Greetings to you! We are in the eighth Sunday before Easter and ten days before Ash Wednesday. The theme for our morning’s meditation is “Our sins begin with refusing to hear God.”
In our own lives we are able to discern what is right and wrong but we choose not to do what is right. We refuse to hear God even though he constantly speaks to us and warns us to repent of our sinful ways. We are called to hear the warnings that Christ has given and repent of our sinful ways.
In the Old Testament passage from the book of Isaiah, we notice that Israel as a nation failed to obey and trust in God. Isaiah calls to the heavens and the earth as witnesses. The court is convened and all creation is called to be witnesses because the Lord has spoken.
Isaiah was going to teach Israel that there was a relationship between keeping the covenant and the prosperity of the nation. Isaiah brings three key charges against Judah. Yahweh says, “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its master, the donkey its owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.”
Two examples from nature are given to show how Judah had rebelled against Yahweh. A child normally would reflect their parents because they had brought them up. But the people of Judah had rebelled against Yahweh, just like a rebellious child. The second example is about the ox and the donkey. Oxen listen to their master’s voice and the donkey knows the source of its food. From these two example Isaiah shows that sin is contrary to the nature. Even the animals had common sense to go back to their masters, but Israel did not even have that amount of common sense.
The second point that Isaiah makes is the abandonment of the Lord which shows that sin is contrary to privilege. Isaiah says, “Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him.”
The people of Judah were a privileged people because God had called them out to be a ‘holy nation’ but on the contrary, they had become a ‘sinning nation’. They were to be the people of God – redeemed and unique. But now they were the people of the evil one who were heavy with iniquity. Their character had been corrupted and Judah as a nation lived contrary to the will and character of Yahweh. They were to be the children of Yahweh but they became the children of corruption.
They not only forgot their commitment to Yahweh but actively rejected him. They reject the Holy One of God – a pure and holy God who had taken a people out to reflect something of his character and nature. Holiness is the heart and nature of God but they had treated him with scorn by leading immoral lives.
We too can reject the Holy One of God by leading immoral lives and persisting in our wicked ways and refuse to hear God. God challenges us this morning to hear his voice, to repent and turn back to him. If we know the truth and deliberately persist in wrong doing then we will face judgement.
Thirdly, sin is contrary to reason and productive of disaster. “Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness—only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with olive oil. Your country is desolate, your cities burned with fire; your fields are being stripped by foreigners right before you, laid waste as when overthrown by strangers.”
Judah had been punished severely and yet they persisted in rebellion. Inspite of all the punishments they had received by all the foreign invasions, they still persisted in rebellion. Their head was injured and their heart afflicted and therefore their ability to think had become warped and their love had gone awry.
Isaiah reminds the people of Judah to see what their rebellion had led to—anxiety, sickness, destructor and death. In other words, even though we have been hurt by our own sinful behaviour we keep on repeating the same sins over and over again. “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.”
God calls us this morning to turn back to him and to listen to his voice. May we truly repent and turn back to him.
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Greetings to you! Today is the day after we have all voted for a government in the Delhi elections and we are eagerly anticipating the results in a couple of days. This election has seen terrible polarization, violence, hate speeches and demonising one community as opposed to another.
May be some of us are wondering whether there is any hope of redeeming the situation for our state and for our country. It is in this kind of a context that this morning’s theme encourages us. The theme for our meditation is “God creates and redeems all things through Christ.”
Paul writing to the Colossians was addressing a divided people. There were false teachers who were saying that the work of Christ was not sufficient and that Christ was a created being and therefore inferior to God.
They also had a dualistic belief that the spirit was entirely good and matter was entirely evil. Since the body is matter, they considered the body to be evil. This led to two kinds of behaviours: either they became ascetics trying to starve the body or licentious thinking that anything they did with body did not really matter.
Paul reminds them that the Son is the image of the invisible God. In other words, he is the one who represents God to us. We know who God is when we look at Jesus. The writer of Hebrew says that Christ is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.
