Devotional


I was listening to the lectionary scripture {Matthew 2:1-12} being read yesterday and began to reflect on the many times that I had listened to the story of the three kings and never asked a critical question. What are the lessons that we learn from the Magi that visited Jesus which will help me be a better disciple of Jesus?

They were full of faith – They had followed other stars that led them to other kings and they were confident in this new star also leading them to a new king.  This was not a spiritual journey for them but it was about honoring the office and person.  This required great faith. To grow as a disciple means that you are growing in your faith.  To become mature would indicate that you walk daily by faith. This is a place of surrender.  Faithree-kings-day-january-6thth is not about you and what you can acquire but faith is about God working in you so that you can trust God completely.

The journey was a part of the process – Many times as people are maturing in Christ there are complaints about meeting the class schedules, driving across town for to pray with a group, meeting a new believer at times that are not convenient to you and questions about “Why isn’t Sunday morning enough?” The reality is that if we are going to grow as disciples of Christ we will have to learn that the process is not linear and the process will not be the same for everybody.

The magi were clear that the goal was to see the new born king even if it was 2 years after his actual birth. If our goal is to become mature committed disciples, we have to expect some challenges during the journey but never give up on the goal

They were generous – They brought their valuables to a future king. They had no previous relationship or allegiance to the future king and they gave freely.  This is especially interesting since they had to barter for their needs during the journey.

As we grow in our discipleship may we all be full of faith, be comfortable with the journey and be generous.

 

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Some of my fond early memories are connected to times when I was able to spend holidays with my extended family. Jeanette and Otto Thomas had seven children that nicknamed themselves the Fantastic 7. Along with their 18 children it was always a lot of fun.

Holidays were special already but when we meet at grandma’s house dinner time was a major production. There is always lots of food, lots of laughter and lots of conversation.  Needless to say with large families there were times when everybody did not agree on a specific topic or opinion and the volume level and intensity of the conversation would increase as the evening progressed but inevitably grandma would walk in the room and state her position and for the rest of the evening the focus would be on what activities we would participate in.  Grandma Thomas had a way of ending the confusion and redirecting everyone’s attention to what was really important, being with each other.  She had a unique way of not telling everybody that they were wrong but affirming her position and bringing everyone together.

As we live into this season of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ we are reminded that there is one way to God and that is through Jesus Christ.  We are reminded that we can respect other religions, but the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is what makes it possible for me to have a relationship with God almighty.” I have no need to attack what others believe because I am clearly focused on the reality that my salvation is firmly rooted in the resurrection of the only man who was divine and human and lived on this earth with no sin.”

Challenge
As disciples of Jesus Christ how will you focus people on the essentials of the faith.  God’s sacrificial love for sending Jesus.  Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sins and the resurrection that gives us access to God.

Prayer

Keep us on what really matters.

23 Examine me, God! Look at my heart!
Put me to the test! Know my anxious thoughts!
24 Look to see if there is any idolatrous way[f] in me,
then lead me on the eternal path!

Psalms 139

This entire season of Lent is a time of reflection, repentance and renewal. During the next 40 days we will have an opportunityashwednesday to reflect on our behavior, spiritual disciplines and the motives for our actions.  We get to repent of the sins of omission and commission. This makes us vulnerable but without the vulnerability we can’t experience humility. It is in our humility that we acknowledge our need for cleansing from God and that in this earthly journey we can’t do this without God.

But during this season of lent we have the opportunity to reflect on our shortcomings repent and be reconciled back to God.

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#nofear #totaltrust #dontlookback

Luke 23:39-43
39 One of the criminals hanging next to Jesus insulted him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”40 Responding, the other criminal spoke harshly to him, “Don’t you fear God, seeing that you’ve also been sentenced to die? 41 We are rightly condemned, for we are receiving the appropriate sentence for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus replied, “I assure you that today you will be with me in paradise.”

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The difference between the two men being executed with Jesus was simple yet significantly complex. The difference was humility. To the casual observer it looks like there are three convicted criminals with no redeeming qualities. At first glance it appears that there is no need to acknowledge their individual and unique characteristics. If you were to operate with the initial presentation of facts you would miss the significant moment that Jesus shared on the cross.   (more…)

Determined Discipleship
Mark David Ribbins

The Death of Lazarus

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

“But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you,and yet you are going back?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” 12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

 

It’s easy to follow Jesus, as long as He’s popular in the places where you’re following
— a lesson His disciples learned while watching the course of His ministry.

“ Called to be fishers of men? How cool to hang with Jesus!
Watching a temple crowd pick up rocks to stone Him, not so great.
Helping to feed 5000 with a bag lunch? Amazing experience!
Castigated by Pharisees for picking grain on the Sabbath, what a royal pain!”

(more…)

Questions for Reflection

What does the kingdom of God look like?

What heavy burdens are you worrying about that you need to hand over to God?

Can God handle taking care of me tomorrow if I am overwhelmed today?

Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God

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