Thursday, September 30, 2010
1When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2"As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified."
Lord Jesus--You went into Jerusalem knowing what would be the outcome. You knew and you went anyway, even though the ragtag group of disciples heard what you said. It is clear that they did not get it. I wonder how much of what you are trying to tell me and teach me I am missing...I just don't get the point until it is long after the time that it would be helpful.
Every higher education experience I have ever been involved with that is the way it went. I heard the information and yet could not really integrate it until much later. The disciples had about as higher an educational experience as they could get and yet they didn't get it.
3Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him. 5"But not during the Feast," they said, "or there may be a riot among the people."
Lord Jesus--The religious elite wanted you gone...they may have disguised what they were doing to others and even to themselves. They may have thought that a riot might occur. But the real reason was the threat that you presented to their vested interests. You did not fit into their nice neat world.
It would be easy to sit in judgment of these men who lived and were trying to lead a people in an occupied country. They were trying to preserve what could be saved of their culture and their religion.
The reality is they were faced with hard choices, and they choose to listen to the wrong voices. They choose fear instead of faith. They choose the past instead of the future that You were calling them to. How often do I make the same choice. I choose fear instead of faith...I choose the safety of the past instead of the hope of what you can do in the future.
In the day that will start in a couple of hours...help me to choose to follow where you lead me.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
41"Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;
Lord Jesus--I would prefer to hear about the blessings but I can not avoid the call of your Holy Spirit. You remind me of acceptance based on your sacrifice. But there is also accountability. I would like to avoid the accountability part.
You remind me of the cost of denial of the needs that surround me. Lord Jesus, I am aware that I live in a cluttered culture where things are valued more than people...where the needs of the many are so often over looked for the needs of the entitled few. You remind me that revival of Your Spirit will lead not to a political power base but to a revived sense of what is most important.
I need to be living out your call to meet real needs of real people with grace and accountability. I am accountable for the grace I have received. Except for your grace received I could be a displaced person living in some foreign border town.
If I could pick a place that I would want to live it would be on the corner of Mercy and Hope Streets. I am sure that on that street corner I could see you, Jesus. You would walk by and I would see you in the limp of that veteran with just a touch of post-traumatic stress...I would be able to see you in that single mom with the little one that was tagging along behind her. Let me live at the corner of Hope and Mercy Streets.
42for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.'
Lord Jesus--When I am blind to the needs of those that surround me, I am also unable to see you. That is the piece that I miss so much of the time...If I look for you I will find you not in the fine dining places on Broadway, but in the hunger of those who do not have enough to eat. I will find you in the soup kitchen.
I will find you in the places I would least expect... prisons and hospitals and second hand clothes closest for the poor. It is when there is need that there is an openness to change. Lord Jesus help these eyes see the needs and in a way that sees need as an opportunity for grace to be received.
44"Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?' 45"Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' 46"These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
Lord Jesus--In the day that is coming in just a couple of hours help me to see You looking out at me through the needs that surround me. Help me to not allow my own agenda to push out the needs that come in so many forms and fashions. If I look with the eyes of the grace I have received, I can see you in the least of these...people who the system would see as unimportant, or a drain on resources. I can see you in the oppressed, the imprisoned and those who need the touch of grace to their bodies, minds and souls. Those who I touch in this coming day...let me reach out with your grace.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
32"All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;
33and He will put the sheep on His right, and
the goats on the left. 34"Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
There is coming reward for the those who put faith over fear and use the resources that they have available to meet the needs of those they encounter. There is a blessing from the King that will be waiting for those who have done the will of God. In fact the preparation of the kingdom has been something that has been going on since the beginning of time.
35'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;
36naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.'
The call is to meet the needs of people. What are the needs that you are pointing me to Lord? There are the physical needs that people have...hunger, thirst, a need for clothes, sickness. There are the needs for significance and support...visits to the sick, the invitation to a stranger,those who are in prison need to be visited.
37"Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?
38'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?
39'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'
This kingdom activity of meeting real needs of real people is not something that you are calling me to do, for a reward. It should be something more intrinsic than that...something more foundational than working for a pat on the back. It is almost something that is done as a reflex without thought...out of the simple fact that a need was identified and needed to be addressed.
