Friday, May 30, 2008

Ordinary Time: Friday, May 30, 2008

Today, the rare Friday post:

Old Testament Lesson

Today it says, don't envy the wicked.  Now, who would do that?  Well, that is what sin does.  It causes us to look at others that are not living by grace and say, if I could just throw off these restraints of faith, oh the fun I'd have. But, Proverbs tells us that we should not think in that manner for that is the way that leads to destruction. 

Sin promises fun.  It promises satisfaction.  It promises doing what we want!  But, it enslaves.  It controls. It takes us away for what is truly.  Sin tells us that if we live for ourselves, we'll be happy. But we find ourselves empty each time. 

Jesus promises that if we live for Him, we'll find life.  It is in living for something, (or someone) more than ourselves that we find ourselves.  It is in giving our lives away that we find our lives.  It is in following Jesus we find life. 

Today, may we remember what true life is and where it comes from!  

New Testament Lesson

We see Paul once again speak to the heavy responsibility that goes to those that teach.  To the ones that teach, they must always remember that eyes are watching them, seeing how they live, what they say, who they are. 

But in reality, we all teach. For in all that we do, there are little eyes that are watching us.  May we live in such a way that we point those little eyes to Jesus.  

Gospel Lesson

We see that it is the good soil that produces the fruit. As many of us know, you have to prepare the soil before you plan.  You have to plow the ground, you have pick out the right spot, you have to do all the preparation to make sure that the soil you'll use will be ready to plant. 

So it is with God. For us to produce the fruit that we are capable of for God, we have get the soil ready in our souls. We need to be spending time with Him, through prayer, through Scripture, through worship, through all these things.  We need to make sure our heart is ready, our "dirt" is good. That way when it comes time to plant, we'll be ready. 

Today, God wants to plant His word in each of our hearts.  May we be good "dirt" to receive it.  

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ordinary Time: Thursday, May 29, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

A good name is better than riches. That is a true statement.  In life, all that we really have is our name. All that counts is the way that live and carry ourselves. A good name is a gift that can be passed down to our children and grandchildren.  It is a testament to a life well lived. 

Today, may we live in such a way to give honor not just to our name, but most of all, in a way to give honor to the God in whose image we are made!  

New Testament Lesson

Paul encouraged Timothy to pay close attention to himself, and to the gift he has been given.  Paul knows the potential that Timothy has; he knows the good he can do for the kingdom.  So, Paul encourages him to be faithful, and Paul encourages him to work on the gift he has been given. 

Each of us is gifted in some great way by God.  There is not a person out there is not made in the image of God, and is not gifted in some amazing way.  Within this, let us look to the areas of life where God has gifted us, and let us work on developing those areas. Let's let God empower us to use what He has given us for His glory and for His good. For, if he has gifted us, He wants us to use it!  

Gospel Lesson

We see that that Master of the field, at just the right time, will uproot the weeds.  Perhaps we spend too much time trying to uproot weeds; perhaps we should be spending more time trying to grow fruit in ourselves, and in others. Today, may we try to grow fruit in our own lives, and may we take the time to build up, to encourage, to help other grow; instead of criticizing, tearing down, gossiping, and judging. 

Remember, the Lord has shown us mercy and grace.  May we show the same mercy and grace to each other.  

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Dr. Frank Pollard, when I was a student at Mississippi College, used to tell us that we should read three Psalms and a Proverb a day.  He said in doing that,  your life will be filled with more peace.  When we read the lessons of Proverbs, it makes sense, and it leads the way to a healthy life.  Today instead of reflecting upon this passage, I want you to simply click on the link above and go read this passage, and just think all the ways in life that we can live in a way more inline with the wisdom of this book.  

New Testament Lesson

We see that those that are called to leadership in the church are supposed to live a life great than themselves. They are called to live for a purpose and a calling higher than just their own. They are called to live a life devoted to God. 

And that is all our calling. For in a life devoted to God; that is the way that we find the peace and joy that our hearts desire.  When life is lived for a calling and purpose more than ourselves, that is when a life is truly lived!  

Gospel Lesson

We see Jesus give us a new definition of family. Our family is not just those that are related by blood, but those that are related by the Spirit. That is why we are the family of God. For if God is Our Father, then that makes us brothers and sisters. 

