Thursday, April 10, 2014
Matthew 6:1-4 Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
A tall, well built, man was walking along a street on the west side of the city. As he walked along he observed cigarette butts, scattered paper and trash. He continued walking and in the distance he observed a person sitting against a building. As he came closer it was a man and he noticed his feet were wrapped in rags. He approached the man. He bent down and removed his shoes, and handed them to the man. Not a word was spoken between them. He stood up, turned and went on his way with a big smile and a heart full of love.
Prayer: God our Father, you call each of us by name, and you treasure each of us individually as though no-one else exists. Inspire us to respect and value
each person who comes into our lives this day. AMEN
Friday, April 11, 2014
2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
I wonder sometimes at the things I see on friends’ Facebook pages. I look at some of the little memes they share and often find myself shaking my head, not in judgment, but at the wonder of it. I see Christians sharing things that are anything but Christ-like. I see people sharing Christian memes but wonder if they know the life they’re leading is directly in opposition to God’s Word.
Christianity is hard, messy business. In our journey to become more like the Christ, who was perfect, we invest in people who will hurt us and let us down. We can face ridicule when we take a stand for something that’s not popular. Often we’re called to sacrifice. Jesus, who we are trying to emulate in this life, wants us to pray for the ones who from a worldly view would be our enemies. And on top of all of this, He expects us to share what we have with those who don’t have what we do.
As we grow as Christians, we need to be ever mindful that people are constantly examining everything we do and say. Often, others will point to the hypocrisy of Christians who are talking the talk but not walking the walk. They use this as an excuse to justify their own shortcomings. What we like or share on social media, along with everything else we do and say, should reflect the love of Christ to others.
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Romans 5:19 for as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
Seems pretty straight-forward. Or is it? If one man or a group does wrong, the crowd is compelled to join in, whether right or wrong. Is there a mob mentality? Or do we need to see a big picture? Adam sinned, mans disobedience entered the earth, many or all were made sinners. Jesus entered the world. Because of His righteous act at the cross, God’s grace overflowed to many and still does. The obedience of one man, JESUS, many shall be made righteous and whole.
Palm Sunday, April 13, 2014
John 12:12-15 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”
With much fanfare, the Lord of all Creation arrived in Jerusalem, riding on a colt. His arrival had been foretold in the book of Isaiah and the moment had come. The crowds were aware of Jesus’ teachings and miracles and finally He had come to Jerusalem.
Salvation and deliverance had a much different meaning to the people in those days. They were looking for a deliverer from the tyranny of the Romans. They wanted God to send someone to drive out the oppressors as He had so many times before. And here the man came, the one they had hoped for.
As we celebrate Palm Sunday, we are reminded of Jesus’ entry to the city. We know all too well that God’s plan for Salvation and man’s are still, to this day, very different. God’s plan was not deliverance from the Romans, but deliverance from sin and death. Today, man’s idea seems to be that salvation is some kind of scale. If the good outweigh the bad, you go to Heaven and that somehow you can “earn” your salvation. If that were true, then the events of this week so many years ago were pointless.
Jesus knew what was going to happen and He went anyway, fulfilling the prophecies which spoke of the Messiah.
Holy Monday, April 14, 2014
Luke 19:45-46 Then he entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’ ”
Pretty strong words for all the people who were in the temple doing what had undoubtedly started as being a good work. Remember in Old Testament times blood sacrifices were a regular part of worship…and according to the law of Moses, the animals selected for sacrifice were expected to be ‘without blemish’. It was a good thing for someone to be there with acceptable animals for those who’s well cared for lambs weren’t quite up to snuff. But then greed took over, and instead of being a service it turned into a lucrative business.
And that’s often the way it is for most people. We start out with good intentions, but before long, we lose sight of the original purpose and instead of serving others, our actions become self-serving. Jesus walked into the temple expecting to see people worshiping, offering prayers to the Most High God, and immediately he was confronted with still another reason why he had been sent to earth. Just prior to this passage we find Jesus crying over Jerusalem. Then He enters into the temple, that place where he should have been able to find peace and to find God’s people worshiping; and instead He has to cry again.
God has established some pretty simple rules for us to follow: love God and love others. We like to think we doing the loving God part every time we come into the building, but are we? This week, as we march without hesitation to Jerusalem and the cross, let’s ask ourselves just what we’re doing in the building? Do we come to Sunday service to worship? Or out of a sense of obligation? Maybe out of habit? To see and be seen? Or to worship? As we focus for the rest of this week on the crucifixion, let’s plan on making this year the year that we turn this building, this church, into what it was intended to be: a house of prayer.
Holy Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Mark 12:33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.
Who is our neighbor? Is it the people next door or on the same block? What about that obnoxious co-worker that drives you right up a wall? What about the stinky guy standing in line next to you at the DMV? Or that homeless guy with the sign? Or the person who you absolutely wish would find another church to worship at? Are they your neighbors? And do you love them as yourself?
What if we did? What would the world look like? How do you just keep turning the other cheek? How do you repay evil with good? Do you? Can you? It’s easy to say, but in practicality, let’s be honest; It’s hard because we’re human. We feel emotion. People make us mad. Sometimes they smell bad. Sometimes they have behavioral problems. Sometimes, they’re just downright mean. If we’re to love our neighbors, sometimes it would be nice if they made the job easier.
As part of Lent, Christians often give up something as an act of sacrifice. It’s an important part of the observance but notice that if we’re not treating our fellow man right, not loving our neighbor as ourselves, the sacrifice isn’t important to God. We’ve read a lot about obedience to God and these are the two most important things to God. Notice they’re commandments about love, not sacrifice.
I know that for me, loving my neighbors is one area where I’m always trying to improve. There are people that make it hard for me to love them. I make it hard for some people to love me. I don’t do it on purpose but I also know that not everyone that meets me will like me. We’re human. Knowing this doesn’t excuse me from trying to show love to everyone I meet. I need to try. Sometimes I need to try harder.
At the introduction of this book, you’ll find a request from the shepherd of our little flock about what to do with the gain from your sacrifice during Lent. The things he asked are to comply with the most important things God wants from us; to love Him with everything, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. It’s my prayer that you were able in some way to comply with that request.
Silent Wednesday, April 16, 2014
John 14:2-3 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
How do we comfort someone who is hurting? Hurting because they have been left behind and don’t have answers to specific questions? What do we do if we get lost and you can’t come and find us? What if we are hungry and there is no food? What if there is no one to talk to, and we can’t find a place to stay? What if there is a big argument and we are told we can’t stay in a particular place any longer? Where do we go?
Trust those around you and you will find peace and quiet in your heart. Someone will take you in and help you solve your problems. Do not be afraid, trust in God and He will give you peace.
He has a place for you now, and when it is time, I will come for you.
No more what if’s, I will come back and you will be at peace with me once again.
Now be silent and listen to what I have to tell you. You will not be hungry, lost or sad. You will be with me again. There is room for you and for everyone who believes in me.