John and Isaiah

December 10, 2014

This they said, testing him, that they might have something of which to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with his finger, as though he did not hear. (John 8:6)
      My father-in-law used say that Jesus was writing: “Where is the man?” Lord, please help us speak the truth in love.

And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3)
      Help us cry out to one another your holiness, LORD.

So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5)
      Holy Spirit, clean up the language we use toward one another.

And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.” (Isaiah 6:7)
      Lord, touch our lips with the fire of your Holy Spirit and purge away our sin.

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8 )
      Jesus, please help me to respond to your call.

Psalm 38:21-22 WORD: I have heard your cry and I will answer you.
WORD: I AM the Good Shepherd — keep coming back to me.

Daily Lectionary
Wednesday: 38 * 119:25-48; Isa. 6:1-13; 2 Thess. 1:1-12; John 7:53-8:11
Thursday: 37:1-18 * 37:19-42; Isa. 7:1-9; 2 Thess. 2:1-12; Luke 22:1-13

Albany Intercessor


Jesus: A Light to the Gentiles

December 10, 2014

 

I have a particular soft spot in my heart for yesterday’devotional (Dec 9) about Simeon’s song (Luke 2:25-32) from Biola’s Advent Project site, given its focus on Jesus as a light to the Gentiles to all nations and peoples, including those still waiting to hear of His birth, where there is not yet a church.  I have friends who are serving and proclaiming Christ among some of the Gentile peoples specifically named in the devotional…:

…[Simeon] is seeing the foreigners, the gentiles. Perhaps they are actually standing in the courtyard or perhaps they are just present in his prophetic mind’s eye, but they stand there with their strange attire, their unpronounceable names, and their unfamiliar religious customs. Simeon sees that they too have “hungry souls” and the Spirit brings to his mind scriptures like Psalm 67 (“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face to shine upon us, that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations”). The Spirit then directs his tongue to speak of Jesus being a “Light of revelation to the Gentiles.”

When we see Jesus, do we also see the nations? Do we see the Turks, the Uzbeks, the Fulani, the Arabs, the Pashtun, the Javanese? Jesus may be a “holy stranger” to them, as the song says, but He is the one whom they have been waiting for.

The full entry is here.  Be sure to listen to Chris Rice’s song “Welcome to Our World” included as part of the devotional, especially if you don’t know it.  It makes a really good Advent song given its theme of preparing a welcome for Christ, recognizing the hunger in our hearts for Him.

Art credit: Simeon with the Infant Jesus, Petr Brandl, 1725 (from the Biola Advent Project site)


Diocese of South Carolina

December 10, 2014

1 Chronicles 4:42-43 (NIV)
And five hundred of these Simeonites, led by Pelatiah, Neariah, Rephaiah and Uzziel, the sons of Ishi, invaded the hill country of Seir. They killed the remaining Amalekites who had escaped, and they have lived there to this day.

Simeon–God has heard
Pelatiah–let the Lord deliver, deliverance of the Lord in Israel
Neariah–child of God
Rephaiah–Jehovah has healed
Uzziel–God is my strength
Ishi–salvation

Amalekites–a people thought to be descended from Esau. The name is often interpreted as “dweller in the valley”, and occasionally as “war-like,” “people of prey”, “cave-men.”

Dear Heavenly Father,

You are a God who hears His children. You are our Deliverer, our Healer, our strength and our salvation. Have mercy.

Did not Moses say that because Amalekites had raised their fist against the Lord’s throne, the Lord would be at war with Amalek generation after generation?  If the spirit of Amalek is involved in the South Carolina litigation, defeat it, we pray.

With You, nothing is impossible. Your name is Jehovah-nissi.  The Lord is our banner!  Amen.


An Advent Devotional – Waiting for Christ, Witnessing, Working…

December 10, 2014

I love the Rev. Glen Scrivener’s blog, The King’s English, but because he blogs through the Scriptures consecutively, his posts are not always tied to the liturgical season.  Yesterday’s entry “A Labour of Love,” however, was specifically tied to Advent.  It’s based on Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 1 where he talks about waiting for Christ’s return, and the believers labour of love which flows out of their hope in Christ:

But how do we wait?  Like the picture above?  Scanning the sky for signs of His coming?  Scouring the newspapers for clues to His advent?

We’re called to be on the welcoming committee, but many want to be in the planning group.  It’s something Jesus refuses to bring us in on.  Just before He ascended His followers wanted to get an eschatological timetable from Him:

“When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?  And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:  and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”  (Acts 1:6-8)

They wanted to know times and seasons.  Jesus says ‘That’s not your job!  Your job is to be witnesses to the ends of the earth.’

We do not wait by worrying about when.  We wait by witnessing. (emphasis added)

It’s interesting how Acts 1 continues.  Jesus ascends to heaven, the disciples are – understandably, you’d think – gazing into the heavens.  But angels appear to tell them to stop gawping at the skies (Acts 1:10-11).  The posture of the church, as we wait for Christ, is not stationary, faces heavenwards.  Instead our posture is shaped by Acts 1:8 – we’ve been given our marching orders and out we go – to the ends of the earth as witnesses of Christ.

And so in the same chapter that tells us of the Thessalonians “waiting for God’s Son from heaven” Paul also gives us this description of their current life:

“[We remember] without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (1 Thessalonians 1:3)

Here again is Paul’s famous trio:  faith, hope and love.  Our faith looks back to Christ’s first coming and it inspires work.  Our hope looks forward to Christ’s second coming and brings patience.  And love is the atmosphere of our present lives – confident of the salvation Christ has won, and expectant of the cosmic redemption He will bring.  Now we are free from having to build our own identity or secure our own future.  Now we can love.  And this love will be a busy, active thing.  It is a “labour of love.”

We’re not working towards our vindication, our joy, our purpose in life. We’re working from that sure gift from Christ.  Therefore Christian work is a “labour of love.”

Are your Christian efforts “a labour of love”?  If they’re feeling more of a “millstone around your neck“, then these aren’t the kind of labours that will honour Jesus.  Let me suggest that you may have forgotten the other two elements of the trio.  Remember, we have a sure faith, grounded in Christ’s first coming.  And we have a certain hope, expectant of His second coming.  If you want to rekindle the love: look again to Christ this Advent – His faultless work for you and your expectant wait for Him.  A fresh vision of Jesus turns labour into “a labour of love.”

I strongly recommend reading the full entry.

***

As an “Advent extra,” when I read the title of Glenn’s post “Labour of Love,” I couldn’t help but think of a wonderful Andrew Peterson duet with Jill Phillips of the same title, from his amazing album Behold the Lamb of God – one of the best CCM albums ever.    Here’s a video version of the song below, enjoy!


New update to our Advent 2014 Index

December 10, 2014

We’ve updated our index of all the Advent entries posted here at Lent & Beyond so far this year.

Here’s the link to all the devotionals, prayers, music, quotes and resources we’ve posted.

 


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