Saturday, July 31, 2010

July 31st - Reflection

Mark 10:17-22 (NRSV)
Treasure in heaven

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: 'You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.'" He said to him, "Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth." Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

The man knew that Jesus was the "good" teacher. The man knew Jesus was God. But Jesus had a tough message for this man. It's not about what the man does that gains eternal life. The man needed to get over himself. The man went away in grief because of his great wealth. Will you walk away in great wealth and refuse to get over yourself? Think about it...your life may depend on it.

Your message humbles me Lord. As I walk through this life, may I walk into the life you have for me and away from the life I think I need. --- Amen

Friday, July 30, 2010

July 30th - Reflection

Ephesians 4:17-24 (NRSV)
A new self in the likeness of God

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

God is renewing you day by day. God is turning your life around. God has taken that old lump of clay with all the sin and has begun to reform you into something new. Will you change? Or will you dry out and harden in your old ways?

Surely you have heard about God! Put away your former way of life. Get over yourself and get out of the way, God has wonderful work to do in your life.

Lord, I repent of my sin and ask for you to change me into what you would have me be. Help me get over myself and get out of your way. --- Amen

Thursday, July 29, 2010

July 29th - Reflection

Romans 11:33-36 (NRSV)
God's riches, wisdom, and knowledge

O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
"For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?"
"Or who has given a gift to him,
to receive a gift in return?"

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.

It's all about God! Sometimes we get confused in life and think it's all about us, but it's not, it's all about God! Once we realize this, our call becomes clearer. We are here as God's children, and as children, we praise the God that created us, sustains us, calls us and gifts us with what we need for life. Once we give up on the thought that it's about us we can give that life away and God will start anew with us. It's all about God! And that's the way it is the best and most wonderful and most awesome! Thanks be to God!

Lord, some days, I need to just get over myself, get out of the way and let you take over. It's not about's all about you. I give you all thanks, glory, and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

July 28th - Reflection

Psalm 55:16-23 (NRSV)
Cast your burden on God

But I call upon God,
and the Lord will save me.
Evening and morning and at noon
I utter my complaint and moan,
and he will hear my voice.
He will redeem me unharmed
from the battle that I wage,
for many are arrayed against me.
God, who is enthroned from of old,
will hear, and will humble them -
because they do not change,
and do not fear God.

My companion laid hands on a friend
and violated a covenant with me
with speech smoother than butter,
but with a heart set on war;
with words that were softer than oil,
but in fact were drawn swords.

Cast your burden on the Lord,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved.

But you, O God, will cast them down
into the lowest pit;
the bloodthirsty and treacherous
shall not live out half their days.
But I will trust in you.

Tell your troubles, your fears, your ills, and your needs to God. I'm sure God already knows what all of these are, but I'm also sure God wants to hear the words come from you. God wants children to come forward. God wants to talk to us. God wants to lead and guide us through the tough times. God wants to tell us that God is present with us. God is closer than you think. Thanks be to God!

Lord, I come to you all the time with troubles, fears, ills and needs. Hear my prayer. Hear my prayer for myself but more importantly for those who know you and for those who don't know you as of yet. Protect your children in their needs and support them in the battle. For you always bring joy in the morning. And in this joy we gladly serve and praise you and serve and love those you give to us day after day. --- Amen

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

July 27th - Reflection

Esther 6:1-7:6 (NRSV)
A royal reversal of fortunes

On that night the king could not sleep, and he gave orders to bring the book of records, the annals, and they were read to the king. It was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had conspired to assassinate King Ahasuerus. Then the king said, "What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?" The king's servants who attended him said, "Nothing has been done for him." The king said, "Who is in the court?" Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king's palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for him. So the king's servants told him, "Haman is there, standing in the court." The king said, "Let him come in." So Haman came in, and the king said to him, "What shall be done for the man whom the king wishes to honor?" Haman said to himself, "Whom would the king wish to honor more than me?" So Haman said to the king, "For the man whom the king wishes to honor, let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and a horse that the king has ridden, with a royal crown on its head. Let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king's most noble officials; let him robe the man whom the king wishes to honor, and let him conduct the man on horseback through the open square of the city, proclaiming before him: 'Thus shall it be done for the man whom the king wishes to honor.'" Then the king said to Haman, "Quickly, take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to the Jew Mordecai who sits at the king's gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned." So Haman took the robes and the horse and robed Mordecai and led him riding through the open square of the city, proclaiming, "Thus shall it be done for the man whom the king wishes to honor."

Then Mordecai returned to the king's gate, but Haman hurried to his house, mourning and with his head covered. When Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him, his advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, "If Mordecai, before whom your downfall has begun, is of the Jewish people, you will not prevail against him, but will surely fall before him."

While they were still talking with him, the king's eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman off to the banquet that Esther had prepared. So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. On the second day, as they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, "What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled." Then Queen Esther answered, "If I have won your favor, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me - that is my petition - and the lives of my people - that is my request. For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have held my peace; but no enemy can compensate for this damage to the king." Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, "Who is he, and where is he, who has presumed to do this?" Esther said, "A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman!" Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen.

It seems that in the final take of things of this passage, the evil intent of Haman is brought out into the light. His action will be rewarded with justice. Haman has now been humbled before the people and the King. Likewise the good actions of Mordecai have been acknowledged.

