Posts tagged ‘Zechariah’

December 27, 2012

New Year: The Yearnings of a Son for His Father

by Perryn Pettus

by David H. Kim

About David: David is the Executive Director of the Center for Faith & Work (CFW) and Pastor of Faith and Work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. Prior to joining CFW in 2007, David was a Chaplain at Princeton University, where he also served as the Executive Director of Manna Christian Fellowship. He received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, his M.Div. from Westminster Seminary, his Th.M. from Princeton Seminary, and is currently a D.Min. candidate at Fuller Seminary. He and his wife, Jane, are expecting their first child in January and live near Bryant Park. For more about CFW, see here.

Highlighted Text: John 17:1-5
M’Cheyne TextZechariah 14; John 17

Intimacy: “Father, the time has come” [1].  In John 17 , John gives us  a rare window into Jesus’s own relationship with his Father. Like a little boy with unmitigated admiration of his father, Jesus delights in his Father and yearns to be with him. There is a profound bond between them that we can never fully comprehend, but we can begin to discern its depth through the obedience of Christ in sacrificing this intimacy.

Sacrifice: “Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began” [2]. Here, Jesus revealed something that we may have overlooked during Advent.   As we celebrated the birth of Christ , we may have overlooked that Jesus’s incarnation meant a forfeiture of his glory. Jesus yearned to be reunited with the fullness of the glory that he once shared with the Father.  It is hard enough for us to give up small inconveniences, but what would motivate someone to give up the fullness of his own glory?

Glory: “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do” [3]. Jesus’s love of the Father’s glory was his motivation to sacrifice his glory. He was willing to give up his own glory so that he could glorify his Father by completing the work that was set before him. Jesus suffered in his birth and death so that we might know the Father and the Son and share in their glory!  What brings the Father glory is when redeemed sinners are brought into the very glory shared between the Father and the Son. There is no other way to respond than with worship, admiration and gratitude for who God is and what he has done. As John exclaimed, “Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us. That we should be called Sons of God!” [4].

Prayer: Father, We are moved when we see the intimacy, sacrifice and glory of your Son! The purity of his desires and the fortitude of his resolve to bring you glory expose our tainted motives and unworthiness. Yet you do not reveal this prayer to condemn us, but to welcome us into your fellowship. As we reflect upon this year, let our deepest yearnings be for you and the glory of that is rightly due to you–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] John 17:1  |  [2] John 17:5  |  [3] John 17:4  |  [4] 1 John 3:1

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December 26, 2012

New Year: Waiting on the Spirit

by Perryn Pettus

by David Haberer

About David: David is the pastor of the Church for All Nations in Midtown Manhattan. After studying at the School of Visual Arts, David attended Alliance Theological Seminary. One thing David loves about his ministry in the city is hosting a monthly gathering of independent musicians at a gathering called The Stoop. For more, see here.

Highlighted Text: John 16:13
M’Cheyne TextZechariah 13:2-9; John 16

We are a people who look for instant gratification.  With the ability to receive e-mails and phone calls wherever we are, with the constant availability that social networks afford us, we have learned to expect a response to our every need immediately.  Our 24-hour news cycle brings information to the moment it happens. The moment a new product hits the market, we rush to wait on line to be the first to own one. To quote Jim Morrison of The Doors, “We want the world and we want it now!”

Our journey with Jesus unfolds over time.  Encounter-struggle (growth)-reward. It is in the struggles of life that we grow.  We are called to a walk of faith. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” [1]. Faith remains confident in the promises of God that as of yet, because of the unfolding of our experience, have not yet been made tangible.

Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will keep us and lead us as we move toward him in hope of his sure return: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” [2]. Uncertainty is anathema to our culture. Fear of the unknown, the what if, causes us to seek control of every aspect of our lives.  Faith, on the other hand, casts it cares upon Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.  Jesus tells us ahead of time that life will not always be smooth.  He has prepared us for the wait.  His promise is sure.  Because he kept his promise to enter the world as our savior, we are sure of his return.  We can trust him.

Lord, In this time of uncertainty, a time when we desire to control every part of our lives, we are more than aware that much is outside of our control.  Help us to cast our cares upon you, knowing that the only thing that is truly sure is your promise that you will sustain us until you come again and receive us unto yourself.  Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Hebrews 11:1  |  [2] John 16:13

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December 24, 2012

Advent: The End of Longing

by Perryn Pettus

by Eric Metaxas

About Eric: Eric is the author of the NYT #1 Bestseller Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery, and his new book is No Pressure, Mr. President!  (The Power of True Belief in a Time of Crisis: The National Prayer Breakfast). He was the keynote speaker at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast, is currently the voice of BreakPoint and is the host of Socrates in the City. He has written for Veggie Tales, Chuck Colson, The New York Times, and The Yale Record at Yale University, where he attended college. He and his wife Susanne live with their daughter in Manhattan, where they attend Calvary/St. George’s Episcopal Church. For more, see here.

Highlightext Text: John 14:5-14
M’Cheyne TextZechariah 11; John 14

“Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’ Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” – John 14:5-14

Advent is when we await the coming of Jesus.  The God of the universe is coming to us from beyond space and time.  But Advent reminds us that just as he came 2,000 years ago, he is coming again.  Really.  Do we sincerely believe that?  Do we know it?  Our culture seems to like the idea of uncertainty.  A friend of mine told me about being at a U2 concert, where 80,000 people sang,  “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for!” at the top of their lungs, with a kind of Pentecostal fervor.  We love questions, but answers can make us uncomfortable.  We think there’s something cool about doubt and questions.  We identify with Thomas, who asks “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

But Jesus won’t have any of this.  He declares:  “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the father but through me.”  Wow.  Can we accept such specificity and clarity — that Jesus dares to say that he himself is truth and life?   There’s something to be said for doubt and questioning, but at some point it’s important to find solid answers, even if we still have some questions.