Jesus where are the needs to that need my attention in my community...who are the needy that you want me to reach out to? Where are the needs for significance that are unmet? Where are the physical needs that have no other place to can find help?
How do I in the middle of all the needs that surround me, maintain balance? I could either get lost in the need on the one hand or get calloused to the need on the other hand? There has to be a way to balance and sustain Kingdom work.
Johnny Wesley got it right...“Do all the good you can,By all the means you can,In all the ways you can,In all the places you can,At all the times you can,To all the people you can,As long as you can."
It is not easy to do by a long shot...and even harder to sustain over a life time. Lord Jesus, help me!
The contrast is so stark. This is one of the first things that you will say when your kingdom has come in glory and you are sitting on the throne with all of heaven and whatever is left of the earth I have known. It will be the rehearsing of the acts of mercy that were done to those who are the least that takes center stage the very first thing. Those who were touched by second hand grace...grace that had be experienced by your people and motivated them to act out of love...act with consistency over time in a difficult environment.
Up Close and Personal--The needs I can see are the only needs that can be met. Lord Jesus give me eyes to see and a heart the overflows with your love. A heart that is willing to meet the need and yet maintain balance. I can so easily miss what is right in front of my face. I am good at denial without the active intervention of your Holy Spirit at work in my life
Lord work in this coming day. Help me to see with the eyes of a faith that is lived out in the my wash and dry world. Help me to demonstrate and live out an awareness of the needs that are waiting to be met.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Lord Jesus--Fear can not be in control or I will never be what you have called me to be. Fear is what kept this person not using the resources that were available to him. Fear of lose? Fear of rejection? Fear of what could happen? Fear of judgment? Fear of failure? Fears kept this person from using what had been given into his keeping in his Master's best interest. But in the end his fear cost him everything.
The silly thing is that this slave was also a part of what the master owned...I wonder if he gave himself back to his master at the same time?
26"But his master answered and said to him, 'You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed.27'Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.
There are always ways to use what you have given. Some are visible and some are just beneath the surface of what shows. This servant could have just put the resources in a place where they were earning interest and safe. Yet he choose a hiding place for the money.
Where are the places where fear and faith keep me from using all that you have given me Lord? Help me choose faith today and everyday.
28'Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.' 29"For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.30"Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Up Close and Personal--This is the hard part. Grace given makes me accountable for the use of all that you have given me...body, mind, skills, outlook, understanding, place in life, dreams, hopes, visions. Everything comes from you and I have it only in safe keeping.
Lord Jesus--It is always a choice to pick faith over fear. I choose faith. Help me in this day that will start in just a bit to be accountable and use it as faith would have me to.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
19"Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.
Lord Jesus--You remind me that there is a time when accounts will all be brought to the One who gave it all to me in the first place. I just want to be about what you have given me to do when you return. Keep my feet moving toward your will and engaged in your work,
20"The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, 'Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.' 21"His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.'
Lord Jesus--Everything that was given back to the Master is returned as well as everything that was achieved. That really is the way that life is...it is all yours. The major step that this slave did was to take the risk of investing what he was given. I am sure that it could have gone badly. But it didn't. It really never can go badly when we invest in your kingdom's advance. The very first words that this slave heard on your return was affirmation of a job well done. "Well done" is what I am working for.
22"Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, 'Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.' 23"His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.'
Lord Jesus--This slave received less but made less and yet received the same affirmation. There was risk that this slave also took and the possibility of loss.
Up Close and Personal--Risk surrounds on every side. There is the possibility of energies being wasted and resources being dissipated. Risk is just a part of the deal, there is no way that a journey with you will be anything less than risky business from beginning to end. I don't like the risk but without the risk there could be no real possibility of experiencing the blessing of seeing you work with clarity and power.
Work Lord Jesus is a way that defies explanation in the life of your people.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
14"For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. 15"To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.
Lord Jesus--Sometimes I wonder about the way that resources are allocated. There have been times when I have thought that I was the guy with so little, but in reality as time as accumulated your blessings have also. You have entrusted much into my care. Help me as I invest in you Kingdom's work to invest wisely.
16"Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. 17"In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more.
