You serious, Clark?

(Ok, I know Christmas has come and gone, but this quote from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation popped into my mind writing this devotion. Really, John? You serious? I don’t know ’bout dat.)

Photo credit here.

S (Scripture): Matthew 11:2 Now when John heard in prison about the things the Christ was doing, he sent word by his disciples to Jesus, asking, 3 “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”

4 Jesus responded, “Go, report to John what you hear and see. 5 Those who were blind are able to see. Those who were crippled are walking. People with skin diseases are cleansed. Those who were deaf now hear. Those who were dead are raised up. The poor have good news proclaimed to them. 6 Happy are those who don’t stumble and fall because of me.”

O (Observation): John, of all people, should know who Christ is! Not only is he Jesus’ cousin, but shouldn’t John – the messenger – know of whom he speaks?

Nonetheless, Jesus’ response is not anger or frustration; rather, he invites John’s disciples to come with him to hear and see what Jesus has been up to. In this way, they will “see and hear” for themselves, and believe.

And to support the fact that Jesus is the promised one of God, he quotes Isaiah: the blind see, the deaf hear, dead are raised, the Good News is proclaimed. Jesus is the Christ – the promised, the anointed, the holy of God.

A (Application): Lots of promises and hopes in our world. We like to see these promises backed up with results / proof. If not, we become very skeptical. Perhaps this is what was going through John’s mind? Or maybe John knew, but his disciples needed some prodding.

What we are left with – in the wake of Jesus’ ministry – is hope for the hopeless and affliction for the comforted.

We seek God’s hope in this world full of criticism and self-righteousness. We seek healing for those born into challenging circumstances. We seek hope for the young people in our country being inundated with all kinds of narcissistic and self-indulging behaviors encouraged by so many. We pray we can learn from our older generations, that we might glean wisdom from their experiences and understand where they have seen God’s handiwork in their lifetimes.

Jesus walked this earth. His witness and the Spirit that burst forth at Pentecost still affect us this day. May we continue to hear and see the work of the Christ in our midst…and may we be the hands and feet through which the Christ continues His work.

P (Prayer): Lord, help us to hear…to see. Amen.

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Abundance – Giving & Receiving

Photo credit here

S (Scripture): Psalm 144: 9 I will sing a new song to you, God.
I will sing praises to you on a ten-stringed harp,
10 to you—the one who gives saving help to rulers,
and who rescues his servant David from the evil sword.
11 Rescue me and deliver me from the power of strangers,
whose mouths speak lies,
and whose strong hand is a strong hand of deception,
12 so that our sons can grow up fully, in their youth, like plants;
so that our daughters can be like pillars carved to decorate a palace;
13 so that our barns can be full, providing all kinds of food;
so that our flocks can be in the thousands—
even tens of thousands—in our fields;
14 so that our cattle can be loaded with calves;
so that there won’t be any breach in the walls,
no exile, no outcries in our streets!

O (Observation): The abundance found in God is described here by the psalmist – an abundance beyond joy, beyond measure. Hope springs eternal for the follower of God.

A (Application): The hope and abundance found in God comes in many forms. We hope our sons and daughters bear fruit in their own special ways. We pray that our storehouses are filled and that our jobs bring abundance.

This is our hope. Reality sometimes does not match this hope, however. But this still remains our hope. That all will be fed and that all who have need will be satisfied.

In the meantime, we will feed the hungry, we will gather together and do our best to make sure all are fed and that none have need.

In my church setting, we work with the Murfreesboro Cold Patrol, Roots for Refugees & Murfreesboro Muslim Youth, The Journey Home, Coldest Nights Women’s Shelter. These are some ways in which this psalm is coming to fruition for many people who have need in Murfreesboro. And this is also helping us to see our need to be humble, broken, and filled with the Spirit.

May we be God’s hands and feet this day.

P (Prayer): Lord, help us to be another person’s abundance. And help them to be our abundance. Amen.

Heavenly-Minded

  S (Scripture): Proverbs 1:1 The Proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
1:2 To learn wisdom and moral instruction, and to discern wise counsel.
1:3 To receive moral instruction in skillful living, in righteousness, justice, and equity.
1:4 To impart shrewdness to the morally naive, and a discerning plan to the young person.

O (Observation): King Solomon desired wisdom above all else, even above wealth and strength, when he was annointed as the king of Israel.   In the Proverbs, he shares his wisdom. 

Wisdom, moral instruction, and shrewdness are the core elements of the proverbs.  

A (Application):  I have to admit that I have not spent much time in the Proverbs lately, so I’m looking forward to this journey.  

The element that jumps out at me is v. 4: To impart shrewdness to the morally naive

For much of my life, I’ve heard the phrase, “Don’t be so heavenly-minded, that you are no earthly-good.”  Perhaps this phrase is supported by Solomon’s notion of shrewdness.  To be shrewd is to guard against naïveté. And Solomon focuses on those who are morally naive. 

I would consider myself more morally naive than not.  I tend to think that things will work themselves out.  I’d rather sit back and let others lead the way.   Of course, that’s not what God made us for.  

We are God’s hands and feet in this world.  We are not to sit back, but rather, use the gifts we are given for the sake of the other.  We are naive if we think things will just work themselves out.  God gave us brains…(and arms, and hands, and feet) so let’s use them! 

God’s Work. Our Hands. Sunday is September 13, 2015.   This is the ELCA’s initiative for an annual day of service in our local communities.   Last year, one such project was to help out at the Way of Hope – a women and children’s shelter.  We played with youngsters to give their parents some rest. 

We hope to help again this year, using some of the wisdom bestowed upon us by our Lord above.  

What opportunities have you seen in which you can put some of Solomon’s wisdom to use?

P (Prayer): Lord, give us discerning minds and wisdom to know how to enact your justice in this world. Amen. 

What is Love? (Baby Don’t Hurt Me : ) – Maundy Thursday

 

 

S (Scripture):  John 13:1b Having loved his own who were in the world, Jesus  now loved them to the very end…13:34 “I give you a new commandment – to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 13:35 Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples – if you have love for one another.”

O (Observation):  Jesus humbles himself in John 13, by washing the feet of his disciples.   He humbles himself in this way as a metaphor for sacrifice. He commands that the disciples love one another…beyond service of washing one another’s feet…but even to death, if necessary. 

Love is the sign.   Love cares.  Love sacrifices.  Jesus is love made perfect.  

A (Application):  Maundy Thursday has a tradition of foot washing in many churches.   Yet, I believe the true message is about love and sacrifice for one another. 

Someone much smarter than I (though I can’t remember the source) says this about humility: “Humility is not about thinking less of yourself, but thinking about yourself less.”  That sounds a lot like Jesus. 

Jesus’ “command” is a difficult one to keep.   Many things get in the way of our loving one another.  But the Good News is that Jesus will be with us…to the very end (John 13:1).

Who have you served lately?  Who has been difficult to love lately?  Jesus is with you.   Allow his grace and mercy to flow through you.  

P (Prayer):  Lord, you give us an example of sacrifice.  Remind us that you are with us as we attempt to love others in this world.  Amen.