Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October 30th Reflection - Grace - by Bill Lynch

Ephesians 1:11-23
In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance towards redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

Paul’s Prayer
 I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

I don't think any of us have any clue as to what God has graciously given to us through Jesus Christ. We may have some idea, we may have some hint, but I don't think our minds can expand enough to grasp the fullness or even the richness of this Love we have been given in Jesus. We tend to think of those believers who have passed as being saints. But really all believers are God's saints. Saints in heavenly places in relationship with God. But as we are today, saints upon this earth, the full glory of God isn't fully understood by us. We look to the hope and joy of what is yet to be fulfilled in our eternal lives. We trust in what God has promised and we live for our God because we could do nothing else in our faith. We live for God in wait and knowing that here in this earthly home we are only for a visit until we go home to be with God and all the saints. Yes we live as one in the here and now. We commune with the saints of all times and all places. But all of this is only a small taste of God's glory.

So, how do we come to faith in God? We hear the Word. We listen to the truth of the gospel. We accept what we have heard. We are sealed with the promise that God has made to all people. In baptism we are sealed with the cross of Christ forever. God claims us even before we can know anything. That's the gracious gift of love God gives to all people of all races and throughout all time. We belong to God and we witness to this belonging to God and this gospel message to all that God gives to us. We are bold to proclaim and pray to God and for one another. We pray for everyone, lost and forgotten, poor and sick, rich and poor, believers and unbelievers. All people are offered this free and gracious gift of God through Jesus.

Through our baptism and proclamation of faith we follow in Jesus' way. We become disciples of Jesus. We grow daily in truth and understanding. We fall before our God in repentance and forgiveness. We forgive those who have wronged us and seek unity in the love of the Spirit. And we use the gifts of the Spirit towards the calling we have received from God.

In all of this we pray and give thanks to God for what God has done. We pray for all people and give thanks for God's gift of Jesus into the lives and into the world for all. Our desire is that all people will become disciples of Jesus and follow in the way of the Spirit. Our desire is the fullness of that of which we only have a hint of in God. Our desire is for all people to be saints of God, here and into eternity.

Yes, I think we only have a hint, we only have a clue, we only have a glimpse of the fullness of God's grace. To be filled with Christ is for me, for you and for the Church. That's more than enough for me or for you or for anyone. It's way more than enough! Thanks be to God!

Gracious and loving God, you are more than enough for me. Just a drop of your grace, your Word, your love draws me out. Lead me as I proclaim your Gospel and live the life you direct me to live, using the gifts you have graciously given so that all the world may know of Jesus... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

October 29th Reflection - Sing - by Bill Lynch

Psalm 149
Praise for God’s Goodness to Israel

Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song,
   his praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in its Maker;
   let the children of Zion rejoice in their King.
Let them praise his name with dancing,
   making melody to him with tambourine and lyre.
For the Lord takes pleasure in his people;
   he adorns the humble with victory.
Let the faithful exult in glory;
   let them sing for joy on their couches.
Let the high praises of God be in their throats
   and two-edged swords in their hands,
to execute vengeance on the nations
   and punishment on the peoples,
to bind their kings with fetters
   and their nobles with chains of iron,
to execute on them the judgement decreed.
   This is glory for all his faithful ones.
Praise the Lord!

All the saints gather as one.
All saints in time and space gather.
Gather to praise and sing a song.
A song of eternal praise to our God.
Hear O God the song of praise.
Hear O Lord the melody of glory.
A song of love and salvation.
A tune of honor and glory to you.
Hear a new song in your honor, O Lord.
A song of the redeemed to you our Maker.

You, O Lord, are Maker and Redeemer.
You have made us your people unique.
We glorify you in all that you have done.
We serve you in all that you desire.
Hear the instruments praise you in melody.
Hear the strange sounds of love and salvation.
May the horn bring delight to you and honor your power.
May the flute sing of your love.
Your humble gather and lift their voices to you.
And sing to you our only God.

Glory to you our Maker.
Praise to you Redeemer.
Father of Love and Salvation.
Honor and power to you O Spirit.
Hear your saints and all heavens,
Sing to you O Lord, our God.

Lord, as I lift my voice in praise to you, may all the heavenly saints and hosts above join in a praise of glory and honor and power to you with full force, with full accompaniment. Hear the song of the redeemed... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, October 28, 2013

October 28th Reflection - Chaos - by Bill Lynch

Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18
Visions of the Four Beasts
In the first year of King Belshazzar of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head as he lay in bed. Then he wrote down the dream: I, Daniel, saw in my vision by night the four winds of heaven stirring up the great sea, and four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another.

Daniel’s Visions Interpreted
As for me, Daniel, my spirit was troubled within me, and the visions of my head terrified me. I approached one of the attendants to ask him the truth concerning all this. So he said that he would disclose to me the interpretation of the matter: ‘As for these four great beasts, four kings shall arise out of the earth. But the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom for ever—for ever and ever.’

OK, that reading is weird. This dream is not an ordinary dream of Daniel's. This dream is a dream with a divine revelation. This dream is special in it's message for humankind. The four winds were from heaven and were stirring up the sea. The sea represents humankind. So it is in these heavenly winds that the world is put into motion. I can't help but to mention the creation story and how God's Spirit was moving over the waters. Chaotic waters that God took under his control and brought in order. Perhaps there is a similarity to these winds from heaven that bring order to the waters of the sea.

This passage actually skips the dream and jumps to the interpretation of the dream. We skip to the people of God. We skip the vision to the saints of God. We skip to the believers in God, not just the chosen  people, not just the Israelites, but all believers. And these people will be in community with each other. These saints of God will be in relationship with God and one another. Not through there own merit, but through the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ, who came and lived and died to redeem all of creation and bring all who believe in him together as one people and one nation of the saints. Saints from all walks of life. This is a communion of the people of God, for whom Jesus lived and died and rose again.

Lord, how we seem to be in those chaotic waters of division and sin upon this earth. We live, we divide, we separate ourselves from one another and from you in our selfish pride and our selfish and stubborn hearts. Forgive us this day. Forgive me when I live to divide. Draw me in to you and to those you give to me this day, that we may unite in the love of Jesus. Calm the stirred up waters of my soul and my world that we may rejoice as one with all the saints of heaven and praise your name and your glory... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Friday, October 25, 2013

October 25th Reflection - Sin - by Bill Lynch

John 8:31-36
True Disciples

 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’ They answered him, ‘We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, “You will be made free”?’

