Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sorry about the lack of devotional yesterday; I was out of pocket, Holly's uncle was rushed to the hospital in Bolivar, TN with a heat stroke. He's from Brookhaven, but just happened to do be working on a job in Bolivar when all this happened, which is only 45 minutes from Ripley. We give thanks to God that it was so close that I was able to go up and be with him until he was released yesterday afternoon. Please keep him in your prayers today.

Old Testament Lesson

When the people stood as one, they were able to do great things. Saul lead them to the victory, but it was their combined efforts that made the victory possible. Without the people working as one, this would not have happened.

Imagine all that could happen if we work together. If we come together and work as for the common good; work for the kingdom together, across church and denominational lines, wow! Imagine what we could for our cities and towns, imagine what we could do for the kingdom. When we work together, with a common vision from God, we can do great things for Him!

New Testament Lesson

We see a bad thing happen. We see the church persecuted and we see Christians scatter. But, we see God bring something good out of it. We see the Gospel being spread across the world and being across that region being converted and finding God's love. God took this bad thing, and brought something very good out of it.

That's what He does!

Gospel Lesson

The people that were beating Jesus were so mad, so angry, so enraged that they did not see what they were doing. They did not see that they had the very Son of God in their midst, and instead of worshiping, they were abusing.

Be very carful of anger and rage. It will consume and destroy us.

Friday, June 26, 2009

VBS 2009 - Ripley FUMC

This is review of our VBS - Camp EDGE

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ordinary Time: Thursday, June 25, 2009

Today, just a quick quote. I'm on the way to the Delta (Cleveland) for a funeral. Please remember the Litton family in your prayers today:

It is one thing to love the ways of the Lord when all is well and quite another thing to cling to them during discouragement or difficulty.

Charles Spurgeon

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

We see that when the people returned to God, He honored that. God is a god that longs for His people to come home. He's a God that longs for a relationship with His people. He desires to know us, have relationship with us, walk with us, draw near to us.

And don't we desire the same thing? Isn't our hearts desire to be in relationship with God? Isn't knowing Him more deeply and more fully what we desire? Just as He wants us to draw near to Him; our hearts ache to be with Him.

Today, and each day, may we turn our hearts to God.

New Testament Lesson

We see in this passage that the apostles, they couldn't do everything. They needed help. They were not able to do everything that needed to be done. It takes more than just them. So it is it for us today. It takes more than just me; more than just you. It takes all of us, working together for a common goal mission.

And when we all work together towards what God has for us, imagine what we can do! Imagine if all the church worked together for the kingdom, instead of being distracted by our differences. If we focused more on what we can do together instead of where we different, Wow! Imagine what God could do!

Gospel Lesson

Jesus gave us a this meal of Holy Communion not just to remember. But, to be active. To eat this meal as an act of preparation. One day, we'll feast together in heaven for all eternity. This gift of Holy Communion, it invokes to our heart what will be one day. Remember, this world is not our home. We have a better and more perfect place waiting on us. One day.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

The Lord works in amazing ways to show His glory. We see here in this passage while the Ark of the Covenant was had been taken captive, the people that held it became convinced of the Lord's glory. His glory was made know for all to see.

God has a way of doing that. Things just work like that sometimes, don't they? God's glory shows its self to us in awesome ways. In the smile of a child. In the beauty of creation. The power of sacred space. God will be gloried today. May we be on the look out for it.

New Testament Lesson

In the earliest days the Apostles preached and taught Jesus. He was the central message. He was the one that they pointed to. Nothing else matter than that. He was what it was all about. That remains true today. It all comes down to Jesus. We all struggle with all the mysteries. But, we do know this. It's all about Jesus. It's all about His life and His love. Live in His love today!

Gospel Lesson

Just was we know we can see God in all areas of life, we see in this passage Satan enter into Judas, one of the twelve. He walked with Jesus and talked with Jesus and did ministry with Jesus. And Satan still entered in and destroyed him. Never think you've done too much and that God can't love you. He does love you now, and always.

But, by the same token, never think you've done too much good or that you love Jesus enough; you'll not fall into temptation and sin. Nope, every one of us, we can each fall into temptation and sin. Thanks be to God that He gives us the power to be strong.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ordinary Time: Monday, June 22, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

One of the lessons that the Old Testament constantly reminds us that God is Holy. God is other. God is different from we are. Now, Jesus showed us God's heart. And through Jesus, God did become one of us, walked as we walk, talked as we talk. Jesus shows us God's love and mercy and compassion towards all.

