Monday, August 30, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Things that Should Impress

Scripture Reflections: Matthew 24

1Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. 2And He said to them, "Do
you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down."

Lord Jesus--The temple was impressive to the disciples. What was it that impressed them I wonder...was it the impressive workmanship? Was it the history the foundations of which reminded them of the past glories of their people. In the middle of this history and maybe even patriotism that your disciples were feeling you bring in the reality of the coming storm.

What are the things that impress me?

Lord Jesus--Remind me that the past is not enough...religious relics are not enough, you want to be a present reality. There is a future that is coming which will change old balances and call into question the assumptions that have endured for generations.

3As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?"

Lord Jesus--These men who had lived with you for three years didn't have all the pieces put together. They were living through the time of the pieces of unfolding revelation being put into place. But in the middle of it all there appears to be the understanding that you would have to go away...that this coming was not the end of the age.

Never noticed that before...I wonder where they thought that you would be going? If these men who had watched you for three years didn't get the picture...I guess that I can expect the picture will be unclear to me at times to.

4And Jesus answered and said to them, "See to it that no one misleads you. 5"For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many.

Lord Jesus--These are times when many are mislead, where truth and error is mingled so much of the time. You told us that there would be those who would come and make claims to be you. Help me to have a discerning spirit and to hear your call in the middle of all the voices of my cluttered culture and time.

6"You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.

Lord Jesus--I am safe within your care no matter what age I am living in. These are times which could very well be the end of all things and be the building crescendo that will bring about your return. These times could also just be the end of the things that I have known.

It seems clear to all thinking people that the world that we live in is fundamentally not sustainable. There is fear on every side, everyone wanting to hang on to the things that they had gotten.

Let me be content with what you had given me and the time that you had given me to live in. Help me to follow you through these days.
The simple fact that you can lead in the middle of these days of change and transition is something to hold on to. You will continue to keep your people safe and unafraid. This simple fact should be what impresses your people...not buildings, either of the past or the present.

The temple crashed to the ground to the trample of steel shod Roman sandals and yet your people were kept safe. I am certain that you can do the same in my age as I watch the transition of many institutions that have been thought to be just as enduring as the temple was then.

Lord Jesus--Help me to faithful to your call live as you would have me to live in this day that will dawn in just a few moments.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Live it Don't Just Say It

Scripture Reflections:Matthew 23

1Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2"The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. 3So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.

Lord Jesus--An essential for teachers in the kingdom is that they practice what they preach. There must be a connection between what is said and life as it is lived out. Any disconnection must be repaired. The ability to have a continuity between thought, word and action is the essence of the message of grace. Grace can so become a part of my life that the message is not so much taught as lived out.

4They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. 5"Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long;

Lord Jesus--Let me always carry the load that I am talking about. Don't let me just tell people but help me to show people the message in flesh lived out before them. It should not be about how things appear, it should be about how things are. Teach me the way of internalizing your grace and mercy in ways that don't need to be seen because they can be experienced.

6they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them 'Rabbi.' 8"But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ. 11The greatest among you will be your servant. 12For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Lord Jesus--They way of the grace is a way that is counter-intuitive. You call me to something more that externals and the trappings of leadership. You call me to real, honest and lasting leadership that is not about, but something deeper than perception...or even the roles that people are put in. Greatness in the kingdom is based on humility and servant leadership.

13"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

Lord Jesus--Let me always be someone who is keeping the door open. Finding ways to not close the door but instead keep the Kingdom door open in as many ways as I can think of.

Lord Jesus--In this day let me be a person of grace and authenticity.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Notes to the Lord: Looking at the Key and not Knowing it

Scripture Reflections:Matthew 22

41While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42"What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?" "The son of David," they replied.

Lord Jesus--You were walking these men right up to the essential question that they needed to answer.

These men may have been thinking that it was possible that you were the Christ. Yet, they were rejecting the possibility by the way that they were framing their questions. You took the risk to ask them who they thought the Christ would be.

Whose son would the Christ be...son of David... son of Joseph...son of God? I am sure that they had made their investigations of your life and history Lord Jesus. They had heard the stories of a birth that was "premature" at the very least and the questions of your birth.

So whose son the Christ might have been playing in the back of their minds. As they saw the people healed...the blind seeing and the lame walking again, it may have come back to their thoughts like waves of questions. Who is this guy and how does he do this?

43He said to them, "How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him 'Lord'? For he says, 44" 'The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet." ' 45If then David calls him 'Lord,' how can he be his son?"

This passage comes out of Psalm 110. I wonder if these men, who clearly are trying to identify who you are in the scope of God's revelation, were reading this psalm as referring to the messiah. Did they remember the rest of the Psalm...were their lips moving to the remembered words even as you were talking? Did they remember the priest, king and judge that it describes?

46No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Up Close and Personal:
I have dropped my keys before...I have missed the key that would unlock the door right in front of me. A thousand times if not once....I have been in the place these men who were questioning You found themselves.

