This stained glass image comes from the fourth chapter of the Revelation of John. As John stands before the throne of God, he sees “seven lamps” blazing. (4:5) These are the seven spirits of God, or the seven-fold spirit of God. They represent the gifts given to the Lamb of God… power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory and praise! (5:12)
LET'S PRAY TOGETHER Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Father, help those in need. Lift the downtrodden and brokenhearted. Guide the lost and encourage the healers. Energize Your church for this moment in time. May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us; may You guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm; may You bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders You have shown us; may You bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors. Amen
MEDITATION 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(2 Corinthians 5:16-18 NIV) One of the side effects of the pandemic has been to force families to spend a lot of time together while forcing singles to spend a lot of time alone. Either of these scenarios can cause tension and distress. This change, uncertainty and upheaval is causing frayed nerves and short tempers. However, as followers of Christ, the chaos of this world should never surprise us. Jesus said that things were going to be messy and that we would need a lot of grace, love and forgiveness to navigate this life both for ourselves and for others. The verses above may be familiar or you may be reading them for the first time. The apostle Paul wrote them in his second letter to the church in the Greek city of Corinth. The Corinthian church was struggling. Integrating Jews and gentiles into a gracious worshiping community was no easy task. Unholy pagan ways and rigid Jewish ways clashed along with basic human selfishness. Paul wrote passionately to that particular congregation, addressing their specific issues but we are also blessed by Paul’s instructions and encouragements. We get to listen-in as Paul exhorts the Corinthians to see themselves and all their relationships in a completely new way. His words, across both his letters to the Corinthian church, push us to overcome divisions and partisanship. He argues that if we can be reconciled to God, then nothing should come close to being able to separate us from each other. But what is reconciliation exactly? The word conciliate is rooted in the Latin words together and call or shout= call together. It’s related to the word council. It’s defined as, “overcoming hostility, soothing or pacifying division”. Reconciliation literally means, “bring together again”. When we talk about reconciliation, we are talking about taking broken relationships and mending them. This week let’s consider the call to reconciliation. What has God done to reconcile us to Himself? Why did He need to?
DAILY SCRIPTURE READING
Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/ If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me. I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/1-2-kings/ for an overview of the book of 1st and 2nd Kings and https://bibleproject.com/explore/acts/ for an overview of the book of Acts. These videos will help with the “big picture” and the main themes. 2 Kings 23:1-24:7 Josiah did some amazing things for the nation of Judah. How does the author of 2nd Kings describe him? (23:25) Now, we are told that God would not relent from his anger. What I find interesting about this history, is that while Josiah was this amazing man of God, the generations before him and the generations to follow, did evil in the eyes of the Lord. The story of the nation of Judah is bigger than any one of its kings, even though certain kings will stand out, for good and bad. Along with Egypt, we will see Babylon raise to a place of power in the region. It’s an interesting history. 2 Kings 24:8-25:30 Babylon, under Nebuchadnezzar will defeat Judah and take captive a long list of things. What are some of those things we read about? Now it won’t end here. Zedekiah, the king established by Babylon, will rebel. What will be the result of his rebellion? Nothing is left in Jerusalem, except “the poorest people of the land to work the vineyards and fields.” The city, including the temple is burned, and anything of value has been taken. Why? (24:20) Yet God will not forget the promises he has made to Abraham and to David. The end of Kings is not the end of the story… Romans 1:18-32 Paul will begin by pointing to "suffering," both our suffering and that of the creation. Everything suffers because of sin. And yet, we live in this moment of Hope as we wait for the restoration of all things. Paul’s encouragement in the opening of his letter, is to look beyond this moment of suffering, because in the same way that the story of Israel wasn’t over when they were sent into exile, our story is not over just because we suffer. Paul wants us to know that there is more to come. There are some great promises to us in this section. What do you see? Psalm 84:8-12 Some believe psalm 84 may have been written during the exile, to keep the hopes of those in exile up. Others believe it is a psalm sung by pilgrims on the way to the temple. Either way what is the longing we hear in this psalm? (10) Is it a longing that we have?