From “Me” to “Us”

Today’s reading is Psalm 31.

Track the pronouns in this psalm. Sometimes the main pronoun is the first person singular, sometimes it is the second or third person plural. That is, in some parts it is, “In you, O Lord, do I take refuge.” In other places, it is, “How abundant is your goodness, which you have…worked for those who take refuge in you.” Sometimes it is “I trust the Lord.” Other times it is “Love the Lord, all you his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful…” In this, David moves from praying about “me” the Lord’s anointed to praying about “us” the Lord’s people. This isn’t just some weird poetic thing. This is David setting himself up as the example. This is how God deals with His anointed, the head of His people. Therefore, this is how God deals with all His people. Especially when we get to the ending thoughts. David’s point is, “Look at me, people! Do you see how God has demonstrated himself faithful and loving with me? Do you see how God did deliver? I get it, I had some troubles along the way. But do you see how it ended? The same will be true for you. Hang on through the trouble. Stay faithful. Through me, God has proved Himself faithful.” We should see the same principle in our King. After all, a disciple is not above the teacher but when fully trained will become like the teacher. Do you remember what happened with Jesus? He was persecuted. He was afflicted. It even seemed that the hands of the enemies prevailed against Him. However, on the third day, He burst forth from the grave victorious. That is how the Lord gave victory to our King. We too, though the hand of the enemy seems to prevail, perhaps even killing us, will be victorious. We will also burst forth from the grave. So, commit your spirit into the Lord’s hand and hang on to Him no matter what.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 31.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes and listen to the Text Talk podcast conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

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Loyal Stewardship

Today’s reading is Luke 16.

We’ve notice the first two points of Jesus’s three point lesson on stewardship. His first point was about shrewd stewardship. That is, using our material goods as a means to prepare for eternity. His second point was about faithful stewardship. That is, using our material goods the way the one who actually owns them wants them to be used. And now His third point: Loyal Stewardship. Sadly, many stewards forget who they are serving. They spend so much time with the money and material goods, they begin to serve the money and the material goods. This can especially happen when we lose sight of Jesus’s second point about stewardship. If we think financial stewardship means doing everything we can to be “wise” with our money, making more money and saving more money, we can imperceptibly get to the point of letting money be our God. Of course, if we abandon all concept of stewardship and think money is simply the ticket to the fun life, we end up letting money be our God then as well. We cannot, however, have two gods. Sooner or later, they will come face to face with each other and we will have to choose. We will either sacrifice our money for God or we will sacrifice God for our money. Jesus’s third point is make this choice wisely. We can use our money now to prepare relationships for our eternal dwellings, but we won’t be able to take our money with us to pay for eternal dwellings. Only God can save us, deliver us, and usher us into those eternal dwellings. If that means sacrificing our money, so be it.

Today’s reading is Luke 16.

A Word for Our Kids

Hey kids, Jesus said you cannot serve God and money. I wish I had said the following first, but I read it somewhere. However, I thought it might help you. Jesus didn’t give advice. That is, He didn’t say, “You shouldn’t serve God and money.” He doesn’t give instruction. That is, He didn’t say, “Do not serve God and money.” He doesn’t even give a command. That is, He didn’t say “Thou shalt not serve God and money.” He simply stated a fact. “You cannot serve God and money.” You can’t do it. Try as you might, serving God and money won’t happen. You will serve either one or the other. Now, you can be like some and try to prove Jesus wrong. But that won’t work. Eventually, one of the two (or something else) will be god of your life. You will choose one to rule you and for which you will sacrifice everything else. Make sure that one is the one, true God.

Faithful Stewardship

Today’s reading is Luke 16.

