Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June 30th - Reflection


Psalm 140 (NRSV)
Prayer for deliverance

Deliver me, O Lord, from evildoers;
protect me from those who are violent,
who plan evil things in their minds
and stir up wars continually.
They make their tongue sharp as a snake's,
and under their lips is the venom of vipers.
Selah

Guard me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked;
protect me from the violent
who have planned my downfall.
The arrogant have hidden a trap for me,
and with cords they have spread a net,
along the road they have set snares for me.
Selah
I say to the Lord, "You are my God;
give ear, O Lord, to the voice of my supplications."
O Lord, my Lord, my strong deliverer,
you have covered my head in the day of battle.
Do not grant, O Lord, the desires of the wicked;
do not further their evil plot.
Selah

Those who surround me lift up their heads;
let the mischief of their lips overwhelm them!
Let burning coals fall on them!
Let them be flung into pits, no more to rise!
Do not let the slanderer be established in the land;
let evil speedily hunt down the violent!

I know that the Lord maintains the cause of the needy,
and executes justice for the poor.
Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name;
the upright shall live in your presence.

Reflection
How I need deliverance from evil people, evil intent and evil itself. I am way too easy a victim and way too easy to defeat. I will always loose the battle if I attempt to defeat evil on my own. I may last a while, but the strength of evil will overcome me, and in the end, I will fall to defeat.

You see, it's not about me, being able to win the battle against evil. Even the best of my actions will not win. But, I do have a Savior, of whom I can cling to and stand by for the victory. I am baptized and I am a Child of God. Through Christ alone is this evil defeated. And through Christ are the needy and poor cared for in their lives.

So I stand by Jesus. I place all my trust, hope and faith in Jesus to defeat the evil  I encounter. And I walk humbly with him, day after day to maintain the cause of the needy, execute justice for the poor and live with him in his Kingdom.

Prayer
Jesus, it's all about you. I know that you will protect me and save me as I walk with you day by day through this valley of evil. --- Amen

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June 29th - Reflection


Peter and Paul, Apostles
Acts 12:1-11 (NRSV)

About that time King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword. After he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. (This was during the festival of Unleavened Bread.) When he had seized him, he put him in prison and handed him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending to bring him out to the people after the Passover. While Peter was kept in prison, the church prayed fervently to God for him.
The very night before Herod was going to bring him out, Peter, bound with two chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while guards in front of the door were keeping watch over the prison. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him, saying, "Get up quickly." And the chains fell off his wrists. The angel said to him, "Fasten your belt and put on your sandals." He did so. Then he said to him, "Wrap your cloak around you and follow me." Peter went out and followed him; he did not realize that what was happening with the angel's help was real; he thought he was seeing a vision. After they had passed the first and the second guard, they came before the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went outside and walked along a lane, when suddenly the angel left him. Then Peter came to himself and said, "Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hands of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting."

Reflection
We tend to not see the miracles that happen around us. Sometimes we even tend to deny the existence of miracles. But, daily miracles such as the above happen to each of God's Children. We tend to not see the miracle, but when we do see the miracle, we can't help but to think back about that angel and rejoice that the Lord has sent an angel to rescue us from the hands of sin, death, and the devil.

As sinners we are bound, chained, guarded and in prison to our selfishness. We are all tied up and guarded by the devil and trapped in our own sinfulness. Just like Peter we are stuck! And then we begin to relive our baptism. We relive our daily baptism and are freed from the chain of sin to walk free in our life and calling of God. Free because of the cleansing water and refreshing grace of Jesus life, death, and resurrection from the dead. All this freely given daily to us, so that we can start anew. Free from the confines of our prison of sin. So come to yourself this day and proclaim the glory of the Lord, for surely the Lord has sent his angel and rescued you and me from the hands of death.

Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, as I arise this day I see your blessing and am awed by your grace and your miracle of life. Be with me as I live out the calling you have for me this day. --- Amen

Monday, June 28, 2010

June 28th - Reflection

Genesis 24:34-41, 50-67 (NRSV)
Rebekah follows Abraham's servant

So he said, "I am Abraham's servant. The Lord has greatly blessed my master, and he has become wealthy; he has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male and female slaves, camels and donkeys. And Sarah my master's wife bore a son to my master when she was old; and he has given him all that he has. My master made me swear, saying, 'You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live; but you shall go to my father's house, to my kindred, and get a wife for my son.' I said to my master, 'Perhaps the woman will not follow me.' But he said to me, 'The Lord, before whom I walk, will send his angel with you and make your way successful. You shall get a wife for my son from my kindred, from my father's house. Then you will be free from my oath, when you come to my kindred; even if they will not give her to you, you will be free from my oath.' ...

Then Laban and Bethuel answered, "The thing comes from the Lord; we cannot speak to you anything bad or good. Look, Rebekah is before you, take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master's son, as the Lord has spoken."

When Abraham's servant heard their words, he bowed himself to the ground before the Lord. And the servant brought out jewelry of silver and of gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave to her brother and to her mother costly ornaments. Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank, and they spent the night there. When they rose in the morning, he said, "Send me back to my master." Her brother and her mother said, "Let the girl remain with us a while, at least ten days; after that she may go." But he said to them, "Do not delay me, since the Lord has made my journey successful; let me go that I may go to my master." They said, "We will call the girl, and ask her." And they called Rebekah, and said to her, "Will you go with this man?" She said, "I will." So they sent away their sister Rebekah and her nurse along with Abraham's servant and his men. And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,
"May you, our sister, become
thousands of myriads;
may your offspring gain possession
of the gates of their foes."

Then Rebekah and her maids rose up, mounted the camels, and followed the man; thus the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.

Now Isaac had come from Beer-lahai-roi, and was settled in the Negeb. Isaac went out in the evening to walk in the field; and looking up, he saw camels coming. And Rebekah looked up, and when she saw Isaac, she slipped quickly from the camel, and said to the servant, "Who is the man over there, walking in the field to meet us?" The servant said, "It is my master." So she took her veil and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent. He took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother's death.

Reflection
Rebekah shows us faith. Rebekah demonstrates a faith in God's plan and calling for her life and goes towards that calling.

