Like father, like son

John 8_47

Romans 6:1-11, John 8:33-47

When asked, many little boys will say, “When I grow up I want to be just like my father.” Certainly, any father would be honored to hear this statement from his son, especially if he were setting an exemplary model for his son to follow. Imagine the father’s joy as he sees his son doing things just as he taught him.

In our text, Jesus points out to those who claim to be children of Abraham that they are not living faithfully according to their Father’s example. Rather than recognizing the promised Messiah and following his teaching, they take umbrage, and begin plotting and devising ways to have him arrested and killed. True children of God do as the Father teaches. The scribes and Pharisees, though claiming a relationship with God through Abraham, failed in this respect, for Jesus and the Father are one.

Christians today struggle with this same concept. Many claim to be children of God, yet they continue to point to their own self-righteous living, highlighting their good works while judging others. All too often their actions are more in tune with the ways of our sinful world.

In order to be known as children of God, we must strive to do as our Lord teaches. Only then can we say “I want to be like my Father.”

Prayer: Lord, keep us steadfast in your Word, that we may follow the example of your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

Image: Summerall Chapel, The Citadel – Charleston, SC (2015)

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Name the demon

Mark 5:1-20

Name the demon. That is how it is said one might take control and finally conquer that which hinders life. So many people suffer from addictions, disorders and irrational fears yet, it seems they are powerless when it comes to defeating them and reclaiming a life of wholeness. Name the demon. That, it is often said, is the first step.

When Jesus traveled to the land of the Gerasenes, he was met by a crazed demoniac; a man possessed by demons. No one could approach him. No one dared confront him. But when the demon encountered Jesus, it shuddered before the Lord in fear. Then Jesus asked one simple question; “What is your name?” In these few words, Jesus demonstrated that the power of God is stronger than any earthly power.

To be sure, there are many powers that defy God’s goodness and love. Drunkenness, drug addiction, depression and anxiety are but a few. People throughout the world suffer greatly from their ill effects. Naming the demon is a beginning. But the true power comes through the name above all names, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Through him comes the power of God’s love and the promise of a life of wholeness and peace forever.

Prayer: Heal and restore me, Lord Jesus, as I call upon your name. Amen.

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Disciples follow

Matthew 4:17-22

What was it that Jesus noticed about Simon and his brother Andrew? They were merely simple fishermen casting their nets. The same might be asked of James and John. They were not doing anything out of the ordinary. They were going about the work of fishermen also, mending their nets. Why did Jesus choose these four out of the crowd? We can only speculate, but Jesus surely knew more about their character than we, or they ever could have known.

Upon hearing Jesus’s call, Simon and Andrew, and James and John immediately left their nets and their lives behind. Following Jesus, they learned from their teacher what it means to love God and to love their neighbor. They followed Jesus doing the things he taught them in the way he showed them.

Jesus continues to call ordinary people into his service. In fact, Jesus calls all Christians to be his disciples. He calls Christians to follow him, learn from him, and do the things as he has shown them to do. What has Jesus noticed about you? Why did he choose you out of the crowd? The truth remains, if you are a baptized follower of Christ, he has called you, an ordinary person, to follow him and be his disciple. How will you respond?

Prayer: Give me the will and desire to follow you, Lord Jesus, that I may be your disciple. Amen.

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Disciples have fellowship

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Ephesians 4:11-16

An old familiar story is told of a man who separated himself from his church. After a while, the pastor paid him a visit. They sat by the fire but didn’t speak. Shortly after sitting down, the pastor move a hot coal away from the flames. Several minutes passed. Separated from the fire, the coal could no longer sustain its warm, red glow. After a time, the pastor moved the coal back near the flames and soon the glow returned. The man received the message.

No matter how we may try, we cannot maintain fellowship with Christ if we do not have fellowship with God’s people. Left to ourselves, the fire of our faith diminishes into a cold, self-serving belief that we can sustain faith by ourselves. This, of course, is a lie. As Christ calls Christians to follow, he calls us to be in relationship with one another.

Together, as members of the body of Christ, we are to love one another, bear one another’s burdens, and work together to strengthen the entire body. As the author of Ecclesiastes teaches us, two are stronger than one. If one falls, the other is there to lift him up. Disciples of Jesus Christ understand the call to be in fellowship with one another. Together, working in faith and love, we are able to bear fruit for the kingdom of God.

Prayer: Strengthen us in your love, O Lord, and keep your people in fellowship with one another. Amen.

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Disciples give

Mark 10:17-27, 2 Corinthians 9:1-15

The rich man walked away dejected. He had many possessions, or did he? Who can really say that the things within their grasp are truly their possessions? Are not all things from God? Certainly all Christians would agree, but it is often difficult to apply such a notion to our daily life.

We sinners have a hard time handing over control of our possessions. They provide comfort and security. Our money buys goods. Our possessions provide recreation and entertainment. And our time? Well, let’s just say we would all like to have more of that. Our time, after all, is valuable. Yet, even in all this, sinners saved by the grace of God know better.

Disciples of Jesus understand that all we have within our possession is a trust from God. Our Father in heaven has gifted everyone generously, but each is gifted differently. Whether rich or poor, disciples understand that we are to share what we have with others. Our time, talent and treasure are all gifts to be shared joyfully with our neighbor so that all might see the goodness of God.

Prayer: Help me, O Lord, to be generous with that which you have provided. Amen.

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Disciples witness

1 Thessalonians 2:1-16

“Grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” With this statement, or one similar, the apostle Paul opens his epistle letters through which he builds up the faith of the early church. One might say that Paul is a good example of what it means to be a follower of Jesus engaging in the Great Commission.

Disciples of Jesus Christ are true and reliable witnesses to the forgiveness, mercy and grace that come through Christ. Sharing the good news with others whom they meet, disciples of Jesus Christ are not only willing and able, but eager to tell others about God’s salvation. They are not shy, they are bold witnesses to all that God has done and continues to do for the sake of humanity.

To give witness means to tell the truth. As we go into the world together, I pray that you are willing, able and eager to share this gospel truth with those whom you meet.

Prayer: O God, make your people to be a bold witness to the power of your love. Amen.

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Disciples serve

John 13:1-17

It goes without saying, in many times and in many ways, we love to be served. There are many instances each day when we are being served by another. In stores, restaurants, schools and many other places, we are served. These days, being served is simply a part of life; however, being served by others is not something we should always expect.

Disciples of Jesus Christ understand the example he provided on the night he was betrayed. Before reclining at the table, Jesus took upon himself the role of a servant and washed the feet of his disciples. Understanding this, we too are to disregard our status and come to the aid of our neighbor. Disciples understand that we serve the God whom we cannot see by serving the neighbor visible to us.

To humble ourselves in service our neighbor bears fruit for God’s kingdom. To show the love and compassion of our Lord is to help others see the goodness of God. In this, we glorify the name of the one who is worthy of all praise.

Prayer: Make me your servant, O Lord, that I would be a reflection of your love. Amen.

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