Disciples read scripture

2 Timothy 3:10-17

Our God is a God of relationships. He is one of steadfast truth, mercy and peace. How do we know this? We have his Word! As we read the Scriptures, God reveals his self, his Son Jesus Christ, his Holy Spirit and all truth concerning God’s love and faithfulness.

Disciples of Jesus Christ study Holy Scripture each day. They spend time in the morning, afternoon or evening reading the Bible and learning the ways of God. Disciples also study with others, so that they would learn together. And finally, it is not enough that we study, but disciples know the Word of God. Disciples continue to study so that they know and understand the message of the law and prophets and apply it to daily life. They know and can articulate their faith guiding others in their faith and learning.

Whether it is group Bible study, peer to peer reading, or simply spending quiet time alone with the Bible, be sure to read the scriptures each day. Take time to draw close to God. His Word is true, it is sure and it is eternal. Learn from it and share the good news of Christ the Lord.

Prayer: O God, thank you for your Word, through which I can come to know you. Amen.

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Disciples pray

Matthew 6:5-15

As our Lord Jesus teaches his disciple to pray, notice he does not say “if you pray” but “when you pray.” God commands his children to pray. God wants us to be in relationship with him, expressing our joys and sorrows, needs and wants. Prayer is yet one more mark of discipleship.

Disciples of Jesus follow his example of prayer. Each of us prays, of that there is no doubt. But to follow Jesus’ example means that we would be intentional in our prayer, seeking out times each day when we withdraw from others and all distractions, spending time alone in prayerful conversation with God. This means quiet time, peaceful and uninterrupted. It also includes time to be quiet and listen for God’s answer.

Our Father in heaven hears our prayers. Even as we await his response, God is already at work answering prayers in his own way and in his own time. God knows our needs even before we do. Be still, know that he is God. He will hear you and fulfill your needs in great measure, in ways you can’t begin to imagine.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for hearing my prayer. Amen.

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Disciples worship

Psalm 150:1-6, Revelation 4:1-11

The psalmist exhorts God’s people to worship him in his temple. Worship God in his house with singing, with music and with thanksgiving and praise. In his vision, John witnesses the worship in heaven as the company of saints gathers around God’s throne. One of the hallmarks of discipleship is that followers of Christ worship him and sing his praises.

Disciples not only worship Christ regularly, they understand the purpose and benefit of worship. The chief purpose of worship is that Christians receive God’s good gifts of forgiveness and eternal life. This is the reason for our worship. The fruit of our worship is that we are strengthened in our faith, thanking God and singing his praises for all he provides.

When we fail to worship, we fail to gather with God’s people and receive that which God pours out. We are absent from the table to which God calls us to receive a foretaste of the feast to come. Thus, when we fail to gather for worship, we miss the opportunity to join with the people of God and bear the fruit of thankfulness for all God continues to do for his people.

Prayer: Grace us with your presence, O God, as we gather in your name for worship. Amen.

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Salt and light

Matthew 5_14

Matthew 5:11-16

“Salt and light;” that is what Jesus says about you. “You are the salt of the earth and light for the world.” Think about it for a minute. Because of God’s love for his people, and his redeeming you through Christ Jesus, you get to be salt and light.

Salt is a true treasure. It provides flavor where there is little, and preserves what may not naturally endure. Salt is valuable and essential for life. Light shines in the darkness, illuminating our path so that we may avoid stumbling blocks. It provides security and reveals the unknown. Jesus says we get to be salt and light for the world. What an incredible gift.

Because God has claimed us in Baptism, forgives our sins and poured out his Holy Spirit upon us, Christians are made salt and called to season the world with the gospel. The light of our faith, when shared with others, overcomes darkness and makes God’s grace and peace visible to a world broken by sin.

“Salt and light,” that is what Jesus says about you. May you continue to season the earth, and bring the light of Christ to the hearts of others.

Gracious Lord; may the words of my mouth and the works of my hands bring glory to your name. Amen.

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Great expectations

Matthew 6_33

Matthew 6:25-34

Ours is a world of expectations. Children are expected to do well in school. College graduates expect to embark on a high paying career. Investors expect their portfolio will pay huge dividends. Life is filled with expectations, some are met, others are not.

God also has expectations. God expects humanity to obey his law. He expects people will worship him, that his people will love him with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. God expects us to love our neighbor as ourselves, sharing our faith in order to bear fruit for God’s kingdom. Yet, it seems there is a wide gap between God’s expectations and those of humanity.

These days, people tend to live for themselves more than for God. We strive to be self-sufficient, secure and independent. The farther we stray from God’s expectations, the more we fall short. Our best effort is not good enough. In the end, our sense of expectation is replaced with worry. Why? Simple, our expectations don’t match God’s.

Jesus teaches us that God supplies everything we need to live a fruitful and abundant life. Even as God cares and provides for the plants and animals, how much more will God care and provide for those created in his image and likeness? The truth is God provides for his people and expects we will acknowledge him for it. As we do, we realize the tremendous blessing of being called “Child of God.”

The world expects people will live a certain way, living for self rather than for God. God’s expectations are much different, and when we fall short God supplies his grace which is sufficient in every need. For just as our failure to meet God’s expectations weighs heavy on our hearts, even greater is God’s desire to provide for his people.

Father, give me the strength and will to seek your kingdom above all else, and follow your son Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Dead to sin

Romans 6:1-11

Many years ago, in the middle of January, I was born, the third child for my parents. Seventy-eight days later I died. How can this be since I am writing this today? The answer is found within our text this morning. On April 3rd, I was baptized.

At the age of only seventy-eight days, I had already become proficient at sinning. It’s something we all have in common. We are all born into original sin and cannot deliver ourselves from its consequence of death. There is only one remedy, being baptized in the name of the Triune God, becoming joined to Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection and relying upon the gift of faith to believe God’s promises are true.

Being washed in baptismal waters joined with God’s Word and promise, my sins were forgiven on the day I died to sin. Having been born just months before, I was now reborn, claimed as a child of God. For all who believe and are baptized, death no longer has dominion. The sin Jesus Christ took to the cross for the sake of the world was put to death once and for all.

Prayer: Thank you, O God, for saving your people through Christ the Lord. Amen.

Original image: Holy Baptism at St. Barnabas Lutheran Church – Charleston, South Carolina

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Serve the Lord

Acts 9_6

Matthew 4:17-22, Acts 9:1-9

Four men were simple fishermen. They really did not have the qualifications we might think necessary to build a church. Their expertise was working with nets and boats, finding fish, catching and selling them. Another man was a tax collector, a traitor in the eyes of many of his peers. He worked for the oppressive government, taking in more than he was asked so that he could skim off the top and live a lavish lifestyle. Certainly, as we size up the twelve, none would seem made of the metal required to carry on Christ’s mission.

Within today’s Church, many pastors come with prior experience. Some filled occupations in skilled labor, others held professional positions. Many, myself included, had never thought themselves qualified or to be one called to the office of Pastor. Yet, there they are and here I am.

And so we have the conversion of Saul, who was once a persecutor of the Church. Along the Damascus Road, Jesus confronted Saul, brought him to faith, and made him God’s instrument in the gospel mission. God chooses whom he will. And he alone equips and qualifies those he chooses. Who knows? If he has not already, God may choose you. Actually, he already has.

Every Christian man, woman or child is called to share the good news of Christ Jesus. Sharing faith with friends and family, inviting others to worship and doing acts of charity are all ways in which we proclaim the goodness of God. Certainly, through the power of the Holt Spirit, God has called us all to do all the above. Go in peace; serve the Lord.

Prayer: Fill me with your Spirit, O Lord, and use me as you will. Amen.

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