Sunday, February 28, 2010

Notes to the Lord: With Eternity on My Mind

Scripture Reflection: John 14
1"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.

Lord Jesus--As you were taking time with your disciples during one of your last teaching opportunities thoughts of the eternal were on your mind. The very first thing that you thought of was the fact that even in times of great change and disruption, God can and should be trusted.

You remind me that there is no need for allowing the exterior changes that take place to trouble the center of who I am. The connection with You is not impacted by the events that shift over time and circumstance. It is not about needing to be safe or cared for, that is never in question. You are the Lord no matter what happens in the world that surrounds me. You will provide for my needs.

2In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.

Lord Jesus in the middle of a world where the things that have formed the context of my life are in change and flux, I am always safe and will have a place with you. You continue the preparations that started over two thousand ago...a place for Your people.

I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you,

Lord Jesus— You knew what it would cost you to make this rag-tag group safe and yet your thoughts were on their needs. Your thoughts as you looked at your disciples that night turned to the coming days that would shake them to the roots of their souls.

These moments before your arrest would be etched on their minds with the clarity that only pain and loss can do. It would be with tears and gasps of hearts hurting and cheeks wet with the salt of their tears that the disciples would think back on these words. They would hold on to these words of quiet comfort though years of hardships and journeys yet to be started.

I hold on to these words tonight Lord Jesus. You have not left me here so far from home alone. You have given so much. Love, family, people who’s relationships have formed my view of you and your grace. With cheeks still wet with tears I remember who you are….as I watch you work in the lives of those I love best struggle with change and loss, I know that you will work out all things for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to purposes…there are no accidents or interruptions in the journey of you shaping my heart to be like yours.

I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going."

Thank you Lord Jesus for the hope that you remind me of, you will come back. You are the hope all creation longs for and looks for even if we lack the words for it at times. In that reunion there will be no missing pieces in this heart you have given to me. There will be no more lapses, limitations or lacks. With Your return you will bring the completion of all things...even the completion of this small, broken and limited heart that seems to get such a twisted picture of You at times.

Lord Jesus--I look to the eastern sky over snow cover hills this morning, looking for Your coming…help me to be faithful in this journey still yet to be completed...even so come quickly Lord Jesus.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Notes to the Lord: Tag Lines

Scripture Reflections: Matthew 10
1He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

Lord Jesus—The circle is clarified. We don’t have a record of the calling of each of the disciples, just the inner circle. But at some point the boundaries clarified. With the clearer definition came an increase in authority and responsibility.

2These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Lord Jesus--The tag lines that got attached to some stick in my mind…they were pieces of information we have kept all these years. I wonder if these lines…Rocky…I mean Peter, the brother of Andrew, sons of Zebedee, son of Alphaeus, the Zealot, and the betrayer are the ways that these men would have like to be remembered. They are nick names and family relationships remembered, political affiliations, and defining choices—former tax collector, and betrayer. They are pieces of what form lives and made these men individuals.

What are the tag lines that define me Lord? Is it political affiliation? Family relationships? I hope that what ends up defining me are the choices that I have made. Matthew and Judas share that trait…they are remember by the choices that they made. Matthew was defined by the fact that he left a profession to follow you. Judas was, sadly, defined by his choice to reject and betray you. Both men had choices that you offered to them, an opportunity to choose well…both had been given a level of responsibility with risk associated with it.

I don’t like the fact that both men did not choose well. But I can’t ignore the fact that the same basic choice is presented again and again. A God of love and grace offers me a choice, bought at such a price. I have been invested with the responsibility to choose well.

Lord Jesus help me choose well today.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Healed Hands Ready For Work

Scripture Reflections: Matthew 9:35-39
35Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.

Lord Jesus--As I read the miracle accounts they are everywhere. That was a major part of your ministry that you were given by the Father. The people healed were not props in a human drama…people who enter stage right were then are ushered off on stage left as a part of the Jesus Drama. They were real people with hurts that you joined with them at. They did leave but changed forever. Their needs impacted you. Their hurts you took on. It was an intimate encounter with each of them that you had. They had not been initiated into the show all your hurts, Ophra watching culture that I know and experience…they hid there hurts and their diseases.

