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The Burial of Jesus

40There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem. 42When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 43Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. 45When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. 46Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 47Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid. (Mark 15:40-47, NRSV)

Joseph was a respected member of the Jewish High Council and yet was there to offer his grave and to help take the body of Jesus off the cross. This would mean that he would not be able to participate in Sabbath rituals for having been in contact with a dead body. But yet he did it. He did it knowing it went against what most on the council thought. We do not know why he did it, but he did.

Would you have done it?

Risk your place in society?

Do something for someone who can no longer do anything for you?

Would you risk your life for Jesus?

Jesus came to show us how God had intended for us to live. He came showing love to all and forgiveness and He was killed for it. Do you stand with Jesus?

Are you ready to lay Him in the tomb?

 

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Solomon Solves a Dispute

16Later, two women who were prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. 17The one woman said, “Please, my lord, this woman and I live in the same house; and I gave birth while she was in the house. 18Then on the third day after I gave birth, this woman also gave birth. We were together; there was no one else with us in the house, only the two of us were in the house. 19Then this woman’s son died in the night, because she lay on him. 20She got up in the middle of the night and took my son from beside me while your servant slept. She laid him at her breast, and laid her dead son at my breast. 21When I rose in the morning to nurse my son, I saw that he was dead; but when I looked at him closely in the morning, clearly it was not the son I had borne.” 22But the other woman said, “No, the living son is mine, and the dead son is yours.” The first said, “No, the dead son is yours, and the living son is mine.” So they argued before the king. 23Then the king said, “The one says, ‘This is my son that is alive, and your son is dead’; while the other says, ‘Not so! Your son is dead, and my son is the living one.’” 24So the king said, “Bring me a sword,” and they brought a sword before the king. 25The king said, “Divide the living boy in two; then give half to the one, and half to the other.” 26But the woman whose son was alive said to the king—because compassion for her son burned within her—“Please, my lord, give her the living boy; certainly do not kill him!” The other said, “It shall be neither mine nor yours; divide it.” 27Then the king responded: “Give the first woman the living boy; do not kill him. She is his mother.” 28All Israel heard of the judgment that the king had rendered; and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him, to execute justice. (1 Kings 3:16-28, NRSV)

Solomon was asked by God what one thing he wanted God to give him and he asked for wisdom to rule the people. When this tragedy happened and the baby died and the mothers were arguing over whose child died and whose was still living. Solomon was able to discern whose baby it was.

Would you have handled the above situation the same way or differently?

If God asked you want you wanted God to give you would you have asked for wisdom?

 

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A Rich Young Man

16Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20The young man said to him, “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?” 21Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”22When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions. (Matthew 19:16-22, NRSV)

What must I do to have eternal life? Seems like a legitimate question. But the rich young man asked what good deed must I do. Like there is one thing, one deed that must be done to earn eternal life. Which if that were the case, would we all be able to do that?

But Jesus says, “keep the commandments.” And this guy wants to know the loopholes and exactly what has to be done. There are a lot of commandments, so which ones do I have to keep, because all of them can’t be necessary.

So Jesus gives him some of the 10 commandments and the greatest commandment, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” And according to this guy he has done all of these things and wants to know if there is anything more.

And Jesus tells him if he wants to be perfect. Not if you truly want to have eternal life, but if you want to be perfect. To me that says that he has done enough, but if you want to step it up just a little more, then go and sell everything and give the money to the poor and come and follow me. So he left sad because he could not give up his possessions. But if he continued doing what he was doing isn’t that going to help people see the love of God. Sometimes we get hung up on the I haven’t done enough when we have given just about everything. Love others and do not worry about the rest, God will take care of that.

 
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Posted by on 2019/03/13 in Biblical, Devotional, Discipleship, Lent

 

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Ruth meets Boaz

Just then Boaz came from Bethlehem. He said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you.” They answered, “The Lord bless you.” Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, “To whom does this young woman belong?” The servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the Moabite who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. She said, ‘Please, let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the reapers.’ So she came, and she has been on her feet from early this morning until now, without resting even for a moment.” Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Keep your eyes on the field that is being reaped, and follow behind them. I have ordered the young men not to bother you. If you get thirsty, go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn.” Then she fell prostrate, with her face to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your sight, that you should take notice of me, when I am a foreigner?” But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. May the Lord reward you for your deeds, and may you have a full reward from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge!” Then she said, “May I continue to find favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, even though I am not one of your servants.” (Ruth 2:4-13, NRSV)

Boaz found favor with Ruth because Ruth had given up everything to help take care of Naomi, who was Boaz’s relative. He saw hope in Ruth where others would have seen a foreigner, a stranger, an outsider. Boaz saw what God sees and knew that Ruth was a woman of integrity.

Do we seek men and women of integrity?

Are we women and men of integrity?

How can we see with the eyes of God?

 

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Bread of Life

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.” Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum. (John 6:35-59, NRSV)

I have to admit I cringe as I read this, because I think about it literally, eating flesh and drinking blood. And that is how the people around Him probably heard it. They thought they knew Jesus, who His parents were where He came from. He was a local boy and we all know all about those local boys…

But Jesus is metaphorically referring to His death on the cross and the giving of His body and blood for all people. He is saying that if we truly believe that the father sent Him we will accept Him and follow after Him. And by following Him and accepting Him we eat His flesh and drink His blood, as we do every Sunday when we remember His final meal with the disciples, all of the disciples.

So know Jesus is who He claims to be and follow Him, knowing that in doing so you will receive an abundant life, but not for the abundance, for what He did for you.

 

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Samuel’s Birth and Dedication

There was a certain man of Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham son of Elihu son of Tohu son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. Now this man used to go up year by year from his town to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord.On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters; but to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb. Her rival used to provoke her severely, to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it went on year by year; as often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. Her husband Elkanah said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? Why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?” After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah rose and presented herself before the Lord. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord, and wept bitterly. She made this vow: “O Lord of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a nazirite until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants, and no razor shall touch his head.” As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying silently; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard; therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, “How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Put away your wine.” But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time.” Then Eli answered, “Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.” And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your sight.” Then the woman went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband, and her countenance was sad no longer. They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. Elkanah knew his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. In due time Hannah conceived and bore a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I have asked him of the Lord.” The man Elkanah and all his household went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice, and to pay his vow. But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, that he may appear in the presence of the Lord, and remain there forever; I will offer him as a nazirite for all time.” Her husband Elkanah said to her, “Do what seems best to you, wait until you have weaned him; only—may the Lord establish his word.” So the woman remained and nursed her son, until she weaned him. When she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine. She brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh; and the child was young. Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed; and the Lord has granted me the petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.” She left him there for the Lord. (1 Samuel 1:1-28, NRSV)

Can you imagine being taunted over something for as long as you can remember and then when the thing you have prayed for happens, you give away the blessing you received?

You see that is what Hannah did. She prayed for a blessing from God, was taunted by Peninnah, and Eli who said she was filled with wine and needed to stop imbibing.

But she did not stop praying and asking God to bless her. And He did. And in doing that she returned Samuel to Eli at the temple and gave him over to God.

She dedicated Samuel’s life to service of God.

And isn’t that really what all of us should do with all of our blessings? Return them to the Lord!

 
 

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What is God’s purpose for me?

Below is a post I took from Facebook from the page of Bishop Timothy Marcus Smith. Yes, I asked him permission to use his post. I felt it was a wonderful look at who we are as God’s children in the world today. Before Bishop Smith was elected bishop of the North Carolina Synod of the ELCA, he was a pastor in the synod, and while he was a pastor there, one of the things he did was to serve on the candidacy committee, which helps prepare people to be rostered leaders of the church. He was the chair of the committee when I was a senior in seminary and I remember Bishop Smith asking me at my approval interview how my spiritual life was going. He said they had asked all of the other candidates as well, and my interview being the last one he was wondering my answer. I truthfully answered non-existant. To which he commented that all of us had answered the question that way, and it seemed strange to him that what had brought us to the realization that God was calling us into ministry, a spiritual life and discipline, was now not a part of our lives as we were finishing our studies. We are all broken vessels in need of His care every day, so what is God calling you to do, and how will you let Him use you, a broken pot, to nurture His creation?

When we Lutherans confess our sins (which is regularly and usually corporately), we ask forgiveness for those things we have done which we ought not do and for those things we have left undone which we ought to do. To me, this means in more practical terms that our daily spiritual discernment is what the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ intend, call, lead, empower, free or compel us to do/not do. In those places where discernment reveals we’re on a faithful track with our vision, values, and actions, we are called to be “conservative.” In those places where apparently God is not done with how I am and who we are and is continually calling me/us out of fear, shame, guilt, hate, death, and self-centeredness, a faithful pursuit, it seems to me, would be what Luther called the freedom of the Gospel, liberation from all that bows down to sin, death, and the power of the devil. It’s much easier (and lazy, and often wrong) for me to label you (or you me) a conservative or a liberal. Because Christ is alive and on the loose, we are called to continue in those things (conserve) that God in Christ intends for us and to let go of, be liberated and liberate others, from those things that separate us from God and from one another, including and especially (if we heed Jesus) the “least of these.” There’s a Gospel conservative and a Gospel liberal in each of us, dynamic rather than static. My simple Easter question of myself each morning will be, “As a baptized precious child of God, what is God calling me to hold on to (conserve) for dear life, and of what is God calling me to let go (liberate) so that in some small way God’s purposes might work from both poles of this spectrum even through this broken vessel that is me?”

 

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