Friday, November 29, 2013

November 29th Reflection - The Thieves - by Bill Lynch

Matthew 24:36-44
The Necessity for Watchfulness

 ‘But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

Reflection - The Thieves
I overheard it all! I overheard the conversation as I was walking the dogs along the street. It was a cold day, so I was wrapped up like you wouldn't believe. Talk about putting on the layers. I had a sweater under a sweatshirt, under a heavy coat with the hood of the sweatshirt pulled up, the full face mask pulled down and heavy gloves. It was my turn to walk the dogs that my wife and I had agreed to watch for the weekend. So, as I stopped in front of the house on the corner of the street, I could hear a couple of guys in the car talking about the time that I would usually go to work in the morning. I overheard them say something to the effect that if they waited to the moment that I shut the garage door, that they could intercept the garage door opener code and get in through the garage whenever they wanted. But, I didn't know what time they would make the attempt.

The next morning on my way to work, as I left the driveway, I closed the garage door as usual. I thought about that little pick-up truck with those guys in it. Sure enough, to my back and about a half-block away there was the truck parked by the house behind me. I couldn't tell if anyone was in the car or not, but I tried to see the best I could.

When I got to work, I questioned the security guard if someone could really steal the code from a garage door opener like what I had overheard. The guard verified positively that this could happen and does happen all of the time. So, I immediately called home to see if all was OK. It was. I asked Joyce, my wife if she could see a little pick-up truck parked by the neighbors house. Joyce, told me that there wasn't a truck parked anywhere nearby. She even checked out the side windows to see if a truck was on an adjacent street as well, but didn't see any truck.

It seemed certain that something was going on. But if the thieves had plans, I didn't have any idea when the crime would occur. If I did, I would have been ready for them to spoil their plan. The best I could do was to notify the police of all of the information that I knew at the time. The police assured me that they would put out an occasional patrol. They suggested that I change the code on the garage door and make sure that I kept the doors locked at all times, because it would still be difficult for even the police to happen to catch the thieves at just the right time.

If the crime were to take place... at what time? At what time would it occur? That was the question. How do I remain vigilant and ready? How do I prepare for the time that it may occur? It was driving me crazy! It consumed me with worry and fear. It consumed my every waking moment. I couldn't go on living like this.

Life is like this. You don't know what time anything may or may not occur. We like to make plans, but plans are just plans. Plans are made to change and will change. Sometime, someday, something will happen that will change everything in your life. It could be a death, it could be the lottery, it could be an illness, it could be anything. And you really don't know what time that will take place.

And even more, sometime or another for the disciples of Jesus, we know that Jesus will come again. And when he comes, it won't be like the worry of the thieves breaking in, it will be a joy for all believers. We will know at that time that Jesus did come again. Jesus will come again at an unexpected time. Jesus will come to us individually at some time and Jesus will come again to all the world to take us into a full and rich relationship with our God that will never end. Joy and love will abound (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a). All of the worry stops (Philippians 4:6-7). And yes, the tears, the mourning, the crying and the pain will pass away (Revelation 21:3-5). And the fruit of the Spirit will be everywhere (Galatians 5:22-23a).  This old body will change into something new (1 Corinthians 15:53).

Knowing this uncertainty made the uncertainty of the thieves seem like the peanuts of life. I will prepare for the thieves, but more than that I will stay awake for the returning of Jesus. Come, Lord Jesus, come!

Lord, I'm awake and looking, I'm awake and waiting. I'm awake in great anticipation. Joyful anticipation for your coming. Come, Lord Jesus, come... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, November 28, 2013

November 28th Reflection - But by the Toilet??? - by Bill Lynch

Matthew 24:36-44
 ‘But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

Reflection - But by the Toilet???
God is great! I mean that... God is great! I love it that there is some mystery involved in the coming of God into our world, our lives and our very selves. I love it that God doesn't reveal every secret. Why do I need to know all of the details anyway? If I truly place all my trust in God, I don't need to be the "Shell Answer Man" and I don't even need to be the "Church Lady." You can Google both of those for yourself for fun.

So why do we love to pretend that we know it all? Why do people think they need to have the answer for everything? Who cares about the specific date and time of Jesus coming? And besides all of that, Jesus comes to me in many ways anyhow. God comes to us in flesh and in spirit. God comes to us and that's plenty for me!

And the fact that God comes to us as individuals and as groups makes for all the joy in life anyway. Just a few weeks ago I was having a Crohn's disease flare. I had become dehydrated and had just taken my night-time medication. I got up to visit my own throne, if you get the drift. On the way around the bed, I felt a little woozy. I just figured I got up from the bed too quickly. By the time I came to the throne, I almost fell into the bathtub. I sat down very quickly on the toilet. The next thing I remember my wife Sue is screaming and yelling at the 911 operator to hurry up and get someone here to our house. When I came to my senses, two paramedics were at my side. I heard one say, "I can't get a pulse." I heard the other say, "I can't get a blood pressure." I heard my mind think, "Well that ain't good!" So as I lay by the throne, I began to say the Lord's Prayer to myself.

Now the last time I remember waking up at the base of a toilet was in Chicago. I was in my early twenties and I know why I was by that toilet... too much to drink! This time I had no idea why I was where I was. But, guess what? I knew that this time, and probably the first time as well, God was with me. I was aware that God was with me in the "crappy" times too. I know it sounds like I'm making fun of it a little, and I am, but I'm serious about knowing God's presence. Even in the mundane things of life, God is with us. And God comes to us when we least expect it. Which brings me back to the passage above.

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. I give thanks for God's presence in the lives of all people. God is with you and with me in those tough times as well as those bounteous times. And especially on this day we can all pause to give God all thanks. A pause that is intentional and meaningful. A thanks for God coming to us in flesh and spirit. In Jesus and the Holy Spirit... in Creator... in Redeemer... in the wonderful gifts of Bread and Wine... in the waters of Baptism... in the presence in the lives of those we have been blessed with past and present and future. Above it all... especially today... Thanks be to God!

