Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ordinary Time: Thursday, October 30, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

It's the pride that goeth before the fall.  That is the lesson that is taught to us in Proverbs. We see Hamman's final downfall today.  We see the final judgement placed upon him today.  

In the midst of Hamman's fall, we see the reason it took place was because of the bravery of Esther.  She had the courage to do what is right, to stand for what is right, to stand before the king, to stand for her people.  Because she did what was right, her people were saved.  

Someone once said that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men (and women) to do nothing.  Esther did what was right, and her people were saved.  May we have the courage to do what is right in all of life's situations.  

New Testament Lesson

One of the things we see over and over in Revelation is that the forces of evil always are trying to destroy God's people and destroy what God is doing.  But, remember what else Revelation teaches. God wins!  The forces of evil will not over come God, God's will, or God's church!  Remember that in the midst of evil it is God that will be victorious!  

Gospel Lesson

Jesus reminds us that God knows the very hairs upon our heads.  He cares for us, He loves us, He will not leave us. Today, in the middle of the chaos that waits for us in this day, remember. God loves you.  He cares for you.  He will not leave you.  He will provide for you. Today, and each day, may we place our trust in Him. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Once again, Hamman's pride forces him into another trap.  He feels surly that he is the one that the king wants to honor and so he describes an elaborate way to honor that one.  In fact it is for another and his destruction will be soon.  Humility is something that we must seek after.  It is hard, in this world that constantly tells us that it is all about us, to say, in fact, it's not.  

It's about others.  It's about God.  It's about service.  It's about realizing that in giving our lives away we find it, and when we find something worth dying for, we found something worth living for.  It's not about us.  It's about God, and what God wants to do through us.  

New Testament Lesson

We see in Revelation great signs, great images, great mysteries. But, they all come down to one great truth.  In the end, God wins.  In the end, God's way will be.  In the end, God's Will will be done. That is what Revelation teachings, and in a world full of so much fear, that is a message that we need to hear right now.  

Gospel Lesson

One of the things that Jesus criticizes the leaders for is the fact that instead of doing all that they could allow folks to enter into the kingdom, they sought to keep folks out. Instead of throwing the gates wide open, they wanted them more and more narrow.  Instead of welcoming, they shut folks out. 

That is not what Jesus taught, that is not how He lived.  He told all that would turn to Him, call on Him, follow Him, they will be welcomed. Jesus taught that our past does not matter, only our future with Him.  No matter who, what, are were we are, Jesus welcomes us.  

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ordinary Time, Tuesday, October 28, 2008

One of the lessons that we can learn from Hamman is pride.  He thinks he is untouchable, that no problems or harm can come to him.  Instead he is setting himself up for a great fall.  We should always be careful getting ahead of ourselves, or thinking that it is because of our strength and might success come.  Hamman thought it was all about him.  His mistake was not in realizing it was all about God.  

New Testament Lesson

Thought each act in Revelation, we see one dominant fact. God is in control.  God is at work.  He is worthy of our praise.  He is worthy of our worship.  He is worthy of our trust.  

Gospel Lesson

Jesus reminds us that it all starts with belief.  It all starts with faith.  Blessed are those that believe.  Blessed are those that trust.  Blessed are those that have faith.  Today, may we be among the blessed that have faith; that trust in God.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ordinary Time, Wednesday, October 21, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

One of the enduring messages of Song of Song is the fact that we are made for love.  We are created by God to be loved and to love others.  Song of Songs talk about the great love between to people.  We were created by God for love. We were created to love God and love our neighbor.  And, we were created by God to be loved by God and be loved by our neighbor.  

And so in life, we must learn to love each other. And we must learn to allow others to love us.  May we take time each day to love. And may we take time each day to allow others to love us.  

New Testament Lesson

The great lesson of Revelation is this:  God Wins!  God will be faithful to His people, He will bring forth victory for His church and His people.  There will come that time when there is no more sickness, pain, and death, and we will see the complete glory of God!  

Gospel Lesson

We see Jesus send the 70 out.  He did not make the people come to them, He sent them out. That is a lesson to us.  Let us go to others.  Let us go to those that are in need.  Those that are hurting.  Those that are in need of grace.  Let us not wait until they come to us, let us not wait until they come to our church.  For, if we wait until they come to us, they may never come. 

But, instead, let us take the good news of God's love and mercy to all that are in need of hearing it!  

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Do Not Be Afraid

Today, instead of my normal format, I want to share with you a brief reflection on one of my favorite passages of Scripture

Isaiah 43: 1-5

So often in the Bible, the way that God responds to His people is this - do not fear. Do not be afraid. Do not fret. I am with you. I will not leave you.

I love this passage because that is what the prophet tells the people, God has redeemed you, you are His. The waters will not overwhelm you, the fires will not burn you. I am the Lord.

I feel led to share this with you because in my life, I've never seen a time where people are more afraid than they are right now. People are afraid of the economy. The market. Terrorism. There are a bunch of fears in people's minds right now.

And I can understand those fears. As the father of two children under 5 years old, I worry about what things will be like when they are older. As someone that's 32, I joke with those older than me, I know that retirement will not be an option for me, I'll just have to work till the Lord calls me home. We all know what it's like to be afraid and worry.

