Daily Reading & Meditation

Saturday (December 6): "The kingdom of heaven is at hand"

Scripture: Matthew 9:35-10:1,6-8

9:35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every  disease and every infirmity.  36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;  38 pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." 10:1 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. 6 "Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And preach as you go, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay.

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 30:19-21,23-26

19 Yes, O people in Zion who dwell at Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he  hears it, he will answer you. 20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your  eyes shall see your Teacher. 21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. 22 Then you will defile your silver-covered graven images and your gold-plated molten images. You will scatter them as unclean things; you  will say to them, "Begone!" 23 And he will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and grain, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous. In that day your cattle will graze in large pastures; 24 and the oxen and the asses that till the ground will eat salted provender, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork. 25 And upon every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water, in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. 26 Moreover the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the LORD binds up the hurt of his people, and heals the wounds  inflicted by his blow.

Meditation: Who doesn't want a life of good health, peace, and well-being? Isaiah foretold that God's kingdom would overcome sorrow and adversity and bring true peace and prosperity to God's people. Jesus understood his mission to bring the kingdom in all its fulness to us. The core of the Gospel message is quite simple: the kingdom or reign of God is imminent!

The kingdom of God is imminent
What is the kingdom of God? It's the power of God at work in that society of men and women who trust in God and who honor him as their King and Lord.  In the Lord's prayer we dare to ask God to reign fully in our lives and in our world: "May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 5:10 ). Jesus' preaching of God's kingdom was accompanied by signs and wonders. People were healed not only spiritually, but physically as well. Do you believe in the power of God's kingdom for your life? Let his word transform your mind and heart that he may reign supreme in every area of your life.

Jesus commissioned his disciples to carry on the works which he did - to speak God's word and to bring his healing power to the weary and oppressed. Jesus said to his disciples: Freely you have received, freely give (Matthew 10:8). What they had received from Jesus (all free of charge) they must now pass on to others without expecting any kind of payment or reward. They must show by their attitude that their first interest is God, not material gain.

The kingdom of heaven comes to those who receive Christ with faith
Jesus' words are just as relevant today. The kingdom of heaven is available to those who are ready to receive it. We cannot buy heaven; but if we accept the love and mercy of Jesus we already possess heaven in our hearts! The Lord brings his kingdom or heavenly reign to those who receive him with faith and obedience. When the Lord returns in his glory he will fully restore his kingdom of everlasting peace and justice. Do you pray and watch with confident hope for God's kingdom to come in all its fullness?

"Lord Jesus, rouse my spirit from complacency and stir my faith to see you act today. Give me boldness to live and proclaim the message of the kingdom of heaven and to be a prophetic sign of that kingdom to this generation."

Psalm 147:1-6

1 Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God;  for he is gracious, and a song of praise is seemly.
2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars, he gives to all of them their names.
5 Great is our LORD, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.
6 The LORD lifts up the downtrodden, he casts the wicked to the ground.

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: In remembrance of heavenly life, by Bede the Venerable, 672-735 A.D.

"Why should the lunar reckoning be calculated from the noontide hours, seeing that the moon had not yet been placed in the heavens or gone forth over the earth? On the contrary, none of the feast days of the law began and ended at noon or in the afternoon, but all did so in the evening. Or else perchance it is because sinful Adam was reproached by the Lord 'in the cool of the afternoon' (Genesis 3:8) and thrust out from the joys of Paradise. In remembrance of that heavenly life which we changed for the tribulation of this world, the change of the moon, which imitates our toil by its everlasting waxing and waning, ought specifically to be observed at the hour in which we began our exile. In this way every day we may be reminded by the hour of the moon's changing of that verse, 'a fool changes as the moon' (Sirach 27:11) while the wise man 'shall live as long as the sun' (Psalm 72:5), and that we may sigh more ardently for that life, supremely blessed in eternal peace, when 'the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days.' Indeed, because (as it is written) 'from the moon is the sign of the feast day' (Sirach 43:7), and just as the first light of the moon was shed upon the world at eventide, so in the law it is compulsory that every feast day begin in the evening and end in the evening (see Exodus 12:18). (excerpt from THE RECKONING OF TIME 3.43)


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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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