Time in the Word
November 10-15, 2014
Preparation for the Lord’s Coming
Collect for Proper 28 – Almighty and ever-living God, You have given exceedingly great and precious promises to those who trust in You. Dispel from us the works of darkness and grant us to live in the light of Your Son Jesus Christ, that our faith may never be found wanting; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
For blessing on the Word – Lord God, bless Your Word wherever it is proclaimed. Make it a word of power and peace to convert those not yet Your own and to confirm those who have come to saving faith. May Your Word pass from the ear to the heart, from the heart to the lip, and from the lip to the life that, as You have promised, Your Word may achieve the purpose for which You send it; through Jesus Christ, my Lord.
A prayer before we study the Word – Almighty God, our heavenly Father, without Your help our labor is useless, and without Your light our search is in vain. Invigorate the study of Your holy Word that, by due diligence and right discernment, we may establish ourselves and others in Your holy faith.
The Lessons for this coming week again help us prepare for the coming of our Lord. In the Old Testament lesson, the prophet Zephaniah reminds us of the reason the Lord must return. Sin will cause death and destruction. In the Epistle lesson, Paul assures his readers the children of light will not be surprised when the day of the Lord suddenly comes. The Christians of the first century were concerned about the exact date of Jesus’ return. Paul reminded them that no exact day could be determined, for Jesus will come suddenly and unexpectedly as a thief comes in the night. In the Gospel lesson, we are given the parable of the talents. This is another parable related to the Lord’s return. According to the parable, the return is long delayed (v. 19). The servants are asked to give an account of their investment. Two servants doubled the investment and the third preserved what he was given. The third servant was condemned for not making the most of his talent. It was taken from him and given to the other two. Jesus has ascended and His return has been delayed. When He comes, He will ask for an accounting whether they worked for Him while He was absent or whether they cared only for their security. A hoarded gift is lost and the hoarder is condemned.
Monday, November 10, 2014 – Psalm 143:5-6, 10-11 - The Antiphon for this coming Sunday is from Psalm143:1: “Hear my prayer, O Lord, give ear to my pleas for mercy! In Your faithfulness answer me, in Your righteousness!” David calls for deliverance from his enemies and for divine leading. As he makes his appeal to the Lord, he is confident the Lord will act on his account. Thus we are directed to pray in the morning and evening “…into Thy hands I commend myself…”
Tuesday, November 11, 2014 – Zephaniah 1:7-16 - The prophet reminds his hearers sin will cause destruction and death. Zephaniah calls upon the nation to be “silent” before God. Similarly a psalmist wrote, “Be still and know that I am God.” If one is to hear what God has to say, there must be silence. Because of this, silence is requested in a library or concert hall. But, there is greater reason for silence. In the face of something catastrophic or terrible, our only reaction is silence. When the seal is broken in heaven, there is a half hour of silence. Zephaniah has a dreadful word from God: The day of the Lord is coming as a day of doom, gloom, destruction, and death for all people. That is enough to shock us into silence.
The “end” is final. There is nothing beyond or it would not be the end. The wrath of God will not be spent until the end of everything. It reminds us of the result of nuclear warfare and the end of the earth. This passage gives us no hope, no solution. The end is promised and it will come, unless.... Or, is it too late?
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 – 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 -Since Christians are children of the day (righteousness) and not of the night (wickedness), they are to remain sober and awake. To be ready and to be equipped to do battle against evil, they are to be equipped with faith, hope, and love. Paul comforts and assures them that God has not destined them to wrath, but to salvation so that whether they live or die, they might be with the Lord.
Thursday, November 13, 2014 – Matthew 25:14-30 – What the servants have is not their own. The rich man of the parable gave his property to his servants as a trust until he returned. As servants of God, all we have has been given to us: our world, gifts, and our very own lives. Thus, we are stewards of God’s wealth. We are not free to do with his possessions as we wish. God holds us accountable for what we did or did not do with His property.
The Bible teaches us to fear God, but not to be afraid of Him. The servant who did nothing with his talent was afraid of God. Though God is a just God who demands justice, holiness, and righteousness, we need not be afraid of Him, for He loves us. Fear Him? Yes! Fear Him in terms of reverence and awe! When we are afraid, we freeze, hold back, fear to venture. The servant was afraid he would lose his one talent and he knew the master would demand a return of his money. In all ways, fear in terms of being afraid, makes us inhibited, cautious, and withholding. Love dares to venture and invest.
Friday, November 14, 2014 - Psalm 90:1-12 - This Psalm is the appointed one for this Sunday. Verse 17 is the key verse, “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,” David says. As You Lord only have been our security in the world so also make our labors to be effective and enduring – though we are so transient.
Saturday, November 15, 2014 Luke 21:25-36 - Our reading is the inspiration for the hymn; “The Day is Surely Drawing Near.” As the Church year comes to a close, so we look to the time of Christ’s second coming. We need not fear these days for we are confident of Him who orders our days and directs our path.
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