We likewise have a calling from God. We must listen for that calling and discern God's message for us and faithfully follow the call and fulfill God's plan in our lives. Some may have a calling of vocation, but many have a calling to live out daily, and others will be called to a particular task in time. No matter what the calling from God consists of, we must be faithful. We can trust the calling of God and can follow in God's footsteps along the way. God is faithful and will give us what we need.

Rebekah shows us faith in calling and demonstrates that faith in God's plan. You and I are called to do likewise. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, in prayer I approach, and ask that you make clear your call to action for me in life...show me the call...gift me with the skills needed...and give me the faith and trust to follow you...today...tomorrow...and forever. --- Amen

Sunday, June 27, 2010

June 27th - Reflection


Time after Pentecost - Lectionary 13
Luke 9:51-62 (NRSV)
Jesus says, Follow me

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, "Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." But Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."

Reflection
Jesus had a goal in mind...Jerusalem. The Samaritans probably wanted Jesus for themselves. The Samaritans, I would think, wanted Jesus to stay with them and deny the Jews. After all Jesus had been with them many times. But, Jesus had a goal in mind...Jerusalem. The Samaritans, upset with Jesus, sent him on his way to Jerusalem, a place that any Samaritan would not be welcome. So I can see why Jesus would have been upset with the few that, along the road, wanted to follow him. Did these few Samaritans really have a tough goal in mind of going to Jerusalem, or were they just riding the wave, hoping that Jesus would take power over Jerusalem?

It takes guts and strong faith to follow Jesus. No promises of the easy life. You must focus your life on Jesus and set your face towards him and only him. Follow Jesus, it's worth your life! Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, speak boldly to me when I need it and set me straight so that I will always keep my focus on you and your plan and calling for me...today...tomorrow...and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, June 26, 2010

June 26th - Reflection


Luke 9:21-27 (NRSV)
Following Jesus

He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, saying, "The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised."

Then he said to them all, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God."

Reflection
Deny yourself and follow Jesus. We all tend to reach a point in life when we find that we must deny ourselves. We reach a situation when we find out that we cannot solve a problem or change a situation through our own effort or power. Some people break down at this point and others open up knowing that help is needed.

Times humble us and we know that we need others to help. But even in some of those cases where others attempt to help it all breaks down also. So we reach again. It reminds me of the time Jacob wrestled with the angel. We wrestle with messengers of God and then finally break down and begin to understand that this is about God's plan and we need God in our life. It's not about us, or you, or me, it's about God.

We are here for God. God is not here for us. But in some strange way, God comes to us. God comes to us as a Father, Friend, Savior, Brother or Sister and walks this life with us. Showing that we depend on God for salvation. Showing that the anxiety we create in and for ourselves is our own anxiety. God takes care of us in ways that we can't even imagine so that we can reach out in love to those God gives to us in our lives to care for.

So, it's time to deny yourself, take up the cross, and follow Christ in the plan God has called you to act upon.

Prayer
Lord, wrestle with me until I understand it and deny myself and follow you. --- Amen

Friday, June 25, 2010

June 25th - Reflection

Galatians 4:8-20 (NRSV)
Paul reproves the hearers

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to beings that by nature are not gods. Now, however, that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits? How can you want to be enslaved to them again? You are observing special days, and months, and seasons, and years. I am afraid that my work for you may have been wasted.

Friends, I beg you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You have done me no wrong. You know that it was because of a physical infirmity that I first announced the gospel to you; though my condition put you to the test, you did not scorn or despise me, but welcomed me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. What has become of the goodwill you felt? For I testify that, had it been possible, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? They make much of you, but for no good purpose; they want to exclude you, so that you may make much of them. It is good to be made much of for a good purpose at all times, and not only when I am present with you. My little children, for whom I am again in the pain of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, I wish I were present with you now and could change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.

Reflection
Paul was doing the hard thing here. He was telling some people that he loved, that they were turning the wrong way, they were turning back to sinful life and falling into the trap. There is a time to be nice to one another, but if we truly love one another, there should also be times when we are willing to tell those we love that they have turned in the wrong direction and are about to be trapped once again in sin, selfishness, greed, lust, or any of those sinful desires of the flesh.

Sometimes we are just too nice to each other to speak boldly. Sometimes this love if spoken out of judgment could be a sin in itself. So, first, be humble as Paul was humble, then show them the error and help them through it by being present with the person if at all possible.

Paul was doing the hard thing here, but Jesus in his gracious love was working through Paul along with the Spirit to make the message clear.

Now it's up to me or you to take the action needed to walk with Jesus, or walk with Paul, towards that cross together with God's call, and God's plan in action ... today...tomorrow...and forever...Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, speak to me in words and through people that I can understand my sin and remove the scales from my eyes that cause me to walk away from you. Lord, pull my hand to you and correct me, forgive me and lead me to that cross, on the path you would have me take. --- Amen

Thursday, June 24, 2010

June 24th - Reflection


John the Baptist
Malachi 3:1-4 (NRSV)

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight--indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?
For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

Reflection
As the Refiner sits over the molten gold and silver the dross rises to the top. The refiner continues to skim off the impurities. It's not easy for the Refiner. This is hot work. Fumes rise from the pot of molten metal. But after some length, the Refiner is satisfied. And I think that the point of satisfaction comes when the Refiner begins to see his own reflection in the gold or silver.

Prayer
Lord, continue to skim the impurities and sin from my life that you may see your reflection and my life may bring glory to you. --- Amen

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

June 23rd - Reflection


Luke 9:37-43a (NRSV)
Jesus heals a boy with a demon

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.

Reflection
I'm always astounded at how easy Jesus makes all of this look! Healing is not easy. Healing sometimes is lifelong. Sure we may get better...but are we healed. Sure there are things we can do to fight disease, but Jesus brings healing. And he doesn't just do it part way. Jesus heals both body and soul. Jesus truly makes us clean again. And that's the greatness of God. God can take a pile of dirt, gather that dirt together into some bones, rattle things around a little, attach some ligaments and flesh and bring a wonderful, thoughtful, loving, creature to life. It is amazing. And on top of it all...God came of with the dirt out of nothing...in fact God came up with the dirt out of chaos. So God takes us from the chaos of our sin and death to the new creations God wants us to be.

