Friday, July 1, 2016

Lies vs. Truth

Toward a New Creation
A World Gone Wrong
Ignoring God's Truth


Ephesians 4:25-32  The Message

25 What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.
26-27 Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.
28 Did you use to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can’t work.
29 Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.
30 Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.
31-32 Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

For Reflection
There will always be those who lie.  Someone will always scoop lies from the bowels of the earth so the unjustified can be justified.  So, become aware of the lies and liars.  Do not be seduced by the falsehoods into Godlessness.  God suffers the liar and weeps.  Make each word a gift so that God's tears are of joy.

Pray
that you will,  " Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you."

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Grace vs. Law

Toward a New Creation
A World Gone Wrong


Ignoring God's Truth Within Us

Galatians 2:11-21  The Message

11-13 Later, when Peter came to Antioch, I had a face-to-face confrontation with him because he was clearly out of line. Here’s the situation. Earlier, before certain persons had come from James, Peter regularly ate with the non-Jews. But when that conservative group came from Jerusalem, he cautiously pulled back and put as much distance as he could manage between himself and his non-Jewish friends. That’s how fearful he was of the conservative Jewish clique that’s been pushing the old system of circumcision. Unfortunately, the rest of the Jews in the Antioch church joined in that hypocrisy so that even Barnabas was swept along in the charade.
14 But when I saw that they were not maintaining a steady, straight course according to the Message, I spoke up to Peter in front of them all: “If you, a Jew, live like a non-Jew when you’re not being observed by the watchdogs from Jerusalem, what right do you have to require non-Jews to conform to Jewish customs just to make a favorable impression on your old Jerusalem cronies?”
15-16 We Jews know that we have no advantage of birth over “non-Jewish sinners.” We know very well that we are not set right with God by rule-keeping but only through personal faith in Jesus Christ. How do we know? We tried it—and we had the best system of rules the world has ever seen! Convinced that no human being can please God by self-improvement, we believed in Jesus as the Messiah so that we might be set right before God by trusting in the Messiah, not by trying to be good.
17-18 Have some of you noticed that we are not yet perfect? (No great surprise, right?) And are you ready to make the accusation that since people like me, who go through Christ in order to get things right with God, aren’t perfectly virtuous, Christ must therefore be an accessory to sin? The accusation is frivolous. If I was “trying to be good,” I would be rebuilding the same old barn that I tore down. I would be acting as a charlatan.
19-21 What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.
Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.

For Reflection
It was fear that subverted Peter to pull back into hypocrisy.  Christianity is not about rule-making or rule-enforcing.  Christianity is about trusting in God.  Christianity is about accepting our imperfections.  Christianity is about identifying with Christ and emulating Him.  Christianity is about listening to the Spirit which resides within you.  Christianity is about loving, forgiving, comforting and seeking justice for those treated unjustly.  Christianity is living in an intimate relationship with God.  Christianity is not about making the world good, but rather, being good in the world.

Pray
that you will not succumb to the fear spoken by those who push the fear mongering of the fashionable rhetoric .  Pray that you will wipe out fear by displacing it with trust in God.  Pray that you will live by faith in the Son of God who died so that you might be free to live without fear in an intimate relationship with God.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Hate vs. Love

Toward a New Creation
A World Gone Wrong


Ignoring God's Truth Within Us

John 15:18-27  The Message

Hated by the World

18-19 “If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me. If you lived on the world’s terms, the world would love you as one of its own. But since I picked you to live on God’s terms and no longer on the world’s terms, the world is going to hate you.
20 “When that happens, remember this: Servants don’t get better treatment than their masters. If they beat on me, they will certainly beat on you. If they did what I told them, they will do what you tell them.
21-25 “They are going to do all these things to you because of the way they treated me, because they don’t know the One who sent me. If I hadn’t come and told them all this in plain language, it wouldn’t be so bad. As it is, they have no excuse. Hate me, hate my Father—it’s all the same. If I hadn’t done what I have done among them, works no one has ever done, they wouldn’t be to blame. But they saw the God-signs and hated anyway, both me and my Father. Interesting—they have verified the truth of their own Scriptures where it is written, ‘They hated me for no good reason.’
26-27 “When the Friend I plan to send you from the Father comes—the Spirit of Truth issuing from the Father—he will confirm everything about me. You, too, from your side must give your confirming evidence, since you are in this with me from the start

