Sunday, February 28, 2010

February 28th - Reflection


Second Sunday in Lent
Luke 13:31-35 (NRSV)
A hen gathering her brood

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, "Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you." He said to them, "Go and tell that fox for me, 'Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.' Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.' "


How wonderful it is for Jesus to come to us. He comes to us as a humble child. We expected a ruling King, and he comes as a child. We expect thunder and lightning and he walks into Jerusalem to be crucified. It just doesn't make sense. Until...

Until we see what he really came to do. Kingly power and riches and earthly rule were nothing important in this mission. This mission was about the salvation of all people. This mission would defeat sin, death and the devil. This mission would save humankind from their own sinfulness. This mission goes way beyond our understanding and even beyond what we fathom as real and present.

Yet, Jesus did come into what was and is real for each one of us. Jesus came to this earth as we are. Jesus came as the flesh and blood that exists in each one of us and shows us something beyond ourselves. Jesus reveals a new Kingdom. Jesus reveals God's Love.


Lord, gather me under your wings together with all your children. Give me faith. Give me the love you show, that I may show it to all you have gathered along with me, that we may be one in you. ---Amen

Saturday, February 27, 2010

February 27th - Reflection

Matthew 23:37-39 (NRSV)
Jesus laments over Jerusalem

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you, desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.' "

Jesus knows the outcome of this journey. He knows what he is about to face. Yet, his love and compassion is so great that he truly wants to gather all people under his caring wings and protect them. Jesus wants all to see God as the loving, gracious and forgiving God of life. Jesus knows that he will take on the sin of the world on that cross a few days from now. He knows that the air in his lungs will cease and he will face death for the very people he loves so much.

But he also knows that there is a breath that will not cease. He knows that the Holy Spirit will breathe new life into him at his resurrection and breath new life into each one of us as we come forth from the waters. Come forth from the waters, having our sinned drowned and that old breath of sin and death is gone, and burst forth from our baptismal waters, and take in the new breath of life that only the Holy Spirit can grant. Life in death.

Jesus knows the outcome. Jesus knows the journey. Jesus knows the life-giving breath of the Holy Spirit. But above all, Jesus knows the Love of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God!

Lord, as you face death...remember me...remember all your children...grant each the new breath in the Spirit. ---Amen

Friday, February 26, 2010

February 26th - Reflection

Philippians 3:17-20 (NRSV)
Our citizenship is in heaven

Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

As I read scripture and church history, I'm so thankful that God has given truly human examples of people that struggle with sin just as I do. People that struggle and wrestle with the Word just as I do. I'm so glad for friends and family that are willing to talk about the hard issues. Talk with one another, not from the perspective of the "Church Lady", but from the perspective of both saint and sinner in a world filled with both good and evil. I'm so glad to have a church full of sinners and saints. Sinners in that we come together and talk of the fight. Saints in that we come together with hope in the victory.

For in our fight, we see the example of Jesus in the victory. In our fight, we come to see the need for God. In our fight, we come together against a common enemy and join together with a common Victor. Our citizenship is in heaven, thanks to the action and love of Jesus Christ!

And in this hope and love, we come together...even in the midst of sin and death...and peek at the hope of faith and Love. One day we will see this Love clearly and completely...and come together once again.

May I join together with all the faithful this day in hope and love due to your glory, Lord Jesus. ---Amen

Thursday, February 25, 2010

February 25th - Reflection

Philippians 3:2-12 (NRSV)
Paul affirms the Abrahamic tradition

Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh! For it is we who are the circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh -- even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh.

If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

If you get out of that selfish thinking that you are everything and you can do anything and that you deserve it all; things can really change. It's not about my accomplishments. It's not about how much I know or even how educated I am or can be. It's not about all the money or possessions in the world. It's about life.

Even if I had all the above, my life would pale in comparison to what Jesus offers in Life. Jesus offering of Life is real life. Life in and through, yet above and beyond this life. God is so much bigger than you or I, that we can't even begin to understand a single sand of his knowledge and majesty and glory.

So the offering Jesus extends is to leave this tiny tiny view of life that we have in our head and follow him to the glory of the Life that only Christ Jesus understands.

So why not leave? Why not? Sure, let's go now! Sure, I'll follow! Even and when it gets hard I'll follow. For Jesus is telling of us a life we can't fathom. Could the bulb in the ground understand what it would grow into in the spring? I can't understand this new life either, but I'm willing to trust and follow Jesus to whatever lengths he decides to take me.

Because I believe the Word of God. I hear what he says and I joyfully take the bread and wine and follow. Lead on dear Jesus. Lead on!

Lord, I choose to follow you and obey your will and go your way. Lead on! --- Amen

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

February 24th - Reflection

Psalm 17 (NRSV)
Prayer for protection from evil ones

Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry;
give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.
From you let my vindication come;
let your eyes see the right.

If you try my heart, if you visit me by night,
if you test me, you will find no wickedness in me;
my mouth does not transgress.
As for what others do, by the word of your lips
I have avoided the ways of the violent.
My steps have held fast to your paths;
my feet have not slipped.

I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me, hear my words.
Wondrously show your steadfast love,
O savior of those who seek refuge
from their adversaries at your right hand.

Guard me as the apple of the eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings,
from the wicked who despoil me,
my deadly enemies who surround me.
They close their hearts to pity;
with their mouths they speak arrogantly.
They track me down; now they surround me;
they set their eyes to cast me to the ground.
They are like a lion eager to tear,
like a young lion lurking in ambush.

Rise up, O Lord, confront them, overthrow them!
By your sword deliver my life from the wicked,
from mortals -- by your hand, O Lord --
from mortals whose portion in life is in this world.
May their bellies be filled with what you have stored up for them;
may their children have more than enough;
may they leave something over to their little ones.

As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.