And all were astounded at the greatness of God!

Prayer
Lord, keep workin on me and don't give up...I know I foul it up...but I need you to straighten out this chaos in my life...I'm yours...recreate me into what you would have me be. --- Amen

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

June 22nd - Reflection


Job 19:1-22 (NRSV)
Job questions God's ways

Then Job answered:
"How long will you torment me,
and break me in pieces with words?
These ten times you have cast reproach upon me;
are you not ashamed to wrong me?
And even if it is true that I have erred,
my error remains with me.
If indeed you magnify yourselves against me,
and make my humiliation an argument against me,
know then that God has put me in the wrong,
and closed his net around me.
Even when I cry out, 'Violence!' I am not answered;
I call aloud, but there is no justice.
He has walled up my way so that I cannot pass,
and he has set darkness upon my paths.
He has stripped my glory from me,
and taken the crown from my head.
He breaks me down on every side, and I am gone,
he has uprooted my hope like a tree.
He has kindled his wrath against me,
and counts me as his adversary.
His troops come on together;
they have thrown up siegeworks against me,
and encamp around my tent.

"He has put my family far from me,
and my acquaintances are wholly estranged from me.
My relatives and my close friends have failed me;
the guests in my house have forgotten me;
my serving girls count me as a stranger;
I have become an alien in their eyes.
I call to my servant, but he gives me no answer;
I must myself plead with him.
My breath is repulsive to my wife;
I am loathsome to my own family.
Even young children despise me;
when I rise, they talk against me.
All my intimate friends abhor me,
and those whom I loved have turned against me.
My bones cling to my skin and to my flesh,
and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.
Have pity on me, have pity on me, O you my friends,
for the hand of God has touched me!
Why do you, like God, pursue me,
never satisfied with my flesh?

Reflection
It seems in many cases that's it's when we are at our lowest, that we finally notice the touch of God's hand in our lives. When we have given up hope in everything, including ourselves and God, we turn and notice that the hand of God has touched me! We are open and humble and our lives are laid bare and open for all to see, and at that point, we realize that God is closer than you could ever imagine, and we feel the touch of God's hand.

And then it dawns on us. God did not reject us...God lives through this horror with us...God was at our side, and we were just so focused on ourselves and our own pain that we couldn't open outward to see the presence of God by our side all along. We tend to close in on ourselves and roll up into a little ball, closing out the world and any of God's presence. And then we feel it...that touch...that hug...that whisper of compassionate love of God.

At first we assume that this touch is just more punishment. After all, in our sinfulness, we deserve nothing more than damnation. But we soon find out that this touch is not a touch of more pain and suffering...it is a touch of love and understanding.

Understanding, because the God touching us has felt the pain, rejection, and the totality of all of our sin on a cross. Jesus felt this pain, not curled in on himself, focusing on the pain, but laid open on the cross with arms stretched wide to include all of the pain of all humankind. Jesus felt and died for this pain for us, to know what that pain is, to open it all up to God the Father, and to save us from sin, death and the devil, and to make us his children.

Claimed in the pain of the cross, Jesus brings us to the throne of God the Father and becomes one in us and through us that we may joyfully unfold from our selfishness and open up wide to go and tell of a Savior that has lived through the pain we each feel in life to bring an eternal life of joy, compassion and love! Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, thank you for experiencing what I experience. In joy I open up from my selfish centered ways. I open up from concentration of my own pain, to see your open arms in your pain to live in a pain of joy and thanksgiving with you this day. Send me to bring comfort and the touch of God to those in pain and suffering this day that they may see your glory and hear your message...even in and through the pain. --- Amen

Monday, June 21, 2010

June 21st - Reflection


Job 18:1-21 (NRSV)
God will destroy the wicked

Then Bildad the Shuhite answered:
"How long will you hunt for words?
Consider, and then we shall speak.
Why are we counted as cattle?
Why are we stupid in your sight?
You who tear yourself in your anger -
shall the earth be forsaken because of you,
or the rock be removed out of its place?

"Surely the light of the wicked is put out,
and the flame of their fire does not shine.
The light is dark in their tent,
and the lamp above them is put out.
Their strong steps are shortened,
and their own schemes throw them down.
For they are thrust into a net by their own feet,
and they walk into a pitfall.
A trap seizes them by the heel;
a snare lays hold of them.
A rope is hid for them in the ground,
a trap for them in the path.
Terrors frighten them on every side,
and chase them at their heels.
Their strength is consumed by hunger,
and calamity is ready for their stumbling.
By disease their skin is consumed,
the firstborn of Death consumes their limbs.
They are torn from the tent in which they trusted,
and are brought to the king of terrors.
In their tents nothing remains;
sulfur is scattered upon their habitations.
Their roots dry up beneath,
and their branches wither above.
Their memory perishes from the earth,
and they have no name in the street.
They are thrust from light into darkness,
and driven out of the world.
They have no offspring or descendant among their people,
and no survivor where they used to live.
They of the west are appalled at their fate,
and horror seizes those of the east.
Surely such are the dwellings of the ungodly,
such is the place of those who do not know God."

Reflection
Is there a trap  for the wicked? Will they fall to ruin? Sometimes, it seems, I don't see any difference in the lives between the wicked and the good. It seems the wicked get all the breaks. It seems the wicked get all the wealth. It seems the wicked get to run over the good with their power. But then I reconsider the priorities.

The wicked must place priority in this world. The only hope they have is to succeed here and now in whatever game is playing that brings power and prestige here and now. The abundance of life for the wicked is right now. The wicked also know that one slip, and the game could be over. So it is important to indulge on worldly goods and passions here and now, because that's all there is.

God's children, however, while still sinners, know of a hope in Jesus. There is a promise of eternal life. Sure, we still live in the here and now. But we live in the here and now to utilize the gifts God has given us in the Kingdom. Listen to, and discern the call of God and act in the here and now, knowing that you are living that eternal life here and now. Eternity has been taken care of through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the love he freely gives to you.

I think the trap and the fall into ruin come when the wicked believe that they are the only means to salvation.

