Friday, November 21, 2014

All Who Believed Were Together

Sustaining Hope
Visions of Grandeur


Transformation Continued

Acts 2:37-47  The Message

37 Cut to the quick, those who were there listening asked Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers! Brothers! So now what do we do?”
38-39 Peter said, “Change your life. Turn to God and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is targeted to you and your children, but also to all who are far away—whomever, in fact, our Master God invites.”
40 He went on in this vein for a long time, urging them over and over, “Get out while you can; get out of this sick and stupid culture!”
41-42 That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.
43-45 Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.
46-47 They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.
 
For Reflection
Maybe its my age, but, the older I get the more I realize the insanity of our world cultures.  How can we continue the same paths over and over while all the time expecting different results.  The new path is in front of us. Christ has shown us the Way.  Baptized in the truth of justice, compassion and peace, we, God's angel army are an exuberant and joyful celebration of the Kingdom of God. The world transformed, one person at a time.

Pray
for the realization of the Kingdom of God.  Pray for the revitalization of the church universal.  Pray for the unity of the Christian communities.  Pray for the people of God.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A New Birth, A Living Hope

Sustaining Hope
Visions of Grandeur


Transformation Continued

1 Peter 1:1-7  The Message

1-2 I, Peter, am an apostle on assignment by Jesus, the Messiah, writing to exiles scattered to the four winds. Not one is missing, not one forgotten. God the Father has his eye on each of you, and has determined by the work of the Spirit to keep you obedient through the sacrifice of Jesus. May everything good from God be yours!

A New Life

3-5 What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.
6-7 I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.
 
For Reflection
To be born again!  What a declaration! A new start, the wish of all people, granted by the Holy Spirit.  Not just once, but, over and over again, God gives us life, a pathway out of death, a rebirth into righteousness.  Praise be the Lord, the life-giver.

Pray
prayers of thanksgiving for the living God.  Sing praises to the name of God.  Pray so that you can live a transforming life.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

New Mercies Every Morning

Sustaining Hope
Visions of Grandeur


Transformation Continued

Lamentations 3:19-27  The Message

It’s a Good Thing to Hope for Help from God

19-21 I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
    the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
    the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
    and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
22-24 God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
    his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
    How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
    He’s all I’ve got left.
25-27 God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
    to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
    quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young
    to stick it out through the hard times.

For Reflection
What keeps Christians faithful? Christians have a strong grip on hope.  Each day lived in Christ is a new day.  Mercy abounds.  Forgiveness reigns.  Abiding love never gives out.  In the face of all troubles, Christians forge a new path built on hope and the promise of the Kingdom of God.  Christians face all tomorrows with confidence in God.

Pray
that you will wait quietly on hope.  Pray that you will wait passionately on God's call.  Pray so that you will be at the ready to create new mornings.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A New Song, A New Way

Sustaining Hope
Visions of Grandeur


Transformation Continued

Isaiah 42:10-16  The Message

10-16 Sing to God a brand-new song,
    sing his praises all over the world!
Let the sea and its fish give a round of applause,
    with all the far-flung islands joining in.
Let the desert and its camps raise a tune,
    calling the Kedar nomads to join in.
Let the villagers in Sela round up a choir
    and perform from the tops of the mountains.
Make God’s glory resound;
    echo his praises from coast to coast.
God steps out like he means business.
    You can see he’s primed for action.
He shouts, announcing his arrival;
    he takes charge and his enemies fall into line:
“I’ve been quiet long enough.
    I’ve held back, biting my tongue.
But now I’m letting loose, letting go,
    like a woman who’s having a baby—
Stripping the hills bare,
    withering the wildflowers,
Drying up the rivers,
    turning lakes into mudflats.
But I’ll take the hand of those who don’t know the way,
    who can’t see where they’re going.
I’ll be a personal guide to them,
    directing them through unknown country.
I’ll be right there to show them what roads to take,
    make sure they don’t fall into the ditch.
These are the things I’ll be doing for them—
    sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute.”
 
