19th Sunday after Pentecost
Be Zealous, Not Jealous
Text: Numbers 11:16, 24-29
It was a mess out in that wilderness. The people of Israel were whining. Again. They were thirsty. God miraculously sprang forth water out of a rock. They were hungry. God dropped manna out of the sky. Still not good enough. Now they were complaining that they had no meat. “If only we had meat like when we were in Egypt.”
Finally, Moses could hardly take it any more. The pressure was building. His blood was boiling. In the verses right before the first lesson this morning Moses erupted in frustration: “What have I done, Lord? Why do I have to deal with all this? I can’t carry this burden by myself. If this is how it’s going to be, you can go ahead and take my life.”
Moses was overwhelmed and overworked. But our gracious God had a plan to help. First, he was going to drop quail out of the sky, so many birds in 30 days that God said it would be coming out of their nostrils. Then for Moses, God had this plan in the first verse today: “The LORD said to Moses: ‘Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the Tent of Meeting, that they may stand there with you.” God was going to assemble a leadership team to help Moses with the two million-some Israelites in the wilderness. Read the rest of this entry
4th Sunday in Lent
The Unusual Path to Greatness
Text: Matthew 20:17-28
Reality TV is ruining our country. That’s probably not a surprising or controversial statement. It seems pretty obvious that Reality TV is causing a lot of problems.
The Bachelor and The Bachelorette are ruining the way Americans think about dating and love and marriage. There is very little on those shows that would be considered God-pleasing love or relationships.
Celebrity reality shows are ruining the way we think about our lives. When we see the homes and cars celebrities have and the carefree, lawless lives that celebrities live, all we do is crave things we cannot and will not ever have.
Reality game shows are ruining our work ethic. People think that they can just sing in front of a famous judge on American Idol or X-Factor or The Voice, or dance on So You Think You Can Dance, or present your business on Shark Tank and you’ll get the golden ticket to fame and fortune. Rather than putting in all the blood, sweat, and tears to work toward your dreams, people think they can get in front of someone famous and take the easy way to success.
Now it is certainly nice that certain people “get a shot” in life, like the small town Texas girl that might win American Idol. But for that one person that wins a reality show there are tens of thousands that do not win. It’s always humorous, yet somewhat annoying, to watch people’s pride on these TV shows when they don’t win. Most contestants feel like they deserve to win. They’ve been waiting. Their life has been tough. They need this. Then it’s even more humorous, and more annoying, to watch the people who can’t sing or can’t dance but think they really can. They get cut from the show and they blow up in anger because they really are great and they really deserve a chance and they really should be winners. Really? Read the rest of this entry
19th Sunday after Pentecost
Love Overcomes Jealousy and Leads to Piety
Text: Mark 9:38-50
Those around my generation remember well a TV show that became very popular about 10 years ago on MTV. The show was called MTV Cribs. The whole point of this show was to visit the homes of the coolest singers, rappers, movie stars, and athletes in America.
The show was all about extravagance. Rappers with a fleet of 20 sports cars tricked out with fancy rims and more electronics inside the car than I have in my whole house. Movie stars with a different pair of shoes for every day of the year. One even said she has never worn the same pair of shoes twice. Athletes with a gymnasium built into their homes the size our school would love to have. Whether it was a $10 million penthouse in New York City or a $30 million mansion in Beverly Hills, all of the homes were over the top.
These days there are dozens of these kinds of shows on TV. But for those of you of an older generation that scoff at the junk that the young whippersnappers are watching these days, I will remind you that Robin Leach did the same for your generation with Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Read the rest of this entry
Devotion Text: Philippians 1:12-18
Sometimes jealousy isn’t just envy and covetousness about what material blessings someone else has. Sometimes, jealousy is about the life God has blessed another person with compared to the trials and temptations God has blessed you with.
The apostle Paul had every reason to be jealous of other people, other believers.
For him, the Lord had a special plan. Paul would be the first Christian missionary to the Gentiles. He would travel from city to city–far from home–and under constant danger. He would be jailed and he would eventually be killed–all for the sake of the Gospel. Other apostles, even those who were martyred enjoyed the relative peace of their homes and a large Christian population in Jerusalem. Many had families and were blessed with long lives with much less trouble than Paul.
Still, Paul did not begrudge his chains or his fellow Christians, he considered himself blessed.
Jealousy at its core, is the enemy of love and it is the opposite of contentment. Paul notes that some at his time were even preaching out of jealousy and envy–may God protect us from this! But, perhaps, Paul’s conclusion is even more apt to the overall point.
In the end, even those who preached to advance themselves, still preached Christ. While we would not laud them as great examples, God still worked through them (and hopefully eventually in them) to advance the Gospel! The Gospel is the cure for these symptoms because it attacks the underlying illness–sin.
With our sins forgiven and the freedom to live a new life, we have the ability to cast off our jealousy and accept our trials along with our blessings as God reveals his greater plans for our lives. All this as we trek onward to the ultimate plan for our lives, an eternal life in heaven.
Prayer: Let me be content, Lord. Let me be content with your plan for my life. Let me be content, Lord, not only for all the blessings you’ve given me, but that you have blessed me at all when I have not earned anything from you. Let me be content, Lord, with the ways in which you have blessed others. Let me rejoice with them and never be envious. Instead, let me always be content, Lord, with your times and your plans. Let me be content, Lord, as I await the much fuller joys you have planned for me in heaven. Amen.
Text: Numbers 11:16, 24-29
“That’s no fair!”
If I had a dollar for every time I hear that every day of the week from my children, I would be writing this devotion from my vacation home in Tahiti right now.
“That’s no fair! How come I don’t get to stay up late?”
“That’s no fair! How come I don’t get three chicken nuggets?”
“That’s no fair! How come I don’t get to sit next to Daddy for supper?”
Half the time the requests and complaints are senseless and pointless. Yet the argument for “fairness” is made nevertheless. Children naturally are wired for jealousy because children naturally are sinful, too.
Unfortunately, our jealousy only gets worse as we get older. How many times have you watched a TV show that tours celebrity homes and thought, “That is no fair! How come I can’t have a life like that?” Maybe it’s just as simple as being jealous over what your neighbor has, “Why can’t I get a nice lawnmower, too?” or being jealous of your coworker, “Why should she get a raise instead of me?”
Moses would have had every right to be jealous when some of the Israelites also started prophesying. He was God’s chosen leader! General Joshua thought it would be best if they stopped, for the sake of Moses. Yet Moses rejoiced in the gifts and abilities of his fellow Israelites and encouraged their activity. Rather than a heart of jealousy, Moses had a heart of love and thanks.
When you happen to glance at the lifestyles of the rich and famous, or even the lifestyles of your semi-rich neighbors, be thankful for what God has given them. Be thankful for all the other gifts and abilities that God gives to other people.
But then, with a loving and content heart, be thankful for what God has given you, too!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, you pour out so many blessings upon me–more than I could ever count! Help me to recognize all that you give and to rejoice in the many things I have. Give me contentment to be pleased with whatever you bless me with. Give me thanks for all the blessings you give to others. In your name I pray, Amen.