Law Of Difference

Soon Daniel distinguished himself above all the other presidents and satraps because an excellent spirit was in him... Daniel 6:1-15  It wasn’t because he was tall and handsome, big and strong, or swift and athletic, or even the smartest person in the room; Daniel loved God and it showed! He loved God so much that he wreaked spiritual presence. Daniel was also an outsider, an exile from Judah. Except when we are in the presence of other believers we too are outsiders. Being an outsider in this world is what distinguishes us. The world (much like King Darius) likes to put itself first. The problem is that to put the self first is to place the self ahead God. When a situation occurs that challenges our choices we find that we can not save ourselves from the agony, pain or discomfort in which we are left. Daniel had an excellent spirit within in him because he didn’t put himself first and for him there was only one savior. At times the world can be a lion’s den but we too have one savior and the law of difference through Christ is always on our side. Not even the lions of the world we meet everyday can keep God from his anointed.

Psalm 105:1-22

 When they were few in number,

   of little account, and strangers in it, 

wandering from nation to nation,

   from one kingdom to another people, 

he allowed no one to oppress them;

   he rebuked kings on their account, 

saying, ‘Do not touch my anointed ones;

   do my prophets no harm.’

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Getting Beyond Insanity

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18-31  There’s this thing about waiting for God that sometimes drives me “insane.” I desperately need a sign or I desperately need the waiting to make sense. Often, I get neither one and I am tempted to do something because I feel like I have to in order to “help” the situation along. Of course God’s glory doesn’t need any “help” from me. Sometimes in this journey only in retrospect do we understand the sense of it all and no sign is given specifically on behalf of ourselves. However,  if we look closely enough we can see God’s glory taking seasons on everything he has created. When it is our season God’s glory will take place through us. As I wait I remember the sweet resurrection of life, as like Christ, is lived in faith and guided by God’s power and not by the power I perceive to be my own. God’s glory is being revealed every day, in every way and in every one of us.

‘It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’  Isaiah 49:6

 

No Compliments Today

…real circumcision is a matter of the heart—it is spiritual and not literal. Such a person receives praise not from others but from God. Romans 2:25-3:18   I’d worn this combination before, a cute little cross-body bag and a matching scarf. It never failed to get at least one compliment except on this one particular day. I’d been in a store for a little while when a salesperson approached and asked if I needed any assistance. I thanked her and politely stated that I was slowly making my way to the cash register. All the while I noticed that she was alternately looking at my scarf and my bag but she never said a word. Clearly she noticed my fashion statement. How dare she not say anything when clearly I was expecting her to say something – nice! By the time I reached my car I’d realized my vanity. No doubt, we all want people to recognize something about us. Yet when it doesn’t come a whole flood of emotions surfaces to the forefront of our thoughts. Some of these emotions can be difficult to shake off and subsequently overwhelm us into actions we may regret, affecting our selves or some one else. A physical circumcision involves one layer of skin. When we begin the spiritual journey and accept Christ as our savior, the delicate process of circumcision involves multiple layers, some of which will take time to peel away. But God gives us every opportunity to peel back every layer each time we give praise instead of wondering why we aren’t receiving it or looking for it from other people. What God praises has a far greater reward than praise from any one person.

Circumcise, then, the foreskin of your heart, and do not be stubborn any longer.  Deuteronomy 10:16-18

O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!  Psalm 95

 

Greater Than The Complications

…forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead…  Philippians 3:13-21  Perhaps, at the time, nobody had more to forget than Paul. Still God used Paul’s passion for the law to glorify His name. Paul’s testimony is one to which we can all cling and be assured that God can and will use us if we just open our hearts to God’s commandments. Press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Know that as we journey on in our relationships, people can be quite complicated, but God’s love, even in its simplicity is greater than the complications. 

 

Claiming Spiritual Identity

Who do you say that I am?  In the Episcopal church we are days away from the season of Lent, a time when we are exploring this question for our selves. Although anytime is a good time to examine our spirituality and relationship with Christ, the forty day walk towards Jerusalem is a great place to start. Jesus asked this specifically of his disciples because I believe he needed to be sure they were at least clear about who he was even if they were not as clear about it’s meaning for their lives. This is the place many of us find our selves when dealing with the physical while trying to connect with the spiritual. However, to fully understand or recognize Christ’s life as our own one has to make way for the other; “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.” Mark 8:27-9:1

Parenthood

Having recently celebrated Father’s Day, I find that parenthood itself is always a good metaphor for helping us to understand some of what God experiences with us. (And) As I was seeking for something to reflect on for this message to today I came across an article written by Anne Landers that is somewhat suspiciously disguised in the relationship of our own spiritual journey. It is a collection of personal thoughts as a child grows through life. I changed a few of the words to reflect a more contemporary voice. It goes something like this:

When I was

– 4 years old – My dad can do anything.

– 5 years old – My dad knows a whole lot.

– 6 years old – My dad is smarter than your dad.

– 8 years old – My dad doesn’t know exactly everything.

-10 years old – In the olden days when my dad grew up, things sure were different.

-12 years old – Oh, well, naturally, dad doesn’t know anything about that. He is too old to remember.

-14 years old – OMG Don’t pay any attention to my dad. He is so old-fashioned.

-21 years old – Him?  Oh God, he’s hopelessly out of   date.

-25 years old  – Dad knows a little bit about it, but then he should because he has been around so long.

-30 years old  – Maybe we should ask dad what he thinks. After all, he’s had a lot of   experience.

-35 years old  – I’m not doing a single thing until I talk to dad.

-40 years old  – I wonder how dad would have handled it. It seems the older I get the wiser my   dad becomes.

-50 years old: – My dad can do anything.

What happened in the years between birth and mature adulthood? Is it not enduring love now mixed with heartfelt understanding? In the same way that we endure the process of our children’s maturity, God endures our process of spiritual maturity. Regardless of how old we are when we come in to an understanding of this relationship with our heavenly Father we enter in as infants, new born babes; as Paul puts it, new creations in awe of God’s overwhelming love for us, an adoption of which we’ve never before experienced. The good news is that God is patient with us in that growth even when we aren’t.