Saturday, July 3, 2010

Scriptures in a Year Day 21

Luke 6:17-26
As Jesus was teaching and healing we come across Luke's account of what are called the beatitudes in Matthew. The bless and woes of those who are poor or rich, hungry and thirsty. This basic teaching flies in the face of what that, and ours for that matter, society holds as normal. The best explanation of this passage I have heard reminds us this is not about possessions as much as it is about remembering our need for God. Those who are poor, hungry or thirsty know they need God for everyday. Those who are rich, do not know hunger, or thirst can easily forget their need for God. Therefore those who are poor today will be rich in the Lord. Who are you?

When I travel I love getting to my destination, and I love even more getting home. A reality for my life is that either is a temporary stop. Whether on the road for ministry or pleasure,or home from the road, I will soon depart for another destination. Never do I get to the place where I have arrived and will not leave that place again. It seems the same with our faith journey. There is always more in front of us. We can always go deeper in the Lord and be taken to more places than we thought possible. Arrival in our journey is equivalent to death whether physical or metaphorical.

2 Kings 16-17
This section of scripture is the first telling of Israel being taken into captivity by the Assyrians. For centuries the people of Israel have been going their own way instead of following God. To the point where there is a split of the people of Israel and Judah. Both portions of the people of God struggle to remain true to the teachings of God through Moses. Finally the Lord has had enough and the Assyrians are used by God to take the people into exile. There was fair warning, yet the people would not change their ways. Soon Judah will follow suit.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Scriptures in a Year Day 20

Luke 6:1-16
Questions of the sabbath. This is one of the areas I struggle with greatly. I have read the Old Testament more times than I can count and I know what the big ten tell me about the sabbath. Yet when I look a the life and words of Jesus it seems the sabbath has been altered. Perhaps more than altered the sabbath has been clarified. The religious people of Jesus day boiled the sabbath down to a list of things you could and could not do, but did it remind people of their relationship with God? That is the measure of sabbath, when we break the regular patterns of life to make sure our lives are firmly rooted in Jesus Christ.

Philippians 3:1-9
If life is about the credentials we carry, Paul had some pretty incredible credentials in the religious world. The religious establishment of his day held Paul in high regard, he did it right and followed all the right things. Yet Paul willingly gives all that up for the sake of Jesus Christ. I wonder if we would give up all the esteem and respect the world offers us for the sake of Jesus Christ?

Psalms 119: 153-160
The fear of helping people on a journey through the Bible is it will become a list to check off instead of a relationship that breathes life. The Scriptures are about bringing life and peace to those who would engage the journey, not simply add to an over filled to do list. May we read the Scriptures for what they truly are, not a checklist.

2 Kings 14-15
The list of kings rolls on, and so does the cycle. Some of the kings do what is right in the eyes of the Lord while others do what was evil in the eyes of the Lord. Whatever direction the king took so didn't the people. I am sure not all the people of God went the way of the kings who did evil in the sight of the Lord, just as not all went the way of those who did right. Nonetheless the leader was the person of influence and could let the people to faithfulness or destruction. This is a weighty thought for anyone who is in leadership.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Scriptures in a Year Day 19

Luke 5:33-39
It is easy to become a person of misplaced devotion, or better said mistimed devotion. The religious leaders ask Jesus about the fasting habits, or lack there of, of his disciples. The answer from Jesus, is about timing. There will come a time for fasting, but not while the party is going on. Jesus is with them in the flesh and that will not always be the case. It is time to party with the author of salvation and giver of life. The devotion of the religious leaders was not the problem, recognizing the time for the right act of devotion was their struggle.

Philippians 2:19-30
Paul is most likely in prison writing this letter to a church he founded. Here we find Paul wanting to assure the congregation of care either by himself or by those he sends their way. Paul would like to go himself but cannot, and he does not want to send just anyone because some have shown to be false, nonetheless he wants to send a leader to them. Not for the purpose of yelling at them, but to encourage them in what God is doing among them.

2 Kings 12-13
The reform continues and attention is turned to the house of God. During the years of kings who did what was evil in the sight of the Lord the Temple had become a place of false worship and disrepair. Joash, repairs the Temple not as a building program but as a way to bring about reform of the spiritual life of the people. To repair the Temple they needed to be the removal of idols, and a reorientation of life around the presence of God. Reform always brings people back to the roots of faith, not merely cosmetic fixes.

Scriptures in a Year Day 18

Luke 5:27-32
Who do you spend time with? That is the question Jesus is being asked, does he spend time with all the religious or churchy people, or will he spend time with those who are less desirable? Jesus spent a good portion of his time with people that established religious systems had written off and not being worthy. Even further, "those" people were not just a harm to themselves but could bring you down in the process. The church people already, in theory, had a relationship with God and it was those who were "theoretically" far from God who needed a renewed invitation to relationship. We do have to be careful who we keep company with. There is a potential to be drawn back into a lifestyle which is not good for us. It is also possible to spend all our time with the convinced and miss the opportunity to invite.

Philippians 2:12-18
Continue to work out your salvation... There are many people who can give you a date, time and place when the got saved. It might be more appropriate to consider that day to to be when you realized the saving nature of God. Our salvation is not a momentary kind of thing. Our entire life is part of realizing the salvation offered to all through Christ Jesus. Once we have that awakening, the journey is not complete, rather it takes on a whole new perspective. In the world of Wesleyan theology the time after our decision to follow Christ is the time of sanctifying grace. Till the day we end our journey on this earth we will be working out our salvation.

Psalm 119:137-144
Following the teaching of God can be easy when things are a little difficult, the two hardest times to follow God are when things are going really well or really poorly. At one extreme we think we do not need God because things are going well, and on the other we blame God for our problems and thing a deaf ear had been turned to us. Both situations require us to have perseverance and a good memory of who God is and who we are.

2 Kings 10-11
Reform hits the people of the Lord. The cycle of faith found in the scriptures have come to a time of reckoning here in 2 Kings. Justice is poured out for the descendants of Ahab, and the followers of Baal reach their end. Then Joash comes to the throne at the age of 7. Before long reform comes and the people are turned back to God. It seems there comes time for reform and that time never truly passes.

Heavenly Father, purify my heart as I continue to work toward all you have called me. May I keep close to you and your word in all seasons of my life. Help me to be an agent of reform in this moment.