Wednesday, August 14
Mark 10:17-31 “But Master,” he replied, “I have kept all of these since I was a boy.” Jesus looked straight at him; his heart warmed to him and he said, “One thing you lack: go sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; and come follow me.” At these words his face fell and he went away with a heavy heart; for he was a man of great wealth. (vv.20-22)
This is a big issue which requires openness and a genuine desire to answer the question. How does God want me to maximize the gifts, the experience, the time, the financial resources he has entrusted to me? I have seen that the more we give of what God has given us, the more we are blessed and entrusted with additional resources. How I allocate these God-given gifts/resources is in part how I worship God; how I feed the hungry; the ways in which I utilize my time; how I take care of myself and my family; and how I share my talents. This is how I follow Jesus and accept his calling.
People with a lot of resources must be diligent to prevent making their wealth their God. It is more difficult if one has not had the experience of relying on God for the large and small problems in life.
2 Samuel 14:21-33; Psalms 101, 109; Acts 21:15-26
Thursday, August 15
Psalm 105:1-22 Give the Lordthanks and invoke him by name, make his deeds known in the world around. Pay him honour with song and psalm think upon all his wonders. Exult in his hallowed name; let those who seek the Lordbe joyful in heart.(vv.1-3).
My parents love God and share a joyful, loving image of how we can live by the truths Christ taught us through parables and example. They have demonstrated, by the way they live, the power of God and how He can empower us and others with the compassion and forgiveness necessary to address the problem we are called to help solve. My parents have shown me how to respond when the Lord asks “Whom shall I send?” with an “It is I, Lord.”
The way I present my parents is idyllic. They both have had their real struggles and have had to work very hard to be a “Wounded Healer”. God uses me to share my stories and help others to feel the Holy Spirit working in them. My mom is reviewing her life at 90 years old and her main focus is how amazing God has been with healings and bringing the right people to her at key times in her life. She is filled with gratitude for the demonstration of God’s all-consuming love in her life. It is natural for her to share these many events with others who might need the good news.
2 Samuel 15:1-18; Acts 21:27-36; Mark 10:32-45
Friday, August 16
Mark 10:46-52 “What do you want me to do for you?” “Master’ the blind man answered,” I want my sight back.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has cured you.” And at once he recovered his sight and followed him on the road.(vv.51-52)
Healings have always intrigued me. I’ve read the Bible and other religious books as well as secular ones. There seems to be many levels of healing, from a full physical healing to no obvious improvement.
My brother died when he was 27 of colon cancer that had already spread to his liver. I could not believe it. We came together as a family and church family. We cleansed ourselves of unhealed memories and did confessions so we wouldn’t block any healing light. We ate a macrobiotic diet; he married; his wife was baptized.
I want a simple recipe that cooks the same way every time—so I know what to do and what I can expect. There have been many healings—movement towards wholeness—in our family. I was blessed immensely on several occasions when I tried to go into preterm labor. A friend who counseled people said to me on the morning of my brother’s death, “There are a few questions I want to ask God when I arrive at the pearly gates, and one is, ‘Why this one?’”
2 Samuel 15:19-37; Psalm 102; Acts 21:37—22:16
Saturday, August 17
Acts 22:17-29 “Make haste”, he said, “and leave Jerusalem without delay, for they will not accept your testimony about me.” “Lord,” I said, “they know that I imprisoned those who believe in thee and flogged them in every synagogue; and when the blood of Stephen thy witness was shed I stood by, approving, and I looked after the clothes of those who killed him.” But he said to me “Go, for I am sending you far away to the Gentiles.”(vv.18-21)
I find that for many reasons I will shut down and be closed-minded in a situation to what is actually happening. This is true about many of the atrocities that occur today throughout the world. I wonder what it would be like to pull my head out of the sand and think about one issue and how God’s profound grace and his infinite love can help us move toward the solutions. I’m not always open to listening to other people and I can dismiss their point of view without really thinking or praying about it.
During the times when I am closed off, I stick my head in the sand and try to ignore how much hate there is in the world, in our country, and even in our small towns. It often means I have placed other priorities ahead of my relationship with Jesus. My spiritual journey has been up and down, with a deep, strong core forming my ultimate faith. I find for myself it is critical to be disciplined, with activity that enhances my relationship to God.
2 Samuel 16:1-23; Psalm 107:33-43, 108; Mark 11:1-11
Sunday, August 18
Psalm 118 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.(v.1 NIV)
Why in the world would God love me? That question looms large whenever I find myself struggling with habitual sin, or feelings of unworthiness and disappointment. Why, God? Why do You bother?
Today’s readings hint at the reason. God loves us because He promised to. It is that simple.
God entered into a covenant with Himself in order to guarantee His promises, including that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through (Abram).” God swore an oath to Himself and conducted a blood sacrifice to demonstrate, by word and deed, the seriousness of His intent. That means if God breaks His promise, He would stop being God!
God’s love for us is all about Him! When we struggle with feelings of being unlovable the problem is in the receiver, not the transmitter. In a poem on sin, Michel Quoist refines the psalmist’s refrain, “His love endures forever” this way: “Do you think there is a limit to God’s love? Ask my pardon and get up quickly. You see, it’s not falling that is the worst, but staying on the ground.”
2 Samuel 17:1-23; Psalm 118; Galatians 3:6-14; John 5:30-47
Monday, August 19
Psalm 106:1-18 But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold. (v.13)
It’s amazing to see coastal hurricane sites being rebuilt. Forgetfulness is a feature of humanity.
I’ve cried out for God’s help only to admit later that had I remained closer to Him no crisis would have arisen. “Lord, don’t let me stray so far,” I’ve prayed afterward, soon to forget. Sometimes it’s due to pride or rebellion, but often it’s simply neglect. All relationships suffer from lack of intimacy!
Richard Foster’s “Covenant Prayer” said it well: “Blessed Savior, I pace back and forth at the altar of commitment. I really do want a fixed habit of prayer. At least, that is what I want right now. I’m not sure if that is what I will want two weeks from now. I do know that without some kind of consistent communion with you I will not know holy obedience. So, as best I can, I promise to set aside time regularly for prayer, meditation, and spiritual reading. Strengthen me in this covenant. Help me to so delight in your presence that I will want to come home to you often.” Amen!
2 Samuel 17:24—18:8; Acts 22:30—23:11; Mark 11:12-16
Tuesday, August 20
Psalm 121 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? (v.1)
This psalm holds a special place in my heart. It’s the one read during our wedding in 1979. Its significance changed years later when I learned that this verse is an example of biblical sarcasm.
The local practice at the time of the writing of this psalm was to erect idols and altars on high places throughout Israel. Such places were repulsive to God. Times of revival were often accompanied by campaigns to tear down the high places (i.e. Leviticus 26:30, 2 Kings 18:4, and Isaiah 36:7).
After becoming a Christian, I gradually came to realize that I still maintained “high places” in my life. Horoscopes and superstitions were but two examples of baggage that I brought with me into my redeemed existence. When I become aware of these vestiges of my “old flesh” I consciously and deliberately challenge them as a form of self-discipline. It may annoy some not to hear “God bless” after sneezing (a superstition from times of plague), but it reminds me of verse 2: “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
2 Samuel 18:9-18; Psalms 120, 122, 123; Acts 23:12-24; Mark 11:27—12:12