Sunday, January 31, 2010

January 31st - Reflection

Fourth Sunday After Epiphany
Luke 4:21-30 (NRSV)
The prophet Jesus not accepted

Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, "Is not this Joseph's son?" He said to them, "Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, 'Doctor, cure yourself!' And you will say, 'Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.'" And he said, "Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet's hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian." When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

It seems as if,at first, the people were excited to have someone as Jesus in their midst. But then, doubt began to creep in. Isn't this just a carpenter's son? And then Jesus boldly reminds them of a few instances where God came to heal and care for outsiders. God cares for all people. So, I wonder, if the people, seeing that Jesus had no intention of remaining a hometown boy, and meeting the needs of the people right there in the community, that the people all became angry with Jesus? They became so angry that they were willing to hurl Jesus off the cliff and stone him to death.

We want things to be for us. Especially we tend to want to know and have the secret for ourselves so that we have a little control of the power that the secret holds. I think the people in this passage wanted to have Jesus for themselves. Surely having the Messiah in the community would bring about influence and power. But God has a different intention.

God wants us, instead of holding on to the secret for ourselves, to spread the secret freely for others to share also. God is not a finite God, God is infinite. Jesus can't be put into just my heart and kept there. Jesus invites us out. He invites us out to tell all in the Kingdom of what he has done. Jesus invites us out to show the love and compassion that He shows on and in his earthly walk.

We don't need to wonder if Jesus will be in our heart, he assures us that will be true. Jesus is infinite. So in our selfish sin to keep him to ourselves, we need to give up this desire and repent and move out, not in. Move out with Jesus in his Kingdom. Proclaim the secret of his love to all the world, today, tomorrow and forever. Thanks be to God!

Lord, forgive me when I try to hold you in my heart. Forgive my selfish desire to close you in. Permit me to go out into your Kingdom this day and live and tell of and show the love you came to teach all of us about. Show me how to give my life away, to give life out and not to hold life in. --- Amen

Saturday, January 30, 2010

January 30th - Reflection

John 1:43-51 (NRSV)
Can anything good come out of Nazareth?

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth." Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!" Nathanael asked him, "Where did you get to know me?" Jesus answered, "I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you." Nathanael replied, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" Jesus answered, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these." And he said to him, "Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."

Such a simple revelation for me today but one I have thought about for years. Jesus finds me. Then I find my friends and tell them about Jesus. Tell them to "Come and see." So simple yet so huge. How can one help but to go find friends and tell them about someone who is perfect in love and compassion, perfect in love and trust, perfect in all ways?

Come and see! Go check it out! So, drawn by the Spirit, people go to see. Friends go to check it out! And when they do...they find Jesus has already found them. Jesus already knows about their life too! How can this be? This must surely be the Messiah! Do you believe because Jesus already knows you? That's only the start of it! Come and see! Believe! The Creator knows every hair on your head and Jesus has found you this day!

Come and see! Believe! It's only the start! You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon Jesus, and he will be right there by your side!

Come and see! Believe! It's only the start!

Lord, you came to my said, "Can Billy come out to play."...I came...I found I run to find other friends..."Come and see!"...Believe!...It's only the start!...Thanks be to God! ---Amen

Friday, January 29, 2010

January 29th - Reflection

Acts 19:1-10 (NRSV)
Believers speak in tongues

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples. He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?" They replied, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." Then he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They answered, "Into John's baptism." Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus." On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied -- altogether there were about twelve of them.

He entered the synagogue and for three months spoke out boldly, and argued persuasively about the kingdom of God. When some stubbornly refused to believe and spoke evil of the Way before the congregation, he left them, taking the disciples with him, and argued daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord.

I'm heading northwest but I need to be heading due north. Disciples met by Paul who had not been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Sure, they had heard the message of John to repent for someone is coming after, that is Jesus. But they didn't get to hear the rest of the story. So Paul, introduced them to Jesus and the Holy Spirit came upon them.

Sometimes I'm heading northwest but I need to be heading due north. I don't stay on track to what plan God has in mind for me. I lose focus or never even gain focus of the goal and purpose God has provided. So, just as these disciples were heading in the right direction but straying off track, God graciously sent Paul to correct direction and set their sights on Jesus.

With the distraction of the day, it's important that either I hear the Word of God, or someone comes to me to keep my focus on the cross and the saving acts of Jesus. It's important that I head the direction of Jesus leading the way. Otherwise it can be so easy to fall off direction and think that my own direction is the correct way. God has a plan and purpose and calling for everyone. Listen to the Word. Listen and look and strive to keep on track.

Sometimes I'm heading northwest but I need to be heading due north. Thanks be to God for disciples like Paul, who come with the Word made flesh and provide a little correction when needed!

Lord, forgive me when I wander off. Thank you for giving direction through your Word and through your people. Speak through me to provide direction, when needed, to others and open my mind to see your presence and your Word in those you send to me, that may be correcting my own direction. --- Amen

Thursday, January 28, 2010

January 28th - Reflection

Acts 10:44-48 (NRSV)
Gentiles receive the Holy Spirit

While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, "Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.

First the Word --- In the beginning --- at creation --- The Word --- then the Word made flesh --- Jesus Christ --- lived and died and rose again --- The Word --- defeating sin, death and the devil --- The Word, granting eternal life to all who believe --- then the Holy Spirit descends --- the Word made flesh in Peter and you and I --- the Word spoken and the gift of the Holy Spirit freely given to all people --- Why not everyone become children of God? --- Why not baptism for all --- First the Word --- In the beginning --- Always the Word --- Eternally

Thanks be to God!

