Monday, November 28, 2011

The Rest of Luke

Read this section of Luke 1 especially carefully!  There is much prophesy, but also much joy!  There is beautiful poetry--the Magnificat (Mary's Song of Praise!) and Zechariah's song of praise as well!

Yes, we talked about much of this in service Sunday, but we will also talk about much of it this week too!

Read Luke 1:26-80.  Tell me what hits your soul.  What makes you excited about Christmas.  What makes you smile!

Also, if you have some extra time--check out the blog I wrote at the Revive Website.  I'd love it if some of you could post thougths on the questions I asked there as well.  Its a question of the Holy Spirit.  Do we get the Holy Spirit when we believe? Or is the Spirit always there, and we simply become aware of its presence?

Blessings, and thanks for your help!
Pastor Emily

Friday, November 25, 2011

Elizabeth and Zechariah....

I have to admit, I have been staring at Luke 1 all week.  I've read the passage 100 times.  We are using parts of it for Revive, parts of it for Sunday Church, and for this blog.  I've read it and re-read it.

Today, i have more questions than answers.  Maybe because I'll give some answers in my sermons/challenges/discussions in the next few days, but here are my questions.

1) What did Zechariah do so badly when he asked Gabriel that question?  So many people have questioned God, and God has allowed it.  Why was Gabriel so angry?  It always gets me.  (also, later on, Mary asks a similar question and is called holy and blessed!)
2) How would God prophesy so much about this child, but make his Dad mute--shouldn't he have spread the word about this amazing thing coming to pass.

Maybe question 2 answers question 1.  Maybe if powerful Zechariah had talked about this messiah coming something would have happened to Mary.  Something would have happened to Elizabeth.  Maybe making him mute was keeping him safe.

I know some of the things I thought were the worst most awful things in my life, were really just setting up miracles that came later.  Now, its way outside of what I believe to think that God brings evil in our lives--but my goodness so often I don't know the goodness between good and evil.  So often I think the worst things for me or to me or around me are so often the things that make everything else fall into place.  Maybe I sound too naieve or too hopeful or too optimistic by saying it.  But if I could see every event through God's eyes, maybe I would be happier.  Maybe if I saw the big picture I could see an illness or a move or a disappointment as a way for God to move big, I could save myself unhappiness.

That's my goal for this week--to breathe and see the big picture.  To love beyond measure, and to make room in my heart for Emmanuel to come.  Do you have space yet?

Pastor Emily

Monday, November 21, 2011

Prophesy in the New Testament!

So, having spend so many weeks looking at the Old Testament Prophesies of Jesus, now we will head to the New Testament!  The first chapter of Luke, and some of the first chapter of Matthew are prophetic as well, but this will also be a time to transition into the Christmas Story!

Please this week read Luke 1:1-25!  This is also the beginning of the story we'll be focusing on for Advent this week!

Can't wait to hear what you think!  What is your impression?  What would you think if you were Elizabeth?  Zechariah?


Pastor Emily

Friday, November 18, 2011

Dwelling Among Us.

"And I will return to Zion and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem"

What a powerful promise and line.  I stopped on this line again and again.  What if that said, and I will return to Georgia and dwell in the midst of Kennesaw.  Amazing.  Wonderful!  Beautiful!  Yes, please Lord!

That one line has gotten me right in the Christmas Spirit. Because that's what Christmas is about--God loving us so much that God CHOSE to come live with us.  To feel what we did.  To face temptation.  To laugh.  To love.  To get dirty.  To be like us.  Its that one line that reminds me of what its like to be Christian.  That we have a God who gave up heaven to come to this broken world for me.  For you.  For everyone.  It amazes me.

But then you get to Zechariah 9.  And its the story of Palm Sunday.  Jesus coming in on the foal! And in his lowliness overcoming the worst of enemies.  Can you imagine???  Then the lines Mary loved so much--that we are Jewels in his crown!  so lovely!

This was one of the most uplifting sections we have read!  It reminds me again how many people look so hard for God that they miss him.  It reminds me again that sometimes I forget that our God is a God WITH US!  I loved this week.  It was just the scripture I needed.

I don't want to miss the Messiah.  What about you?

Blessings--Pastor Emily

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Lamp Post

Where has this week gone?

Here is this week's scriptures:

Zechariah 8:1-7 and 9:9-17

Take time.  Read it.  Pray about it.  Then answer these questions:

1) What would an Ancient Jew believe about this passage?
2) What do you believe about this passage--Do you see a prophecy about Christ in it?
3) What hit you this week especially in this passage?

Pastor Emily 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Redemption via Bethlehem.

Micah is speaking to a people who had grown used to peace.  Several generations in a row lived in peace.  Then during Micah's time that peace was broken.  Things were not going well.  The people had lived extravagant, decadent lives and now were broken, at war, and scared.

He preached and prophesied to people ready to hear him.  To People who needed it.  His words went from promises of hope and restoration to promises of Judgment.  This Chapter 5 is the conclusion of one of the promises of restoration.  The hope that was coming.  

