Tag Archives: God

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 24

Track 1: Show Me Your Glory

Exodus 33:12-23
Psalm 99
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Matthew 22:15-22

There was a point in the wilderness when God threatened to send the children of Israel on their journey without his presence. Moses interceded for Israel, telling God that he could not go on without God’ presence. He implored God:

“If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth.”   (Exodus 33:15-16)

Moses understood that, without God, he could not lead the children of Israel. In fact, we read in scripture how humble Moses was. God responded to him:

The Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing that you have asked; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” Moses said, “Show me your glory, I pray.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, ‘The Lord’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.” And the Lord continued, “See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.”   (Exodus 33:17-23)

Moses had found with God. He had a relationship with God. As an intercessor for Israel, he would boldly go before the throne of God. This was not done out of pride, but out of concern for others. In fact, the scriptures tells us this:

Now the man Moses was very humble, more so than anyone else on the face of the earth.  (Numbers 12:3)

Where do we stand in our relationship with God. Are we prideful? Are we humble? Can we go boldly before the throne of God to seek his help? Jesus, by his blood, has opened a door for us that Moses did not have. Are we willing to walk through it?

Yes, God has done a great work, but there are still some requirements on our part to enter his presence. The psalmist wrote:

Proclaim the greatness of the Lord our God
and fall down before his footstool;
he is the Holy One.

Moses and Aaron among his priests,
and Samuel among those who call upon his Name,
they called upon the Lord, and he answered them.

He spoke to them out of the pillar of cloud;
they kept his testimonies and the decree that he gave them.

O Lord our God, you answered them indeed;
you were a God who forgave them,
yet punished them for their evil deeds.

Proclaim the greatness of the Lord our God
and worship him upon his holy hill;
for the Lord our God is the Holy One.   (Psalm 99:5-9)

The children of Israel were only interested in the hand of God. Moses spoke to God face to face. We can be a type of Moses if we put the needs of others before our own. If I am to have the humility of Moses, I must consider others better than myself and look out for their interests (Philippians 2:3). We can be a type of Moses if we humble ourselves before God, when we acknowledge that we cannot accomplish anything without his help.

We can have a close fellowship with God when we proclaim the greatness of the Lord our God and worship him, When we seek God with all our hearts, when we please God by our actions, God will reveal himself to us in new and deeper ways. Let our prayer be: Show us your glory. It is not about u. It is all about God

 

 

Track 2: Church and State

Isaiah 45:1-7
Psalm 96:1-9, (10-13)
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Matthew 22:15-22

God spoke through the Prophet Jeremiah:

“For my people are foolish,
    they do not know me;
they are stupid children,
    they have no understanding.
They are skilled in doing evil,
    but do not know how to do good.”   (Jeremiah 4:22)

The most incredible thing about the nature of evil is the level of ignorance that seems to accompany it. The Pharisees proved this many times as they did in today’s Gospel reading:

The Pharisees went and plotted to entrap Jesus in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.   ()

Government authorities have used the game of church and state intimidate and confuse believers. Jesus would have none of it. There is no separation between church and state in God’s mind. God is Lord of both church and state. Mary, the mother of Jesus, said in her song of praise:

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
    and lifted up the lowly.   (Luke 1:52)

God raised up Cyrus, king of Persia, to restore the nation of Israel

Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus,
whose right hand I have grasped

to subdue nations before him
and strip kings of their robes,

to open doors before him–
and the gates shall not be closed:

I will go before you and level the mountains,

I will break in pieces the doors of bronze
and cut through the bars of iron,

I will give you the treasures of darkness
and riches hidden in secret places,

so that you may know that it is I, the Lord,
the God of Israel, who call you by your name.

For the sake of my servant Jacob,
and Israel my chosen,

I call you by your name, I surname you, though you do not know me.

I am the Lord, and there is no other;
besides me there is no god.
I arm you, though you do not know me,

so that they may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is no one besides me;
I am the Lord, and there is no other.   (Isaiah 45:1-6)

Cyrus was no Sunday school teacher. Yet he was anointed by God for a specific purpose. Clever government officials and politicians would have us believe that God has no hand n government. He has the whole world in his hands. Perhaps it is tme for us to be less clever and more in tune with the purposes of God.

“For my people are foolish,
    they do not know me;
they are stupid children,
    they have no understanding.
They are skilled in doing evil,
    but do not know how to do good.”   (Jeremiah 4:22)

Do we know how to do good? We cannot even know what is good until we know the Lord.

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First Sunday after Christmas

The Word Became Flesh

The Gospel of John does not have an Infancy narrative as do the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Rather, John speaks of a time before the birth of the Christ Child. He writes of the One who pre-existed the world and was the very agent of all creation:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.   (John 1:1-5)

Do we know Jesus beyond the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes? Many of His own Jewish people did not comprehend who Jesus was when they were privileged to see him in person:

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.  (John 1:10-11)

The remarkable thing is that the creator God entered the world of His own creation on our behalf. In Jesus, God made himself vulnerable to humankind, in order to reveal his true nature and heart:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  (John 1:14)

Though the Gospel of John does speak of an infancy narrative. It speaks of our infancy narrative. We are reborn as children of God in Jesus. The Apostle Paul writes:

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.   (Galatians 4:4-7)

Has the Holy Spirit entered into our hearts? Only by his Spirit can we be reborn. We cannot become righteous on our own. The law of God could never make us righteous. It serves as our educator concerning what righteousness truly is. It makes us aware of our sin and the seriousness of that sin in the eyes of God.

Jesus, alone, is the one who makes us righteous. John writes:

From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.   (John 1:16-19)

As an infant Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes. From the Gospel of Luke:

And Mary brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.   (Luke 2:7)

Have we been wrapped in Jesus? The psalmist wrote:

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
my whole being shall exult in my God;

for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,

as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.   (Isaiah 61:10)

As infants, we need the swaddling of the Holy Spirit. We need to allow a loving Savior wrap us in his love. The Christmas Season is a special time to experience the warmth of Jesus. He is Immanuel, God with us. Let us bask in the glory and glow of his presence both now and forever. Amen.

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