Focus on the cross of Jesus, hear the call, discern the action you are to take, and joyfully walk with God. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, you alone are my Savior...count me with the Redeemed as I hear the call and discern the actions you wish for me to take...today...tomorrow...and forever. --- Amen

Sunday, June 20, 2010

June 20th - Reflection


Time after Pentecost - Lectionary 12
Luke 8:26-39 (NRSV)
Jesus casts out demons

Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me" - for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) Jesus then asked him, "What is your name?" He said, "Legion"; for many demons had entered him. They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.

Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, "Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you." So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.

Reflection
What are the demons in you? What are the demons in me? I think we all have a few demons in us that we need Jesus to send away. I think some of our demons torment us and tempt us and teach us to run from God and look to our own selves for healing. Demons of greed, excess, desires of the flesh that constantly torture us. And for most of us, it's not just one demon that has possessed us. But in this account, I see a compassionate and loving God that meets us in the wilderness to take away those demons that we may sit at his feet and worship our Lord and Savior.

Jesus knows the demons we deal with daily and comes to us in the pain and suffering to free us from the restraints that have been placed upon us to a new life in him. It's a battle...the demons come back again and again...but I know of a man that I can reach out to...even when I can't speak for myself...Jesus takes care of the demons for me...and frees me to be his.

Now return to your home and tell everyone what God has done for you. Tell it throughout the city and country.

Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, take these demons away! I am baptized and your child! Free me, I pray, that I may go forth today to tell everyone what you have done for me. --- Amen

Saturday, June 19, 2010

June 19th - Reflection


Matthew 9:27-34 (NRSV)
Healing the blind, casting out a demon

As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, crying loudly, "Have mercy on us, Son of David!" When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to him, "Yes, Lord." Then he touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith let it be done to you." And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus sternly ordered them, "See that no one knows of this." But they went away and spread the news about him throughout that district.

After they had gone away, a demoniac who was mute was brought to him. And when the demon had been cast out, the one who had been mute spoke; and the crowds were amazed and said, "Never has anything like this been seen in Israel." But the Pharisees said, "By the ruler of the demons he casts out the demons."

Reflection
This past week has been a tough one for me. I have mostly been deep in depression over actions I see taken by people around me and inactions I see through myself and others. People can be self-centered and nosey and people can be hurtful with word and action.

And all of this in a world that I attempt to control to my desire. A world in which I don't deserve the authority to control. I see Jesus heal the blind and cast out demons, but I don't see Jesus do these very same actions in my world. I believe after all...so why doesn't Jesus act in my world?

My world?...who says this is my world?...why do I assume this world revolves around me?...sometimes, I find out the hard way that it doesn't. Sometimes I go through the pain of a lesson repeated again and again throughout my life, only to realize that I had heard and felt this story in the past.

This world was wonderfully created by God and made perfect. But I was born into a world that came with sinfulness already running at full tilt. This sinful world that I am part of includes my sin and the results of the sinful actions of many others. This world is my world. This sinful world is my world...but the world God created is the world that God would have me in.

God came into my sinful world in Jesus to set things straight. Jesus lived, died and rose again to give hope and salvation. Jesus will come again to pull us together as One in the world that God intended from the start. A world without tears, sickness, blindness and suffering.

But for now...I live in this inbetween world. I am being recreated into the being God would have me be. Sure, I believe. Sure, it's not all peachy keen just yet. But Jesus is with me in this world of his to recreate me and all his Kingdom into what God intends for that Kingdom to be. I'm thankful that I'm part of that Kingdom.

I'm gracious that God has loved me and you so much that he enters into our sinful world and makes us his, that we may live the here and now with him as we are recreated and move towards that glorious Kingdom he has prepared for us. So, today I embrace the pain of this world, knowing that Jesus embraced the pain of this world and will lead me and you onward in hope, love and joy. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, be with me and those I love as we embrace the pain of this world and the tears it brings with your fervant love for all people in all circumstances. I see the wonderful joy you bring to all people throughout all time. ---Amen

Friday, June 18, 2010

June 18th - Reflection


Galatians 3:15-22 (NRSV)
The purpose of the law

Brothers and sisters, I give an example from daily life: once a person's will has been ratified, no one adds to it or annuls it. Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring; it does not say, "And to offsprings," as of many; but it says, "And to your offspring," that is, to one person, who is Christ. My point is this: the law, which came four hundred thirty years later, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. For if the inheritance comes from the law, it no longer comes from the promise; but God granted it to Abraham through the promise.

Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring would come to whom the promise had been made; and it was ordained through angels by a mediator. Now a mediator involves more than one party; but God is one.

Is the law then opposed to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could make alive, then righteousness would indeed come through the law. But the scripture has imprisoned all things under the power of sin, so that what was promised through faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

Reflection
A promise through faith in Jesus Christ given to those who believe. So, it seems it comes down to getting out of the way...getting over myself...realizing that I can't do this on my own...see that Jesus has done it all for me...faith in Jesus Christ...belief in Jesus Christ...it's not about me...it's about Christ...I'm not the center of this universe...God is the center.

I am imprisoned to the power of sin and cannot free myself. I can't cure all disease. I can't stop all the war. I can't stop the devil and sin and death.

But I can have faith and believe in Jesus, who can stop disease, death, war and defeat sin, death and the devil. It is through Jesus' powerful grace that I live this eternal life that I now live. It's not through my own efforts but through his gracious action of love.

So, I am called, gifted, enlightened and lead by the Word made flesh to live the life God calls me to live in this kingdom. I am called to do my part. I am called to action. I am called to love my neighbor. I am granted forgiveness and called to forgive. Sounds like enough for this earthly lifetime to me. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, this day as you call me out, may I pay attention to you and what you call me to do. May I act in selfless love to those you give to me instead of selfish love for myself. For you are my Lord and my Savior...today...tomorrow...and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, June 17, 2010

June 17th - Reflection


Romans 2:17-29 (NRSV)
Real circumcision is a matter of the heart

But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast of your relation to God and know his will and determine what is best because you are instructed in the law, and if you are sure that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth, you, then, that teach others, will you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You that forbid adultery, do you commit adultery? You that abhor idols, do you rob temples? You that boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? For, as it is written, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you."

Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law; but if you break the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. So, if those who are uncircumcised keep the requirements of the law, will not their uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the law will condemn you that have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. Rather, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart - it is spiritual and not literal. Such a person receives praise not from others but from God.

Reflection
So why do we desire to keep the law? Why do we want to do good? Is it because we feel we have to in order to gain some reward? Or rather do we desire to obey God's law because of what God has done for us? Do our good actions give us a right to heaven? Or do our actions speak in response to what has already been accomplished.

I think I hear the message of the circumcision of the heart coming through. I know that my sinful actions are actions that deserve death. I know that I deserve eternal damnation. I know that no action I could perform on my own could earn salvation.

But as I look to the Word, I see an action that was taken on my behalf. I see One who walked the life I walk and took on the sin that I commit and suffered and died in that sin. I know of One who after three days arose from death and ascended into heaven. I know of One who came for me and for you to earn that salvation the I or you could never earn from any good actions of our own. I know of Jesus and his life. And I know of the actions of the Holy Spirit that come through those who have been redeemed by Christ and act out faithfully those good actions Jesus takes in this world today. I know of the Holy Spirit that gifts, calls and unites the people of God to act out in compassion and love for a world of sinners.

What about those actions?...those actions are a loving response to what God first did for you and me. Actions not to gain eternal life on my own...but actions to live out that eternal life that God has freely given through the actions of Jesus our Lord and Savior. Actions in eternal life that are a true joy to do...actions of saints and sinners living as one in God's Kingdom day after day.

That's circumcision of the heart! Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Make my actions this day, Lord, a joyful singing of praise to what you have already done. --- Amen

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

June 16th - Reflection


Psalm 130 (NRSV)
Prayer for mercy

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplications!

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you,
so that you may be revered.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is great power to redeem.
It is he who will redeem Israel
from all its iniquities.

Reflection
Out of the depths of my hopelessness and despair, I cry out to God. I cry out when I'm sinking. I cry out in my tears to my Savior and God. I cry out, knowing that God knows the pain of my tears and the want in my needs. I cry out to my Father when I'm lost. I cry out to God for rescue. I cry out to God to feel that hug and hear that voice that brings comfort and joy and salvation. I cry out for God's steadfast love. I cry out and am comforted by God's great power to redeem and save...I cry out!

Prayer
Father, hear my crying and save me from myself, sin, death and the devil. I cry out to you. --- Amen

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June 15th - Reflection


2 Chronicles 30:1-12 (NRSV)

The people return to the Lord

Hezekiah sent word to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, to keep the passover to the Lord the God of Israel. For the king and his officials and all the assembly in Jerusalem had taken counsel to keep the passover in the second month (for they could not keep it at its proper time because the priests had not sanctified themselves in sufficient number, nor had the people assembled in Jerusalem). The plan seemed right to the king and all the assembly. So they decreed to make a proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beer-sheba to Dan, that the people should come and keep the passover to the Lord the God of Israel, at Jerusalem; for they had not kept it in great numbers as prescribed. So couriers went throughout all Israel and Judah with letters from the king and his officials, as the king had commanded, saying, "O people of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, so that he may turn again to the remnant of you who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. Do not be like your ancestors and your kindred, who were faithless to the Lord God of their ancestors, so that he made them a desolation, as you see. Do not now be stiff-necked as your ancestors were, but yield yourselves to the Lord and come to his sanctuary, which he has sanctified forever, and serve the Lord your God, so that his fierce anger may turn away from you. For as you return to the Lord, your kindred and your children will find compassion with their captors, and return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him."

So the couriers went from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, and as far as Zebulun; but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them. Only a few from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the officials commanded by the word of the Lord.

Reflection
Return to the Lord. Many times I run away from God. I fail to do what God has commanded. I need to humble myself and return to the Lord. When I return God always welcomes me and makes my heart one with his children. But first I need to stop and listen to the voices of the messengers sent to correct me in my path. I need to hear those who tell me to return to the sanctuary, be humble, repent and be one with God. And then...

It is my turn to go out into the kingdom, to risk ridicule and laughter, and to speak boldly to those who are lost, to return to the Lord. Return to the Lord for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, here I am once again, returning to you. Returning and humbling kneeling in your presence. I give you thanks for those bold messengers you send my way that tell me to return. Make me one with your children this day so that we may reflect the love you have shown to each and all of us. --- Amen

Monday, June 14, 2010

June 14th - Reflection


2 Chronicles 29:1-19 (NRSV)
Hezekiah renews worship of God

Hezekiah began to reign when he was twenty-five years old; he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, just as his ancestor David had done.

In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them. He brought in the priests and the Levites and assembled them in the square on the east. He said to them, "Listen to me, Levites! Sanctify yourselves, and sanctify the house of the Lord, the God of your ancestors, and carry out the filth from the holy place. For our ancestors have been unfaithful and have done what was evil in the sight of the Lord our God; they have forsaken him, and have turned away their faces from the dwelling of the Lord, and turned their backs. They also shut the doors of the vestibule and put out the lamps, and have not offered incense or made burnt offerings in the holy place to the God of Israel. Therefore the wrath of the Lord came upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he has made them an object of horror, of astonishment, and of hissing, as you see with your own eyes. Our fathers have fallen by the sword and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this. Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger may turn away from us. My sons, do not now be negligent, for the Lord has chosen you to stand in his presence to minister to him, and to be his ministers and make offerings to him."

Then the Levites arose, Mahath son of Amasai, and Joel son of Azariah, of the sons of the Kohathites; and of the sons of Merari, Kish son of Abdi, and Azariah son of Jehallelel; and of the Gershonites, Joah son of Zimmah, and Eden son of Joah; and of the sons of Elizaphan, Shimri and Jeuel; and of the sons of Asaph, Zechariah and Mattaniah; and of the sons of Heman, Jehuel and Shimei; and of the sons of Jeduthun, Shemaiah and Uzziel. They gathered their brothers, sanctified themselves, and went in as the king had commanded, by the words of the Lord, to cleanse the house of the Lord. The priests went into the inner part of the house of the Lord to cleanse it, and they brought out all the unclean things that they found in the temple of the Lord into the court of the house of the Lord; and the Levites took them and carried them out to the Wadi Kidron. They began to sanctify on the first day of the first month, and on the eighth day of the month they came to the vestibule of the Lord; then for eight days they sanctified the house of the Lord, and on the sixteenth day of the first month they finished. Then they went inside to King Hezekiah and said, "We have cleansed all the house of the Lord, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the table for the rows of bread and all its utensils. All the utensils that King Ahaz repudiated during his reign when he was faithless, we have made ready and sanctified; see, they are in front of the altar of the Lord."

