Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

We see in Judges a familiar pattern.  They people believe. They are free. They fall into temptation.  They fall into slavery. They cry out to God.  He sends a judge to free them. They believe.  They are free . . . . lather, rise, repeat.  

It's the same pattern over and over again. But, I think we can all identify with that. In our lives, we have moments of clarity, moments where are obeying and following God, moments where we are doing what He would have us to.  And then, moments later, we choose our own desires, choose our own stuff, and we get into trouble. 

We can't control the past, we can't control the future.  Let us work today, in this moment, to be faithful, to be obedient, to live by God's love and grace, today.  And, in doing that we will have that freedom and grace of God.  

New Testament Lesson

I have always found it interesting the four places Jesus said that we would be His witnesses

1.  Jerusalem. That's their home town. Where they lived; what they know. We to work for Jesus at home.  In our church, in our community, in our home. We are to show Jesus' love there. 

2.  Judea.  That's their region. We are to show Jesus' love in our region. For us in Ripley, that means NE MIssissippi, but also all of this region. We to work on a connectional level with others around us to show God's love. 

3.  Samaria.  This is where Jesus moves from preaching to meddling. The Samaritans were hated by the Jews, and vice versa. But, Jesus said they were to show His love there as well.  In other words, we are to show Jesus' love and mercy even to those that we don't like and may regard as our enemy.  

4.  The ends of the earth.  That's everywhere.  As Wesley said, "Do all the good you can, in all the places you can, as ever as long as you can."  

Gospel Lesson

The curtain in the Temple was torn, and the people had free, unfettered access to God. Today, in this moment, and in this place, you can turn to God.  You can go to God right now.  He will hear you. He will love you. He will give you His grace. Today.  In this moment.  He is there for you.  

Monday, July 28, 2008

Ordinary Time: Monday, July 28, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

We see that the last thing Joshua did before he died was that he reminded the people of all that God had done for them, and that they must stay faithful to the Lord. They had entered into a new land. They had entered into a land of promise, but also a land of temptation. And Joshua  knew that he would not be their to guide them any longer. They would have to make decisions for themselves and choose to follow for themselves. 

So, he reminds them.  He has them promise.  He warns them of the dangers. But, then he leaves it in their hands.  Ultimately, the choice of obedience is up to them. They must make the choice, and only they can make it.  Each day of our lives, the choice is up to us. We can serve and be faithful, or we can do other things. Today, in this day, may we be faithful.  

New Testament Lesson

I love this final passage in Romans. Paul thanks all those who have been faithful and have helped him in his work. And the great thing about this list is that it is full of ordinary folk that loved God and tried to do right.  That is what make church possible, that is what makes the movement of the Holy Spirit possible; ordinary folk that simply love God and are willing to follow. 

Today, it's not about titles or positions or anything like that. It's simply about faithfulness.  Today, if we are willing to be faithful to God, then that's all that matters.  If we are faithful, God will take care of the rest. 

Gospel Lesson

PIlate, instead of doing what was right, did what was easy.  Instead of doing what he knew in his heart was the right thing, did what was the easy thing.  Instead of standing with strength and courage, he gave into the pressure that was all around him. 

Today, may we do what is right, not what is easy. And, let us remember that in doing what is right, it is God that will give us the strength, God that will give us the courage, and God that will give what it takes to do what He has called us to.  If He has called us to something, He will give us the grace and strength to do it! 

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ordinary Time: Thursday, July 24, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

I always tell folks that my mama, when I was a child, would never promise to do anything.  She would say, I'll try, or we'll see.  When I got older I asked her why.  She said the one thing she didn't ever want to do was break a promise. That stuck with me to the point that today, I'm much the same.  I don't promise to do things. Because I don't want to break my word if it doesn't happen.  

We see in this passage the power of keeping your world. The people were tricked, but because they had given their word, they kept it. This shows the power of a promise, the power of our word. Today, no matter what field we may be in, may we understand the power of a promise, and the power of keeping our word.  

New Testament Lesson

Paul reminds us that Jesus came to build folks up, to serve, to make their lives better. And, we should do the same. We should be about encouragement.  We should not be about tearing others down.  We should be offering a hand up, not a put down. Today, in our words, in our actions, may we be the type of people that build one another up.  

Gospel Lesson

Two folks denied Jesus on Good Friday.  Judas and Peter.  The difference is that Peter, while denying Jesus, was able to ask, and receive forgiveness.  Judas never did. Today, we will make mistakes. We will all do the wrong thing.  That's part of being human. 

