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nChrist
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« Reply #270 on: December 23, 2006, 02:50:35 AM »

December 24

Laodicea:  Those Whom I Love
Rev_3:19

Let us be clear about our words.  Love does not mean the muddle headed feeling of thirteen year old girls who have discovered boys for the first time (even less the reciprocal expression in the boys).  It is not mush and sentiment.

Love is a two edged sword:

Love wants whatever is best for the beloved.

Love wants this at whatever cost to the lover—even the cost of seeing the beloved suffer.

Therefore, Christ does not hesitate to take these lukewarm Christians to task most sternly.  It is of no benefit to them to continue being lukewarm until they are intolerable, and cast into hell itself.  He tells them what he will do:

First, he will rebuke them.  How?  No doubt by sending men to them who will preach the Gospel in all its fire and strength.  Some will see these as "overzealous."  But it is just this half-hearted love that he is trying to fan into the flames of zeal.

Then, he will discipline them.  Discipline is for those we love.  It produces good results.  It turns the good athlete into a better athlete;  it turns the lukewarm Christian into one who is on fire for the Lord.

So what should we do when faced with the Lord's rebuke and discipline?  Most of us react by whining and complaining.  Listen to the right method:

We are to be earnest—the word can also be translated zealous—for the Lord.  In other words, take this seriously!  If your main reaction to the rebuke of the Lord in the preacher's sermon is to go up afterwards and say, "Fine sermon, reverend," you've missed the point.

We are to repent.  The word means to change direction.  We need to make changes in our lives to show God—and ourselves—that we really mean it.

Does the church you attend seem to be a nice, pleasant place—but you'd have real trouble imagining any of the great saints of the past staying there very long?

Just a little too bland for them?  More emphasis on the potato salad at the church picnic than reaching the lost?  Higher priority on the right hymnals than on righteous action?  Just remember the old saint's prayer:  "Reform thy world, O Lord—beginning with me."

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« Reply #271 on: December 23, 2006, 02:53:27 AM »

December 25

At The Door
Rev_3:20-22

Jesus Christ is the ultimate gentleman.

Despite all power and authority being given to him, he does not impose on the sinner.  Love never uses force to gain its end.  The gentleman waits at the door.

Waits—and patiently, too.  As a man waits patiently for his lover, so Christ waits for his bride.

But he knocks—as if to wake the sleeper, or, in this case, the lukewarm.  He is neither shy nor demanding.

Like those of us who answer the door with, "Who is it?" - his people are listening for one thing:  his voice.  As he said of his sheep, they hear his voice, they follow it.  It is the sign of those who know the real thing.

What does the Son Of Man at the door want?  He wants to come in—and join the party.  As he did for Zacchaeus, he wants to be the life of the party, the eternal life.  See the first sign of equality with Christ:  he will eat with us—but we will also eat with him.

The overcomers

We see here the magnificent promise of our Lord:  we will be like Jesus.  In particular, we will be like him in that we will reign with him.  Just as he reigns with his Father, we shall reign with him.  St. Paul tells us that we will judge the world.

What is amazing about this:  this is what is promised to a church which is lukewarm!  If you are in the lukewarm church, and you overcome that and hear your master's voice, letting him in—you will reign with him.

The most terrible word

But all this is preceded by the most terrible word in the English language:  "If."  All these magnificent things—and all the terrible things—are preceded with the word, "If."  The matter is in our hands.  Christ has told us the consequences, both good and bad.  The choice, however, is ours.

More importantly, the choice in the lukewarm church is one which is very difficult.  Though the consequences are clear, the sheep are still getting along and going along—lukewarm.  If you are in a Laodicean church, the ridicule of those in the church for those on fire is smothering.  Keep your eye on the prize;  let nothing distract you.  Hear his knock, and let Him in.

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« Reply #272 on: December 31, 2006, 09:37:22 PM »

December 26

I Come Like A Thief
Rev_16:15

One of the most boring of assignments in the military is guard duty.  The duty is so boring that one is usually assigned two hours on with four hours off.  The principle is that you might keep watch for two hours, but not much longer.

Our Lord understands that.  He also knows that it's difficult to maintain a watch over a lifetime—and longer.  It has been almost two thousand years since he told us he would return.  The watch for his return continues.

It would be much easier if we knew when he was to return.  Despite our Lord's warnings that no one knows that hour, it is not uncommon to find someone proclaiming that he has it figured out.  But our Lord tells us:

You won't know.  You may think you've done the mathematics correctly, but you won't know the time.

