Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Support the Weak

The People of God Set Priorities
Bearing One Another's Burdens

Consolation Granted through Prayer

Acts 20:28-35 The Message

28 “Now it’s up to you. Be on your toes—both for yourselves and your congregation of sheep. The Holy Spirit has put you in charge of these people—God’s people they are—to guard and protect them. God himself thought they were worth dying for.
29-31 “I know that as soon as I’m gone, vicious wolves are going to show up and rip into this flock, men from your very own ranks twisting words so as to seduce disciples into following them instead of Jesus. So stay awake and keep up your guard. Remember those three years I kept at it with you, never letting up, pouring my heart out with you, one after another.
32 “Now I’m turning you over to God, our marvelous God whose gracious Word can make you into what he wants you to be and give you everything you could possibly need in this community of holy friends.
33-35 “I’ve never, as you so well know, had any taste for wealth or fashion. With these bare hands I took care of my own basic needs and those who worked with me. In everything I’ve done, I have demonstrated to you how necessary it is to work on behalf of the weak and not exploit them. You’ll not likely go wrong here if you keep remembering that our Master said, ‘You’re far happier giving than getting.’”

For Reflection
Nowhere more explicitly stated is our commission to be the stewards of each other, the sheep looking after the sheep.  Our work in Christ is on behalf of the weak, of those most vulnerable, of those who live lives in constant fear, of those who's reliance on self has failed them, of those who are the victims of life's cruel circumstances.  Our life's work is to care for each other, both those outside of our fellowship and those who live within the fellowship of the Spirit.
Pray
Kneel before God.  Pray prayers of confession, repentance, obedience, praise and thanksgiving.  Pray to serve God by being the harbinger of hope living in grace.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Oh Lord, We Rely on You

The People of God Set Priorities
Bearing One Another's Burdens

Consolation Granted through Prayer

2 Chronicles 14:1-15 The Message

King Asa

14 Abijah died and was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. His son Asa became the next king.
For ten years into Asa’s reign the country was at peace.
2-6 Asa was a good king. He did things right in God’s eyes. He cleaned house: got rid of the pagan altars and shrines, smashed the sacred stone pillars, and chopped down the sex-and-religion groves (Asherim). He told Judah to center their lives in God, the God of their fathers, to do what the law said, and to follow the commandments. Because he got rid of all the pagan shrines and altars in the cities of Judah, his kingdom was at peace. Because the land was quiet and there was no war, he was able to build up a good defense system in Judah. God kept the peace.
Asa said to his people, “While we have the chance and the land is quiet, let’s build a solid defense system, fortifying our cities with walls, towers, gates, and bars. We have this peaceful land because we sought God; he has given us rest from all troubles.” So they built and enjoyed prosperity.
Asa had an army of 300,000 Judeans, equipped with shields and spears, and another 280,000 Benjaminites who were shield bearers and archers. They were all courageous warriors.
9-11 Zerah the Ethiopian went to war against Asa with an army of a million plus three hundred chariots and got as far as Mareshah. Asa met him there and prepared to fight from the Valley of Zephathah near Mareshah. Then Asa prayed to God, “O God, you aren’t impressed by numbers or intimidated by a show of force once you decide to help: Help us, O God; we have come out to meet this huge army because we trust in you and who you are. Don’t let mere mortals stand against you!”
12-15 God defeated the Ethiopians before Asa and Judah; the Ethiopians ran for their lives. Asa and his men chased them as far as Gerar; so many of the Ethiopians were killed that there was no fight left in them—a massacre before God and his troops; Judah carted off loads of plunder. They devastated all the towns around Gerar whose people were helpless, paralyzed by the fear of God, and looted the country. They also attacked herdsmen and brought back a lot of sheep and camels to Jerusalem.
 
For Reflection
Even under God, peace seems to be a fleeting moment, a moment to be cherished, a moment for renewal, a moment for reflection on the sovereign reign of God.  Peace is a time to reject complacency.  Peace is a time to build upon the grace of God. 

Peace is a time of treacherous plenty.  Peace lulls us into self-absorption.

Peace is a time for remembering our history without God.  Peace is a time for preparation for times which are not peaceful. Peace is a time for remembering in whom we place our trust.
 
Pray
that you will place your trust in God.  Pray that in the good times of you life, you will remember that God has brought you out of darkness in to the light of peace.  Pray so that God is in the forefront of your hope.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Our Refuge and Strength

The People of God Set Priorities
Bearing One Another's Burdens

Consolation Granted through Prayer

Psalm 46 The Message

A Song of the Sons of Korah

46 1-3 God is a safe place to hide,
    ready to help when we need him.
We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom,
    courageous in seastorm and earthquake,
Before the rush and roar of oceans,
    the tremors that shift mountains.
Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
    God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.
4-6 River fountains splash joy, cooling God’s city,
    this sacred haunt of the Most High.
God lives here, the streets are safe,
    God at your service from crack of dawn.
Godless nations rant and rave, kings and kingdoms threaten,
    but Earth does anything he says.
Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
    God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.
8-10 Attention, all! See the marvels of God!
    He plants flowers and trees all over the earth,
Bans war from pole to pole,
    breaks all the weapons across his knee.
“Step out of the traffic! Take a long,
    loving look at me, your High God,
    above politics, above everything.”
11 Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
    God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.
 