Lord, it's true... Now is the time... now is the time to repent. Now is the time to turn and run to you. As I run to you, I notice you running even faster towards me. Forgive me and take me into your place and teach me your will and let me do what you would have me do this day. For you come in such wonderful and amazing ways. Thanks for the responsibilities of love you give to me to share with all you give to me. Come, Lord Jesus, come... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

November 27th Reflection - What Time is It? - by Bill Lynch

Romans 13:11-14

 Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light; let us live honourably as in the day, not in revelling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarrelling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Reflection - What Time is It?
Do you know what time it is? As believers, you sure must. As an unbeliever you sure must suspect what time it is. We don't live in a world that is void of information. In fact we live in a world in which one can get lost in the information. Too much information!

But, you know what time it is. And to those that don't know what time it is, it's up to the rest of us to let them know what time it is. Jesus has come! Jesus has come, he has lived, he has healed, he has served, he has suffered, he has died, he has risen again, he has ascended and he promises to come again. That's what time it is! Face it! Jesus will come again!

To any that don't know this, the message is that simple. But why? Why did Jesus come in the first place? He came for you and for me and for all people. He came because we live in sin. We sin and need a Savior and Jesus came to live and die for our sins so that we could be with God forever.

What a great message! God sent Jesus to us for us. So, now you know what time it is. Live like you know what time it is. Jesus is coming again. Jesus is coming so prepare yourself. If for baptism, change into those baptismal clothes and get ready for that baptism. I don't care what age you may be, you have sinned and need baptism. You need to change into those baptismal clothes and get ready for that "ol man" to be put under the water and for that "new man" to arise from those waters with Christ. You have been graciously given in your baptism union with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. You have been freely given the title Child of God. How great is that!

You know what time it is. Jesus is coming. He comes to you each and every day and you recall your baptism. Each and every day, to put sin to death and to give new life. The ol man is put away and the new man springs to life. You wear the new clothes of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, each and every day. You spring into action living the new life that God has given. You answer your call for that day and you get ready for Jesus to come again.

You know what time it is! Jesus is coming to you... today... right now. Jesus is coming again just as he promised. So act like it!

We tend to ignore that Jesus is coming again. We tend to remain in our sleep and fall back to the routine, safe, ways of life. We look to comfort ourselves and stay where it is nice and warm. Is that anyway to live when you know that Jesus is coming? Jesus is coming soon! Wake up and act like it! We don't know how soon, so just be ready for Jesus to come right now! Act like Jesus is here now and has come, because you don't know when he is coming.

That's why, in this passage, Paul exhorts the believers to put away the ol man, the ol life, the ol sins and live the new life we have graciously and freely been given. Put away those sins that we enjoy and live towards Jesus coming. Jesus' coming will so far outdo the pleasure of those ol sins that we will feel foolish for having even participated in those things, like, revelling, drunkenness, debauchery, licentiousness, quarrelling and jealousy.

" Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. "

Paul's message lasts throughout all time. A message true for me, that's certain and true for you as well.

You know what time it is. I know what time it is. Tell other's what time it is. Live like we know what time it is and act like we know what time it is. It's the time to show the love of Jesus. A love shown yesterday, today and forever.

Wake up! It's time! Live like you know what time it is!

Lord, I know it but don't act like it. Forgive me. I know what time it is. Prepare me and use me and guide me in telling all the world what time it is. Come. Lord Jesus, come... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

November 26th Reflection - The Joy of Duty - by Bill Lynch

Psalm 122

A Song of Ascents. Of David.
I was glad when they said to me,
   ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’
Our feet are standing
   within your gates, O Jerusalem.

Jerusalem—built as a city
   that is bound firmly together.
To it the tribes go up,
   the tribes of the Lord,
as was decreed for Israel,
   to give thanks to the name of the Lord.
For there the thrones for judgement were set up,
   the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
   ‘May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls,
   and security within your towers.’
For the sake of my relatives and friends
   I will say, ‘Peace be within you.’
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
   I will seek your good.

Reflection - The Joy of Duty
Yes, Lord, I have seen the Savior!
  I am filled with joy.
You granted me the pleasure of your presence.
  I am humble before you.
As I waited in hope and anticipation,
  you fulfilled my every desire.

O, the sight of your sanctuary,
  filled with all your disciples.
Unity of spirit spreads and flourishes,
  the redeemed shout and sing your praise.
You reveal yourself in all glory and honor,
  and all humanity falls on their knees.

We come and pray before you,
  in your presence we plead for salvation.
You show us the way of love and service,
  and we learn of your great sacrifice.
You alone are our Savior and joy,
  you alone are our God!

Lord, the duties you give, seem like joy and love. Duties that flow out of your grace. We come in your presence and seek your face. You come to us and show us the way. Gather all your people into one place... a place of love and fellowship and salvation.. today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, November 25, 2013

November 25th Reflection - Vision - by Bill Lynch

Isaiah 2:1-5
The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

In days to come
   the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
   and shall be raised above the hills;
all the nations shall stream to it.
   Many peoples shall come and say,
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
   to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
   and that we may walk in his paths.’
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
   and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
   and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
   and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
   neither shall they learn war any more.

O house of Jacob,
   come, let us walk
   in the light of the Lord!

Reflection - Vision
It's a vision, not a dream. We have a vision and a hope of God. A vision of something bold and wonderful. A vision where all will be made new and sin and death and pain will be no more.

It's a vision but not a dream.

In a vision we see what will be, but a dream may never come to fruition. A vision is for work to begin in the here and now. A vision propels us towards something in action. Whereas a dream is just a dream. In the dream there is no call to action towards anything. We only react to the dream in curiosity and for the most part fall back to sleep.

This vision of Isaiah is a call to walk. That is to go into motion. We are to walk with the Lord in his light towards the vision. We are called to action, not to reaction and sleep as in a dream. We are called to become disciples of the Lord and walk towards wonderful vision.

Are you ready to walk? Are you ready to act towards that vision? Let's go!

