Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Scriptures in a Year Day 17

Luke 5:17-26
In the previous section Jesus healed a man at had him follow the Mosaic law by going to the religious leadership of the day. This section tells a very different story. Jesus is teaching with a large crowd including the religious leaders of the day. Before he heals a man he forgives his sins. This is way outside of the Mosaic law. Forgiveness of sins involved sacrifice of animals and was done via the high priest at the temple. Jesus merely spoke and forgiveness was granted. We quickly see Jesus changing the established religious rules.

Philippians 2:1-11
"Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus" (v5). After this grand encouragement Paul goes on to describe what he sees the essence of Jesus being and therefore what should be in our minds. The strength of Jesus came in what he gave up to live among us. The NRSV tells us that Jesus did not exploit the fact that he was God. I wonder how often we exploit our relationship with God? We try to gain something that is not at all about following God? Jesus had every right to grasp all that God deserved, yet he did not for our sake. We have some rightful claims because of our relationship with Jesus, but do we exploit them or do we function like Christ himself?

Psalms 119:129-136
Our own attempt to keep the scriptures as the rule of our lives. The pain associated with our own broken and fallen actions can be high. This helps us to be thankful for the grace and love of God seen through Jesus. Even more difficult is when we see others breaking ranks with the commands and teachings of God. It is easy to get angry, or offer judgment, when the deepest response is sadness. Why sadness? We have a record of what happens when the people of God do not live according to the call of God through the teachings of God. The Bible is an almost endless account of people who push away the leading of God.

2 Kings 8-9
Throughout the books of Kings we get real familiar with the phrase, the did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. King after king we find following their own desires and leading the people astray. God sends prophet after prophet in an attempt to call the people back to God, but the rate of success is very low. This section of scripture continues in that line. Once in a great while we come across a king who does what is right in the eyes of the Lord. Still the pattern kicks back in. It seems as though we are seeing the very reason God warned against a human king come into play.

Scriptures in a Year Day 16

Luke 5:12-16
Jesus is at it again, healing someone. Here after the healing Jesus tells the person to comply with the teachings of Moses, and present themselves to the priest. It would appear Jesus was following along with the religious leaders of the day and making sure things were above board. In fact the command the man healed to tell no one except the priest. I guess the other option is that Jesus was picking a fight with the priest by healing outside of the temple, and not by a member of the priestly family.

Philippians 1:21-20
"Living is Christ, dying is gain" A quick read of this section and Paul could sound suicidal. The reality is what awaits the followers of Jesus on the other side of death is life far greater than anything we can imagine. Paul is keenly aware of the glory which is ahead, yet he knows the work he was called to is not completed. No matter what, Paul glorifies God. I wonder if we are ready to take on that same mind?

Psalms 119:121-128
Have you ever wanted to feel protected from trouble? That is the cry of the psalmist in this section. Watch over me Lord, I am doing everything I can to follow you, please be my protection. Following the Lord can bring about challenge from the world around us, yet we can find shelter in the Lord from all that would work to bring us down.

2 Kings 6-7
The Arameans are laying siege to Samaria and they have cut off food from entering the city, a biblical times embargo. Four lepers were outside the city, fore they were unclean, and knew death was drawing near. They decided it would be better to die trying to live rather than simply sitting at the gate wasting away. The Lord had already cared for confusing and driving our the Aramean army, so the lepers found no one around and food in abundance. I wonder what would happen if we all had the spirit of life displayed by the lepers? The reality is we are all going to confront death and lose. The question is not death, rather will we live before we get there?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Scriptures in a Year Day 15

Luke 5:1-11
Jesus had been teaching in the area, and needed to get away from the crowd a little. Into the fishing boat he goes. The night of fishing was over, we know this because they were washing the nets. The fishermen soon to be disciples, had just finished a long night of hard work, and Jesus says lets go out again. Once out there Jesus asks them to do something totally outside the normal, fish during the day. They listen and fish and need help bringing in the catch. From that moment those in the boats are hooked, and change what they are fishing for. Humanity becomes their catch.

Philippians 1:12-20
God uses poor circumstances for great good. Paul is addressing the question of people preaching the Gospel for the wrong reasons. The answer given surprises me every time I read it. Paul says as long as the Gospel of Jesus is going out, no matter the motive of the preacher, I will rejoice. God does not rejoice in the motive either, yet the motive is used to bring Good News to people who are thirsting for it. Another reminder that God is in charge of the ministry not us.

Psalms 119:113-120
The world we live in is not different than the world of the psalmist. There is a mix of good and evil, positive and negative. Often they reside within each of us at the same time. We are encouraged to focus on God to separate for us where we need to be and what we need to focus on. Keeping ourselves tuned into the teachings of God will help us keep from the pull of the evil in our world and life.

