Re:Verse reading–Romans 3:21-31 (day three)

“We uphold the law.”  The law of God sums up, in terms human minds can understand, the way the universe actually works, physically and spiritually.   The universe still works in the same way, and the law is still God’s word about those workings, Paul says.  It has not stopped being true.  It enabled the formation of a people–the nation of Israel–but the law was never going to be scalable to the kind of future God designed for the human race.  Through Christ, who came from that nation, God subjected himself to his own law–and lived where all others would have died.  God spoke to Israel through his law, and it is the truth.  God has now spoken to Israel and to the whole world through Jesus Christ, and he is the truth.  Hear him.  Believe him.


Re:Verse reading–Romans 1:18-32 (day three)

“…being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” The mind is capable, Paul declares, of figuring out that the universe had a beginning, because physical existence is non-self-creating. Therefore, a non-physical force must be responsible for that beginning. A non-physical force is, by definition, spiritual. Any critical examination of that reality will yield the realization–the revelation, if you will–that God exists, that God is the Creator, and that God has set the universe to function in one particular way. The mind can connect these dots. There is no validity, then, for us to claim that we could not possibly have known of God. The question is, now that we know, what are we going to do?


Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:17-18 (day three)

“Pray for us.”

There is nothing better that church leaders can ask of their congregations.  The request for prayer places leaders in the posture of humility and honesty before the people, and it acknowledges limitations that only God can help leaders go beyond.  And there is nothing better that congregations can do than to pray for their leaders.  Such prayer reminds congregations that the church will represent God’s kingdom to a world that’s afraid no one is running the universe.


Re: Verse reading–Exodus 20:13-17; Leviticus 19:16-18; Zechariah 7:8-10; Matthew 5:13-16 (day three)

“I am the Lord.”  If God is in fact the Lord, then you are not.  That’s more than an exercise in basic logic.  It’s a statement of your place in this universe under God.  Paul reveals that we will each stand before the judgment seat of Christ.  Jesus says that time of standing before the Lord will take into account the way that we have lived with one another: “What you have done to the least of these, you have done to me.”  Therefore, each moment that we encounter our neighbor is a moment that we encounter the Lord.  It is a moment in which he reminds us: I am the Lord.  If you’re not ready to stand before your neighbor, you won’t be ready to stand before God.


Re: Verse reading–Exodus 39:32, 42-43; 40:1-2, 16-17, 32-38 (day three)

“…in the sight of all the house of Israel”  God acted within view of all Israel.  Indeed, Paul tells us that in creating the material universe, God has acted in full view of the entire human race.  Take issue with God, run from him, tell of your anger towards him, choose not to follow his commands—but don’t claim that he cannot be found.  Don’t assert that his presence can’t be known.  Don’t state that his existence is unlikely.   We don’t get to bend reality to our ideas.  If you would follow your own desires instead of God’s direction, then at least declare your intentions to God himself.  Have that serious conversation.  If you do, you can find the way towards saving grace when your will leads you to a dead end.


Re: Verse reading–Exodus 32:1-19, 30-33; 33:12-17; 34:1-7 (day three)

“His anger burned…”  Moses saw the Israelites living the life they had learned over the last four centuries in Egypt: If your God is bigger than your own desires, your God is too big.  Moses knew that to give up on God is to give up on reality, and death follows soon thereafter.  Egypt itself was already dead; God had shattered that culture and taken the children of Israel out into the wilderness to rebuild a new culture powered by a new worldview—one based in reality, not in false perceptions of the universe.  Now, the children of Israel had returned to a dead culture in all but geography.  Moses’s anger called them back.  They listened, and they returned.  Are there Christian mentors or elders or leaders in your life tablet-smashingly troubled over your spiritual direction?  Are you listening?


Re: Verse reading–Exodus 3:1-14; 4:1-15  (day three)

“I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.”  If the universe had a beginning, something other than the universe must necessarily exist in order to have made that beginning possible.  And that “something other” must necessarily have the ability to decide to initiate the universe.  That ability is called will, which means the “something other” is a personal being.  If you’ll believe it, the Bible reveals the personal being is God.  There is nothing that inherently prevents the spiritual realm from continuing to interact with the physical realm.  God interacts with the world.  Regularly.  Moses saw it, paid attention, acted, led a people out of slavery, and built a nation from which came Jesus Christ.  God acts in history now.  The Bible tells you specifically how this goes.  So read.  Heed.  Act accordingly.

With Us

Sixteenth Day of Advent

Isaiah 7:10-14 (ESV)
“Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” And Isaiah said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”

Listen! A conversation at the far end of the water conduit: Arrogant king; Obedient prophet; Almighty Lord God.

God’s bidding: “Ask for a sign – no boundaries!” Ah, but that means deferring to HIM in submission, trust. So, in false humility (disobedience), Ahaz refuses. Isaiah waits… even he feels the affront to The Almighty: “You weary my God!”

What happens next shakes the universe, deep as sheol… high as heaven…

A child. A name. Immanuel. “God With us” Did the angels gasp? “I am coming… to be ‘with’ you.”

Yes, God would come. Creator taking on the confines of the created, to be “with” in a way never before known.

Face to face. Skin to skin. Rubbing shoulders with all that His Nature abhors. Perceiving the torrent of emotions that inundates our senses, threatening to sweep us away.

In desperate moments I have cried out, “I want only you, God.” He whispers: “Immanuel, dear child.” “With me!” A verity that fills my deepest longing and sways me to Him in submission and trust.

The babe in the manger? His identity, God with us, must shake our personal worlds daily. If it does not, perhaps, we “weary our God.”

Susan Kaminski

Re: Verse reading – John 6:25-51


Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 4:1-16 (day three)
“Then we will no longer be infants.”  Our destiny is to live with one another as fully capable human beings in a good universe sustained by the living God.  If we refuse to live with one another now, though, we will not progress beyond infancy of character.  The Bible talks of a future of reigning with God, but without maturity, that will never happen.  And without one another, maturity will not take hold.  All of the characteristics of a godly life are characteristics that take shape only in community: We can’t love in isolation; we can’t exercise patience without someone to wait on; we can’t live humbly alone; we can’t bear another’s burden when no one is around.  It is no wonder that the second-greatest command after the love of God is the love of neighbor as oneself.  Our future depends on it.


Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 3 (Day Three) 
“Through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.”  The church will reveal God’s wisdom to the entire universe only as it loves.  Here’s Francis Schaeffer: “The final apologetic which Jesus gives is the observable love of true Christians for true Christians.”  And what is love?  It is to will the good for another.  How do we learn to do that?  We get to know Jesus, observing how he did that, and letting his life become ours.  Will we love?  It’s the only way the gospel will make its way into the hearts of men.