Sometimes preachers use this text to question whether or not Jesus has siblings, but I think they miss the point of the text. Jesus looks at the people gathered around him, listening to his message, and says that the one who does the will of God is mother, brother and sister to him. The important thing is that he includes us in that as long as we do the will of God. In another part of the Bible, we are called adopted children of God, again being described as the brothers and sisters of Jesus. The key here is doing the will of God. This can be a stumbling block for us. What does it mean to do the will of God? Do we ever ask God to show us the path he wants us to take? Do we ask for guidance when we have an important decision to make? Do we ask for help when faced with temptations? We know that the commandments provide guidance and we have the Beatitudes to give us further instruction, but do we pay attention to them? Many times I know that I don’t. I just go along my own way and then wonder when things don’t turn out the way I want! This is especially true when I am not as considerate of others as I know I should be. I say I want justice but don’t always let my action follow my words. How about you?
Jesus was sent to preach the kingdom of God all over, not just in one place. He taught in places where others would not even go because of prejudices. Then after He had died, risen, and departed, His disciples continued preaching and spreading the gospel throughout the earth. Today, there are still groups of people who have never heard the gospel. There are missionaries whose goal it is to bring the gospel to those people. Eventually, every tribe, tongue, and nation will hear the name of Jesus and the good news about Him.
Heavenly Father, I pray for the peoples who have never even heard of the name of Jesus. Send missionaries and believers to share You with them. Prepare their hearts to receive You and Your word. Give them true hope and save them from judgment. You have a plan for all of us, and You are sovereign. Let Your will be done in the nations. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
We belong to God. We are His children. Whenever the enemy tries to tell you otherwise, stand firm on God’s word and remind the enemy of whom you belong to – God, the Father.
I really love the psalms! I hope that you are reading this on a glorious January day, but if it’s rainy or gloomy, this psalm should perk you up! How often do we really take the time to just praise God? We turn to God when we need something, when friends or family are suffering, or we hear of a tragedy. Sometimes we remember to say “thank you” to God for prayers answered, and we might even ask forgiveness for the times we have sinned, but how often do we just praise God for his goodness, for the blessing of a sunny day, for the glory of his creation or his saving grace? This psalm is the perfect prayer of praise. We are reminded of God’s goodness, his mercy and faithfulness, not just to Israel but also to us. We are invited to sing God’s praises with all creation. Actually the psalms in general are a great place to find the words when we don’t know what to pray. The psalmists were honest with God and with themselves and so we have psalms of praise and worship, fear of abandonment and thanksgiving for rescue. We have psalms where they express their anger and frustration, their hopes and their joys. There will always be times in our lives when we can’t find the words, when this happens, let us turn to the psalms. And may we find some time in each day to sing your praises.
Dear God, I thank you that I have my identity in you – as your child. Lord, I pray that when anyone tries to make me doubt who I am, I will simply shake them off and tell them, confidently, that I belong to you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Lord, I thank You that You have made me a citizen of Your kingdom. You have built a firm foundation resting on all those who came before me and You have made Christ the cornerstone that holds it all together. Help me to show good citizenship in this community and pay proper respect and homage to those who laid the foundation of my faith. Amen.
In our lives we have foolish times and we have wise times. In the foolish times, we just spend a lot of our time telling other people what to do and giving advice that hasn’t been solicited. We talk about things that don’t really matter. We just spout the things that we want to say. When we’re foolish we don’t listen to anybody; we don’t heed warnings; we don’t take advice from anybody who’s older and wiser we. Some life changing mistakes can be made in these foolish times. Thankfully there are times we are also wise. In those times we are quick to listen and slow to speak. We heed warnings that are given to us and we listen to advice from trusted mentors. In those times we make our wisest decisions, our best choices. This proverb reminds us that it is a good thing if we are sensible and we learn how to follow directions. But if we’re foolish then we are just full of conceit and we only think about ourselves. We’re prideful and we are self-important and that’s a bad thing. The implication is that if I’m wise then I will succeed; if I’m foolish that I will fail. Let us strive to be wise and not to be some foolish person who only who thinks of himself.
Father, I thank You that You’re able to help me distinguish between wisdom and foolishness. I know that I have been foolish in my life and I’ve learned some hard lessons from those times. I ask that You give me a wise heart and that You will help me to heed the advice of people that I trust. I ask that You’ll help me to hear Your voice and Your admonition and that I’m wise enough to listen to You and do Your will. Amen.
