Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August 31st - Reflection

Isaiah 2:12-17 (NRSV)
Pride shall be brought low

For the Lord of hosts has a day
against all that is proud and lofty,
against all that is lifted up and high;
against all the cedars of Lebanon,
lofty and lifted up;
and against all the oaks of Bashan;
against all the high mountains,
and against all the lofty hills;
against every high tower,
and against every fortified wall;
against all the ships of Tarshish,
and against all the beautiful craft.
The haughtiness of people shall be humbled,
and the pride of everyone shall be brought low;
and the Lord alone will be exalted on that day.

Don't you just love it that there will be a day for that guy that says to you, "I hope you realize who you are speaking to?" Or the guy who tells you how much money he is making at his job and makes sure you know that you are working "under" him? Don't you just love it when you find out that the haughty people will be humbled and their pride shall be brought low? Don't you just love it?

But then the trap is set. Why do I have to revel in someone Else's demise? Aren't I to love this person as well? Am I being humble in reveling in another persons demise? This is my neighbor, shouldn't I speak well of them and explain their actions in the kindest way?

Don't be so vain to believe that the passage doesn't apply to yourself as well! Learn and change and live the life Jesus has prepared for you. Thanks be to God!

Lord forgive me when I'm too quick to judge and open my heart to all your people. --- Amen

Monday, August 30, 2010

August 30th - Reflection

2 Chronicles 12:1-12 (NRSV)

King Rehoboam humbles himself

When the rule of Rehoboam was established and he grew strong, he abandoned the law of the Lord, he and all Israel with him. In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, because they had been unfaithful to the Lord, King Shishak of Egypt came up against Jerusalem with twelve hundred chariots and sixty thousand cavalry. A countless army came with him from Egypt - Libyans, Sukkiim, and Ethiopians. He took the fortified cities of Judah and came as far as Jerusalem. Then the prophet Shemaiah came to Rehoboam and to the officers of Judah, who had gathered at Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said to them, "Thus says the Lord: You abandoned me, so I have abandoned you to the hand of Shishak." Then the officers of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, "The Lord is in the right." When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah, saying: "They have humbled themselves; I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance, and my wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Nevertheless they shall be his servants, so that they may know the difference between serving me and serving the kingdoms of other lands."

So King Shishak of Egypt came up against Jerusalem; he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king's house; he took everything. He also took away the shields of gold that Solomon had made; but King Rehoboam made in place of them shields of bronze, and committed them to the hands of the officers of the guard, who kept the door of the king's house. Whenever the king went into the house of the Lord, the guard would come along bearing them, and would then bring them back to the guardroom. Because he humbled himself the wrath of the Lord turned from him, so as not to destroy them completely; moreover, conditions were good in Judah.

I remember a conversation I had in my youth with a friend at work. We were talking about being humble. His thoughts were that humility pointed to a human quality of weakness. I had never thought of humility in this respect. I was always taught that it was an honor to be humble. I was taught that it was proper to be humble. I was taught that humility brought forth aspects and traits of strength and honor.

Through life I have striven to be humble. As the saying goes, sometimes that's not easy. It's natural for pride to take over and humility to fly out the window. But graciously, God has given me occasion to learn humility and brought me back around.

I'm not sure if my friend ever learned the ability to be humble. I think life tends to teach this over the years. I know he has been successful in business and lives a good life. And somehow...I think we both have been given the lesson and instruction from God about humility. Thanks be to God!

Lord keep me humble...and when needed teach me. --- Amen

Sunday, August 29, 2010

August 29th - Reflection

Time after Pentecost - Lectionary 22
Luke 14:1, 7-14 (NRSV)
Invite the poor to your banquet

On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely. ...

When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. "When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, 'Give this person your place,' and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, 'Friend, move up higher'; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."

He said also to the one who had invited him, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

At first glance I was thinking that these were two different lessons for life, but on second glance I think not. I heard a message the other day that brought forth the theme "Get over yourself" and this passage of scripture seems to fit perfectly into that theme.

Jesus is teaching us to humble ourselves and reach out to the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. Jesus is teaching us to "Get over ourselves" and our desire to impress family and rich neighbors and friends and do as he did and move and work amongst those in need. After all, aren't we all really in need?

So "Get over yourself" and follow the Savior! Thanks be to God!

Lord, thank you for your Word written and spoken through friends. --- Amen

Saturday, August 28, 2010

August 28th - Reflection

Matthew 20:20-28 (NRSV)
A request for seats of honor

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, "What do you want?" She said to him, "Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom." But Jesus answered, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?" They said to him, "We are able." He said to them, "You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father."

When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many."

You will be servants. Jesus came and served those on this earth. We are called to serve as well. The Holy Spirit gives us gifts to use in service to those God gives to us day after day.

In corporate America, we tend to view success as working up the ladder. Working up the ladder brings success and higher pay. Working up the ladder brings power and prestige. Working up the ladder may bring success, but what is the purpose? Is the purpose a selfish attempt or is the purpose something greater? The purpose of working up the ladder makes all the difference.

Here Jesus shows an example of purpose, but Jesus shows us how to work down the ladder to success. Jesus works down the ladder and serves with and to the sinful, the poor, the sick and those who need him. Jesus works down the ladder with a purpose of giving his life to give life to all people. Jesus purpose was to give his life a ransom for many.