But you should know the season.  You should be able to look around and see the signs.

Signs or not, it's going to happen.  He is going to return.

So, like the soldier on guard duty, we must remain awake.  How does one remain awake, spiritually?

By our continuing study of the Scripture.

By our continuing prayer.

By our continuing worship.

But we are also told to keep our clothes on.  The key to understanding this is found in Revelation 19:8, where we are told that fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints.  So, "keep your clothes on" really means to continue to do the good works to be expected of a solid Christian.

In three years of military service, nothing ever happened while I was on guard duty.  The weather blessed me with rain and freezing cold;  the experience was the essence of boredom.  In basic training I carried a baseball bat.  But after that, I walked every step with a loaded weapon—the sign that this was serious business.

Our watch for our Lord is serious  business too.  If you are a mature Christian, you are out of basic training.  The weapon is loaded.  Take your spiritual life seriously.  Keep yourself in prayer; in study; in worship.  Continue to do the works that Christ has commanded.  Then, when He returns, you will hear the "Well Done" of your Lord.

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« Reply #273 on: December 31, 2006, 09:39:02 PM »

December 27

Blessed is He
Rev_22:7

In this one verse we see so much:  "Blessed is he who keeps the words of prophecy in this book."

Keep

The operative verb is "keep."  In the original language, it can also be translated "guard."  It means to guard in the military sense, to keep watch over—to protect.  There is no sense here of just hanging on to something, knowing where you put it in the garage.  We are to protect the words.  At the very least it means to preserve the words and meaning accurately.  But it means more than that.

Words

The Greek is familiar here: "logos."  It is the word that the Apostle John uses for Christ himself, the divine Word who became flesh.  So we must understand that this means not just the literal words but the true meaning of those words.

Prophecy

Prophecy carries two meanings:  foretelling (what is to come) and forthtelling (a warning to those who hear.)

Foretelling—the key messages of this prophecy are the return of our Lord, the Judgment and the reward of the saints.  We may argue just what the symbolism means, but the return of our Lord is sure.  Judgment—the sorting out of the evil and the good, the sheep and the goats—comes with this.  And all the promises of reward are in this too.

Forthtelling is the logical consequence of these prophecies.  If there is heaven to gain and hell to shun, it is cruel to keep the perishing in ignorance.

So we need to put it all together:

Keep—not just store, but protect, all through our lives.

Words—not our opinions, but the revealed word of God.

Prophecy—the events prophesied and the consequences of ignoring them.

In the words of the great sports prophet, Yogi Berra, "It ain't over `til it's over."  And it ain't over.  So we need to continue to keep the words of prophecy given to us by our Lord.

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« Reply #274 on: December 31, 2006, 09:41:04 PM »

December 28

Reward
Rev_22:12

Nothing so bedevils the manager so much as the question of reward.  So often it seems that what should be a recognition of a job well done turns into a cause of discontent.  Why?

Often, it is because the manager is told he must give an award to the entire team—but not recognize individual contributions.  Our Lord makes it clear in this passage that his reward is very specific to us.

Usually, one limit is that there is only so much reward to go around.  Not with the Lord of the Universe, who created all things!  His resources cannot be exhausted.

Frequently, managers are reluctant to reward just on appearances because they don't know all the facts.  But our Lord knows all things—and he knows what you have done for the kingdom.

Rewards in business are often "one size fits all."  You either get one or you don't.  But our Lord promises his rewards on the basis of who you are and what you have done.

So how should we be rewarded?

Fairness—we want our reward to be fair.  Who better to deliver a fair reward than the Lord who is righteousness itself?

Proportion—we want our reward to be in proportion to our effort.  Our Lord does better than this:  our reward will be well out of proportion—much better!

By opportunity—we want people to take account of the opportunities we had in life.  What about the talent I didn't get, or the rich parents?  Only our Lord could know these things and bring our reward fairly.

By individual — we want our reward to be ours.  Who better to determine this that the one who knows us best?

Our Lord knows that we are motivated by the promise of reward.  He does all things well;  he will do this well.  When He returns, you will be rewarded as you deserve — well, or not so well.  This will happen — but only once.  The reward you earn depends upon what you do for the kingdom in this life.  It's a manager's dream — but a sinner's nightmare.

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« Reply #275 on: December 31, 2006, 09:42:37 PM »

December 29

Alpha and Omega
Rev_22:13

One of the great difficulties in teaching mathematics is the concept of infinity.  Let's take a look at it.