And how lucky we are to have the family we have!  Now, sometimes families will fuss and fight, but they come together based around the thing that unites them.  As the family of God, we may have our disagreements at times, but we are united in our love of Jesus and in our mission to go into all the world and make disciples. For that is what we are here for!  

Today, let's be the family we are called to be!  

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Proverbs always sets up two things for us to look at.  It compares what this world and culture tells us that we should be striving after, and then it tells us what is truly worth seeking after. For instance, verse 17 tells that a simple meal of vegetables is much better than a fancy feast, if the simple meal is where love is. 

Now, our culture will tell us that we should always strain to the reach the fancy feast. But, what good is all the trappings of the world, if love is not there. Now, there is nothing wrong with a fancy meal, they can be quite wonderful. But, what truly makes a meal worth eating is eating it with someone you love. 

That is what makes life truly wonderful, having those that we love. Today, let us seek after the things that truly matter, and in doing that, we'll find the greatness of life all around us.  

New Testament Lesson

This has one of the great verses of scripture. God desires for all to come to know Him, all to love Him, all to receive His grace. He is a God that wants everyone to know the grace of redemption, of love, of mercy, of salvation. 

Because all were made in His imagine, and He desires for all to know Him. That is His desire. And if His desire is for all to know and be in relationship with Him, shouldn't that affect us?  That should make our relationship with Him primary, and we should devote ourselves to making sure that others know the grace that we know. He desire that all should Him. So should we!  

Gospel Lesson

The people asked for sign, but Jesus was doing signs all around them.  He was healing.  He was teaching.  He was preaching.  He was showing God's presence all around. They asked for a sign, but they didn't see that He was giving them sign after sign after sign. They just weren't looking. 

Today, if we will look, we'll see signs of His grace and love all around. We just have to look.  Not with our human eyes, but with the eyes of grace and faith. Today, may God open our eyes to see all that He is doing all around us!  

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pentecost: Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

One of the things that I love about Proverbs is that most of it is common sense. Do what's right.  Work hard.  Be faithful.  Be honest.  Care for others.  Love God. Do right by everyone. They are not complicated commands. They are just sometimes a challenge. 

But in doing what is right, we find the key to a good and honest life. Today, let us seek to live that good and upright life! 

New Testament Lesson

Let us remember today that the commands of God are actually life giving.  Remember when you were a kid and you did something wrong and you lived in fear until it was found out?  We all did that as children.  Do you remember almost the relief you felt when your parents found out about it; you could breathe, its over.  

The reason why the commands of God are life giving is because they allow us to live in a way that removes fear, removes guilt, removes shame. Do you realize you don't have to live a life with guilt hanging over your shoulder?  God doesn't want you to live like that!  He wants you to live fear and full of life and peace. 

Today, let us live in that abundant life of God!  

Gospel Lesson

We see Jesus call down curses on these towns where the disciples had gone, but did not repent. We see him say that judgement will be easier for the wicked cities of old that did not repent than it will be for these new ones that did not repent. 

Why? Why was He so upset that they did not turn?  I think it may be because they had the option to turn, they knew that they needed it, but they did not. I believe what upsets God is when we know what to do, and we do not do it.  We know the things He has called us do, and the question then must be asked, are we faithful in what we are called to do? 

Today, let us not worry about all the things we don't know, all the things that we can't control, all the things that are beyond our reach.  Let us worry about what we know to be right, and let us live in a way that shows God's grace and mercy to all. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Trinity: Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Today, just a quick thought, tomorrow we'll resume the normal format

You aren't an accident. You weren't mass-produced. You aren't an assembly-line product. You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted and lovingly positioned on this earth by the Master Craftsman.
--Max Lucado

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Pentecost: Thursday, May 15, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Ezekiel 37:21b-28

One of the truths that we always see in the prophets is this. The people lose their way. They turn from God, they turn from the covenant. But is always wanting to bring them back home. God is always working and trying to bring the people back to Himself, back to where they should be. No matter where they are, they are not too far from God. His arm can always reach them, and can always bring them back.

The same is true for us. God's arm can always reach us, and He can always call us back home. All we have to do is listen to His voice and follow it back to Him. No matter where we are.

New Testament Lesson

1 John 2:18-29

We see what matters in life is being found in Jesus Christ. He is the foundation, He is the cornerstone, everything else in life is built around our walk with Him. In this passage, the reason many walked away is that they were not in Him, they had not build their lives around Him to begin with.

