Friday, August 31, 2007

Acts 2:37-42 - Repentance

Scripture: Acts 2:27-42

Summary: This scripture comes directly after the Holy Spirit descends on the disciples, they speak in many languages, and Peter preaches to the crowd. After the sermon, many of them are cut to the heart, asking what they should do. Peter tells them to repent and be baptized and about 3000 people were baptized.

Thoughts: Peter tells the people that the promise is "for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him." God's promise is not just for the Jews, or those in my neighborhood or church, or those in my country. God's promise is for all of us. Sometimes it's hard to accept the fact that God is reaching out to us all. Surely God is not reaching out to the Iraqis, or the Hispanics, or the mentally challenged! But when I study the scripture, I find out that that is exactly who God is reaching out toward. In fact, God takes a great interest in the poor and the marginalized. So maybe I should too...

Prayer: You are the God of all people. Not just the God for Christians or for people who look like me. Remind me every day that I should treat everyone I meet as valued in your eyes. Amen.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Luke 5:27-32 - Repentence

Scripture: Luke 5:27-32

Summary: Jesus sees Levi, a tax collector, collecting taxes, and he tells Levi to follow him. Then Levi throws a big banquet for Jesus and the Pharisees complain because Jesus eats with sinners. Jesus tells them that those who are well don't need a physician, but the sick do.

Thoughts: Jesus tells the Pharisees "I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance." It's so easy when I read this scripture to look down on the tax collectors and the Pharisees. The tax collectors in Jesus' time were usually crooks. They collected more tax than was required and kept the difference. So I'm obviously better than them because I don't steal from people.... or do I? I know that I have left the grocery store before with a 12-pack of Cokes that I didn't pay for because neither the clerk nor I saw them under the cart. But it was too much trouble to go back in and pay for them. After all, I reasoned, I wasn't the only one who missed them! But I'm definitely better than the Pharisees because I don't look down on preachers who eat with sinners... or do I? Perhaps I am no better than the sinners in this story, both the tax collectors and the Pharisees. I am in need of repentance too!

Prayer: Forgiving God, help me to admit to my own sin and repent of it. For I know that I am no better than those around me, no matter what I might think on some days! Amen.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mark 1:14-15 - Repentance

Scripture:Mark 1:14-15

Summary: After John the Baptist is arrested, Jesus says: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news."

Thoughts: I have been thinking about the kingdom of God alot lately. Now, if the word kingdom reminds you too much of a monarch who tries to control your life, then let's call it the reign of God. Either way, Jesus is telling us that the reign of God has come near. This is the good news that Jesus came to earth to proclaim, that the reign of God is near. It's coming. It's here but not all here yet. What's here? For me, the reign of God is that time when peace, justice, and healing rain down upon the earth. When every person has enough to eat and a place to sleep. When every child can go to school. When everyone gets equal treatment under the law. When all people take care of the earth and God's creation. I find myself longing for this time to be upon us! And then, of course, I begin to wonder what I can do to bring it here more quickly. What is God calling me to do today?

Prayer: God, remind me every day that your reign is upon us. Help me each day to contemplate what I can do that day to work toward your reign. Amen.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Luke 17:11-19 - Do you want to get well?

Scripture: Luke 17:11-19

Summary: Jesus heals 10 lepers and only 1 of them returns, praising God in a loud voice and thanking Jesus. That 1 was a Samaritan. Jesus asks where the other 9 are and then tells this man, your faith has made you well.

Thoughts: What was different about this man that he chose to return to Jesus to thank him? Why didn't the others return also? Am I like these other 9 lepers who don't bother to come back and thank the man who has made them well? I'm afraid that, more often than not, I am like the 9 lepers who went on about their lives without offering thanks to the one who healed them.

Prayer: Help me Lord to be like the 1 leper who remembers to return to the one who healed him, praising God with a loud voice and thanking Jesus. Amen.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Matthew 9:18-26 - Do you want to get well?

Scripture: Matthew 9:18-26

Summary: There are 2 healing stories here. One is of the leader whose daughter had died, who comes to get Jesus knowing that if he will touch her she will live. The other is the hemorrhaging woman who touches his cloak and is made well.

Thoughts: In both of these stories, there is obviously faith in what Jesus can do. The woman knows that if she can just touch Jesus he will make her well. And more impressive, the father believes that if Jesus touches his dead daughter, she will live again! What faith these people have! If we could have faith like that imagine what healing Jesus could do in our lives. Most of us have many areas of our lives in which we need healing. But we need to face our wounds and want healing before the healing can occur.

Prayer: All things are possible with God. Help me to show my wounds to you, oh God, so that they might be healed. Amen.

Monday, August 20, 2007

John 5:1-18 - Do you want to get well?

Scripture: John 5:1-18

Summary: This is the story of Jesus healing a man on the sabbath. Jesus asks the man if he wants to be well and the man says that he is never the first to make it to the pool when the waters are stirred up (the belief was that the first person into the pool when the waters were stirred up would be healed). Jesus tells the man to take up his mat and walk, which he does.

