Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

In the prophets some of the harshest criticism given goes to the priests and the prophets for not leading the people in the right way.  Today, God basically says that His people do not know the way because they have not been taught it by their leaders.  That's a powerful concept to me.  It may just be because I'm a preacher and I know that I have a responsibilities to help others to know the truth about God's love and mercy.

But, it think its true for all of us.  No matter who we are or what we do, there are always eyes watching us.  Particularly little eyes that really look up to us. The question then becomes, how do we live in front of these little eyes. The way that we live will teach a lot about God.  May we live, love, and serve in a way that glorifies God and that shows His grace to all. 

New Testament Lesson

Paul knows that his preaching will in the end get him in a lot of trouble with the powerful.  He knows that those that have the power to arrest him will eventually do it. But, for him, that was not what mattered. What mattered was preaching God's love and mercy, and doing what God had called him to do. 

Paul had something to live for and something he was unafraid to die for.  He had a great purpose.  He didn't just slog from one day to the next, He knew what God had called him to be and to do.  And he lived out of that.  

May we find our purpose and calling and live with abundant passion, doing that, and being that, which God has called us to be.  And in that, we'll know what its like to live, and live for something.  

Gospel Lesson

A friend will do anything for another friend.  We see this in this passage, where these friends would do whatever it took to get this man to Jesus, for they knew only He had the power to heal. A friend loves, a friend cares, a friend will do whatever it takes to help their friend. 

Today, let us thank God for our friends. 

And let us do all in our power to be the type of friend that our friends need.  

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ordinary Time: Thursday, September 25, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

We see that in Esther doing what was right, doing what required courage, doing what God had placed her there to do, she was able to help save her people.  God had placed her there for such a time as that.  

Just as He has placed you wherever it is that you are for a time such as this. Today, in this moment, do what He has called you to!  Be brave, be bold!  Know that God is with you at this moment and will not leave you in the moment of trial.  He will stand by your side, whatever challenge you face.  

New Testament Lesson

The word of God in these towns grew because of all that was happening.  When God did great things through people, others believed.  When we are like Esther and allow God to use us, others will believe because of that. Today, may we follow God, give His love and grace, and live for Him. And when we allow His grace to work through us, others will see the greatness of our God.  

Gospel Lesson

In Luke Jesus stand to read and He read to this passage of great hope.  And then He says that it has been fulfilled in their midst.  He is saying that God's grace was there, and that God was going to make things right. They were not alone, God was there, and they were not forgotten. 

Sometimes in life, it's easy to think that we are forgotten.  Today, Jesus says no.  You are not. God will bring about the time of His favor.  He will make things right.  He will right the wrong, care for the sick and hurting, be the protector of the needy.  God will make all things right. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Haman was so consumed by hate that he could see nothing else.  Hatred and unforgiveness are powerful things that will rob us of so much. They will steal our joy, harden our heart, and even take our faith.  Forgiveness, through hard, is an essential for a Christian.  For, it is only when we forgive that we can receive the freedom that God wants us to have. That's the amazing thing about forgiveness.  It's as much about the one that forgives as it is about the one that is forgiven.  

Today, may we be forgiving and loving people.  

New Testament Lesson

Apollos went on to do great things for God.  But, only because Priscilla and Aquila took him under their wing. Because of their love and support, he was able to be strengthened and understand the fullness of what God had called him to.  Sometimes we need someone to love us when we are struggling.  Sometimes we are called to love others whenever they are struggling.  Sometimes we are Apollos.  Sometimes we are Priscilla and Aquila.  

Gospel Lesson

John pointed the way to Jesus. What a wonderful example, and a high calling.  In our lives, that is what we are called to do. We are called to point the way to Jesus. With our lives, our words, and all that we are, may we point to him in each day.  

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ordinary Time: Monday, September 22, 2008

I'm back from the Innovate Conference in Granger, IN, and while it was a great conference, it is really good to be back home in a normal routine.  

Old Testament Lesson

We see in this passage one of the great verses of scripture.  Esther is told today that she may have been placed in the earth for just the time as this.  God may have put her in that that place and time for that moment.  

God is always at work.  He is always up do something.  He is always in the midst of something great in our lives. And perhaps in your life, you were placed her for such a time as this.  The challenges you face, the struggles in your life, the things you're up against, the calling you have; perhaps you were placed upon the earth for such at time as this. Seize this moment, live this day.  Know that through God, you can accomplish all the things you are called to do.

