170225Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes, and I will observe it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. Turn my heart to your decrees, and not to selfish gain. Turn my eyes from looking at vanities; give me life in your ways. Confirm to your servant your promise, which is for those who fear you. Turn away the disgrace that I dread, for your ordinances are good. See, I have longed for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life. (Psalm 119:33-40, NRSV)

This section of Psalm 119 reminded me of the hymn Lead Me, Guide Me and I do not think I could expound on this better than that hymn, so here is the text of the hymn.

Lead Me, Guide Me

Lead me oh Lord, won’t you lead me
I am tired and I need Thy strength and power
To guide me over my darkest hour
For just open my eyes that I may see
Lead me oh Lord, won’t you lead me

Lead me, guide me along the way
For if you lead me I cannot stray
Or just open my eyes that I may see
Lead me oh Lord, won’t you lead me
I am lost if you take your hand from me
I am blind without try light to see

Lord just always let me Thy servant be
Lead me oh Lord, won’t you lead me
Lead me, guide me along the way
For if you lead me I cannot stray

Lord just open my eyes that I may see
Lead me oh Lord, won’t you lead me

170224Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21, NRSV)

Haughty. What a great word. Do not think more of yourself than you ought to and do not think you are better than other people, and even if you are do not let that keep you from interacting with everyone.

Bless those who curse you.

Extend hospitality to all.

Love your enemies.

This is love in action.

This is what God calls us to be.

Here is the photo a day challenge for 2017. Make sure you hashtag your pictures so I can follow what you are doing.

photo-a-day-lent-2017

170219“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:27-36, NRSV)

This has to be one of the hardest things to following Jesus.

Because this is what is supposed to set us as Christians apart from the rest of the world. Because as Jesus said everyone loves those who love them and lend to those who will repay and forgive those who ask.

But as Christians we have to love those who hate us, and forgive everyone and lend to all without expecting anything in return.

Because that is what God did for us.

Grace and mercy are gifts, freely given to us, so that we can give them to the world.

170222“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye. “Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you. “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. (Matthew 7:1-12, NRSV)

Judging, logs, specks what does it all mean?

We often hear people say that the Bible says “Do not judge.” Well it does but there is not a period after judge there is a comma, and it continues that you will be judged with the judgment you give. Not do not judge, but do not judge unless you are willing to be judged also.

And don’t look at the wrongs with your neighbor until you have taken care of your own issues.

Because we all want everyone to follow the golden rule. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

But what caught my attention this reading was the very last phrase, for this is the law and the prophets. To Jesus, who is the one who said this, the law and the prophets is short hand for the sum total of the Hebrew Scriptures. So all of the Hebrew Scriptures is pointing us to treat others as we want to be treated. So treat others with love, because that is what God did for you.

170221According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward.  If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire.  Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God. (1 Corinthians 3:10-23, NRSV)

Everyone who adds to the church builds on what those before have built, but all of it is built on the foundation laid in Jesus Christ.

And anyone who tries to destroy the church, God will destroy that person.

We all belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God, and what we build should be built for God.

So add to the church, by living on the foundation of Jesus.

170220The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. You shall each revere your mother and father, and you shall keep my sabbaths: I am the LORD your God. Do not turn to idols or make cast images for yourselves: I am the LORD your God. When you offer a sacrifice of well-being to the LORD, offer it in such a way that it is acceptable on your behalf. It shall be eaten on the same day you offer it, or on the next day; and anything left over until the third day shall be consumed in fire. If it is eaten at all on the third day, it is an abomination; it will not be acceptable. All who eat it shall be subject to punishment, because they have profaned what is holy to the LORD; and any such person shall be cut off from the people. When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the LORD your God. You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; and you shall not lie to one another. And you shall not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God: I am the LORD. You shall not defraud your neighbor; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning. You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind; you shall fear your God: I am the LORD. You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the LORD. You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:1-18, NRSV)

How are we to live:

Honor mother and father.

Do not make idols.

Make acceptable sacrifices, and eat them in the right amount of time.

Reap your harvest but leave some for gleaning.

Do not steal.

Do not deal falsely.

Do not lie.

Do not swear falsely.

Do not profane the name of the Lord.

Do not defraud your neighbor.

Do not steal.

Pay people when they work.

Do not make fun of the deaf.

Do not cause the blind to stumble.

Fear God and follow where He leads you.

Pretty simple, right?