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Showing posts from October, 2016

It's not about us

Daily reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-17 Saturday October 29, 2016
Focus passage: And the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make a dynasty for you. 2 Samuel 7:11b.
In this about face, God reminds David, that this isn’t about what he can do.  It is about what God can do through him.  We all are humbled with this reminder.  What we are about is tuning into God’s dream and vision.  It’s not about us.
God doesn’t need David to build God a house.  God doesn’t need David to be the architect, because ultimately we need God to be the architect of the kingdom.  We need God to be the architect of our community.

Prayer: God, help me to put you first in my thoughts and in my actions.  May I be an instrument for you today.  Amen.

God's Grace

Daily reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-17 Friday October 28, 2016
Focus passage: I’m going to provide a place for my people Israel, and plant them so that they may live there and no longer be disturbed. 2 Samuel 7:10
God needs David to be faithful.  David has yet to fully understand the nature of God’s grace. God needs David to be faithful because God is abundantly faithful.  God needs us to be faithful because God is abundantly faithful.
God desires that we are generous, because our God is generous.  God desires that we have a heart for those in need because God has a heart for those in need.  God desires that in all that we do, we place God first. 
May our actions, our words, our ministry comes from a place of abundant faithfulness.

Prayer: God, help me to put you first in my thoughts and in my actions.  May I be an instrument for you today.  Amen.

Abundant Faithfulness

Daily reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-17 Thursday October 27, 2016
Focus passage: And the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make a dynasty for you. 2 Samuel 7:11b.
God says, I have been abundantly faithful to you and I will continue to be abundantly faithful. I will continue to make your name great and I will make a dynasty for you, a house if you will.
God turns the table and tells David; let me tell you what I will do for you.  David is who he is because of what God has done through him.  It has always been about being an active part in God’s continuing promise to God’s people.  It has always been about our abundantly faithful God.

Prayer: God, help me to put you first in my thoughts and in my actions.  May I be an instrument for you today.  Amen.

Putting God First

Daily reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-17 Wednesday October 26, 2016
Focus passage: In fact, I haven’t lived in a temple from the day I brought Israel out of Egypt until now.  Instead, I have been traveling around in a tent and in a dwelling. 2 Samuel 7:6
David had in essence completed the task, the people were now in the land of promise, the land flowing with milk and honey and what more of a legacy could he leave behind than not only constructing a palace for his dynasty but also a permanent temple for God to mark this moment in history for all time?
David had this image for how God would fit into the world and wanted to box it in with bricks and mortar.  Let me show my gratitude in a way that I see is fitting for God. Sojourners seek for something tangible, a future possibility; it is what drives them forward. Now that David is in this settled place, no longer on the battlefield, no longer running for his life, no longer facing the giants that seek to destroy his people, he wants to do something fo…

Settled

Daily reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-17 Tuesday October 25, 2016
Focus passage: When the king was settled in his palace, and the LORD had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies. 2 Samuel 7:1
There is a dangerous foreshadowing that takes place here… David has quote unquote, arrived, the people have arrived. David is settled and it is at these points in our lives when we have arrived, when we are settled, that we are tempted to believe that we no longer need God, at least not in the way that we needed God when we were on the journey.   David has arrived and he will eventually do whatever he is thinking.  In terms of his relationship with Bathsheba, the result is disastrous.  He is a flawed human being, like we all are, yet God is able to work through him, because God is abundantly faithful.

Prayer: God, help me to put you first in my thoughts and in my actions.  May I be an instrument for you today.  Amen.

Prayer continued

Daily reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-17 Monday October 24, 2016
Focus passage: But that very night the LORD’s word came to Nathan. 2 Samuel 7:4
Prayer is a conversation; it is not only about pouring our hearts and minds out to God, it is also about listening for God’s response and guidance.  Response is registered differently in each of us; it is a fine art that is crafted over years of faithfulness.

Prayer: God, help me to put you first in my thoughts and in my actions.  May I be an instrument for you today.  Amen.

