Those who are saved

Luke 13:23-28

Sometimes, when we ask questions, we need to be prepared for the answers. Once there was a rich young man who asked Jesus what he had to do to inherit eternal life. The answer Jesus gave him was not something he wanted to hear. The man went away dejected. Then there are those times when others ask questions of us. It would be helpful to understand what they are truly asking.

In our text today, a person in the crowd asked Jesus, “Will those who are saved be few?” It may seem an odd question, but Jesus’s answer gets to the heart of the matter and some won’t like the answer. At some point in life, we have all wondered who will be saved. What we really want to know is, “Lord, will I be saved?”

For those who strive to enter the kingdom through the narrow door, there is no need to ask. Jesus tells us the truth and he shows us the way. Those who believe and are baptized will be saved (Mark 16:16). Will it be few? Will it be many? It isn’t up to us to answer. Ours is to take Jesus at his word, to tell others about God’s saving grace and live as reflections of his love.

Prayer: O Lord, help me walk in your ways, that my life would reflect your love. Amen.

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Of first importance

1 Corinthians 15:1-10

Early in the morning, so many people are already wondering how they will tackle their daunting list of to-dos. This list never seems to get any shorter. There are always errands to run, new issues to address, and attention to be paid to any number of items that seem to pop up at any given moment. The only remaining question is, what gets done first?

Really, is that the only remaining question? What about questions concerning faith? What about questions surrounding prayer, or reading scripture, or perhaps even attending worship? Sadly, in our over-worked, hyper-active, consumer-driven world, it seems time with God is the first activity to go by the wayside.

The apostle Paul reminds us what is of first importance. Living according to the gospel of Christ, growing in our relationship with God, and handing down the faith to others is to be our priority. The good news of Christ’s death and resurrection is the gospel that saves. No other power can bring salvation. No other earthly activity can bring everlasting fulfilment and life. Only Christ Jesus can provide such assurance.

In the morning, as of first importance, take time to pray. Give thanks for the blessing of salvation. Read from the Holy Scriptures, and live each day according to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Prayer: O Lord, be my vision throughout the day, and fill me with the power of your love. Amen.

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Trouble loving you

Luke 10:25-37

I have to admit, I have had trouble loving you. Yes, you are my neighbor and Jesus commanded me to love you, but it has been truly difficult at times. At first, I thought it was because of you. You don’t look like me nor do you speak like me. Some of your customs seem strange and, well, I just don’t get you. But then I realized I don’t even know you. Later, I realized that my issue with you is simply that you’re different. That’s all. So, I guess if I were to be honest, I would say it is more of a reflection of my character and not really yours.

In the parable Jesus told, the priest and then a Levite passed by the beaten man left for dead. Only the Samaritan showed mercy. He didn’t have to, but out of compassion and love for his neighbor, he tended to this man’s needs.

The truth is, we are all different. But as different as we are, we are also all the same. We are all created in God’s image and likeness. We are all loved by our heavenly Father. Yet, we are all sinners in need of redemption. God loved us even while we were sinners. Through Christ, he saved me, and he saved you. So, like I said, it’s a matter of my character, not yours. I pray that God will help me love you, even though I don’t know you. Because Christ knows you, and he loves you too.

Prayer: Break my heart of stone, O Lord, so I may love my neighbor as myself. Amen.

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Dear God

Psalm 103:1-22

Dear God,
I was reading your Son’s sermon on the mount and his words about prayer especially caught my attention. Jesus said I should speak with you in private, that I should meet you in a quiet place. He said that when I speak, you will listen to me and understand everything I say even though I’m not making any sense.

You know, God, sometimes life here on earth doesn’t make any sense. It seems the harder I try to keep your commandments, the harder and farther I fall. I don’t mean to be disobedient. It just happens sometimes. I’m not making excuses, and I’m not trying to cover anything up. I know I can’t. You see it all. I guess what I’m doing is confessing. I’ve sinned. Please forgive me God. Please. I’m asking in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Dear Beloved Child,
Jesus is right, I do hear you and I do understand. Fully. Perfectly. And you’re right, you cannot hide anything from me. Believe me when I say that through my Son’s innocent suffering and death, your sins are forgiven. And because he lives, you will live also. As far as the east is from the west, that’s how far your sins are from me. Keep striving, and keep praying.
With love,
God

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Share the good news

Matthew 16:13-20

Here we are in the midst of Lent, the season of reflection and discipline. Beginning with Ash Wednesday, the children of God are called to live a bit differently. On that day, ashen crosses adorn the foreheads of believers. For the next forty days, some give up favorite foods, or commit to prayer and the reading of scripture. We live differently, at least for a time, because the one whom we follow offers us forgiveness and the hope of eternal life.

Lent is also a good time (it’s always a good time) to learn how to share our faith with others. So many people in the world today have not yet heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. So many others may have heard it, but have not understood or believed. When asked to explain who Jesus is, even Christians sometimes have difficulty putting what they believe into words.

Jesus asks a simple question; “Who do you say that I am?” Simon answers correctly, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Indeed, he is! Jesus is the one whom God sent to take away the sin of the world. Through him, sinners are saved. Blessed are you as you share this good news with others.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, give me the words to tell others the good news of your saving grace. Amen.

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The Lorica of St. Patrick

I bind unto my self today, the strong name of the Trinity. These are the first words of the Lorica (or Breastplate) of St. Patrick. The Lorica is a prayer for protection against the powers that defy God, those that would do harm to believers.

Certainly, there are powers that would tempt believers into sin. Greed, selfishness and deceitfulness all line up to take their toll upon the faithful. Left on our own we are no match for such powers. Yet, Christ is with us.

From the beginning, God as been near to his people. In the instance of humanity’s fall into sin, God promised mercy and grace. He promised a Savior who would reconcile all things. This savior is the Father’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Through him is the way to eternal life.

St Patrick prayed:
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

With the Father’s promise, the Son’s victory over sin, death and the devil, and through faith worked by the power of the Holy Spirit, God’s people have assurance of grace and peace as we are made to be children of God.

Prayer: Most Holy Trinity, I bind myself unto you this day and always. Amen.

Original image: St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin

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Hear the word

Acts 4:18-33

It is no secret; people want to hear words of hope and prosperity. They want to hear words of joy and words of freedom. Yet, when the church proclaims such words as the result of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the world works hard to silence the very message it longs to hear. Why would the world be so opposed to the good news of Jesus Christ? The answer is summed up in one word; sin. Sin seeks to silence the church.

When Peter and John were ordered by the authorities to cease proclaiming Jesus as the resurrected Lord, those in opposition to the gospel thought they had silenced them. Yet, Peter and John along with the other apostles prayed for courage and boldness. They prayed the Holy Spirit would give them power to proclaim Jesus as the Christ. Certainly their prayers were answered and the church grew rapidly.

Today, the world still seeks to silence the church; there seems to be little tolerance for the Christian message of hope and salvation. Yet, emboldened by the same Holy Spirit, the church continues the gospel proclamation. Just as Jesus taught the apostles, so they teach us. Pray for boldness and courage.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, equip us to boldly speak the truth of your gospel.  Amen.

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