2 Kings 4-5
The Healing of Naaman is a good lesson for us today in how God heals. Naaman expected the healing to come in a certain way, the way he had designed it. Yet God was offering healing an a way Naaman thought to be too simple or not worthy of a man of his position. God offers greater healing than we can imagine. Often we miss the healing of God not because of our level of faith, or the action of God, simply we are looking at a different thing than God is offering. God's plan of healing has so many more options to it than we can even begin to conger. May we be open to what God is offering to us.

Scriptures in a Year Day 14

Luke 4:38-44
At this point the public ministry of Jesus is well underway. Sick are being healed and demons are being cast out. We are told that Jesus entered Simon's home. This was a common name in Jesus day so we are not sure which Simon is being told of. Many have held the idea that it is Simon who would become Peter. Nonetheless, we are told that Jesus is in the business of healing people. Not just a select few, but all who would come.

Philippians 1:1-11
"I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ." (v. 6). God is the one who is in charge of the community of believers, and it is God who is the lead actor not us. God began the good work among humanity, and that work will be completed. We are not guaranteed to see the completion only that there will be a completion. Our human tendency is to live in our narrow view of history. God has been at work all eternity, we only see a small portion.

Psalms 119:105-112
The word of the Lord is a lamp to my feet, we take this to mean we will be able to see what we want to our our path. This is simply not true. A light on the path shows what is in a small area, the area we need to see for our next step not much beyond that. We must trust the step we are shown is the step we we need to take and that it will lead us to the calling of God.

2 Kings 1-3
Transitions are always hard, can you imagine the transition from Elijah to Elisha. Elijah was the lead prophet of God for years and he was the one everyone turned to. The time had come for Elijah to be taken to heaven, and Elisha to takeover Elijah's place. The pressure must have been huge, and I am sure the people wondered if it would work out. Yet God was the one orchestrating the transition, not humanity. God brings transition to life and we try to manage it instead of allowing God to simply lead us.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Scriptures in a Year Day 13

Luke 4:31-37
Fresh from being pushed to the edge of a cliff and an attempted death by his home town Jesus moves on to another place in ministry. The people there are not real sure about who Jesus is, they only know what the countryside rumors and gossip have afforded them. Yet the demon that inhabits a person knows who this person Jesus is and what it means for all that is evil. We have become so familiar with the stories and works of Jesus we take for granted the power which Jesus displayed. Along with that we begin to lose focus on the ability of Jesus to change everything. When the crowd did not recognize Jesus, the enemy did. Perhaps the same is true today, we miss Jesus in the crowd, but the enemy knows and fears. What would happen if we be came as aware and allowed the power of God in Christ to go before us?

Ephesians 6:10-24
When troops go off into battle they go armed for the fight. So often when we engage in a spiritual battle we do not equip ourselves. Paul reminds us the battle we are in is not against flesh and blood and therefore we need to equip ourselves differently. Many choose to ignore the idea of Spiritual warfare and hope it will go away. This simply is not the case. However, before we take on the Enemy we must be sure we have the correct equipment or it will get quite ugly.

Psalms 119:97-104
What good is it to study or meditate on the words of God? We study and seek, but why? The best answer I can give is to prepare us to live life. We can read all kinds of books on how to live, and we can study to gain all forms of knowledge. None of those readings will give us the wisdom required for living as God has called us. The wisdom and knowledge gained by scripture may not seem to address some of the struggles of our present age. However, there is more than meets the eye. Perhaps as we allow the Scriptures to shape us, the way we live will be different and change the ways of our world.

1 Kings 21-22
Right off the day time TV screen we have the closing interactions of Ahab. Elijah has warned and the king has not listened. His wife then hatches a plan to get what is wanted. Murder is part of the plan. In all we find the continuation of the kings of this earth, they do what they want to not what the Lord has called to. Even when the prophet of God speaks there is not return to God. The ultimate end is one of death and separation. May we not think this only happens to kings.

Gracious Lord grant that we might hear your voice. May we not take for granted the power of your Spirit in our lives. Help us today to look fully at your face and gain wisdom from you. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Scriptures in a Year Day 12

Sorry to all who read, I fell behind for all kinds of reasons, mostly excuses, but I am back now.

Luke 4:13-30
This passage from Luke is to me one the most important passages in the New Testament. Here we find Jesus' purpose statement taken right from the prophets. Within this quote from Isaiah we find what it is Jesus is going to be about, good news to the poor, release to the captive and year of the Lord's favor. This would include physically, emotionally, and spiritually poor and captive. Now years after this proclamation we can know Jesus is at work when these things are happening. If they are not we as the church are not fulfilling the purpose of Jesus.

Ephesians 6:1-9
While the end of chapter 5 has been used for great harm, the beginning of chapter 6 has been used for even greater harm. During slavery in the United States slave owners would have preachers come to the plantations and preach this passage without all the other information around it. The result was having the slaves to feel like if they were to rebel, they would be rebelling against God not only their master. Most slaves could not read, and therefore had to take the words of the preacher. While this passages reminds us of obedience, it also reminds us that we are all slaves to Christ. It is not human to human that true obedience is measured, it is in our relationship to God. I wonder how this passages plays with the Luke passage from above? Might be fun to let your mind run a little.