Oh, how I need God to watch over me and protect me. How I need God's angels to guard me from the evil and the dangers that I seem to get into. How I need a Savior to protect me from myself. I can't do this on my own. I can't go free from sin. I am tempted and fall to the temptation. I sin and need help from God.

And God helps! God comes to my rescue. Sure, I still feel the pain and shame of my sin. Sure, I still see and know of the consequence of my sin. But God helps! God comes to me and saves me from my sinful self, evil, death and sin.

God gives life. And I awake from my sin and am satisfied and joyful at the face of God. I see the face of my Savior and give eternal thanks. Oh, how I need God to watch over me and protect me. Thanks be to God!

Lord, send your Holy Angels to watch over me this day so the evil one may have no power over me. --- Amen

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

February 23rd - Reflection

Zechariah 3:1-10 (NRSV)
Satan tempts Joshua

Then he showed me the high priest Joshua standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the Lord said to Satan, "The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this man a brand plucked from the fire?" Now Joshua was dressed with filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, "Take off his filthy clothes." And to him he said, "See, I have taken your guilt away from you, and I will clothe you with festal apparel." And I said, "Let them put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with the apparel; and the angel of the Lord was standing by.

Then the angel of the Lord assured Joshua, saying "Thus says the Lord of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my requirements, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here. Now listen, Joshua, high priest, you and your colleagues who sit before you! For they are an omen of things to come: I am going to bring my servant the Branch. For on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven facets, I will engrave its inscription, says the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the guilt of this land in a single day. On that day, says the Lord of hosts, you shall invite each other to come under your vine and fig tree."

My dirty clothes of sin and guilt are removed from God's servant the Branch. What a wonderful thought. I am tempted and fall to sin. I become dirty. But God brings forth the servant Branch. Branch that grows straight from the Father and the Spirit.

In a single day the guilt of this land will be removed. A Stone with seven perfect facets --- the Lord of hosts. Facets of smooth cuts. Pain polished to perfection. Jesus pain and death is the perfect sacrifice for my dirty clothes of sin and guilt.

An what is my response? I invite others to come under my vine and fig tree. I will show you the Branch in my life. I will point to that day that the perfect stone was cut in pain yet polished in resurrection for our sin and guilt! Thanks be to God!

Lord, you tempt no one to sin. Yet here I am a failure to sin and guilt. I need you to save me. I need you to forgive me. I need you to lead and guide me. I need you! For you are the Branch of life that I feed from. You are that perfect stone with the perfect seven facets shining in all glory. You are God! ---Amen

Monday, February 22, 2010

February 22nd - Reflection

1 Chronicles 21:1-17 (NRSV)
Satan tempts David

Satan stood up against Israel, and incited David to count the people of Israel. So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, "Go, number Israel, from Beer-sheba to Dan, and bring me a report, so that I may know their number." But Joab said, "May the Lord increase the number of his people a hundredfold! Are they not, my lord the king, all of them my lord's servants? Why then should my lord require this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?" But the king's word prevailed against Joab. So Joab departed and went throughout all Israel, and came back to Jerusalem. Joab gave the total count of the people to David. In all Israel there were one million one hundred thousand men who drew the sword, and in Judah four hundred seventy thousand who drew the sword. But he did not include Levi and Benjamin in the numbering, for the king's command was abhorrent to Joab.

But God was displeased with this thing, and he struck Israel. David said to God, "I have sinned greatly in that I have done this thing. But now, I pray you, take away the guilt of your servant; for I have done very foolishly." The Lord spoke to Gad, David's seer, saying, "Go and say to David, 'Thus says the Lord: Three things I offer you; choose one of them, so that I may do it to you.'" So Gad came to David and said to him, "Thus says the Lord, 'Take your choice: either three years of famine; or three months of devastation by your foes, while the sword of your enemies overtakes you; or three days of the sword of the Lord, pestilence on the land, and the angel of the Lord destroying throughout all the territory of Israel.' Now decide what answer I shall return to the one who sent me." Then David said to Gad, "I am in great distress; let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is very great; but let me not fall into human hands."

So the Lord sent a pestilence on Israel; and seventy thousand persons fell in Israel. And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it; but when he was about to destroy it, the Lord took note and relented concerning the calamity; he said to the destroying angel, "Enough! Stay your hand." The angel of the Lord was then standing by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. David looked up and saw the angel of the Lord standing between earth and heaven, and in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell on their faces. And David said to God, "Was it not I who gave the command to count the people? It is I who have sinned and done very wickedly. But these sheep, what have they done? Let your hand, I pray, O Lord my God, be against me and against my father's house; but do not let your people be plagued!"

In temptation, I fall to sin. In sin there is consequence. In the consequence others are hurt because of my sin. Sin spreads and is infectious, even while I must take responsibility for my sin. So I repent. I turn to God and sit in sackcloth, humbly pleading that God would not render the full punishment I deserve for my sin on those innocent around me and on myself.

We have a merciful God. That doesn't mean I won't experience the consequence of my sin. That doesn't mean that those around me won't feel the effects of my sin. It means that God has mercy that when I humbly and honestly and truthfully repent, God forgives and restores and permits me to continue with life in God's Kingdom.

But oh the price that was paid. God gave his only Son to defeat sin, death and the devil. God gave the life of his Son. Jesus took on my sin and died on the cross full of my sin. But then...he rose again to new life. New life that brings me and you redemption from sin. Brings redemption from sin to me, to you and to David. Thanks be to God!

Lord, in my sin, I humbly come to you and plead forgiveness. Hear my prayer oh Lord. --- Amen

Sunday, February 21, 2010

February 21st - Reflection

First Sunday in Lent
Luke 4:1-13 (NRSV)
The temptation of Jesus

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread." Jesus answered him, 'It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone.'"

Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, "To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours." Jesus answered him, 'It is written,
'Worship the Lord your God,
and serve only him.' "

Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,
'He will command his angels concerning you,
to protect you,'
'On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.' "
Jesus answered him, 'It is said, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.

How many times have I tested Jesus? I'm sure my sin has been a test. But how many times have I doubted and tested him? When pain comes along, or sickness, or sadness and depression, and I doubt Jesus. I pray and expect a genie in a bottle to take the suffering away and it doesn't happen. How many times have I tested Jesus or even in some way tempted him to leave all this salvation stuff. Although I and Jesus were never promised freedom from pain, suffering, evil attacks, the impact of sin and even death; it is sure that God is on our side. God our Father, takes care of his children and loves them.

So when the testing and temptation comes to me, I must go to the Father and talk. Talk and discuss and listen and learn. I must hear the Word and see the Word present through Scripture and Sacrament and in Life. I must go to the Father in prayer. Go to the Father with Jesus and all my brothers and sisters of all space and time. Go into that wilderness led by the Holy Spirit and leave, full of the Holy Spirit, and place all my trust, hope and faith in God. Thanks be to God!

I reflect on Jesus' temptation in the wilderness... I confess my sin in my own testing of Jesus and my own failures in temptation. Forgive my sin O Lord! Fill me with your Spirit and lead me through temptation, that I may leave the wilderness in trust and hope and faith that only you can supply. --- Amen

Saturday, February 20, 2010

February 20th - Reflection

John 12:27-36 (NRSV)
Jesus announces his passion

"Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say -- 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him." Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. The crowd answered him, "We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?" Jesus said to them, "The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light."

After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.

This voice came for my sake and for your sake. A voice from God. A voice to listen to. The Word that came down to this place, came for your sake and for mine. We need to stop and listen to the voice and see the light that shines here in our presence. Look into the eyes of one another and hear and see the Word that is coming to you and to me. Hear the Word and read it and discuss this Word with one another. We need to gather together and discuss this Word, this Voice, this Light. For Jesus is lifted up for you and for me. Recognize him in the Words of the Bible. Recognize God in the Sacraments. Recognize God's presence here and now.

Lord, may I walk in the light of your presence this day. Show yourself in the Words of the Bible that I read. Show yourself in the voices of those you give to me this day. Show yourself in ways that I can recognize and see your glory. --- Amen

Friday, February 19, 2010

February 19th - Reflection

Acts 7:35-42 (NRSV)
The people complain to Moses

"It was this Moses whom they rejected when they said, 'Who made you a ruler and a judge?' and whom God now sent as both ruler and liberator through the angel who appeared to him in the bush. He led them out, having performed wonders and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness for forty years. This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, 'God will raise up a prophet for you from your own people as he raised me up.' He is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living oracles to give to us. Our ancestors were unwilling to obey him; instead, they pushed him aside, and in their hearts they turned back to Egypt, saying to Aaron, 'Make gods for us who will lead the way for us; as for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.' At that time they made a calf, offered a sacrifice to the idol, and reveled in the works of their hands. But God turned away from them and handed them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets:
'Did you offer to me slain victims and sacrifices
forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?

Jesus has been around for a long time. A prophet raised up. Raised up in so many ways. Raised up to restore. Living right here among us, in the congregation and in the world. Jesus, raised up by us and placed on a cross to die.

We couldn't stand it. We want to be our own savior. We want to take care of things ourselves. But what do we raise up? We raise up idols of metal and precious gold. Things we think will save us, but actually things that only disappoint us.

But God lowered Jesus to us and we raised him up and killed him. Lord, forgive our sinfulness. Lord, teach us the living oracles we need to hear. Show us Jesus and make us pause to hear and understand. Lord, forgive our sinfulness!

As I face my sin, I turn to you, Lord. For only through you can I receive forgiveness and salvation. I can't do this on my own. Forgive I listen to you...teach me...lead me...and send me to do your will and way this day. --- Amen

Thursday, February 18, 2010

February 18th - Reflection

Acts 7:30-34 (NRSV)
Moses, called from the burning bush to the exodus

"Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush. When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight; and as he approached to look, there came the voice of the Lord: 'I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.' Moses began to tremble and did not dare to look. Then the Lord said to him, 'Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. I have surely seen the mistreatment of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to rescue them. Come now, I will send you to Egypt.'"

I have come down to rescue... God comes down to rescue us. He has come down in the form of Jesus to rescue us. He comes down and works through common ordinary people to bring rescue also. This day God comes down to rescue in the form of you and I. God has already come down in the perfect form of Jesus and rescued all of us from sin and death. And now God comes down through the Spirit and invades our forms to spring you and I into action to bring rescue.

Stop in your tracks and see the Light in the burning bush before you this day. Humbly stop and take off your shoes for a moment and listen! Listen to the Word of God and follow God's call this day. For God has come down to you and to me. God has come to rescue you and me.

Now respond in great joy and enthusiasm, for God will send you to those God chooses to give to you this day...tomorrow...and forever. Thanks be to God!

Lord, open my eyes to your Light that I may stop...listen...receive...respond...and joyfully go this day in your plan. ---Amen

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

February 17th - Reflection

Ash Wednesday
Psalm 51:1-17 (NRSV)
Plea for mercy

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgment.
Indeed, I was born guilty,
a sinner when my mother conceived me.

You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.

O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you have no delight in sacrifice;
if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

My sin...MY it is ever before me...especially the sins I know sin ever before me...even the ones I'm not aware sin.

How do I escape my sin? I don't...I can't...I've tried and nothing works...even in my passion to try to escape my sin, I sin. God comes to me in human flesh and blood. God comes to me in and through Jesus. God comes to me in creation. God comes to me as Father. God comes to me in Love. God comes to me in Spirit. I can't escape my sin in or through my own effort. Only God can permit me to escape my sin.

