June 6-12, 2016
Monday, June 6, 2016
“Even though our outer nature is wasting away our inner nature is being renewed everyday” (2 Corinthians 4:16).
The book Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, recounts the life of Louis Zamperini. While on a search and rescue mission during World War II, Zamperini’s plane experienced mechanical trouble and crashed. He was adrift in the sea for forty-seven days. Captured by the Japanese Zamperini endured years of torture and starvation as a Prisoner of War. He survived and returned home a hero, but he was tormented by recurring nightmares of him strangling his former captives. It was until his conversion at a Billy Graham Crusade and his forgiveness of his captors that the nightmares ceased. Zamperini knew to what Paul referred when Paul wrote about wasting away physically but being inwardly renewed.
None of us have experienced the horrendous conditions that Zamperini endured. We do know, however, how draining the trials and tribulations of life are. In the midst of those situations we have been strengthened by God’s word, sustained by family and friends and renewed by the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Because of God’s presence and power in our lives we have experienced new life rise from death and our mourning has been turned into dancing.
Almighty God, as you breathed life into Adam so breathe new life into us when we are defeated, despairing and are near death. Amen.
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
“For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
Karen’s mantra for life was, “This too shall pass.” She repeated this phrase frequently during the time her two teenagers went through the stage when mom didn’t know anything. These words both comforted and strengthened her as she was treated for breast cancer. Karen even found the mantra useful for the times she was stuck in traffic or couldn’t leave a boring, unproductive meeting at her work. The words enabled Karen to see the light at the end of the tunnel and not to despair.
Paul reminded the Corinthians that the troubles they were experiencing would pass. They were momentary afflictions. We need to be reminded of this truth, also. Not only will these trials be short lived, but they can also be the potter’s wheel that the Holy Spirit uses to mold us into God’s image or the crucible that burns away the dross of our lives. Rather than complain, we are invited to rejoice at God’s creative power in our lives.
Creator God, take the struggles of our lives and creatively use them to shape us into the people you want us to be. Amen.
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
“What cannot be seen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
The Arameans were at war with Israel and determined that they needed to eliminate the prophet Elisha. One morning Elisha’s servant woke up and saw that Elisha and he were surrounded by the army of Aram. The servant was frightened, but Elisha remained calm. Elisha saw beyond the Aramean army. He saw that the Lord had sent an army of horses and chariots of fire. In order to calm his servant Elisha prayed that the Lord would open the servant’s eyes so that he could see (2 Kings 68-19).
There is so much that we can’t see. An illusionist can trick us with a slight of hand. We see only a small portion of an iceberg and we are sensitive to only a small spectrum of light. We are deluded if we tell ourselves that the only reality is what we see. Yet, this is exactly what we do.
God is silent and we tell ourselves that God hasn’t heard our prayers, or God isn’t interested in our situation. We don’t see the movement of the Holy Spirit so we convince ourselves that God is not moving. We see the forces of evil and decide that the battle has already been lost.
Paul reminds the Corinthians and us that the Lord is not limited to what we can see, hear, smell, taste or touch. Knowing this we place our trust in what we know to be true—God’s steadfast love, overwhelming grace and unconditional forgiveness—and not in our limited sight.
Holy One, forgive us when we doubt because we do not see. Open our eyes like you did Elisha’s servant so that we may see. Amen.
Thursday, June 9, 2016
“We have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1).
Paul writes to the Christians in Rome, “Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). Several Christians were asked when they believed eternal life began. A majority of them said it started at the end of one’s physical life. Eternal life was something that we had to wait for. This view of eternal life is very different from what Paul writes. Paul understood that all Christians were living eternal lives. Eternal life began at their baptism.
Eternal life alters our perspective on life. Our new view-point still allows us to live in the hope that not even in death will we be separated from God. It also helps us to see that the things of this world are not that important. We don’t need to concentrate on making a name for ourselves, being a success or earning a lot of money. Our disappointments, dashed dreams and failures do not need to cause us to despair. Our goals can be different. We can seek to serve God and use our talents and abilities to meet the needs of others.
We have a hope and that hope frees us to live our lives to their fullest—today.
God of Eternity, breathe in us new life and empower us to live in its freedom. Amen.
Friday, June 10, 2016
“For in this tent we groan” (2 Corinthians 5:2).
Occasionally our bodies call attention to themselves. Akihito pulled a leg muscle stretching while returning a tennis serve. That pulled muscle incited several groans from Akihito over the next couple of weeks. Steve’s groans came in grasps for air caused by COPD. Juanita groaned over the toilet bowl when the side effects of her chemotherapy became evident. We try to eat right, get some exercise and take care of ourselves, yet our bodies still groan. There are times when we may catch ourselves longing for a time free from aches and pains. There are other reasons to groan besides our bodies.
We groan when we see homeless people and long for a time when everyone will have a heavenly home. Until that time we work to meet the needs of the homeless. Twenty percent of the children in the United States experience hunger. We look forward to a time when everyone will have enough and no one will have too much, and we work toward that goal. We see abusive relationships, mass shootings and the ravages of war. We know there will come a time when we will all live in peace. As disciples of Jesus who have been called to be peacemakers we strive for peace and justice in our broken world.
Our groaning reminds us both of a better time to come and of the work to be done today.
Loving Lord, we are your hands. Use us to accomplish the work you want done. Amen.
Saturday, June 11, 2016
“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Walking while not being able to see can be hazardous to your health. Donald experienced this truth when he stubbed his toe returning from the bathroom in the middle of the night. The sun set before the Burns family got to the end of the hiking trail. If was very difficult completing their hike with only the light of a crescent moon. The thief who broke into Leon’s Pawn Shop learned how dangerous the darkness could be. He tripped the alarm and was arrested by the police a short time later.
It is foolish to walk when you can’t see—unless you have someone to lead you. As disciples of Jesus we do have someone; we have the Holy Spirit. The faith that we have is a deep assurance in God’s love and that God wants the very best for us. We trust that the Holy Spirit will lead us to places where our gifts and talents can be used. We follow God’s guidance because we have the faith that serving God is more meaningful and fulfilling than serving ourselves.
There are some people who can look but can’t see. They will tell us that we are foolish and that we will come to ruin. We know better. We walk in the faith that the Holy Spirit is walking with us and leading the way.
Holy Spirit, take our hands and lead us where you want us to go. Amen.
Sunday, June 12, 2016
“So whether we are at home or away we make it our aim to please him” (2 Corinthians 5:9).
In his explanation to the first article of the Apostles’ Creed, Martin Luther describes how God continues to create by providing people with food, clothing, shelter, family, and good weather—everything they need for their daily lives. Luther emphasizes that God does all of this out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy. Luther then proclaims that our response to God’s love and grace in our lives should be to thank, praise serve and obey him.
Our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ were never meant to be limited to celebrating our salvation and basking in God’s glory. We were created to live in fellowship with God and work in partnership with God. Adam and Eve were given the task of tilling and tending the garden. We are asked to use our talents and abilities to serve God by serving others.
We may not know what it will be like serving God in the fullness of God’s kingdom. We do know what we are to do this side of heaven, though, and we live our lives in service and obedience.
Heavenly Parent, you have created us with specific gifts and talents in order that we may serve you. You have placed us in specific locations at specific times that we might serve you. May your will be done. Amen.