Psalms 119:89-96
The psalm writer continues to remind the reader or hearer, of the importance of remaining connected to the words of God. We cannot remain faithful to God if we do not become familiar and understand the words of God, and they are found in our Scriptures. As James will later remind us, hearing and learning are not the goal, living is the true measure of the knowledge of God.

1 Kings 19 and 20
Silly Elijah, he thinks he is the only one left who is willing to fight for God. Anyone who has entered into the service of God has felt this way at some point. When the question, "Does anyone else get this?" shows up on our lips we are at that point. I cannot imagine how alone and scared Elijah felt in those moments. Not to mention the huge responsibility to speak for God. Next God takes Elijah on a journey, literally, to respond to his cry. The end result is God reminding Elijah who is in charge and who has the plan. Our tendency is to only see what is right in front of us, and what our present circumstance is. When we begin to take a God's-eye view we see there is more going on than we can possibly engage.

Lord God help me today to be an agent of your Good News. Let the poor feel embraced, the captive free and all experience the year of the Lord's favor. Shape and mold me into the person you long for me to be. Give me a God-sized vision and a vision that is from your view. In Jesus Name, Amen

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Scriptures in a Year Day 11

Luke 4:1-12
The temptations of Jesus. Often I wonder why is it God would have Jesus be tempted by Satan. The common response was so that he would experience temptation just like the rest of us. Another common reason given is to show how to respond to temptation, with the words of Scripture. All of the above seems to be an appropriate answer as well. It seems twice Jesus faces major temptation, at the beginning of his ministry, and in the Garden of Gethsemane. Both times Jesus is presented with options which would keep him from fulfilling his role in the redemption of relationship between people and God. When we give into temptation we are forfeiting our role in the redemption of relationship between us and God. In both temptations Jesus responds by choosing God;s glory over his own prosperity. I wonder what there is for us to learn in that?

Ephesians 5:22-33
Husbands love to read the first two or three verses of this section and stop reading. Wives like to skip the opening words and get right to the ending. The reality is we must read the whole thing. Wives and husbands have expectations of how they will be in relationship with each other, and it is based in our relationship with God. Verse 21 must be attached to this section as we are reminded to submit to God in everything. A husband is the head of the household as Christ is the head of the church. A willingness to die for the household is a part of being a good husband. Yet the wife must allow the husband to be that head. In our day and age these roles have been distorted for many reasons. Husbands have failed to live into their God called role, and wives have failed to allow their husbands that role. Really however, is is not about husbands and wives, rather it is about our willingness to allow God to have control n our lives, and trust the design of God for our lives more than what we think is the way to do it. No easy task.

Psalm 119:81-88
Anyone who has chased after God has asked this question, "How long God are you going to allow others to persecute me?" We may not use those words but we use the sentiment. Persecution and ridicule are often a part of the equation for a follower of Christ. This is so painful because no matter what we say, it matters what others think about us, or at least it seems to impact us more than we like. This is a matter of trust, do we trust in the Scriptures, God's teaching, or do we trust in others. When we got to the testing time in this decision we cry out to God, but where do we go for the answer?

1 Kings 17-18
This is quite possibly my favorite Old Testament passage. Elijah challenges the Ahab, the king, to a battle of gods. There is not philosophical debate. No theological treaties developed. There is a very public and direct confrontation. The heart of the question, whose god will show up and be revealed as God. the prophets of Baal do their best, and Elijah pokes fun at them as they cry to their God, and nothing. Elijah has them pour water on the altar three times. Interesting, that much water being used in a time of drought. A wealth of resource was being poured onto the sacrifice. The very thing the people and land craved, Elijah was sacrificing to God as proof of who is God. How often do we doubt the provision of God? How often to we withhold the very thing God is calling us to sacrifice? What or who are the false Gods we are trusting more than the One True God?

Forgive me Lord for all the times I hold back from you the sacrifice you desire. Cleanse me from my my sin through Jesus Christ, that I may not chase false gods but chase you Lord with my whole heart. You have shown yourself to me might, now may I submit my life to you. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Scriptures in a Year Day 10

Luke 3:21-38
Luke's account of Jesus baptism is the most subdued of all the accounts. It is almost an oh yeah, when all the people were being baptized Jesus was too. When Jesus prayed after the baptism however things got a little more interesting. The Holy Spirit came down upon Jesus in the form of a dove. This had not happen to any of the others baptized, only Jesus. Only Jesus caused the voice of God to be heard as well. This was no ordinary baptism, this was a proclamation of what God was doing in their midst. The genealogy while tedious, lets us see that Jesus has a heritage, and that heritage is just as the profits told it would be. The family line runs through David all the way back to Adam, which places Jesus firmly in the hands of God.

