In the beginning, the inspired scriptures tell us, God created everything, from nothing (2). In the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, our first parents, Adam & Eve, knew only good.
But when they took a bite of the apple, in disobedience to God, they also began to know evil. As part of their punishment for disobedience, God said they would experience many trials in their lives & would be opposed constantly by Satan. Because Satan had influenced this turn of events, God said he, too, would experience consequences — ultimately to include being crushed by a descendant of Adam & Eve, whom we know as Jesus.
Centuries later, about 65 years after Jesus left the earth to return to heaven, a close friend of his was inspired by the Holy Spirit to see that the end of time will be much like the beginning of time (3). That is, many of the perfections of the Garden of Eden, described at the beginning of the inspired Jewish scriptures, will be restored & taken to new heights in the new heaven & the new earth, described at the end of the inspired Christian scriptures.
The inspired Jewish scriptures provide the background for understanding God’s plan to rescue humanity from the self-inflicted wounds of sin. The story of God’s chosen people — from the first book of Genesis to the last book of Malachi — leads ultimately to Jesus.
Sovereign God, please help me to love finding Jesus.
(2) Genesis 1-3
(3) Revelation 21-22
THE ANNUAL CYCLE OF MEDITATIONS BEGINS AGAIN HERE.
For several hundred years, up until a point in time about 2,000 years ago, God had allowed Jewish people to be exposed to many different cultures, including those of Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Libya, Italy, Greece & Arabia. The city of Jerusalem had become a very cosmopolitan city as a result.
At that time, the first Christian Pentecost (1) occurred — 50 days after Jesus had risen from death & 10 days after he had returned to heaven. On that Pentecost day, the believers gathered in Jerusalem to remember Jesus & to worship God & to draw close to him in prayer. Suddenly, the Holy Spirit of God invaded their fellowship — with the sound of a strong wind & the appearance of flames flickering over every person there!
As the Spirit gave them power, all the believers, speaking in many different languages & dialects, began testifying boldly about how Jesus had changed their hearts & changed their lives!
When a large crowd of people gathered to learn the cause of this uproar, every one of them was able to hear testimonies about Jesus in their own language & dialect. They were amazed that this common testimony about Jesus was being shared simultaneously by so many different people!
This amazes us today, too. We want to know: What happened to these people? How did Jesus change these people’s hearts & lives in this amazing way?
God, please help me to love obeying your Spirit.
(1) Acts 2:1-12
Meditating on fundamental aspects of the Christian faith, such as those expressed in the Creeds, helps us grow closer to God. We can find great peace in contemplating the power & promises of Jesus.
- Jesus is the Lord of all creation – a truth which is affirmed repeatedly in the inspired scriptures. He created us & he controls our destiny, whether we acknowledge that or not.
- Jesus is alive & working in this world through his church, however imperfect that church necessarily must be. Our human imperfections can never negate the perfections offered to us by the Holy Spirit.
- Jesus will return to this earth again, as he promised his closest followers before he ascended to heaven.
- When he returns, Jesus will judge, with perfect judgment, all people — living & dead, believers & non-believers — as he promised.
- In Jesus, and in Jesus alone, we find the fulfillment & the completion & the perfection of all things.
God, please help me to love finding & sharing peace in Jesus.
Meditating on fundamental aspects of the Christian faith, such as those expressed in the Creeds, helps us grow closer to God. Jesus continued bringing immense glory to God, after he had sacrificed his life for the forgiveness of our sins.
- Jesus rose from the grave & conquered death! Death had no dominion over him; Jesus won the victory over death — our last enemy. As a result, we no longer need to fear death.
- In the presence of his chosen witnesses, Jesus returned to heaven, thereby assuring us that He can bring us to heaven, too.
- When he was no longer with them on the earth, Jesus sent his Holy Spirit to comfort & strengthen his people. The Holy Spirit enables us to live like Jesus & to show Jesus to the rest of the world.
