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May 13 Devotion

Today we will look at Luke 22:31-38
 

22:31 “Simon, Simon, pay attention! Satan has demanded to have you all, to sift you like wheat,  32but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”  33But Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death!”  34Jesus replied, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know me.” 

35Then Jesus said to them, “When I sent you out with no money bag, or traveler’s bag, or sandals, you didn’t lack anything, did you?” They replied, “Nothing.” 36He said to them, “But now, the one who has a money bag must take it, and likewise a traveler’s bag too. And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one. 37For I tell you that this scripture must be fulfilled in me, ‘And he was counted with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me is being fulfilled.”  38So they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” Then he told them, “It is enough.”

I admit I don’t like this passage.  Being commanded to buy a sword just sounds bad.  What is Jesus up to?  Is he calling for an armed revolt?  Is the gospel to go forward in violence?  Those are thoughts that first come to mind when reading the passage.  Looking beyond that verse we notice that Jesus is reminding them of another time when he had sent them out.  When he sent them out first, they were to take no money bag, no bag and no sandals.  It was a lesson in God’s provision.  Now they are to take everything and even go out and buy a sword.  The times have changed.  Now the persecution they will face will be more extreme. The sword is not for offence (if so they would all have had to carry them), it is for defence.  The gospel is young and to provide for oneself and protect themselves would be necessary.  

Strange thing, apparently the new testament church didn’t listen, or at least there is no record of it.  We have no record of the apostles going out with swords.  They were attacked many times but never countered with anything more than words.  God provided for the movement of the gospel even without swords. 

I think my problem with the whole notion of carrying arms is that I would be tempted to use it for more than defence. If I was threatened or attacked and I had a weapon with me, I would be tempted to use it in more than a defensive posture.  In the heat of a fight it is extremely difficult to turn off the response even when you clearly get the upper hand.  I know enough about the potential for my anger to come to those who can keep me from doing more than I should for help in restraining myself.  If I am going to pick up a sword, let it be the Word of God.  If I am going to wield it, let me first discern who the enemy truly is.  The enemy is lies and the Word is truth.  That is it’s proper use.

Pastor Mac

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Devotions

May 12 Devotion

Today we will look at Luke 22:14-30
 

22:14 Now when the hour came, Jesus took his place at the table and the apostles joined him.  15And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.  16For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”  17Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves.  18For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”  19Then he took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”  20And in the same way he took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. 

21 “But look, the hand of the one who betrays me is with me on the table.  22For the Son of Man is to go just as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” 23So they began to question one another as to which of them it could possibly be who would do this. 

24A dispute also started among them over which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.  25So Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ 26Not so with you; instead the one who is greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the one who serves.  27For who is greater, the one who is seated at the table, or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is seated at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 

28 “You are the ones who have remained with me in my trials.  29Thus I grant to you a kingdom, just as my Father granted to me,  30that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 

23So they began to question one another as to which of them it could possibly be who would do this. 

24A dispute also started among them over which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.  Aren’t we strange creatures?  We long for a pecking order, who is best and who is worst.  We need to know our place in society, where we stand.  Who am I as a pastor, pastor smith is definitely better than I am, but pastor Jones, well, I know I am better than him.  Garbage talk and thoughts.  Measured on what we see, or think we see of people’s actions.  We try to position ourselves as highly as possible by comparing ourselves to others.  

Jesus gives to us a new kingdom and the social structure there works backwards.  It is those who serve that are lifted up as great, not those who recline at table.  Notice that Jesus says he comes to serve.  He is the greatest and that is how it is shown in his kingdom. This is the truth that Jesus reveals to us.  This is how life really works.  This is truth.  And we know it.  

Today we are learning to honour the people we ignored for so long.  The kids that get $10.00/hr. for pumping gas or stocking shelves at the grocery store.  The foreign workers that come and take the jobs we disdain like caring for our elderly. Those who put on uniforms and see us at our worst.  Those who collect our garbage when we are away from home.  Those who work to keep us sane by providing electricity and communication networks alive. Each of them literally risking their lives for us. And now we have to ask ourselves, who is greater?  The truth of the gospel comes out.

