Advent Meditation Fourth Saturday

Prayer

Shepherd of Israel,
may Jesus, Emmanuel and son of Mary,
be more than just a dream in our hearts.
With the apostles, prophets, and saints,
save us, restore us,
and lead us in the way of grace and peace,
that we may bear your promise into the world. Amen.

 

Scripture

Psalm 96

Oh sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts!
Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;[a]
tremble before him, all the earth!

10 Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.”

11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
12     let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
13     before the Lord, for he comes,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
and the peoples in his faithfulness.

 

Meditation

Jesus comes with equity.  It is the way that He judges.  He is creating for Himself a new people but in coming He does not come with equality or fairness.  He comes with equity.  Each person in their uniquely God created self will receive Christ in just the way they need too in order to obtain the salvation and righteousness they need.  Jesus is the way to the Father but He is not staid or ridged.  Jesus knows that each one of us needs an encounter with Him at our level.

In the in between, the now and not yet, we can compare and contrast ourselves with others all day long. Yes it is good to gain empathy.  Yes it is good to meditate on how others perceive the world around them but we cannot assume that someone’s path is better or more accurate or that ours is better our more accurate.  The Truth, that is Jesus, judges with equity.  He knows what we need and knows how our story needs to be written.  Our position is one of worship.  He does not compare and contrast us with others.  “I have given everyone an equal chance.”  He hasn’t because He is not about being fair.  He is about pursuing us with full out abundant love just exactly how we need it.  That is why He came as a human, being born as a baby.  He is experienced with the injustice of fair.  He pursues and judges with equity.

Advent Meditation Fourth Friday

Prayer

Shepherd of Israel,
may Jesus, Emmanuel and son of Mary,
be more than just a dream in our hearts.
With the apostles, prophets, and saints,
save us, restore us,
and lead us in the way of grace and peace,
that we may bear your promise into the world. Amen.

 

Scripture

Galatians 3:10-14

10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”[b]12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit[c] through faith.

 

Meditation

I am a rule follower.  I will give you a minute to stop laughing. I am a rule follower.  I really enjoy following all the rules that I think are the right rules.  I quickly disregard the rules that I see no value in, but if I find value in it then you can be sure that I will follow it.  I don’t intentionally look to find fault with rules I don’t follow, it just seems that there is a fault in them since I don’t desire following them.  Speed limits are one of those things.  And one that is causing me much self –angst here in Fremantle is that I  have moved from a miles per hour speed limit to a kilometre per hour speed limit.  In the states I knew exactly how much pressure to apply on the accelerator pedal in order to achieve the right MPH for whatever zone I was driving in.  Down Under I am still trying to navigate the right pressure.  I find myself speeding and it drives me crazy.  I just can’t quite get the right pressure.  It’s too fast and then I slow to far down and then speed up, it is no wonder that some of my family are suffering from car sickness.

In the in between, the now and now yet, we look for control in our lives by thinking our obedience to certain rules allows us to find favour with God.  If God likes us because we have done the right things then things will go smoothly.  That is not the way it works.  Faith is the answer.  It is faith that Jesus redeemed us by becoming a curse for us allowing us to live in righteousness instead of bondage to false attainment of God through human effort.

Too often when we work to prove ourselves we elevate certain things we can attain in the law for everyone.  We put the curse back on them while thinking we have removed it from ourselves.  We see the rules that we keep as the most important rules and suppose that those who don’t fall short.  Curse.  At the same time they may be doing the exact same thing to us.  Curse.

Hear today that the curse is removed.  We are free and we are righteous in Christ alone.

 

Advent Meditation Fourth Thursday

Prayer

Shepherd of Israel,
may Jesus, Emmanuel and son of Mary,
be more than just a dream in our hearts.
With the apostles, prophets, and saints,
save us, restore us,
and lead us in the way of grace and peace,
that we may bear your promise into the world. Amen.

 

Scripture

 

Isaiah 33:17-22

Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty;
they will see a land that stretches afar.
18 Your heart will muse on the terror:
“Where is he who counted, where is he who weighed the tribute?
Where is he who counted the towers?”
19 You will see no more the insolent people,
the people of an obscure speech that you cannot comprehend,
stammering in a tongue that you cannot understand.
20 Behold Zion, the city of our appointed feasts!
Your eyes will see Jerusalem,
an untroubled habitation, an immovable tent,
whose stakes will never be plucked up,
nor will any of its cords be broken.
21 But there the Lord in majesty will be for us
a place of broad rivers and streams,
where no galley with oars can go,
nor majestic ship can pass.
22 For the Lord is our judge; the Lord is our lawgiver;
the Lord is our king; he will save us.