That is at the heart of the matter of our lives. Jesus is not just someone that we believe in, He is someone that we follow. He is not just an idea, He is a foundation. He is not just a concept, He is a cornerstone. We are called not just to believe in the Son of God, we are called to follow the Son and God, and build our lives around the Son of God. And in doing that, we will find what life is all about!

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 10:16-23

One of the things that we have all experience is the feeling, I don't know what to say. I don't know what to say about God. I don't know how to share my faith. I don't know what to say when someone is hurting. I don't know what to say when someone needs a word. We've all been there.

Today the Lord reminds us, don't worry. The Spirit will speak at that point. The Spirit will lead and will guide. The Spirit will be our voice in the moments when we are unsure. In those times, know that it is ultimately us that will be speaking, but God through us!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pentecost: Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Ezekiel 34:1-16

Two things of great importance here. First we see God speak for the fact that He is going to protect His sheep. He is going to stand for His sheep; make sure they are taken care of, make sure they are looked after. Even if they don't have a good shepherd, He will be their Good Shepherd.

Second, we see that the shepherds were not looking after the sheep, but looking after themselves. The shepherds were the priests of Israel and we see that the priests were only interested in themselves, not in the others. If we have been placed in a position of authority, be it in church, in work, in our families; if others are entrusted to our care, then we must remember at that point, our primary consideration is not ourselves. It is those entrusted to our care. Leadership is sometimes taking care of those that that are entrusted to you. Not using them for your own gain. The priests of Israel were doing that, and because of it they were judged.

New Testament Lesson

1 John 2:12-17

We see John say that he is writing to each group, each "demographic" in the church. And each group matters; and each group can learn from the others. The young can learn from the old, the old can learn from the young. We can each lean from one another, for we are all part of the same body.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 10:5-15

In this passage Jesus sends out the 12 with a high mission. Go and do good! Go through every town and village and do good. Do good for the sick, the infirmed, the grieving, do good for everyone that you meet. Bring about life and joy and peace, though Jesus name!

What a great goal for today. Today, through all that we we do, let us seek to do good. Let us seek to bring about life and joy and peace, all through Jesus name. Today, let us seek to do good in all that we do.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Pentecost: Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Ezekiel 33:21-33

We see the Lord condemn the people because they felt like because they were the children of Abraham, the land would be theirs, regardless. The Lord says, no. You have not done your part, you have not kept the covenant, you have not kept your word to me. It shall not be.

But, before the Lord judged the people, look what He did. He sent prophet after prophet, saying, turn back to me. Come home to me. Quit doing the things that you are doing, and return to you God.

We serve a God that will not give up on us. As long as their is hope for our return and redemption, He will continue to come after us. But not with eye looking to judge us. But within an eye looking to forgive us. For God desire that none should perish. The decision is still up to us, though. We must still turn and accept what God is offering. But in this day, and every day, God offers us grace.

New Testament Lesson

1 John 2:1-11

John tell us this morning that he writes so that we will not sin. We should not go looking for trouble today. As one of my professors used to say, we don't have to go looking for sin, sin will come looking for us. John writes these words in hopes that we will not sin.

But, when we do, if we turn and confess, God will forgive. God forgives His children. Let's not live in a wall of our own unforigivenss. The only thing today stopping us from being forgiven by God is us! If we will turn as ask forgiveness, He will forgive us! Today, and each day, we can be forgiven!

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 9:35 - 10:4

This is the passage that shows the heart of our Savior. When He looked at the people, He had compassion on them. They were like sheep without a shepherd. He looked at them through eyes of compassion.

That is how He looks at us today, with compassion.

Through what eyes to we look at each other through? Do we look at each other through the eyes of judgment? Of unforgivness? Or of compassion. As the Lord had compassion on us, so may we have compassion on each other.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Pentecost: Monday, May 12, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Ezekiel 33:1-11

One of the great phrases of the Bible comes form Cain when asked God, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Today, God tells Ezekiel that he is his brother's keeper. God has made Ezekiel a prophet for Israel, and being that, he is supposed to speak God's word to them, and give them warning about danger that is to come.