 Jesus answered them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there for ever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

I had em! I had em right where I wanted em! These people couldn't break free from me if they tried. And they certainly tried. They tried and tried and tried to break free from me by following every letter of the Law, but they didn't understand how I had em!

You see, they couldn't follow every letter of the law. They were certain to stumble and fall. And I could point out each and every mistake they made along the way that they thought they were taking to perfection. Ha! Perfection! They didn't have a clue! Cause I had em! Perfection was just out of their reach. So, I had em! I had a whole world of em and they were mine! ALL MINE!!!

Except when this One came along. I couldn't get him. I tried. I tried every trick in the book, but I couldn't get him. This guy surely was God. God in the flesh. He had to be God. Cause, I couldn't get this one guy. And, I'll be damned if he didn't get me! The whole world I had as mine. All of the people were my slaves because, I had em, but this one guy, who must have been God.

So, I put my plan to work. I set all of the people against this one. I convinced them that he was a fake. I convinced them that he couldn't be telling the truth. I convinced them to yell and scream and put this one to death on a cross. I was going to get this one after all. I was going to get rid of him! And get rid of him I did.

One afternoon I got him on the cross. He suffered, he bled, he died. That was that! Back to my reign of power over all of these fools. My slaves were mine again, all mine! Yet, right when this one died, I heard a tearing sound. A sound that went right through me and to my bones. I looked up and the Temple curtain had torn. The special place that the priest would enter for the sins of the people was open. I was exposed! I was now exposed to the God of all creation. God could see right through my scheme and see me as I stood by that cross. I was declared guilty!

And then I heard the sound of rattling chains all around the world. Everywhere at once! The sound of chain links tinkling to the ground. I thought I had em all and now they were set free from me. I didn't have one of them anymore. They all were set free from my grasp. Free to live the lives they chose to live. Free from me.

And those who chose to believe in that one. Those that chose to believe, gathered together as one. They followed the one that had died to new life. A new life that the one led them into after he rose from the dead. I was still around, but I didn't have em like I thought I did. They were free from me if they but believed in that one. That one! I hate him! I can't stand him! And some day he will come again to put an end to me. He will come again and gather all who believe on him. He will come and cast me into hell.

I thought I had em! I did have em! But now what? Maybe I can convince a few. Maybe I can make a come back? Or maybe not. Not as long as they follow that one.

Lord, I hear you...

Jesus answered them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there for ever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

I believe... I place all my faith, hope and trust in you alone, the One...  today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, October 24, 2013

October 24th Reflection -That Day! - by Bill Lynch

John 8:31-36
True Disciples

 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’ They answered him, ‘We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, “You will be made free”?’

 Jesus answered them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there for ever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

That day we were freed from sin. That day that I saw Jesus suffer and die upon the cross, we were made free. I saw Jesus change into my sin on that day on that cross. I saw how ugly my sin really was. I saw my sin ruin the features of Jesus into a horrible, bloody mess. That day we were freed from sin. For Jesus carried my sin in pain and suffering to that cross. The sound of the nails pounding away at the flesh of God and the sight of Jesus, my God, becoming my sin in front of God the Father and before God the Spirit will linger into eternity. That day, Jesus put all the slavery to sin to death on the cross. I saw it before my own eyes, my Savior became my sin and died in the sweat and blood and suffering that only Jesus could endure.

And then... and then... after the grave... Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus had defeated all sin and replaced it with new life. Jesus came and called me and called you to follow. To follow this risen life, this life free from the slavery of sin, to follow him into eternity.

But, what about now? What about the sin that still exists in this world, in me and in you? What about this sin that Jesus put to death? I thought this sin was no more? I thought Jesus put it to death? Sure, we are free from sin, but sin is still here? What about that?

Jesus promised to come again. Jesus will come again. Jesus will come again and take all who believe in him and have faith in him and have trust in him with him. Jesus will take all those who choose to follow in his truth and in his way to an eternal home where sin and death and pain and sorrow and tears are no more. Jesus will come again. But for now, we live by faith in what Jesus has done and we live by faith in what Jesus has promised and we live out the call Jesus has given us through the Spirit to live in love for God and in love for one another. We live in faith and proclaim this glorious grace of Jesus upon the cross and freedom from sin and eternal life with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

And that's WAY more than enough for me! Thanks be to God!

Thank you, Lord, for life, love and the sacrifice you paid for me and for all people. Thanks for setting me free... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

October 23rd Reflection - Righteousness - by Bill Lynch

Romans 3:19-28
 Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For ‘no human being will be justified in his sight’ by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.

Righteousness through Faith

 But now, irrespective of law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.

 Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law.

We are all in the same boat as far as this goes. We all have sinned. All of us. Even the "Church Lady" can't escape the fact that she too is a sinner. Some of you may need to Google the "Church Lady" because it dates me. But the fact remains that we are sinners. Sinners that God loves not for our sins but for the fact that God graciously chooses to love us.

God loves you and I so much that he sent his son in the flesh of Jesus to save us from our sin. God came in the form of Jesus to the creation God created to save, those that he gave free will, from sin. God became that sin that we are and died in our place. Through Jesus alone we are made worthy to sing before the throne to Jesus the Lamb of God. It was the work of God that saves. It wasn't anything at all that we have done.

Just as a baby is brought before the baptismal font by parents and sponsors; we are brought before the throne of God by Jesus. And just like the baby, God washes with those ever cleansing waters, we are saved through what Jesus has done for us. Not one thing in our salvation is due to something that we could ever do on our own. The decision was made by God to save the people. The gift was given.

Yes, we still have a choice. Will we live the life of the saved? Or will we continue in our sin. Actually, it's a little of both. The attitude makes all of the difference. With a thankful heart and attitude we can live this life of the saved knowing that God through Jesus has taken care of the sin. We can turn from sin and continue our walk with Jesus growing into what God wants us to be knowing that we are saved.

Or, we can take advantage, so we think, of the situation and live a life of intentional sin. We can revel in the wonders of this world and plunder the poor and take advantage of every angle we can think of, to live in luxury and wealth and freedom. We can run from God and spoil what God has given us in this world to our own advantage and satisfaction. However... death will still come. Someday death will come.

But when I reflect on the love of God in Jesus and the movement of God in the Spirit; I choose to accept that gracious gift of salvation. I choose to rejoice in what God has done. I choose to follow Jesus as a disciple and live my life for God doing what God calls me to do, in my life, in the day, in the moment. I choose to reflect upon the sin that God points out to me and repent. I choose to run to the foot of the cross and kneel at the foot of my Savior with a thankful heart. I choose to sing the song of all of the redeemed that proclaims "Glory to the Lamb." I choose God and what God has done rather than anything that I could ever do.

