Monday, September 18, 2017

Temptations and the way to true freedom

Morning: Psalm 56, 57; I Kings 21:1-16; I Corinthians 1:1-19
Evening: Psalm 64, 65; Matthew 4:1-11

Jesus overcame three temptations; they are ours to wrestle with as well – 1. living only for my own satisfaction; 2. serving the illusion that I am more important than anyone else; and 3. spending my life in pursuit of material things, thinking they will make me happy.  Most of our quarrels with others spring from these three temptations.  Seeking to calm these inner passions is one of the great spiritual quests on the way to inner freedom and fullness of life.  It might make us nicer to be around, too.

Graham

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The truer stories of Jesus’ own people

Morning: Psalm 24, 29; I Kings 19:8-21; Acts 5:34-42
Evening: Psalm 8, 84; John 11:45-57

Both Jesus’ death and early Christianity are shrouded in mystery. But there are hints of a story different from the familiar one … The Jewish high priest sought Jesus’ death to re-unite his divided nation. The religious leaders freed Jesus’ disciples, Peter and John, so as not to oppose God’s purposes. Jesus’ own people struggled hard to figure out just who he and his disciples were. They sought to do the right thing. These truer stories must be told to counter those that demonize Jesus’ own people for his death, and that have brought such tragedy upon the Jews.

Graham

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Let your gentleness be known to everyone

Morning: Psalm 55; I Kings 18:41-19:8; Philippians 3:17-4:7
Evening: Psalm 138, 139:1-17; Matthew 3:13-17

Jesus’ whole life and ministry was marked by humility … that he, the anointed one, should ask John to baptize him is a case in point.  It is hard to understand how what Jesus stands for can so often be twisted by those who seek power over others to serve their own needs – employing violence “in God’s name”, or using people’s faith to selfish political ends.  Paul has it right – the way of Jesus’ is about a different kind of power … firm, courageous and relentless gentleness in the service of the needs of others.  “Let your gentleness be known.”

Graham

Friday, September 15, 2017

Hold fast to what you know is true

Morning: Psalm 40, 54; I Kings 18:20-40; Philippians 3:1-16;
Evening: Psalm 51; Matthew 3:1-12

Prophecy is misunderstood – people think it’s predicting the future.  Prophecy may refer to the future – as in, “If this continues, that is going to happen.”  Yet prophecy is not about the future, it’s about the here and now. Prophets speak truthfully about what is.  That can be costly and lead to their suffering or even death.  For when you know something to be true, you will not betray it to save your life. Paul encourages his hearers, “Hold fast to what you have attained.”  In other words: be faithful to what you know is true.

Graham

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Grasping the nettle

Morning: Psalm 66; Numbers 21:4-9; John 3:11-17
Evening: Psalm 118; Genesis 3:1-15; I Peter 3:17-22

Today is Holy Cross Day. Some Bronze Age burial objects carried a cross, so the cross was connected with death before Christianity. In Christianity, the cross was so horrific it was not quickly adopted.  How could it possibly be holy?  Later, the cross became associated with ‘salvation’, a much-misused word, meaning ‘healing’.  The cross points to a human paradox: the path to healing goes through suffering.  They taught us as children that nettles sting less when you grasp them firmly. By confronting our pain, we humans can find healing power. Only its healing significance makes the cross holy.

Graham

Grasping the nettle

Morning: Psalm 66; Numbers 21:4-9; John 3:11-17
Evening: Psalm 118; Genesis 3:1-15; I Peter 3:17-22

Today is Holy Cross Day. Some Bronze Age burial objects carried a cross, so the cross was connected with death before Christianity. In Christianity, the cross was so horrific it was not quickly adopted.  How could it possibly be holy?  Later, the cross became associated with ‘salvation’, a much-misused word, meaning ‘healing’.  The cross points to a human paradox: the path to healing goes through suffering.  They taught us as children that nettles sting less when you grasp them firmly. By confronting our pain, we humans can find healing power. Only its healing significance makes the cross holy.

Graham

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Humble Mind

Morning: Psalm 119:49-72; I Kings 17:1-24; Phil 2:1-11; Matt 2:1-12
Evening: Psalm 46, 87; I Kings 8:22-30; Ephesians 2:11-22

Paul invites us to imitate the humble mind and ways of Jesus.  I heard author John LeCarré yesterday saying he hates institutional religion because they treated him harshly in an authoritarian church-run school.  Religion can easily forget its founding ethos. It’s hard to imagine how Paul’s teaching could give rise to abuse: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit … in humility regard others as better than yourselves … look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.” But when institutional values take over, so does ambition, and then, ‘O Lord, it’s hard to be humble’!

Graham

Temptations and the way to true freedom

Morning: Psalm 56, 57; I Kings 21:1-16; I Corinthians 1:1-19 Evening: Psalm 64, 65 ; Matthew 4:1-11 Jesus overcame three temptations; ...