And even in the escape of my sin through Jesus sacrifice of self, I don't escape the impact of my sin on myself and others. We all feel sin...our own...and the sin of others. We all experience sin.

But thanks be to God, we can go to God and humbly repent and turn to God and God will forgive my sin. And I can go to another and forgive their sin. And that's when a wonderful transformation begins. Even in the presence of sin a transformation begins.

God uses me, a sinful man. God uses me a sinful, forgiven man. God uses me and fills me with the Spirit and calls me and sends me, a sinful, forgiven man. God takes me, what was nothing more than a worm, nothing more than trash for the trash heap, and transforms my will and way to do God's will.

In joy, I go to God and humbly seek forgiveness. I face my sin. I live the consequences of my sin. But I also reap the wonderful joy of God's forgiveness and live an ever changing, new life of transformation into life in God, my creator, redeemer and forever. Thanks be to God!

Lord, today I come to you realizing my sin. As I feel that course ash of palm leaves ground into my forehead this day, may I feel the consequence and pain that my sin brings to this world and those in it and humbly repent. I know that I am dust and to dust I will return. But I also know that I am a Child of God and am saved by Your Love and blood. Transform my life and take me this day, I pray. ---Amen

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

February 16th - Reflection

Ezekiel 1:1-2:1 (NRSV)
Ezekiel's vision of the chariot

In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the river Chebar, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. On the fifth day of the month (it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin), the word of the Lord came to the priest Ezekiel son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the Lord was on him there.

As I looked, a stormy wind came out of the north: a great cloud with brightness around it and fire flashing forth continually, and in the middle of the fire, something like gleaming amber. In the middle of it was something like four living creatures. This was their appearance: they were of human form. Each had four faces, and each of them had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf's foot; and they sparkled like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. And the four had their faces and their wings thus: their wings touched one another; each of them moved straight ahead, without turning as they moved. As for the appearance of their faces: the four had the face of a human being, the face of a lion on the right side, the face of an ox on the left side, and the face of an eagle; such were their faces. Their wings were spread out above; each creature had two wings, each of which touched the wing of another, while two covered their bodies. Each moved straight ahead; wherever the spirit would go, they went, without turning as they went. In the middle of the living creatures there was something that looked like burning coals of fire, like torches moving to and fro among the living creatures; the fire was bright, and lightning issued from the fire. The living creatures darted to and fro, like a flash of lightning.

As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them. As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction: their appearance was like the gleaming of beryl; and the four had the same form, their construction being something like a wheel within a wheel. When they moved, they moved in any of the four directions without veering as they moved. Their rims were tall and awesome, for the rims of all four were full of eyes all around. When the living creatures moved, the wheels moved beside them; and when the living creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose. Wherever the spirit would go, they went, and the wheels rose along with them; for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. When they moved, the others moved; when they stopped, the others stopped; and when they rose from the earth, the wheels rose along with them; for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.

Over the heads of the living creatures there was something like a dome, shining like crystal, spread out above their heads. Under the dome their wings were stretched out straight, one toward another; and each of the creatures had two wings covering its body. When they moved, I heard the sound of their wings like the sound of mighty waters, like the thunder of the Almighty, a sound of tumult like the sound of an army; when they stopped, they let down their wings. And there came a voice from above the dome over their heads; when they stopped, they let down their wings.

And above the dome over their heads there was something like a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was something that seemed like a human form. Upward from what appeared like the loins I saw something like gleaming amber, something that looked like fire enclosed all around; and downward from what looked like the loins I saw something that looked like fire, and there was a splendor all around. Like the bow in a cloud on a rainy day, such was the appearance of the splendor all around. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.

When I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of someone speaking.

He said to me: O mortal, stand up on your feet, and I will speak with you.

Be led by the Spirit of God. Go wherever the Spirit leads you with the warmth of the love of God burning like coals of fire in your heart, go where the Spirit leads. Hear the visions of the prophets and visualize God's presence in them and in you. For God is with you in mysterious ways. God gives you strength in times of trouble and God gives you love that can feed for a life time.

See the glory of God and the splendor all around and rejoice in God's presence. Fall humbly before God and worship him. For God in all glory is on the move. God is on the move in Jesus who leads us with visions too much for words. God is on the move in you and I. Glory in this and give thanks!

Wow! What a vision! You are mysterious and awesome and loving and on the move. Move in and through me this day so that I may follow you, serve you, and do your will. ---Amen

Monday, February 15, 2010

February 15th - Reflection

Exodus 35:1-29 (NRSV)
Offerings for the tent of meeting

Moses assembled all the congregation of the Israelites and said to them: These are the things that the Lord has commanded you to do:

Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a holy sabbath of solemn rest to the Lord; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. You shall kindle no fire in all your dwellings on the sabbath day.

Moses said to all the congregation of the Israelites: This is the thing that the Lord has commanded: Take from among you an offering to the Lord; let whoever is of a generous heart bring the Lord's offering: gold, silver, and bronze; blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and fine linen; goats' hair, tanned rams' skins, and fine leather; acacia wood, oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, and onyx stones and gems to be set in the ephod and the breastpiece.

All who are skillful among you shall come and make all that the Lord has commanded: the tabernacle, its tent and its covering, its clasps and its frames, its bars, its pillars, and its bases; the ark with its poles, the mercy seat, and the curtain for the screen; the table with its poles and all its utensils, and the bread of the Presence; the lampstand also for the light, with its utensils and its lamps, and the oil for the light; and the altar of incense, with its poles, and the anointing oil and the fragrant incense, and the screen for the entrance, the entrance of the tabernacle; the altar of burnt offering, with its grating of bronze, its poles, and all its utensils, the basin with its stand; the hangings of the court, its pillars and its bases, and the screen for the gate of the court; the pegs of the tabernacle and the pegs of the court, and their cords; the finely worked vestments for ministering in the holy place, the holy vestments for the priest Aaron, and the vestments of his sons, for their service as priests.

