2 Kings 1:1-12 (NRSV)
By John Grimm
What could we do if we had the Spirit of the Lord upon us like Elijah did?
Three groups of fifty men, along with their captains, came to Elijah. Each time these groups approached Elijah, he said to them: “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Each time he said these words, fire came down from heaven.
Maybe we are like the captains and their groups of fifty men. We follow orders from the rulers. Following orders is not all that we can do in our lives. Instead of seeking other gods, we can seek the God of Israel, the Father of Jesus, the Giver of the Holy Spirit.
Elijah listened to the messenger of God. That is what a man of God does. Can we have men and women of God today who listen to the messengers of God? God will show that we are men and women of God so that the world around us knows whose we are.
Lord God, you have given us your Holy Spirit. Therefore, we are men and women of God. However, we do not think that we are like Elijah, who had your Spirit upon him. Work in us, please, so that we are known in our communities to be men and women of God. We ask for this assurance through the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Luke 9:37-42 (NRSV)
By John Grimm
Wow. That is what can be said about Jesus casting out a demon from a boy. We should be astounded at the greatness of God. For the man to see his son free from the demon would have been spectacular!
When is the last time we were astounded by the greatness of God?
Did this astonishment happen when a confirmand felt the Holy Spirit present in her?
Did this astonishment happen when a loved one quietly died after battling a terrible disease?
Did this astonishment happen in a worship service as Jesus healed a broken relationship?
Maybe we are like the generation who watched Jesus cast the demon out of the boy. Maybe we are faithless and perverse. It might be that Jesus needs to rebuke us so that we can see the greatness of God.
God, we want to see your greatness. However, our lack of faith and our perverse ways keep us from noticing your power at work in this world. Heal our lack of faith and drive out our perverse ways. We want to see you work in our world. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.
Galatians 3:15-22 (NRSV)
By John Grimm
For us, Paul clarifies the promise made to Abraham. Paul and the rest of us realize it is Jesus Christ who is Abraham’s offspring. Look in Genesis 12 for the promise made to Abram/Abraham.
What God has promised, He will bring to completion. Abraham and Sarah did receive a son, as promised. Now that Christ Jesus has come, we see more of God’s promise being fulfilled. There is a catch.
We have faith in Jesus Christ to receive the promises of God. We believe that God delivers us from sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So, why was the law given 430 years later than the promise to Abraham?
So that we would know what Jesus is delivering us from. Jesus is saving us from our choices to break faith with God. Once we admit our sins, then we can live our faith in Jesus Christ. We can accept the promise of God to Abraham through faith in Abraham’s offspring, Jesus Christ.
God, we have sinned. The multiple sins in our many lives damages our relationship with you. However, you promised through Abraham for us to have one whom we could believe in. That one is Jesus Christ! Increase our faith as we keep pursuing Jesus Christ. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we know our faith can be found in Jesus. Thank you for making us righteous through faith. Amen.
Psalm 124 (NRSV)
By John Grimm
How can we get the Lord on our side? Is it through rigorous campaigning? Is it through generous giving? Or could we get God on our side by belittling the other side? These questions seem to be missing the mark.
It would be better for us to consider if we are on the Lord’s side! Then, we would know that God is on our side. For when we are trusting Jesus, obeying God, and following the lead of the Holy Spirit, then we are on the Lord’s side.
Being on the Lord’s side is not always easy. We many times will escape our enemies like a bird from the snare of the fowlers.
Enemies will attack us. Our pasts will be brought up. Our inconsistencies will be brought to light. Our stumbling in the faith will be used as a weapon against us. Thankfully, we do not need to depend upon ourselves to escape from our enemies.
The Lord’s name is our help. The one who made heaven and earth is with us when we are attacked. Our responsibility is to be on the Lord’s side before, during and after any attack we face. Will we be found on the side of the Lord?