Ephesians 5:1-21
Be imitators of God! As if we did not feel enough pressure following Christ, now the standard is to imitate God. With that daunting thought ringing in our heads we must ask what does it mean to imitate God. First, this is not a call to become a god. There are some religious traditions which the end goal is to become a god. Paul is telling us to fashion a life so that our life is the embodiment of God here on earth. This will require a significant departure from the way the world around us functions. The theme of living differently continues here in this passage. Those who are following Christ live a life which is markedly different because of Christ.

Psalm 119:73-80
We are made in God's image, and by the very hand of God. In other portions of Psalms we are told we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139). God has fashioned us into the person we are, or at least the hope of the person we could be. When our lives become focused on following God, our lives begin to look more and more like what God has created within us. In this process others will scoff and think we are wasting our time. It is not our job to answer them with words, rather with our life and allowing God to take hold and shape our lives.

1 Kings 15 and 16
The tragedy continues. Not only does it continue but it seems to be getting worse. The only real exception is Asa, whose heart was with God. All the other kings we are told did even more evil than the ones who were before. They lead the people of Israel and Judah to worship false gods and act with the evil they were living. This is all a far cry from the days of David. Easy to forget is back to when the people asked God for an earthly king. It is intended the people of God would have no king other than God. Warning came from God about what would happen if they had an earthly king, and the people ignored it. Now as we read in 1 Kings, the fruit of disobedience is coming to bear.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Scriptures in a Year Day 9

Luke 3:1-20
It is safe to say John the Baptist was not a shy and beat around the bush kind of guy. By most modern preaching standards he would not be well received. Calling people a brood of vipers is not generally a good opener. However, it seems to work for him and people become convicted and turn to the Lord. As knowledge of John grows people begin to mistake him as the long awaited Messiah. Quickly this gets cleared up by John, there is one coming whose sandals I am not worthy of working with. John knew is was not him but that he was preparing the way for what God was about to do.

Ephesians 4:25-32
Life in Christ is to be different than life before our decision to follow Christ. The way we conduct ourselves, the way we treat other people, all of it is to be different. As we follow Christ we become fundamentally different than we were before. Much time is spent telling people about how we follow Christ, and declaring our Christianity, I wonder if that time is equal to what people see in our day to day lives?

Psalms 119:65-72
We will get criticized for chasing after God. Many will not believe God to be true, while others will reduce God to a more manageable form. No matter how much others criticize and call into question to chase after God we must not stop. While there are many paths in life, and many options of how to live our lives, only one leads to truth. This truth we seek comes from only one source and that is God, and we learn about this God through the Scriptures. Hold fast to them and delight in learning from them.

1 Kings 13 and 14
The decline of Israel is in full swing here just a few chapters after the great Solomon dedicated the Temple to the Lord. The sons of Solomon have carried on the work of Solomon and taken it to a whole new level. God is pushed from the scene and other gods are invited in and worshiped. I wonder how often we do the same thing? Then we turn around and get mad at God for abandoning us when we are the ones who went our own way. God is always right there ready to receive us, only it is not on our terms it is on the term of God. As the people are lead farther from God by their earthly kings, God's grief increases and the people struggle more and more.

Lord, I am sorry. All too often I think I know what I am doing and how to best run my life. Quickly Lord I move away from you and get mad at you for leaving me. May I live the live you call me to live, and remain close to you. Grant me strength, and grace to chase after you. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Scriptures in a Year Day 8

Luke 2:41-52
Much ink has been spilled about raising children, and in particular raising boys. Can you imagine being the parent to Jesus? The child Messiah had an answer for everything his parents through his way, this is not unusual. However, his answers were truth. I love that the 12 year old Jesus is sitting with the teachers, listening and asking questions. This was long before it was thought a person could engage such people in this way. Yet, Jesus is there holding his own, This closes the book on what we have regarding Jesus' childhood. When next we meet Jesus he will be nearly 30 years old and ready to begin his public ministry.

Ephesians 4:17-24
Put away the former life, and renew the spirit of your mind by clothing yourself in Christ. When we commit to being a follower of Jesus Christ we no longer are to follow the passions which once held us captive. Our trajectory is to follow the lead of God. This one understanding, stated repeatedly in Scripture, is the key to following Jesus, and the most difficult. We are not to live as we use to or as all those around is do. We live unto the Lord.

Psalm 119:57-64
The Lord is my portion. Not a term we use very often and therefore do not understand it. A modern transliteration of this would be to say the Lord is enough for me. All around us there are people and things which pull at our affections and loyalties. It is easy to think that our enough is found in those things. The chaser of God always comes back to the fact that only God can be enough, our portion. The difficulty us not found in knowing God to be our portion, it is experiencing the fullness of what that means and how we go about that kind of life. The simple answer that is difficult to do, the Scriptures.

