Tuesday Ruth 1:6-18

Prayer: Show us how to love like you do, O God, through your Word. In Jesus’ name. amen.

 Mary Magdalene, Apostle

 16 But Ruth said …”Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”

 As our devotion writer declares; “It is interesting to think about Mary Magdalene while reading the book of Ruth…Mary Magdalene was the first preacher to announce, ‘Christ is risen!’ She was prophetic and so was Ruth.”

 I would not have thought about Mary Magdalene while reading Ruth.  Both were notable women with important roles in the fulfilling of God’s Covenant.  Both shared insight and were special people in the eyes of the Lord.  They both proclaimed God’s truths in their lives.

 We are asked; “In our own lives, how do we proclaim God’s truth.”

 Prayer: “Dear God, help me listen to those who are like Mary and Ruth today, so that my faith might be stronger and deeper, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.”

  

Ruth 1:6-18

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Naomi and Her Moabite Daughters-in-Law

Then she started to return with her daughters-in-law from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had considered his people and given them food. So she set out from the place where she had been living, she and her two daughters-in-law, and they went on their way to go back to the land of Judah. But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back each of you to your mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find security, each of you in the house of your husband.” Then she kissed them, and they wept aloud. 10 They said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” 11 But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters, why will you go with me? Do I still have sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? 12 Turn back, my daughters, go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. Even if I thought there was hope for me, even if I should have a husband tonight and bear sons, 13 would you then wait until they were grown? Would you then refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, it has been far more bitter for me than for you, because the hand of the Lord has turned against me.” 14 Then they wept aloud again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

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Monday 1 Corinthians 4:14-21

Prayer: O Lord, send your Holy Spirit with the words and vision we need to work for you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 Christian authority

 16 I appeal to you, then, be imitators of me.

 I am amazed at the number of different Christian Churches.  How could there be so many?  Why are we different?  Why did God allow them to be different?  Are the other’s wrong? When reading some of the letters that Paul wrote, it may not be too difficult to understand, because as in today’s text, he addresses conflicts within the congregations.

God made us different, each of us.  He made us independent and gave us a mind so that we could reason.  Then sometimes we get something in our mind and can disagree with others because of our perspective and our experiences.  Interpretations can have different meanings.  However, sometimes we children get a little too focused on the details and not see the big picture.

 In Paul’s case, some leaders had turned away from the gospel that Paul preached and were causing friction.  Paul wanted them to set aside their differences and understand that talk is cheap.  Power and authority come only from God.

 Our devotion writer summarizes this way; “When we worship regularly, pray frequently, and reach out to others to spread the gospel, we are doing what God has called us to do.  Our authority comes not from us, but from the in dwelling of the Holy Spirit.”

 Prayer: “Almighty God, fill us with your Holy Spirit and lead us to follow the gospel of Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.”

  

1 Corinthians 4:14-21

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Fatherly Admonition

14 I am not writing this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For though you might have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers. Indeed, in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 I appeal to you, then, be imitators of me. 17 For this reason I sent you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ Jesus, as I teach them everywhere in every church. 18 But some of you, thinking that I am not coming to you, have become arrogant. 19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. 20 For the kingdom of God depends not on talk but on power. 21 What would you prefer? Am I to come to you with a stick, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?

 

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Sunday Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Prayer: Lord Jesus, lead us to service to you through your Word and your Holy Spirit. Amen.

 Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man;

 Jesus spoke in many parables, in fact he didn’t teach much without a parable to help His disciples and us to understand the meanings of His teachings.  Today we focus on the parable of the weeds among the wheat and Jesus explanation when the disciples asked Him to explain it.  Our devotion writer tells us that pulling weeds is important in normal farming.  He explains that in this case distinguishing between the weeds (the evil ones) and the wheat (the good people) Jesus tells them that distinguishing between good and evil is not for us to do.”

 I guess I am a little confused.  I don’t think today’s text says quite that.  I think what is says is that even today while we walk on this earth farmers can see the difference between weeds and wheat.  The problem is that, if you have ever seen a wheat field, if you try to pull the weeds before the harvest, you will crush and damage many more good wheat while pulling up the weeds.  Therefore, the weeds are culled out when the wheat is harvested and the grain is thrashed (separated from the chaff).

 This is why Jesus explains to the disciples in words that they can understand about farming.  It is important for us to keep in context that while we live in anticipation of Jesus’ return, we are living among the weeds.  The weeds will be with us until Jesus’ return.  We are not to take action to destroy the weeds as if in judgment until Jesus comes again.  He will be the judge.  In the meantime we live with some weeds and deal with them as best we can through prayer and peace.

 Prayer: “All knowing God, forgive us when we judge others. Direct our lives to doing good in your world. In Christ’s name. Amen.”

  

Matthew 13:24-43New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Parable of Weeds among the Wheat

24 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27 And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ 28 He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30 Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

31 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32 it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

The Parable of the Yeast

33 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

The Use of Parables

34 Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. 35 This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet:

“I will open my mouth to speak in parables;     I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.”

Jesus Explains the Parable of the Weeds

36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38 the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42 and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!

 

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Saturday Romans 8:12-25

Prayer: O God, you give us hope and comfort through your Word, teach us more in Christ’s name. Amen.

 In hope we are saved

 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

 Yesterday’s message was about a prayer for God’s deliverance from harm and for God’s protection.  Today we learn more about life in this world we live in.  Our protection by God is not free from suffering.  Paul explains to the Romans that we are subject to the penalties of sin while we walk with Jesus.

