Friday, December 19, 2014

Expecting a Child

Acts of Worship
Awe of God


Glory To God in the Highest

Luke 2:1-7  The Message

The Birth of Jesus

1-5 About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancĂ©e, who was pregnant.
6-7 While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

For Reflection
Jesus, the long anticipated, yet unexpected gift Is born.  A young child of humble origin in conventional terms, but, in God terms, a King, a promise of Hope, not a warrior, but, a peacemaker, not an enforcer,  but, a healer.

Pray
that we all will make room in the hostel of our lives for God.  Pray that we will be healers in a world of dominators. Pray that we will make the lives of those we touch better having known us and God through us.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Our Hope of Sharing God's Glory

Acts of Worship
Awe of God


Glory To God in the Highest

Romans 5:1-5  The Message

Developing Patience

1-2 By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.
3-5 There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

For Reflection
God wants us made right! God has thrown open the doors to God's Glory.  God has invited us into his kingdom.  God has sent his son to give us the key for sharing God's glory.  Its not hard to understand. God has shared God's own creative power with us.  God has given us free will to choose to be creative people.  We have the capacity to invent good and righteousness selflessness in the face of the cultural pressure to be self-centered, unjust and destructive.  God wants us to create a kingdom of compassion, justice, peace and hope.

Pray
for the courage to be compassionate.  Pray for the wisdom to act justly.  Pray for peace that transcends the human condition.  Pray for the realization of God's Kingdom.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

God's Glory Over All the Earth

Acts of Worship
Awe of God


Glory To God in the Highest

Psalm 108:1-6  The Message

A David Prayer

108 1-2 I’m ready, God, so ready,
    ready from head to toe.
Ready to sing,
    ready to raise a God-song:
“Wake, soul! Wake, lute!
    Wake up, you sleepyhead sun!”
3-6 I’m thanking you, God, out in the streets,
    singing your praises in town and country.
The deeper your love, the higher it goes;
    every cloud’s a flag to your faithfulness.
Soar high in the skies, O God!
    Cover the whole earth with your glory!
And for the sake of the one you love so much,
    reach down and help me—answer me!
 
For Reflection
Imagine David, alone in his sleeping quarters.  Imagine David so full of the Holy Spirit that he can't help but to sing praises to God.  Imagine David joyful, exuberant, drunk with love and passion, steeped in the Glory of God, surrounded by the aura of holiness.  Can you imagine yourself engrossed in praise?  Imagine yourself before God's glory, asking for help and knowing that help is granted even before you had asked.

Pray
Praise God.  Approach God in love.  Pray that you will glorify God by using the gifts God has given you.  Open your heart to the spirit of God and glorify God with every breath.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Heavens Proclaim God's Handiwork

Acts of Worship
Awe of God


Glory To God in the Highest

Psalm 19 The Message

A David Psalm

19 1-2 God’s glory is on tour in the skies,
    God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.
Madame Day holds classes every morning,
    Professor Night lectures each evening.
3-4 Their words aren’t heard,
    their voices aren’t recorded,
But their silence fills the earth:
    unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.
4-5 God makes a huge dome
    for the sun—a superdome!
The morning sun’s a new husband
    leaping from his honeymoon bed,
The daybreaking sun an athlete
    racing to the tape.
That’s how God’s Word vaults across the skies
    from sunrise to sunset,
Melting ice, scorching deserts,
    warming hearts to faith.
7-9 The revelation of God is whole
    and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear
    and point out the right road.
The life-maps of God are right,
    showing the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain
    and easy on the eyes.
God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold,
    with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of God are accurate
    down to the nth degree.
10 God’s Word is better than a diamond,
    better than a diamond set between emeralds.
You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring,
    better than red, ripe strawberries.
11-14 There’s more: God’s Word warns us of danger
    and directs us to hidden treasure.
Otherwise how will we find our way?
    Or know when we play the fool?
Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh!
    Keep me from stupid sins,
    from thinking I can take over your work;
Then I can start this day sun-washed,
    scrubbed clean of the grime of sin.
These are the words in my mouth;
    these are what I chew on and pray.
Accept them when I place them
    on the morning altar,
O God, my Altar-Rock,
    God, Priest-of-My-Altar.
 
For Reflection
In the mountains of Virginia,  on an island off the coast of  Georgia, in a field in Kansas or anywhere far from the city lights one can gaze into the night sky and wonder at its depth and brilliance.  On a rainy day deep into a forest trail or after a rain when the mist rises from mountain valleys and the sun plays its warm shadow game as dark clouds disperse, one can stand in awe of the beauty of the natural order of things.

The time stolen from everyday pressures is time embraced.  It is time of refreshment and renewal.  It is time like no other time when God creeps into your soul. and you know the hope that drives you even if the path is not yet clear.

