Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Take Care and Live

Toward a New Creation
Life on God's Terms

Love Fulfills the Law

Joshua 22:1-7  The Message

22 1-5 Then Joshua called together the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. He said: “You have carried out everything Moses the servant of God commanded you, and you have obediently done everything I have commanded you. All this time and right down to this very day you have not abandoned your brothers; you’ve shouldered the task laid on you by God, your God. And now God, your God, has given rest to your brothers just as he promised them. You’re now free to go back to your homes, the country of your inheritance that Moses the servant of God gave you on the other side of the Jordan. Only this: Be vigilant in keeping the Commandment and The Revelation that Moses the servant of God laid on you: Love God, your God, walk in all his ways, do what he’s commanded, embrace him, serve him with everything you are and have.”
6-7 Then Joshua blessed them and sent them on their way. They went home. (To the half-tribe of Manasseh, Moses had assigned a share in Bashan. To the other half, Joshua assigned land with their brothers west of the Jordan.)

For Reflection
Having been obedient to God these people of God are blessed with restoration.  God recommends that they take care and not be seduced into violating the commandments. They are asked only to continue to love God and walk in God's ways.  Isn't that what God asks of us all?

Pray
that you will love God and walk in God's ways.  Pray to keep your eye on God's path.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Choose the Law and Life

Toward a New Creation
Life on God's Terms

Love Fulfills the Law

Deuteronomy 11:13-21  The Message

13-15 From now on if you listen obediently to the commandments that I am commanding you today, love God, your God, and serve him with everything you have within you, he’ll take charge of sending the rain at the right time, both autumn and spring rains, so that you’ll be able to harvest your grain, your grapes, your olives. He’ll make sure there’s plenty of grass for your animals. You’ll have plenty to eat.
16-17 But be vigilant, lest you be seduced away and end up serving and worshiping other gods and God erupts in anger and shuts down Heaven so there’s no rain and nothing grows in the fields, and in no time at all you’re starved out—not a trace of you left on the good land that God is giving you.
18-21 Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Inscribe them on the doorposts and gates of your cities so that you’ll live a long time, and your children with you, on the soil that God promised to give your ancestors for as long as there is a sky over the Earth.
For Reflection
Our God of Love expects only one thing.  God expects that we will respond to God's love by living lives full of God's love.  God will take care of our needs and we, through God will prosper in the hollow of God's hands.  When times or good, remember God.

Pray

that you will live the life God intended for you.  Pray that you will never be seduced into worship of other gods.  Pray for the wisdom to follow the Holy Spirit.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Diligence and Law

Toward a New Creation
Life on God's Terms

Love Fulfills the Law

1 Timothy 4:11-16The Message (MSG)

11-14 Get the word out. Teach all these things. And don’t let anyone put you down because you’re young. Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity. Stay at your post reading Scripture, giving counsel, teaching. And that special gift of ministry you were given when the leaders of the church laid hands on you and prayed—keep that dusted off and in use.
15-16 Cultivate these things. Immerse yourself in them. The people will all see you mature right before their eyes! Keep a firm grasp on both your character and your teaching. Don’t be diverted. Just keep at it. Both you and those who hear you will experience salvation.

For Reflection
Can one ever write a more complete description of witnessing to the resurrected Christ?  We are all called to teach.  Perhaps not in a formal sense but with our lives we, Christians, all teach.  Are we teaching humility or pride?  Are we teaching forgiveness or vengeance?  Are we teaching love or hate?  Are we condemning people or lifting them up?   Some look at the variation in Christian witness and call us hypocrites.  Is our perceived hypocrisy deserved?

Pray
that your witness to the world is one of consistent love.  Pray that you avoid the pitfalls of saying one thing and doing the opposite.  Pray prayers of confession and repentance often.   Pray that your righteousness is fed by the Holy Spirit who resides within you.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Repent and Bear Fruit

Toward a New Creation
Life on God's Terms


God Prunes and Grafts

John 15:1-8  The Message

The Vine and the Branches

15 1-3 “I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.
“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
5-8 “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.

For Reflection
Confess the things that separate you from God and embrace the Holy Spirit, Jesus, who lives within you.  Make yourself at home in Christ.  Listen and you will become one with Christ. and you will know God.

