The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Bible for Sunday, December 17, 2006

with 2 comments

Third Sunday of Advent
December 17, 2006

Zephaniah 3:14-20

Isaiah 12:2-6

Philippians 4:4-7

Luke 3:7-18

First glance at Sunday’s Scriptures? Where do you think they’ll take us? What do you see?

John the BaptistLuke 3:7-18
When crowds of people came out for baptism because it was the popular thing to do, John exploded: “Brood of snakes! What do you think you’re doing slithering down here to the river? Do you think a little water on your snakeskins is going to deflect God’s judgment? It’s your life that must change, not your skin. And don’t think you can pull rank by claiming Abraham as ‘father.’ Being a child of Abraham is neither here nor there—children of Abraham are a dime a dozen. God can make children from stones if he wants. What counts is your life. Is it green and blossoming? Because if it’s deadwood, it goes on the fire.”

The crowd asked him, “Then what are we supposed to do?”
“If you have two coats, give one away,” he said. “Do the same with your food.”

Tax men also came to be baptized and said, “Teacher, what should we do?”
He told them, “No more extortion—collect only what is required by law.”

Soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”
He told them, “No shakedowns, no blackmail—and be content with your rations.”

The interest of the people by now was building. They were all beginning to wonder, “Could this John be the Messiah?”

But John intervened: “I’m baptizing you here in the river. The main character in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will ignite the kingdom life, a fire, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He’s going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he’ll put out with the trash to be burned.”

There was a lot more of this—words that gave strength to the people, words that put heart in them. The Message! But Herod, the ruler, stung by John’s rebuke in the matter of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, capped his long string of evil deeds with this outrage: He put John in jail.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Philippians 4:4-7
Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

And, a bit of the beautiful Zephaniah reading:

18-20″The accumulated sorrows of your exile
will dissipate.
I, your God, will get rid of them for you.
You’ve carried those burdens long enough.
At the same time, I’ll get rid of all those
who’ve made your life miserable.
I’ll heal the maimed;
I’ll bring home the homeless.
In the very countries where they were hated
they will be venerated.
On Judgment Day
I’ll bring you back home—a great family gathering!
You’ll be famous and honored
all over the world.
You’ll see it with your own eyes—
all those painful partings turned into reunions!”
God’s Promise.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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Written by Monte

December 13, 2006 at 11:43 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Matter of fact, my wife’s family’s annual vacation is at a lake place in Minnesota, where there is a rubber fish on the wall. Each time someone walks by, the fish sings “Oo, oo oo . . . Don’t worry, be happy!”
    You’re right, anyway! Thanks for coming by, and for extending peace to us. I treasure your friendship.

    Monte

    January 5, 2007 at 11:59 pm

  2. “Don’t worry, be happy.” Remember that tune? Don’t worry, pray, is so different from that. Don’t deny what’s making you worry by turning from it and acting happy. Instead, turn it over to God. That’s true happiness, eh?

    On that note, pray your way through Christmas and you will have a merry one.

    :)

    Peace to you, Monte, your family, and your church. (That’s a prayer that makes me happy!)

    Adela

    December 14, 2006 at 2:03 pm


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