Together, let’s serve this community. 

Pastor Mac

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Devotions

May 11 Devotions

Today we will look at Luke 22:1-13
 

22:1 Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was approaching.  2The chief priests and the experts in the law were trying to find some way to execute Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. 

3Then Satan entered Judas, the one called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve.  4He went away and discussed with the chief priests and officers of the temple guard how he might betray Jesus, handing him over to them.  5They were delighted and arranged to give him money.  6So Judas agreed and began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus when no crowd was present. 

7Then the day for the feast of Unleavened Bread came, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.  8Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us to eat.”  9They said to him, “Where do you want us to prepare it?” 10He said to them, “Listen, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters,  11and tell the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’  12Then he will show you a large furnished room upstairs. Make preparations there.”  13So they went and found things just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.

“Who was one of the twelve.”  Judas had been following Jesus for a long time.  Jesus had hand picked him to be one of the disciples.  He was a good guy, like the rest. But Judas had problems.  We know from the gospels that he used to help himself to the common purse they kept.  Judas stole from those who loved him.   One of the gospels tells us that Judas went and took his own life after Jesus was killed.  He tried to return the money he had received for the betrayal, tried to clear his conscience, but couldn’t.  Judas loved Jesus and betrayed him. 

When I read about this tragedy, it is easy to villainize Judas.  The betrayer.  But just a little sober thought and I remember that Judas was not the only one who betrayed Jesus.  Peter too betrayed him.  Peter denied Jesus three times in quick succession. Peter’s story, though, ends in wonderful joy and restoration.  He became the leader of the church! So what’s the difference?

Both felt shame, guilt and remorse, but Peter confronted it by running to Jesus when he saw him.  The difference was in going and apologizing, seeking mercy instead of running away from the trouble. 

We are all locked up with our loved ones, hurting each other is inevitable.  Going and seeking grace and forgiveness with truly repentant hearts can lead to hope and renewal.  Running away from the problems we have created only leads to despair. 

God loves us and has forgiven us.  If those we love have hurt us, offer the grace and forgiveness the need when they seek it and maybe God will bless us with an amazing restored or new relationship.  Maybe He will let us come out of this time of social distancing closer to him and to each other.

Pastor Mac

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Devotions

May 7 Devotions

Today we will look at Luke 20:27-40
 

20:27 Now some Sadducees (who contend that there is no resurrection) came to him. 28They asked him, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies leaving a wife but no children, that man must marry the widow and father children for his brother. 29Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died without children.  30The second  31and then the third married her, and in this same way all seven died, leaving no children.  32Finally the woman died too.  33In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For all seven had married her.” 

34So Jesus said to them, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage.  35But those who are regarded as worthy to share in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage.  36In fact, they can no longer die, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, since they are sons of the resurrection.  37But even Moses revealed that the dead are raised in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.  38Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live before him.”  39Then some of the experts in the law answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well!”  40For they did not dare any longer to ask him anything.

People react differently to scripture, to God’s voice.  The Sadducees, wanted to have Jesus offend them in some way so that they could condemn him. If Jesus some how contradicted their own understanding (wrong understanding), they could have grounds to dismiss him and condemn him.  People who don’t want to change sometimes approach Jesus in this way.  They push where they know he has voiced a correction in their lives so that they can claim offence and write him off while condemning us who follow him.  Instead of listening for the good news, they listen for anything they deam as rejection of something they love or are addicted to and thus stop listening as they have the ammunition they were looking for.

Then there are those few of the experts of the law who listened to the whole argument and found Jesus to be the winner of the debate even though they stood opposed to Jesus at the beginning.  People react the same way now, keeping the logic of the good news as an intellectual exercise and not letting the truth of the good news affect them in any real way.