Lord, lead me towards the vision you have placed before all people. A vision where we can all join in the walk with you. We can join you right here and right now. For your vision is our call to act... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Sunday, November 24, 2013

November 24th Reflection - The King - by Bill Lynch

Luke 23:33-43

When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. [[ Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’]] And they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!’ The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’ There was also an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’

 One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’

Reflection-The King
All this talk of kings. How appropriate and how intentional on this day. I can almost see the spittle coming from the mouths of those mocking Jesus, "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!" Can't you see the sign over Jesus' head dripping with hateful sarcasm, "This is the King of the Jews." The hatred is intense and the mockery is overwhelming in this passage of scripture.

Yet... yet, we see Jesus hanging with a couple of criminals from a cross. A cross that he did not deserve. A cross that was the result of Truth. Truth with a capital T. Truth that is of God and only of God. Truth of which we as human's couldn't take or understand. The Truth is that God sent Jesus to us... to us to save us... to heal us... to wipe all tears away... to take us to himself... to proceed before us in a resurrection that takes us to that wonderful place.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
(Revelation 21:3-5)

That's my King! That's the King that I have that sits on the throne. A cross is replaced with a throne fit for my King. A King of Truth. A King of Love. A King that sets his home with me... a criminal on a cross... with me the guilty of sin... with me a person that needs salvation.

All this talk of kings. How appropriate and how intentional on this day. 

Thanks be to God for the King of kings and the Lord of lords! Thanks be to God for Jesus the King.

Father, I give you thanks and praise for sending a King into this world to reign from my here and now into your eternity forever and ever. For you are King... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, November 23, 2013

November 23rd Reflection - How Great is That! - by Bill Lynch

Colossians 1:11-20
May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

The Supremacy of Christ
 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

Reflection - How Great is That!
Isn't it great to be a disciple of Jesus? It's great in that the image of the invisible God became flesh just like you and me and came to us in the midst of our sin. Jesus comes to us as the firstborn of all creation. Jesus was with us before we even knew we existed. The Father thought of our needs ahead of our need. How great is that! And through Jesus we can have life in the Light of God. We can have union with all of the saints in the light. Just think of it. All of those people in our lives who have gone on, all of those people in our lives who have gone before, all of those people in our lives in the present, the past and the future will be with us as disciples and saints in the Light of Jesus. Jesus the first in flesh, the first to rise, the head and King of all there is will be with all of his disciples.

And even in the here and now, we rejoice in the presence of Jesus. We rejoice in the presence of the saints here now and the saints past. We rejoice because of what God has done for us through his love for us in God's thinking of us before we even knew we needed to be thought of. How great is that!

The passage above is a prayer of Paul. A prayer for the Colossians. A prayer for spiritual strength. A prayer that recognizes that we can't be spiritually strong on our own. It's not something we can work ourselves up in a flurry of spiritual fervor. We can't do this with good works or any "Church Lady" pious actions. Spiritual strength is a gift from God. Spiritual strength comes from God not from us. We are brought into the light of the Spirit through Jesus. We are brought to faith and hope and grace through what God has given to us from before we could even be aware of ourselves. God alone gives us strength to endure in the joy and hope and love that all will work itself out into a union with God and all the saints.

Yes, here we have a prayer of Paul for forgiveness and redemption and union with God as one through Jesus Christ. It's not about how we work ourselves into the Kingdom of God, it's about how we work because we are lovingly and graciously invited into the Kingdom of God. How great is that!

Father, you thought of it all. I give you all glory, honor and praise for taking care of me. I look to you and follow your lead in life. Show me the gifts to use and develop them within the work I gladly perform in your Kingdom. Make me a pleasure in your sight that all I do and all you call me to do may bring you glory. For you alone are my King... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November 20th Reflection - Live Life to the Fullest - 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.

Reflection - Live Life to the Fullest
God is our sure help and protection at all times. We can know and depend on God. Although the going gets tough, this only lasts for a while. The here and now will give way to the great glory that God exhibits while he welcomes us into his presence. Sometimes it seems we view all of life from one moment of pain or illness or poverty or loss. But in fact, life viewed from eternity with God takes on a vastly different perspective. These small ills of the day, fade in view of the glory of God from eternity. These pains of today that are huge in our sight, take on a wisp of fog as viewed from the glory of God. When we live in the trust and hope and faith that God has graciously given us through the life, teaching, healing, ministry, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, we can live in the assurance that life is much more than what we feel right now in this moment.

So, knowing that we have such a great Ruler, a King, a Savior, we can live our life in the now to the fullest measure possible. We can live life with great freedom even in the midst of pain and suffering and along with those joyous occasions with a passion for the here and now, knowing that the future has been arranged with God. Yes, we are free to live boldly and passionately in love with God and with those who haven't realized this same freedom of life. We can live teaching and telling of the grace of God to those trapped in the sin, the suffering, the pain, the illness in a hopeless state of being. We can live proclaiming the viewpoint of life from eternity that permits living life in the now with hope and love.

All because of our King can we live in the here and now assured that eternity is solved for us with God. What a freedom! What a life! What a King! What a Savior! What a God!

Lord, you are King. I need nothing else but to know of your presence with me and with those you give to me. Put words into my mouth that proclaim your glory, power and honor due, that all that you give to me may see you as their King and Savior... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November 19th Reflection - Hear the Call - by Bill Lynch

Luke 1:68-79
‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
   for he has looked favourably on his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a mighty saviour for us
   in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
   that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
   and has remembered his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
   to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness
   before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
   for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
   by the forgiveness of their sins.
By the tender mercy of our God,
   the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
   to guide our feet into the way of peace.’

Reflection - Hear the Call
Here is a song of prophecy from Zechariah upon the birth of John the Baptist. A song that proclaims the works of John. Works that tell all the world of the Messiah. For it is John who will announce the coming of God in flesh into this world to save all people from sin, death and the devil. John will proclaim the coming of the King of the Universe. John will sing the song of that new beginning to take place with and in the people through God in the flesh of Jesus. Here we hear tell of John's call and mission in this life as God would have called John. And John is obedient. John proclaims the coming and follows Jesus even though he was before Jesus.

