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?

Daily Readings for Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Readings: Psalm 128 (NRSV, The Message); Ecclesiastes 5:1-20 (NRSV, The Message); John 8:21-38 (NRSV, The Message)

All you who fear God, how blessed you are!
    how happily you walk on his smooth straight road!
You worked hard and deserve all you’ve got coming.
    Enjoy the blessing! Revel in the goodness!   Psalm 128:1-2 (The Message)

Watch your step when you enter God’s house.
    Enter to learn. That’s far better than mindlessly offering a sacrifice,
        Doing more harm than good.

Don’t shoot off your mouth, or speak before you think.
Don’t be too quick to tell God what you think he wants to hear.
God’s in charge, not you—the less you speak, the better.    Ephesians 5:1-2 (The Message)

The past few weeks, we have been inundated with Psalms telling us the happiness and rewards to those who fear God and follow God’s ways. The rub is, let’s be honest here, the rub is that most of us haven’t experienced that. So what are the possibilities?

  • The scriptures aren’t true.
  • The scriptures don’t say what we interpret them as saying.
  • We don’t know what it means to fear God.
  • We know, but don’t practice the fear of God.

What do you say? Have you experienced a dichotomy between the experience of these Psalmists? How do you explain it? Or maybe you have experienced a happy life  that you attribute to your fear of God. Share your experience with us here.
 

Daily Readings for Monday September 17, 2012

Readings: Psalm 73:21-28 (NRSV, The Message); Proverbs 22:1-21 (NRSV, The Message); Romans 3:9-20 (NRSV, The Message)

Daily Readings: Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Readings: Psalm 73:1-20 (NRSV, The Message); Proverbs 11:1-31 (NRSV, The Message); Hebrews 12:3-13 (NRSV, The Message)

The desires of good people lead straight to the best,
    but wicked ambition ends in angry frustration.

The world of the generous gets larger and larger;
    the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.              Proverbs 11:23-24 (The Message)

 

Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline?                Hebrews 12:7 (NRSV)

God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children.   Hebrews 12:7 (The Message)

 

So the question Hebrews 12 leaves this reader with is this: does God discipline? Specifically, does God discipline through punishment – sending us trials to teach us a lesson? I do not believe so. While the parent/child metaphor is a good one for our relationship with God, like any metaphor, especially as they relate to God, it begins to break down.

I don’t believe God causes bad things to happen to teach us. Now, trials do happen. I am tried as a consequence of my own actions; I am tried as the result of the ill will of another; I am tried by the simple chaos of the universe. And, yes, I have the opportunity to learn from those tests and trials. I have the opportunity to be disciplined by those tests and trials. However, I do not believe God, however sends them. Instead, God stands beside me as I face them, training me and forming me. In fact, if anything, I believe God, in God’s grace, protects and keeps me from some of those trials.

How do you feel about the “trials” you face? Does God send them? What is their purpose?