In our walk with God, being humble, honoring others and reward,  play key roles. Our actions are out of a humble love for others. Our reward will come through our faith and hope in what God has done; not through our own actions. This is key to understanding the love of Christ in what he did for us on that cross. Jesus humbled himself, took on our sins; and his actions, through the love of the Father brought eternal life to all who choose to believe in Jesus. Thanks be to God!

Set it straight for us each day that we may walk humbly in your name and serve and love you and those you give to us this day out of the love you have shown each of us. --- Amen

Monday, July 26, 2010

July 26th - Reflection

Esther 5:1-14 (NRSV)
A banquet guest with a murderous heart

On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king's palace, opposite the king's hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne inside the palace opposite the entrance to the palace. As soon as the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won his favor and he held out to her the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the top of the scepter. The king said to her, "What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom." Then Esther said, "If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come today to a banquet that I have prepared for the king." Then the king said, "Bring Haman quickly, so that we may do as Esther desires." So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared. While they were drinking wine, the king said to Esther, "What is your petition? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled." Then Esther said, "This is my petition and request: If I have won the king's favor, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet that I will prepare for them, and then I will do as the king has said."

Haman went out that day happy and in good spirits. But when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, and observed that he neither rose nor trembled before him, he was infuriated with Mordecai; nevertheless Haman restrained himself and went home. Then he sent and called for his friends and his wife Zeresh, and Haman recounted to them the splendor of his riches, the number of his sons, all the promotions with which the king had honored him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and the ministers of the king. Haman added, "Even Queen Esther let no one but myself come with the king to the banquet that she prepared. Tomorrow also I am invited by her, together with the king. Yet all this does me no good so long as I see the Jew Mordecai sitting at the king's gate." Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, "Let a gallows fifty cubits high be made, and in the morning tell the king to have Mordecai hanged on it; then go with the king to the banquet in good spirits." This advice pleased Haman, and he had the gallows made.

It seems when the Queen brought on the second invitation that it all went to Haman's head. Suddenly Haman elevated himself, in his mind, above everyone else enough to look past the needs of the poor Mordecai. This is the trap for you and me also. Once we begin to elevate ourselves over and above another person, we have set our own trap for a humbling downfall. We are all God's children and loved by God. Each person is beautiful in the eyes of God. Therefore when we exalt ourselves above another, we sin. We sin and the trap is set.

Lord, teach me to see the eyes of one you love in each and every person I meet. --- Amen

Sunday, July 25, 2010

July 25th - Reflection

Time after Pentecost - Lectionary 17
Luke 11:1-13 (NRSV)
Jesus teaches prayer

He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." He said to them, "When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial."

And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.' And he answers from within, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.' I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

"So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

I remember, as a small child, seeing a white zip up Bible on the coffee table. I can recall peeking into the room where the coffee table was to see my Mom reading from this Bible and praying. I noticed how she was consistent with this day after day. As that memory set into my mind, it formed a curiosity and a discipline that my Mom taught me without her actually realizing that she was teaching me a lesson. She taught this lesson by demonstration and action. I'm convinced this is in some ways the same as Jesus taught his disciples to pray. Jesus taught by demonstration and action and the disciples became curious.

Sometime around that same age, I'm not sure about the age or the sequence of events; I had a dream that Jesus showed up at my door with Elijah and someone else. When I answered the door Jesus wanted to know if Billy could come out and play. These two events seem to be linked in some way. For one, they have given me a life-long curiosity into the meaning, and a life-long example to demonstrate the power of prayer in action.

When you hear the knock at the door, be prepared to answer, be prepared to pray, be prepared to reflect on the written and spoken Word, be prepared to witness the Word made flesh and be prepared to be changed into something new. Finally be prepared to be a demonstration of God's activity in your life for those who surround you each day.

Lord, take my life, my curiosity, my searching and make it a demonstration that you would desire for the world to see. --- Amen

Saturday, July 24, 2010

July 24th - Reflection

Luke 8:22-25 (NRSV)
Jesus' disciples cry out for safety

One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, "Let us go across to the other side of the lake." So they put out, and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A windstorm swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. They went to him and woke him up, shouting, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, "Where is your faith?" They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, "Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?"

We are not perishing! We may be getting older...we may be getting sicker...we may be getting many things in the negative direction...but...we are NOT perishing. Sure, our bodies may die and they may change into dust, but as Children of God, we are not perishing.

Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, our sins have been accounted for. We will continue to sin, but we know better, and with the help of God, are being created into something new. We are being created into what God would have us be. Our bodies may disappear into the ground, but God has something more wonderful planned for those who believe and have faith in what the Father has done through Jesus and the Spirit.

Jesus can command the raging waves of the sea, and for that matter the motions of the universe; surely Jesus can make us into what he desires for us to be. But we need to go with it. We, as Children of God, need to believe, have faith, and trust in the work that God has planned to do in and through each one of us.

As we are placed in the hands of the Savior...We are NOT perishing...this love, so deep, would never permit this to occur.

Thanks be to God!

Lord, I believe! Take me and form me into what you would have me be. Send me out, in that love, to love you and those you give to me this day. Deepen my faith and show me your way. --- Amen

Friday, July 23, 2010

July 23rd - Word and Reflection

Acts 2:22-36 (NRSV)

The Messiah is handed over to death

"You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know - this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. For David says concerning him,

'I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken;
therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
moreover my flesh will live in hope.
For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One experience corruption.
You have made known to me the ways of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.'

"Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying,

'He was not abandoned to Hades,
nor did his flesh experience corruption.'

This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

'The Lord said to my Lord,
"Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool." '

Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified."

Jesus is close by and Jesus is your Savior. A big thing to know and believe. Jesus is always close by and Jesus is your Savior. Consider all the troubles David had in life, he knew that God was close and that God was his Savior. Maybe David didn't fully understand the depth of the promise God had made to him for an eternal King, but David believed it anyway.

Jesus is close by and Jesus is you Savior. In your sin, in your joy, in your service, in your life...Jesus is closer than you think. It's time to run to Jesus and acknowledge his faithful love and friendship. Thanks be to God!

This morning, I run to open that door and go out into your kingdom with you to play. As we play, may we remember our friends in need and help them. --- Amen

Thursday, July 22, 2010

July 22nd - Reflection

Mary Magdalene, Apostle
John 20:1-2, 11-18 (NRSV)

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him."

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' " Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

A couple of things come to mind here; Mary didn't even check in the tomb the first time to see if Jesus was gone, she ran to the disciples. Wouldn't you think she would look first to see if Jesus body was there? She jumped to a conclusion that someone had taken Jesus. But Jesus wasn't taken, Jesus had arisen.

In life there are times when I have thought that Jesus wasn't with me anymore. But then I have always been surprised by Jesus to find him always close by. And at first I may not recognize the presence of God. God may be with me, but God is with me through a friend of stranger, or a mysterious presence and God opens my eyes to God's presence in my life.

My response? To go and tell that I have seen the Lord. Jesus has come to me once again, even in my fear and doubt and sin, Jesus has come to me once again. Thanks be to God!

Lord, you come each morning and knock on my door. You invite "Billy" out to play. Let's go! It's a wonderful kingdom. --- Amen

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

July 21st - Reflection

Psalm 119:97-104 (NRSV)
God's word like honey

Oh, how I love your law!
It is my meditation all day long.
Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is always with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for your decrees are my meditation.
I understand more than the aged,
for I keep your precepts.
I hold back my feet from every evil way,
in order to keep your word.
I do not turn away from your ordinances,
for you have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way.

It's funny how things have changed, since Jesus came. I still love the law! In some way it seems strange to me to say this, but I still love the law. The law convicts me of my sin. The law deals out a sentence of death for me. The law condemns me to hell. But, oh, how I still love the law.

As I realize my sin, and then realize that Jesus took on my sin while hanging from that cross, my sin died with Jesus that day. And yet he rose again to new life. Oh, how I love the law. Oh, how I love Jesus!

The law, now put to death, released me to a new life in Christ. Because of what Jesus has done for me, I am free to be made new in Christ.

Oh, how I love the law. Now I am free to obey the law! I am free to work at the law and free to fail, because Jesus put the consequences of my sin to death. Sure, I'll suffer the reality of the harm sin does to me and those around me, in and through my sin. But Jesus has put the ultimate death to death.

I am now free to study the law and in that freedom obey the law, with all my heart. For the law was placed as a gift from God to me and to you. And the law only makes me and you better each day. What a gift from Jesus! Thanks be to God!

Lord, knowing I'm convicted of sin, yet forgiven, frees me to love your law and abide by it. May I bring joy to you as you have brought endless joy to me. May I live in your will and your way and your forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July 20th - Reflection

Proverbs 9:1-18 (NRSV)
The wise and foolish women

Wisdom has built her house,
she has hewn her seven pillars.
She has slaughtered her animals, she has mixed her wine,
she has also set her table.
She has sent out her servant-girls, she calls
from the highest places in the town,
"You that are simple, turn in here!"
To those without sense she says,
"Come, eat of my bread
and drink of the wine I have mixed.
Lay aside immaturity, and live,
and walk in the way of insight."

Whoever corrects a scoffer wins abuse;
whoever rebukes the wicked gets hurt.
A scoffer who is rebuked will only hate you;
the wise, when rebuked, will love you.
Give instruction to the wise, and they will become wiser still;
teach the righteous and they will gain in learning.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
For by me your days will be multiplied,
and years will be added to your life.
If you are wise, you are wise for yourself;
if you scoff, you alone will bear it.

The foolish woman is loud;
she is ignorant and knows nothing.
She sits at the door of her house,
on a seat at the high places of the town,
calling to those who pass by,
who are going straight on their way,
"You who are simple, turn in here!"
And to those without sense she says,
"Stolen water is sweet,
and bread eaten in secret is pleasant."
But they do not know that the dead are there,
that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.

I hear a few of things here in this passage today, listen to constructive criticism of people who are giving honest advice, continue to learn all lifelong, and don't fall to the tempter. Each one of these at one time or another can be some of the most difficult advice to actually take in.

Criticism, even when constructive, usually leads to a defensive attitude. I must fight back that urge to defend myself and just listen. Listen and let it absorb. Stop my mind for a minute and open my ears. Listen to the advice and take what is valuable and learn from this to improve on myself and my relationships with others.

Lifelong learning is a long and tiring course. There are times that I just want to think that this is enough. But I must continue to open my mind to new learning. Especially learn the ways of God and hear the call to action. Use new gifts I have been given to God's glory and continue to learn.

And finally that grand temptation to sin. Sin can lure you in and trap your very life. Sin can absorb all of your learning. Sin can absorb your life. I need to recognize the smell of the stench of sin and resist sin, knowing that Jesus is my Savior.