For Reflection
Fear and the reflection of fear, worry, stand between the stalwart confidence in God's protection and our willingness to take matters into our own hands.  God has dominion over all and is the faithful steward of his whole creation.  Get out of the traffic in you own life and stand to the side in awe and wonder at God's rejuvenating power.
 
Pray
that you will not loose confidence in Gods promise of protection.  Pray that you will set aside worry and fear knowing that God makes all things right.

Friday, July 25, 2014

All Done Decently and in Order

The People of God Set Priorities
Living as a Community of Believers

Seek the Good of  Others

1 Corinthians 14:37-40 The Message

37-38 If any one of you thinks God has something for you to say or has inspired you to do something, pay close attention to what I have written. This is the way the Master wants it. If you won’t play by these rules, God can’t use you. Sorry.
39-40 Three things, then, to sum this up: When you speak forth God’s truth, speak your heart out. Don’t tell people how they should or shouldn’t pray when they’re praying in tongues that you don’t understand. Be courteous and considerate in everything.
 
For Reflection
Sometimes I prefer to use an alternate translation.  In this case the NIV version makes more sense, than, "Sorry..."  It is, "But if anyone ignores this they themselves will be ignored."  To my way of thinking, God uses all, good and bad to God's ends.  

My prayer is that I do and say things that are fitting and orderly, courteous and considerate.  I pray to be humble.  I pray to be loving and supportive.   How about you?
 
Pray
to find your way in the Kingdom of God.  Pray that your ears hear the whispers of the Spirit.  Pray that your tongue speaks your heart and preserves the right for others to choose. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

So All Learn and Are Encouraged

The People of God Set Priorities
Living as a Community of Believers

Seek the Good of  Others

1 Corinthians 14:27-33 The Message

26-33 So here’s what I want you to do. When you gather for worship, each one of you be prepared with something that will be useful for all: Sing a hymn, teach a lesson, tell a story, lead a prayer, provide an insight. If prayers are offered in tongues, two or three’s the limit, and then only if someone is present who can interpret what you’re saying. Otherwise, keep it between God and yourself. And no more than two or three speakers at a meeting, with the rest of you listening and taking it to heart. Take your turn, no one person taking over. Then each speaker gets a chance to say something special from God, and you all learn from each other. If you choose to speak, you’re also responsible for how and when you speak. When we worship the right way, God doesn’t stir us up into confusion; he brings us into harmony. This goes for all the churches—no exceptions.

For Reflection
How do you prepare for worship?  What do you contribute to the learning of all?  How well do we listen to each other? How well do we listen for the will of God?  How do we grow in Grace?
Pray
to learn more about who you are in Christ.  Pray to listen for the will of God in your life.  Pray to let the Spirit whispered wisdom guide you.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Devoted to Good Works

The People of God Set Priorities
Living as a Community of Believers

Seek the Good of  Others

Titus 3:8-14 The Message

3-8 It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this.
8-11 I want you to put your foot down. Take a firm stand on these matters so that those who have put their trust in God will concentrate on the essentials that are good for everyone. Stay away from mindless, pointless quarreling over genealogies and fine print in the law code. That gets you nowhere. Warn a quarrelsome person once or twice, but then be done with him. It’s obvious that such a person is out of line, rebellious against God. By persisting in divisiveness he cuts himself off.
12-13 As soon as I send either Artemas or Tychicus to you, come immediately and meet me in Nicopolis. I’ve decided to spend the winter there. Give Zenas the lawyer and Apollos a hearty send-off. Take good care of them.
14 Our people have to learn to be diligent in their work so that all necessities are met (especially among the needy) and they don’t end up with nothing to show for their lives.
 
For Reflection
Vengeance and retribution still seem to be major motivations for human interaction in all the world, "tit for tat", "eye for an eye", promises of violence.  When will it stop?  When will we say to each other, "enough,"  When will we learn to accept differences and the strength those differences offer to all of human kind?  When will the silent majorities in all nations, in all cultures, who are the victims of torment not of their making look forward to peaceful lives?
 
Pray
Kneel before God.  Pray prayers of confession, repentance, obedience, praise and thanksgiving. Pray for diligence in your righteousness, prayer and service to God.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Doing the Right Thing

The People of God Set Priorities
Living as a Community of Believers

Seek the Good of Others

James 4:13-17 The Message

Nothing but a Wisp of Fog

13-15 And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, “Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.” You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.”
16-17 As it is, you are full of your grandiose selves. All such vaunting self-importance is evil. In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.
 
For Reflection
Muslims rarely speak of the future without uttering "inshallah".  This Arabic word meaning "God Willing," is also commonly used by Christians in the Middle East, Africa, and Portuguese and Spanish speaking people.  James, obviously understands this common expression.  He uses it to remind the faithful that God is always in charge and that some events are a result of human will and not  the will of God.  Not to acknowledge God's sovereignty, may result in the mistaken idea that human kind are the masters of their fate; thus separating themselves from God and God's ultimate intention, God's will, for all in the Kingdom of God.
 
Pray
that you will realize the differences between the actions of human free will and the will of God.  Pray that you will accept the sovereignty of God and seek God's will for your life.  Pray that you will become increasingly grateful for God's intention for peace, forgiveness and justice.