Thursday: Psalm 98, 99, 100; Jonah 1.1-17; Revelation 21.1-27

From: Brian Patton

Behold, I am making all things new!

John paints quite a picture here in Revelation 21: the holy city descending from heaven, detailed measurements, descriptions of the rich opulence. The Bride, the wife of the Lamb. It is a description of the perfection of the glory of God. Perfect in beauty, in measure and quantity, in material, and most importantly in holiness and purity. The city is lit by the glory of God. In this passage, we hear again the central message of the gospel: God is reconciling all things and making all things new. In John’s vision, we get a glimpse of the perfection at the end of that long road of reconciliation and renewal. We get to sense God’s majesty and glory. 

We recently visited St. Petersburg, Russia, and I was amazed at the decor in some of the cathedrals: so much gold, so many detailed mosaics, entire columns made of bright blue lapis lazuli and bright green malachite. Yet as impressive as those were to me, what John describes in Revelation is even more take-your-breath-away awesome and beautiful—priceless and impossible to obtain.

Today’s other passages also contemplate the awesome power of our God. Psalm 99 and the storm of Jonah 1 in different ways illuminate God’s position as the ultimate judge. Having a healthy fear of the Lord—an awareness of His power and zeal for justice—is an important part of sensing our need of His grace and mercy in the cross.

I am married to Jessica and father of Ayelet, Oliver, and Zayne. I enjoy traveling, fly fishing, reading a book with the children, relaxing with friends. And reading, writing, and implementing technical papers in code for my day job. We host the Waltham neighborhood group, starting again soon!

Tuesday: Psalm 79, 80; Esther 3.1-15; Revelation 12.1-17

From: Phil Kim

Recently, my family and I visited an exhibit called “Numbers in Nature” at the Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago). As we walked through the exhibit, we learned about different patterns displayed throughout nature. We learned about the Golden Ratio, spirals, and fractal branching and how these patterns appear in architecture, plants, animals, and many other ways. 

In Psalm 80, Asaph calls on God for redemption and salvation as a central theme. As in many of the Psalms, this particular one contains a distinct pattern that serves as a rhythm for the entire Psalm. Verses 3, 7, 14, and 19 have a similar refrain: “Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.” Scholars call this “synonymous parallelism”: the use of a similar phrase in different places within the Psalm. As you read this particular Psalm, the repeated refrain is both a plea and assurance that our God will indeed bring restoration in this broken world. Despite the hardships or challenges we face, we await the day when all things will be restored to its rightful and perfect place.

My new personal favorite pattern in nature is the Voronoi pattern!

Wednesday: Psalms 67-68, Ezra 8.1-36; Revelation 4.1-11

From: James Flaherty

The rebellious dwell in a parched land.
 
That’s me! 
 
I fuss about how much money I make. I fixate on the seemingly meager, makeshift nature of my accomplishments. 
 
I commute on packed trains without air conditioning in 90-degree heat, and I don’t like how other people smell. 
 
I make excuses for private and apparently benign strains of sin in my life. 
 
I maintain a lifestyle that’s largely tribal—regulated by affinity, custom, dismissive status quo, and self-interest. And that produces a spiritual state where I often feel like moving dust. Dust with a mouth and a social security number. 
 
My point, you’ll have gathered, is your headspace determines your heart. And you can be casual about that to your peril. But that’s a lot of power. And you ought to know better than assume you can do right with this or any power. 
 
I’d also like to call out your favorite resident demon: selfishness. I’m defining selfishness as consistent, habitual obedience and deference to what you want. A.k.a., the way we all tried to live today. 
 
All I really want to say about selfishness is it’s a lie. It’s a lie that you need a cushion, a surplus, in order to live. A surplus of affirmation, wealth, success, or security. It’s just not true. It’s really a lie that you have ultimate say about what your needs are, period. 
 
God does. The way scripture describes God’s care of his people is reassuring and sobering. The beauty, justice, and force of his provisions for me and for you are without limit:
 
God settles the solitary in a home; 
He leads out the prisoner to prosperity,
but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.
O God, when you went out before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness, 
the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain, 
before God, the one of Sinai,
before God, the God of Israel,
rain in abundance, O God, you shed abroad;
you restored your inheritance as it languished;
your flock found a dwelling in it;
in your goodness, O God, you provided for the
needy. Psalm 68: 6-10

 
I live in Jamaica Plain with Lucia, Joan, and Ursula.