Thoughts: This man had been ill for 38 years. Wow! This is a long time to have been ill, spending most of your day by a pool which is supposed to have healing powers. When Jesus asks him if he wants to be healed, he doesn't actually answer the question. Instead he gives an excuse for why he has not yet been healed. By telling the man to take up his mat and walk, Jesus gives him a chance to take charge of his own healing. Many of us might be tempted to remain on the mat, in a similar situation. It took great courage for this man to get up and walk. He must have really wanted to be healed. Often, when we are sick, we are so used to being sick that we don't really want to get well. This is often the case with our addictions. But if we really want to get well, Jesus is there to help.

Prayer: God, you are the great healer of this world. Help me to be willing to give up my sickness, to allow you to heal me, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Amen.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Colossians 1:9-14 - Who is this who forgives sinners?

Scripture: Colossians 1:9-14

Summary: Paul wishes for them to be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so they might lead lives worthy of God. God has rescued them and transferred them into the kingdom of Christ, in whom we have forgiveness of sins.

Thoughts: There is alot of good stuff in this scripture! But my favorite part is that we might be filled with the knowledge of God's will. What a great gift to know the will of God for our lives. Sometimes I think I know what God's will is for me, but often it is like I'm looking through a dense fog. Just when I think I've got it figured out, my life takes another sharp turn. There are two things at work here. First I can only see what God is willing to show me and second I have to pay attention to see what I'm being shown. I'm guessing that the main problem is with me! I need to keep working on paying closer attention to what God is showing me.

Prayer: Your will be done. Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. What more needs to be said? Amen.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Isaiah 1:18-20 - Who is this who forgives sinners?

Scripture: Isaiah 1:18-20

Summary: God promises that although your sins are scarlet, they shall be like snow, if you are wiling and obedient, but if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.

Thoughts: Wow! Who among us is willing and obedient?!?! Certainly not me! I tend to fit into the rebellious category rather than the obedient category. I may be in line to be devoured by the sword (not a pleasant prospect!). But... I know that God is a gracious God, so if I'm trying to be obedient I believe that God will grant me mercy. For I know that I don't deserve any of the wonderful things God has given me, and continues to give me. But God continues to give wonderful things to me anyway.

Prayer: Merciful God, help me be willing and obedient and follow in your ways. Both of us know that I am not perfect, but I have faith that you take broken people and make them whole. Thanks be to God! Amen.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Acts 10:34-43 - Who is this who forgives sinners?

Scripture: Acts 10:34-43

Summary: Peter is speaking about Jesus and says that everyone who believes in Jesus, their sins are forgiven.

Thoughts: The scripture says that God shows no partiality, that anyone who fears God and does right is acceptable to God. Why is this so hard for us to believe? My whole life their has been a group of people that I have been encouraged to consider as less than me. I grew up in Mississippi where African Americans were often treated badly. Then during the cold war we were led to believe that all Russians were bad. Now in Texas, I hear that the illegal aliens are taking all of our jobs. And homosexuals are not allowed to legally marry in most states. So when the Bible says that God shows no partiality, do we really believe that? Or do we convince ourselves that this doesn't apply to "those people," whoever they might be?

Prayer: Forgiving God, help me to learn to be unpartial, to accept all those around me, no matter how different they appear from me. For we are all created in the image of God and it's time we began acting like it! Amen.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Psalm 103:1-14 - Who is this who forgives sins?

Scripture: Psalm 103:1-14

Summary: God forgives, heals, and redeems us

Thoughts: The word steadfast is used twice in this scripture to describe God. This word brings images of large rocks, even mountains, which are unmovable and will always be there, in that same place. God is steadfast. God is always there. God is present for us no matter where we are, no matter what we have done, no matter how we try to ignore God. The scripture says that God's love is as great as far as the east is from the west. God's love is so great I can't even begin to imagine it! Like that mountain, God is steadfast, I can lean on God. And this scripture says that God has compassion for me and for you and works for justice for all who are oppressed. How great is our God!

Prayer: Steadfast Lord, my human words are inadequate to describe you. And yet you are there for me no matter my sins. Praise God! Amen.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Matthew 9:2-8 - Who is this who forgives sinners?

Scripture: Matthew 9:2-8

Summary: Jesus sees a paralyzed man and tells him his sins are forgiven. The scribes think he is blasphemous, so he asks them if it is easier to forgive his sins or tell him to walk? Then he tells tells the man to walk and he does.

Thoughts: Verse 8 says that the crowds were filled with awe and they glorified God. What were the people in awe about? That Jesus had forgiven sins or that he had healed the man? Both are wonderful events to have heard or seen. I imagine that they were awed about the healing. Because how would they have known that his sins were really forgiven? How much more impact the physical had on the crowd than the spiritual. But what is the most important thing that this man gained that day?

