Today’s Thought: Are you ready to say, “Not my will but yours be done” … and mean it?
It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
This week, we’ve read how Jesus’s humanity has shown itself during times of frustration and exhaustion, as we’ve wrestled to understand the context and meaning of words that don’t ‘sound like’ Jesus. He has described his message as being divisive, as well as one reserved first for Jews in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. Today, in Luke 14, Jesus challenges our assumptions again… this time by asking our willingness to pay the price of discipleship.
Today’s Thought: Are you brave enough to ask in faith, believing in nothing less?
From there [Jesus] set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice; a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. (Mark 7:24-25)
Some of my favorite stories of Jesus are those where his humanity is on full display: when he’s so shaken by the death of Lazarus that he weeps; when he’s so angered by the moneychangers in the temple that he overturns their tables; and—in our story today—when he was so tired, all he wanted was to be left alone.
Today’s Thought: What do I worship more than God?
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:2-3)
In The Letter of James, addressed to the twelve tribes of the dispersion, the author reflects frustration similar to what we read yesterday in Luke. James (generally identified here as the brother of Jesus) is trying to bring the early church together in serving God, but their personal wants and desires are getting in the way. James fears for their relationship with God, as well as the future of the church, and he doesn’t hold back in his letter.
Today’s Thought: Sometimes good messages come wrapped in conflict.
Put no trust in a friend, have no confidence in a loved one; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your embrace; for the son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; your enemies are members of your own household. (Micah 7:5-6)
In Luke 12, Jesus reveals his frustration. Much like God said when he told Moses that the Israelites were a “stiff-necked people” who wouldn’t listen to him, Jesus says, I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled… Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! Bring division to the earth? How can these be the words and mission of Jesus?
Today’s Thought: What keeps me from talking to others about Jesus?
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners…. (Isaiah 61:1)
Almost ten years ago, I moved back to my hometown—a place I hadn’t lived since I was a teenager. It’s a small community, so it wasn’t long before I ran into people I had attended high school with. We looked essentially the same, the marks of aging unable to hide a familiar smile or particular mannerism. At times, though, those mini reunions were painfully awkward. We weren’t the same people now. Our hearts and minds had changed. It was so strange to look at someone whose face you knew like your own, but whom you didn’t really know at all.
Today’s Thought: Why won’t God stop bad things from happening?
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:11, 14-15)
Pain and suffering affect us all at some point in our lives and for Christians, it oftentimes results in intense questioning of our faith. C.S. Lewis, author, Christian, and former atheist, processed his pain publicly in A Grief Observed following the loss of his wife to cancer: “Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.” Loss, especially unexplained loss like we saw this week in New Zealand, drives us to despair and to wonder… why?
Today’s Thought: Where do you go to find rest?
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. (Isaiah 40:28-29 NIV)
I’m tired. It’s been a long week and physically, I’ve hit my limit. A good night’s rest, though, and I’ll be good as new in the morning. I remember times when sleep eluded me no matter how tired I was, though. Times when I didn’t think I would ever feel good or new again. Emotional burdens are like that. Unrelenting. Tonight I’m thinking of and praying for those who have burdens that won’t let go long enough for them to find rest. I’m praying for them to say one word to God: “Help.”
Today’s Thought: What truth do my words tell?
Your tongue is like a sharp razor, you worker of treachery. You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking the truth. You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue. (Psalm 52:2-4)
In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, there is a scene late in Act 1 when Lady Macbeth urges her husband to murder King Duncan so that he may take the crown. Adding to the deviousness of their plot is the fact that Duncan has always shown kindness to both of them and even considers Macbeth a close friend. For their plan to work, they must keep up the charade, and Macbeth cautions his wife to watch her behavior: “False face must hide what the false heart doth know.”
Today’s Thought: What does it mean to have new life in Christ?
And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14)
I’ve hit the reset button many times in my life: when I got married, when I had my first child (and again, when we added a second), when family members passed, when I took new jobs, and on and on and on. Old routines have gone out the window overnight to make room for new ones, not always smoothly. But major life changes practically demand new habits, like earlier wake-up times, dropping off and picking up kids from activities, easier (and faster!) meals… So, what changed when I became a Christian?