Thursday, February 28, 2008

Lent: Thursday, February 28, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Genesis 46:1-7, 28-34

We see that the Lord has now brought everything to completion.  The family is back together and they will survive the famine.  The one that was once feared as dead is back alive with the family.  Forgiveness and restoration has happened, and their is peace. This is a good moment. 

We know from reading the Bible, this good moment does not last forever. The people would be in slavery.  Troubles would come. 

But, they enjoyed this moment they had. We don't know all that life has for us. We don't know what lies up the road ahead. But, by God's grace when we encounter a good moment, let's live in it.  

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 9:1-15

Paul in this passage talks about all the things that he could or has the right to do, but will not, for he does not want to be a stumbling block to the people.  His main concern is them, their well being and their faith. Everything else pales in comparison.  

We live not just for ourselves, we live for each other.  The way that I live affects all that I love.  Likewise, the way that those I love live affects me. Remember, we are all connected through the body and blood of Christ. Let us live that way.  

Gospel Lesson

Mark 6:30-46

This may have one of my favorite passages in all the Bible.  It says that Jesus looked at the people and had compassion on them. He didn't see their mistakes.  He didn't see their weakness. He didn't see all the things that we sometimes see.  He saw their need for Him. And He had compassion for them. 

Remember, that in the times of our lives when we are most in need of Him, He looks to us, and He sees us with compassion.  

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Lent: Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Today, just a quick devotional thought thanks to our friends at Christian Quote of the Day

Next to the wicked lives of men, nothing is so great a disparagement and weakening to religion as the divisions of Christians.
John Tillotson (1630-1694)

Today, may all of us that believe upon Christ seek to live in peace and love with each other. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Lent: Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Genesis 45:1-15

We see here the result of what God was doing.  He was at work in all that was going on in all that was going on in this family.  He was working out for the salvation of His people from the coming famine.  He was making sure that there was a way for His people to survive.  He will make a way.  

No matter how distressing the situation may look that we are going through, God is at work.  He can bring something good out of every situation.  Through all that Joseph went through, God was working.  Even today, God is at work in our lives and will bring some good out of it.  

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 7:32-40

We see here Paul tell us that our primary concern, our primary worry should not be all the things that swirl around us; our primary concern and worry should be God. We should be focused on Him, on His will, on His plan, on what He would have us to do. And if we are focused on Him, we will find that our worries will not be as great. We worry in vain over things that we can't control.  Let us focus instead on God, and what He is doing. And when we cast our focus on that, instead of worry, we will find peace. 

Gospel Lesson

Mark 6:1-13

The text says that Jesus was amazed by their unbelief. There He was in their midst, doing great and wonderful things. Speaking the word, bringing healing, bringing life. But, the people would not believe, their hearts were hard.  Because of their hard hearts, they couldn't see what He was doing in their midsts.  May we pray for softened hearts to see what God is doing. 

Monday, February 25, 2008

Lent: Monday, February 25, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Genesis 44:18-34

Judah volunteers to be a slave, to be taken captive to allow Benjamin to be safe and free.  One of my favorite profs in seminary was Dr. Knickerbocker.  Dr. Knick used to always tell us that one of the ways that we as Christians should read the Old Testament was to read it looking for Jesus, looking for the promises of Jesus. Today, in this passage we see Judah sacrifice himself for another's freedom.  

Judah become the father of one of the 12 Tribes of Israel.  David was a member of this tribe.  And so was someone else: Jesus.  Revelation call Jesus the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.  In his sacrificial action here, he points the way to Jesus.

So is it in our lives when lay down our life, our wants for another; we are pointing the way to Jesus.  May all of our actions today point towards Him.  

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 7:25-31

Paul's motivating force behind his words on marriage and relationships is this: this world is passing away. Don't get too comfortable. Don't make this world you home.  We will not be here forever, there is another place that we belong. Don't grow too comfortable in this world that you will not want to go to your true home. 

Those are good words for us to live by. Sometimes we can grow so comfortable in this world that we can forget that this world is not our home. We are called to live with abandon for Him and know that even with all the blessings of this life, this world is not our home.  

Gospel Lesson

Mark 5:21-43

We see in this passage Jesus heal both the powerful and the weak. He heals both the rich and the poor.  He heals all for He loves all.  His love, mercy, and compassion goes to all that in need, and His arms stretch to embrace us wherever we may be. 