Prayer: Forgiving and healing God, you alone know what I need more than anything else. You alone can forgive my sins and help me to change my life. For it is only by your grace that I am saved from my sins. It is only by your touch that I am really healed, both inside and out. Amen.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Luke 7:36-50 - Who is this who forgives sinners?

Scripture: Luke 7:36-50

Summary: This is the story of the woman who is a sinner, who bathes Jesus' feet with her tears and wipes them with her hair. He tells her her sins are forgiven, that her faith has saved her, to go in peace.

Thoughts: Only God can forgive our sins. Only God can wipe away all the failures and mistakes in our lives. How shocking it must have been for the righteous people that Jesus was having dinner with, for Jesus to forgive the sins of this woman. This must have really gotten them thinking about who he was. I am pretty certain that if I had been lucky enough to have known Jesus, I would probably not have been able to accept the fact that he was God. Especially if I had known him for long, seeing him eat and sleep like any other human being. Even today, 2000 years after he lived, it is difficult to imagine what he must have been like. But it is only through him that we can get a glimpse of who God is and what is possible with God. So perhaps as we remember the example of Jesus and the message he brought us, we too can live our lives as God wants us to.

Prayer: God, I know that it is only you who can forgive my sins, who can help me turn around and see your path more clearly. Thank you for the gift of Jesus who helps me, in my limited way, see what is possible with your grace. Amen.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Matthew 7:7-11 - Prayer

Scripture: Matthew 7:7-11

Summary: Jesus says nott to pray so that everyone hears, but to pray secretly. He also gives them a prayer to pray (the Lord's Prayer).

Thoughts: Often during a church service, I hear someone praying beautiful prayers, that are eloquently put together. I find myself wishing that I could pray so eloquently. But what does God really want from us in terms of prayer? This scripture reminds me that God doesn't care how beautiful my prayers are. I believe that God wants each of us to pray in our own way. It's more important that our prayers be real expressions of our feelings and our needs. If you want to improve your prayer life, focus more on your feelings than on the words. What are you thankful for? What do you need? Who else do you want to pray for? A good outline can be found in the Lord's prayer.

Prayer: Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

John 17:1-11 - Prayer

Scripture: John 17:1-11

Summary: Jesus is praying to God and asking God to protect the people, since he will not be with them much longer.

Jesus says "Now that I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, ... protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one." I think this is what we are all about, as human beings. God wants us to live as one in community, just as God lives in the community of the Trinity. We are made in the image of God and we are called to live as God shows us in the ultimate community of the Trinity. What better example of community can we have than the Trinity where God works together and plays together in love!

Prayer: God, help me to emulate your community of the Trinity in my relationships, with other people and with the other creatures of your world. Amen.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Jeremiah 33:1-9 - Prayer

Scripture: Jeremiah 33:1-9

Summary: God is telling Jeremiah that God will rebuild Jerusalem and will cleanse the people of their sin.

God says "Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known." (verse 3) Again, God is telling us how much is possible if we pray. What important things are we missing because we are not listening to God as much as we could? I think today I will try to listen more than I talk, both to God and to other people.

Prayer: Help me to listen God. Amen.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Luke 11:1-13 - Prayer

Scripture: Luke 11:1-13 (please take the time to find your Bible and read this scripture or read it on-line at:

Summary: Jesus is teaching his disciples how to pray and goes on to say that God will give good gifts to those of us who ask!

What would my life be like if I prayed every day? Not just every day, but all throughout th day? I remember to pray when I am in need. That's when it is easy. But I'm not so good at dropping in those quick breath prayers when I need centering or at thanking God for the wonderful things God gives me each day. What I hear in this scripture today is this: The more we talk to God and listen to God (which is really what I think prayer is) the closer we will be to God. It works the same way with a friend. I am closest to those friends that I talk with every day, or almost every day. If we only chose to talk/listen to God when we are in crisis, God will still be there for us, but our connection will not be as clear as it would be if we connected on a regular basis! So if I keep the path to God well travelled, it will be alot easier to find God in those times of crisis in my life.

Prayer: God, help me to find ways to remember to pray throughout the day. Amen.

The Beginning...

I just wanted to tell you a little bit about why I'm writing this blog. I need to find a way to "encourage" myself to read the Bible every day and contemplate what I have read. So, to do that, I am going to write in this blog after I read scripture. Being en extrovert, it is easier for me to contemplate something "out loud," so I'm going to contemplate out loud right here! Could be boring, could be entertaining, could be thought provoking. There's no way to tell yet. So... let the journey begin!

If you want to join me in Bible study, I am working from the book:

A Guide to Proayer for All Who Seek God by Norman Shawchuck and Rueben P. Job. Published by Upper Room Books, 2003.

I encourage you to read the scripture first and then want to encourage you to respond with thoughts of your own so that we can have a conversation!