Suppose we own the Infinite Hotel—the one with an infinite number of hotel rooms.  Tonight, a traveler arrives and asks for a room.  But the hotel is full!

That's not a problem for the Infinite Hotel;  we just move the man in Room 2 into Room 3; Room 3 into Room 4, and so on.  Now Room 1 is open;  we put our traveler there.

The next night we get more guests.  An infinite number of new guests!  But this isn't a problem either;  we just move the man in Room 1 into Room 2;  Room 2 into Room 4;  and so on—just double the original room number.  Now all the odd numbered rooms are open again!  We can accommodate that infinite number of guests.

Confused yet?

Now you begin to understand the difficulty in explaining who God really is.  Three times Christ repeats the point:

Alpha and Omega—the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.  We might say "A and Z".

The First and the Last—nothing before me, nothing after me.

The Beginning and the End—indeed, the idea of "Before God" makes no sense;  "After God" doesn't either.

So when small children ask, "When was God born?", we can smile and say, "A long time ago."  The question sounds logical but actually makes no sense.  Before "I AM," existence doesn't exist.

Why does Christ emphasize the point here?  Because he has just laid out for the Apostle John the incredible vision of the New Jerusalem—a new heaven, a new earth.  It is something so fantastic that it seems beyond comprehension—like the Infinite Hotel.  If I came up with such a story, you'd smile gently—and call the authorities quickly.  So our Lord reminds John just who told him what is to come:  the one who created all things in the first place.  The one from whom everything that exists borrows the meaning of existence.  It is upon this authority—the ultimate authority—that we have this account.  He who created all is righteous.  He said it;  it will be done.  No other possibility exists.

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« Reply #276 on: December 31, 2006, 09:44:06 PM »

December 30

Wash Their Robes
Rev_22:14-15

It is fitting that the close of Scripture should sum it all up.  Here's the first half the summary:  those who are evil, lose.  Those who accept forgiveness, are blessed.  In short, God wins.

Let's take a look at the losers:

Dogs—not the canines, of course.  There are two possible meanings.  One is those who enforce the Jewish Law on Christians.  Another dates from that Law;  it means a male prostitute.

Magic arts—those who seek the easy path to spiritual truth.  These are those who seek a god who can be commanded, not a God who commands.

Sexually immoral—let's be explicit here.  We're talking about those who have sex outside marriage.  It even includes those who dispose of one wife to pick up a newer model.

Murderers—someone might want to mention this one to the abortion industry.

Idolaters—those who worship anything above God—whether that's a totem pole, money, prestige—whatever.

Those who love falsehood—the people who would rather lie to you;  those who manipulate people.

Now you know the losers.  The important question is, how do I become a winner?  Those who "wash their robes"—those who accept the forgiveness offered on the basis of Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross.

That's it?  That's all?  Yes, that's all—for nothing else will do.  Only the perfect sacrifice;  only our acceptance of that sacrifice—which means there is nothing we can do to earn salvation.

And what a salvation!

Tree of life—taken from the Garden of Eden, it means the tree which gives biological life.  This is life eternal.

Through the gates—which means that we will be citizens of that city.  Not second class; not aliens or strangers, but citizens—those who belong there.

The God who is Love itself has spoken.  Here is his summary of how he will divide the people of the world.

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« Reply #277 on: December 31, 2006, 09:45:38 PM »

December 31

Coming Soon
Rev_22:16-20

It is the last of the last, our last chance to hear the word of the Lord.  He has three things to say to us in red letters.

Root and Offspring of David

From the earliest days of the Old Testament to the last moments of the New Testament, the theme of the Bible is Jesus Christ.  From the earliest writing known in the Bible, the Book of Job, we have Job's sure confidence:  "I know that my Redeemer lives."  From the earliest days the coming of the Messiah was promised to Adam and Eve.  Abraham was told that he was to bless all nations in his offspring.  David was promised the never-ending throne.  Daniel saw the one who was the Son of Man.  Isaiah saw him so well his book is referred to as the Fifth Gospel.

The creator becomes the Son of David, and walks among us;  the root becomes the offspring.  This is the one prophesied from the earliest days—who now prophesies his return.

Bright and Morning Star

A star has many uses to mankind.

It can be used as an aid to navigation.  Who is the guiding star of your life?

It can be used to tell the times and seasons.  Do you see the signs of the time?

It also shows you the beauty of God's creation—the work which displays the Worker.

While you await his return, let him be the only star to guide you.