Lord, thank you for delivering us from past attacks. It was not because of our merit that you did such work. We have trusted you. You have delivered us. Thank you for being with us as we escaped. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.
Isaiah 44:1-4 (NRSV)
By John Grimm
What names do we go by? Some of us have nicknames. Some of us are known by our middle names. We are known by our name.
God uses several names when he is talking to his people. Israel and Judah, though designating the northern and southern kingdoms, are used in the prophets. We are familiar with Zion, which typically refers to Jerusalem. We call the land of Israel the Holy Land. Here we read God calling Israel both Jacob and Jeshurun. The name Jacob goes back to the time before Jacob wrestled with God and won.
Jeshurun. That is not a name we know for Israel. God knows it. He is letting Israel know that the same God who blessed them in Deuteronomy (32:15), is the same God who blesses them through Isaiah’s prophecy. What a word of promise for Israel as they are facing dry ground and have little hope for their offspring!
How does God speak with us? Do we hear God speaking our names? Do I hear God speaking my name, a name that only God and those close to me use?
Lord, thank you for speaking through the prophets. Thank you for speaking to us. It is by listening to you that we find how well you know our situations. You give us reassurance and promises for what is happening in our lives. You do know us! In the name of Jesus Christ, may we find all the blessings you have for us. Amen.
Ezekiel 3:12-21 (NRSV)
By John Grimm
The Holy Spirit will do as the Holy Spirit does. We cannot control what the Spirit of God does. Ezekiel learned this truth! What a situation he was in! We cannot imagine the transportation used to move Ezekiel to be by the river Chebar, in Assyria.
After those seven days of sitting stunned upon landing by the river Chebar, Ezekiel received a word from God. It is at this point that we become stunned. The word of the Lord that came to Ezekiel is powerful. It is given clearly for Ezekiel. We ask ourselves, is it spoken clearly for us?
Are we truly our brother’s keeper? Are we responsible for anyone else? Do we really want to become involved in someone else’s life? These are questions we ask ourselves as we see how Ezekiel is to be a sentinel for Israel. If he warns them, then the people and Ezekiel will be able to live on. If Ezekiel does not warn them when he sees their iniquities, then the people will die, and their blood will be on Ezekiel’s hands.
As disciples of Jesus Christ, will we be judged like Ezekiel? If we fail to correctly give the word of the Lord to the people regarding their iniquities, will their blood be on our hands? If we do correctly give the word of the Lord to the people regarding their iniquities, then will our life be saved? Our salvation is tied to the salvation of others. We may not be prophets or by the river Chebar, but we are able to speak the word the Lord gives us.
Lord, your Spirit moves us today in ways we do not expect. When your Spirit moves us to speak your word, then may the people hear and turn to you. Thank you for helping us to see how serious our obedience to you is. In the name of Jesus Christ, we ask for you to give us words to speak that will warn people to turn to you. Amen.
Revelation 22:6-9 (NRSV)
By John Grimm
The angels and humans have one thing in common in this part of John’s vision. We are slaves. What a commonality! For we serve God in our respective capacities. The difference between angels and humans is how we can be faithful.
The angels were faithful in delivering the vision to John, and to all who read Revelation. We humans get to be faithful in keeping the words of this prophecy. We do not worship angels. We worship God, who is faithful to both the angels and to humans.
What then are we to do? We are to keep the words of this book!
When we do keep the words of this book, then we will know how much and for how long we can worship God. We get to be faithful until Jesus Christ returns. We are slaves to Jesus through the word that angel revealed to John. We, therefore, serve with the angels in the worship of God. If we get nothing else from Revelation, then we deliberately find reason to worship God. That is the word for us. Worship God.
God, we worship you. You are faithful to us. We are finding encouragement to remain faithful to you. It is a blessing for us already to know we serve you. It is with our life that we worship you. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.
Luke 2:25-35 (NRSV)
By John Grimm
Serving God is unique. We will not know exactly what we are to do in every situation. We will not know how long we will have to wait to see what God has promised. We only know that we are serving God. When we arrive where God wants us to be for someone else, we will know it.