Neither of these responses will help us, they only way to respond is with a heart that is moved to repentance and reception of the grace freely offered.  We are so blessed to worship a God who is real, who loves us and calls us to be changed by him.  He is not simply an idea in the mind, but a real, living God.  We do not worship a God who simply wants to condemn, but to call us from death to life.  May God give us soft hearts to receive both his rebuke and gift of grace.

Pastor Mac

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Devotions

May 6 Devotion

Today we will look at Luke 20:8-26
 

20:8 Then Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by whose authority I do these things.” 

9Then he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, leased it to tenant farmers, and went on a journey for a long time.  10When harvest time came, he sent a slave to the tenants so that they would give him his portion of the crop. However, the tenants beat his slave and sent him away empty-handed.  11So he sent another slave. They beat this one too, treated him outrageously, and sent him away empty-handed.  12So he sent still a third. They even wounded this one, and threw him out.  13Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What should I do? I will send my one dear son; perhaps they will respect him.’ 14But when the tenants saw him, they said to one another, ‘This is the heir; let’s kill him so the inheritance will be ours!’  15So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them?  16He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When the people heard this, they said, “May this never happen!”  17But Jesus looked straight at them and said, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? 18Everyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, and the one on whom it falls will be crushed.”  19Then the experts in the law and the chief priests wanted to arrest him that very hour, because they realized he had told this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people. 

20Then they watched him carefully and sent spies who pretended to be sincere. They wanted to take advantage of what he might say so that they could deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor.  21Thus they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach correctly, and show no partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.  22Is it right for us to pay the tribute tax to Caesar or not?”  23But Jesus perceived their deceit and said to them,  24“Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?” They said, “Caesar’s.” 25So he said to them, “Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 26Thus they were unable in the presence of the people to trap him with his own words. And stunned by his answer, they fell silent. 

The owner of the vineyard did not plant it for fun.  He planted it in order to receive some of the fruit it should bear. It was reasonable that after all he had done, to expect a dividend.  But he didn’t get it.  Of course this parable was told to illustrate to the experts of the law and the chief priests that they were not giving to God what he asked for.  After all that God has done for us, will we anti up? Or will we reject the Son?

What is it that God is looking for from us?  He wants us to put our faith in him. What we get confused about sometimes is what faith looks like.  Faith changes us.  If we truly believe in what someone is saying to us, we will change how we live in accordance with that truth.  Today we self-isolate, wash our hands excessively and physically distance ourselves because we believe that in so doing, we save lives.  We are changed in the way we think and behave because of what we believe to be true.  Faith in Christ is no different.  Jesus calls us to have faith in him.  That faith changes us and we live differently because we have become acquainted with and put our trust in Jesus.  What does that look like?  It looks like a life being transformed into the likeness of Jesus.  To become like him in character. 

Remember the tenants did not make the vineyard, they did not prepare the soil or even plant the seeds, they tended the vines and harvested the grapes.  We don’t plant our faith, we don’t prepare our lives to receive him, no God does all the hard work.  We work alongside of the Spirit as he changes us.  We learn to submit to the truth that he reveals and let him change us.  He gives us the power to effect that change, he plants the seed of change and provides the best environment for us to let it happen.  Then we enjoy the fruit!

Spend time with God, meditate on his word.  That is like the tenants who kept the vineyard.  Obey him when he asks for you to change and you will bear fruit.  He will also give you everything you need to make that change.

Pastor Mac

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May 5 Devotion

Today we will look at Luke 19:45-20:8
 

19:45 Then Jesus entered the temple courts and began to drive out those who were selling things there, 46saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house will be a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of robbers!” 

47Jesus was teaching daily in the temple courts. The chief priests and the experts in the law and the prominent leaders among the people were seeking to assassinate him,  48but they could not find a way to do it, for all the people hung on his words. 

20:1 Now one day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts and proclaiming the gospel, the chief priests and the experts in the law with the elders came up 2and said to him, “Tell us: By what authority are you doing these things? Or who is it who gave you this authority?”  3He answered them, “I will also ask you a question, and you tell me:  4John’s baptism – was it from heaven or from people?”  5So they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’  6But if we say, ‘From people,’ all the people will stone us, because they are convinced that John was a prophet.”  7So they replied that they did not know where it came from. 8Then Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by whose authority I do these things.” 