And perhaps because He is Holy, He is love. To be Holy means to be different. When God calls us to be Holy has He is Holy, He is calling us to be different from the world we live in. And perhaps God's love shows God's Holiness. He is different in that in all that He does, He loves. In a world full of judgement, hate, and despair, God is Holy. God is love.

New Testament Lesson

One of the lessons we learn from Acts is that God will make a way. Time after time when all looked lost for the Apostles, when things looked most hopeless, God opened a God, God made a way, God sent someone to save. God gave strength and hope when there was no reason for either. God made a way. And He will make a way for you today.

Gospel Lesson

Jesus reminds us to be watchful. Be aware. Know that He is always near, He is never far. Know that our hearts and eyes should always be watchful. Not just for His return but for what He is doing now. Look around and see. He is at work all around you! Be watchful. And then we you see what God is doing, join in!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ordinary Time: Thursday, June 18, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

One of the lessons of Scripture is the notion that we each must make decisions for ourselves and be accountable for those decisions. In spite of being from the priestly line, Eli and his children will be cut off, because of the decisions and choices made.

From this story, we also see that the decisions we make, they affect others. Eli will suffer because of the choices and actions of his sons. The things we do, they way we live, the words we say, each of these things affects others.

May we live with understanding, and may we live an awareness of the effects of our decisions.

New Testament Lesson

One of the things Peter does at Pentecost is he walks the people through God's plan for salvation. And this plan, it wasn't always know or seen. God was doing more behind the scenes than anyone saw at the time. It was only in hindsight the people were fully aware of what God was doing. God is always at work. He is always doing great things. In our lives, and in the world. We don't always know. We don't always see. But, He is at work. Trust Him. He is doing more than we could ever imagine.

Gospel Lesson

God wants the heart. The widow, she had nothing. And yet she still gave. Whatever you have, big or small, great in your eyes or weak in your eyes, if you give it God, He can do great things. In God's eyes, its not about the power or the money or the fame or anything. It's about the heart. Great or small, famous or infamous, when given from the heart, God does great things in our midst.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

There is no more fearful thing to do, I think, then to let your children go into the world. Our oldest starts school this fall, and I'm already terrified. We teach them, love them, prepare them, and send them out. And, still, quite often, they find trouble. And we think, don't you know better? Didn't I teach you better? Why are you doing this?

I wonder if our Father in heaven feels that way about us, His children, sometimes. He has loved us, cared for us, gotten us ready. And, in spite of that, we still choose wrong, make mistakes, do things we shouldn't.

Thankful, just as we love our children, no matter what, so does God love His children, no matter what.

New Testament Lesson

We see that on this day, all that called upon Jesus, all that turned to Him were saved. We try to make things too complicated then they really are, sometimes. God loves us, sent His son for us, wants to know us. Wants us to believe and follow. Is there more? Sure, but that's the basics. God loves you, wants to save you, wants you turn away from that which is wrong and choose that which is right. He gave His son for that reason.

Life's complicated enough. God's not going to make our salvation too complicated. (Romans 10:9). If we believe, confess, repent, we'll be saved. That's it, that's the list.

Gospel Lesson

God is the God of the living. All that are alive in God are alive! So, go out there and life today! Live boldly, live fully, live faithfully. Live with hope and joy and peace. Know that God is with you. Live in that. God is the God of the living. And through God, all things are make alive. Go, today, and live!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

We see here Hannah leave her son Samuel in the Temple with Eli, basically saying - God you gave me this child, he is no mine, he is yours. That's a hard thing to say as a parent. Our inclination is to hold onto to our children, to think, they are ours. But, in the end, our children, like every good gift, come from above, and they are actually God's.

So, we hold on them. We love them. We teach them. We discipline them. But, remember, in the end while they are ours, they are also God's. May we teach our children who they really belong to, and may we remember that fact as well.

New Testament Lesson

One of the things that's always helpful to remember that it's not just up to us. We are not God's last hope. He has other plans, other people. When Judas betrayed Jesus', the work didn't stop. There were others there that could do the work he had been doing. It was the work that important; it was the gospel that was important. They were primary.

Today, you have the ability to do something only you can do. You are special and you have a purpose. But, it's not just up to you. There are others, working for God, loving, serving. Be faithful, but know that in the end, its God that's doing the work, and He will work it all out.