Pray
Steal time to pray.  Steal time to see God's handiwork.  Steal time to listen to the hope messages which surround you.  Pray so that time stolen becomes time renewed.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Give Thanks to God's Holy Name

Acts of Worship
Awe of God


Glory To God in the Highest

1 Chronicles 16:35-42  The Message

34-36 Give thanks to God—he is good
    and his love never quits.
Say, “Save us, Savior God,
    round us up and get us out of these godless places,
So we can give thanks to your holy Name,
    and bask in your life of praise.”
Blessed be God, the God of Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting.
Then everybody said, “Yes! Amen!” and “Praise God!”
37-42 David left Asaph and his coworkers with the Chest of the Covenant of God and in charge of the work of worship; they were responsible for the needs of worship around the clock. He also assigned Obed-Edom and his sixty-eight relatives to help them. Obed-Edom son of Jeduthun and Hosah were in charge of the security guards. The priest Zadok and his family of priests were assigned to the Tent of God at the sacred mound at Gibeon to make sure that the services of morning and evening worship were conducted daily, complete with Whole-Burnt-Offerings offered on the Altar of Burnt Offering, as ordered in the Law of God, which was the norm for Israel. With them were Heman, Jeduthun, and others specifically named, with the job description: “Give thanks to God, for his love never quits!” Heman and Jeduthun were also well equipped with trumpets, cymbals, and other instruments for accompanying sacred songs. The sons of Jeduthun formed the security guard.
 
For Reflection
Everybody needs a high status friend, someone in whom you can put your trust, someone who occupies a pivotal place in a line of authority,  someone who can listen to you and console you, someone who can offer wise council, someone who can smooth your pathIn my lifetime I have found many people who could fulfill one or more of those roles, but, I have found not any single person who could act in all capacities.  So I give thanks to God and pledge my allegiance and trust to the only one to can bring me into righteousness and save me from being gobbled up in this chaotic world.

Pray
Give thanks to God, whose love, council, and partnership never quits.  Pray so that God will keep you out of Godless places and firmly entrenched in God's glory.

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Sacrifice of Praise to God

Acts of Worship
Awe of God


Make a Joyful Noise

Hebrews 13:6-15  The Message

5-6 Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” we can boldly quote,
God is there, ready to help;
I’m fearless no matter what.
Who or what can get to me?
7-8 Appreciate your pastoral leaders who gave you the Word of God. Take a good look at the way they live, and let their faithfulness instruct you, as well as their truthfulness. There should be a consistency that runs through us all. For Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself.
Don’t be lured away from him by the latest speculations about him. The grace of Christ is the only good ground for life. Products named after Christ don’t seem to do much for those who buy them.
10-12 The altar from which God gives us the gift of himself is not for exploitation by insiders who grab and loot. In the old system, the animals are killed and the bodies disposed of outside the camp. The blood is then brought inside to the altar as a sacrifice for sin. It’s the same with Jesus. He was crucified outside the city gates—that is where he poured out the sacrificial blood that was brought to God’s altar to cleanse his people.
13-15 So let’s go outside, where Jesus is, where the action is—not trying to be privileged insiders, but taking our share in the abuse of Jesus. This “insider world” is not our home. We have our eyes peeled for the City about to come. Let’s take our place outside with Jesus, no longer pouring out the sacrificial blood of animals but pouring out sacrificial praises from our lips to God in Jesus’ name.
 
For Reflection
In the quest to capture the material world one will always be disappointed.  Capturing the spiritual world first facilitates the wise capture of the material world.  Serving as a Christian is not an insider only vocation.  Christians serve all people not just other Christians.  Taking a share of God's and Christ's name means taking the sacrificial step to become a servant of God, one in God's angel army.

Pray
Praise God for the gift of righteous living.  Praise God for the opportunity to serve.  Praise God.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ascribe Greatness to Our God

Acts of Worship
Awe of God


Make a Joyful Noise

Deuteronomy 32:1-7  The Message

The Song

32 1-5 Listen, Heavens, I have something to tell you.
    Attention, Earth, I’ve got a mouth full of words.
    My teaching, let it fall like a gentle rain,
        my words arrive like morning dew,
    Like a sprinkling rain on new grass,
        like spring showers on the garden.
    For it’s God’s Name I’m preaching—
        respond to the greatness of our God!
    The Rock: His works are perfect,
        and the way he works is fair and just;
    A God you can depend upon, no exceptions,
        a straight-arrow God.
    His messed-up, mixed-up children, his non-children,
        throw mud at him but none of it sticks.
6-7 Don’t you realize it is God you are treating like this?
        This is crazy; don’t you have any sense of reverence?
    Isn’t this your father who created you,
        who made you and gave you a place on Earth?
    Read up on what happened before you were born;
        dig into the past, understand your roots.
    Ask your parents what it was like before you were born;
        ask the old-ones, they’ll tell you a thing or two.

For Reflection
It is not necessary to scream hell fire and damnation to bring new believers into the fold.  These days a good concept of Hell doesn't always do the trick.  God's words are gentle. Gods words are as brilliant as sun shimmering in the drops of a morning dew.  Gods words water the gardens of hope. God is ever lasting.  Ask your parents.  Ask the older folks in your midst.  They will tell stories of unexpected blessings.  Assign the blessings to God.
Pray
that you will see God's hand in your every day affairs.  Pray that you will conduct yourself as a child of God, confident in God's promise of the triumph of good over evil.