In this passage of Scripture we are made aware of the Law. No one can keep the Law except for Jesus. No one can do this and we are now aware that we can't keep the Law and be saved by our own actions. But God draws us into a relationship with him not based upon the Law, but based upon a relationship with God. God draws us into a relationship through God's righteousness. God's righteousness is provided in Jesus through faith. Righteousness isn't from those who are the "Church Ladies" who think they keep the Law; it is for those who believe through faith in Jesus. And that includes all of the people, because all of the people are sinners. Righteousness is through faith in Jesus, not the keeping of the Law. Our sin is passed over by the righteousness of God in Jesus the eternal Sacrifice for sin. So we are justified by the grace of God, not anything that we can do or say.

Through the blood of Jesus as the sacrifice for our sin we are redeemed and brought into relationship with God. It's all God's action and our gift. It's a merciful God that saw that we could not become perfect on our own and keep every letter of the Law, that God gave Jesus as that sacrifice for our sinfulness. And through Jesus we are brought into that personal and that corporate relationship with God. That close and intimate relationship with our Creator and Redeemer, is our free gift. A gift for which our lives change and we live for God in joyous union and thanksgiving for all that God has done. God chose to meet us at the cross and chose to meet us through the blood of the Lamb. Jesus our Lamb, our Priest, our Savior! And in this alone are we also righteous.

 We are put right with God by faith alone. We respond in faith through actions of love toward God and those God gives to us each day, each moment. And in this all are brought before the throne of God. All are brought to the foot of the cross. All are saved through the blood of Jesus. Thanks be to God!

Lord, you wear me out! Your Love is more than I can handle. Your Love is more than I can take. Your Love overflows in me and through me. You fill me with your love and your grace and your righteousness. Lord you are my Savior and my God! You are the one in whom I have faith. You are my all... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

October 22nd Reflection - Strength of God - by Bill Lynch

Psalm 46
God’s Defence of His City and People

To the leader. Of the Korahites. According to Alamoth. A Song.

God is our refuge and strength,
   a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
   though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
   though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
   the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
   God will help it when the morning dawns.
The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
   he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Come, behold the works of the Lord;
   see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
   he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
   he burns the shields with fire.
‘Be still, and know that I am God!
   I am exalted among the nations,
   I am exalted in the earth.’
The Lord of hosts is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Comets come close and meteors attack.
This world is in chaos and danger is all around.
War continues and suffering increases.
But God is on our side.
God our King, our Creator, our Savior,
Our Safety, our strength, our rest from evil.
Come and save your people.

Your people take anchor in your love O Lord.
Though the powers of evil rage and threaten,
Your people are safe and peaceful and secure.
For you are at the center of our being.
You, O Lord, are the One we gather around.
We feed from your waters of baptism in grace and love.
We live under the resurrection of Jesus, our Savior.

Weapons and guns and bombs will fade.
The political powers will dissipate into weakness.
For in your presence, O Lord, all fear and worry fades.
For you alone are all power and honor and strength.
Galaxies are but grains of sand upon your fingers.
For you bring peace and love and salvation.
You bring life and and everlasting union to all creation.

Praise to you Father, Son, Spirit.
Hear the song of all flesh and all spirit.
Receive our honor and praise for the One above all.
Watch creation bow at the feet of Jesus.
See your Spirit bring an eternal movement of peace.
In your presence we worship you alone.
And give you all honor and glory forever and ever.

Lord, when I think of your works I am humbled. I am honored to have the chance to praise your name. I tremble in your presence and give you all glory and honor and praise. For you save me and all people. You come in peace to settle my chaos. You invade my world and recreate my heart. You send your Spirit to lead and guide me through the chaos of the here and now to a peaceful river of hope and love and refreshment. Thank you my Lord and my Savior. I look to you as I walk this life in your presence here in this place and towards your presence through eternity. Lead me and guide me all the way... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, October 21, 2013

October 21st Reflection - Covenant - by Bill Lynch

Jeremiah 31:31-34
A New Covenant

 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord’, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

A covenant is the way that God will save and preserve us for himself. God makes a promise to his people. God promises to save us in a new way. Looking back from the New Testament, we know of this new covenant. We know of Jesus. We know of the graceful salvation that God planned for all people. We know and see Jesus even in today's history, we know that Jesus came and lived and died for all people so that God could save us from sin, death and the devil. We know that new life is present in Jesus. We know that Jesus has brought the world together and we know how he proclaimed this new covenant. Jesus lived this new covenant. Jesus fulfilled this new covenant.

The old covenant was broken by the people. The people turned from the covenant and could not uphold their end of the agreement. The new covenant cannot be broken. Jesus has fulfilled and upheld the agreement for us and in place of us. God in Jesus kept his part of the agreement and our part of the agreement as well. The new covenant cannot be broken.

So, what about today? In the old covenant we had the law. We break the law. In the new covenant the law is written upon our hearts. We know that we break the law. However, the law is fulfilled in the flesh of Jesus. The law is our inner being, changed and moved by God to be what God desires for us to be. God is changing us through the law and through the grace of Jesus action in our place.

In the old covenant, access to God was through the priest. In the new covenant we all have access to God. Jesus is our God. Jesus is flesh. Jesus is our access to God. Through Jesus' actions we now go directly to God and God comes directly to us. God comes to us in the intimacy of a personal relationship. God comes to us in the corporate relationship of all the disciples. God comes to us and changes us, one and all, to what God desires. We don't need to find God or seek God through the priest. God comes to us in the flesh of Jesus and God comes to us in the spirit of the Holy Spirit. God comes to us.

In God's coming to us we receive forgiveness. Forgiveness of our sin. We receive the victory that Jesus has won for each and for all. Victory over sin, death and the devil. We receive the victory not because we uphold the law but rather because God has upheld the law through the flesh and spirit of Jesus.

Lord, thank you for the old and the new covenant. Thank you for Jesus. Thank you for opening my heart and writing your will and your way upon it. Thank you for coming. Lord, thank you... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Sunday, October 20, 2013

October 20th Reflection - It's Time... Now! - by Bill Lynch

Luke 18:1–8
The Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, ‘In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, “Grant me justice against my opponent.” For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.” ’ And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?’