 Our devotion writer explains; “Even now we suffer and creation suffers, waiting to be set free from our bondage to decay.  We too, pray for relief.”

 We have been adopted by God.  We are His children and as such we have an inheritance of His Kingdom to come.  Like Jesus, we have the promise of resurrection and eternal life.  It is with this hope and God’s promise that we look forward to this end and in the meantime should not worry or dwell on the suffering around us, but to live with the joy and peace we have been promised.  Living day to day we pray and receive blessings and healings and God’s hand will keep us free from harm that we cannot bear:

16 it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

 We do not know—no one knows what heaven is like, but we have the promise that it is truly more wonderful than anything we can imagine. And as our devotion writer declares; “Rather, our hope is grounded in knowing that we are suffering with Christ, so we will be glorified with him.”

 Prayer: “Thank you, God, for adopting me through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.”

  

Romans 8:12-25

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

12 So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

Future Glory

18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

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Friday Psalm 86:11-17

Prayer: Almighty God and Father, thank you for your promise and the hope you give us in your Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 A prayer for help

 15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,

 God gives us a brain with a lot of power.  Power to imagine and reason and it sometimes scares us and we can be emotionally upset.  It can also fool us into paranoia, but it may also save our lives and/or help us avoid injury.  I can sympathize with our devotion writer’s concern for his own life with the in home murder of his wife’s daughter which went unsolved for 20 years.

 Our devotion writer points to today’s text wherein the psalmist appeals to God for help at a time when he is under the threat of harm.  He writes; “The psalmist is facing threats and appeals to God for rescue.  He states his faith in God, who is merciful and gracious; slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”

 God has promised to care for us in the same way as He helped David and many others we read about in the Bible.  Yet we are human and we are frail when alone and on our own.  God is the only truth we can depend upon and His promise extends to our life with Him after death. I particularly like this appeal by the psalmist:

 11 Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name.

 Our devotion writer ends with; “The text ends with the psalmist asking for a sign of God’s favor.  Shouldn’t we ask for the same?”

 Prayer: “God of mercy and grace, bless us in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”

 

Psalm 86:11-17

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

11 Teach me your way, O Lord,     that I may walk in your truth;     give me an undivided heart to revere your name. 12 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,     and I will glorify your name forever. 13 For great is your steadfast love toward me;     you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

14 O God, the insolent rise up against me;     a band of ruffians seeks my life,     and they do not set you before them. 15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,     slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. 16 Turn to me and be gracious to me;     give your strength to your servant;     save the child of your serving girl. 17 Show me a sign of your favor,     so that those who hate me may see it and be put to shame,     because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

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Thursday Isaiah 44:6-8

Prayer: Gracious God, you are powerful and righteous; your Word gives me hope and wisdom.  Teach me today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 The king of Israel

 I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. (v. 6)

 Our devotion writer suggest we may wish to be careful because our careers can  easily become a god. He believed; “I worship at the altar of education.”  I have heard/seen similar words before. Some said in jest and others much more serious.  Words meant to exaggerate the importance of a science or profession.  Unfortunately it is true that some of us tend to worship other gods than our Father in Heaven.

 In today’s text, according to the words of our devotion writer; “I Isaiah’s time, the whole nation was struggling to survive.  The people were in despair after Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed.  Isaiah is offering comfort, telling the people to have no fear, to trust that God will free them. He mocks the idea of false gods…”

 We need these words of Isaiah especially today and to be reminded:

 Prayer: “Thank you, God, for showing me that you are the one true God, the only one worthy of my worship. In Christ’s name. Amen.”

  

Isaiah 44:6-8

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel,     and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the first and I am the last;     besides me there is no god. Who is like me? Let them proclaim it,     let them declare and set it forth before me. Who has announced from of old the things to come?     Let them tell us what is yet to be. Do not fear, or be afraid;     have I not told you from of old and declared it?     You are my witnesses! Is there any god besides me?     There is no other rock; I know not one.

 

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Wednesday Matthew 7:15-20

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, listen to our prayers, fill our hearts with joy and compassion for others and show us though your Word. Amen.

 

 Cycles of emptiness

 

 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

 

 I think we need to be careful here with today’s devotion.  I don’t see advertising products and services as “false prophets.”  In our society to me this is “commerce” not religion.  False prophets are those who subvert God’s truths by crafting their language so as we might just believe them, but they change the truth just enough so we can agree.  False prophets pretend to be our leaders and promise what we would like to hear, but they intend to change the truths we were taught in our walk of faith.

 

 False prophets are those who use the ways of commerce to subvert Jesus’ teachings.  Jesus says in today’s text that we will discover the false prophets by watching the fruits of their actions.

 

 17 In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.

 

 There are prophets today who preach that God wants us all to become rich and that all we have to do is believe and have faith, and God will give us more money that we could imagine. God promises to give us what we need.  He wants us to be rich in good deeds and in love and joy.  Sometimes He gives us money to help us accomplish this, and He gives great wealth to some to accomplish His purposes.  But He cautions us on how easy it is to fall victim to the love of money.

 

 So Jesus tells us to watch for the fruits of all prophets.

 

 Prayer: “Grant us, O God, the faith to rest in you and to rejoice that you declare us to be complete through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

 

 Matthew 7:15-20

 

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

 

A Tree and Its Fruit

 

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will know them by their fruits.

 

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