On December 24th, we are on the verge of the Answer of answers.  Longing is long, but it is not forever.  Not someday, but tomorrow — in a few hours — we come to the end of longing.  Jesus leaves eternity and arrives into the mud and blood of human history and time. The eternal question mark of the human race is straightened into a finite exclamation point.   Labor ends; the baby inhales.

In John 14, Jesus says to his disciples: “Don’t you know me, even after I have been among you such a long time?”  There is impatience there.  Jesus desperately wants us not to long forever, but finally to know who he is.  He wants us to know that he is God become man, born into our broken world to restore it, and that he will come again.  Unless we get that, we can’t be part of that restoration — and to be a part of it is exactly why we were born.  Lord, give us the strength to put aside our questions and to accept you fully, in all of your reality and power and glory, knowing that you long to bless us with that full knowledge of who you are, not just for our sake, but for the sake of those who don’t yet know.  Thank you for inviting us be a part of your glorious plan to restore this broken world. 

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December 21, 2012

Advent: Do You Believe This?

by Perryn Pettus

by Tim Cooper

About Tim: Tim is planting Christ Central Church in Harlem. He and his wife, Yukari, are expecting a son in January. Tim blogs regularly here.

Highlighted Text: John 11:25-26
M’Cheyne TextZechariah 8; John 11

I recently made the trip from Harlem to Fort Greene, Brooklyn, for a funeral. A friend’s daughter had died. As I stood with him in front of the church, he asked me a simple question, “Have you ever been angry at God?”

“Sure,” I said without hesitation. “I’ve often been angry at God.” Our mutual confession of puzzlement and anger led to a time of comfort and encouragement.

Have you ever been angry at God? If you have or if you are today, let me ask you a question, “Do you believe?”

In John 11, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. Upon his arrival at Lazarus’s home, Martha, Lazarus’s sister, says, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask” [1]. Perhaps she wondered why Jesus took so long to arrive. Perhaps she was puzzled by God’s inscrutable ways.

Jesus responds to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life”. Then he goes on to make a startling claim: “The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” Finally, he challenges her directly, “Do you believe this?” [2]

What has died in your life? What dream for the kingdom of God has withered under the glare of frustration, cynicism and unbelief? Jesus is the resurrection and the life!

Anyone who believes in him will never die. Don’t give up on God. If you are alive today because of Jesus, you (and your dreams) will never die. Do you believe this?

Jesus is victor! His cross conquers death. His Spirit renews our unbelieving hearts. He came into this world to bring dead things to life.

As we leaned against the faded wall of that old church, the funeral service for my friend’s daughter began. Summoning all the emotional strength we had, we climbed the stairs and sat in the upper gallery. As the music swelled and people testified about her life, Jesus’s words came to mind: “Whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” I ask you the same question I asked myself that day, “Do you believe this?”

“Oh Father, help us to believe the words of your Son. He is our life and our resurrection. Teach us to truly believe today, so we can …”

Be Encouraged.

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Footnotes

[1] John 11:21-22  |  [2] John 11:25-26

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December 20, 2012

Advent: The God Who Suffers for Fools

by Perryn Pettus

by John Starke

About John: John is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and the lead pastor of All Souls Church on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He and his wife, Jena, along with their almost four kids (they are expecting in February) live on the Upper West Side, where they enjoy reading P.G. Wodehouse out loud to each other and belly-laughing. John is the co-editor with Bruce A. Ware of the forthcoming book, One God in Three Person: Upholding the Trinity’s Unity of Essence and Distinction of Persons. For more about All Souls, see here. For more about John, see here.

Highlighted Text: John 10:12-15
M’Cheyne TextZechariah 7; John 10

Text: “He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” John 10:12-15

A World that Suffers No Fools. 

Marlon Brando once lost a severe amount of weight for a movie role, which left him sick and hospitalized. When asked why he would go to such lengths, he said, “Some things are worth dying for.” Sadly, Brando ended up getting cut from the cast because he was too short. What Brando was willing to suffer for wasn’t willing to suffer him.

The things we give our life to — work, money, degrees, even family — are often very unforgiving. Though we would die for them, rarely would they return the favor. And who can blame them? For rarely would anyone die for even a righteous man.

A God Who Suffers for Fools. 

But Jesus is different. He is the good Shepherd because he’s willing to suffer and die for the sheep.

But there’s more. Wolves are not interested in shepherds; they’re interested in devouring sheep. And that’s the miracle of Christmas. That the good Shepherd became a lamb for slaughter. That he went to the wolves for us.

God not only suffers fools; he also suffers for them.

A World Where God Sends His Fools. 

The same Shepherd who goes to the wolves for us turns around and sends us “as lambs in the midst of wolves” [1]. There may not be holiday songs celebrating that truth, but a common theme in John is that, as the Father sends the Son, so the Son sends us — his sheep. Not the most comforting thoughts at first. However, it is comforting when you know that the Shepherd who sends you into the wolves, has already been slaughtered for you. So even if the wolves show their teeth, their teeth can never have the last say on you. The worst of their bite was exhausted on our Shepherd. Now, we can boldly go into the wolves, hoping to see some turn into lambs.

Prayer. 

Father, Guard us from putting our trust in idols and false saviors. For your enemies are wolves that seek to devour us. They can neither save nor be good to us. Help us, therefore, to trust in you, who raised Jesus, the great shepherd, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equipping us with everything good to do your will. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Matthew 10:16

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