Saturday’s Meditation: Psalm 108: 1-6
Praise & Prayer for Victory
A Song. A Psalm of David.
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make melody.
Awake, my soul!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn.
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples,
and I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is higher than the heavens,
and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens,
and let your glory be over all the earth.
Give victory with your right hand, and answer me,
so that those whom you love may be rescued.
…where sin increased, grace abounded all the more… Romans 5:12-21 The laws of God were given for the people of God in order that we know how to be in relationship with one another. On the whole humankind isn’t very good at this, but we try. We also try to separate ourselves from sin and we are not very good at that either. We are all born into the do’s and don’ts of the world. We are also born into God’s grace over the world. Thus sin and grace are not opposed to one another they are part of the duality of life. Where sin blinds us, grace is always at the ready to enable us to see. We have only to ask, “Lord let our eyes be opened” (Matthew 20:29-34).
You will indeed drink my cup. Matthew 20:17-28 What parent wouldn’t do all that they could to gain favor for their child? The mother of James and John tried to do just that. She wanted them to have the best seats in God’s Kingdom. But there are some things a parent simply can’t do for her child. For example, we may be able to write their resume but we can’t take their place in the interview. At the time of the interview, it is the individual who’s name is on the resume, who must wear the shoes. In other words, it is by the child’s experience alone to which she must live and to which she must testify. James, John and the other disciples were chosen for a reason. Their lives would indeed fulfill God’s plan. We who believe must also wear the shoes according to God’s grace and we too will indeed drink of the same cup as we obtain access to the hope of sharing the glory of God. Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us… Romans 5:1-11
For this reason it depends on faith… Romans 4:13-25 In recent years I’ve become quite settled in to online shopping. It’s relatively easy, no slow check out waiting, no “express” check outs, and no human interaction. I get what I want and 99 percent of the time I’m quite happy with my purchase. On occasion, but not very often, for whatever reason my order gets delayed. That’s the down side, waiting for something you know is on the way. Then there is always that rare occasion when your order never arrives. Expectation of physical things can be like that. With God however, a delay is not a denial. Our expectations in life, much like those packages can get held up, misguided or at times lost in the wilderness of the world. However, the power that is in faith even as small as a mustard seed is stronger than any interference of God’s plan for our lives. God will loosen, redirect and find any lost dream that wills to be found.
…for God all things are possible. Matthew 19:23-30 It is said that if you can imagine something happening there is a real possibility that it can be achieved. Imagination, the mind’s ability to form and create new ideas, is what we do when we have faith in those possibilities. However if we are to see those possibilities come into fruition we must take action in order to bring our ideas to life. By God’s grace, faith is our gift by which we begin to see his possibilities for our lives. All we have to do act.
If you wish to be perfect… Matthew 19:13-22 One perspective of this passage is that the rich man wasn’t satisfied with fulfilling the commandments. Yet, although God had generously provided for him, why was fulfilling the commandments not enough? I don’t recall anywhere in the Hebrew scriptures where God required his people to give up everything they have in exchange for his favor. Even as the Israelites were leaving Egypt they took valuable commodities of , wheat, gold and silver with them (Exodus 12:34-36). Since he was following the commandments, Perhaps the rich man didn’t expect an answer but rather a special pat on the back, a job well done, a worthy praise. Jesus instead suggests he go the extra mile! Suddenly perfection doesn’t seem so appealing. Each of us is called to live according to God’s commandments. With that, we are rewarded with good consciousness in knowing that we have done all of what God has asked. While this is commendable, it doesn’t necessarily bring us special favor, for even in our imperfection, God loves without respect of person. However, I believe true perfection comes when we are able to completely replace the world’s valuable commodities with God and a life through Christ in both thought and action. …go sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come follow me. Until then, in faith and reverent fear, we do our utmost to strive towards what is good and perfect.
Saturday’s Mediation – Psalm 90:4, 14, 17
For a thousand years in your sight
are like yesterday when it is past,
or like a watch in the night.
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and prosper for us the work of our hands—
O prosper the work of our hands!
Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it. Numbers 13:1-3, 21-33 Caleb was ready, but the leaders who had gone with him to spy on the land that was promised to the Israelites were not. To themselves they seemed like grasshoppers! In a 70’s television show Kung Fu, Caine a young martial art student is referred to as “grasshopper,” one who has much to learn. Through out the series, Caine as an adult has flash backs of what he learned from his master, which enable him to move forward to find his half-brother. While he journeys through the wild west, he confronts injustice and fights to protect the underdog as he remembers his social responsibility he learned from his master. The leaders of Israel were discouraged and so the people who followed were discouraged. Because of their discouragement and unbelief, that generation (save Caleb and Joshua) did not get to enter into the land that was promised. Not everyone in our circle is able to see the big picture. Perhaps like grasshoppers in this life we have much to learn in this world. Yet like Caleb it is important to know that with God (our master) we’ve learned that a bigger picture exists and we too in our journey, are well able to overcome the world.
…you, then that teach others, will you not teach yourselves? Romans 2:12-24 Almost every sermon I’ve written, is out of my experience. I remember the first time I preached and realized that I was preaching to myself. I couldn’t help but wonder about all the times my parents “preached” to me out of their experiences and it was quite possible that they really weren’t just making stuff up as they went along. I always said there are things I would never do in the way my parents did with me. I now know that it didn’t matter that I wanted to do things differently. In the same way my parents taught me out of their experience I would have to teach out my own experiences. Now I see every day lived as an opportunity, teaching moments for us to encourage our selves and one another simply by sharing experiences.
Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Matthew 18:1-9 Jesus is very extreme in his language when referring to those things which keep us from experiencing true life in the Kingdom of God. The mere suggestion of cutting off our hand or tearing out our eye sounds like something out of a horror movie. As part of an assignment for seminary I was allowed to visit an AA meeting. Hearing the stories of some of it’s participants helped put into perspective what it really means to cut something out of your life. Like cutting off a foot or tearing out an eye, it’s not a temporary solution. It’s a daily permanent act of choosing life, not only theirs alone but also the lives of their family. Life can have its horror moments and occasions for stumbling are bound to come, some more severe than others. Yet, as believers and children of a living God, we must not become stumbling blocks and have much to learn from those who daily make the decision to “cut off” those things that could cause anyone of us to stumble.