Lord Jesus--I am sure I have a lot to learn about investing in your kingdom. Right now it really doesn't have a lot to do with money management so much as time and ability management. There are always lessons to be learned on how to do things cheaper and better...but the real growing edge right now for me is using the time and abilities that I have been given in a way that brings honor and glory to you.
18"But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.
Lord Jesus--What am I throwing into a hole and letting rot? Are there resources that are available that I am not using wisely? Don't let me be that guy who is surrounded with the evidences of grace and misses them because they are not packaged in a way that catches my eye. Lord, don't let me be a hoarder of your grace and gifts.
Up Close And Personal--The piece that always has given me trouble about this parable is the simple fact that the giving is not fair. Sometimes it just does not seem fair what I end up with...it is usually the fixer upper. Then I realize that you also gave me these two hands and a life that shaped me into a person who could do the fixing up. Where your grace calls, your hand supplies the needs no matter what that is:skills or resources...they are all from your hand. Thank you...
Lord Jesus work in every aspect of this life you have given me...that I might be your hands doing the work that you have set before me to the glory of the Father. Let every act be an offering today.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
1"Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2"Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. 3"For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps.
Lord Jesus--The lesson is on being prepared for the eventualities of life. Oil was fuel for their lamps. Some of those waiting had thought through the need to be prepared for the possibility of a delay in the arrival of the bridegroom. Some had not prepared for a delay.
5"Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. 6"But at midnight there was a shout, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' 7"Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.
Lord Jesus--The reality is the delay in your coming is much longer than anyone expected. Your people have not stayed prepared...we have made this place home when really it is just a stop in the journey. We have become too comfortable and too complacent.
8 "The foolish said to the prudent, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' 9"But the prudent answered, 'No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.'
Lord Jesus--This journey of faith is so personal. We try to make it a community activity and some of it is. But the reality is: I have to be prepared. No one else can make sure that I am ready and alert.
10"And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. 11"Later the other virgins also came, saying, 'Lord, lord, open up for us.' 12"But he answered, 'Truly I say to you, I do not know you.' 13"Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.
Lord Jesus--Both groups waited in the light. I wonder if they were laughing and carrying on in the late night hours...they were getting ready for a party. They were going to wedding party that they had been anticipating. Both groups knew that they would be waiting for awhile, neither knew how long.
The difference was in how both of these groups approached the waiting. One group was prepared, one group wasn't. In the end the difference was in timing. Both groups were ready, it was just that one group was just too late in their preparations.
Lord Jesus--Just because I am in the light right now does not mean that I am ready for the wait. Prepare me for the wait no matter how long, Lord Jesus.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
43"But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. 44"For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.
Lord Jesus--Even for your alert and serving people, it will be a divine surprise when you show up to take them home. Thieves come when the house is quiet and settled for the night. I like surprises, but I can so easily be distracted.
45"Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46"Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. 47"Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.
Up Close and Personal--Living out faithfulness over a life time is what you are asking. You know me so well, do I do it perfectly? Absolutely not...but that doesn't mean that the meals don't still need to be done. Is every meal a banquet? Not happening...
There is regularity and there are rituals of life that just have to get done...dishes that need to be washed, clothes that need to be washed...meals that need to be prepared. There are responsibilities and commitments that need to be lived out over a life time. There is blessing in living out the responsibilities you have called me to over time.
Lord Jesus--So what is it that you are asking of me? To do the hard work of follow through even when it isn't fun any more and the shine has rubbed off the job description. You have called me to be your servant throughout the stages of life until I see you.
In the day that will begin in just a couple hours remind me of the rituals that need to be lived out in the daily grind. Coffee that needs to be made, work that needs to be done well, words of encouragement that need to be said. Prayers that need to be prayed in the middle of a busy day.
Lord Jesus--Can you make each act an offering to you. Nothing grand in the coming day...just living out your call alert and ready for your return. Who knows maybe you will come back today.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
32"Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; 33so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. 34"Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.
Lord Jesus--The issue of timing runs through out this passage. This appears to be so clear a reference to time. "...this generation will not pass away until all these things take place" Which generation?The generation that You were a part of? Some have thought that...I am willing to guess that the disciples thought that was the case when they heard this teaching. From the context here it appears to be referring back to verse 15:
15"Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place.