Work down the ladder and love like Jesus has taught us to love. See what Jesus first did and love because he first loves us. That's the purpose that lasts beyond life. Thanks be to God!

Lord, as I learn to serve as you have served, use me and the gifts I have to serve others, today, tomorrow and forever. --- Amen

Friday, August 27, 2010

August 27th - Reflection

1 Peter 4:7-11 (NRSV)
Be hospitable to one another

The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

I need to work on the complaining part of this passage. It is so easy for me to fall into complaining, being negative and then lead to talking people down. That is a hard one for me and many sins are committed in this arena.

What wonderful advice though to use the gifts God has given. Turn from the complaining and use the gifts and skill God gives to the glory of God. Turn that focus away from the complaining to a love and appreciation of the gifts and skills. And even better yet would be to reflect those gifts in a work of love to your neighbor to bring glory to God.

Seems like this could break the complaining cycle and release a love cycle of fun and action. Hmmmm.... Thanks be to God!

Lord, help me to honor my neighbor, speak well of them, and explain their actions in the kindest ways. Lead me in breaking the complaining cycle and hopping on to the love cycle of fun and action to your glory. --- Amen

Thursday, August 26, 2010

August 26th - Reflection

1 Peter 3:8-12 (NRSV)
Repay abuse with a blessing

Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called - that you might inherit a blessing. For
"Those who desire life
and desire to see good days,
let them keep their tongues from evil
and their lips from speaking deceit;
let them turn away from evil and do good;
let them seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."

This is a hard passage to be consistent with. Sure, I can do this from time to time but to be able to do it all the time is the difficult task. For me it's important to come back to this passage and others like it to remind myself and drive home the reasons for these actions.

The reason doesn't include the motivation to inherit a blessing. Inheriting the blessing is a result of a changed life that come about with the realization that, being free from the worry of eternal damnation for my sin, I can respond in love toward God and in love towards my neighbor with actions that appeal to God.

We want to make God happy now that we realize and believe in what has happened. It's a reactive action that takes place when we see the full impact of Jesus' life, death and resurrection. It's a reactive action that takes place when we realize how much God loves each one of us. It's a reactive action that takes place that we rush to emulate Christ's life in our relationships with others.

So I look to these passages for guidance on the actions I want to take. I look to these packages as ways to know what pleases God and find all along that what pleases God is love towards God and actions of love towards others. Thanks be to God for such guidance and teaching through the Word alive and active.

Lord, may my actions bring you glory and bring others love, the love you first gave through life. --- Amen

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

August 25th - Reflection

Bartholomew, Apostle
John 1:43-51 (NRSV)

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

Jesus sees us where we are. Jesus sees us before we see him. But Jesus seems to let us believe that we found him, yet he has already found us and knew more about us than we could ever know about him.  For many disciple that confidence is evident..."We have found him..." Jesus allows this to happen. He allows us to believe that we found him, yet Jesus came to us and knows us. Sure, maybe we found him, but Jesus knows us. So it's time to tell others you meet in such confidence and strength --- "I found him...come and see!" Thanks be to God!

As I go out to play this day, may I rejoice in the fact that I found you and you already knew me and came to me. Let my joy overflow that I can't help to say --- "I found him...come and see!" --- Amen

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

August 24th - Reflection

Ezekiel 20:18-32 (NRSV)
Israel become like the nations

I said to their children in the wilderness, Do not follow the statutes of your parents, nor observe their ordinances, nor defile yourselves with their idols. I the Lord am your God; follow my statutes, and be careful to observe my ordinances, and hallow my sabbaths that they may be a sign between me and you, so that you may know that I the Lord am your God. But the children rebelled against me; they did not follow my statutes, and were not careful to observe my ordinances, by whose observance everyone shall live; they profaned my sabbaths.

Then I thought I would pour out my wrath upon them and spend my anger against them in the wilderness. But I withheld my hand, and acted for the sake of my name, so that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out. Moreover I swore to them in the wilderness that I would scatter them among the nations and disperse them through the countries, because they had not executed my ordinances, but had rejected my statutes and profaned my sabbaths, and their eyes were set on their ancestors' idols. Moreover I gave them statutes that were not good and ordinances by which they could not live. I defiled them through their very gifts, in their offering up all their firstborn, in order that I might horrify them, so that they might know that I am the Lord.

Therefore, mortal, speak to the house of Israel and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: In this again your ancestors blasphemed me, by dealing treacherously with me. For when I had brought them into the land that I swore to give them, then wherever they saw any high hill or any leafy tree, there they offered their sacrifices and presented the provocation of their offering; there they sent up their pleasing odors, and there they poured out their drink offerings. (I said to them, What is the high place to which you go? So it is called Bamah to this day.) Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: Will you defile yourselves after the manner of your ancestors and go astray after their detestable things? When you offer your gifts and make your children pass through the fire, you defile yourselves with all your idols to this day. And shall I be consulted by you, O house of Israel? As I live, says the Lord God, I will not be consulted by you.

What is in your mind shall never happen - the thought, "Let us be like the nations, like the tribes of the countries, and worship wood and stone."

Oh how stubborn I can be. God can show me blessings all around me. God gifts me with a richness beyond compare. But what do I do...I complain about the roads...I complain about politicians...I complain about the food...I complain about so many petty issues that it is awful. A change of mind is in order. A change of mind that brings forth the blessings, the honor, and the love God has freely given. A heart of thankfulness rather than a heart full of complaints.

