Friday, February 28, 2014

February 28th Reflection - Perhaps! - by Bill Lynch


Matthew 17:1-9
1 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. 3 Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 Then Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." 5 While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, "This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!" 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Get up and do not be afraid." 8 And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. 9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, "Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead."

Reflection - Perhaps!
The voice of God, the brightness and the cloud all remind me of so many things. The voice of God reminds me of Jesus baptism. The brightness reminds me that Jesus is the Light of the world. The brightness and the cloud remind me of the Israelites being led by a pillar of fire at night and a cloud by day. The Israelites led by God.

There are times in life when we meet God. Perhaps we meet God in the prisoner reading a child's book into a recorder for an innocent child at home that misses his father. Perhaps we meet God in the conversation at the supper table with a single homeless mother. Perhaps we meet God when we pray with a friend in the hospital. Perhaps we meet God when we drop off cans of food at the food pantry. Perhaps we meet God on the hike to a mountain peak in the spring of the year. Perhaps we meet God in the selfless and constant love of a dog for the owner. Perhaps we meet God in the baptism of a stranger. Perhaps we meet God in the conversations of life with a colleague at work. Oh, how the ways vary in the "perhaps" of life when we meet God!

But what about the places that we meet God. Sure, for a moment here and there in life, we meet with God on the mountain top. We meet with God so much more often in the dirt and in the dust and in the humble spaces in which we live. That is where the disciples met with God in the Father and in the Son and in the Spirit in this passage.

The disciples met with God for a small amount of time on the mountain, but lived with God in the dirty and dusty roads of life with God's people, all the people, in the valleys and hills. We meet with God and work as Jesus' disciples in the actions of love that Jesus has shown and taught us to live in our lives. All because we know the life God gives in Jesus life, ministry, suffering, death and resurrection. We meet and obey God in the everyday lives we live with the fantastic unique and wonderful people that God sends to us each and every day in and through God's actions of love through and in us and our lives.

The Transfiguration from the passage above follows Peter's confession. It seems when we confess before God, we receive a little taste, perhaps a foretaste of the feast to come. We witness the deep love of God in Jesus and the forgiveness of sin. We witness the resurrection and we witness new life in ourselves. New life to live in and with the glory of our risen Savior, Jesus the Christ. We witness the source of Light where the sun is no longer needed because we live in the Light of Jesus. We witness the fulfillment of the Law in Jesus. We witness the Truth of the coming of God prophesied ages before. We witness God!

However, this witness is, for now, not the end of things. This witness, this forgiveness, this Jesus, this God, this Spirit, is a call to move. This is not a call to stick around in the glory of God. This is a call to go to the dusty roads, to the hospitals, to the prisons, to the homeless, to the ill, to all God's creation in the midst of great need to love God and to love those God gives to us.

Yes, as Jesus, Moses, Elijah and a friend, came to my door on Washington St. in Sidney Ohio those many years ago. This witness, this dream, this fantasy, this place, was not upon the mountaintop. This place was at the door of a humble house. This call was a call by Jesus for Billy to come out and play. Jesus calling a child that will always remain a child to come out into the world and play. To play in all the places Jesus chooses to lead me to and in all the ways that Jesus decides. A call not just for Billy but for all of Jesus' disciples.

So, we go out into the world. We go back to the roads of life, having seen a glimpse of the glory of God and having a foretaste of the feast to come, to love God and serve in the love of God in Jesus, our Lord, our Savior, our Messiah, our One and only God.

How could I NOT leave you with this song! Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gr5Y63bDNNg


Prayer
Lord as you have come you call us to Go! So we go with you into the places you choose to lead us. We go in faith to act out the love you have shown us. Yes! Billy wants to go out and play... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, February 27, 2014

February 27th Reflection - The Door - by Bill Lynch


2 Peter 1:16-21
 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honour and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.

 So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Reflection - The Door
"Can Billy come out to play?" That was the question. Not from a mountain, but from a front door. A dream yes. Perhaps a childhood flash of memory of a story told by a Sunday School teacher or perhaps a piece of a sermon that jumped into my memory banks as I was drawing on a piece of paper in church. Or perhaps just a message with meaning. I don't know and it doesn't matter really. But this one sentence has stayed with me all of my life.

A dream of Jesus, Moses, Elijah and someone else I didn't recognize at my front door on Washington St. in Sidney Ohio. Jesus knocks at the door and I answer and Jesus says, "Can Billy come out to play?"

Well sure! That's my response and off we go. That's it. The end of the dream... or perhaps more than that... the beginning of a life.

It seems to me that Peter had experienced a similar experience on the mountaintop when he heard a voice...

"For he received honour and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain."

It's a moment that sticks forever. It's a moment that revisits your thinking all of the time. It's a moment you try to rationalize away but discover that you can't. It's a moment with God... on the mountaintop or at my front door or even out in the world to play. It's a mysterious and majestic moment and gift from God.

It's also a moment that all of us share in. The moment when Jesus comes into our lives and the moment that we look forward to when Jesus will come again. A moment that propels Peter into the world to proclaim the Gospel about the love of God in Jesus. A love that comes to each and to all people. A love offered up on a cross as our perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of our own sin and all of our sin. Jesus our Savior. Jesus our Lord. Jesus the first risen to live eternally from the dead. Jesus our King who leads us into eternal life. Jesus who graciously calls the Holy Spirit to descend upon us and lead and guide us as we walk this earth and wait for that next special moment when Jesus comes again. Jesus who shows us how to love God and how to love one another. Yes, it's also a moment in real time and in real space that be upon the mountaintop, at the front door, at the baptismal font, at or in so many and various spaces and times, when Jesus comes to us to share his eternal life with us.

