Thursday, April 30, 2009

Easter: Thursday, April 30, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

One lesson scripture teaches us is that God is the one at work in all things. The king was great because God had raised up. And, if the king becomes too proud and disregards God, God will bring him back down. In all things, even the bad, God is at work.

And the power of God is that He can bring something good even out of the bad. Out of the tragic. Out of the sad. God can bring good out of anything. Let's trust in Him!

New Testament Lesson

John reminds us again God hears us. God hears our prayers, hears our concerns, hears our hurts. God hears you now. When you lift your voice up to Him, He hears you. And will answer. Today, let us pray without ceasing and let us lift our hearts to Him.

Gospel Lesson

Jesus told Peter to something he normally would not have done, different from the way he was used to, different from what he knew. And Peter did, and found something better than he would have ever found doing his own way, doing the way he normally did. When he trusted Jesus, followed Jesus, he found more than his mind could have ever thought possible.

So will we.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Easter: Wednesday, May 29, 2009

Sorry my blogging has been inconsistent this week. Been one of those weeks!

Old Testament Lesson

One of the lessons that scripture teaches us over and over again is that it is the pride that goes before the fall. We need to always be careful not to think too much of ourselves, our strength, our might, our ability. Every time that happens, we get ourselves in trouble.

It's not that we can't do great things. It's not that we aren't special. We are. But, remember our strength comes from God and not from ourselves. And we are each special because we are made in God's image. God loves us each. But it is His love that gives us our strength.

New Testament Lesson

Our love for God is seen our keeping of the commandments. What is the greatest of the commands given by God? To love the Lord our God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. How can we say we love God who is unseen, and hate our neighbor who is seen? As we love God - that love is shown forth in our love for each other.

Gospel Lesson

Jesus brings life. And peace. And hope. And health. He is the cure. Even if life is not perfect (which it never is) He is there. He is there in our moments of peace and of pain. And we can trust in Him in all them. Today, and always, may we trust in Him.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Easter: Thursday, April 23, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Daniel 2:31-49

The king told Daniel after he had interpreted the dream – your God is to be praised. Our lives are to be lived in a way that allows folks to say that. Jesus said in Matthew that we are to let our lives shine and folks will give praise to our Father in heaven.

Our lives are a reflection upon God. That doesn't mean we have to be perfect, no one is. But, we must remember that as we claim to love and worship God that others are watching. How do we live? How do we talk? Does it make folks want to glorify God? May we live in such a way where it does.

New Testament Lesson

1 John 2:18-29

Life comes when we abide in Christ. When we live in Him. When He is our lives. Not the other things that swirl around and take attention. Not the other things that seek our hearts. Christ. As we abide in Him, we find life. As we draw near to Him through prayer, through the Word, through worship, through service, we find life. As we abide in Him, we will live.

Gospel Lesson

Luke 3:1-14

We see John tell the people what to do – just do right. Do what you know to be right. Live in a way that helps others. As Jesus told us, to unto others as you would have them do unto you. Place others first. Live in a way that seeks to do the most good you can.

Through God's help, today, you can change the world. Today, in some way, in your work, in your family, in your relationships, through God's help, you can change the world! As we live, love, and serve, we can change our world for the better!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Easter: Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Today is Earth Day. Don't want to wade too deep into any waters, but remember what Paul said in Romans that all of God's glory can be seen through creation. Today, don't get so busy that you miss God's glory all around you. Take to see God's glory in creation. And take time to thank God for all the ways He makes Himself know to us. And let's be sure to as He commanded us in the Garden; let's take care of His creation.

Old Testament Lesson

Daniel 2:17-30

We see Daniel tell the king, this understanding didn't come through my own ability or strength, but rather it came through God. God has given him this ability, and as he used His gift, He gave God the glory.

We all have gifts. We all have things we are good at. We all have abilities. They are all different. They are all unique. And they are all given to us by God. Whatever it is that you are good at, whatever it is that gives you joy, give glory to God. For He is the author of all good gifts that we have.

New Testament Lesson

1 John 2:12-17

God is eternal. God is forever. The stuff of this world, it fades away. The things that we think we can count on from the world, they pass away. But God, He is eternal. His life is eternal. His strength is everlasting. His power is almighty. He is king of kings and Lord of Lords. And He is there when we call.

Today, place your trust in that which is everlasting. Place your trust in that which will not fail. Today, place your trust in God.

Gospel Lesson

John 17:20-26

One of the last prayers Jesus prayed upon the earth was for us. It was for the church. It was for those that would believe. His concern in this pivotal moment was not for Himself. It was for us. It was for the church. It was for His people. He wanted us to be one. He wanted us to love God and know God. He wanted us to live out of His love and know His life. That was His concern.

