Archive for November, 2010

Random Act of Praise

MP900431177[1] What is the last thing you would expect in the middle of a downtown department store filled with holiday shoppers? The last thing I would expect is a random singing of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.MP900431323[1]

But that is exactly what happened in Philadelphia. Musicians  from all over the area converged, and broke out into a random act of praise!

Take a minute and click here to watch the video from this wonderful event! Then join me in thanking God that the truth of God’s great love, and the triumph of Jesus Christ, can be heard even in the midst of our holiday shopping!

 

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Love Sees Possibilities!

For the Advent/Christmas season, each Monday’s post will look at the love that came down at Christmas. We will explore what Jesus’ love offers us and asks of us.

In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. Jesus answered them, “ Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:20. 22-24 NRSVUnique Sugar Loaf View

Who is this man whose words caused a fig tree to wither? Who is this man who  talked about throwing mountains into the sea? It’s Jesus! He’s the one who thinks the unthinkable, imagines the unimaginable, and does the impossible!

Not only does Jesus do things never before done, he invites his followers to a faith of almost limitless possibilities!

Imagine the possibilities if you began thinking the unthinkable.

That’s part of what makes Jesus’ love so wonderfully different. It isn’t just a love that gives a comforting embrace. It isn’t just a love that speaks encouraging words. It’s a love that lifts the curtain of spiritual blindness, and reveals the endless possibilities that come with a life of faith and discipleship.

MC900446104 So Jesus’ earliest followers learned to think big! They set out to bring the love of Jesus to the whole world. They carried out their mission against all odds. Their prayers opened doors, freed them from prison and advanced the kingdom of God.

Love thinks big, opens doors, and does Kingdom work!

That same love is at work in you. The question is, are you open to it? Are you willing to see things differently than you’ve seen them before? Are you willing to walk down paths never before traveled? Are you willing to boldly approach God in faith?

The weeks leading up to Christmas are a time for celebrating new beginnings. Why not let Jesus’ love open your heart to the birth of new possibilities!

Let Jesus’ love do the impossible through you!

Prayer:

Lord of the possible; let your words take root in my heart. Lead me to a faith that trusts God for all my needs, and looks to God for a vision full of possibilities!

Amen.

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Out of Darkness and Into Light!

But you are a chosen race, a royal priest hood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1Peter 2:9 NRSV

MP900302924[1] There is something I don’t understand about Black Friday. Why do we call it black? Is it in sympathy for all the people who work in retail and have to endure crowds of impatient shoppers? Or is it because many people start the day in the wee hours of the morning, standing in the dark, hoping to get a chance to save a few dollars on the holiday’s hottest items?

MP900402648[1] Whatever the reason, I don’t think Black Friday is a day for celebrating. Maybe it’s  a day when we should take a hard look at ourselves and wonder why, after spending a day giving thanks, we sometimes act like hungry animals hunting for the best deal on our prey. Are we really that deprived that we need to fill our bags and trunks with more stuff?

Of course there was a Friday that was blacker than any Black Friday there has ever been. On that day the crowds were not lining up to get a good deal. They were lining up to malign and ridicule the Son of God. They let their hatred and fear drive them to reject God and God’s own Son.

But God had the last word. Three days later Jesus stood in front of his followers, very much alive. He triumphed over the grave. Now he reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords!

MC900436279[1] This Christmas season, God will again have the last word. After all our deal hunting, coupon clipping, line standing and shopping is done, Christmas will come. The night will turn silent, and the light of God will shine bright! Jesus will be born anew in our hearts!

Let’s step out of the darkness and prepare ourselves to welcome the light. Let’s use today, and the days ahead to look to the light of Jesus Christ, and to reflect his light into our world. Let’s show those hungry shoppers a little bit of love. Let’s spread a little bit of joy, and bring some peace into our world. MC900436279[1]

If we all do that, it will begin to fill the blackness that many feel today with the light of life!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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A Reasoned Thanks

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. Psalm 9:1-2 NRSV

MP900341393[1] Sometimes it seems like the psalmist breaks out into random acts of praise. In the midst of his tears and pleas to God he just breaks into song. Why is that?

I don’t think it is because he has trouble focusing, and keeping his mind on one thing. Neither do I think it is because he is unstable or unpredictable.

His random acts of thanksgiving tell me that, even in the darkest days, wise people respond to the love of God at work in their lives! They take an honest and sobering look at their situation, and they take a honest look at their God. Then they realize that no matter how big their challenges are, their God is bigger. They see the inescapable truth that God is great and greatly to be praised!

What the psalmist sees in his darkest hour is God, who judges with righteousness, and hears the cry of the afflicted. He see God who remembers the needy and gives hope to the poor. He sees the hand of God lifting him up and sustaining him. In the face of such great love and power, giving thanks and praise is the only response that makes sense.

You and I can see what the psalmist saw if we are willing to look, not just at our problems, but at our God, who holds our lives in the palm of his loving hand. When we keep God at the center of our vision, we will want to give thanks too. In fact, giving thanks will be our only reasonable response!

So let’s be reasonable. Let’s respond with joyful hearts, and give our thanks to God!

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Thank You God

MP900422703[1] Giving thanks is a part of how most of us celebrate thanksgiving. The question is who do we thank? There are so many people who have helped us along the way. Some we know well. Others came long before us, but paved the paths we travel today. They all deserve our thanks!

But beyond the people who have made a difference in our lives, there is God. God’s hand formed us in the womb. God’s hand has guarded, guided and sustained us. God’s love and grace have transformed us. Of all those we owe thanks to, God is at the head of the list!

Today’s video reminds us of the profound ways God has touched our lives. Just click here to watch. Then take some time this Thanksgiving to again say, “Thank you, God!”

Give Thanks!

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind – so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1Corinthians 1:4-7 NRSV

MP900422845[1]Apparently Paul had much to be thankful for. That’s a little bit surprising. He didn’t  know anything about pilgrims or turkeys. He didn’t live in a land that had a national holiday for the giving of thanks. Nor did he have a table filled with stuffing, gravy, potatoes and pies to sit down to. But he was still thankful.

Not only did Paul not have many of the blessings we enjoy, he knew more than his fair share of hardship and heartache. He had been chased out of cities, persecuted, falsely accused, arrested and imprisoned. His own people didn’t want him, and the Romans didn’t know what to do with him.

MP900407213[1] Fortunately, it doesn’t take a presidential proclamation, or a comfortable life, to make a thankful heart. Thankfulness is simply the natural expression of a grateful recipient.

Grateful recipients give thanks!

Paul gave thanks because he had been blessed, and because he saw the hand of God at work in those he ministered to. Having received so much, he frequently paused to give thanks.

Just notice some of the things he was thankful for. He was thankful for the grace given his brothers and sisters in Christ. He was thankful that the faithful were enriched in every way, and had knowledge of every kind. He was thankful they were not lacking in any spiritual gift.

We have received God’s grace. We have been enriched, given knowledge and spiritual gifts. That makes us grateful recipients too.

What do grateful recipients do? We give thanks! We give thanks always because of God’s great goodness!

MP900442388[1]Grateful recipients give thanks always!

We are a blessed people. God has guarded, guided and provided for us. God’s love has worked in us and through us. God has done more than we could have asked or imagined!

Now it’s our turn to do what Paul did. It’s time to express our gratitude. Give thanks to God today and always!

Thankful people give thanks!

Prayer:

Giver of every good and perfect gift, I want to join my voice with Paul, and all the saints who through the ages gave you thanks and praise. Your grace is beyond compare. Your gifts and blessings abound. Your love knows no limit. Thank you Lord, for all you have done and continue doing!

Amen.

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