Wednesday, July 29, 2015

God's Everlasting Love

God's Prophets Demand Justice
God' Prophets Demand Justice


Advocates of Justice for All


Our Redeemer Comes

Isaiah 54:14-17  The Message

11-17 “Afflicted city, storm-battered, unpitied:
    I’m about to rebuild you with stones of turquoise,
Lay your foundations with sapphires,
    construct your towers with rubies,
Your gates with jewels,
    and all your walls with precious stones.
All your children will have God for their teacher—
    what a mentor for your children!
You’ll be built solid, grounded in righteousness,
    far from any trouble—nothing to fear!
    far from terror—it won’t even come close!
If anyone attacks you,
    don’t for a moment suppose that I sent them,
And if any should attack,
    nothing will come of it.
I create the blacksmith
    who fires up his forge
    and makes a weapon designed to kill.
I also create the destroyer—
    but no weapon that can hurt you has ever been forged.
Any accuser who takes you to court
    will be dismissed as a liar.
This is what God’s servants can expect.
    I’ll see to it that everything works out for the best.”
        God’s Decree.

For Reflection 
We sometimes forget that God's time is not our time; that God's intentions are not our intentions.  We are not gods.  Yet, we behave as though we were.  We insist, destructively, that our personal definition of God and the path to reconciliation is the only one worth understanding.

To what extend have we, as Christians, embraced God's promise of victory?  Have we adopted God's hope which is based upon God's long range view (since the beginning of time until its end, or beyond!)?  As Christians we are pledged to and participate in God's plan for humanity.  We ebb and flow in the Spirit as we face the squabbles of our time.  However, in the end, in spite of our human endeavors to the contrary, the Spirit dwells within us and God's plan for reconciliation and the Kingdom of God will be realized because we played our part.

Acting alone, we lift the rock of religious fervor only to drop it on our toes.  Let us not forget to whom and to what we are pledged.  Let us not forget family to whom we belong. Let us not forget that we are not alone responsible.  We live in the household of the Lord.  We are God's heirs. We are Christians.

Pray
for the reconciliation of all people to God.  Pray that we will remember the long term and be comforted by God's hope.  Pray for humility in God's adopted family.  Pray for the wisdom to walk along side Jesus.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Taught for Our Own Good

God's Prophets Demand Justice
God' Prophets Demand Justice


Advocates of Justice for All


Our Redeemer Comes

Isaiah 48:12-19  The Message

Your Progeny, Like Grains of Sand

16-19 And now, the Master, God, sends me and his Spirit
    with this Message from God,
    your Redeemer, The Holy of Israel:
“I am God, your God,
    who teaches you how to live right and well.
    I show you what to do, where to go.
If you had listened all along to what I told you,
    your life would have flowed full like a river,
    blessings rolling in like waves from the sea.
Children and grandchildren are like sand,
    your progeny like grains of sand.
There would be no end of them,
    no danger of losing touch with me.”

For Reflection 
Only God through those who preach authentically can teach us to become a righteous people.  It is our responsibility to ensure that our children are taught well.  In children taught well, we are in no danger of abandoning God.

Pray
Pray for those who teach. Pray for those who learn.  Pray that the Spirit will guide each of them into righteousness.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Our Redeemer Comes

God's Prophets Demand Justice
God' Prophets Demand Justice


Advocates of Justice for All


Our Redeemer Comes

Isaiah 59:1-15  The Message

We Long for Light but Sink into Darkness

59 1-8 Look! Listen!
    God’s arm is not amputated—he can still save.
    God’s ears are not stopped up—he can still hear.
There’s nothing wrong with God; the wrong is in you.
    Your wrongheaded lives caused the split between you and God.
    Your sins got between you so that he doesn’t hear.
Your hands are drenched in blood,
    your fingers dripping with guilt,
Your lips smeared with lies,
    your tongue swollen from muttering obscenities.
No one speaks up for the right,
    no one deals fairly.
They trust in illusion, they tell lies,
    they get pregnant with mischief and have sin-babies.
They hatch snake eggs and weave spider webs.
    Eat an egg and die; break an egg and get a snake!
The spider webs are no good for shirts or shawls.
    No one can wear these weavings!
They weave wickedness,
    they hatch violence.
They compete in the race to do evil
    and run to be the first to murder.
They plan and plot evil, think and breathe evil,
    and leave a trail of wrecked lives behind them.
They know nothing about peace
    and less than nothing about justice.
They make tortuously twisted roads.
    No peace for the wretch who walks down those roads!
9-11 Which means that we’re a far cry from fair dealing,
    and we’re not even close to right living.
We long for light but sink into darkness,
    long for brightness but stumble through the night.
Like the blind, we inch along a wall,
    groping eyeless in the dark.
We shuffle our way in broad daylight,
    like the dead, but somehow walking.
We’re no better off than bears, groaning,
    and no worse off than doves, moaning.
We look for justice—not a sign of it;
    for salvation—not so much as a hint.
12-15 Our wrongdoings pile up before you, God,
    our sins stand up and accuse us.
Our wrongdoings stare us down;
    we know in detail what we’ve done:
Mocking and denying God,
    not following our God,
Spreading false rumors, inciting sedition,
    pregnant with lies, muttering malice.
Justice is beaten back,
    Righteousness is banished to the sidelines,
Truth staggers down the street,
    Honesty is nowhere to be found,
Good is missing in action.
    Anyone renouncing evil is beaten and robbed.
 