Part of loving someone is sometimes giving them a warning. The Lord gives us warnings all the time, and through all different people. And He warns us because He loves us. Today, He says that He doesn't want to see even the wicked harmed. God's desire is for us each to live happy peaceable lives. So, in times when we are headed in the wrong direction, He will warn us. May we listen to that warning, when it comes.

New Testament Lesson

1 John 1:1-10

This is one of the passages for most of my life I've kept coming back to over and over again. It says that if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. We all have sin, we all commit sin, we all do things that are wrong. But, if we will confess those sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive. All that is standing between us and the forgiveness of our sins this morning is our confession and repentance of sin. Because one this is true.

God will forgive our sin! All we have to do is ask. Today, you don't have to carry the burden of sin around with you. God will forgive!

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 9:27-34

What did Jesus do in this passage? He allowed folks to see and to talk. He gave folks that ability to see what He is doing and gave them the ability to tell others about it. Those are two great miracles. And they are miracles that we may need for ourselves this morning. Today, i n this day, if we allow, He will open our eyes to see what He is doing. This doesn't have to be and ordinary day. This can be a divine day, a wondrous day, a day where we see the Handy work of God. He will open our eyes!

And then He will open our mouths to proclaim what He has done. He will open our mouths to talk and give us the words to say. Today, He allowed folks to talk and speak. May He do the same for us!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Easter: Thursday, May 8, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Zechariah 4:1-14

This passage has that refrain you may have heard before, "No by might, not by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord." That is how the Lord works.  He doesn't always the strongest, or the smartest, or the most experienced, or the youngest, or whatever labels we may place upon our backs or the back of others.  The Lord uses those that are willing to be used by His Spirit. Today, remember that is not by our might or our power, but it is by His Spirit.  

New Testament Lesson

Ephesians 4:17-32

We see in this passage that as we daily turn to Christ, we must daily turn away from the old things; the old sin, the old desires, the old fights, the old person we used to be. We must turn away from the old that we used to be and turn towards the new that we are called to be.  But how?  Isn't that mission too hard?  Is that something that we can do? 

Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord. Through His Spirit, yes we can.  We can turn and embrace new life. Today, and each day.  

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 9:1-8

Before the heals the man, Jesus forgives. Sometimes the greatest healing we need in our lives is not a physical healing, but it is the healing that comes from hearing these words.  You are forgiven. Today, through the love, grace, and work of Christ you are forgiven. 

Once again, hear these words. Through Christ Jesus, you are forgiven.  

May those words bring healing to our souls

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Easter: Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Isaiah 4:2-6

One of the things that we always see in Scripture that God is in the restoration business.  He is always about restoration.  He restores His people.  He restores their hope, their lives, their dreams, who they are. Today, He tells the people of Israel that He will restore them; He has not given up on them, and they will live again. 

God will restore, God will bring new life. That is a joy that we get to share that good news, but more importantly, that we get to hear that good news.  God not only wants to restore this world, He wants to restore each of us.  Today, may we feel the healing power of His restoration.  

New Testament Lesson

Ephesians 4:1-16

We see in this passage we all have different gifts, but the same goal.  God wants to bring about the restoration to the world and to the people of the world. And we don't all have the same gift. We arent' all the same, we can't all do it in the same way, we can't all be everything.  We can only be who we are called to be.  We don't have every gift, but we have our gift. 

We are all called to something. We are all gifted in some great way.  We are all made in the image of God and made for some great purpose.  You are divinely made and divinely called. There is something that God has for you today for you and you alone. Today, He has gifted you and He has called you.  May we use what He has given us!  

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 8:28-34

We see Jesus bring restoration today to his man possessed with many demons (notice a theme here?).  But, notice something interesting about this text?  When the people came out to see Jesus, they asked Him to leave. They didn't want to change, didn't want to leave behind their old lives, they wanted to remain as they were. So, they asked Him to leave. 

And, we can't imagine that. How could someone ask Jesus to leave?  But, if He calls us to something we don't want to do, if He calls us to leave behind something we don't want to leave, if He calls us to change in some major way, what will do? Will we be like the man possessed and welcome this chance for new life?  Or will we be like the people and say, no we like things as they are, won't you leave? 

When Jesus comes to us with the offer of new life, may we never ask Him to leave.  

