A Devotion by Rev.Jonathan Adams
VCV Women’s Retreat
February 7-9, 2014
Forrest Hills Mountain Resort & Conf. Center
We invite you to step out of your normal day-to-day routine and join us for a restful weekend retreat in the beautiful setting of Forrest Hills Mtn. Resort. The weekend will entail a few big-group sessions led by various women in our church community, small-group time, and plenty of free-time to relax by the fire, go for a hike, partake in one of our group optional activities, or whatever it is that provides you with a restful, enjoyable weekend. Mark Miller and Melissa Walker will lead us in worship. We hope you can join us for a weekend of hearing afresh the life-giving, liberating news of the Gospel and the deep rest it offers.
You can check-in anytime after 4pm on Friday, Feb. 7th. Our first session will begin later that evening. Checkout is 9AM Sunday morning so everyone has a chance to make it back to VCV for worship.
Cost: $125 for shared room (queen bed) / $195 for single room
Contact: Carlyn Defnall at [email protected]
To register for the retreat, fill out the form below!
Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though hits waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
Even in these “days of good cheer,” it’s easy for us to get trapped in the mindset/heartset of slaves and orphans. So let’s allow Dr. Luther bring us home on this last day of Advent.
(From his commentary of Galatians):
The fact that the Spirit of Christ in our hearts cries unto God and makes intercession for us with groanings should reassure us greatly. However, there are many factors that prevent such full reassurance on our part. We are born in sin. To doubt the good will of God is an inborn suspicion of God with all of us. Besides, the devil, our adversary, goes about seeking to devour us by roaring: “God is angry at you and is going to destroy you forever.” In all these difficulties we have only one support, the Gospel of Christ. To hold on to it, that is the trick.
Christ cannot be perceived with the senses. We cannot see Him. The heart does not feel His helpful presence. Especially in times of trials a Christian feels the power of sin, the infirmity of his flesh, the goading darts of the devil, the agues of death, the scowl and judgment of God. All these things cry out against us. The Law scolds us, sin screams at us, death thunders at us, the devil roars at us. In the midst of the clamor the Spirit of Christ cries in our hearts: “Abba, Father.” And this little cry of the Spirit transcends the hullabaloo of the Law, sin, death, and the devil, and finds a hearing with God.
The Spirit cries in us because of our weakness. Because of our infirmity the Holy Ghost is sent forth into our hearts to pray for us according to the will of God and to assure us of the grace of God. Let the Law, sin, and the devil cry out against us until their outcry fills heaven and earth. The Spirit of God outcries them all. Our feeble groans, “Abba, Father,” will be heard of God sooner than the combined racket of hell, sin, and the Law.
Let us never doubt the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, but make up our minds that God is pleased with us, that He looks after us, and that we have the Holy Spirit who prays for us. With the Holy Spirit in our hearts crying, ‘Abba, Father,’ there can be no doubt that God has adopted us for His children and that our subjection to the Law has come to an end.” We are now the free children of God. We may now say to the Law: “Mister Law, you have lost your throne to Christ. I am free now and a son of God. You cannot curse me any more.” Do not permit the Law to lie in your conscience. Your conscience belongs to Christ. Let Christ be in it and not the Law.
Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
5 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
6 He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
7 On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
8 Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.
14 Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!
15 The Lord has taken away the judgments against you;
he has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
you shall never again fear evil.
16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Fear not, O Zion;
let not your hands grow weak.
17 The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
18 I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival,
so that you will no longer suffer reproach.
A wise man once asked me, “When you think of God’s face, what expression do you see?” Great question.
When I wallow in my sin I see stern disappointment, passive indifference, or outright rage on God’s face. According to the prophet Zephaniah he wears none of those expressions.
Because of Jesus, the judgments we deserve have been taken away. Jesus dropped the charges! We’re not under condemnation anymore, because Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God, was condemned in our place.
So now God rejoices over us, his children. He’s glad when he thinks of us. He quiets us with his love, right in the midst of the neurotic and anxious recesses of our souls. And here’s what really amazes me – he sings over us. Loudly! All because he loves us.
So, Christian, when you think of God’s face you can confidently know this: his smile is on you. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.
4 Blessed is the man who makes
the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!
5 You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told.
3 Thus says the Lord: I have returned to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the holy mountain. 4 Thus says the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of great age. 5 And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets. 6 Thus says the Lord of hosts: If it is marvelous in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, should it also be marvelous in my sight, declares the Lord of hosts? 7 Thus says the Lord of hosts: Behold, I will save my people from the east country and from the west country, 8 and I will bring them to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.”
Launch Ramps in the Eternal Cul-de-sac
My neighborhood growing-up was a pretty cool place – lots of kids to play with, a big cul-de-sac with a basketball hoop and some “launch ramps” for skateboarding and BMXing (and for injuring ourselves). Just beyond the cul-de-sac was a creek and about 10 acres of woods for building forts and BB gun wars. Pretty much every waking hour, if we weren’t at school, we were playing in the cul-de-sac or in the woods.
Now, we didn’t think about it when we were kids, but the baseline reason why we were able to play so hard in our neighborhood was this: we were safe. We knew it intrinsically, and that safety meant freedom to play.
In today’s Old Testament reading, Zechariah gives us a unique glimpse of God’s coming Kingdom. The image this time is not a party or a feast or a banquet, but a neighborhood. It’s a neighborhood where children play in the streets and old people sit and watch them. The most vulnerable (the young and the old) are safe in God’s Kingdom. We’re ALL safe in God’s Kingdom! Why? Because that’s what Jesus has won for us in his life, death and resurrection. We’ll be in our Creator’s presence. He will be our God and we will be his people. It’s gonna be so FUN – so get your bikes and your skateboards (or your walking canes) ready!
What does God think of all this? Is he the old grump who scoffs at the kids and yells at them when the ball rolls into his garden? NOPE! He’s the dad who looks out from the front porch and is so happy to see his kids having the time of their lives! Zechariah tells us that God delights in seeing his children living in safety. It’s “marvelous in my sight, declares the Lord of hosts.” Our safety and freedom in his presence is marvelous to him because he loves us and wants what is best for us.
In the meantime, as we wait, let’s take Jesus’ words to heart – “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom” (Luke 12:32).