Don't we all. We are after Jesus yet Jesus was before us. We follow Jesus and hear our unique call in this world, in the moment, in this vocation, in this location; we are called to action as disciples of Jesus to proclaim the glory of God to all that God chooses to give to us, and in the situation that God chooses to place us at this time. Hear and listen for your call, moment by moment, day by day and respond in love, joy and thanksgiving to all that God has blessed you with through God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

Yes! Rejoice in the call and act boldly.

Lord, you alone are the King of me... you alone lead me and guide me and call me and place me just where you would have me be. As I respond to the call you give this day give me the words that bring glory and honor to you... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, November 18, 2013

November 18th Reflection - Live the Call - by Bill Lynch

Jeremiah 23:1–6
Restoration after Exile
Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord. Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the Lord. Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord.

The Righteous Branch of David
 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

Reflection - Live the Call 
Remember this passage was during a time that the Jews were being scattered and torn apart for their disobedience to God and the following of false gods in God's presence. This was a time of chaos in the family. So, Jeremiah proclaims caution to those who would scatter the sheep.

A shepherd gathers the sheep together, the shepherd does not scatter the sheep. And with this in mind the grand hope and promise of a shepherd that would gather the lost sheep of the family of Judah and the Israelites appeals to all involved. The promise and the hope of a shepherd that will come from the family of David the great King that gathered the people together as one and led them into the wonderful reign of King Solomon when all seem good and right with the world.

In the days that were longed and hoped for, in the days of this great and coming King, "Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety."

Today, we have been given this King, this Jesus, this Savior of all people. We live in the time that was hoped for and are blessed with the assurance that Jesus will come again in final glory to save all his people. We live in this promised time that was long hoped for, yet we act as if we don't have the promise. Turn and live into the promise. Look and see the King at your side. Rejoice in the grace of God's love and salvation. Even in this fallen and sinful world we live in the wonderful and fulfilled hope of the King! Thanks be to God!

Lord, you fill your people with grace and love and hope. As we gather together in your name, unite us in the love you have shown to us that we may live out our call and show that same love to those that you give to us day by day... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Sunday, November 17, 2013

November 17th Reflection - Don't Worry About It! - by Bill Lynch

Luke 21:5–19
The Destruction of the Temple Foretold
 When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, ‘As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.’

Signs and Persecutions
 They asked him, ‘Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?’ And he said, ‘Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, “I am he!” and, “The time is near!” Do not go after them.

 ‘When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.’ Then he said to them, ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.

 ‘But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defence in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.

Reflection - Don't Worry About It! 
It's not always going to be easy. Maybe it won't ever be easy. Maybe it will be easy for most of the time, but there will arrive a time when it won't be easy. Our faith that God graciously gives to us makes life difficult at times. Our faith is a gift from God. It's not something we can muster up through our own efforts. It's not something I or you can produce. Faith is built over time and is given to us by God.

When I recall so many faithful fellow Christians that encourage me to have faith and believe and I will be saved, I feel sorry for them and this mode of thinking. This thinking makes it seem that faith is something that I can produce and if I produce some faith and the belief, then God will save me. That's backwards! God comes to me. I can't come to God or believe in God by my own will or way. God comes to me and grants me the faith and the belief that I need to build my relationship with God. God builds the relationship. I can only run to God and fall before God and ask, maybe plead or beg that God recognize me in my sinful state and save me from my selfishness, my sinfulness, the death and damnation I deserve. And maybe I can't even run to God after all. I depend on God to come to me in the end to save me.

And that God has done through Jesus. Jesus builds the Temple. The temple that I can build is not the same Temple that only Jesus can build. The temple that I can build is vain and selfish and centered upon myself and my selfish desires. Jesus' Temple is centered on God's love for all of his people. Jesus' Temple is centered on God's relationship with me and you and all of God's Church.

So, how do we get ready for Jesus coming? How do we who live in relationship with God, live in this present fallen world of sin and evil and death? What do we look for and who do we listen to? First off... don't worry about it! God will handle it, not you. But be prepared to take a stand. Be ready to stand up in the faith that God builds in you. A stand that may or may not take this life on this earth and end it now. Be ready to stand up for what God has done for you in Jesus. Don't worry about the way the stand may take place. For some of us this stand may seem easy, but for other's of us this stand may take our life here and now.

Grace is not cheap. Grace is a free gift of love and faith that only God can grant to you and to me. Grace is not something I can do to build or earn or increase in myself. Grace comes into play in that stand in this place in whatever way we may be called to take that stand. That call will probably be different for each or us. Don't worry about that stand. Think about what God has given you and the gifts you have been given and when that call comes, take the stand that God gives to you with all of your heart, soul, and might.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God--- not the result of works, so that no one may boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

And, remember that when you take that stand an Old Testament verse from Deuteronomy 6:5 - "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might."

Along with these two verses, a verse from King David's Song of Thanks comes to mind, 1 Chronicles 16:23, "Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Tell of his salvation from day to day."

No, grace is not cheap, but grace is there for you and for me. Grace is not something we can gain, but grace is given to us and is present for us to use just at the right time and the right place when God calls us to put our faith to work in whatever way that may be.

So, for now, rest assured in the grace that God gives to you through Jesus Christ that when you are called and when the time comes and in the midst of that persecution or pain or suffering or maybe even in a victorious stand of joy and salvation, God will speak to you through the Holy Spirit and give you just the words and the actions to take.

Don't worry about it. God has your back. You can believe in that! Look to the cross and witness the Truth, the Life, the Way and the Grace. Thanks be to God!

Lord, only you can fill me with life. Give me the words and the actions to take at just the right time. For I know that you are my God, my Savior, my Creator, my Life... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, November 16, 2013

November 16th Reflection - Doing the Tough Stuff - by Bill Lynch

2 Thessalonians 3:6–13
Warning against Idleness

 Now we command you, beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from believers who are living in idleness and not according to the tradition that they received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, and we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labour we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you. This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.

Reflection - Doing the Tough Stuff
"No work! No pay!" This was an expression I was used to hearing from the owner of  a small family owned company that I worked for many years ago. The question about pay for holidays would arise. Employees would ask, "Will we get paid for Thanksgiving Day?" And the answer... "No work! No pay!"

By today's standards this would seem a little harsh. But remember that this was a family owned business. A small business that operated with little overhead. So, the answer in this case was appropriate. Be glad that you have a joy that does pay when you work. Feel blessed to be employed. The time period was the early to mid 70's, and jobs were not abundant for young people at that time. I'm sure that today the world seems just as cruel to a young person.

This passage, however, refers to a group of people that refuse to work for their living. These are people that don't care to feed themselves and expect other people to carry the load for them. We're not talking about people that for some reason can't feed themselves or hold work, but rather people that won't work even though they are capable. We each need to do what we can for ourselves and for one another. Some of us are gifted with health and some are not. Some are gifted with strong backs and other's are gifted with excellent memory or brilliant minds. Some are gifted with skills with hands and some are gifted with talents that are technical.

The point is that we all need to use the gifts God has given us to the glory of God. When we refuse to use the gifts God has richly supplied each and every one of us with, we insult God. God is gracious and loving in each and all of our circumstances in life. When we are up, help those who are down to get back up. When we finally get up, help those who helped us and those other's who are down. But DON'T just remain idle waiting on more help when you can help yourself and those God has given to you. Don't do this!

God is better to you and closer to you than you could ever imagine. Appreciate the love God gives you directly and through those that God sends to you while you are in need. And when you can do it... get up and help!

God recognized our need for help. God recognized that we could not save ourselves by anything we could do or say. God saw that our destination was eternal damnation and hell! God came to our help! God sent his Son, Jesus, into this world to help us and to save us from our selfishness, sin, death and the devil. Jesus lived, healed, taught and reached out to all people in love to help us and save us from eternal death. We were dead! We were done for! But Jesus took our place and died for us to save us. Jesus did something and helped all of us.

No, we can't do what Jesus did. But we can recognize the gifts the Holy Spirit has given to us and give in all the strength that God gives to us in response to what God has done for us. We can get up and help those in need. We can reach out and pull another person up from the floor. We can help and we must help!

But... if that person refuses to get up. If that person only wants to live off of the help and never use the gifts that they have been given to help each other. Then... only then... do we turn and leave. And we don't leave for all time. We stay near for that time that the hand reaches out to help, to earn the living, to get up and go to work for another person in love. We reach out the hand that draws the person from selfishness to the fullness of life in Christ.

"Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right."

It's tough to do... but there are times when for the good of the other person... it must be done. When you do this pray... pray... pray... and offer that hand to get up and use the gifts that they have been given. Teach, heal and give of yourself in a loving manner... but if you must... if your help is refused... walk away in prayer. Sometimes that's what it takes to save a life.

Lord, lead me, guide me, teach me, help be to have the strength to do the tough stuff... only when I have to... be with me and lead me as your disciple... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November 12th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Isaiah 65:17–25
The Glorious New Creation

For I am about to create new heavens
   and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
   or come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice for ever
   in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,
   and its people as a delight.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
   and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,
   or the cry of distress.
No more shall there be in it
   an infant that lives but a few days,
   or an old person who does not live out a lifetime;
for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth,
   and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed.
They shall build houses and inhabit them;
   they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They shall not build and another inhabit;
   they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
   and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
They shall not labour in vain,
   or bear children for calamity;
for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord—
   and their descendants as well.
Before they call I will answer,
   while they are yet speaking I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
   the lion shall eat straw like the ox;
   but the serpent—its food shall be dust!
They shall not hurt or destroy
   on all my holy mountain,
says the Lord.

Yes, we look towards the end, the end when God creates everything new once again. A creation no longer poisoned by my sin our your sin. A creation that lives in harmony with God and with itself. We look towards that city in which we will all gather as one and rejoice in the perfection of God's creation. We are walking towards this creation as we follow Jesus as his disciples. We walk and gather together in this sin filled place and live in the hope of what will be.

Old sins will be healed and differences reconciled. What seems as a long time to us now will be but a breath in this new creation. In this new Jerusalem the wicked and the evil will no longer flourish and grow, rather they will be judged and eliminated. The sinner-saint will be judged and victorious through Jesus saving grace for all who he comes to save. All of this beauty brought to reality through the King of Life, Jesus Christ, our Lord and our Savior.

Lord Jesus, as I follow you and watch the path that you take, I can see ahead of you that wonderful city. I can see the change of that horrible city, Jerusalem in which you bled and died for all people to a wonderful city where all has been recreated into what you desire. Lead me in the hope of this trip as I walk with you in the here and now. Lead me through the pain, the tears, the mourning and the illness to that wonderful city only you could lead us towards. For you are the King of Life, you are the Savior of all, you are the way to a new creation of Life. I follow you... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, November 11, 2013

November 11th Reflection - Triumphant - by Bill Lynch

Malachi 4:1–2a
The Great Day of the Lord

See, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.

The righteous will triumph on the last day. Triumphant not due to their own devices, but triumphant because of a loving and caring God that willingly sent Jesus into this world to save us from sin, death and the devil. We will rise on this day and leap for joy for the battle is won and we are free. Yes, we can rest assured that this life will not end in sorrow and tears and mourning. This life will continue in the love of the Savior for his people. A love we can trust in and place all of our hope in.

Evil will be vanished on this last day and those who have remained faithful will triumph in joy because of Jesus action of grace in this world.

It's all because of you, dear Jesus, that we have life. May we live the life you give to us in the here and now to the fullest... full of love for you and full of love for one another... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Sunday, November 10, 2013

November 10th Reflection - God of the Living! - by Bill Lynch

Luke 20:27–38
The Question about the Resurrection

 Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, ‘Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.’

 Jesus said to them, ‘Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die any more, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.’

Reflection - God of the Living!
What an awesome thought... the thought of God being the God of the living. Awesome in several ways. First it brings an eternal sense of hope and happiness and joy. Because we can rest assure that God is the God of the living.

