Monday, November 24, 2014

Daily lesson for November 24, 2014

Today daily lesson is from Galatians chapter 6 verses 9 and 10:

9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone . . ."

There is a saying in life that nice guys finish last. There may very well be some truth to that. There are a lot of people on the top rungs of the ladder who lied, cheated, and stole their way there while the nice guys have been passed up.

But nice guys know that there are actually two ladders being climbed. One is the ladder of success. The other is the ladder of character. The nice guys are climbing the ladder of character, which means they will not lie, cheat nor steal, nor even despise those who do. Nice guys may finish dead last going up the ladder of success; but it turns out that ladder is only half as high as the ladder of character.

I've said it before, there is no good in winning the rat race if it turns you into a rat. Stay on the ladder of character. Climb, slow if you have to, but climb. 

And keep climbing.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Daily lesson for November 21, 2014

Today's daily lesson comes from James chapter 5 verse 7 and 8:

"7 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient."

There is an old West Texas saying: The effectiveness of a rain dance has a heck of a lot to do with timing.

There are some things in life we just are not control of.  Farmers know that. They go out every day. They plant and they water. But they know they have to wait on God for the good rains and depend upon Him for things to grow.

There are many things beyond our control. Success is one of them.  But we are not called to be successful; we are called to be faithful.

Get up and plant today. Water if you can.  Work.  But be not anxious about the yield. 

Instead of a doing a desperately frantic rain dance, learn prayer and patience. And trust in the LORD of the harvest. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Daily lesson for November 20, 2014

Today's daily lesson comes from Luke chapter 17 verse 32:

"Remember Lot's wife."

At some point, many of us find ourselves in negative situations, relationships, jobs, and even cities, which on the face of things we should obviously leave yet are afraid to do so. Ultimately, we can end up stuck in these negative and even abusive situations for too long and it can cost us our emotional and physical health and sometimes even our very lives.

Jesus took Lot's wife in the story of Sodom as an analogy for people who let themselves get stuck in negative situations. When Sodom was destroyed, Lot, his wife, and his daughters were fleeing the city, yet Lot's wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt.  For whatever reason the pull of the Sodom -- negative, abusive, and even evil as it was -- drew her back into the city she needed to get out of. She ended up stuck, an object of destruction in a city of destruction.

There are some situations we just need to get out of. Leave and don't look back. Remember Lot's wife.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Daily lesson for November 19, 2014

Today's daily lesson comes from Luke chapter 17 verses 17 through 19:

17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

Jesus sent ten lepers to the priests and along the way the lepers were healed.  Only one of the lepers returned to say thanks. Why?

My guess is its because he was a Samaritan -- an outsider. What bound the ten together originally was their leprosy. So long as all of them had leprosy they were all equals. But when the priests pronounced the other nine clean the nine stayed right where they were with the priests. The Samaritan went back to Jesus.  Jesus told him that his faith had saved him.

I wonder if this might be a parable about the church. We get cleansed of our sins and then form church based on our little social cliques, affinity groups, racial compositions, and socioeconomic status.  This becomes our salvation.  But the social outcasts -- the alcoholics, the addicts, the parolees, the poor, the gays, the transgendered, the tattooed, the racially mixed, the publicly humiliated -- find no salvation in the group. They are still unclean according to the world. So in desperation they turn back to the only place they can turn. They turn back to Jesus. And like the Samaritan, in Jesus they find that they are not only cleansed, they are actually accepted and made whole.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Daily lesson for November 18, 2014

Today's daily lesson comes from Luke chapter 17 verses 5 and 6:

5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

We already have all the faith we need to face all that we must face in life.

One day, the disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith. Facing all that they were about to face they wanted more courage, more conviction, and greater trust.  Jesus told them if they had faith the size of a tiny mustard seed they could tell a whole tree to uproot itself and be replanted in the sea.

That must have left them wondering, "Do I not have faith at least the size of a mustard seed?"

We lack courage, conviction, and trust at times.  We wonder if we have all that is necessary to face the demands of the day.  We wish that we were stronger, braver, and not so afraid.  We wish for greater faith.  But Jesus' words come today to remind us that while we do not have all the faith that we would wish for, we do have a mustard seed's worth - a tiny little mustard seed's worth. And that is enough.

We do not need any more than what we already have to face all that today will bring us. Let us have faith in who we are, in where we are, in what got us here, and in the One who will get us there when the time is right.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Daily Lesson for November 17, 2014

Today's daily lesson comes from Habakuk chapter 2 verse 3:

3 For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
it will surely come; it will not delay.

We are in the midst of a visioning process at Second B and were scheduled to have a very important meeting yesterday.  This was the last of three congregational meetings and the one we were all looking forward as we were to intentionally dream about the future together at this meeting.

Alas, we were snowed out. Snowed out, and given the holidays coming up, I know this meeting will have to be delayed beyond the New Year.  It was disheartening.

And then appears this lesson from the daily office this morning: "the vision awaits its appointed time."

A good reminder that the times are in God's hands and that I cannot and need not dictate that things come about on my schedule. I can control neither the snow nor the vision.  What I can do is relax, breathe deeply, pray, and trust God is in this.  That is sufficient for today; that is sufficient for everyday. 

The vision awaits its appointed time; if it tarries we wait on it. What else can we do?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Daily Lesson for November 14, 2014

Today's daily lesson comes from Luke chapter 16 verse 9:

"And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth,so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings."

Wow. I have heard of the trickle down economics, but this here is the trickle up economy.  If we make friends with our money here on earth, those friends will welcome us into heaven.

But note it says, "Make friends."  It doesn't say send a check. It doesn't say happily pay your portion of the entitlement program tax.  It doesn't even say volunteer to serve Thanksgiving dinner at the shelter. It says, "Make friends."  That may well be the most demanding commandment in the Scriptures, because friendships take time, energy, and intimacy.  In order to be a friend you first have to be willing to be close.

Sometimes when I am visiting a friend out of town we'll have lunch or dinner out at a restaurant.  After the meal, I will reach for my wallet.   "No," he says, "you're money is no good here."

When we get to heaven the first thing they are going to say is, "You're money is no good here." And the only currency we'll have left are the friendships we've made.

As I said at the beginning -- wow.