Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Word for Today - Daily Office

Genesis 17:1-2 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, God showed up and said to him, "I am The Strong God, live entirely before me, live to the hilt! I'll make a covenant between us and I'll give you a huge family." 

Colossians 2:11-12 Entering into this fullness is not something you figure out or achieve. It's not a matter of being circumcised or keeping a long list of laws. No, you're already in—insiders—not through some secretive initiation rite but rather through what Christ has already gone through for you, destroying the power of sin. If it's an initiation ritual you're after, you've already been through it by submitting to baptism. Going under the water was a burial of your old life; coming up out of it was a resurrection, God raising you from the dead as he did Christ. (THE MESSAGE)

COMMENT: What an appropriate collection of texts for the first day of 2009! The Genesis text speaks of the inauguration of God's covenant with Abraham. I love the phrase in the message - live entirely before me... Other versions render it: "walk before me and be perfect/blameless" - the Hebrew behind this phrase is tamim - a word that is not fully captured by either of the common translations of "perfect" or "blameless." Both terms (perfect / blameless) miss the real significance of the Hebrew term “tamim.” It is a word that means whole or complete – fully mature – all that a thing was meant to be… and in the context of this call to faith and trust in God’s promise, the word means complete, unqualified surrender. El Shaddai, the Sovereign God, the Almighty One has called Abram to a daily walk of complete trust, absolute loyalty, and total surrender. In other words, God says to Abram, if you wish to walk in covenant with me, you must give me your all, just as I have given you my all – in total devotion.

My prayer for 2009 is wrapped up in this call to "tamim" devotion to God. May I never be satisfied or content with cheap grace (to borrow Bonhoeffer's phrase)...the kind of discipleship that Peterson suggests is for sale in an instant society. The God who makes promises and commits unconditional and unfailing love to God's people is summoning forth a people who will walk daily in God's presence with unswerving love and loyalty. We walk this walk as a faithful response to who this God (El Shaddai... the God who is fully known in God's own Son, Jesus Christ) and what this God has done, is doing, and will do (make a great family through a 99 year old Abram... cover the earth with saving, transforming grace in the death and resurrection of Jesus). May I live daily before a God like that with the kind of trust and obedience that is best demonstrated in Father Abraham, as he offers up his very capacity to reproduce and bear children (what reasonable 99 year old, childless man would submit to the knife of circumcision, when one of his unrealized goals was to bear many children?). Abram offers this up in covenant to God... because God has offered God's very own self in covenant to Abram. I pray that I may live every day of 2009 in that kind of responsiveness to the God who has embraced me in Christ.

Is that a resolution? I certainly hope so! Love, so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all! Soli Deo gloria

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