Posts tagged ‘Nahum’

December 5, 2012

Advent: Grace and Expectations at Advent

by Perryn Pettus

by Rankin Wilbourne

About Rankin: Rankin is the Lead Pastor of Pacific Crossroads Church in Los Angeles, a town that he enjoys because it turns around the idea of story and the need for a redemptive ending. Rankin lives with his wife Morgen, who grew up in New York City, along with their daughter and son. He enjoys sports, poetry and music, especially Bruce Springsteen.  For more about Rankin, click here.

Highlighted Text: Luke 19:12-13
M’Cheyne Text: Nahum 3; Luke 19

In this season of Advent, as we celebrate God’s grace coming to us, you might find yourself wondering, “If the Christian life is all of grace, what then does God expect of me?”

Cue the story Jesus tells in Luke 19: “He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas [a mina was about 3 months wages] and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come’” [1].

As opposed to Matthew’s version of the story, in which the servants receive different amounts of talents, in this telling, each receives the same gift. What does Jesus give in equal measure to every one of his followers? The gospel, a new identity, this is our coin. Each of us is given a vocation. The parable means that no Christian can any longer say, “I am insignificant.” Almost every other story in the Bible denounces pride, while this story is unique in denouncing humility.

In which of these servants do you find yourself portrayed?

There are two servants who did their work and made a profit. They are commended, verse 17, “Well done, good servant.” Godly ambition is a good thing. It’s admirable to want to build something. The question is, for whose name? These workers receive their master’s praise. Whose praise are you living for?

Which brings us to the third servant, dutifully carrying his coins around in his handkerchief, day after day. The real surprise of Jesus’ story is that the servant is judged not because of bad investments, but because of no investments. He did nothing wrong; he did nothing right.

Jesus is not telling a story about moral failures. He is talking about fearful and careful people who do everything they can to minimize risk because they do not trust the Master enough to live by His bold instruction.

We are saved by faith alone but faith that saves is never alone. Are you using your coin? Are you taking risks?

Prayer: Father, thank you for Jesus. While we were yet neither good nor faithful servants, Jesus left his throne to enter the far county. Jesus, you are the good and faithful servant, so today in our work let our motive be to serve you, to live for the benediction you have already pronounced over us, “Well Done!” Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Luke 19:12-13

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December 4, 2012

Advent: Announcing Hope

by Perryn Pettus

by Ryan Taylor

About Ryan: Ryan is an Upper East Side Pastor at Apostles Church in New York City.  Prior to joining Apostles, Ryan worked in the Investment Banking Division of Bear Stearns and attended Indiana University.  Ryan is married to Katelyn, who leads Apostles’ Upper East Side worship team and was a featured vocalist on their debut album, Love Came Through.  Ryan and Katelyn met in NYC and live on the Upper East Side, where they have the privilege of living on mission with those in their community. For more, see here.

Highlighted Text: Nahum 2:1-2
M’Cheyne Text: Nahum 2; Luke 18

New York is not a city that naturally reinforces hope in the God of the Bible. Yet those that have been graciously bestowed with a “gospel lens” through which to interpret it grasp that Christ’s Second Advent and consummating redemption of all things is the ultimate hope for our city. Whether it’s poverty, racial tension, loneliness, the uncertain future of the unborn, sex slavery, or any other brokenness that pervades our boroughs, a gospel lens lets the Christian look to and hope in God’s promised justice – his making right all things through his Son.

Nahum had the privilege of announcing God’s good news to Judah that justice, relief, and restoration, were on the way. He announced with full confidence that the present state of oppression by the enemies of God, in this case Assyria, would soon be over because God had promised to liberate his people:

“The scatterer has come up against you. Man the ramparts; watch the road; dress for battle; collect all your strength. For the LORD is restoring the majesty of Jacob as the majesty of Israel, for plunderers have plundered them and ruined their branches.” – Nahum 2:1-2 ESV

Nahum had the great privilege and responsibility of announcing that the God who is “great in power” [1] would one day pour out his wrath on the enemies of God that oppressed his people [2] and provide refuge for all who would seek it in him [3].

Today, as Christians in New York we have the same great privilege and responsibility to announce God’s promised hope, the Second Advent of Jesus. Our city aches to hear the good and unshakably true declaration that God himself has set a day when he will right every wrong. And all those that stand with and in him will be blessed and ushered into eternal intimate relationship with God himself [4].

God, May we as your people, armed with the truth and sufficiency of your Word, boldly declare hope and coming freedom to our neighbors, co-workers, friends and family that have yet to embrace the King of kings and Lord of lords. This Advent would we not be bashful or ashamed that our highest hope is in You and the return of the Christ. Lord, pour your Spirit generously into us, as you have promised [5], that we might delight in you supremely and announce your gospel invitation boldly. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Nahum 1:3  |  [2] Nahum 2:13  |  [3] Nahum 1:7  |  [4] John 17:3  |  [5] Luke 11:13

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December 3, 2012

Advent: The Feet that Bring Good News

by Perryn Pettus

By Tim and Kathy Keller

About Tim and Kathy: Tim is the Senior Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City and author of numerous books, including The Reason for God, which is a New York Times Bestseller. He also wrote The Meaning of Marriage with his wife Kathy, whom he met at Gordon-Conwell Seminary, where they both received their Master of Divinity degrees. Tim and Kathy live with their cat Muffin on Roosevelt Island, where they enjoy reading a variety of books and watching Dr. Who. For more about the Kellers, click here.

Highlighted Text: Nahum 1:15
M’Cheyne Text: Nahum 1; Luke 17

Prophecy: In Nahum 1:15, we read, “Look, there on the mountains, the feet of one who brings good news, who proclaims peace.” Similarly, Isaiah 40:9 talks about going up onto a high mountain in order to shout, “Here is your God!” and Isaiah 52:7 reads, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’”

Gospel: This is talking about the Gospel, which is good news, or more specifically, good NEWS. The Gospel is not advice about how to live a good life or find God, but the NEWS that God is here! He has brought salvation, which needs to be proclaimed, the way one would tell the world about a cure for cancer or the end of war. Indeed, the Gospel is the cure for our sickness and the end of our war with God. With the coming of Jesus, God made flesh, peace is proclaimed, because the law and all its penalties have been fulfilled, and there is now no condemnation for us.

Response: When Paul quotes Nahum 1:15 in Romans, he begins, “How, then can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they preach unless they are sent?” If we have received the Good News of the Gospel, our response, unless we deliberately suppress it, will be to take the news of God’s reconciling love to others. Everyone has seen those famous photographs of the day when World War II ended … jubilation in the streets, people hanging out of windows, shouting to their neighbors. Should our joy at being freed from the condemnation of sin be any less? We are no longer estranged or at war with our Creator. We are no longer under sentence of death, because Jesus has died our death for us. Hallelujah indeed!

Prayer: Our God in heaven, thank you that you did not remain there. You could have justly condemned us for our guilt, our devotion to idols, our constant self-seeking, self-absorbed, self-aggrandizing lives. But you did not. You came. Help us to be the “beautiful feet” who take the gospel to a world that desperately needs to hear that their long warfare has ceased and peace has come. Amen.

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