Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Lent Week #2 – March 4, 2007
Afterward the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, "Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great."
2But Abram replied, "O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don't even have a son? Since I don't have a son, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. 3You have given me no children, so one of my servants will have to be my heir."
4Then the Lord said to him, "No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own to inherit everything I am giving you." 5Then the Lord brought Abram outside beneath the night sky and told him, "Look up into the heavens and count the stars if you can. Your descendants will be like that—too many to count!" 6And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord declared him righteous because of his faith. 7Then the Lord told him, "I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land."
8But Abram replied, "O Sovereign Lord, how can I be sure that you will give it to me?"
9Then the Lord told him, "Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon." 10Abram took all these and killed them. He cut each one down the middle and laid the halves side by side. He did not, however, divide the birds in half. 11Some vultures came down to eat the carcasses, but Abram chased them away. 12That evening, as the sun was going down, Abram fell into a deep sleep. He saw a terrifying vision of darkness and horror.
As the sun went down and it became dark, Abram saw a smoking firepot and a flaming torch pass between the halves of the carcasses. 18So the Lord made a covenant with Abram that day and said, "I have given this land to your descendants, all the way from the border of Egypt to the great Euphrates River—
A psalm of David.
The Lord is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?
The Lord protects me from danger—
so why should I tremble?
2When evil people come to destroy me,
when my enemies and foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
3Though a mighty army surrounds me,
my heart will know no fear.
Even if they attack me,
I remain confident.
4The one thing I ask of the Lord—
the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
delighting in the Lord's perfections
and meditating in his Temple.
5For he will conceal me there when troubles come;
he will hide me in his sanctuary.
He will place me out of reach on a high rock.
6Then I will hold my head high,
above my enemies who surround me.
At his Tabernacle I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
singing and praising the Lord with music.
7Listen to my pleading, O Lord.
Be merciful and answer me!
8My heart has heard you say, "Come and talk with me."
And my heart responds, "Lord, I am coming."
9Do not hide yourself from me.
Do not reject your servant in anger.
You have always been my helper.
Don't leave me now; don't abandon me,
O God of my salvation!
10Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the Lord will hold me close.
11Teach me how to live, O Lord.
Lead me along the path of honesty,
for my enemies are waiting for me to fall.
12Do not let me fall into their hands.
For they accuse me of things I've never done
and breathe out violence against me.
13Yet I am confident that I will see the Lord's goodness
while I am here in the land of the living.
14Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.
Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. 18For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. 19Their future is eternal destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and all they think about is this life here on earth. 20But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. 21He will take these weak mortal bodies of ours and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same mighty power that he will use to conquer everything, everywhere.
4:1Dear brothers and sisters, I love you and long to see you, for you are my joy and the reward for my work. So please stay true to the Lord, my dear friends.
A few minutes later some Pharisees said to him, "Get out of here if you want to live, because Herod Antipas wants to kill you!"
32Jesus replied, "Go tell that fox that I will keep on casting out demons and doing miracles of healing today and tomorrow; and the third day I will accomplish my purpose. 33Yes, today, tomorrow, and the next day I must proceed on my way. For it wouldn't do for a prophet of God to be killed except in Jerusalem!
34"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God's messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn't let me. 35And now look, your house is left to you empty. And you will never see me again until you say, 'Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord!' "
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
But even as I think about that, I suppose that's part of the purpose of Lent in the first place. It's not supposed to be normal. It's supposed to push us beyond ourselves, to get us out of that "place of selfishness" as my friend Nathan says. If Lent were normal, it wouldn't be Lent!
So I guess I will simply try and let the Spirit prod me toward something this year...something that will help me to live in that place of uncomfortability. At least for 40 days!
