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Category Archives: Devotional

Sabbath Controversies

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the sabbath; his disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2When the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the sabbath.” 3He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4He entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him or his companions to eat, but only for the priests. 5Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath the priests in the temple break the sabbath and yet are guiltless? 6I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. 7But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8For the Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.” 9He left that place and entered their synagogue; 10a man was there with a withered hand, and they asked him, “Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath?” so that they might accuse him. 11He said to them, “Suppose one of you has only one sheep and it falls into a pit on the sabbath; will you not lay hold of it and lift it out? 12How much more valuable is a human being than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the sabbath.” 13Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and it was restored, as sound as the other. 14But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him. (Matthew 12:1-14, NRSV)

Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath?

It is lawful to do good at all times because the sum of the Law and the Prophets is to love God and love neighbors.

And God desires us to be merciful to others rather than get our religiousity correct. We are to love the world and show God’s light and love to everyone and we do that by loving them where they are and letting God work in and through our lives so that everyone sees God’s love in their life.

So do you keep the rules or let love rule?

 

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John the Baptist

Now when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and proclaim his message in their cities. 2When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples 3and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” 4Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. 6And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” 7As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? 8What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. 9What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10This is the one about whom it is written, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ 11Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. 13For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John came; 14and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15Let anyone with ears listen! 16“But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another, 17‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’ 18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’;19the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” (Matthew 11:1-19, NRSV)

No matter what you do someone will find an issue with it. John didn’t eat or drink and people said he was possessed and Jesus ate and drank and they called him a drunk  So no matter what you do someone will find you at fault, but it doesn’t matter what everyone else says, it only matters what God says.

So are you ready to go where God leads you like John the Baptist? Give up everything and follow after God?

 

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Living in the World

32“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven. 34“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. 37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 40“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.” (Matthew 10:32-42, NRSV)

This is honestly one of the passages I struggle with. Why would God want us to be in opposition to our family?

Well God doesn’t want us in opposition to our families, but Jesus here is saying that we need to be ready to be in opposition to anyone. We need to make sure we put God first and that no one gets in the way of us following God. And at some point, we might see God leading us in a way that our family or our friends may not understand yet. And it is our duty to follow where God is leading us. We can not let relationships get in the way of us following after God.

 

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Sending out Disciples

Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. 2These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;4Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him. 5These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. 9Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, 10no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. 11Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. 12As you enter the house, greet it. 13If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. 15Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. 16“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; 18and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. 19When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; 20for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; 22and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.23When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. (Matthew 10:1-23, NRSV)

How many of us would be ready to go if called by Jesus?

Don’t take a bag, money, an extra tunic, go only where you are welcomed and do not linger if they do not want you to be there. ANd only rely on the hospitality of others.

Are you ready to leave all of your comforts behind and follow after Jesus? Because that is really what Jesus is calling us all to.

Jesus wants us to rely on Him and go where He sends us. Knowing we will not always be welcomed but we are there to be a light to disperse the darkness and to share God’s love.

Are you ready to go?

 

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Traveling, Teaching, Healing

27As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, crying loudly, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” 28When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” 29Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you.” 30And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus sternly ordered them, “See that no one knows of this.” 31But they went away and spread the news about him throughout that district. 32After they had gone away, a demoniac who was mute was brought to him. 33And when the demon had been cast out, the one who had been mute spoke; and the crowds were amazed and said, “Never has anything like this been seen in Israel.” 34But the Pharisees said, “By the ruler of the demons he casts out the demons.” 35Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:27-38, NRSV)

I wonder why the Pharisees said that Jesus cast out demons by the ruler of demons?

Have you ever seen someone do something you wish you could do? I do all the time. And sometimes rather than just being happy for that person that they have a talent I don’t. We can be jealous of others and their abilities. It can get in the way of us loving them as God calls us to and make it harder for others to love them. I believe the Pharisees were jealous of Jesus. And because of their jealousy, they were unable to see the love that surrounded him.

Are we blinded by jealousy and unable to see miracles all around us?

 

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Healing a Woman and a Girl

18While he was saying these things to them, suddenly a leader of the synagogue came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” 19And Jesus got up and followed him, with his disciples. 20Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak, 21for she said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well.” 22Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. 23When Jesus came to the leader’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, 24he said, “Go away; for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. 25But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. 26And the report of this spread throughout that district. (Matthew 9:18-26, NRSV)

Here we see Jesus healing a woman who was dealing with an illness for 12 years and a girl who was dead. Have you ever seen this?

We think that we need to see these big miracles to actually believe?

But miracles happen all around us every day. We actually are a miracle. If you think about how our bodies work and the earth ecosystems work there are all kinds of miracles around us.

So see what God is doing all around you and join God in the work that is being done here and now to make His light shine in the darkness and His love to be made known

 

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Faith like a Mustard Seed

24He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ 28He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” 31He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” 33He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” 34Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. 35This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.” 36Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age.41The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen! 44“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; (Matthew 13:24-45, NRSV)

What is the kingdom of heaven like?

Sowing good seed in a field.

A Mustard Seed.

Yeast mixed in flour.

Good seed produces good grain, but weeds come in. And you can not remove the weeds without also getting some of the good grain. Mustard is the smallest seed known at Jesus’ time, but when you plant mustard it takes over the place it is planted. It is known to be an invasive plant that takes over an area. And once yeast is mixed in flour, you can not get it out. So what is heaven like?

A treasure hidden in a field and a merchant looking for fine pearls.

But is it actually, good seed or yeast flour?

It is the sower and the woman, and the biggest tree and the treasure and the one who looks for finest pearls. It is about the lengths that God will go to be with us!

What is heaven to you?

 
 

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