Archive for November, 2009

Daily Prayer Guide – Monday, Nov 30

Matthew 1:1-17
An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,  3and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram,  4 and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon,  5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse,  6 and Jesse the father of King David.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah,  7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph,  8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah,  9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,  10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah,  11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel, and Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel,  1314 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud,  15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob,  16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor,

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.

Meditation
After four hundred years of God’s silence, the prologue to New Testament opens with Jesus’ genealogy. It is almost a summery of all notable Jewish history since the nation was founded in Abraham two thousand years before. Matthew wanted to first establish who Jesus was. To the Jews, your genealogy was you r identity. It was crucial that Jesus was shown to be of the lineage of David in order to be in line for the king’s throne, as well as proceeding from the seed of Abraham to prove he was the son of the covenantal promise. Matthew is defining Jesus in terms of messianic expectations. He needed to have the right credentials.

Through this motley genealogy of men and women of great faith, gentile women of questionable reputation (Ruth), adulterers (David and “Uriah’s wife”), prostitutes (Rahab) murderers, God funneled the long awaited messiah.

The Hebrew nation was waiting. God was also waiting, for the fullness of time. We barely understand the history let alone the mystery of the shaping of this astonishing genealogical account.

Why were these particular people chosen to participate in God’s overarching plan of bringing salvation to the world? Some had great faith, many had only small faith and all were deeply flawed. The more we know about these “interesting characters” that God uses, the more we realize it is the grace of God that accomplishes it all. God chooses the humble and the unlikely to participate in his work. God can choose and use anyone who meets him at the point of faith and grace. It is part of the great mystery of his fearless love.

Reflection
Remember a time when you experienced God using an unlikely person to accomplish something good. Think about any reason you might have to believe that God could not use you. Look again at the genealogy of Jesus and remember his great love and grace.

Prayer
Who are the “unlikely characters” in your life and world? People who you are not excited to see when you run into them? Ask God to help you see how these people could be vehicles of his work in your life.

Ask God to give you grace to be available to serve him in some small way today. “He gives grace to the humble.”

Written by Diane Peters

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Daily Prayer Guide – Sunday, Nov 29

Genesis 3:8-15
8 They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.  9 But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”  10 He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”  11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”  12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.”  13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.”  14 The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.  15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”

Medidation
It’s a tragic scene. Humans that we are, we receive the gifts of life, freedom, and relationship from God, but just can’t shake the tendency to throw it all away. The first human impulse after knowingly disobeying God’s wise instruction is to hide, in shame and fear. As the consequences of that infamous bad decision play out, God addresses all three parties in turn, first of all the serpent (Gen 3:14-15). We find exactly what we would expect: God speaks a message of justice. The serpent will suffer a fate of humiliation for what he has done (“eating dust” is a sign of subjugation and defeat, see Micah 7:17), but the last sentence of God’s message (Gen 3:15) contains a shocking surprise. He speaks of two lineages that will descend from this scene. The serpent’s destructive influence will continue to spread through his “offspring.” These are not baby snakes, but a way of speaking about those will act like the serpent, subverting and rebelling against God’s wise order and rule. On the other hand, the “offspring” of the woman will “strike the head” of the serpent: a fatal and crushing blow. At the same time, this descendant of the woman will himself suffer a blow to his heel at the very moment he destroys the serpent. Jewish and Christian readers alike have long seen in these words the promise of a coming deliverer, one who will reverse the work of the serpent, and ultimately destroy him. These are words of promise, of hope and deliverance, buried right here among words of judgment against the serpent. As we begin the advent season, let’s remember that it is this promise that found its fulfillment in Bethlehem some 2000 years ago.

This should tell us something about God. Even in the midst of tragic judgment, he cannot help but leave hope for a future blessing. Redemption out of ruin. Hope out of hopelessness. And so the Story begins…

Reflection
Notice how the promise of salvation emerges out the darkest moments of the human story. Have you seen God work in this way in your own story? How has God used your own pain and hardship in redemptive ways?

Prayer
– Maybe you are in the midst of hardship and confusion right now. Take that to God.

– Ask for help to embrace it. Ask for hope. Ask for eyes to see how he could use this hardship in ways you never expected.

– Speak out loud aspects of God’s character that can offer hope in the midst of your own hardship, or perhaps of someone you know.

Written by Tim Mackie

Countdown to Advent

Advent begins this Sunday, November 29, kicking off a season of anticipation as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our King. Within our Blackhawk community, we hope you’ll engage in this season in new ways – Advent Conspiracy style. This blog is full of resources, from a guide to spending less and a list of creative ways to give more.

And beginning this Sunday, you can visit this blog each day to read reflections on the season written by people in our church. This daily prayer guide will be available as a PDF at the beginning of each week so you can print it out as well.

This Sunday will also kick off our Advent Conspiracy message series on Worshiping Fully, Spending Less, Loving All and Giving More. On Sunday, December 13, we’ll be taking up the Love All offering, sending our combined resources to Romania, Honduras and Kenya to provide clean water and wheelchairs to those who need it most.

We’re excited to celebrate the season together and look forward to seeing what God will do in and through us this Christmas.

Water and Wheelchairs

This Christmas, as we dream about what’s possible when Christ followers choose to worship fully, spend less, give more and love all, we invite you to consider how your celebration might affect others around the globe.

Click here to learn more. And to see where our church’s Love All offering went last year, watch this video.

Stories from Advent Conspiracy ’08

How did participating in Advent Conspiracy change your celebration of Christmas? Blackhawkers answered here:

Trade As One

Advent Conspiracy advocates worshiping fully, spending less, giving more and loving all. What might that look like practically? Sure, buying one less gift is a great start. But what about the presents you will buy? How can those presents show a love for all?

Try this: Just One fair trade purchase from every American churchgoer this Christmas would lift one million families out of abusive poverty for one whole year.

You’re checking out this blog because you’re participating in a simple, conspiratorial idea: to celebrate Christmas the way it was meant to be celebrated.

You’re joining people all over the country who believe that when gifts are given, they should always speak of the sort of world that Jesus came to show us – one where the last is first, where the poor are included, the sick are healed, and the captive is set free.

In choosing Fair Trade, we apply the principle of loving others as we love ourselves to how products are sourced. We buy things we need, and give a job and a future to people living amongst desperate poverty.

Check out the video below and the Trade As One site for more information.


Love All

Act Local: Share gifts of time and resources with those in our community. At the Impact Tree in the Atrium, find opportunities available for individuals, families and life groups. All the information you need will be on the cards by the Tree. Take a card – put an ornament on the tree.

Give Global: On Sunday, December 13 during services, we'll take up an Advent Conspiracy offering (a direct result of spending less) to give towards clean water projects and wheelchair needs in Honduras, Kenya and Romania. If you won’t be able to join us at services on that day but still want to participate, just write "Advent" in the memo of your check and drop it in any of the offering boxes.