I can remember a time in my early childhood to teen years where there was talk all around and some in the Church about the expression that God is dead. I'm not sure of the source or the reason for this expression. At the time, I thought it was somewhat politically motivated because of the Cold War and the fact that so many people were living in a hopeless state, given in to the idea that the world was doomed to nuclear destruction as nations released the horrible power of nuclear bombs upon each other. If this capability were given to man then surely... God was dead.

In some respects this idea of hopelessness seems to morph itself throughout the ages. Today, we blame the economy and every evil thing of this world on the President of the United States it seems. We have been doing this no matter what party has been present in the White House. The ills of the country of the United States and it seems the ills of the world were all the fault of the President of the United States. Maybe this feeling of hopelessness has spread to Congress and perhaps all forms of government, state and local, and policies of the government like Obamacare and such, I'm not sure. But people tend to live in this state of hopelessness, that seems from my viewpoint, to be a state that is self imposed because they buy into all of the rhetoric of the day.

God is not dead! God is not the God of the dead... or maybe God is? We have no need to live our lives in a hopeless state of being. We have a promise given to us. We have a God that comes to us right when we were dying to save us. God sent Jesus into this world to save all of us who were dying from our sinfulness. We were saved by the actions of God in flesh, in Jesus, to live a new life. God is the God of the dead in the sense that he came to all of us who were dying to save us from ourselves, our sins, and the death we deserve. God came in the flesh, in Jesus to live and to die himself in our place for our hopeless attitudes and our surrendered resolve that surely God must be dead. God came to us in the flesh of Jesus to save us! We have a God of the dead that brings us back to life in him to make us and recreate us as living, joyful, hopeful, fulfilled Children of God! God is the God of the living. He has been throughout all time. And after a few days, as Jesus flesh lay in that tomb, Jesus was resurrected to new life. Jesus is our God and the God of the living, giving us eternal hope and joy in him.

It's time we realize what God has done for us. It's time we live the lives of the living and not live the lives of the hopeless, blaming Presidents, Congress, or Cold Wars, or Obamacare, or anything else for our state in life. No matter how it seems, we live with and for a God of the living! It's time to realize the blessing that God has given us and live like it! It's time to turn to God and repent for our negativeness and give thanks for the joy only God could give us in this life in which we find ourselves and live in hope. It's time that we accept the illness, the sin, the poverty our whatever we happen to live with and realize that we live for a God of the Living not a God of the Dead and that, in the last, we live a resurrected life of eternal blessing and joy. It's time to get over ourselves and get over our pity party and live life for the Living God of the Living!

God of the Living... Thanks! Thanks for your gracious saving act of Jesus upon that cross that died for me while I was dead to bring be back to new life, to a resurrected life in you. Thank you for this life you have blessed me with. May I live this life in joy to you and for all you give to me. My my actions reflect the love and joy of the living in all that I do or say. May my actions be actions for the living God and not actions that propel the doom and gloom of the evil that surrounds us in this place. For you are the God of the Living... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, November 09, 2013

November 9th Reflection - May God be with you - by Bill Lynch

2 Thessalonians 2:1–5, 13–17

The Man of Lawlessness
As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God. Do you not remember that I told you these things when I was still with you?

Chosen for Salvation
 But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.

 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.

The Thessalonians had been led to believe that the parousia or the day of the Lord had already started. Paul in this letter attempts to set them straight on this understanding. Paul contends that the day of the Lord won't happen until there is a rebellion and the revealing of the Man of Lawlessness. The day of the Lord will not happen until there is a rebellion or an end-time revolt against God. At this time the Man of Lawlessness will be revealed. This Man of Lawlessness will attempt to perceive himself as God.

However... we know, as Children of God, that God has chosen us and gifted us and called us to be his and to live in and through him. Through Jesus gracious act of salvation from sin, death and the devil and through Jesus resurrection, we can rest assured that, even in the end, God is with us. God is with us and reveals himself to us in the flesh of Jesus and in the spirit of the Holy Spirit. God reveals himself to us and loves us in all truth.

Yes, even when we face the uncertainties of end times, the uncertainty of death, the uncertainty of illness or any uncertainty we face in this life; we can rest assured, as God's chosen and saved, that God is with us. God comforts our uncertainties, our worries, our hearts with the knowledge and truth of salvation through Jesus Christ. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit... God is united in this action of salvation for all his children.

Yes, God is with us... through it all... God is with us.

Thanks be to God!

Lord, calm and comfort the hearts of those who worry. Calm the fears of those with illness, suffering or pain. Ease the burden of the poor and the needy. Use your powers through your chosen people to reach out in the love and truth of Jesus Christ, that we may show love to you and one another. Prepare us and strengthen all your people to understand how close you are and how close you have always been that we may realize your constant presence... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Friday, November 08, 2013

November 8th Reflection - Hands and Arms - by Bill Lynch

Psalm 98
Praise the Judge of the World
A Psalm.
O sing to the Lord a new song,
   for he has done marvellous things.
His right hand and his holy arm
   have gained him victory.
The Lord has made known his victory;
   he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
   to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
   the victory of our God.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
   break forth into joyous song and sing praises.
Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
   with the lyre and the sound of melody.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
   make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord.

Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
   the world and those who live in it.
Let the floods clap their hands;
   let the hills sing together for joy
at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming
   to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
   and the peoples with equity.

Reflection - Hands and Arms
This psalm was written for a celebration. Possibly for the Feast of Tabernacles. A celebration when the Israelites would build some huts to live in in a hasty manner. This would remind them of the time they spent in the wilderness with God. A feast of food would be in the huts to celebrate God's saving and gracious acts. It would become in later years a fall feast to celebrate God's blessings and honor God's saving acts throughout all time. It became an eight day feast and celebration filled with food and singing and acts of kindness. A celebration to remember God's salvation.

