Tag Archives: John

Be Transfigured

READ
Matthew 17:1-9

REFLECT
Do you ever wonder what it was like to be Peter, James or John to see Jesus transfigured. It must have been amazing, not just amazing but awe-inspiring. Hearing God speak at the same time…. WOW!  These things just don’t happen everyday.

The closest thing I can imagine to the joy of seeing the transfiguration is the joy one gets when they see their child really happy. I get that joy when I see my wife overwhelmed by sparkly thing and rainbow unicorns (yes, she loves sparkly things and rainbow unicorns.)

For all the emphasis we put on the transfiguration of Jesus we might want to think about another miracle – the way Jesus transfigures us. Life in Christ is truly a transfiguration brought about not by what we do but by the work of the Holy Spirit – giver and perfector of our faith. Often, though, we work against the Spirit because we want things the sinful way we want them.

Rather than working against the Spirit why not submit and see what happens. It will be miraculous.

PRAY
Heavenly Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit, increase my faith in the Son, so that I might be transfigured as you would have me. In Jesus name I pray, AMEN.

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Don’t Be a Dusty Bible

READ
Matthew 4:12-23

REFLECT
“Jesus Begins His Ministry.”

That is what the subtitle says in this section of the Gospel in my super-duper 500th Anniversary of the Reformation ESV Bible (with genuine leather cover and gold-leaf edging – thank you very much). It is truly a wonderful thing to behold – not quite an illuminated manuscript, but Hey! I didn’t have years to wait and didn’t have any unemployed monks handy.

Bottom line is the Word of God rest in nicely appointed covers with nice shiny edges on the pages. In Jesus, God’s Word found a far more beautiful home, for He was the Word Made Flesh – the eternal Word of God, truly God and truly man and much more fantastic than my anniversary edition of the Bible. Why? Because Jesus didn’t keep the Word contained. That is what ministry was all about – making God’s Word known to those who so desperately need to hear it. This is what Jesus calls us to do.

We can either be like my Bible and keep the Word locked up within us or we can be like Jesus and preach that Word to the world that needs it. That is what ministry is all about, at the end of the day. Feeding, clothing, paying rent, giving food vouchers, whatever it might be are all nice things but are part of something bigger: Making God’s Word Known.

So go be like Jesus and not like my super-duper 500th Anniversary of the Reformation ESV Bible (with genuine leather cover and gold-leaf edging). By itself that Bible could just lie on the table and gather dust. Jesus on the other hand didn’t sit around gathering dust.

Be like Jesus.

PRAY
Your Word tell us that, “In the Beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” By the power of your Holy Spirit, O God, help us to be proclaimers and doers of Your Word, rather than dusty containers upon a shelf. This I pray in Jesus’ name – AMEN.

Call and Response

READ
John 1:29-42

REFLECT
In music there is something called “Call and Response.” It is a succession of distinct musical phrases played by two different musicians or sung by two different singers. As you would imagine the second phrase is a direct response to the first. Have you ever heard of it? Have you ever heard it? I bet you have and never knew it. Anyone who has ever been in the military has sung a call and response. Remember this one:

“Hey, Hey Captain Jack
Meet me down by the railroad track”

Yup, that is “Call and Response.” It also common in popular music. Remember the Banana Boat Song?

“Come, Mister tally man, tally me banana
Daylight come and me wan’ go home
Come, Mister tally man, tally me banana
Daylight come and me wan’ go home”

In the church we also use “Call and Response” in both prayers and music. When a church sings the Psalm antiphonaly it is using “Call and Response.”

In our relationship with God there is likewise “Call and Response.” In this week’s Gospel John proclaims Jesus as the Lamb of God, but if we look at what is happening – not only in the Gospel but in the Old Testament reading (Isaiah 49:1-7) and in the Epistle (1 Cor. 1:1-9). Isaiah is called and likewise Paul. In the Gospel reading the first disciples are called to Jesus by what they have witnessed.

It is not enough to know who Jesus is – not enough to know that He is the Lamb of God. He is calling you to be His disciple – His Call, your Response. The question is will you answer the call or will the beautiful song of God that is His offer of a relationship and salvation have no response from you.

PRAY
Heavenly Father, you call us to greater things than we can ever imagine. You have given us so much in the person of your Son Jesus Christ. Help us by your Holy Spirit to join in the song of new life, service, salvation and eternal life in Jesus – AMEN.

Lead By Example

READ
Matthew 3:13-17

REFLECT
The best leaders lead from the front. The worst lead from the rear. That is sort of sarcastic but makes a good point – you cannot lead from the rear and if you are in the back and think you are lead think again. You have to be out front – that is why they call it “leading” and not “pushing.”