1 Kings 12
The sins of the father, Solomon, show up in the son, Rehoboam. Just like the Lord had promised, the unfaithfulness of Solomon has carried into his children and the kingdom of Israel is dissolved as God is removed from the equation. I am amazed by what happens when those who have been oppressed become the ones who are dominate. Logical might tell us they would be less likely to oppress as they have been through it before. History tells us the opposite. Those who have struggled and been oppressed will become the oppressor should the chance arise. Israel had arrived. People of the world feared Israel and wanted to be Israel all at the same time. Rather than use this position for the sake of God, the leadership and the people wandered away form God and went their own way. As a result God pours out judgment just as promised.

Lord you have shown us how we are to live. The need for transformation in our lives is no secret. I confess my pride in going my own way. Forgive me Lord, help me to follow you more than me. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Scriptures in a Year Day 7

Luke 2:21-40
In accordance with the Law Jesus was taken to the temple for dedication as a child, and as the firstborn of Mary. Along the way they meet up with Simeon. A man of God on whom the Holy Spirit rested. While Simeon was not told by human mouth who the child was, the Holy Spirit showed him Jesus the Awaited One. This is yet another declaration in public of Jesus being the Messiah. Interesting his celebration was not just for Israel but for the Gentiles as well. Also they meet Anna, and elderly widow who celebrated and praises God for allowing her to see the Messiah.

Ephesians 4:1-16
Jesus is the head of the church. Not simply the man Jesus but the Lord Jesus. The One who defeated death and ascended to the Right hand of God. This is the One who is the head of the church. To the church Jesus gives gifts and abilities to all, and to some the gifts needed to be the earthly leaders of the church. All of the gifts given by the head of the church are for the purpose of the church to continue being the church. That all may continue in maturity, and that the church may be one. There is a pecking order in the Body of Christ, only it is a different kind of pecking order. Jesus is at the top, some are called apart, not above, for leading the church, and all are gifted for the work of the church.

Psalm 119:49-56
Do you ever get annoyed at those who claim to be of God, but do not follow what the scripture says? I know I do, then I remember all to often it is me who stands in that place. It should bother us when someone fails to live according to the Scriptures, especially when that person has claimed to submit the the authority of God found in the Scriptures, just as the Psalmist says in verse 53. Yet we must be careful as we all can stand in that place of disconnect. We must hold tight to what the Lord continues to show and lead us in through the Scripture.

1 Kings 11
The downfall of Solomon. The multiple hundred wives and concubines, most of which were women of foreign places. A little digging finds they were marriages of political and military alliance. All that Solomon had accumulated came at a price, in the end it turned his heart away from God. Much wisdom is shared with the followers of God by Solomon, and it is accurate and true. If only that wisdom could have been observed by Solomon all the days of his life. Because of his false ambitions, Solomon strayed from God and the cost was everything he had worked to gain. The great king who had built a house for God, turned his heart from the One True God toward the Gods of abomination as the NRSV translation calls them. Perhaps this is yet another picture of a paradise lost by the poor choices of humanity.

Forgive us Lord when our ambition becomes bigger than our connection with You. Help us to dream big dreams and have huge hope, may it all be in you not us. You of God are the only one worthy of our hopes, dreams and our praise. In Jesus Name Amen.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Scriptures in a Year Day 6

Luke 2:1-20
The birth of Jesus, and the account seems to be somewhat ho hum until the shepherds get involved. The account is told very matter of fact, there was a census, Joseph and Mary got to Bethlehem, and while there they have the baby in a manger because the was not room in the in. But when the shepherds get involved there is a chorus of angels and great rejoicing. Looking back we know this was no ordinary day, and that was no ordinary child. Whether people confess him to be Messiah, Lord and Savior or not, there can be no denial since that moment no one person has ever caused so much fanfare over such a long period of time. Truly the world was never the same after the baby was born, and the rejoicing began.

Ephesians 3:14-21
Paul is praying for the church in Ephesus, and for us as we read this passage. It is the desire of Paul that people would know just how much God loves them through Christ. Further we are reminded that God can do abundantly far more than we can ask or imagine. That blows my mind as I can dream pretty big dreams and make some absurdly large requests before God, yet I cannot find the edge of possibility for God. The power of the Holy Spirit offers us far more than is in our ability to grasp and understand. Not for the glory of humanity, rather for the glory of God.

Psalm 11941-48
"Do not take the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in your ordinances." (v43) When reading through this lengthy Psalm it is easy to get overwhelmed with its length and miss the prevailing point. We are to have our lives orbit around the Scriptures. Not that we make the Scriptures to be God, rather we seek God every moment through the Scriptures. We are not to focus for mere knowledge, no, we are to read in order that we might meet with God and understand what it is that God is calling us to. Finding direction outside of the bounds of Scripture will leave us short of everything God has for us. That is why we keep the Scriptures so close and central to our journey with God.

