Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

2 Kings 18:9-25

One of the things that always got the people in trouble in the Old Testament was that they relied upon things other than God. They would rely upon Egypt. They would rely upon other kingdoms. They would rely upon everything other than God.

In this time of fear, in this time where we seek safety everywhere, may we learn the lesson that the people of the Old Testament never did. Our safety, our protection, our provision, it comes from God, and God alone.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Paul reminds us that we live for more than just ourselves, we live for others as well. And while I may do something that doesn't cause me to to weaken my faith, it may effect someone else different. My life effects yours, and your life effects mine. We are part of the same body, we are part of the same family. Our lives really do affect each other.

So, let's live in a way to build up, not tear down. Help, not hurt. Strengthen, not weak. Pull together, instead of pull apart. Let's live as the family we are.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 7:13-21

Let us bear good fruit. Let us produce love, joy, peace and kindness. As the children of God, may we grow deep in Him. May we have firm roots in Him. My we dig down deep in our walk with Him. And, just a tree will produce the fruits of it's kind, as the children of God, may we produce the good fruits that God would have us to produce.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

2 Chronicles 29:1-3, 30:1-27

One of the truths of all the Bible is this: when people turn to God, He meets them there. No matter what. No matter what has happened. No matter what may have been done. No matter what the past may hold. No matter what. When people turn to God, He meets them there.

The king said "let us turn back to God." The people did, and God was there. God is a God that desires to be in relationship with us, to know us, to love us, to care for us. That is what He wants, above all. Today, when we turn to God, He is there waiting on us.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 7:32-40

All of Paul's talks about families here is defined by his first sentence. I want you free from anxieties. Paul doesn't want us worried about the the stuff of this world, he wants us worried about and focused on the stuff of God. Paul always reminds us that as great as things can be here, as awesome as it can be here, this world is not our home.

And we are called to keep our minds on things above. Not just just the things of this age. Today, may we keep our minds focused on the eternal, and things from God.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 7:1-12

Jesus teaches us to be very, very careful when starting to judge others. Before we judge others, lets look at ourselves. Before we start worrying about others mistakes, lets look at ourselves. Before we start looking at other's sins, let's look at our own.

None of us are sinless. None. None of us are perfect. None. Let's remember our own imperfections when we are tempted to judge others. Let's remember our own mistakes when we are tempted to judge others. Just as we want mercy for our own mistakes, may we show mercy for others and their mistakes.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ordinary Time: Monday, September 28, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

2 Kings 17:24-41

We see in this passage why the Samaritans had a bad name, even to the time that Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan. They worshiped gods other than the Lord God. They worshiped their idols from their former lands. They also worshiped God, but He did not have exclusive ownership of their worship and their hearts. He only had partial.

God wants it all. He wants all our hearts; He wants all our worship. He wants all that we are. And, it's in giving Him everything that we have and all that we are that we find out who we are called to be.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 7:25-31

Paul reminds us that this world is not our home. We are here for a time, but this world is not our home. We have a higher home; we have a higher place. We were made for something more than this; we are created for an eternity with God. Never forget where you true home is, never forget what you were made for. You are made for eternity. Not just for this time. Remember your true home.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 6:25-34

Jesus reminds us of that in this passage. Don't worry about all these things. Trust in God. Seek His kingdom. Turn to Him. Rely upon Him. Follow Him. And He will take care of you. God will take care of you. He will give you what you need. He will not forget nor forsake you. Trust in Him. Seek after Him. And, in doing that, we will find that we have all that we could ever need.

