Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ordinary Time: Thursday, September 27, 2007

Today a group of us from Ripley FUMC are going to the Mississippi Gulf Coast for a short mission trip. Remember us in yoru prayers and remember all of those a couple years out from Katrina that are still in desperate need of help.

Sometimes we preacher can get in the way of letting God speak through His word. Today, instead of a giving you my reflections upon one of my favorite texts, I invite you to prayerfully listen to what God has to say to you through this passage.

Psalm 23 (King James Version)

1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

I could say much about all this passage means to me, and to all of us. Today, listen to Him. Read this passage and listen to his voice and hear what He has to say to you today.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

2 Kings 6:1-23

A couple things about this passage. First. there is more going on around us than our eyes can see. God is always at work, even when can't see it. He is always doing things, working on things, bringing things into completion that we just can't see or understand. Today, the army doesn't understand that God is at work and while they think they have the advantage, God has something up His sleeve that they don't see.

Second, as mama used to always say, you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. When the king had the chance to slaughter this army, at the urging of Elisha, instead of killing them, they had a feast. And, what do you know, they didn't come and attack them again.

In our lives, can a kind word or an act of forgiveness do more good for than any attack? May we be gracious and kind, and return good for evil, and give grace in all that we do.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 5:9-6:8

Paul encourages the church here to work things out. In a world that is always looking for trouble, trying to take advantage of someone, Paul says, no. Not us. We, as Christians, are to work things our. We are to love each other, work together, and move past petty issues. We have a bigger goal and a bigger mission in mind than anything else. Paul encourages us to make the peace, work it out, and see the common goal and common good. That's a pretty good idea, I think.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 5:38-48

We see here some of Jesus' greatest words; to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. What does that mean? We see it here. Walking the extra mile, giving your coat, forgiving your enemies. In other words, this perfection that God desires for us, that we are to strive for, that the Christian Gospel is based upon is that: love, forgiveness, grace. We are to live in this way, and in living lives of love, both love of God and love of neighbor, we will be chasing after that life the Lord wants us to live.

Today, let us live. Let us love. Let us seek to forgive and be the people that God needs us to be. And let us do it the only way possible; through His grace.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

2 Kings 5:19-27

Someone much smarter than I once said that character is what you have when no one else is watching. I think that is one of the truest statements I've ever read. Today, this servant things that he can sneak off and take something that no one else will see. He did not count on Elisha seeing and knowing what he did. Much less God seeing and knowing.

Remember, we are most who we are when no one is watching. May we live lives of grace where our private self matches our public self and where we live with character in all that we do.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 5:1-8

We see here this famous passage of Paul's where he talks about excommunication; kicking someone out of the church because of their sin. But notice something about this text. Paul is not just upset with the one that has committed the sin, but with the church because they don't care that it is been committed and in fact revel in it. Paul's concern is with the health and wholeness of the church. He wants to make sure that the church is at peace and doing what it should be doing.

I think that his greater point here is that sin effects everyone. Just as in the Old Testament lesson, there is really no unseen sin. Everything that we effects everyone else. The sin in this church effected the church and all in it. Our sin not only effects us, but our families, our church and everyone.

So let us remember the power of sin to corrupt and destroy. But, let us also remember the power of God to rebuild and redeem all that come to His grace.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 5:27-37

And completing our trifecta of sin, Jesus tells us that if we commit sin in our heart, it is just as good as actually doing it. Why? This doesn't make sense to us sometimes. The reason is because it is in the heart that most sin starts. We need to always been on guard against sin, within our heart, knowing that murder starts with hate. Infidelity starts with lust. Theft starts with greed. As we have been told before, it is the pride that goes before the fall.

Let us be aware of our hearts. And let us fill our hearts with joy and peace and grace. For in doing that we will find that true joy and peace and grace that comes only from God's grace. And in that, we will find that our hearts are full.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Ordinary Time: Monday, September 24, 2007

Today, just a quick thought; tomorrow we'll resume our regular format. Today's quote comes from Christian Quote of the Day.

The question is not: How many people take you seriously? How much are you going to accomplish? Can you show some results? but: Are you in love with Jesus?

Henri J. M. Nouwen (1932-1996)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Nickel Creek - Smoothie Song

More Nickel Creek Goodness

Nickel Creek - The Lighthouse's Tale

There is nothing better than YouTube.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ordinary Time: Thursday, September 20, 2007

Today will be a little different; the website I use for the bible each day (oremus) is down today, so today we'll just a devotional thought from my main man CS Lewis.

"God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing." CS Lewis

Today, may you find your happiness and peace in God, and may you understand that only in Him can you truly find happiness and peace.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ordinary Time; Wendesday, September 19, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

1 Kings 22:1-28

One of the most dangerous things we can do when we are making a decision, whether it be in church, work, or family, is to only hear from those that agree with you. It is always a good thing to hear from those that may have a different opinion of viewpoint. If we do not hear from different voices or different ideas, how can we learn anything?