For Reflection
Transformation takes time.  Life is a new song in a new place.  It requires living in the world you knew so well and is now foreign.  Any other time this would be frightening.  But God is with you. God will comfort you.  God will lead you. God will walk by your side in holy counsel.

Pray
that you will grow into grace listening to God whispers.  Pray that you will listen for God's instruction.  Pray to feel God's abiding presence.  Pray for courage.

Monday, November 17, 2014

God Declares New Things

Sustaining Hope
Visions of Grandeur


Transformation Continued

Isaiah 42:5-9  The Message

The God Who Makes Us Alive with His Own Life

5-9 God’s Message,
    the God who created the cosmos, stretched out the skies,
    laid out the earth and all that grows from it,
Who breathes life into earth’s people,
    makes them alive with his own life:
“I am God. I have called you to live right and well.
    I have taken responsibility for you, kept you safe.
I have set you among my people to bind them to me,
    and provided you as a lighthouse to the nations,
To make a start at bringing people into the open, into light:
    opening blind eyes,
    releasing prisoners from dungeons,
    emptying the dark prisons.
I am God. That’s my name.
    I don’t franchise my glory,
    don’t endorse the no-god idols.
Take note: The earlier predictions of judgment have been fulfilled.
    I’m announcing the new salvation work.
Before it bursts on the scene,
    I’m telling you all about it.”
 
For Reflection
We are called, by God, to live right and well.  God has taken responsibility for us.  God will keep us safe and will support and direct our living.  All God asks is that we be a beacon of hope for the world, that we exemplify the potential of living in the hollow of God's hands.

Pray
that you will live up to God's expectations.  Pray for the wisdom to meet God's opportunities for you to practice compassion, forgiveness and work for justice in an unjust world.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Planted by Streams of Water

Sustaining Hope
Visions of Grandeur


A Transforming Stream

Psalm 1 The Message

How well God must like you—
    you don’t hang out at Sin Saloon,
    you don’t slink along Dead-End Road,
    you don’t go to Smart-Mouth College.
2-3 Instead you thrill to God’s Word,
    you chew on Scripture day and night.
You’re a tree replanted in Eden,
    bearing fresh fruit every month,
Never dropping a leaf,
    always in blossom.
4-5 You’re not at all like the wicked,
    who are mere windblown dust—
Without defense in court,
    unfit company for innocent people.
God charts the road you take.
The road they take is Skid Row.
 
For Reflection
God is charting the road you take.  You, having accepted Christ into your life, are a child of God.  You accept the mystery of life.  You deliver blossoms.  You wipe the dust from the righteous core which resides in all people.  You are a beacon lighting the way to righteousness. 

Pray
that you will have strength of conviction in the promise of God.  Pray that your life will influence the realization of compassionate, forgiving and just relationships.  Pray for the courage to abide with God and serve in God's angel army.  Pray that you will listen to God, whispering encouragement and direction.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Guided to the Water of Life

Sustaining Hope
Visions of Grandeur


A Transforming Stream

Revelation 7:13-17  The Message

13-14 Just then one of the Elders addressed me: “Who are these dressed in white robes, and where did they come from?” Taken aback, I said, “O Sir, I have no idea—but you must know.”
14-17 Then he told me, “These are those who come from the great tribulation, and they’ve washed their robes, scrubbed them clean in the blood of the Lamb. That’s why they’re standing before God’s Throne. They serve him day and night in his Temple. The One on the Throne will pitch his tent there for them: no more hunger, no more thirst, no more scorching heat. The Lamb on the Throne will shepherd them, will lead them to spring waters of Life. And God will wipe every last tear from their eyes.”
 
For Reflection
Have you escaped the tribulations of your life?  Are you wearing the white robes of redemption.  Do others see you standing apart from the crowd, practicing forgiveness, compassion, and justice?  That is the Christian imperative.  That is what Jesus exemplifies.  That is the life of a Christian.

Pray

that you will continue to serve the Lord.  Pray that through the Holy Spirit, you will lead others to the spring waters of Life.