There was the understanding that if you were blind, or lame, or couldn’t hear you must have done something wrong…good people did not suffer. Great if you were perfect…I have a feeling that I would not have fit in well.

I wonder how many of these people that you healed…who carried to their graves the knowledge of that healing…became a part of the church in just a few years. They must have told their stories to their children and grandchildren when they tucked them into bed…

I can almost hear it…”And then Jesus touched me…and I could see…the first thing I saw was the face of the Master. Oh I wish I could see Him right now again…with these eyes that he gave me. Someday...”

36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

Lord Jesus--What are the workers qualifications for harvesting? It was the very same crowd that you were healing that you looked out over and directed your disciples in prayer.

Healed people who experience Your touch, far from stage props, become the very workers that are needed in the harvest. It is not skill sets that make for great harvest workers, not great public speakers, or great leaders…but changed hearts and lives. Harvest hands are just people who have been changed by the Master’s work in their lives sometimes with the dirt still under the finger nails.

Lord Jesus remind me at critical moments in this day who am I...a healed field hand saved by your scandalous and amazing grace.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Clear Eyed About The Conclusions

Scripture Reflections: Matthew 9:32-34
32While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. 33And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel."

One of the key elements that you worked with Lord Jesus was the casting out of demons. In your time and place they were everywhere. The presence and role of the demonic in my time and place is a subject of much debate.

How much activity is there of the demonic today? I am not sure I will have an answer with clarity to this question this side of Heaven. It is always hard to track the darkness that surrounds us because so much of our lives are lived out in the half light of this present age. The darkness has many places to hide. As the time of your return approaches, the contrast will become sharper and the half light will fade.

One thing that I can be clear eyed about is that healing, restoration, and wholeness comes from your hand. It is always because of your grace and love showered on humanity. The source of these blessings is never in question, they come from Your Hand. Thank you.

34But the Pharisees said, "It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons."

The essence of the rejection of Your ministry is found in this view of the miraculous. The power by which you were able to act was attributed to Satan. Rejection comes in many forms but in its essence it remains the same. It is to turn my back to the truth even when the miraculous is right in front of me.

Lord Jesus--give me the eyes to see the activity of Your Grace that will surround me in this coming day just dawned so full of snow, light and possibility.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Notes to the Lord

Scripture Reflections: Matthew 9:18-26

18While he was saying this, a ruler came and knelt before him and said, "My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live." 19Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.

Lord Jesus—As I write this I can not help of think of my daughter and my daughter’s daughter for that matter. I think of the moments of grace and of laughter that have surrounded my children. The dinners and lunches, trips down the snow covered hills at Crandall Park. I can understand how this man must have felt: empty, needy, and at wits end. I wonder if in his mind he had a picture frozen in time of his little one...laughing.

This man who approached you was a person who knew how things worked in his world. He was a leader and person with responsibilities and power. He was a person who was used to telling other people what to do, and here he is coming to you asking for your help. He little one lay dead and this ruler knew one thing Jesus could fix this broken situation.

20Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21She said to herself, "If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed."

Right when this ruler had got your attention and focus, there is an interruption. It must have been maddening to have made this connection only to see the focus shift to this woman. This woman, who was unclean because of her issues, had to get in the way. I wonder if this ruler looked down on this woman. I wonder if he would have even noticed her on a normal day.

Remind me Lord, there are no interruptions. Or maybe it is better put that all interruptions are there for a reason.

What are the stories that I tell myself Lord, about your work in my life? The hem of your cloak was not something that had any power or glory in it…it was probably dusty and road worn. But for this woman it was a tangible that she could put her faith in. It was something to aim for. She may had thought “Maybe someone like me can’t get his attention but I can touch the hem of his cloak.”

22Jesus turned and saw her. "Take heart, daughter," he said, "your faith has healed you." And the woman was healed from that moment.

23When Jesus entered the ruler's house and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd, 24he said, "Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep." But they laughed at him. 25After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. 26News of this spread through all that region.