For Reflection
The root of all evil may not be money.  Rather the root of evil is fear!  Fear blinds us to the truth which resides in God.  Fear animated the hate toward Christ.  Fear motivates the hate toward those who live on God's terms.  Christ has put an end to fear.  Christ has given us the freedom to choose life in God's Kingdom over death in the common world.

Be aware of that which you fear. Be aware of the seductions of fear and move fearless through life, trusting in the Lord.

Pray
that you will trust in the Lord.  Pray that you will loosen the bonds of fear that drive you away from Godly endeavors and toward self-preservation at all cost.  Pray that you will embrace the death of your common self and embrace your resurrected self in Christ.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Dark vs. Light

Toward a New Creation
A World Gone Wrong


Ignoring God's Truth Within Us

John 1:1-13  The Message (MSG)

The Life-Light

1-2 The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
    God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
    in readiness for God from day one.
3-5 Everything was created through him;
    nothing—not one thing!—
    came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
    and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
    the darkness couldn’t put it out.
6-8 There once was a man, his name John, sent by God to point out the way to the Life-Light. He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in. John was not himself the Light; he was there to show the way to the Light.
9-13 The Life-Light was the real thing:
    Every person entering Life
    he brings into Light.
He was in the world,
    the world was there through him,
    and yet the world didn’t even notice.
He came to his own people,
    but they didn’t want him.
But whoever did want him,
    who believed he was who he claimed
    and would do what he said,
He made to be their true selves,
    their child-of-God selves.
These are the God-begotten,
    not blood-begotten,
    not flesh-begotten,
    not sex-begotten.

For Reflection
God created the world.  As its creator, God is infused into all of God's creation.  Therefore, God is also in each of us; dark skinned or light, God fearing or atheist, the best and the worst of us, All of Us.

God also gave us free will. Freedom to choose light over dark,  obedience over disobedience, commitment over sin.  The truth lies within us. Why, then, do we continue to ignore it?

Selfishness and self-determination are seductive alternatives to humility and trust in God.  And yet, those of us who accept the truth which resides within us, choose to work for justice and peace.  The Spirit within us moves toward compassion and love and in the process displaces sin.  We become the child-of-God selves we are meant to be.

Pray
that you will listen to the Spirit of God which resides within you.  Pray that you will witness to the power of love.  Pray that you will always work for justice, forgiveness, compassion and peace.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Seek Good and Truth

Toward a New Creation
Judgment and Salvation


Ignoring Gods Plain Truth

Hebrews 11:1-6  The Message

Amos 5:10-15  The Message

10-12 People hate this kind of talk.
    Raw truth is never popular.
But here it is, bluntly spoken:
    Because you run roughshod over the poor
    and take the bread right out of their mouths,
You’re never going to move into
    the luxury homes you have built.
You’re never going to drink wine
    from the expensive vineyards you’ve planted.
I know precisely the extent of your violations,
    the enormity of your sins. Appalling!
You bully right-living people,
    taking bribes right and left and kicking the poor when they’re down.
13 Justice is a lost cause. Evil is epidemic.
    Decent people throw up their hands.
Protest and rebuke are useless,
    a waste of breath.
14 Seek good and not evil—
    and live!
You talk about God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
    being your best friend.
Well, live like it,
    and maybe it will happen.
15 Hate evil and love good,
    then work it out in the public square.
Maybe God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
    will notice your remnant and be gracious.


For Reflection
Talk is just talk. But, doing what you say ought to be done, well yeah!

God intends our faith to be active, lived as Jesus lived his faith. You cannot roll evil into a ball and pitch it to the far corners of the universe.  Somehow evil arises again and again.  However, it can be displaced by love, compassion, forgiveness, and Christian hospitality.  Love your neighbor is not just a saying.  Loving one's neighbor and one's enemy is living life as God intends it to be lived.