I dare not room to talk about them. My prayer today is to be able to see the essentials that you are teaching me right now and not miss the theme that you are working to drive home in my heart right now.

What is that theme? That you are Lord of all the pieces that make up my life...that you are in control...that you will lead, guide and control the events and stream of this life that you have pushed me into. I just need to keep swimming.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Simple Commands

Scripture Reflection: Matthew 22

34Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:

Lord Jesus--Even when these legal experts were testing you to trap still use the opportunity to teach them if they were willing to hear.

36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38This is the first and greatest commandment.

Lord Jesus--This was the beginning of the Shema...the prayer that may have been the first prayer that a young child would learn in synagogue. You brought these ques
tioners back to the very simple things of God. The most important is many times what is learned at the beginning. Lord Jesus--You call me to love God will all that I am...emotions and thought life.

39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Lord Jesus--The law is summed up in the simple command to love you and to love others as much as I love myself. It is so simple and yet in it's simplicity it calls for the best from within me.

In this day Lord Jesus help me to show love as you would and to let go of everything else. Keep it simple for me today Lord Jesus.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Notes to the Lord: On Weddings and Paying Attention To The Call

Scripture Reflections:Matthew 22

1Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2"The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
4"Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.'

Lord Jesus--The preparations are made and the invitations have been sent...even a second invitation was sent. There were those who just couldn't hear the message...not sure why...maybe it was the things that occupied their minds, maybe it was rebellion. The reality is the invitation is not heeded. That was true of many to whom you were working with everyday.

My context is different, but can I expect anything different? Some will listen and many wouldn't...but that does not change the call or the mission.

5"But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

Lord Jesus--There is a cost to not paying attention to your call in my life and in the lives to whom I seek to see come to you.

This city...Saratoga is a city with such a history. It is rich in victories and defeats of the past. This place was the turning point in fight for Independence all those years ago. This morning I pray for this city that a place where history was made might find renewal in your grace.

May this city see a movement of God. Lord Jesus me and those who are like minded...may we see lives changed by the power of your Holy Spirit alive and active in hearts and minds.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Grace and Stones

Scripture Reflection:Matthew 21

42Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: " 'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?

Lord Jesus--You have become the capstone...the center piece of the salvation history. You were rejected and became savior to all. This is a marvleous thing...the offer of unmerited mercy, grace that was unlooked for and a surprise. It was your choice, from begining to end.

43"Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed."

Lord Jesus--It is all about fruit and results of a life lived out in grace. Those who experience grace do not own it. The best that we do is live within the house of grace and to be blessed by it. Lord, I do not control it...or manage its impacts on my life. Grace controls me.

45When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus' parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.

Up Close and Personal--Lord Jesus I can choose my response to grace, but I can not control its impacts on my life. You will change me in this process as I continue to say "yes" to the Spirit's call. I can choose to be changed or walk away, that is the only choice. Things will never stay the same. The more that I try to make them stay the same, the more the flow of Your grace will push me on. The challenge is to follow you through a life time of changes and to have grace grow in this twisted and sometimes controling heart of mine.

Lord Jesus continue your work.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Vineyards and Ownership

Scripture Reflection: Matthew 21

33"Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and
built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. 34When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.

Lord Jesus-Remind me that this is your vineyard not mine. I am just a sharecropper, at best a tenant. The produce is yours I am just a care-taker of what you have given me.
35"The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37Last of all, he sent his son to them. 'They will respect my son,' he said.
38"But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him and take his inheritance.' 39So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

Lord Jesus--There have been times in my life when I was in rebellion and didn't even know it. Yet, the
re was grace given and mercy extended. Thank you for your work in my life. The job is not done...that is certain.
40"Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?"41"He will bring those wretches to a wretched end," they replied, "and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time."
Lord Jesus--This was aimed at the chief priests and the Pharisees, but it could apply to anyone who knows your will and does not follow it. Rejection and rebellion comes in many forms some ancient, and some modern in its dress.

Up close and personal:There is freedom in resting in you being the owner of this vineyard of life that you have placed me in. I don't have to worry about outcomes, you are the one who sends the rain on the just, the unjust and on your vineyard. You have set the boundaries and all I have to do is avoid the guardrails and I will be blessed by what you have already accomplished. In the middle of it all, you are the Lord, and will soon return to make all things right.

Lord Jesus--Work in this tenant farmer heart, mind and action life to see accomplished what needs to be in this coming day. I rest in your grace.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Let's say no and then go anyway...

Matthew 21
28"What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.'29" 'I will not,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.30"Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, 'I will, sir,' but he did not go.

Lord Jesus--It is not about saying the right is about doing the will of the Father. Words are just words until they are connected with heart felt action and obedience. There is power in words and promises of obedience, but when commitment and obedience are connected lives change.

