Daily Reading & Meditation

Friday (December 12):  The Lord will lead you in the way you should go

Scripture: Matthew 11:16-19  (alternate reading: Luke 1:26-38)

16 "But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places and calling to their playmates, 17 `We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.' 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, `He has a demon'; 19 the Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, `Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds."

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 48:17-19

17 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:  "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go. 18 O that you had harkened to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea; 19 your offspring would have been like the sand, and your descendants like its grains; their name would never be cut off or destroyed from before me.”

Meditation: Do you seek God's way of peace and wisdom for your life? The prophets remind us that God’s kingdom is available to those who are teachable and receptive to the word of God. Through their obedience to God's word and commandments, they receive not only wisdom and peace for themselves, but they, in turn become a blessing to their children and their offspring as well. Jesus warns the generation of his day to heed God's word before it is too late. He compares proud teachers and vain scholars with stubborn playmates who refuse to follow wise counsel and instruction.

Jesus parable about a group of disappointed musicians and their stubborn friends who refuse to sing or dance at the appropriate occasion challenge us to examine whether we are selective to only hear and do what we want to hear. The young music players in Jesus' parable react with great dismay because they cannot get anyone to follow their instruction. They complain that if they play their music at weddings, no one will join in their festive song and dance; and if they play mournful tunes and songs at funerals, no one will join in at all. This parable echoes the wisdom of Ecclesiastes 3:4 - "there is a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance." Are you in tune with the message of God's kingdom? And do you heed God's word of wisdom and truth as if your life depended on it?

Spiritual indifference and deaf ears can block God's word for us
Jesus' message of the kingdom of God is a proclamation of good news that produces great joy and hope for those who listen and obey - but it is also a warning of bad consequences and disaster for those who refuse to accept God's gracious invitation. Why did the message of John the Baptist and the message of Jesus meet with resistance and deaf ears? It was out of jealously and spiritual blindness that the scribes and Pharisees attributed John the Baptist's austerities to the devil and they attributed Jesus' table fellowship as evidence for pretending to be the Messiah. They succeeded in frustrating God's plan for their lives because they had closed their hearts to the message of  John the Baptist and now they close their ears to Jesus, God's anointed Son sent to redeem us from bondage to sin and death.

What can make us spiritually dull and slow to hear God's voice? Like the generation of Jesus' time, our age is marked by indifference and contempt, especially in regards to the things of heaven. Indifference dulls our ears to God's voice and to the good news of the Gospel. Only the humble of heart can find joy and favor in God's sight. Is you life in tune with Jesus' message of hope and salvation? And do you know the joy and blessing of believing and obeying God's word?

"Lord Jesus, open my ears to hear the good news of your kingdom and set my heart free to love and serve you joyfully. May nothing keep me from following you wholeheartedly."

Psalm 1:1-6

1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: The river of forgiveness washes us clean, by Ambrose of Milan, 339-397 A.D.

"This water is good, then. I mean here the grace of the Spirit. Who will give this Fountain to my heart? Let it spring up in me, let that which gives eternal life flow on me. Let that Fountain overflow on us and not flow away. For Wisdom says, 'Drink water out of your own vessels and from the fountains of your own wells, and let your waters flow abroad in your streets' (Proverbs 5:15-16). How shall I keep this water so that it does not seep out or glide away? How shall I preserve my vessel, lest any crack of sin penetrating it should let the water of eternal life exude? Teach us, Lord Jesus, teach us as you taught your apostles, saying, 'Lay not up for yourselves treasures on the earth, where rust and moth destroy and where thieves break through and steal (Matthew 6:19)...

"If you seek Jesus, forsake the broken cisterns, for Christ did not make it his custom to sit by a pool but by a well. There that Samaritan woman (John 4:6) found him, she who believed, she who wished to draw water. Although you ought to have come in early morning, nevertheless if you come later, even at the sixth hour, you will find Jesus wearied with his journey. He is weary, but it is because of you, because he has long looked for you, your unbelief has long wearied him. Yet he is not offended if you only come now. He asks to drink who is about to give. But he drinks not the water of a stream flowing by, but your salvation. He drinks your good dispositions. He drinks the cup, that is, the passion that atoned for your sins, that you, drinking of his sacred blood, might quench the thirst of this world." (excerpt from ON THE HOLY SPIRIT 1.16.182–84)


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author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers.

 
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