Matthew 9:9-13 – Matthew’s Turn

Read Matthew 9:9-13

Are you a sinner? Of course, you’re thinking. Well, then Jesus came for you! We aren’t necessarily proud of our sinful nature, but we can be assured that Jesus’ arms are open wide to us.

Our reading today begins with Jesus calling Matthew, a tax collector to be one of his disciples. Tax collectors in that day were shrewd scoundrels, cheating people out of their money to make themselves rich. Yet, Jesus wanted Matthew in his group of guys. Of course, he did. Jesus said it himself, he didn’t come for those who were righteous but for those who know they are sinners.

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Matthew 8:1-4 – Our Little Secret

Read Matthew 8:1-4

We hear that after coming down from the mountain large crowds followed Jesus. Well of course they did. Jesus had just rocked their world and given people a deeper understanding of what they had known the “law” to be. There were probably a lot of “light bulb moments” for those listening on the mountain hillside that day. Word would spread fast about this man, Jesus, who had taught them with such authority.

We learn that in the business world leaders with authority do much better than those without it. What gives a leader authority? When we look at Jesus’ example, we see a man who took control of the situation. He wasn’t wishy-washy with his message. He spoke with boldness. He knew what he was talking about. Who better to know the law than the one who helped write it! With this authority, Jesus will attract a lot more people to himself. Including the leper.

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Romans 11:25-36 – Don’t Question God

Read Romans 11:25-36

You’ve heard it said, “God is God, and I am not.” That couldn’t be truer. God has everything figured out; meanwhile, we fumble about trying to make it through life. We try to take control of things we can, often trying to “play” God. We will do better to just acknowledge God as the epitome of wisdom, grace, and mercy.

When we begin to question God and his actions, we open ourselves up to trouble and disillusionment. There is no way for our human brains to even begin to understand God’s ways. When we hear about “big picture” thinking, God knows it best! Take a moment to just revel in the majesty of God. He handles so much and still has time for each one of us!

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Luke 10:25-37 – Do This!

Read Luke 10:25-37

The Good Samaritan story was a genius example to help us understand who our neighbor is. It also shows us what being a poor neighbor looks like.

Jesus affirmed the man’s question about eternal life. This is what you must do to live. “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Living in a neighborhood, we often think that our neighbors are those living close by. Jesus opens our eyes to the real meaning.

To be a good neighbor you need to be present. We see two examples of folks, upright and presumably spiritual, who did not do the right thing. Were these folks too busy? Where these folks afraid to get their hands dirty? They were Jewish, just like the beaten down man, so it wasn’t like they were afraid of helping a foreigner. Did they fear for their own lives? Perhaps the greedy bandits were still nearby ready to pounce on their next victim. Continue reading “Luke 10:25-37 – Do This!”

Luke 1:67-80 – What a Prophecy!

Read Luke 1:67-80

What powerful words God gave to Zechariah. It’s almost like an answer to the question in our previous passage. You will recall the people were amazed at the events and wondered what John would “turn out to be”.

After Zechariah, the priest and father, spoke, the people gathered knew exactly who John was and what his destiny was to be. They also knew that their Lord and Savior would soon be on the scene.

This is the second of four “songs” in the book of Luke. Like Mary, Zechariah speaks of God’s marvelous deeds. Both make reference to the covenant promise with Abraham.

Did you have a favorite line from this one? I liked vv. 74 and 75, We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.”  In those days, there was a fear of God that we don’t see much today. The people had not yet met Jesus, God in the flesh, and gotten to know the true heart of God. Yet even knowing how much God loves us, so much  that he sent his one and only Son, we sometimes discount the immensity of that very act. We downplay God’s power, his might, and sovereign rule over our lives. The fear is gone.

The mere fact that he has rescued us over and over again from our enemies has also gone unnoticed. God works behind the scenes to keep us safe. When we stumble or find ourselves under enemy attack, many times it is because we have stepped outside of God’s will for us.

Being a follower doesn’t mean life will be easy. It means we have a protector and friend walking beside us. It means we are doing our best to stay connected and be righteous despite the obstacles.

Zechariah’s prophecy is beautiful in it’s form. It exalts God, lifts up his own child’s destiny as intended by God, recognizes God’s perfect plan, and assures people of God’s peace.

Take a moment to rest in God’s peace today. Let your heart reflect on God’s goodness around you.

Let’s pray. Lord God, I thank you for your promise to protect me and redeem me. Thank you for accepting me despite my failures and flaws. Use me and my story to reach others for you. Give me a bold spirit to stand unafraid before my enemies. Clear my vision so that I can see what you intend for me. As John’s destiny was set even before his birth, I know you have a plan for me, too. Help me to stay on the path you have for me. Bless all that I say and do this day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.