Lord, reveal Yourself to me I pray and send Your Holy Spirit through the Word that I may follow, learn and act out the call You have given to me this day. ---Amen

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

January 27th - Reflection

Psalm 119:89-96 (NRSV)
The law of God gives life

The Lord exists forever;
your word is firmly fixed in heaven.
Your faithfulness endures to all generations;
you have established the earth, and it stands fast.
By your appointment they stand today,
for all things are your servants.
If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my misery.
I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have given me life.
I am yours; save me
for I have sought your precepts.
The wicked lie in wait to destroy me,
but I consider your decrees.
I have seen a limit to all perfection,
but your commandment is exceedingly broad.

I can grasp the concept that God existed forever. Just a stroll at night and a viewing of the stars, helps to bring this around. Or even a hike into the mountains. I can feel so small in contrast to all of creation around me. So the concept that God existed forever, even the concept that God is huge, really huge, doesn't seem that big of a stretch to me.

Even to believe that this God would expect me to be the servant in the relationship. OK, I can get that part. The part about God giving commandments or precepts...OK to that one too. God is boss, and I would expect to be told what to do.

But the law being the psalmists delight? That one has a little twist to it for me. My first inclination would be that I want to serve God in the way that I think would please God. But that's not the deal here. I am to serve God in the way that God wishes to be pleased. So how do I get from one way of thinking to the other?

Thanks be to God, it's through Jesus Christ. My first mode of thinking placed the burden on myself. For me to figure out that it's not about what pleases me, it's about what pleases God, all I have to do is look at the life of Jesus. He followed the plan that the Father laid out. Even when He had that inclination to stray from that plan and onto His own plan, He still stuck to the plan of the Father. And that made all the difference for you and for me. In that plan, what happened in the Garden of Eden through the first humans was reversed by God himself, in the flesh and blood of Jesus.

I see now that for me to do what I think will please God, puts myself on the same level with God. I am not God. I am a child of God. I am a servant of God. I am a disciple of God. But I am not God. My laws are not God's laws. My ways are not God's ways. So therefore I finally get how God's commandments and precepts make me happy.

By looking to God's commandments, God's precepts, God's plan; I can see what God wants and how God wants it. I now have a road map to follow to please God. I have a work plan. I have a plan that brings joy. Brings joy, because through God in the flesh, Jesus has shown the way to love God and to love one another and the way to please God. What a plan...what wonderful commands...what a wonderful walk with God, day by day. Thanks be to God!

Lord, as I open Your Word this day; reveal Your commands, reveal Your plan and teach me. Lead me in the steps I am to take with You this day. May a heart of compassion and love grow within me and may I please You this day. --- Amen

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January 26th - Reflection

Jeremiah 36:11-26 (NRSV)
Jehoiakim burns the scroll

When Micaiah son of Gemariah son of Shaphan heard all the words of the Lord from the scroll, he went down to the king's house, into the secretary's chamber; and all the officials were sitting there: Elishama the secretary, Delaiah son of Shemaiah, Elnathan son of Achbor, Gemariah son of Shaphan, Zedekiah son of Hananiah, and all the officials. And Micaiah told them all the words that he had heard, when Baruch read the scroll in the hearing of the people. Then all the officials sent Jehudi son of Nethaniah son of Shelemiah son of Cushi to say to Baruch, "Bring the scroll that you read in the hearing of the people, and come." So Baruch son of Neriah took the scroll in his hand and came to them. And they said to him, "Sit down and read it to us." So Baruch read it to them. When they heard all the words, they turned to one another in alarm, and said to Baruch, "We certainly must report all these words to the king." Then they questioned Baruch, "Tell us now, how did you write all these words? Was it at his dictation?" Baruch answered them, "He dictated all these words to me, and I wrote them with ink on the scroll." Then the officials said to Baruch, "Go and hide, you and Jeremiah, and let no one know where you are."

Leaving the scroll in the chamber of Elishama the secretary, they went to the court of the king; and they reported all the words to the king. Then the king sent Jehudi to get the scroll, and he took it from the chamber of Elishama the secretary; and Jehudi read it to the king and all the officials who stood beside the king. Now the king was sitting in his winter apartment (it was the ninth month), and there was a fire burning in the brazier before him. As Jehudi read three or four columns, the king would cut them off with a penknife and throw them into the fire in the brazier, until the entire scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the brazier. Yet neither the king, nor any of his servants who heard all these words, was alarmed, nor did they tear their garments. Even when Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah urged the king not to burn the scroll, he would not listen to them. And the king commanded Jerahmeel the king's son and Seraiah son of Azriel and Shelemiah son of Abdeel to arrest the secretary Baruch and the prophet Jeremiah. But the Lord hid them.

Some people just don't want to hear about it. They don't want to hear news that they don't want to hear. So they ignore it. Maybe if I ignore something long enough, it will go away. But things don't usually work this way. The "thing" never went away. The "thing" is still there. Even if the writings are gone the "thing" still exists. You can't ignore something.

The Word of God can't be ignored or placed in a fire or even thrown out. The Word of God will continue to exist no matter what we try to do with it. For the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Can't get rid of Him even if we want to. Thanks be to God!

Lord, forgive me and humble me in those times that I think that I can get rid of the Word when the Word is inconvenient for me. Forgive me and humble me when I believe that I am above the Word. Lead me and teach me Your will and Your way. Make my purpose part of Your forever. ---Amen

Monday, January 25, 2010

January 25th - Reflection

Conversion of Paul
Acts 9:1-22 (NRSV)

Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" He asked, "Who are you, Lord?" The reply came, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do." The men who were traveling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." He answered, "Here I am, Lord." The Lord said to him, "Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight." But Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name." But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God." All who heard him were amazed and said, "Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?" Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah.


Saul was an instrument for God. God chose to change the life of Saul. God chose to use Saul to spread the Word. God chose Saul as an instrument. Likewise God chooses us to be an instrument. God chooses each person and provides unique gifts and the movement of the Holy Spirit within lives. God chooses us and comes to us in Jesus Christ so that we can become what God has chosen for us to become. But what does it take for me to respond?