New Testament Lesson

One of the things we see about Paul and his ministry is that he was never alone.  He never went alone, he always had someone with him, challenging him, supporting him.  He knew the journey was too long and hard alone.  He knew that to accomplish what God had for him, he needed those around him to help him.

Today, so do we.  We can't walk this road alone. We need the help of those that love us and that have the same heart as we do. Today, may we thank God for all those that walk this road with us. 

Gospel Lesson

We see John preach to the people, tell them to repent, and to live doing the things that are right.  It's not complicated to live as God would have us to do.  Most of it is common sense. It is, however, hard.  It's hard to do what's right.  It's hard to do things that we know we ought to do.  It's hard to forgive, love and serve.  

And we can't do it alone. But, through God, we can do all things.  Through God, all things are possible.  Through God, we can live the way we are called to live and be the people we are called to be.  Through His grace, all things are possible.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ordinary Time: Monday, September 16, 2008

I'll be out of town for the rest of this week for the Innovate Conference at Granger Church,  so no blogging until then. See you next week! 

Old Testament Lesson

One of the messages that God sends to Job in the end of this book is this: I AM GOD.  We can forget that sometimes. We can forget that we have access to the almighty, the powerful, the great, the strong, the Rock of Ages, the Great I Am, the King of all.  When you stop to pray, your prayers are heard by GOD!  How great is that? How awesome is it that the God of creation longs to be in communication and relation with us!  

Today, may we take time to realize how awesome God is! 

New Testament Lesson

One of the things that we see in the Bible is that God will call folks to places where they don't know where they are going.  God calls folks to follow on faith, not on sight. So, He will tell Abraham to go to the land that I will show you.  He doesn't tell him where, just go. Today, we see Paul see a vision to Go. Go to Macedonia and bring the world. The vision doesn't say where in, just go.  And God will make the way.

Today, if God is calling you to something or somewhere, even if you aren't sure of the way, go!  If you know that it is God, if you feel His call in your life, then follow it.  Go where it leads. Trust in Him. And He will no lead you astray.  

Gospel Lesson

One of the most powerful things to strengthen our faith and the faith of others is to remember what God has done for us, and to see what God has done for others.  We see many come to faith in this text because of what God did for Lazarus.  Because of that; many believed. 

Today, perhaps because of what God has done in your life, folks can see their faith grow. And, perhaps because of what God is doing in the lives other, you can see your faith grow. So, let's share and let's learn. But let's remember that all glory and praise goes to God! 

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ordinary Time: Monday, September 15, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Job voices his complaints to God, and God responds to him.  God basically says this, "There are things that you don't know, things you don't understand.  But I do."  There are mysteries we'll never understand. Things will never figure out. Stuff that is just beyond us. 

That's why we trust.  That's why we have faith.  There are things in life that we don't know; can't know. But, we do know God.  We know that He is good, He loves us, and will take care of us. So, in all the things of life, let us trust in Him. 

New Testament Lesson

One of the things that I believe at the core of my being is that God can bring good out of any situation. We see here what looks like it could be a time where all that had been done would fall part.  Paul and Barnabas have a disagreement.  But, instead of things falling apart, God is able to continue to use both of them, and raise up new leaders!  God can always do amazing things, and He can bring good out any situation.  We just have to trust. 

Gospel Lesson

Jesus told them that He would be leaving them soon; they would not always have Him with them. Today, let us take time on a busy Monday and see the things that we need to take time to appreciate.  Sometimes we can get so busy living life that we forget to live life.  Sometimes it's easy to miss all the goodness around.  Let us take time today to appreciate all that God has done, is doing, and will do. 

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11, 2008

Today is the 7th Anniversary of the attacks of September 11.  In remembrance of this tragedy, I share with you a prayer that I have found.  May we remember this day, remember those that gave so much, and pray for all that put themselves in way of harm for their country.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Today is a difficult day. The memories are painful and some of the wounds I fear may never heal. Yet I pray you will help me to go on living for truth, firm in my hope of your salvation. May I live for you, Lord, and by doing so, be an example to my friends and family. I pray, just like Jesus, I may learn obedience through these things that I have suffered. Help me not to question why, yet even if I do, give me courage to continue to trust you. Help me take the comfort and strength you've poured into my life and use it to comfort and strengthen others who need hope.