Gospel Lesson

One of the admonitions of Jesus, and all the scripture, is to be good citizens. To give to Caesar what is Caesar's. Paul tells us be good citizens, do what is right, pray for those that are in authority. We are supposed to work to make a world and nation a better place.

But, it's no just giving to Caesar what is Caesar's. Give to God what is God's. We are citizens of two "kingdoms." St. Augustine talked about how we citizens of Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Man. We want to be good citizens of the Kingdom of Man, work towards making it a better place. But, Augustine, and more importantly, Jesus, reminds us that this world is not our home; our home is a higher, heavenly place. And in this world in which we live we need to keep our true home always in our minds.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Follow me at Mississippi Annual Conference!

I'll be at the Mississippi Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church tomorrow through Sunday, so I won't be blogging for the rest of this week. I'll start back my normal routine next Monday.

However, if you'd like live updates of what's happening at conference, I'll be sending updates through Twitter. You can follow me at Conference through our church website — www.ripleyfumc.org or by following me on Twitter -www.twitter.com/atstod. Or you can go to http://search.twitter.com and just search for msac and see what all is happening.

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

We see the Lord work through the generosity of Boaz. Generosity and grace are things dearly needed in our world today and always. In being generous, in being kind and caring, in showing grace and mercy to others, we are mirrors of God's grace and generosity towards us. He has shown us goodness and mercy, grace and kindness. We should show that same generosity and caring to others.

And, if Christians are not generous and caring, then who will be? As God has shown us that mercy, may we show it each other and all the world.

New Testament Lesson

Paul speaks to leaders in the church throughout Timothy. He tells them they must be approve reproach. They must do right. They must live right. They must be a representative of Christ. Because they are. And, it's not just leaders in the church. But, each of us that are Christians, we represent Christ. We are His ambassadors in this world. We need to make sure our lives represent Him rightly. That doesn't mean being perfect; none of us are. But, it does mean living in a way that gives glory to Him.

Sometimes that means asking forgiveness for our mistakes. Sometimes it means doing the right thing at whatever cost. Sometimes it means giving a hug or warm word. But, whatever it means, may we live in a way that glorifies God.

Gospel Lesson

We see that Jesus tells us that the way is narrow, but all are invited to walk it. All are welcome, Jesus came to show each and all of us His love. He came so that not a single person would be unloved. He came so that all the world could know God's love and mercy and the that chance to walk with God.

Today, may we realize just how loved we are and may we know that Jesus walks that narrow path with us.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Ordinary Time: Monday, June 8, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

The story of Ruth is a great one, one that we can learn many things from — grief, loss, redemption, service. But, one of the greatest lessons we can learn is the power of loyalty. Ruth is loyal to her mother in law, and will go with her where she goes. She will be true to the one that has been true to her.

There are many in life we should be loyal to. Family. Those that have stood by us in hard times. Those that have been our friends when we were in need. But, above all, God has been most loyal to us. He has never left our side. He has never forsaken us. He has always loved us.

As He has been loyal to us, may we be loyal to Him.

New Testament Lesson

Paul reminds us that he was once far away from God, and God did not give up on him. God redeemed that was as far away as even Paul. There is no life God can't save, no soul God can't redeem, no burden God can't easy. If God can use Paul, one that had done things that were unimaginable, He can use each of us in amazing ways!

Gospel Lesson

Today, they ask Jesus about a terrible tragedy there in Jerusalem. Why did it happen? Were these bad people? Why? And Jesus never answers the question. He simply says make sure your own heart is right and don't worry about what you don't/can't know.

In life, there are some things we will never understand. Some mysteries too deep. Some things unknowable. Some things that are just the mysterious realm of God. And that's when it's a great comfort to just trust that while we don't know always know what's going on, or why things are happening, or what the point even is, we do know God. And God is good. And God loves us. So, we trust. Even when we don't know why. We trust. Because He has never left our side.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ordinary Time: Thursday, June 4, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

One of the reminders in the Bible is this; it will not always be like it is now. We are surrounded by pain and death and sin. We are surrounded by tragedy. We are surrounded by things that we can't fully understand. This is part of our experience on Earth.

It will not always be like this. God is at work, and He is restoring the damage done to us and to creation, by sin. There will be a day when there will be no more pain or death or suffering. There will be a day when the old things will pass away and there will be new life. God will restore things; make them like they ought to be and were created to be. God will do this. Let us stay strong, and keep our hope. Knowing that God is not done.