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lent: Thursday, February 21, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Genesis 42:29-38

We see in this passage that Reuben tries to stand up and do what is necessary to make things work.  You may remember from when Joseph was thrown into the well originally, it was Reuben that persuaded his brothers not to kill him.  One the things in life we learn is that we have to stand for what we believe in, and for what we know to be right.  Reuben did that.  Sometimes it worked out like he wanted, sometimes it didn't.  He couldn't control the outcome.  He could only control what he did.  He tried to do right. 

That's what we must do in life; try to do right.  All we can control is our actions.  And if we try to do right in that, everything is out of our control. Today, let's try to do right. 

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 6:12-30

Remember, we live not just for ourselves, but we live for God.  Sometimes we can fall for the myth that we live only for ourselves and what we want and what we desire. That is not true. We live for God and for His glory. We were bought with a price, we are not our own.  We are His.  May we learn to submit our desires to His, and live in the way that He wants us to live. And the truth is, that is the way that leads to life.  Living for Him and by His strength is the way to life.  

Gospel Lesson

Mark 4:21-34

Remember, the kingdom of God is like that mustard seed.  It isn't always what we thing that it is.  It will be in the small things. We can see the kingdom in our hearts, we can see it in the smile of a child, we can see it in an act of kindness done for another. We can see it each day.  We don't have to wait until Sunday to experience the kingdom. we can see it today. Today, may we experience God's kingdom among us.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lent: Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Genesis 42:18-28

We see here in this story of Joseph all the twists and turns of this story of redemption and reconciliation of this family. But, during the story there are all these twists and turns and if you read it section by section, you are not sure how it will turn out.  We know, because we can skip ahead to the ending, but you are not quite sure if you just read it. 

That's how life is sometimes. We know how things will turn out. We know it will be worked out to our good. We just aren't sure how that will happen sometimes. We aren't sure exactly how God is going to get the things done that He said He will do. We can only see the immediate. God sees the eternal.  Today, trust in not just that your eyes see, but trust in the God that sees and knows all. And know that He is working things out for our good and his glory. 

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 5:6-6:8

Paul is adamant that the church remember that they are always been watched by the world. And the way that we live, the way that we make decisions, the way that we argue is seen by all. And it give witness to what we believe as well.  We have to remember that we are always being watched by a world that needs to hear this gospel of grace. And we need to make sure that our actions are as gracious as our beliefs.  May we live in such a way to give glory to God!

Gospel Lesson

Mark 4:1-20

The thing that we see in this passage is that there will be opposition to what God wants to do in your life. There will responsibilities, and busyness, and worries, and children, and work, and games, and all these things that will vie for our time. We know we need to spend time in the Word, in prayer, in church, in service, in all the things of God. But, there is so much vying for our time. There are so many things trying to snatch the the seed that had been planted. 

May we take time to tend the soil of our souls so that it will receive the word that God has for us and that it can grow roots deep down, roots that will last through any storm. May we take time to tend our soul. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Lent: Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Genesis 42:1-17

We see here God's plan of salvation for His people coming into play. Even here in this passage, Joesph seems to just be messing with his brothers, and we can think that he's just poking them a little for all that they have done to him. And, maybe he is. But, there is something else at work in this. God is using this to reunite this family. Through these actions, and even through the famine, God is able to bring something good out of it. He is able to bring this family together. As Joseph will say in a later chapter, what man intended for evil, God intended for good. Even the worst situation, God is able to bring good out of it. That is the power of grace and of God.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 5:1-8

One of the things that keeps getting the people of Corinth in trouble is their arrogance. They think they are above all of Paul's teaching, that they know better than he does and they can do what they want to do. We should be be careful and learn from their mistakes. We are never too wise for instruction from others. In fact, it is the wise that are humble and are willing to learn in all things. The proud think that they have everything figured out. The humble are always willing to learn.

Today, may we be willing to learn and take instruction from God.

Gospel Lesson

Mark 3:19b-35

We see here Jesus say that family goes beyond blood, but family is those that share in the same mission and purpose. He said that those that do the will of His father are His family That is why we are brothers and sisters. If God is all our Father, that makes us each family. And we should love each other like family. There are enough forces trying to pull us apart in this world; let us work together to love each other and to serve God. For He has called us to something greater than ourselves, and something that we can only accomplish when we work together. Today, as family, may we work together.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Lent: Monday, February 18, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Genesis 41:46-57

One of the concepts we see over and over again in scripture is that the way that things are right now will not always be the way that things are in the future.  It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.  There was no famine when Joesph told folks to go and make ready the store houses. We need to always be ready for the uncertainty of the future. 

