It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Reflection on the One-Year-Bible readings for December 5

Our help in the name of the Lord, 
who made heaven and earth.
(Psalm 124:8)

Hosea 1:1-3:5
Hosea was speaking at a time of calamities--dangers from outside and disobedience and disloyalty within.

The Lord tells him to marry a prostitute. The Lord tells him what to name the children born to them. We are struck by the names that the Lord deems appropriate: Jezreel--God sows; Lo-ruhamah--Not pitied; Lo-ammi--I am not yours.

If we choose to read this chapter metaphorically (as many commentators do), we can see the history of Israel lived out through the life of Hosea. Israel has been unfaithful. The Lord has punished Israel. Israel feels abandoned.

Yet, disobedience and punishment are not the end of the story of the Lord and Israel. Pity, compassion, and love are continuing characteristics of the Lord. God tells Hosea, "When people say that you are not my people, just tell them you are the children of the living God."

1 John 5:1-21
Looking Words up in a Greek Dictionary
Vocabulary Drill: believe, born, love, know, commandments.

believe, pisteuo, believe (in), have faith (in), have confidence (in), entrust.

born, passive voice of gennao, be fathered by, borne by, having been conceived by.

love, agapao, love, proof of love, placing first in one's affections.

know, ginosko, know, have knowledge of, learn, understand, perceive, discern, recognize.

commandments,plural of entole, commandment, order, instruction

Source: The Greek New Testament, 3rd ed., ed. by (among others) Kurt Aland

"For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the word. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith" (1 John 5:3-5).

Love is obeying commandments. Following commandments is the victory that conquers the world. We aren't talking Alexander the Great kind of conquering. We talking Christ conquering.

The United Methodist Church has designed Four Areas of Focus:
* Combating the diseases of poverty by improving health globally.
* Creating new places for new people and revitalizing existing congregations.
* Developing principled Christian leaders for the church and the world.
* Engaging in ministry with the poor.

We don't have to wait until after we die for eternal life to begin. Eternal life promises more than by-and-by. Eternal life begins now. Here.

The first witnesses saw this promise fulfilled in the Son.

We are asked to share this eternal life. We are asked to know that we share this eternal life.

Psalm 124:1-8
Israel could look back and remember that day when their ancestors were escaping captivity. They were standing at the banks of a raging river, but an army was pursuing them. They were able to reach safety because the Lord intervened.

Throughout their subsequent history, they needed the help of the Lord and received it.

All of us who have come after Moses can also remember and be grateful. The work of the Lord did not end with Moses, but continued, and continues.

We don't have a promise that our lives will be totally without problems. Rather, we have the assurance that the Lord will sustain us and help us through our troubles.

Proverbs 29:5-8
Whoever flatters a neighbor is spreading a net for the neighbor's feet.
In the transgression of the evil there is a snare, 
but the righteous sing and rejoice.
The righteous know the rights of the poor; 
the wicked have no such understanding.
Scoffers set a city aflame, 
but the wise turn away wrath.

Prayer for Today: O Lord, free us from the pains that confront us, and direct us toward the life you intend for us. Amen.

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