Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples. Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wonderful works... Remember the wonderful works he has done... He is mindful of his covenant forever, of the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac, which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute...When he summoned famine against the land, and broke every staff of bread, he had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph... He sent Moses, and Aaron whom he had chosen... He opened the rock, and water gushed out; it flowed through the desert like a river. For he remembered his holy promise; and Abraham, his servant. So he brought his people out with joy, his chosen ones with singing. He gave them the lands of the nations, and they took possession of the wealth of the peoples, that they might keep his statutes and observe his laws. Praise the Lord!
For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and peple should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts But you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the LORD of hosts, and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you have not kept my ways but have shown partiality in your instruction.
"The kingdom of God is not coming with what can be observed; nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or 'There it is!' for, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you... Remember Lot's wife. Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it."
Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money." Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that."
I am not a good chess player, but it is my understanding that great chess players are always thinking several moves ahead. Fortunately or unfortunately (probably both), I approach life that way. Something in me is wired to fairly consistently calculate what impact my actions today will have upon my life and direction for tomorrow.
I don't think God is completely opposed to my achiever driven calculations. But the texts for today did speak to me about some warnings for those of us who make life-planning an obsession.
Malachi reminded me today that life calculators are often looking to form relationships based on what they will receive in return. If Robert Bellah is right, most of us shaped by American culture look to all of our relationships through lenses of utilitarian and expressive forms of individualism asking, "What will I get out of this person?" or "How will this person make me feel?" God's ways show no partiality. God does not go looking for relationships with people based upon what they can give him in return. Love always lays aside utilitarian calculation.
The Gospel of Luke reminded me today that when we try to secure our lives - especially in forms of security, we end up missing out on the kingdom. The kingdom of God is all around us, but the troubling words of Jesus in Luke 17 are a reminder that we too often associate the wrong things with the kingdom and thus miss out on where it is. We secure our lives and miss the kingdom.
And good old James just constantly loves to remind me of what a total and complete myth it is that we can control life at all. I am praying for friends like Frank and Ruth today; both of whom are reminders that today is gift and tomorrow is not promised.
But through it all is a Psalm of THANKSGIVING that God always seems to be a step ahead. He prepares a place for the children of Abraham. He raises up Joseph in preparation for the coming famine. He sends Moses as the deliverer. He has water-gushing rocks ready to be discovered in the wilderness.
So I am thankful today for today; and for God's promise to be present with us tomorrow. May our trust in HIm grant us the eyes to see and experience the kingdom among us.