There is more to life than the food we eat, the money we make, and the clothes we wear. These are not things that should worry our minds. Set Your mind to the things of God which are always concerned about Your growth as a Christian and making sure that the lost in the world are brought to the light.
Today’s reading speaks of the hope and consolation we have in Jesus’ victory over death and the promise of eternal life. It’s hard for us to imagine eternity. We live in time. We complain that we haven’t enough time or that we have too much time on our hands! What would eternity look like? What is “being” without a body to be in? What we do know, is that we will be enveloped in the unconditional love of God. Most of us who are reading this know what it is to lose a loved one. For some it is a spouse, for some a child, for others parents or grandparents, or, perhaps a sibling. I know that there are times when I feel the presence of those who have gone before me. As in eternity time has no meaning, I wonder if we are already together for them. We know that those who have had near death experiences have described a place of warmth and love, of seeing loved ones, of not wanting to return to their earthly existence. Mother Teresa was asked if she was afraid that she might be putting herself in danger as she went about the streets of Calcutta picking up lepers and others who needed care. She answered that she had already died in baptism so what was there to fear. We, too, have died in baptism and have the promise that if we remain faithful and trust in the Lord, there is nothing for us to fear either. Jesus paid the price for each one of us and said that he does not intend to lose any that have been entrusted to him. Let us trust in the goodness of God and in the promise made to us by Jesus. Death has been conquered forever, and today is a day to rejoice.
Dear God, I pray that my priorities will always be in line with what you consider important too. Lord, if a time comes where I find myself worrying about earthly things, may you remind me of what is truly important. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
C S. Lewis pointed out that “forgiving does not mean excusing . . . if that were so, there would be nothing to forgive.” The people of Paducah, Kentucky, understood this. A few years ago, fourteen‐year‐old Michael Carneal opened fire on a group of students who had gathered in prayer. In seconds, ten were wounded, three fatally. Yet the students and people from the community showed a remarkable willing‐ness to forgive. Placards appeared at the high school reading, “We Forgive You, Mike.” Kelly Carneal, Michael’s sister, was not only embraced by her peers, but was also asked to sing in the choir at the slain girls’ funeral.
During the town’s annual Christmas parade, the people lifted up a moment of silent prayer on behalf of Michael and his family. One young girl said it best: “I can hate Michael and bear the scars of what he did for the rest of my life. But I choose to forgive him and get beyond it.”CONTINUE READING →
No matter what a person believes on the matter of interracial marriage, I want to begin with the fact that we are all made in the image of God.CONTINUE READING →
Bible Trivia Question of the Day What did the townsfolk of Gerasenes ask of Jesus after he cast the legion of demons out of the possessed man into the herd of pigs? A. they asked Jesus to heal their sick B. they asked Jesus to leave their town C. they asked Jesus to perform more miracles D. they asked Jesus to feed them
The things that we receive from God are always good and they always refresh us. The world tries to offer us counterfeit forms of the good things God gives us, but they can never match up. Stick to the things of God; they will refresh your soul and make you feel as if you will remain a youth forever.
This begs the question – Do I cry out for God’s help and mercy? It’s hard to ask for help when we live in such a do-it-yourself world. We seem to have bought into the idea that we can do it all and do it without help. Just look at all the books on the subject! But there are situations when we have to admit that we need help. The older I get, the more I realize this. The more I recognize the need for God and others. The more I recognize the need for forgiveness as sins of the past come more to the forefront of memory. We all cry out to God when people we love are ill or in trouble, when we lose a family member or friend, but do we ask for healing of resentments, of past hurts? Do we reach out to God even in the day to day needs we experience? Are we aware of the times in our lives that God has been merciful towards us? God is not doing this because we are faithful to him, but because HE is faithful to us. God’s mercy is not earned, it is a free gift. When we cry out for God’s help, we sometimes we are directed to someone within the community for the help we need. How often we don’t even recognize that God has answered our prayer! I know that my morning prayer often begins with a thank you for another day and a plea for help to get though it! God cares about us so much more than we can ever imagine. It’s not only okay to ask for help, it’s what God wants us to do, and who wants to disappoint God?
This passage marks a shift from book 42 of Isaiah. Much of the previous chapter is taken up with rebukes and denouncements from God has been disappointed by His chosen people. Here, however, we see a God who fiercely declares to His people, “I have redeemed you; you are mine.” God once again shows up as a loving parent, who disciplines us because He loves us. Even though we continue to be disobedient children, nothing prevents God from claiming us as His own. Nothing takes away the redemption He has promised.
Father, I’ll belong to You. You have redeemed me. Even though I have disappointed You time and time again, You still call me Yours and for that I am thankful. Amen.
Dear God, I thank you that the things that come from you are good and true. May you help me discern what is from you and what is not. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
God will never hide from us. He desires that we seek more and more of Him, so that we grow in our knowledge of Him. Growing in the knowledge of God builds our confidence in Him and serves as a constant reminder of why we can trust in Him. Sometimes we get all tied up trying to figure out what people want from us. It can be very frustrating and sometimes even confusing. God plainly tells us what He wants from us: to “do justly,” “love mercy,” and “walk humbly with thy God.” What does this mean to us in plain terms? God desires us to do the right thing, the “just” thing, the fair thing. To be honest in our dealings with people. He desires that we are merciful to each other. That we give people the benefit of the doubt. That we don’t give up on people too easily. And He asks that we walk with a humble spirit, not an arrogant one. That we see the need for Him and that we understand that we are nothing without Him. When our spirits are humble, we can be instructed. We can be led. Please God is a very simple thing, but the benefits are greater than anything we can imagine. No matter how good or glorious the wealth and possessions of the wicked may look, it all means nothing. It will all pass away and the wicked will be left to face the consequences of their actions. Dear Christian, you have no reason to envy what the wicked have. You are a child of God and God will always provide for you. Most importantly, you are saved. That is more important than anything in this world.
Dear God, I thank you that I can always know you more. Father, I pray that I grow in my knowledge of you on a daily basis, because in knowing you there is life and there is freedom. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Our world today has a surplus of displaced people – men, women and children alike. Today’s reading from Exodus discusses this and the problems of widows and orphans and in very direct terms. We are not always welcoming to immigrants and we often do not make life easy for widows or orphans. We have camps in many countries where families who are running from violence, oppression and extreme poverty are held. Often these camps are not places where children can learn, where adequate food or medicine is available and opportunities for work is limited. If it’s not in our neighborhood do we even give it any thought? We may react with generosity when there is a catastrophe in a part of the world, but once another issue comes along do we think about the people who are suffering still? I hear a lot about rescuing animals, but not about rescuing people. There are children all over the world who are homeless, hungry, without the opportunity for education or medical care. This happens in the most developed and wealthy countries as well as in developing countries. In fact, in some of the poorest countries families with little or nothing themselves will reach out to such orphans. I, myself, have been the recipient of the generosity of people in Haiti and in Tanzania. We are all told we must be neighbor to others. Let us not be the ones who feel God’s wrath when his children cry out for justice.
When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we say “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In this psalm, we pray that we delight to do God’s will. I wonder if we really mean what we pray, or if we just say the words. First, we need to think about what God’s will really is. When we read the Scriptures we see certain themes – justice, peace, and especially, love. These themes run through the Old Testament as well as the New. We are told to take care of the poor, the most vulnerable in our society. We are asked to remember that we were once strangers in the lands we now occupy. We are told to treat others the way we want to be treated, to forgive. These are not easy tasks and sometimes we do not “delight” in doing them. We want justice but not if it interferes with our comfort. We want peace, but our speech is often loaded with violence. We say we want to be forgiven but find it hard to forgive. We don’t always welcome the stranger, and we sometimes suspect the poor of being responsible for their situation. When we continue to read this psalm, we read a confession of sorts admitting that we often fail in doing the will of God. We also hear the author asking for God’s mercy and faithfulness. We need to look at ourselves with honesty and see how we can work better to bring about God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.
Dear God, I pray that I will always be kind in my ways to everyone around me. I desire that when I leave this earth, I will be remembered for being someone who expressed your love – not someone who inflicted pain on others. May I be known for being peaceful and loving and always ready to help, Lord. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Paul continues to express to his listeners the events of Christ’s return. Here he references a passage from Isaiah 25. He says that death will be “swallowed up.” What an appropriate end for Death! Death swallows up all its victims. People waste away in the throes of cancer and disease as death just consumes them. To know that one day, death itself will be swallowed up brings hope to the believer. In the glorious world Paul talks about, the power of the grave will be no more. Death will take no more loved ones. We won’t have to watch anyone else we love to die. God will wipe away the tears we’ve shed over what death has stolen from us and put an end to death once and for all.
Father, I look forward to the day when death will die. You will swallow it up and eliminate its power. No more tears will I ever have to cry because Death has stolen someone I love. You have assured me of that and I praise You for it. Amen.