Lord Jesus—You bring new life where ever you are. I pray that you will bring new life into my walk with you today. Remind me of the adventure of a hope that brings new life where there is only mourning and restoration where there is only loss.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Notes to the Lord: New Wine

Scripture Reflections Matthew 9:16-17
16"No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse.

Lord Jesus—You brought new content to the old form of the covenant that the Father has established with humanity. You don’t want to patch me up and move me on. You wanted to bring something totally different. You gave yourself for me.

17Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved."

Lord Jesus—The new wine of the gospel of grace continues to amaze me. It has nothing to do with what I can do, but only about what you did for me on the cross. You call to me to change and flex with Your work within me. You call me to allowing the gospel to stretch me and to flex with your leading along the way.

Continue your work with me Lord Jesus.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Notes to the Lord

Scripture Reflection Matthew 9:14-15
14Then John's disciples came and asked him, "How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?"

Lord Jesus—By this time, there was already a shift that was going on in the public perception. John the Baptist’s mission was drawing to a close. He had done his job of pointing the people to you. Your public ministry had shifted into high gear and there were questions.

15Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them?

Lord Jesus--I love the analogy of You being the bridegroom and the church being the bride. Here the picture changes a bit: it is the before picture. It is just before the wedding and the friends of the bridegroom are gathered around. It is a time of celebration…a time of looking backward at where this friend has come from…and a time of looking forward to a new life established.

This time with Your disciples was a pivotal time. It was a time not of fasting but of feasting. They were drinking in every word, and every phrase. In the future the disciples would look back to this time and long to have it this simple again.

The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.

Lord Jesus--This was a reference to your death. There would come a time when these same men would fast for and pray for direction in the middle of confusing and difficult times. They would long for the days when communication was concrete and with less ambiguity.

There are times when I need communication that is concrete and direct without ambiguity. There is still the ability to connect with you Lord in fasting. It is not easy but helpful for clarity in those time when ambiguity is all around.

Lord Jesus in this day that is dawning around me…lead me in your ways. Help me to lean on and to listen to your call today.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Notes to the Lord

Scripture Reflection Matthew 9:9-13
9As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

Lord Jesus--I wonder how Matthew ended up as a tax-collector. I will bet that in the beginning it seemed like another one of those “good ideas.” “I like numbers, I am accurate and precise, I have a good work ethic and I am a good negotiator.” All that and more might have been going through Matthew mind. After all he had been passed up by every rabbi for training beyond the basics…why not?

Then You called him. What did You see in him…the good work ethic, precision and accuracy? Did you see the heart open to God even though he had earned the disrespect of his fellow countrymen for being a sell out to the Roman’s? Whatever You saw, You called him to a new venture or maybe better an adventure of a life time.

10While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"

Lord Jesus--Questions by the Pharisees, I wonder why they cared. Were they the review committee for the local ministerial organization for Rabbis? Miracles tend to create a stir, it must have been very disconcerting for them not to have input into the most exciting thing that had happened spiritually in a long time. After all, their lives, they thought, were committed to the spiritual quest.

So where does that put me? Are there times when I just don’t get it too? When even though I see the miracles I don’t understand them and can’t seem to connect the dots. The scary thing is that these men who mounted strong opposition to Your ministry were convinced that they were the defenders of the faith. At Your death they saw it as a victory of right, apple pie and all that is good. Lord Jesus guard my heart against legalism that becomes self righteous instead of claiming a righteousness that only comes from You.

12On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Lord Jesus—You quote Hosea who preached against the practice of worship devoid of any heart felt connection to You. You are not interested in ritual you want the reality of my life. Not moments in a stain-glassed worship center, but my life all the time every moment shared with You. That was what you were looking for in Matthew, that was why Matthew left his money to follow You. You offered change not built on hope, but on the evidence of changed lives…miracles that happened all around You. Miracles that continue to happen whenever You are around.

So Matthew left his table and followed You. Teach me all that it means to follow You daily in the quest for Your will lived out in Saratoga. Lord Jesus continue your work of making miracles happen.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Notes to the Lord:The Faith of Friends

Scripture Reflections:Matthew 9:1-7
1Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. 2Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven."