Just a few of the things I can learn from this passage today...just a few. Thanks be to God!

Lord, may I not fall to temptation, help me to continue learning in your way and lead me to hear ways in which I can improve my walk with forever. --- Amen

Monday, July 19, 2010

July 19th - Reflection

Exodus 18:1-12 (NRSV)
Jethro's family eats before God

Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses' father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. After Moses had sent away his wife Zipporah, his father-in-law Jethro took her back, along with her two sons. The name of the one was Gershom (for he said, "I have been an alien in a foreign land"), and the name of the other, Eliezer (for he said, "The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh"). Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, came into the wilderness where Moses was encamped at the mountain of God, bringing Moses' sons and wife to him. He sent word to Moses, "I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you, with your wife and her two sons." Moses went out to meet his father-in-law; he bowed down and kissed him; each asked after the other's welfare, and they went into the tent. Then Moses told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, all the hardship that had beset them on the way, and how the Lord had delivered them. Jethro rejoiced for all the good that the Lord had done to Israel, in delivering them from the Egyptians.

Jethro said, "Blessed be the Lord, who has delivered you from the Egyptians and from Pharaoh. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods, because he delivered the people from the Egyptians, when they dealt arrogantly with them." And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God; and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses' father-in-law in the presence of God.

Come in and view the situation in which you have been placed. See the priorities in that place. Offer thanks to God that God is the priority in that place and make your plans with God's calling first.

Look and listen and then take action to offer praise and thanksgiving first to God. Nothing else is more important. The things to do will follow. The action items and the meetings will follow. But first God...then listen...then follow God's call to you...God will give you all you need...Thanks be to God!

Lord, you alone are the creator, the redeemer and the spirit through which we live and move and have our being. Hear my praise to you this day. --- Amen

Sunday, July 18, 2010

July 18th - Reflection

Time after Pentecost - Lectionary 16
Luke 10:38-42 (NRSV)
Choosing the better part

Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her."

I get easily distracted with things to do, places to hurry to and task lists and calenders. It's easy to get wound up with technology.

Even while on vacation last week, the GPS took me into several loops of back roads. I was trapped in these loops until I reversed my actions and went back to where I made first errant turn. This was an hour long distraction.

In another time, I would have enjoyed this drive in the country side of Kentucky, but I was distracted by a goal I had falsely set as important.

In this scripture I hear the call of Jesus to let me know that he is my goal. Jesus is the one I am to listen to. Whatever is going on at the time, stop to listen and take the time to understand his message. Nothing else is any more important, especially when you hear the voice of Jesus. All this other stuff in life can take second seat when Jesus begins to give a message.

Now, if I can only get it through my head...stop and listen when Jesus calls...stop and listen when Jesus speaks...stop and listen to God and don't be distracted by the things of this world.

Lord, you have called me back to you this day. I stop and listen. --- Amen

Saturday, July 17, 2010

July 17th - Reflection

Luke 8:4-10 (NRSV)
Jesus speaks in parables

When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: "A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold." As he said this, he called out, "Let anyone with ears to hear listen!"

Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that
'looking they may not perceive,
and listening they may not understand.'

Do you ever wonder if you fall into the group of people that look and don't perceive and listen but may not understand? Sometimes, I feel like I am in this group.

But then usually something actually happens in life to create a parable of my own that helps to give direction and guidance. I could be in some good soil, but the thorns grow and influence my life and choke out the meaning and guidance of the Word. Other times, I fall on the hardened path that has been worn down in sin and the soil won't allow growth at all. And then at other times I just fall on the rock of my own selfishness and greed and die to myself.

As I live through these experiences in life, I look back on those times when God was giving me growth in the Spirit and I see the rich soil of grace and love.

Perhaps, I can be the one to prepare the soil for another person through the tilling of the soil. Perhaps, I can be the one to weed out the hunger and illness present in the life of another. Or, perhaps, God has called me to go out to those rocky places in this world and provide a home for those without.

There are times that I am in the wrong soil and there are times that God has called me to prepare the soil in love for God's children. All in joy and thanksgiving, I respond to this love, through Jesus Christ, my and your Lord and Savior. Thanks be to God!

Lord, no matter where I land, or where you call me to go, prepare me to grow and serve how you would have me grow and forever. --- Amen

Friday, July 16, 2010

July 16th - Reflection

Ephesians 3:14-21 (NRSV)
The love of Christ surpasses knowledge

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

How do we I begin to understand or comprehend God's love. I'm not sure I could take it if I knew the the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. I don't think I can understand this, nor am I sure that I want to.

No doubt, I appreciate this love that God has shown me through Jesus, but I don't think I want to understand it. But then this may not be my choice. It may be that God wants me to understand this love. It may be that God places this love in me so that I can understand God's love.

It may be that God's love is what grounds me in faith. It may be that God chooses and calls me to show that same love to my neighbor and my enemies. It may be that God gifts me with the abilities and the faith to act out of this love in the world in which I have been placed. It may be and it will be the actions I will take out of the grace of faith I have been called to. It will be my joy. Thanks be to God!

Lord, I know that I can't at this time begin to understand your love, but you are working with me. Please continue in this work as I live out my faith to your calling. --- Amen

Thursday, July 15, 2010

July 15th - Reflection

Hebrews 5:1-6 (NRSV)
Christ did not glorify himself

Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness; and because of this he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. And one does not presume to take this honor, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was.

