Wednesday, November 30, 2016

exiles in the wilderness

“No one escapes the wilderness on the way to the promised land.”  - Annie Dillard

Exiles in the wilderness. This is a theme that runs throughout the entire Bible. The worst penalty imagined in the Old Testament was to be exiled, separated from home, under enemy rule, and alienated from God. Over and over again in the Scriptures, we hear the voices of the exiles.

Adam and Eve, cast from the Garden because of their transgression to a life east of Eden.
Cain, sentenced to wander the earth after failing to be his brother’s keeper.
Joseph, sold by his brothers into slavery and exiled in the land of Egypt. 
Jacob’s entire family, forced to resettle in Egypt, where eventually they become slaves to Pharaoh.
The children of Israel, wandering in the wilderness until a generation dies off because of unbelief.
Widows like Naomi, who left the land in time of famine and lost her husband and sons.
David, God’s chosen king but also an exiled king, as he dwelt in caves while fleeing King Saul.
Elijah the prophet, who hid in the wilderness from Ahab and Jezebel, and was fed by ravens.
The northern kingdom of Israel conquered and scattered by the Assyrians.
The southern kingdom of Judea and the great city of Jerusalem destroyed by the Babylonians.
The people taken into captivity, transported into exile in Babylon, longing for their homeland.
The captives who returned to Jerusalem with joy after the edict of Cyrus the Great.
Joy is mixed with sorrow, however, for other nations would soon come in to rule over the land. Though they had returned from exile, they remained captives in their own land under enemy rule.
We pray for an end to the exile - O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion!
When God restores the fortunes of his people, Jacob will rejoice, Israel will be glad!

This is what we do during the Advent season as we journey through the wilderness.
We recognize our own captivity and exile. We cry out for redemption and restoration.
And we wait for the Lord until He comes again.

Friday, November 18, 2016

lift up your eyes

There is a great deal of uncertainty out there in our nation and our world today. We have a new president, new leaders, a new and different direction for our country. How will the economy and the culture be affected? How long will the protests last? How will other nations like China and Russia react to all this? What will happen on Wall Street? Not to mention on Main Street.

Though temporal things will continue to change with the political seasons, no candidate or party has the power to ultimately direct our lives. No president has ever eliminated anxiety. No world leader has ever erased fear. And no earthly power has ever had an answer for death. That role is reserved for the One who stands above all powers and principalities, above all councils and countries.

The writer to the Hebrews tells us that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." - Heb. 13. And James reminds us that, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights who does not change like shifting shadows."  - James 1:17

When anxiety and fear creep into our lives, our Leader and our Lord shows Himself to be the source of true comfort and peace and hope. In times such as these we lift our eyes to His cross and to the empty tomb. Jesus is our Risen and Living Lord and Savior, and in Him we receive all the things that we so deeply desire. In Him is the fulfillment of all God's promises to us. In Him we are delivered from the sin and brokenness of this world, and we are given a new life and a living hope for a future forever with Him. So lift up your eyes today, and put your faith and trust in Him.

"I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth."   - Psalm 121


Monday, November 14, 2016

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Wednesday, November 2, 2016