New Testament Lesson

Paul reminds us what a great gift we have in Holy Scripture. Paul reminds us what a great thing it is that God has shown us and revealed to us. Through the Bible, we learn about God's mercy and grace, and who He is and who we are called to be.

But, as we study scripture, let us be reminded that the Bible is not just a collection of fact, or of doctrine, or of any of these things. Through reading it, studying it, praying over it, we are led to a deeper walk with God. That, in the end, is the greatest gift of Scripture. Through it, our faith grows, our hope grows, our walk with God grows.

Gospel Lesson

Jesus tells us today not to be worried about the things that culture is consume by; money, power, clothes, things such as that. Jesus tells us to seek first the kingdom of God. Seek first Him. And, if we seek first the kingdom of God, all the things that we need will be added. If we focus first on what matters, when we will find that we have all that we need, and will find the life that we need. In Him.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

We see that even as the Lord pronounces judgement upon those that have turned away, He keeps offering grace. He keeps offering mercy and hope and restoration. God, even when there is no reason, offers forgiveness. His forgiveness is not earned, it is given. The people had no right to want or to expect forgiveness from God. They had done noting worthy of it, they had repeatedly turned away. And He still offered.

They just had to accept that forgives. They had to receive it. They had start afresh. Today, so do we. This is a new day. The past is gone. This is a new day with new possibilities. What has been is not. Live in the newness of today and live in the hope of God's love and forgiveness.

New Testament Lesson

Paul reminds today, something I need to hear a lot, it's a good thing to listen more than we talk. Its good to listen to other people. To value them. To hear what they say. To remember that friendship and conversation are a two way street. It's no just for us to talk. But, also to list.

When need to do the same with God. Remember, prayer is not just the words we say to God. Prayer is also taking time to listen. To listen to God, to hear God, to know what He has to say to us. Today, while in conversation with God, take time to listen.

Gospel Lesson

Someone once said integrity is what you have when no one else is looking. That's a great statement. Who are we when no one is looking? Who are we when we are in private? Who are we when we are alone? Jesus reminds us that nothing is done in secret, but that God sees what is even done in the dark.

May we be people of integrity. May we love God and love neighbor, whether the entire world, or just God, is watching.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

The people long to see God today in the passage. Where had God gone? Had He disappeared? Had He left them? No, the Bible is clear, God does not leave His people. So, then, where was He?

He was still there. They just weren't looking. Or, maybe they were looking, but they were also districted. They wanted to see God, but the were distracted by the stuff of life. The same happens to us. We want to see God. We want to know God. We want to know God and His grace and mercy.

But, we get so easily distracted by the stuff of this world. Today, do let all that you go through distract you from God's presence. He is there. Look for Him. You'll see Him. Keep you eyes, and your heart open. You'll see Him.

New Testament Lesson

Paul reminds us today to not think too much of what other folks think. Don't worry about that. Worry about what God thinks. If we spend our time consumed with worries about what other folks think, we'll miss caring about what the only that actually matters thinks: God. May we spend our time trying to please God.

Gospel Lesson

Jesus reminds us that it all starts with the heart. If our hearts are focused on God, everything else will follow. If we are focused on having God fill us and change us from in the inside out, everything else will follow. Today, may Jesus be Lord of lives. Starting first with our hearts.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Ordinary Time: Monday, June 1, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

We bare God's name. That's a powerful concept. We bare God's name. In other words, we represent God, if we call ourselves Christian. Not just preachers, but all of us that call ourselves Christians. How we live, speak, act, care, love, forgive, ask forgiveness, these things are a reflection upon God.

So, let us live in a way that glorifies God. I don't mean a life that is perfect, none of us will achieve that. But, what I do mean is a life sprinkled with grace and mercy. In a world that is disagreeable and tears down, let us build up. In a world that responds in anger and hatred and vengeance, let us love. In a world that holds grudges and remembers the smallest slight, let us forgive. For, we bare God's name.

New Testament Lesson

Paul reminds us today that God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but of power and of love and of discipline. God doesn't want you to cower in fear. God wants you to be brave! Strong! Live with courage and hope, for God is with you. Whatever you face today, you won't face it alone. For God is with you. Be strong. Be bold. Live. Knowing that God stands with you.

Gospel Lesson

Shine your light today. Shine your light today for all to see. In the darkness, shine light. When you feel like the darkness will win, shine light. When you feel like there is no hope, shine light. When you feel like giving up, shine light. For, it's not your light you shine, but the light of Jesus. And His light conquers all.