Lord, forgive my complaining heart and help me make a priority out of being thankful and positive and outgoing about all the blessings you have granted. Not in that sugar sweet way but in the honest way of life. --- Amen

Monday, August 23, 2010

August 23rd - Reflection

Ezekiel 20:1-17 (NRSV)
The people profaned the sabbath

In the seventh year, in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month, certain elders of Israel came to consult the Lord, and sat down before me. And the word of the Lord came to me: Mortal, speak to the elders of Israel, and say to them: Thus says the Lord God: Why are you coming? To consult me? As I live, says the Lord God, I will not be consulted by you. Will you judge them, mortal, will you judge them? Then let them know the abominations of their ancestors, and say to them: Thus says the Lord God: On the day when I chose Israel, I swore to the offspring of the house of Jacob - making myself known to them in the land of Egypt - I swore to them, saying, I am the Lord your God. On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of all lands. And I said to them, Cast away the detestable things your eyes feast on, every one of you, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt; I am the Lord your God. But they rebelled against me and would not listen to me; not one of them cast away the detestable things their eyes feasted on, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt.

Then I thought I would pour out my wrath upon them and spend my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt. But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made myself known to them in bringing them out of the land of Egypt. So I led them out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness. I gave them my statutes and showed them my ordinances, by whose observance everyone shall live. Moreover I gave them my sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, so that they might know that I the Lord sanctify them. But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness; they did not observe my statutes but rejected my ordinances, by whose observance everyone shall live; and my sabbaths they greatly profaned.

Then I thought I would pour out my wrath upon them in the wilderness, to make an end of them. But I acted for the sake of my name, so that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out. Moreover I swore to them in the wilderness that I would not bring them into the land that I had given them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of all lands, because they rejected my ordinances and did not observe my statutes, and profaned my sabbaths; for their heart went after their idols. Nevertheless my eye spared them, and I did not destroy them or make an end of them in the wilderness.

How God has struggled with us. And don't think you are left out of this group just because you aren't an Israelite or weren't there at the time. God struggles just the same with you and me in our lives. God's love is so deep that he struggles and tries many ways to draw us to him. But we deny this help and are stubborn. So we are given life lessons to learn from. We are given sabbaths as a sign between God and us. We are given a time to reflect on our relationship with God and time to build on that relationship to strengthen it and learn about what God would have us do with our lives. God gives us purpose and direction and hope and life. Stop...Look...Listen...and see what God wants. Go to God in deep relationship and love and live! Thanks be to God!

Lord, forgive me for running off my own way and not stopping to be with you. Forgive me for seeking those attractive people and things that draw me further away from you. Accept me in your arms as I run your way. --- Amen

Sunday, August 22, 2010

August 22nd - Reflection

Time after Pentecost - Lectionary 21
Luke 13:10-17 (NRSV)
Jesus heals on the sabbath

Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, "Woman, you are set free from your ailment." When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, "There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day." But the Lord answered him and said, "You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?" When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.

Rejoice at all the wonderful things God has done and is doing. Rejoice and give praise to God. On the sabbath, God has brought life to this world. On the sabbath, Jesus lay dead, but look! He is alive and brings forth a new creation. Jesus brings forth a new creation of life and follows with healing.

Look! The Spirit comes to us and grants us strength to live and gifts to give, day after day. This life and this body on earth is being recreated and made new, even as this earth and this body age and die, we can look forward in the hope and strength to a life in Christ. And this new life begins now! Even as our earthly life fades away, we are living new life in Christ.

Rejoice at all the wonderful things God has done and is doing! Thanks be to God!

Create in me a clean heart and a new way through you. --- Amen

Saturday, August 21, 2010

August 21st - Reflection

Luke 6:1-5 (NRSV)
Picking grain on the sabbath

One sabbath while Jesus was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked some heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands, and ate them. But some of the Pharisees said, "Why are you doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?" Jesus answered, "Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and gave some to his companions?" Then he said to them, "The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath."

The sabbath, a day set aside for God to rest after creation. A day graciously given to his creation for rest. I think of the sabbath as a period of rest that God graciously provides after work to reflect, honor, worship and give thanks to God for all God has done. A day to praise God for working in and through and many times on me. The sabbath, to me, is a day that I celebrate God's grace.

As Jesus states, the Son of Man is lord of the sabbath, and I'm just the one who wonderfully gets to receive this gift of the sabbath. So why not rub and few grains together and rejoice in all that God has created and the new live God has given?

Seems like a great idea to celebrate the day with the makings of some of that bread, with the Savior. Thanks be to God!

Lord, thanks for the sabbath, I will cherish the gift and keep it holy. --- Amen

Friday, August 20, 2010

August 20th - Reflection

Acts 17:1-9 (NRSV)
Paul preaches Christ on the sabbath

After Paul and Silas had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three sabbath days argued with them from the scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, "This is the Messiah, Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you." Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. But the Jews became jealous, and with the help of some ruffians in the marketplaces they formed a mob and set the city in an uproar. While they were searching for Paul and Silas to bring them out to the assembly, they attacked Jason's house. When they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some believers before the city authorities, shouting, "These people who have been turning the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has entertained them as guests. They are all acting contrary to the decrees of the emperor, saying that there is another king named Jesus." The people and the city officials were disturbed when they heard this, and after they had taken bail from Jason and the others, they let them go.