Reflection
Think of all those "upper rooms" where something miraculous happened. Children are brought to life in "upper rooms"  --- disciples gather in "upper rooms" to break bread --- disciples gather to discuss what the resurrection means in "upper rooms" --- rooms that are made clean and ready for the presence of God.

God invites us out into his Kingdom and we invite God into our rooms. As we go out into the world we begin to witness what has been done contrary to God's will, we see the need to clean a few rooms. We even partake in the sin that is contrary to God's will. But we also reach out to others' caught in that sin and bring them along with us.

Those caught in sin are the very ones God uses to clean the rooms of their lives. Once the notion of the forgiveness of sin is believed and faith is formed, how can we help but to respond in joy and thanksgiving with the cleaning of our rooms. God has faithfully invited us into the Kingdom and we joyfully are formed in his grace by cleaning our own temple. We as creatures long for God's presence in our clean room and in our heart. And God desires to be One with us in love.

So walk the walk and bring along a friend in that love and joy and clean some rooms together. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
I am aware of a room that needs cleaning. Lord, forgive my sin and permit me the joy of cleaning my room and helping in the cleaning of my brothers room as well. --- Amen

Sunday, June 13, 2010

June 13th - Reflection


Time after Pentecost - Lectionary 11
Luke 7:36-8:3 (NRSV)
The woman anointing Jesus is forgiven

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him - that she is a sinner." Jesus spoke up and said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." "Teacher," he replied, "Speak." "A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?" Simon answered, "I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt." And Jesus said to him, "You have judged rightly." Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little." Then he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod's steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.

Reflection
The woman, who was weighed down with heavy sins, was so elated by the forgiveness of sins that she couldn't help herself. The woman had to show her appreciation for this forgiveness. "Hence she has shown great love."

So how do you think about your sins? Are they many and heavy? Are they few and light? Either way, I think Jesus is pointing us to view our forgiveness of sin, no matter few or many or heavy or light, as a reason to show great love.

This scene seemed to border on erotic, if you ask me. A woman comes in and kisses Jesus feet and washes them with her tears. I can imagine what the people present were thinking about the woman and wondering about Jesus. But Jesus has this wonderful ability to sort through what seems to be apparent to what is reality. This woman wasn't trying to tease Jesus, she was showing love for him and for God.

I need to be careful, myself, of how I judge the actions of others. I need to take care of my own actions and realize the great value of the forgiveness of sin that God has granted to me and act in great love. Don't we all?

Prayer
Lord, I realize the vast and great sins that you have forgiven me. Help me as I turn from my sin and face you. For in you I see great love. Send me out this day to display that same great love to those you give to me...today...tomorrow and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, June 12, 2010

June 12th - Reflection


Luke 5:17-26 (NRSV)

Jesus forgives sins and heals

One day, while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting near by (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. Just then some men came, carrying a paralyzed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus. When he saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven you." Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, "Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, "Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Stand up and walk'? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" - he said to the one who was paralyzed - "I say to you, stand up and take your bed and go to your home." Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God. Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, "We have seen strange things today."

Reflection
We have seen some strange things today! Jesus not only forgives sins but he also heals. We are commanded to forgive one another. We can all do this. We can forgive one another and give the gift of grace that God has freely given to us. We can forgive and choose to love even those who have hurt us. It may not be easy. And at times we will think that we can't do this. But in reality...we can...if we choose.

But how do you get to this point of choosing to forgive? First look inward for a moment and see what God has forgiven in you...then focus outwards to that cross and see those gathered with you that have likewise been forgiven. Then forgive each other. Focus on that cross and your peripheral vision will permit you to see the love and compassion that surrounds this cross. Forgive one another and get up healed and go out into the world in love and compassion.

We can forgive one another. Which is easier? To forgive or heal? Don't worry about it! Forgive and be healed! Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, I need both your forgiveness and your healing. Heal my hardened heart that I may live in your love and compassion and go out into the Kingdom to forgive another. --- Amen

Friday, June 11, 2010

June 11th - Reflection


Barnabas, Apostle
Acts 11:19-30; 13:1-3 (NRSV)

Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word to no one except Jews. But among them were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord. News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to the Lord. Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called "Christians."
At that time prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them named Agabus stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine over all the world; and this took place during the reign of Claudius. The disciples determined that according to their ability, each would send relief to the believers living in Judea; this they did, sending it to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the ruler, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

Reflection
We need to help each other. There are people in need. We have been given gifts freely and we need to help one another. Some of us can help with money, others working hands, others can pray, but we need to help each other. God has given us gifts and freed us from sin to go out and help each other. We glorify God and give thanks to God for this ability. God sent us and called us, in this world, to care and love one another. And this love and caring, can't be just good words! The words must accompany action. We need to help each other.

Prayer
Lord, I'm available to help today. Show me the way, that I may be active in your love and compassion to help another person---today. ---Amen

Thursday, June 10, 2010

June 10th - Reflection



James 4:1-7 (NRSV)
God gives grace to the humble

Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you suppose that it is for nothing that the scripture says, "God yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us"? But he gives all the more grace; therefore it says,
"God opposes the proud,
but gives grace to the humble."

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Reflection

It's my own desires and wants that get in my way. It's all these things that I want to control, so that I get the outcome that I planned. But it never works out this way. Something always gets in the way of what I want or how I want it. Something always interferes with me. It makes me so mad! And it's usually the wants and needs of someone else trying to get what they have decided they want or need. So we argue, we fight. I become proud and so do you. We both need to get out of the way of one another. We both need to "get over" ourselves.