Pray
so that you may mature as disciples.  Pray softly and listen for the God whispers.  Pray and let those prayers displace all other thoughts and deeds.  Pray and bear fruit.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Repent and Live

Toward a New Creation
Life on God's Terms


God Prunes and Grafts

Zechariah 8:9-17  The Message

9-10 A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:
“Get a grip on things. Hold tight, you who are listening to what I say through the preaching of the prophets. The Temple of God-of-the-Angel-Armies has been reestablished. The Temple is being rebuilt. We’ve come through a hard time: You worked for a pittance and were lucky to get that; the streets were dangerous; you could never let down your guard; I had turned the world into an armed camp.
11-12 “But things have changed. I’m taking the side of my core of surviving people:
Sowing and harvesting will resume,
Vines will grow grapes,
Gardens will flourish,
Dew and rain will make everything green.
12-13 “My core survivors will get everything they need—and more. You’ve gotten a reputation as a bad-news people, you people of Judah and Israel, but I’m coming to save you. From now on, you’re the good-news people. Don’t be afraid. Keep a firm grip on what I’m doing.”

Keep Your Lives Simple and Honest

14-17 A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:
“In the same way that I decided to punish you when your ancestors made me angry, and didn’t pull my punches, at this time I’ve decided to bless Jerusalem and the country of Judah. Don’t be afraid. And now here’s what I want you to do: Tell the truth, the whole truth, when you speak. Do the right thing by one another, both personally and in your courts. Don’t cook up plans to take unfair advantage of others. Don’t do or say what isn’t so. I hate all that stuff. Keep your lives simple and honest.” Decree of God.

For Reflection
God will always be on the side of his people.  Who are God's people?  We all are, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  We are all part of God's creation.  God's overture for reconciliation, Jesus Christ, offers a path to spiritual and human calling.  Becoming all you can be is possible in the loving hands of God.  Do good because the Holy Spirit resides in you.

Pray
that you will recognize the Holy Spirit which resides in you and in each of us.  Pray that you see our differences as strengths.  Pray that you see our similarities as that which conjoins us with God

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Repent and Repair

Toward a New Creation
Life on God's Terms


God Prunes and Grafts

Ezra 9:5-9 The Message

4-6 Many were in fear and trembling because of what God was saying about the betrayal by the exiles. They gathered around me as I sat there in despair, waiting for the evening sacrifice. At the evening sacrifice I picked myself up from my utter devastation, and in my ripped clothes and cape fell to my knees and stretched out my hands to God, my God. And I prayed:
6-7 “My dear God, I’m so totally ashamed, I can’t bear to face you. O my God—our iniquities are piled up so high that we can’t see out; our guilt touches the skies. We’ve been stuck in a muck of guilt since the time of our ancestors until right now; we and our kings and priests, because of our sins, have been turned over to foreign kings, to killing, to captivity, to looting, and to public shame—just as you see us now.
8-9 “Now for a brief time God, our God, has allowed us, this battered band, to get a firm foothold in his holy place so that our God may brighten our eyes and lighten our burdens as we serve out this hard sentence. We were slaves; yet even as slaves, our God didn’t abandon us. He has put us in the good graces of the kings of Persia and given us the heart to build The Temple of our God, restore its ruins, and construct a defensive wall in Judah and Jerusalem.

For Reflection
No matter how much you sin, no matter how many times you have turned away from God, no matter how grievous your rejection of the Lord, you from the lowest point in you life, you from the depths of shame and guilt, you will find that God will show you the way to restoration.

Pray
admitting your sins.  Pray in gratitude for the saving grace that is God.  Praise God for God's abiding love.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Repent and Return

Toward a New Creation
Life on God's Terms


God Prunes and Grafts

Hosea 14:1-8  The Message

Come Back! Return to Your God!

14 1-3 O Israel, come back! Return to your God!
    You’re down but you’re not out.
Prepare your confession
    and come back to God.
Pray to him, “Take away our sin,
    accept our confession.
Receive as restitution
    our repentant prayers.
Assyria won’t save us;
    horses won’t get us where we want to go.
We’ll never again say ‘our god’
    to something we’ve made or made up.
You’re our last hope. Is it not true
    that in you the orphan finds mercy?”
4-8 “I will heal their waywardness.
    I will love them lavishly. My anger is played out.
I will make a fresh start with Israel.
    He’ll burst into bloom like a crocus in the spring.
He’ll put down deep oak tree roots,
    he’ll become a forest of oaks!
He’ll become splendid—like a giant sequoia,
    his fragrance like a grove of cedars!
Those who live near him will be blessed by him,
    be blessed and prosper like golden grain.
Everyone will be talking about them,
    spreading their fame as the vintage children of God.
Ephraim is finished with gods that are no-gods.
    From now on I’m the one who answers and satisfies him.
I am like a luxuriant fruit tree.
    Everything you need is to be found in me.”


For Reflection
You have known God and yet you are seduced by other interests, money, power, and false promises of salvation.  Give up your false gods and return to the God of love you have known.  God will make a fresh start with you.

Pray
prayers of confession and lamentation.  Pray so that you will return to the God who loves you.