- Because of her unique relationship with God, Mary, the mother of Jesus, was certainly taken to heaven to be with Jesus & the Father. Many other saints also abide in heaven with God. They remain alive to God although dead as to the world; they live on in the spirit although dead as to the flesh. Together with living believers, they are part of the communion of Christian saints.
God, please help me to love giving You everlasting glory with all the saints.
Meditating on fundamental aspects of the Christian faith, such as those expressed in the Creeds, helps us grow closer to God. Jesus suffered for us. May God grant us grace to suffer for him as we suffer for others.
- Jesus experienced intense agony while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, as he began to bear the punishment due for all the sins of all people throughout all time.
- Jesus was beaten mercilessly by Roman authorities; he was mocked mercilessly by Jewish soldiers, by Roman soldiers & by spectators at the events surrounding his execution. Yet he never objected or resisted. Instead, Jesus willingly took the punishment due for all the sins of all people throughout all time.
- Jesus was made to carry his cross, the instrument of his execution. May God grant us grace to carry our crosses, daily putting to death the independent self-life that insists on living apart from God.
- Jesus gave up his life on the cross as a perfect sacrifice, sufficient to satisfy God’s holy anger at all our sins.
- The amazing passion of Jesus to rescue us from ourselves is also seen in the ways in which he reached out to people, even as he suffered for us:
- Malchus had his severed ear restored.
- Peter was brought face-to-face with his selfish nature.
- Simon of Cyrene got to carry the execution cross with Jesus.
- Weeping women were encouraged to examine their hearts.
- A repentant thief was promised life in heaven.
- Provision was made for Mary, the mother of Jesus.
- John, the Witness, was given a ministry of mercy.
- A Roman commander recognized the divinity of Jesus.
- A perfect way was made for you & me to be reconciled to God.
God, please help me to love suffering with You.
Meditating on fundamental aspects of the Christian faith, such as those expressed in the Creeds, helps us grow closer to God. Jesus demonstrates the power of God among humans & brings light into our darkness.
- Jesus was baptized by John the Baptizer, showing us the importance of baptism as a means of God’s grace in our lives. When the Son was baptized, the Spirit was present & the Father was pleased.
- Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding in Cana of Galilee, demonstrating the power of God among his people. By such miracles, Jesus draws our attention to God.
- Jesus proclaimed that the kingdom of God was present in the world, inviting people to turn away from the world & submit to God as king of their lives.
- Jesus briefly revealed his heavenly glory to three of his chosen witnesses. Though they did not clearly understand the significance of this event when it happened, it did help them understand more clearly that Jesus is God, after he had risen from death.
- Jesus left his followers the ritual of communion, encouraging us to see his grace & mercy even in the things we take for granted, such as eating a simple meal, and encouraging us to renew our commitment to him as we remember his sacrifice for us.
God, please help me to love living simply in the light of Jesus.
Meditating on fundamental aspects of the Christian faith, such as those expressed in the Creeds, helps us grow closer to God. Jesus came into our world as a man, which is a cause of great joy for all people. In Jesus we get to know God better!
- God sent the angel Gabriel to tell a faithful, young Jewish girl that she would bear God’s Son into the world, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary, not fully understanding what God intended, still agreed wholeheartedly to. serve God in this way.
- Mary visited her cousin, Elizabeth, who was experiencing her first pregnancy at an older age, as the angel Gabriel had promised her husband, Zechariah. The two women encouraged one another, acknowledging that God was working these miracles in their lives.
- Jesus was born to Joseph & Mary in humble circumstances in Bethlehem but with angelic fanfare, indicating that God had come into the world for all people.
- When Joseph & Mary dedicated Jesus to God, Simeon received the baby in the Temple at Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit assured the old man that Jesus was God’s promised savior for Jews & Gentiles.
- Having lost track of their 12-year old son at a festival in Jerusalem, Joseph & Mary found Jesus in the Temple — talking with priests & scribes, exhibiting astonishing knowledge of God. Nevertheless, the boy Jesus humbly submitted to his parents & returned home with them.
God, please help me to love & enjoy the Son You sent to save us.