 

Meditation

I love food and because of that I love restaurants.  I love to go on opening night.  I love to know who the proprietor is and who the chef may be.  I find favourites or some become sentimental because of events or conversations or great meals that have taken place in them. The thing with restaurants is that many do not survive.  Since moving across the world I keep track of restaurants in Indianapolis even as I am discovering new places in Fremantle and Perth to enjoy and make memories in.  When I read that one of my sentimental favourites, City Café, had closed its doors I was put into a spin. What do you mean I won’t be able to walk in and get my favourite breakfast burrito in the city when I come to visit?  What do you mean no more biscuits and gravy on the side of said burrito (don’t judge) when I am back in town.  Things change and that can be hard.

In the in between, the now and not yet, we can feel as though things are always in flux, shifting and changing so much that we can’t get our bearings.  Jobs change or end, relationships get fractured, even small things like our sentimental restaurant closing serve to remind us that every things changes.

But we have hope in the immovable tent.  A place that the Lord has secured and is ever present; it is in this place where He will judge with truth and mercy.  He is king and saves us. And this place is not just in the future, we are its inhabitants now.  In Christ we reside and see His beauty.

Advent Meditation Fourth Wednesday

Prayer

Shepherd of Israel,
may Jesus, Emmanuel and son of Mary,
be more than just a dream in our hearts.
With the apostles, prophets, and saints,
save us, restore us,
and lead us in the way of grace and peace,
that we may bear your promise into the world. Amen.

 

Scripture

Matthew 1:1-17

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram,[a] and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon,and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph,[b] and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah,and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos,[c] and Amos the father of Josiah,11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel,[d] and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

 

Meditation

I have one grandfather that baptized the other grandfather.  I have one grandfather that followed Christ for his life and another that came to know Christ later in life.  I heard both of these men pray.  I saw both of these men struggle with life.  I saw both of these men laugh.  I know both of these men are part of my great cloud of witness.  I am grateful for the heritage I have.

In the in between, the now and not yet, to consider Jesus earthly linage brings to his rootedness in the world.  He had father and mother, grandfather and grandmother.  Stories of faithfulness and stories of failing; they rested in His heritage.  When we begin to believe the lie that God is distant we can look at the genealogy and now that He is ground in the now and not yet.  He had family.

God. Man.  It is really hard to grasp but sometimes it can be a comfort to think that Jesus came from a family just like mine.  A glorious mess.

Advent Meditation Fourth Tuesday

Prayer

Shepherd of Israel,
may Jesus, Emmanuel and son of Mary,
be more than just a dream in our hearts.
With the apostles, prophets, and saints,
save us, restore us,
and lead us in the way of grace and peace,
that we may bear your promise into the world. Amen.

 

Scripture

Galatians 4:21-5:1

21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia;[a] she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written,

“Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear;
break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
than those of the one who has a husband.”

28 Now you,[b] brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” 31 So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

 

Meditation

“They can never take our freedom!” William Wallace.  “Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better.” Albert Camus. “Freedom is the last, best hope of earth.” Abraham Lincoln

We like freedom and aspire to it.  We pursue it and proclaim it.  It is our right and our destiny.  Sadly, we define freedom in a way that tends to lead to bondage.  When freedom is the ultimate in our own direction for our own pleasure then we will dehumanize others and elevate ourselves.  We will build systems and structures that we hope will give us power which we inevitably believe provides freedom.

In the in between, the now and not yet, this pursuit denies the power of self-sacrifice.   We see our freedom as the means to make sense of the world around us.  Freedom is transformed into a cry of, “I want it my way! And everyone needs to be ok with it!”  It is a pursuit for control.

One of the strongest sign of true freedom is when we submit our desire for the benefit of others.  When we trust that God is the one in control so my reach for it is not needed; trust in God’s loving control provides us ultimate release and freedom.  We don’t need to prove our self, we are already approved.  We don’t need to control others because our desire is to serve them.  We don’t need to belittle others to elevate ourselves because God has already lifted us up and places us in the place of honour.  We are created from freedom.

Advent Meditation Fourth Monday

Prayer

Shepherd of Israel,
may Jesus, Emmanuel and son of Mary,
be more than just a dream in our hearts.
With the apostles, prophets, and saints,
save us, restore us,
and lead us in the way of grace and peace,
that we may bear your promise into the world. Amen.

Scripture

1 Samuel 2:1-10

And Hannah prayed and said,

“My heart exults in the Lord;
my horn is exalted in the Lord.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in your salvation.

“There is none holy like the Lord:
for there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble bind on strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low and he exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
and on them he has set the world.

“He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,
for not by might shall a man prevail.
10 The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces;
against them he will thunder in heaven.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king
and exalt the horn of his anointed.”

 

Meditation

In the in between, the now and not yet, it can appear that things are out of control.  It can seem that life has gone off the rails.  Trouble can come pressing in our each side.  We are harried and worried and pushed on and it seems to be no fault of our own.

Or it could be our own entire fault.  Our bad decisions have put us on a downward spiral with no view of the bottom.  We have burned bridges and broken relationships. We have chosen unwisely and spoken rashly in situations; posturing to make ourselves look and feel better.