Lord Jesus--The connection between the internal issue of sin and the external experience of health, wealth or whatever I consider “blessings” is one that I can get so mixed up at times. In watching the healings that You performed, there were times when You clearly make the connection between sin and the external condition of the person who is seeking healing.

I suspect that there is no ambiguity on the part of the person, their condition is clear to them. It remains unclear from the outside looking in, and there is comfort in that. The dirty laundry was not hung out for all to see and for this paralytic to cringe at in an embarrassed silence.

The reality is life takes its toll physically, silly decisions that appear at the time to be good ideas result in lost sleep, hard work and stomach upset. What was the apparent “good idea” that got this man paralyzed and on that mat? Was it an attempt to impress his friends? I will never know, but I am sure I have had some of those same kind of “good ideas.”

3At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, "This fellow is blaspheming!"

This private interchange was over heard by those who jealously guarded the public good. They are right if anyone else had said this it would have been blasphemy. But for Messiah it was Your duty.

Isaiah 53:4
4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.

Taking on our infirmities cost You Lord Jesus. The shadow of the cross reached down to this man on a mat brought by his friends to the master to be healed.

It is revealing of the quality of this paralyzed man’s friends. You saw their faith—the faith of this paralized man's friends …that You could bring restoration to this crumpled and maimed body of their friend.

4Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, "Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? 6But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...."

There was validation of Your identity in the healing of our infirmities. There was the call to discipleship and the acceptance forgiveness of sins. I wonder if there wasn’t a sense of conviction and guilt in the hearts of these teachers of the law as they thought of their own sin and their own need. Where were the places in their own hearts, minds and actions that needed the healing hands of the Son of God?

Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home." 7And the man got up and went home. 8When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.

Lord Jesus--It is ironic and sad that the freedom of a paralytic from his bed of pain brought you one step closer to the cross. Where are the places where my legalism and judgmentalism limits Your work Lord Jesus? Who are the people that I need to have more faith in and pray for that You can bring about change in their lives.
Help me to be the kind of friend that this man had as they brought him to You.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Notes to the Lord: Satan Is Too Close For Comfort

Matthew 8:28-34

28When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. 29"What do you want with us, Son of God?" they shouted. "Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?"

Lord Jesus--Even the evil spirits know that there will come a time when evil will come to be locked down and judged. These men had lost themselves in the evil that they had allow entrance into their lives. Of all of the healings that You did Lord Jesus during your ministry, in the 21st century we are most uncomfortable with this theme. We like to think that we are in control of our lives, and that nothing even our dalliances with sin could ever get beyond our ability to manage and control.

Interesting that violence focused both inward and outward were the reoccurring signs of the fact that evil had gotten out of control and the person was lost in the mix. In this time I live in, violence is a packaged product for mass consumption, it is used as entertainment. I wonder is there a connection? Desensitization toward violence is never good.

Control was a theme that these demons obsessed about. They had gained control of these men wanted more control. They did not want anyone to pass by the tombs that they lived in…somehow sad. Seems like a strategy of sorts…”Let’s control these two and then we will take the road…and eventually we will rule the world!" That might have been the idea, I wonder how much demons strategize.

30Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31The demons begged Jesus, "If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs." 32He said to them, "Go!" So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water.

Lord Jesus—There is no power of evil or of Satan that You can not drive out and that You are not able to send back to hell where it belongs. You are able to work in the situations where evil has had a stronghold for years. There are strongholds of evil that need to fall that surround my little world Lord Jesus…places where darkness has been in control for far too long. Work with power and grace Lord Jesus.

33Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men.34Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.

Lord Jesus--The dominating thought that just will not let me go is that these people from town were more concerned about their pigs that these released prisoners who You had opened the door for them of their oppression.

Is that the way I am sometimes, Lord Jesus? Am I so concerned about my stuff, that I loose track of what is really important? People, two misirable mad men on the edge of the sea of Galilee are examples of why you left heaven.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Notes to the Lord: During the storm

Scripture Reflections Matthew 8:23-27

23Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.