Friday, September 25, 2009

An Open Invitation to the People of the United Methodist Church

Bill McAlilly on his great blog Building Bridges posts this Open Letter to fellow United Methodists. It's a great letter and I wanted to share it on my blog:

If you believe that Jesus Christ is the center of our Faith and that all of life flows from life in him…

If you believe that what unites us in Jesus Christ is greater than any difference that may separate us…

If you believe that we as Christ-followers need to recapture the gift of Christian Conversation…

If you believe that the Holy Scripture is best understood in light of the life, teaching death and resurrection of Jesus…

If you believe that we are better together than we are apart…that our strength is in unity not in schism…

If you believe that resurrection is stronger than death, that hope is greater than fear…

If you are tired of the endless arguing about who is in and who is out, who’s acceptable and who’s not…

If you would like to have a conversation about what’s right with the United Methodist Church…

I invite you to a conversation about the matters of our hearts and the desires of our faith…

I invite you to a conversation where we discover those places of vitality and strength…

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ordinary Time: Thursday, September 24, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

2 Kings 9:1-16

One of the things we see through out the books of 1 Kings and 2 Kings, as well as all through out the Bible, is that God is always up to something. God is always at work. God is always doing something. Here, a new king was anointed and done so for a specific purpose. He was raised up by God to make things right. God was always at work.

And He is today as well. He is always working, always doing always in the midst of some new and awesome thing. In your live, in the lives our churches, in all that is happening. God is at work. Have hope, have confidence! God is doing something awesome.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. There was an old belief in Paul's day (which is still around today) called gnosticism. This said that the body was bad, and the spirit was good. So, it didn't matter what you did to the body, as long as you soul was good. Paul said, no, the body matters.

First, the actions we take affect our soul. How we live affects our soul. Our lives and bodies affect our souls. They are connected. They are joined. In short, how we live really does matter.

Second, these bodies are a gift! Take care of them. Nurture them. Take care of yourself. This is something I haven't always done, but I'm trying to do better. We each need to. This body is a gift from God. Take care of it!

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus warns us, don't worry about being seen as faithful, just be faithful. Don't worry about others seeing you prayer, or fast, or doing things things. Just do them. Don't make a big deal about your faithfulness. Don't brag about it. Don't puff out your chest. Just be faithful. Just love God. Just spend time with God. And then, it's worthwhile. Because then it's not done for others to see; it's done to spend time with your savior.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

2 Kings 6:1-23

One of the great truths of the lives of those that God uses in amazing ways is that they trust God in all things. They know that He is looking out for them; that He is at work for good in their lives; that they are never alone. God is with His people. At all times. And in all places. And in all ways. God is at work for the good of those that love Him.

He protected Elisha today. He stood by him and helped him in this time of danger. And because Elisha knew the power of God, he trusted in God. Today, and each day, may we trust in the power of God. May we know that He is with us, and that His arm is still mighty to save.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 5:9-6:8

Paul felt like that as Christians, we should be able to work things out. We are a family. We share the same God as our Father and if He is our Father, then we are brothers and sisters. And as family, we can work through anything together. As far as disagreements, we can disagree without being disagreeable. We can have our differences without it getting personal. We are family. Let's work like one. Let's live like one.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 5:38-48

Jesus ends this passage with the command to be perfect as God is perfect. How? How do we do that? He tells us right before. Love. Love your enemies. Bless those that curse you. Forgive. Gives someone your coat. Walk a mile with them. Get to know them.

We may never be perfect in action. But, through God's grace, we can work towards perfection that really matters. Perfect in love. That's what we are to strive towards. Love God with all that we are. Love our neighbor with all that we are. Love. May we seek after this greatest gift of all - love.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ordinary Time: Monday, September 21, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

2 Kings 5:1-19

What Naaman was told to do didn't make sense to him. Surely, he thought, there is another way other than this. This plan isn't what I'd do. This isn't the way I'd do it. There must be a mistake. That's the way it sometimes works with God's plan. God's plan doesn't always make sense the way we'd like for it to. God's plan doesn't always work the way we'd like. God's plan isn't what we would do.

But, Naaman did what the prophet said and he was made clean. He followed the plan set for and God brought a good end. Eventually, he trusted. And, God made a way. May we learn to trust. And, we when we learn to trust, we will find that the same God that made a way from Naaman is the same God that will make a way for us.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 4:8-21

Paul says one of the most bold things he ever said in scripture today. Be imitators of me. If you want to see what a Christian looks like, if you want to see a Christian life, be do what I do. Live like me. Follow the way that I live. What a bold statement. What an amazing statement. To tell others to live like me to see a Christian life.

