Peter’s Unfinished Work

Scripture Focus: Revelation 3.1-3
1 I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent.

Isaiah 33.14-15
14 Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? 
Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?” 
15 Those who walk righteously 
and speak what is right…

Reflection: Peter’s Unfinished Work
By John Tillman

We have both grieved and celebrated over this past weekend. 

Pentecost Sunday closes the season of Easter. As one season ends, Pentecost marks the beginning of a new one. Pentecost is the end of Jesus powerfully leading his disciples and the beginning of Jesus empowering his church to lead. Pentecost is the end of the season of training and the beginning of the season of work. 

As evidenced by both the murder of George Floyd and some of the broken and tragic responses to it, the church has much work left to do. Surely Christ’s words to the church at Sardis apply to us today, “I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God.”

We have written consistently (because God’s Word speaks of it consistently) about the centrality to the gospel of destroying racism. There does not exist a gospel that ignores racism. Any “gospel” that does not confront racism is not the gospel. Pentecost testifies strongly to this as the Holy Spirit moved Peter to preach that what people were witnessing was the promised outpouring of God’s Spirit on “all flesh.” (Acts 2.17; Joel 2.28)

Peter went on to struggle throughout his ministry to overcome the racism that he was raised in. May we take up Peter’s unfinished work. Overcoming racism cannot be done by one sermon, one vision, one visit, one protest, or one condemnation. Opposing both individual and systemic racism is a lifetime of work that the Church cannot give up on. 

Ending racism was a Christian idea from the beginning and we are possessed of the only ideology that can do it—the gospel. When pastors and ministers address racial issues, they are not abandoning the gospel, they are speaking from its heart.

Pray this prayer this week, based on parts of Isaiah 33, asking that we may be the kind of people who work the justice of the Kingdom of God into our lives and communities.

Prayer for Justice
We long to dwell with you, Lord, our consuming fire.
Burn away our sinfulness and selfishness without which racism cannot stand.
Help us to be those who walk righteously 
and speak what is right.
Help us to reject gain from extortion and oppression 
Let us not passively participate in murder.
Let us not shut our eyes to deny evil, but shut our hearts to joining in it.
Let us be instruments of your peace.

*We forgo the Divine Hours prayers today replacing them with the above and focusing our prayers on ones for justice and peace, which must come before reconciliation and revival which we also pray for..

Today’s Readings
Isaiah 33 (Listen – 3:45) 
Revelation 3 (Listen – 3:53)

Read more about Putting To Death Racial Hostility
Our culture’s concept of human equality is based not in science, but in Christ. The wellspring of the concept of racial equality is the cross of Christ.

Read more about Slavery, Racism, and a Lone Christian Voice
Fifteen hundred years later, we are still fighting the anti-slavery, and anti-racism, and anti-oppression battles. We may be victorious yet, but it will take all of us to engage the battle.

The Endurance of Hope :: Love of Advent

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Scripture Focus: Revelation 3.11
I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have…

1 Thessalonians 1:3, 9b-10
We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

From John: As we continue in John’s apocalyptic book of Revelation, which speaks in dreams and visions about Christ’s second Advent, we conclude, with thanks to Jon Polk, this short series of reflections. They are based on Jon’s recent Advent sermon out of 1 Thessalonians. The Thessolonians were particularly concerned with questions of Christ’s Advent, and we have benefited from the lessons herein. Come Lord Jesus.

Reflection: The Endurance of Hope :: Love of Advent
By Jon Polk

Introduction: Advent is the season in which we anticipate and wait for Jesus’ return by remembering his first coming. Paul’s letters to the Thessalonian church are filled with references to Christ’s second coming, encouraging the believers to be actively waiting as they fully expected that Jesus would come back in their lifetime.  Paul commends their work of faith, labor of love and endurance of hope.

Hope is the conviction that God will complete his good work in us until the day of Christ’s return, but what does Paul mean by the “endurance of hope”? The expectation of the imminent return of Christ was commonplace among the early believers. They looked forward to that day and found their great hope in the second coming of Christ. Some 2000 years later, it can be difficult for us to live our lives with the same sort of hopeful expectation that Jesus’ return could happen at any moment. For Paul the basis of our hope is found in the resurrection, giving us confidence that Jesus will do just as he as promised. Enduring hope is not wishful thinking born from an unsure tomorrow but it is absolute certainty about our future with Christ and longing for that day to come!

Charles Wesley, younger brother of English preacher John Wesley, was a theologian himself and a prolific hymn writer. He captures this enduring hope and longing for the return of Christ in the familiar, yet simple Advent carol, Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. Wesley was influenced by the poor living conditions of the orphans in the areas of the city around him and was impacted by the stark class divisions in Great Britain in the mid-1700s. Expressing a longing and enduring hope for the return of Christ who would ultimately set things right, he penned these words.

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne

Wesley intended that celebrating Advent and Christmas would not only be a commemoration of the birth of Jesus, but also a preparation for the return of Jesus. This is the enduring hope for those who actively wait for the return of Christ, a hope intimately intertwined with the first coming of his birth.

Actively waiting for the return of Jesus is fueled by the endurance of hope. This Advent season, are you living with the endurance of hope, actively singing in your heart, “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus”? If not, what are you waiting for?

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for my hope has been in you. — Psalm 25.20

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Chronicles 13 (Listen -7:17) 
Revelation 3 (Listen -3:00)

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Read more about Love that Points to the Cross :: Love of Advent
All of Advent’s hope, points to the cross, where Advent’s love is demonstrated.

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