So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him,
"You are my Son,
today I have begotten you";
as he says also in another place,
"You are a priest forever,
according to the order of Melchizedek."

Jesus, our high priest, the one who takes on our sin, appointed by the Father for the forgiveness of sin. Jesus, a priest forever, takes on the sin of the world, once and for all time and all people. Glory to God in Jesus name forever!

Jesus, I give you thanks for all you have done for this world and all your children. Coming to our rescue at just the right time and just the right place. Send us forth in your Word that our lives may glorify you now and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July 14th - Reflection

Psalm 25:11-20 (NRSV)
I take refuge in you, O God

For your name's sake, O Lord,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
Who are they that fear the Lord?
He will teach them the way that they should choose.

They will abide in prosperity,
and their children shall possess the land.
The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,
and he makes his covenant known to them.
My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart,
and bring me out of my distress.
Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.

Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.
O guard my life, and deliver me;
do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.

Take refuge in the Lord. God is the only one who can deliver you. Seek the Lord and look for God. Always keep your focus on God. It seems so simple. It is so simple. But sin gets in the way and makes it difficult. Turn back to God for forgiveness of sin.

Lord, you really make it all so easy. But my sin and selfishness gets in the way of the simplicity of what you ask of me. I turn to you and seek forgiveness. Be with me as I walk this day and lead and guide me along the way. --- Amen

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

July 13th - Reflection

Proverbs 19:1-17 (NRSV)
Kindness to the poor

Better the poor walking in integrity
than one perverse of speech who is a fool.
Desire without knowledge is not good,
and one who moves too hurriedly misses the way.
One's own folly leads to ruin,
yet the heart rages against the Lord.
Wealth brings many friends,
but the poor are left friendless.
A false witness will not go unpunished,
and a liar will not escape.
Many seek the favor of the generous,
and everyone is a friend to a giver of gifts.
If the poor are hated even by their kin,
how much more are they shunned by their friends!
When they call after them, they are not there.
To get wisdom is to love oneself;
to keep understanding is to prosper.
A false witness will not go unpunished,
and the liar will perish.
It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury,
much less for a slave to rule over princes.
Those with good sense are slow to anger,
and it is their glory to overlook an offense.
A king's anger is like the growling of a lion,
but his favor is like dew on the grass.
A stupid child is ruin to a father,
and a wife's quarreling is a continual dripping of rain.
House and wealth are inherited from parents,
but a prudent wife is from the Lord.
Laziness brings on deep sleep;
an idle person will suffer hunger.
Those who keep the commandment will live;
those who are heedless of their ways will die.
Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord,
and will be repaid in full.

This passage seems to me at first glance to be all over the place... so much advice. It seems to me to be advice to slow down and listen for the advice of the Lord. Live with integrity in all cases and care for each other in love. Care for the poor and for those of your family in love. And finally know that kindness to the poor is what God is looking for out of each of us.

Lord, there are times when your words seem to go right by me. But as I pause and listen, fill me with your love and your direction in all things. --- Amen

Monday, July 12, 2010

July 12th - Reflection

Job 24:1-8 (NRSV)
The needy are thrust off the road

"Why are times not kept by the Almighty,
and why do those who know him never see his days?
The wicked remove landmarks;
they seize flocks and pasture them.
They drive away the donkey of the orphan;
they take the widow's ox for a pledge.
They thrust the needy off the road;
the poor of the earth all hide themselves.
Like wild asses in the desert
they go out to their toil,
scavenging in the wasteland
food for their young.
They reap in a field not their own
and they glean in the vineyard of the wicked.
They lie all night naked, without clothing,
and have no covering in the cold.
They are wet with the rain of the mountains,
and cling to the rock for want of shelter.

We tend to want to lay the responsibility of taking care of the poor, the ill, the needy, and those who can't help themselves either on God or back on the very same people.

But as I reflect on Jesus ministry, I notice how he would walk among these very same people and bring relief to the few he would meet. No, he didn't seem to wave a magic wand and cure the ills of all the people at once, but he did send his group of disciples out to walk among the people to bring hope and cure in the name of Jesus.

Sometimes people, and myself included, get stuck in our own mess. We can't seem to see a way to work clear of it. Sometimes there is no way clear of the mess we are in. Sometimes we have to "get over ourselves" and become humble and turn to God. But, it's important to realize, that God may not answer in the way we would wish. We may or may not get an instant answer. God will certainly come to us, but many times not in the way we expected. God may appear in the voice of a friend, a stranger, or in a vision of something completely normal.

Do we actively seek God when we call on God? I think we must turn to God, seek God, give ourselves to God, and yes...commit to God. In our humbled, "get over ourselves" nature it's time to accept the gracious gift of grace which God freely gives and let God take the situation you are in and make what God chooses to make out of it.

And for me...that's always been a wonderful surprise...and for's never been what I had planned...and for's turned the situation into a joy that I can't express...a joy...even in the midst of the pain...but a joy of hope and love.

Maybe, this day, God will call you to be active in the life of that person who is on the side of the road, in the situation, in the illness, in the be the face of God. Trust in God's guidance in all circumstances.

Thanks be to God!

Lord, help those on the sides of the road...even use me. --- Amen

Sunday, July 11, 2010

July 11th - Reflection

Time after Pentecost - Lectionary 15
Luke 10:25-37 (NRSV)
The parable of the merciful Samaritan

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the law? What do you read there?" He answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." And he said to him, "You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live."