We are sent to turn the world upside down. Look at the life of Jesus --- turned the world upside down! Jesus set all the norms on their heads. Love your enemy --- forgive endlessly --- welcome the stranger --- touch and heal the unclean --- have compassion on the Sabbath --- feed the hungry --- sight to the blind --- life from death --- and on and on. Jesus turned the world upside down and set up disciples such as you and I with gifts from the Holy Spirit to go and do likewise. Turn the world upside down and fill the world with faith, hope, love, joy, patience, peace, endurance and on and on. Thanks be to God!

Lord, as we go into the Kingdom this day, we go in that same compassion and love you have graciously filled us with. --- Amen

Thursday, August 19, 2010

August 19th - Reflection

Hebrews 12:3-17 (NRSV)
Call for endurance

Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children -
"My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
or lose heart when you are punished by him;
for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves,
and chastises every child whom he accepts."

Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children. Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness. Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled. See to it that no one becomes like Esau, an immoral and godless person, who sold his birthright for a single meal. You know that later, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, even though he sought the blessing with tears.

I find joy in discipline from God. This is for learning and healing and making better. Discipline is the recreation into something new. I find sorrow when God is silent.

It is much the same with people today. When people fall silent in your error, it may be that they are either frightened to say something or that they have given up on you. Who wants to be a player on a team when the coach doesn't correct your mistakes by telling you? How would anyone on the team improve? Likewise, how would the team improve if this attitude were too wide spread.

Constructive criticism and discipline and boundaries are a must in relationships of love and respect. When these characteristics are absent there is selfishness and greed.

I find joy in discipline from God whose love is so deep that God sent Jesus to save me from sin, death and the devil. God grants life and gives hope for a new creation and a new life. I find joy in this discipline and guidance and teaching. Thanks be to God!

Lord, when I sin, when I err, teach me and show me the correct way to respond. --- Amen

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August 18th - Reflection

Psalm 32 (NRSV)
Prayer for forgiveness

Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

While I kept silence, my body wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not hide my iniquity;
I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,"
and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Therefore let all who are faithful
offer prayer to you;
at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters
shall not reach them.
You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.

I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle,
else it will not stay near you.

Many are the torments of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.
Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

There is no good reason not to confess your sin. We all sin. We all have something to confess. We all need to repent. We all need to come to the Lord and face up. We all need God to forgive us. We all need to turn from our sin and trust in God to lead and guide us. We all need a Savior.

And thanks be to God we have a brother in Christ. A brother who came to this earth and became flesh and blood. A brother truly human and at the same time truly God. A brother to turn to and confess. A brother who knows what we go through.

We all need Jesus. And we all have Jesus. Thanks be to God!

Jesus, as your hear my sin, lead me and teach me the path I am to take. --- Amen

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

August 17th - Reflection

Jeremiah 25:15-29 (NRSV)
The cup of God's wrath

For thus the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. They shall drink and stagger and go out of their minds because of the sword that I am sending among them.

So I took the cup from the Lord's hand, and made all the nations to whom the Lord sent me drink it: Jerusalem and the towns of Judah, its kings and officials, to make them a desolation and a waste, an object of hissing and of cursing, as they are today; Pharaoh king of Egypt, his servants, his officials, and all his people; all the mixed people; all the kings of the land of Uz; all the kings of the land of the Philistines - Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod; Edom, Moab, and the Ammonites; all the kings of Tyre, all the kings of Sidon, and the kings of the coastland across the sea; Dedan, Tema, Buz, and all who have shaven temples; all the kings of Arabia and all the kings of the mixed peoples that live in the desert; all the kings of Zimri, all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of Media; all the kings of the north, far and near, one after another, and all the kingdoms of the world that are on the face of the earth. And after them the king of Sheshach shall drink.

Then you shall say to them, Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Drink, get drunk and vomit, fall and rise no more, because of the sword that I am sending among you.

And if they refuse to accept the cup from your hand to drink, then you shall say to them: Thus says the Lord of hosts: You must drink! See, I am beginning to bring disaster on the city that is called by my name, and how can you possibly avoid punishment? You shall not go unpunished, for I am summoning a sword against all the inhabitants of the earth, says the Lord of hosts.

And then I think forward in time...of a man sent to earth...a man yet...God...sent to earth to drink this cup of the wine of wrath...the wine of wrath that was intended for all of us to drink...this man...God...would drink this cup of the wine of wrath...for you...for me...for all...all for our punishment.

And you too will drink from this cup. In joy we drink from this cup. For we know of a love and compassion that saved us. In joy we drink, and in joy we bring that same love and compassion through the wine and the bread to this world...that all may see and understand...the man...God...who drank the cup of the wine of wrath...for you...for me...for all.

Thanks be to God!

As your disciple Lord, I know I drink from this same cup, but I go in the knowledge of a hope and joy fulfilled through you, into a hurting world, in your love and compassion. I go to work. I go in joy. --- Amen

Monday, August 16, 2010

August 16th - Reflection

Jeremiah 23:30-40 (NRSV)
False prophets

See, therefore, I am against the prophets, says the Lord, who steal my words from one another. See, I am against the prophets, says the Lord, who use their own tongues and say, "Says the Lord." See, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, says the Lord, and who tell them, and who lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or appoint them; so they do not profit this people at all, says the Lord.

