Thursday, October 30, 2014

Worshiping in Awe

Sustaining Hope
Visions of Grandeur


God's Divine Glory Returns

Psalm 5   The Message

A David Psalm

1-3 Listen, God! Please, pay attention!
Can you make sense of these ramblings,
my groans and cries?
    King-God, I need your help.
Every morning
    you’ll hear me at it again.
Every morning
    I lay out the pieces of my life
    on your altar
    and watch for fire to descend.
4-6 You don’t socialize with Wicked,
    or invite Evil over as your houseguest.
Hot-Air-Boaster collapses in front of you;
    you shake your head over Mischief-Maker.
God destroys Lie-Speaker;
    Blood-Thirsty and Truth-Bender disgust you.
7-8 And here I am, your invited guest—
    it’s incredible!
I enter your house; here I am,
    prostrate in your inner sanctum,
Waiting for directions
    to get me safely through enemy lines.
9-10 Every word they speak is a land mine;
    their lungs breathe out poison gas.
Their throats are gaping graves,
    their tongues slick as mudslides.
Pile on the guilt, God!
    Let their so-called wisdom wreck them.
Kick them out! They’ve had their chance.
11-12 But you’ll welcome us with open arms
    when we run for cover to you.
Let the party last all night!
    Stand guard over our celebration.
You are famous, God, for welcoming God-seekers,
    for decking us out in delight.

For Reflection

Listen to David's words,  Hear the expressed devotion.  Understand David's assessment of his own fears in dealing with his world. Visualize his act of worship.

Sometimes, I think we have lost site of what it means to worship.  In this era of diminishing religiosity and church attendance we are pressured into finding ways to attract believers.  We ask questions as though the faithful were customers in order to bend our faith to fit their perceptions (however accurate) of what they think abiding in the faith means.  "What can the church do to attract you?"  What do you get out of Sunday Worship Service?

This is marketing religion not cultivating the faith.  How often do we discuss our faith and how it manifests in our action?  How often do we, the church, discuss how we pursue justice, compassion and peace?  What opportunities do we offer to practice the Way?  How does the church practice the Way?  Is the church just another social self-help group?  Or is the church a collective of Christians who meet to worship God in devotion and practice?

Pray
for the church as David has prayed for help.  Praise God for whispered words of wisdom and comfort.  Pray that you never forget what it means to be a God seeker.  Pray that you seek to worship God in word and deed.  Pray to make God worship your first priority.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

God's Holy Place

Sustaining Hope
Visions of Grandeur


God's Divine Glory Returns

Psalm 24  The Message

A David Psalm

24 1-2 God claims Earth and everything in it,
    God claims World and all who live on it.
He built it on Ocean foundations,
    laid it out on River girders.
3-4 Who can climb Mount God?
    Who can scale the holy north-face?
Only the clean-handed,
    only the pure-hearted;
Men who won’t cheat,
    women who won’t seduce.
5-6 God is at their side;
    with God’s help they make it.
This, Jacob, is what happens
    to God-seekers, God-questers.
Wake up, you sleepyhead city!
Wake up, you sleepyhead people!
    King-Glory is ready to enter.
Who is this King-Glory?
    God, armed
    and battle-ready.
Wake up, you sleepyhead city!
Wake up, you sleepyhead people!
    King-Glory is ready to enter.
10 Who is this King-Glory?
    God-of-the-Angel-Armies:
    he is King-Glory.
 
For Reflection

The King of Glory, the unseen and unseeable God.

In a land filled with images of all sorts of Gods, songs as this one fly in the face of those who worship other gods.  Multiple gods of the harvest and gods of fertility, gods of war and many others were worshiped.  Each god was thought to bring some special privilege to those who prayed.  The gods explained the inexplicable and justified human behavior.

But the God of Israel is not god of self-justification.  The God of Israel is is a God of redemption, salvation and transformation.  God is the God of all things.  God can not be seen directly.  God is seen indirectly in all of God's creation.  Only the God of Israel has the power to transform the world.  God is seen in God seekers.

Pray
to seek God.  Pray that the glory which surrounds God seekers will reveal the paths to peace, justice and compassion.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Standing on Holy Ground

Sustaining Hope
Visions of Grandeur


God's Divine Glory Returns

Exodus 3:1-6  The Message

1-2 Moses was shepherding the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. He led the flock to the west end of the wilderness and came to the mountain of God, Horeb. The angel of God appeared to him in flames of fire blazing out of the middle of a bush. He looked. The bush was blazing away but it didn’t burn up.
Moses said, “What’s going on here? I can’t believe this! Amazing! Why doesn’t the bush burn up?”
God saw that he had stopped to look. God called to him from out of the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
He said, “Yes? I’m right here!”
God said, “Don’t come any closer. Remove your sandals from your feet. You’re standing on holy ground.”
Then he said, “I am the God of your father: The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.”
Moses hid his face, afraid to look at God.
 
For Reflection
"Mine eyes have seen the coming of the Lord," is the first line of Julia Ward Howe's familiar hymn, The Battle Hymn of  the Republic.  Another familiar hymn to an 8th century Irish tune reads:

     Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
     Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
    Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
    Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.


Moses was in the presence of a vision of grandeur, incredulous and mysterious and transformational.  It was a vision of the coming of God's transformational power, a power codified in the commandments, a set of laws intended to give hope to a desperate people.

