You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance… 1 Kings 17:1-24 The widow had done everything the man of God (Elijah) asked her to do. For this her son dies? What at first thought to be a blessing (the presence of God), now appears to be lost hope. As a widow, the son represents life. Her hope being that in his maturity, he would care for her in her old age. Certainly now her obedience would not be diminished! Like so many things in life what happened to the widow happens to all of us. We blame our selves for situations beyond our control. Yet, the challenge put before God I believe can only come from our confidence in knowing who God is. Elijah knew what to do. Perhaps in part, the reason God sent him there; specifically to the widow in the first place. God has no desire to conjure up past sins but rather to redeem and reconcile those who in obedience, call upon his name. As surely as he restored the life of the widow through the life of the son, we too shall be restored.
Remember your word to your servant; because you have given me hope. This is my comfort in trouble, that your promise gives me life Psalm 119:49-72
…go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee. Mark 16:1-8 (9-20) Peter is specifically singled out. Scripture does not say for certain, but is it possible that if the women at the tomb and the disciples were witness to Peter’s denial of Christ, or even heard of it by hearsay, they’d already judged him a betrayer? Whatever the climate, it seems clear that Jesus intended to see Peter in Galilee along with the other disciples; not by himself, not secretly. Peter was already forgiven before Christ died on that cross never discounting, nor disqualifying Peter’s place among the disciples. Told in all four gospels, Peter’s denial sticks out in the scripture even today. Yet what also sticks out is that perhaps in his repentance, at least temporarily, Peter may have abandoned himself as a disciple, but Christ never once abandoned Peter, and – in spite of our own fears, neither will God abandon us.
Put your trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and feed on its riches. Psalm 37:1-18 Look around. Has not the earth provided? Was it not freely given; from the smallest of molecules to the tallest of plant-life and the largest of formations? God has placed us here and we’ve not disappointed in our ability to use such a gift to create and delight in the tools we use for our own pleasures. Yet there is one delight we often forget; our delight in the giver’s gift of the spirit within. Let not the spirit within be persuaded by the tools of pleasures made from our own hands. We must delight our selves in the one who was first to give the gift of the spirit that dwells within us and yearns jealously to be reconciled with that gift (James 4:5). All other delights wither like the grass and fade away.
“If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him… Luke 7:36-50 When Jesus said “I know my own and my own no me” It was people like this woman with her alabaster jar, to which he was referring. Jesus didn’t need to be a prophet to know who she was, what kind of woman she was, from where she’d come, or what she’d done or had done to her, which caused her to seek him out that day! And by her actions a prophet certainly wasn’t what she needed. What she needed was healing. What she needed was freedom from the bondage of the Law. What she needed was access, protection, salvation and ultimately what she needed was forgiveness. Jesus, knowing her, isn’t concerned with who she was before she pours out her story with that alabaster jar. That’s the good news about Christ! Before we get to the place of the woman with the alabaster jar, Jesus already knows who we are and receives us anyway. Under ordinary human circumstance what we know about others causes us to turn away from one another and we end relationships before they have a chance to begin. God’s knowledge of us is only the beginning, the foundation and the core of our relationship with him. Every time we find ourselves sizing up one another we do well to remember that only God knows the plans he has for each of us none of which is based on the mistakes or even successes of the past. Because, just like the woman and the alabaster jar, it’s what we do today in the name of Christ that really matters. What”s in your alabaster jar. Maybe today it’s time to pour out your testimony. God is waiting to receive you too.
Featured image; Painting by benedict edet©
And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall this kingdom be left to another people. It shall crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand for ever… Daniel 2:31-49 Today we have confidence in the redemption of Christ because what God has long put in to place is already done.