When this people, or a prophet, or a priest asks you, "What is the burden of the Lord?" you shall say to them, "You are the burden, and I will cast you off, says the Lord." And as for the prophet, priest, or the people who say, "The burden of the Lord," I will punish them and their households. Thus shall you say to one another, among yourselves, "What has the Lord answered?" or "What has the Lord spoken?" But "the burden of the Lord" you shall mention no more, for the burden is everyone's own word, and so you pervert the words of the living God, the Lord of hosts, our God. Thus you shall ask the prophet, "What has the Lord answered you?" or "What has the Lord spoken?" But if you say, "the burden of the Lord," thus says the Lord: Because you have said these words, "the burden of the Lord," when I sent to you, saying, You shall not say, "the burden of the Lord," therefore, I will surely lift you up and cast you away from my presence, you and the city that I gave to you and your ancestors. And I will bring upon you everlasting disgrace and perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.

This whole "burden of the Lord" thing has become confusing to me. But the point I can take here, is that we need to watch and discern the person who seems to be talking for God. I like to look to scripture and evaluate what is said. This makes preaching a good exercise based on the Gospel or one of the Lessons of the day.  Another way to discern a speaker that is speaking "thus says the Lord" is to discuss the information with other Christians in your community, including the leaders and pastors. Discussion and study are two good ways to discern difficult words. But always be aware that the devil lurks in the shadows of our doubts waiting to attack. Sometimes it's not easy, but at all times keep that cross of Christ and Jesus in focus and pray for the best outcome, letting the Spirit guide you along the way.

Lord, may I keep you in focus and all you did for me on that cross and in that tomb when I encounter another who seems to be spreading a false message. Send your Spirit to lead and guide me through these times, I pray. --- Amen

Sunday, August 15, 2010

August 15th - Reflection

Time after Pentecost - Lectionary 20
Luke 12:49-56 (NRSV)
Jesus brings fire on earth

"I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided:
father against son
and son against father,
mother against daughter
and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."

He also said to the crowds, "When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, 'It is going to rain'; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, 'There will be scorching heat'; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

Jesus bringing the fire of passion and love to his followers. We all have a decision to make, and if that decision is to follow Christ, we will be infused with the fire of the Holy Spirit. We will be passionate in our movement in Christ's direction and way. We will follow and search and react in a response of action through love to those God sets before us day after day.

Yes, Jesus has kindled a fire in the people of God and this fire will never burn out. Thanks be to God!

Lord, you burn in me. You lead me and work in and through your people. May your fire spread throughout all the earth. --- Amen

Saturday, August 14, 2010

August 14th - Reflection

Matthew 24:15-27 (NRSV)
The desolating sacrilege

"So when you see the desolating sacrilege standing in the holy place, as was spoken of by the prophet Daniel (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; the one on the housetop must not go down to take what is in the house; the one in the field must not turn back to get a coat. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a sabbath. For at that time there will be great suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Then if anyone says to you, 'Look! Here is the Messiah!' or 'There he is!' - do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Take note, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, 'Look! He is in the wilderness,' do not go out. If they say, 'Look! He is in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

Don't be misled. It's so easy to be misled. Our focus must remain on Christ our Lord and Savior, all these other things that come and go only take us off path. When the coming of the Son of Man occurs, none of us will have a doubt about it. As lightning flashes for the east to the west, we all will know Jesus has come.

Continue in the work of the Kingdom here and now. Continue in the love and compassion that you have been taught by Jesus. Continue to let the Spirit lead and guide you through life, and don't worry about that day when Jesus returns. You will have enough time to rejoice on that day when it comes. For now, focus on the cross and our Savior and get to work in the joy you have been given through our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Thanks be to God!

Lord, I look to the day of your return in great anticipation, but for now, I also look for your knock at the door to continue in your work this day. --- Amen

Friday, August 13, 2010

August 13th - Reflection

Hebrews 10:32-39 (NRSV)
Do not abandon your confidence

But recall those earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and persecution, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion for those who were in prison, and you cheerfully accepted the plundering of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves possessed something better and more lasting. Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
For yet "in a very little while,
the one who is coming will come and will not delay;
but my righteous one will live by faith.
My soul takes no pleasure in anyone who shrinks back."

But we are not among those who shrink back and so are lost, but among those who have faith and so are saved.

Hold strong to your faith in Christ. Through Christ we have nothing to fear, but without Christ we have all to fear. We will lose the battle with the evil wiles of the devil, sin and death on our own. Evil is stronger than you or me, but through the strength and power of Jesus, evil has been conquered, sin has been defeated and the devil has been exposed. Through Jesus Christ...not through you or me.

In our suffering, endurance is built and faith increases, and we need not shy away. For in this faith we have been given, there stands the promise of a Savior who will save us. Thanks be to God!

Lord, increase my faith and understanding and bring me to you...today...tomorrow...and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, August 12, 2010

August 12th - Reflection

Hebrews 10:26-31 (NRSV)
God's judgment

For if we willfully persist in sin after having received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy "on the testimony of two or three witnesses." How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by those who have spurned the Son of God, profaned the blood of the covenant by which they were sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know the one who said, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

It's so important that Children of God return to God often. We sin. We do fall into the trap. But we must recognize that this sin is not the end, nor is it the purpose. We must turn and face God in our sin. We must know that our sin has consequences that we must face. We must face our sin, face God, and face our consequences. We must repent and the living God forgives, renews, and leads and guides us in God's purpose for our lives. Your life is not your own. Your life belongs to God. Continue to know this and turn to God, even in your sin.