To give hope in desperate times is our sacred vision as well. We live and work for the restoration of the world in the image of the Kingdom of God.

Pray
that you will never lose your vision of God's intention for human kind.  Pray that you will work for righteousness.  Pray for those who embrace the vision of the Holy Spirit.  Pray for the coming of the Kingdom of God.

Monday, October 27, 2014

God's Exalted Name

Sustaining Hope
Visions of Grandeur


God's Divine Glory Returns

Deuteronomy 5:23-29  The Message

23-24 As it turned out, when you heard the Voice out of that dark cloud and saw the mountain on fire, you approached me, all the heads of your tribes and your leaders, and said,
24-26 “Our God has revealed to us his glory and greatness. We’ve heard him speak from the fire today! We’ve seen that God can speak to humans and they can still live. But why risk it further? This huge fire will devour us if we stay around any longer. If we hear God’s voice anymore, we’ll die for sure. Has anyone ever known of anyone who has heard the Voice of God the way we have and lived to tell the story?
27 “From now on, you go and listen to what God, our God, says and then tell us what God tells you. We’ll listen and we’ll do it.”
28-29 God heard what you said to me and told me, “I’ve heard what the people said to you. They’re right—good and true words. What I wouldn’t give if they’d always feel this way, continuing to revere me and always keep all my commands; they’d have a good life forever, they and their children!
 
For Reflection
Where is your "holy place," your sacred ground to which you retreat to find restoration?  Where is the place that provides you a sanctuary from the pressures of your life?  Where do you go to find peace?  Where do you go to listen to God?
 
Pray
in your "holy place."  Meditate about God's intentions for your life in your "holy place."  Transform yourself, rejoice in the presence of God, in your "holy place."  Pray to keep your 'holy place' sacred.  Listen to God in your "holy place

Friday, October 24, 2014

You Are the Hope of All

Sustaining Hope
Dark Nights of the Soul


Hope Satisfies

Psalm 86:1-10 The Message

A David Psalm

86 1-7 Bend an ear, God; answer me.
    I’m one miserable wretch!
Keep me safe—haven’t I lived a good life?
    Help your servant—I’m depending on you!
You’re my God; have mercy on me.
    I count on you from morning to night.
Give your servant a happy life;
    I put myself in your hands!
You’re well-known as good and forgiving,
    bighearted to all who ask for help.
Pay attention, God, to my prayer;
    bend down and listen to my cry for help.
Every time I’m in trouble I call on you,
    confident that you’ll answer.
8-10 There’s no one quite like you among the gods, O Lord,
    and nothing to compare with your works.
All the nations you made are on their way,
    ready to give honor to you, O Lord,
Ready to put your beauty on display,
    parading your greatness,
And the great things you do—
    God, you’re the one, there’s no one but you!
 
For Reflection
Are you uncomfortable with prayer?  Pray anyway!  Pray about the big things.  Pray about the little things.  Pray so that God becomes the center of you life. Pray so that you will begin to listen to God whispered counsel.  In Prayer you will find hope in the great expectations in God's promised kingdom.

Pray

Pray about anything.  Pray about everything.  Pray prayers of thanksgiving.  Pray prayers of Praise. Pray prayers of intersession.  Pray for opportunities to serve God.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

My Hope Is from God

Sustaining Hope
Dark Nights of the Soul


Hope Satisfies

Psalm 62:1-8 The Message

A David Psalm

62 1-2 God, the one and only—
    I’ll wait as long as he says.
Everything I need comes from him,
    so why not?
He’s solid rock under my feet,
    breathing room for my soul,
An impregnable castle:
    I’m set for life.
3-4 How long will you gang up on me?
    How long will you run with the bullies?
There’s nothing to you, any of you—
    rotten floorboards, worm-eaten rafters,
Anthills plotting to bring down mountains,
    far gone in make-believe.
You talk a good line,
    but every “blessing” breathes a curse.
5-6 God, the one and only—
    I’ll wait as long as he says.
Everything I hope for comes from him,
    so why not?
He’s solid rock under my feet,
    breathing room for my soul,
An impregnable castle:
    I’m set for life.
7-8 My help and glory are in God
    —granite-strength and safe-harbor-God—
So trust him absolutely, people;
    lay your lives on the line for him.
    God is a safe place to be.

For Reflection
Live not for the after-life alone.  Live, also, for the here-and-now.  The after-life will follow.  God's hope and our hope lies in our living righteous lives; working for peace and justice, forgiving, showing compassion for all, and having an abiding confidence in the Lord's promise of eternal life.

Pray

for all who work for justice.  Pray for the courage to forgive and to be forgiven. Pray for opportunities to be compassionate and just. Pray for the realization of the Kingdom of God.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

God Has Called You to Hope

Sustaining Hope
Dark Nights of the Soul


Hope Satisfies

Ephesians 1:11-19  The Message

11-12 It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.
13-14 It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.
15-19 That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!
 
For Reflection
The eternal question;  "Who am I?"  In faith in God we find an answer.  All other responses sound empty.  Only in God do we find sustaining hope.  Hope that drives us to living a fulfilling, satisfying, life; a life lived in confident expectation of tomorrow.

Pray
prayers of thanksgiving to the living God.  Pray for courage and faith in the present and future promise of God.  Pray for the fulfillment of the promise of the Kingdom of God.