As for you, the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and so you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, abide in him. 1 John 2:18-29
And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:4-10 What does it mean to be made holy because Christ offered his body as a sacrifice? God has given us the gift to create and we have no doubt taken full advantage of that ability. So much so, that the amount of stimuli in the world easily attracts our attention. God has not asked us to stop creating but rather to create for the fullness of life for one another. I believe life in the resurrection means that we are called out of the bondage of the world’s stimuli. There is no relationship with things or people that can take the place of the relationship God has with us. If we don’t have a relationship with God as a priority in our life, there is no sacrifice of stimuli (things or people) that will make a difference. We are encouraged to think Christ first, live in the resurrection and never stop believing. Nothing is impossible for God.
For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; in burnt-offerings and sin-offerings you have taken no pleasure. Hebrews 10:4-10
But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33
“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” Luke 24:1-12 One of my most favorite conversations was with my mother and her two sisters concerning where the Holy Spirit could be found according to the length of the church service. Although we were all raised up in the same church we all now found ourselves worshipping in very different places. My mother’s church was an hour and a half and she was quite certain that the Holy Spirit was present. However, her two sisters were adamant that there was no way the Holy Spirit could be experienced in an hour and a half. Since the Episcopal service I attended at the time was only an hour and fifteen minutes I decided that it was best to just keep my mouth closed! Had I been more mature in my own faith at the time I think I could ask of them this question; “Why look for a gift in a place that can readily be found within us?” Far too often we mistake finding the Holy Spirit with finding hospitality. If you bring the Holy Sprit with you in to any place the only thing you’re really looking for is to be received. Our ultimate goal to be at one with Christ begins within us and we take it wherever we go. This new relationship in Christ means that our bodies become the temple of the Lord’s Spirit (1Corinthians 6:19). When we share and celebrate this gift in our spiritual journey which reconciles us all with the one Spirit of the living God we experience the resurrection over and over again. Alleluia! Christ is Risen Indeed!
‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ John 11:1-27 Jesus knew that Lazarus was going to die. Lazarus was in a tomb four days before Jesus returned to Bethany at the request of his sisters. I remember years ago my mother and aunt came up from Baltimore on their way to see their Aunt Florence. She was the oldest sister of their father and the last remaining sibling of five. They didn’t expect her to live past the year and wanted to be with her and asked if I wanted to go with them. Like a story out of Mark’s Gospel, immediately I changed my plans for the day to make that journey with them. My Aunt Florence had a lot of stories to share. She was the woman who loved and cared for everybody’s children including her own. Her house was always open and heart never judged. My own mother the youngest of five was the same way. On March 13th of this month, she would have been 68. My mother literally spent a lifetime in social service. She taught, healed and cared for people she didn’t know like they were family. She saved the preaching and rebuking for her three children. When she became ill it wasn’t long before things went from bad to worse. Nevertheless, I remember very clearly the point at which I knew her struggle was coming to an end. I was at her bedside everyday. People who new her from everywhere came to be with her because she had helped them in some way. Each person had their own story. Even as she was passing away, something new was being revealed about this woman I called Mom and nothing would me the same after she died. Because of those stories she lives. Because of those stories I am able to strengthen myself. Because of those stories I too experience a resurrection and glorify God every day.
Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. John 11:1-27
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” John 9:1-17 As we near the end of the Lenten season, hopefully whatever we’ve focused our attentions away from in order to draw closer to God, we are better able to experience God’s plan and provisions for living. We begin to realize that what we perceive as dependence on God is more like natural instinct towards his presence within us. To define our relationship as dependence causes us to look for blame either within ourselves or someone else when things don’t work out the way we believe they should. The reality is that something is always being worked out. We are not the only ones to whom God is in relationship. While our decisions play some part in what does and does not happen, instinctively we praise, instinctively we repent, instinctively we reconcile ourselves and instinctively we know that God is working it out not just for us but through us as well.
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him…” John 9:1-17
Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? Isaiah 43:16-21
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand… Romans 5:1-11
Who are we to judge someone else’s decision to save their own life or take it? Who are we to decide what other people should sacrifice? Unless you’ve walked in someone else’s shoes one should never judge. Even then forgive yourself – love yourself and move on. It’s what Christ did for us. WWYD
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. Romans 5:1-11