If we are in a journey, a walk, a life with God; wouldn't we come to him and talk every day, several times a day? For times, wouldn't we be in a conversation for hours with God? Many people today seem to only listen to God or even come to God once a week. Many people are even lax with this. If so, how can we claim to be God's disciples? How can we claim to know and receive Jesus as our Savior? How can we even begin to make this statement? How can those who see us begin to believe that when we say we believe in Jesus and his saving grace that any of that can hold any truth to it? Really! If we believe we have been saved, shouldn't we WANT to be with God at all times? Wouldn't we, on our own, come to Jesus, even run to Jesus to be with him? Wouldn't we at least seek the guidance of the Spirit more than every once and a while? What kind of response to God's presence do we show to all of the world?

If this be the case with you, perhaps you should spend some time in Scripture, perhaps you should stop and pray to God for guidance, perhaps you should evaluate your position and make sure that you are not just saying a bunch of words that are meaningless when you proclaim belief in Jesus. Perhaps you need God after all.

We all need God. We all turn to God and run to God. We all, one day, need to deal with what God has shown us in flesh and in spirit. We all need to deal with our relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The time is now for all of us. The time is always now. The time to be with God is in the here and the now and in eternity. Our very existence depends on our presence with God. Without God we don't even exist. Turn and run to God. Turn and pray. Turn and seek God in the words of Scripture, in the Word made flesh, in the bread and wine and the body and blood of Jesus, in the waters of baptism. Turn to God, the source of life... NOW!

Turn to God now and always and forever. Hear God's call and respond! For, Jesus is coming and will come again in glory and set all things under him. The time is now.

I see the persistence of the widow and likewise turn to you to walk in your will and your way. May all the world proclaim your glory and live your love and realize your salvation... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, October 19, 2013

October 19th Reflection - The Teacher - by Bill Lynch

2 Timothy 3:14—4:5
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favourable or unfavourable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.

Yes, we can use Scripture for advice and counsel. We can turn to the Word to seek direction and understanding. We can look to the Bible and get the understanding we need to live in the grace of God as disciples of Jesus. For Scripture is the breath of the Holy Spirit. Scripture is the voice of life in God. Scripture is a gift to us to devour day after day and seek God in this life and all life.

But this doesn't mean we will ever come to fully understand Scripture. We will need teaching that is breathed by the Holy Spirit through teachers that are given to us by God. And even with these teachers we will only grasp a glimpse of the fullness of God. We will only hear a hint of the glory of what God has done through Jesus. We will only see a speck of the fullness of creation. And we will only begin to understand how the Spirit moves in and through all of God's people, places, time and space. Teachers will only be able to introduce us to God. Our journey with God is eternal.

Lord, I give you thanks for Teachers. Teachers who out of love and understanding and patience, endure my ignorance to give me a glimpse of your glory. As I walk through this life may I always listen carefully to your son, Jesus, my Teacher and my source of life... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Friday, October 18, 2013

October 18th Reflection - Pause - by Bill Lynch

Psalm 119:97–104

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.

I love to stay in your Word.
As I ponder the mysteries of your Law.
I see the grace you have granted.
I rejoice in my Savior.

I pause to listen to the Teacher.
I wonder about your Word.
I see Love unfold in front of me.
I have joy in my Redeemer.

I accept the Wisdom of the Spirit.
I study the depth of the Creator.
I taste the salvation of Jesus.
I live in you alone.

Lord, you come to me each day and I pause in your presence. I pause to hear your voice. I pause to see your example. I pause to understand your will. I pause and reflect upon your Word. I pause in you and find great joy. I pause in you and find a call. A call to go out in the world in which you give me. A call to go and tell all of the world of your gracious love. I go in joy and hope and confidence. I go in your love. I go to where you direct. I do what you would have me do. Be with me as I pause. Be with me as I go. Be with me... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, October 17, 2013

October 17th Reflection - Help - by Bill Lynch

Psalm 121
Assurance of God’s Protection
A Song of Ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
   from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
   who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
   he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel
   will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
   the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
   nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
   he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
   your going out and your coming in
   from this time on and for evermore.

As I walk through life, I look to you Lord.
I look up to your holy place.
I see you from the foot of the cross.
You are Salvation.

Lord, you created all that exists.
The moon, the sun and the stars are yours.
My life is in your hands.
You are Creator.

From the mountain to the valley, I see your work.
I see you in the heart of creation.
I hear your voice all around.
You are Spirit.

You are present with your people.
Through history you lead and guide.
Your people tell of your glory.
You are Shepherd.

You preserve your people through all time.
You come to all your people.
You come to each one in love.
You are Love.

You are the One God of all place and time.
You alone keep all that is yours.
For all time you will be praised.
You are Ruler.

Lord, you have kept your people throughout all time. Walk with me this day that I may live in your will and your way. Walk with me this day that I may serve you and those you give to me with a heart of love and compassion and forgiveness. Walk with me, dear Lord... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

October 16th Reflection - The Pledge - by Bill Lynch

Jeremiah 31:27–34
Individual Retribution
 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of humans and the seed of animals. And just as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring evil, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the Lord. In those days they shall no longer say:
‘The parents have eaten sour grapes,
   and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’
But all shall die for their own sins; the teeth of everyone who eats sour grapes shall be set on edge.

A New Covenant
 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord’, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

God is the Creator not the Destroyer. But in the presence of evil, God will defeat and destroy. If you choose evil and walk away from God; God will seek to restore you and forgive you, however, if your mind is made up and your will is evil, God will destroy that evil. Anyone can repent and turn to God. Anyone can go back and let God create something new and wonderful. Anyone and everyone must turn to God for life.

God has promised, God has pledged, to save all people for himself. Someday this salvation will be fulfilled in finality. But, for now, we have a Savior who is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the answer to the Creator's will to grant new life to all of those who turn and repent and believe in God. Jesus is the answer from God to bring anyone and everyone to God to be created new and wonderful once again.

Jesus came into this world because of my failure in sin. Jesus came to me and to you because we are sinners in need of salvation. Jesus came to give his life for your sin and my sin and the sin of all the world. Jesus came to us to save us and make something new out of what we have ruined through sin. Jesus came that sin may be driven once and for all time out of God's creation. Sin will be no more! Thanks be to God!

I turn to you and repent. I repent of my sin and seek your forgiveness. Restore me that I may be made new. Create in me a clean heart. Renew me and restore me to your favour. You are my God, my Savior, my Creator, my Redeemer, my Spirit, my Joy, my Light, my Life... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

October 15th Reflection - Fallen Lives - by Bill Lynch

Genesis 32:22–31
Jacob Wrestles at Peniel

 The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the day is breaking.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go, unless you bless me.’ So he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ Then the man said, ‘You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.’ Then Jacob asked him, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he said, ‘Why is it that you ask my name?’ And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, ‘For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.’ The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.