Pray
that you will live as though you were in the presence of God.  Pray so that your life is a holy witness to the resurrection.  Pray so that you may bathe in the wisdom and creativity of God.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

God Hates Injustice

Toward a New Creation
Judgment and Salvation


Ignoring God's Plain Truth

Hebrews 11:1-6  The Message

Isaiah 59:12-19  The Message

12-15 Our wrongdoings pile up before you, God,
    our sins stand up and accuse us.
Our wrongdoings stare us down;
    we know in detail what we’ve done:
Mocking and denying God,
    not following our God,
Spreading false rumors, inciting sedition,
    pregnant with lies, muttering malice.
Justice is beaten back,
    Righteousness is banished to the sidelines,
Truth staggers down the street,
    Honesty is nowhere to be found,
Good is missing in action.
    Anyone renouncing evil is beaten and robbed.
15-19 God looked and saw evil looming on the horizon—
    so much evil and no sign of Justice.
He couldn’t believe what he saw:
    not a soul around to correct this awful situation.
So he did it himself, took on the work of Salvation,
    fueled by his own Righteousness.
He dressed in Righteousness, put it on like a suit of armor,
    with Salvation on his head like a helmet,
Put on Judgment like an overcoat,
    and threw a cloak of Passion across his shoulders.
He’ll make everyone pay for what they’ve done:
    fury for his foes, just deserts for his enemies.
    Even the far-off islands will get paid off in full.
In the west they’ll fear the name of God,
    in the east they’ll fear the glory of God,
For he’ll arrive like a river in flood stage,
    whipped to a torrent by the wind of God.


For Reflection
We somehow find it a character weakness to lament.  We call it pouting, whining, or an invitation to be pitied.  Yet, it is in our pain we discover that which is most important to us.  When we are the object of injustice we realize how important it is to act justly.  When we are the target of false witiness we realize how important it is to be truthful.  When in prayer we lament and bring our deepest most personal reaction to life as it seems to be, we reveal the depth of our relationship to God and the extent to which we trust God to comfort us.  God will respond to our lamentations and through Christ, set things right.

Pray
Bring everything to God in Prayer.  Express your emotional reaction to this world. Pray for justice to reign.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Liars and Truth Speakers

Toward a New Creation
Judgment and Salvation


Ignoring God's Plain Truth

Hebrews 11:1-6  The Message

Psalm 63  The Message

A David Psalm, When He Was out in the Judean Wilderness

63 God—you’re my God!
    I can’t get enough of you!
I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God,
    traveling across dry and weary deserts.
2-4 So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open,
    drinking in your strength and glory.
In your generous love I am really living at last!
    My lips brim praises like fountains.
I bless you every time I take a breath;
    My arms wave like banners of praise to you.
5-8 I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy;
    I smack my lips. It’s time to shout praises!
If I’m sleepless at midnight,
    I spend the hours in grateful reflection.
Because you’ve always stood up for me,
    I’m free to run and play.
I hold on to you for dear life,
    and you hold me steady as a post.
9-11 Those who are out to get me are marked for doom,
    marked for death, bound for hell.
They’ll die violent deaths;
    jackals will tear them limb from limb.
But the king is glad in God;
    his true friends spread the joy,
While small-minded gossips
    are gagged for good.

For Reflection
David expresses his gratefulness to God.  Though indebted to God, David is free to act and chooses to be an obedient servant.

But, David has enemies.  There are those who choose to ignore God's will. Not only do they not acknowledge God, but also, actively speak against God and lead others to worship other gods.

David does not take matters into his own hands, but rather, calls upon God to enact the vengeance that David is unwilling to take.  David encourages others to spread the joy of living in the hollow of God's hand.  Such joy displaces sin.

Pray
that you will have the strength to express joy in the face of godless threats.  Pray for the strength to refrain from taking matters into your own hands.  Pray for the trust and courage to let God judge.  Pray that you will always be glad in God.