Coming Soon

His return is coming soon.  What does he mean by "soon?"  To him all times are soon, for he is eternal.  His method of counting days makes one day a thousand years—and vice versa.  So we don't really know what "soon" means.  But we know he is coming, and that the time will be a surprise.  We know, at least, that we do not know.

We also know that we must be ready for his return, and ready now — for whenever "soon" might be.  Therefore, watch for his return;  study, pray and worship;  continue in good works, for in these things we stay ready for Him. Finally — "Lift up your head — redemption draweth nigh!"

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« Reply #278 on: December 31, 2006, 09:47:36 PM »

January 1

"In my Father's house"
Luk_2:41-52

The story given here is unique.  It is the only record we have of any  incident between Jesus' birth and his ministry.  The early church invented many legends about this period, but this is the only history.

Mary and Joseph

Who would you pick to be the earthly parents of the Son of God?  God picked a poor pair of Jews named Joseph and Mary.  But in this section we can see why they might have been selected:

They practiced their faith regularly.  We see that they went up to Jerusalem for Passover every year, in accordance with the Law.  Jesus grew up in a home where the faith was evident every day.

They had confidence in their child – which means they had trained him well.  They were not alarmed at missing him for an entire day.

They did not understand his reply.  Evidently complete understanding was not a requirement for the task.  This is a very hopeful sign for the rest of us.

The Nature of Christ Displayed

One of the frequent questions (even among the most learned) about Jesus is this:  how could he be both fully God and fully man?  We learn something about this from this incident.

At the age of twelve – when a young boy officially comes of age to join the synagogue – he is astounding the teachers of the Law with his wisdom.  Wisdom does not spring from learning alone, but from character.  Here is the character of God.

Somehow in becoming man God has limited himself – for Jesus is obedient to his parents, and still has yet to grow in wisdom.

The incident happens at the Temple – the place where God has placed his Name.  We see the "zeal for his house."

It is a hint, a lifting of the veil of the future.  Something is very different about this boy.   In his entire life we will see that his words and actions demand a choice from those who see.  Just who is this Jesus of Nazareth?  No more important questions has ever been asked

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« Reply #279 on: January 02, 2007, 08:35:51 PM »

January 3

Bread Alone
Mat_4:4

"Men need not so much to be instructed as reminded."  Most Christians are familiar with this passage in the Temptation in the Wilderness.  They are not familiar with its source, however.  They are the words of Moses, scolding the people of Israel.  He is reminding them that God sent the manna from heaven because of their grumbling (and very tired of it they became!)  In quoting Moses, Jesus is pointing to the lesson given the Israelites – the lesson that God is completely able to provide all your material needs.

Indeed, there is a constant characteristic of God's work in this.  In both the Old Testament and the New Testament we read where the men of God were able to take a small amount of food and multiply it many times over.  We recall Christ feeding the five thousand, or Elijah and the widow's flask of oil.  By this we are taught the sufficiency of God.

But to be taught, we must study the word of God.  It is of no use to have the Bible on your coffee table if it is not in your heart.  The Old Testament was given to us so that we might learn who God is – and live.  The ancient Jew was commanded to put the word of God on his forehead and wrists, post it in his house, and always to have it in front of him.  Thus he would be reminded that his belly is not his god.

In God's good time comes the ultimate expression of his word, Jesus the Christ.  You may read this saying and think of your stomach.  You may also read it and know that the Word of God is none other than Jesus.  The statement is still true:  without Jesus you will not live.  Eternal life is promised only to those who put their trust in Christ.  You do not live by "bread alone" but by the Word of God.

Examine yourself, Christian.  You are probably not starving to death as you read this.  Indeed, in our nation we consider being overweight a problem, not a blessing.  But are you so concerned, so worried about where you will get your "daily bread" that you neglect God?  For some of us affluence has prevented this.  For others, worry still reigns.  But hear the word of the Lord:  his provision is sufficient for you.  He knows your every need, and his arm is long enough to reach you.  Turn your thoughts then to the important thing – the Word Himself.

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« Reply #280 on: January 04, 2007, 05:47:47 AM »

January 4

Him Only
Luk_4:8

There is a repeating theme in the Old Testament.  The nation of Israel decides that, after all, one ought to be tolerant and open minded in all things – so why not worship every god you can find?  Indeed, it seemed like a logical thing to do – for these gods promised prosperity in this world.

The matter was relatively simple.  You went to the Temple of Baal (or whoever) and participated in the rituals, offered your sacrifices, and went home.  Baal then gave you good crops and an increase in your herds.  The nice thing about Baal was that he was a rather limited god.  He didn't ask for devotion;  he didn't ask for righteousness; he asked for a limited commitment.  It was an investment, if you please.  In return for your investment in this god, you got financial success.

