Daily Readings: Saturday December 14, 2013

Readings: Psalm 146:5-10 (NRSV, The Message); 1 Samuel 2:1-8 (NRSV, The Message); Luke 3:1-18 (NRSV, The Message)

The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
   he brings low, he also exalts. 
He raises up the poor from the dust;
   he lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes
   and inherit a seat of honor.      1 Samuel 2:7-8 (NRSV)

What counts is your life. Is it green and blossoming? Because if it’s deadwood, it goes on the fire. Luke 3:9 (The Message)

As the people were filled with expectation…    Luke 3:15 (NRSV)

As I was reading Hannah’s song in 1 Samuel, my question was: really? how? We don’t always see the poor lifted up. Many folks’ experience is not that of Hannah’s song.

I amy have found an uncomfortable answer in John the Baptizer’s words in Luke 3 – “if you have two shirts, give one away.” Is my life green and blossoming? Am I growing spiritually? And is that spiritual growth producing fruit in my life? Are shirts being given away?

 

Daily Readings: Thursday December 12, 2013

Readings: Psalm 146:5-10 (NRSV, The Message);  Ruth 1:6-18 (NRSV, The Message);  2 Peter 3:1-10 (NRSV, The Message)

 

Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
   whose hope is in the Lord their God, 
who made heaven and earth,
   the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith for ever…       Psalm 146:5-6 (NRSV)

But Ruth said,
‘Do not press me to leave you
   or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
   where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
   and your God my God.       Ruth 1:16 (NRSV)

Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.       2 Peter 3:8-9 (The Message)

 

The obvious, here, in 2 Peter 3, is that God “doesn’t want anyone lost.” The believers in Peter’s day, as now, must have been frustrated that God was withholding God’s wrath. They were getting antsy to be vindicated, rewarded for their good behavior while the unbelievers were punished. It’s not that God is slow; it’s that God wants to give everyone space and time to change. And God is God, what God wants done will be done. God will give everyone space and time to change. Because, hey, with God a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day.

The Psalms this week continue to be a wonderful reminder that we are blessed, happy, never disappointed when we put our trust in God.

It’s Advent, so the daily lectionary readings re-familiarize us with Jesus’ human lineage. Ruth, an ancestor of Jesus, chose to remain with her mother-in-law Naomi. This is one of the most beautifully descriptive scriptures concerning relationships in the Bible. We are fortunate when we find someone to whom we can say “wherever you go, I will go.” To those of us who have this, nurture it. To those who are still seeking, we lift you up in prayer.

Daily Lectionary: Monday September 30th, 2013

journalingokeeheelleeReadings: Psalm 62 (NRSV, The Message); Amos 6:8-14 (NRSV, The Message); Revelation 3:14-22 (NRSV, The Message)

For God alone my soul waits in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my deliverance and my honor;
my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.      Psalm 62:6-8

Here’s what I want you to do: Buy your gold from me, gold that’s been through the refiner’s fire. Then you’ll be rich. Buy your clothes from me, clothes designed in Heaven. You’ve gone around half-naked long enough. And buy medicine for your eyes from me so you can see, really see.         Revelation 3:18 (The Message)

 

The Revelation passage is rich…and graphic with God spewing the lukewarm out of his mouth! Jesus, standing at the door and knocking is also within this passage. But what stands out most to me is this verse 18. I can get everything I need from God – God’s gold, God’s medicine, God’s clothes. How much am I willing to trust? How much am I willing to engage? And on the other hand, how much can God accomplish in my life if I don’t? Maybe we have to say with the Psalmist “you alone are my rock and my salvation” before God is able to work mightily in our lives.

Daily Lectionary: Sunday September 29, 2013

lazarus_at_rich_mans_house_c-922Readings: Amos 6:1a, 4-7 (NRSVThe Message); Psalm 146 (NRSVThe Message); 1 Timothy 6:6-19 (NRSVThe Message); Luke 16:19-31 (NRSVThe Message)

Don’t put your life in the hands of experts
    who know nothing of life, of salvation life.
Mere humans don’t have what it takes;
    when they die, their projects die with them.
Instead, get help from the God of Jacob,
    put your hope in God and know real blessing!         Psalm 146:3-4 (The Message)

A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough.          1 Timothy 6:6-8 (The Message)

Tell those rich in this world’s wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage—to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they’ll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life.      1 Timothy 6:17-19 (The Message)

But Abraham said, “Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony.       Luke 16:25 (NRSV)

 

The story from Luke is disturbing. At first glance, it may seem like the reason the rich man is living in torment is that he is rich. A careful reading of the first verses provides more illumination. Lazarus spent every day at the rich man’s gate living on the scraps from his table with the dogs licking his sores. The rich man walked by that sight each day. Each day ignoring the suffering and torment of a fellow human being, which, in the long run, drove the rich man to a place of torment.

