Saturday, September 21, 2019

Heaven is harmony not obedience

Morning: Psalm 119:41-64; Isaiah 8:11-20; Romans 10:1-15
Evening: Psalms 23, 27; Matthew 5:17-20

When, at 18, I left England for America, one of my uncles said to me, “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”  Pretty broad latitude, I thought!!  But righteousness is not about doing good; it is about being ourselves, because who we are is already very good.  Jesus teaches: “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Heaven is not a place where everyone is well-behaved (how boring would that be!?), but a state of being in harmony with God’s ways … a much higher state than obedience.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Salt for the earth, Light for the world

Morning: Psalm 69:1-38; 2 Kings 1:2-17; I Corinthians 3:16-23
Christian communities can be insipid or dull.  It happens if they forget who or what they are for.  When Christians think of themselves individualistically and not as community, churches lose their flavour and spark.  Jesus addressed the crowds on the Mount: “You are the salt of the earth … You are the light of the world.” We are not solitary grains, but many; one grain of salt depends for its taste on many other grains.  One light lights another until, together, they shine!  ‘Salt of the earth’ people value others.  ‘Bright lights’ cooperate to illuminate the path for others.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Blessed to be a blessing

Morning: Psalm 71; I Kings 22:29-45; I Corinthians 2:14-3:15
Evening: Psalm 74; Matthew 5:1-10

One elderly person I know is so full of thankfulness for life, even though she struggles with many things, that she is an inspiration to me and everyone she meets … When you live this way, you bless the world and you experience blessing, but not as a reward for good deeds.  You feel blessed when you regard life with gratitude.  And as your gratitude overflows, others are inspired to appreciate their lives too. Being blessed and being a blessing are opposite sides of the same coin.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Who or what is calling out to you?

Morning: Psalm 72; I Kings 22:1-28; I Corinthians 2:1-13
Evening: Psalm 119:73-96; Matthew 4:18-25

Yesterday, Emma Lin, an 18 year old university student in Ottawa launched a climate action initiative called “No Future, No Children.”  She is calling out to older generations, saying: “We will have no children (and you no grandchildren) until climate change is addressed … We will not bring children into a world that is not serious about ensuring children’s future well-being.”  Jesus called others to come help ‘fish for people’; literally, bring people up from the depths of darkness into the daylight.  Aren’t Emma and Jesus calling for the same thing?  Who or what is calling out to you?

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Where are you looking for happiness?

Morning: Psalms 61, 62; I Kings 21:17-29; I Corinthians 1:20-31
Evening: Psalm 68:1-38; Matthew 4:12-17

Matthew, along with a few others, quotes Isaiah’s famous phrase: “The people who sat / walked in darkness have seen a great light.” Jesus calls for profound change … like night and day.  He uses the same word his cousin John the Baptist used, Repent!  This radical transformation, if you respond to Jesus’ call, it changes the direction in which you look for happiness.  You may not be finding satisfaction and fulfilment where you are looking now.  So change direction, Jesus says, turn around.  People say, “I turned my life around”; that’s what it means to repent.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Tempted by Wealth, Fame and Power

Morning: Psalm 56, 57; I Kings 21:1-16; I Corinthians 1:1-19
The temptations Jesus endured in the wilderness are familiar to all human beings.  It is tantalizing to imagine you could possess anything you wanted, or enjoy high regard in the eyes of all, or have power to control the outcome of events.  Jesus could have had it all, but he knew this was only an illusion, a mirage in the wilderness, a poor substitute for what really matters humanly speaking.  Wealth, fame and power are empty facsimiles of the true riches, inner satisfaction and contentment that come with living a full, self-aware, and balanced life.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

(un)intended consequences

Morning: Psalms 24, 29; I Kings 19:8-21; Acts 5:34-42
Sometimes people are too clever for their own good.  Caiaphas, the high priest, thought that if Jesus were to “die for the people” it would prevent his influence from growing.  Caiaphas plotted, intending that Jesus would be forgotten, even if he died “for the people”.  Of course, something else happened, and Jesus’ influence has continued to grow, down to our own day.  Why? Because an aspect of his story makes his death more a boon than a barrier.  Only if he died could he rise to new life.  The high priest had not counted on that!

Heaven is harmony not obedience

Morning: Psalm 119:41-64; Isaiah 8:11-20; Romans 10:1-15 Evening: Psalms 23, 27; Matthew 5:17-20 When, at 18, I left England for America...