Today, may we be one. May we live His love. May we know His life. May His will be done and His kingdom come. Today, and forever.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Easter: Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Daniel 2:1-16

We see here the king ask such a great thing that no one thinks it is possible to complete it. Even his own wise men know they cannot do it. When they come to Daniel to destroy him and his friends, he knows that God has given him the ability to do it. The tasks we face in life are often very tough. There are sometimes no easy answers. There are time when we do not know which way to turn, what do say, what to do. Daniel has taught us so far to trust in God in those times that is what he did today, and what he will do throughout the rest of this book. He trusted in God, and God did not fail him.

New Testament Lesson

1 John 2:1-11

John reminds us that those that love God must follow His commandments. The love of God Is not shown in our word, but rather in our lives. What then, are we to do? Live in the light. Love. Do not walk in darkness. Do not hate another. Forgive. Live a life of mercy. Show God's love to others as it has been shown to you. The world walks in the darkness of hate and anger. That must not be us. We must be the people of love. The people of forgiveness. The people of grace. As God has shown us grace, may we show grace to one another.

Gospel Lesson

John 17:12-19

Sometimes it feels like we are all alone. Sometimes it feels like no one knows, no one cares. It seems like we are in the battle all by ourselves. Remember, we are not. There are folks that love you – family, church, friends. But, today, we see the pray that our Lord prayed. Father, He said, protect them, care for them. Keep them. Love them. Jesus asked God to be with us. And He is.

You are not alone today. Believe in that. Trust in that. God is with you. Believe. You can cling to that. He is here, and He cares. God is with you.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Easter: Monday, April 20, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Daniel 1:1-21

One of the lessons we learn from Daniel is that wisdom and ability come from God. If we have the ability, if the strength, the know how to do our jobs, then it is God that deserves the praise for that.

But, Andy, I've worked hard. I've studied, I've sweated, I've done all I could do to get to this point.

You're right. But, who gave you work ethic? Good health? Determination? These things are all gifts from God as well. So, for all the good things, for all the abilities we have, let us praise God!

New Testament Lesson

1 John 1:1-10

If we confess our sins, God will forgive. He is a God that forgives the people of their sins. He is a God that loves His people. He is a God that longs to be in right relationship with His people. And if it is sin that is in the way, God will do whatever He has to do to remove that sin.

God is not out to get us because of sin. God longs to forgive us, to restore us, to love us. We just have to do our part. Confess, repent, turn to God. God loves you right now, and wants to know you better.

Gospel Lesson

John 17:1-11

Jesus asked God that we may be one as He and the Father are one. He wants us to be one. To not be separated by all things that we try to use to separate. God wants His people, one's His church to be one. If we hold Jesus in common, then what else really matters? If God is our Father, are we not brothers and sisters? The world tears people apart. May we not do that in the church.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter: Thursday, April 16, 2009

Today, if you'll allow, I'd like to take a point of personal privilege

First, to everyone that reads this, either though email or on my blog, I hope these reflections are a help to your soul and your journey with God.

I started doing these about 4 years ago, just as a way to keep my accountable in my own devotional life, and it's kind of turned into what it's turned into. I hope it's a blessing to you. It's always been one to me to do it.

Today is a day that is bittersweet for me. It is my mama's birthday. I was actually raised by my grandparents. The adopted my when I was 2 (and they were in their 40's! Can you imagine) I'm thankful for her love, support, and all she has given me through my life to help me to this point in my life. Happy birthday mama!

It is also the date my biological mother, who I call Mama Sarah, was murdered. She was killed protecting me, in fact, she was carrying me out of the house when she was shot.

I haven't ever written much about it. I talk about it in sermons some, but don't write much about it. I'm a pretty private person. Don't like sharing a lot of personal info. Guess it was the way I was raised.

April 16 is always a bittersweet day for me. I celebrate the life of the mother that raised me. I mourn the loss of the mother that laid down her life protecting me. And I pray I live a life worthy of the love both have given me.

Why am I sharing this with you today. Live fully today. Live with abandon today. Don't rely upon tomorrow. Don't half way do something today. If you love someone, tell them. If you have something to say, say it. If God has called you to something, do it.

Live. Today. It's what God has given you. Live.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter: Wednersday, April 15, 2009

Today, just a quick thought:

Christ is looking for greathearted people. The world has plenty of intellect, but God wants something better. He wants expanded, boundless hearts in which He can dwell and from which He can bless the universe. God will give you as much as you are able to love.
--A. B. Simpson

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter: Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Isaiah 30:18-21

God shows Himself to His people. He will be there. When He is called He will be there. When He is sought, He will be there. When He is needed, He will be there. There may be times in our lives when we feel like our prayers are bouncing off the floor of heaven, but God is there. There are dry times. There are times when we don't feel His presence. There are times when we do feel alone.

