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Out of Egypt

When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. 2The more I called them, the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Baals, and offering incense to idols. 3Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. 4I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them. 5They shall return to the land of Egypt, and Assyria shall be their king, because they have refused to return to me. 6The sword rages in their cities, it consumes their oracle-priests, and devours because of their schemes. 7My people are bent on turning away from me. To the Most High they call, but he does not raise them up at all. 8How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender. 9I will not execute my fierce anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and no mortal, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath. (Hosea 11:1-9, NRSV)

Have you ever wondered if God was in your life?

Here is God talking about His people that he called out of Egypt. He speaks about how he taught them to walk and was always with them. They did not want to follow God. They did not acknowledge what God had done for them. But God was still there.

Even when we think God is far away from us, God is walking right behind you watching over you all the time.

 

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The Writing on the Wall, part 1

King Belshazzar made a great festival for a thousand of his lords, and he was drinking wine in the presence of the thousand. Under the influence of the wine, Belshazzar commanded that they bring in the vessels of gold and silver that his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. So they brought in the vessels of gold and silver that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank the wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone. Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and began writing on the plaster of the wall of the royal palace, next to the lampstand. The king was watching the hand as it wrote. Then the king’s face turned pale, and his thoughts terrified him. His limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together. The king cried aloud to bring in the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the diviners; and the king said to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever can read this writing and tell me its interpretation shall be clothed in purple, have a chain of gold around his neck, and rank third in the kingdom.” Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or tell the king the interpretation. Then King Belshazzar became greatly terrified and his face turned pale, and his lords were perplexed. The queen, when she heard the discussion of the king and his lords, came into the banqueting hall. The queen said, “O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts terrify you or your face grow pale. There is a man in your kingdom who is endowed with a spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father he was found to have enlightenment, understanding, and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and diviners, because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation.” (Daniel 5:1-12, NRSV)

What would you do if out of no where a human hand appeared and started writing on the wall? And of course, we really don’t know at this point why the king can’t read it. Was it because it was written in a way that was illegible? Was it because it was in a language the king could not understand? Or was it because the king was drunk that he couldn’t make it out?

The reading does inform us that the king was under the influence of wine and had the gold and silver vessels his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem. What do you think would happen if you started to use something you had stolen from God?

Have you ever stolen from God?

How do we steal from God as we prepare for Christmas? How do we steal from God when we skip over Advent?

You see Advent is not just about waiting for the coming savior, it is about preparing the way for Him. It is about preparing our hearts for Him. It is about us making room for peace, joy, love, and hope.

Advent is a time for us to reflect on how we are Christ’s light to the world. And by not doing this are we stealing from God?

Do we steal from God?

 

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The Table and the Lampstand

You shall make a table of acacia wood, two cubits long, one cubit wide, and a cubit and a half high. You shall overlay it with pure gold, and make a molding of gold around it. You shall make around it a rim a handbreadth wide, and a molding of gold around the rim. You shall make for it four rings of gold, and fasten the rings to the four corners at its four legs. The rings that hold the poles used for carrying the table shall be close to the rim. You shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold, and the table shall be carried with these. You shall make its plates and dishes for incense, and its flagons and bowls with which to pour drink offerings; you shall make them of pure gold. And you shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before me always. You shall make a lampstand of pure gold. The base and the shaft of the lampstand shall be made of hammered work; its cups, its calyxes, and its petals shall be of one piece with it; and there shall be six branches going out of its sides, three branches of the lampstand out of one side of it and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side of it; three cups shaped like almond blossoms, each with calyx and petals, on one branch, and three cups shaped like almond blossoms, each with calyx and petals, on the other branch—so for the six branches going out of the lampstand. On the lampstand itself there shall be four cups shaped like almond blossoms, each with its calyxes and petals. There shall be a calyx of one piece with it under the first pair of branches, a calyx of one piece with it under the next pair of branches, and a calyx of one piece with it under the last pair of branches—so for the six branches that go out of the lampstand. Their calyxes and their branches shall be of one piece with it, the whole of it one hammered piece of pure gold. You shall make the seven lamps for it; and the lamps shall be set up so as to give light on the space in front of it. Its snuffers and trays shall be of pure gold. It, and all these utensils, shall be made from a talent of pure gold. And see that you make them according to the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain. (Exodus 25:23-40, NRSV)

God gave clear instructions as to how the temple was to be adorned. And notice all of the bigger pieces had rings for poles for easy moving as the temple was not yet a single place.

And that is how we should see the understanding of worship. It is not done in one place and only one place but is done everywhere we go because no matter where we go God is there with us. Not because we take God there, but because God is already there.

How does your life reflect the meeting of God everywhere you go?

 

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Jesus appears to Seven Disciples

After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. (John 21:1-14, NRSV)

Don’t you think they would have questioned Jesus when He asked them if they had any fish and when they said no He said to cast the net to the right side of the boat? Really we’ve been out here all night and haven’t caught anything don’t you think we cast the net on the right side of the boat? But they don’t. Either they are too tired, or they really want to catch some fish. So they do it. And when they do, they catch so many fish they can’t pull the net into the boat.

That is when they realize it is Jesus. I wonder where did Jesus go? He appeared to Mary on Easter, and then to the 10 on the evening of Easter. Then to the 11 disciples including Thomas the week after. And then here to the 7 on the Monday after that. So where did Jesus go in between these appearances to the disciples?

But here is the point, I wonder, but it really doesn’t matter. If it was important for us to know, we would know. But it is not important for our journey. God is with us, Jesus never left us. We are in His presence, even when we question it. Know He is always with you. Leading you and guiding you as you walk the path you trod.

 

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The Work of the Spirit

“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:4b-15, NRSV)

No one asked Jesus where He was going. Why? Because they believed He was going to the Father. And when He goes He will not leave them or us alone, He will send the Advocate.

And Jesus gas to go for the Advocate to come. We need the Advocate to show us our sin, and how to be righteous, and about judgment. So we might understand how we are to continue to live in the love of God. And how we might share God’s grace, mercy, and love with all the world.

So where is He going?

Do you believe it?

Are you happy to see the Advocate?

 

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Where

 

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Division among the People

When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, “This is really the prophet.” Others said, “This is the Messiah.” But some asked, “Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?” So there was a division in the crowd because of him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him. (John 7:40-44, NRSV)

Bethlehem is in Galilee. I wonder why this caused division among the people.

So they didn’t know what to do with Him.

So they let Him go unsure what to do.

So what do you believe about Jesus?

 

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