It's a moment to go out and play in this world with the people God gives to us each day. Was that "other" person, Larry or Ernie Tate as my brother Jim tells me? Or was that other person whomever Jesus chose to bring along for the day? I don't know. But I go out to play each and every day by the invitation of Jesus at my front door with Moses, Elijah and some "other" person. I go out and know that Jesus will come again... some time and in some way.

Jesus' return will bring light and joy and play. A joy and play understood in the heart of all believers. A play initiated by Jesus my Savior. Thanks be to God!

Here is a song that remind me of my childhood dream.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMiz7kqDXkc

Prayer
Jesus, I'm coming! I'm coming, I'm running to the door... let's go out to play... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

February 26th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Psalm 99
The Lord is king; let the peoples tremble!
   He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
The Lord is great in Zion;
   he is exalted over all the peoples.
Let them praise your great and awesome name.
   Holy is he!
Mighty King, lover of justice,
   you have established equity;
you have executed justice
   and righteousness in Jacob.
Extol the Lord our God;
   worship at his footstool.
   Holy is he!

Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
   Samuel also was among those who called on his name.
   They cried to the Lord, and he answered them.
He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud;
   they kept his decrees,
   and the statutes that he gave them.

O Lord our God, you answered them;
   you were a forgiving God to them,
   but an avenger of their wrongdoings.
Extol the Lord our God,
   and worship at his holy mountain;
   for the Lord our God is holy.

Reflection
Lord, you are the King of all the people.
   Your footstool is the earth.
You rule in righteousness and power.
   You have chosen your disciples carefully.

You, O Lord, are strong and just.
   You love to do what is right.
You show your people how to worship you alone.
   Your presence is holiness upon the mercy seat.

We come to you through Jesus our Savior.
   Jesus, your gift from above.
Lives are changed and we are forgiven.
   We bow before your glory and submit to you.

Glory to the Father and Son.
   Power to the Holy Spirit.
You are majestic in all your work.
   You are our God!

Here is a song that proclaims the Holiness of our God.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EduKNYVBKH8


Prayer
Lord, as I come to you and learn and listen to your Word. I submit my life to you. I love to live by your Law and your Grace. I love to follow your lead... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

February 25th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Psalm 2
Why do the nations conspire,
   and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
   and the rulers take counsel together,
   against the Lord and his anointed, saying,
‘Let us burst their bonds asunder,
   and cast their cords from us.’

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
   the Lord has them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
   and terrify them in his fury, saying,
‘I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.’

I will tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to me, ‘You are my son;
   today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
   and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron,
   and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’

Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
   be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
   with trembling kiss his feet,
or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way;
   for his wrath is quickly kindled.

Happy are all who take refuge in him.



Reflection
Is the entire world against you O Lord?
   Evil plots and schemes to take what you have created.
The devil knocks at the door of all souls of all people.
   His desire is to possess and control all your children.

Any revolt against you has no basis Lord.
   The powers of evil and their plans are all in vain.
Even though you come under attack;
   your position is one of power and honor and glory.

You permit their evils plans to unfold and give them time.
   You alone can allow their plans to mature.
But your justice will rule in the end.
   Yes, you will send a King, a Savior, Jesus.

We hear the echo of your voice from heaven.
   This is my Son! The One who will save.
You send the Gift to all your people.
   The One and only gift that will save.

Glory to God the Father!
   Honor to Jesus the Son!
Praise to the Holy Spirit!
   Our eternal God!

I present to you a song of the Beauty of our Savior

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sQ29G9FKOY



Prayer
As all nations, rulers, kings and people fall to the foot of the cross of Jesus; may we glory in your love and grace. For you alone rule this world and all your people... you alone... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, February 24, 2014

February 24th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Exodus 24:12-18
 The Lord said to Moses, ‘Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.’ So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. To the elders he had said, ‘Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them.’

 Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.

Reflection
God called Moses to the top of the mountain and God enveloped Moses with God's presence for a long time. Likewise, God calls all of his children to come to him and he covers us with God's Holy Spirit for eternity. God calls us into relationship with God and God calls us into relationship with one another and God covers those relationships with the warmth of the Holy Spirit's love and care.

Yes, God calls Moses to lead but leaves other's behind. The time to lead in God's calling is a time designed and determined by God. God makes the decisions and God directs each of us to the Law of God's will and God's way. We each are given a call and a time and are covered with those wonderful gifts of God's Holy Spirit. All unique and all to the honor and glory of God.

So, we look, we listen, we obey and we follow the call of God.

I present to you a wonderful song that presents God's calling to relationship to each of his children

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmuT-907oZ4


Prayer
Lord, when you come to my door, I will respond... when you come with Jesus, with Moses, Elijah and a friend asking for Billy to come out to play... I will respond... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Sunday, February 23, 2014

February 23rd Reflection - Perfect! - by Bill Lynch


Matthew 5:38-48
 ‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.
 ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Reflection - Perfect!
Be perfect? Brother, I blew that perfect think a long time ago! Now what? I mean really... did I ever have a chance at this perfect thing? But you want me to be perfect? Come on! Get real! Sure, Jesus, you can sit there and tell all of this perfect business. You are perfect after all... but the rest of us? Come on! I can't believe you even have the idea that one of us may be perfect.

At least an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth makes a little sense. That depends on one of us not being perfect by the standards set by someone. Which brings up another question... who gets to set the standards of what is right and what is wrong? What just is this whole idea of perfect?

Are you saying, Jesus, that perfect is letting someone beat the snot out of you and you just let go of it? Or letting someone take what you have worked hard to buy just because they want to sue and take it away from you? Are you saying, Jesus, that we are supposed to hate the evil of the world like Hitler or Saddam? Really? Are these the ways to become perfect? Come on!

Jesus, you even got upset with the people in the Temple selling goods and services for the Passover! You even became upset with the death of Lazarus! You even cast those demons into pigs that ran over the cliff! So... tell me Jesus... tell me about this perfect thing!

I will give you this, Jesus, this perfect thing you speak of seems to be more about giving than taking. The eye for an eye thing for example. It's more about giving in and resisting the taking of the eye, than the revenge of an evil deed done by someone. Another words, you want me as your disciple to defend the abused more than take revenge on the abuser.

And then the whole deal with the coat... you want me to make sure the the poor man doesn't go without and give my cloak in order for his survival. Likewise if someone socks me in the kisser, you want me to handle it a little different than to just punch the guy back in the nose. Then I would be guilty of giving the same response as I was given. Kind of like what you did on the cross. You were hung on a tree, yet you chose to forgive rather than to destroy all creation.

And then the way you chose, as a Jew, to come into the lives of the Gentiles as well as the Chosen Jews to grant salvation. You walked that extra mile without limitation in order that I and many others too may be included in the Kingdom of Heaven with you in eternity.

Likewise in your action upon the cross you gave your love to everyone. You loved us into an eternal relationship with God.

I see now where this whole perfection thing comes from... it comes from and through you! You are God! You alone are perfect... and if you choose... which you have in your coming, life, death and resurrection to grant a perfect eternal life to all your people... yes if you choose... even I can be perfect in you... all can be perfect in you... but only in and through you can we be perfect!

So, I guess... you want us to act like it! Even though for now in this fallen and evil world and in our sinful state, we won't be made perfect until you come again... even though I'm still sinful... you want me to take on the characteristics of perfection that you have shown to all the world.

That's what being a disciple is all about! Following you... not being you... but following you and learning your will and way for our lives... for my life. You want me to be perfect like you so much that you took my place for my sin as my perfect sacrifice, because you knew that even if I sacrificed myself, I would not be the perfect sacrifice that God demanded. Only you and you alone could be that perfect sacrifice for my sin!

Yes, Jesus! Yes! I will follow you in your will and your way. Teach me all along the way to live out the perfection of Love you have shown all the world in your actions upon this earth. Teach me to be your disciple and walk in your way... even while I sin... even while I die to self and live to you... even as I am what I am... your disciple... depending on you alone... my perfect Sacrifice... my perfect Savior!

Here is a song to leave you with that reminds me of the Perfect Sacrifice... Our Lord... Jesus!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aP8syxhIRpg



Prayer
Lord, as you are perfect in love, lead me to respond to your wonderful gift of life and live out the love you would have me live towards you and those you give to me... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

February 19th Reflection - The Leader - by Bill Lynch


1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23

 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.

 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

 Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written,
‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’,
and again,
‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise,
   that they are futile.’
So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

Reflection - The Leader
It seems to me that the way to determine the honesty and integrity of a leader is to see if they get caught up in themselves or if they get caught up in following the mission or purpose set before all the people. A person that gets caught up in themselves, including myself, but doesn't permit Christ to break them free of themselves becomes a dangerous person to follow. If the actions and the way of words come from an "I" perspective; then this person may not be a valuable leader but rather just a proponent of themselves.

But when I see or hear of a person that recognizes this issue, that anyone can fall prey to in a successful life, and a person that moves away from working only to advance one's self but to pull towards a common goal as a worker with all the people towards that common goal; then I begin to see a leader.

A leader that realizes the purpose and the mission as larger than any part, but also realizes the value of the people in the unique skills they possess, combine in all the parts to work towards the purpose and the mission, is the leader to follow.

It's here that I think of Jesus. I think of Paul and I think of the passage above. The foundation that our One true leader gave to us was the foundation of his active generosity in giving his life for our sin and rising to a new life in unity with God. Jesus' saving grace is the purpose and the mission. The love of Christ becomes our purpose and our mission. We are given unique gifts by the Holy Spirit towards this mission of love of God towards the love of our neighbor in order that all may come to rise again apart from oneself but in unity with God to a new life into eternity. A life due to what God has done, yet we are the recipients of the grace of our One true Leader, Jesus Christ.

So as we focus on our purpose and our mission to love Jesus and act out that love towards our neighbor; may all the world come, not to see us as the parts, but Jesus as the One through whom we receive forgiveness of sin... salvation from sin... and an eternal life with God in full relationship with God in and through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

This song reminds me of the focus we have in and on and through Jesus our Savior.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqSQvoinDE4


Prayer
May all I do reflect you glory and honor towards your mission and your purpose in my life and the life of your Church... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

February 18th Reflection - Singleminded - by Bill Lynch


Psalm 119:33-40
Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes,
   and I will observe it to the end.
Give me understanding, that I may keep your law
   and observe it with my whole heart.
Lead me in the path of your commandments,
   for I delight in it.
Turn my heart to your decrees,
   and not to selfish gain.
Turn my eyes from looking at vanities;
   give me life in your ways.
Confirm to your servant your promise,
   which is for those who fear you.
Turn away the disgrace that I dread,
   for your ordinances are good.
See, I have longed for your precepts;
   in your righteousness give me life.

Reflection - Singleminded
I look to you O Lord, you alone,
   and listen for your Word.
I search for you O Lord, you alone,
   and seek your Guidance.
I stretch out for you O Lord, you alone,
   to touch you and feel your presence.

My mind is focused on you, O Lord,
   for you are my source of life.
My spirit is focused on you, O Lord,
   to give you delight.
My joy is focused on you, O Lord,
   for joy comes in the morning.

O Lord, you alone are the source of all blessing,
   for you gave your life upon a cross.
O Lord, you have saved my from my sin,
   and died and rose again to eternal life.
O Lord, may I always dwell with you,
   in this eternal life serving you alone.

Here is a song that reflects the comfort of learning the ways of God.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lc-h2xG6LI4



Prayer
Lord, I am single-minded about you. My life is all about you. I have put myself behind and focus on you. Lead me, guide me and correct me all along the way... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, February 17, 2014

February 17th Reflection - Be Holy - by Bill Lynch


Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying:

 Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.

 When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord your God.

 You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; and you shall not lie to one another. And you shall not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God: I am the Lord.

 You shall not defraud your neighbour; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a labourer until morning. You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling-block before the blind; you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.

 You shall not render an unjust judgement; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbour. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbour: I am the Lord.

 You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbour, or you will incur guilt yourself. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord.

Reflection - Be Holy
In this passage, God commands us to love one another, to take care of one another, to be kind and considerate of one another, to just get along in love. We are to do this because God is holy. Therefore we too are to be holy or set apart as God's servants to our neighbors in this world.

These laws are a fleshing out of the commandments. When we love God, we love to obey his commands. Not because they will earn us points, but because we love God and want to do the will God has set apart as holy for us. We do these things out of response to what God has already shown us through God's saving action and forgiveness of those times that we fall short of the commandments.

This passage of scripture is a reason to pause and look at a few commandments followed by Luther's explanation.

The Third Commandment.
Thou shalt sanctify the holy-day.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God that we may not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred, and gladly hear and learn it.

The Eighth Commandment.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbor, but defend him, [think and] speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.

The Ninth Commandment.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God that we may not craftily seek to get our neighbor's inheritance or house, and obtain it by a show of [justice and] right, etc., but help and be of service to him in keeping it.

The Tenth Commandment.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his cattle, nor anything that is his.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God that we may not estrange, force, or entice away our neighbor's wife, servants, or cattle, but urge them to stay and [diligently] do their duty.

In Leviticus as well as in life, we listen to the words of Jesus and go out each day to love God and love our neighbor in our words and with our actions. All out of a response to what God has done. Thanks be to God!

This song reminds me of the holiness of God:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQ8MFn4yikA



Prayer
Lord, as I reflect on your will and your way for me in this life you have granted me from death. May I learn to live the love or my neighbor in word and action... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Sunday, February 16, 2014

February 16th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Matthew 5:21-37
 ‘You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder”; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgement.” But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool”, you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
 ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.
 ‘It was also said, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.” But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
 ‘Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.” But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be “Yes, Yes” or “No, No”; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

Reflection
So, what are we to do with ourselves, Jesus? I know that I am a sinner... now what? I have seen what you have taken on for my sin and am truly sorry. But now what am I going to do? How do I express praise and awe to such a loving act as you have taken upon yourself in my place? How do I cry out for salvation when I'm in the midst of the storm? How do I give thanks and praise for such a wonderful act of love? How do I express love, joy, peace and home dear Lord?

This hymn expresses the mystery of how we love our God as ourselves and in our own way. Each of us are unique and God loves us as we are. God loves us so much that he gave the life of Jesus for our sinfulness. God loves us so much that he wants us to be what he created us to be. God loves us even in the midst of the question and the sin. He loves us to death... to the death of ourselves... and brings us to life... to life in the risen Savior.

God of the sparrow, God of the whale
Author: Jaroslav J. Vajda (1983)

God of the sparrow
God of the whale
God of the swirling stars
How does the creature say Awe
How does the creature say Praise

God of the earthquake
God of the storm
God of the trumpet blast
How does the creature cry Woe
How does the creature cry Save

God of the rainbow
God of the cross
God of the empty grave
How does the creature say Grace
How does the creature say Thanks

God of the hungry
God of the sick
God of the prodigal
How does the creature say Care
How does the creature say Life

God of the neighbour
God of the foe
God of the pruning hook
How does the creature say Love
How does the creature say Peace

God of the ages
God near at hand
God of the loving heart
How do your children say Joy

How do your children say Home

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSbB153VSoo



Prayer
Lord, even in the midst of the sorrow for my sin, hear my song of praise and glory. For it's my death and your life that I sing of while I question the ways of myself and of this world... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, February 15, 2014

February 15th Reflection - Time for a Come to Jesus Session - by Bill Lynch


Matthew 5:21-37
 ‘You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder”; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgement.” But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool”, you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
 ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.
 ‘It was also said, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.” But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
 ‘Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.” But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be “Yes, Yes” or “No, No”; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

Reflection - Time for a Come to Jesus Session
I like to refer to this as "The come to Jesus session." Jesus sets so many things straight. Oh, how I love to rationalize and reason through my sin, How I love to hide sin and pretend I wasn't a part of any of it. Oh, how I love to sound as if I'm just the perfect Christian kind of guy. But that's just not the truth of it. That's just not the way it is. I'm a sinner. I sin even when I hate sin. I sin and fall short of any expectation I have for myself and any expectation I believe God has for me. So, when I read this passage from the Gospels, I know it's time for a "Come to Jesus session."

I know that the true consequence of my sin is death. Eternal death. I know that I must pay my debts, I must forgive, I must not murder in a myriad of ways, I must not lust and look at another woman, I know that I must not commit adultery. I know this and I know the consequence of my sin is death. Jesus says so!

"If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell."

This is just not about eyes here. This is about my sin. My very own sin. I must throw it out to save myself from hell. There it is... the "Come to Jesus" session.

I mean really... this is serious stuff here. So... "Come to Jesus!" Yes, come to Jesus! Jesus is my only chance at any of this. And if you think you are clear and free because you haven't done anything THAT awful, you had better think about it twice. We all must "Come to Jesus." Yes, even as Jesus has come to us... we must "Come to Jesus." Jesus is the only way through this whole "sin" thing we have gotten ourselves into. Jesus is the One that God chose to come into this world to save all and each of us from sin, death and the devil. With and through Jesus only, do we have life. Eternal life is in Jesus and through Jesus alone.

We, I, any of us, can't get past the sin. We must... "Come to Jesus" for this. And in that coming to Jesus. In that listening to the tough messages about the Law, we learn the love of God. We learn that the love of God in Jesus grants us freedom from sin. We will still live in the consequences of our sin on this earth . My sin has caused much pain to people far and wide beyond what little I can see of my sin and I am responsible for that pain and hurt. I can't get clear of that here in this place. But what I can do is repent, forgive, and love those I have hurt. I can turn to God and listen to the Word in Jesus and act out the gifts of the Holy Spirit that; as I receive the forgiveness of sin that Jesus died in my place for; I can give my life to God and live an eternal life of hope in the saving act of what God did through Jesus for me, for you, for all, upon that cross.

Because... look and see! Jesus died in our place on that cross for our sin... yet he rose again to new life. He rose again in the flesh and in the spirit to eternal life for you, for me, for all.

So, I will live free from the death of my sin, because Jesus died in my sin on the cross. I will live in the hope of Jesus coming again to finalize all things and take me to be with him in heaven. I will live the life God intends for me to live even on this earth and in this sinful being to the glory of God.

Yes, it's a "Come to Jesus" session as Jesus has come to you, to me and to all the world. Jesus has come... now "Come to Jesus!" Thanks be to God!

Here is a song that reminds me that we all need to Come to Jesus, for Jesus has come to us.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxIsKcdy3Jk



Prayer
Lord, I know I have sinned. Forgive my sin. Renew me, restore me and return me to your favor that I may go forth into this world and do your will... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, February 13, 2014

February 13th Reflection - Grow Up! - by Bill Lynch


1 Corinthians 3:1-9
And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? For when one says, ‘I belong to Paul’, and another, ‘I belong to Apollos’, are you not merely human?

 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labour of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.

Reflection - Grow Up!
As Christians, we go out into the world as commanded. Some into the world far and wide, other's out into the world in which God places them. Some go into the world to serve and some go into the world to work at and use the gifts God has graciously given them. But in any case we go out into the world, even if that world is our very own home. We go out to proclaim the crucified and risen Jesus Christ, who is God and came into this world and our world and the world of all we reach out to, to grant eternal life and freedom from sin, death and the devil.

Yes, we all go out in one form and in many forms. Not in any way to bring or draw attention to ourselves, but rather, in much the same way as John the Baptist, to point to Jesus. For as we go out to water and plant God's seed of salvation, it is God that is the focus. It is God through the Holy Spirit that brings to life those in this world. We go out bearing the fruit of God in our daily lives through what we do and what we say in Christ. So, it's true as Paul states in this passage above... we are God's servants going out into God's field, God's building.

As we go out and follow Christ we begin to grow and mature. We search and seek and listen to God's Word in Scripture and begin to grow in faith. God builds and grows our faith and we grow in our strength and the message of salvation comes to life within each of us. We walk in sin but are not held in the traps and chains of sin and we repent, forgive, obey and walk with God. Yes, we slowly mature in faith. It's not like we become more significant. God loves us so much, Jesus died and rose from death for us, we are already significant to God,  but it's like we begin to bear the fruit of God's work in our lives and our faith becomes real and tangible through what God does in and through us each day. The significance and the center of all we do is in God through Jesus Christ with the power and glory of the Holy Spirit alive and active.

This song expresses the joy we all can have in our growth in faith through Jesus Christ. I want to be Billy forever! I know it's a commercial, but what better way to grow in faith than with this attitude of joy in growing up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWTiv0srfjE



Prayer
Lord, I have to admit, this growing up in faith and maturing is way too much fun to ever have it stop. I don't want to grow up, I just want to follow in your will and your way and continue to grow... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

February 12th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Psalm 119:1-8
Happy are those whose way is blameless,
   who walk in the law of the Lord.
Happy are those who keep his decrees,
   who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong,
   but walk in his ways.
You have commanded your precepts
   to be kept diligently.
O that my ways may be steadfast
   in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame,
   having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
I will praise you with an upright heart,
   when I learn your righteous ordinances.
I will observe your statutes;
   do not utterly forsake me.

Reflection
Psalm 119, the longest psalm in the book of Psalms. This psalm is a reflection or meditation on the Law.  Each of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet is the first letter of eight verses in each section. There is a repetition of eight synonyms of the will of God--- law, word, testimonies, judgments, precepts, commandments and way. One of these terms is in every verse except 122 in this entire psalm. In these first eight verses the psalmist writes of the good way of the Lord.

Lord, I'm the happiest when I dwell on your Law,
   when I realize the fulfillment of your Law is in Jesus.
In my sin, I come to shame and repent,
   but in Jesus I find no shame or disgrace.
Forgiveness and trust and hope come from you O Lord,
   and you restore me to fullness in our relationship.
O how you long to see that forgiveness bear good fruit,
   and how I long to please you and live in your will and way.
For to you, Lord do I want to be with together,
   to walk with you and learn what you desire.
I seek to be obedient to the way of your guidance,
   and speak and act in ways pleasing to you.
So, day by day I study your Word and listen,
   I look to be with you always.

Here is a song that reflects the emotions I have with God in my life... but I have to admit... I can't help but to think of Si Robertson from Duck Dynasty

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTeHnoXFass

Prayer
Lord, lead me and guide me as I follow in your will and your way... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen




Tuesday, February 11, 2014

February 11th Reflection - A Choice - by Bill Lynch


Sirach 15:15-20

If you choose, you can keep the commandments,
   and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice.
He has placed before you fire and water;
   stretch out your hand for whichever you choose.
Before each person are life and death,
   and whichever one chooses will be given.
For great is the wisdom of the Lord;
   he is mighty in power and sees everything;
his eyes are on those who fear him,
   and he knows every human action.
He has not commanded anyone to be wicked,
   and he has not given anyone permission to sin.

Reflection- A Choice
God comes to us in flesh and blood. God comes to us in Jesus. God comes to us in spirit. God comes to us in the Holy Spirit. God comes to us and has created us and has worked out a plan to save us from our sinful ways. Humans have sinned since the Fall. We have chosen to sin. God had given us a choice from the very beginning. A choice in choosing life or death. Through our own selfish greed to take full control of our lives, we, as humans, have decided to eat of the fruit that we thought would save us with our own efforts, and with a new wisdom. But, we left God out of this picture.

God created us to be his own and to live under him in his Kingdom. God created us to be in relationship with him in eternity. God created us and chose to give us choices. So, as this passage from the book of Sirach expresses; God has set before us fire and water. God has set before us life and death. God has set before us the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life.

Yes, God has come to us and we have a choice. God has come to rescue us and save us, but we have a choice. Surely God knows our every action, but in God's way, God has given us the choice.

Look to Jesus. Look to that cross on which he died for your sin. Look at that tomb from which Jesus came forth. An empty tomb. Look, seek, knock, think, pray, but always know that God has come to you to save you and give you a wonderful choice.

Choose life this day. Choose life in Jesus.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTmJXH7-BKM


Prayer
Lord, you have come. Yes! You have come to me to save me. You have come to me to offer a choice. I believe and follow you. You chose me and I choose you! I love you, my Lord, my Savior, my Creator, my Source of Life... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, February 10, 2014

February 10th Reflection - The Fork in the Road - by Bill Lynch


Deuteronomy 30:15-20
 See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

Reflection - The Fork in the Road
If-Then statements. If this is true then this will happen. If this and that are true then... If this or that are false then... If-Then statements can twist you around and upside down sometimes. But they always are logical and they always happen just like they are written... even when you are the one that is twisted and that's not what you really intended to happen.

God places before us a choice. Choose life or death. IF you obey the commandments, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, AND observe his commandments, decrees, AND ordinances, THEN you shall live and become numerous, AND the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess.

So, we obey the commandments by loving God and walking in his ways. Right off the start we obey by loving God. It's about loving God... not anything or anyone else. It's about observing God's commandments, decrees and ordinances. First love God and look to the law. God gives the law out of love towards his people. God knows what is good for us to live in community with one another. God loves us, God loves you and God loves me. Love God and look to the law for guidance and help in how to act and live with God and with one another.

Don't get caught in the Cheap Grace trap where you just pitch out the law because you have forgiveness and Jesus. First love God and then look to the law. It's instruction to keep your life in order. It's love given to you and me by God. If you have done this then you have chosen life and will notice the blessings of God.

So many people don't recognize God's blessings. God blesses all people, good and bad, but when you love God and observe the commandments you will see the blessings. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of life your eyes will be open to the blessings from God that are given to all people. This is a unique and wonderful change of perspective that results in living life to the fullest, not living life in the depths of despair. You see what God has done not what God hasn't done. The focus turns from loving yourself to loving God and those God gives to you. It's a game changer for sure all from the grace of God.

So, God gives us a choice. A choice between life and death... and God's desire is for us to choose life and love him to death. For in the death of the Father's son on this earth; sin, death and the devil were defeated AND everlasting life sprung forth from the grave in the flesh and spirit of Jesus for all people to have. Yes, this Old Testament passage is right...

"I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. "

Choose life!

Here is a song that reminds me of how God loves me and how I should treat another person at the "Fork in the Road" of decision.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBaGA3A8bps



Prayer
Lord, I'm going to make so many choices and decisions today. Lead me in those decisions that I may consider your love and your commandments and your way. Walk with me through each and every one of them. I do choose to love you and I do choose eternal life with you all because you chose to love me... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, February 08, 2014

February 8th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Matthew 5:13-20
 ‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

 ‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
 ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Reflection
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=caA4sIXkD44


Prayer
Lord, you can't be hidden. Shine brightly in me, in your people and throughout the world this day that all people may come to know, learn and believe in your loving act of grace... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Friday, February 07, 2014

February 7th Reflection - The Lamp - by Bill Lynch


Matthew 5:13-20
 ‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

 ‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
 ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Reflection - The Lamp
I worked on that lamp forever! I put it together and took it apart it seems a thousand times. I was never satisfied with this lamp. I was certainly obsessed with making this lamp perfect. This lamp was going to be the perfect gift for the one I love, but I couldn't get this lamp kit put together to suit myself. There was no way that I could give this lamp to the one I love in this condition!

I did the best I could but I guess I will just toss this old lamp kit and give up on it. It will never become what I expect of it. So, that evening, I tossed the lamp kit into the garbage and took the garbage to the crib. Later on in the evening, in the midst of darkness, I could see a faint figure digging through my garbage. This guy came out every garbage night and looked for what could be salvaged. He took that lamp kit that had frustrated me to death the entire weekend. The thought passed through my mind that this guy surely didn't know what a curse he had just pulled from my garbage. More power to him though.

It was into next year in the midst of a cold winter that I stopped by the coffee shop to relax and catch up on some reading by the fireplace. The coffee shop was empty but for a couple of people so I had the fireplace all to myself. I settled into the big chair with my book and a large coffee to relax and keep warm on this cold and dark winter evening. After reading a couple of pages of my book I glanced towards those warming flames of the fireplace and my gaze moved slightly up to the fireplace mantle.

And there it was! There was that lamp that I had pitched in the garbage months earlier. The lamp that frustrated me to no end. The lamp that I had carefully decorated with a special symbol that only my love would recognize. The lamp that was one big POS! It just wouldn't turn out right and wouldn't work for me.

Someone had done something to this lamp. Someone had made this lamp light. I couldn't beg this lamp to light no matter what I did to it, but there it was, all lit up in all it's glory. This useless lamp was now very beautiful to me. But how did they get it to work? What did someone do to get this lamp to light? Now that it was lit, this lamp took on all the beauty that I had imagined as a gift for the one I love. This once useless lamp, destined for the garbage, yes tossed into the garbage; had been rescued, repaired and now lit and the light shown throughout the coffee shop. The gentle flicker of light made this lamp beautiful just as I thought it really was.

Surely the One who rescued this lamp from the garbage heap had saved it. The One who took up this lamp had made it beautiful and gave it a light to shine into all the world. I wonder who this One could be? This One that would dare to take what was tossed out and make it shiny and new and beautiful. The One that would give the time needed to make this lamp work. The One that would graciously give of his life so that a lamp from the garbage might shine a new light. Yes, this One is surely to be praised.

And you know what... suddenly I realized... the lamp was shining brightly the Light that the One had intended for this lamp to shine. A glorious message pointing to it's Savior... to the One!


Prayer
Lord, as you have rescued me... as you have graciously come to me and to your children... may this always be true... Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, February 06, 2014

February 6th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Matthew 5:13-20
 ‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

 ‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
 ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Reflection
We think of salt today as a flavoring or an additive to bring out the taste in food. But salt is also a preservative. To the rabbi's of Jesus day, salt indicated wisdom. The wise life of a disciple would have an effect on society. In one way, I like to think of it as a disciple that bears fruit or the response to the love of God in Jesus, brings to life loving actions towards other people or society or towards the preservation of God's creation.

The rabbi's of Jesus day would have thought that the light of the world was God, Adam, Israel, the law, the Temple or even perhaps Jerusalem. But in this passage, disciples of Jesus recognize the Light of the world as being Jesus himself. Sometimes the disciples of this world are the light that shines in the darkness and tells of Jesus tho One true Light. We tend to hear these words in baptism when it is said to go and let you light shine so that all may see your good works, or the response of your fruits to the salvation of Jesus, in order that all the people God gives to you may be led to Jesus themselves. We proclaim a risen Jesus to all the world by what we do and say.

From here Jesus moves on to the reason for the law. Jesus came not to toss the law out but to fulfill the law. But what does that mean? As Christians many of us would choose to toss the law. When we read the law in the Old Testament, many of the commands seem far out and far away from what we experience today. But in this passage Jesus uses the word "abolish" the law. This means to break up the law. In the breaking up of the law, Jesus fulfills the law. In other words, Jesus brings full meaning to the law.

Jesus lived a life without sin. Jesus kept the law to the fullest extent of the law. In Jesus life, death and resurrection; we see the perfect sacrifice for the sin of the world. We see that unblemished Lamb of God offered once and for all people. We witness in the life, death and resurrection, God coming into this world and doing what we could never do... fulfill the law to the fullest degree. In Jesus, every iota or dot of the law is made perfect. So, in Jesus, nothing goes away from the law, until Jesus fulfills the law by his death on the cross as the perfect sacrifice for all the sin of this world.

In Jesus' death we are led to a new law. A fulfilled law of sorts. A deeper law than the law of the Old Testament that was designed for the good of a chosen people. We are led to a new law through Jesus that is designed for all people. All people that can now live life in a world of sin, free from the punishment of sin. A people that can live, knowing that Jesus has fulfilled the law... not to return to sin... but to respond to the freedom from sin graciously given to us through God coming to us in this world through Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father to lead us in everlasting life with God. We now live and respond in love to this new law in a new relationship with God and love God and one another, not in order to free ourselves from sin, but because Jesus has freed us from sin, death and the devil.

So, finally we have come full circle. As Salt, we bear fruit and respond to Jesus' offering of salvation in love. As light we point to the Light of all the world in Jesus' act of love and offering of his life on the cross for our sin. And yes, now we live in response to this great act of God coming to us to save us from sin, death and the devil, through Jesus perfect sacrifice, by loving God with our very lives and loving those God gives to us in the actions of our lives. We act out of response to God's love in freedom from sin, death and the devil.

We accept that wonderful gift of grace from God at our baptism and our lives now belong to God.

 "Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven."


Prayer
Lord, let your Light shine in and through me, that all those you give to me this day may be lead to see your loving and gracious salvation. For all glory, honor, power and praise are yours... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

February 5th Reflection by Bill Lynch


1 Corinthians 2:1-12
When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.
 Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,
‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
   nor the human heart conceived,
what God has prepared for those who love him’—
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.