There were only two things wrong with this theory:

There is no god Baal (or any other such).

The Living God did not like this.  It is not wise to anger the Living God.


Most Christians today feel that they are not tempted in the slightest to worship another god.  After all, one might ask, what other god is there?  Christ tells us in this passage.  The passage he is quoting refers to gods like Baal;  but He uses the quotation to refer to the modern god:  financial success, keeping up, living in style, or whatever you might want to call it.  The god of  material success, worldliness,  is still with us;  he's just changed names.

You think not?

Is your budget too tight to allow you to tithe?  Would it be that tight if you were not making lease payments on the Mercedes?

The ancients threw their newborns into the fire of Molech – to ensure a successful harvest.   Today we call it abortion "for the financial health of the mother."

 Examine your life, Christian.  Is the latest car, a bigger house, brighter jewelry or a finer vacation trip what you are sacrificing for?  All of us sacrifice;  we give up some good things to be able to do other, better things.

Are you sacrificing your life in this world for the things that perish?  Or are you presenting yourself a living sacrifice to the one, true God?

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« Reply #281 on: January 05, 2007, 12:20:01 PM »

January 5

Do Not Test the Lord
Mat_4:7

Christ here receives the greatest of temptations – pride.  Satan knows the Scripture (he's been twisting it for years).  He also knows that when the temptations of the world and the flesh have failed, it's time to bring in the heavyweight.  Pride, the creation of a Pharisee, is Satan's most deadly temptation.

Jesus replies to it with what might be thought a curious phrase:  "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test."  It is a quotation from the Old Testament.

It refers to the time Israel tested God by grumbling about a lack of water.  Moses went up and struck a nearby rock and water flowed out .  The Scripture tells us several times that Israel sinned in doing this.

To see why, let us use a simpler example.  Suppose (being a complete fool) you decide to test your wife's faithfulness.  You hire someone to attempt to seduce her.  This can only end in one of two ways:  you've just destroyed your marriage by encouraging your wife's adultery – or you've destroyed it by proclaiming to her that you do not trust her.  Either way, you lose.

God desires a personal relationship with us.  Personal relationships (like marriage, the greatest of such relationships on earth) depend upon a measure of trust.  The measure of trust depends on the type of relationship.  The deeper the relationship, the more the trust.  So when you deliberately test that relationship of trust, you in fact are destroying it.

What would motivate a person to do such a thing?  Here Jesus shows us that one such motivation is pride.  Satan is saying to him, in essence, "you are God in the flesh;  you know that the angels will protect you – so let's go to the Temple.  You jump off and show everybody how great you are."  It's an appeal to pride.

Jesus models for us the virtue of humility.  He is indeed God in the flesh;  the angels are at his command – but it is prideful to show it off.  It is a measure of his strength.  (Have you ever noticed that it's the small dog that barks the most?  Maybe the big ones don't have to.)

Christian, the deadliest sin for us is to say, "Look how holy and pious I am."  We need to follow our Lord's example.  The greater the saint, the more humble the saint.  Even the sinless man did not put God to the test.

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« Reply #282 on: January 08, 2007, 02:23:52 AM »

January 6

An Ordinary Saint
Joh_1:51

It is a curious thing.  Peter, after many miracles and much discourse, proclaims Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God.  When he does, Christ pronounces him "blessed."  It seems that such an insight is sufficient for a hard headed man like Peter.

But Nathanael—of whom we know little more than this passage—takes the simplest of evidence and immediately leaps to the conclusion presented.  His friend Philip tells him this is the Christ.  One vision, the smallest piece of evidence, brings Nathanael to understand and believe.   Christ's reply is that Nathanael will see even greater things, indeed the angels of heaven.

For Peter, knowing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God—that's a conclusion.  For Nathanael, it's a beginning.  Jesus treats it as such.  What news could possibly be greater to a Jew of this time than the arrival of the Messiah?  Jesus tells Nathanael that he will see even greater things.

So it is with us.  Some of us struggle mightily to arrive at the conclusion that Jesus is indeed who He claimed to be.  Others of us hear and believe readily.  There is room for both in the church.  But those who hear the word gladly and immediately begin to put it into practice have a tremendous advantage:  they will see great things.  How can this be?

Perhaps it is because the Nathanaels of this world hold to the simple, childlike faith which is so important to every Christian.  Peter's hard heart had to be shattered before he could believe in simplicity;  but Nathanael had no guile.