Then all the congregation of the Israelites withdrew from the presence of Moses. And they came, everyone whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and brought the Lord's offering to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the sacred vestments. So they came, both men and women; all who were of a willing heart brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and pendants, all sorts of gold objects, everyone bringing an offering of gold to the Lord. And everyone who possessed blue or purple or crimson yarn or fine linen or goats' hair or tanned rams' skins or fine leather, brought them. Everyone who could make an offering of silver or bronze brought it as the Lord's offering; and everyone who possessed acacia wood of any use in the work, brought it. All the skillful women spun with their hands, and brought what they had spun in blue and purple and crimson yarns and fine linen; all the women whose hearts moved them to use their skill spun the goats' hair. And the leaders brought onyx stones and gems to be set in the ephod and the breastpiece, and spices and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense. All the Israelite men and women whose hearts made them willing to bring anything for the work that the Lord had commanded by Moses to be done, brought it as a freewill offering to the Lord.

Bring your offerings to the Lord. Willingly give your best. Bring your treasures and give them to God. And then do some wonderful work. Help to put the tabernacle in place. Work for God and offer yourself to him. Bring your offerings as a freewill offering to the Lord.

We are so thankful for the rich blessings that God has poured upon us that we can't help but to respond. We respond as individuals and as a church. We respond with what offerings we can give. Bring your offerings to the Lord.

Lord, your love is amazing. I bring myself and my treasures as an offering. As I respond to your love, graciously fill me with your love that I may go into this world and love another. --- Amen

Sunday, February 14, 2010

February 14th - Reflection

Transfiguration of Our Lord
Luke 9:28-43a (NRSV)
Jesus is transfigured on the mountain

Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah" -- not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!" When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. Just then a man from the crowd shouted, "Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It convulses him until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not." Jesus answered, "You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here." While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And all were astounded at the greatness of God.

It is so good for us to be here! here in the presence of God. What a wonderful statement. It is good to be here, yet so fearful to be here, yet so hopeful to be here, yet so humbling to be here, yet so honorable to be here, yet so awesome to be here. Words cannot express what it's like to be in the presence of Jesus.

How can God become so intimate, yet be so great? How could I, or you, or anyone, be in the presence of God? Yet God comes to us and leads us to himself. Leads us and shows us his bright Light and covers us in his cloud of Love that completely inhabits every inch of our body and soul. An intimate God that invades every portion of our being in love and grace. It is so good for us to be here!

God leads us to the mountain top and takes us into the valley to cast out the demons of our sins and save us with the flesh of Jesus. Jesus who walks into death and brings life. From high to low to high. From life to death to life eternal. What we once viewed as the end is now only the beginning. What we can't do for ourselves, Jesus has done for us. It is so good for us to be here!

And as we come from the mountain top and return to the valley, it is so good for us to be here. The walk will be tough and treacherous, but the walk will be a walk that was taken first by Jesus. The walk will lead to death, but thanks be to God, Jesus has changed the outcome of that death to eternal life! It is so good for us to be here! Thanks be to God!

Lord, I fall to me knees and gather with your people in your presence. It is so good to be here. Thanks be to God! --- Amen

Saturday, February 13, 2010

February 13th - Reflection

Luke 10:21-24 (NRSV)
Blessed are the eyes that see what you see

At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it."

As Christians, we are truly blessed. Our eyes are blessed to see what we see. And Jesus opens our eyes daily to see the blessings we are given. We are given life and a joy of fellowship in the body of Christ. We are given our daily bread, including all the we need to survive the day. We are given love for one another. And our sins are forgiven. We are truly blessed.

So today, open your eyes and look around. See the blessings we have been freely given and give thanks. Open your ears to hear the Word made flesh. Share in that life of love we have been given.

Lord, I give your thanks for your presence in my life and in and through the lives of those you present to me daily. I give you thanks for your Spirit that richly blesses my life with joy and love. I give you thanks for daily bread and all I need to live day to day. Use me this day to show the love you freely give to those in need that they also may see and hear the truths only you can display. Reveal yourself in me, I pray. --- Amen

Friday, February 12, 2010

February 12th - Reflection

Acts 10:1-8 (NRSV)
The vision of Cornelius

In Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian Cohort, as it was called. He was a devout man who feared God with all his household; he gave alms generously to the people and prayed constantly to God. One afternoon at about three o'clock he had a vision in which he clearly saw an angel of God coming in and saying to him, "Cornelius." He stared at him in terror and said, "What is it, Lord?" He answered, "Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa for a certain Simon who is called Peter; he is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the seaside." When the angel who spoke to him had left, he called two of his slaves and a devout soldier from the ranks of those who served him, and after telling them everything, he sent them to Joppa.

I guess you never know where the journey of God's plan will take you. The walk in his Kingdom will be both a journey and a trial. Cornelius sounds like a faithful guy who prays and does his best to follow God's lead. I think God may have thought of Cornelius because of the sweet smell of his prayers rising in honor and praise to God. So God decides to call Cornelius to send a few people to Joppa for Peter. And Cornelius did just as he was told. What a faithful servant!

Lord, I'm open to your way and your plan. I wish to be that faithful servant and ready for your call. Give me the courage, strength and will that I need to follow your plan this day. --- Amen

Thursday, February 11, 2010

February 11th - Reflection

Acts 3:11-16 (NRSV)
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob's God glorifies Jesus

While he clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon's Portico, utterly astonished. When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, "You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.

I think we all have rejected Jesus and killed him one time or another. If we think we are innocent, we need to think again. And I wonder about the murderer that we ask to be given to us in the place of Jesus. Might I be that murderer? I'm sure I am.