Friday, February 16, 2007
"When you arrive in the land the Lord your God is giving you as a special possession and you have conquered it and settled there, 2put some of the first produce from each harvest into a basket and bring it to the place the Lord your God chooses for his name to be honored. 3Go to the priest in charge at that time and say to him, 'With this gift I acknowledge that the Lord your God has brought me into the land he swore to give our ancestors.' 4The priest will then take the basket from your hand and set it before the altar of the Lord your God. 5You must then say in the presence of the Lord your God, 'My ancestor Jacob was a wandering Aramean who went to live in Egypt. His family was few in number, but in Egypt they became a mighty and numerous nation. 6When the Egyptians mistreated and humiliated us by making us their slaves, 7we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors. He heard us and saw our hardship, toil, and oppression. 8So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with amazing power, overwhelming terror, and miraculous signs and wonders. 9He brought us to this place and gave us this land flowing with milk and honey! 10And now, O Lord, I have brought you a token of the first crops you have given me from the ground.' Then place the produce before the Lord your God and worship him. 11Afterward go and celebrate because of all the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your household. Remember to include the Levites and the foreigners living among you in the celebration.
For the choir director: A psalm of David.
The heavens tell of the glory of God.
The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship.
2Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.
Reverence for the Lord is pure,
The laws of the Lord are true;
each one is fair.
10They are more desirable than gold,
even the finest gold.
They are sweeter than honey,
even honey dripping from the comb.
11They are a warning to those who hear them;
there is great reward for those who obey them.
12How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
13Keep me from deliberate sins!
Don't let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt
and innocent of great sin.
14May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Salvation that comes from trusting Christ—which is the message we preach—is already within easy reach. In fact, the Scriptures say, "The message is close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart."
9For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. 11As the Scriptures tell us, "Anyone who believes in him will not be disappointed." 12Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They all have the same Lord, who generously gives his riches to all who ask for them. 13For "Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit to go out into the wilderness, 2where the Devil tempted him for forty days. He ate nothing all that time and was very hungry.
3Then the Devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, change this stone into a loaf of bread."
4But Jesus told him, "No! The Scriptures say, 'People need more than bread for their life.' "
5Then the Devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6The Devil told him, "I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them—because they are mine to give to anyone I please. 7I will give it all to you if you will bow down and worship me."
8Jesus replied, "The Scriptures say,
'You must worship the Lord your God;
serve only him.' "
9Then the Devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, "If you are the Son of God, jump off! 10For the Scriptures say,
'He orders his angels to protect and guard you.
11And they will hold you with their hands
to keep you from striking your foot on a stone.' "
12Jesus responded, "The Scriptures also say, 'Do not test the Lord your God.' "
13When the Devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.
Ash Wednesday – February 21, 2007
Blow the trumpet in Jerusalem! Sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let everyone tremble in fear because the day of the Lord is upon us. 2It is a day of darkness and gloom, a day of thick clouds and deep blackness. Suddenly, like dawn spreading across the mountains, a mighty army appears! How great and powerful they are! The likes of them have not been seen before and never will be seen again.
That is why the Lord says, "Turn to me now, while there is time! Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. 13Don't tear your clothing in your grief; instead, tear your hearts." Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful. He is not easily angered. He is filled with kindness and is eager not to punish you. 14Who knows? Perhaps even yet he will give you a reprieve, sending you a blessing instead of this terrible curse. Perhaps he will give you so much that you will be able to offer grain and wine to the Lord your God as before!
15Blow the trumpet in Jerusalem! Announce a time of fasting; call the people together for a solemn meeting. 16Bring everyone—the elders, the children, and even the babies. Call the bridegroom from his quarters and the bride from her private room. 17The priests, who minister in the Lord's presence, will stand between the people and the altar, weeping. Let them pray, "Spare your people, Lord! They belong to you, so don't let them become an object of mockery. Don't let their name become a proverb of unbelieving foreigners who say, 'Where is the God of Israel? He must be helpless!' "
For the choir director: A psalm of David, regarding the time Nathan the prophet came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
Have mercy on me, O God,
because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins.
2Wash me clean from my guilt.
Purify me from my sin.
3For I recognize my shameful deeds—
they haunt me day and night.
4Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
and your judgment against me is just.