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, 'Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.' Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?" He said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

And when he comes back he will pay whatever more will be spent. Not only did the Samaritan pay the innkeeper, he promised to come back and pay whatever else was needed.

Jesus comes into our lives and finds us beaten and left beside the road in our failures and our sin and near death. As many others pass by, Jesus comes to you and me and stops, picks us up, gives us all we need and leaves us in the hands of one another to care for each other. Jesus, promises to come back.

The Samaritan is one who is rejected by the Jewish leaders of the day. The Samaritan is unclean in the Jewish view. However it is the Samaritan that is willing to reach out and touch the likewise unclean man on the side of the road.

When I think of so many of the stories where Jesus is willing to reach out and touch the unclean, or even allow the unclean to reach out and touch him, I can't help but relate the actions of the Samaritan to the actions of Jesus in my own life.

How thankful I am of Jesus' touch in my life. How thankful I am that Jesus reached out to lift me up when I was beside the road. How thankful I am that Jesus leaves me in the loving hands of so many innkeepers of this world.

And in this parable is the call to action to care for one another. To love each other until the return of Jesus once again. We are all left beside the road at one time or another. So let's all care for each other. We are all innkeepers awaiting the return of our Good, our Wonderful, our Awesome, Samaritan and Savior! Thanks be to God!

Lord let your wonderful action flow through me in the caring of another beside the road. --- Amen

Saturday, July 10, 2010

July 10th - Reflection

John 3:16-21 (NRSV)
God's son saves the world

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

"Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God."

God sent Jesus as the Light of this world.

Come to the Light. See the Light. Rejoice in the Light.

Let that Light be clearly seen in all that you do.

For God sent Jesus to save the world out of a deep and awesome love for you and for me.

Lord, may your Light brightly shine in this world that all may see Jesus. Call, direct and bless me in what you have called me to do this day and may your Light of love shine brightly through all my deeds and actions. --- Amen

Friday, July 09, 2010

July 9th - Reflection

Acts 7:9-16 (NRSV)
Egypt's food rescues Israel

"The patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him, and rescued him from all his afflictions, and enabled him to win favor and to show wisdom when he stood before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who appointed him ruler over Egypt and over all his household. Now there came a famine throughout Egypt and Canaan, and great suffering, and our ancestors could find no food. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our ancestors there on their first visit. On the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph's family became known to Pharaoh. Then Joseph sent and invited his father Jacob and all his relatives to come to him, seventy-five in all; so Jacob went down to Egypt. He himself died there as well as our ancestors, and their bodies were brought back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.

I'm convinced through Biblical stories and through my life and the lives of those around me that God walks through life with us. God takes care of us in the good times and through the bad times.

I'm convinced that we are richly blessed.

I'm convinced that God sent Jesus to know what our life is about and to know what our life is like, so that Jesus would save us from sin, death, the devil and our sinful selves.

I'm convinced that the Holy Spirit works in and through us to fulfill God's plan in our lives.

I'm convinced that I am surrounded by people whose lives are Bible stories all of their own, because God loves his children and cares for each one of us.

I'm convinced that each person is uniquely created in the image of God to do good works in this world in which we live.

I'm convinced that God lives.

I'm convinced in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

I'm convinced! Thanks be to God!

Thank you Lord for such rich blessings. --- Amen

Thursday, July 08, 2010

July 8th - Reflection

James 2:14-26 (NRSV)
Faith produces good works

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill," and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe - and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness," and he was called the friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.

Works never get us to heaven. If works alone got us to heaven, why would we need a Savior? From birth I was damned to sin, death and the devil. From birth! I was born a sinful adam. I was born into a race that was already condemned to hell. You can read about all that in Genesis. But, thanks be to God for the coming of Jesus. The Word made flesh came and dwelt among humans because our works could never save us from sin, death and the devil. So the Father sent the Son to take upon himself the sin of the world. Jesus took upon the sin of the world throughout all time. Jesus paid the price for our sin through his suffering, death and resurrection. Jesus gave each one of us the gift of life. The sinful adam I was born as, has now been redeemed through another man, Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. And now through faith in Jesus, I am saved.

So, having been freely given this opportunity of faith through the works of Jesus; is that all there is? By no means! If I truly believe in all the God has given me, I will respond in joy to do the works God has called for me to do. I will respond in joy to God's call to action and works. I will respond in joy with thanksgiving and praise. I will respond, in joy, through bounteous good works as God directs. I no longer have to worry about getting to heaven through my works, because I will get to heaven through the works of Jesus.

Sure, the struggle with sin will continue in this world. But I know that Jesus will return for me. I know that Jesus will have final say in his Kingdom. I know that sin, death and the devil have already met their match. And I know that I can live my life in joy. I know that even though I may still sin, I can turn to God and repent and seek forgiveness and continue in my life of joyous praise to the works that Jesus has already performed. This does not mean that I will go and sin just because I know God forgives sin. It means that the sins I do fail at and commit, won't hold me back in my joyous response and the works that God has called me to do in his Kingdom. For God has taken sinful humans and is making us in God's image once again. God uses the sinful of this world, in the Kingdom, to proclaim with glory the works Jesus has done in this world.