Today, the king had his mind made up about going to war, and nothing was going to stop him. Not even the voice of the prophet. May we never have our mind so made up that we cannot or will not listen to those in our lives that we know and trust and may have a different perspective.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 2:1-13

One of the things we see Paul remind us today is that Jesus must be first in everything. We see him tell the Corinthians that when he came to them, he was going to come and be simple and preach that simple message of Jesus, crucified. He wasn't coming for his own attention, of for his own glory. In fact, he humbled himself in his speech and preaching. He was coming for Jesus.

In our service, let us always remember that we do it not for ourselves or for our own glory, but for Jesus. He is the one that deserves praise and glory, he is the one that we give our service to. He is the on that it is all about.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 4:18-25

He gave Peter and Andrew that simple message. Follow me. He didn't say to where. He didn't say how far. He didn't tell them a lot of details. He simply said to follow. And they did. Why?

They didn't know where they were going, they didn't know where it would lead, they didn't know a lot of things. But, they did know this. They did know who they were following. They were following Jesus. And in following Him, they would be where they needed to be. But, to get there, they needed to follow Him.

May we do the same.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

1 Kings 21:17-29

We see today in this story of Ahab one of the truths of our walk with God. If we will humble ourselves and come back to Him, God will forgiven, time after time, after time. Ahab had not done anything to earn God's love. He had not done anything to earn God's forgiveness. Yet, when he humbled himself before God, he was forgiven.

No one is beyond God's grace. There is no one that God cannot restore. The is no heart to hard, no sin to deep, if will simple return to God and ask forgiveness. He is gracious and kind and longs to love and forgive His people.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 1:20-31

We see Paul remind us today that our strength and our pride should not come from within ourselves, but should come from God. For God chose us not because we are particularly outstanding, but because He simply loves us.

How outrageous is that? In a world where we have to earn everything, where there is always pressure, always stress, all of this, our God says, I simply love you. Hear that word this morning. You are loved today, and you don't have to earn it. God simply loves you.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 4:12-17

We see Jesus begin to preach today, and His message is a simple one. Repent, for the kingdom of God is near. To repent is to turn from our sins, and turn to God. To turn away from, and to turn to. I think that is a good thing to remember.

Each day, we will face temptation. Each day we will face sin. What do we do at that moment? Do we turn away from that temptation? Do we turn to God? Or, do we turn to temptation. Today, when that temptation comes, turn from it, and turn to God. Take a moment to pray. To breathe. To focus on God. If we turn to God, temptation will not overcome us. If we try on our own, we will fall.

Today, turn to God.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Ordinary Time: Monday, September 17, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

1 Kings 21:1-16

Paul writes to us that the love of money is the root of all evil. I think the reason why is because if we take our eyes off of God and place them on to material possessions, we find ourselves in all kinds of trouble. So, we can also take out the word money and place the world, power, or possessions, or whatever. Anything that we love so much that causes us to take our eyes of God can be the root of evil for us.

Today Ahaz would do anything to get that, as would his wife. It a sad thing to desire something so much that you would kill over it. Today, in their lives, this land was the root of evil in their lives.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 1:1-19

Paul reminds us today that what matters is not who baptized us; what denomination we are a part of; what matters is that we know that we are loved by Christ and that we follow Him. It doesn't matter if we Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Catholic, Pentecostal, Church of Christ, whatever denomination is ours. What matters is that we love Jesus and follow Him. For He is that that came to save us. And it is though Him that we know grace, love, and power.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 4:1-11

We see something very interesting today. How was Jesus tempted by Satan today? In a couple of temptations, Satan quotes the Bible to Him. One of the things that many of us respect is when people can quote the Bible. But, one thing we need to always be careful about is when they quote the Bible, are they quoting it the right way. See, that is how Jesus defeats Satan this morning. When the devil quoted the Bible, Jesus knew the correct interpretation and context of that quotation.

It is not just enough to know the Bible, we must know it is actually talking about and quote it correctly. Lots of folks use the Bible. May we make sure we use it in the right way.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ordinary Time: Thursday, September 13, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

1 Kings 18:1-19

We see in this passage the beginning of the great showdown between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. It is coming when he will stand before the false prophets as one man, and face them down. But, one man with God on his (or her) side can do great things. Another thing we see in this text is that there are always folks working for good that we don't always see. We see Obadiah today hiding other prophets so to see them. We don't know much about him, other than what this text tells us; but here he is, hiding the people of God and keeping them safe. He simply did what was right.

And, that is all the Lord asks of us, that we do what is right.