What we don't understand is that life is not about my wants and desires, or even about your wants and desires. Life is about what God desires. And God desires a humble spirit. God desires mercy and compassion and love. God desires our love first for God and then for our neighbor. We must submit ourselves to God. We are the sacrifice that God desires; our lives, our love, our will and our way. God's love for each one of us is so deep that God wants us! God wants and desires us. So submit yourself to God. Give God all your love and devotion. And watch what God will make of you!


Prayer

Lord, I'm the sacrifice, take my will and my way and accept my love...today...tomorrow and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

June 9th - Reflection




Psalm 68:1-10, 19-20 (NRSV)
God protects the widows

Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered;
let those who hate him flee before him.
As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;
as wax melts before the fire,
let the wicked perish before God.
But let the righteous be joyful;
let them exult before God;
let them be jubilant with joy.

Sing to God, sing praises to his name;
lift up a song to him who rides upon the clouds--
his name is the Lord--
be exultant before him.
Father of orphans and protector of widows
is God in his holy habitation.
God gives the desolate a home to live in;
he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
but the rebellious live in a parched land.

O God, when you went out before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness,
Selah
the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain
at the presence of God, the God of Sinai,
at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
Rain in abundance, O God, you showered abroad;
you restored your heritage when it languished;
your flock found a dwelling in it;
in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy. ...

Blessed be the Lord,
who daily bears us up;
God is our salvation.
Selah
Our God is a God of salvation,
and to God, the Lord, belongs escape from death.

Reflection
Have you ever noticed how God seems to come to those in need? I'm sure God comes to the wealthy and those who live a life of leisure as well, but, it doesn't seem to get recorded as much or nearly at all in Scripture. God comes to those of us who are sinful, sick, dying, poor or needy. God provides and saves us, not necessarily from our need, but for sure, God saves us in and through our need. In fact, to prove it, God sent Jesus to find out what that need is like. Jesus experienced true humanity. Jesus experienced our need and daily walks with us through that need, bringing us to new life, in and through him.

God daily bears us up, for God is our salvation. We don't need to worry about death due to our ills, because Jesus took on the act of escape from death. We will face death, but through Jesus graceful act, we will rise again. Through Jesus graceful act, we are becoming one in Christ. Jesus became like us so that we could become like him, through him. This is not because of any effort of our own, but because of the love of God through Jesus Christ.

So...sing to God...sing praises to his name! Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, daily I come to you...humble...needy...I need you...bear me up and make me into what you would have me be...today...tomorrow and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

June 8th - Reflection



Judges 11:29-40 (NRSV)
Jephthah's daughter

Then the spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh. He passed on to Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he passed on to the Ammonites. And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said, "If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whoever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return victorious from the Ammonites, shall be the Lord's, to be offered up by me as a burnt offering." So Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them; and the Lord gave them into his hand. He inflicted a massive defeat on them from Aroer to the neighborhood of Minnith, twenty towns, and as far as Abel-keramim. So the Ammonites were subdued before the people of Israel.

Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah; and there was his daughter coming out to meet him with timbrels and with dancing. She was his only child; he had no son or daughter except her. When he saw her, he tore his clothes, and said, "Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low; you have become the cause of great trouble to me. For I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot take back my vow." She said to him, "My father, if you have opened your mouth to the Lord, do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth, now that the Lord has given you vengeance against your enemies, the Ammonites." And she said to her father, "Let this thing be done for me: Grant me two months, so that I may go and wander on the mountains, and bewail my virginity, my companions and I." "Go," he said and sent her away for two months. So she departed, she and her companions, and bewailed her virginity on the mountains. At the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did with her according to the vow he had made. She had never slept with a man. So there arose an Israelite custom that for four days every year the daughters of Israel would go out to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.
Reflection
Doesn't it just anger you that Jephthah would make such a statement? What arrogance! It seems the odds were too great that a his daughter, or even a human, would come out of that door! Why would he make such a statement? What an idiot!

But then the response of the nameless daughter...no seemingly anger or revenge in her response to a father that must be some kind of idiot! This entire passage angers me so! So what's the point? Sure, she became a living legend that created a custom that for four days every year the daughters of Israel would go out to lament the daughter of Jephthah (nameless again). So what! Is this a story of contrast?

Contrast the difference of this wasted sacrifice to uphold the word of Jephthah with the everlasting sacrifice of Jesus to uphold the Word of the Father. Jesus was sacrifice in a way that brought life out of death. Jesus was sacrificed to save the world. Word of Truth upheld through law and sacrament in Jesus. A sacrifice of eternal value. And so also the contrast of the sacrifice of Jephthah's daughter. Man's sacrifice of life cannot equal in any way the value of the Father's ultimate sacrifice. My word, your word, even Jephthah's word would pale next to the Word of God.

And in the contrast of Jesus life and death, we have Jephthah's gift of life...always remembered...Jesus always remembered...God desires us...not sacrifice...so give yourself this day to Christ...that's the life to give...be recreated...live anew...what a story of contrast...what a life! --- Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, I offer myself to you this day. You have won the victory and have brought life out of sin and death. Live in and through me this day as I heed your call and your way...now and forever. --- Amen

Monday, June 07, 2010




Genesis 22:1-14 (NRSV)
God saves Isaac from death


After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you." So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away. Then Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you." Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Isaac said to his father Abraham, "Father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." He said, "The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" Abraham said, "God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So the two of them walked on together. When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." He said, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place "The Lord will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided."

Reflection
God will provide the sacrifice. God will provide. And God did provide the sacrifice in Jesus Christ. Abraham showed faith in God. Abraham gave up the life of his son, Isaac, and placed all faith in God. But God provided the sacrifice in Jesus.
At times, it seems, God tests our faith. Are we willing to give ourselves to God? Are we willing to trust in God’s will? Thanks be to God, that we have an example of this faith in Abraham. And we can have this same hope. So we go out, trusting in a God that will provide. We go out and act boldly to do God’s will and to walk God’s way. Even when the journey is tough and seems impossible; we can always remember this account of faith in our brother Abraham. God will provide the sacrifice. God will provide. Thanks be to God!


Prayer

Lord, I give my life with honor to your will and your way, for you have provided new life, now and forever. --- Amen

Sunday, June 06, 2010

June 6th - Reflection



Time after Pentecost - Lectionary 10
Luke 7:11-17 (NRSV)
Jesus revives a widow's son

Soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother's only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, "Do not weep." Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, "Young man, I say to you, rise!" The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has risen among us!" and "God has looked favorably on his people!" This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.

