Monday, November 29, 2010: Speaking for God
Daily reading: Isaiah 2:1-5; Matthew 10:16-20
Jesus describes his second sudden, unexpected coming as a time when the marriage of heaven and earth will be complete. This unity of heaven and earth ushers in the vision of Isaiah when God’s Kingdom reigns in peace. Isaiah prophesied in Judah for more than 40 years, around 740 to 700 BC. Isaiah’s name literally means “the Lord saves!” So when people see him, they know what he stands for and what his message is. Theologically, we understand that the prophets’ words are God’s words. We can follow in the path of the prophets and speak confidently on behalf of God, because the Spirit of God will give us the right words at the right time. Have you ever considered the words you use as speaking for God? In your prayers today, ask God to give you the right words at the right time.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010: Judgment
Daily reading: Isaiah 65:1-7; Revelation 19:1-3
Isaiah’s message is clear: things are not right. The desire of God’s heart is for all people to live in peace with God, in peace with one another, and to worship God and experience the transforming presence of God among them. But when nations and people don’t live in that peace, or pursue it, God’s judgment does its humbling and purifying work. When we think of judgment, we often think of an angry old man carrying a big stick and punishing us for our wrongs. The scriptural picture of judgment is quite different. Judgment is to make right, to straighten out everything that is wrong. God’s judgment will level the playing field. God’s judgment will set things to right. What needs to be set to right in your life? Ask God to make things right, and straighten everything out.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010: War
Daily reading: Isaiah 1:4-7; James 4:1-4
During Isaiah’s time, the Assyrians and the Babylonians are huge powers and present a threat on just about every level. Those who live in Jerusalem are probably under an enormous amount of stress and fear for their lives. One wonders why a people under such duress would not turn toward God. But apparently they don’t. It seems as if fighting is the way to solve differences throughout all of human history. James asks some very good questions: what causes wars, and what causes fighting among you? It seems like we can be at war with ourselves, as well. Where are you experiencing this kind of tension in your life? What is causing it? Ask God to give you peace today.
Thursday, December 2, 2010: When?
Daily reading: Matthew 24:36-39; John 25-29
In Matthew we read that no one knows when the King will return. No one. That he will return is certain; when he will return is not. The disciples have been equipped by Jesus and will be further equipped by the Holy Spirit to know only the “seasons of readiness.” The preceding story of the fig tree (Matthew 24:32-35) is laden with seasonal language. Jesus himself says it plainly in verse 36: “About that day no one knows, neither (not even!) the angels of heaven, nor (not even!) the Son, but only the Father. It is best not to get caught up in speculation about the exact day and time that Jesus will return. Simply be alert and ready. Do you live as if Jesus might return at any time? Ask God to make you more aware of what God is doing, and more alert to the possibility of Christ’s return.
Friday, December 3, 2010: Pairs of Two
Daily reading: Proverbs 22:6-9; Matthew 19:21-24
Jesus is teaching his disciples about being ready for his return and about being alert to the activity of God in the world. He compares two men working in the field and two women grinding grain at the mill. These are ordinary, everyday people. The message – the warning to be ready, be prepared – is for everyone! Everyone needs to heed these warnings. In each of the pairings, one person is prepared by knowing Jesus and his teachings; one watches for the signs and is obedient. The other in each pair is not prepared, is either ignorant of Jesus’ teachings or simply ignores them and refuses to live into the Kingdom reality of Christ’s coming. Are you willing to listen to the warning words of Jesus today? In your prayers, ask God to make it clear to you how you can be more ready and prepared every day.
Saturday, December 4, 2010: Peace
Daily reading: Isaiah 9:6-7; John 14:25-30
Isaiah tells us that the promised one who is coming will not only bring peace, but will be the Prince of Peace; embodying all that means. Just before his death, he reassures his disciples that his new and powerful peace will be with them, even though he may not be with them. This second text is often read at funerals, as families struggle to make sense of life and death issues. Jesus says his peace is “not as the world gives.” Jesus seems to imply that his peace has the power to comfort troubled hearts and calm anxious fears. In your life, where do you need peace? In your prayers today, ask God to give you peace through the Prince of Peace.
Sunday, December 5, 2010: On Earth As it is In Heaven
Daily reading: Psalm 139:7-12; Revelation 21:1-4
Much of our world view is impacted by Greek dualism. We assume a clean separation between earth and heaven; between flesh and soul. We tend to think of earthy and fleshy things as evil, and soul and heavenly things as good. But the Scriptures are more Hebrew; they tend to be more holistic and integrative. Today’s texts help us understand this world view. The psalmist tells us that wherever we are, on earth or in heaven, God is present, active and personally connected to us. The Revelation text speaks to the marriage of heaven and earth; two realms intended for one another, united as bride and groom. Notice that the dwelling place of God is with us and the picture of this marriage is complete peace; no mourning or crying. What are you looking forward to in the marriage of earth and heaven? What present reality do you want to go away forever? Confidently ask God to begin that marriage of earth and heaven by removing those things that have you in their grip.