Perhaps one of the reasons I always struggle with the parable we discussed yesterday is because the text goes directly from giving us an unfaithful steward as an example to talking about being a faithful steward. I think we need to see this point about faithful stewardship as Point 2 in Jesus’s brief sermon about stewardship of finances. The first point: use your stewardship as a blessing to others, and blessing means helping them get to eternal dwellings. The second point: be faithful with the stewardship. That is, do what the Master wants with the things that belong to Him. Otherwise, He won’t welcome you into eternal dwellings. We have a tendency to think all the money that flows through our hands in this life is a really, really big deal. But Jesus explains our house, our car, our clothes, our finances down here on earth are actually very little. In the grand scheme of things, they aren’t really important. It is what is coming in eternity that is the big, big deal. What I find even more amazing is that little statement that is often overlooked. What we have now isn’t even our own. However, if we are faithful in the stewardship of what is God’s right now, in eternity we will be blessed with what is our own. Honestly, I don’t know exactly what that means. I just know I want it. Which gets back to Jesus’s main point. We are stewards. The #1 principle for stewardship is to do what the Master wants done with what belongs to Him. Be faithful to the Master with what belongs to Him.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 16.

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Hate is No Surprise

Today’s reading is John 15.

It is surprising to me how many times throughout the Scripture the Holy Spirit prepares us for hate. Considering how good, loving, compassionate, and kind Jesus was, it is amazing that He was hated. But He was. In fact, so hated, He was taken to the cross. This was the very point those around Him didn’t grasp. If He was the Messiah, even if hated, He shouldn’t suffer for it. And this is, perhaps, one of the largest aspects of following Him that we miss today. If we are walking in the footsteps of Jesus, we heedlessly believe, everyone should like us. The world and the worldly will be so impressed with our Christlike love and compassion that they will long to hear what we say (if we are doing it right). The world shouldn’t hate us, we think. If they do, we are doing it wrong, we believe. And yet, Jesus prepares His followers again and again and again. It will not be different for us. Hate is no surprise. The world is going to hate us. The world is going to make us suffer for it. Obviously, we aren’t trying to be hated. But be ready. And be ready to keep loving one another and also loving those who hate us. That is what Jesus did when hated.

Tomorrow’s reading is John 16.

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The Scandal of Judgment

Today’s reading is Matthew 21.

Wow! Is today’s master of the house the same one we read about Friday? Friday’s master was generous and gracious, giving one-hour workers a full day’s pay. Today’s master is a straight up killer. I mean, I get it; the tenants deserved it. But how is this the same master? We learned on Friday that grace is scandalous. The interesting thing is everyone who heard Jesus’s new story of judgment knew exactly what the master in the story would do, and it made sense to them. The problem is it was scandalous to think the hearers of the parable were in the exact same situation as the subjects in the parable. And that is what makes judgment a scandal, isn’t it? Grace is scandalous because none of us deserves it, but we all think we do. When we see someone else get it, we think it is a scandal. Judgment is scandalous because we all deserve it, but none of us thinks we do. When we are told we are going to receive it, we think it is a scandal. Judgment is coming; it shouldn’t be that scandalous to us. That is why we need God’s grace; it shouldn’t be that scandalous either. Yet, here we are. Pick your scandal.

Today’s reading is Matthew 21.

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More Like the Master

Today’s reading is Matthew 10.

Certainly, we are not more like Christ by looking for and purposefully provoking others to persecute and mistreat us. However, if we come up with a form of Christianity and evangelism that completely avoids persecution, we are not following in the footsteps of our Master. Being more like our Master doesn’t mean we are seeking to be persecuted, but it does mean we will be. Perhaps this is why Paul in Galatians 6:17 claimed no one could speak against him because he bore the marks of Jesus in his own body. While I can’t claim I like this, I have to say if Jesus was willing to face being maligned and persecuted for me, I want to be willing to do the same for Him. Let’s grow in this together.

Monday’s reading is Matthew 11.

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More Like the Master

Today’s reading is Luke 6.

“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.”

The goal of discipleship is not heaven. The goal of discipleship is Jesus. Certainly, those who are like Jesus will be with Him in heaven. Why did the apostles follow Jesus around and talk with Him and listen to Him? To be like Him. Keep that in mind as we read Luke’s gospel account. We are spending time with Jesus, not as a homework assignment, but as a means to be like Him. That is being and making disciples.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 7.

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