Wednesday, November 6, 2019
“Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, were not the proceeds at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You did not lie to us but to God!” [Acts 5:3-4]
Peter is direct and to the point in this biblical story found in The Acts of the Apostles. Great fear seized the whole church in response to the consequences of Ananias and Sapphira’s decision. And great fear is an appropriate response! Imagine the death penalty as a consequence to lying. Would any of us be standing? Yet, this story is so much more than a fear tactic. Continue reading More than Fear
Wednesday, October 30, 2019
“Jesus said to them, ‘Then give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’” [Luke 20:25]
Spies who pretended to be honest approached Jesus, hoping to catch him in a trap. They simply asked, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” A seemingly simple question, yet Jesus doesn’t answer it directly. In typical Jesus fashion, he has a request and then a question. With information in hand, Jesus addresses their original question with a new twist. Continue reading What Belongs to God?
Wednesday, October 23, 2019
“As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing backed, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” [1 Kings 17:12]
The widow of Zarephath only had enough resources for a last meal for her son and herself. She had no means of income being a widow and everything she had was almost gone. This is when God says to Elijah, “Go to Zarephath… for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” It’s apparent from the text that the widow had not received the memo Continue reading Trust is a Leap of Faith
Wednesday, October 16, 2019
“Pray then in this way…” For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen! [Matthew 6:9a]
Amen is a word we use all the time to conclude our prayers. Amen signals that we can open our eyes, unclasp our hands and lift our heads. It seems to simply signal the end of prayer; or so we may think. Yet, in reality, it means much more that a perfunctory ending. Continue reading A Final Word: Amen!
Wednesday, October 9, 2019
Pray then in this way… And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.” [Matthew 6:9a, 13]
Eugene Boring writes, “From the earliest times the church has been bothered by the apparent threat that God could lead Jesus’ disciples into temptation, and had to be supplicated not to do so.” What about you? Are you bothered by this line in the prayer? Continue reading Apparent Threat
Wednesday, October 2, 2019
“Pray then in this way… And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors… for if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your father forgive your trespasses.” [Matthew 6:9a, 12, 14-15]
In the Gospel of Matthew there is an addendum to the second petition and it certainly sounds conditional. We hear the big “if.” If we forgive others, then and only then will God forgive us. This addendum might even cause us to conclude that if we hold a grudge against someone else, God will hold a grudge against us. Yet, isn’t this contrary to the gift of grace freely offered by God? Continue reading Forgiven and Forgiving
Wednesday, September 25, 2019
“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.” [Matthew 6:9-11]
“Did you know that 795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life? That is about one in nine people on earth. The vast majority of the world’s hungry people live Continue reading The Pronoun Makes a Difference
Wednesday, September 18, 2019
“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” [Matthew 6:9-10]
I remember a conversation with a parishioner years ago who was very upset with a Presbyterian pastor who authored a book critical of a past U.S. President. She was certain that it was not proper to criticize a President of our great nation. Yet, every Sunday we do not pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Our president and nation are the greatest, may everywhere on earth be like America.” Now don’t throw rotten tomatoes please, but the reality is The Lord’s Prayer is political. Continue reading Who Reigns?
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
“Pray then in this way: ….” Matthew 6:9
Note: We pray this day for all who were directly impacted by the tragedy of September 11, 2001, with the loss of those whom they loved. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.
This is the way that Jesus introduces what we have come to know as “The Lord’s Prayer.” These words are not part of the prayer, and so they’re often overlooked when the prayer is studied, but they hold an amazing truth that should not be missed.
“PRAY then….” Not “IF you pray” or “HOW DARE you pray!” but simply, “PRAY.” Jesus voices an expectation that we WILL pray. Continue reading Simply Pray
Wednesday, September 4, 2019
“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others.” [Matthew 6:5]
“Hey, didn’t Jesus say that only hypocrites pray out loud or something like that? Sorry, I decline the invitation to pray out loud today.” Yes, I have heard this passage referenced when asking people to pray, but I don’t think Jesus was talking about praying out loud per se. Jesus was talking about… Continue reading Whenever You Pray