The best leaders we have when I was in the Army where the officers and N.C.Os who where not afraid to get their hands dirty, the ones who suffered the cold, the wet, the heat – all of it.

In this Gospel account from Matthew Jesus is not afraid to get his hands dirty – so to speak – to show that He too is subject to the will of God, even though he needed not baptism for either repentance or to be made a child of God. He did it as an example of humility. This is the same humility we are called to exhibit.

PRAY
God of all mercy, come to us by the power of your Holy Spirit that we might be as humble as Jesus in all that we do. Empower us to have fellowship with all your people and forgive us when we hold ourselves above and before others. In Jesus’ name I pray – AMEN.

Give the Gift of God’s Word

READ
John 1:1-14, Isaiah 52:7-10

REFLECT
What is Christmas all about? I am not going to get down on the whole secular Christmas deal. I love trees, lights and jingle bells as much as the next guy – so I am not going there. So the question I ask what is Christmas about? It’s Jesus birthday comes to mind. It is a time of peace. Christmas is about giving, about family. There are probably a lot we can say Christmas is about.

Ultimately Christmas is about the Word of God. That is what Jesus is: the Word of God incarnate – that is “in-the-flesh.” The Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” John says.

Okay. Fine, well, and good. But what then. Well, we know that God sent his son to save us from sin, death, and the devil by His precious blood upon the cross, but what then? What do we do with the Word – not just this Word made flesh, but subsequently the written Word of God – Holy Scripture.

Isaiah tells give us an answer.

“How beautiful upon the mountains
    are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
    who announces salvation,
    who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

We often think about what we can get or what we got because of Christmas. We think of salvation (or maybe some choice Christmas presents). Isaiah refocuses us to what we are to do and not what we get. Isaiah tells us that the righteous, the blessed, the ones pleasing to God are those who bring His Good News. Jesus is the Good News and we are called to announce Him and His peace, His Good News and His Salvation, which is for us.

So this Christmas give the gift of God’s Word and continue to do this throughout the year.

PRAY
Heavenly Father help us to bring the message of peace, Good News, and salvation to all those with whom we come in contact, the same we you brought us the these things in the person of Your Son. This we pray in Jesus name. AMEN.

Be the Outsider

READ
Matthew 3:1-12

REFLECT
Society doesn’t take very kindly to outsiders. Society would like you to conform to whatever it is that a particular society wants you to be – what it deems good and right. This is very dangerous, not only to the body but to the spirit and especially the soul.

Recently the foul and evil dictator Fidel Castro (darling of the American Left) died. I am sure (short of some miraculous conversation) he will roast in Hell. May God forgive me, but I have to say, “couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.” He and his ilk were/are all about making people conform and they went/will go to the most drastic and draconian measures to do so. Why? Because systems opposed to God and His will do whatever they can to remain in power. In essence the state becomes God and all must bow down before it.

Outsiders are important. Many of our great churchmen could be called outsiders: Martin Luther would rather conform to the Word of God rather than the concoctions of Rome, Dietrich Bonhoeffer chose to conform to Word of God rather than the religion of Nazism. Both men proclaimed greater truths than those being proclaimed by those who defined society for the masses. Notice that both of these men and other were not anarchists, iconoclasts or ideological non-conformists. The chose to conform to the greater thing.

John the Baptist was an outsider, figuratively and literally; in his dress, his habitation and his proclamation of God’s Word. John chose to conform to the Word of God  and proclaim the coming messiah rather than conforming to the society and its dominant religious view.

In a world that is increasingly becoming homogenized, pre-packaged and auto-tuned; in a world that presses people to conform to its vapid and vacuous humanism be the outsider. As Saint Paul says in Romans 12:2, “ Do not be conformed to this world,  but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect”

PRAY
O God, by the power of your Holy Spirit, strengthen me to put off the things of this world and take upon myself those things you would have me do and desire. In the world that rejects you help me to be the outsider who proclaims you boldly. In Jesus name I pray, AMEN.

 

Remembered, Known, Loved

READ
Luke 23:33-43

REFLECT
It is nice to be remembered. Who has not felt really bad when their birthday has been forgotten? Who has felt really good when someone you haven’t seen for years remembers your face and name when passing on the street?

No one wants to be forgotten, which is probably why we have tombstones and monuments and other such things. This probably why we name things after people – not just to honor them but so who they were and what they did can be remembered.

The thief on the cross wanted Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom so that he might be with him (lot of pronouns there – but you get the idea). This is good. But what is even better is this: Jesus remembers His faithful not just in His Kingdom, not at some latter time when the Kingdom is fully realized. No matter where you are or what you have going on in your life Jesus remembers you now. He knows you now. He is with you now.

Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. As such the Word of God was with God in the beginning and through Him all things that were made were made through him. From the beginning to the end you are known and remembered and most importantly loved.

 

PRAY
Lord Jesus, I give thanks you know me and that you are my king. Keep me steadfast in your way so that I might realized, at last, eternal life and joy with You in Your kingdom and be with me all the days of my life from now until then AMEN.

Let Go of Your Grain

READ
John 12:20-33

REFLECT

Jesus was not much of a farmer, it seems. Even a casual gardener can tell you that a grain of wheat does not die in order to produce. If a grain of wheat “dies” it rots and produces nothing. Now, does this mean Jesus was wrong in what he said? Of course not. Jesus was teaching the people based upon what they understood and he was teaching them about his crucifixion, death and resurrection: in order for Him to produce what the Father had planted He must die, go into the ground, rise and produce fruit. It is the same with us.

The status quo is like a grain of wheat: it is hard and in and of itself produces nothing. A single grain does not contain enough sustenance for even the smallest of bird. It takes many seeds to feed even the smallest of animal and many more must to come to fruition to provide bread.

We all have a grain of wheat that we like to hold onto. For some it is money. For others it is power. For others it is comfort – the way things have always been done. They would rather “starve” to death holding tight to that grain – that little thing they are sure they have, rather than let it go and receive so much more.

In 1 Kings 17:11-16 Elijah commands the widow to make him a morsel of bread. Having so little, which she was going to prepare for herself and her son and then die anyway, she balks at the request. Rather than allowing her to keep a hold of her “grain of wheat” he calls her to act in faith.

We too are called to act in faith, to give up our grain of wheat so that the Lord might use it and us for greater things, so that our grains might “die” and rise again and produce much fruit for His Kingdom.

PRAY
God, you provide all that we need. Let us respond in faith to your call to let our grains of wheat “die” and rise again to your glory and the benefit of your Word. May the Gospel message of your Son Jesus Christ produce much fruit in our hearts. In Jesus name, AMEN.

Come Holy Spirit, Come.

READ
Mark 9:2-9

REFLECT

Being in the Spirit is like being in love. I remember years ago teaching “The Five Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman. In it he talked about “FALLING IN LOVE” versus being loved and loving.

“FALLING IN LOVE” is an enrapturing thing that grabs all your attention and clouds your mind to most everything but the target of your affections. It truly is a wonderful thing. How great it is to be so focused on the object of your love and have that person feel the same about you. The problem with falling in love is you cannot stay in that state forever – and thank God. You would never get anything done and would probably walk out in front of a bus.

Being loved and loving – let’s just call it “being in love” is something else. It has all the good stuff of falling in love but is a much deeper thing. It allows you to function and it allows your love to become something deeper. It’s a long-term thing that takes effort but gives great rewards.

Being in the Spirit is the same thing. In the Gospel, Peter, James and John are in the presences of Moses, Elijah and Christ – in his transfigured form. They were truly experiencing something very spiritual and they wanted to stay there. I think we can see this from their desire to “build tents” for these three spiritual being to reside. The moment, however, passed but not before an important truth was revealed to them, namely the true identity of Jesus.

Often we try to get ourselves into a spiritual place but fail and feel discouraged.Today’s Gospel shows us that we cannot put ourselves in a spiritual place but are often lead there, as the Apostles were lead up the mountain. Once there we remain so long as God deems fit for a truth to be communicated and then we are to go forth and communicate that truth or be lead to action by that truth.

Prayer, worship and the study of God’s Word can certainly open us up to follow the leading of the Spirit and it is right we do these things but ultimately it is His choosing when, where and how long we remain in this spiritual place.

PRAY
Come Holy Spirit Come. We pray to you that you would so open our hearts to your leading and that you would guide us to deeper truth found in the life of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. AMEN.

Do Not Hesistate

READ
Mark 1:14-20

REFLECT

How many of us would drop everything we are doing and follow someone who called us to do so just because they called us? If you are a carpenter would you stop what you are doing and follow somebody who told you he would make you “a builder of men”?

One has to wonder if Jesus knew his Apostles before hand. Had he already spoke to them on several occasions and were they only waiting for him to say, “It’s time, let’s go”? The Bible does not make that clear and we can speculate all we want. Either way they followed.

Christ calls us to do the same thing. If you are a Christian you have the benefit of knowing the Lord and his teachings. If you are not or are new to the faith you have the example of the early Apostles that tells us to put our trust in the one who calls us and to follow him, to learn his ways, and to love and serve others.

PRAY
Lord Jesus Christ, we live lives along a lake of self-centredness. We put out our personal boats for our benefit. Lord help us to follow you and be fishers of men. Help us to follow your call to love and serve others. AMEN.