Friday, April 29, 2011

James 1

The Letter of James is nothing if not direct.  And good at it.  And spot on.  A few practical ways in the first chapter of this letter:

  • Consider it nothing but JOY.
  • Let endurance have its full effect
  • Ask God for wisdom
  • Ask in faith, and DON'T DOUBT.
  • Boast in God's raising up from my lowliness. 
  • Don't be deceived. God is not tempting me.
  • Be quick to listen.
  • Be slow to speak.
  • Be slow to anger.
  • Rid self of all sordidness.
  • Welcome the Word.
  • Be Doer of the Word.
  • Care for orphans and widows.
  • Keep unstained by the world.
These are the priorities he outlines for his listeners.  He addresses their circumstances and how to react to them.  He addresses the Source from which they get understanding about their circumstances.  He addresses practical ways of living in order to survive in their circumstances.  That is chapter one.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lenten Readings (March 13, 2011, Evening)

I read the evening Psalm on my way to bed and had to post something this morning. 

Psalm 103  is one of Thanksgiving for all that God has given, for His Goodness in the middle of it all, and is one of my favorites of all of David's Psalms. 

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name!
Bless the LORD, O my sould, and DO NOT FORGET all his benefits.
He forgives all your iniquity, heals all your diseases, and redeems your life FROM THE PIT.
He crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.
He gives the good so that it satisfies as long as you live!!!

This is how it starts, and just keeps building with all the good that God gives, regardless of the fact that our response to Him sometimes is distrust, or misunderstandings, or downright rebellion. God loves us.  He does.  As we walk through hard things, as I do anyway, I want to choose to Bless the LORD regardless.  I forget to do that alot. 

This Psalm is also, in parallel to my life passage in Lamentations 3, a huge reminder that God's love is steadfast.  It is everlasting.  It goes on forever. 

And the promise made that I really, really needed to hear was that, for those who fear Him, for those who stand in awe of His Holiness and Love, through them righteousness will be passed down from generation to generation. 

Bless the LORD O my soul!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lent Readings, March 13, 2011

Psalm 63

Where has this Psalm been these last months of effort, of feeling like I'm walking around in a desert? 

O God, You are MY God, I seek you.  My Soul thirsts for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

In deciding to try once again this year to read the Lenten Readings from the Book of Common Prayer, I admit I am honestly, in a much more tired place this year.  I stopped abruptly last year as our family suffered a tragedy in the loss of one of our children's birth family members, and that, coupled with continuing to try to recover from major surgery, a loss in and of itself, just threw me.  I shouldn't have stopped, as I am fairly certain that reading Scripture would have gotten me through much better than I got through things myself, but I did, and here I am, wanting more... a year later.

And I read this Psalm, and instant tears and peace flow together. 

I have looked upon you in your Sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.  BECAUSE your steadfast LOVE is better than life, my lips will praise you.

That underlined part??? It is the truth.  There have been times when I would say "anything is better than the life that surrounds me this day" but isn't it good, refreshing, hopeful to say... "I can praise you regardless, O LORD, because I live with the assurance that Your Love will be here and overwhelm me each and every day, if only I am open to feeling it.

And David sings these words of praise from the wilderness, or desert, not from a palace.  He isn't saying this out of thanksgiving for that love so much as comfort and assurance that God is indeed present in the wilderness.

And because of this assurance of God's neverending love, "I will bless you as long as I live.  I will lift up my hands and call your name.  My soul is satisfied and my mouth praises you with joyful lips."

I don't do these things, like bless God, lift up my hands to God, call on God's name, joyfully praise him, because life doesn't at times (sometimes all the time?) feel like a desert.  No, it's about the "knowing" that God is here...and His Love endures forever.


Mark 2: 18-22

I truly need someone to preach on this passage, someone with way more wisdom than I do, to interpret Jesus's words here.  At first reading (which is what I am trying to do here, not what I would do were I to preach this from the pulpit), it seems the people are questioning, and probably trying to catch Jesus doing something wrong.  They want to know why the followers of Jesus are living differently than those who have come before.  Jesus' disciples aren't fasting in a way that "it has always been done".  And Jesus' response on the surface (and that is all this is) seems to me a foretelling about His Plan to make "all things new", to turn the world on its head, to put away the old way of doing things ~ the rules ~ in order to live in our new skins, in freedom from sin because we are redeemed once and for all, rather than in bondage to the rules that keep us from sinning.  And we live now, on this side of Jesus' redeeming act, in our new skins!  What does that mean exactly then, to how we should live???

There's more... but for a Sunday morning, we move forward to worship.  His Blessing be upon us all!