But there are those that sin, and throw off that wonderful gift of grace that God has given us through the life, suffering, and death of Christ. There are those who walk away from salvation and live to their own purpose in sin. This angers God and leads to death.

Lord, as we live with so many people, teach us how to reach out in love and compassion to your children who have become lost in their sins and turned away from the gracious gift of Christ you give. Fill our mouths with your words and our actions with your actions that these friends of ours may turn back to you. --- Amen

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

August 11th - Reflection

Psalm 89:1-18 (NRSV)
God's covenant with David

I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever;
with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.
I declare that your steadfast love is established forever;
your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.

You said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to my servant David:
'I will establish your descendants forever,
and build your throne for all generations.'"

Let the heavens praise your wonders, O Lord,
your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones.
For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord?
Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord,
a God feared in the council of the holy ones,
great and awesome above all that are around him?
O Lord God of hosts,
who is as mighty as you, O Lord?
Your faithfulness surrounds you.
You rule the raging of the sea;
when its waves rise, you still them.
You crushed Rahab like a carcass;
you scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.
The heavens are yours, the earth also is yours;
the world and all that is in it - you have founded them.
The north and the south - you created them;
Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name.
You have a mighty arm;
strong is your hand, high your right hand.
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
Happy are the people who know the festal shout,
who walk, O Lord, in the light of your countenance;
they exult in your name all day long,
and extol your righteousness.
For you are the glory of their strength;
by your favor our horn is exalted.
For our shield belongs to the Lord,
our king to the Holy One of Israel.

When you reach the depths of your sin and find in this place a Savior so loving, so compassionate, so healing in love; you can't help but to respond to forgiveness with joy.

When you reach the depths of your sin and humbly kneel before God and repent, you can't help but to respond to forgiveness with joy.

When you reach the depths of your sin and see the face of Jesus on that cross, in pain and suffering, taking on the sin you committed; you can't help but to respond to forgiveness with awe and fascination.

Why would my God take on my sin and die for me? Why would my God even care about me?

When you reach the depths of your sin, and see that sin taken on by Christ on that cross and die; you can't help but to respond with a deep love and compassion for your Savior.

When you reach the depths of your sin, and in your repentance are given new life; you can't help but to respond in joy by telling all the world what grace you have been shown.

When you reach the depths of your sin, and see Jesus face to face; you can't help but to respond in love towards your neighbor.

When you reach the depths of your sin and are forgiven, you can't help but to see God.

Thanks be to God!

Lord, as I begin this day, I know I will sin. Help me through this day, guide me and correct me and forgive me and show me your face. --- Amen

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

August 10th - Reflection

2 Chronicles 34:22-33 (NRSV)
Huldah preaches the covenant

So Hilkiah and those whom the king had sent went to the prophet Huldah, the wife of Shallum son of Tokhath son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe (who lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter) and spoke to her to that effect. She declared to them, "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Tell the man who sent you to me, Thus says the Lord: I will indeed bring disaster upon this place and upon its inhabitants, all the curses that are written in the book that was read before the king of Judah. Because they have forsaken me and have made offerings to other gods, so that they have provoked me to anger with all the works of their hands, my wrath will be poured out on this place and will not be quenched. But as to the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, thus shall you say to him: Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Regarding the words that you have heard, because your heart was penitent and you humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this place and its inhabitants, and you have humbled yourself before me, and have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, says the Lord. I will gather you to your ancestors and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring on this place and its inhabitants." They took the message back to the king.

Then the king sent word and gathered together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. The king went up to the house of the Lord, with all the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests and the Levites, all the people both great and small; he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord. The king stood in his place and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord, keeping his commandments, his decrees, and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book. Then he made all who were present in Jerusalem and in Benjamin pledge themselves to it. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem acted according to the covenant of God, the God of their ancestors. Josiah took away all the abominations from all the territory that belonged to the people of Israel, and made all who were in Israel worship the Lord their God. All his days they did not turn away from following the Lord the God of their ancestors.

A few wonderful things take place in this passage; a message was sent, the warning taken, and corrective actions were implemented. As the king heard that the actions of himself and the people were displeasing to God, they all knew it and humbled themselves. We have to smell the stench of our sin and recognize how awful it is, become humble and repent. Then take action in joy to correct what we have done. All of this not in order to gain recognition for our actions but in order to please God. It's all about pleasing God and doing the will that God has planned for our lives. It's a reaction of joy for what God has already done for us through Jesus. What a wonderful, loving, God we have!

Lord, forgive me when I turn from you and face away. Spin me around in your direction that I may see the way you have chosen for me, and go where you direct, and do what pleases you. --- Amen

Monday, August 09, 2010

August 9th - Reflection

2 Chronicles 33:1-17 (NRSV)
Manasseh returns to God

Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign; he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had pulled down, and erected altars to the Baals, made sacred poles, worshiped all the host of heaven, and served them. He built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, "In Jerusalem shall my name be forever." He built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. He made his son pass through fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom, practiced soothsaying and augury and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and with wizards. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. The carved image of the idol that he had made he set in the house of God, of which God said to David and to his son Solomon, "In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my name forever; I will never again remove the feet of Israel from the land that I appointed for your ancestors, if only they will be careful to do all that I have commanded them, all the law, the statutes, and the ordinances given through Moses." Manasseh misled Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that they did more evil than the nations whom the Lord had destroyed before the people of Israel.

The Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they gave no heed. Therefore the Lord brought against them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh captive in manacles, bound him with fetters, and brought him to Babylon. While he was in distress he entreated the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. He prayed to him, and God received his entreaty, heard his plea, and restored him again to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord indeed was God.

Afterward he built an outer wall for the city of David west of Gihon, in the valley, reaching the entrance at the Fish Gate; he carried it around Ophel, and raised it to a very great height. He also put commanders of the army in all the fortified cities in Judah. He took away the foreign gods and the idol from the house of the Lord, and all the altars that he had built on the mountain of the house of the Lord and in Jerusalem, and he threw them out of the city. He also restored the altar of the Lord and offered on it sacrifices of well-being and of thanksgiving; and he commanded Judah to serve the Lord the God of Israel. The people, however, still sacrificed at the high places, but only to the Lord their God.

See the love of God! See how God spoke to Manasseh. Manasseh listened to God and changed. God changed Manasseh and recreated Manasseh into the king God wanted him to be. That same message is here for you and me. Listen to the Word. Read the written Word, listen to the spoken Word, feel and touch the Word active in the lives of Christians and go out and let the Word shine brightly through you. God is alive and at work in this world. God is alive and at work in you and me. See God and listen carefully, now and forever.

Lord, today reveal yourself in word and deed and use me in your Kingdom. --- Prayer

Sunday, August 08, 2010

August 8th - Reflection

Time after Pentecost - Lectionary 19
Luke 12:32-40 (NRSV)
The treasure of the kingdom

"Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

"Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

"But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour."

I am convinced by the Word and by what I have seen in my life that God exists and that Jesus came into this world to take on my sin and give life. Read the Bible and reflect on your life and believe. Have faith in what you hear, see and know to be true. I am convinced by the Word and lay my fear, my sin, my doubt on Jesus my brother who knows my emotions, my pain, my joy and my very being. I am convinced that my real treasure has nothing to do with me or how I would obtain treasure, but my treasure exists with and in God. I am convinced...I believe...I place my life in the hands of God.

Lord, keep me steadfast in your Word and your way forever. --- Amen

Saturday, August 07, 2010

August 7th - Reflection

Matthew 6:19-24 (NRSV)
Treasures and masters

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

"The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

"No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

It's more about God than it is about us. Treasures on earth are only temporary, but treasures in heaven are eternal. In heaven we see the Light of God, the Light of creation, the Light of the world, and the Light of salvation seated at the right hand of the Father. With the Father and the Light we have the Spirit which moves about and throughout all of creation, heaven and earth. All about God hovering over the darkness and over the chaos to bring order, salvation and life.

Lord, disperse the darkness in me and replace it with the Light of Christ. --- Amen

Friday, August 06, 2010

August 6th - Reflection

Acts 7:1-8 (NRSV)
Descendants promised to Abraham

Then the high priest asked him, "Are these things so?" And Stephen replied:

"Brothers and fathers, listen to me. The God of glory appeared to our ancestor Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, 'Leave your country and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you.' Then he left the country of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After his father died, God had him move from there to this country in which you are now living. He did not give him any of it as a heritage, not even a foot's length, but promised to give it to him as his possession and to his descendants after him, even though he had no child. And God spoke in these terms, that his descendants would be resident aliens in a country belonging to others, who would enslave them and mistreat them during four hundred years. 'But I will judge the nation that they serve,' said God, 'and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place.' Then he gave him the covenant of circumcision. And so Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.

Sometimes we don't see the results of the promise. Sometimes the results of a promise are seen by others at another time. The promise God gave to Abraham is still being revealed to this day through you and me. So, many descendants beyond those of blood relations to millions that are descendants through spiritual relations. All in the fulfillment of the hope in a promise which could never be imagined by Abraham. Could it be that we, as part of this promise, will be a story in ourselves to those yet unborn? Could it be that God is using our lives, like he used the life of Abraham and so many others before us, to fulfill his promise to Abraham? Could it be that we are part of this on-going Bible story also? I think so! Thanks be to God!

Lord, take my life, my time and place and use me in your great story that goes beyond place and time, now and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, August 05, 2010

August 5th - Reflection

Romans 9:1-9 (NRSV)
True descendants of Abraham

I am speaking the truth in Christ - I am not lying; my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit - I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

It is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all Israelites truly belong to Israel, and not all of Abraham's children are his true descendants; but "It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you." This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as descendants. For this is what the promise said, "About this time I will return and Sarah shall have a son."

Children of the promise...children of God...through faith we follow Christ. Through faith we have a hope. Through faith we become daughters and sons of the promise of God to be children. Through faith we are given and give a love so deep and wide that flesh and spirit unite in the Church. Through faith built up in hope. Thanks be to God!

Lord, increase in me faith. Lead me in love to give life and love to those you give to me this day. --- Amen

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Psalm 127 (NRSV)
Unless the Lord builds the house

Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city,
the guard keeps watch in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives sleep to his beloved.

Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the sons of one's youth.
Happy is the man who has
his quiver full of them.
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Work and for that matter live as if you are living for the Lord. With the focus on God, your purpose in life clears up. When we focus on our own wants and needs, or the wants and needs of a corporation or company or any other source of authority first, we are dependent on changing perceptions of what is wanted or needed. But when we put God first, we work to please our Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier of all people. This world is more than what we see. There is also the spiritual world in which we live, that at this moment, many times we miss. But stop for a moment and look, listen, feel, touch, and taste the God who gives life; and you will find much much more than you could ever imagine. Thanks be to God!

Lord, you have richly blessed me with the gift of life all around me and within me and before me and after me. Teach me to see and appreciate the life you reveal in this world and beyond. --- Amen

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

August 3rd - Reflection

Ecclesiastes 3:16-4:8 (NRSV)
Death comes to all

Moreover I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, wickedness was there, and in the place of righteousness, wickedness was there as well. I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for he has appointed a time for every matter, and for every work. I said in my heart with regard to human beings that God is testing them to show that they are but animals. For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knows whether the human spirit goes upward and the spirit of animals goes downward to the earth? So I saw that there is nothing better than that all should enjoy their work, for that is their lot; who can bring them to see what will be after them?

Again I saw all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun. Look, the tears of the oppressed - with no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power - with no one to comfort them. And I thought the dead, who have already died, more fortunate than the living, who are still alive; but better than both is the one who has not yet been, and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.
Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from one person's envy of another. This also is vanity and a chasing after wind.
Fools fold their hands
and consume their own flesh.
Better is a handful with quiet
than two handfuls with toil,
and a chasing after wind.

Again, I saw vanity under the sun: the case of solitary individuals, without sons or brothers; yet there is no end to all their toil, and their eyes are never satisfied with riches. "For whom am I toiling," they ask, "and depriving myself of pleasure?" This also is vanity and an unhappy business.

When you live life for yourself and nothing else, you will live life in vain. You will live, die, and turn to dust. That's it! But God didn't give us life to waste it on ourselves. God gave us life to live for God.

Jesus didn't live, suffer and die for our sins just for us to live to ourselves and die and turn to dust. Jesus lived, died and rose again that we may have new life. We are renewed in this life we live through Jesus gift of life in his death on the cross. We no longer are in bondage to sin. Sure, sin still exists, and selfishness is still all around; but we are no longer trapped in the punishment. We are free to love and live a new life in Christ. A life free from the consequences of sin that permits us to love God and love one another in and  through deeds and acts of love.

Our new found pleasure and joy is the love of God for us through Jesus and the love of God we have through the gifts of the Holy Spirit for those lives God places before us each day. Thanks be to God!

Lord, I give you thanks for your gracious acts through Jesus. Now I have a new life of joy to live for you and for those you give to me each day. Thanks! --- Amen

Monday, August 02, 2010

August 2nd - Reflection

Ecclesiastes 2:1-17 (NRSV)
The fool accumulates wealth

I said to myself, "Come now, I will make a test of pleasure; enjoy yourself." But again, this also was vanity. I said of laughter, "It is mad," and of pleasure, "What use is it?" I searched with my mind how to cheer my body with wine - my mind still guiding me with wisdom - and how to lay hold on folly, until I might see what was good for mortals to do under heaven during the few days of their life. I made great works; I built houses and planted vineyards for myself; I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house; I also had great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and of the provinces; I got singers, both men and women, and delights of the flesh, and many concubines.

So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem; also my wisdom remained with me. Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them; I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had spent in doing it, and again, all was vanity and a chasing after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly; for what can the one do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done. Then I saw that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness.
The wise have eyes in their head,
but fools walk in darkness.

Yet I perceived that the same fate befalls all of them. Then I said to myself, "What happens to the fool will happen to me also; why then have I been so very wise?" And I said to myself that this also is vanity. For there is no enduring remembrance of the wise or of fools, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How can the wise die just like fools? So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me; for all is vanity and a chasing after wind.

Life is not about how much we get or how much we do or how smart we are. The writer here seems to be coming to the conclusion that there is something else to life that he hasn't quite figured out yet.

It seems to me that this man is trying to get ahead of everyone else by something he does or has. But I think life is not about that at all. I'm coming to the conclusion that life is more about being a part of something much greater than myself. Life isn't about what I do or accomplish. Life is more about what God does and what God accomplishes in and through myself and those of whom I am a part of. Life is about lives coming together in love of one another and love together for our Savior. It seems to me that life exists in God and is given from God for all of us to be with God.

Lord, as I run to your open arms, take me in and make me part of you. Put me close to your heart and give me life. --- Amen

Sunday, August 01, 2010

August 1st - Reflection

Time after Pentecost - Lectionary 18
Luke 12:13-21 (NRSV)
Be rich toward God, your treasure

Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me." But he said to him, "Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?" And he said to them, "Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions." Then he told them a parable: "The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, 'What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?' Then he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God."

Our treasure is Christ! Our treasure is not the things of this world, but it is Christ. Look at what Jesus gave for us. God treasure's us and our treasure is Christ. Talk about being rich toward God! Our treasure is Christ!

Lord, thanks for your life, death, suffering and resurrection. Thanks for treasuring me enough to save me from sin, death, the devil, and myself. You alone are my treasure, now and forever. --- Amen