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Loved

Scripture: 1 John 4:9-12 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. Reflection: Just two marvelous quotes today. Enjoy! “If we are absolutely grounded in the absolute love of God that protects us from nothing even as it sustains us in all things, then we can face all things with courage and tenderness and touch the hurting

Transformation

Scripture: Mark 8:34-37 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? Reflection: All four Gospels record this teaching directly from the mouth of Jesus. I believe Jesus is speaking of what it means to be transformed when joining his kingdom work. (By the way,

A Different Kind of Battle – But The Same Strategy

Scripture: Joshua 6:2-5; 7:1, 4-5; 8:1-8 A. Miraculous Intervention: Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. 3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. 4 Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. 5 When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.” B. Obedience Is Important: But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted

A Different Kind Of Battle

Scripture: Joshua 5:12-15: “Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” 14 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell face-down to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” 15 The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. Reflection: On the eve of beginning to march around Jericho, Joshua has this strange encounter with the “commander of the Lord’s army.” At this

Remember The Rock From Which You Were Cut

Scripture: Isaiah 51: 1-2, 4-5; Hebrews 11:8 Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was only one man, and I blessed him and made him many. “Listen to me, my people; hear me, my nation: Instruction will go out from me; my justice will become a light to the nations. My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inh

Day 41

Reflection David’s Falls, a small underground flow of water breaking through the limestone cliffs and tumbling about 150 feet to a blue-green pool forms the oasis at En Gedi. Surrounded by brown-barren rock and heading toward the Dead Sea a couple of miles downstream, the oasis valley is a sliver of green and life in the midst of desert death. This spring has been flowing for more than 4000 years. Its source is rain falling in the Judah Mountains miles to the west. It is not dependent on the less than 5 inches of local rainfall per year. Scripture: Isaiah 32:1-2 See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice. Each one will be like a shelter from the wind

Light In Dark Times

Scripture: John 1:4-5; John 8:12; Matthew 5:14-16 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Reflection: Light is not s

Hell, Chaos and Covid-19

Reflection: At its very least, hell is separation from God. Sin, loss, failure, and disease all remind us of separation from God. Chaos, disorder, and death remind us humans that we are not in control. This pandemic is chaotic. So much of what gives meaning to the lives of so many has been disrupted: no sports, no music concerts, bank accounts emptied, education minimized, stock market plunging, churches closed, careers put on hold, jobs lost or income lessened, visits to family and friends limited—even at the time of the death of a loved one! The Biblical story, from its very beginning in Genesis 1 to its very end in Revelation 22, is the story of God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) stepping int

Can you give me a penny?

Scripture: Isaiah 55:6-13 Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. 8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower

An Unhappy Thought

Scripture: Genesis 3:16-19; 23-24 To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” 17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since fr

Fight or Flight

Scripture: Jonah 1:1-3; Jonah 4:2-3, 11 The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”3 But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord. ..."That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” "And should I not have

Our Suffering Servant-King

Scripture: Mark 15:16-41; Philippians 3:10-11 In the reading below, watch how Mark uses the 8 steps in the crowning of a Roman Emperor to tell the story of Jesus’ crucifixion. 1. The whole Praetorium Guard assembles Mark 15:16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 2. Emperor is dressed in purple, has a leafy crown, scepter in hand Mark 15:17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 3. Whole guard chants "Hail, King of the Romans!" Mark 15:18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 4. Emperor parades through the city, carrying the instrument

Vulnerable

Reflection 1: The cave is set into the hillside overlooking a deep valley, browned by summer drought and heat. Soot from centuries of shepherds’ fires blacken the ceiling. A soft carpet of dried sheep dung softens my steps as I make my way through the haze of black flies filling the air with bzzzzz. The smell and the dust on the rock ledges invite me to remain standing even though my legs long for relief due to the long walk. Scripture: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. John 1:14 Reflection 2: We are vulnerable. Places and settings that used to be safe are now filled with people “maintaining their distance” and/or wearing face-masks. Grocery stores. Even churches. Formerl

See, I Have Engraved You On The Palms Of My Hands

Scripture: Isaiah 49:13-18; Luke 10:20 (Rejoice, because your name is written in heaven.) Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. 14 But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” 15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! 16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. 17 Your children hasten back, and those who laid you waste depart from you. 18 Lift up your eyes and l

Five Thoughts On An Ancient Practice

Reflection The Center For Action and Contemplation (https://cac.org/initiation-weekly-summary-2016-05-28/) identifies the five purposes that ancient societies had for welcoming adolescents into their roles as adults. Called “initiation rites,” these practices told young people, “These are the important things you need to know if you are going to be a blessing to others (and yourself). These five “knowings” seem to be especially relevant to us today as we move impatiently through the phases of opening up our lives again. A. Life is hard. B. You are not all that important. C. Life is not about you. D. You are not in control. E. You are going to die someday. Scripture: Now, let’s pair each one

“He makes my feet like the feet of the deer….”

At a time of (much) greater calamity than our own, the impending invasion of Israel by the Babylonians, …… Scripture 1: “Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. 6 I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwellings not their own. 7 They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honor. 8 Their horses are swifter than leopards, fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their cavalry gallops headlong; their horsemen come from afar. They fly

Everyday Believers

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth

Beginning With The End In Mind

Scripture Ephesian 2:8-10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Reflection Every now and then I have the privilege of engaging with non-profit organizations around the topic of strategically planning their future. We always begin with the questions, “Why do you exist? Or, “What is your purpose, the difference you want to make in this world?” This is called “beginning with the end in mind.” Ephesians 2 tells us that the gift of our salvation is given to us for a pur

This Then Is How You Should Pray: The Lord’s Prayer In The Time Of Coronavirus (5)

Introduction: Did you know that each phrase of the Lord’s Prayer was found as parts of prayers written down in the Dead Sea Scrolls? This means that Jewish people were praying these phrases even BEFORE the time of Jesus. Because each phrase already meant something special to the people, I believe this makes it even more The Lord’s Prayer. Let’s take a look at each phrase from the Jewish point of view from just before Jesus’ birth. Scripture: Matthew 6:9-13 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 1 Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also ha

 

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