Prayer

Daily reading 2 Samuel 7:1-17 Sunday October 23, 2016
Focus passage: the king said to the prophet Nathan, “Look, I’m living in a cedar palace, but God’s chest is housed in a tent!”  Nathan said to the king, “Go ahead and do whatever you are thinking, because the LORD is with you.” 2 Samuel 7:2-3
I think today’s passage might be one of the most challenging passages of scripture, because we have probably all been where David has been.  We have had this great idea or inspiration behind a ministry that we see a need for, but our motivation is off balance.   David decides that God needs a permanent dwelling place and speaks to his pastor, Nathan, about it and before Nathan can pray about it, before David can pray about it, they both agree that it is a wonderful idea.  Do you see where they were misguided? What didn’t they do? They didn’t pray about it.
I can only imagine that Nathan didn’t even think twice about it.  His days were probably filled with requests to pray for situations in people’s …

Faithful stewardship

Daily reading: 1 Samuel 1:9-11,19-20, 2:1-10 Friday October 21, 2016
Focus passage: “Excuse me sir!” Hannah said.   “As surely as you live, sir, I am the woman who stood here next to you, praying to the LORD.  I prayed for this boy, and the LORD gave me what I asked from him.  So now I give this boy back to the LORD.  As long as he lives, he is given to the LORD.”  Then they worshiped there before the LORD. 1 Samuel 1:26-28
This story, then, is also not only a story of faithfulness, it is also a story of stewardship.  A faithful steward chooses to enter into active partnership with God and with others. 
Hannah understood deeply that our relationship with God costs something.  Our faithful life is a constant bending and movement toward God and should be reflected holistically in our life.   Our stewardship of all that we have and all that we are, is then lived out as acts of faithfulness.  We together, with our resources, help the vision of God’s kingdom to become manifest in our world. 

Freely giving

Daily reading: 1 Samuel 1:9-11,19-20, 2:1-10 Thursday October 20, 2016
Focus passage: Then Hannah prayed: My heart rejoices in the LORD.  My strength rises up in the LORD!  My mouth mocks my enemies because I rejoice in your deliverance.  No one is holy like the LORD – no, no one except you!  There is no rock like our God! 1 Samuel 2:1-2
Hannah is able to see that the gift of her son was never hers to hoard.  In her promise to give Samuel to the temple, she recognizes that everyone is a valuable member of society. We don’t hear a word about her struggle to give; instead she sings a song of praise and strength that has come from God.  She sings a song, rightly taking her place in her community, speaking words of faithfulness to a budding nation that is in chaos. 

Prayer:  God, help me to see how I can fully live my life as an offering to you.  Amen.

A generous gift

Daily reading: 1 Samuel 1:9-11,19-20, 2:1-10 Wednesday October 19, 2016
Focus passage: “Excuse me sir!” Hannah said.   “As surely as you live, sir, I am the woman who stood here next to you, praying to the LORD.  I prayed for this boy, and the LORD gave me what I asked from him.  So now I give this boy back to the LORD.  As long as he lives, he is given to the LORD.”  Then they worshiped there before the LORD. 1 Samuel 1:26-28
The remarkable part of the story is when she offers to God even before she has it, the gift of her son to the priesthood.  Before the son is even within her grasp, before she can feel the first movement of him in her womb, she trusts her child into the future.
I can only imagine what it will feel like when we take our daughter and  our son to college and leave them and come back home to go through the rhythm of fall, winter and spring without them at home.  Dan and I have been given 18 years to prepare ourselves for this day.  I cannot imagine what Hannah felt takin…

Prayer

Daily reading: 1 Samuel 1:9-11,19-20, 2:1-10 Tuesday October 18, 2016
Focus passage:  Then she made this promise: “LORD of heavenly forces, just look at your servant’s pain and remember me!  Don’t forget your servant!  Give her a boy!  Then I’ll give him to the LORD for his entire life.  No razor will ever touch his head.” 1 Samuel 1:11 Rather than pray for a son who will eventually take care of her in her waning years, Hannah prays for a son she can give him as an offering to God to bless her nation.
Hannah prays a prayer of faithfulness.  In fact, in this story, even more so than the priest who assumes she is drunk when she is praying, Hannah is the example of faithfulness.   She prays knowing that God restores life, and moves among our dead and broken spaces in our lives and in our community and transforms us from the inside out.

Prayer:  God, help me to see how I can fully live my life as an offering to you.  Amen.

Barren

Daily reading: 1 Samuel 1:9-11,19-20, 2:1-10 Monday October 17, 2016
Focus passage: And because the LORD had kept her from conceiving, her rival would make fun of her mercilessly, just to bother her. 1 Samuel 1:6
Hannah’s barrenness surely is a sore spot for herself but to add to her sorrow, her husband’s other wife makes fun of her barrenness year after year.  Despite her husband’s deep abiding love for her, she still longs for a son.
Hannah refuses to eat at the temple and is driven to tears and in her prayers she asks God to remember her when she is at the temple. Remember me, she prays.  Re-member me.  Put me back together God.  Re-member my disjointed family God.  Re-member my community and my place in it.  Re-member the broken places, the barren places, the dead places in my life and in my family’s life, remember me.

Prayer:  God, help me to see how I can fully live my life as an offering to you.  Amen.

Heartbreak and Sorrow

Daily reading: 1 Samuel 1:9-11,19-20, 2:1-10 Sunday October 16, 2016
Focus passage:  Hannah was very upset and couldn’t stop crying as she prayed to the LORD.  1 Samuel 1:10
Today, we are introduced to a woman named Hannah.  The first thing to note about Hannah is that she is married to Elkanah who is also married to Peninnah.  Hannah is barren.  Reminding us of the other barren women in the biblical narrative so far; we remember Sarah and Abraham, and we remember Jacob and Rachel; other matriarchs in this family line that God promised make great through numerous children.
Despite her heartbreak and sorrow, Hannah will not be like the woman who came before her.  She will not be like Sarah who banished the child Ishamel and his mother and Hagar from the family after she was able to have Isaac with Abraham.  She will not be like Rachel who competed with her older sister Leah to bear children for their husband, Jacob. Hannah’s actions come from her abiding faithfulness and her belief that God…

Remembering God

Daily reading: Exodus 12:1-13, 13:1-8 Saturday October 8, 2016
Focus passage: Moses said to the people, “Remember this day which is the day that you came out of Egypt, out of the place you were slaves, because the LORD acted with power to bring you out of there.” Exodus 13:3
And so we tell the story and remind our children that God delivers us from suffering; because if we don’t tell the story other stories will come to dominate our narrative.  Stories that lead us to believe that there isn’t enough to go around, stories that say that we need to look out for ourselves only and not our neighbor in need, stories that tell us that  we are meant to be fragmented rather than whole, where some voices are excluded.  
And so we tell the story of an abundant, extravagant God coupled with a willing extraordinarilytrusting people to undergo a major transformation from slavery to freedom.
We tell the story of how hard it is to let go.  We tell the story that God meets us in the unexpected future. 
Pr…

Preparing to let go

Daily reading: Exodus 12:1-13, 13:1-8 Friday October 7, 2016
Every member of the community has the same meal that evening.  They together eat bitter herbs to remember the hardship, suffering and tears of slavery.  It is not only something in their memories, with blistered hands and bent over backs, they taste the experience of bondage.  They also share in flat bread made without yeast as a sign of their readiness to leave quickly to freedom.  The lamb is roasted, rather than boiled in the water of Egypt, that through the plagues had become a source of death.  They roast it over the fire, remembering the story of the burning bush and liberator Moses’ call to lead them to freedom.  They roast the lamb over the fire and we readers anticipate the fire that will lead them through the wilderness to freedom and new life.
They are instructed to eat all of the roasted meat.  None is to go to waste.  In this moment God is crafting a new economy.  Everyone has enough which stands in stark contrast …

