Readings: Mar 18, 2012 4th Sunday of Lent

  2 Chronicles 36:14-16; 2 Chronicles 36:19-23; Ephesians 2:4-10; John 3:14-21 (The Message)

      2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23

The evil mindset spread to the leaders and priests and filtered down to the people—it kicked off an epidemic of evil, repeating the abominations of the pagans and polluting The Temple of God so recently consecrated in Jerusalem.

God, the God of their ancestors, repeatedly sent warning messages to them. Out of compassion for both his people and his Temple he wanted to give them every chance possible. But they wouldn’t listen; they poked fun at God’s messengers, despised the message itself, and in general treated the prophets like idiots. God became more and more angry until there was no turning back.     He burned The Temple of God to the ground, knocked down the wall of Jerusalem, and set fire to all the buildings—everything valuable was burned up. Any survivor was taken prisoner into exile in Babylon and made a slave to Nebuchadnezzar and his family. The exile and slavery lasted until the kingdom of Persia took over.

This is exactly the message of God that Jeremiah had preached: the desolate land put to an extended sabbath rest, a seventy-year Sabbath rest making up for all the unkept Sabbaths.

          King Cyrus

In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia—this fulfilled the message of God preached by Jeremiah—God moved Cyrus king of Persia to make an official announcement throughout his kingdom; he wrote it out as follows: “From Cyrus king of Persia a proclamation: God, the God of the heavens, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has also assigned me to build him a Temple of worship at Jerusalem in Judah. All who belong to God’s people are urged to return—and may your God be with you! Move forward!”        © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

      Ephesians 2:4-10

          He Tore Down the Wall

Brothers and sisters:

It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.

Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do work we had better be doing.                               © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

      John 3:14-21

Jesus said to Nicodemus:

In the same way that Moses lifted the serpent in the desert so people could have something tosee and then believe, it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up—and everyone who looks up to him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life.

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

“This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.”                                        © 2002 by Eugene H .Peterson

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