Lord Jesus--Storms are a part of the world that surrounds me. There are so many storms that rage in this life right now…a war in a far off land, economic upheaval, earthquakes and need. I wonder what the thoughts and the feelings of the disciples were as they saw you sleeping with the storm rising. There were so few times when you were able to rest undisturbed in this life. So many people tugging at your sleeve and your heart, so many things that needed to be done…always another person in need of healing.

At first I am sure that these experienced fishermen at home in the lake were certain of their abilities and the situation. “We can handle this. The master is tired, let him rest”—must have gone through their minds. And then the waves got bigger and the wind got more intense and they began to take on water. I wonder if they were praying as they bailed out the water. Were they raising a prayer to the Father as they worked the oars and adjusted the sail? Maybe snippets of the prayer that You taught them was on their lips as they feverishly worked at the situation--”Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…even on this lake in the middle of this storm.”

25The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!"

Lord Jesus-- The disciples delayed and labored request of you, it sounds like some of my prayers in the middle of the storm. “Get me out of this. Save me I am going down for the last time.” You are sovereign, all powerful, all knowing and know the words of power and grace to speak which will bring calm into my little world. It is the why and the when of the storms that cause me to wonder? Why now? Why here?

But those are not even the right questions to be asking…I need to learn to ask what…what is it that I can take out of this storm that you seek to show me and want me to integrate into my life. You have so often used storms in my life to teach me Lord…about your power to save…about your grace to meet the need…about hope in the middle of darkness…about light where I would never expect it to shine again.

26He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

A simple question and yet it is profound. Would the Lord of the universe die on a lake in the middle of nowhere because of a little wind and waves? If this were the place they were going to die, why fear? The same Lord that got into the boat with them would be with them right to the gates of heaven.

So why do I fear? I fear because sometimes I wonder if I can run the race…keep the faith in the middle of the waves that seem so much bigger than I am. Emmanuel is with me where ever I am, and he is at work. I may not know it…I may wonder at how the situation will eventuate but I am not in the waves alone.

27The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!"

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Nesting and Your Call

Scripture Reflection:Holes and Nests
18When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 19Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go."
20Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

Lord Jesus-- In the journey to follow you there are no guarantees. It is a journey in a far country. Why do I want to make myself at home in a place that is just a hotel room at best? Your call is to a life that is focused on obedience not nesting. So what does this imply about the things that You bring into my life and the successes that come along the way? That they should be held lightly? Things are not the point.

Teach me your way of traveling light in a world that focuses on consumerism and waste. The person with the most toys at the end of the game only ends up with a lot of things that end up in the recycling bind when they are gone

21Another disciple said to him, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."
22But Jesus told him, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead."

It is not certain if this person’s father was even dead yet. The real question is what comes first family loyalty or Your call on my life. Your call on my life is to follow you in obedience. Traveling light is following You where ever the next step leads.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Wholeness from Your Holiness

Scripture Reflection:Matthew 8:14-17

4When Jesus came into Peter's house, he saw Peter's mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.

Lord Jesus—It was a fever caused by who knows what. Was it malaria? Was it the flu? Maybe it was a pandemic that there is no record of…I suspect that the Roman health department did not intervene. So much of the way I think is based on cause and effect. But here you are the effect…You were the reason for Peter’s mother-in-law’s return to health.

Lord Jesus--Be at work in an effect producing way in my life in this day. Help me to remember in the mix of the day that you are at work and miracles happen as the conditions of obedience and faith are lived out.

16When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: "He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases."

Lord Jesus--You became a part of the hurts of this world, it’s pain touched you and you interacted with it. You were impacted by our infirmities and disease in a way that you could only have experienced by becoming one of us.

Sounds familiar… Philippians 2:5-8
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!

Lord Jesus--Your example humbles me and calls to me…ultimately the cross was the answer for all my hurts. Because of your sacrifice I can be whole...not just without disease...but really whole.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Κύριος Notes: A Warrior's Kind of Faith

Scripture Reflections: Matthew 8:5-13
5When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6"Lord," he said, "my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering."

