Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Today's daily lesson is from Luke 19 verse 5:
And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”
One of my great-aunts used to say that Jesus came not only for the down-and-out but also for the up-and-out too.
In the tree, Zacchaeus was literally up-and-out. But he was also up-and-out in the community. A wealthy man, Zacchaeus earned his living from a morally dubious enterprise. For that people despised him and labeled him a "sinner". When Jesus came to Zacchaaeus's hometown, it was said that Zacchaeus was so short that he had to climb a tree in order to see Jesus over the crowd. But I wonder if the reason why Zacchaeus himself could not be apart of the crowd was because he was profoundly rejected by the people. Though he was rich, he had no friends and no fellowship and no one who might take the time to know him. He was up the tree and out of community.
And as the children's Sunday school song says it,
"As the savior passed that way
He looked up in the tree.
And said - 'Zacchaeus, you come down!
For I'm going to your house today!
For I'm going to your house today!'"
I don't know why it is we sing the last line of the song twice, except maybe this -- perhaps it has to be said twice just to be believed. As the crowd says in disbelief, Jesus "has gone to be the guest of the sinner." He has gone to be the guest of Zacchaeus.
Whether we are down-and-out in the gutter or up-and-out in a penthouse separating and protecting us from the world, there is no one beyond the love and reach of Christ. As the Magnificat says, "He lifts up the lowly and bring down the rich." He lifts some up and brings others down and does so because his desire is to be with all and for all to be with each other.
And what He creates is called the kingdom of God.
Prayer: LORD, help me to see others as Jesus sees them. Help me not to be haughty toward the poor nor hostile toward the rich. May I, like Jesus, seek to create fellowship and community with and for all. Amen.
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
A lesson on the day after a jury's decision and ensuing rioting:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
Monday, 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
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
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
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
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.