[05DEC2011] Advent – Week 2: Readings, Reflection, & Prayer
♦ Psalm 25 ♦ 9, 15
It seems for me the theme continues from the past few days readings. There is a definite expectation from our God in how we are to live our lives while we wait. My understanding is that our attitude should resemble one of constant preparation and readiness…the parable of the Ten Virgins comes to mind (Matt. 25:1-13). I also have the words of Peter still echoing in my ears from yesterday as he exhorts us to live out our days, while we wait, peaceful, pure, and blameless in the sight of our Lord. When I hear these words it is easy for me to begin examining my “holy checklist” to compare how I’m living… that is, if I am doing all the right things and abstaining from the wrong things. I don’t believe this is the right attitude of heart that the Lord intended… it’s pretty clear from the Gospels Jesus abhorred legalism.
What does it mean, “Peaceful, pure, and blameless…” What does it mean to make a straight way?
“Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God!” (Isaiah 40:3-5) – “Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for him!” (Mark 1:3)
I think the answer to what “being ready” looks like is found in the message of Jesus teaching about what the Kingdom of God looks like in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:29) and the Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:17-49). This is the “straight way” and the “narrow gate;” Jesus makes this very clear in the closing words of the Matthew discourse (Matt. 7:13-27). It is every bit an attitude of the converted heart evidenced as the fruit of true repentance.
O LORD, I give my life to you. I trust in you, my God! Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow. The LORD is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. Who are those who fear the LORD? He will show them the path they should choose. May integrity and honesty protect me, for I put my hope in you. (Psalm 25: 1-2, 4, 8, 12, 21)
I examine my heart and I know I am not perfect; there are many things I do not get right, but one thing I know… there is nothing I want more than to be fully and physically in the presence of my God. Nothing this world has lures me over the hopeful expectation of being in eternal union with Jesus Christ. I believe I can say as did the apostle Paul, “I count everything rubbish and loss for the sake of knowing my Lord as He truly is.” I refuse to make any excuse for any lack or failure on my part. In my weakness He is made strong and I am continually driven to the throne of my God with tears and mourning awaiting the day when they will be dried forever and my frailty fully and eternally restored to holy perfection…free to worship and walk as an immortal friend of God with the whole host of heaven.
But, …while we (while I) await that day, I am soberly reminded of the gravity of keeping my heart pure and always focused on the One. This too is taught in the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6:33); “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
The “straightness” and blamelessness of our life will be measured; I am sure, I was reminded again this morning as I read from the words of the prophet Amos who said: “I saw the LORD standing beside a wall he had built using a plumb line. He was using a plumb line to see if it was still straight… The LORD said ‘”I will test my people with this plumb line. I will no longer ignore all their sins.’” (Amos 7:7-8)
I have been haunted by the words of Jesus all this week as he leveled a blood curdling indictment against people who supposedly knew truth, saying:
“For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him…” (Matt. 21:32)
Today’s reading hammered another bone chiller on top of the previous charge as Jesus said these words:
“Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God.” (Matt. 22:29)
I realize in both these statements there is specific context that is germane to why Jesus spoke these words. I know there are people who are much more educated than I who might say “Jesus is talking to the Pharisees and religious leaders and blahbity, blah, blahbity, blah-blah…” Okay; fine. All I know is this. We’ve been given direction on how to carry our lives while we wait and each person will be held accountable to the way they lived and the words they spoke while they waited. I cannot imagine meeting my Savior face-to-face and hearing anything similar to those words he spoke so many years ago to those believing-but still unbelieving-people. I refuse to be one of those people.
“God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near.” (Rev. 1:3) -Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus.
A Hymn — Verbum Supernum Prodiens
Eternal Wisdom, Word of God, You came to save us by your birth;
When time was drawing to a close, You came to share our life on earth.
Now let your light shine in our hearts, and may your love within us burn.
Protect us from all sinful thoughts; may we each day your love return.
Most loving Father, hear our plea! You rule the world with equity,
Together with your only Son. And with your Spirit, three in one. Amen.