But, this works in another way as well.  In our current time, there is crying and pain and death. But, there will come a time when there will be no more of these things.  There will come a day when God will wipe every tear from our eye.  There will come a time things will be as she should. 

Remember that in both the times of joy and pain, God is there, and He is work. In the times of joy hold onto Him, for He brought you to that joy, and in Te pain, hold on to Him, for He will bring you through that pain. 

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 4:8-21

Paul writes a lot of things tongue in check  That's what he is doing in this passage.  The folks in Corinth think that know everything and already have it figured out. so he says, well, if you've got it all figured out, maybe I can learn from you instead of the other way around!  Paul was not afraid to take a little dig about people when they weren't acting right. 

But then we see him get to what he wants them to know. They are not living as they should and they need someone to follow.  It if for these reason he says, imitate me.  What a statement. How many of us could say to someone, you want to see how a Christan lives?  Watch me.  That is quite a statement.  But that is what Paul says. 

And whether we know it or not, that is what folks are doing. They are watching. They are following us.  They are seeing what we do, and how we live.  May we live in such a way that give glory to God and may we live in such a way where folks are led to Him.  

Gospel Lesson

Mark 3:7-19

We see that Jesus, even though He was the very Son of God, knew that He could not accomplish all that He needed to do with the help of others. Without the help of the 12, the mission could not be fully accomplished.  He needed them to do what they were called to. 

Just as today, He needs each of us to do that which He has called us to.  Today, He needs you gifts, your talents, your word, all that you are, to accomplish all that He needs done. Today, He gives us the high privilege of being used by the King!  What a great calling and what a great purpose!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lent: Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Genesis 37:25-36

As we read Joseph's story, we see that sometimes life takes turns that we do not want it to take. We all know this from human experience, don't we?  We have all had things happen to us that we wish would not have and have found ourselves in place we don't want to be.  We see this over and over again the Bible. Things happen to these folks in the Bible that they wished would not have happened. But they did.

But we must remember the other part of the Biblical story. God was at work in each part of the story. Even the things that were hard and didn't make sense. Today, God is at work in your life in ways you may not understand and in thing that you cannot see. But, He is at work.  Trust Him.  Let Him guide you. Go to where He leads. He will be with you.  

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 2:1-13

Paul says that he came not preaching complicated messages, but instead he came with the simple truth of God.  There is something to be said about simplicity. There is something to be said about keeping things simple.  In a world that is fast and complicated, sometimes we want to keep adding more stuff: more to our calendars, more to our lives, more to everything.

Some times we just need to stop. . . . . slow down. . . . . . and breathe.  Today, take time to remember the simple graces of life. 

Gospel Lesson

Mark 1:29-45

In the middle of all these; all the healing and preaching and moving and all that He was doing.  In the very middle of all it, what did Jesus take time to do?  He prayed.  He took time to prayer.  To spend time with His father.  To reflect, to receive grace. To to commune with God. 

Our Lord and Savior saw the importance of prayer.  If Jesus spent time in prayer, shouldn't we?  Today, in spite of all that you have going one, take time to pray.  

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lent: Monday, February 11, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Genesis 37:1-11

One of the great things we see in the Bible is that the people were people, just as we are.  How many of us, have had a little brother or sister that new how to push our buttons.  Or, how many of us have had older brothers or sisters that would not listen to us.  We see that dynamic playing out in this story.  As we will see in the coming days, it takes a drastic departure from our experiences. But, the feelings behind it are the same.  No one can grate your last nerve like family.  No one can love you like family. 

Today, may we thank God for our families, and may we remember that they are ours, even when they get on our last nerve. 

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 1:1-19

We see Paul here talking about another family that can sometimes have its fair share of problems: the church. Paul reminds us that we are baptized into Christ, and that He is the one that has called us and He is the one that we serve. We can have our problems and disagreements sometimes, but let us always remember that it is Christ who has called us and He has something for us, together, greater than any one of us can do alone. 

Gospel Lesson

Mark 1:1-13

One of the words we see over and over again in Mark's Gospel is the word immediately.  Jesus is always going, always at work, always doing what He is called by His Father to do.  Sometimes we are called to wait and plan and have patience.  Sometimes we are called to go at that moment and do what we are called to do.  Today, may we have the grace to discern the two and when we are called to do something at that time, let's do it!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ash Wednesday: February 6, 2008

Today we begin the journey of Lent.  I hope that you are able to reflect upon the sacrifice of Christ today, and each day of Lent.  May the reminder of what He has done for each of us bring us to a closer devotion to Him. 

