Posts tagged ‘Micah’

November 28, 2014

Neither Toil or Spin

by Steven Dilla

Daily Reading
Micah 3 (Listen – 1:50)
Luke 12 (Listen – 7:38)

It’s far to easy to get swept away in the rush of the holidays. Anxiety over wrapping the final quarter of the year, scheduling events, and traveling through busy airports can begin to build as Christmas approaches. On Monday we’ll begin our Advent series on The Park Forum (something we’re really excited about), but before we do we wanted to set a tone for the holiday season with the words of Christ, which remind us to trust him in the midst of the life’s pressures.

When Christ talked about anxiety and trust he wasn’t minimizing the stress of life, he was showing the sufficiency of his love. It’s only by placing our faith in Christ that we are given the opportunity to displace it in ourselves. We stop looking to calm daily anxieties with our own success, appearance, accolade—which change far too often to offer security. [1]

A meditation and prayer from the words of Christ in Luke 12.22-31:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”

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Weekend Readings:

Saturday: Micah 4 (Listen – 2:41); Luke 13 (Listen – 4:36)
Sunday: Micah 5 (Listen – 2:31); Luke 14 (Listen – 4:09)

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Footnotes

[1] When Christ talked about anxiety, or discouragement, his words were focused on the daily pressures common to all people. He was not, nor are we above, trying to speak to mental health conditions that persist despite great effort and desire. In all things we look to Christ, but in many we find ourselves holding on for future relief, future glory, future joy—Christ will return, he will make all things new.

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November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Day Prayers

by Steven Dilla

Daily Readings:
Micah 2
 (Listen – 2:35 min)
Luke 11 (Listen – 7:01 min)

The Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11.2-4)
Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.

A Puritan Prayer of Thanksgiving, Author Unknown, From The Valley of Vision

Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects, my heart admires, adores, loves thee, for my little vessel is as full as it can be, and I would pour out all that fullness before thee in ceaseless flow.

When I think upon and converse with thee ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up, ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed, ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart, crowding into every moment of happiness.

I bless thee for the soul thou hast created, for adorning it, sanctifying it, though it is fixed in barren soil; 

for the body thou hast given me, for preserving its strength and vigour, for providing senses to enjoy delights, for the ease and freedom of my limbs, for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding; 

for thy royal bounty providing my daily support, for a full table and overflowing cup, for appetite, taste, sweetness, for social joys of relatives and friends, for ability to serve others, 

for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities, for a mind to care for my fellow-men, for opportunities of spreading happiness around, for loved ones in the joys of heaven, for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly,

I love thee above the powers of language to express, 

for what thou art to thy creatures.

Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.

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November 26, 2014

Overcoming Excuses to Show Love

by Steven Dilla

Daily Reading
Micah 1 (Listen – 2:56)
Luke 10 (Listen – 5:14)

A chronically prone host to robberies and murders, the 17 mile road referred to in the parable of The Good Samaritan descends 3,500 feet from Jerusalem to Jericho. In Jesus’ day it served as a commuter road for Priests and Levites. Original hearers of Jesus’ parable would have known the religious leaders in the story were returning home after their two-week period of serving in the Temple.

If a Priest or a Levite touched a corpse they became ceremonially unclean and needed to return to the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem, purchase a red heifer, and (at the proper time) sacrifice it. In addition to the financial cost, the process required would delay the Priest and Levites’ journey home by about a week. It is clear, however, from the Jesus’ story that cursory evaluation of the wounded man would reveal he was not dead——meaning the Priest and Levite leveraged God’s word to justify their unwillingness to sacrifice time, money, and comfort. Brian Stiller says it more strongly, “In a sense, these two continue what the robbers had begun in destroying the man.” [1] 

There are many excuses for the Samaritan not to show love. To help someone on a trade route was to take your life into your own hands; it’s clear there are wicked people nearby. Additionally, inns were known to be places of ill repute. Innkeepers were notoriously dishonest, and while the Samaritan protects the wounded man from debtor’s prison by offering to pay any cost incurred, he absorbs all the risk if the innkeeper takes advantage of either of them. 

It is a distinctly American way of reading a text to picture ourselves as the hero. Jesus wanted his listeners to find themselves in his parables——but in this story he’s revealing just as much about himself as he is about ourselves. Jesus is the true good Samaritan. We are the ones who are mortally wounded. We’re the ones overwhelmed by evil and incapable of helping ourselves. It’s Jesus who saves. He takes his life into his own hands——withholding nothing to pay the price. Like the Good Samaritan, Christ’s generous love defies logic and is offered freely at our most vulnerable point.

Prayer: God, thank you that you rescued us when we were yet sinners. We see that until we accept Jesus’ love for us, we’ll never be able to sustain in sacrificial love to our neighbors, let-alone our enemies. Remind us of the love you first showed us and allow us to live as extensions of that love to everyone around us.

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Footnotes

[1] Brian Stiller. Preaching Parables to Postmoderns. p.83.

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November 30, 2012

Advent: The Incarnation Should Shock Us

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Micah 5:2
M’Cheyne Text: Micah 5; Luke 14

Shocking: If we don’t understand the weight of the miracle of the incarnation of Christ, it’s because we don’t understand the weight of the holiness of God. The incarnation should shock us. In fact, it’s so appalling that it’s the reason why Muslims and Jews reject Christianity [1]. They think it’s ludicrous that an infinite and holy God would become finite to live with unholy sinners.

Fearful: The holiness of God is fearful. When Moses asked to see His glory, He said, “You cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live” [2]. When the ark was being brought to Israel, some men looked inside of it and, as a result, God struck down fifty thousand men. The people despaired, “Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God?” [3]. When David was bringing the ark to Jerusalem, one man touched it. God immediately struck him down, “and David was afraid of the Lord that day” [4]. The nearer Ezekiel approached the throne of God, the less sure his words became: “Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face” [5]. When Job finished questioning God, He answered, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? … Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” [6].

Incarnation: Jesus embodies the holiness of God. For Jesus is God and has been with God from the beginning [7]. In him, God has effected complete self-disclosure. And it is a shocking miracle. Our holy God, who said, “man shall not see me and live”, became incarnate. People saw him and lived. Our holy God, who struck down thousands for mishandling the ark, became incarnate. People touched him and lived. Our holy God, whose magnificent throne left Ezekiel speechless, was born in a manger. Our holy God, who asked, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?”, was born in an insignificant town. As Micah prophesied,“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days” [8].

Prayer: Lord, The incarnation is so shocking because you are so holy. In advent, prepare us to receive your condescending love. Let us humble ourselves before you. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Islam: In the Quran, we find the core of Islam in the command of the Muslim confession: “Allah begets not and was not begotten” (Sura al-Ikhlas 112). Elsewhere in the Quran, Muhammad gives a more radical argument to this theme: “The Christians say, ‘The Messiah is the Son of Allah.’ That is the utterance of their mouths, conforming to the unbelievers before them. Allah, destroy them! How they are perverted!” (Sura al-Tawba 9:29, 30). Judaism: The Jerusalem Talmud states explicitly, “If a man claims to be God, he is a liar” (Ta’anit 2:1). In the 12th century, the preeminent Jewish scholar Maimonides codified core principles of Judaism, writing, “[God], the Cause of all, is one. This does not mean one as in one of a pair, nor one like a species (which encompasses many individuals), nor one as in an object that is made up of many elements, nor as a single simple object that is infinitely divisible. Rather, God is a unity unlike any other possible unity.” | [2] Exodus 33:12-23 | [3] 1 Samuel 6:1-21 | [4] 2 Samuel 6:5-15 | [5] Ezekiel 1 | [6] Job 38-40 | [7] See John 1. | [8] Micah 5:2 ESV

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November 29, 2012

Advent: The Second Advent

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Luke 13:2-3
M’Cheyne TextMicah 4; Luke 13

Favor: Last week, we thanked God for sending Jesus to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor – that is, a space of time for salvation [1]. As Paul wrote, “Now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” [2]. Yes, it is true that today is not the final judgment of the Lord. By His gracious hand, however, He does discipline us today. Sometimes He does it obviously through tragedies [3].

Tragedy: Tragedy struck Jerusalem. Some pilgrims from Galilee had come to celebrate Passover and, while they were making sacrifices at the temple, they were butchered by some Roman troops. When some of Jesus’ followers came to him with the news, he knew what they were thinking. They assumed that such an extraordinary tragedy must have been preceded by an extraordinary sin. But Jesus responded, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you: but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” [4]. In other words, all of them were guilty sinners.

Advent: All of us are extremely sinful – so sinful that, when tragedy strikes, none of us should be surprised. The amazing thing in this world is not that sinners perish, but that God is slow in anger and abounding in love [5]. In this season of Advent, as we prepare to celebrate the incarnation of Jesus, let us remember that we are in a second Advent season today, as we anticipate his return. But his second coming will not be like his first. As we saw last week, when he comes again, the space of time for salvation will end [6]. That is why Jesus warned, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” In other words, if we repent, we will not experience the divine judgment of God that comes after death.

Prayer: Lord, We do not know how long you will be patient with us. We may only have this moment or this hour. As the fear of the Lord grips our hearts this Advent season, let us repent by turning away from our sin, admitting that we have corrupt natures, laying hold of Jesus to cover our sin, taking an oath of allegiance to him by obedience and praise, and hoping in your promises. Amen.

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Audio: Bible Listening (7:17 minutes total)

Micah 4 (2:41 minutes) – here

Luke 13 (4:36 minutes) – here

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Footnotes

[1] 843 Acres. “Thankful: The Year of the Lord’s Favor.” 20 November 2012.  |  [2] 2 Corinthians 6:2 ESV.  |  [3] Other times He disciplines us subtly through a giving over to our sinful desires. See Romans 1:16-32 (This is perhaps the most dangerous of all God’s judgments and disciplines because it is the most subtle. Here, He withdraws His Spirit in such a way that we slowly and increasingly become numb to the effects of our sin so that we no longer feel the bridling of our natural and sinful selves.) We will develop this further in later reflections.  |  [4] Luke 13:2-3 ESV  |  [5] See Exodus 34:6; Psalm 86:15.  |  [6] Id. at 1.

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