Daily Devotional, March 23, 2020
From Pastor Tony
Scripture: Luke 13:10-14
Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, "Woman, you are set free from your ailment." When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, "There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day."
Thought for the Day: We will often assume something to be true only because it is what we’ve always heard. We're seeing that on social media daily. For a long time, preachers have proclaimed from the pulpit, “The Old Testament said it was illegal to heal on the Sabbath.” We tended to nod in agreement because that is what some of the Jewish leaders seemed to say in this passage. The only problem is that while the Sabbath was to be kept holy, there were a number of exceptions to the rule. And of course, one of the exceptions was in a time when someone was ill or injured. Too often this scripture has been seen as a battle between Jesus and the Old Testament, or Jesus and the Jewish tradition. It was not. Instead, it was a struggle between Jesus and power. There were some who wanted power over others for no other reason than they wanted power. This is no different than today when some Christians want power over others for no other reason than they want power. May these words of scripture not be used to condemn others but to confront our own sinfulness.
Prayer: Forgive us, Lord God, when our hunger for power has us manipulating your Gospel message. May your mercy change our hunger for power to a earning for humility. Amen
Daily Devotional, March 22, 2020
"Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.” (NRSV)
Thoughts for the Day: There’s a terrific series books by Douglas Adams called “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. A humorous science fiction series of five novels written in such a way as only British writers have seemed to gotten down to an art form. In the book, a computer named Deep Thought was built to answer the Ultimate Question: about life, the universe, and everything. The answer, after 7.5 million years of computing is: 42. Deep Thought explains that the answer is easy, but the question itself is the hard part. The Earth is then built (hint: it's a giant computer) to figure out the Question.
Douglas Adams was on to something. We as humans are seekers, questioners, and explorers. In short, we want answers.
This passage struck me as a sort of “huh?” moment for Disciples. They ask Jesus if he’d like to meet some Greeks, and he gives them a seemingly off topic answer.
We seek to be like Jesus. We seek to follow him. We ask questions to things that we already have the answer to. Jesus had a purpose. So do we also have a purpose; like a seed, it must be planted. We must be planted so that our old life can die, and a new life can spring from it. As a seed our purpose is very limited and dormant. That’s our purpose. We need to be rooted, sometimes feeling as if we’re going through some very dark places, cultivated and grown, to become something almost unrecognizable from what we once were.
Prayer: Master Gardener, it is for you the I was created, it is in you that I find my purpose. Amen.
Daily Devotional, March 20, 2020
Scripture: Philippians 2:14
“Do all things without murmuring and arguing,” (NRSV)
Thoughts for the Day: Have you ever had one of those weeks where there seemed to be more to do than hours in the day? I think we're all having one of those weeks. Now I’m not writing this to complain, I’m just pointing out that when “one of those days” happens, I find it’s good to be reminded why murmuring and arguing doesn’t really help matters all that much. The stuff that needs to be done is still there. Still waiting to be done, and if it’s not, well, more often than not it’s not a good thing.
We’re reminded that God strengthens us, God’s with us, and when things are tough or busy, God’s still there. We can be terrible procrastinators at times, and it helps at times to get that little kick in the rear to get us moving again. This passage also reminds us that, as Christians, we are to take our work seriously. Philippians 2:13 says that it’s God that’s at work in us, enabling us to work and to will for God’s pleasure. For it’s through God shown in our work and service and our play that we become the shining examples to the rest of the world, and not going around looking like we got baptized in vinegar and lost our last best friend.
Prayer: Patient God, give us the kick in the pants we need every once in awhile to stay motivated. We also will constantly recommit ourselves to be willing to do the work you’ve asked us to do with a grateful heart and a smiling face. Amen.
Daily Devotion: March 21, 2020
Scripture:Matthew 5:3-11 (Condensed)
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will seek God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” (NRSV)
Thoughts for the Day: In 2006 the Mennonite Central Committee (www.mcc.org) adopted a new statement. Looking back to the past statements they’ve made and even those of other denominations including the Disciples of Christ, a lot of the language is very similar. In it they denounce war, seek to transcend boundaries of race, religion, class, gender, and even sexual orientation. Many will say that this is all dreaming, non-Biblical, even sinful. But don’t the Beatitudes mirror the basic philosophy of the Mennonites? It’s time we as a Church stop our hateful rhetoric towards those who may differ simply because one might think Moses wore a brown robe and another church thinks it was purple with pink polka dots.
Maybe it’s time we worried about where we can hang the Beatitudes in places like courthouses instead of fighting over where the Ten Commandments.
Prayer: Peaceful and Merciful God, forgive us when we simply don’t get it. Open our eyes to peace, infuse our hearts with love, and cleanse our souls of hate. Amen.