Old Testament Lesson

Amos 5:6-15

Today, seek good, not evil.  Evil is always lurking.   Evil is always creeping. Evil is always at our door.  Sometimes the evil is in the world.  Sometimes it is in the culture. Sometimes it is in our hearts, it is in our frailties, it is in our very self. Today, evil is lurking.  Temptation is waiting.  Sin is out there.  Be aware. Be aware of your own frailties, your own weaknesses, your own temptations. 

Today, seek good, not evil. Evil is waiting. Turn from it. 

New Testament Lesson

Hebrews 12:1-14

In this season of Lent, this time of reflection, turn to discipline.  Turn to things like prayer and fasting and reflection and service. When we do that, we will see our great need for God. We when quiet ourselves, we see that we can fool ourselves into thinking that we are stronger than we really are. It is in times of discipline that we can see our weakness and that great need.

In those same times, we can see as great as our need is, our God is bigger. As great as our sin is; God's grace is bigger. As needful as we are; God's love is stronger. Turn to Him.  

Gospel Lesson

Luke 18:9-14

Today, remember that prayer of the tax collector. Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner. Lord have mercy on us today.  Forgive us when we turn away. Forgive our sins, give us the grace of repentance, give us the grace to turn from all that seeks to destroy us, give us the grace to turn to you. 

For only in God do we find life.  It is found no where else. Today, and during all of Lent, and all of life, may we turn away from that which is evil and turn to God.  

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Proverbs 30:1-4, 24-33

What a great final phrase in this passage; pressing anger produces strife.  Sometimes we can get legitimately angry and upset about things.  The question then becomes, what do we do about it?  Do we, through grace, move on and forgive?  Or do we feed the anger?  Do we push it?  Do we allow the anger to build up and overflow?  

If so, it will produce strife.  It will produce hurt.  It will produce brokenness. Today, how will we respond to the anger that may well up inside today?  May we handle it with grace.  

New Testament Lesson

Philippians 3:1-11

We see Paul tell us today that if anyone thinks they have reason to boast; he has more.  He has every reason to be prideful and boast and tell folks how great he is. But he doesn't.  He says that all that matters is Jesus, and it is Jesus that is the reason we should really boast.  

We should always remember that it is by His strength and His power that we are able to accomplish the things that God has for us.  He is the one that deserves praise honor.  

Gospel Lesson

John 18:28-38

We see Jesus standing before Pilate, and Pilate asks, what is truth.  There is He is, there truth stands.  And Pilate doesn't see it.  May we see the presence of Christ today in our lives.  

Monday, February 4, 2008

Ordinary Time: Monday, February 4, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

We see a lot of wisdom in Proverbs.  I used to have a minister friend of mine that said the key to a a happy life is to read 3 Psalms and 1 Proverb a day.  I can't testify to that; but I know that when we read the book of Proverbs, we receive wisdom that goes down deep. 

We see things today like let another praise you; don't do it ourselves. Those are very true words.  And that flies against everything that is popular in today's world. We are told to praise ourselves. To look out only for our wants and desires. That we are all that matters. 

Proverbs says, no.  You are not the end all and be all. There are others. There is wisdom. There is God.  Perhaps that first step to wisdom is humility.  If we are too prideful, we cannot learn and gain wisdom. But, if we humble ourselves, we can learn much. 

Today, may we see God's humility.  

New Testament Lesson

And we see the lesson from Proverbs driven home in this passage. We are to take in our mind the mind of Jesus, who humbled himself. If anyone deserved to toot his own horn, it was Jesus.  He was a pretty awesome guy. After all, He was the Son of God.  But yet, He didn't.  He humbled Himself.  He became a servant.  He loved and forgave.  He didn't boast Himself up; He let God give Him praise.  

Today, may we humble ourselves, and in doing that, receive the praise that matters most; the praise that comes from God.  

Gospel Lesson

We see the beginning of Peter's denial.  Remember there were two folks that denied Jesus.  Judas betrayed. Peter denied.  But, we see that there is forgiveness offered, for Peter was redeemed in spite of his failure.  Perhaps Judas was not forgiven because he would not ask for forgiveness. 

Today, even when we make mistakes and mess up, may we ask for forgiveness.