Can we say that? Can we say to others, if you want to see what a Christian looks like, watch me? The truth is, whether we say it or not, others are watching. May we live in a such a way that glorifies God with all that we do.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 5:21-26

Jesus wants us to be right in our hearts with others (not hating them in our hearts) and with our lives (leaving our gifts at the alter and making things right). It's not an either/or thing. It's a both/and. God wants our hearts to be right with others and our lives. It does not good to have a "pure" life and evil heart, just as it's not right to have "pure" heart and be mean with our lives! May we see to love God, and love our neighbor, with both our heart and our life!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, September 17, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

1 Kings 22:29-45

One of the lessons we learn from all the books of Kings is that the vast number of the kings of both Israel and Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord. Just because they had this powerful position, that did not mean that they were righteous.

And the sad part about that is that these persons were put in a great position to do good. They could have done so much good for God when they were king, but the did not. Instead of turning to God, they turned to themselves. They did not use their positions for good.

Today, not many of us a kings. But, all of us are in a position where we can do some good for God. May we each use our positions for good and to glorify God. May we use whatever status or position we have for the goodness of God.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 2:14-3:15

Paul reminds us today, let us not be divided by factions. Let us not be divided as Christians. While we may have different opinions and have different views of things, we are all one in Christ. If Christ is our Lord, if God is our Father, then we are family. And as family, we may have disagreements. But, that doesn't mean that we aren't family. As Christians, as brothers and sisters in Christ, may we remember that what unites is much great than whatever separates us.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 5:1-10

Jesus teaches today, blessed are those that seek God. Blessed are those that seek peace and mercy. Blessed are those whose desire is not for the things of this world, but the things of God. Blessed are those that truly know what's important. Blessed are those that seek what is right, just and good. Blessed are those that seek God.

May we seek God today, and each day.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ordinary Time: Monday, September 15, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

1 Kings 21:17-29

The Lord is a God who longs to bring grace and forgiveness. Even Ahab, one who had done terrible, terrible things when he heard of God's coming judgement, he stopped and repented. And the Lord did not bring the judgement against him that he rightly deserved. The Lord is a God that wants to forgive and restore. The Lord is a God that doesn't delight in punishing His children. When we take one step towards God, He comes running after us. Even one as Ahab, who had done so much against God, when he stopped and repented, the Lord gave forgiveness.

Our God is a God of forgiveness and second chances. May we live the life changing power of God's grace today.

New Testament Lesson

1 Corinthians 1:20-31

Paul reminds us today that God is beyond our mind's ability to understand. His ways are higher than ours His thoughts are beyond our thoughts. His plans are good and righteous and always for our God. The thing with God is that while we don't always know what He's doing; we don't always know what He's up to, it will always be for the good of His children. It will always be for the good of those that love Him and are called by Him.

Even when we don't understand. Because we can't understand. But, we can trust. Because while we might not know exactly what He is up to; we do know this. God loves us.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 4:12-17

Jesus began preaching, and preached this simple message - Repent for the kingdom is near. To repent means not just to stop sinning, but to turn away from it. To make a 180 degree turn. And, just as importantly, turn to God. How can we stop sinning? How can we turn? How can we do these things? Only through God and His power. That's why to turn away from sin, we must turn to God. All things are possible through God. When we turn to God, we can do more than would ever thing possible.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ordinary Time: Thursday, September 10, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

1 Kings 18:1-19

We see the challenge made by Elijah today. On behalf of God, he challenged the prophets of Ba'al. It would be decided who was the God of Israel. Would it be the Lord God, or would it be Ba'al. When we read further, we see that the Lord won the challenge and showed His power and might.

Never forget we serve a big a mighty God. Never forget that we serve a God that can do amazing things. Never make God too little. Never make God too small. He is still alive! And will do amazing things! Don't doubt, have faith! Our God is an awesome God!