In this psalm we witness the entire earth and all of the spiritual world praising God with one voice. It can be noted that it is the hand and the arm of God that saves the people. How obvious this is to think of the hands and the arms of Jesus saving all people. The hands, pierced by the nails of the suffering brought on by our sin. The outstretched arms of Jesus that open wide his saving and gracious act of love to all people. Arms that open up in acceptance to those who come to him and to those Jesus reaches out to in his love. God's hands and arms reaching out in salvation, not just for the Israelites alone but to all people throughout all time.

Yes, this act of salvation by God through Jesus evokes spontaneous response of the Feast of Tabernacles, a fall feast when all people see God's love on display, a Feast that calls out for the singing of praises by all the world, all the people, all the saints, all the sinners, throughout all time in honor of the hands and the arms and the love of God. Yes, a Feast! Thanks be to God!

Lord, hear the song of praise as I join with the birds, the hills, the mountains and valleys, the rivers the oceans and the sands, as I join with the saints, the angels and all the sinners; to sing of your glorious love you have shown to all creation through Jesus... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, November 07, 2013

November 7th Reflection - The Only - by Bill Lynch

Psalm 145:1–5, 17–21
Praise. Of David.

I will extol you, my God and King,
   and bless your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will bless you,
   and praise your name for ever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
   his greatness is unsearchable.

One generation shall laud your works to another,
   and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendour of your majesty,
   and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
The Lord is just in all his ways,
   and kind in all his doings.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
   to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfils the desire of all who fear him;
   he also hears their cry, and saves them.
The Lord watches over all who love him,
   but all the wicked he will destroy.

My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
   and all flesh will bless his holy name for ever and ever.

Reflection - The Only
As disciples of Jesus, we know that God takes supreme position in our lives. Commonly we refer to God as King. I would have a difficult time thinking of God as President, but I like the thought of King much better. Not in the sense of an earthly king, rather I like idea that God is my heavenly King. My King, my One, the Only and what is above and beyond anything I can even imagine with my feeble mind and spirit. God is my One, even sounds better to me.

God as my One, brings forth adoration, worship, praise, honor, power and might. God is the only One. I can't have enough time in eternity to find the expression of God in my mind and spirit. I can't have enough of eternity to express blessing to God my One. There can't be enough generations of flesh that can appropriately give what is proper praise to God.

This God, this One for whom I live and breathe, for whom I praise and honor and adore, is gracious, merciful and righteous. My God, my One is steadfast in his love. All expressions that people have attempted for ages to tell of the feelings we have for God. All expressions that seem to fall far short of any appropriate words I could use to express my love for God. But, words and emotions and actions and praise are all I know of in this frame of being that I catch myself in here and now. This is the best I have to offer to praise God and yet I feel as if I fall far short of what God deserves. And I do fall far short. We all fall far short of any expression we can have towards God that displays our love for God.

So, God helps us in our "falling short." God helps us through Jesus. Jesus is our perfect expression of the love of God. Jesus is the flesh and blood and the spirit that brings what is appropriate to God. So, when I want to express my love for God, I look to Jesus. I look to Jesus and see God's Love. I see Jesus in prayer. I see Jesus teaching. I see Jesus healing. I see God in Jesus and I see how Jesus comes before the Father in my place to offer appropriate praise and honor and glory fitting for my King, my One, my Only, my God. Thanks be to God for Jesus to sing the praises to God that I can't even begin to sing in God's presence. Thanks be to God in Jesus for taking my place and expressing my love. Thanks be to God for Jesus!

Jesus, I look to you and join with you in praise of Father, Son, Spirit, Creator, Redeemer, Sanctified, King, One, Only... my God... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

November 6th Reflection - God's Loving Care - by Bill Lynch

Psalm 17:1–9
A Prayer of David.
Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry;
   give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.
From you let my vindication come;
   let your eyes see the right.

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

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

Guard me as the apple of the eye;
   hide me in the shadow of your wings,
from the wicked who despoil me,
   my deadly enemies who surround me.

Reflection - God's Loving Care
Lord, I'm anxious and worried,
   I get beside myself and don't understand.
I call out to you in the midst of my deep need,
   I cry to you to hear my plea.

Look upon my life and show me your will,
   open your Word and guide me all the day.
Hear my words and give me understanding,
   close my mouth when wicked words proceed.

See what I do that pleases your eyes,
   tell me when I'm doing your will.
Hear my plea when I cry out in fear,
   take my side at the end of the day.

I have placed all my hope and trust in you.
   You have built faith into my heart.
I live my life to do your will,
   to show your love in action towards others.

God, you have tested me in all my ways,
   you come to me as Brother, Teacher, Father and Spirit.
Jesus, you teach me and show me your way.
   Spirit you equip me and send me out in active love.

When I call to you, I hear your Word.
   I see your presence all the day.
For, you have shown your steadfast love.
   You have protected and guarded my life.

Care for me dear Lord and Savior.
   Lead me to your heavenly place.
Your love is tender and soft and comforting,
   hold me close and tight each day.

Lord, I give you thanks for your tender, loving care. I give you thanks for your presence in life. I give you thanks for your rescue and salvation. I give you thanks for the gifts of the Spirit. I give you thanks for a call and a mission. I give you thanks that you are my God, my Savior, my Life. I give you thanks, dear Lord in all things... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

November 5th Reflection - It's Time! - by Bill Lynch

Haggai 1:15b—2:9
The Future Glory of the Temple
On the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month.
In the second year of King Darius,in the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai, saying: Speak now to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, and say, Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Is it not in your sight as nothing? Yet now take courage, O Zerubbabel, says the Lord; take courage, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; take courage, all you people of the land, says the Lord; work, for I am with you, says the Lord of hosts, according to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt. My spirit abides among you; do not fear. For thus says the Lord of hosts: Once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land; and I will shake all the nations, so that the treasure of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with splendour, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the Lord of hosts. The latter splendour of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts; and in this place I will give prosperity, says the Lord of hosts.

Zerubbabel, Joshua and the remnant people looked around themselves and saw nothing but destruction. What once was great now lay in ruin. Yet it is out of ruin that God raises new life and new creation.

