Day 175 – June 24

Today’s Readings:

1 Chronicles 27-28
Acts 7:22-43
Job 19

“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. – Job 19:25

Job protests the treatment he receives from his so called ‘friends’, and despite what he describes as an abandonment by God, he still testifies to his faith in God as the one who redeems.

To ‘redeem’ is to buy back, or to make up for the lack or wrong-doing of a person. We hear today Stephen, in the Book of Acts, telling of the sin of the people Israel, who chose to reject God and the consequences of that choice. And yet, despite the times when we too reject God, he waits in the wings for us to turn back to Him that we may be saved.

Job understood this. He placed all of his hope in that future event – the one we know all too well when we look upon the Cross of Christ – that even in the misery of Job’s current state, he would be at peace because God promised to redeem him and his people. May we have the patience of Job, and his faith, to approach the setbacks of life with courage, putting all of our trust in our future – a future bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ.

May God bless you.

Day 164 – June 13

Today’s Readings:

1 Chronicles 5-6
John 21
Job 8

“Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep”…Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved…So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?”  Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” – John 21:17,20-22

Jesus has a heart to heart talk with Peter. First of all, he allows Peter to confess his love for Him, to counter the thrice-denial the night before His death. The dialogue is more interesting in Greek text because in the English we cannot see the word used for love.

In the Greek, when Jesus asks Peter the first and second time if he loves him, Jesus uses the word agape (ἀγαπᾷς), an unconditional loving without return. Peter’s response is, ‘Yes, I love you like a friend’ (φιλῶ = philio). Peter cannot come to acknowledge his full unconditional love for Jesus. Seeing this, the third time Jesus asks if Peter loves Him, he meets Peter where he is at, and lessens his request of Peter, “Peter, do you love me like a friend (φιλῶ)?”, to which Peter’s heart is sorrowful. Perhaps he recognizes his love for the Lord is less than he thought. Perhaps he sees he is not as strong as he once thought he was (when at the last supper he said that even if all these deny you I will not deny you). Peter is led to see himself where he is, and yet, is entrusted to be the shepherd of Christ’s flock.

This is good news for us! Jesus will meet us where we are. When he calls us, we do not fit the bill as heroic disciples; we are fearful, calculating, insecure, and jockey for position to fill our ego. No, we are not perfected in our being called, but only our enduring journey to be faithful. And, at times, we can find ourselves looking over our shoulders at others and say, “What about that one, Lord?” In these moments, we feel the gentle rebuke of Jesus telling us to keep our eyes fixed on Him alone. This is the path of the real disciple, mature in his faith. Let us ask for the grace to be faithful, and when we fight with our imperfect living out our discipleship, may God’s grace flood in and turn our gaze back to Him alone.

May God bless you.

cb365

Day 153 – June 2

Today’s Readings:

2 Kings 7-8
John 13:1-20
Psalm 147

““Do you know what I have done to you?…For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.” – John 13:12, 15

Jesus gives us an example of service, that we should not look to the position we hold, nor the great gifts and talents we have. No, we are called to follow Jesus’ example; a path of getting on our knees in service to the other. We have seen the humanity of Jesus’ disciples, their capacity to jostle for position, to argue over who is the greatest. Jesus settles the matter here, on his knees, doing the servant’s task of washing their feet.

It was an uncomfortable moment for them, knowing that they were the ones who should be washing Jesus’ feet. There are moments like this in our lives, when we are at a party and the hosts are serving, and one of the highly esteemed guests get up to give a hand in the serving. We know that we should have jumped up to help, but we sit there, letting ourselves be served.

Let us take a moment today and sit in the discomfort of letting our feet be washed by Jesus, and take up the resolution to follow his example, and look for those opportunities in our day to serve, and not to be served.

May God bless you.

cb365

Day 151 – May 31

Today’s Readings:

2 Kings 3-4
John 12:1-36
Psalm 145

EXTRAVAGANT LOVE

Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” – John 12:3-5

Mary shows tremendous love for Jesus in her act of anointing his feet. Perhaps it was out of gratitude for bringing back Lazarus, her brother, from the dead. She poured out her love upon Jesus in an extravagant way. It was not required, nor expected. She did it ‘just because’ she loved.

Judas responds not with love, but from a place in his heart that has turned to greed. He could not see the good thing Mary was doing for Jesus; he saw only a waste of money (money that he was accustomed to stealing from the community pouch that he carried).

There is another extravagance shown indirectly in this passage as well. We may ask, why would Jesus appoint Judas as the treasurer of the community? Jesus certainly could read hearts, and knew what was harboring in the heart of Judas. Yet, love draws near the one who is least lovable. Perhaps Jesus hoped that extending trust and responsibility to Judas, the message would be conveyed, “You matter to me Judas. I trust you.” Extravagant love extends trust to the very one who has the potential to destroy, with the hope of breaking through the wall that keeps them from the one who loves.

Jesus’ extravagant, loving trust bestowed toward Judas doesn’t open his heart as Jesus wanted it to, yet, Jesus loves anyways. Let us reflect on this example, of sometimes extending trust, knowing deep inside that it will be wasted.  It would take a miracle for the other to come around and see the truth of your love. Let us love anyways.

May God bless you.

cb365

Day 144 – May 24

Today’s Readings:

1 Kings 11-12
John 8:28-59
Psalm 138

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:31-32

In this one sentence, Jesus sets the tone for what it means to be a true discipleship of Jesus. It has to do with 1) faith/belief; 2) the Word of God; 3) Truth; and 4) Freedom.

Belief. A disciple is one who believes in what Jesus says as true. They are willing to defend and lay down their lives for the faith they have embraced. Reading about the martyrs says enough. The early Christians did not change their story when threatened with death; they persevered in saying Jesus did rise from the dead. Their belief shaped the way for all those who would come after them as believers in Jesus.

The Word. A disciple listens constantly to the Word of God. It requires us to be still at times to hear what God is saying. This is the attitude of one who sits at the feet and learns from his master. We must make a life-long habit of listening to God’s Word if we are to be taught by him. It is the only way to come to understand the whole truth of who Jesus is.

The Truth. Pilot asks this question, ‘what is truth?’. A disciple comes to discern what really matters; to know what they would give up their life for. This is the mirror of truth to which a disciple is called to walk.

Freedom. When we stand in the freedom of God, we are free. Free from fear (like the disciples who leave the Upper Room to proclaim the Good News). We become free from ourselves. In Christ, the old man dies away and he becomes a new creation. And, we gain freedom from other people. We lose interest in what other people think and learn to focus our care and thoughts on what Jesus thinks of what we do and say. This entrapment keeps many a christian from becoming a bold disciple. And lastly, we become free from the bondage of sin. Habitual sin keeps us prisoner to the sin which we hate. Turning our lives over to Christ, gives us the grace to break the chains of sin and begin again, to finally become the person we were created to be.

Let us walk then, in the path of discipleship. Believing with our whole heart that Jesus is our Lord; nourished by the Word of God; discerning what really matters to which we can pledge our life; and find our true freedom. It is here we will find our every joy and fulfillment. Let us start today.

May God bless you.

cb365