1 Kings 9-10
Let the prosperity begin, rather let it continue. With the long list of all the stuff Solomon has accumulated and continues to accumulate it is hard to really imagine what it would have been like. Solomon has so much gold that he had to build special barns just to keep his gold. Entire cities were dedicated to caring for his horses and chariots. The prosperity of Solomon was unparalleled in all of creation. We might miss the fact of these cities really being military bases where war could be waged. We might miss the fact that the labor for all the development could be seen as an act of oppression. Never mind thinking about where all these riches were being taken from, and how Solomon was using them to supply others. Another little fact which is glossed over, his wife the daughter of Pharaoh. God had commanded the people to not marry people outside of the people of Israel foreigners because of their risk to lead their hearts astray. Solomon has placed himself in a very dangerous place and may not have even known it. God's promise was the same to him as it was to his father David, you will do well as long as you follow me. If Solomon turns from God, judgment will come. Let's see what happens next.

May we know your abundant power today Lord. As we come before your, hear the cry of our heart and give us the assurance that you are able to more than we can cry for or imaging. May we be people of Holy Spirit power, not to us but to your glory. in Jesus Name, Amen.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Scriptures in a Year Day 5

Luke 1:67-80
The joy of a father is expressed here in this short section of scripture. Zechariah had been unable to speak for the duration of Elizabeth's pregnancy, and his response when his is free to speak is song. This is more than a father beaming about how great his son will be, this is the profound utterance of a man of God realizing that his child is hand picked by God for very important work in the plan of salvation. I am sure during his silence there was an abundance of time for Zechariah to reflect and listen for God. The day of his son's dedication was more than proud father, is about a follower of the Almighty realizing what God was doing through him in the his midst.

Ephesians 3:1-13
Paul speaks of the great mystery that God has been engaged in throughout history. That mystery become known in Jesus Christ. Why did God choose to reveal the mystery in Christ? So we can brag about knowing Christ and separate ourselves from those who do not follow Christ? No, so that we, the church, might fulfill the call of God in this broken world. That the kingdom of God would be embodied by the community of believers. It is through Christ we become part of the revealed mystery. It is also through Christ we are able to access God in boldness and confidence of faith.

Psalm 119:33-40
The writer of the Psalms continues to work on the theme of how important it is to know the precepts or statutes of God. The way we know these things is to dig into Scripture. When we are not focused on the scriptures and learn who God is and who we are called to be, we have a high tendency to wander from the path of faith. Some portions of scripture seem difficult to have a hunger for as they are challenging both to read and understand. However, if we ask God for a hunger, and we commit ourselves to the discipline of the scriptures, I believe God gives a longing for the scriptures.

1 Kings 8
Here we have the lengthy description of the dedication of the temple Solomon built for the Lord. As I read through all the details of Solomon begging God to be pleased with his work I cannot help to think about all the times when I act and ask God to bless what I have done. It seems to be there might be a little more wisdom in seeking what God is blessing and do that the asking God to bless what we have already done. Solomon put a heavy tax on the people to build the temple, along with forced labor to make it happen. From the description we get in several places the temple was quite a place to behold. Over and over we find Solomon begging God to be pleased with the work he had done. It is almost impossible for me to read the words of Solomon here without wonder how much of this is Solomon's great hope and how much of it was the leading of God? We shall see in the coming chapters as we look at Solomon's life that the teachings and promises of God are not always what Solomon follows.

Lord, may we not commit the folly of asking you to bless what we have already done. May we seek you and do what it is you are blessing. You are the leader and perfecter, not us. We submit to your leadership. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Scriptures in a Year Day 4

Luke 1:57-66
John the one who baptizes is born. In accordance with the Law, the baby is brought before the Lord for dedication. Common practice was to give the child a name which had family roots. When presented and the name John is given, the people complain because there is no ancestry with that name. Yet God had commanded his name would be John. From the very beginning of his life, John forced people to look outside of what was normal. Still there was not doubt among those gathered that John had been set aside for a special purpose in the Lord.

Ephesians 2:11-22
Often we think the Gospel of Jesus only applies to the people we think it should. All throughout human history there is a track record of humans creating a list of those who get in and those who do not. The reality is we do not make that kind of decision. Paul helps the church in Ephesus realize that God does not create some of the boundaries we as humans create. The grace and love of Jesus Christ is available to all. The only boundary that is drawn is drawn by God and it is found in Jesus Christ. All who would confess their sin, repent and follow are accepted by God. The challenge is do we accept them?

Psalm 119:25-32
The NRSV translation of the Bible uses the word cling twice in the passage to talk about our relationship to God through the scriptures. This is a very graphic image about how tightly we are to hold to God. My middle daughter loves to throw her arms around my neck and hold so tightly to me that I do not even need to hold on to her. That is clinging at its best. Do we hold that tightly to the Scriptures, or to the God who offers them to us?