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Easter: Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

1 Samuel 16:1-13

One of the great truths of the story of David is that it did not appear to the eyes of Samuel that David would be the one to be king. But, God knew what He was doing. Sometimes, the things that God may ask us to do will not make sense. Samuel probably didn't know why God was wanting him to anoint David as king, he was the youngest, he was out working the the sheep. But, God knew.

In times when we don't know why God is calling us to do something, but we know that we know that we know He is calling, let us trust in Him. It is easy to follow God when we know where He is going. It is much harder when we are unsure of the way. Today, even if we are not sure where God is calling, let us follow Him.

New Testament Lesson

Ephesians 3:14-21

This passage has one of my favorite phrases in all scripture. Here Paul tells us to be deeply rooted in Christ, and that in being deeply rooted, we will be able to know this love that surpasses knowledge. Think about that for a minute and try not to get a headache. We can know a love. . . that surpasses knowledge.

That is how great God's love is. Our minds cannot understand the height or breath of it. He love literally defies our human understanding. Yet, through His grace, we can know that love. That means we are loved more than we can possible ever understand. Oh, how great is our savior's love for us!

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 8:18-27

One of the things that we see in Jesus is that He demands the trust of His people. The ones that wanted to follow, Jesus knew that they didn't fully trust in Him, for they had other things that they had to do first, before they would follow. Even the disciples, in the midst of the storm, they have lost faith and trust, and before He calms the storm, He asks them why they have so little faith?

Sometimes in life storms will come along that can make us want to lose our faith, lose our trust. In those times, that is when we must hold on the most. For in is in the moments that can create doubt, that we need our faith the most. Today, in the storms of life that are raging all around us, let us hold onto our faith.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Easter: Monday, May 5, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Joshua 1:1-9

One of my professors in seminary once said, "Remember, you are not God's last hope."  I've always liked that quote.  Sometimes we tend to think that its all up to us.  Sometimes we tend to think that the world begins and ends with us.

And sometimes we think that God can only work through certain people. The people saw God work through Moses again and again and again. And here comes this new guy Joshua.  Who is he? What can he do? But, just as God was with Moses, God was with Joshua.  Because the same God that worked through Moses was the same God that worked through Joshua. Remember, God is bigger than any of us, and bigger than any individual. God is always at work, always doing great things. Through each of us.  

New Testament Lesson

Ephesians 3:1-13

Paul has a proper perspective. He remembers that he lives as a servant of God; he lives to serve and obey God.  He lives to glorify God and see that God can be praised through all that he does.  He lives not just for himself; he lives for God.

And so do we.  We live not just for ourselves, we live for God.  We live for His glory, we live for His praise. We live to show others His grace and His mercy. We live for the good of the Kingdom!  Today, let us live for Him.  

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 8:5-17

The image of Peter's mother in law is a great image.  Jesus healed her, and she got up and began to serve Him. After He had healed her, out of a thankful heart, she began to serve Him. After He has healed us of sin, broken hearts, hurt, loss, pain, shouldn't we do the same?  Today, let us get us, and let us serve Him. 

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Ascension of the Lord: Thursday, May 1, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Daniel 7:9-14

We see here in the prophet Daniel seeing that which is to come. We see him seeing the Lord seeing in judgement. That's one of the things that it is easy for us to do is forget that today is not the first day that God has spoken, today is not the first day that the Lord has given visions.  He has given visions to men and women throughout all ages. Some, like Daniel's are recorded in Holy Scripture.  Others, like Wesley, or Calvin, or Augustine, are recorded for us to read. 

Other's like our parents, grandparents, teachers, and preachers; the are preserved in our memory.  But, let us never forget what God has spoken in the past.  Let us also remember that God speaks today. 

New Testament Lesson

Hebrews 2:5-18

He has been tested as we are tested. So, whenever we face temptation, whenever we face struggle, He is there. Remember that in this moment, He understands our weakness, understands our frailty, understands our need for Him. And in that moment when we need Him He is always there.  

And because He has been where we are, struggled as we do, He can help us overcome this temptations!  Through Him, and through His power, He will give us grace in our moments of need. That's His power.  When we need Him, He is always there.  

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 28:16-20

Remember, he is with us always.  He will never leave, nor forsake us. Remember, now, in this moment, wherever you are. Wherever you read this. . . . God is with you.  He is with you now.  He has never left you, not will He ever. In this moment, in this place, at this time.  He is here.