It took a life-changing moment for Saul to respond. It took a vision for Ananias to respond. Why is it that it takes anything more for God to do for me to respond? As I read the Word and listen to the Word spoken and reflect on the sacraments; I am made aware of a God who has already responded in love for me. I know of a walk with God in daily living. I know of a God who is in the lives of people around me and in the life of the Church. God responds and acts and loves people face to face. Jesus spoke to Saul directly and confronted Saul with his sin. Jesus speaks to you and me directly and confronts us with our sin. Confronted by sin, we repent and God forgives.

We were made to respond to the call. We were made to get up and go. We were made to be a part of the plan God has set in motion throughout time. We were made to live the life God has planned for us and to respond. It's always a change. It's a constant change, but a wonderful change. As we move from one life to another we trust in God to continue to knock us down and bring on change. A change that causes a response. A change that brings life. A wonderful gracious change. Thanks be to God!


Lord, some days You have to knock me over and fill me with Your Spirit so that my scales of blindness fall from my eyes. Help me to hear and respond to Your call. Teach me the compassion and love which I need to live out Your plan for my life daily. Send Your holy angels to lead and guide and protect me as I walk in Your Kingdom each day. --- Amen

Sunday, January 24, 2010

January 24th - Reflection

Third Sunday After Epiphany
Luke 4:14-21 (NRSV)
Jesus reads the prophet Isaiah

Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

I love this passage. First it reminds me of how Luther teaches us to read the Old Testament. We are to read the Old Testament through the lenses of Christ. In the OT we can see Christ all over the place. If we but read the Word of the OT with Christ in mind, we will see His presence throughout all time.

Second, I can't help but to get a kick out of how Jesus springs this concept on the people. He stands up with a passage that is about Himself, written years ago, reads it and sits down. Nothing said, just say the Word and sit down! So they all look at him. And it's like "What! What's the matter with you? That passage was about Me and is being fulfilled before your eyes." (Of course that's just my take on the words with a little made up going into it for fun) ---

And you know what! The same goes for you and me today. Jesus is here and present in our lives. He comes to the door day after day. In fact, He just came in this reading to you and to me. In the Word He places with us daily, the scripture is being fulfilled. So you may as well get used to Him. He's here to stay, in your life, in my life and in the lives of those around us. Day after day.

What! What's the matter with you? That passage is about Jesus and is being fulfilled before your eyes! Thanks be to God!

Come, Lord Jesus, come! And thanks for coming! ---Amen

Saturday, January 23, 2010

January 23rd - Reflection

Luke 2:39-52 (NRSV)
Jesus increases in wisdom

When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day's journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, "Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety." He said to them, "Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

We search for Jesus in anxiety. Sometimes when I search, I begin to think maybe He is not to be found. But sometime or another, I find Jesus. I may find Him in the words of one of the guys at work. I may find Him in a beautiful sight from atop mountains. I may find Him deep in prayer. But every time I do find Him, it seems that He really found me. It seems that I find Him and He seems to be astounded that I think that I found Him, when it was He that was with me all along. In the search, I find that I didn't even have to search. In the search, I find that the search wasn't about me finding Jesus, but about a love so great the Jesus came for me! God came for me! That's the astounding part of it all. That's the part that I'll never get. But, it doesn't really matter does it? He did come for me, and I will always love Him for what He did for me. Jesus came for me, and for you! Be astounded! Be loved! Wow! He is closer than you could ever know.

Wow! What love! Thanks! --- Amen

Friday, January 22, 2010

January 22nd - Reflection

Romans 12:1-8 (NRSV)
One body in Christ

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God -- what is good and acceptable and perfect.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

Renew---make my mind new again. Born into sin, my mind takes on the ways of sin. As I grow, sin becomes real to me and I become sin. But here in this passage, I am reminded, that through Christ, my mind will be made new again. My mind will be filled with the thoughts of Christ. My mind will be filled with a different understanding. No longer does sin have control of my mind, but Christ has control of my mind. My mind is made new again through Christ. While on this earth there is a battle that rages on in my mind. There is the battle with sin and my mind tells me to sin. But there is also the assurance that Christ has brought, in His coming to this world, that my mind can be made new through him. Some day as my mind changes from that old terrible mind of sin, Christ's loving and gracious action of salvation will completely overtake my mind and all I do and say will be in one accord. But for now, I battle with my old mind and the mind that is being made new. What a wonderful change! Thanks be to God!

Lord, take my mind, take my body, take my soul and change it into what You would have it be. ---Amen

Thursday, January 21, 2010

January 21st - Reflection

Romans 7:1-6 (NRSV)
The new life of the Spirit

Do you not know, brothers and sisters -- for I am speaking to those who know the law -- that the law is binding on a person only during that person's lifetime? Thus a married woman is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies, she is discharged from the law concerning the husband. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man, she is not an adulteress.

In the same way, my friends, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God. While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we are slaves not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.

I am sinner and saint. There is part of me that is dealing with the law. Part of me that is being condemned daily for my failure to keep the law. There is part of me that realizes that I can't make it on my own because the law overwhelms me and I fall desperately short of salvation.

But there is also the saint part of me. This part tells me of Christ who has died for my sin and released me that the failures of the sin and the law. This part of me walks free from sin and bears fruit for God. This saintly part of me walks in the freedom of salvation through Christ alone to joyfully serve, praise and love God and to joyfully serve and love those God places in my life day after day.

I am sinner and saint, but thanks be to God through Christ Jesus, I am called as a child of God to walk in the Kingdom day after day.

Lord, as I am aware of my sin and seek forgiveness, renew me, forgive me, call me, gift me and send me free to serve You daily. In joyful expectation I walk with You. ---Amen

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

January 20th - Reflection

Psalm 145 (NRSV)
Praise God's faithfulness

I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you,
and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall laud your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
The might of your awesome deeds shall be proclaimed,
and I will declare your greatness.
They shall celebrate the fame of your abundant goodness,
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
and his compassion is over all that he has made.