Jacob had just sent some messengers ahead to meet with his brother Esau to find favor with Esau. Jacob was worried as he traveled, that Esau would try to kill him and his family. It is at this point, before Jacob meets Esau, that this wrestling passage occurs.

Jacob wrestles through the night with an unknown man. Jacob wrestled until the man struck Jacob on the hip socket, putting the hip out of joint. Jacob refused to let the man go, however, until the man blessed Jacob. Instead of a blessing, the man found out the name of Jacob and renamed him Israel. It was at this point that Jacob realized that the man he wrestled through the night with was sent from God as God's messenger.

Jacob had been one to wrestle all of his life. Jacob wrestled with man and with God. Jacob was a deceiver of men and God. Jacob came from the womb of his mother grabbing the heel of his brother Esau as if to wrestle with his brother even before birth. Jacob wrestled with his brother, Esau, and with his father-in-law Laban. Jacob's life was always surrounded by controversy and deception. But now in this wrestling with God, Jacob receives a blessing. A blessing and a name change. At the place that Jacob meets God face to face of sorts, God changes things for Jacob the heel grabber and names Jacob Israel, the one who strives with God.

And then... and  then... the sun rose. The beginning of a new day and a new life for Israel.

How I wrestle with God in the middle of the night. In fear, I wrestle with my sin, with decisions, with God. Imperfect and sinful people are the very people God chooses to change. All of us wrestle with God in some way. We wrestle and struggle and fight God and his will and his way. We put off the calling God has sent to us and wrestle with God face to face.

Yet, it is God who continues to use us to accomplish God's will and God's way on this earth. God knows that the solution does not take place in the perfect lives of perfect people, but in the fallen lives of the fallen people. We are all fallen people with the exception of One, whom God sent to this world, to save us and redeem us. And that One became all of the fallen on the cross. All of the fallen to rise again as the first of all of the resurrected.

It's through Jesus that we are free from our sin to live lives that reflect God's will and God's way and God's Light to all of the world. It's through Jesus that the struggle is completed. We struggle with sin, for sure. We walk with a limp, for sure. But, through Jesus, we walk on in a new life, the heel grabbers that we are, to strive to live with God as God's people.

God's people saved and redeemed by Jesus. We live on in full relationship and face to face with our Savior Jesus. Thanks be to God!

Lord, as I struggle with you through the night, bring me to morning Light that I may see your glory and follow in your will and your way... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, October 14, 2013

October 14th Reflection - Go in His healing - by Bill Lynch

Luke 17:11–19
Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers

 On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ When he saw them, he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, ‘Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, ‘Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.’

As they went they were made clean. They were made clean as they took the words of Jesus to heart. They took Jesus' words and believed in Jesus. It's as if the journey began the cleansing process. They wanted the words of Jesus to be true. They believed the words of Jesus and went. Jesus accepted these unclean lepers as children of God and sent them on a journey. A journey that would cleanse them with the very words that Jesus had spoken. Jesus came to the lepers and gave them words of cleansing.

Like Naaman listening to the word of God through Elisha. Like Naaman finally believing in faith what a simple cure God had in store for his own leprosy, these lepers listened to the Word of God in flesh, Jesus, and went to be cleansed.

I am a leper too. Unclean and sinful. I am in need of cleansing. I wake up day after day to relive my baptism. To turn to Jesus and seek those cleansing waters of my baptism. I wake to Jesus to turn to hear his Word and do his will. I wake to Jesus to go on that journey with my priest with me all along the way and I believe in his Word that I will be made clean from my leprosy.

And yes, I too turn to the One God of the universe and proclaim a joy and thanksgiving for what only Jesus could do in my life. I bow to the feet of my Savior and thank him for all he has done. For his love I didn't deserve. His salvation was beyond me and what I am worth. With his own precious blood, worth more than anything else, he came to save me and to save you from the eternal leprosy of sin that we live with. Thanks be to God!

Lord, I go this day in your Word to be healed of my disease and made clean through your loving action of grace and salvation. Thanks for your love and salvation. For you are my God and my Savior... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen 

Friday, October 11, 2013

October 11th Reflection - Let it Spill Out - by Bill Lynch

2 Timothy 2:8–15
 Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David—that is my gospel, for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. The saying is sure:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he will also deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.

 Remind them of this, and warn them before God that they are to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth.

Paul stood firm in his faith. Through thick and thin, Paul stood firm. His concern was not for himself, but for the people that he would reach out towards. Paul cared in a loving way for the eternal lives of all people. Paul was sent to proclaim the gospel of the risen Jesus Christ. Paul was sent to tell us of the way of salvation.

Like John the Baptist, Paul pointed to Jesus. We in our lives must do likewise. We must point to Jesus. Jesus is the way and the truth. Jesus is life. Does your life point to Jesus?

In any circumstance our lives and our words and our actions must point those who are lost to Jesus. We have all been given this work to do. All believers must point to Jesus. We must show the world what God has done for us and for all people. We must point to the Savior and proclaim Jesus name to all, in word and deed.

Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus is the living God. Many worship gods that aren't living. They worship wealth and power and prestige, but all of this is dead. Jesus is the living God. Jesus is eternally alive. Even in our chains of sin, God cannot be tied down. God's Word is free forever and we in this sinful state cannot keep the Word in. The Word spills out and overflows from our lives into all the world. Even in our sin we encounter the saving Lord, Jesus.

So, we are faithful till death on this earthly place. We are faithful in our walk of life in the here and now. Knowing that Jesus was the first to rise, we too have hope in Jesus for eternal life. As we confess Jesus on this earth, this place and this time; we can rest assured that Jesus will proclaim our name before the Father. For in Jesus we have eternal life. Thanks be to God!

Father, as I live this life in the here and now, may your Word spill out of my mouth, my life and my actions of love for you and for those you give to me, that all may see the glory and salvation of Jesus freely offered to all people... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, October 10, 2013

October 10th Reflection - Praise - by Bill Lynch

Psalm 66:1-12
Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth;
   sing the glory of his name;
   give to him glorious praise.
Say to God, ‘How awesome are your deeds!
   Because of your great power, your enemies cringe before you.
All the earth worships you;
   they sing praises to you,
   sing praises to your name.’

Come and see what God has done:
   he is awesome in his deeds among mortals.
He turned the sea into dry land;
   they passed through the river on foot.
There we rejoiced in him,
   who rules by his might for ever,
whose eyes keep watch on the nations—
   let the rebellious not exalt themselves.

