Devotion Second Sunday of Advent, December 8, 2013

Sunday, December 8, 2013 – Readings for this the Second Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19; Romans 15:4-13 and Matthew 3:1-12

We cancelled worship at Community Presbyterian Church today, too great a risk of someone slipping and breaking a hip, leg, arm or even their head. First time I’ve cancelled church here in Forsyth, can’t remember cancelling back in Wichita, may have back in Texas because of hurricane. Hope everyone is enjoying the warmth of their homes. I see we got a dusting of new snow last night; ust enough to hide the ice and make traveling even more difficult. I am glad people can stay home and enjoy the warmth of their homes.

Hear now portions, I’d encourage you to read the full texts, from the readings for today, the Second Sunday of Advent.

Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19 – 1   Give the king your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to a king’s son. …
6   May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
like showers that water the earth.

What struck me in the reading from Psalm 72 is the phrase; “May he, the king, be like rain that falls on the mown grass.” Mown grass longs for some water for it wants to grow once again.

Part of the Advent journey is repenting of all that takes life from us and then seeking that which nurtures our growth. Advent is a time for giving up bad practices, bad habits and turning to all that is Godly, all that is truly good. As we repent and turn to God, we are much like mown grass enjoying all from God that gives new life.

So what needs to be mown from your life so that you long for showers from heaven?

Isaiah 11:1-10 – 1   A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2   The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
3   His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.

Then in Romans we hear.

Romans 15:4-13 – 4For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.

The writers of the gospels were skilled at looking back at the Old Testament; of course this was all they had there was no New Testament. They looked back and saw the many promises of God. Promises that told of what God would do and now had done.

In Isaiah we hear God promising that a shoot would come from Jesse. Jesse was the father of King David, thus the prophet is saying that God would send one in David’s lineage and God did just this.

What also strikes me in the reading from Isaiah is how the one who came would delight in the fear of the Lord. When discussing fearing God, many of us really struggle with this. Maybe we need to take our clues from our Lord. Jesus. He understood that true life comes from: fearing God, respecting God, holding God in highest esteem. So, Jesus could delight in the fear of the Lord.

Today, seek to delight in the fact that God is God and we are His children and thus should fear, respect and hold God in highest esteem.

The following is the text I was going to preach on today. So, hear this word from God’s holy word.

Matthew 3:1-12 – 1In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, 2“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,
“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.’” …

11“I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

A commentary I read shared the following. I found it thought provoking. I’d appreciate your throughts on the following.

Why do they flock to hear John?  Perhaps they are weary of the way their lives are being lived and welcome the call for a change.  Perhaps they are glad to know that there really is a God who holds them accountable for their conduct.  Perhaps they find reassuance from John that the world in which they live is not amoral after all, that morality is not reduced to a single command – “Thou shalt not get caught.”  It is terrifying to contemplate the alternative, that we and the terrorists and child molesters and purvbeyors of racism and sexism might be answerable to no one.  John, however, declares a God who cares and demands accountability.  To be confronted by such a holy God and to discover who one really is, painful as that may be, brings relief. 

What draws me to want to be a part of the church? Sense of community; people like myself gathering together; wanting to grow in God and this means repenting of ways that take life and turning to God’s ways that give life. Most importantly, the knowledge I have of the love God has for me and all people and wanting to thank Him for his love and truly love God more deeply week by week and day by day.

What draws you to be a part of the church?

In the text we hear; “prepare the way for the Lord.”

I believe this begins with each of us and then as we live celebrating God’s love for us, this prepares the way for others to seek God and sense how God sent His Son for them as well.

So, on this Second Sunday of Advent prepare the way for the Lord by sensing his great and abundant love for us, repenting of all that distances you from God and turning to all that draws us into God’s abundant love.

“Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.”

O God, on this day that we aren’t gathering for worship, may you unite our voices together as even from the comfort of our homes we give thanks and worship you. Reveal to us all those things with distance us from you, help us repent of them and guide us as we seek to make our paths straight and connected with you. Amen.

Benediction for our time together even as we are apart from one another today.

Romans 15:13 – 13May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

And

Psalm 72:18-19 – 18   Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
who alone does wondrous things.
19   Blessed be his glorious name forever;
may his glory fill the whole earth. Amen and Amen.

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