No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or diviners can show to the king the mystery that the king is asking, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, Daniel 2:17-30 Nebuchadnezzar sought answers to his disturbing dream from the world. But the world only knows what it sees, what it hears and what it touches which is why the people he sought provided him no revelation and no peace. Sometimes we seek love in the world that ultimately provide no revelation and no peace. Only the one true Love, that can not be found in the things of the world, provides both the revelation and the peace. Daniel did not try like the others to come up with the revelation on his own. Instead he sought the one true everlasting Love deep from within the faith in his relationship with God. This is the kind of relationship we are encouraged to seek that we too may find revelation and we too will find peace.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live for ever. 1 John 2:12-17
As we grow from infancy to adulthood both physically and spiritually, learning to be content with God’s grace is a constant challenge for many of us. We spend a lot of time learning to be independent as children and as adults we spend a lot of time valuing the independence that we’ve gained and finding the balance between independence and dependence can take time, patience and most of all faith. To the world dependence can be nonsense. Most people worship power and strength that independence can provide. Having to depend on others is viewed as a weakness that is despised above all things. The world teaches us to conceal our vulnerability, or we will be hurt, and it teaches us to hide our weakness, or we will be taken advantage of. The world teaches us to camouflage our inadequacies with self-confidence, self reliance and self assurance, so that we can build a heaven for ourselves here on earth. The world teaches us that we can help ourselves, that we can do what we need to do on our own, and that all the answers we need we can find in ourselves. (But) The first time we find our selves in a situation where we really need help, we have already independently lived to a point where we have become so full of the self, that we are afraid to ask for the help we need or we reject help when it is offered because we fear what others might say about us. This can happen in every aspect of our lives, individually, socially, and professionally. Subsequently, we end up making difficult decisions and unfortunately we create our own thorns before we realize that all we had to do was acknowledge our weakness, admit our inability to change the situation on our own, and ask in faith for God’s grace and mercy to intervene. Regardless of the pain, we face reality and make a better decision to move forward. Why not move forward through God’s grace?
Lent: Day 24 – If Jesus had waited for perfect disciples, he wouldn’t have any. If Jesus had waited for circumstances to be perfect 4000 people would have gone hungry. Do you think Jesus will wait for you? God will move in those who allow themselves to be moved. Even when we aren’t ready, God is always ready. Indeed, our faith in Christ is sufficient! Today and everyday we must trust God and move forward in faith!
Mark 8:1-10 ‘How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?’ He asked them, ‘How many loaves do you have?’ They said, ‘Seven.’ Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Now there were about four thousand people.
Psalm 94 For the Lord will not forsake his people;
he will not abandon his heritage;
Lent: Day 22 – All storms, famines and turmoil in our lives serve (intentionally or unintentionally) for the purpose of separating us from God’s Love, that being Jesus Christ. Abundant blessings can have a tendency to allow us to forget that attacks on God’s Love within us do exist. If we find ourselves struggling to endure them, Paul reminds us that even our biblical ancestors were blessed abundantly and yet struggled with fear and doubt. He also assures us that the guide, who led them out, is also our guide who will lead us to the way out and onto the peaceful side of those storms. What exactly is the way out? Jesus Christ within us is the way, the truth, and our life. We must be careful not to let our response to these attacks change who we are and forget that Christ within has not left us and will forever be with us when the storm passes over.
Genesis 47:27-48:7 Thus Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the region of Goshen; and they gained possessions in it, and were fruitful and multiplied exceedingly.
Mark 7:1-23 …‘there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.’
1 Corinthians 10:1-13 No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures for ever…
who alone does great wonders,
for his steadfast love endures for ever;…
It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
for his steadfast love endures for ever;…
O give thanks to the God of heaven,
for his steadfast love endures for ever.
Lent: Day 21 – Who among us has not felt afraid? Our emotions, particularly fear overwhelms us. While trusting God is always an option it is usually the furthest thing from our irrational thinking. Even though God hears our cries, the reality is that there are storms, famines and turmoil we will just have to endure. But rest assured, take heart, when it feels as though Christ is not with us he is always waiting for us at the other side.
Mark 6:47-56 When evening came, the boat was out on the lake, and he was alone on the land. When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the lake. He intended to pass them by. …they thought it was a ghost and cried out;…. But immediately he spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’
Lent: Day 17 – Quite simply, healing begins with faith. The mystery is that the healing doesn’t always come in the form we expect. While on his way to heal the daughter of a leader in the synagogue, Jesus is stopped by a woman in need of healing herself. It didn’t keep him from following through with his desire to heal the daughter of the synagogue official. We may think that God has forgotten us as we see others succeeding in front of us. It’s not true. Our faith is what keeps us in God’s healing path. “Do not fear only believe,” and experience the mystery.
Mark 5:21-34 “Who touched my clothes?”
Lent: Day 15 – In our country, households needing food can go to government and local food programs. However, lands in other countries, where food has become unavailable, depend on outside programs to reach out to them. Over time and with persistence many of these programs have been very successful. There are times in our own spiritual life when we are simply hungry, when we go for a quick bite of the Holy Spirit with a song or scripture reading and it sustains our strength in this journey and gets us through every day trials and circumstances. Then there are other times when we find ourselves, in fact starving, when the usual nibbles and the regular meals are available but the usual resources we reach out to don’t seem to strengthen us and the resources that usually reach back to us don’t seem to have much affect. God in fact seems rather silent. The first time this happened in my own life I began to understand what it must be like consciously, at least to some effect, what starving children in severe poverty might experience. I am hungry. Why am I not being fed? Why is it that the food I have doesn’t nourish my need? Why is there no food? If we fill our selves with so much of the world around us, we may find our bodies full and yet still be hungry and to some extent spiritually starving. Over time and with persistence we must continue to discipline ourselves to eat of the spiritual food. It is inevitable that in our busy lives today the spiritual famines will come and we’ll unknowingly enter into physical storms. The good news is that we can have peace in knowing that starvation does not have to be our fate. We learn to sacrifice the tangible for the intangible and continue to reach out to God and allow God to reach out to us one morsel at a time and in time our strength is restored. Thanks be to God!
Genesis 43:1-15 Famine
Now the famine was severe in the land. And when they had eaten up the grain that they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, ‘Go again, buy us a little more food.’
Mark 4:35-41 Storms
A great gale arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’
1 Corinthians 7:1-9 Sacrifice
Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
Lent: Day 14 – The measure you give will be the measure you receive. We often expect more of God than what we put in to our relationship with him. Somehow that seems right to us. After all scripture speaks of abundance quite often (Ex. 34:6; 1Tim. 1:14; John. 10:10; Eph. 3:20, etc.). The “measure” I believe Christ speaks of in this gospel however is about time both consciously and physically. Some like to add money to the equation but I believe money is really a byproduct in the sense that what is given financially is as a result of the love that is connected to that relationship. We give financially to those things for which we have a great passion. The time we spend in our relationship with God is not unlike any amount of time we spend on any other relationship, which causes us to want to do more because the love has become so deep. Deep wisdom and knowledge comes with time. Without that time, what little wisdom and knowledge we have soon gives way to other thoughts and desires of the heart that often leads us in directions away from experiencing God’s abundant love within us. The more time you spend with God the more wisdom and knowledge you will receive. The more wisdom and knowledge you receive the more you want to share it with others. Who among us finds “true” love and doesn’t want to tell somebody about it. In the same way, I believe God wants us to get to know his true love, wisdom and knowledge just like that, with the same abundance, the same passion!
Mark 4:21-34 ‘Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand? …And he said to them, ‘Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. For to those who have, more will be given; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.’
Lent: Day 13 – While at the 2012 Philadelphia Flower Show I came across a very intriguing notation as part of the Delaware Valley College education exhibit. It read; “Soil is a system of organisms, air, water, organic matter and elements. Soil is a systems teeming with life! …dirt is what you find under your fingernails, on your clothes, or stuck in your tires.” In many ways I believe the parable of the sower speaks to the various environments in which we sometimes find ourselves. Ultimately our goal is to always be found in “good soil,” where we are able to hear and accept the word, allowing it to be nourished within us, so that together we may be of good use and our exponents can be released and shared for sowing God’s word in and through others. I liken it to the law of exponential growth in which the base is the word of God and the exponents are the various gifts we bring to enhance and spread the gospel. Our gifts express who we are in Christ. The more we use our gifts in and through Christ, the more God is glorified. Who then, can stand against such glory and power!
Teeming – abounding or swarming with something
teeming. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved March 07, 2012, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/teeming
Mark 4:1-20 Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.’ 9And he said, ‘Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’
Lent: Day 12 – I believe one of the greatest challenges we face is the unwillingness to understand that any malicious act has the capability of becoming an acceptable part of our culture when in fact, it goes against the relationship God intended us to have with one another. For example, bullying has reached this level of acceptability in some communities, to where it is often not seen as a problem until one person makes a tragic response that either hurts one’s self, others or both. Bullying has never been a healthy part of any person’s life nor will it ever be. The relationships we teach and have with one another should reflect the relationship we know that God has with us. Bullying in any form is a contradiction to that relationship and although it can be healed, old habits are hard to reverse. Let’s save our selves the trouble, aggravation and pain. Let us encourage our relationship through Christ in our children and our children’s children. Discourage any yeast of malice, then, see if the body of Christ does not grow, as the enemies’ realm diminishes! In this instance, for those who hold to God’s promise, Christ’s strength in numbers pays forward in real life dividends with the bread of sincerity that forever nourishes our souls.
Mark 3:19-35 ‘How can Satan cast out Satan?
1 Corinthians 5:1-8 Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?
Psalm 68:1,35 Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered; …Awesome is God in his sanctuary, the God of Israel; he gives power and strength to his people.