Lord Jesus--This Roman soldier saw the pain of his servant…his friend…there must have been a close connection. The soldier was far from home, was this servant someone who he had with him since home? Had he grown up with the person a part of the woodwork?

At some point there had developed a caring relationship with this servant. This man battle scarred from his job still saw the pain of his slave who had somehow come out of the woodwork of his world to become a person. This fighter could see the pain of his friend and want to fix it. If this warrior could still see pain and had not developed calluses on his soul…Lord don’t let me overlook the pain of those that surround me.

7Jesus said to him, "I will go and heal him."

Lord Jesus--Your willingness to heal this servant of the overlords of the land of promise stretches my soul. Did you see the care in eyes of this warrior who had seen so much pain…who had caused so much pain? Did you see that in the middle of a life that could have killed his soul, this man still could feel…still could reach out and …still could want to bring healing to this person who cooked his meals and cleaned his house.

8The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."

Lord Jesus--This man whose name has been forgotten in the mists of time, may have had more faith than I will ever have. He waited for your word and it was all that he needed. If you said it he believed it.

10When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
13Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go! It will be done just as you believed it would." And his servant was healed at that very hour.

Lord Jesus—Your people, your disciples, the people of promise did not have the kind of faith that this soldier had. Where did he learn this kind of trust? Teach me the kind of faith that knows that if You say it, then it must be true. Teach me the kind of faith that has ears to hear Your call and then follow no matter where You lead.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Κύριος Notes:Change in a Moment

Scripture Reflection: Matthew 8
1When he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."

Lord Jesus—In the middle of the mix, how often do I ask for your healing hands to come to the point of my need? Here the simplicity of this needy man’s request impresses itself on my soul. He had heard of You Lord…maybe some of his friends had already been healed. The news of hope must have spread like wild fire among his needy community.

He knew that You had the ability to met his need. In one touch, in a moment the struggle of his life, the defining part of who the world saw him as… could be changed. His disease defined him, it constrained him, it formed his struggle to survive…and even with the isolation that leprosy brought him, he had not given up hope.

3Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately he was cured of his leprosy. 4Then Jesus said to him, "See that you don't tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."

Lord Jesus—You were willing to meet this man’s need. You continue to meet needs today. Lord Jesus at your command life can change in a moment at the very places where we have struggled and made vain attempts at change. This man needed the words of healing spoken in love to the point of his need. You continue to speak the words of power and grace. With the same voice that spoke creation into existence you spoke the words of power to this man's need.

This man wanted change in his life and he was not afraid to hope or ask even when it seemed as if his life was all over. He had lost family, friends and position to the ravages of a disease that kills in degrees. Yet he still went looking for help, when he heard that You were preaching on that mountain he headed straight for You. I want to always head straight for You Lord.

Lord Jesus--Teach me the kind of hope that does not give up but depends on your healing touch and your words of power.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Κύριος Notes:Wise Building

Scripture Reflections Matthew 7:24-27

24"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

Lord Jesus—You ask me to more than hear the sound waves and read your words but to practice them…to work out the implications of Your words over a life span within the context of an ever changing back drop.

Practice reminds me of playing music and going over the same song again and again until the sound and the fingering is not so much learned as intuited and a part of me. Practice your words within a world that can be distracting at best and an enemy of faith at worst. Practice your words even when I get the melody wrong from time to time and just can’t seem to get in sync with the rhythm of your life song for my life. Practice your words even when it sounds like a cacophony to my untrained ear the song you would have me play. Practice because you are the Word made flesh and you know my fame.

Foundation and integration is something more than an add on, I need to make Your words so a part of my life that streams rise and winds blow and storms beat, but there is resilience and safety within the confines created by faith.

26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

There is a price to not practicing Lord Jesus that I do not want to pay. A price that is to high to pay…destruction.