All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
and all your faithful shall bless you.
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom,
and tell of your power,
to make known to all people your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

The Lord is faithful in all his words,
and gracious in all his deeds.
The Lord upholds all who are falling,
and raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand,
satisfying the desire of every living thing.
The Lord is just in all his ways,
and kind in all his doings.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of all who fear him;
he also hears their cry, and saves them.
The Lord watches over all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.

My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
and all flesh will bless his holy name forever and ever.

Do you ever wonder what it would be like for all the works of the LORD to give thanks? What are all the works of God? I don't even think I can begin to fathom what that would contain or entail. So to even wonder what all those works giving thanks, blows my mind. What about all the works giving praise to God? What would that look like. I think of some of the stories in Revelation for that one. But the only way I can begin to internalize the thought is through my own imagination. Every one of the ways that I have seen God, have seen His actions, have seen His creations, every one that I know of and every one of these works and creations that I have heard from others...all of this thanking and praising God! And that's just a couple specks of the beginning of understanding of God. I can't imagine what it would be like. But even with what I can fathom, it will and is glorious. So why not join in on the song of thanksgiving and praise this day? Join the crowd! Give thanks to God our Savior, Creator, Redeemer and Lover. Give thanks and praise God's forever. Thanks be to God!

As I join in the countless other creatures great and small hear my song of thanks and praise, my Lord. ---Amen

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

January 19th - Reflection

Song of Solomon 4:1-8 (NRSV)
The bride's beauty extolled

How beautiful you are, my love,
how very beautiful!
Your eyes are doves
behind your veil.
Your hair is like a flock of goats,
moving down the slopes of Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes
that have come up from the washing,
all of which bear twins,
and not one among them is bereaved.
Your lips are like a crimson thread,
and your mouth is lovely.
Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate
behind your veil.
Your neck is like the tower of David,
built in courses;
on it hang a thousand bucklers,
all of them shields of warriors.
Your two breasts are like two fawns,
twins of a gazelle,
that feed among the lilies.
Until the day breathes
and the shadows flee,
I will hasten to the mountain of myrrh
and the hill of frankincense.
You are altogether beautiful, my love;
there is no flaw in you.
Come with me from Lebanon, my bride;
come with me from Lebanon.
Depart from the peak of Amana,
from the peak of Senir and Hermon,
from the dens of lions,
from the mountains of leopards.

Love and adoration and praise. Passion stolen by love for another. Love that God has for us and love that we have for

Do I look upon God in this manner?

Do I see the Love that has been displayed?

Love that sent a child into the world to relate to those who needed this Love most.
Love that protected that child through childhood.
Love that called that child and led the child through the wilderness of temptation.
Love of a man that was on a mission with a purpose.
Love that called other's to walk by his side.
Love made flesh in action, teaching, healing and compassion.
Love that suffered the consequences of sin.
Love that was placed behind a stone cold tomb and left alone.
Love that victoriously spoke to the dead.
Love that walked once again with friends and followers in new life.
Love that ascended into heaven in glory with the hope and promise of eternal life and final victory.
Love that anointed with the fire of the Spirit.
Love that welcomes each day with a walk in the Kingdom.
Love that calls, enlightens, gifts and charges me and you to service and love for that very same Love and for one another....

Do I see the Love that has been displayed? ---

Thanks be to God!

Lord, Your Love leaves me speechless. You Love is beyond my understanding. This day may I reflect even a small portion of Your Love to those you give to me, all to Your glory and honor. ---Amen

Monday, January 18, 2010

January 18th - Reflection

Confession of Peter
Acts 4:8-13 (NRSV)

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is
'the stone that was rejected by you, the builders;
it has become the cornerstone.'
There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved."
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus.

Let's face it, we have all, at one time or another, crucified Jesus. We have all, at one time or another, abandoned Him. We have all, at one time or another, thought that we could do this all on our own. We have all, at one time or another, decided that our plan, was the way to salvation. And just because someone without credentials is honest enough to make this known to you, don't be so amazed. Because it's not the credentials speaking. It is the Truth speaking, and that Truth, is Jesus Christ Himself. The Stone that you and I have rejected.

But in this honest and truthful statement, we come to know that we need Him. In this truthfulness we come to the understanding that our salvation comes in no one else but Jesus. Our salvation does not come through our own deeds or the following of a denomination, a leader, or anything else. Our salvation comes through Jesus Christ. Now that is something to be amazed about, for we crucified our Savior, yet God raised Him from the dead! For us! Amazing!

Lord, I focus my life on You, for through You alone is salvation. Thanks be to God! ---Amen

Sunday, January 17, 2010

January 17th - Reflection

Second Sunday After Epiphany
John 2:1-11 (NRSV)

The wedding at Cana

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward." So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now." Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

I wonder sometimes if I am like one of those stone jars.

A vessel, that if broken and cracked, becomes useless.

I wonder sometimes if I am like one of those stone jars.

A jar empty of the purpose I was created for.

I wonder sometimes if I am like one of those stone jars.

A jar, that has no more use, due to either poor planning or gluttony.

I wonder sometimes if I am like one of those stone jars.

Filled with water and a command from my Savior.

I wonder sometimes if I am like one of those stone jars.

Brought back to life with water, wonderfully changed into wine, by a miracle of God.

I wonder sometimes if I am like one of those stone jars.

The wine of life-giving blood, poured out for my neighbors, to experience the joy of a Savior.

I wonder...I pray...I hope...I would give my life, to be one of those stone jars.

Thanks be to God!

