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you give life

Then the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, “Stand up and bless the Lord your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.” And Ezra said: “You are the Lord, you alone; you have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. To all of them you give life, and the host of heaven worships you. (Nehemiah 9:5-6, NRSV)

God created all and gave life to all.

We think that our life is something we can make for ourselves, but we actually don’t start to live until we realize that everything we have has been given to us by God, and in that, we are freed to give as God gave to us. And in that freedom and giving, you will find life beyond imagination.

So don’t confuse a living with a life!

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Walk Dusty

walk-dusty-banner_614x900Walk Dusty…

As we enter March we enter Lent. A time to remember we are dust. A time to put on sackcloth and ashes and contemplate out lives.

Well maybe not. But it is a time for reflection on the sacrifice our savior made for us. The reading for today, Ash Wednesday, from Matthew tells us to practice our piety in secret. To not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing. To not pray in public, to not make it look like we are fasting.

So why am I, and Old Lutheran, saying, Walk Dusty? Shouldn’t we show off our faith?

Well, who or what are we drawing attention to? You see all the things in the Matthew reading draws attention to us. We pray in public for attention and give so others see us and fast so we get noticed for what we are doing.

But it is not about us. When we walk dusty, we remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for us and we step out of the way and allow Him to shine through our dirty lives to give God the glory. Attention is not on us, but on Christ who is the one who lives through us.

In our brokenness, He makes us whole. We journey in our dusty dirty lives stepping out of His way so that He is glorified through our lives.

This Lent I invite you to walk dusty, and live your faith out loud so that God gets the glory!

 

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Walk Dusty…

walk dusty“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18, NRSV)

Ash Wednesday seems counteractive to the reading from today. This is the day we go to worship and have the imposition of ashes. Actually, I have friends in bigger cities who go to bus stations or set up tents for drive-through ashes. People get ashes on their foreheads to remember what Christ did and to show they are connected to Christ. Yet here in the sermon on the mount, Jesus tells his followers to do everything in secret and not to even let themselves know what they are giving.

Why do we walk dusty? Why do we get the ashes?

To remind us that we are dust and to dust we will return and that that is not the end. We wear the ashes to show they world that we are human and will mess up, but that we are connected to something bigger than ourselves that is not human and is perfect. And somehow through this life we are seeking to be more like the one who saved us.

The sign of the ashes shows others the love God has for all of us and brings to light the cross that is already there, placed in our baptisms.

So walk dusty.

 

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think of yourself?

When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:7-14, NRSV)

Do not think to highly of yourself! When you go to a party or a dinner sit in a normal seat. So not to get moved out of the seat of honor.

And when you have a party or a dinner invite those you can not afford to reciprocate. You are here to serve all.

We are freed in Christ, yet we are freed to serve our neighbors.

We should not do things to be repaid, but out of love and overflowing mercy in our lives.

So do not think of yourself more highly than you ought. See what Jesus sees, and serve all around you.

 

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indescribable gift

The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. As it is written, “He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others, while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that he has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:6-15, NRSV)

No one can make you give something you don’t want to, because you will regret it and it will become a festering wound that will eat you alive inside out…

But when you free yourself to give, you will see the inherent richness in giving! When you give what has been given to you away, the one who has given it to you has space to give you even greater riches.

The gift of God is an endless flowing fountain of mercy, love and grace, and if we hold on to it it will dry up, but if we can free ourselves from worry of what we will miss because we want to be secure, we will be overwhelmingly filled beyond our wildest dreams!

So cling to the promise He will continually fill you and give to those in need around you!

 

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where is hope?

As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19, NRSV)

Let’s make this clear, the Bible never says it is a sin or wrong to be rich. You can have resources and lots of money according to the Bible. The Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil, not money. And our verse here says that if you are rich, don’t be haughty. Do not think more of yourself or look down on others because you have money.

You need to live a life defined by generosity and be rich in giving, and doing good works!

Generously give what you have received, so that everyone will live a blessed life.

We can have resources, it is all in how we use them. You see God has blessed all of us to be a blessing to others, so live a life defined by generosity and place your hope in God who blessed you, and not in the money that will not go with you into all of eternity.

 

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For whom?

‘Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. ‘So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. ‘And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. ‘And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21, NRSV)

For whom do you give alms,fast,pray? Why do you do these things?

Is it to boast your own self image?

Look at me and the great things I am doing!

We are human, so we want people to give us accolades. We want the treasure that feeds us and give us the wonderful things in life now!

But Christ tells us to store up our treasures where it can not be taken from us.

We need to watch our motives and not try to stock pile here and make a name for ourselves. Jesus is telling us to hide our giving, fasting and praying not so others don’t know we are doing these things, but so we do not get caught up in the drawing attention to ourselves and miss the point of giving, fasting and praying.

We give, fast and pray to draw closer to God, not for ourselves! We are starting a trek to deeper discipleship and Jesus is helping us with a good GPS!

 

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