Bless our God, O peoples,
   let the sound of his praise be heard,
who has kept us among the living,
   and has not let our feet slip.
For you, O God, have tested us;
   you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
   you laid burdens on our backs;
you let people ride over our heads;
   we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.

In this psalm we come from an occasion that proclaims a world-wide event. A world-wide event of deliverance that is celebrated in joy. An experience of some sort that was of great significance. Perhaps in today's thinking like the end of WWII. It was an event that displayed God's glory and might. An event attributed to God and not the power of man.

So, the people... all the people... praise God for his glory and honor and power and majesty. A proclamation to come and see what God has done in this world in which we live.

But, as we know, the largest event in history and for all people, was God sending Jesus into this world to save a fallen race of people. Jesus, journey from heaven to earth. God coming to all the people and each of the people to save from sin, death and the devil.

God coming in flesh to rescue all and each of us. God coming to deliver us from ourselves, sin and death. We celebrate and praise God for coming to us in flesh and in spirit. We celebrate all creation. We celebrate God in flesh in Jesus. We celebrate God in spirit in the Holy Spirit. We celebrate God!

In this psalm God is affirmed as the One God of all that saves all. One God that provokes us to respond in joyous praise and song of God's glory.

Lord, I can't help myself, neither can all the people help themselves but to respond to your glory in a joyous song of praise. Hear our song... hear my song of joy in you... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

October 9th Reflection - Thanks - by Bill Lynch

Psalm 111
Praise for God’s Wonderful Works

Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
   in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord,
   studied by all who delight in them.
Full of honour and majesty is his work,
   and his righteousness endures for ever.
He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds;
   the Lord is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him;
   he is ever mindful of his covenant.
He has shown his people the power of his works,
   in giving them the heritage of the nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
   all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established for ever and ever,
   to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to his people;
   he has commanded his covenant for ever.
   Holy and awesome is his name.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
   all those who practise it have a good understanding.
   His praise endures for ever.

Give thanks to God, always!
Always give thanks to the Lord!
Thank God in the midst of the congregation.
Thank God in the day to day of life.

God has created all that exists.
The earth, the sun, the stars and planets,
All are God's handiwork.
From the smallest particle of sand to the largest star.

God delights in the people.
God rejoices in the sounds of creation.
All of God's works praise the Creator.
Sing the praise of God continuously.

We remember God's great works.
Recall how the Father sent the Son.
Jesus, to bring life from death.
Jesus to wrap us in his love.

Feel the waters of baptism.
The cleansing love of the Father.
The renewing passion of the Savior.
The gifts of the Spirit flow freely.

We rejoice at the Table of Life.
We take the bread and the wine.
We receive the body and the blood.
Our Lord grants us new life.

Give thanks to God always!
God's grace is revealed moment by moment.
God's love and compassion spread throughout creation.
Praise Father, Son and Spirit!

Lord, I give you all glory, honor, thanks and praise... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

October 8th Reflection - Wait - by Bill Lynch

Jeremiah 29:1, 4–7
These are the words of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the remaining elders among the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

Make the best of what you have been given. Take your place in life and do with it the best God enables you to do. Work for the Lord in place and in time. Serve God where you are and with all of your means.

Jeremiah sent this letter to a large number of Israelites that had been carried away in exile to Babylon. There was the king, Jehoiachin, priests, prophets and a whole household of people along with other's involved as well. False prophets had begun to send a message that there would be a quick return to Jerusalem and the land of the people. This time was not about a speedy return. This time was about waiting on God. The Israelites had abandoned God in Judah and Israel for false gods. This was not about another easy quick solution to the troubles of life. This was a time to wait on God.

Yes, God would restore the people to Israel, but for now, the command was to wait. Live in the place God had placed them.

Likewise, I wait, in this foreign land. I wait for the promise of a life in another place that is made free of sin, death and selfishness. I wait, but I live in the present with God. I live in the present place with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I wait in the hope of what is to come, yet work and live for God in the here and now. Yes, we are called to wait in hope and anticipation of God's fulfillment of his glory in this place and in the place to come. It's a wait with hope. A wait with life. A wait with the presence of God in the here and now with the hope of what is to come.

Lord, give me the patience to wait. To wait in hope, faith and love of you. I wait upon your coming to me today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, October 07, 2013

October 7th Reflection - Go Wash Up! - by Bill Lynch

2 Kings 5:1–3, 7–15c
The Healing of Naaman

Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favour with his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from leprosy. Now the Arameans on one of their raids had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, ‘If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.’

When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, ‘Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me.’

 But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king, ‘Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel.’ So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the entrance of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, ‘Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.’ But Naaman became angry and went away, saying, ‘I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?’ He turned and went away in a rage. But his servants approached and said to him, ‘Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, “Wash, and be clean”?’ So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean.

 Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company; he came and stood before him and said, ‘Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel; please accept a present from your servant.’

I can't help but to notice the role of the servants in this passage. It's the servants that exhibit the free grace of their wisdom and knowledge. The servant girl gave the advice to go to Elisha the prophet to start with. And then when Naaman started to become haughty in the hearing of Elisha's cure by washing in the Jordan; it's the servants the speak reason to Naaman to take the advice. The servants are the ones who care for the master and serve him in all grace.

Jesus came not to be served but to serve and give his life a ransom for many (Mark 10). Jesus freely gave himself to God for our sin. Jesus understood the role of the servant. Jesus served his Father and he served all of humankind by taking on the disease of sin we all possess. And the cure was a clean washing in the waters of baptism and a firm belief in the grace and salvation of Jesus very act, as God, of coming into this world as our sacrifice.

We are all Naaman's of sort. We all doubt and then become convinced of this graceful action of "life giving" in Jesus. We all return to the Lord changed. Changed into servants of God. Changed by the grace and love of God in Jesus. "I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel; please accept a present from your servant."

But, God didn't need our present. Our return, our change, our life was present enough to be with God in his presence. For the Father had already given the Son as the present to you and to me. You can't get any cleaner than that!

Lord, wash me this morning in the waters of your grace that I may live the life you have called me to live, that I may glorify your name and praise you. Let your Light shine in and through me that all people may see your good works and glorify your name... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Sunday, October 06, 2013

October 6th Reflection - Faith - by Bill Lynch

Luke 17:5–10
The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ The Lord replied, ‘If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea”, and it would obey you.

 ‘Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from ploughing or tending sheep in the field, “Come here at once and take your place at the table”? Would you not rather say to him, “Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink”? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, “We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!” ’

At first I couldn't see the continuity between the request for faith from the apostles and the illustration of the servant. I'm not sure if the apostles were requesting faith in the first place or if they had faith and wanted more faith. So, what is faith?

