Mark 4:30-34 – Mustard Anyone?

Read Mark 4:30-34

Jesus continues to use seeds to describe the kingdom of God. This is the third time he uses seeds in his analogies. That tells me that seeds would be something understood universally by many people. For me, when I first read the parable of the mustard seed, I had no idea how tiny those seeds were. It wasn’t until I was doing a children’s sermon years ago that I actually saw a mustard seed up close. You might just need a magnifying glass!

How fitting that Jesus would give the mustard seed such attention! Jesus was a master at making hard topics understandable. We can all picture something huge growing out of something small. Jesus says that’s what the kingdom of heaven is like.

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Mark 4:26-29 – Kingdom of God

Read Mark 4:26-29

Jesus again uses seeds to make his point. Describing the kingdom of God is tricky, and we often have a hard time wrapping our heads around what it truly means. We all have a picture of what a kingdom is–from fairy tales we read as a child or seeing news reports of what’s happening in the royal families of England or other nations with that type of rule.

So, what does this parable teach us about the kingdom of God? For me, I understand it as a beautiful mystery that’s hard to explain. We should be in wonder of it! Just like we marvel at how a seed, when planted, can become something entirely different.

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Malachi 4:1-6 – Judgment Day

Read Malachi 4:1-6

This is the last chapter of the Old Testament. That fact alone gives me goosebumps as I write this reflection. There will be a huge gap of time (400 years or so) between this writing and the New Testament. The people would have to wait a long time to see some of these prophecies fulfilled.

This prophecy would have given the faithful hope for the future. Like today, there were those obedient to God and his decrees in Malachi’s day. The unfaithful probably turned the other way and ignored Malachi altogether, in denial of their coming peril. People still refuse to listen to God’s word. This prophecy is no exception.

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Malachi 3:1-5 – Judgment Day is Coming

Read Malachi 3:1-5

This is often a text used during Advent in churches following the lectionary who prepare for Jesus’ coming around Christmas. As I read this, I pictured John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus’ ministry. People hearing Malachi’s message would surely imagine Jesus in a different way.

The people first hearing Malachi’s words were far from faithful. They had started to believe that God didn’t care about them anymore. Their sin was total indifference to God, ignoring the covenant relationship that had existed for generations. The intimate relationship God craves with his children was non-existent in those days. Do we see that kind of intimacy today?

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Zephaniah 1:14-18 – This Day

Read Zephaniah 1:14-18

Zephaniah’s oracle now shifts focus to “all” people, not just rebellious Judah. Churches today have coupled this passage with New Testament passages speaking of the final judgment. You may even recognize some of these images have become the lyrics in hymns and worship songs.

This day will be a day of bitter tears, men crying out, all while the Lord’s anger is poured out on all people. It’s not a pleasant picture at all. Yet, it is destruction we can anticipate will happen when the Lord’s Day finally arrives. Will we see it in our lifetime? Only God knows.

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