Wednesday Luke 14:15-24

Prayer: Through your Word, O Lord, let us hear your voice and do your will. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Carry the gospel news

23 Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled.

Our devotion writer writes; “…the gospel of Jesus Christ is inclusive and presses on throughout the world, advancing quickly like a fast-moving spring shower. God’s love never fails, but is also not to be taken for granted—God want everyone to be include in the reign of grace.”

Immediately after Jesus, the gospel grew exponentially through the Roman Empire. Today it has been storming through the Southern Hemisphere. We could use a little of that around here too, in fact, some have said that the United States is the next big missionary field.  But what is God’s wisdom in this matter…we can see His handiwork.

15 One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”

Our devotion writer declares; “How blessed we are to hear the good news of God’s forgiveness proclaimed each week. What a privilege for us to be guests of our Lord at the Eucharistic banquet when it is celebrated in our parishes. What a joy to carry this gospel news ‘out into the roads and lanes’ and to invite people to come and see what the Lord has done.”

Who can we invite to this table?

Prayer: “O God, thank you for inviting me to be your guest at the Lord’s Supper. Give me grace to invite others to abide in your love, through Christ. Amen.”

 

Luke 14:15-24

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Parable of the Great Dinner

15 One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 Then Jesus said to him, “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. 17 At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’ 19 Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’ 20 Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’ 23 Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tuesday Titus 1:1-9

Prayer: Lord Jesus, teach us through your Word and with your Spirit. Amen.

God does not lie

in the hope of eternal life that God, who never lies, promised before the ages began—

Sometimes we might think that God’s promises are empty.  This happens sometimes when we are faced with life’s challenges. Our devotion writer writes what Martin Luther has said; “but under God’s grace, the kingdom of God is sometimes hidden in this world from us, only to be revealed at the appropriate time. In God’s providential care, we have the assurance and certainty in faith that the Lord will be there for us now and for eternity.”

If you were looking for God and didn’t know Him, where would you look? Would you look for Him on the cross? In our wisdom that might be the last place we would look. Most of us look for God in the mountains or at the beach, not in the homes of the poor, or under the bridges. Why, because we think of God having no sin, yet he became sin for us. As our devotion writer explains; “He became a curse for us and hung on a tree, but only to show that God’s merciful love is not a lie; it is absolutely reliable for this life and the next.”

Prayer: “O God, by a tree we were deceived and by the cross we were redeemed.  Help us to see your hidden reign, through Christ. Amen.”

 

Titus 1:1-9

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Salutation

1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that is in accordance with godliness, in the hope of eternal life that God, who never lies, promised before the ages began— in due time he revealed his word through the proclamation with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior,

To Titus, my loyal child in the faith we share:

Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

Titus in Crete

I left you behind in Crete for this reason, so that you should put in order what remained to be done, and should appoint elders in every town, as I directed you: someone who is blameless, married only once, whose children are believers, not accused of debauchery and not rebellious. For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or addicted to wine or violent or greedy for gain; but he must be hospitable, a lover of goodness, prudent, upright, devout, and self-controlled. He must have a firm grasp of the word that is trustworthy in accordance with the teaching, so that he may be able both to preach with sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Monday 2 Chronicles 12:1-12

Prayer: O God, your Word teaches us your wisdom, teach us more today, in Christ. Amen.

Leadership in important

When the rule of Rehoboam was established and he grew strong, he abandoned the law of the Lord… (v. 1)

Many of the kings of Israel strayed from their faithfulness when things were going well. When they strayed and turned to idols, disaster was not far away. Time and again God had to teach them lessons and penalize them like children. When this happened the people suffered, especially the poor. The people were also let astray.  So faithful leaders are important.

God sent His prophets to point out the problems and then later to warn of what was going to happen because of their sinfulness. There were also false prophets who only told the kings what they wanted to hear.  And there were always consequences. In the case of Rehoboam, God wanted them to learn the difference of living under God’s rule and the rule of the Egyptian king.

Our devotion writer writes; “the chroniclers demonstrate that there were consequences for unfaithful leadership, which led to loss of autonomy.  God was responsive to a change of heart by the leaders and the people when they repented in the face of the prophetic word, but there were consequences for unfaithfulness…He [God] took everything!