But, when we do, may we have the grace to admit our mistakes and ask forgiveness.  And then, may we have the grace to accept forgiveness from God, and for others. 

And, since we have been forgiven so much, may we forgive one another for the mistakes that we all make.  

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Throughout the Old Testament there are these constant reminders for the people; remember who you are.  Remember.  Remember that God called you out of slavery, delivered you to the promised land, led you by day and by night, protected and defended you. Remember who you are.  Remember who brought you this far. 

The same is true for us today. Remember who you are.  Remember where God has brought you from.  Remember where God is taking you. Today, and always, remember who you are. You are God's child, called by His name.  Remember.  

New Testament Lesson

Paul reminds us to not judge one another. For us not to be in the judgement passing business.  A lot of folks today can't wait to judge others for their mistakes.  But, if God has shown us grace upon grace, should we not show the same grace to one another? 

But, Paul also tells us to remember that others are watching how we live. And, the way that we live should not put a stumbling block in the way for anyone else. So, in fact, we must be more critical of the way that we are living, instead of the way that others are living.  I can't control your life or your choices.  I can only control my own.  I will not judge you, but I pray for God's grace to live in a way that will not cause you to stumble. That's what Paul is saying to us today. 

May we have the grace to apply that to our lives.  

Gospel Lesson

Perhaps the hardest blows that our Lord received on the night of His crucifixion were not the physical, but the verbal. We read all that He endured on that night, it is the verbal shots that sometimes can be the most appalling. We know that He endured the cross for our sake, but to think that the King of Kings, Lord of Lords also endured the mockery of His own creation for our sake. 

May we live today a life of thanksgiving for all He endured for our sake.  

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Larry Mac

Good Morning,

Sorry for the lack of blogging yesterday.  I was in Jackson for meeting and was not able find wifi in time to blog!  But, I'm back in Ripley today and life is returning to normal. 

Today, instead of the normal post, I want to share a remembrance with you.  Larry McDaniel was the father of my childhood best friend. And, with as much time as I spent at his house, he and his wife Ruth become like my second set of parents.  

Mr. Larry Mac passed away yesterday.  Just a few months ago, he was diagnosed with cancer and while he fought long and hard, the fight was too much for even him.  

Yesterday, Monday, July 21, Mr. Larry Mac passed from this life into true life. 

The thing I hope is most helpful with my blogging is that they are an invitation to spent time in the Word each today.  

Today, I'd like for this brief remembrance to be to you an invitation for prayer. 

To pray for those that are grieving right now . . . . 

Those battling cancer and other disease. . . . . 

Those in the hospital and nursing homes. . . . . 

Those shut in. . . . . 

Those in need. . . . . 

For all those near and dear to our hearts. . . . . 

Let us remember them.  Lord, hear our prayer.… 

We'll return to our normal "programing" tomorrow. Thank you for this moment of personal remembrance and mourning.  May we pray for all those that need God's grace today. 

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ordinary Time: July 17, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

We see one of the great things of the Old Testament in this passage. They pick up the stones, they carry them back, and the purpose is this. One day, the children will ask, why are there 12 stones here?  And they can retell the story of God's faithfulness to the children.  These things will be a testament, and they will make the children ask. That will give a means to teach about God's goodness.

As the father of a 4 year old, I now know the ability of a child to ask questions.  My prayer is that my life will be lived in such a way that she will ask questions about the way that I live, and it will give me a chance to explain the goodness of God.  May we all live in such a way that our lifestyle causes others to wonder about why it is that we live the way that we do.  

New Testament Lesson

Paul continues this thought; we are a living sacrifice.  A sacrifice is a gift given in worship. Today, Paul is telling us that our lives should be living as an act of worship before God. Everything we do, everything we say, every act of lives today, it is an act of worship, it is done to glorify God. 

Today, with all we do, and all we are; may we glorify our God!  

Gospel Lesson

One of the things that we see in the Bible is that certain stories are included, it seems simply to show folks acts of faithfulness. We see in the Old Testament, where just brief passages are included so that folks won't forget small acts of faithfulness. We see it today as this unknown woman's act faithfulness is included, simply to show others this act of faithfulness. 

Today, let us remember that if we do that which we are called to do; if we are faithful, God above sees.  And He gives the ultimate reward. Let us remember to be faithful to God, and each other, in all that we do.  And in doing that we follow the example of these faithful folk in the Bible.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Every individual has a moment, a moment when they feel God move.  We have moments in life like that.  Sometimes they involve family. Sometimes they involve us. Sometimes, they even involve church. But, there are these moments that we know that we that we know that God just did something. 