I pray I might become a better person and help make the world a better place because of this terrible event. Thank you for the heroes that gave so sacrificially on September 11. Help me to remember their courage and learn from them. I want my life to be worthy of you Lord, so make of it what you desire, and use me to fulfill your purposes. May the evil of that day cause me and my family to work harder to do good on this Earth and to bring your light into the dark places. Help me to never stop believing in you and living my life for you.

Lord, heal all those who were crushed and broken on that day. May they come to experience your presence and know your peace.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Job feels the thing at this point that is the hardest thing to experience that anyone every experiences.  He feels like God just doesn't care.  He feels like God is not listening to him and just doesn't care about him.  And, its even harder for him to understand because he has not done anything wrong to cause this to happen.  It just happened. 

That's part of the lesson we can learn from Job. Job in the midst of his anguish and pain cries out.  That's ok. It's ok when we are hurt, when we are in pain, when we feel abandoned to cry out to God, or to have friends to turn to. The worst thing we can do with our pain is bottle it up.  That is why we need those that care for us.  

Today, may we thank God for those that care enough for us to listen to us in the midst of our pain.  

New Testament Lesson

I was preaching on this text one day and I made a joke that if the church, after a sermon, were to carry me outside, stone me, and leave me for dead, I'd think I'd come back and preach the next Sunday!  

But, that's exactly what Paul did.  After he was left for dead he was prayed over, and then came back.  Because he knew that in spite of their resistance, he had something that they needed.  He had the hope of the Gospel, the hope of salvation, the hope of joy.  And he knew it was his duty and joy to make sure they heard it. 

Today, may we be as motivated by sharing the Good NEws of God's grace as Paul was.  

Gospel Lesson

Here is Thomas, bless his heart.  We only know Thomas as doubting Thomas.  But here, he tells the others, let us go with Jesus, and if he must be killed, we will be too.  He was brave and he was bold. But, what do we remember him for?  His doubt.

Let us remember that God does not remember us by our mistakes, He remembers us by His grace and mercy upon us.  May we be the same.  May we not first remember the mistakes that others make, may we first remember how God works through them.  

Thomas was not just someone that doubted.  He was someone that was willing to go to the end of the world for Jesus. Let us remember that as well.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Job looks back upon how things used to be for him. Before tragedy visited his door. Before he suffered all that he had suffered.  He remembered what it used to be like.  

Sometimes in our lives, one of the best things that God can give us is memories of grace past.  It is good for us to remember when God moved in our lives.  It is a good thing to remember when we experienced grace.  It is a good thing for us to remember when we experienced God in a powerful way. For, there will come a time in our lives when we feel dry. When we feel abandoned. When we feel like there is no hope and things will not change. 

It is then we need to remember when God moved through us.  Remember His grace. And remember, that as He moved through us once, He will do it again. And, we should never, ever, ever, lose hope.  Because God is still God, and He is still at work.  

New Testament Lesson

Paul and Barnabas got run out of a lot of town.   You'd think they may give up. You'd think they may say, this just isn't worth it.  You'd think they may feel like it was just time to call it quits. 

But, they never did. For, no matter how discouraged they may have been, they knew that peopled needed to hear about God's grace and mercy. And, if someone somewhere rejected it, they'd just move on down the road to the next spot.  As long as someone was hearing about God's grace, that is what mattered to them. 

Today, may we be like them in terms of sharing God's grace with all that we may meet.  We will never know who is ready and who is not ready. But, if we share with all, some will receive what they need to receive. So, through our lives, our words, our actions, who we are, may we share grace. 

Gospel Lesson

One of the truths in Jesus' life was that some folks just weren't ready to receive the Good News.  Their heart's were not ready to receive grace yet.  God's grace is everywhere, it is abundant. We just have the hearts that are ready and able to receive.  May we have receptive hearts today, hearts ready and willing to receive the grace that God wants to give to us today.  

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ordinary Time: Monday, September 8, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

We see in this passage another of Job's friends speak to him.  That is one of the constants throughout the story of Job; the conversation of his friends.  Now, they didn't  always say the right thing; they didn't always do the right thing, sometimes they may have been better to just sit with Job and say nothing. 

But, when all else in his life had abandoned him, had forsaken him, his friends remained.  What a powerful witness of grace.  That's what it means to be friend. To be there, in the ashes, with someone that you love.  That is what we need in friends, and that is what we call to be to others as friends. 

May we stay true and hold fast to those that are our friends, and may our presences in their life be a sign to them of God's great love.  