Lord Jesus--Help me in these days of my life that fly past with increasing speed to build well on your words and to practice with diligence the building blocks of faith. You have the plan, you are at work my part is to keep to the work and to listen. I have to practice the song that you continue to teach me

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Κύριος Notes:Obedience Lived Out in the Everyday

Scripture Reflection:Matthew 7:21-23
21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Jesus--Saying is not doing. Talking is not walking. Obedience isn’t just lip service to the reality of Your call on my life. There is the need to listen and to obey.

22Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

Here is a spot that is not easy to hear…even in the doing is it possible to get it so wrong that separation from You Lord Jesus is the only option. There will be those who have performed miracles and have had success in telling evil where to go, and yet lose the battle for their own soul. I am thinking of Judas who was a part of the twelve, participated in healings and in being sent out to do miracles and yet lost his soul.

Great deeds can be done and I can still lose my soul in the process. There is the need for daily diligence in the things of God…building the principles of the kingdom in my life. Hearing and doing have to go hand in hand. It is not something that is lived out in a big splash, but in a life given over to you one day at a time, an action at a time…offerings laid on the altar one at a time.

Lord Jesus help me build well the life of faith that you have called me to.

Κύριος Notes: Fruit? Really?

Scripture Reflection: Matthew 7:15-20
15"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

Lord Jesus—When You were saying this there were many who were preaching and teaching and seeking to gain a following among the people for their own ends. They wanted to create a revolt, develop a following and their reasons were their own.

A few years in the future when you said these words people would revolt against Rome. Masada stands as a mute testimony to the hopes of a people oppressed and who looked to leaders who ultimately lead then to ruin.

16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.

Leadership over time results in fruit: either good or bad…either well formed and usable, or a bitter harvest. I look for the harvest Lord Jesus…people who are changed by the work of your Spirit in their lives. Fruits like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self control.

18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Lord Jesus—There is an organic nature to the growth of your Kingdom. It is not by accident, but almost a genetic quality. A tree produces fruit of its kind…oranges from orange trees, apples from apple trees, grape from grape vines. Nothing radical about that, except that you are seeking to transform people…seeking to see fruit from trees that could never have produced them without your intervention.

Lord, you call for change again and again in my life…transformation from what is…to what you would have me become by your grace. Fruit comes from fruit trees, and the miracle of your grace is that you can bring about change in kind not just change in degree.

That was what you meant when you talked to Nic at night …

John 3
5Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.'

A change in genetics can occur. This transformation leads to a change of outcomes: a change from thistles to figs. Amazing. That change in outcomes is what I can expect because of Your death and resurrection working within me.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Κύριος Notes:A Gate To Grace

Scripture Reflection: Matthew 7:13-14

Lord Jesus—What did you mean by narrow gates and entrance into life? Apply your word to my heart today in these few moments of reflection.

13"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

The narrow gate opens from the starting point of fulfillment of the love as I experience the Father’s care which prepares me to be able to live out reciprocity with those who surround me.
John 14:6
6Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

You are the door. That exclusivity is something that many struggle to accept. I don’t understand all that it means, but I understand enough to be thankful for grace experienced. Scandalous grace, that You should save a person like me…that you should continue Your ongoing work in my life…leaves me speechless and amazed.
Lord Jesus this grace is nothing that I can take pride in. It is not anything other than your work from beginning to end...then pointing people to the gate becomes only a gesture of hand and life in the direction of your grace received.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Κύριος Notes: Golden Thankfulness

Scripture Reflection: Matthew 7: 9-12

9"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Lord Jesus—The Father gives good gifts. I am thinking about the blessings that are a part of my life. So much more than bread and fish…Lord Jesus thank you this warm house…this sense of your leading and your provision for all my needs.

12So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Blessings received at the Father’s hands, have implications for the way that I treat those I come in contact with. Not based on trying to get even, but rather on what we have been given by the Father and how that should inform that way we respond to those around us. My interactions should be reciprocal because of the blessings received at the Father’s hand not because I can expect reciprocity from everyone I meet. There are times when life is practicing random acts of kindness. The summing up the law and the prophets to the golden rule only makes sense within the context of thankfulness.

I am thankful for Your grace Lord Jesus may my thankfulness inform this day and everything that I do.