Archive for December, 2009

December 28, 2009

[Morning Walk] Getting Ready for the New Year

by Bethany

Morning Walk is taking a break for the week. We’re launching the website and taking care of end-of-the year business. In the meantime, you can follow the daily readings as outlined below.

You can also now donate online to The Park Forum. Your contributions are essential as we start this nonprofit ministry and create materials for urban professionals. We use these donations to pay the bills, create and test small group materials, and build on our online presence.

December 26, 2009

[843 acres] Christmas News

by Bethany
December 25, 2009

[Advent] He Would Change Our Lives

by Bethany

The Park Forum Advent Readings: Ezekiel 36, Luke 2

The Prophecy.

During the month of December, we’ve considered specific prophecies of the Messiah and how they were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. He alone fulfilled all of these prophecies. God spoke through the prophets about His coming Son because He wanted Jesus to have all the credentials he needed when he came into the world.

Yet the greatest prophecy is that Jesus would bring new life:

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. Ezekiel 36:26, ESV.

The Lord will circumcise your heart. Deuteronomy 30:6, ESV.

The Fulfillment.

When Jesus was eight days old, the age of circumcision under the law, his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. In Jerusalem, there was a man called Simeon. The Holy Spirit, who revealed to him that he would not die before he had seen the Messiah, was upon him. Move by the Spirit, he went to the temple. When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple to be circumcised, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel. Luke 2:29-32, ESV.

Joseph and Mary were in awe. Simeon blessed them and said to Mary,

Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. v. 33-35, ESV.

How Simeon’s words proved true! Jesus pierced through people’s hearts – the woman at the well who was forgiven and mercifully told to “go and sin no more”, the criminal on the cross who was told “today you will be with me in paradise”, the Pharisee on the road to murder Christians who had the scales on his eyes removed to see the glorious light of Jesus. The lives and hearts of these individuals (and more) were changed. As Paul wrote,

Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Today, as we celebrate the coming of Jesus as a baby, let us celebrate the new hearts and new lives that we have in him.

December 24, 2009

[Advent] Gentiles Would Seek After Him

by Bethany

The Park Forum Advent Readings: Isaiah 11, Acts 9

The Prophecy.

Isaiah prophesied that the Gentiles – not just Israel – would seek after a descendant of Jesse who would be the Messiah (see here):

In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples – of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious. v. 10, ESV.

The Fulfillment.

The Lord called a Pharisee – of the tribe of Benjamin (i.e., of the most beloved tribe) and a Hebrew of Hebrews (i.e., of a long lineage of Israelites) – to proclaim the good news to the Gentiles.

On the way to Damascus to imprison Christians, Saul was stopped by a light from heaven. Immediately, he fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The voice responded, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

Meanwhile, in Damascus, there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, telling him to go find Saul. But Ananias hesitated because he had heard of Saul – that he had imprisoned and murdered Christians. He said, “Lord, I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”

But the Lord said to Ananias,

Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.

God called Saul for the purpose of proclaiming the good news of the gospel to the Gentiles. Since that moment, Saul (who later came to be known as Paul) never stopped preaching the good news that the Gentiles have been engrafted into the family of God. Now, millions of people worldwide have turned to Jesus for forgiveness and salvation. Faith in Christ knows no cultural, racial, geographical, or gender limitations. All are welcome to worship under the star at the feet of the baby born in a manger.

December 23, 2009

[Advent] He Would Be Punished for Our Sins

by Bethany

The Park Forum Advent Readings: Isaiah 53, Romans 5

The Prophecy

Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be punished for our sins:

… he was wounded for our transgressions …
By his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous … v. 5-6, 11-12, ESV.

Although he would be innocent and falsely accused, he would not defend himself:

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth …
although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. v. 7-9, ESV.

As a result, he would be killed, die with the wicked, and be with the rich at his death

… he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people …
they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death … v. 8-9.

Even though he would die, he would live:

He shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
The will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. V. 10, ESV.

The Fulfillment

In the face of false witnesses and testimony, Jesus said nothing:

… when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” But he gave no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed. Matthew 27:12-14, ESV; cf. Matthew 26:57-67.

He was killed, died with the wicked, and buried in a rich man’s tomb:

… [robbers] were crucified with him …

… there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus … And Joseph took [Jesus’] body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb … Matthew 27:32-61, ESV.

All of this, he did for our sins:

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Romans 5:6-11, ESV.

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