Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ephesians 1:18-19a

His incomparably great power for us who believe

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. – Ephesians 1:18-19a
Listen to Paul’s prayer for the church at Ephesus. If they only knew how much power they had available to them it would change their lives! This is rooted in doctrine but it goes beyond doctrinal understanding, the eyes of our heart have to be opened. There is a calling, an inheritance and great power available to every faith-filled believer. Pray today for the Lord to open the eyes of your heart to see it!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Matthew 18:10

Matthew 18:10 – See that you do not look down on one of these little ones

See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. – Matthew 18:10
Jesus reminds His disciples the value the He places on “these little ones,” in other words, children.

Children are important to God. “It may be God has entrusted the care of little children to a specific group of His angelic beings (their angels) who are in constant touch with the heavenly Father” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament Edition, Victor Books, 1984).

Jesus next demonstrates the importance God attaches to little children by giving the disciples the illustration of the lost sheep in Matthew 18: 12-14. After describing a man who searches for one of his hundred sheep, Jesus asks, “Will he not leave them and search for the one until he finds it?” He points out that in the same way God is concerned about “these little ones” and does not want to lose any of them.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Philippians 2:3-4

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. – Philippians 2:3-4

Amazing how the Bible convicts me sometimes.  As if I'm not expecting to be slapped with my own inquities. I've read this verse a 100 times.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition..... I've done lots of things out of ambition.... is it Selfish?  If I read on it says that I should put others ahead of my own selfish ambition.  So, if my ambition is going to harm another, use them as a stepping stone to stomp on when I'm on my way, then it is wrong. 
There is nothing wrong with ambition, just how and what we are "willing" to do to get there. 

Thank you god for reminding me.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Isaiah 58

 1-3 "Shout! A full-throated shout! Hold nothing back—a trumpet-blast shout!
Tell my people what's wrong with their lives,
   face my family Jacob with their sins!
They're busy, busy, busy at worship,
   and love studying all about me.
To all appearances they're a nation of right-living people—
   law-abiding, God-honoring.
They ask me, 'What's the right thing to do?'
   and love having me on their side.
But they also complain,
   'Why do we fast and you don't look our way?
   Why do we humble ourselves and you don't even notice?'

 3-5"Well, here's why:
   "The bottom line on your 'fast days' is profit.
   You drive your employees much too hard.
You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight.
   You fast, but you swing a mean fist.
The kind of fasting you do
   won't get your prayers off the ground.
Do you think this is the kind of fast day I'm after:
   a day to show off humility?
To put on a pious long face
   and parade around solemnly in black?
Do you call that fasting,
   a fast day that I, God, would like?
 6-9"This is the kind of fast day I'm after:
   to break the chains of injustice,
   get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
   free the oppressed,
   cancel debts.
What I'm interested in seeing you do is:
   sharing your food with the hungry,
   inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
   putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
   being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
   and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
   The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
   You'll call out for help and I'll say, 'Here I am.'
A Full Life in the Emptiest of Places
 9-12"If you get rid of unfair practices,
   quit blaming victims,
   quit gossiping about other people's sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
   and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
   your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
   I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
   firm muscles, strong bones.
You'll be like a well-watered garden,
   a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
   rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You'll be known as those who can fix anything,
   restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
   make the community livable again.
 13-14"If you watch your step on the Sabbath
   and don't use my holy day for personal advantage,
If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy,
   God's holy day as a celebration,
If you honor it by refusing 'business as usual,'
   making money, running here and there—
Then you'll be free to enjoy God!
   Oh, I'll make you ride high and soar above it all.
I'll make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob."
   Yes! God says so! 

 I was reading a portion of this scripture earlier today and it struck me, so I had to go and read the entire chapter so that I had it in context.  I'm going to be very honest here and say I am guilty of sometimes doing my own thing on the Lord's day instead of resting and dedicating it to him.  And I mean dedicating it in such a way as He has stated here.  Especially since being over here in Italy when there has been no church but the Catholic church to attend and that only in Italian.  We have been lonely and hungry for brotherhood in a language we can understand. 

But even though the world is big, we have a small neighborhood in which any of these things mentioned in this verse could still be accomplished.  Offering of food, giving of clothes, sharing of words.  I shrink away from people often here as I realize my frailty in the language.  That does not make me bound to a community and offer me the opportunity that God wants me to take. 

I loved reading this chapter today.  It really gave me a lot to chew on.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Matthew 5:5

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. – Matthew 5:5
Meek in the Bible is not the same as weak. Meekness literally means gentle. It takes great strength to be gentle. Jesus is implying that the rule and reign on his earth is to be a gentle one. To show restraint is a sign of ruling over your own passions. To be faithful in this little thing makes us rulers over much.

Today’s commentary by:
Dave Whitehead, Senior Pastor, GraceNYC.org

I like what he said.  To be gentle.  Gentle with others hearts, gentle with others beliefs, gentle with others until they come to believe.  Not weak with your faith, gentle with their hearts.  There are always loving ways to speak the truth until there is no resort but to walk away.  That's still gentle.  Justifiable anger is whole other issue.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Matthew 5:1-3

And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:1-3
"Our culture has a “believe in yourself” attitude, but Jesus says to listen to our nagging doubts. A poor person says, “I don’t have what it takes. I need to go to someone who can help me.” Jesus is that person that we need to go to. We can’t do it ourselves. We need to become poor in spirit if we expect to have the abundance in the kingdom of heaven." Commentator POV

To become poor in spirit.  How do you do that? BECOME that way? He's telling us to do the opposite of our nature, which he tells us frequently.  I need to have compassion and understanding, which brings about love, which fosters Christ.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

They will be mine,” says the LORD Almighty, “in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.” – Malachi 3:17-18
Malachi spoke as a prophet to God’s people during a time when their national identity was being restored. The Jewish exiles had returned from Babylon to Israel, Ezra saw temple worship restored, and Nehemiah had rebuilt Jerusalem. Malachi is telling the people of God that the knowledge of God was again being restored. Even when the people of God seemed to be vanquished, God showed himself faithful again. The grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of our God will last forever.

I'm so glad that His word lasts.  I need it.  I'm glad that the Lord wants to claim me as his own, after all the things I've done and will probably do again.   God is righteous and he wants me to be his righteousness. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

Matthew 4:1-4

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” – Matthew 4:1-4
Notice the Scripture states that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert. In ancient times, the desert is equated with a place incapable of sustaining life. Matthew (with Luke and Mark) is stating that Jesus was going into a place where His only hope would be in God. Notice that the journey into the desert was the first act of Jesus ministry after His baptism. Do you feel like you are in a wilderness? We may think that we are being set up for destruction, but God is training us to live a life of dependence upon Him and not our surroundings. This was the path of Jesus and we should not be surprised that this is a part of our journey as well.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ecclesiastes 4:10

If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! – Ecclesiastes 4:10
We are created to live in community and engage in caring relationships with one another.

Should any of us falter, or have unexpected needs, a friend can come along to lend a hand. But when a person lives in isolation, too “independent” to need or help anybody else, he or she quickly discovers no one is there when trouble comes.

We need one another. Jesus taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves (see Matthew 19:19). Love for one another is not some passive feeling, but a practical response to a need expressed through “compassion in action.”

I love this scripture, it speaks to our need for friends.  Since living here in Italy, I have been severely lacking in friends.  I don't speak the language and it makes it even more difficult.  I think if I needed help I could go downstairs to the Super.  Tom loaded my phone with people from his work, but if I just needed someone on who I could rely..... well, it would just be Tom.  That is not a bad thing, because since being here, we have learned to rely on each other, a much needed lesson!!  God blessed me with this and I've fallen down plenty since being here and he has lovingly picked me up.

This scripture goes along with my absolute favorite verse, 2 Cor 1:4. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Psalm 3:3

But you are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. – Psalm 3:3
This psalm was written while David was fleeing as his own son, Absalom, was attempting to take over David’s kingdom. The emotions in this psalm run strong and well they should. Yet in the midst of this turmoil David cries out to God to be his shield. God is ultimately the one who lifts our head from our current circumstances. As we cry aloud God will answer!

Recently someone told me that he stopped praying and nothing happened.  He had prayed and suddenly realized that nothing really happened.  He began wondering if God was really there.  That deviation has taken him far off the track.  I believe Satan wants us to believe that we would cry out to God and he wouldn't hear us or do anything to help us.  But, here David clearly cries out and his cries are heard by God often.  God answered him clearly.  Make no mistake that God hears our pleas, cares and answers.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Proverbs 15:32

He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding. – Proverbs 15:32
OH THIS IS SO HARD!  I've been disciplened and the normal reaction to be defensive and to give excuses or even lie to get out of it are the instant responses that creep to the top.  On the occasions that I have correctly received the correction it has been so much better for me.  I've learned and been blessed for receiving it.  Weird that you could be blessed for being corrected but it is true.  It causes us to be stronger, humble, and to grow.  I hope that I will continue to accept correction and not be the instant defensive.  I know I will be again, but I'm so glad that God gives us reminders like this verse. 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

2 Corinthians 4:18

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:18
God gave us this Scripture and prayer because we need eternal reference points to navigate in a world that is passing away.  I'm so grateful he did.  Some days I feel exceptionally frail at seeing past the reality (unreality) of this world. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

1 Timothy 6:18-19

Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. – 1 Timothy 6:18-19
Being selfish in nature, giving is meant to be a little bit of a struggle at first.  Pushing past it is the thing I have found brings you greater joy.  Once you start sharing what God has blessed you with, all of a sudden the blessings start pouring back to you.  I heard a preacher once say that "you can't out give God, just try."  Well, we did try and every time we increased, HE increased.  I don't like the preaching that we get what we give here on earth, because that seems to preach a payment mentality.  This scripture is clear that we are storing up treasures in heaven.  But, the part about taking hold of life that is truly life is the best part of the giving.  Whatever it is that you have to give, time, money, influence, do so courageously and with an open heart.  I'm preaching to myself here, saying it out loud so that I get it even more. 

Onward and Upward,