Reflection
Paul brings a message to new Christians in Corinth. A message focused on Jesus. A message of faith and truth and trust in what God has done for them through Jesus. A message to a people submersed in the religions and gods of the day. A message that is simple yet powerful. A message that would help the people of Corinth see how the grace of God in the death and resurrection of Jesus far exceeds any message they may hear from the religions they are surrounded with that focuses, not on God, but on the wisdom and knowledge of man.

Yet, for those who believe and know Jesus, Paul tells of God's wisdom, secret and hidden that displays and tells of a God of glory that had a plan of salvation for all people. A plan of salvation that included God coming to this place in the flesh and blood of Jesus and taking on the sin of all the world for the sake of all the world that all people may live eternal life in unity with God.

God's plan wasn't a human plan but a divine plan of love. God's plan was for you and for me and for all the Corinthians and for all humans throughout time. A plan of salvation.

Now, for those who have received God and follow Jesus as disciples; we gladly tell this world of God's plan to save all humans. We rejoice in this time after Jesus resurrection to go to all the world. A time to tell all the world of what God has done for us in Jesus so that all people may hear and come to believe in the Savior, Jesus. So that all people may come to accept Jesus' gracious act of love and join in the unity with God in eternity with all the redeemed.

Paul! What a message! Jesus! What an act of love! Thanks be to God!


Prayer
Lord, thank you for the message and the life and the ministry and the offering of Jesus for all. Thank you for your gracious plan of salvation. As I go into the world this day; send me with your message of grace to proclaim to all the world the salvation you offer in Jesus... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

February 4th Reflection - Blessed - by Bill Lynch


Psalm 112:1-9
Praise the Lord!
   Happy are those who fear the Lord,
   who greatly delight in his commandments.
Their descendants will be mighty in the land;
   the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in their houses,
   and their righteousness endures for ever.
They rise in the darkness as a light for the upright;
   they are gracious, merciful, and righteous.
It is well with those who deal generously and lend,
   who conduct their affairs with justice.
For the righteous will never be moved;
   they will be remembered for ever.
They are not afraid of evil tidings;
   their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord.
Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraid;
   in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
They have distributed freely, they have given to the poor;
   their righteousness endures for ever;
   their horn is exalted in honour.

Reflection - Blessed
Lord when I look at your ways I stand in awe.
   I see your righteousness and serve and obey.
For your Word is my way and my blessing.
   Your Spirit is my Guide and my life.

You are generous in your blessings O Lord.
   Day by day you come to me and love me.
When I rise up you show your Light.
   And I know comfort, grace and mercy.

When evil approaches you give me character.
   Your strength and perseverance overtake me.
Your character and might bring me through the wilderness.
   And I endure with your everlasting hope.

I live in generosity due to your teaching.
   I respond to your love in new and fruitful ways.
For your gifts are my blessings and my way.
   You are my God and Savior and Lord!

Prayer
Lord, your blessings are rich and overwhelming. As you guide my footsteps in this life, may the fruits you have grown in me come to bless those you give to me, that all may see your grace and your glory and join me, as together we follow and serve you... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, February 03, 2014

February 3rd Reflection by Bill Lynch


Isaiah 58:1-9a
Shout out, do not hold back!
   Lift up your voice like a trumpet!
Announce to my people their rebellion,
   to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet day after day they seek me
   and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that practised righteousness
   and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgements,
   they delight to draw near to God.
‘Why do we fast, but you do not see?
   Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?’
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast-day,
   and oppress all your workers.
Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
   and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
   will not make your voice heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
   a day to humble oneself?
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush,
   and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast,
   a day acceptable to the Lord?

Is not this the fast that I choose:
   to loose the bonds of injustice,
   to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
   and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
   and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
   and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
   and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
   the glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
   you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

If you remove the yoke from among you,
   the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,

Reflection
Sometimes we can be such good church people. We show up to church, confess our sins and go home to do it all again. We may even fast or do a little something that we declare is for God. What a bunch of bull! Especially when all of this is on our own terms. Only when it fits our schedule or doesn't happen to inconvenience us do we do the things the we think God wants us to do. But it's not about us... it's about God. We can look like good church people and talk the talk and walk the walk up to the point that it cramps our style then we go to the excuses. Then we turn to the fighting and the quarrels about what the other person does or doesn't do and we forget all about God and fuss with ourselves once again.

Confession, fasting, going to church and doing acts of kindness are all good things in God's sight, however, they turn sour when done with the purpose of getting God to give or do what we expect God to give or do. God desires that we humble ourselves and focus on God and God alone. That we don't focus on what we can get out of it but what God desires. We humble ourselves in confession and realize that we need God. We need God in order to live our lives. We need a Savior. And, yes, thanks be to God, Jesus was sent into this world to save all people from sin, death and the devil. So, with our focus on Jesus, we follow in his footsteps and serve and love the poor, we feed the hungry, we clothe the naked, we do things for other's out of a response and love of a God that took us up while we were destined for eternal death and saved us, not because we fed the hungry or clothed the naked or confessed or went to church or acted all "churchy" with all of the right words, but because God loves us and saves us.

Yes, God wants us to confess and go to church and to sing and to be joyful and to serve in a multitude of ways, but with a heart that waits for the sight of Jesus and gives up our lives to follow the fulfillment of all life in the life of Jesus. We give our hearts and our very lives to God, not for our own convenience and favor but for the glory of God in response to what God has already done for us in Jesus. We give our lives with joy and the return is beyond any joy we could ever experience in this time and in this place. Thanks be to God!



Prayer
Lord, may my heart and my life be made right for you that the "my" becomes the "your"... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen