The 6th Sunday of Easter
Teach Us, Lord, Full Obedience
Text: John 14:23-29
This last week a boat was found off the coast of Bermuda by a Norwegian vessel ship. Quickly it was identified as the boat of Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos, the two 14-year-olds who left on a fishing trip from Jupiter, FL 10 months ago and who have been missing ever since. The two boys are still missing and now some are wondering if foul play was involved.
Speaking of investigations, there are plenty of others going on. The FBI recently paid almost $1 million to unlock (semi-legally) an iPhone connected to the San Bernadino mass shooting. Investigations are also continuing 10 days after the music industry lost legendary musician Prince, as to what exactly was his cause of death. Then there was the tragic death of the two-year-old who drowned in her grandparents’ swimming pool in Port Orange Thursday night.
Also making the headlines this week was another baseball player, this one from the Miami Marlins, who was banned 80 games for steroids and the controversial football player drafted Thursday night by the Miami Dolphins who has found himself in a social media firestorm for past poor decisions. (Not a good week for Miami sports.) Oh, and who could leave out the headlines of the 20 arrested during the mini-riot at the Donald Trump rally on Thursday night? Read the rest of this entry
15th Sunday after Pentecost
This is Christian Living
Text: Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9
Four hundred years of suffering. Four hundred years slavery. Four hundred years of subjection to someone else. Finally, after all those years of burden and bondage, the people of Israel were free. God had delivered his people from the rule of Pharaoh in the land of Egypt. He did so his by his majestic might and power, leading his people through the middle of the Red Sea on dry ground.
Yet even after such deliverance and freedom, the Israelites whined and complained and sinned against the Lord. But time and again God was patient and merciful and forgiving. He continued to lead them on to the Promised Land of Canaan. Finally then as God’s people were standing on the precipice of the Promised Land, Moses delivered a fiery farewell speech of encouragement and exhortation to the people. We know that speech as the book of Deuteronomy. A portion of that speech is our first lesson today.
Our story isn’t much different than theirs. We were in slavery too. We were suffering under the bondage and chains of sin. We were subject to Satan and doomed to the dungeon of hell. No person in this world is perfect which means that all of us are sinners who were bound by sin. Read the rest of this entry
15th Sunday after Pentecost
Be a Hearer and a Doer of the Word
Text: James 1:17-27
The same old routine. Each and every week. The alarm clock screams at you with that annoying buzz. Ugh. Already? Why do they have to make alarms with only annoying noises? You throw the sheets off and somehow manage to get your feet on the floor. You stagger around for a while until groggily, you manage to get a cup of coffee going.
You shuffle through your closet. “I guess I haven’t worn this in a while. This will do.” Eventually you are dressed—and just in time to rush out the door and make it by 9:59am (maybe 10:02 sometimes). You hurriedly walk in. You greet a couple familiar faces, “Good morning. Good morning. Good morning.” You find your seat.
Alright, here we go. Opening hymn. A couple responses. Some readings. Another hymn. A few words from pastor. (Hopefully it’s short this week.) A couple prayers. Another hymn. Finally! Done! “Goodbye. Goodbye. Have a nice day. Goodbye.” “Phew! That’s over with. Glad I don’t have to do that again for another week!”
The same old routine. Each and every week. You put your time in. You do what your supposed to do. You nod in agreement with the sermon (trying to look like you’re not nodding off to sleep or staring in the corner). You get your God time out of the way and you get on with regular life and the rest of your week. Read the rest of this entry
Text: Psalm 119:105-112
It was the middle of the night. It was the middle of “Bear Country” at Yellowstone National Park. It was pitch black outside. And I had to go to the bathroom. Maybe it’s because I am not the most experienced or daring outdoorsman, but I wasn’t exactly eager to venture out into the wild in the darkest part of the night. There are a lot of dangers that lurk in the wild!
Thankfully, I had a camping lantern in the tent. Having that lantern light the path made all the difference in the world! I could see the path I needed to take. I could see any potential dangers around me. I could find my way safely home to the tent.
We are reminded in Psalm 119 that God’s Word does the same thing. Verse 105 says, “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.
God’s Word shows us the path to travel. It tells us what God wants us to do and not to do. It shows us the potential dangers of temptation and sin around us. It leads us safely home to heaven.
As we have been focusing this week on showing love for the Lord by obeying his commands, God’s Word will be our most useful tool in our efforts to obey. As we continue to stay in the light of his Word, the path will be very clear for us!
Read his Word daily. Study it in Bible studies. Hear it and proclaim it in worship. Get to know the light! It will show you the path!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, give us hearts that burn with a desire to be in your Word–reading, studying, and learning. Let your Word continue to guide us in paths of righteousness and lead us safely home to heaven. We pray in the name of Jesus, the Word made flesh. Amen.
Text: Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
How dare they?! The Pharisees were outraged! How dare the disciples eat food with hands that hadn’t been washed in the appropriate ceremonial way?!
To modern day people, it might seem a little silly. First, we are big on hygiene and being germ-free. Of course it’s a good idea to wash hands! On the other hand, what was the big deal? As my mother used to say, “A little dirt will never hurt.”
But this was a big deal. These things had become laws in Israel. In fact, there were hundreds of traditions that the Pharisees and others counted as laws. They added these laws to God’s laws so as to show an extra level of piety. It was as if they were saying, “Look how good we are! We don’t just obey Scripture! We obey these other commands we made up, too!”
But in reality, they weren’t really obeying the Lord at all. They may have ceremonial scrubbed their hands all day long, but they still cursed and swore at home. They may have gone over and beyond to keep the Sabbath day, but then they would have hearts filled with hate the next day. So Jesus told them that it is what is in your heart that makes you clean or unclean, not your outward actions.
We are also reminded by these words of Jesus that our outward actions don’t make us clean. Just because you sit in a church pew regularly, or give a little offering to the church now and then, or volunteer once in a while–these things don’t make you clean or better than anyone else. All of us have hearts that are equally dirty and unclean and filled with sin.
Thus, we turn to Jesus who reminds us of our sin today and thank him endlessly. For the one who reminds us that we are unclean in our hearts is the same one who came to make us clean. Not long after this story Jesus would give his life and shed his blood to wash away all the impurity of our souls. Totally forgiven, we stand clean and pure before God now and forever.
The joy of this forgiveness then leads us to look forward to heaven by living a life of humble obedience to our Savior each and every day. God grant us these pious hearts of quiet and thankful obedience to Jesus!
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, continually wash me in your holy and precious blood. Through your forgiveness, I am clean and pure in your sight. Fill my heart now with joy and thanks to live for you in humble obedience. Guide me on my path until I join you in perfect joy forever in heaven. I pray in your name. Amen.