John 8:12-20 – Light of the World

Read John 8:12-20

How could they not recognize Jesus as God’s son? They had only been reading about him and waiting for him as long as they could remember. It was intentional. It was God’s plan. We already know it is God who calls us to himself. These religious leaders had to be indifferent or the “time” would never come, and Jesus would not have died a sacrificial death. But I am getting ahead of myself. We aren’t even halfway through the book of John. Continue reading “John 8:12-20 – Light of the World”

Ephesians 4:28-32 – How Should We Live?

Read Ephesians 4:28-32

This Chapter of Ephesians has been full of great insights on what a life in Christ should look like. How should we live as Christians? There are no “rules,” but we should not want to bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit. When you think of your behavior in that light, it’s quite simple.

If you’re a people pleaser like me, pleasing God should be the ultimate joy. Although when we put ourselves to that high standard, we fall short. We can’t help it. We just have to get up, brush ourselves off and try again. God is loving us no matter what we do.  Continue reading “Ephesians 4:28-32 – How Should We Live?”

Ephesians 2:1-10 – Grace

Read Ephesians 2:1-10

Some of my favorite verses are found in today’s reading. You may know that I grew up in the Lutheran tradition, and verse 8 is a key, crucial verse for us. It is by grace that we are saved, not by the good things we have done. I used to teach songs to our children’s ministry kids that emphasized this truth. It is by grace, grace, grace, we have been saved, saved, saved, not of ourselves. It is a gift from God. The best gift of all.

What’s really cool is that God loves us in our mess. We can be going through some really rough stuff and God still loves us. He knows we aren’t strong enough to stop sinning on our own. We are flawed. We are human. Yet he loves us, and his mercy endures forever. When Paul speaks to the Ephesians of being  “dead in the trespasses and sins” he is very much talking to us as well. Paul said we are made alive together with Christ. God never meant for us to be alone, struggling, feeling like we were suffocating in this cruel world. Continue reading “Ephesians 2:1-10 – Grace”

James 3:13-18 – Where Does Your Wisdom Come From?

Read James 3:13-18

You may have heard the Book of James referred to as the New Testament Proverbs. Certainly it is not just a set of ideas and thoughts but rather a congruent teaching designed mainly for the teachers of the day, but certainly applicable to all. It speaks to us today even louder than ever.

Today we talk about wisdom. Two kinds of wisdom.  Wisdom that is of the world, that is demonic and evil, and the other, good kind, that is from God. So many people are concerned today with social justice and political correctness. At what cost? There seems to be such a sway away from what the Bible teaches. Bible scholars are aghast at the trends we see taking over society and how words of the Bible are twisted to fit people’s evil desires.

James was seeing the same thing and wanted to get things straightened out. He was starting with the teachers, I suppose hoping he could get an army of educators on the right page. He wanted to end selfish ambition and return people to God.

God’s word brings peace to those who listen. God’s wisdom is full of grace and gentleness, both great attributes for people in dealing with others. The “other” wisdom will bring division and jealousy because it is not considerate and giving, only self serving and full of disorder.

So what do we do about it today? How can we change the direction people think and follow?

Have you heard of the starfish story? It’s where they find so many starfish washed up on the beach waiting to die because they are separated from their lifesource–the water. One by one, a young person begins taking the starfish back to the water. When asked what they were doing, how could they possibly begin to save them all. The reply came, “I made a difference for this one.”

That’s what James was trying to do and what we should be trying to do as well. For those lost in their evil thoughts and motives, we need to bring light and truth. With gentleness and grace we need to be the example of true wisdom and let everything that comes from our mouth be helpful and full of God’s love.

Verse 13 says, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”

Let’s pray. Father God, I am saddened by this world’s lack of focus on you and your truth. Godly wisdom is what I seek. I want to be so full of you and your wisdom that people can’t help but see and notice my gentleness, my grace, my peace and my sincerity. I want to be a full reflection of you. Let my words and deeds be the example needed to set your people free from the bondage of evil desires. Work in their hearts to feel the uncomfortable separation from you. Make their yearning for a relationship stronger than ever so that they will be open to looking for you in places they haven’t looked before. May the sermon of my life speak louder than my words ever could. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Mark 7:1-23 – What’s Inside Counts

Read Mark 7:1-23

Jesus is getting exasperated here! Is that because he is man, or does God get exasperated with us? Did you notice the “edge” in Jesus’ words, even to his disciples?

Jesus even had to leave, walk away from those who were frustrating him. That is a good model for us to follow when our buttons are being pushed. It is always better to retreat so as to avoid saying something in anger that is unkind or not constructive.

What’s happening here? The “churchy” folks are focusing on the wrong law, a tradition set by the people about washing. A “ceremony” they called it. Jesus was upset that the religious leaders were promoting such reliance on tradition, ignoring God’s law. That can be a temptation for us, too. God’s law should always come first.

Can you think of an example in present day? It could certainly be said that the idol of work and money often crowd out God in our life. We all know one of the Commandments is to honor God having no other gods before him. Are you honoring God first? I know I can do a better job of this.

Jesus goes on to get the heart of the matter, literally. He tells us that what we put into our bodies is not what makes us impure or sinful (as they were being taught). It is what comes out of our mouths, our evil thoughts and desires that makes us sinful or unclean. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense to us. Now. We haven’t been brainwashed to think that we need to wash this or avoid that kind of food to be holy. This must have rocked their world.

Today’s reading really personifies Jesus as a “real” person. He showed us a variety of emotions. He also showed us how to deal with them. Keep calm. Retreat to avoid serious confrontation. Explain rationally.

Have you encountered a situation where you were frustrated? How do you react when people insist they are right when you know they are totally off base? Pray and seek God’s peace as you enter these situations.

Let’s pray. Father God, thank you for this lesson today. There are so many times when I encounter opposition. It was helpful to me to see how Jesus handled this circumstance. Help me to be more like him, to watch my tongue and to speak the truth in love. I will rely on you and your wisdom to know when confrontation is going to be helpful and when retreat is the better option. Thank you for the glorious opportunities you have put before me this day. May my heart be cleansed and pure. Replace my sinful tendencies with your grace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.




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