1 Kings 6-7
The building of the temple has always been a section of scripture that has both fascinated and bored me. Do I really need to know all the exact dimensions of a building that no longer exists? It is not like I am going to go out build another one in the back yard. At the same time it was decided important enough to be included in the body of the Scriptures, so I must ask why it is there. Perhaps it has something to do with God being a God of order. Maybe it is to see if the people would be obedient. I guess there is the possibility that it was Solomon grandstanding more than what God commanded. Remember the first "house" for God was a tent, and it was movable as God moved. A tent is a pretty humble dwelling for the God who created everything. It is not until after the Temple is built that God consents to dwell there. Still there is a condition, that the people, and Solomon must walk in the ways of the Lord. We shall read on to see how this plays out.

Lord we run so fast and often so far, then we hope you will bless our running. Father in heaven, may we first seek you, take on your mind and understanding as best we can, and then run. Forgive us when we have gotten ahead of you, help us to remain in you, clinging to you for all we have. In Jesus Name Amen.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Scriptures in a Year Day 3

The journey continues, may we all hear from God through the Scriptures today.

Luke 1:39-56
Mary visits her cousin and from the moment she enters the house it is clear God is at work. We are told the Holy Spirit filled Elizabeth and the sound of Mary's voice. The Spirit revealed to her that Mary was not with just any child, that Mary would be the mother of the Messiah. Elizabeth is the first to offer earthly confirmation of what God had called Mary to. I am grateful for Mary's response, she knows this is not about her, rather what God is doing. Here we see the true heart of a servant pouring out of the one called to be the mother of God.

Ephesians 2:1-10
We all have walked and continue to find sin on our lives. Before realizing what Christ had done for us we were controlled by that sin but we are no more. Through the grace of God in Jesus Christ we have been saved from our sin. This grace is not something we have worked to earn, otherwise we might boast about what we have accomplished. Grace is the gift of God seen most perfectly in Jesus Christ. Once we have accepted the offer of grace we are called to live a life of grace, not just a momentary cleansing from sin. Freely we have been saved by grace through faith. Recognizing the great love and grace God offers us compels us to live differently than before. To live as God has called us.

Psalm 119:17-24
Follow God can often be difficult. It becomes even more difficult when the people around us ridicule and hold us in contempt because we follow God. For those who are still living on their own terms, living on God's terms seems like foolishness. Yet those who remain steadfast God will honor. Keeping our eyes focused on God, while challenging, is the work to which followers of Christ have been called. We must allow the Scriptures to be our guide and our counsel rather than the voices and call of this present age.

1 Kings 4-5
Now that Solomon is established as king he begins to set up his court and rule. The officials are named and the jobs are handed out. As we get into chapter 5 Solomon turns to completing the dream of his father David in building the Temple. As I read through all the resources available to Solomon and the situation in which he is ruling the people I cannot help but think about the United States. The abundance available to us is beyond comprehension. Solomon has the capacity to do whatever he wants and it will be cared for, even to the point of enslaving the very people he was granted by God to govern. In these early chapters it is easy to think Solomon was the ruler God intended and that all is going well. As the story unfolds we might find there is a different story being written. Perhaps all that Solomon has and does is not as godly as it first appears.

O Lord, grant that we may understand your scriptures more deeply. I give you permission Lord to mess with my thinking. Relieve me from thoughts which are not true to you. Replace in my heart your word that I might not only follow you, that others would follow you because of my life. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Scriptures in a Year Day 2

As we engage day two of our journey, I pray that you have already begun to see and hear God at work in your lives.

Luke 1:26-38
The foretelling of Jesus to Mary is my favorite portion of the advent accounts. Mary, a young Jewish girl who has by all understandings live as she was suppose to. Has her world completely rocked by a visitation by the angel of the Lord. This rule abiding "good" girl is going to be with child. Not just any child the long awaited Christ child. She must have known her life would never be the same again. Her trip through the village would come with shame and ridicule from all who would see her. Not to mention what Joseph would think. All of this must have been swimming in her head as she listened to the angel of the Lord. Yet in the end, Mary offers herself to God for the purposes of God regardless of what might happen to her from an earthly stand point. She places her full trust and livelihood in the hands of God.

Ephesians 1:15-23
This small yet power packed section of Ephesians is a to the point reminder of who is in charge. God is the one who is in charge of all things, and it is God whom we seek to find wisdom and life. We have no greater example of the power of God than in Jesus Christ, his life, death, resurrection and exaltation. The source of all wisdom and power is God, and God has given that authority to Christ to lead the church. Jesus is the head of the church, not a pastor, not a leadership team, board of elders, or the family who gives the most money. Jesus Christ, and him alone, is the head of the church and we the people of the church must submit to the leading of Christ moment by moment.

