Luke 2:41-52 – Who’s Teaching Who?

Read Luke 2:41-52

So many thoughts run through my head as I read this passage.

  • How frantic Mary and Joseph must have been. Have you ever lost your child, even for a moment in a store while shopping. Remember that feeling?
  • Did Jesus or the religious leaders ever take a break and sleep during the 3+ days Jesus was “missing.”
  • How could they not know what Jesus meant, had they forgotten he was the “Son of God?”
  • If the religious leaders were all amazed at his answers at age 12, what happened to them when at age 30 they wanted to kill Jesus?

Did you have another revelation or thought when you read this passage? Perhaps there is something missing in your life that you want to find? I suppose the mother in me really resonates with the first one and can’t imagine the anguish Mary felt. Continue reading “Luke 2:41-52 – Who’s Teaching Who?”

Luke 2:21-40 – Hello World

Read Luke 2:21-40

Joseph and Mary continue to be faithful to their traditions and beliefs. They present their son, Jesus at the temple along with their required sacrifice. (Side note: did you notice required sacrifice was two turtledoves, and I’m writing this on the 2nd day of Christmas.)

With the events of the birth night still fresh in their minds, wouldn’t you think this young family was hoping to find some normalcy? I suppose having the son of God in your midst could always be a bit daunting, but the love for your child and the innate need to protect would certainly be strong guiding emotions. Continue reading “Luke 2:21-40 – Hello World”

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.

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.

 

 

Hosea 5:1-15 – Hey Leaders!

Read Hosea 5:1-15

Some readings are easier than others, and today’s was not an easy one. Can’t you just sense God’s pain in the midst of what his people are doing? Have you ever felt betrayed or abused in any way? It’s not a comfortable feeling, and here we see how God’s anger is playing out.

Priests, leaders and warriors, everyone was in the scope of the curse. We see time and time again of the disobedience of God’s people. They are worshiping idols. Did you like how I said “they”. We are just as guilty aren’t we? Our idols may not be made of wood or gold, but we have them.

Think of an idol as that thing you think of or do that keeps you from thinking of and serving God. What are you pursuing – more money, more fame, or God’s mercy? What are you doing – watching TV, playing video games, or spending time getting to know God?

False worship is another trap. Today we have so many popular self help materials and “spiritual” guides. Too many of these types of things are just there to help us “feel good”, not build a relationship with our creator. When God is left out of the equation of our lives, we are in the trap of idolatry. Don’t be deceived by this. God gave us his word as our instruction book, as his love letter to us. Don’t let the words of man take God’s place.

I’m not a fan of the trouble our passage today speaks about. I don’t want God’s anger to cover me as a waterfall, or be torn to bits by the fangs of a lion, or to be destroyed as a moth consumes wool. Not pleasant pictures to be sure. I prefer to see myself cuddled up in my Savior’s arms with the assurance that I am safe, loved, and have made him proud of my life and my choices.

So what about you? Are you feeling a little uneasy right now? Do these words of destruction rattle you a little? They may be revealing something deep down that has been haunting you or causing you to feel guilty. Get it out. Unleash the turmoil inside. Put your trust in the loving and forgiving God.

Let’s pray. Father God. Thank you for this reminder of the fury in you that rages when we are disobedient and put our trust in the world. Forgive me for times when I have not put my full focus on you or your will for me. May I sense a calming in my soul as I rest in you. I want my life to please you. I want praise to be on my lips from the moment I wake until the moment I sleep. Refresh me today, and open m y eyes to the possibilities that lie before me. In Jesus’ name.  Amen.