As a member of the clergy, I have noticed this truth. There have been countless times that I have contacted a disciple and that disciple says to me: “How did you know I needed…?” Whether it has been a prayer, my presence, or even a phone call, God has allowed me to be part of an unknown that blessed others.
Simeon waited for the consolation of Israel. We do not know how long he waited. We only know that he would see what God promised him before he died. Then, Simeon praised God. His words amazed Joseph and Mary.
The truth is that the consolation of Israel is for the glory of Israel and a light of revelation to the Gentiles. We may not ever be in the situation Simeon was. However, being there with a prayer, our presence or even a phone call for another person can be exactly how God wants us to serve Him.
Jesus, thank you for being all that you are. As we serve you and the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit, may we see what you promise us. Give us the words as we pray for other people. Give us the wherewithal to be present when someone needs us. Give us the timing that allows us to dial a number for us to speak what you desire for us to speak. Amen.
Proverbs 2:6-8 (NRSV)
By John Grimm
The Lord gives wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. These gifts are for the upright, those who walk blamelessly, his faithful ones. Are we upright, walking blamelessly and faithfully?
We know we need wisdom, knowledge and understanding. In the days ahead for the people called Methodist, we get to reach into God’s stores for these gifts. In the days behind us, we might not have used these gifts exclusively. It is possible to admit that we were not upright, blameless or faithful. Our past performance does not have to dictate our future production, though.
God is guiding us through these days. We rely on him for wisdom, knowledge and understanding. Because God’s ways are higher than our ways, the wisdom, knowledge and understanding that we use will confound those who oppose his faithful ones. Our desire is to be upright in how we speak with the other. Our desire is to be blameless in interacting with the other. Our desire is to be faithful when we see that others are not being faithful to God.
It is our hearts and our souls that benefit from God’s gifts. In living as upright, blameless, faithful ones, we will have pleasant motives such that the other will not be considered other to us. We will want all to pursue God’s gifts. Yet, we recognize that not all will. Still, we can be upright, blameless and faithful ones as we live in this world.
God, thank you for your wisdom, knowledge and understanding. Forgive us for not drawing upon them in the past. Renew us as we go to your stores for these much-needed gifts. May our paths be straight as we move through these turbulent days of the United Methodist Church. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.
Leviticus 19:9-18 (NRSV)
By John Grimm
When God says something directly to his people, he is quite emphatic. In our relationships with one another, we do what is right for those relationships because the Lord is our God. Righteousness happens between people because that is the way that the Lord our God is. Whether we are harvesting, or speaking with one another, or interacting with the deaf, or working with all classes of neighbors, or when we attempt to bear a grudge, we are to be righteous. Why?
God says it emphatically, clearly, and purposefully: “I am the Lord your God.”
Is this truth working in our lives? Is this truth working in our local churches? Is this truth working in our Annual Conference? Is this truth working in our current denomination, the United Methodist Church?
These questions are for the people of God. These questions are not for the unchurched.
Are there happenings in our lives that attempt to refute God’s position in creation? We are to care for the poor. We are to honorably carry God’s name with our lives. We can fear God, even when others do not frighten us. We can honor our neighbors of all classes. We can love our neighbors as ourselves.
We seek justice—the kind that honors God and recognizes our neighbors. We deliver the truth—the kind that honors God and recognizes our neighbors. We love—the kind that honors God and recognizes our neighbors.
Are the many sides in the United Methodist Church recognizing that the Lord is our God? Are we doing such by refraining from bending the truth? Are we loving our enemies?
Lord, you are God. There is no other god for us. As we interact and go through the present turmoil in the United Methodist Church, forgive us for not loving our neighbors, especially those who do not believe as we do. We are to honor you and recognize the dignity of our neighbors. Guide us to be righteous as you are righteous while we live in these days. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.