Monday, December 13, 2010: Juxtaposition
Daily reading: Isaiah 34 and 35
The juxtaposition of Isaiah 34 and 35 cannot be missed. Chapter 34 is filled with the anger, wrath and vengeance of God on all nations for the sin and injustice that runs rampant. God has had enough. Chapter 35, on the other hand, is the promise of what God is going to do – a reminder of what it is like to live in the center of God’s grace and mercy. This chapter seems to be a study in opposites; we see the reality of evil right alongside the power of God’s purpose to restore all things. Juxtaposition creates the complete set of opposites in the trajectory of God’s Kingdom. God is always about the work of correcting what’s wrong and setting God’s people on the right “highway through the wilderness.” What does your wilderness look like today? Do you believe God can create a holy highway right through the middle of it? In your prayers, ask God to help you see how the Kingdom is at work in your world today.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010: The Natural Order
Daily reading: Isaiah 35 again
Isaiah’s message is clear: Israel’s hope extends to the natural order as well as the human order. Grace and mercy are extended to the wilderness, the desert, the crocus, and all living things. And then, God’s hope is extended to weak hands, feeble hearts, blind eyes, deaf ears, and the lame and the mute. In God’s realm, burning sand can become a pool of refreshing water. In God’s realm, the desert explodes with springs of lifegiving water. In your world, where is God springing up today? Can you see it or hear it? In your prayers, ask God to reveal where restoration is happening right around you.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010: A Holy Highway
Daily reading: Isaiah 35:8-10
Here we have a picture of a huge, expansive desert with no landmarks. In this desert, people easily lose their way and their life. But God will create a holy way, a holy highway on which not even fools could get lost, and it leads right to Zion. This road is straight and clear. This highway is the highway of our God, right through the wilderness of our existence. This is a bright picture of hope and promise. The impossibility of navigating through this “trackless void” is now possible because of God’s new highway. What does your wilderness look like? Do you believe God can give you a clear highway right through it? Ask God to show you the holy highway.
Thursday, December 16, 2010: Right here, right now!
Daily reading: Matthew 11:2-11
While John is in prison, his disciples remain close. They apparently have the opportunity to be in contact with him. So John sends word through his disciples to Jesus to get clear about Jesus’ mission, purpose and identity. Along with John, the disciples are becoming increasingly concerned about the future of the messianic program. The disciples travel about 100 miles to get an answer from Jesus about who he really is. Jesus’ response to the disciples reiterates that the way his ministry is unfolding is in line with the prophetic promises. Scripture is filled with promises from God that the blind would receive sight, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the dead rise, that diseases would be cured and the good news would be preached to the poor. This is happening right here, right now, for these disciples. In your life today, what are some new ways you can see and hear God at work? In your prayers, ask God to give you new eyes and ears to see and hear how God is at work today.
Friday, December 17, 2010: Angst
Daily reading: Matthew 11:2-11 again
John’s angst about who Jesus is isn’t that surprising. Juxtaposing his present situation with the lofty promises of the coming Messiah would drive anyone to the same position. In fact, some of the prophets (Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Job, etc.) in the Hebrew Scriptures wonder out loud if God is really paying attention to the plan that has been set out. When our human condition and experience do not fully match up with God’s message, it’s natural to wonder – or perhaps have a bit of angst. But God’s view is much longer and broader than ours. One can only wonder how narrow things got for John while he was waiting to die. Where is the angst coming from in your life? In your prayers, ask God for insight to match God’s message with your current human condition.
Saturday, December 18, 2010: Waiting
Daily reading: Psalm 25:5; Romans 8:19
Waiting is a common theme in the Scriptures, and a theme of the Advent season. It’s probably safe to say that we’re all waiting for Christmas. At a week and a half out, you might be waiting for a break at work, waiting for family to arrive from out of town, waiting for school to be out, waiting for snow to fall, waiting for a good sale, or waiting for all kinds of things. In Matthew 11:3, John’s followers ask Jesus if he’s the one they’ve been waiting for, or if there’s another. Is there a place in your life in need of peace? In your prayers today, ask God to give your peace through the Prince of Peace.
Sunday, December 19, 2010: Restoration
Daily reading: Psalm 25:5; Matthew 17:11
Restoration is the process by which something that’s deteriorated, shattered, or broken is put back as closely as possible to its original condition. In our world, homes can be restored. Clocks and couches can be restored. Even damaged paintings can be restored. One of the most famous restoration projects is the cleaning and restoration of the art on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. This is the work that God is up to. God is taking the broken, deteriorating, decaying places in our world and bringing resurrection life to them. Remember Isaiah 35. Springs of water show up in the middle of a desert. Flowers bloom in the middle of a blistering hot wilderness. A holy highway appears in the middle of a desert, and it runs straight to the holy city of God: Zion. What’s in need of restoration in your life? In your prayers, ask God to do the work of restoration in you and in our world.