5For I was born a sinner—
yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
6But you desire honesty from the heart,
so you can teach me to be wise in my inmost being.
7Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8Oh, give me back my joy again;
you have broken me—
now let me rejoice.
9Don't keep looking at my sins.
Remove the stain of my guilt.
10Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a right spirit within me.
11Do not banish me from your presence,
and don't take your Holy Spirit from me.
12Restore to me again the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.
13Then I will teach your ways to sinners,
and they will return to you.
14Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves;
then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.
15Unseal my lips, O Lord,
that I may praise you.
16You would not be pleased with sacrifices,
or I would bring them.
If I brought you a burnt offering,
you would not accept it.
17The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit.
A broken and repentant heart, O God,
you will not despise.
2 Cor. 5:20-6:10
We are Christ's ambassadors, and God is using us to speak to you. We urge you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, "Be reconciled to God!" 21For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
6:1As God's partners, we beg you not to reject this marvelous message of God's great kindness. 2For God says,
"At just the right time, I heard you.
On the day of salvation, I helped you."
Indeed, God is ready to help you right now. Today is the day of salvation.
3We try to live in such a way that no one will be hindered from finding the Lord by the way we act, and so no one can find fault with our ministry. 4In everything we do we try to show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. 5We have been beaten, been put in jail, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. 6We have proved ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, our sincere love, and the power of the Holy Spirit. 7We have faithfully preached the truth. God's power has been working in us. We have righteousness as our weapon, both to attack and to defend ourselves. 8We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. 9We are well known, but we are treated as unknown. We live close to death, but here we are, still alive. We have been beaten within an inch of our lives. 10Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.
"Take care! Don't do your good deeds publicly, to be admired, because then you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. 2When you give a gift to someone in need, don't shout about it as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I assure you, they have received all the reward they will ever get. 3But when you give to someone, don't tell your left hand what your right hand is doing. 4Give your gifts in secret, and your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.
5"And now about prayer. When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I assure you, that is all the reward they will ever get. 6But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father secretly. Then your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.
"And when you fast, don't make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, who try to look pale and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I assure you, that is the only reward they will ever get. 17But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. 18Then no one will suspect you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in secret. And your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.
19"Don't store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. 20Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. 21Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.
Thursday, February 8, 2007
- Alright friends, here we go. One of my goals with this blog is to use it as a community site for exegesis and sermon creation. The next series I have on the schedule is Lent. My aim is to try and preach on a different passage of scripture each week that is related to the topic of sacrifice. If the main purpose of Lent is to remind us of the beauty of sacrifice, and to ultimately point us to the sacrifice Christ was for us, then I want to basically look at a different snapshot each week surrounding that concept.
So here's what I am interested in:
- What passages of Scripture come to your mind related to sacrifice?
- Are there key ideas or concepts that we should be examining together as a community during this season?
- What kind of an overall series title should I use?
- Am I totally nuts? In other words, is it going to be too depressing to focus just on the issues of sacrifice for the whole series?
And here's the schedule:
- Feb. 21 - Ash Wednesday Service to kick the whole thing off.
- Feb. 25 - Lent Week 1
- March 4 - Lent Week 2
- March 11 - Lent Week 3
- March 18 - Lent Week 4
- March 25 - Lent Week 5
- April 1 - Palm Sunday
- April 8 - Easter
Finally, here's the beauty of this blogger thing. Before when I was emailing with all of you, we really weren't seeing one another's ideas. I just got individual feedback, which was fantastic. But what I hope happens with this blog is that we can react and respond to each other's comments and ideas. That way it will truly become the beauty and power of exegeativity! So comment away, and know that everything that is shared and said here is done with love and the concern for unleashing the power of God's transforming Word in our lives and in the lives of His people.
Yes, the dissertation has been approved, and my oral defense has been scheduled (March 6, 2007, 11 AM PST), so it looks like I am well on my way toward graduation. And since it's called commencement, I've decided it's time to start some new things - one being right here.
So welcome to the 21st Century world of blogging, Stephen, and enjoy the view!