By who’s authority?  Readers of the Gospel will know that Jesus has the authority of his Father, the chief priests, experts in the law and the elders did not know or more likely were unwilling to know, that Jesus is in fact God.  He judged those who were selling things (probably at exorbitant prices) for worship in God’s house and drove them out and they were upset and demanded to know who gave him the right.  Jesus was acting on behalf of the Father.  The Father was judging those in the temple through Jesus.

There are some things in the life of the Lutheran church that those from other Christian traditions question.  One is when I forgive the sins of those gathered who have confessed their sin before God and others, but the bigger one is over our understanding of the sacraments.  Some see Baptism as something we do.  A confession of faith with a symbolic washing, an opportunity for someone to share their faith publicly.  We see it as much more than that, and something God does.  When John performed a baptism, he was doing so on behalf of God.  He was doing so by God’s authority that had been given to him to perform those baptisms.  By giving his authority to John, God was in-fact doing them himself. 

When I act as dean of our Mission District, I act on behalf of the bishop.  When I act according to his will as he has directed me to do, then it is as if he is doing it himself because I act under his authority.  When I baptize, I do so under the authority of Christ who authorised and commanded me to do so.  I do not do it, but Christ does it through me by his authority.  God is the actor in the sacraments.  We do things as he commanded and he keeps the promises that he has made that are tied to them.  We say that God saves through baptism.  I cannot save anyone.  God does the saving because he has promised to in his word.  It is God’s word that gives us the assurance of what the promises are and that he keeps them.  

This is perhaps one healing point on our differences of understanding the sacrament.  When we baptise, we are both confessing our faith.  We both confess our trust in God and the promises he made to us in scripture.  We both confess that Jesus saves us through faith in him.  There are other more challenging differences of course, but we both celebrate the promises God has made to us. 

Perhaps that is enough for me to get beyond myself and open up the dialogue with my brothers and sisters in Christ who understand things differently.  I hope it is enough to save me from having the hard heart of the chief priests, experts in the law and the elders and open my eyes and ears to hear and recognise Christ for who he is and his authority to do what he says he will do.

Pastor Mac

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April 29 devotion

Today we will look at Luke 18:1-14
 

18:1 Then Jesus told them a parable to show them they should always pray and not lose heart.  2He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected people.  3There was also a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’  4For a while he refused, but later on he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor have regard for people,  5yet because this widow keeps on bothering me, I will give her justice, or in the end she will wear me out by her unending pleas.’” 6And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unrighteous judge says!  7Won’t God give justice to his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he delay long to help them?  8I tell you, he will give them justice speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” 

9Jesus also told this parable to some who were confident that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else.  10“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  11The Pharisee stood and prayed about himself like this: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: extortionists, unrighteous people, adulterers – or even like this tax collector.  12I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.’  13The tax collector, however, stood far off and would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, be merciful to me, sinner that I am!’ 14I tell you that this man went down to his home justified rather than the Pharisee. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

How am I doing in my walk with God?  Not a bad question to ask, but how do I answer it?  I can look around me and say, well I think I am doing better than this person, but perhaps not as well at that person.  I would be measuring by comparison. But would it be a valid means of measuring my walk with God? I don’t think so.  

Scripture teaches us that we are all sinners, not one of us is righteous.  If I am comparing myself to others around me, then all I am doing is measuring what I can see of other sinners and comparing it with what I will admit to in my own life.  Not very helpful when, in my walk with God, I am supposed to be changing into the likeness of the Son of God.  Our only real comparison is Jesus.  He is the one that I need to be measured against, not my fellow sinners.  Only when comparing myself to Jesus will I get an accurate measurement of how I am doing in my walk with God.  So now I that I have a real means of measuring how I am doing, how am I doing?  I find myself woefully inadequate. I know my measurement is accurate because the scripture confirms it.  