Merry Christmas, right?  Joy and merriment for all.  In the midst of the pain and trouble we see promise.  God is in control.  He is the all-knowing, all powerful, all loving One who has it in His plan.  It does not feel like it.  It is hard to see the possibility.  But He is there and knows what He is doing.  He raises us up and sets us in honour.  Not for ourselves but for His good pleasure.

Advent Meditation Fourth Sunday

Prayer

Shepherd of Israel,
may Jesus, Emmanuel and son of Mary,
be more than just a dream in our hearts.
With the apostles, prophets, and saints,
save us, restore us,
and lead us in the way of grace and peace,
that we may bear your promise into the world. Amen.

Scripture

Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth

2 before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh. Stir up your might, and come to save us!

3 Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.

4 O LORD God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?

5 You have fed them with the bread of tears, and given them tears to drink in full measure.

6 You make us the scorn of our neighbors; our enemies laugh among themselves.

7 Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.

17 But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand, the one whom you made strong for yourself.

18 Then we will never turn back from you; give us life, and we will call on your name.

19 Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.

Advent Meditation Third Saturday

Prayer

God of hope,
you call us home from the exile of selfish oppression
to the freedom of justice,
the balm of healing,
and the joy of sharing.
Make us strong to join you in your holy work,
as friends of strangers and victims,
companions of those whom others shun,
and as the happiness of those whose hearts are broken.
We make our prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Scripture

Matthew 8:14-17

14 And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. 15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. 16 That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”

 

Meditation

In the in between, the now and not yet, our lives can be filled with sickness and brokenness.  Mental, physical, emotional, spiritual illness invades our lives and breaks us down.  We have a promise of healing.  We are taken to Him and He heals.  In the in between, the now and not yet, it is hard to remember that we have a healer and that is why we need those others around us who can bring us to the healer.  We need each other to carry those in need of healing to the healer.  And we cannot forget that we are all in need of healing.  He is our healer bringing us wholeness in our particular-ness and in combined lives.

Advent Meditation Third Friday

Prayer

God of hope,
you call us home from the exile of selfish oppression
to the freedom of justice,
the balm of healing,
and the joy of sharing.
Make us strong to join you in your holy work,
as friends of strangers and victims,
companions of those whom others shun,
and as the happiness of those whose hearts are broken.
We make our prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

 

Scripture

2 Samuel 7:18-22

 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?19 And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord God! 20 And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God! 21 Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it. 22 Therefore you are great, O Lord God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears.

 

Meditation

I am the type of guy who if 99 people say I stink and 1 person says I am o.k. I think I am pretty great.  At the same time I do hope to be accepted by all those around me, I can’t think of any reason why they wouldn’t want me as a friend, but if they didn’t then I would work hard to fix it, change it, or prove how wrong they were.  Notice I said “were” and not “are” because I firmly believe that their minds or attitudes toward me would change.

For a long time I really thought, “How luck God is to have me as a follower.”  I know it is pretty arrogant.  I am thankful for the men and women in my life that walked with me to have God’s grace and gospel invade.  I know that some of you reading this are put off by the above statement because you have had thought exactly opposite.  There is no way that God could want you.

God is great.  He is the amazing and lifted up one.  He is the one who knows all things and invites us to join Him.  He is the one who provides greatness to David and to us.

In the in between, the now and not yet, we can focus on the failure, the misstep too often.  We neglect the praise of the One who makes all things new.  He is the One who provides greatness to all of His choosing.  Whether you are arrogant and self-focused or belittling to yourself and self-focused David reminds us to focus on God.  He is where our eyes should turn and seek.  It is according to His own heart that He makes great.  And His great is not measured in our ways.  His view is different.  There is an old hymn that says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus.  Look full in His wonderful face.  And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

 

Advent Meditation Third Wednesday Thursday

Prayer

God of hope,
you call us home from the exile of selfish oppression
to the freedom of justice,
the balm of healing,
and the joy of sharing.
Make us strong to join you in your holy work,
as friends of strangers and victims,
companions of those whom others shun,
and as the happiness of those whose hearts are broken.
We make our prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Scripture

Galatians 3:23-29

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[a] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Meditation

We are still in the process of getting our Permanent Residence Visa for Australia.  We still haven’t transferred our driver’s license over to an Australian one yet.  It is not required until you are a PR.  In many ways we still sound, act and have identification as a person from the United States but if someone ask me,  “Where are you from?”, I answer very freely, “Fremantle.”  That is usually followed up with, “No, I mean really?”

I am a US citizen with US citizen id but my heart longs to be identified as Aussie.  This is not to say I dislike my US identity, but I believe God has called me to Fremantle and I should have my identity rest here.

We, having been moved into Christ by grace, find our identity in Him alone.  In the in between, the now and not yet, there are plenty of identities that via for to rest upon us.  Some are self-imposed and others come to us from the world around us.  Many of them are good and true identities.  Some are destructive and lies.  But all of them should be built on or burned away from our Truth Identity.  That we are in Christ and not just as an individual but as a body; that my particular-ness is joined together with others to be the One.  In the end everything else will pass away except for Christ and our placement in Him together.