Now, I have been released in great joy and gladness, to love God and my neighbor and gladly serve both in God's Kingdom. An eternal joy...from old adam to life in Christ. A joyous, released from the threat of sin life, to change into what God would have me be. From damned to hell, to released to life in Christ. So, shout and sing and priase God with joyful works for the faith and love you have been given through Jesus Christ, our Lord! Thanks be to God!

Lord, thank you for Jesus...thanks for saving me! --- Amen

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

July 7th - Reflection

Psalm 119:73-80 (NRSV)
Living in faithfulness

Your hands have made and fashioned me;
give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.
Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice,
because I have hoped in your word.
I know, O Lord, that your judgments are right,
and that in faithfulness you have humbled me.
Let your steadfast love become my comfort
according to your promise to your servant.
Let your mercy come to me, that I may live;
for your law is my delight.
Let the arrogant be put to shame,
because they have subverted me with guile;
as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
Let those who fear you turn to me,
so that they may know your decrees.
May my heart be blameless in your statutes,
so that I may not be put to shame.

How I want to please God. I want to be faithful to God. I want God to be happy with me. I want to do God's will and walk in the way that God wants me to walk. I want to make God smile and be glad that God created me. But I mess it up all the time. I do the things I know God won't like. They seem tempting and they seem like they would be fun things to do, so I do them, knowing that God doesn't like these things. And then I feel bad about it. I know that God is displeased with me and I am ashamed of myself. So I hide from God. I run the other way.

God knows when I sin. God knows me better than I know myself. So God comes to me in Jesus. God speaks to me through the Spirit. God reaches out to me as a loving Father. God takes me in and cares for me and loves me, even in my sin. I repent and promise to do better. I change and God renews me and uses me.

All this makes me think about God. I meditate about God. I try to be pleasing to God once again. Oh, how I love God, my Savior, my Guide, my Father!

Lord, I love you...keep working with me and on me...make me your delight. --- Amen

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

July 6th - Reflection

Jeremiah 8:4-13 (NRSV)
Call to faithfulness

You shall say to them, Thus says the Lord:
When people fall, do they not get up again?
If they go astray, do they not turn back?
Why then has this people turned away
in perpetual backsliding?
They have held fast to deceit,
they have refused to return.
I have given heed and listened,
but they do not speak honestly;
no one repents of wickedness,
saying, "What have I done!"
All of them turn to their own course,
like a horse plunging headlong into battle.
Even the stork in the heavens
knows its times;
and the turtledove, swallow, and crane
observe the time of their coming;
but my people do not know
the ordinance of the Lord.

How can you say, "We are wise,
and the law of the Lord is with us,"
when, in fact, the false pen of the scribes
has made it into a lie?
The wise shall be put to shame,
they shall be dismayed and taken;
since they have rejected the word of the Lord,
what wisdom is in them?
Therefore I will give their wives to others
and their fields to conquerors,
because from the least to the greatest
everyone is greedy for unjust gain;
from prophet to priest
everyone deals falsely.
They have treated the wound of my people carelessly,
saying, "Peace, peace,"
when there is no peace.
They acted shamefully, they committed abomination;
yet they were not at all ashamed,
they did not know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
at the time when I punish them, they shall be overthrown,

says the Lord.
When I wanted to gather them, says the Lord,
there are no grapes on the vine,
nor figs on the fig tree;
even the leaves are withered,
and what I gave them has passed away from them.

Face it! Smell the stench of it! Don't try to deny it or rationalize it. When you have sinned, you have sinned. It's time to humbly go before God and the one you sinned against and repent. It's not easy or pleasant. But face it. Repent and turn around. Blush about it if that's what happens, but face it. It will absorb your life if you don't just face it. Turn to God and see the new life that will be given. Face it! Repent! See the change! Thanks be to God!

Lord, I humbly repent of my sin. As I go forth to my neighbors and face it, I change my ways and follow you. --- Amen

Monday, July 05, 2010

July 5th - Reflection

Jeremiah 6:10-19 (NRSV)
Call to faithfulness

To whom shall I speak and give warning,
that they may hear?
See, their ears are closed,
they cannot listen.
The word of the Lord is to them an object of scorn;
they take no pleasure in it.
But I am full of the wrath of the Lord;
I am weary of holding it in.

Pour it out on the children in the street,
and on the gatherings of young men as well;
both husband and wife shall be taken,
the old folk and the very aged.
Their houses shall be turned over to others,
their fields and wives together;
for I will stretch out my hand
against the inhabitants of the land,

says the Lord.

For from the least to the greatest of them,
everyone is greedy for unjust gain;
and from prophet to priest,
everyone deals falsely.
They have treated the wound of my people carelessly,
saying, "Peace, peace,"
when there is no peace.
They acted shamefully, they committed abomination;
yet they were not ashamed,
they did not know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown,

says the Lord.
Thus says the Lord:
Stand at the crossroads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way lies;
and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.
But they said, "We will not walk in it."
Also I raised up sentinels for you:
"Give heed to the sound of the trumpet!"
But they said, "We will not give heed."
Therefore hear, O nations,
and know, O congregation, what will happen to them.
Hear, O earth; I am going to bring disaster on this people,
the fruit of their schemes,
because they have not given heed to my words;
and as for my teaching, they have rejected it.

It's time to slow down a little. Listen and look for God. Stop, at those times of decision, and look at the paths that are in front of you. Listen for God to direct you on the path you are to take. If we don't even stop to pray, look, listen, and search for the direction God would have us take; we must not give God priority in our life. So, it's time to slow down a little. We don't have all the answers.