For Reflection 
We all long for something fulfilling.  We search for anything which will make us feel complete.  Some search in mind altering states, some in food, some in material things, some in wealth.   Well, you get the idea.  Our recent popular topic is happiness.  "Just follow these five easy steps and you can find happiness.  Just buy the book or sign up for the workshop!"

We all search for a meaningful life. But as rational people, we sometimes deny our spiritual side and reject the only path to becoming complete.  The paradox of living is that one must temper the rationality of independence with the irrationality of dependence.  A life lived outside the Spirit is a life shackled to fear, a death spiral into destruction.

Pray
for those who deny God. Pray for those who speak up for justice.  Pray for those whose compassion creates peace.  Pray for those whose forgiveness wipes out fear.  Pray for those who enlighten the paths to salvation.  Pray that you will look through God's eyes for the truth in the midst of the chaos of our lives.

Friday, July 24, 2015

I Will Look to the Lord

God's Prophets Demand Justice
Amos Rails against Injustice


Micah Calls for Justice among Unjust People


God Shows Clemency

Micah 7:7-13  The Message

But me, I’m not giving up.
    I’m sticking around to see what God will do.
I’m waiting for God to make things right.
    I’m counting on God to listen to me.

Spreading Your Wings

8-10 Don’t, enemy, crow over me.
    I’m down, but I’m not out.
I’m sitting in the dark right now,
    but God is my light.
I can take God’s punishing rage.
    I deserve it—I sinned.
But it’s not forever. He’s on my side
    and is going to get me out of this.
He’ll turn on the lights and show me his ways.
    I’ll see the whole picture and how right he is.
And my enemy will see it, too,
    and be discredited—yes, disgraced!
This enemy who kept taunting,
    “So where is this God of yours?”
I’m going to see it with these, my own eyes—
    my enemy disgraced, trash in the gutter.
11-13 Oh, that will be a day! A day for rebuilding your city,
    a day for stretching your arms, spreading your wings!
All your dispersed and scattered people will come back,
    old friends and family from faraway places,
From Assyria in the east to Egypt in the west,
    from across the seas and out of the mountains.
But there’ll be a reversal for everyone else—massive depopulation—
    because of the way they lived, the things they did.

For Reflection 
So this is how it will be.  A day of triumph!  A day of rebuilding!  A day of unity in God!  A day when Hope rules.  A day when the Godless will drown in their own Godlessness!  Have confidence in the promise of God.  It is a promise in which you can participate today.  It is a promise of righteous living.  It is a promise of salvation, a salvation of the here and now and in eternal life.

Pray
prayers of praise for the living God.  Pray for the confidence in God's promise of Hope.  Pray for the Spirit of God to guide you into Grace.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

You Are My Sheep

God's Prophets Demand Justice
Amos Rails against Injustice


Micah Calls for Justice among Unjust People


God Shows Clemency

Ezekiel 34:23-31  The Message

23-24 “‘I’ll appoint one shepherd over them all: my servant David. He’ll feed them. He’ll be their shepherd. And I, God, will be their God. My servant David will be their prince. I, God, have spoken.
25-27 “‘I’ll make a covenant of peace with them. I’ll banish fierce animals from the country so the sheep can live safely in the wilderness and sleep in the forest. I’ll make them and everything around my hill a blessing. I’ll send down plenty of rain in season—showers of blessing! The trees in the orchards will bear fruit, the ground will produce, they’ll feel content and safe on their land, and they’ll realize that I am God when I break them out of their slavery and rescue them from their slave masters.
28-29 “‘No longer will they be exploited by outsiders and ravaged by fierce beasts. They’ll live safe and sound, fearless and free. I’ll give them rich gardens, lavish in vegetables—no more living half-starved, no longer taunted by outsiders.
30-31 “‘They’ll know, beyond doubting, that I, God, am their God, that I’m with them and that they, the people Israel, are my people. Decree of God, the Master:
You are my dear flock,
    the flock of my pasture, my human flock,
And I am your God.
    Decree of God, the Master.’”
 
