June 1, 2015

Isaiah 31-33
 Doom to those who go off to Egypt thinking that horses can help them, impressed by military mathematics, awed by sheer numbers of chariots and riders—And to The Holy of Israel, not even a glance, not so much as a prayer to God.  Still, he must be reckoned with, a most wise God who knows what he’s doing.  He can call down catastrophe. He’s a God who does what he says.  He intervenes in the work of those who do wrong, stands up against interfering evildoers. Egyptians are mortal, not God,and their horses are flesh, not Spirit.  When God gives the signal, helpers and helped alike will fall in a heap and share the same dirt grave.

This is what God told me: “Like a lion, king of the beasts, that gnaws and chews and worries its prey, not fazed in the least by a bunch of shepherds who arrive to chase it off, so God-of-the-Angel-Armies comes down to fight on Mount Zion, to make war from its heights.  And like a huge eagle hovering in the sky, God-of-the-Angel-Armies protects Jerusalem. I’ll protect and rescue it. Yes, I’ll hover and deliver.”

Repent, return, dear Israel, to the One you so cruelly abandoned. On the day you return, you’ll throw away—every last one of you—the no-gods your sinful hands made from metal and wood....

But look! A king will rule in the right way, and his leaders will carry out justice.  Each one will stand as a shelter from high winds, provide safe cover in stormy weather.  Each will be cool running water in parched land, a huge granite outcrop giving shade in the desert.  Anyone who looks will see, anyone who listens will hear. The impulsive will make sound decisions, the tongue-tied will speak with eloquence.  No more will fools become celebrities, nor crooks be rewarded with fame. For fools are fools and that’s that, thinking up new ways to do mischief.  They leave a wake of wrecked lives and lies about God, turning their backs on the homeless hungry,  ignoring those dying of thirst in the streets.  And the crooks? Underhanded sneaks they are, inventive in sin and scandal, exploiting the poor with scams and lies, unmoved by the victimized poor.  But those who are noble make noble plans, and stand for what is noble....

Justice will move into the badlands desert. Right will build a home in the fertile field.  And where there’s Right, there’ll be Peace and the progeny of Right: quiet lives and endless trust.  My people will live in a peaceful neighborhood—in safe houses, in quiet gardens.  The forest of your pride will be clear-cut, the city showing off your power leveled.  But you will enjoy a blessed life, planting well-watered fields and gardens, with your farm animals grazing freely.
The Ground Under Our Feet Mourns

Doom to you, Destroyer, not yet destroyed;  And doom to you, Betrayer, not yet betrayed.  When you finish destroying, your turn will come—destroyed!  When you quit betraying, your turn will come—betrayed!
God, treat us kindly. You’re our only hope.  First thing in the morning, be there for us!  When things go bad, help us out! You spoke in thunder and everyone ran.  You showed up and nations scattered.  Your people, for a change, got in on the loot, picking the field clean of the enemy spoils.  God is supremely esteemed. His center holds. Zion brims over with all that is just and right.  God keeps your days stable and secure— salvation, wisdom, and knowledge in surplus, and best of all, Zion’s treasure, Fear-of-God.

But look! Listen! Tough men weep openly. Peacemaking diplomats are in bitter tears....The very ground under our feet mourns, the Lebanon mountains hang their heads, Flowering Sharon is a weed-choked gully, and the forests of Bashan and Carmel? Bare branches.

“Now I’m stepping in,” God says.  “From now on, I’m taking over. The gloves come off. Now see how mighty I am. There’s nothing to you.... “If you’re far away, get the reports on what I’ve done, and if you’re in the neighborhood, pay attention to my record.  The sinners in Zion are rightly terrified; the godless are at their wit’s end:  ‘Who among us can survive this firestorm? Who of us can get out of this purge with our lives?’”

The answer’s simple:    Live right,    speak the truth,    despise exploitation,    refuse bribes,    reject violence,    avoid evil amusements.
This is how you raise your standard of living!  A safe and stable way to live. A nourishing, satisfying way to live....

Just take a look at Zion, will you? Centering our worship in festival feasts!  Feast your eyes on Jerusalem, a quiet and permanent place to live.  No more pulling up stakes and moving on, no more patched-together lean-tos.  Instead, God! God majestic, God himself the place in a country of broad rivers and streams, but rivers blocked to invading ships, off-limits to predatory pirates.  For God makes all the decisions here. God is our king.  God runs this place and he’ll keep us safe....

Luke 11:1-11:28
One day, Jesus was praying in a certain place.  When he finished, one of his disciples said, “Master, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”  So Jesus said, “When you pray, say, Father, Reveal who you are,  set the world right, Keep us alive with 3 square meals, Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others, Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.”  

Jesus then told the story of a friend who comes in the middle of the night asking for help and the person he is asking responds with reasons why he can’t help.  Then Jesus states: “even if he won’t get up because he is a friend, if you stand your ground, knocking and waking all the neighbors, he’ll finally get up and get you whatever you need.  Here is what I am saying:  Ask and you’ll get; seek and you’ll find; knock and the door will open.  Don’t bargain with God.  Be direct.  Ask for what you need.....And don’t you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him?

Jesus delivered a man from a demon that had kept him speechless...the man started talking like a blue streak, taking the crowd by complete surprise.  But some from the crowd were cynical...others were skeptical....Jesus knew what they were thinking and said, “Any country in civil war for very long is wasted.  A constantly squabbling family falls to pieces....You accuse me of ganging up with the Devil....but if you’re slinging devil mud at me, calling me a devil who kicks out devils, doesn’t the same mud stick to your own exorcists?  But if its God’s finger I’m pointing that sends the demons on their way, then God’s kingdom is here for sure.....”

“This is war and there is no neutral ground.  If you’re no on my side, you’re the enemy, if you’re not helping, you’re making things worse.” 

While he was saying these things, some woman lifted her voice above the murmur of the crowd; “Bless the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed!”  Jesus commented, “Even more blessed are those who hear God’s word and guard it with their lives!”