Faith isn't about the person, it's about the relationship. It's being a solid and faithful person to God or someone or something else that the person is in relationship with. Here, I would say the relationship is with God. God is trustworthy and true to us as we should be to God. In our relationship with God we have faith only because God is faithful. Likewise, faith is a trust in one another. God is trustworthy and we can trust God to be faithful. So we have faith in God. And we have faith in God because of what God has done in and through Jesus. Jesus gives us faith by his being with us and coming for us and dying for us to save us from ourselves and sin. We have faith only because of God. God grants us the trust and hope and faith we need to live in relationship with God. Our source or object of faith is God. In this faith we are active and alive in God. When we have faith we live for God because God allows us to live.

So, back to the passage, a little bit of faith goes a long way. God saves lives through faith. God recreates the pot of clay through the faith of the maker. The maker always makes what she desires. Through faith we live for God and move for God and give our lives to God, because we know God is trustworthy, faithful and true to us as we live in relationship with our God. Faith goes a long long way!

As faithful servants of God we serve in the privilege of God's presence. It's what we really want! It's all we need! We want to be with God. So, in doing what is expected, we seek no more. What we do for God is nothing compared to what God has done for us. But, what we do for God permits us to be in relationship with God. So, with the little faith, the little seed that we have, we listen to God, we seek God's call, we respond as faithful servants, because we really want to and can't help ourselves! We know of God's love and faithfulness because of what God has done for us in Jesus.We have life all because of God! So, we have faith in God.

So, don't be a "proud of self" servant. Be a "grateful servant" for what God has done for you. The work of faith shouldn't be work in the sense of a return for payment. You can't repay God! You can't work enough to pay for what God has done for you! God has given you life, freely and graciously. Therefore, your faith is a joyous response to what God has already done. You, and I, and the servant, are joyous in the opportunity to faithfulness. An opportunity that would not exist had it not been for God's move of sending Jesus to live and die for your and my sins and bring us to new life. New life in Christ results in faith. Faith that will easily move a tree from the desert of sin to the river of hope, faith and love of God. Thanks be to God!

Lord, I have faith in you. I can't help myself. Live with me today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, October 05, 2013

October 5th Reflection - Perspective - by Bill Lynch

2 Timothy 1:1–14

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,

 To Timothy, my beloved child:

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thanksgiving and Encouragement

 I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.

 Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, and for this reason I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him. Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.

Right off of the bat, I have to say that I love how the letters are addressed. Unlike the handwritten letters of my day, the sender's name is listed first. You don't have to peek at the return address and guess and you don't have to skip to the bottom to see who wrote the letter. The sender's name is up front and at the beginning. What a time saver! But today, with email, we now can see the sender first. Did we get this idea from the epistles?

Here is Paul, sitting in prison, sending encouragement to his brother in Christ, Timothy. Paul is rejoicing in a life in Christ. He doesn't have the pessimistic viewpoint like so many of us do today. Paul has a viewpoint that comes from above; a viewpoint from the reference of eternity with God. Paul has a viewpoint that goes beyond the worries, the pains, the sufferings of this world to an eternity with God.

This moment on earth is brief. We can spend it complaining about Congress, Obama, unemployment, illness, pain, death, healthcare, or a myriad of many things... OR... we can spend it with an appreciation of the act of God in Jesus on this earth. An act of God that sent his Son to live, minister, heal, suffer and die that we may have eternal life. If you really believe that, then your viewpoint SHOULD change. We know that this life on earth is but a moment. We must spend that moment as God has called us to spend that moment. For our hope isn't in this moment of life in ourselves; our hope is in the eternity we will spend with God. What a waste it would be to spend this moment complaining.

Paul's perspective is and should be the believers perspective. Pessimism is gone in the moment, but faith, hope and love lives in eternity. So, why waste time in worry? Why waste time complaining? Why waste time in this brief moment of life on earth that we have moaning and groaning about those things that will not last?

Rather, as we see Paul doing in this passage of Scripture; spend time encouraging the Children of God in our eternal lives and the call of our lives in Christ Jesus here on this earth and in this moment. If we do this, all of the pain, the suffering and the drama can fade into background noise as we focus on our Savior on the Cross and see the open tomb that leads to new life now and into eternity with God.

A change of perspective due to Jesus, due to the response of so many disciples, due to the love of God. Yes, I think this passage is about a change. A lovely change that God has brought to us in Christ and that God is doing in his children, in you and me who believe. A change that we could not do on our own, but a change that was freely and graciously given to us from before eternity. Thanks be to God for this gift of witnessing Paul's life perspective and his change.

Lord, I look to you in this brief moment of life I have in this place and in this time. I look to you to use the spiritual gifts you freely give. I look to you for your purpose in my life in the here in now. I look to you knowing of the grace and love you freely give to me in Christ. A love that transcends eternity and a perspective that is from eternal life with you. Be with me this day as I seek to live the life your would have me live to glorify you... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Friday, October 04, 2013

October 4th Reflection - Hate & Joy - by Bill Lynch

Psalm 137
Lament over the Destruction of Jerusalem

By the rivers of Babylon—
   there we sat down and there we wept
   when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there
   we hung up our harps.
For there our captors
   asked us for songs,
and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying,
   ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’

How could we sing the Lord’s song
   in a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
   let my right hand wither!
Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth,
   if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
   above my highest joy.

Remember, O Lord, against the Edomites
   the day of Jerusalem’s fall,
how they said, ‘Tear it down! Tear it down!
   Down to its foundations!’
O daughter Babylon, you devastator!
   Happy shall they be who pay you back
   what you have done to us!
Happy shall they be who take your little ones
   and dash them against the rock!

We love to love our neighbor and hate our enemy. We all seem to love the one who agrees with us or is on our side and hate the one who is against us or disagrees with us. We do this today and it was done in ages past. We think that it is God that directs this action of hate and we justify our actions by our own reasoning.

Yes, there are times that God hates. God hates sin, our sin and any sin. God hates for us to separate ourselves from him. God can't stand it. There are those, and we are included, that deserve the wrath of God. We all deserve eternal damnation and punishment for our sin. It's my sin after all and your sin too. We are guilty of sin! Which brings us back to God... WE NEED GOD!

We need God's love and forgiveness. Jesus took on the punishment of God and became the sacrifice for our sin. A sacrifice that gave his life on the altar of the cross in pain, in blood, in suffering. Jesus took on our eternal punishment and damnation in our stead, for you, for me. Jesus took on the hatred and wrath of God on that cross for all people.

