Monday, October 25, 2010: God in a Box
Daily reading: Joel 2:28-29; Ephesians 1:16-22
In the new documentary, God in a Box, filmmakers embark on a cross-country journey. At interesting locations, they invite people to step into a large box to describe what God means to them and draw their visual interpretations of God. Scholars analyze their comments, and interesting observations emerge. The text from Joel talks about new dreams and visions. The Ephesians text uses human language to describe what seems to be beyond description. Chances are, our image of God is limited, contained, small, and unimaginative. How is your image of God in a box? Ask God to expand and explode your image of God’s power and authority.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010: Judgment and Grace
Daily reading: Joel 2:1-9; John 1:14-18
Joel is writing to people who have become complacent in prosperity and are taking God for granted. They are mired in self-centeredness and idolatry. Joel warns them that this lifestyle inevitably brings God’s judgment. There are three broad themes in this short book: punishment, forgiveness and the promise of the Holy Spirit. But Joel wants to be clear about God’s judgment and grace, which always go hand in hand. Given God’s power and mercy, why would we want to live outside of that, and go on our own? Yesterday’s reading from Joel 2 is an oracle of promise pointing to a future redeemed and restored by God. The term “afterward” in verse 28 points beyond the immediate restoration of blessing indicated in the preceding prophecy; a double promise of God’s abundant grace. The reading from John invites us to see that this grace is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. How do you think judgment and grace are connected? Ask God for wisdom to understand how judgment and grace go hand in hand.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010: The Image of God
Daily reading: Colossians 1:15-16; Psalm 97:6-7
Jesus is the image of God. The word for “image” in Paul’s time was used for likenesses on coins, portraits, and statues. To us, it would be like having a photograph of the original. Jesus is the perfect representation of God. J. B. Phillips translates verse 15 this way: “Christ is the visible expression of the invisible God.” Hebrews 1:3 tells us that the Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of God’s being. Psalm 97 warns us to not count on false representations of God: idols. Are there images of God that you worship instead of the One named Jesus? In your prayers today, ask God to give you a new image in your mind of the true God.
Thursday, October 281, 2010: The Firstborn of All Creation
Daily reading: Colossians 1:15-16 again; Psalm 89:27-28
Jesus is not only the perfect picture of God, Jesus is in the highest and loftiest position of anything in the universe. Colossians says that Jesus is the firstborn over all creation. Firstborn is a term of rank more than it is a word of time (see Psalms 89:27). In ancient cultures, if you were firstborn you had privilege and authority. Firstborn is the most honored position in the family. Jesus is the firstborn – the highest rank – in all of creation. When we think of Jesus, we often remember the Christmas accounts of his birth and come to believe that he was born two thousand years ago. This text tells us that Jesus was not only present at the creation of the universe, but caused it all to happen. How might this change your image of Jesus? In your prayers today, ask God to open your mind to see Christ as the one who created all things.
Friday, October 29, 2010: Creator and Sustainer
Daily reading: Colossians 1:16-17; John 1:3
The text from Colossians tells us that Jesus holds the highest rank in creation because he is the Creator of all things. There is nothing in the created order that Jesus did not create. John 1:3 confirms this idea. The One who creates has absolute supremacy over all creation. We know that only God can create, and since Jesus is Creator, he is also God. Jesus is more than the perfect image of God, he is divine. He is God. Jesus not only creates all things, but also sustains all things, holds everything together. Because of Christ, the universe is under control and not chaotic. Does this change your image of Jesus even further? Ask God to help you more fully comprehend the incredible greatness of the One who created and sustains all things.
Saturday, October 30, 2010: Reconciler
Daily reading: Colossians 1:19-20; Ephesians 2:16
Not only is Jesus the perfect image of God who creates and sustains all things, he also is the great reconciler of all things. Reconciliation has to do with the restoration of relationships between two parties that have been at war. The text describes this peace that Jesus brings as a result of blood shed on the cross. He is the full embodiment of every attribute of God and God’s saving grace. Jesus is moving all the world toward a ceasing of hostilities, greater harmony, and ultimate healing. He is the great reconciler. Does this continue to change your image of Jesus? In your prayers today, ask God to reconcile those places in your life where there may be hostilities.
Sunday, October 31, 2010: Thy Kingdom Come
Daily reading: Joel 2:28-32 again; Psalm 145:13
When we pray “thy Kingdom come,” what are we praying for, and what should we expect? When we read in Joel that God is going to pour out his spirit on all flesh, what does “all flesh” mean? If this time is characterized by prophesy, dreams and visions by the young and old, men and women, what will that look like? It is quite possible that God is way ahead of us, working in and through all people in very surprising ways, and through people that might surprise us. Are there people you know who you believe God could never work through? Is it possible for God to work through them in surprising ways? Ask God to open your mind to the possibility that God can work in surprising ways through people who may surprise us.