Deuteronomy 13:1-18 – Don’t Be Led Astray

Read Deuteronomy 13:1-18

There are so many distractions that can keep us from God. There are also false prophets, feel good spirituality, and non-believers that do what they can to entice us away from our faith. It’s been going on like this for a long time. Moses had to warn his people to be careful not to go astray. God would not be pleased. I was also surprised to see that Moses told them, “the Lord your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul.” I certainly don’t want to fail the test. Do you?

We do need to be careful. I, for one, don’t want to displease God. Yet, there isn’t a moment that goes by that I’m not falling short in some way, shape, or form. What is helpful, is to realize I’m not alone. Many people over the ages have struggled with temptations. You know the old saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” Have you ever had that sense?

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Holy Week 2020 – Saturday

Read Luke 23:50-56

Jesus had died. There was an emptiness to the world that was hard to describe. A loneliness that seemed to have no end. How could life go on as usual? Imagine the despair that was coupled with fear. I imagine the disciples thought they might be next because of their associations with Jesus. Did any of Jesus’ friends remember his words that he would rise on the third day? For today, let’s also put that knowledge aside. Like Jesus’ followers then, let us be lost in our grief.

Then there was Joseph. A secret follower of Jesus. He had a position on the high council of all things. What would the others think of him now? He boldly came forward and asked for Jesus’ body. He took great care to place Jesus in a fresh tomb. His respect was evident. He had put his reputation on the line here. What would the fallout for that be? Joseph didn’t care. He had been waiting for the Kingdom of God. He had found Jesus, the King himself.

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Matthew 4:18-22 – Follow Me

Read Matthew 4:18-22

Jesus said, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” What if he said that to you? Have you ever fished for people? You may recall another translation, becoming “fishers of men.” Still, the notion of fishing for people seems out of the ordinary. What was happening here is Jesus was offering these fishermen an invitation to follow him.

What was their response? “Not today, I’m too busy.” “I can’t follow you right now, I can’t leave my father.” No! They dropped everything and followed Jesus. That may seem a little crazy to us. For me, I would want to tie up some loose ends or at least know where I was going. But these men did not hesitate.

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Zephaniah 2:12-15 – Whose Power?

Read Zephaniah 2:12-15

The prophecy of God’s wrath continues and includes Ethiopia and Assyria.  Ethiopia, also called Cush, was controlled by Egypt at the time. They were the large nation to the south, while Assyria was large on the north. You may recall Assyria was also a strong military force at that time.

For a little back story, Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria, and you can imagine that to be like Tokyo, Moscow, or even  New York City in today’s world. It was known for it’s beauty, technology, with vast irrigation for gardens. That city wall was 60 miles long, 100 feet high, fortified with 1500 towers. All that, reduced to rubble. God’s power, indeed.

These predictions were God’s plan revealed. I’m guessing the people of that time were a bit amazed by Zephaniah’s (God’s) words. It would seem almost an impossibility.

Even today, our culture has become complacent in trusting God’s messages to us, and the tendency is to exist on our own strength. Who are we in the scheme of things? We are God’s prized possession, but we should not become lazy in our faith.

This passage should clearly alert us that having pride in our own goodness shall surely be counterproductive. Our trust should be in God alone. He is in control, and we need to let him be. That can be easier said than done, especially for so many Type A personalities walking around. There must have been many in Bible times as well.

In what ways are you taking the lazy way out in your relationship with God? What can you do to up your game?

Let’s pray. Father, you have always meant business and your power surpasses our understanding. You have promised we can have access to that power when doing your will, and I thank you for that great privilege. Forgive me when I misuse the gifts you have given me, or don’t use them at all. Help me to be mindful of how I can help make a difference in this world. May I lead by your example to change the world. May I walk boldly and proclaim without hesitation that YOU are my God and YOU are the one I follow. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Mark 8:27-38 – Live for Jesus

Read Mark 8:27-38

There are so many gems in today’s reading. If this passage is familiar to you, I would suggest you read it again, at least once, and really listen for God. We can often gloss over the familiar, but God’s word is always made new. If you are reading this for the first time, read it again and really soak up all of the nuggets here.

Who is Jesus to you? Peter was on point, but Jesus asked them to be careful right now to spread that around. Have you ever wondered why? Later, he will ask them to spread the gospel. For now, maybe for their own safety, Jesus has them stay low-key. For us, we need to be shining lights for Jesus because the time for us is now.

Jesus tries to prepare his disciples for his death, but because of their track record of not “getting it”, I’m certain his efforts were in vain. The scene shifts quickly as Peter wants to argue. Jesus promptly puts him in his place, calling out the evil one as being the influence here. How true it is for us to let doubt or fear (tricks of the evil one) cloud our trust in Jesus, as well as our relationship with him. Be aware of that and call out the devil as Jesus did when you are feeling worry or or doubt creep in.

Jesus isn’t looking for lukewarm followers here. He is looking for us to leave our old ways behind and be all-in. In his words, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.” 

How many of us try to do it our own way? How is that going for us? What can life be without the promise of eternity? What he’s asking is not easy. But think of the reward. Jesus simply asks, “are you ashamed of me?” The trend nowadays is it’s not popular to be Christian. Many are ashamed. Yet, some are still martyred and suffer for their faith.

For me, I would rather be ridiculed and laughed at rather than hide my faith. If I lose customers or business partners because I live my faith out loud, then they are the ones missing out. I want to be ready when Jesus “returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

How about you? Who is Jesus to you? Are you a lukewarm follower hanging on to your life, or have you taken up your cross to be an all-in follower?

Let’s pray. Lord, what a glorious God you are. Your kingdom is everlasting and true. I dedicate this day to you alone. I declare every day you give me to be a gift. May I open it joyfully and spread your truth without abandon. Cleanse again my sinful heart as I want to shine for you. Thank you for the blessings you bestow on my business, my family and my life. May you sense my grateful heart as it overflows. May all thoughts of sadness, worry and negativity flee from me. Thank you that you are working in me to bring others to know you. Thank you for blessing that ministry.