He begins:  

Now you are walled around with a wall; siege is laid against us;
with a rod they strike the ruler of Israel upon the cheek. 

Bad stuff is coming--bad things are happening....

But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel,

The Ancient Jews believed him to be talking of a Messiah--they knew that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem!  Just where Jesus came from! 

whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labour has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel. 

This points to Mary and his brothers and sisters in the world!  Seems a good prophetic voice to me!

And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.

Jesus talked about being the shepherd--this is prophecy from here and from Psalm 23 (Directly after 22 which we dealt with)

And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth; 
and he shall be the one of peace. 

Price of Peace!  We heard that in Isaiah!  But, the Ancient Jews were expecting an earthly King--forcing peace by strength.  How God's arithmetic doesn't make sense.  How God's power seems so backward!

If the Assyrians come into our land and tread upon our soil,
we will raise against them seven shepherds and eight installed as rulers. 
They shall rule the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod with the drawn sword; they shall rescue us from the Assyrians if they come into our land or tread within our border. 

This part is harder for me.  I'm not sure of the connection--other than it was Micah's understanding.  Maybe its an assurance that evil can't overtake the grace and love of Christ.

Then the remnant of Jacob, surrounded by many peoples,
shall be like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass,
which do not depend upon people or wait for any mortal. 
And among the nations the remnant of Jacob, surrounded by many peoples,
shall be like a lion among the animals of the forest, like a young lion among the flocks of sheep, which, when it goes through, treads down and tears in pieces, with no one to deliver.  Your hand shall be lifted up over your adversaries, and all your enemies shall be cut off. 

More talk about how Israel will prosper and be safe even amongst enemies!  Talking about how God wins!

On that day, says the Lord,
   I will cut off your horses from among you
   and will destroy your chariots; 
and I will cut off the cities of your land
   and throw down all your strongholds; 
and I will cut off sorceries from your hand,
   and you shall have no more soothsayers; 
and I will cut off your images
   and your pillars from among you,
and you shall bow down no more
   to the work of your hands; 
and I will uproot your sacred poles from among you
   and destroy your towns. 
And in anger and wrath I will execute vengeance
   on the nations that did not obey. 

Here is talk like in Daniel about the Day of the Lord--that God is coming to save. I'm not sure if all of this points to Jesus--but it points to their understanding of the Messiah.

Whats your understanding of the Messiah?

blessings--Pastor Emily 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Micah (row your boat ashore??)

Here we go!  

Here are the directions!

1) Read all of Micah 5 Twice!
2) Go and do some background work on Micah
3) Read Micah 5 again, and see if the background work changed your first impressions!

1) What would an Ancient Jew be called to do if they listened to Micah's prophesy?
2) Where does it point to Jesus?
3) What are you called to do with Micah's prophesy?
4) What have I not asked you that I should have?

Blessings and good luck!!!

Pastor Emily !

Friday, November 4, 2011

The End of Times

My dad taught me to love old school science fiction at a young age.  I love Kurt Vonnegut.  I read Stranger in a Strange Land in middle school (yes its a million pages, I know!).  I just recently finished all three of the books in the Hunger Games Trilogy in 36 hours (and yes, I did work and eat in that time period--although I did not in fact do much sleeping!)  The Book of Eli and I Am Legend are amazing recent movies about the End of Times.  I love pictures of fantasy and seeing how artists and writers talk about the Apocalypse.

However, when they do the same things in Biblical Literature--Ezekiel, Daniel, Revelation--it makes me a little more nervous.  I've often wondered why.  Maybe because it seems more and less real all at once.  Maybe because I've struggled to figure out how these stories affect my faith.  Maybe because as much as I like to imagine the Apocalypse, I know that I don't want to be around Earth when the end of times come.

So, reading Daniel always comes to me with trepidation.  Both Mary and Lindsay point out that there might be some reference to Jesus in verses 13 and 14, but that any comparison seems much more conjecture than say Isaiah 53.  This is Daniel's picture of the end of times.  With beasts and kings and fire.  I took a lot of peace in verse 15 when Daniel himself talked about being uncomfortable with his visions.  And everytime I read that verse, I am thankful to God that I am not burdened with the responsibility of sharing visions like Daniel.

What I think I came away from this week was a sense of wanting to make the world better.  A sense of wanting to shine God's light in the darkest places.  Its clear that we live in a broken world.  Where disease and anger and hate often win over love and healing and peace.  So, maybe the Day of the Lord is coming.  Maybe we are "doomed".  I don't know.  What I do  know is that I want to fight for God.  Fight to shine light in the darkest places.  Fight for Truth and beauty and God's love.  I want to fight.  For, I still believe in hope and love and resurrection.  One of Jesus' final lessons to us is that its NEVER over until God says it is.  That the dead can live and the blind can see and the leprous can be made clean!  Maybe Daniel's visions will come to pass--but I'm going to keep fighting to bring love and God to this broken world.  And I pray that you all will join me!


Pastor Emily