This psalm is from a point of view of the exile. The people were in Babylon. They wished for the way it was in Jerusalem. They longed to return to the life that they had abandoned. They were in sorrow and now understand that they had abandoned God for their own selfish gods and pleasures.

In this realm of emotion, the writer thinks of the religious joy that once was in Jerusalem. A joy and a song that was now missed and longed for in the present land of Babylon. A joy the people missed, now feeling cast aside from God. As this joy is remembered, the wrath that is deserved for ungodly actions becomes apparent. Guilty as charged! Off to exile!

Yet... yet... God waits. God waits for us as well. Waits with a joy. A joy that comes to save all people. A joy to rescue us from our exile. A joy that comes to us and saves us and brings us back to life in God. A joy... a Savior... Jesus comes! Thanks be to God!

As I wait for you, I give you thanks that you have waited for me. Waited for me to repent. Waited for me to confess. Waited for me as I have separated myself and exiled myself from you. Waited for me in the love of Jesus. Waited for me to give me new life in the waters of my baptism. Guide me in the return to you. The return to joy. The return to you my Savior, my God. I NEED YOU!... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, October 03, 2013

October 3rd Reflection - Joy! - by Bill Lynch

Lamentations 3:19–26

The thought of my affliction and my homelessness
   is wormwood and gall!
My soul continually thinks of it
   and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
   and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
   his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
   great is your faithfulness.
‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,
   ‘therefore I will hope in him.’

The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
   to the soul that seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
   for the salvation of the Lord.

Wormwood and gall, don't you just love this expression. Well, maybe not. The expression is a description of a homeless and bitter life. Life is not always happiness. Although we in the United States believe in the right to seek and pursue happiness, sometimes all we get is bitterness and homelessness. Happiness is not all that it's cracked up to be. But, instead of happiness, what about joy in the Lord.

God freely gives us this hope and love for a joy in the presence of God. A bliss to be in the presence of our Creator. An emotion and delight to be with our Redeemer and Savior, Jesus. God gives us the joy of the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in a life that includes sin, death, suffering along with happiness and especially with the goodness and love and salvation of the Lord.

In this hope for joy and love, we wait. It is good for us to wait upon the Lord. It is good to be quiet and wait. Joy will follow in the morning.

Psalm 30:5
For his anger is but for a moment;
   his favour is for a lifetime.
Weeping may linger for the night,
   but joy comes with the morning.

Yes, we have the promise of a joy and love that never ends. Thanks be to God!

Lord, I wait patiently for you. I wait in hope and love and the expectation of great joy... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

October 2nd Reflection - Calm Down! - by Bill Lynch

Psalm 37:1-9
Exhortation to Patience and Trust
Of David.

Do not fret because of the wicked;
   do not be envious of wrongdoers,
for they will soon fade like the grass,
   and wither like the green herb.

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
   so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.
Take delight in the Lord,
   and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
   trust in him, and he will act.
He will make your vindication shine like the light,
   and the justice of your cause like the noonday.

Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him;
   do not fret over those who prosper in their way,
   over those who carry out evil devices.

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath.
   Do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For the wicked shall be cut off,
   but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

We fret, we get angry and upset over the inequalities of life. It seems those who don't believe in God prosper and live free of any punishment. We get upset when we as believers, experience pain and suffering, or perhaps we suffer in need of food, money, clothing and housing. I'm not sure if it's jealousy or just our own sinfulness that breeds an attitude that we want those unbelievers to get what they deserve. In any case we can take God's gift of life and turn it and look at the negative side of everything.

But, God wants us to turn the gem a little. He wants us to see the sparkle and the light coming through the precious stone of his grace. God shows us how to trust and wait for his redeeming and loving actions in our lives and the lives of all people. God wants us to take delight in the life he gives.

We were born dead. We were born sinful and dead. God gives us life. God frees us from those selfish and hurtful feelings and desires we may have for the other person that seems to receive more than they deserve. God grants us a promise for the trusting believer. A promise of life.

"Do not fret-- it only leads to evil."

but, rather, be still and wait

"those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land."

Lord, give me patience when I need to wait and be still. Calm my sinful and selfish desires that I may see your salvation and live to your glory... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

October 1st Reflection - The Funeral - by Bill Lynch

Lamentations 1:1–6
The Deserted City

How lonely sits the city
   that once was full of people!
How like a widow she has become,
   she that was great among the nations!
She that was a princess among the provinces
   has become a vassal.

She weeps bitterly in the night,
   with tears on her cheeks;
among all her lovers
   she has no one to comfort her;
all her friends have dealt treacherously with her,
   they have become her enemies.

Judah has gone into exile with suffering
   and hard servitude;
she lives now among the nations,
   and finds no resting-place;
her pursuers have all overtaken her
   in the midst of her distress.

The roads to Zion mourn,
   for no one comes to the festivals;
all her gates are desolate,
   her priests groan;
her young girls grieve,
   and her lot is bitter.

Her foes have become the masters,
   her enemies prosper,
because the Lord has made her suffer
   for the multitude of her transgressions;
her children have gone away,
   captives before the foe.

From daughter Zion has departed
   all her majesty.
Her princes have become like stags
   that find no pasture;
they fled without strength
   before the pursuer.

Here we read a passage by Jeremiah. This is a dirge or a kind of funeral song as the Jews suffer in isolation from their city Jerusalem. The Israelites are captive and exiled away from the land they love. They feel the pain of separation. They feel the pain of their sin against God from beginning to end. Beginning to end is the pain of the sin they feel, represented by the makeup of the readings being identified with the Hebrew alphabet and each verse in the writings. This is an acrostic method of writing sometimes used to aid memory of these special words.

The sins of the people have left the Jews sorrowful and missing their relationship with God and their home. With Jerusalem destroyed the people long for a return to the days past and mourn for the city and the way of life they once had in Jerusalem.

We separate ourselves from God in our sin. But, God is gracious and merciful and rescues us in our separation. We will not be forgotten. God loves his people and gives us chance after chance for renewed relationship with him. In these times, it's needed that we feel the pain of separation and realize that we cannot save ourselves. We cannot do this on our own. We need God to save us. We need God and God sees fit that we need his children as well to live. So we repent, we turn around, we return and face God and live in harmony with God and each other.

Lord, forgive me when I turn and run off on my own. As I turn and see your loving face in a Savior, Jesus, show me how to be one with you and with one another. Forgive me and return me to your favor... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen