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Showing posts from June, 2016

Living Generosity

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 8:1-15 Thursday June 30, 2016
Focus passage:  A gift is appreciated because of what a person can afford, not because of what that person can’t afford, if it’s apparent that it’s done willingly. 2 Corinthians 8:12
Paul speaks to our tendency to hoard what we have while God’s tendency is to give it all away.   Our God is beyond generous, God’s mercy is wider and deeper than the ocean, God’s love is unconditional, and God’s grace is overflowing.  With the Spirit’s help, we live into depth and breathe of God’s generous nature. We are called to be generous, not just with the things we possess, but also with the spiritual gifts that we have been given.

Prayer: God fill me with a spirit of generosity so that through my words and actions others can come to more fully know you.  Amen.

Abundant Grace

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 8:1-15 Wednesday June 29, 2016
Focus passage:  Brothers and sisters we want to let you know about the grace of God that was given to the churches of Macedonia.  While they were being tested by many problems, their extra amount of happiness and their extreme poverty resulted in a surplus of rich generosity. 2 Corinthians 8:2
Abundance had spilled out into the community of Macedonia and beyond not just in kind words but also abundance that is grounded in the fundamentally understanding that everything we have, absolutely everything we have, is a gift from God.  We are then given the opportunity to take what we have been given and use it to share the gospel message with others.   

Prayer: God fill me with a spirit of generosity so that through my words and actions others can come to more fully know you.  Amen.

Generous Grace

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 8:1-15 Tuesday June 28, 2016 Focus passage:  Brothers and sisters we want to let you know about the grace of God that was given to the churches of Macedonia.  While they were being tested by many problems, their extra amount of happiness and their extreme poverty resulted in a surplus of rich generosity. 2 Corinthians 8:2 The grace that Paul speaks can be seen in acts of generosity.  He uses the community of Macedonia as an example of grace pouring out of that community in the form of generosity.  Even though they were financially struggling they, found ways to give generously to other communities.  Essential to the survival of each church that Paul helped to form was a greater web of connection.  He knew it was vital for each congregation to embody the body of Christ on a larger scale. 
Prayer: God fill me with a spirit of generosity so that through my words and actions others can come to more fully know you.  Amen.

Agents of Grace

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 8:1-15 Monday June 27, 2016
Focus passage:  Be the best in this work of grace in the same way that you are the best in everything, such as faith, speech, knowledge, total commitment, and the love we inspire in you. 2 Corinthians 8:7
When we invite the presence of God fully into our lives and begin to focus on allowing God’s love to fill and over flow out of us, we find that we are more loving toward God, toward our neighbor and toward ourselves.  The same applies when we work on forgiveness, or reconciliation, or faithfulness, or goodness or humility or grace. 
Paul invites us to be agents of grace.
How would that manifest itself in your life?  How can you be an agent of grace?

Prayer: God fill me with a spirit of generosity so that through my words and actions others can come to more fully know you.  Amen.

Living Grace

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 8:1-15 Sunday June 26, 2016
Focus passage:  They urgently begged us for the privilege of sharing in this service for the saints. 2 Corinthians 8:4
Paul talks about how our faithfulness is manifested not just in our words but also in our actions. And we get a concrete example of what a faithful life looks like. Paul grounds the passage in a message of grace.  In some translations the word grace isn’t as prevalent, but you may notice a footnote in your translation that allows you to see where the translators used a different word other than grace.  The Common English Bible translation read in verse four, “They urgently begged for us the privilege of sharing in this service for the saints,” can also be translated this way, “They urgently begged for us the grace of sharing in this service for the saints.” Have you thought of sharing as a manifestation of grace?  How does this perspective change how you think about sharing as a way of participating in the abundance…

Ambassadors for Christ

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 Saturday June 25, 2016 Focus passage: All of these new things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation.  2 Corinthians 5:18
In all things we are called to be ambassadors of Christ, to live the gospel message.  To be the example for others to see how life can be different, how it can be restored and transformed. Prayer: God we know that it is only through you that the world can be reconciled to you and to one another.  It seems impossible with news of violence beyond imagining, in words that break and split us apart, help us to find a way forward through your grace and love.  Help us to be agents of your peace.  Lead us toward reconciliation.  Through you all things are possible.  Amen.

Hope

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 Friday June 24, 2016 Focus passage: All of these new things are from god, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation.  2 Corinthians 5:18 In the messy, hurtful situations that we find ourselves in Paul speaks a message of hope.  Hope for reconciliation, hope for wholeness, hope for shalom peace that encompasses not just the self but the whole world. Pray today for God to help you to find hope in the midst of your broken relationships. Prayer: God we know that it is only through you that the world can be reconciled to you and to one another.  It seems impossible with news of violence beyond imagining, in words that break and split us apart, help us to find a way forward through your grace and love.  Help us to be agents of your peace.  Lead us toward reconciliation.  Through you all things are possible.  Amen.

Mending

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 Thursday June 23, 2016
Focus passage: So then, from this point on we won’t recognize people by human standards.  Even though we used to know Christ by human standards, that isn’t how we know him now.  So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation.  The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!  2 Corinthians 5:16-17 There is plenty that needs to be mended in our world.  All around us we find fractured relationships, dysfunctional families, broken communities, alienated individuals and lost relationships.   We have walked away from respectful conversations, where we no longer are willing to hear the other side of the story.  And at times it escalates into physical violence that only creates a larger tear in our fragile web of community. We don’t have to go far to find relationships that need restoration and reconciliation.  Be in prayer today for the places in your life and in your community that need resto…

Made New

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 Wednesday June 22, 2016
Focus passage: So then, from this point on we won’t recognize people by human standards.  Even though we used to know Christ by human standards, that isn’t how we know him now.  So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation.  The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!  2 Corinthians 5:16-17
“Once upon a time,” Paul writes “we used to see Jesus as only a person, an impressive person, maybe even as a prophet, or maybe you saw him as a false prophet like I once did and worked to make sure his followers were silenced and stopped.  But now that we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, everything has changed.” No longer do we allow the pain of our past, the things we did to ourselves or neglected to do for ourselves, the things that others did to us, calcify our hearts making us bitter and withdrawn.  No, through Christ we now see the past differently, we see our experiences through th…

Transformed

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 Monday June 20, 2016
Focus passage: All of these new things are from god, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation.  2 Corinthians 5:18
Corinth was a diverse port city and the congregation to which Paul writes is fractured not only along class lines but also along former religious lines.  It had a strong mixture of both Jews and Gentiles.  The odds seemed to be stacked against them, with so much to overcome it shouldn’t surprise us that they had so many challenges in following Christ in community. While it had from the start the most to lose, it also had the most to gain.  So, Paul writes to them a letter teaching them to comfort one another in their sorrow, to practice the spiritual discipline of forgiveness, to acknowledge that even though we might feel broken or cracked like a clay vessel God will use those cracks to shine the light of Christ out of to transform their community and world and to in a…

Broken

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 Sunday June 19, 2016
Focus passage: So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation.  The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived! 2 Corinthians 5:17 In the Brady Bunch there is this classic episode that sticks in my mind when a cherished vase is broken by the boys playing with a basketball in the house and they desperately try to fix it.  They take the broken pieces and place them on a table and put them back together much like you would a puzzle with glue. Later the vase is filled by water and flowers are placed within it.  As they all sit at the table they watch the vase start to leak water until it completely falls apart. I think that is how it is often with relationships.  We try our best to glue them back together, to mend what was broken, only to find that there are pressure points that lead to future breaking. Paul teaches us that it is through Christ that we are able to be fully reconciled to God and…

Walking by faith not by sight 2

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10 Saturday June 18, 2016
Focus passage: So we are always confident, because we know that while we are living in the body, we are away from our home with the Lord.  We live by faith and not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:6-7
Father Abraham walked by faith not by sight when he followed God’s call to be the father of a new nation, even though he and his wife had no children. 
Queen Esther walked by faith and not by sight when she spoke up to save her own people knowing that her actions could result in her own death.
David walked by faith and not by sight when he went before the giant Goliath with just a few stones and a sling shot.
The disciple Peter walked by faith and not by sight when we got out of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.
The leaders of the early church walked by faith and not by sight when they proclaimed the resurrected Christ and brought healing and wholeness to communities with their words and actions. 
Walking by faith and not by s…

Walking by faith not by sight

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10 Friday June 17, 2016
Focus passage: So we are always confident, because we know that while we are living in the body, we are away from our home with the Lord.  We live by faith and not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:6-7
The theme of walking by faith and not by sight occurs throughout the bible.  It is present in the passage that covers the 10 commandments.  When God crafted a new free people, God asked them to walk by faith and not by sight.  All they had known, all they had seen and experienced was bondage to Pharaoh.  God now crafts a vision for the future and calls them to step forward in faith, leaving behind their bondage and trusting that God will lead them in their freedom:  Freedom from all types of bondage, not just in terms of employment, but freedom for their spirits, their relationships and their community.  Because what we find is that when we are in bondage in one area of our life it affects the other areas of our life.  There is a ripple e…

What we do matters

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10 Thursday June 16, 2016
Focus passage: So we are always confident, because we know that while we are living in the body, we are away from our home with the Lord.  We live by faith and not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:6-7
How we treat one another matters in this world, not so we can earn a place in heaven that has already been given to us it is a gift not a reward, that’s why we call it grace.  How we treat one another matters in this world, because as agents of Christ’s love and grace we either can help others experience the presence of God or hinder them with our words and actions.
Consider building up rather than tearing down with your words and actions today.

Prayer: God help me to build up your kingdom today.  Help me to walk by faith and not by sight.  Guide my words and my actions.  Amen.

Letting Go

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 Tuesday June 21, 2016
Focus passage: All of these new things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation.  2 Corinthians 5:18
Our old ways of holding grudges and refusing to see the humanity in the person that has harmed us has passed away. Now, of course, this isn’t something that instantaneously happens when we confess Jesus, it is something that we have to work on.  Reconciliation then is also a spiritual discipline; it is something we have to actively engage in. We all have been reconciled to God through Christ and out of gratitude for the restoration we find in our own lives, we seek to not only embody that restoration but offer it to others. 
Prayer: God we know that it is only through you that the world can be reconciled to you and to one another.  It seems impossible with news of violence beyond imagining, in words that break and split us apart, help us to find a way forward through yo…

Freedom in Christ

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10 Wednesday June 15, 2016
Focus passage: So we are always confident, because we know that while we are living in the body, we are away from our home with the Lord.  We live by faith and not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:6-7
Our actions either help or hinder our own growth and the growth of our community.  We choose to either build up or tear down with our words and actions.  This choice of helping or hindering is a common theme throughout the bible.  We can trace it back to the beginning but I want to focus instead on the pivotal story of the Old Testament.
After God freed the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt,  God set the standard for what freedom really looks like.  It begins with the standard set in the 10 commandments.
The first commandment from the book of Exodus states, “You shall not make for yourself an idol… You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to…

Consequences

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10 Tuesday June 14, 2016
Focus passage: We all must appear before Christ in court so that each person can be paid back for the things that were done while in the body, whether were good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10
Paul then speaks about the judgment seat of Christ in which we will be paid back for the things that were done on earth.  There are a couple of ways to interpret this passage.  The most common one I often hear alludes to this being a time of punishment for wrongs we have done.  But I would like to offer a different perspective.
When we hold onto grudges we are not just hurting the person who harmed us, but we are also harming ourselves.  When we act out in anger, it harms others as well as ourselves.  When we choose to act out of anger rather than respond compassionately, we also are damaged in the relationship.  Paul reminds us that we are all connected in community and how we choose to treat one another affects us all.  There is a ripple effe…

Temporary

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10 Monday June 13, 2016
Focus passage: We know that if the tent that we live in on earth is torn down, we have a building from God.  It’s a house that isn’t handmade, which is eternal and located in heaven. 2 Corinthians 5:1
When we hold onto grudges, when we allow the pain of our past to remain within us, we are holding onto something that should have been temporary.  We find ourselves perhaps in a place of anger or sorrow.  It keeps us from focusing on the eternal lasting gifts that God offers to us, of forgiveness, reconciliation, grace, mercy, love and joy.

Prayer: God help me to build up your kingdom today.  Help me to walk by faith and not by sight.  Guide my words and my actions.  Amen.

Unity in Christ

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10 Sunday June 12, 2016
Focus passage: We don’t focus on the things that can be seen but on the things that can’t be seen.  The things that can be seen don’t last, but the things that can’t be seen are eternal.
Paul confronted the tendency to divide and separate people into smaller groups on a variety of levels.  What seems to have been happening in Corinth is that they not only divided based on their loyalty to a certain leader, Apollos or Peter, Christ or Paul, but also on the existing divisions that happened in society based on social standing and wealth. While Paul preached Christ and the unification that happens in Christ, the community continued to re-segregate in a variety of ways.
Paul preaches that we have all been made new in Christ.  The old ways have fallen away.  But, as we know, change is hard, and learning to change the culture of an organization is a long process.
All that seemed to be dividing them in Paul’s eyes was temporary. Distinc…

Let your light shine

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 4:1-15 Saturday June 11, 2016
Focus passage: We are experiencing all kinds of trouble, but we aren’t crushed.  We are confused, but we aren’t abandoned.  We are knocked down, but we aren’t knocked out. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
God is able to work through us, allowing a light to shine that is only possible through the power of God:  A light that allows us to develop, peace, love, joy, kindness, self-control, goodness and faithfulness within.   Take time to think about ways that you let your light shine:  It may be in acts of hospitality when you invite someone to share a meal at your home, it may be in sending a note or text message to a friend in need, it may be in moments when you hold your tongue and pray that God can help you to respond in a way that mends rather than breaks. Know that you are valued and loved by God, that you have been given an amazing treasure but also know that each one of us is valued and loved by God; and it is when we reach out to the needs…

Grace

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 4:1-15 Friday June 10, 2016
Focus passage: We are experiencing all kinds of trouble, but we aren’t crushed.  We are confused, but we aren’t abandoned.  We are knocked down, but we aren’t knocked out.  2 Corinthians 4:8-9
It is within community that we can recognize our own humanity in one another, in granting ourselves grace to fail and to stumble and to struggle and to grant that grace to one another to fail, stumble and struggle.
Prayer:  God fill me with your love and grace so that it can pour out into my community this week.  Amen.

Woundedness

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 4:1-15 Thursday June 9, 2016
Focus passage: But we have this treasure in clay pots so that the awesome power belongs to God and doesn’t come from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7
It is from our woundedness that we are able to better minister with and alongside one another.  Some of our strongest bonds happen when we find ourselves in community with others that have experienced the same struggles we have or have suffered in a similar way that we have. It is within community then, that we find the strength not to be crushed by the trials of life, where we find that we are not alone or abandoned in our suffering. Prayer:  God fill me with your love and grace so that it can pour out into my community this week.  Amen.

Broken

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 4:1-15 Wednesday June 8, 2016
Focus passage: But we have this treasure in clay pots so that the awesome power belongs to God and doesn’t come from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7
Paul teaches us that even though we are deeply flawed and vulnerable, God works through us.  God works through us despite our failings, God works through us even though we have cracks and have made mistakes. His words bring to light the reality that everyone one of us has issues.  Some of us are just better at hiding our issues from one another.   We are all flawed, we all have our weakness and challenges to overcome. We all face physical, emotional and spiritual challenges.  We all face challenges of attitude and selfish desires.  We all struggle at times with faithfully following Christ’s call in our lives.  We all, at times, might just feel like a broken vessel when the weight of the world is bearing down on us. It is through our brokenness that we are able to serve Christ and one another.  Not…

Jars of Clay

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 4:1-15 Tuesday June 7, 2016
Focus passage: But we have this treasure in clay pots so that the awesome power belongs to God and doesn’t come from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7
Paul reminds us how fragile life is when he speaks about how we are like clay jars.  He doesn’t liken us to steel containers, something that is sturdy and strong; no he compares us to clay jars. Clay jars are useful, but they are also fragile and easily crack, often contain imperfections, and are breakable. But Paul reminds us that we aren’t just clay jars, we are clay jars that contain a treasure and that treasure doesn’t come from us it comes from God.  It is the light of God that shines through our cracks, helping us to overcome the impossible.
Prayer:  God fill me with your love and grace so that it can pour out into my community this week.  Amen.

Unity in Christ

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 4:1-15 Monday June 6, 2016
Focus passage: God said that light should shine out of darkness.  He is the same one who shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.  2 Corinthians 4:6
In the passage for today Paul attempts to build up the community in Corinth by reminding them, once again, that it is the message of Christ that brought them together and that same message will help to heal and to move them forward in ministry. Paul reminds us that the same God who created the universe, who brought light into our world, is the same God who shines light out of our darkness. I want you to take a moment and think about that.  What does it mean to you to know that God shines light out of  darkness? What does it mean to know that God shines light out of OUR darkness?
Prayer:  God fill me with your love and grace so that it can pour out into my community this week.  Amen.