Psalm 119:9-16
How do we stay on track with God? This is the question many, if not all followers of Christ ask from time to time. Perhaps we do not ask it enough and wonder off. The answer given in this Psalm is God's word. We might call today the scriptures, the psalmist did not have a Bible like we do, nonetheless they had the words of God preserved through the centuries. The key to following after God, knowing, meditating and following the teachings of God through the Scriptures. Hiding the Word of God in our hearts that we might not wonder off in our own direction.

1 Kings:2-3
To understand fully what is happening in these early chapters of 1 Kings we need to understand some of the path to Israel having an earthly king. Form the outset of a people called Israel, God was intended to be their only King. Yet the people looked around at other nations and saw they had earthly kings and they thought they need one too. Repeatedly God warned the people, through the prophets, what would happen if they had an earthly king. Still the people did not listen and God relented and granted them a king. First Saul, then David and now Solomon. God knew an earthly king would adopt the ways of the kings around them rather than follow God's example of being a king, and that is exactly what happens. We see plots and murders and power plays just like all the nations around Israel. God has called then to be a different kind of people yet they were sucked into being like everyone else.

This is not to say they forgot God, and that God forgot them. In fact we are told that Solomon loved the Lord and walked in the statues of his father David (3:3). They continued to love God, and seek after God, only they allowed other things to creep in. Solomon loved God but also sacrificed to false idols and gods. Solomon loved God but also married outside of Israel which God directly commanded against. We all have the capacity to love God and still not follow as best we can. We will see with Solomon what happens when we have a disconnect between our love and our actions.

Lets pray: Lord continue to open your Scriptures to us. May we not only gain knowledge, may we not only gain understanding, may we hear your voice calling to us. Show us your ways Lord, and grant us the grace that we may follow you in these present days, that in the days to come we may be completely yours. In Christ's name, Amen.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Scriptures in A Year

After an extended break we are back to the Book. Today begins a journey of reading through the Scriptures in a year. If you are interested in following along but do not have the reading plan email me and I will send it to you, Each day there are 4 readings, two New Testament and two Old Testament. I pray you will gain understanding in the journey, and hear the voice of God leading you to the next faithful step.

Luke 1:1-25
Here we have the opening of Luke's gospel with a brief explanation of why he is writing it. There is an acknowledgement that others have done as he is doing, set down an orderly account of the events of Jesus. Luke intends for a careful examination of the events and to write the ones which will reveal the truth of Christ.

The first account of Luke is the announcement of John the Baptists birth. We learn much about John and who he is called to be in these few short verses. We also learn about the faith of his parents, as they follow after God as well. Jumping off the page are the words that John will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. It is easy to miss the controversy of this statement. Before the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was a temporary thing. Meaning the Spirit did not reside as much as it visited people. For John the Holy Spirit would fill him, or live within him. This was unheard of in his day. Yet his parents praise God in anticipation of what God is doing through them and their son.

Ephesians 1:1-14
Paul opens his letter to the church in Ephesus in a very classic form of a letting the first century. There is a greeting and a recounting of the blessing we have in God. This short letter is grounded in the understanding that we are not merely connected with Christ, or do we simply know who he is, rather that our whole relationship to God has been altered because of Christ. We have gain an inheritance greater than our understanding. This is more than a friendship, an inheritance is not given to friends, rather to children. We have been adopted by God through Jesus Christ.

This adoption is not for our glory, rather it is to the glory of God. As adopted children we are called to live as children of God, not as we did before our adoption. The remainder of the book will highlight what it means to live as a child of God.

Psalm 119:1-8
Psalm 119 is the longest of the Psalms totaling 176 verses. In these opening verses we find the foundation of a life which is pleasing to God. In the NRSV translation the word used is 'happy', the NIV uses the word blessed. I prefer the word blessed here not because it is a better translation, rather because we understand the two words so differently that blessed conveys understanding better. To many happy is about how we are feeling this moment. Blessed is about our relationship with God regardless of how we are feeling at the moment. Blessed are those who follow after God, what God teaches, where God leads us. When we follow what God shows us through the scriptures we live a blessed life.

1 Kings 1
Out of the pages of scripture on to the screens of a modern political debate. As I read the words of 1 Kings it is clear these could be written today. Sure the names are different but the situation has not changed all that much. King David is dying and all those around know it. The power grab is on, and everyone is trying sure up their alliance. Sounds kind of like Survivor. Adonijah claims he is King and gathers followers, while others protect their interests reminding David of his promise to make Solomon King. Interesting that Solomon never shows up until he is ordained King, others come on his behalf. The drama plays out complete with victory celebrations and fear and trembling. In the end Solomon is names King, and all is well as long as everyone plays along. We shall see how all the drama plays out in the coming chapters.

This completes today's readings. In all our efforts we must keep the same question in front of us, "What is God speaking to me through these words?"