Who is greatest

Mark 9:30-37

Who is the greatest? Who could even dream of having such a conversation while walking with Jesus? Imagine the topics for discussion among the twelve. “Which one prays the best?” “Who is the most spiritual?” “Who is it that should occupy the seat nearest Jesus while at the table?” Having experienced so much with Jesus, one might think they already knew the answer. None were worthy of the title “greatest of all.”

Still, isn’t that just like life in the world today? Our society practically begs us to think of ourselves above others. Look out for number one. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. It’s my way or the highway. Sound familiar? Worldly attitudes crave the spotlight. But this is not the life Jesus calls us to live.

Our Lord Jesus says, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” Those living such a life seldom seek the spotlight. In fact, the opposite is true. Disciples of Jesus share their faith. They tend to the needs of others. And disciples strive to follow the example humility set by Christ himself. Only in humility and weakness can we claim greatness and strength through Christ the Lord.

Prayer: Lord, make me to be your servant, that I may shine the light of your love. Amen.

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Be healed

John 5:1-9

We have all heard of home remedies that may or may not actually work. One such remedy is chicken soup used to cure the common cold. Dark chocolate is thought to be a good remedy for a persistent cough. Whether they work or not, chicken soup and dark chocolate are delicious methods for treatment. Some home remedies do work, others not so much. Some say it is all in the mind.

In our text, John introduces us to a man lying at the Pool of Bethesda. It is said angels stir up the waters and the first to get in will be healed of their affliction. This man has been there for thirty-eight years. One would think that by now he would have succeeded in getting to the pool first. Jesus’ question gets right to the point, “Do you want to be healed?”

Old or young, man or woman, all people are sinners. Our age-old rebellion stifles faithful and healthy lifestyles. Given the opportunity to turn away from sin, we make excuses. Like the man at the pool, we can usually manage to place blame elsewhere. Do we really want to be healed, forgiven, blessed? All it takes is a word and a command from Christ for sinners to be saved. Get up. Walk in the way of the Lord.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, save me from the affliction of my sin. Amen.

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Speaking of prophets

Matthew 11:7-15

Have you ever met a prophet? Chances are, if you had he wasn’t dressed in camel hair and eating locusts. Chances are also that, if you have encountered a prophet sent by God, you more than likely didn’t care for what he had to say. In biblical times, prophets often preached a word from God that stood in conflict with the way the people of God were living.

When the people of God would wander from the law, the prophet would often appear and deliver a message of God’s displeasure. With the word would also come words of correction and encouragement. Prophets also announced the onset of God’s intervention and activity in the world. Because John the Baptist came as the forerunner to the Messiah, Jesus called John the greatest prophet of all.

Today, Christians are still called to speak the message of salvation and spread the good news of Christ Jesus. God invites all people to come into his presence through faith in the one foretold by John. We may not be prophets like him, but our message, like John’s, points others to Christ the Lord.

Prayer: O lord, give me a voice that speaks your Word today, so that others may come into your kingdom through faith in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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Tempted

Genesis 3:1-15, Luke 4:1-11

“The serpent was more crafty than any other creature.” Reading this, we can safely assume something is going to happen, and it won’t be good. The devil is out to destroy that which God created, and he is going to start by raising doubts concerning God’s Word for Adam and Eve. “Did God actually say you shall not eat of any tree in the garden?” It’s a simple question, but it got Eve’s attention.

Satan manipulates people, tricking them by misusing scripture and raising doubt. When that doesn’t work, the devil whittles away at our faith by appealing to our “desires of the flesh.” We all face temptation, and all too often we choose evil over good. Thankfully, we have hope in Christ.

When Jesus faced temptation in the wilderness he was famished, weak and alone. Satan saw this as his opportunity. His scheme? It was the same trick he used against Adam and Eve, misuse scripture to create doubt. Yet in each instance, Jesus stood on the authority of God’s word. In this, Christ is our example. He is our strength. He is our hope. And when we fail to resist temptation, he forgives freely and completely.

Prayer: Strengthen me, O God, that I may be true to your word. Amen.

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Boasting in Christ

1 Corinthians 1_31

1 Corinthians 1:10-31

There’s a cliché in sports that says, “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.” This is a favorite among gifted athletes who continually make the morning highlight reels. Given their accomplishments, why should they not toot their own horn? Their fat paychecks and multiple trophies are a testament to their ability to “back it up.” And what if they cannot accomplish what they claim? Well, then that is just bragging.

It was not long before divisions arose within the early church. Some claimed special status because of their wisdom, others their wealth, and still others claimed superiority because of who taught them or baptized them. Whatever the issue, word reached Paul that the church was in conflict.

Paul reminded the Corinthians, as he reminds us, that the wisdom we have, the wealth at our disposal and the spiritual gifts we employ are all given by God through Christ Jesus. We are able to accomplish nothing on our own. It is Christ at work within us through the Holy Spirit. Christians must know that as one member of the church succeeds in proclaiming the gospel, the whole church rejoices and it is God who is glorified.

Holy God, equip and empower your church to accomplish the work of the Gospel, giving you glory in everything we do. Amen.

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No secrets hid

Matthew 23:23-39

How often have parents entered a child’s tidy and organized room only to encounter an avalanche of stuff upon opening of the closet door? On the surface the parent is initially delighted, but upon closer inspection such delight turns to disappointment. Such a mess cannot be hidden by simply closing the door. Sadly, many Christians attempt to conceal their sinful mess from God and one another in the closets of their minds while living each day according to earthly values.

In our Reading, Jesus warns the Scribes and Pharisees that even as they present themselves as righteous before others, God knows they do not practice what they preach. These teachers of the law cared only for their ideals and traditions, while lacking in faith and love. Christians who live in such a way as to present themselves as righteous before others, yet fail to live the life of faith in private, face the same rebuke from Christ.

We cannot hide our mess from God. Believe it or not, others see through our charade as well. Thankfully, through Christ we are able to repent, receiving God’s mercy and forgiveness as we strive to follow the path toward righteousness.

Prayer: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Amen.

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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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