Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tuesday - What if you gain the world but lose yourself?

Then Jesus said to them all, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.  For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.  What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?"  Luke 9:23-25

Prayer for today:

Gracious and loving Lord, you gave up your life for me, yet it is so hard for me to give up my life for you.  Give me strength and courage to take up the cross each day.  Draw me close on this walk with you.  Be with me as I lose my life for your sake and experience your life in me.  In your holy name.  Amen. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday - Which of you does not seek the lost one?

Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?  Luke 15:4

The radical love of God is expressed in this scripture.  It makes no sense to leave the 99 unattended, putting them at risk, to go after one lost sheep.  But that is what God does.  In fact, a more radical concept is that God would send one sole person - his Son - to come down to save the whole creation in a manner that seems not in God's way. 

But God communicates the fullness of his love in Jesus, in this parable of the lost sheep, in this gift of faith to remind us the extent that God will go to find those who are lost.

So the question might be rephrased, "What are you willing to risk to find the lost?"  The answer will always pale in comparison to God's own response.  Yet we are called to be bold with this faith and to seek out the lost.  It is gift and challenge for which a deeper level of faith will be found. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sermon on the Parable of the Father Who Had Two Sons

Sermon on The Parable of the Father who had Two Sons.

Tuesday - What is the Kingdom of God like?

Jesus said therefore, "What is the kingdom of God like?"  Luke 13:18

 Jesus compares the kingdom of God to two small yet familiar things: a mustard seed and baking yeast.  We often need to be reminded that faith in something that seems so small can yield great things.  We so underestimate the power of God.  And often, the thing that needs changing, is we ourselves.  Mahatma Gandhi said, "We need to be the change we wish to see in the world."  There is a lot of truth to that and, in Christ, we are empowered to be transformed for the good of the world.  All done for God's purposes and not our own. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday - Can Saltiness be Restored?

"You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?"  Matthew 5:13a

Salt gives flavor.  Salt acts as a preservative.  Salt is needed for life.  When Jesus declares "You are the salt of the earth;" he reminds us that Jesus gives flavor to our existence.  How would our lives be without faith?  Where would we turn if we could not pray?  Would we experience a love where another would die so we could live?

As salt people people we are filled with "good stuff".  Jesus calls us to share this goodness with the world to give hope.  And hope is the greatest flavor we all need. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Saturday - Who are my mother and my brothers?

A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, "Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you."  And he replied, "Who are my mother and my brothers?"  Mark 3:31-35

The writer brings us back to baptism as a reminder that we are all brothers and sisters to one another.  Our congregation had a baptism event at our Maple Lake location.  We extended an open invitation to the entire community to come for a time of instruction, worship, and then mass baptisms in the lake.  Eighteen infants, children, and adults were welcomed into the kingdom of God that day.  Part of the fun was seeing the shore filled with family, friends, and community members cheering each of the baptized as they emerged from the waters.  Smiles and laughter were contagious.  We gathered for a potluck lunch right afterwards.  It was a great experience at being the family of God.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday - Which is easier, declaring forgiveness or healing?

Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, "Who is this who is speaking blasphemies?  Who can forgive sins but God alone?"  When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, "Why do you raise such questions in your hearts?  Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Stand up and walk'?"  Luke 5:17-26

Burtness shares a prayer loaded with good things for us to pray:

Lord Jesus, you have the power to forgive, and I ask your forgiveness for the hurtful things I've done and the things I should have done.  Give me the grace to let go of resentment and the strength to forgive others.  You have the power to heal, and I ask for healing of my body, mind, and spirit.  Give me the perseverance to bring others to you, in spite of the obstacles.  To the glory of your name.  Amen. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wednesday - What do you want me to do for you?

There were two blind men sitting by the roadside.  When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, "Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!"  The crowd sternly ordered them to be quiet; but they shouted even more loudly, "Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!"  Jesus stood still and called them, saying, "what do you want me to do for you?"  Matthew 20:29-34

Burtness writes this in commentary:  "Instead of continuing on, staying on schedule, and doing what's expected of him, Jesus stops, stands still, and asks the men a question.  He focuses on what they need and what only he can give."

I am so reminded of the many times when I have so many things on my plate I just walk by people with never a notice.  It is so easy to get so full of what I want to do, that I forget to notice some people along the way.  At times I miss an opportunity to stop and listen to someone who might be hurting.  In my pursuit of the end goal, I may forget to consult with others along the way. 

Jesus always takes the time to listen to the cries of the faithful.  I'm reminded of Luther's explanation of the 2nd commandment - Take not the Lord's name in vain.  It is really a command to pray.  When you pray to God - in God's name - expect him to listen. 

Perhaps the lesson today is to slow down enough to notice the people we encounter along the way.  And by faith we can trust that there is enough time, enough resources, enough of everything to simply lend a listening ear. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tuesday - Will You Lay Down Your Life for Me?

Peter said to him, "Lord, why can I not follow you now?  I will lay down my life for you."  Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for me?  John 13:37-38a

Giving up my life for Jesus?  A question that perplexes me.  I read about martyrs like Oscar Romero or missionaries who take their entire families into the nether places of the world and I think, "Could I really do that?"  The irony is there are some people who think serving in northern Minnesota is kind of like being a missionary in a far away place!

In many ways, we in America have had an easy go of Christianity in recent history.  We have not had to stand up to anyone threatening to outlaw our religion.  We have freedom to exist with many different expressions of Christianity.  We are willing to set aside our weekly worship to pursue other interests. 

But when Jesus asks Peter, he could be asking us, "Will you lay down your life for me?"  This causes one to think!

The truth is we could never do what Jesus did in giving up his life for the salvation of the creation.  We need Jesus to be the one who willing goes to the cross to save us from ourselves.  But there is room for us to ponder this question, especially in the context of examining our Christian faith active in our lives and in the world today.  What does it mean to simply live our lives in the calling of Jesus?  What changes do I need to make to grow closer to the risen Christ? 

Sunday Sermon - The Fig Tree

Sunday Sermon - The Fig Tree