Reflection
The dead man sat up and began to speak. I wonder what he said? What did he speak? I'm sure the mother must have been happy with the outcome of these events, but was the man happy? And what about the other people present? What would it be like to see a dead man sit up and speak at a viewing? No wonder fear seized all of them!

Jesus' actions would sure start the talk around town. I would expect to see it on Fox News for sure. In another sense, I think what Jesus did here is an action that takes place in our lives as well. Jesus saw you and I coming, dead in our sin, and met us, reached out to us, and gave us new life. Jesus gave us new life that we may sit up and talk. Talk to those we meet in our new life about a Savior that comes to us and is willing to take on our filth and dirt and become "unclean" himself, so that we may be born again. What a clash of love! What a joyous occasion! What will you speak when you sit up? Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, I need your touch. I need you to touch me in my deadness and bring me to new life in you. --- Amen

Saturday, June 05, 2010

June 5th - Reflection



Matthew 9:2-8 (NRSV)
Forgiveness and healing

And just then some people were carrying a paralyzed man lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven." Then some of the scribes said to themselves, "This man is blaspheming." But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Stand up and walk'? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" - he then said to the paralytic - "Stand up, take your bed and go to your home." And he stood up and went to his home. When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings.

Reflection
At first Jesus looks to the priority in the paralyzed man's life, his sin. Jesus does the greatest healing first. Jesus tells this man that his sins are forgiven. Jesus sees that he is a sinner. Jesus sees that this man needs forgiveness.

Our physical situation is not the priority in life. Our spiritual situation is. Sure, they both work together at some point, but our sin and the forgiveness of this sin is more important in life than our ability to sustain our physical well being. So Jesus forgives our sin as well. And to make a point, every now and then, Jesus may heal our physical needs also. But the priority will always lay in a new life. A new life, with sin forgiven, that permits you and I to serve God as both sinner and saint boldly in God's Kingdom day after day.

We must stand in awe of a God that heals and saves us from sin, death and the devil. We must, like the paralytic, take up our mats and go, in the name of Jesus. Go home, to our place in this Kingdom, to our life in this place and proclaim the glory of Jesus name. For Jesus has taken care of our well being beyond this body of ours and into the eternal life of your soul and mine. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, I give you thanks for the healing power you bestow on me and others. I give you thanks for the saving grace you have given for all of us. Send me this day, to "go" --- with all you have given, to serve you boldly now and forever. --- Amen

Friday, June 04, 2010

June 4th - Reflection




Acts 26:1-11 (NRSV)
Paul pursued believers even to foreign cities

Agrippa said to Paul, "You have permission to speak for yourself." Then Paul stretched out his hand and began to defend himself:

"I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews, because you are especially familiar with all the customs and controversies of the Jews; therefore I beg of you to listen to me patiently.

"All the Jews know my way of life from my youth, a life spent from the beginning among my own people and in Jerusalem. They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that I have belonged to the strictest sect of our religion and lived as a Pharisee. And now I stand here on trial on account of my hope in the promise made by God to our ancestors, a promise that our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship day and night. It is for this hope, your Excellency, that I am accused by Jews! Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?

"Indeed, I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things against the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And that is what I did in Jerusalem; with authority received from the chief priests, I not only locked up many of the saints in prison, but I also cast my vote against them when they were being condemned to death. By punishing them often in all the synagogues I tried to force them to blaspheme; and since I was so furiously enraged at them, I pursued them even to foreign cities.

Reflection
We all stand on this hope that Paul speaks of in this passage. We all have done something or another that deserves eternal damnation. At some point or another we all have stood against the name of Jesus. That stand could have been a minor or a major infraction; but we all have taken that stand against Jesus. So...

We all stand on this hope that Paul speaks of in this passage. And in this hope, we have an opportunity to tell our story. A unique story in every case that tell of a loving, saving, gifting, calling God. A unique story that when combined with other unique stories of God active in our lives, motivates the Church in a glorious response of joy to act out in love, faith, hope and happiness, in a world that needs to hear about our God.

We all stand on this hope that Paul speaks of in this passage, and we all must respond and tell the story of Jesus in this world, in love and compassion for all. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, day by day you build that story in me of your saving grace. Make me bold enough to share your action in my life. --- Amen

Thursday, June 03, 2010

June 3rd - Reflection




Acts 22:6-21 (NRSV)
Paul, the persecutor, is healed

"While I was on my way and approaching Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone about me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?' I answered, 'Who are you, Lord?' Then he said to me, 'I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting.' Now those who were with me saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me. I asked, 'What am I to do, Lord?' The Lord said to me, 'Get up and go to Damascus; there you will be told everything that has been assigned to you to do.' Since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, those who were with me took my hand and led me to Damascus.

"A certain Ananias, who was a devout man according to the law and well spoken of by all the Jews living there, came to me; and standing beside me, he said, 'Brother Saul, regain your sight!' In that very hour I regained my sight and saw him. Then he said, 'The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear his own voice; for you will be his witness to all the world of what you have seen and heard. And now why do you delay? Get up, be baptized, and have your sins washed away, calling on his name.'

"After I had returned to Jerusalem and while I was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance and saw Jesus saying to me, 'Hurry and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.' And I said, 'Lord, they themselves know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. And while the blood of your witness Stephen was shed, I myself was standing by, approving and keeping the coats of those who killed him.' Then he said to me, 'Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'"

Reflection

Regain your sight and go! It's time to put those sinful ways behind and be blinded by that graceful bright light of Jesus. Blinded and then healed. Blinded by grace and sight regained. Then hurry and go.


God has called each one of us and set a plan in place for each of us. Being called and gifted we are commanded to go! Get up and hurry and go. There is a world out there that needs to hear of how God has entered your life and given you a new vision and a new sight. Not the old sight of selfish greed and selfish ambition, but a new sight of love for neighbor and love for God. Regain your sight and go!


Prayer

Lord, knock me off my feet and blind me with your light that I may regain my sight and see only your will and your way, now and forever. --- Amen