Skip to main content

Third Friday of Advent--Anticipation of What?

The Bible readings in the Mosaic meditations for the Third Week of Advent show an interesting contrast and comparison: Zephaniah 3:14-20, Psalm 126, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24, Luke 3:7-20 and the following additional readings: John 16:5-15, Romans 8:18-25. (All quotes from the Bible below are taken from the NLT.)

Because God's people had turned their backs on him, thinking all the while that they were honouring him, God sent them into exile.  This was particularly onerous to them because their religious and social life centred around Jerusalem and the temple therein.  Three times a year the men of Judah were to travel to Jerusalem to celebrate the main feast days--days that reminded them of all God had done for them.  They couldn't do that in exile.  They couldn't offer sacrifices to God to atone for their sins and become spiritually cleansed without the temple.

Zephaniah talked about how God's people would be returned to Jerusalem.  Their troubles would be over, they would be filled with gladness, they would be able to once again enjoy the feast days and they would be completely restored.  It was a day they were hoping for and anticipating.

Psalm 126 jumps ahead to when those days were fulfilled.  It is a song the people sang as they travelled to Jerusalem for the feast days.  They had left Jerusalem for Babylon with tears but now they were returning with joy and singing.

In contrast to the tears and weeping God's people had in exile, Paul, in 1 Thessalonians tells us to be joyful regardless of circumstances because God keeps his promises--just as he kept the promise he gave through Zephaniah.

As the exiles in Babylon suffered in exile and longed for that better day of returning to Jerusalem, so we today suffer, waiting with anticipation to see the glory God will reveal to us and to see who God's children really are.  Even creation longs for that day.

God's people in the Old Testament got lazy.  They thought that because they were the children of Abraham, the children of the promise, they could live as they chose.

Many of us think the same way: "Because I've been saved, all is well and I'm going to heaven."

John the Baptist in Luke challenges that kind of thinking: “Do not think that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,' for I tell you that out of these stones, God can raise up children for Abraham.”  Prove that you have repented and turned from your sins!  It's not enough to say, "I've been saved."  If you don't "produce good fruit," if you don't live out your repentance and salvation, you won't be part of God's kingdom.  Jesus will divide people into two groups: wheat and chaff, valued and "useless," holy and common.  One he keeps; the other he tosses.

When I use the words "valued" and "useless," I'm comparing the wheat, which was valued by farmers because it provided sustenance, to chaff which was totally useless.  How does one become valuable to God?  In one sense, he values all of us.  He is not willing that any should perish.  And yet there is the chaff.  Wheat has substance, chaff does not and I believe that is true with our lives.  Do I have substance in my life or am I like chaff--looking like a grain of wheat but empty inside?

God wants us to be filled with the Holy Spirit and with fire.  These are the media with which John said Jesus would baptise.  The substance in the people who are wheat is God's presence.  Jesus said in John, "The world's sin is that it refuses to believe in me." As John the Baptist (and later James) said, it's not enough to say, "I've been saved."  If you don't live out your repentance and salvation, you won't be part of God's kingdom.

Paul W. Harrison (1883-1962) wrote, "Wherever God rules over the human heart as King, there is the kingdom of God established."

Does God rule over your heart?


Popular posts from this blog

Monogamous, Homosexual Unions--My Position and the Story behind it

I've been asked to be one of two participants at church each representing opposing views on the matter of monogamous, homosexual unions, moderated by the pastor.  In preparation, I have written the following.  In the comments, please do not post any vitriol--from either side. If I think any comment is hateful, I will delete it. Respectful disagreement or questions are welcome, however.

My Position and Values:
I believe that sexual relations between two people of the same sex is contrary to God’s will.I would like to say otherwise but I find nothing in Scripture that allows me to do so.BEING homosexual, having a longing or desire for someone of the same sex, is not condemned in the Bible.  We all have desires that are contrary to God’s will.  The sin occurs when we feed those desires, like Jesus talks about when he calls lust adultery (Matthew 5:28).Much cruelty to LGBTQ people has happened because of the stance of the Church. We have not acted with love, compassion and listening ear…

Eulogy for Mikael

It's 3:13 a.m. as I write this, just hours before Mikael's funeral. I've slept 2 1/2 hours already but when I woke I couldn't get back to sleep. I am so full of joy I have no room for grief. I lay in bed two hours ago, feeling this joy well up into near excitement, undergirded with a peace and contentment that to most people would make no sense. I'm not sure it makes sense to me but I know it's real. God has been so good. He has poured out his blessings on us this week and I feel like we are the most blessed family in the world right now.
I can't imagine life without Mikael. I'm still in shock, running on adrenaline and the drive to give Mikael the best farewell ever and not wanting to miss a moment of the flood of family and friends who have been pouring into our home with cards, flowers, meals, goodies, more meals and goodies, love, prayers and memories. I've been sitting in an armchair where I have a straight line of sight to the front entrance, a…

In My Prayer Room

Oh God
You surround me with your love,
with memories
of who you are
of what you've done
of promises you've made
of who I want to be
of who I am because of you.

You give me hope and joy,
peace and gratitude.
You convict me
and teach me
encourage me
and remind me
of what it means to follow you.

You listen to my prayers
and grant my requests
in your time.
You give me insight
and knowledge
and words to write
to share your presence
your goodness
your love
your admonition
with others.

You expand my love
to pray for friend and foe
near and far
family and stranger
people as pins on maps
clustered and scattered
who know you and reject you
for those in need
and those too full to need.

You draw me close
and then release me
to bring you close to others
to serve
and love
and give
all I have received.

You fill my heart with joy
that warms
and glows
and bursts
into laughter,
and even dance.

You wrap me in your arms
and tell me
"You are mine"
with intensity that burns
and smoul…