I have been told that if you want to change, you have to know where you are at.  Now that I know where I am at, I can see about making a change, the problem is that I can’t.  All my efforts come to nothing more than a puff of smoke.  This realization forces me to look outside myself in desperation and it is then that I find Jesus waiting for me, I am finally in a frame of mind to receive his help, to receive his grace. And he gives it, freely.

That is how the gospel works.  I do well to remember it because when I do and find myself comparing myself to others, I am compelled to say, ah, another sinner like me, perhaps we can approach the king of glory together and seek his grace instead of condemning them as less or more than I am.  Before God we all stand in the same predicament.  We all need Jesus and his loving grace.

The pharisee in the parable would do well to spend more time looking and comparing himself to Jesus than looking at himself or others, and so would we.  

Let’s keep our eyes on him

Pastor Mac

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April 28 Devotion

Today we will look at Luke 17:20-37
 

17:20 Now at one point the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was coming, so he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, 21nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” 

22Then he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 23Then people will say to you, ‘Look, there he is!’ or ‘Look, here he is!’ Do not go out or chase after them. 24For just like the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. 25But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.  26Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man.  27People were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage – right up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.  28Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot, people were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building;  29but on the day Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.  30It will be the same on the day the Son of Man is revealed.  31On that day, anyone who is on the roof, with his goods in the house, must not come down to take them away, and likewise the person in the field must not turn back.  32Remember Lot’s wife! 33Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it.  34I tell you, in that night there will be two people in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35There will be two women grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.” 

37Then the disciples said to him, “Where, Lord?” He replied to them, “Where the dead body is, there the vultures will gather.”

The end times, they are a mystery to us.  Jesus confirms that in this lesson.  Still he gives plenty of warning that an end will come and that we need to be ready, ready in faith.  The normal Palestinian home had a flat roof on it and the lesson tells us that the person who is caught on the roof should not be going down to retrieve anything when the day of the Son of Man is revealed.  Don’t trust in what we have to deliver us, our only option for safety on that day is our faith in the one who is coming and who has come.  If we see our lives in the things we own or the work we do for a living, then they will lose that life, for it does not matter and cannot save us.  But if we put our faith, trust and hope in the Son of Man, abandoning such earthly things, we will gain our lives.  To prepare for the coming of Jesus we need to remember he is already with us and he is also coming again.  Because of that we can hold loosely to the things of this world because they cannot save us.  Instead we can look for and cling to the one who has conquered death and the grave, Jesus the Christ.

Lord increase our faith and help us to rely on you and you alone, no matter when or where you come to us.

Pastor Mac

Pastor Mac

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April 27 devotion

Today we will look at Luke 17:1-19
 

17:1 Jesus said to his disciples, “Stumbling blocks are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come!  2It would be better for him to have a millstone tied around his neck and be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. 3Watch yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him. If he repents, forgive him.  4Even if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times returns to you saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” 

5The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”  6So the Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this black mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled out by the roots and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. 

7 “Would any one of you say to your slave who comes in from the field after plowing or shepherding sheep, ‘Come at once and sit down for a meal’?  8Won’t the master instead say to him, ‘Get my dinner ready, and make yourself ready to serve me while I eat and drink. Then you may eat and drink’?  9He won’t thank the slave because he did what he was told, will he? 10So you too, when you have done everything you were commanded to do, should say, ‘We are slaves undeserving of special praise; we have only done what was our duty.’” 

11Now on the way to Jerusalem, Jesus was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12As he was entering a village, ten men with leprosy met him. They stood at a distance, 13raised their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”  14When he saw them he said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went along, they were cleansed. 15Then one of them, when he saw he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice.  16He fell with his face to the ground at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. (Now he was a Samaritan.)  17Then Jesus said, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?  18Was no one found to turn back and give praise to God except this foreigner?”  19Then he said to the man, “Get up and go your way. Your faith has made you well.” 

I like to think that I do not need the praise of men, but I am only fooling myself.  I don’t want to overstate it, but I am sure my day feels better when I have had a pat on the back.  In this parable, Jesus reminds us that we are only doing what God has called us to do and we ought to take the stance of not expecting praise for simply doing what he asked of us.  Truth be told, I struggle to get that much done. In fact, I don’t think I ever have done everything God has asked me to do.  So why should I expect praise?  

It does make sense that Jesus would have us behave in this way.  If I begin to rely on the praise of others, then I am doing it for me.  My motivation is to get the praise.  If I am simply doing what God asked me to do, then I am doing it either out of a sense of duty or, ideally, out of love for God. 

So does God not care about what we do for him?  Is He a cold, demanding master?  No, there are other passages that show us that our reward from God comes later and that he longs to reward us in heaven.

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” Matthew 25:21

Whatever I feel now, the grind or joy of ministry, the reality is that I need not look for praise now.  If I remain faithful to the task, then I will be blessed to hear the same words spoken to me at the right time.  So it is with that hope I press forward.  It is with that hope I continue to do the work before me.  May it bear the fruit our savior longs to see. God bless you in the vocations he has blessed you with.  May the joy of faithful service and the love of God sustain you in your work.

Pastor Mac

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April 24 devotion

Today we will look at Luke 15:11-35
 

15:11 Then Jesus said, “A man had two sons.  12The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that will belong to me.’ So he divided his assets between them.  13After a few days, the younger son gathered together all he had and left on a journey to a distant country, and there he squandered his wealth with a wild lifestyle. 14Then after he had spent everything, a severe famine took place in that country, and he began to be in need.  15So he went and worked for one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.  16He was longing to eat the carob pods the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17But when he came to his senses he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have food enough to spare, but here I am dying from hunger! 18I will get up and go to my father and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired workers.”’  20So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way from home his father saw him, and his heart went out to him; he ran and hugged his son and kissed him. 21Then his son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’  22But the father said to his slaves, ‘Hurry! Bring the best robe, and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet!  23Bring the fattened calf and kill it! Let us eat and celebrate,  24because this son of mine was dead, and is alive again – he was lost and is found!’ So they began to celebrate. 

25 “Now his older son was in the field. As he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing.  26So he called one of the slaves and asked what was happening. 27The slave replied, ‘Your brother has returned, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he got his son back safe and sound.’  28But the older son became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and appealed to him,  29but he answered his father, ‘Look! These many years I have worked like a slave for you, and I never disobeyed your commands. Yet you never gave me even a goat so that I could celebrate with my friends!  30But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your assets with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’  31Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and everything that belongs to me is yours.  32It was appropriate to celebrate and be glad, for your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost and is found.’”

It takes one to make a change.  I see in the text this morning a broken family.  A selfish, self-entitled son, a broken-hearted Father, an angry older son or even servant put in the awkward place of having to pass on news that you know will not be taken well.  I suppose we could all name people in our lives that fit these characters.  Or perhaps you or I are one of them.  I find that if I spend too much time placing others in the story, I catch myself judging them, so even though I can put myself in different positions in the story, I will avoid doing so for others.  It is far better for them to find themselves in the story. What interests me most about the story though, isn’t assigning different people roles in it but rather the process of reconciliation. 

There was one who took his hurt and bore it and it’s consequences himself to keep it from falling on the shoulders of those who could not bear it.  The father was harmed in so many ways when the younger son left.  Besides the financial hit, he lost a son to the world.  He was rejected by him.  He had another son who now despised the younger son.  For the father to witness that discord in the family must have been heartbreaking.  But he took it all into himself.  At the return of the younger son, he made no attempt at retribution or demands for compensation.  He did not hate in return. Instead he made himself vulnerable to emotional pain again by opening himself up to take the son back.  Then he took the wrath of the older son by restoring the younger to his former place and celebrating his return.  That is a God like love and action.  He took all our pain, our sins ands brokenness, our anger and shame and bore it all on the cross for us, so that we might all be reconciled in him.  

Homes might be feeling a little smaller these days.  Let’s try to witness the love of God for us by trying to model it in our own lives.  

Pastor Mac