And in some strangely wonderful way, this is all so good. For in my sin, I am the murderer of the Author of life. God intended for life to be good. In my sin and the sin I was born into, I have ruined life. But, how can this be good?

I am thankful that Jesus did take my place for my sin. I am thankful that the Author of life came to give me new life. Jesus has given me new strength and perfect health. So as I repent of my sin, I look for the hope and the forgiveness only Jesus can grant. I live in the hope of new life.

Now, be astonished, for the murderer and sinful man that I am has been granted a new walk and a new life. By the power of Jesus a new creation is born. Thanks be to God!

Lord, I come to you and plead for your forgiveness. I am sinful and have rejected you and your ways. Be with me this day as I walk in your Kingdom, following you in the hope you grant for a new creation and a new life. ---Amen

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

February 10th - Reflection

Psalm 115 (NRSV)
God blesses the chosen people

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness.
Why should the nations say,
"Where is their God?"

Our God is in the heavens;
he does whatever he pleases.
Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
eyes, but do not see.
They have ears, but do not hear;
noses, but do not smell.
They have hands, but do not feel;
feet, but do not walk;
they make no sound in their throats.
Those who make them are like them;
so are all who trust in them.

O Israel, trust in the Lord!
He is their help and their shield.
O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord!
He is their help and their shield.
You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord!
He is their help and their shield.

The Lord has been mindful of us; he will bless us;
he will bless the house of Israel;
he will bless the house of Aaron;
he will bless those who fear the Lord,
both small and great.

May the Lord give you increase,
both you and your children.
May you be blessed by the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
The heavens are the Lord's heavens,
but the earth he has given to human beings.
The dead do not praise the Lord,
nor do any that go down into silence.
But we will bless the Lord
from this time on and forevermore.
Praise the Lord!

My God is alive and living. Jesus defeated sin, death and the devil and lives eternally. I have this hope of eternal life through salvation in Christ. So while I live on this earth, I will praise God and give thanks. Praise God even in the midst of the battle of this sinful world. Praise God and give thanks while I fight the fight against sin and the devil. Praise God, even as I fall to tempation. Praise God and give thanks today, tomorrow and forervermore. For here in this place I give thanks to God and praise the name of a mighty God and Savior.

All glory and honor to God. Praise the Lord!

Lord, it's all about you. I give you thanks, glory, honor and praise forevermore. ---Amen

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

February 9th - Reflection

1 Samuel 9:15-10:1b (NRSV)
The call of Saul

Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to Samuel: "Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be ruler over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have seen the suffering of my people, because their outcry has come to me." When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, "Here is the man of whom I spoke to you. He it is who shall rule over my people." Then Saul approached Samuel inside the gate, and said, "Tell me, please, where is the house of the seer?" Samuel answered Saul, "I am the seer; go up before me to the shrine, for today you shall eat with me, and in the morning I will let you go and will tell you all that is on your mind. As for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, give no further thought to them, for they have been found. And on whom is all Israel's desire fixed, if not on you and on all your ancestral house?" Saul answered, "I am only a Benjaminite, from the least of the tribes of Israel, and my family is the humblest of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin. Why then have you spoken to me in this way?"

Then Samuel took Saul and his servant-boy and brought them into the hall, and gave them a place at the head of those who had been invited, of whom there were about thirty. And Samuel said to the cook, "Bring the portion I gave you, the one I asked you to put aside." The cook took up the thigh and what went with it and set them before Saul. Samuel said, "See, what was kept is set before you. Eat; for it is set before you at the appointed time, so that you might eat with the guests."

So Saul ate with Samuel that day. When they came down from the shrine into the town, a bed was spread for Saul on the roof, and he lay down to sleep. Then at the break of dawn Samuel called to Saul upon the roof, "Get up, so that I may send you on your way." Saul got up, and both he and Samuel went out into the street.

As they were going down to the outskirts of the town, Samuel said to Saul, "Tell the boy to go on before us, and when he has passed on, stop here yourself for a while, that I may make known to you the word of God." Samuel took a vial of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him; he said, "The Lord has anointed you ruler over his people Israel. You shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their enemies all around.

Samuel had a job to do for God. Samuel treated Saul with respect and honor. God had chosen Saul as part of his plan to rescue his people from the Philistines. Saul wasn't aware of the change that was about to take place in his life. But God changes lives and God has a plan for all of our lives. Even when we are unaware and convinced that this plan doesn't involve us, be certain that each one of us is a part of God's plan. In one way or another, God will use our lives. So be ready for the change. Rejoice in the change. But even more, rejoice in the Love of God that comes down to lead you through the change. Thanks be to God!

Lord, in the change, I look to you. I keep my focus on Jesus. ---Amen

Monday, February 08, 2010

February 8th - Reflection

Judges 5:1-11 (NRSV)
Deborah the judge sings God's praise

Then Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying:
"When locks are long in Israel,
when the people offer themselves willingly --
bless the Lord!

"Hear, O kings; give ear, O princes;
to the Lord I will sing,
I will make melody to the Lord, the God of Israel.

"Lord, when you went out from Seir,
when you marched from the region of Edom,
the earth trembled,
and the heavens poured,
the clouds indeed poured water.
The mountains quaked before the Lord, the One of Sinai,
before the Lord, the God of Israel.

"In the days of Shamgar son of Anath,
in the days of Jael, caravans ceased
and travelers kept to the byways.
The peasantry prospered in Israel,
they grew fat on plunder,
because you arose, Deborah,
arose as a mother in Israel.
When new gods were chosen,
then war was in the gates.
Was shield or spear to be seen
among forty thousand in Israel?
My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel
who offered themselves willingly among the people.
Bless the Lord.

"Tell of it, you who ride on white donkeys,
you who sit on rich carpets
and you who walk by the way.
To the sound of musicians at the watering places,
there they repeat the triumphs of the Lord,
the triumphs of his peasantry in Israel.

"Then down to the gates marched the people of the Lord.

There is a day when the poor, the sick, the downtrodden and the needy will rejoice. For they have a Savior. God saves his people. God loves his people and comes to their defense. God cares for the peasantry in Israel and brings them triumph.

One day these people of God, who willingly offer themselves to God, will sing praises to there God and King and Savior. And I want to be one of them that march down to the gates with the people of the Lord.

Lord, may I be bold enough to march with your people. March by their side and celebrate in common with those who willingly offer themselves to you. March and sing and rejoice, for you have won the battle. Thanks be to God! --- Amen

Sunday, February 07, 2010

February 7th - Reflection

Fifth Sunday After Epiphany
Luke 5:1-11 (NRSV)
Jesus calls the disciples to fish for people

Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch." Simon answered, "Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets." When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!" For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people." When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.

First listen to the Word of God, then go out further than you have gone before, next let down your defenses, and finally see what God can do through and in you. And graciously rejoice in praise and thanksgiving to God Almighty.

Jesus separated himself from the crowd and took a place where it would be easy for everyone to focus only on him, in a boat, in the water. I need to first keep my focus on Jesus and listen to what he has to say. Listen to the Word.

Then the invitation of Jesus to put out into deep water... I need to accept his invitation to go out deep, to go out into the Kingdom to places I have never been before. I need to accept the invitation.

Let down the nets... I need to let down my preconceived ideas and obey the Word. Just do what he tells me to do and trust in Jesus. He knows the plan and knows what I am to do. I need to put my own selfish desires behind myself and give my life away to Jesus and let down those nets.

The nets were breaking... Finally, I need to rejoice in the work that God does through me and those with me. God can do wonderful things with me. God can do wonderful things with some fishermen and tax collectors and maintenance workers and office workers and musicians and doctors and nurses and politicians and machine operators and business executives and managers and secretaries and clergy and service workers and...

Give thanks for what God can do --- Listen-Go out-Let go-See-Give thanks!

Lord, I focus on you this day. May I hear your Word and follow your way and do what you have planned for me. Help me to give up my sinfulness and give up my pride and selfish desire to do what I have planned. Lead me to do and follow what you have planned for me this day, tomorrow and forever. ---Amen

Saturday, February 06, 2010

February 6th - Reflection

Luke 4:42-44 (NRSV)
Jesus preaches

At daybreak he departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowds were looking for him; and when they reached him, they wanted to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, "I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose." So he continued proclaiming the message in the synagogues of Judea.

We want to keep Jesus to ourselves. After all, when I look for him to come to my door each day, I want to stay with him individually. But, I must remember that Jesus comes to my door with Moses and another person. Could that other person be you? Could that other person be the Church? I'm not sure. It was a childhood dream after all and memory either fades, or the memory is intended to be vague in that way. Personally, I think that it was intended to be vague in that way. One person of the group is unknown to me. So, in this very way, I cannot keep Jesus just to myself. Of course, Jesus comes to me individually, in the same manner that you would hear a Billy Graham sermon, but Jesus also comes to me corporately. Jesus comes to me as a Child of God in his church. He comes to groups of people of which I am just one of many.

So, in my mind, Jesus comes both ways. And that unknown person that is with Jesus at the front door could be an individual or a group. Who am I to guess at that? In this passage Jesus goes off, away from the people. Likewise, I need to go off. Go off in prayer and study and listening. Go off and seek God. Not only does Jesus come to my door, but I go to his door. I seek the Word. I seek the Word through the written Word, the spoken Word and the Word acted out in the sacraments. The Word is present throughout and within ourselves and the creation God gave to us. So we seek the Word as the Word comes to us.

So celebrate the Word, at your doorstep and out in the world. Proclaim the Word to all nations. Jesus comes to you just as you seek him. Thanks be to God!

Lord, I give you thanks that you not only come to me personally but you come to all people as one. As I seek you daily, I glory in your coming. Thanks! ---Amen

Friday, February 05, 2010

February 5th - Reflection

Acts 9:26-31 (NRSV)
The apostles reluctantly welcome Saul

When he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, brought him to the apostles, and described for them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. He spoke and argued with the Hellenists; but they were attempting to kill him. When the believers learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.

Meanwhile the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.

A good friend in Barnabas who brought Saul forward and explained how Saul had changed. A wonderful plan of God to take Saul, who was persecuting Christians, and save Saul from evil.

Loving actions taken first by God and then in the fellowship of Christians. Loving actions and caring hearts are what God brought in the coming of Jesus into our world. God and people jumping in to serve and love for those ill, or poor, or in need of love.

God showed us by example how to stand up for one another. Stand up for those in need. Stand up for a just cause. Stand up even to the point of exile. We stand for the love of God and the relationship of the Church, one for another and all for God.

That's how the church increases. Not by our own actions but by God's action through us. The church increases through the love of Christ and the movement of the Spirit throughout the people of God to those outside the church.

People of God willing to stand up and stand firm for the love shown freely and graciously through Christ Jesus. Thanks be to God!

Lord, today, in love towards you and towards others, show me when to stand up and when to sit down and listen. Forgive my inaction and fear and call me to you this day, to follow your lead. --- Amen

Thursday, February 04, 2010

February 4th - Reflection

Acts 9:19b-25 (NRSV)
Saul's call is questioned

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.

After some time had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night so that they might kill him; but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.

Saul underwent some dramatic changes in a short period of time. Saul went from killing Christians to proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God. He proved that Jesus was the Messiah. What a sudden change! No other than a visit from Jesus could bring on such a huge change. And Jesus had already suffered, died, risen and ascended, when Saul met Jesus.

A change so big that the people plotted to kill Saul. But Saul's disciples protected him.

What a change Jesus brings into the life of the believer. Sudden change or gradual change, Jesus changes us. He changes you and me and, as a believer, I look forward to that change. We are all created in the image of God. But that doesn't mean that we all will receive the same rate of change. I believe that God has a plan for each of our lives. Those willing to believe the plan and for some. even those whom God wills to choose, will be changed at just the right moment and just the right time to fit into God's plan.

For me, I must be willing to submit and rejoice in the plan that God has for my life. I must be patient, I must be on fire for the change to take place, and I must find my joy in being part of the plan. Change can either be difficult, or it can be a time of joy. Rejoice that you have been so deeply loved that God created you unique and created you to change into the creation he wishes for you to be. Rejoice that God has a plan for your life. Rejoice that you will be placed into that plan. Rejoice in the change. Rejoice in the plan. Rejoice in the love of God. Rejoice when Jesus comes to you, and let the change begin! Thanks be to God!

Jesus, you come to my door each day. You come and I change. Lead me, teach me and use me this day in your glorious eternal plan. ---Amen

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

February 3rd - Reflection

Psalm 56 (NRSV)
In God I trust

Be gracious to me, O God, for people trample on me;
all day long foes oppress me;
my enemies trample on me all day long,
for many fight against me.
O Most High, when I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I am not afraid;
what can flesh do to me?

All day long they seek to injure my cause;
all their thoughts are against me for evil.
They stir up strife, they lurk,
they watch my steps.
As they hoped to have my life,
so repay them for their crime;
in wrath cast down the peoples, O God!

You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your record?
Then my enemies will retreat
in the day when I call.
This I know, that God is for me.
In God, whose word I praise,
in the Lord, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I am not afraid.
What can a mere mortal do to me?

My vows to you I must perform, O God;
I will render thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered my soul from death,
and my feet from falling,
so that I may walk before God
in the light of life.

Nobody said it would be easy. Life is hard at times. There are times when things just don't go like you would want them to go. These are times that we tend to turn to God for help. In the good times, if we don't turn our backs on God, we tend to offer praise and thanksgiving. In the good times, if we turn our backs on God, we tend to fall into sin and selfishly think we brought on the good all of our own effort.

So what's the difference? The difference is that both in the bad times and the good times, our focus must remain on God. This isn't about making us happy all the time. This is about carrying out the mission and plan God has given for us to do. There will be easy parts of this plan and there will be difficult parts of this plan. I must trust God in either case and know that my life is about what God wants and not about what I want.

So what's the difference? My vows are to God. My thanks is to God. God saves me through Jesus Christ and I will walk with him in his Kingdom daily. Walk with him through the good and the bad. Work the plan with all my effort day after day. The relationships in the journey...that's the difference. Thanks be to God!

Lord, thanks for the pep talk...let's go for the second half and play hard. ---Amen

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

February 2nd - Reflection

Presentation of Our Lord
Luke 2:22-40 (NRSV)

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord"), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons."
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
"Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel."
And the child's father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, "This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed -- and a sword will pierce your own soul too."
There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
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.

Simeon and Anna, two different people, two devout children of God. In both cases, Jesus comes to them. Comes to them as a child.

Jesus comes to me as a child. No matter what age you are, Jesus comes to you when you are but a child. I think we all remain children in this present walk of life. I think that in God's eyes, no matter our age we are always children. Just as I view all of my own children, they remain my precious dear children all life long. Children that I love and care for. Children that I need to hear from. Children that I long to show their love to me. God treats me as his child. And Simeon and Anna, even in old age, respond in joy as children would respond at the sight of Jesus.

Simeon had the honor of praising God in his hands. Simeon had the honor of touching the Savior. Simeon had the honor to speak the tough prophetic words of a God that would save his people in a way that none could imagine. Salvation in the deepest of for life and then life eternal.

And Anna...precious Anna. Anna, although old in age, left that sight in tremendous joy to proclaim the Messiah to all who were looking for redemption in Jerusalem. What an example!

Each day through the Word and God's ever presence, I leave this place, open the door, and go outside with Jesus, Moses, and another, in joy to proclaim the Messiah to all who are looking for redemption. Go in joy! Thanks be to God!

Simeon and Anna...two devout people...two different children of God...two joyful people!!!

Lord, you have presented yourself to me here in this place. Hear my song of praise and thanks. See my joy! Thanks be to God! Now I go into your Kingdom to proclaim you as Messiah. I go in joy! ---Amen

Monday, February 01, 2010

February 1st - Reflection

1 Kings 17:8-16 (NRSV)
The widow of Zarephath fed

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, "Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you." So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, "Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink." As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, "Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand." But she said, "As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die." Elijah said to her, "Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth." She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.

It still hasn't run out when I think of it. Jesus fed so many people. Jesus fed the people bread. Jesus fed the people broken bread. Jesus fed broken bread that never ran out. There were left overs.

God dropped manna from heaven to feed his people. Manna, the bread from heaven that never ran out. It still hasn't run out when I think of it.

The widow fed Elijah bread. Bread that never run out. It still hasn't run out when I think of it.

Each Sunday I see so many churches taking communion. I see bread and wine and the body and blood of Christ. It still hasn't run out when I think of it.

Jesus gave everything. Jesus gave his own life. It still hasn't run out when I think of it.

Likewise the widow gave everything. She had the faith God gave to her. And life for her never ran out. Maybe that's the story here. Give in faith everything you have in God's plan for your life. Give without fear. It still hasn't run out, when I think of it. Thanks be to God!

Lord, forgive my selfish and hoarding desires and teach me to give in faith. For you grant a food and a life that never runs out. Thanks be to God! ---Amen