Many heard Jesus teaching in the temple and were amazed. Some Pharisees, who were standing nearby; however, took exception. The Pharisees often found themselves at odds with Jesus’ words. They believed their self-defined teaching to be the standard. Jesus pointed out the reality; they did not live up to God’s expectations. Instead of hearing Christ’s call to repentance, these Pharisees tried to trap Jesus with trick questions.
We continue to live in a world which questions the authority and identity of Jesus. Our worldly society is centered upon self-defined standards. Attempts are often made to redefine sin, love, marriage and a host of other aspects of life. All of which, through sin, run counter to Holy Scripture. No matter what, we cannot redefine Christ’s teaching and we cannot alter God’s Word. Humanity’s call is to listen to his voice, accept his teaching, and strive to live according to God’s precepts.
Many people today often challenge the authority of Jesus and his teaching. They still ask, “Who is Jesus?” The answer remains the same. Jesus is the Christ; whose gospel teaches us truth and obedience. Through him only is there forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life.
Prayer: Father, we praise you for your Son Jesus Christ, through whom you pour out your mercy and grace. Amen.
As you read this morning’s scripture, notice Jesus didn’t say that he came in order that people would have an abundance. Jesus came so that we would have “life” abundantly. Materialism only leads us away from God and one another. It is a lonely life, an isolated life. Jesus warns us about those thieves and robbers who would steal our life away. Those who prey upon others will use any trick conceivable to snatch people away from God’s hand. Jesus’ teaching puts us on guard against such adversaries.
The Good Shepherd text is sandwiched in between Jesus restoring eyesight to the blind and the raising of Lazarus. God wants us to “see” correctly what abundant life is. Abundant life is trusting that God will guard and care for his people. It means understanding that he has mercy for all who call upon Christ’s name. Abundant life means understanding that we live in the assurance of God’s love, and not even death has the power to separate us from him.
Focusing on the life we have in Christ Jesus, we can enjoy life in fellowship and love with God’s family of faith. It is seeing Jesus for who he is, realizing him as the Good Shepherd who lays his life down for the sake of the sheep. Through him only is there forgiveness, mercy and abundant life in God’s kingdom forever.
Prayer: Dearest Jesus, accept our thanks and praise, for through you we have life abundantly. Amen.
In our world today, so many people struggle to realize their heart’s desire. For some, it is the fulfillment of a dream long held, culminating in personal happiness. For others, it is the safety and security of a beautiful home and family. Certainly, the closer we get to our heart’s desire, the more we are willing to struggle.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul spells out his heart’s desire. Paul’s heart’s desire is that his own people, those who did not believe Jesus is the Messiah, would be saved. The apostle is zealous for the gospel of Jesus Christ. His hopes for others are tied securely to his own hope in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Paul makes no apologies for his past as a persecutor of the Church. Rather, he goes to great lengths to tell others of the saving power of Christ crucified and risen.
As people saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ, our heart’s desire is to be that we also have the zeal of Paul. God’s mercy is the greatest gift we could hope to receive. To share faith in the one who saves is the best possible gift we could give. Truly, a heart filled with the love of God in Christ Jesus desires that all would come to believe his Word.
Prayer: Redeeming God, give me the words to share with others, that to may believe the truth of your Word. Amen.
Posted in Evangelism
Tagged Apostle Paul, Believe in God, Christianity, Evangelism, Faith, God's Word, Hearts desire, Jesus Christ, Love your neighbor, Salvation, Spirituality, Word of God
Three times, Jesus foretold of his crucifixion. In the first instance, Peter wouldn’t have any of it. His objections drew a sharp rebuke from Jesus. The second time Jesus was with Peter, James and John coming down from the mountain of the Transfiguration. The three kept the matter to themselves. Now, here in Mark’s tenth chapter, Jesus once again tells the disciples he must be handed over and killed, and then be raised on the third day. Yet, after the third time, the disciples still don’t seem to be tuning in.
James and John are more worried about their future status, looking forward to lofty positions in heaven. The rest of the disciples are angry with James and John, and they really have not paid much attention to what Jesus is saying. Scripture does testify that, following Jesus’ resurrection, the apostles indeed responded in faith. But what about God’s people today? Surely Jesus’ dying and rising for the sake of the world requires a response.
Responding in faith means following Jesus’ example living for others. Jesus isn’t concerned with earthly greatness. He isn’t worried about social standing, who has the biggest house or the most money. Jesus cares that people are saved from sin. He cares so much, that he calls his people to be servants of the gospel sharing the love of God so that others might come to believe.
Prayer: Make me your willing servant, O God, that I might share your love with others. Amen.
Exodus 13:17-14:4, 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10, Mark 12:18-27
From a human standpoint, trusting the promises of God is difficult; people live in the present moment surrounded by fear, doubt and worry. It is difficult to trust things we cannot see, especially since the things we can see impact our lives so strongly. Broken relationships, loss of employment and medical conditions are but a few issues that challenge our ability to walk by faith. We need certainty; we need tangible evidence that everything will be alright. We need to understand God will come to help his people.
Walking by faith means following the unseen Lord into an unknown reality. But faith sees God’s presence. With a strong hand God delivered Israel from bondage; his presence made visible in a pillar of cloud and fire. With a compassionate touch, Jesus healed the sick; God’s presence is seen in restoration of health. When fear, doubt and worry touch our lives, God’s presence is seen through the eyes of faith.
Prayer: Almighty God, through faith, make your presence known, that we may always feel the power of your love. Amen.
I am sure most people have played “Follow the Leader.” It is a simple game, but it can become quite complicated if the leader heads in a direction the rest of the players do not want to go. Would you follow the leader if he walked along the edge of a steep cliff? Would you follow into the path of oncoming traffic? Seeing such a path filled with extreme challenges is a stumbling block, especially if following the leader means giving up all you have and heading to Jerusalem to offer your life for the sake of others. But that is exactly what Jesus did and he calls people to follow him along this same path.
Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Our Lord calls his people to be living sacrifices, unselfishly denying ourselves, placing the needs of others ahead of our own. Only when we do this can we truly say we are following our leader.
There are many false leaders in this world. They make empty promises not intended to be kept. They cannot forgive sins, heal our infirmities, or grant us everlasting life. Only through Christ, our leader, can people enter the gates of heaven.
Prayer: Holy God, help us to follow your Son as he leads us along the path of righteousness. Amen.
In the night in which Jesus was handed over, there was no way the twelve could foresee the darkest hour the evening would bring. Jesus, however, knew completely the events that would unfold. Jesus knew the fear and anxiety they would feel, the sorrow at the loss of their master, and the grief that would pierce their hearts. So Jesus prepared his friends. He gave of himself once more in the breaking of the bread and pouring of the cup.
As we come to God’s table, Christ offers himself to us in this same bread and cup. The burden of our sin is replaced with assurance of God’s grace. Eating this bread and sharing this cup is the means by which Jesus comes to us, not only spiritually, but physically in order that we may feel the power of God’s love. Jesus continues to offer his body and blood because he knows we need it. He feeds us the bread of life because without it we have no life in us. This is the power of God’s love made manifest.
In the night in which he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it. Again after supper he took the cup, gave thanks and gave it for all to drink. Even as we gather and hear these words again, our Lord Jesus comes into our midst, stands among us and says, “Given and shed for you…Do this in remembrance of me.”
Prayer: Come Lord Jesus, and fill me with your grace. Amen.