But, the message of the Bible is do not be afraid! For God is with us! God will protect us. God will be with us! God is bigger than any of these things. God is bigger than the economy. God is bigger than the Dow Jones. God is bigger than all the things that we fear.

And ultimately our life, our safety, our happiness, our joy, these things are found in Him. Today, in this day, in this moment, let us not be afraid. Let us not fear. Let us trust God. Let us rely upon Him. For His is with us. He is good. He is love.

Let us trust in Him. Let us not be afraid.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Jonah 1:17-2:10

We've all been in bad places before, I'm sure. But I'm sure not too many of us have been in the belly of a big fish before. So, we can take heart, that even in this moment of dread, when Jonah turned to God, God responded. When Jonah came to the realization that in spite of all he had done and how he had run, his only hope at that point was to turn to God, and God responded.

God always hears the prayers of those that are in need. God always hears the prayers of those that are in the belly of the whale. God always come to the rescue of those that turn to Him. Today, no matter where we are in our walk with Him, let us remember that when we turn to Him, He will be there.

New Testament Lesson

Acts 27:9-26

Paul was told they would make it to their destination, but not without some tough times. God promises to be with us and to lead us to where we need to be. But, He does not promise us that the sailing will always be smooth. Paul knew that he was there for a great purpose and that God would see that purpose through. He relied upon God, trusted in Him, and God saw him through.

Today, in the storms of life, may we have the confidence that God will see us through, and help us arrive at the place He has called us to.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 9:1-17

When we went to Israel over the past Christmas, we got to see many of the villages that the 12 would have gone into and did ministry. They were all close to each other, all throughout Galilee. There was easy access, there was ways to get to each of them. And Jesus deployed the 12 in a way that would ensure that all that were in need would have a chance to be healed.

But, these villages were not big at all. They certainly were not Jerusalem. They were simple outposts, stuck out away from everything. And it was here that Jesus did most of His ministry. For He knew that every person was precious, every soul was of great worth, everything deserved love, no matter who they were, or where they lived.

The folks in the small towns of Galilee were precious to God, as are the folks in the small towns in Mississippi or where ever you are reading this. And so are the folks in the large towns and cities. We are all precious to God. For He created each of us.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

Jonah 1:1-17

We see the Lord call Jonah. We see Him tell Jonah that is to go to Nineveh and preach. And we see Jonah run. We see him flee from what it is that God has called him to do. That is something that many of experience in life. We know that God has called us to something. We know that God has placed a calling upon our lives. But, we may not feel worthy of that calling. Or we may not want to do that calling. Or we may doubt that God can really do what He wants to do through us.

We see in Jonah that we can run. But, we can't out run God. In Jonah, we see that we can't outrun God's calling.

In the people of Nineveh we see that we can't outrun God's love.

New Testament Lesson

Acts 26:24-27:8

We see Paul give an account of his faith, and make a good impression to the leaders of the people. We see them actually want to free Paul, but they can't because as a Roman citizen Paul appealed to go to Roman, and every citizen has that right. Paul shares with them is faith and tells them that his hope was that they become like him. Except for the chains. And, he nearly persuades on to believe.

We don't know what happened to these men after Paul left. But, we do know that Paul planted the seeds. That's all we can do. Plant seeds on faith. And we know that God will do whatever needs to be done from there.

In our lives, words, and actions, may we plant seeds of faith and grace everywhere.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 8:40-56

In both the stories in this text, it is faith that is they key. The woman and the father. The believe, even when others tell the not to. Even when it appears foolish to do so. They believe. And, in that faith, they find healing and life.

Today, in all that we do. May we believe. May we never loose faith. May we never loose hope.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ordinary Time, Monday, October 13, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

We see Micah despair because things look bad all around.  Evil lays in wait everywhere you look.  Even the righteous have turned away.  And it is in this moment of despair and dread that Micah says, I'll wait upon the Lord.  Even in his time of trial, even now when things look bad.  Even when things look dreadful.  I'll wait upon the Lord.  

Even in the darkest hours, most fearful times, let us wait upon the Lord.  

New Testament Lesson

And now we begin to see why Paul has had to go through so much.  The journey lead him to the place where he would be able to give witness to his faith to the most powerful men in the world.  The journey he had been on took him to where he could glorify God before those that were in authority, and if God warned and changed their heart, then the Gospel would spread throughout the world!  

Paul took it one step at a time, even when he wasn't sure where the road was leading.  Paul knew what he was called to, and he knew who was calling him.  He knew that God would not lead him astray, no mattered where God called him. 

So do we.  

Gospel Lesson

Jesus calmed the soul of the one in need. Jesus brought peace to one that was broken.  Jesus brought restoration to the one separated from all.  Jesus brought salvation, and a life full of worth, meaning, and joy.  

Just as He offered to the man in the text today, so does He offer His peace to us today.  

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ordinary Time, Thursday, October 9, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

One of the themes we see over and over again in the prophets is this notion that when the leaders lead the people astray, they will be the ones judged most harshly.  Sure, the people will be judged for their actions, but if the one that is called to lead does not lead, or even worse, is only interested in what they can get out of it, taking advantage of the poor, the needy, those that follow; they will be judged by God. 

This is important for us to remember that no matter who we are or where we are, there are always people that look up to us. There are always folks that think are it.  Where we really are "it" or not is not what matters. They think that we are. 

We must try to live by God's grace in a way that allows them to see how God wants us to live.  Not a perfect life, no one is perfect. But, a life of mercy, of grace, of God's compassion and love.  And in living like that, we will show what God wants from His people.  

New Testament Lesson

One of the things that happened in Paul's journey was that he got to tell the story of God's salvation over and over again, to many different people. God gave him chance after change to tell what God had done in his life.  One of the things we need to always do is to be thankful for all God has done, and share that with each other.  It is sharing our faith we are reminded how good God is to us.   

If anyone had any reason to be upset or mad, it was Paul.  He was beaten, kicked, spit upon, rejected.  Yet, he remembered what God had done for him.  May we be the same way.  

Gospel Lesson

One of the things that Jesus did when He healed or restored people was that He told them, your sins are forgiven.  Of all the things that we struggle with in life this may be the deepest and the most.  The need to know that we are forgiven.  The need to know that the past is the past.  The need to know that God has welcomed us back home. 

And He has.  He has forgiven us. He has welcomed us back home. 

Today, through Jesus Christ, your sins are forgiven. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sorry about no devotional yesterday, it was Monday all day long

Old Testament Lesson

I know I've used this quote a log, but It is so true, the reason why God hates sin is because of what it does to His children.  In Micah today we see that the people have turned from God and have fallen into terrible troubles.  So many of prophets tell the people that their sins have such great consequences. 

But, every prophet also says that if they will turn back to God He will save them, He will restore them, He will make it right. 

So is it for us today. When we turn to God we find He is there waiting for us with His love, His mercy, and His grace. 

New Testament Lesson

The Book of Acts at times reads like a suspense novel. We see all these different forces out to get Paul and destroy him. But, in all these things, God is at work bring about something good.  God was at working getting Paul to Rome. It was through Paul strengthening the Roman church that the Gospel was able to explode across the world. 

Even in the darkest situation, God is doing something.  Even in the worst time, God is doing something.  In all of life, and all of time, God is at work.

Gospel Lesson

We see Jesus bring restoration to families.  We see Him bring back children to families, restoring hope, restoring life, restoring peace to troubled hearts. 

We know that He is a God that longs for restoration.  He longs for His peace to be at peace.  He longs for His people to be in love with each other, and with Him.  

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ordinary Time: Thursday, October 2, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

The prophets are full of powerful phrases.  Today, the Lord says that He desires love, not sacrifice.  He desires the knowledge of God, not burnt offering. God desires for us to have a sincere, heart bases religion.  Not a religion is that is first and foremost focused on what we do.  It is focused on what's inside.  What's inside will take care of what's outside.  If the heart is based upon God, then the outside will be based upon God.  If the heart is based upon one's own self, then so will the outside be. 

He desire above all that we love Him with all that we have.  And, if we do that, rest of our lives will go along!  

New Testament Lesson

Wherever Paul went, he made an impact!  Today, we see him taken and beaten once again for the faith.  We see him thrown out of the temple and nearly killed.  Only this intervention by the Roman government saved him.  But, because of the beating, the Romans intervened. Because they intervened, he was sent to Rome. Because he was sent to Rome, the church was strengthen. Because the church was strengthen, the Gospel spread throughout Europe.  Because it spread throughout Europe, many of us today are Christian.  

There is no telling what God is up to in our lives.  There is no telling what the things that we go through that might now make any sense to us, could be the very thing that God can use to show is love to untold numbers of people.  There is no telling what God is going to do!

Gospel Lesson

Jesus' primary concern was doing what He could for others.  If they could not see or understand the greater good, that was because they did not see or understand.  He was sent by His Father to do good, save the lost, and show God's love to all.  That was His focus. 

May we have the same focus and passion for doing good for others and showing God's love to all.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, October 1, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

The text says here that a people without understanding come to ruin. There is a powerful concept there; this notion that there is something higher than ourselves that we live for and that should help to guide who we are.  We know that this is God, and in living for Him and through His grace, we find purpose and we find life.  When we live merely for ourselves, we do come to ruin. We wind up upset, or alone, or purposeless. 

But, when we live that which is higher, we find that we were created for a grand and glorious purpose and through God, we  can find life and joy and peace. And, a plan for our lives and a vision to live by.  

New Testament Lesson

Even though Paul didn't have to go through the rite of purification, he did anyway.  Why?  To not be a stumbling block to someone else.  Just like Hosea tells us that we live for a purpose, Paul reminds us that we are to live in a way that doesn't cause others to stumble.  Paul humbled himself to help others.  What a powerful concept and reminder for us that we live not just for ourselves. 

Gospel Lesson

Jesus loved regardless.  Tax collectors were unlovable.  They were despised. They were outcast. And Jesus still loved them. Just like today, in spite of all that we may have done, are doing, and will do, He still loves us. Today, rest in His love.