And so what is different today? We should support faithful leaders, yet sometimes it is hard to know who is truly faithful, but we need to pray for God to send us faithful leaders who will not turn away and lead us astray as well.

Prayer: “God, we pray for wise and faithful leaders, who will govern wisely and be attentive to needs of those who are poor. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

 

2 Chronicles 12:1-12

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Egypt Attacks Judah

12 When the rule of Rehoboam was established and he grew strong, he abandoned the law of the Lord, he and all Israel with him. In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, because they had been unfaithful to the Lord, King Shishak of Egypt came up against Jerusalem with twelve hundred chariots and sixty thousand cavalry. A countless army came with him from Egypt—Libyans, Sukkiim, and Ethiopians. He took the fortified cities of Judah and came as far as Jerusalem. Then the prophet Shemaiah came to Rehoboam and to the officers of Judah, who had gathered at Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said to them, “Thus says the Lord: You abandoned me, so I have abandoned you to the hand of Shishak.” Then the officers of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, “The Lord is in the right.” When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah, saying: “They have humbled themselves; I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance, and my wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Nevertheless they shall be his servants, so that they may know the difference between serving me and serving the kingdoms of other lands.”

So King Shishak of Egypt came up against Jerusalem; he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house; he took everything. He also took away the shields of gold that Solomon had made; 10 but King Rehoboam made in place of them shields of bronze, and committed them to the hands of the officers of the guard, who kept the door of the king’s house. 11 Whenever the king went into the house of the Lord, the guard would come along bearing them, and would then bring them back to the guardroom. 12 Because he humbled himself the wrath of the Lord turned from him, so as not to destroy them completely; moreover, conditions were good in Judah.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sunday Luke 14:1, 7-14

Prayer: Open our hearts and minds, O Lord, to the instruction in your Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

11 For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

It is strange how God works. Strange to me, I guess, because God’s wisdom is greater than mine. However, today we remember St. Augustine in the church calendar.  Our devotion writer tells us about Augustine.

Augustine was not born a Christian, although raised by a Christian mother. Our devotion writer called him a “cosmopolitan and joiner of many movements. He lived with a woman with whom he had a son, had many close friends, and was profoundly ambitious.” It was not until he was about 43 years old and a professor in Milan that he was baptized after reading Romans 13:13-14.  Augustine sought God and God found him.

Later, inspired by the story of the first monk, he gave up everything and entered a monastery. He later became a priest and then Bishop of Hippo. Our devotion writer declares; “He was no longer ambitions for himself, but for the gospel and his people.”  God taught him humility.

So in short, St. Augustine, was a denier of Christ, who later succumbed to the call of God’s Spirit.  Like many of us we often don’t get it until later in life.  The Bible is full of stories of ordinary people who God calls later in life and they turn from their ways. Fortunately, they don’t all become monks because they live among us and tell us about the challenges of life outside of Jesus, and the joy of serving now that they answered the call and humbled themselves before God.

Prayer: “O God, thank you for seeking and finding us, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

 

Luke 14:1-14

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Jesus Heals the Man with Dropsy

14 On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely. Just then, in front of him, there was a man who had dropsy. And Jesus asked the lawyers and Pharisees, “Is it lawful to cure people on the sabbath, or not?” But they were silent. So Jesus took him and healed him, and sent him away. Then he said to them, “If one of you has a child or an ox that has fallen into a well, will you not immediately pull it out on a sabbath day?” And they could not reply to this.

Humility and Hospitality

When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11 For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

12 He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Saturday Hebrews 13:1-9, 15-16

Prayer: O God, your Word is food for our souls, speak to us today, in Christ. Amen.

Ever changing, but always the same

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Our world is changing. There is a new purpose coming. Worship attendance (in most traditional churches) is down and volunteers are harder to find. We used to think that going to church and trying to live a life like Jesus that we were serving God; that volunteering to sing in the choir, or helping with the landscaping or the church cleaning were the way to serve God. These are good, but we are learning that this is not enough.  We have not been inconvenienced enough.  When we do work in the church we serve ourselves and our fellow Christians.  The people who need Jesus the most are not sitting in the pews, they are not singing in the choir.  They are “out there” beyond the church walls; across the parking lot and down the street.

Have we become complacent? Do we think that just because we attend worship and write a check that we are thanking God? Well you can’t share the Word of God and the gospel just by writing a check.  It takes a little effort.  It takes getting our hands dirty. It takes a sacrifice of our time and talents. What would Jesus do?

Our devotion writer remembers his father who preached a special sermon for today’s text. He preached; “the name of Jesus so sweetly, so lovingly, and with passion as he longed to be with his Lord in paradise…how young and old see him as a rock and friend, how young dying soldiers call on his name from the battlefield, and how patients in hospital beds long to hear a word of gospel.”

Jesus Christ is the same today, yet our calling is changing…or is it? What is the measure of our success? When was the last time we visited the sick? The poor? The indigent? Fed the hungry, Visited those in prison?  How have we been inconvenienced lately?

Prayer: “Dear Lord Jesus, in life and in death, abide with me. Amen.”

 

Hebrews 13

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Service Well-Pleasing to God

13 Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured. Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers. Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” So we can say with confidence,

“The Lord is my helper;     I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?”

Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings; for it is well for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by regulations about food, which have not benefited those who observe them. 10 We have an altar from which those who officiate in the tent have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people by his own blood. 13 Let us then go to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. 15 Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Friday Psalm 112

Prayer: Almighty and merciful God, let us learn from the wisdom of your Word, in Christ. Amen.

The righteous also suffer

Praise the Lord! Happy are those who fear the Lord, who greatly delight in his commandments.

Wouldn’t life be great if we were able to be rewarded financially, physically, and filled with joy and happiness because we lived righteous lives?  Just “delight in the commandments” and fame and fortune will flow to us.

Sometimes we think that way…but bad things happen to good people too. Besides, it is impossible to be human and not sin.  We like the stories where God has saved someone from certain death because they lived.  We like to believe that God saves, and He does. But as believers we know that we are not immune to tragedy through illness or accident.

Our devotion writer relates; “This psalm comforts those who live upright lives grounded in their faith in God; yet we all know persons who are righteous and have lives that are filled with financial, health, and relationship challenges. We turn to the grace, mercy, and righteousness of God in Christ and not our own righteousness.  This is the model life of faith, but it is the one who freely died among the unjust, the one who became poor for us, whose righteousness will endure forever for our sake.”

There, but for the grace of God, go we. It is not as we wish, but as God provides.

 

Prayer: “Righteous God, lead me in your paths of grace and mercy, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.”

 

Psalm 112

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Psalm 112

Blessings of the Righteous

Praise the Lord!     Happy are those who fear the Lord,     who greatly delight in his commandments. Their descendants will be mighty in the land;     the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in their houses,     and their righteousness endures forever. They rise in the darkness as a light for the upright;     they are gracious, merciful, and righteous. It is well with those who deal generously and lend,     who conduct their affairs with justice. For the righteous will never be moved;     they will be remembered forever. They are not afraid of evil tidings;     their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord. Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraid;     in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. They have distributed freely, they have given to the poor;     their righteousness endures forever;     their horn is exalted in honor. 10 The wicked see it and are angry;     they gnash their teeth and melt away;     the desire of the wicked comes to not

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thursday Proverbs 25:6-7

Prayer: O God, let us see and know the wisdom in your Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Our Savior’s humility

for it is better to be told, “Come up here,” than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.

Our devotion writer, arriving early at a formal banquet, in an attempt to be humble, chose seats which they reasoned would be the humblest, but later learned that the seat he had chosen would be at the most honored place. He was asked to move.  The lesson here is that using our own wisdom can sometimes lead us astray.  If he wanted to be truly humble, he would have waited until everyone else was seated or where the host directed. These are lessons that we all learn in our walk of life. Often the hard way when we are embarrassed by our wrong decision.

Our example is Jesus.  Jesus gave up immortality when He took human form and submitted to human wisdom, persecution and death. Our devotion writer explains; “The proverb in today’s reading is good etiquette, and both Jesus and Paul advocate for humility, but following Christ’s example of humility is not the way to salvation.  Jesus already saved us by emptying himself and being born in human likeness.”

So is it also futile to try to be humble in order to earn salvation? Think about that!

Prayer: “Merciful God, send your Spirit to guide me in living in humble and gracious ways. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

 

Proverbs 25:6-7

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence     or stand in the place of the great; for it is better to be told, “Come up here,”     than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment