Monday, May 2, 2016

God Cares for All

The Gift of Faith
Restorative Faith

Grateful Faith

Deuteronomy 11:12-21  The Message

10-12 The land you are entering to take up ownership isn’t like Egypt, the land you left, where you had to plant your own seed and water it yourselves as in a vegetable garden. But the land you are about to cross the river and take for your own is a land of mountains and valleys; it drinks water that rains from the sky. It’s a land that God, your God, personally tends—he’s the gardener—he alone keeps his eye on it all year long.
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
If you are patient and trust God you will soon realize that God provides for you.  This generosity does not negate the fact that one has to provide for him or herself.  But, total reliance on self will never result in the satisfaction of living in the Kingdom where one's self-determination is displaced by trust in God.

The appeal of self-determination is strong.  It is especially effective when one is frustrated by pressing needs or wants.  Have patience.  God will provide in God's time.  God will not let you down.  Look for the opportunities to serve God and you will find a fully satisfying life.

Pray
for the patience to wait for God.  Pray for the strength to reject the seduction of "do it yourself."  Pray for the confidence and trust in God which frees you to find grace in obedience to God's will for you.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Living with Integrity

The Gift of Faith
Restorative Faith

Increased Faith

Psalm 101  The Message

A David Psalm

101 1-8 My theme song is God’s love and justice,
    and I’m singing it right to you, God.
I’m finding my way down the road of right living,
    but how long before you show up?
I’m doing the very best I can,
    and I’m doing it at home, where it counts.
I refuse to take a second look
    at corrupting people and degrading things.
I reject made-in-Canaan gods,
    stay clear of contamination.
The crooked in heart keep their distance;
    I refuse to shake hands with those who plan evil.
I put a gag on the gossip
    who bad-mouths his neighbor;
I can’t stand
    arrogance.
But I have my eye on salt-of-the-earth people—
    they’re the ones I want working with me;
Men and women on the straight and narrow—
    these are the ones I want at my side.
But no one who traffics in lies
    gets a job with me; I have no patience with liars.
I’ve rounded up all the wicked like cattle
    and herded them right out of the country.
I purged God’s city
    of all who make a business of evil.


For Reflection
Take David's song to heart.  Live with integrity.  Insulate yourself from life's seductions, armored with the cloak of Jesus.  Live in the City of God.

Pray
That you will be able to avoid unrighteous acts.  Pray that you will endeavor to become all that God wants you to become.  Pray for the wisdom that can only come by walking arm in arm with God.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Saved by God's Faifulness

The Gift of Faith
Restorative Faith

Increased Faith

Jeremiah 23:33-24:6  The Message

33 “And anyone, including prophets and priests, who asks, ‘What’s God got to say about all this, what’s troubling him?’ tell him, ‘You, you’re the trouble, and I’m getting rid of you.’” God’s Decree.
Two Baskets of Figs
24 1-2 God showed me two baskets of figs placed in front of the Temple of God. This was after Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah from Jerusalem into exile in Babylon, along with the leaders of Judah, the craftsmen, and the skilled laborers. In one basket the figs were of the finest quality, ripe and ready to eat. In the other basket the figs were rotten, so rotten they couldn’t be eaten.
God said to me, “Jeremiah, what do you see?”
“Figs,” I said. “Excellent figs of the finest quality, and also rotten figs, so rotten they can’t be eaten.”
4-6 Then God told me, “This is the Message from the God of Israel: The exiles from here that I’ve sent off to the land of the Babylonians are like the good figs, and I’ll make sure they get good treatment. I’ll keep my eye on them so that their lives are good, and I’ll bring them back to this land. I’ll build them up, not tear them down; I’ll plant them, not uproot them.

For Reflection
You are endowed with the gift of creativity.  You can choose to be creative and build up or destructive and tear down.  Which do you choose?  God hopes you will create conditions which bear fruit.

Pray
that you will be obedient to God's will for a joyful satisfying life in the Kingdom.  Pray for the wisdom to be creative.  Pray that you will avoid being seduced by other's destructive behavior.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Helped by God's Faithfulness

The Gift of Faith
Restorative Faith

Increased Faith

Psalm 121  The Message

A Pilgrim Song

121 1-2 I look up to the mountains;
    does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
    who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.
3-4 He won’t let you stumble,
    your Guardian God won’t fall asleep.
Not on your life! Israel’s
    Guardian will never doze or sleep.
5-6 God’s your Guardian,
    right at your side to protect you—
Shielding you from sunstroke,
    sheltering you from moonstroke.
7-8 God guards you from every evil,
    he guards your very life.
He guards you when you leave and when you return,
    he guards you now, he guards you always.

