Mark 2:13-17 – Let’s Party!

Read Mark 2:13-17

Have you ever heard of a “Matthew Party”? This is something we always wanted to do intentionally. However, there were many instances when it happened naturally.

A Matthew Party is designed to be a gathering of believers and non-believers. Loosely based on today’s text, the idea is to be welcoming to the non-believers while surrounding them with believers. No “preaching” goes on, only fun. It allows the non-believers to connect with believers. If conversations go in the spiritual direction, that’s the Holy Spirit!

In our text, Jesus had just selected another disciple to follow him. This time it wasn’t a fisherman but a tax collector. In those days, tax collectors were often swindlers and extortionists. People feared tax collector because they were ruthless and not honest in their dealings. They were often rich, made so by taking money from over charging people’s taxes.

What was Jesus thinking? Why in the world would he associate with someone like that? And now he’s at a party with this sinner!

Perhaps we have judged someone based on their appearance, yes? Or maybe we questioned someone’s morals or life choices, even their employment? I know I’m guilty, but I’m not proud of it. Even worse, how many of us have avoided people who are different from us because we were “better than them”? Ouch!

Next time you see someone that looks or acts different than you, remember Jesus’ words, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”  Jesus came for us all, we are all sinners. It is not our place to judge or avoid those we don’t understand. Jesus loved them all, so must we.

Let’s pray. Lord, forgive me for those times when I look upon another with some disdain for their dress, their demeanor, their attitude. Help me to remember that you love them, too. I am not perfect either, Lord, and I ask for your help to work on me. That is something I can do. Show me those that are looking for you so that I can show them the way. Use me to be their beacon in this scary world. Thank you for using me to share and giving me the words to say.

 

Hosea 10:1-15 – Sow Righteousness

Read Hosea 10:1-15

God has spoken. Judgment for Israel is here. All are being called out. I got the feeling that maybe some were cowering now, hoping that God would pass over them and not bring his wrath. Even some players outside Israel were brought in.

What I liked about today’s reading were the word pictures or descriptions. While it didn’t lessen the intent, it made it easier to understand. The same message only with a different “package”. The descriptors helped me to see parallels to our day.

What struck a chord with you? What questions came to your mind? I welcome your comments at the end.

I would love to have this blog be a safe place where we can enter into conversation. We didn’t bring David’s library of Biblical history and pastoral care to Mexico for nothing. I would love to use those resources to answer your questions. I’ll get the joy of watching David know exactly what book will have your answer if he doesn’t already have a nugget to share.

So please, don’t be shy. Comment below — and go back to any of the other posts and comment.

When I read verse 4, I was hit by the reality that still exists. They spout empty words and make covenants they don’t intend to keep. So injustice springs up among them like poisonous weeds in a farmer’s field.” Ouch! God’s promises and word never fails. Not so for us all of the time. Can you remember a time when you made a promise but didn’t keep it? Maybe you said something in haste or anger, without thinking it through. Empty. What better way to cause bitterness or distrust with those involved.

Let’s also look at verse 12. I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’” Here it is. The nugget I’m taking away. This is what God wants from us. As we’ve said before, our purpose is to love God and others. This is a great formula to follow to make it happen. Read that verse several times and let it sink in. We have our marching orders, just like the Israelites did.

What are we waiting for?

Let’s pray. Father God, thank you for your instruction today. I love how your Word is always perfect. There is always a message for me. Now it’s up to me to heed your challenge and get to it. Cleanse my heart of things that are keeping me from you. Help me break apart the hardness that has set in so I can be open and ready for your righteousness. Don’t let my eyes be closed to the needs around me. Show me those that are ready to hear from you. Give me the words to say. I trust you will in your time. I love you Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Hosea 2:2-23 – Sin, Judge, Restore

Read Hosea 2:2-23

The comparison or relationship between the identity of Gomer and Israel continues. I really struggled with this passage and what it might be saying to me today. There was so much emphasis on the bad things being done against Gomer/Israel. Very harsh, didn’t you think?

Here are a few examples: left to die of thirst, strip naked in public, etc. It would be easy to feel sorry for Gomer/Israel, but what we’re seeing is a husband distraught with hurt and pain. Israel has turned away, and the good things provided are being sacrificed to a non-existent God. Do we do the same thing today? Do we waste the precious gifts God has given us?

After judgment and discipline we see hope revealed toward the end of the passage. We need not feel abandoned. God may allow us to struggle but only for a teachable moment. He is there all the time, cheering us on, waiting for us to return to him. He longs for us to say, “YOU ARE MY GOD”! Our only hope is in the Lord!

God’s love for Israel (and for us) is never-ending. He can’t stay mad forever, his love is too strong. But the punishment is necessary lest a lesson not be learned. It is at the end of this chapter that Hosea’s children are renamed to be their positive counterpart.

We have a choice who we spend time with. Do you long to spend time with God? If your devotion time is in the morning, do your bed sheets often win one more snooze. Did you stay up too late last night and want just 10 more minutes? That’s 10 minutes you just cheated God. I know I’ve done it, and the truth stings. 

We have a choice and should be more mindful of who we spend time with, what we make a priority in our lives.  Wake up!  God is waiting for us!

Let’s pray. Lord, forgive me when my attention is not fully on you. I know those are times I struggle with weakness and uncertainty. Help me to stay focused on you and invite you into each conversation, decision, and event in my day. I don’t want to be disobedient like the wife in today’s story. I choose you, God, to be ruler of my life. I trust you for my salvation and know that this is the right choice. Thank you for the reminders and the disciplines you provide to keep me on track. Lord bless those who don’t yet make you a priority. I pray for them to see and know that you are the truth, the way and the life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.