Not being given to deception, he could not be deceived.  He saw, he believed—and his faith began to grow immediately.

Such a faith brings with it eyes— eyes to see what God is doing.  Others look and see "coincidence" or "it was going to happen anyway" when the eyes of faith see the hand of God.

We know little else of Nathanael except this:  in Christ's last personal visit with the Apostles, fishing on the sea of Galilee, Nathanael was in the boat.  He has evidently remained faithful throughout Christ's ministry.  He plays no major part in the Gospel, he is an ordinary man like the rest of us.  But because of his faith and willingness to believe, Christ rewards him with the sight of things which portray the glory of God.  Perhaps we should follow his example:  believe willingly, confess openly — and God will show us even greater things.

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« Reply #283 on: January 08, 2007, 02:26:11 AM »

January 7

Wine and Prayer
Joh_2:1-11

Mary reveals to us something about the nature of prayer in this little incident.  She has watched her son grow up, and she knows him;  we can glean from her actions.

There is an interplay here which will teach us about prayer:

Mary does not ask her son to turn the water into wine.  Indeed, she doesn't ask him to do anything.  She just states the concern of her heart.  It is likely that the wedding is for a friend that all know.  How many of us go to God in prayer with the idea that we must tell God exactly how to solve the problem!  Mary does no such thing.

She is not concerned by the seemingly trivial nature of the problem.  Wine might have been procured in the normal manner.  These are friends, and friends care for friends even in the small things.

Jesus turns her down.  We often become discouraged after God says "no."
Sometimes he is testing us to see if we really mean what we're saying.  Could it be that he tests us this way because so often we don't mean what we're saying?
Mary is still confident of his abilities.  So often we focus on the Jesus who is compassionate that we forget the God who is mighty.  Prayer is not an exercise in wishful thinking.

Mary then gives us a great key to prayer.  She acts.  She knows what he can do and she acts upon it by speaking to the servants.  She risks embarrassment by trusting Jesus.  That is faith in action.

She then gives the servants the key to faith:  obedience.  "Do whatever he tells you."  It is the obedient heart that God hears.

Now look at the results of such faith in action:

The Scripture tells us that in this incident Jesus "revealed his glory."  If you pray in faith, you will see the glory of God.

The disciples put their faith in him as a result.  Faith breeds faith in others.

Finally, it was good wine!  God does nothing without the perfection in his nature showing through.

The passkeys of prayer are seen here:  faith, trust, persistence and obedience.  These bring forth the glory of God.

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« Reply #284 on: January 08, 2007, 02:27:45 AM »

January 8

Zeal for His House
Joh_2:13-22

It is worth noting that Jesus reserves his harsh words for the hypocrites alone, and his physical anger is displayed only in the Temple.  Those who were selling had the blessing of the religious authority of the day—indeed, they were often family members of the religious leaders.  It will be worth our time to examine this cleansing (which Jesus will do again at the end of his ministry.)

It is first and always a sign of his oneness with the Father.  The Temple is the one unique bit of geography where God has placed his Name.  Unlike any other spot on earth, it is holy, for it bears the Name of God.  It is the center of worship even before it is built, for in the Law of Moses it is said that sacrifices would need to be brought to the place where God would put his Name.  Because Jesus and the Father are one, Jesus cannot tolerate the iniquity he finds there.

It's interesting to note, too, that the merchants know that he is right.  How else do you explain the fact that one man drove them all out?  Christ shows us here the strength of moral purity, and the weakness of those whose lives are built upon sin.  Shame prevents them from throwing him out.

Their authority is in words, and in words they challenge him.  It is always the case that an evil generation seeks a sign.  "Show us some miracle," they say, "and we will believe."  The desire is not for righteousness, the desire is for the unusual.  In effect, they are saying, "Work a miracle at our command."  The Lord of Creation is not a circus magician to perform tricks for a fee.

A sign they will have:  the only sign the wicked will ever get.  That sign is the Resurrection itself.  All other signs might be thought trivial, or considered to be sleight of hand, but the return from the dead is beyond the powers of the conjurer.  Death is the one thing that all dread—unless they have submitted to its conqueror.

After the Resurrection the disciples remembered.  Then they understood.  The light of the Resurrection shone on this incident, and the evil it exposed was apparent.  We should examine our lives in the same manner.  If Christ were to come today, bringing with him the resurrection of the dead, what would he say about our activities in the house of God?  Would he find us faithful, or would he find us using God's house to further our business ends?  Just whose church is it, anyway?  Ours—or His?

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