New Testament Lesson

Philippians 2:12-30

There is that great verse of scripture that so many of us have quoted before in times of conversation (or even an argument or two); work out your salvation with much fear and trembling. I'm not going to make today's thoughts a great theological lecture, but I simply put forth this thought. Perhaps the goal of salvation is not simply to accept and believe in Jesus Christ, but perhaps the goal of salvation is to follow Him and become more like Him each day.

Perhaps what God has for us is that we grow in grace daily. That we become more loving, more caring, more faithful, more obedient. Perhaps what He wants for us is that we become changed; we become different. And that we are to work on it each, through His grace working in us. Maybe that's what Paul is talking about today.

May we, through God's grace, be changed and transformed today. May today, we work out our salvation with much fear and trembling.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 2:13-23

These were dangerous days for Jesus and for His family. But, each step of the way, God was there. God was leading. When there were choices to make, decisions that had to happen, each step, God was there. God was leading them where they need to be. He was placing there where they needed to be. God was leading. They had to listen.

Today, God is leading us somewhere. There is somewhere He wants us to be; somewhere He wants us to go. May we listen. May we listen for His voice and go where it leads. He will take us where we need to be. And, where He needs us to be. Listen. He will lead.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

1 Kings 17:1-24

We see in the text today Elijah come to this widow and she was ready to die. She was ready to eat her last meal with her family and then die. But, the Lord had something else for her. The Lord had other plans. The Lord wasn't done with her yet; He was going to use her in a mighty way.

What was the great thing that the Lord had for her? She had to be faithful with a little. If she was faithful with the little that she had; then the Lord could do great things. Today, His desire for us is not that we climb the highest mountain; it is simply that we be faithful. If we do that; He'll take care of everything else.

New Testament Lesson

Philippians 2:1-11

We are to follow the same path of our Lord, who instead of being haughty or proud, humbled Himself for our sake. There is really no great witness of the grace of Christ than true humility. Humility is not thinking or believe that we are nothing, it is remember that that God is everything. Humility is about losing ourselves inside of God's grace. Today, may we seek after Him, and today may we lose ourselves in Him. And in doing that, may we be truly humble.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 2:1-12

We see the irony within this text. Herod's Prophets know where Jesus is to be born; and they do not seek. The Wise Men know nothing about Christi's coming; they simply follow the star. And they are the one's that come to worship. It is one things to know as the teaches did. It is another thing to follow, as the wise men did. May we not just know, may we follow.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11, 2007

Today is the six year anniversary of the attacks on our nation on September 11. Today's post will be a bit different, and we'll resume our normal format tomorrow. But, today, I want to share with you a prayer that has meant much to me in my life, and I prayer it can speak to your heart today. It is a prayer that was given to us by St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Today, may we each be instruments that God can use in a powerful way.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ordinary Time: Monday, Setember 10, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

1 Kings 13:1-10

This man of the Lord who is talked about in this passage; his name is never given. We don't really know where he came from, we don't really know where he went. We don't know who is family was; we don't know who his children or grandchildren where. We just simply know that he had a mission from God, and he completed. Serving God does not make us famous, does not promise us money or power, does not mean that everyone will know who we are.

But, serving God means that in this life of shifting sands will have a purpose and a goal and a plan. Serving God means that we live for something beyond ourselves; something greater than ourselves, something that will give us true life. Serving only ourselves, we find ourselves empty. Serving God we find life. This man of the Lord, he simply did what the Lord called him to do. May we do the same.

New Testament Lesson

Philippians 1:1-11

Paul tells us today that the one that began a good work in us will complete that work. God isn't done with us yet. We may not be exactly what we ought to be, we may not be the man or woman that we should be, but God is not done with us yet. He is still working on us, He is still pulling on us, He is still making us into the people we should be.

So, don't give up. Keep on working and praying and trying. The Lord is not done with us. Have faith, hold fast, and know that His grace is still doing amazing things.

Gospel Lesson

Mark 15:40-47

Here, Jesus body is laid in the tomb. This is the darkest moment within the Bible. For in this moment, our Lord looks defeated. In this moment, it looks like evil has one. In this moment, it looks like all that Jesus had done was far naught. This is that dark moment.

Let us never forget that in the dark moments of our lives; just like in this dark moment, God is not done. God is still at work, doing something great, even if our eyes can't see. Remember, His hand is still at work, even when we can't see.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Ordinary Time: Thursday, September 6, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

1 Kings 11:1-13

We see here the results of what happened when Solomon turned from the Lord. All that his father worked for, and all that he worked for during his lifetime, these will now be taken from his family. Because of his choices and because of being led away, he turned from what he knew was right. Because he allowed others to lead him to things that he knew was wrong, his kingdom would eventually be taken from his family. Even though he knew better, even though the Lord appeared to him, he still chose wrong.

By God's grace may we watch our choices.

New Testament Lesson

James 3:13-4:12

We see here that we should let God's wisdom be our guide in life. We should seek to live by the things that He wants us to do, and in doing that, we will serve Him and each other. Loving God and each other (neighbor) that is ultimately God for us and for our lives. We are called to serve our God with all that we are, and likewise, serve each other. Living by God's wisdom shows us that, shows us how to live and how to serve.

Living by our wisdom will lead us to serve only ourselves. Living by God's will cause us to serve God, and each other.

Gospel Lesson

Mark 15:12-21

We see here, in spite of being innocent, in spite of doing nothing wrong, in spite on only doing good; Jesus is led to the cross. And, He is led in silence. There is that old spiritual song that I often think of when I read this story:

They led Him to Pilate’s bar
Not a word, not a word, not a word, not a word
They led Him to Pilate’s bar
Not a word, not a word, not a word, not a word
They led Him to Pilate’s bar
But He never said a mumblin’ word
Not a word, not a word, not a word, not a word

They all cried, “Crucify Him”…

They nailed Him to the tree…

They pierced Him in the side…

He hung His head and died…

Wasn’t that a pity and a shame…

He did this simply because He loved us. May we be thankful today for all He has done for us.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Ordinary Time: September 5, 2007

Old Testament Lesson

1 Kings 9:24-10:13

Today, we see in the entrance of Pharaoh's daughter. Do you remember what the condition of God's blessings was to Solomon? That he continue to worship God as his father David did. Well, in Egypt, they worship many God. On the surface, this is not a huge deal. But, her entrance to the story would become the beginning of his undoing.

Isn't that the way sin works? Its not the big ones, or the ones that everyone makes a big deal about. For most of us, its the little ones that no one sees that can slowly chip away at our walk with God. Its not just the big ones that we need to be on the lookout for, its the little ones that can start the snowball rolling.

New Testament Lesson

James 3:1-12

I love that image of out the same mouths come both blessings and curses. Who can tame the tongue. It is is so powerful. It can build up and it can tear down. It can praise God and it can curse our neighbor. It can do great good, it can do great, great harm. It is with our tongues that can pray, sing praises, give witness. It is with our tongues that we can turn others from the faith, that we can bring doubt and despair. Our tongues can do many things.

In what way will we use our tongues today?

Gospel Lesson

Mark 15:1-11

Notice a couple of things about Pilate this morning. First, he was amazed at Jesus. It says he was amazed when Jesus gave no answer. Then it says that he knew what the people were really up to; this wasn't about anything other than they were jealous of Jesus. He knew these things. He knew what was right.

Yet, he still handed Jesus over to be crucified. It is not just enough to know what is right. We must do what is right.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Ordinary Time: Monday, September 4, 2007

I hope everyone had a great Labor Day

Old Testament Lesson

1 Kings 8:65-9:9

We see the Lord giving Solomon a warning. Keep doing as you have done and as your father did, and everything will be great. You will be blessed and your people will be blessed. If you turn away and worship false gods, you will be cut off, along with your people. I don';t understand the mind of God, but maybe the reason why the Lord warned Solomon was because He knew the temptations he would face.

We know from reading Solomon's story that he does turn away. He does worship false gods. He does do the things that he should not do, and after him, Israel suffers. Maybe the reason why God gave him this warning so that he would be aware what would happen if he gave into tempt ion.

See, the Lord knows our weakness, He knows what we will be tempted by, what we will struggle with, and even where we will fall. But, He also promises to give us strength to overcome these things, if we will turn to Him. He told Solomon the consequences of not following Him, and also told Solomon the benefits of following. As we will read in the coming days, Solomon made the wrong choice. We we choose more wisely.

New Testament Lesson

James 2:14-26

We see here in James that old debate about faith versus works. What James is telling us is basically this. Yes, it is faith that mattes, but true faith will produce works. There are no ifs ands or buts about it. If there is true faith, there will be works. It is not enough for to simply say that we have faith; if we actually do, our life will show it. There is no other choice. Faith will produce works.

I heard someone put it like this. If you are alive, you don't tell yourself to breathe. You just simply breathe. Likewise, with faith, good works simply come. It is just the way that it happens. Today, may we have an active and alive faith that produces life for God.

Gospel Lesson

Mark 14:66-72

We see in this passage, two men failed Jesus on that night. Judas betrayed, Peter denied. Judas would hang himself later that night, Peter would go on to be the greatest preacher in the early church. What was the difference? God would be willing to forgive both of them? Why did one take one road, and the other another?

Perhaps it was because Peter was able to forgive himself, and Judas was not. Remember, that we are forgiven by God, if we repent and ask forgiveness. May we find the grace to accept that forgiveness. And may we find the grace to forgive ourselves as well.