At my first company luncheon for new hires, I recognized someone and walked over to say hello. I sat down to talk just for a moment and soon afterwards the head of the company walks over to the table. By the time I recognized the place cards it was too late. ” It’s ok – you don’t have to get up. I’ll just sit at your place at the other table.” Immediately I sensed that everyone at that table look at me with disdain. I’d ruined there opportunity to eat with the president of the company. The value we give to one another is often judged by what we see or the titles one has attained. God’s gifts and blessings are not substitutes for God’s true gift of a humble spirit. Lord God, let us not be fooled by the illusions of our lives and be forever ready to sit at the other table.
real circumcision is a matter of the heart– it is spiritual… Romans 2:25-3:18 There s this thing they call the “come to Jesus moment” when one must face that reality called humility. None of us are really that important. From a human standpoint, it seems like a horrible place to be. However from a spiritual perspective you come to understand that once you’ve cut away what is unnecessary, there’s nothing that stands between you and God. As God increases within, we decrease until eventually only the light that comes from God within is what others will see and that I believe, is what really matters. Lord God, daily let your light pierce our hearts from within, that it lights the even the darkest of nights and leads us where you would have us go.
Why do you keep looking at one another? There is grain in Egypt; go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live… Genesis 42:1-17 You wait as long as you can but inevitably you have to make that trip to the food cupboard because there is little food in the house. If it was just you, perhaps you could bear it and make something from the few staples you have left, but there are other mouths to feed who fall under your responsibility. I’ve managed a food cupboard or two and it’s not easy. Most of the people who show up at the doors aren’t there because the food is free, but rather because they need it or someone they know needs it but are unable (or unwilling) to make the trip. It’s a humbling experience to say the least. For me the Joseph story is one of the most powerful – using humility to glorify God’s forgiveness in each of our lives. Joseph remembers his dreams and no doubt he remembers how his brothers treated him. His faith however, was not in his brothers, whose power years ago was simply in numbers. He also remembers his faith is in God, now recognizing the full manifestation of his dreams during his youth. As Joseph’s brothers humbly stand before him, the only thing that stands between him and God’s authority in his life is his own arrogance. Arrogance caused him to be enslaved. Obedience to God’s will brought him out. He would not make the same mistake twice. We have been given that same authority to forgive. How will we use it today?
…Shem and Japheth took a garment… walked backward and covered… their father. Genesis 9:18-29 I often wondered about this passage from Genesis concerning Noah and his sons. I used to think that Ham got a raw deal, that it was unfortunate that he came across his fathers nakedness first. The reality is that someone was bound to be first in seeing Noah exposed. Without knowing why Ham entered his father’s tent in the first place, Ham’s consequence which followed seemed unfair. If you live long enough you realize that there is always more to anyone’s story including our own. There are times when it’s not necessary to place one another in awkward situations. John the Baptist said it best when he was asked about why some were going to Jesus to be baptized; “He must increase but I must decrease.” Ham forgot Noah’s authority, then compounded the situation by telling his brothers! His penalty was harsh; the status of his descendants eventually becoming lowest among the people of Israel. Yet as we know through Christ, and his interaction with a Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:21-28), by faith we are not beyond forgiveness, redemption and reconciliation.
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The centurion answered, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed.” Matthew 8:1-17 There are times when our faith in God’s desire to restore us wanes. Yet, remembering Paul’s understanding of faith as the confidence in what we hope for and assurance of things unseen (Hebrews 11:1 – NIV), this passage in Matthew helped me to understand three things. First, the power in the Word spoken faithfully and confidently is always heard by God. Second, God responds to such faith and confidence. Third, regardless of where we are in life, our own authority only has power as it relates to our faith in God and our humility in knowing and walking in true authority. “Let it be done for you according to your faith.”
…many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy… cast out demons…and do many deeds of power in your name…? Then I will declare to them I never knew you… you evildoers. Matthew 7:22-29 Clearly, what we see and or hear rarely tells the full story. We sometimes go through life either not recognizing or forgetting to read the fine print and fall victim to judging a book by its cover. Yet, rest assured no one fools God. God has given us the gift of the Spirit to be used in many ways, prophecy, healing, teaching, preaching etc. Along with those gifts, God has given the gift of praise so that anything we do according to the gifts God has given is done to the glory of his name. The gift of the Holy Spirit is not to be abused. So, let us continually examine ourselves and go humbly before the Lord and work in order that the content of what God sees on the inside reveals the full story of a foundation that is in Christ and not go forth merely as a cover for the world. For God is always reading the fine print.
When that period was over, I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me. Daniel 4:28-37 There are people who come into our lives for the purpose of guiding, warning and various other reasons. It is incumbent upon us to pay attention to the people in our lives. The prophet Daniel was one such person for King Nebuchadnezzar. What we learn from King Nebuchadnezzar’s fall and restoration is that God not only knows the heart of his own, he knows the heart of those who have yet to know him. God’s love for his people is certain and he will use anyone great or small to accomplish his will. Ultimately, we don’t have the kind of power and authority to decide who God chooses for that purpose. Discernment is not something that we do on our own. It is done by asking for God’s revelation. We then, like Daniel must be open and ready to receive God’s plan from whomever he places in our path. It is here where our own reason towards the most high is sure and our own restoration is assured.
…and my majesty and splendor were restored to me…Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are truth, and his ways are justice; and he is able to bring low those who walk in pride. Daniel 4:28-37
A Song of Ascents.
I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
Who is able to advise the Spirit of the LORD? Who knows enough to be his teacher or counselor? Has the LORD ever needed anyone’s advice? Does he need instruction about what is good or what is best? No, for all the nations of the world are nothing in comparison with him…. Have you never heard or understood? Are you deaf to the words of God — the words he gave before the world began? Are you so ignorant? It is God who sits above the circle of the earth. The people below must seem to him like grasshoppers! He is the one who spreads out the heavens like a curtain and makes his tent from them. He judges the great people of the world and brings them all to nothing. Isaiah 4:12-23
I had some very interesting experiences this weekend and as I begin this week of my journey in Christ, this message from the Prophet Isaiah stood out for me as part of todays lectionary readings. When we find ourselves with those who think they are the smartest persons in the room this passage speaks loud and clear – remembering that we all are but dust and unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain (Psalm 127). From company meetings to general conventions, I suppose sometimes we just can’t help ourselves. However, for the believer, through Christ reconciliation is always at hand we must remember that it begins within us and makes its ascent upwards and then the process of grace, mercy, healing and growth begins to re-shape.
Lent: Day 19 – We often think of idols as individuals or perhaps tangible things like food, clothing, or jewelry. In fact an idol can also include intangible entities. I believe, in fact, it is the intangible for which most of us have an unaware affinity. Why exactly do we do the some of the things we do if not for the fulfillment of some personal need or gratification? There is no harm in this of course except when our own personal need or gratification supersedes our love and faith in God’s precepts. Is it perhaps out of genuine concern or fear that Pharaoh keeps Joseph very close and charges all of Joseph’s family to leave the land God promised to Israel in Canaan, to give them “the best of the land of Egypt? Although King Herod feared John the Baptist and thought him to be a righteous and holy man, does he not choose to kill John the Baptist to protect his own image? Today, does not Paul caution against foolishly using our knowledge and liberty through Christ to feed our own egos to the detriment of others coming to the same knowledge of Christ? I believe that even the knowledge we now have is but a fraction of what we can fully understand about God. Is it not through Christ whom all things exist? Therefore, let us not elevate our selves, or the things of this world, over God’s knowledge and relationship with us, and remember that physically we too, are but dust.
Genesis 45:16-28 “Do this: load your animals and go back to the land of Canaan. Take your father and your households and come to me, so that I may give you the best of the land of Egypt, and you may enjoy the fat of the land.”
Mark 6:13-29 The king (Herod) was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her.
1 Corinthians 8:1-13 Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up… when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.
Psalm 82 I say, ‘You are gods, children of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, you shall die like mortals, and fall like any prince.’ Rise up, O God, judge the earth; for all the nations belong to you!