A New Psalm
Lord of Heaven and Earth
We stand before you vulnerable and confused.
We are overwhelmed by it all.
Lord help us!
Hear our cry, oh God!
Leave us not alone here.
We wrestle with all that is going on around us:
The persecution of our fellow Christians,
The bombing of families with children,
The trafficking of women into sexual slavery,
Floods and wildfires,
Large and small scale acts of violence and desecration.
There is so much to wear us down.
Yet we know you are God,
You are the Most High.
It is into Your hands we put ourselves and our brothers and sisters.
We pray and You hear.
We listen and we do.
And though it may seem our little acts have no effect,
We believe that a thousand ripples can cause a tidal wave
Of love that can wash away all that is not Your will.
Praise be to our God!
Pruning what is dead
As a gardener, there are certain things you have to do to keep a healthy garden. Most are obvious. Water your plants. Keep the garden free from vermin. Prune dead plants, leaves, vines, branches or flowers. “He [God] removes any of my branches that don’t produce fruit …” John 15:2a (CEB)
What is not so obvious especially to a novice gardener is that one must, at times, prune healthy flowers, leaves, vines or branches. Why would one prune producing plants? It seems counterintuitive.
More experienced gardeners know why. “ … he [God] trims any branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit.” John 15:2b (CEB)
The Pruning Principle
Pruning what already is producing helps to produce more. As you are successful in ministry in your community, keep in mind the “pruning principle.” When we become more productive and fruitful, we will continue to be pruned, in order that we might keep producing. Usually this pruning occurs to one’s ego. Success often breeds a sense of pride in our work, as well it should. But sometimes pride can overwhelm our sense of self and make us prideful. So the Vineyard Master comes and prunes us so that we remain open to the work of the Spirit in our lives to produce continuous fruit in our ministries.
Lord, help us to see that pruning is a good thing, even though it may be a painful process to go through. You are the vine and we are the branches to Your will be done with glory! Amen.
I Am the Bread of Life
I have noticed in my travels that in nearly all cultures and even sub-cultures like the American South, bread is a staple in the diets of almost all people. It may take different forms and be called many things but it is in the final analysis bread.
How fitting is it that Jesus said in John 6:35 (CEB), “I am the bread of life.” Of all the food references he could have made, Jesus chose “bread,” not “meat,” not “vegetables” but “bread.”
Despite the warning against carbs and bread, it still remains a daily part of most people’s lives in a way that veggies and meat still do not. “Rice” rivals “bread” by sheer number in households, and even in places where “rice” is the main dish, there still exists “bread.”
When He says “I am the bread of life,” Jesus lands squarely in the middle of daily existence for nearly everyone. He is the sustainer of life, as long as you have bread and water you can hold out, but without one or the other life becomes very difficult. Like bread, Jesus is the very staple of a Christian’s life.
Bread will always be in our lives as human beings, despite all the carb warnings. It is too intrinsic to being human. Jesus too should always be in our lives. He is too intrinsic to being a Christian.
Dear God, Fill us with your amazing, sustaining bread. Let us take in your goodness for our soul. As you bring the rain and sun to grow the food for our stomachs, use the rain and sun in our lives to show us your comforting presence in the midst of our lives. For you alone are the holy one, the bread of life to our souls. Amen.
The first Russian cosmonaut in space was asked by ground control about what he saw in space.
His answer: “I don’t see God.”
Often when we look for God, we turn our attention heavenward. We look up literally and figuratively. Turning our focus to the sky we “watch” for God just as the disciples did when Jesus ascended. Instinctively we pray upward and we speak to God as if He is above somewhere. But this is not seeing God.
And yet Jesus tells us to look horizontally when we search for Him.
Sometimes I think God gets very frustrated with us. We set our sights on temporary things letting the eternal matters go by the wayside. But God in God’s Infinite Love, has Infinite Patience. While every generation thinks it will be the last one because the End is coming, we have yet to experience the End because God is showing His Infinite Patience. If it had been left up to us, we would have given up a long time ago.
But not God, whose mercies are new every morning. God, in His Infinite Patience, desires for all to return to God’s side.