New Testament Lesson

One of the constants we see in the book of Acts is that the Apostles were always filled with joy.  When you read what happened to them, they had no reason to be joyful.  Yes, God was doing awesome things through them, but they were regularly beaten, run out of town, arrested, and persecuted.  But, yet, they were joyful. 

Joy comes not from the circumstance of our lives; it comes from God's grace in us. We can be joyful in the most desperate situation, because God is with us and loves us. God's grace never leaves us.  That can provided joy.  Even when there is no earthly reason.  Happiness comes from circumstance, joy comes from God. 

May we be joyful people!  

Gospel Lesson

Jesus said today that His sheep hear His voice. But, to hear His voice, we must take time to listen. We must take time to quiet our souls.  To stop what we are doing.  To pause.  And to listen.  And, we will hear Him speak. But, we must listen.  Today, may we take the time to listen for His voice. And may we hear the call of His grace.  

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ordinary Time: Thursday, September 4, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

One of the things that we can learn from Job is that during the times of hurt and pain, it's all right for us to admit that we are hurt. It's all right to admit when we need help.  When we are broken.  When we are in need.  When we need help.  Job cried out in the midst of his pain. 

So can we. Being Christian doesn't mean that one is perfect, nor does being a Christian keep hurt from our door. It will come. When the pain and the hurt comes, through, let us remember that we can reach out, we can turn to God, we can cry out in our pain.  

And God will hear.  

New Testament Lesson

We see the church lay hands on Paul and Barnabas, and send them out. Go, out, do ministry. And we'll support you.  We'll pray for you. We'll be here for you.  It is so important in life for us to have those that support us.  It is so important in life for us to have those that we can lean upon in times of trial.  It's so important for us to have those that we can turn to when we weighted down. 

Remember, we're not in this alone. We have each other. And, what a great blessing that is!  

Gospel Lesson

Max Lucado once said that if Jesus can use spit and dirt to do His will, He can use us too!  I love this miracle.  He simply used spit and dirt, opened a man's eyes.  If He can use that, why do we think He can't use us?  He can use each of us at any time for His glory.  Today, may we remember that God will use us for something great!  And may we hold fast to that! 

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, September 3, 2008

First, sorry about the lack of blogging the past few days.  It's been a little hectic lately, but that's no excuse.  I hope you've missed the posts as much as I've missed doing them.

Secondly, normally the Bible links are in the NRSV, but the online Bible that I use is not working right now, so for today, the links will be in the TNIV.  

Old Testament Lesson

One of the fallacies that we all make is to think that this life right now is permanent.  As CS Lewis once said, "we are all eternal beings," we will all live on forever. But, not forever in this current state. We are born, we grow, we grow old, and we die. That is the process of life. 

We get so consumed with the problems of this moment; the stress of this moment; the challenge of this moment. Today, the hardest thing you face, the greatest challenge you face today, let me ask you a question about it. 

What will it matter 100 years from now? 

Today is not the only moment that matters. We were created for more than this moment. We will live on.  Are we living in that reality?  This moment, this life, it is only the beginning. 

Let us live with abundance and joy now, knowing that this moment is not the end.  It is merely the beginning. 

New Testament Lesson

Notice it says that Herod was in his robes. That shows the great power and wealth he had. But, he made a great mistake.  He had made the mistake in not realizing where it all came from.  The Bible tells us that every good gift come from above.  

All good things that we have, they came from God. Even the things that we have earned, God deserves praise.  For, He has given us health, work ethic, and strength.  

So, today, let us remember the words of that old hymn.  Let us count our blessings.  No matter where you are now, you have at least one thing to be thankful for. Let us be thankful for it.  Herod was not thankful for what he had.  He thought that was his and his alone.  

And while, I don't think we'll be eaten like worms like he was, we run an even greater risk.  We run the risk of a hard heart, if we lose our the ability to be thankful. Today, may we be among the most thankful of people.  

Gospel Lesson

Jesus says that before Abraham was "I Am."  That sets everyone off. They are ready to stone Him. Why?  Why did this make them so mad?  

Do you remember what God told Moses what His name was?  "I Am."  He said tell them that "I Am" sent you. Today, in this passage Jesus says to them, I Am.  I Am God, creator, savior.  He is all. 

Today, may He be our all.  May He be our hope, our joy and our life. For He is the through who we find abundant life. 

May we find our life in Him today, and always.