For Reflection
Whatever gift you have, whatever strengths you have, what ever success you have, whatever disappointments you have endured, God has been by your side, comforting and paving the way with hope.

Pray
Pray often.  Pray unceasingly about everything.  Pray so that you will know God intimately.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Fed by God's Faithfulness

The Gift of Faith
Restorative Faith

Increased Faith

Deuteronomy 2:4-6  The Message

2-6 Then God said, “You’ve been going around in circles in these hills long enough; go north. Command the people, You’re about to cut through the land belonging to your relatives, the People of Esau who settled in Seir. They are terrified of you, but restrain yourselves. Don’t try and start a fight. I am not giving you so much as a square inch of their land. I’ve already given all the hill country of Seir to Esau—he owns it all. Pay them up front for any food or water you get from them.”


For Reflection
God has unreasonable radical faith in us.  It is right that we should return that trust to God.  Be humble, fair, just and compassionate in your walk with God.  God will provide.  Trust in God.

Pray
that you will do as God asks.  Pray that you will have the courage to face whatever life brings with a fearless confidence in the hope that God will make all things good and right.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Kept by God's Faithfulness

The Gift of Faith
Restorative Faith

Increased Faith

Genesis 28:13-17 The Message

13-15 Then God was right before him, saying, “I am God, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. I’m giving the ground on which you are sleeping to you and to your descendants. Your descendants will be as the dust of the Earth; they’ll stretch from west to east and from north to south. All the families of the Earth will bless themselves in you and your descendants. Yes. I’ll stay with you, I’ll protect you wherever you go, and I’ll bring you back to this very ground. I’ll stick with you until I’ve done everything I promised you.”
16-17 Jacob woke up from his sleep. He said, “God is in this place—truly. And I didn’t even know it!” He was terrified. He whispered in awe, “Incredible. Wonderful. Holy. This is God’s House. This is the Gate of Heaven.”


For Reflection
And so it begins.  God's promises made known to Abraham.  Abraham was always under God's care. But now, not only does Abraham have knowledge of God, but he also has had an encounter with God and survived!  A promise given, a covenant made, and Abraham will not disappoint God.

Know now that this covenant is also extended to you and renewed by the Christ event.

Pray
prayers of thanksgiving and praise for the living God whose promise of long ago has been extended to you. Pray that you, like Abraham will be obedient to God's will.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Journeying from Family

The Gift of Faith
Restorative Faith

A Family Reunion

Acts 20:17-24 The Message

On to Jerusalem

17-21 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus for the leaders of the congregation. When they arrived, he said, “You know that from day one of my arrival in Asia I was with you totally—laying my life on the line, serving the Master no matter what, putting up with no end of scheming by Jews who wanted to do me in. I didn’t skimp or trim in any way. Every truth and encouragement that could have made a difference to you, you got. I taught you out in public and I taught you in your homes, urging Jews and Greeks alike to a radical life-change before God and an equally radical trust in our Master Jesus.
22-24 “But there is another urgency before me now. I feel compelled to go to Jerusalem. I’m completely in the dark about what will happen when I get there. I do know that it won’t be any picnic, for the Holy Spirit has let me know repeatedly and clearly that there are hard times and imprisonment ahead. But that matters little. What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God.

For Reflection 
Paul puts his action where his mouth is.  He is willing to face adversity with dread, but with an overriding eagerness to follow God's call. 

Not only Paul faced death in obedience to God's call.  Christians were attractive not only because of the joyous life they lead in Christian fellowship, but also, because of the service they preformed for the poor and sick.  Each time they served those burdened with disease, they were exposed, succumbing to the illnesses of those whom they served.  So, many died in obedience to God.  This was indeed a radical life change that required radical trust.  To the early Christian, conversion was not motivated by what favor God would bestow, but rather, what they can do for God.  In being reborn into the service of God, the early Christians achieved atonement, and a fearless lust for a righteous life.

Pray
that you will find in God a fearless lust for a righteous life.  Pray for courage to follow the Way.  Pray for radical trust in the promise of God.