That is a fixed event that is specific in nature that the fig tree's leaves and branch. We have not seen this take place yet. So I know what to look for...when temple sacrifice is re-started? That is what it would take for event to occur. That is the beginning of the last things.
35"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. 36"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.
Lord Jesus--You were concern that your people would know the season and when the fig tree was ready for harvest. Yet in the middle of this emphasis on timing of end things there are things that endure.
You remind me that the powers that hold this universe together may shake and seem to be falling apart but your word will not pass away. Your promises are true and stand the test of even the end times. There is no time and place where your word is not steadfast in a changing world.
37"For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 38"For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.
Lord Jesus--Your coming will be during normal times for most people. Normal things will be happening...marriages, and parties will be going on. The people of Noah's day did not sense the times in which they lived. Help me to aware of the times in which I live and be mindful of the dangers and the grace available.
40"Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41"Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.
Lord Jesus--During the normal activities of life...field work and mill work, the call will come and your people will leave to be with you. So here I am working and waiting for you to come get me, but in the mean time I will continue my field work to the best my ability.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Lord Jesus--There will come a time when the fundamentals of the sun always rising will be stopped...the moon will wink out...the very powers that have been kept in balance will be shaken. Your return is the culmination of the reason for seasons in the first place. So the very forces that set the seasons will be disturbed in a way never before seen.
30"And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory.
Lord Jesus what will that sign be of your return ? Somehow I don't think it will be a star in the night like the first time...your return will be something so fundamentally universe changing that it will be a command performance of the sun, moon and stars.
31"And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
Lord Jesus--This is the part that I am waiting for. To hear the trumpet sound and to be gathered from the four winds where we have been blown by your Holy Spirit's call and direction. Nothing and no one will be able to hold us. In the middle of the climatic events of the ending of all things you will not forget your own.
Lord Jesus--As we move toward that day, keep me obedient to the call of your Spirit alive within me. Hold me when I don't seem to be able to hold myself to the task, hold me within your strong and enduring grace.
Friday, September 3, 2010
Scripture Reflection: Matthew 24
16then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.
17"Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house.18"Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak.19"But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20"But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. 21"For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.
Lord Jesus--As I write this I am living in a safe time and place. A time of relative peace, a time when the darkness is not at my door. The rule of law prevails. The Holy is not profaned as much as it is simply ignored.
I understand your warning, that this time of peace may end in a climactic and chaotic way before I am aware of what is happening. Help me in this time of peace to be aware of the dangers of complacency. This time is a blessing, help me to use it in the best way possible for your kingdom.
Lord Jesus--If this age of relative peace ends during my time, let me meet the challenge of the days with your grace and leadership...with courage and the knowledge that you are in control.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Scripture Reflections:Matthew 24
7"For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. 8"But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
Lord Jesus--If these are the birth pains...I am wondering what the delivery will be like. I got a feeling that we might just find out in the next few years. But that has been the hope of the church for the last 20 Centuries, that you would come back. Even so come quickly, Lord Jesus.
9"Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.
Lord Jesus--Listening to NPR today it sounds like we might be on the way there. Stem cell research debate was being discussed and Evangelical Christians were taking a beating...as if a tag name describes God's people. We are not a bumper sticker, but our values have been compressed down to bumper sticker slogans.
The public debate has gotten so shrill and with so little ability to allow for difference. The polarization and shrillness may be a part of the preparation for your return.
10"At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.
Lord Jesus--Love is the very distinction that was to be our hallmark will be under fire in this time of tribulation. You said that we would be know by our love...but under the new conditions even love will fail us.
11"Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12"Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold. 13"But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. 14"This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
Lord Jesus--Watching the Glen Beck controversy and the reaction of my brothers and sisters to this Mormon man speaking about the need to for change. He maybe speaking elements of truth, but he is following a false prophet from a century or two ago.
There is hope here. Endurance to the end will have its positive outcome, and the time line for your return is set by the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom to all nations. We must be close then...
Every morning as I look to the eastern sky, I look with hope that this will be the day that you come back for your people. Even so come quickly, Lord Jesus.