Lord, in baptism you claimed me and gave me life. In baptism You poured life-giving water over me and into me. As I live that new life You graciously gave me, may that water turn into wine and may that wine turn into life-giving blood, that I may pour my blood out onto those You give to me this day, that they may see Your glory and claim in their and forever. ---Amen

Saturday, January 16, 2010

January 16th - Reflection

Luke 11:14-23 (NRSV)
Looking for signs from heaven

Now he was casting out a demon that was mute; when the demon had gone out, the one who had been mute spoke, and the crowds were amazed. But some of them said, "He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons." Others, to test him, kept demanding from him a sign from heaven. But he knew what they were thinking and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? -- for you say that I cast out the demons by Beelzebul. Now if I cast out the demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your exorcists cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his castle, his property is safe. But when one stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his plunder. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

I remember in 7th grade studying American History, and some words of Abraham Lincoln, where he said something to the effect of, a house divided against itself will not stand. I remember, about the same time, reading this passage or one like it, and coming to the realization that Abraham was quoting scripture. I thought, that I had found, some secret of humankind. I thought, that this was such a fantastic finding, that I even brought it to the attention of the teacher a couple of days later. To me this was a finding. To many others, this may just be nothing. But, at the time, I was amazed.

Abraham Lincoln took on a new respect for me at this time. I saw how an important person can reflect on the Word and put it to use in time. I began to realize how important it was to read the Word and make it a part of my life. I saw how to relate to the Word and see how it becomes "flesh" throughout history. I saw the need to really receive the Word into my life. At this time, the mute in myself began to speak. Slowly reading the Word, with a demon of fear cast out, can bring a joy of speech. In this realization from the words of Abraham Lincoln, in a text book, back in my younger days, came the finger of God in my life.

Lord, may Your finger, touch the lives of all people, that they may see Your presence in history and in their lives and come to follow You. May all experience the joy of seeing You daily coming to their front door and inviting them out to play in Your Kingdom. ---Amen

Friday, January 15, 2010

January 15th - Reflection

1 Corinthians 7:1-7 (NRSV)
Guidance for the married

Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: "It is well for a man not to touch a woman." But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. This I say by way of concession, not of command.

I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind.

We give ourselves to each other. We have the compassion and love of Christ in ourselves that now we give ourselves to one another. No longer do my selfish needs come first, but the needs of another come first. In marriage, it is the needs of my wife. At work, it is the needs of the ones I work with. I need to have the love and compassion for those I work with to be there for them and serve them with compassion and love. I need to let Christ shine through me, even in the work place and especially when I go home to my wife and family.

Sure, there will be failures. But that's why each day I come back. Come back at the beginning of the day, the middle of the day and all day long. Come back and hold conversation with God. Talk about my failures. Talk about my successes. Talk about my life and listen to His Fatherly advice. For in His advice about my success and failure we come to understand and love one another and love and compassion develops naturally between myself and God and myself and others. Thanks be to God for being my Father who loves me and cares for me enough to be easy to come to and talk to.

Lord, I slip and fall into talking about someone. That's not love and compassion. Forgive me. Point me in the right direction. Teach me the right words to say and let me try it all over again. I thank You for working with me, day after day. ---Amen

Thursday, January 14, 2010

January 14th - Reflection

Acts 8:18-24 (NRSV)
God's gifts cannot be purchased

Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, saying, "Give me also this power so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit." But Peter said to him, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God's gift with money! You have no part or share in this, for your heart is not right before God. Repent therefore of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and the chains of wickedness." Simon answered, "Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may happen to me."

Seems typical of how I would react to something today. After all, when I see something I want to purchase, I work for the money then go and buy it. I expect quality in the product that I buy and expect satisfaction from the seller.

But this is different! I can't buy what Jesus did for me. Jesus isn't offering it for sale. It's not up for purchase. And the Holy Spirit; to think that I can buy God is haughty.

So it is that, in this passage, Peter humbles me and speaks truth to me. May I perish with my money, because my way of thinking is incorrect. I need to repent and realize that I can't purchase or even earn salvation of myself or salvation of God's children. I need to taste that bitter taste in my mouth and realize that what I am trying to do is not only offensive to God but offensive to creation.

I am not the creator or the redeemer. I am His Child of whom the Father came through the Son to save me from my sin. Now this gift of the Holy Spirit through baptism is given to me. Given just as the Savior is given. Given, not earned or bought. Given out of love. Receive this gift in joy and run out into the world declaring the grace of God to all creation. Humbled, forgiven, gifted and called, I go this day to walk with God and cry out His wondrous deeds. Thanks be to God!

Lord, break my chains of pride, hear this humble prayer, that I may graciously receive the Spirit and the gift and the calling; and serve You daily in Your Kingdom. ---Amen

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

January 13th - Reflection

Psalm 106:1-12 (NRSV)
God saves through water

Praise the Lord!
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Who can utter the mighty doings of the Lord,
or declare all his praise?
Happy are those who observe justice,
who do righteousness at all times.

Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people;
help me when you deliver them;
that I may see the prosperity of your chosen ones,
that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation,
that I may glory in your heritage.

Both we and our ancestors have sinned;
we have committed iniquity, have done wickedly.
Our ancestors, when they were in Egypt,
did not consider your wonderful works;
they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love,
but rebelled against the Most High at the Red Sea.
Yet he saved them for his name's sake,
so that he might make known his mighty power.
He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry;
he led them through the deep as through a desert.
So he saved them from the hand of the foe,
and delivered them from the hand of the enemy.
The waters covered their adversaries;
not one of them was left.
Then they believed his words;
they sang his praise.

Walking through that water of death. Coming through the sea the people were saved. Not much unlike how God has come to me in my baptism. Underneath the water, I die to my sinful self. Underneath the water, I could drown and die in my sin. But thanks be to God for His grace, I am raised from that water, and the Word of God and the Spirit of Life and the Father of Creation are pronounced above me, declaring a new life has now begun in God. A new life has begun and an old life has died. I am now a Child of God. God has claimed me and will keep me as His precious gift. In the waters I have given myself to God as His precious gift and God has given Himself to me as my most precious gift. New life begun. New growth. New service and a wonderful joy that overflows the boundaries of my soul into all the world. Thanks be to God!

Lord, as I am reminded of my baptism, I give You all thanks and glory and honor and praise. You have provided me with eternal joy, for Your steadfast love endures forever! ---Amen

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

January 12th - Reflection

Judges 5:12-21 (NRSV)
The song of Deborah

"Awake, awake, Deborah!
Awake, awake, utter a song!
Arise, Barak, lead away your captives,
O son of Abinoam.
Then down marched the remnant of the noble;
the people of the Lord marched down for him against the mighty.
From Ephraim they set out into the valley,
following you, Benjamin, with your kin;
from Machir marched down the commanders,
and from Zebulun those who bear the marshal's staff;
the chiefs of Issachar came with Deborah,
and Issachar faithful to Barak;
into the valley they rushed out at his heels.
Among the clans of Reuben
there were great searchings of heart.
Why did you tarry among the sheepfolds,
to hear the piping for the flocks?
Among the clans of Reuben
there were great searchings of heart.
Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan;
and Dan, why did he abide with the ships?
Asher sat still at the coast of the sea,
settling down by his landings.
Zebulun is a people that scorned death;
Naphtali too, on the heights of the field.

"The kings came, they fought;
then fought the kings of Canaan,
at Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo;
they got no spoils of silver.
The stars fought from heaven,
from their courses they fought against Sisera.
The torrent Kishon swept them away,
the onrushing torrent, the torrent Kishon.
March on, my soul, with might!

I march on day after day. I can march on with the idea that my own power and strength will bring victory. Or, I can march on by the command and call of God. I can march on into what may seem to be certain defeat. I can march on, confident in my own strength. Or... I can march on confident in the love and protection of God. When I march on in the love and trust of God, my faith builds. My faith builds, because I learn to give my trust to God for His guidance and protection.

And the stars fought from heaven. As I march on with the might of God by my side I can sense the presence and ultimate protection of my Savior. A Savior sent to experience the march and to take on the march with me. A Savior who is a companion and fellow soldier marching with me in this battle against the devil, sin and death. A Savior who comes to be with me to win that victory. A Savior who I can trust and depend upon. So, today, I march on, knowing of my Savior... knowing that my Savior marches with me towards, and in, the battle. Thanks be to God!

Jesus, I place all my faith, and trust and life in Your hands. Let's march on, today, tomorrow and forever! --- Amen

Monday, January 11, 2010

January 11th - Reflection

Judges 4:1-16 (NRSV)
Israel's enemies drown

The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, after Ehud died. So the Lord sold them into the hand of King Jabin of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; the commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-ha-goiim. Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help; for he had nine hundred chariots of iron, and had oppressed the Israelites cruelly twenty years.

At that time Deborah, a prophetess, wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel. She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the Israelites came up to her for judgment. She sent and summoned Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him, "The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you, 'Go, take position at Mount Tabor, bringing ten thousand from the tribe of Naphtali and the tribe of Zebulun. I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin's army, to meet you by the Wadi Kishon with his chariots and his troops; and I will give him into your hand.'" Barak said to her, "If you will go with me, I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go." And she said, "I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman." Then Deborah got up and went with Barak to Kedesh. Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and ten thousand warriors went up behind him; and Deborah went up with him. Now Heber the Kenite had separated from the other Kenites, that is, the descendants of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses, and had encamped as far away as Elon-bezaanannim, which is near Kedesh.

When Sisera was told that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, Sisera called out all his chariots, nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the troops who were with him, from Harosheth-ha-goiim to the Wadi Kishon. Then Deborah said to Barak, "Up! For this is the day on which the Lord has given Sisera into your hand. The Lord is indeed going out before you." So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand warriors following him. And the Lord threw Sisera and all his chariots and all his army into a panic before Barak; Sisera got down from his chariot and fled away on foot, while Barak pursued the chariots and the army to Harosheth-ha-goiim. All the army of Sisera fell by the sword; no one was left.

A panic took place. A panic that caused everyone to run away. A panic that caused everyone to flee, what was thought to be their weapon and protection, and run away on foot. As I ponder this passage, I hear God speaking a word of trust. Trust in His way. Trust in His Word. Trust in His plan. When I place my trust and focus on God, the fear of panic subsides. God will guide me through the battles and struggles of life. There will still be pain in the battle, but I can trust in the outcome with God. When God tells me to go, I can trust in the path and go.

Think of Jesus carrying out the plan the Father has set before Him. If Jesus had not trusted in His Father, I'm sure that He would have reason to panic. Jesus was led to death on the cross. But, no need to panic, the Father had the resurrection in store. What a victory!

Panic? Leave that behind, and trust in the guidance of the Lord. Keep your focus on Jesus.

Today, Lord, I will keep my focus on You. I follow You. I thank You, Lord for identifying with me in the flesh. I thank You for identifying with me in Your baptism. I focus on You and any need to panic subsides. ---Amen

Sunday, January 10, 2010

January 10th - Reflection

The Baptism of Our Lord
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 (NRSV)

The baptism of Jesus As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." ...

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."

I love the boldness of John. But more than this, I love how humble John is. One who is more powerful than I is coming! When I go out in my daily life, do my actions and words proclaim that One more powerful than myself is coming? Do I even proclaim that One more powerful is present? I should proclaim the coming of One more powerful. I should be bold enough, yet humble enough to speak words, and display actions, that cause others to wonder who it is that I precede. I should create a curiosity in those people I deal with day after day, as to what motivates my words and actions. I should tell the story of the One I follow who is so powerful! But do I?

John was busy acting. John was busy working and speaking. For me to act and speak, I must listen. I must pause and listen to the call God has given me, for the day, and for life. I must follow. That's why prayer, study and careful listening to, and for, the voice of God is so important. Daily and throughout the day, pause and listen...then act and speak. Let the Light shine boldly through, so that others may see Christ. Then it seems, just as what happened with John, Jesus shows up, and baptism occurs, and the Spirit descends in bodily form on all of us at once. What a vision, what a sight, what a reality, today, tomorrow and forever.

This day, Lord, as I stop to pray, study, and listen to Your Voice, may I go boldly and act and speak, and may Your Light shine brightly through me, that others may be curious. Give me the chance to humbly, yet boldly, declare and act upon the joy I have in You. ---Amen

Saturday, January 09, 2010

January 9th - Reflection

Luke 1:67-79 (NRSV)

The Savior is seen

Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy:
"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a mighty savior for us
in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
and has remembered his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness
before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace."

We need those people like John the Baptist. Bold people that go ahead and tell it like it is. Bold people who take a stand and don't just go with the flow. Bold people who stand up for what is good and right. Bold people willing to move about and proclaim the presence of sin and evil. Bold people who, when they see an injustice, or evil, or sin, will not take the easy way out and remain complacent, but will declare in word and deed the stench of sin that is before all of us. We need those people! Through these people we gain the knowledge of our need for salvation outside of ourselves.

We can't save ourselves from sin and evil and death. The devil is way to tricky for that. We will fall to sin and be trapped every time when we try to do it all on our own. But, thanks be to God, Jesus came in truth and justice to rescue us from our sinful, evil selfish selves. Jesus took the stand that we ran away from. Jesus acted boldly and stood up for what is true and right! Jesus gave His very life for us.

So we need to listen to those like John the Baptist. Listen to the word and be willing to take the stand beside those who have been wronged by an injustice. Listen and be filled with that bold Spirit that brings Truth and not only have the faith and trust in God, but also to take the action that needs to be taken.

The path has been prepared and proclaimed. The forgiveness of sin and the knowledge of salvation has been made known. Believe the Truth and walk boldly with our Savior, today, tomorrow and forever.

Lord, You have shown Your salvation to me. I walk boldly this day with You and stand up for Your Truth. I stand beside those whom You give to me this day who suffer from the evil of injustice, pain, hunger, persecution and abandonment, with You by my side to lead and guide my actions all along the way. --- Amen

Friday, January 08, 2010

January 8th - Reflection

Ephesians 5:15-20 (NRSV)

Wise living in evil days

Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Understand what the will of the Lord is and be filled with the Spirit. What a wonderful thought. A time to celebrate God with praise and singing and melody coming from the heart. A time to give thanks to God at all times. A time to stop and think of all the blessings that God has given me. How blessed I really am. Sure, it seems that too frequently I seem to focus on the pain and the things that don't go as I want and complain and gripe. But that is more of my own selfish sin coming to the surface. A little bit of complaining, but a whole bunch of praise and thanksgiving can change my focus. What a gracious and merciful God!

At first glance at this reading, it seems like it is negative. But on closer examination, I see a celebration! So today, I'm gonna hum a tune to God and give thanks for everything around me. Thanks be to God!

Wow! What a wonderful world You have created! What a wonderful Savior You have given! Would You like to hear a song or two? I hope so, they are just for You! From me to You! Thank You, Lord! ---Amen

Thursday, January 07, 2010

January 7th - Reflection


Ephesians 4:17 5:1 (NRSV)
Life lived in Christ

Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. That is not the way you learned Christ! For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children,

Wow! That's a tall order! But, it is a call to change. Change as Christ has set the example. Turn from the sin that I have been doing, and change. For I have been given a wonderful gift. I have been renewed in the spirit of my mind. God has placed a spirit of joy within my mind. Through the forgiveness of sin a weight has been lifted and I can go freely to shine Christ's glorious Light into all the world. Shine the Light so that others can see the Light of life and love, and understand that that very same Light, is theirs also. Free in joy to be imitators of God as beloved children.

So in that joy, in that Light, the tall order of change, is brought back to something that can be accomplished, through the grace of God. Change can take place, but not through our own efforts, but by the will and love of God. God is wonderfully Big to become so small. Small enough to take on flesh and blood and understand you and me. Big enough to love His creation, to save us from ourselves. Big enough to bring about a miraculous change, and small enough to allow each of us to change for Him and in Him. Truly joy to the world and truly joy to you and me. Thanks be to God!

I look forward in joy to the change You are making in me. I am here to change into Your delight. Change me this day! --- Amen

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

January 6th - Reflection


Epiphany of Our Lord
Matthew 2:1-12 (NRSV)

Christ revealed to the nations In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
'And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.' "

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage." When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

They opened their treasure chests to Jesus. They gave from their riches. They gave in abundance. Do I give in abundance? Do I open my treasure chest to Jesus? It seems that I tend to want to keep my treasure chest closed to the world. I need that treasure chest to bring me through the tough times when they come my way. I need my treasure chest to save myself when I'm in trouble. But these wise men opened their treasure chests and gave to Jesus.

I am called each day to open my treasure chest and give to Jesus and those He gives to me. Open my treasure chest and bare myself to trust in God to take care of me in those tough times. What's in my treasure chest that I have earned on my own is useless to myself. What's in my treasure chest cannot and will not save me. What's in my treasure chest is only useful to others. What's in my treasure chest is not something I earned out of my own efforts. What's in my treasure chest are gifts placed there by God to be used on others. What's in my treasure chest is to be given back to my Creator, to be used as He intended. So today, I must open my treasure chest in the presence of Jesus and listen to His command and follow in His path. Open my treasure chest...Thanks be to God!

Lord, I lay my treasure chest open to You. Guide me along the path that You have graciously formed for me that I may give my treasure chest away as You have given Your life away. ---Amen

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

January 5th - Reflection

Jeremiah 31:7-14 (NRSV)
Joy as God's scattered flock gathers

For thus says the Lord:
Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob,
and raise shouts for the chief of the nations;
proclaim, give praise, and say,
"Save, O Lord, your people,
the remnant of Israel."
See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north,
and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth,
among them the blind and the lame,
those with child and those in labor, together;
a great company, they shall return here.
With weeping they shall come,
and with consolations I will lead them back,
I will let them walk by brooks of water,
in a straight path in which they shall not stumble;
for I have become a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my firstborn.

Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
and declare it in the coastlands far away; say,
"He who scattered Israel will gather him,
and will keep him as a shepherd a flock."
For the Lord has ransomed Jacob,
and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.
They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion,
and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord,
over the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and over the young of the flock and the herd;
their life shall become like a watered garden,
and they shall never languish again.
Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,
and the young men and the old shall be merry.
I will turn their mourning into joy,
I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
I will give the priests their fill of fatness,
and my people shall be satisfied with my bounty,
says the Lord.

Oh what joy! After wandering through this life on my own and aimless and without purpose, God has chosen Jesus to gather me in. Jesus, to come in human flesh and find me a lost sinner in the midst of the wilderness and lead me home. Oh what great joy, that God would reach out to me a sinner and save me from sin, death and myself. Not only save me in some miraculous way, but save me in a way that is beyond understanding. A way that is grace upon grace. God saves me by gathering me in with the others lost to sin all around me and walking me safely home. Grace upon grace and a love upon love. Something way beyond human understanding happens here. Oh what joy! Oh what a response I have built up inside of me, just waiting and itching to be released full of that same grace and love that Jesus has overfilled me with. To be released to all the world. Oh what joy! Thanks be to God!

Lord, You not only came to me in flesh, but You hunted me down in the midst of my sin and changed me. You filled me with grace and love...grace upon grace and love upon love until my cup overflows into all the world. Oh what joy! Thanks be to God! ---Amen

Monday, January 04, 2010

January 4th - Reflection


Isaiah 6:1-5 (NRSV)
The Lord high and lofty

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said:
"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory."

The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. And I said: "Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!"

For some reason, I can almost fathom a God that comes to me. I can understand my need to go to God. But what blows my mind is to think of a God that is everywhere. I try to put some human thinking to it to make any sense of it. Like thinking of steam or water that takes the shape of the container. But steam or water doesn't seem to have any personality to it like I relate to God. But who says that I'm supposed to understand? That's what makes God so awesome, we can't understand. He is beyond my understanding. God is the one that created me and all that exists. And then God comes to me a lost man with unclean lips who lives among people with unclean lips...yet my eyes have seen Jesus! Thanks be to God!

In Your presence I sing praises to You. In Your presence I am quiet and bow in awe. In Your presence I see You. ---Amen

Sunday, January 03, 2010

January 3rd - Reflection

Second Sunday of Christmas
Matthew 2:1-12 (NRSV)

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
'And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.' "

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage." When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

The wise men were overwhelmed with joy! Were they really on a mission to honor a king? Or were they on a mission for an earthly king? But what happened to the wise men changed their lives forever. They were overwhelmed with joy!

When we encounter Jesus, we are overwhelmed with joy! Our lives are changed forever. Jesus, in his coming, overwhelms us. I certainly didn't deserve his coming to me! I am overwhelmed with joy! Overwhelmed with joy, I go with Jesus' Light, shining brightly through me, into the dark world to proclaim to all I see, a joy which overwhelms. Thanks be to God!

Lord, I'm overwhelmed with joy by Your presence. I go into the world this day beaming with joy for Your presence in my life. May Your Light brightly shine in me today, tomorrow and always. ---Amen

Saturday, January 02, 2010

January 2nd - Reflection

James 3:13-18 (NRSV)
The wisdom from above

Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.

Wow! You talk about an example to set. This one is a stretch goal for sure, at least for me. With a quick read it all sounds so simple. Just be a nice guy. But how do you sustain these characteristics in all circumstances and at all times? Sure, I could do some of these things every once in a while, but to be able to be this way all the time, I need some outside help!

One thing this passage does help me with, is recognizing in myself the stench of evil and sin. When I recognize my sin, I seek forgiveness and take a turn. I turn away from the selfish ambition and the bitter envy and begin to put on the characteristics of the wisdom from above. Take off the old clothes and put on the new. It sure seems though, that I need to do a lot of laundry. But, I suppose that's why it's important to listen and seek the voice of Jesus. One thing is for sure, God will tell it like it is, in no uncertain terms. And I like that...even when I see the bad in myself...I know of a God that is working with me to make me into His delight. And for all that I give all thanks and praise.

Lord, I hear Your voice of truth. Help me in my filth and weakness to become who You have created me to be. ---Amen

Friday, January 01, 2010

January 1st - Reflection

The Name of Jesus
Philippians 2:5-11 (NRSV)
God takes on human form

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death--
even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth
and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

New Years Day...we look back at the past year, maybe the past decade, and for a few the past century. We reflect on the good and bad of life, the good and the bad both as individuals and as groups of people.

We pause at the first of the year to look forward. To change our lives sometimes with new initiatives. We look forward in hope of better things to come. May we also always look side to side, above and below, within and without and see and realize the presence of the Savior Jesus. Jesus, who took on human flesh, and with intensity, looked forward to the mission he was sent to fulfill and did. Jesus, who looked forward and deep into our very beings and saved us from our sinful selves in order to unite us with him.

Let us look forward, likewise and follow the path and the footsteps of One whose name is above all names, and confess to heaven and earth, that Jesus Christ is Lord!

Lord, in the midst of the football games, the parties, the food and all You have blessed us with, may we pause to proclaim the glory of Your name and Your action taken. In this new year lead us, in Your love, to act out that same love, towards those in need, that You would have us give our lives to. ---Amen