Paul also says that everything under heaven and earth was created through him and for him. In other words, Christ was not a created being but he was the creator. Because Christ is the creator, all principalities and powers are under his power and therefore Paul is trying to tell the Colossians that Christ is supreme and sufficient for all.
In a similar way, in our context we have to understand that Christ is supreme and sufficient for all our circumstances. Jesus Christ is not only the creator but the sustainer and provider of all things. This gives us the assurance that he will sustain us in all our difficult situations and provide for all our needs.
Not only Christ is supreme in the old creation but he is supreme in the new creation as well. He is also the beginning and therefore has pre-eminence. Jesus is also the first born from among the dead. He has defeated sin, Satan and death and rose again on the third day. So, he has power over every situation and he is supreme because all the principalities and powers were defeated on the cross. We can be assured that the forces of darkness have already been dealt with.
Paul then talks about the redemption work of Christ. It is through him that God reconciles all things to himself. Reconciliation is the work of God. Reconciliation was made possible through the cross because Christ paid the penalty for our sins on the cross. We are now entrusted with this ministry of reconciliation. “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.
And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19). Since we are followers of Christ we are called to be ministers of reconciliation in our context. How can we bring peace among our communities which are currently being polarised? Can the Christian community act as a reconciling community and bring peace in our state and in our society? God has entrusted us with this mission.
Paul then reminds the people of Colossae that, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour”. However, they were now reconciled by Christ’s death in order to present them as holy in his sight, without blemish, free from accusation.
He challenges them to continue in their faith and not to be swayed by the situation around them knowing that God is both creator and redeemer and will redeem all things in his time. Meanwhile we are called to live out our lives as reconcilers and bring glory to God through the way we lead our lives.
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Today is the sixth Sunday after Christmas and the theme for our morning meditation is “The child Jesus is revealed as the promised Saviour.” Luke records for us that the time came for the purification rites required by the law of Moses. According to Leviticus 12:6, they were to come after the days of purification are over and present a year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a dove for a sin offering.
This usually happens after forty days after the birth of a son. It was also the time that Joseph and Mary took Jesus to present him in the temple. The offering that was made was to redeem the first born. But more than anything else the important thing is the offering of a child to God for his service, in the same way that Samuel was offered by his parents to God. So, we see Jesus being consecrated to the service of God. This is in line with Exodus 13:2,12 where every first-born of the Israelites was to be consecrated to the Lord because all the first-born of Israel was delivered in Egypt and the first-born of the Egyptians were killed. Since Mary and Joseph were poor, they offered a pair of doves.
There was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the coming of the Messiah who would fulfil all their hopes. He was equipped to recognise the coming of Messiah because the Holy Spirit was on him. The Holy Spirit had informed him that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Holy Spirit, he went into the temple and saw the child Jesus along with Mary and Joseph. Simeon took the baby and said:
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
Simeon shows that the era of salvation has come and now Simeon is ready to die having seen the fulfilment of God’s promise. He had seen the Messiah whom God had sent. The Messiah would be light to the Gentiles and the glory of the people of Israel.
Simon therefore clearly shows to us that the Jesus is revealed as the promised Saviour. Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
Simeon not only indicated that he would be a Saviour of the world but his coming would also judge the people of Israel. The Messiah would be a person who would not be carried away by outward appearances but would reveal the hearts of people. Simeon also cautioned Mary that she would also go through the path of suffering because of being the mother of the Messiah. The parents marvelled at what was said about him.
There was also a prophet Anna who was 84 years old. She was always in the temple worshipping night and day, fasting and praying. She came up to them at the very moment and gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. Here again we see that Anna was clearly indicating that Jesus was the promised Saviour who was going to redeem his people.
Luke records for us that when Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.
The promised Saviour has come and done his work on the cross for us. Therefore, what is it that you and I are called to do? Paul writing to the Romans says, “I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
So, as we recognise Jesus as our Saviour, we are to live that out in our daily lives, being holy, offering our bodies as a living sacrifice for the service of God. We are not to be carried away by the pressures of this world, but we are to allow the Holy Spirit of God to transform our lives by the renewal of our minds. May God truly help us to discern his will and walk according to his ways.
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