New Testament Lesson

Philippians 2:12-30

Paul reminds the people to be faithful - work out your salvation with much fear and trembling. As awesome as God is, He wants us to do our part as well. He wants us to be faithful. He wants us to respond. He wants us to be accountable. He wants us to follow. We are saved by grace through faith, yes. But, we are called to believe and respond. And we are called to let that grace work within us, that we may be faithful.

God will do His part. May we be faithful and do what God has called us to do.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 2:13-23

In the story of Jesus' birth we see great acts of courage - Joseph and Mary fleeing, the wise men deceiving, acts such as these. We also see great acts of evil and hatred, such a Herod killing all the boys under two years old. In life, we have choices to make at time. Will we be strong and brave like Joseph, Mary, and the Wise Men? Or will we give into fear and hate like Herod?

In our lives, in times of choice, may we choose the path of grace. We serve a God of grace. May we be a people of grace.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

1 Kings 17:1-24

We see this great story of the widow who was faithful. She didn't have enough. She didn't know how it would work out. But, she knew that God has placed this one with her. And she gave. And the Lord blessed. She served beyond her ability. She gave from her heart. And the Lord took care of her. Even when she didn't know how or why, she did what the Lord required. She was obedient. The trust moment of obedience is that moment when you don't understand what God is doing or why He's doing it, but you obey. The widow did. May we do the same.

New Testament Lesson

Philippians 2:1-11

May we be humble as Christ was humble. May we serve as Christ served. May we love as Christ loved. Let us remember that if the very Son of God was a servant, that we should be too. May we take on that mind of Christ today. May we see the needs of others, the hurts of others, and pain of others. And then, as Christ did and still does, seek to help. May we take on the mind of Christ today be the hands and feet of Jesus today.

Gospel Lesson

Matthew 2:1-12

The king and his prophets, they should have been looking for Jesus. They had every means of knowledge. They knew where He was to be born, they knew all these things. But, they did not look. Others did. Others found. Others sought. They did not. May we seek Jesus today. May we look for here. And we are told, when we seek, we shall find.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Today, just a quick quote. I'll return to my normal format tomororow:

Remember that to the new heart there is a joy even sweeter than that of being forgiven, even the joy of forgiving others.

--Andrew Murray

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ordinary Time: Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

1 Kings 9:24-10:13

We see the height of Solomon's fame in this passage. He is the greatest political king in Israel's history. Never is the kingdom more famous, more powerful, more wealthy, or bigger than it would be under Solomon's rule. All is going well. Why? Because as the text said, Solomon was worshiping the Lord, doing as the Lord would have, following His command, judging and ruling wisely. The Lord had kept His promise to Solomon. The Lord had done what He had promised He would do.

The Lord is a God that keeps His word. He does not depart from what He promises. He does not break His word. Of all that keeps us safe and secure, the greatest is this: His promise to never leave nor forsake His. He is always with us. Today, and each day. Today, rest easy for the Lord is with you.

New Testament Lesson

James 3:1-12

This is one of the most powerful passages of scripture in my opinion. Out of the same mouths flow both blessing and curses, this should not be so! Who can tame the tongue? Each day of our lives, we have a choice with our words. We can build others up, or we can tear down. Each day. By the words we say. By how we speak to one another. By how we speak to strangers.

Our words have a chance to impact people. Do we speak with grace? Are our words graceful? Do we tame our tongue? Do we use this instatement for God's glory? Do we use it build up instead of tear down? Through His grace, may we do so.

Gospel Lesson

Mark 15:1-11

Jesus made no reply because He knew the real power in all of life was not Pilate or the religious leaders, but it was God. God is the one that is king. God is the one at work. Jesus had no reason to quake before any person, because God was king. This amazed Pilate.

And the same is true today. We have no reason to fear. From humans or from anything. God is King. God is with us. God will not leave us. Do not fear. God will never leave your side, no matter what. Do not fear. God is you rock, your shield, you defender. Do not fear. God is with you. Today, and always.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Ordinary Time: Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Today, just a quick thought:

Every day may not be good, but there's something good in every day.

--Author unknown