Today, we see this happen for a new generation in Scripture.  They were getting ready to cross the Jordan. They were going to see the waters part.  Now, remember these are the children of the ones that crossed the Red Sea. The Red Sea for them was either just a distance childhood memory, or it was something they learned about on the knees of their parents. 

But, this crossing, it was to be that moment for them. Today, in this day.  May we find those moments where God moves in our lives, and may we understand the power of His grace to move in our lives, each day.  

New Testament Lesson

We see Paul remind us today that at the end of the day, God is God, and we are not. And, because of that, there are times in life when we just have to trust. We have to trust He is right. We have to trust He knows what He is doing.  We have to trust He will work it all out. 

Now, that is hard; and it does require great faith. But, it is only in that trusting in the wisdom, mercy, and strength of God that we'll find His peace. 

Gospel Lesson

Today, we see the Lord remind us that as we do to the least of these, we do to Him. Remember today.  Each interaction, each act of service, each thing we do to the least of these, we do unto Him.  Today, may we serve our Lord by serving one another.  

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

We see in this passage the power of doing what is right, even when it might be the hard things.  Rahab could have been killed herself for hiding the spies.  But, it was the right thing to do.  Sometimes (and more often than not) what is right is not what is easy. But, in doing right, we get the greater reward.  For, when we do what is right, we have done all that we can do. The rest is up to God.  

In life, our choice is the choice between right and wrong. We can't control outcomes.  We can only control our choices.  Today, may we choose to do that which is right.  

New Testament Lesson

We see that those of us that believe are those "in grafted" branches. All the Bible is our story. As Paul tells the Galatians, we are the children of Abraham. Those that believe in faith; they are the heirs of the promise. God, through His love, has allowed us to have this great heritage of faith. As we look through Scripture, and as we look in our lives today, when we see acts of faithfulness, acts of faith, we can say, that's one of us!  Or, we can say, we are one of them!  

Today, let us rejoice in the heritage of faith that we have.  

Gospel Lesson

In the original context, a talent was a sum of money.  So instead of using that sum of money given to him, the one buried it.  Instead of stepping out in faith, he lived and reacted in fear.  Instead of serving a God (or in this case, a master) of faith, he served one of fear. 

But, the word talent is such a great word, that I want to leave you with this thought. What talents have each of us buried in the ground?  What talent have we been given by God that we are not using for His glory?  We have all been blessed with great talent.  With great gifts. With God's amazing grace. 

Are we using what He has given us for His glory?  May we not bury out talents in the ground.  

Monday, July 14, 2008

Ordinary Time: Monday, July 14, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

We see in this passage that the spies go into Jericho and  the king finds out. They hide out in the home of Rahab.  She is a prostitute, and not someone that would think that the spies would associate themselves with. But, she does the right thing.  She hides them; and then she doesn't tell the king about it.  And in doing this she is faithful to God and she helps God's plan come to pass. 

God can use anyone.  God's grace extends to everyone and God's plan includes anyone willing to work for God. Not matter what the past has held.  No matter what has gone on before. Today, in this moment, if you will be faithful to God, He will use you in a mighty, might way. Today, let us each be faithful.  

New Testament Lesson

We see Paul reference the story of Elijah. There will always be a remnant that God has saved for Himself. No matter how dark the age may look.  No matter how bad things may appear.  No matter how hopeless it may seem.  God has a remnant. God has a people.  God has a plan.  He has not given up.

And neither should we.  Sometimes it is tempting to give up on things around us.  Sometimes is ti tempting to give up on others around us.  Sometimes it is even tempting to give up on ourselves. But, God does not do that.  He doesn't give up on any of these; and He does give up on us, either. 

Today, may we remember that there is always a God that believes, even when others loss hope. And may we do the same.  

Gospel Lesson

Today, may we keep awake.  Let us keep awake for His return, but let us also keep awake for the places and ways that He may want to speak to us today. That He may want to use us today.  That He may have a plan for us today.  That He may give us grace today. 

Today, and each day, may we keep awake for God.  

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ordinary Time: Thursday, July 10, 2008

Today, just a quick thought from my friend Dr. Rocky Henriques:

God is a rich and bountiful Father, and he does not forget his children, nor withhold from them anything which would be to their advantage to receive.
--J. K. Maclean

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

The Israelites had wandered for 40 years. They may have begun to think that things would never change; that they would always remain as they were. But, God knew better.  He had a different plan.  He knew that the time would come for the people to take the land that He had promised.  He knew that a time for change was here.  