We once thought of Jesus body, down from the cross and lying in ruin in a tomb. But out of death, God raised up. God raised up to a new day and a new life. We live in a world of sin. We are sinners. But out of our sin, God chose to raise us up with Jesus to new life. God pulls us up out of the depths of sin and despair to a new life of hope and salvation. All out of God's love for his people.

What is in store is greater than what we see now. What is in store is that wonderful house of splendour full of the saints and filled with the Lord of hosts. You can see it now, if you but just pause and look. You can see it and have faith and hope in all that God has planned.

But, for now, we build. We go to work with the gifts God has given to us and apply all our efforts towards the new creation that God chooses for us to work towards. For, now we plant, we build, we follow in the path of our Savior, Jesus towards that new creation which God has planned.

This time that is now is no time for selfishness. The time is now to give of the blessings we have richly received. The time is now to give all we have to the glory of God. The time is now to build that Temple of flesh and spirit of church and temple and new life. The time is now to go to work with the gifts we have been given towards the glory of God. God is with us now. The time is now to build. The time is now to give it all to God. God's presence with us and in us and through us is the source of strength for all the work. The splendour of the Temple is given by God. The splendour of the work of hands and lives and spirits towards our God to give all the glory and honor and praise to God alone. Yes... the time is NOW.

Lord, you pull us up out of the depths and give us new life. New life to live now to your glory. The time for you is now and always... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, November 04, 2013

November 4th Reflection - Redeemer - by Bill Lynch

Job 19:23–27a
‘O that my words were written down!
   O that they were inscribed in a book!
O that with an iron pen and with lead
   they were engraved on a rock for ever!
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
   and that at the last he will stand upon the earth;
and after my skin has been thus destroyed,
   then in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see on my side,
   and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
   My heart faints within me!

It's kind of ironic how your position in life, or the circumstances and situations you have just experienced bring a different meaning to biblical passages that present themselves. I had a recent experience that echoed some of the feelings of this passage. They reflected my helplessness and my total dependence on God. Total to the point of my only thoughts were to recite the Lord's Prayer as best as I could recall under the circumstances. There was nothing I could do to save myself. I could only depend on other people and on God's action. But God's presence was overwhelming in the situation.

In this passage, Job is at the depths of illness and despair. Job has listened to his friends give advice and has been charged with actions that Job did not commit to bring on this situation in which Job now finds himself. Out of the depths of helplessness and utter loss, Job rises with faith in God. Even though Job's flesh and heart have given way, Job's faith in God and God's gracious salvation is Job's only hope. Yes, Job knows that his Redeemer lives!

God lives today. God lives in the risen Jesus. God lives in the presence of the Spirit. God lives in the flesh and blood of people that God sends to us in those times we are helpless. God lives in the spirit of the angels that watch over us. God lives in our only hope for salvation, which is Jesus. There is nothing that we can do to earn or gain favor or come to this salvation on our own. God's gift of life is a gift! A gift freely given to all people. The question becomes... will you humble yourself? Will you deny yourself? Will you repent and accept that it is only God that can save you? Will you trust and hope and place all of your faith in the God of all life and salvation?

When it comes down to it... you can't do it! You just can't! And you will finally see God is present. God is present in flesh and spirit. God is present with you when you are at the bottom, when you are on the floor, when you are down and out, with the offering and the plea to place all of your hope and trust and faith in him alone.

I'm with Job on this. I know that my Redeemer lives! I just know it!

Thanks for coming, Lord, thanks! You came to each and all of us just when we needed you the most. Thanks.. today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Sunday, November 03, 2013

November 3rd Reflection - Contrasts - by Bill Lynch

Luke 6:20-31
Blessings and Woes
 Then he looked up at his disciples and said:
‘Blessed are you who are poor,
   for yours is the kingdom of God.
‘Blessed are you who are hungry now,
   for you will be filled.
‘Blessed are you who weep now,
   for you will laugh.

 ‘Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice on that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
‘But woe to you who are rich,
   for you have received your consolation.
‘Woe to you who are full now,
   for you will be hungry.
‘Woe to you who are laughing now,
   for you will mourn and weep.

 ‘Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

Love for Enemies
 ‘But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Contrasts in living. Contrasts in the blessings and the woes of life. Jesus is a contrast. God in flesh? Jesus is a contrast. One moment in life we are aware and the next moment we aren't aware of anything. We can go from sleep to panic in a matter of seconds. Contrasts in living.

Jesus heeds us to pay attention to those who are blessed. The poor, the hungry, the weeping, the hated and the excluded are living in a contrast. One moment later through a blessing from God life can change. One moment later you may live a life full of the richness of the kingdom of heaven. One moment through a blessing from Jesus you may be full, you may be laughing, you may be jumping for joy. Thanks to the blessing of the contrast of Jesus, God in flesh; we are given the gift of contrasted life. A life that we don't deserve by our own achievements but a life that lasts beyond this contrasted life to an eternal life with God and all of the saints. Contrasts in living.

Yet, Jesus gives us a woe also. A woe of a contrast that opens our eyes to something heavenly. Those that are rich, that are laughing and those that are full; it can all change in a moment. Life is full of contrast. One moment life is full and blessed, the next moment we may be down and out. We all live in this life of contrasts.

We all exist together and we all look to live with those in the contrasts with which we share and reach out to one another. We reach out to the poor and the rich, the mourning and those at the party. We reach out in love as the greatest contrast of all, God in flesh, did to all the people that God gave to him with love and a gracious life of salvation.

We all live our lives in the midst of contrast. And Jesus, the greatest contrast of all came to give life to those who deserve death, that's you and I and all of the world. Contrast that stands for all time.

And we live a life as sinners and saints through the gracious love of God. In whom we place all of our faith and hope and in whom we give our lives, we live this life of contrast in what God desires. To live this life of contrast fully trusting in all God blesses us with day after day after day. Thank God for contrasts!

Lord, you have shown me contrasts this week. Contrasts from one moment to another moment. Contrasts in the love shown to me and through me. May I live this life of contrast to your glory. Forgive me when I have wronged another person and bring me to life in you with all of the saints, as I live this life, and with all the sinners, that all people may see your love and believe in you... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen