Thursday, December 24, 2015

Season of Promise: The Shepherds...and all of us

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Luke 2:8 - 14  is one of the most well-known passages of scripture, thanks to Linus:

It's King James, of course, which is actually my favorite rendering of that passage, just because it's so poetic.

I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people (v. 10)

We have gone full circle...back to Eve's promise that the deliverer would come and Abraham's promise that his offspring would bless all nations.

The message of joy is for all people..the Savior has been born.

I'm reminded of God's words to Moses in Ex. 3:  I have seen...I have heard...I know their sorrow...I am come...

The promise that He would come was fulfilled that night; now we are standing on His promise to return.

Advent is not just about anticipating the coming of the is about anticipating the coming of the Savior.

Another favorite King James passage...John 14: 1 -3:

Let not your hearts be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would've told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may also be.

Approximately 2000 years had passed between the promise to Abraham and the angel's announcement of the great joy, to all people.  Now another 2000ish years have passed, and we are waiting for another joyous, time-changing appearance of the Savior.

Surely, I come quickly.  Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.  (Rev. 22:20b)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Season of Promise: Mary

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

(All scripture today from the 1984 edition of the New International Version)

Of all the promises of the coming deliverer, none were so personal and intimate as the promise given to a little Jewish girl living in a small town well away from the focal point of Jerusalem.  Nazareth was in Galilee...a place considered backward by the folks who were In Charge.

Scholars believe that she was in her early teens, engaged but not fully married, when Gabriel was sent to her with the announcement.

All the reading I've done...not research, mind you, just reading of period fiction and history...has given me the impression that the Jews of that day, by and large, interpreted the 'virgin shall conceive' prophecy from Isaiah to mean that the deliverer would be conceived in the usual fashion, at the consummation of a marriage.  Apparently no one considered that it might mean that the child would be conceived completely apart from human activity and born to an actual virgin.

Which, in my mind, is one of the things that makes the Biblical text so intriguing.  Fiction would not have thrown something so miraculous and completely unexpected into the plot.  A virgin conceiving was...inconceivable.

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God - Lk 1:35

Holy one.  Set apart. Special. Not ordinary.

He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.  - Lk 1:32 -33

We see the promises in reverse order...the promise to David, the promise to Abraham through Jacob, the promise to Eve in that her seed would completely overthrow the serpent.  All in the promise to a girl who was a nobody in a backwoods corner.

I have heard the theory that Mary was not the first girl to whom Gabriel was sent...she was the first one to agree.  But I don't think God would've wasted His time or Gabriel's missions by asking any girls who did not have the willing faith and intestinal fortitude to respond as Mary did.

I am the Lord's servant.  May it be to me as you have said.

Mary had found favor with God; He was with her.  Before Gabriel came to her, that was true.  She didn't earn God's favor and presence by agreeing to His plan; He included her in His plan because she was the very person who would do precisely what was needful. AND...she fit the prophetic description:  she was descended from David through Nathan, Solomon's full-blood younger brother; and she was marrying a man who was descended from David through Solomon, who had the legal right to the throne.

And, she was living at the precise point in history when a promise given to an insignificant person in a remote area could hit the Roman world and spread.  There was common language, there was transportation, there was relative peace.

The only requirement that rested on her was that she be willing to walk God's plan out...regardless of what anyone thought about her or how anyone treated her.  She had God's promise that He was with her.  That was enough.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

SSMT Verse 22 - Galatians 6:9

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

This is late because...I can't find my spiral notebook.  I thought it was in my purse, as I pull it out at odd times to study,  And I'm extremely frustrated.  I sincerely hope it hasn't fallen out in some odd place; but it patently isn't in any of the places I rather thought it might be.

Of course we have been moving and shifting stuff around quite a bit in the last few weeks, so, well, it could be in an unaccustomed spot.

But I have picked out the last verse of the 2015 Siesta Scripture Memory Team challenge and have decided to go ahead and post and add it to the spiral as soon as I find it.

Gal 6: 9, NIV 84:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Simple and familiar and yet...not something I've not really committed to memory.

But it is a verse that has been knocking around the edges of my spirit in the past few days, as 2015 is winding down and wrapping up and I'm starting to turn my thoughts to 2016...what is it going to be?  If 2015 was a year of New Beginnings, what is going to be the theme of the new year?

What I keep hearing is 'growth'...the seed is planted, now it's time to push into it, keep at it, nurture and grow what began.

I'm not really sure what exactly that's going to look like, but it is something to ponder and pray over as we pause for the celebration of the holidays and the turning of the calendar to a new year.

But this is definitely a word to carry forward....Don't grow weary...don't give up.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Season of Promise: David

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Yes, chronologically, there were promises made between Abraham and David.  But I only have 4 Sundays in Advent, and David is another level of promise from the rest.

David's promise is Kingship.

We know, from Eve's promise, that the Deliverer is Coming.  We have pinpointed his nationality by the promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We know the tribe from the promise to Judah.

But the promise to David is not just that the Deliverer will be born to his descendants, but that his descendants...including the coming one...will be kings.

The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish you a house for you: when your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom...but my love will never be taken from him, as I took it away from Saul...your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.  (taken from 2 Samuel 7:11-16)

We see the selection process....if Eve's Offspring was to be everything God intended, He would be a king.  But to be truly established, a king must have a people to be king of, and he must be born to a royal line.  So God's promises have selected, from all the people of the earth, one nation for the deliverer; and from all the families in that nation he has declared one family to be the royal family.

Always, always, God points to the deliverer to come. David's promise applied to himself and his son immediately...but it also applied to generations he would not see.  The lineage of the king would not fail.

What a blessing!   Can you imagine receiving such a promise from God...that your children and your children's children and your children's children's children and...and...would always be God's special, chosen, anointed,  and guarded servants?  What more could a parent ask, really?

The deliver, the one who claims the authority the enemy has usurped, the one with a new name written. is coming; he will not only be king-like but, being in David's lineage, he will legally be the king.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Season of Promise: Abraham

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Eve's promise tells us the deliverer, the savior, the one who will defeat the serpent, will come.

The next promise tells us his God establishes and confirms His covenant with Abraham (Abram) (all scripture today from the ESV):

And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. -- Gen 12:2-3

I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore.  And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice. -- Gen 22:17-18

And we also know which son that covenant would be reckoned through:

God said, 'No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac.  I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him.' - Gen. 17:19

Lest there be any confusion, God designated Isaac by name, as Abraham had other sons; not only Ishmael, from Hagar, but he took a second wife, Keturah, after Sarah died and had children with her also; her sons were named Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian(who was the father of Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida and Eldaah), Ishbak and Shuah.

All of these were given the same treatment as Ishmael...they were given gifts and sent away from Isaac, through whom the covenant would be established.

And, notice...we have a singular pronoun again in 22:18... And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies...  'his' not 'their', and 'gate', not 'gates'.

We are still looking at a one-on-one battle; one offspring, one gate.

But we have narrowed the field a bit.  Whereas Eve's promise was equally likely amongst all her children, Abraham's promise now states that the Enemy-defeater would be born to the children of his son Isaac.

In other words, now one nation is selected from all the nations to be the one from which the promise will come.

But this is still a promise for all mankind:
...all families of the earth shall be blessed...all the nations of the earth shall be blessed...

Because, you know, in that culture the gates represented authority.  He is going to possess the authority that had been given to his enemies.

In Advent, we anticipate the coming of the one who will  destroy the serpent and bless all people by possessing the authority that had been given to the enemy.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Hello again!

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Just a quick little blurb.  As I supposed you noticed, I've kinda suspended the New Beginnings study; I'm going to pick back up with that in January.  I'm going to do a little Advent Exploration that occurred to me, in honor of the season, and I'll be doing that on Sundays.

We are very, very slowly getting things moved around. There's just too much that needs doing and not enough hours in a day.  I am absolutely loving our new space, but there's still a lot of 'What are we going to do with this?' left in the rooms that we had to move everything in to.  We are not traveling for Christmas this year;  My Sweet Babboo doesn't have enough vacation days left, so we're going to get a fresh Christmas tree, which means we've got another week before we put it up.  But I"ve still got to get on with the internal moving party...

I've already put our little trees up in the new rooms...this is the first year to put up the vintage aluminum tree that found its way to my house a few years back.  It's glittering away in the sunroom and makes me smile every time I see it from the kitchen window. My grandmother had a similar...although I remember it being much nicer...tree.

Thought it would be fun to take the annual Christmas Card photo around it.  Ha ha and ha.  There are goofy people in the family who just didn't get the whole sentimental retro cool vibe.   Sigh.    We did eventually get a usable one...

I've laughed at the number of folks who've left comments on FB and the sewing blog along the lines of 'Love that tree!  My grandma had one!'

Makes me wonder if they only sold the trees to

So have a blessed Advent and I'll try to get by here a little more often now! :-)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

SSMT # 21 - Col. 3:12

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I pondered my verse for a bit in Genesis, read a bit in Galatians, a bit in Ephesians, and ended up in Colossians, where I found another verse that struck a chord with me.

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  -- Col. 3:12

I'm probably not the only one who is appalled at the strident, combative, petty  and downright ridiculous things that are being attributed to folks who call themselves Christians.  I'll be honest, I wonder if some of that crazy stuff isn't being propagated purely by internet trolls just to provoke controversy and drama.  

And yet, those folks are becoming the face of modern Christianity to many who live in areas where, to quote one person who posted on a  craft-based discussion board, they've 'never actually met anyone who believes in the christian god.'

Yes.  Right here in the United States.  Never MET ANYONE who how would they know that the crazies, the trolls, the folks who live for controversy, are not a true representation of those who follow Christ?

Counterfeiting is a common strategy of warfare.

So, my beloved friend, what is our counter to that?

Colossians 3:12.

Remember, the opposite of holy is not evil...the opposite of holy is ordinary.

We are to be wise, yes.  We are to be strong, yes.  We are to be holy, yes.  But we are also to be compassionate, kind, humble...all those other things that Christ was, even as He uncompromisingly stood for what God declared to be right and true.

If people recognized Christians by their likeness to Christ, and not by their rhetoric or indignant  reactions to people who truly know no much more impact would the good news of Christ have on those who do not even recognize the darkness in which they live?

Compassion.  Kindness.  Humility.  Gentleness. Patience.

Oy.  What if I leaned into Christ to develop those things in my life, instead of asking Him to grant me favor or answer prayers for provision or achievement or or or...

God, I confess that I am inherently selfish and short-sighted.  I plan my life around my security and  my comfort, when there are so many who have neither.  Teach me, Lord, to show YOUR attributes, and take away the fear that shies away from them.