Things don't always stay as they are.  Sometimes we can get depressed or defeated, saying things will never change.  That is not true.  God is not done with us yet.  Even if we've been in the desert for 40 years, He's not done with us yet.  Don't give up!  Things will change!  God is at work!  Hold fast, He isn't done yet!  

New Testament Lesson

Paul today writes that God's mercy is not based upon the one receiving mercy, but is based upon God. We can't earn God's mercy and grace, it is freely given to all.  He didn't choose Israel because they were perfect, in fact, He may have chosen them because their imperfections would show He strength.  

Likewise today, His grace to us is not based upon us, but upon Him.  Today, in He loves in spite of our mistakes. We rest not upon our works, but  upon His grace.  Today, remember its because of Him; not us!  

Gospel Lesson

In this passage we read the pain that Jesus felt when the people would not come to Him.  He longed to love the people, to restore the people, to give them mercy and grace, but they would not come.  Now, He is heartbroken because of their refusal.  

Today, He longs for us to turn to Him.  To find peace. To find strength.  To find mercy.  To find life.  He longs for us to turn and receive grace. Today, may we turn to our Lord in all of life's situations.  

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

One of the interesting things in the allotment of land and cities in the promised land was the creation of cities of Refuge.  If someone was in trouble, if they were falsely accused, if they were trying to find a place of safety, God had these cities were they could come to for rest and refuge.  

The Bible is the story of God's mercy towards us. We see that here, even in the Law of the Old Testament.  Here the Law, we see God's concern and God's mercy.  God wanted to those in need to have a place of refuge.  

Today, in the swirling stress of life, with deadlines and requirements and pressure and sickness and hurt and all these things; may we find our city of refuge.  We find peace in God.  May we find His mercy. For He longs for us to have it.  

New Testament Lesson

I love the last two verses in this passage.  Nothing can separate us from God's love!  Nothing!   Nothing life, or death or sickness or anything.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God.  His love will go all lengths to find us.  His love is there for us at all times.  He has gone through everything, even the agony and pain of the cross to show us His love, and nothing, nothing, nothing, can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus!

Gospel Lesson

In Romans we see the depth of God's love for us. In this passage we see Christ's judgement of the Pharisees.  Why did He come down so hard on them?  What was their problem?  What did they do wrong?  

They were more concerned about the outer appearance of religion than the inner truth of religion.  They were more concerned about looking religious to others than they were with showing God's mercy. Their actions appeared to make them very close to God. Their hearts showed that they were not. 

Today, let us remember that it starts with the heart.  May we not worry so much about trying to look religious to others as we are in making sure that our heart is committed to God.  If our heart is His, everything else will follow

Monday, July 7, 2008

Ordinary Time: Monday, July 7, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

We see here part of the people of Israel say that they did not want to cross over the Jordan and take their portion of the land there; they were content and happy with the land they have found on the East bank of the Jordan. There they could protect their families, and have lots of land for their livestock. 

But, even though they had found what they were looking for, they knew that the journey was not just about them. They told Moses that even through they would not possess the land, they were willing to fight for it for their brothers.  

One of most important lessons that we can learn in life; and some folks never learn it, is that life is not just about us; not just about what we want. These two tribes found what they were looking for, but their journey was not complete until they had helped their brothers find their land as well. We live not just for ourselves, we live for God, and we live for those that we love.

Today, may we remember that we don't truly live until we are living for something besides our selves.

New Testament Lesson

One of the great truths about prayer is this: it's not about what we say.  It's about our hearts.  The words of prayer are not the important thing. The important thing is a heart lifted up to God.  Today, we see Paul tell us that the Spirit will intercede on our behalf when we do not have the words to say.  

God is not concerned about what we say when we pray. He just wants at that moment of pray for our hearts, our minds, for all that we are to be focused on Him.  If we do that; the Spirit will take care of the rest.  

Gospel Lesson

Jesus reminds us today that righteousness is not to be something done for others to see, it is not something to be bragged about, it is not something that we are supposed to tell others about. There is no need for us to brag about how faithful we are to God. We should simply be faithful.  Righteous, like prayer, is not done for others to see or hear, it is done for God to see and hear.  If we are faithful only for the eyes of humans, then we have received our reward.   If we are faithful for God's eyes, then we are truly doing as He would have us to do

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Ordinary Time: Thursday, July 3, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

We see the continued story of Balaam in this passage today, as he once again stand up, and is told to curse God's people, and instead he blesses them.  God says through him today that God will be true to His word, that He will do what He has promised He will do. 

