Month: April 2012
Scripture: 1st John 4:20
Those who say, cialis “I love God, stuff ” and hate their brothers or sisters, find are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.
Thought for the Day: Our relationship with God is directly impacted by the way we interact with our brothers and sisters. Human history has so many examples of those who attempted to explain why their hate made sense in one circumstance or another, yet the moment one person starts finding ways of sanctioning his/her form of hate, the door is open for others to validate their hate which only gives reason for more people to find reasons why their hate is okay. Yesterday morning, the pastor at Dove World Outreach Center here in Florida once again burned a Koran (Quran), the Islamic Holy Book. Though I’m sure this minister is able to justify his actions through some bizarre gymnastics of the mind, he does it only by ignoring some of the most basic teachings of scripture. Any act of hate dismisses the transformative power of grace, and perpetuates a destructive cycle. Any act of grace undermines the cycle of hate and begins to transform the world. Though there is a tendency within human nature to explain why hate is okay in one circumstance or another, let us follow the example of Jesus who showed us how to love God by loving our brothers and sisters.
Prayer: God of grace and mercy, transform those feelings of hate I might have by wrapping them in your unmerited love. In letting go of those feelings of contempt, I am more fully able to love you. Amen.
Scripture: Psalm 90:1-3
Lord, rx you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, sildenafil or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. You turn us back to dust, and say, “Turn back, you mortals.”
Thought for the Day: Sometimes a passage from Scripture just lays it all out in black and white. Here our Psalmist reveals that we all begin and end in the same place: God. God is our dwelling place before we are formed, and after we turn back to dust, God is once again our dwelling place. But God is also a dwelling place that is with us wherever we go, because the dust we are made out of is the same dust that everything is made out of. So in a very intimate way, we are connected with each other, the stars, the planets, the comets, and quite literally everything that exists. And all that stuff that exists has its dwelling place in God. We live with God, all the time.
We tend to think of a house as a home. But a house is not a home. A house is a space for our physical selves to put our physical stuff. Sometimes we leave our houses, never to return. But our real home, God, is always with us, and we will always return. How cool is that? Our true dwelling place is eternal and always near. When we make our dwelling place in God, then we have a home, always.
Prayer: I give you ceaseless praise and thanks, loving and eternal God, for always having room for me in your spiritual house of love. Amen.
Scripture: 1 John 3:16-17
This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, here and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, mind what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear. (The Message)
Thought for the Day: This passage from 1 John puts some responsibility for action in this world firmly on our shoulders. Although God’s love is offered freely, we can (and often do) turn a cold shoulder to this graceful offer. Every time we reject the needs of someone who’s hungry, or hurting, or just plain different, we are rejecting God’s love in our own life as well as theirs. And then God’s love disappears for all of us.
Fortunately, there are millions of people in the world who are willing to extend a warm hug, or food, or shelter, or money, when they see a brother or sister in need. Although you’d never know listening to or watching the mainstream media, there really are bazillions of self-sacrificing people around the world today extending God’s love to those who haven’t had the opportunity to feel love much, if ever, in their lives. I see it in our congregation all the time. As Christ was willing to sacrifice his life for the good of the rest of us, thank God for allowing us to also give a little bit of ourselves for the good of others.
Prayer: Holy God of Grace, may I be conscious of your love within me, so that I might also extend your love to others. Amen.
Scripture: 1st Thessalonians 5:15
See that none of you repays evil for evil, click but always seek to do good to one another and to all.
Thought for the Day: Richard Beck wrote an article entitled, discount The Bait and Switch of Contemporary Christianity (Sojo.net). It is a fascinating look at the games Christians have played to avoid doing some of the real work of being Christ followers. He writes,
“…rather than being a decent human being the following is a list of some commonly acceptable substitutes:
Going to church
Spiritual disciplines (e.g., fasting)
Going on spiritual retreats
Reading religious books
Arguing with evolutionists
Sending your child to a Christian school or providing education at home
Using religious language
Avoiding R-rated movies
Not reading Harry Potter.
The point is that one can fill a life full of spiritual activities without ever, actually, trying to become a more decent human being.”
I’m not suggesting (nor is Mr. Beck) that any of the above things are bad in and of themselves. In fact, there are some on this list that very good and faithful people may choose to do, but they are no substitute for the radical life-style Jesus demonstrated… the radical life-style Jesus invited his followers to emulate. If what you claim as the central characteristics of being Christian do not have you eating meals with the most despised in our culture, do not require you to give away more money than you think you can afford, and do not have you questioning violence and hatred in every form, then you probably need to rethink your central ideas around Christianity.
