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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Kingdom Manna

Hebrews 13:1, “Let mutual love continue.”

Often early grade teachers have said they learn a great deal of the children’s home habits in the first week of school during snack time. Some children say please and thank-you automatically. Some demand more. Some wait patiently for their turn. Some jump up and grab. Some use language that requires censure. Some bow their heads or fold their hands in anticipation of a prayer.

We all have the tendency to absorb the atmosphere around us. It’s up to us to decide whether we do it willingly or instead create a counter-balance, a determination to be different.

Over and over Jesus reminds His followers of God’s love. Again and again He exhorts His kingdom people to love one another. To exert care and witness and prayer from a center based on love.

What do I want to pass on to my circle of people? A critical spirit that seeps into their confidence, or a sense of compassion that reflects back their own worth.

Often, too often, I don’t even think. I just react. Lord, may I be so full of Your character and Your heart that I can only pass on Your love and forgiveness. Make my habits a reflection of Your qualities.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 69:36

the children of his servants shall inherit it,

and those who love his name shall live in it.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Kingdom Manna


Hebrews 12:28, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; for indeed our God is a consuming fire.”

An acceptable worship. Levitical priests were well schooled in the forms of acceptable worship. They performed their mediation with committed precision. The offerings, the oil, the grain, the washing, the clothes: everything aligned towards reverence and awe, acknowledgment of God’s power. They trembled before the altar—hoping, praying for sin’s removal.

A burnt offering.

Questions lingered. Was it sufficient? Would God stop listening? Was it correct? Limited in reach. Liable to repetition. Then came Jesus to the altar. An acceptable worship that cannot be shaken or changed or corrupted. Crucifixion.

A consumed fire.

An acceptable worship. A heart of thanksgiving. A will set to serve. A mind focused. Welled deep in scripture. Committed to prayer and fellowship. In reverence and awe acknowledging God’s grace. Trembling before Your altar Lord, I come. Asking to be accepted as a living sacrifice.

A love kindled.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 136:26

O give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Kingdom Manna


Matthew 6:10, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

In heaven there is no question of who is in command

and the angels are free to minister wherever You call.

In heaven there is no hesitation upon demand

of need and the angels respond to each request immediately.

In heaven there is no challenge to obey and the

angels act in faithfulness to serve the Master as messenger.

On earth we quarrel over who is right

and bind ourselves in continuous dispute.

On earth we demonstrate ingenious

ways to stall and act with reluctance.

On earth we argue and second-guess

each nudge creating rifts in loyalties.

On earth we wonder why our Lord’s kingdom does not come.

Why we wait upon His promises. Why we wait for His return?

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 143:10

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.

Let your good spirit lead me on a level path.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Kingdom Manna


Luke 21:31, “So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.”

We all try to live by our convictions. They resonate within us—who we are—why certain choices—how we react. They are the fuel that burns within us. Without them we can shrivel, become robots, empty.

“Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light; but if it is not healthy, your body is full of darkness.”

What do I see, Lord? Do I see You at work in my life? In Your world? Or is my vision clouded by bias or ignorance or self-centeredness? Am I blind to Your touches of grace and mercy that soften rough edges? Without recognizing them I can become bitter, close-minded, narrow.

Your light transfuses our senses. It spreads out in rainbows, scatters in prisms, shatters in diamonds. Sear Your light into my heart and will and vision, Lord.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 36:9

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Kingdom Manna


John 3:3, Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”

Many animal species are born blind. They ‘see’ with their senses—smell, touch, taste. When their eyes open they see the den prepared for their birth: a cardboard box, a thicket, a cave. Curiosity draws them further. They peek around corners, peer through foliage. Sometimes receiving encouragement. Sometimes a cuff. The daring press forward, the timid retreat. As their strength gains their world expands. Their vision is enlarged. They begin to see the world through their parents’ eyes. Towards maturity.

I too am limited to my senses and my experiences. I can relate only to what I see around me—where I am--whom I’m with—in relation to me. Unless.

Miracle of birth. Born from above? A perspective completely foreign to my capabilities but given by God. Sight to see His kingdom. Vision to encompass His world. New territory to explore under His direction.

If I am willing to look through His eyes—His heart—His will. Lord, may I seek Your panorama.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 14:2

The Lord looks down from heaven on humankind to see if there are any who are wise, who seek after God.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Kingdom Manna


Luke 15:24, “‘for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.”

Newspapers eager to find different angles for their features often report how cities clean up their streets, shuffle of their homeless, and drive dignitaries pre-determined routes to hide certain areas. Relief organizations often meet bureaucracy or apathy in attempts to reach those in need.

Every country, every city has the lost and abandoned. They are on the streets, in jails, orphanages, hospitals, school and homes. Some are rejected. Some themselves reject. Families torn by war rejoice when re-united. Families torn by choice walk with sorrow.

Nameless and known. To God all sons and daughters for whom He waits. Steadfastly watching, waiting. With expectancy and hope and love. Unconditional. No questions asked. No recrimination. Open arms. Running towards us.

Eager to reclaim His own. Eager to shout. Eager to throw a party.

Near and far the sounds of joy travel. And others hear. And wonder. And marvel at Your love. And many may take their first step towards home.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 145:7-8

They shall celebrate the fame of your abundant goodness, and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Kingdom Manna


Luke 15:10, “Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Joyous choir. Sweet refrain.

A lost savior found.

Lifted voices chorus praise.

Revel hearts sing a melody.

Stray one safe.

Laud hosannas ring.

Host of Heaven celebrate

a child’s return.

Listen creation. His psalm.

Answered again.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 148:2

Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his host!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Kingdom Manna


Luke 15:7, “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

Right living. Right attitudes. Right connections. All give us a breath of confidence and satisfaction. ‘All is right with the world’—we think.

Trials, temptations, trouble tend to lead us to frustration and despair. ‘Why me? What have I done to deserve this?’ We calibrate our worth according to the quality of our days.

Restoration comes to mind. How can I make this right and make life run smoothly? But I am still looking at surface issues. Unstable options. Outer conditions.

Turn to Me, Jesus says, and I will give you life. Right standing. A moral issue. An inside condition. Repent.

Ready to listen, I recognize I let my definition of righteousness cloud my real needs. Salvation. My walk with You, Lord. Recognition dawns. I am the sinner.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 51:12

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Kingdom Manna


Acts 13: 39, “by this Jesus everyone who believes is set free from all those sins from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.”

Mosaic Law. A standard separate from neighboring countries. It included civil and judicial and social laws like the others, but went beyond to contain moral and religious criteria. Equal mandate.

Freedom to restore relationships between God and each other. Freedom to receive compensation. Freedom to retrieve dignity when slandered. Freedom to be righteous. Equal status.

Magnanimous provision. Minuscule details. Laws to cover every possible sin. Pre-conceived. Unintentional. Accidental. Potential. The applications went on and on and were still insufficient. Equal failure.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Equal cure.

Messiah. To set mankind truly free from outward and inward sin. Recognized and unknown. Public and private. To the Jews, the Gentiles, the rich, the poor, the slave, the free. The men, the women, the children, the outcast, He removes the weight. Equal freedom.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 81:6

“I relieved your shoulder of the burden; your hands were freed from the basket.”

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