June 9, 2016

Isaiah 46-48
......“Listen to me, family of Jacob, everyone that’s left of the family of Israel. I’ve been carrying you on my back from the day you were born, and I’ll keep on carrying you when you’re old.  I’ll be there, bearing you when you’re old and gray. I’ve done it and will keep on doing it, carrying you on my back, saving you.

“So to whom will you compare me, the Incomparable? Can you picture me without reducing me?...“Think about this. Wrap your minds around it. This is serious business, rebels. Take it to heart. Remember your history, your long and rich history. I am God, the only God you’ve had or ever will have— incomparable, irreplaceable—From the very beginning telling you what the ending will be, all along letting you in on what is going to happen, assuring you, ‘I’m in this for the long haul, I’ll do exactly what I set out to do,’....
“Now listen to me: You’re a hardheaded bunch and hard to help. I’m ready to help you right now.  Deliverance is not a long-range plan.  Salvation isn’t on hold.  I’m putting salvation to work in Zion now, and glory in Israel.”

 “Get off your high horse and sit in the dirt, virgin daughter of Babylon. no more throne for you—sit on the ground, daughter of the Chaldeans.  Nobody will be calling you ‘charming‘ and ‘alluring’ anymore. Get used to it.... I was fed up with my people, thoroughly disgusted with my progeny. I turned them over to you, but you had no compassion....You’re acting like the center of the universe, smugly saying to yourself, ‘I’m Number One. There’s nobody but me....You were so confident and comfortable in your evil life, saying, ‘No one sees me.’  You thought you knew so much, had everything figured out.  What delusion!  Smugly telling yourself, ‘I’m Number One. There’s nobody but me.’...
“And now listen to this, family of Jacob, you who are called by the name Israel: Who got you started in the loins of Judah, you who use God’s name to back up your promises and pray to the God of Israel?  But do you mean it?  Do you live like it?....

For a long time now, I’ve let you in on the way I work I told you what I was going to do beforehand,  then I did it and it was done, and that’s that. I know you’re a bunch of hardheads, obstinate and flint-faced, so I got a running start and began telling you what was going on before it even happened....And that was just the beginning.  I have a lot more to tell you, things you never knew existed.  This isn’t a variation on the same old thing.  This is new, brand-new, something you’d never guess or dream up.  When you hear this you won’t be able to say,  ‘I knew that all along.’ You’ve never been good listeners to me.  You have a history of ignoring me,  a sorry track record of fickle attachments—rebels from the womb. But out of the sheer goodness of my heart, because of who I am, I keep a tight rein on my anger and hold my temper.  I don’t wash my hands of you. Do you see what I’ve done?  I’ve refined you, but not without fire. I’ve tested you like silver in the furnace of affliction. Out of myself, simply because of who I am, I do what I do. I have my reputation to keep up.  I’m not playing second fiddle to either gods or people. “Listen, Jacob. Listen, Israel— I’m the One who named you! I’m the One.  I got things started and, yes, I’ll wrap them up....  

“Come everybody, gather around, listen: Who among the gods has delivered the news? I, God, love this man Cyrus, and I’m using him to do what I want with Babylon. I, yes I, have spoken. I’ve called him.  I’ve brought him here. He’ll be successful. Come close, listen carefully: I’ve never kept secrets from you. I’ve always been present with you.”...

And now, the Master, God, sends me and his Spirit with this Message from God, your Redeemer, The Holy of Israel: “I am God, your God, who teaches you how to live right and well.  I show you what to do, where to go. If you had listened all along to what I told you, your life would have flowed full like a river,  blessings rolling in like waves from the sea. Children and grandchildren are like sand, your progeny like grains of sand.  There would be no end of them, no danger of losing touch with me.”...  Let the world know, the whole world. Tell them, “God redeemed his dear servant Jacob!”  They weren’t thirsty when he led them through the deserts. He made water pour out of the rock; he split the rock and the water gushed.

“There is no peace,” says God, “for the wicked.”

Luke 16 - 
Jesus said to his disciples, “There was once a rich man who had a manager.  He got reports that the manager had been taking advantage of his position by running up huge personal expenses.  So he called him in and said, “you’re fired, and I want a complete audit of your books....One after another, he called in the people who were in debt to his master and received a portion of what they owed him...Now here is a surprise.  The master praised the crooked manager!  And why?  Because he knew how to look after himself.  Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens.  They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits.  I want you to be smart in the same way--but for what is right--using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you’ll live, really live, and not complacently just get  by on good behavior.”.....

When the Pharisees, a money-obsessed bunch, heard him say these things, they rolled their eyes, dismissing him as hopelessly out of touch.  So Jesus spoke to them, “you are masters at making yourselves look good in front of others, but God knows what’s behind the appearance.  What society sees and calls monumental, God sees through and calls monstrous... Jesus then told the story of the Rich man and Lazarus to which Abraham concludes to him “If you won’t listen to Moses and the Prophets, they’re not going to be convinced by someone who rises from the dead.”