If we choose to walk with Jesus, we must look and listen for Jesus direction. We are followers of Jesus. Sometimes I tend to live as if I expect Jesus to follow me and solve it all as I mess it up. But that's not what this is about. This is about the listening, the looking, the giving heed to Jesus words and teachings. This is not about listening to my own ramblings.

So, it's time to slow down a little, make sure we are followers that listen, look and learn the way of the Master and the direction that God wants us to take.

As I walk this day...I pause...I stop...I look...I listen...for your word and your way. Lead me Lord Jesus, I pray. --- Amen

Sunday, July 04, 2010

July 4th - Reflection

Time after Pentecost - Lectionary 14
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 (NRSV)
Jesus sends out seventy disciples

After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this house!' And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 'Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.' ...

"Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me."

The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!" He said to them, "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."

The Children of God have power. They have a power that does not come from themselves, but a power that wells up within themselves. They have a power resident in their souls that came from above and took flesh on this earth. They have a power that was born here, lived and was crucified here on this earth, arose from the dead and lives forever. They have a power in the Spirit of God that permeates the world in which they live. The Children of God have a power of joy; because their names are already written in heaven. This frees the Children of God to serve in all boldness and joy.

There is a time not to rejoice in this power. Once the Children of God get the idea that this is their power that has come from them, they have been deceived. Today we live with this awesome power, but we also live with the power of the devil. We must focus on Jesus and the coming of his Kingdom into our world. If this is welcomed, well and good, if not, the power of the devil can overtake both you and the listeners.

God has provided the truth in the life of Jesus. We are the messengers to all the world to tell of this truth. Take it or leave it...this is the truth. Thanks be to God!

Send me the boldness of joy I go, knowing all you have done...I go equipped with Word and Spirit and Church...correct me when I am in error...encourage me when I delight you...but send me I pray. --- Amen

Saturday, July 03, 2010

July 3rd - Reflection

Thomas, Apostle
John 14:1-7 (NRSV)

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him

These are those comforting words that are so good to read. Even in the midst of the battle, or perhaps towards the end of a long hard struggle. Or when you realize the struggle with this life is almost over. These are those comforting words from Jesus that give hope, bring joy, and increase faith.

Here we see a loving Savior, who has been through it all and is willing to bring us to him and show us the way. That way of truth and life that comes only with and through Jesus.  Jesus leads us home to the Father for rest.  How can we know the way? Look to Jesus and he will show you. Thanks be to God!

Lord, I cherish each moment with you, in the battle, in the pain, in the struggle, in the victory and in the rest. I look to you, today...tomorrow...and forever. --- Amen

Friday, July 02, 2010

July 2nd - Reflection

2 Corinthians 8:1-7 (NRSV)
Poverty overflows in generosity

We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints - and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us, so that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking among you. Now as you excel in everything - in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you - so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.

In and through the wrestling that we do with sin and death; when we come to realize the saving grace of our Savior; our lives change. The struggle we endured becomes transformed into a joyful response of love, first towards God and then towards our fellow neighbors in the midst of their personal struggles.

So the struggle and the wrestling, gave us qualities in life that we were missing in the past. The struggle and the wilderness does make us stronger in the knowledge that we walk with Jesus through this world and into the Kingdom of God. We change into what God would have us be through the struggle and pain.

Think of the lives of Jacob, Abraham, David, Jeremiah, Peter, Paul and on and on. Think of how these lives changed after and during the struggle. God is forming us in the midst of sin, death and the devil. God is forming us into something wonderful as we struggle. God is giving us graciously, qualities that enable us to help each other in our struggles. God is making us one with each other and one with him.

"Now as you excel in everything - in speech,  in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you - so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking."

Thanks be to God!

Lord, you give me faith and knowledge and the eagerness to love you and to love my neighbor. Receive my offering and joyous gift of love and help as I walk with you and my neighbor in this wilderness, this day. --- Amen

Thursday, July 01, 2010

July 1st - Reflection

Romans 7:14-25 (NRSV)
I do not do the good I want

For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.

Jacob wrestled, Paul wrestled, King Saul wrestled, David wrestled, Peter wrestled, Thomas wrestled...who didn't wrestle, even Jesus wrestled. But the difference being is that Jesus won the fight for the rest of us. And I think that's the point here.

While we walk this life of sin and faith, we will wrestle with sin. We will find that sin is not what we want, but we do it anyway. Through faith we hope for an escape from this sin. And as we wrestle and fight we finally are broken down and lost to sin to come to the realization that we can't win this fight. We must turn to God for rescue in the fight. And that's when we suddenly realize that Jesus was given for us to win the fight. That Jesus is by our side in the fight. That Jesus is right there with us, blood running down his face, hands and feet bleeding, bruised and beaten by this very same sin, taking on the very sin we fight, and winning the battle.

Jesus wins the battle against sin, death and the devil for us, with us and in our stead! Through faith and hope in the power of Jesus we are gladly a slave to the law of God willing to fight and change from being a slave to the law of sin, because we have seen what Jesus endured to win that wrestling match for us.

Thanks be to God!

Lord, I give you all the praise and glory for coming into my life and taking care of what I could never take care of on my own...sin, death and the devil. You have won the victory. I place all my hope and life in you. Today, I go out to fight the battle of sin and death and the devil, knowing that on my own I will lose, but with your son Jesus, I have a champion at my side. --- Amen