Prayer: O Holy God, there are so many people attempting to define what it means to follow you, and it sure sounds good with all of its religious language and highly moral attributes, but it really doesn’t look much like the incarnation of your grace in Jesus. Help me to more fully embrace the Jesus of scripture who was willing to sacrifice everything for those who were poor, rejected and lost. Amen.
Scripture: Psalm 27:14
Wait for the Lord; be strong, salve and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
Thought for the Day: You think you’ve had a bad day, medicine just read Psalm 27. Here is someone who is having all kinds of problems, view yet these words of encouragement are a call to trust in the Lord. The Hebrew word we translate, to be strong, conveys an unyielding sturdiness. It could be translated as harden or even obstinate. I like the notion of trusting God’s faithfulness to the point of being obstinate, stubborn and tenacious. When life gets difficult and the future goes from cloudy to black, hopelessness can consume us. In moments like that, we cannot claim to know what the future will hold, but I believe we can be obstinate about our trust in a God who will walk with us into that future no matter how dark it might appear.
Prayer: Let my faith grow with each passing day, O Lord, so I am confident in your boundless love that will not leave me alone. Amen.
Scripture: Luke 17:20-21
Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, case and he answered, medicine “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, help ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.”
Thought for the Day: Apocalyptic literature, hopeful words spoken amidst crisis, stretches back some 200 years before Jesus. As the Holy Land became occupied by foreign troops, Apocalyptic writings began to emerge as a source of hope. These texts attempted to interpret recent history through colorful metaphor, and then they concluded by pronouncing God’s intention in the near future. The final hope frequently offered in these texts was an angelic army who would defeat the enemies of God’s people. Whether it be Daniel in the Old Testament or Revelation in the New Testament, these texts were never intended to present a map of our current situation. They were written for a very specific moment in time, and Jesus appears to be aware of such texts and their expectations. To those beliefs, Jesus responds with a radical reversal of traditional Apocalyptic literature. He places the transformational events, not at some point in the future, but in the now. The kingdom of God is found within every generation, and using Jesus as the example, it is each generation’s job to make real for the world this new kingdom. We are the agents of God, and it is the ways of grace, mercy and forgiveness that will reveal what already exists…yet remains hidden to so many.
Prayer: Lord, I will accept the responsibility of participating in your Kingdom disclosure, not on some future day that others are attempting to determine, but right now. Amen.
The Vatican has cracked down on the largest women’s group within the Catholic church. I love this response by Sister Simone Campbell.
Scripture: Job 14:7-9
For there is hope for a tree, treatment if it is cut down, online that it will sprout again, ed and that its shoots will not cease. Though its root grows old in the earth, and its stump dies in the ground, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth branches like a young plant.
Thought for the Day: In the book of Job, there is a constant struggle between utter despair and a glimmer of hope. It’s as if Job wants to believe in something, but his current reality simply does not allow him to glimpse beyond the darkness that has enveloped all of who he is. In Sojourners Verse and Voice (April 16, 2012), there is a quote by Rene Bazin, a French novelist. He wrote, “There is no need to go searching for a remedy for the evils of the time. The remedy already exists – it is the gift of one’s self to those who have fallen so low that even hope fails them. Open wide your heart.” Simply telling someone to buck up or to pull him/herself up by the bootstraps will be meaningless to the one who finds him/herself in a Job-like quandary. It’s too bad that it was the ‘buck up” kind of people who came alongside Job in his crisis. Yet our loving presence to those “who have fallen so low that even hope fails them” might provide just enough grace to have them believe that, like the tree in the Job passage, there is possibility beyond what can be seen.
Prayer: Merciful God, you have used so many amazing people to grace those who find themselves in a Job-like quandary. Could I be one whose gift might grace such a person who has fallen beyond the last rung of hope? Call me forth, O Gracious One. Amen.
Scripture: Hebrews 13:6-7
So we can say with confidence, ailment “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith
Thought for the Day: I may have used this quote a few years ago, but when I came across it again last week, I couldn’t put it aside. Helen Keller said, “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” Not only do her words clearly focus our attention on the calling God has upon our individual gifts, but in light of who Helen Keller was, these words inspire me as I think of the outcome of her life. Not only do I wish to imitate her, but to do so in the belief that I, like everyone else, has a gift that if put to use just might make a difference.
Prayer: O Lord, you are my helper. Encourage me to embrace my gift even when it seems insignificant as compared to others. By your grace, may my gift be added to the gifts of faithful people past, present and future. Amen.