Light And True Love

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.’

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Yeast Of Malice vs. Bread Of Sincerity

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. 

Faith For The Benefit Of Others

Lent: Day 11 – Because of his faith in God alone who interprets dreams, Joseph is placed in a position to make a difference. He does so because he himself now has a family of his own. Thus, saving Egypt means saving his own family. Joseph’s wilderness was a good ten plus years, plenty of time to discern his relationship not only with God, but also with the family he as been separated from. He has time to discern the responsibility that his own attitude, arrogance and naïveté played in his endured and present circumstance. My guess is that initially, Joseph was angry. Perhaps he even thought about vengeance until his situation seemed to get worse, being falsely imprisoned, in spite of God’s favor. Yet ironically, being in prison saves his life. Joseph’s faith in God allows him to truly recognize and experience God’s wisdom in his life! Yes, Joseph suffered, but it was not his suffering that saved the life of his family but rather his faith in God. In this journey, we fight a lot of battles and suffer a lot of things for our selves and the people we love. To put our hope in those battles and suffering I believe is a disservice to God. I believe our hope should be in our faith and belief that God’s wisdom in the midst of our circumstance is greater than our own. Victory is only a matter of time.

Genesis 41:46-57 Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, ‘Go to Joseph; what he says to you, do.’ … all the world came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, because the famine became severe throughout the world.

1 Corinthians 4:8-21 We are fools for the sake of Christ, …To the present hour we are hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clothed and beaten and homeless, and we grow weary from the work of our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we speak kindly.

Knowledge: Foolish Or Wise

Lent: Day 6 – To those who claim to know a little bit about everything, does that include your knowledge of Christ? If so, where does that really place you in the larger scheme of things, among the foolish or the wise? Consider the eleven sons of Israel (Jacob), who thought they knew God’s plan for their lives, without realizing their devious participation in their own destiny. Ponder the first four disciples Jesus called to follow him. They were fisherman, who as Mark tells us, left the one thing they knew in depth, to pursue the one thing they knew only as a promise through scripture. However great or small, what ever we know about God through Christ, must take precedence over everything we think we know in this world. God’s word not only has power, it has ultimate authority. Our knowledge is challenged everyday. Do we have the courage to accept what we know about God in Christ, great or small, and allow that knowledge to lead in every situation of our lives? Do we have the courage to believe that surely God’s plan for our life throughout this journey is far greater than anything we could foolishly or wisely design for our selves? Perhaps, now is the time to increase that knowledge of Him, for no plan is greater than God’s plan.

Genesis 37:12-24  So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, …and they took him and threw him into a pit.

Mark 1:14-28  And immediately they left their nets and followed him.

1 Corinthians 1:20-31  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’

Psalm 47 For the Lord, the Most High, is awesome, a great king over all the earth.

Christ The Only Lead

Lent: Day 5 – As humans we have an uncanny propensity to latch on to people. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for no one person is an island unto one self. Personal, business or otherwise, I believe we need relationships. As mature adults, our relationships, in connection with how we think and respond to one another, says something about who we are. For example, Paul in all of his education had one goal, to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to all who would believe. He did not consider, that it was his responsibility to speak in educated terms, thus selectively appealing only to those who could understand what he was saying, by using eloquent speech. No doubt we are all drawn to people who are most like our selves. We have a tendency to travel the journey, in the direction of who we believe our selves to be. However, as Christians, regardless of the road we travel, it should always lead to the one common goal to proclaim the gospel. What purpose does it serve us, as brothers and sisters in the Lord, to argue about the road we travel as long as Christ is the only lead we follow? Lent is the opportunity to create a habit of meditation and contemplation of the scripture, in order that the Holy Spirit becomes the one who leads us to God who guides, supports and protects us along the way. Then ultimately, God’s purpose prevails.

1 Corinthians 1:1-19  …for Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power.

Mark 1:1-13  He (John the Baptist) proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’

Genesis 37:1-11  His brothers said to him (Joseph), ‘Are you indeed to reign over us? Are you indeed to have dominion over us?’

A Place Called There

Lent: Day 2  –  It’s tricky. We say that we are Christian. We say that we have faith. Yet, our actions don’t reflect what we say we believe and we blame our life as it is, or at least as we see it, for our lack of faith. We begin our day with the words “If only…” conjuring up the spirit of the world we know and live in, allowing it to take precedent over the world God promises. Yet, the goal is to press on in this life towards that life God promises, knowing that through Christ we will in fact get there. We want to be reconciled, but where is “there”? What does “there” look like? How does “there” feel? What will I be doing when I arrive “there”? Consider this: perhaps today, “there” is wherever you are because God is willing to meet you in that place. “There” looks like whatever you see around you because all the earth belongs to God. “There” feels like peace, which passes all understanding of where you are, or what it looks like, because fear, anger, frustration and discontent has served no purpose, and won no victories. Ultimately, the beauty and comfort is, knowing that when you arrive “there”, you will find yourself imitating the one in whom you say you truly believe, living and responding in the presence of God’s promise because it fulfills the right purpose and glorifies Christ’s victory over the world. Perhaps, soon you will realize that “there” isn’t really a physical place at all? I told you it’s tricky, but keep the faith. God knows all the tricks.

John 17:1-8  …And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

Philippians 3:12-21 Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

Habakkuk 3:1-0, 16-18

Though the fig tree does not blossom,
and no fruit is on the vines;
though the produce of the olive fails
and the fields yield no food;
though the flock is cut off from the fold
and there is no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will exult in the God of my salvation.

Psalm 37:1-18

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
   so you will live in the land, and enjoy security. 
Take delight in the Lord,
   and he will give you the desires of your heart. 

Ash Wednesday: Be Reconciled To God

Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return (BCP 265). This is where it all begins and this is where it all ends. From the dust of the earth God created us and look at us now! Great and small, rich and poor, free and enslaved, we all occupy each of these phases throughout this journey called life, never really understanding the difference between the contrasts and never discerning their mystery. In reality, seeking this knowledge can occur at anytime in our life. However, the season of Lent within the Church is our official opportunity to understand and discern. When you see the ash upon the foreheads of those marked as Christ’s own, know that you are not alone.

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

2 Corinthians 5:20b – 6:10 …we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God …and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything. 

Psalm 103:8-14

as far as the east is from the west,
   so far he removes our transgressions from us. 

For he knows how we were made;
   he remembers that we are dust. 

BCP – Book of Common Prayer – according to the use of Episcopal Church

Beginning February 29 – March 28, Wednesday’s Blog, follow Crustybread Lenten Meditation: See My Face, Hear My Voice.

God’s Favor Alone

When Jacob left Laban, God instructed him to do so. No longer did Laban favor Jacob, namely because Jacob’s wealth was amassed through God’s favor and subsequently as a result of Laban’s selfishness. What did Jacob owe to Laban? Nothing. Jacob belongs to God not to Laban. There are many people who will favor us because of what they believe they can gain from us. They enter into God’s favor and into God’s presence with us by pretending to be on our side or traveling this journey with the same goal and purpose of a life redeemed and reconciled through Christ. In reality their motive is skewed and eventually they come out of their sheep’s clothing. When this happens we may find our selves in a place we don’t necessarily want to be. That’s okay! God knows his sheep and his sheep know him. The sheep always have favor with God! Keep listening, stay alert, return to his Word and believe in his truth. Eventually, like Jacob, God will call you out and lead you in his favor, to where he wants you to be.

God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands… Genesis 31:25-50

‘Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit…I know my own and my own know me… John 10:1-18

I write to you, …because you know the Father…because you know him who is from the beginning…because you are strong and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. 1 John 2:12-17

The Lighted Path

Is it not true that God knows the heart of those who seek after him? For many claim to seek God but their motives are selfish and have no resemblance to his commandment to love our neighbor. Now we have all been there. None of us has worshipped perfectly, but the heart that cares nothing about the welfare of others will suffer the most not at the hands of humans but at the hands of God. Remember Jacob and Laban and trust God’s vengeance. Is it not true that God has no respect of person (Romans 2:11, Acts 10:34)? For many who claim to know him still today blindly judge according to their own perceived status. Yet people will first remember how someone responded to their presence of being before they remember any particular act on their behalf? Is it not true that God sent his son to be the advocate for everyone whether they believe or not? Yet many claim to believe, and advocate only for themselves and not other people. The ground at the foot of the cross is level ground and only the atoning sacrifice of Christ himself is perfect for all people. Thus, the tangled web of life is easily reconciled by the heart, which seeks, confesses, believes and knows, that God gives the true light that shows the way to go.

Deception; God’s Avenges; Blind Authority; One True Advocate One True Light

Love As God Loves

The one who truly loves one’ self does not focus on breaking other people down, in order to uphold their own perceived authority. The only true authority that any one person has is that of which God has commanded, which is to love as God loves. That love does not change because of whom one perceives one self to be or the place one holds in life. There is only one true authority, one true love. This, the believer knows, the believer understands, the believer lives and the believer is made free.

John 8:33-47Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word. Whoever is from God hears the words of God.

Romans 13:1-14‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

Psalm 91

Those who love me, I will deliver;
I will protect those who know my name.
When they call to me, I will answer them;
I will be with them in trouble,
I will rescue them and honour them.
With long life I will satisfy them,
and show them my salvation.