31"Which of the two did what his father wanted?" "The first," they answered. Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

Lord Jesus--John's movement of repentance and revival, changed the lives of those who felt as if they were beyond saving. They were the ones that the religious elite would only see as pawns in their game with you. Tax collectors with nagging guilt, and ladies of the evening with hearts that hurt them were finding their way to you. The "way of righteousness" was you. In fact you called yourself " the way, the truth and the life...and John pointed you out.

I wonder if some of the scribes and the leaders at the temple wondered why John was having such success in turning people's lives around? I wonder if they looked at the lives changed and just dreamed, wondered and pondered could that happen in our work? What is missing? Why don't we see lives changed?

Lord Jesus--Don't let me be one of the ones that says they will but then doesn' in these times so that lives are changed because people have seen you for who you are...The Way, The Truth, and All there is worth worrying about in life.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Notes to the Lord:On Authority and Quesstions

Scripture Reflections: Matthew 21

23Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. "By what authority are you doing these things?" they asked. "And who gave you this authority?"

Lord Jesus--It is mind boggling that these men who could not heal the blind, could not make the lame walk, could at the same time question your authority. In the middle of a movement of God authority is not the issue, being changed is. I wonder what would have happened if these same leaders had asked you to change their hearts?

You are still changing lives, changing hearts, and minds and bodies that don't work right. Lord Jesus--work as you see fit in this group at LSCC. Have your way, no questions asked.

24Jesus replied, "I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25John's baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?" They discussed it among themselves and said, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will ask, 'Then why didn't you believe him?' 26But if we say, 'From men'—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet."27So they answered Jesus, "We don't know."

Lord Jesus--Interesting..response by these leaders...they did not stop to discuss what they thought the real answer was. Was John a man of God was he lead by God and did God use the method of baptism to change lives. That was the question that You were asking...but they only thing that they considered was the political ramification of their answer but not the truth.

Then he said, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

Lord Jesus--In this day work as you see fit in my heart and life without question.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Notes to the Lord:On Fig Trees and Mountains

Scripture Reflections:Matthew 21
18Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" Immediately the tree withered.

Lord Jesus-- When you were looking for something to eat, leaves were not enough. Lush foliage does not fill an empty stomach. There are times when your church is just like this fig tree, and there times when I am just like this fig tree. We are lookin
g good but just don't have the goods. Having the goods, really requires, obedience to the direction of the Lord, process, and timing. Help me Lord not to just be lush foliage.

20When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. "How did the fig tree wither so quickly?" they asked.

21Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. 22If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."

The disciples wanted to know: how. How did the fig tree wither right before our eyes? But the question was really who. If they only put their faith in you: faith that fig trees and mountains yield to your call. Then, nothing would be impossible.

Lord Jesus
--Teach me who and not how. You are the One who speaks and mountains, fig trees and anything else that I face will yield.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Notes to the Lord:Collateral Damage

Scripture Reflection:Matthew 21

14The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them.15But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they were indignant.16"Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked him.

Lord Jesus--Healing was an essential part of your ministry . It was a validation of the work of God within you. As I write this Lord Jesus I am seeking clarity. I am stinging from a loss that I didn't see coming and really don't understand. As I look at this pasage, I see that there were results that happened in your ministry that just happened. The healing of the blind and lame in the house of the Lord should have been a matter of praise and was to the children that surrounded you.
"Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read, " 'From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise'?"17And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

Lord Jesus-- Praise would come from those who were able to see for the first time...they did not filter the outcomes of your work in the temple. Praise praise that the Father sent as affirmation and blessing in the middle of conflict.

The very people who should have rejoiced and kicked up their heels in their sanctified dancing shoes only had questions even as the lame danced for the first time in the temple courts for the first time right in front of them.

Lord Jesus--Help me to see you at work and be a part of those who praise the work that you are me to be like these children who just saw you work and jumped for joy.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Notes to the Lord:A Holy House Cleaning

Scripture Reflection:Matthew 21

12Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13"It is written," he said to them, " 'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it a 'den of robbers.'"

Lord Jesus-The money changers and the people buying and selling were supplying what was needed for worship. So what was the big deal? It was the location...the part of the temple that they were using was specifically set aside for the gentiles. It was a place where everyone could worship you, without having to be the right race, the right history, or the right family tree. It was a place overlooked as really a part of the temple, it was the outer court yard.

You were speaking up for people like me...people who were not a part of the promise. How could people who were on the outside ever hope to get in without a place?

So you clean them all out and turn over the tables and sent the coins rolling down the stone hallways with the greedy little cheats scampering after them.

Lord Jesus this wall in Jerusalem is all that is left of the temple ...the place you cleansed that day before your death. You took the risk to make the statement that all should have a place to worship. This act was one of the incidents that brought the cross closer. Yet you went ahead and did it anyway

Lord Jesus remind me again what worship is all isn’t anything other than grace, mercy and hope that ignites in me the desire to worship you. Anything less is not worthy of your house.