The doorpost to freedom

Daily reading: Exodus 12:1-13, 13:1-8 Thursday October 6,2016
Focus passage:  They should take some of the blood and smear it on the two doorposts and on the beam over the door of the houses in which they are eating.  Exodus 12:7
The transition toward freedom is marked by the blood of the lamb on everyone’s doorpost.  These homes were never meant to be their permanent dwelling places, because their home is a future possibility, in Canaan in the land of promise. 
Yet they mark the most important part of their temporary dwelling, the doorpost, the place that is both the entry and exit point of the home.  At first it protects them from the final plague and then becomes the exit from slavery into freedom.
Their faith is made visible in the marking of the door and the movement over the threshold for the last time the following day.  They are letting go.  When we let go, we recognize in that we moment that we are more than our past experiences, we are more than just what we have accumulated, ou…

Community in action

Daily reading: Exodus 12:1-13, 13:1-8 Wednesday October 5, 2016
In order to prepare God gives the entire community something to do, their daily routine for that last day as slaves is ordered by God, beginning the striking transition that has to happen for a people to be free.   It is important to note that freedom cannot materialize unless the people are willing to move from it.  No longer are they to follow the order of Pharaoh that takes, kills and oppresses.  Their value will no longer be measured by their ability to fulfill the latest brick quota for Pharaoh.  Their value no longer will be something they earn; it will be measured by extravagant love God who calls them children.
In order to reorient the people to freedom time, they must let go of the past, in community.  God begins to build the community by giving them all, every single one of them a shared task.  At the moment of twilight, literally the time between the evenings, at the marking of the end of one day and the beginning…

Remembering

Daily reading: Exodus 12:1-13, 13:1-8 Tuesday October 4, 2016
Focus passage: Moses said to the people, “Remember this day which is the day that you came out of Egypt, out of the place you were slaves, because the LORD acted with power to bring you out of there.” Exodus 13:3
It is not long after the instructions for the day and evening are laid out that the people are told that in the future they will tell their children about this day.  Future time set aside will happen to remember and to celebrate liberation and freedom, even after they have arrived in the Promised Land.  Every year this act of faithfulness to God will be a time of remembering and reorienting themselves as a people of freedom. The instructions thus begin a lived narrative in which a hoped for future is marked with celebration and freedom.

Prayer:  Faithful God, you lead us into an unknown future, help me to let go of the things, attitudes, assumptions and habits that are keeping me from living joyfully in the future.  Am…

Time

Daily reading: Exodus 12:1-13, 13:1-8 Monday October 3, 2016
Focus passage: “This month will be the first month; it will be the first month of the year for you.” Exodus 12:2
Our passage for today is the foundational story in the Hebrew Scriptures, it is a story that is repeated throughout the Hebrew Scriptures and it is the basis for the annual Passover celebration.  It is a celebration story about our God who delivers us from slavery to freedom, from death to life and how to move forward trusting in God’s economy as a community.
It is such a pivotal story that God tells the people that this event, this Exodus from slavery will radically change their lives.  Even down to their calendars, this month God says will be the beginning of your annual calendar.  You begin your year by remembering this monumental event when your prayers were answered and you were delivered to freedom. All orientation down to the marking of time begins with this moment of liberation and freedom.
We value our time.  W…

God responding to deep need

Daily reading: Exodus 12:1-13, 13:1-8 Sunday October 2, 2016
Focus passage: Then the LORD said, “I’ve clearly seen my people oppressed in Egypt.  I’ve heard their cry of injustice because of their slave masters.  I know about their pain.  I’ve come down to rescue them from the Egyptians in order to take them out of that land and bring them to a good and broad land, a land that’s full of milk and honey …” Exodus 3:7-8
We have been exploring the stories of the Hebrew Scriptures through the lens of the promising God.  Two weeks ago we explored the story of God promising Abraham and Sarah to become the patriarchs and matriarchs of a great nation, to live in a land of promise and for their family to be a great blessing.  The family has grown in three generations to be quiet large; Jacob had a total of 12 sons.  Last week we saw that despite the famine that hit Canaan, the family is preserved through the work of their brother Joseph.  We read in the beginning of the book of Exodus that the fam…