The Suffering Servant: Advent Devotional, Week 2

Week-2-Online.jpg

Read Psalm 22

One of the most memorable events of my life was seeing my grandfather, a person I respected greatly, enter into a battle with cancer at the end of his life. While he retained great dignity to the end, his body became worn out and drawn thin. When we see people of strength in our lives go through times of suffering, it is a difficult thing to watch.

Of all the psalms connected with Jesus, perhaps the most penetrating is Psalm 22. This psalm of anguish and suffering serves as a backdrop for Jesus’ crucifixion, the first phrases leaping from His lips while He hangs affixed to that tortuous wood. There is a wonder here because the chosen one, anointed by God and by His Spirit, now enters into the suffering of humanity. He endures both the suffering humanity deserves and the suffering humanity inflicts. The intensity of the cup of suffering that Jesus drinks at the Cross finds expression in the strong words of this psalm.

It is ironic that the political and religious leaders who gather around to watch Jesus’ crucifixion mock Him as He suffers. “They said, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One’” (Luke 23:35). They seem to delight in the suffering of this supposed Messiah, even as Jesus’ followers hide away in fear or lurk nearby in anguish. This is ironic because even as they mock, the Jewish belief structure of Jesus’ time earnestly anticipated a messiah figure to relieve their suffering under the oppression of the Roman regime. As happens to all of us, they failed to see that what they most need is right in front of them.

Advent may seem like an odd time to focus on Psalm 22. The theme and words seem more like a Good Friday portion of Scripture. Yet the anticipation of Advent calls us to a watchful attention of the way that God works. Even before the foundations of the earth, God had a plan to reveal His glory in Christ and to bring us back to Him through the suffering of Jesus. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us” (Ephesians 1:7-8a).

As we continue our Advent journey, may the suffering of Jesus the Messiah, described in Psalm 22, give us hope that God has come to rescue us. And may we meet that hope with faith as we live for God and wait for Christ’s return. R

REFLECTION QUESTIONS FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT:

  1. “The Lord works in mysterious ways” is a phrase we often hear. In what way was the arrival and suffering of Jesus a mysterious path of God? And in what way would you say it all made sense?
  2. As you reflect on the birth stories of Jesus from the Gospels, where do you see His purpose and suffering anticipated? What is your reaction to God’s long-planned and perfectly-executed plan for our salvation?

FAMILY TALK WEEK 2

INTENDED FOR FAMILIES WITH YOUNG CHILDREN

When park rangers rescue someone from a mountaintop or deep in a canyon, they have to do a short-haul rescue operation. This means that they y a helicopter as close as possible to the rescue site, then one ranger straps on a harness and is let out of the helicopter on a cable. The ranger dangles over the rescue site and eventually lands near the person to be rescued. The ranger links his harness to the stranded person, and together they are pulled back toward the helicopter where they can be safe.

Short-haul rescues are really dangerous! Park rangers who do them know that they are risking their own lives to save someone else’s.

This is exactly what Jesus did—but so much more! Jesus did lay down His life in order to save us. This is the whole point of the Savior Song in Psalm 22. Even though it was written hundreds of years before Jesus came to earth, this psalm gives clues about Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross. It tells us that Jesus would feel all alone (verse 1-2), that He would be made fun of (verses 6-8), that His body would be weak and broken (verses 14-17) and it even tells us that soldiers would play games for His cloak (verse 18). It’s a sad picture!

But, it’s also a hopeful picture. Jesus loved us enough to rescue us—to take the punishment for our sins! Like the short-haul rescuer, he links Himself to us and brings us to safety! We know that Jesus rose again, and those of us who trust Him, will rise to live forever with Him!

[This is part of the Eastbrook Church 2019 Advent devotional, “Songs of the Savior.”]

The Beloved Anointed of God: Advent Devotional, Week 1

Week-1-Online-scaled.jpg

Read Psalm 2

The story of God’s people, Israel, in the Bible feels like a story of people constantly looking for something. When Abraham and Sarah follow God’s call, they end up looking for a child of promise until Isaac is born. When Joseph is sold off into captivity by his brothers, he is looking for freedom, forgiveness, and a new beginning. When the people end up enslaved in Egypt, they call out to God, looking for deliverance.

Eventually, God’s people begin to look for a sort of leader who will come forth chosen by God. God raises up the judges one after another to fill this role, but the people want something more dependable. They ask for a king, like the nations around them. First it is Saul, then David, and eventually a succession of kings, some who are good and others who are bad. All the while, there is a deep searching for the kind of king truly set apart by God.

There is a word for that sort of king: the anointed one or, in Hebrew, messiah. When a leader was anointed, oil was poured upon their head as an outward symbol of God’s Spirit being poured upon them for the role of leadership. All through Scripture we hear the longing for an anointed one to come and make things right, both internally for God’s people and in relation to the peoples surrounding them.

Psalm 2 is a prayer song of that latter kind, calling out for God and His anointed to set things right with the nations raging around them. The anointed one is described as the son of the Most High, one whom the nations should kiss as a sign of their service to that kingly figure.

The early believers in Jerusalem later quote this psalm when they are being persecuted by religious and political authorities in Acts 4. It becomes a point of reference for them as they pray that God would enable them to step forward boldly to witness to Jesus, the true Messiah.

When we read Psalm 2 with Jesus in mind, suddenly some phrases take on new meaning. Verses 11 and 12 read: “Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. Kiss his son.”Once these words may have sounded like a demand from the writer, but now, through Christ, they sound like an invitation to devoted worship. It is probably no mistake that the most common word for worship in the New Testament (proskyneō / προσκυνέω) literally means to “kiss toward” someone as a sign of reverent adoration.

This Advent, may the words of Psalm 2 help us sing the song of the beloved anointed one of God, Jesus the Messiah, who is worthy of our love and worship.

REFLECTION QUESTIONS FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT:

  1. When you think back on Christmases past, what have been things you’ve sought throughout the season that determine whether it was a “successful” season for you or your family?
  2. Knowing that Christ is the anointed one, the promised Messiah of God, what are the ways you will keep Him as the object of your focus/worship this Christmas?

FAMILY TALK WEEK 1

INTENDED FOR FAMILIES WITH YOUNG CHILDREN

There’s a playground game called “Captain, May I?”. Maybe you’ve played it before? The “Captain” stands on one end of the play area while everyone else lines up at the opposite end. The Captain calls out a player and gives directions: Take five hops forward, or Spin in place three times.” The player called on must first ask: “Captain, may I?”. If a player forgets to ask, they are sent back to the starting line!

Of course, everyone wants to be the captain! It’s fun to be the one in charge, telling some players to go and others to stop, and really fun to send some all the way back to the start! This is what some people think it’s like to be king—telling everyone else what to do. The king is IN CHARGE!

But, who is in charge of the king?

This is what happened to God’s people. God wanted to be their king, but His people wanted to be like all the other nations—they wanted a person to be king. So, God allowed this. Sometimes, these kings were good, but sometimes they were bad—really bad.

Then, God sang a Savior Song! We hear it in Psalm 2: “I have placed my king on my holy mountain of Zion” (verse 6). God would set apart a special king, his own Son, Jesus, to be a king over all other kings!

This is what we celebrate throughout the season of Advent—the coming of God’s Son Jesus as the chosen, anointed king who would make everything right again. That’s why later in Psalm 2 God says:

Kings, be wise!
Rulers of the earth, be warned!
Serve the LORD and have respect for him.
Celebrate his rule with trembling. (verses 10-11, NIrV)

As God’s people today, we can be happy knowing that Jesus is charge! And we can worship Him as the king over all other leaders on earth.

[This is part of the Eastbrook Church 2019 Advent devotional, “Songs of the Savior.”]

Thanksgiving 2019 at Eastbrook Church

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. (Psalm 9:1)
Thanksgiving is a day for family to gather and give thanks for what God has done (and is doing). Join us today at 10 AM as the Eastbrook Church family gathers to praise and thank God for His goodness, mercy, grace, and blessings in our lives.
As part of our Thanksgiving celebration, we welcome contributions to our annual Thanksgiving offering, which goes to support our partners in mission around the world. This year’s Thanksgiving offering will support local church partners working in northeast Syria and the work of Sheepfold Ministries and Francis Omondi in the Horn of Africa.

Songs of the Savior: Psalms for Advent

 

This coming weekend at Eastbrook Church we begin a new preaching series entitled “Songs of the Savior: Psalms for Advent.” As you can already tell, this series corresponds to the season of Advent, the start of the liturgical year that leads to our celebration of Christ’s birth.

The Psalms are referred to as the prayerbook of the Bible. This collection of prayer-songs gathers up the wide-ranging experiences and emotions of humanity at prayer with God. All through these prayers are clues to God’s plan to bring lasting hope and new beginnings through a promised Messiah. As we enter into Advent, remembering Christ’s nativity and anticipating His return, we journey through four psalms that are songs of the Messiah.

November 30/December 1 – “The Beloved Anointed of God” [Psalm 2]

December 7/8 – “The Suffering Messiah” [Psalm 22]

December 14/15 – “The Eternal Priest” [Psalm 110]

December 21/22 – “The Perfect King” [Psalm 72]

Restoration and Embodied Sexuality

This past weekend at Eastbrook, I concluded our series, “Love-Sex-Body: Toward a Biblical Theology of Embodied Sexuality,” focusing on the fourth chapter of God’s Good Story: the Restoration of all things.

I spent a lot of attention in this message on Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15, which draw together Adam and fallen human bodies (ch. 2 – the Fall), Christ and His resurrection body (ch. 3 – Redemption), and the hope of future resurrection bodies for all those who belong to Christ (ch. 4 – Restoration). I connected that with the calling of the church to be a community marked by resurrection hope, living in holiness and love, touching upon Romans 8 and 1 Corinthians 6. The conclusion of the message directed attention to the ultimate consummation of Christ and His bride, the church, with the new heavens and new earth described in Revelation 21.

You can watch my message from this past weekend and follow along with the message outline below. You can also engage with the entire series here or download the Eastbrook mobile app for even more opportunities to connect.

Read More »

Redemption and Embodied Sexuality

Love Sex Body Series GFX-05I continued our series, “Love-Sex-Body: Toward a Biblical Theology of Embodied Sexuality,” this past weekend at at Eastbrook Church by turning to the third chapter of God’s Good Story: Redemption in Jesus Christ.

This message builds off of previous messages on Creation and the Fall, looking at Christ’s redeeming work as outlined in Romans 5. I take some time to reflect on the significance of Jesus’ incarnation for redemption from John 1 and 1 John 4. I then examine the reality of Christ’s bodily redemption in relation to our bodies, sexuality, and love with reference to various passages of Scripture, including John 8 & 9, Romans 6, 1 Corinthians 6 & 13.

You can watch my message from this past weekend and follow along with the message outline below. You can also engage with the entire series here or download the Eastbrook mobile app for even more opportunities to connect.

Read More »