It’s not about the money, it’s about what we chase. Common wisdom tells to chase after what is temporal – nice place to live, looking good, feeling good (Peterson’s paraphrase of Amos 6 is fantastic), but none of it lasts, none of it truly satisfies. The scriptures today implore us to seek after what truly blesses, what truly satisfies, what truly gives salvation life not because that is what is “the good Christian” thing to do, but because that is how life works best – for others and ourselves.

 

Fall Life Groups Begin in October

lifegroupswebOctober may seem a long way away, but it is right around the corner. So be planning now to become involved in one of our Life Groups. A Life Group is an opportunity to become involved for a limited period of time with a small group of people to learn together and experience a particular topic. Some of the opportunities offered will be a Holiday Cooking Class, Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, Eating for a Better World, Your Dreams Are Alive! and Animate: Faith.

You can download a full listing here.

Daily Readings for Sunday December 2, 2012

Readings: Jeremiah 33:14-16 (NRSV, The Message); Psalm 25:1-10 (NRSV, The Message); 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 (NRSV, The Message); Luke 21:25-36 (NRSV, The Message)

Scripture:

To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
do not let me be put to shame;
do not let my enemies exult over me. Psalm 25:1-2

And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. 13 And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. I Thessalonians 3:12-13

 

I have a bit of trouble with passages that speak of Jesus’ return. I mean, the person who wrote the Gospel of Luke has Jesus saying that he was going to return before that generation had died. That didn’t happen!

And yet, I have to believe with Jesus, with the prophets, that God will eventually make everything right. And I know that I am called to be a part of that making things right. That is why I can say -why I have to say – “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust.”

 

Daily Readings for Friday 11/2/12

Readings: Psalm 146 (NRSV, The Message); Ruth 2:1-9 (NRSV, The Message);  Romans 3:21-31 (NRSV, The Message)

Don’t put your life in the hands of experts
who know nothing of life, of salvation life. 
Psalm 146:3 (The Message)

Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.     Romans 3:23-24 (The Message)

 

The Message translation opens this Romans 3 passage up a little bit for me. If you were raised in an evangelical culture like I was, portions of this passage were memorized, learned rote. Peterson’s translations may help us understand a little better Paul’s intention.

It’s not about what we do. It is not about who we are. God doesn’t play favorites. God just does it for us. Praise the Lord!

 

Daily Readings for Monday 10/22/12

Readings: Psalm 75 (NRSV, The Message); Job 40:1-24 (NRSV, The Message);  Hebrews 6:1-12 (NRSV, The Message)

 

So come on, let’s leave the preschool fingerpainting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ.    Hebrews 6:1 (The Message)

 

OK, I’m in. Where does that come from, though? It certainly does not come from the thinking about God that is found in Psalm 75.

The readings from Job over the past few weeks makes me think that spending time in this book and relating it to our life, and being with the tough questions both raise might be a way to start on the “grand work of art.”

Friday 10/19/12 Daily Scripture Readings

Readings:  Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35b (NRSV, The Message); Job 37:1-24 (NRSV, The Message); Revelation 17:1-18 (NRSV, The Message)

What a wildly wonderful world, God!
You made it all, with Wisdom at your side,
made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.  Psalm 104:24 (The Message)

The Almighty—we cannot find him;
he is great in power and justice,
and abundant righteousness he will not violate.                        Job 37:23 (NRSV)

 

All verses which testify to the wonder, the awesomeness, the overwhelming mystery of God. The passage from Revelation is too bizarre for my ponderings as I write this. However these passages from Psalms and Job are beautiful. The author of Job say, we cannot see God, we cannot fathom God, but we can trust God. Ultimately, we can fear God and live in God and know we will not be let down.

 

Daily Readings for Thursday September 27, 2012

Readings:  Psalm 124 (NRSV, The Message);  Esther 1:1-21 (NRSV, The Message); Acts 4:13-31 (NRSV, The Message)

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus.  Acts 4:13-31 (NRSV)

This is one of my favorite verses of the Bible. What if, when someone looked at me, they automatically recognized me as a companion of Jesus. What if Christ so radiated from me, in my every word, in my every action, that even if they didn’t know the words to use, the people with whom I come in contact knew that I had been in the presence of the Divine?