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Giving matters more than the gift

Morning: Psalm 30, 32; Ezekiel 39:21-29; Philippians 4:10-20 Evening: Psalm 42, 43; John 17:20-26
What do you give to ‘someone who has everything’?  He may actually have everything, or maybe he simply has enough.  Paul thanks the community in Philippi for their kindness in sending him gifts.  Then he goes on to say that he doesn’t really need anything, because he has learned to be content with what he has, whether it’s a lot or a little … but he’s glad they sent gifts anyway because it’s good for them to give!  In other words, we may need to give more than the recipient needs our gift.
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Think on these things

Morning: Psalms 95, 31; Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32; Philippians 4:1-9

Evening: Psalm 35; John 17:9-19
In my youth, few words of Scripture affected me as profoundly as these words of St. Paul: “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” I’ve taken my eye off the ball many times since, but Paul’s words are still a touchstone I rely on.

Will what I’m after really satisfy my heart?

Morning: Psalm 37:1-18; Habbakuk 3:1-18; Philippians 3:12-21
Evening: Psalm 37:19-42; John 17:1-8

Jesus and Paul both bid us to pursue what is life-giving – “where your treasure is, there will your heart be”; don’t set your hearts on earthly treasure … or Keep Your Eyes on the Prize!  Paul’s phrase became a popular Civil Rights song.  Jesus’ call to ‘repent’ is about the same thing … one writer says it means, “Change the direction in which you look for happiness.” In other words, you won’t find happiness or fulfilment in things.  What prize (or ‘treasure’) am I after?  Will it satisfy my heart?

The proud will be humbled, the humble lifted up

Morning: Psalms 95, 32, 143;Amos 5:6-15; Hebrews 12:1-14
Evening: Psalms 102, 130; Luke 18:9-14

It may be no coincidence that the name of the Charles Dickens character, Uriah Heep in David Copperfield, rhymes with ‘creep’.  He makes your skin crawl with his “yer ’umble servant” routine that has nothing to do with humility or service.  He reeks of falsehood.  A proud person may tend to hide his true self for shame.  ‘Pride’ rhymes with ‘hide’.  But the humble man is not ashamed to be himself.  The humble woman speaks the truth about herself.  There is nothing to hide when you know you’re lovable just as you are, warts ‘n’ all.

40 days on the trail of Truth

Morning: Psalms 26, 28;Proverbs 30:1-4, 24-33; Philippians 3:1-11Evening: Psalms 36, 39; John 18:28-38
This evening, Christians around the world begin a season of special devotion, prayer and reflection – Lent – as the days ‘lengthen’ into Spring.  Light is growing, perhaps understanding too.  The Gospel links Jesus’ death with his “testifying to the Truth”.  Pilate asks, tantalizingly, “What is Truth?” implying Truth is unattainable.  There are mysteries here, the tale of the profound shared experience of a small group of Jesus’ followers … Their experience of the life and death of their master transformed their understanding, their lives, and the world.  Lent invites us to enter and, for 40 days, attend to their world-changing experience.

Goodness all the way down

Morning: Psalm 25;Proverbs 27:1-12; Philippians 2:1-13
Evening: Psalms 9, 15; John 18:15-18, 25-27

An old woman challenges a philosopher, saying we live on a crust of earth on the back of a turtle.  The philosopher wonders, “What’s the turtle standing on?”  To which she replies, “It’s no good professor … it’s turtles all the way down.” St. Paul claims goodness comes from beyond us yet goodness is at work in us.  He says Jesus is goodness and humility itself, in human form.  Paul would be overjoyed if we humans could find that same humility, our essential earthy goodness.  And from there? … Well, it’s goodness all the way down don’t you know?

What profit if you gain the world but lose yourself?

Morning: Psalms 148, 149, 150; 2 Corinthians 3:7-18
Evening: Psalms 114, 115; Luke 9:18-27
How complex we humans are.  Sometimes, the face we show to the world is not really our own, but a mask that hides our true self.  Perhaps we are ashamed of who we are, or we do not really know who we are?  We may have spent our lives presenting an image that meets others’ expectations; religion can sometimes cause this.  Jesus says you may have to lose yourself to find yourself – that is, lose the mask and let the ‘real you’ be known.  Be yourself, the one you were made to be.