Sabbath Rest for the People of God

Day 306 Ezekiel 3:16-6:14, Hebrews 4, Psalm 104:24-35, Proverbs 26:27

Sabbath Rest for the People of God

Moses’ job was to lead the people of God from the bondage of slavery in Egypt to the Sabbath Rest of the Promised Land. The movement in creation was from chaos to Sabbath (Genesis 1). We are being called by Jesus out of an even greater chaotic bondage to sin but to an even greater Sabbath Rest in the Promised Land—“the mystic sweet communion with those whose rest is won.”(1) God is calling and inviting us to press into the divine fellowship of the Holy Trinity. As given to the people of old, the warning for us now is to renounce an “evil, unbelieving heart.” God is described throughout the book of Hebrews as “the living God.” He is not a religious idol or a concept or philosophy. God is alive, speaking to us, calling to us, and inviting us into a personal relationship with the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit. The people of God of old failed where we can succeed! They hardened their hearts to the promise in the very moment God was purposing to bless them. We are still hearing His voice today. The Living God is speaking through His Word and Spirit. Take your lesson from the people of old and press into the Sabbath Rest of God. So long as it is Today, encourage one another to stay tender-hearted toward the Lord. In this way, we come to “share in Christ”. The King James Version says we have become “partakers of Christ”! What is the ultimate Sabbath Rest for the People of God? It is a resting from our labor in Christ. As we come into the presence of the living God in a worship service, we are being addressed by the Holy Spirit through the liturgy of the Word to press into communion. The aim is that we would be willing to be led into the throne room of Lord Sabbath—The Living God who has rested from His creative work and is beckoning us to join Him. Today, are we responsive to the call? Or are the occupations and distractions of this world preventing us from truly engaging with the Holy? The Rev. Charlie Holt The Church of St. John the Divine Houston, TX (1) - Samuel John Stone, Hymn, "The Church's One Foundation"

Bless the Lord, O My Soul!

Day 305 Ezekiel 1:1-3:15; Hebrews 3:1-19; Psalm 104:1-23; Proverbs 26:24-26

Bless the Lord, O My Soul!

Psalm 103 ends with the command, “Praise the Lord for all his works everywhere in his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul!” Psalm 104 picks up from there and gives us, in absolutely beautiful poetic description, why we are to bless the Lord in His creation. The poet who wrote this psalm brings into play the Creation, the story of Noah, and of Job. Each “day” of the Creation is to be blessed. We are to be thankful for all God has created. But, not only has God created the earth, He maintains it. The psalm talks of the flood and how the waters covered the mountains, and yet God directed the water to recede into the valleys where it gives drink to the beasts, causes the grass to grow to feed the cattle, and allows man to cultivate the soil and grow plants. The psalm brings to mind the discourse between God and Job. Man is reminded that God is sovereign, and we can’t always understand His ways but must always remember that He is in control and submit to Him. John Maxwell in his Leadership Bible writes:
“The earth belongs to the Lord, not to humankind. Therefore leaders should never act as if they own the place. While we can feel confident of our mission, we must remember we are stewards, not owners. We simply manage what He has established, based on His values and vision.”
Many, many years ago I was driving through the mountains in North Carolina, and my son Kevin, who was about six at the time, looked out the window of our car at the beautiful vista in front of us and said to me, “Daddy this is God’s world, He only lets us use it.” The wisdom of a child! I then understood what Jesus meant when He described the Kingdom and said we need to be like children. The Rev. Ed Bartle St. Edward’s Episcopal Church Mount Dora, FL

Bless the Lord

Day 304 Lamentations 4:1-5:22; Hebrews 2:1-18; Psalm 103:1-22; Proverbs 26:23

Bless the Lord

"Bless the Lord, O my soul: And all that is within me, bless His holy name!" - Psalm 103:1
How can this psalm be read without bursting out in joyful smiles and songs and dancing? The psalm tells us that the Lord forgives all our sins, heals all our diseases, redeems us from destruction, and crowns us with loving-kindness and tender mercies. Let’s dance! The psalm goes on to assure us that there will be reprimands for our constant disobedience and rebellion. Yet God does not deal with us–His children–according to our sins. (Thanks be to God!) He has not punished us according to the misdeeds we have committed for “His mercy is as high as the heavens above the earth for those who honor and seek Him.” It tells us that He has removed our transgressions as far as the east is from the west. Because He knows how vulnerable and delicately we are made. When we repent, when we turn away from our wrongdoing, He looks at it no more. We know that God loves all of His creation; after each day, He proclaimed it Good. And then, those created in His own image exercised their free will and brought sin into His perfect creation. In Hebrews 2, we are told that Jesus, through His sacrifice and by God’s gracious will, redeemed us from the grip of death. (Dance time again!) The Creeds of the church affirm Jesus in His incarnation as “Fully God and Fully man.” By being fully man and by being tempted in every way that we have ever been tempted, and yet not giving into sin, our Lord was able to “taste death and thereby break the power of him who had death at his command” (v. 14-15), so that we are be able to claim God’s mercy and total forgiveness. Bless the Lord O my soul… Let’s dance! Karin Cochran Church of the Incarnation Oviedo, FL

Knowing Where to Turn

Day 303 Lamentations 2:20-3:66; Hebrews 1:1-14; Psalm 102:1-28; Proverbs 26:21-22

Knowing Where to Turn

The Book of the Lamentations of Jeremiah is not as well known as many of the Hebrew Scriptures, and yet it contains some of the most troubling and the most comforting passages in the Bible. The prophet minces no words in holding the Lord responsible, not only for the downfall of His chosen people Israel, but for Jeremiah’s own downfall as well. He accuses the Lord not just of acting out of anger, but of premeditated action and conspiracy with the enemy to cause, as we would say today, mass destruction. Many of the descriptions in these verses are used later in reference to the sufferings of Jesus during His Passion. Passages like these are often held up by those seeking to discredit the God of our Judeo-Christian tradition as “proof” that God is as capricious as the deities of Greek or Roman mythology – not loving, not even looking out for our best interests, and certainly not to be trusted or loved in return. So it might seem ironic that Jeremiah, after pointing a blaming finger at God for everything leading to the Exile, expresses his faith that:
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."
It reminds me of my young daughter, angry with Daddy for some reason, running up and beating her little fists against my stomach (as high as she could reach). I just let her do it until she tired herself out, then picked her up and hugged her. That was usually all it took. Jeremiah knew exactly where to turn. God is big enough to receive our rants. What we have to remember is always to turn toward him in our anger, grief, or frustration, rather than turning away – remembering that the Lord is our portion, and that His steadfast love never ceases. Thanks be to God! The Rev’d Dr. Steve Clifton Christ the King Orlando, FL