For Reflection 
God has sent one of God's own heart, one who's spirit is God's Spirit;  David, servant of God.  God pledges his protection for God's people.  God pledges salvation for all human fears.  God does not underestimate the power of spiritual engrossment.  And neither should we!  What we seek, we shall find in God.  What we long for we shall find in the presence of God's faithful community.  Giving your living moments to God, will free you from a corrupting sense of self-fulfillment.

Pray
that you will give into God's call for your life.  Pray for the aiding trust in God.  Pray that you will know the comfort of a life in God's flock.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Lord Will Shepard His Sheep

God's Prophets Demand Justice
Amos Rails against Injustice


Micah Calls for Justice among Unjust People


God Shows Clemency

Ezekiel 34:7-16  The Message

7-9 “‘Therefore, shepherds, listen to the Message of God: As sure as I am the living God—Decree of God, the Master—because my sheep have been turned into mere prey, into easy meals for wolves because you shepherds ignored them and only fed yourselves, listen to what God has to say:
10 “‘Watch out! I’m coming down on the shepherds and taking my sheep back. They’re fired as shepherds of my sheep. No more shepherds who just feed themselves! I’ll rescue my sheep from their greed. They’re not going to feed off my sheep any longer!
11-16 “‘God, the Master, says: From now on, I myself am the shepherd. I’m going looking for them. As shepherds go after their flocks when they get scattered, I’m going after my sheep. I’ll rescue them from all the places they’ve been scattered to in the storms. I’ll bring them back from foreign peoples, gather them from foreign countries, and bring them back to their home country. I’ll feed them on the mountains of Israel, along the streams, among their own people. I’ll lead them into lush pasture so they can roam the mountain pastures of Israel, graze at leisure, feed in the rich pastures on the mountains of Israel. And I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep. I myself will make sure they get plenty of rest. I’ll go after the lost, I’ll collect the strays, I’ll doctor the injured, I’ll build up the weak ones and oversee the strong ones so they’re not exploited.
 
For Reflection 
The Promise of God!  You can count on it!

If you are floundering in the Spirit, God will find you.  If you are facing troublesome times, God will find you.  If your faith is in doubt, God will find you.   Weak or strong, imprisoned by the common place or embedded in an inauthentic community, God will rescue you.  Give up on self-sufficiency and embrace God's promise.  God will always find you, comfort you and give you peace.

Pray
for the healing power of God to revitalize you.  Pray that you will turn to God in troubled times.  Pray that you will graze in God's pastures.  Pray for the comfort only God can deliver.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

My Sheep Were Scattered

God's Prophets Demand Justice
Amos Rails against Injustice


Micah Calls for Justice among Unjust People


God Shows Clemency

Ezekiel 34:1-6  The Message

When the Sheep Get Scattered

34 1-6 God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherd-leaders of Israel. Yes, prophesy! Tell those shepherds, ‘God, the Master, says: Doom to you shepherds of Israel, feeding your own mouths! Aren’t shepherds supposed to feed sheep? You drink the milk, you make clothes from the wool, you roast the lambs, but you don’t feed the sheep. You don’t build up the weak ones, don’t heal the sick, don’t doctor the injured, don’t go after the strays, don’t look for the lost. You bully and badger them. And now they’re scattered every which way because there was no shepherd—scattered and easy pickings for wolves and coyotes. Scattered—my sheep!—exposed and vulnerable across mountains and hills. My sheep scattered all over the world, and no one out looking for them!
 
For Reflection 
Ezekiel called the established religious leaders of Israel to account.  Charged with shepherding God's people, the religious leaders were exploiting their sheep.  Because of this corruption and abuse of power the people fled to avoid the abuse.

Because the leaders did not focus on supporting the community of believers, God will step in.  God will never abandon God's people.

Who are the Christian leaders today who exploit their followers?  How do you determine who is misleading and who is authentic?  Who is the modern time Ezekiel?  Who is fostering prophetic ministry?  How do you determine the prophet's authenticity?

Pray
for the wisdom to determine the authenticity of Christian leaders.  Pray that all Christian leaders will lead in such a way that builds community rooted in the Spirit of God.  Pray that you will lead people to a righteous life of fellowship, forgiveness, compassion, and justice.