That can be a word of encouragement for us today; He has promised to never leave nor forsake us, He has promised that He will always be with us.  He has promised that even in the fire, we'll not be burned, and the waves will not overcome us.  He has promised us these things. And, as we are told today, He will be true to His word.  

New Testament Lesson

We see here one of the greatest passages in all the Bible: Romans 8:1. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. If we are in Christ, we will not be condemned. We don't have to fear that condemnation. We don't have to worry about that. We have been set free, we have been forgiven, we have new life. The old does not have to hang over us. We can walk away in joy. We can live joyful lives because we have been forgiven. 

There is no condemnation in Christ!  Today, you are free!  Today, you can let go of whatever it is that holds condemnation over you!  In Christ, you are free, you are forgiven, and there is no condemnation. Today, life free and joyful in His grace!

Gospel Lesson

Today, His grace invites all to the wedding feast. He has invited everyone into a relation with Him.  He desired to know each of us; we are all precious in His sight.  He wants to know us; but more importantly, He wants us to know Him. 

But, as in the parable, we must respond with acceptance to that invitation. Today, God invites you to walk with Him.  He invites you to know His life, His joy, His mercy.  To know life more abundant. Today, and each day, may we take His hand and walk with Him in grace.  

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

The story of Balaam to me is one of the more interesting stories in the Bible.  Yesterday we had Balaam's donkey speaking to him.  Today, we have Balaam getting ready to curse Israel, but instead he pronounces a blessing, making the guy that had paid him to curse Israel pretty upset.  But, he had to speak what God had given him to say.  

God spoke through him, through he wasn't what you might consider the perfect spokesman.  I think this can show us two important things. First, let us know that God can speak through any of us.  You don't have to be a preacher, no matter who you are, or what you do, God may lay something on your heart to say, and when He does, we need to say it. 

Second, let us be aware that God can speak to us through anyone.  Today, let us be aware that God can speak to us not only through preachers, but through co workers. Through family.  Through any means.  If He can speak through a donkey, he can speak through anything or anyone.  Let us have our ears open to hear what He might have to say to us today.  

New Testament Lesson

Paul today echoes that refrain that each of us knows.  We know what the right thing to do is.  We know what we should do, we know what is right.  Yet, we do wrong.  Even through we know that we shouldn't do it, even through we know that it is wrong, even through we know it is the very thing we ought not do; we still do it.  Paul did, we do it.  It is common trait for all humanity. 

We can't save ourselves from it.  We can't will it.  We can't just make ourselves stop doing wrong and start doing right.  Only God's grace working through us can do it.  As Paul said, who can save us from this body of death?  Thanks be to Jesus. For He can. 

We can't do it ourselves.  But, all things are possible through Jesus.

Gospel Lesson

Jesus says today that the kingdom belongs to those that produce fruit for the kingdom. Through the power of the Spirit, we produce the fruit: love, joy, peace, kindness, patience, gentleness, self-control.  Though the Spirit, we see the kingdom grow, we see lives changed, we see God do amazing things.  

Today, let's let God's grace rule in our lives, and in that we'll see amazing fruit, both in our lives in and all around us.  

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

This is that famous passage where God opens the mouth of the donkey and speaks to Balaam.  I've said before that if God can speak through Balaam's donkey, He can speak through anyone. And that really is true.  What God needs most of all is a person willing to be used by God.  If we are willing to be used, willing do what He commands, willing to spread His grace, He'll use us.  If He has the willingness, He'll take care of the rest. 

After all, if He spoke through Balaam's donkey, He can speak through us well.  

New Testament Lesson

Paul tells us today that our life doesn't come from following the Law or following a code, rather our life comes through the Spirit.  Now, the Spirit will compel us to do the things that God would have us to do and live in the way that God would have us to live. But, it is not the Law that gives life, it is not our actions that give life.  It is the Spirit. 

Today, may we live by the Spirit and have the life that comes through the Spirit. And, in living by the Spirit, we'll know what it truly means to follow God and we'll live in the way that God will have us to live. 

Gospel Lesson

Today, as Jesus tells the teachers of the law, life comes through belief in Him.  It is the one that believes in Him and is obedient; they are the ones that are following His commands.  It all starts with the heart. If our heart is right with Him, it will change our actions, our views of things, our very life.  It all starts with the heart.  It doesn't go backwards.  The heart changes the life. 

Today, may we make sure that our hearts are set upon Him.  And as our hearts are right with His heart, our lives will be lives He would have them to be.