That is why we must be careful to not just trust our feelings. Even when we feel like He is not there, He is. Trust. He is there. And, when we look through the eyes of faith, we will see Him. When His people need Him, He is there. Listen for His voice. Still yourself. Take time to quiet all the noise that surrounds. Listen. You'll hear Him.

New Testament Lesson

Acts 2:26-47

On Good Friday, Peter denied Jesus' name three times. On Pentecost, Peter preached a sermon and 3000 were saved. What was the difference? What did Peter do to make this happen?

There was a difference, but it wasn't Peter. It was the power of the Holy Spirit. Peter, on his own, denied Jesus. Peter, filled with God's spirit preached and thousands were saved. It wasn't about what Peter did, it was about what God did through Him.

It's not about our perfection. It's about God working through us. Look what God did through Peter today. He can do the same, have the same impact through us, as He did through Peter. Today, through His spirit, He can still change the world.

Gospel Lesson

John 14:15-31

Jesus has not left us orphaned. He has not abandoned us. He has not left us. Through the Spirit we receive comfort. Wisdom. Strength. Power. Today, in your weakness, turn to God. In your fear, turn to God. In your frailty, turn to God. And, you will find you are not alone or powerless. God is there with you and for you. And will give you the strength you need.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter: Monday, April 13, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Jonah 2:1-9

We serve a God that will deliver His people. He has done it time and time again. He saved His people in the Old Testament. He saved His people in the New Testament. He has done it over and over again. His arm is strong enough. His grace is enough. His love is enough.

We just have to call out. To call out to God is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength. For the strong realize that God is their strength and rock. He is the joy of life and salvation. He is the one. Jonah turned to God, while in the belly of the whale, and God delivered Him. Today, He will deliver us.

New Testament Lesson

Acts 2:14, 22-32

Jesus conquered death. He conquered the power of sin, the power of death, the power of all that tries to destroy God's people. They have been rendered mute. Through Jesus, God attained victory over all these things.

Then, let's not a live a defeated life! Let's live a victorious life. For, victory has been achieved. Jesus has won the battle. It is over. He has won. And, through Him, so have we! Let's live that way. Full of joy and hope and peace. Let's live knowing the battle is over, and life has one. Let's live in that joy!

Gospel Lesson

John 14:1-14

Do not let your hearts be troubled. We face a lot of trouble in life. We face a lot of things in this week that will seek to trouble our hearts and our lives. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe. Hope. Pray. Trust. Life is there. These things are there. Let us trust in the rock that is higher than us. God is at work. Even in times of trouble, God is at work.

Believe. And, in that belief, find life.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Maundy Thursday, April 09, 2009

Today is Maundy Thursday. This is the day we remember the betrayal of our Lord, and His giving to us the sacrament of Holy Communion.

It's a bitter sweet day. There is joy for the gift of communion. In this meal, we receive grace, and we are drawn closer to God, and to each other. It is a powerful moment for us, and for the church, to join together in receiving this meal. Jesus told us that He is the bread and the Wine, and when we eat this meal, He is there with us. In our hearts, His presence is made known as we received this meal.

There is the sorrow of His betrayal. Judas, one of the 12, one of His friends, betrayed Him to His enemies. In this time, instead of standing with Jesus, he abandoned him.

But, lest we think that Judas was the only betrayer, let us also remember that Peter, one of the very closest to Jesus, on this night, 3 times denied Jesus name, cursing His name. It was not just Judas that denied. It was Peter as well.

And, He was taken to the cross.

And killed.

For sin.

Mine, and yours.

He suffered and died.

May we remember. Today is Maundy Thursday. Our Lord endured much today, and tomorrow. May we not forget. May we take time to remember.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Holy Week: Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Jeremiah 17:5-10, 14-17

Our strength comes not from ourselves, or from others, but from God. He must be the one that we trust, that we lean upon, that we place our hope in. Too many times in the Old Testament Israel and Judah placed their trust in allies, in the king, in their own might, but not in God.

God says, place your trust in me. I will protect you. I will keep you safe. I will save you. I will heal you. When you trust first and foremost in me.

Today, may we trust in God. In all the areas of life. And in all the areas of our heart.

New Testament Lesson

Philippians 4:1-13

Paul gives us some important guides for a peaceful life in this passage

  • When we give all things to God in prayer, we receive peace. Peace does not magically flow, it comes by taking the things that rob our peace and give them to God.
  • Whatever is good, honest, noble, think on these things. Let's not look for the worst in others. Let's not look to complain. Let's not look for other's faults. Let's look to what is good and kind. And the God of peace will be with us.
  • Christ is our strength. Through Him, we can do all that we are called to do, and be who we are called to. When we trust in His strength instead of our own, God can do great things.

Gospel Lesson

John 12:27-36

Today, walk in the light. Walk in the light of God. His light will shine where we need to go, what we need to do. His light will shine forth. Walk in the light, not in the darkness. The light of God leads to life, the darkness of this world leads to destruction. Walk in His light, and in so doing you will find His life.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Holy Week: Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Jeremiah 15:10-21

God offers this word to the broken hearted, to the tired, to weary: return. Return to me. Come back home and you will find newness of life and purpose and life. Instead of just the actions and the movements of religion, we will find the heart of religion. Oh God, restore our hearts that we may life in your life.

When we take that step back towards life, we find our God there, waiting on us, wanting to give us life and joy and peace. These things we find missing everywhere else we turn. We find in our lives a hole that these others can't fill.

Out of our hole, God makes us whole. Today, won't we each turn and live?

New Testament Lesson

Philippians 3:15-21

Where is our mind today? Is it set on the things above? Or the things below? If it is on the things above, we will find life, we will find our bodies and souls renewed. If it is on the things below, we fill find only that hole that we are trying to fill with things other than God. We are citizens of heaven! We are children of the king! We can know the glories of His richness and live! We don't have to settle for a life that is not alive. We can live a bold, amazing life. Through His grace. Today.

May we place our minds on the things of God. And in that, may we live.

Gospel Lesson

John 12:20-26

If we seek to hold onto our lives, we will lose them. But, if we lose them for the sake of the Gospel, we will know true life. Today, let go. Let go of your life, of your worries, of your fears, of your trials, of your struggles, of all these things.

And give them to God. Let go of your life. And find and even greater life through His grace. Let us not settle for that which is not true life. Let us only settle for Christ, and for His life.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Holy Week 2009: Monday, April 6

Old Testament Lesson

Isaiah 42:1-9

God has anointed His Son do justice, to do righteousness, to give glory to His name. And, through Jesus, He has anointed His church to do the same. We are live in the example of Christ, live in the grace of Christ, live in the power of Christ.

We are called to do great things. Each of us. Everyone one of us. God has called us each to something amazing! Live in that promise!

New Testament Lesson

Hebrews 9:11-15

Jesus is the mediator for our sins. Through Him, you are forgiven. Through Him, you know life. Through Him, you can know peace. Through Jesus. Not through our own might, strength, or power. Through Jesus.

Today, live in the glory of God's grace!

Gospel Lesson

John 12:1-11

Jesus reminds us to day that, believe it or not, our most important thing is not to serve others. It's to love Him. That must come first. Before everything. We love Him and be loved by Him. You are His child. From all the places you have sought love and acceptance, you can find it above in Jesus. You are loved. You are a son or daughter of the King.

Live as the Holy Child that you are!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Lent: Thursday, April 02, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Jeremiah 26:1-16

We see Jeremiah preach what God told him to and what happens? People get mad. They want to kill him. They want to get rid of him. He is saved because even though the people don't like what he's saying, they know it's from God.

God doesn't promise us that it will always be easy. There will be tough times. There will be times of trouble. There will be times when we don't know how it will turn out. Even when we faithful. God doesn't promise us it will always be easy. He promises us that He will never leave our side. And He will protect us. Today, in all your day, He is you. Trust in that.

New Testament Lesson

Romans 11:1-12

We see Paul today say that God does not give up. There will come a time of judgement, when everything is said and done. There will be that time when we stand before God and what's done is done. But, until that time, God will do everything that He can to bring us home. To give us another chance. To give us a fresh start. God will do what He can do to bring us back. We just have to accept the fresh start. Today, and each day, He offers it to us.

Gospel Lesson

John 10:19-42

Their eyes couldn't see. They didn't want to see. Through Jesus was right there in front of them, teaching, healing and preaching, they didn't see.

May we not make that same mistake. Through the Holy Spirit, may our eyes see. May we see God's presence today. May we see God's work today. Through the Spirit may we have our eyes opened to all that God is doing. May we see. And may we believe.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lent: Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Today, just a quick thought:

God will be faithful to see you through your storm and time of difficulty. Don’t look down in discouragement, but look up to him, who has promised to stay with you even “through the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4). Did the Lord begin this beautiful work of grace in your life only to let you fall into some black hole of hopelessness and despair? Never!
--Jim Cymbala