Matthew 12:46-50 – Jesus’ Family

Read Matthew 12:46-50

The cycle of parenting begins at birth when your child is wholly dependent on you. At some point independence steps in. By the teenage years, the child starts to rebel and the natural separation begins. The teenager is not at all impressed by the parent and is sometimes embarrassed by the obvious hovering or parental attempts at being cool. Then the child leaves home and starts a life of their own. All of a sudden, Mom and Dad are a lot wiser now. Friendship can blossom between parent and child. The circle of life.

Well, here, it’s almost as if Jesus is disowning his own mother and siblings. He asks “Who is my mother?” Of course, he knows Mary and he cares for her deeply, but those words? If she were to hear them, would she be hurt that her son, the Son of God, has questioned her identity? Was he being disrespectful?

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Matthew 7:15-23 – True or False?

Read Matthew 7:15-23

There is a lot to digest in this passage. There’s more to it than just good and bad fruit trees. On the surface, we may miss how serious Jesus’ warning to us is. This is because we don’t realize how it applies to us. After all, we don’t see a lot of prophets like John the Baptist or Isaiah running around these days. For this passage, think of a prophet as someone who speaks “in the name of the Lord.” A religious teacher or leader would fit the bill.

The church is supposed to be a safe place for us sheep. But Jesus tells us there will be teachers who disguise themselves as ravenous wolves to devour the sheep (us), or at least lead us astray. If we can’t trust our church leaders who can we trust? Jesus. We can trust Jesus.

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Hebrews 11:17-30 – It Was By Faith

Read Hebrews 11:17-30

It was by faith that … [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE] … was able to do mighty things that many thought impossible [INSERT YOUR STORY]. What mighty story can you tell about how God intervened in your life when you stayed faithful?

The stories we read today can really conjure up some intense feelings if you put yourself in the “hero’s” shoes. Did one of the stories make more of an impact upon you than the other? I certainly have many a Sunday School memory both of learning the stories and then teaching them to a new generation of children. For me, the thought of sacrificing my child, as Abraham was about to do, makes my heart race. To imagine your son looking into your eyes asking, “where is the sacrifice?” I often cry when I read this story and am so empowered to be faithful. Continue reading “Hebrews 11:17-30 – It Was By Faith”

1 Peter 4:1-6 – Live for God

Read 1 Peter 4:1-6

Who do you live for? When you wake up each morning, do you ever start with a prayer of thanks for the new day? Do you give God a thumbs up and ask him to help you get through another day? This passage gives us a picture of who we should be as followers of Christ.

What are the highlights here? We must have an attitude like Christ and be ready to suffer. And we should be anxious to do the will of God. Period. So bring it on  – I’m ready to battle. I have the best armor and protection possible. If I suffer, it’s okay because of my strong faith and trust in Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I know who I belong to and where my final destination lies. Continue reading “1 Peter 4:1-6 – Live for God”

James 4:13-17 – Say What?

Read  James 4:13-17

This passage fits nicely with the one about taming our tongue. We need to be careful what we say and how we say it. Here we are being reminded of letting pride take over and not being mindful of God, the one who is truly in charge.

We should above all else trust God for his leading in our lives. While it is good to make plans, it is imperative that these plans are in God’s will for us. Each time we recite the Lord’s prayer, we ask, “Thy will be done”. Don’t let these words be just words.

I don’t know about you, but over the years I have had many a good idea and forged ahead to make it happen. I’m sure there were times when I didn’t consult God for his wisdom and stamp of approval first. Not surprising, those are the plans that failed or backfired. They certainly didn’t turn out like I had hoped or planned.

Why is it so easy for us to try to take matters into our own hands? Why do we often forget the crucial piece – a conversation with God?

I’ve seen it happen in churches, too. When we try to force our agendas, programs never seem to get off the ground, much less thrive. On the other hand, when we seek God’s wisdom in the planning process and all agree that it’s God’s will, planning and implementation seem to fall into place without a hitch.

The verse that should really hit home for us here is verse 17. “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” We should be intentional in asking God to reveal his will for us. We should keep our minds and hearts open for his response, especially if it isn’t what we want to hear. And, we should be ready to jump and act on what God wants us to do. This is a sin we can control. We can act in the way God wants and avoid sin.

Remember, God will never ask us to do something that is harmful or bad. God’s plans are for good. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  I don’t know about you, but I rest in the joy and hope this verse provides.

Let’s pray. Father God, thank you for your daily provision. As I reflect on the choices I have made in my life I can clearly see the ones you would not have had me make. But thank you, Lord, for making beauty out of my mess. Thank you for lifting me out of despair and loving me despite my wrong choices. I ask for your forgiveness continually for those offenses, yet I know you have long since forgiven me. My heart sings to know that you have redeemed me. I look to you now for each decision, no matter how small. Thank you that you are using me in new ways each day. I don’t want another minute to go by that I am not living deep within your will for me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.