have, even during the days I set judges over my people Israel. Finally, I’m going to give you peace from all your enemies.
11-16 “Furthermore, God has this message for you: God himself will build you a house! When your life is complete and you’re buried with your ancestors, then I’ll raise up your child, your own flesh and blood, to succeed you, and I’ll firmly establish his rule. He will build a house to honor me, and I will guarantee his kingdom’s rule permanently. I’ll be a father to him, and he’ll be a son to me. When he does wrong, I’ll discipline him in the usual ways, the pitfalls and obstacles of this mortal life. But I’ll never remove my gracious love from him, as I removed it from Saul, who preceded you and whom I most certainly did remove. Your family and your kingdom are permanently secured. I’m keeping my eye on them! And your royal throne will always be there, rock solid.”
17 Nathan gave David a complete and accurate account of everything he heard and saw in the vision.

For Reflection
Again and again the promise of God is reinforced.  The household of David will become the household of God.  David's family is secured for all time.

And yet, as much responsibility, hope and faith as God has placed upon David, David is, in the end, human.  David will fall; seduced by his position, a victim of his own folly.  But, in spite of David's failing, God's will for his people thrives.

Pray
for the realization of God's will in your life. Pray for the opportunity to advance the Kingdom of God.  Sing Hallelujah!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Hannah Praises God

Creation: A Divine Cycle
The Savior Has Been born


The Affirmation of the Promise

1 Samuel 2:1-10  The Message

Hannah prayed:
I’m bursting with God-news!
    I’m walking on air.
I’m laughing at my rivals.
    I’m dancing my salvation.
2-5 Nothing and no one is holy like God,
    no rock mountain like our God.
Don’t dare talk pretentiously—
    not a word of boasting, ever!
For God knows what’s going on.
    He takes the measure of everything that happens.
The weapons of the strong are smashed to pieces,
    while the weak are infused with fresh strength.
The well-fed are out begging in the streets for crusts,
    while the hungry are getting second helpings.
The barren woman has a houseful of children,
    while the mother of many is bereft.
6-10 God brings death and God brings life,
    brings down to the grave and raises up.
God brings poverty and God brings wealth;
    he lowers, he also lifts up.
He puts poor people on their feet again;
    he rekindles burned-out lives with fresh hope,
Restoring dignity and respect to their lives—
    a place in the sun!
For the very structures of earth are God’s;
    he has laid out his operations on a firm foundation.
He protectively cares for his faithful friends, step by step,
    but leaves the wicked to stumble in the dark.
    No one makes it in this life by sheer muscle!
God’s enemies will be blasted out of the sky,
    crashed in a heap and burned.
God will set things right all over the earth,
    he’ll give strength to his king,
    he’ll set his anointed on top of the world!


For Reflection
The Christ event turned the world upside down. Thousands of years of dependence on violent retribution was condemned and displaced by non-violent peace-making as the alternative.  Thousands of years of following religious rules was ended in favor of of love and forgiveness which extended the intent of God's law.  Thousands of years of corrupt governance was threatened by calls for justice.  In Christ, the hopeless found hope.  The hungry found sustenance.  The lifeless found an extraordinary new life, a rebirth into dignity and freedom.  YES!

Pray
prayers of praise.  Sing songs of joy.  Thank God for God's extravagance.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Gideon Responds to God's Call

Creation: A Divine Cycle
The Savior Has Been born


The Affirmation of the Promise

Judges 6:12-18  The Message

11-12 One day the angel of God came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, whose son Gideon was threshing wheat in the winepress, out of sight of the Midianites. The angel of God appeared to him and said, “God is with you, O mighty warrior!”
13 Gideon replied, “With me, my master? If God is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all the miracle-wonders our parents and grandparents told us about, telling us, ‘Didn’t God deliver us from Egypt?’ The fact is, God has nothing to do with us—he has turned us over to Midian.”
14 But God faced him directly: “Go in this strength that is yours. Save Israel from Midian. Haven’t I just sent you?”
15 Gideon said to him, “Me, my master? How and with what could I ever save Israel? Look at me. My clan’s the weakest in Manasseh and I’m the runt of the litter.”
16 God said to him, “I’ll be with you. Believe me, you’ll defeat Midian as one man.”
17-18 Gideon said, “If you’re serious about this, do me a favor: Give me a sign to back up what you’re telling me. Don’t leave until I come back and bring you my gift.”
He said, “I’ll wait till you get back.”

For Reflection
God has patience with us.  When we stray from God's will, God steers us back.  When we ignore God's law, God provides clemency.  When we doubt, God uses that doubt to convince us.  God calls and we respond in fear.  God wipes away fear.  In God we have courage.

Pray
for the courage to accept the challenges God places in your path.  Pray that you will see challenges as opportunities to serve the One in who's image you were created.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

God's Covenant with Abraham

Creation: A Divine Cycle
The Savior Has Been born


The Affirmation of the Promise

Genesis 17:1-8  The Message

17 1-2 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, God showed up and said to him, “I am The Strong God, live entirely before me, live to the hilt! I’ll make a covenant between us and I’ll give you a huge family.”
3-8 Overwhelmed, Abram fell flat on his face.
Then God said to him, “This is my covenant with you: You’ll be the father of many nations. Your name will no longer be Abram, but Abraham, meaning that ‘I’m making you the father of many nations.’ I’ll make you a father of fathers—I’ll make nations from you, kings will issue from you. I’m establishing my covenant between me and you, a covenant that includes your descendants, a covenant that goes on and on and on, a covenant that commits me to be your God and the God of your descendants. And I’m giving you and your descendants this land where you’re now just camping, this whole country of Canaan, to own forever. And I’ll be their God.”

For Reflection
And so, it begins.  God's promise commits God, the ultimate patriarch, to supply and protect the linage of Abram, now Abraham.  God, the Father of fathers, the shepherd of shepherds, the God of gods, the Creator steps in to invite all who see the power of God and human collaboration in the community of God's covenant people.  God's promise carries no contingencies, no strings.   God's promise is an overture to reconciliation.  An invitation to return, with out penalty, to live a life in God's grace.  It is a promise without end.  There will be nothing the decedents of Abraham can or will do that will separate them from the grace of God.

Today, God extends that promise to us all.  God's overture is and invitation to realize the full value of our creation in the image of God.  We, like the chosen ones, are free to choose God.

Pray
prayers of thanksgiving and praise for the Father of the Household of God.  Pray that you will recognize the power of collaborating with the Father in the quest toward reconciliation of human kind to God.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Holy and Awesome Is His Name

Creation: A Divine Cycle
The Savior Has Been born


The Affirmation of the Promise

Psalm 111The Message

111 1-10 Hallelujah!
I give thanks to God with everything I’ve got—
Wherever good people gather, and in the congregation.
God’s works are so great, worth
A lifetime of study—endless enjoyment!
Splendor and beauty mark his craft;
His generosity never gives out.
His miracles are his memorial—
This God of Grace, this God of Love.
He gave food to those who fear him,
He remembered to keep his ancient promise.
He proved to his people that he could do what he said:
Hand them the nations on a platter—a gift!
He manufactures truth and justice;
All his products are guaranteed to last—
Never out-of-date, never obsolete, rust-proof.
All that he makes and does is honest and true:
He paid the ransom for his people,
He ordered his Covenant kept forever.
He’s so personal and holy, worthy of our respect.
The good life begins in the fear of God
Do that and you’ll know the blessing of God.
His Hallelujah lasts forever!


For Reflection
It is good to reflect on all of the things God has provided.  It is good to look around at all God's Kingdom and see the work of God's hands.  It is comforting to know that God will provide and God will keep God's promise.  Truth is never obsolete and justice is eternal.   God's divine "YES!" is reward enough. 

Pray
Pray for the opportunity to serve.  Pray so that you may learn to collaborate with the Holy Spirit.  Pray so you can fulfill God's will that you may find endless enjoyment in God's hands.

Friday, December 2, 2016

A Young Woman Will Bear a Son

Creation: A Divine Cycle
The Savior Has Been born


Isaiah 7:10-17 The Message

10-11 God spoke again to Ahaz. This time he said, “Ask for a sign from your God. Ask anything. Be extravagant. Ask for the moon!”
12 But Ahaz said, “I’d never do that. I’d never make demands like that on God!”
13-17 So Isaiah told him, “Then listen to this, government of David! It’s bad enough that you make people tired with your pious, timid hypocrisies, but now you’re making God tired. So the Master is going to give you a sign anyway. Watch for this: A girl who is presently a virgin will get pregnant. She’ll bear a son and name him Immanuel (God-With-Us). By the time the child is twelve years old, able to make moral decisions, the threat of war will be over. Relax, those two kings that have you so worried will be out of the picture. But also be warned: God will bring on you and your people and your government a judgment worse than anything since the time the kingdom split, when Ephraim left Judah. The king of Assyria is coming!”

For Reflection
Perhaps Israel found itself facing somewhat the same circumstance that we face today.  How do we deal with the process of living where there is so little presumption to tell the truth and the truth is trivialized or worse, considered irrelevant?  Pious, self-serving hypocrites in the Jewish religious/government leadership, spurred a gulf between the haves and the have-nots.  The anger among the have-nots had been building and revolutionary violence had already begun.  God warned of the impending consequences of dysfunction in God's people.  By protecting the freedom of Israel to choose God, God lets their alternative choices run the natural course of consequence, "Assyria is coming."

Rather than striking down the leaders and taking charge, God delivers the truth in the flesh of Christ.  No longer can it be said that the truth is unknowable.  The truth walks, talks and lives among us.  No longer rule bound, but bound to the compassion and forgiveness embodied in God's love made flesh, Immanuel, God-with-us, shows us how to collaborate with God and, thereby, enter the Kingdom of God in present time.  No more waiting for God to act.  God has acted.  Now God waits for us to act!

During this advent season, let us celebrate the truth, honor the truth, follow the truth, and become disciples of the Truth.

Pray
Pray for the courage to follow the Truth in the way of Jesus Christ.  Pray for courage to speak the Truth.  Pray for the will to walk in the Truth.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Out of Nazareth

Creation: A Divine Cycle
The Savior Has Been born


God Promises a Savior

John 1:43-46  The Message

43-44 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. When he got there, he ran across Philip and said, “Come, follow me.” (Philip’s hometown was Bethsaida, the same as Andrew and Peter.)
45-46 Philip went and found Nathanael and told him, “We’ve found the One Moses wrote of in the Law, the One preached by the prophets. It’s Jesus, Joseph’s son, the one from Nazareth!” Nathanael said, “Nazareth? You’ve got to be kidding.”
But Philip said, “Come, see for yourself.”

For Reflection
Who would have guessed?  Who would have imagined?  Who?

A messiah?  From where?  Did I see that coming?  No!  A warrior to save our people?  Never!

God has always amazed us with his novel expressions of love.  No warrior, rather, a peacemaker.  No political marvel.  A carpenter's son.  No man bred in the laps of the religious order.  Rather, a man who can, but need not., quote scripture or experts.  A man who spoke not with authority, but rather, as authority; amazing and frightening full of promise and threat.  Meek and yet powerful.  A man, who to this day, brings God's will for us to live free, and compelling lives as God's collaborators.

Pray
asking not what God can do for you, but rather, what you can do for God.  Listen and watch for the opportunities to serve which God will place in your path.  Pray for the courage to accept God's challenge.