Monthly Archives: August 2016

15th Sunday After Pentecost, August 28, 2016

Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost (Year C)

Scripture Readings*: Jeremiah 2:4-13, Psalm 103:1-8, Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16, Luke 14:1, 7-14

Jeremiah 2:4-13

With language familiar to court law, God challenges Israel for finding any fault with Him. Lacking gratitude for what God had already done, and intent on pursuing their own desires – including the worship of Baal (a false god), they failed to see even the goodness of the fertile land.

Jeremiah singles out their leaders for condemnation because he understood the influence of those in positions of leadership.

Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16

The author stresses the importance of teaching and example in the lives of leaders (v.7). It is not sufficient to have right doctrine (orthodoxy) if we fail to practice what we teach (orthopraxy).

Luke 14:1, 7-14

Places of honor at banquets were those closest to the host (v.11). The spiritual principle is clear. Don’t push for glory. Let God honor you. Jesus offers us an application in which we can be guaranteed honor: Invite the poor, lame, and those less fortunate than ourselves. You see, God is concerned for the poor. We should also demonstrate that love.

Happy Endings

Franklin Covey tells us to “begin with the end in mind.” Today’s readings encourage us to do the same. In Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, he reminds Christians to “remember your leaders… consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” Jesus also offers a pathway to achieving honor.

pexels-photo-112641Paradoxically, greatness is only seen and achieved through humility. Examining the lives of those who have “finished strong” in the faith reveals flawed humans – individuals who have made mistakes. But for those with teachable hearts and humble spirits, God uses failures to teach and refine. If we are truly learning, we are then quick to extend a hand of grace to those who are in a state of brokenness.

With each lesson, we are invited to “move up higher” until we ultimately find ourselves in the very presence of our Lord – the place of true honor.

Prayer for Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost – Gracious Father, create in me a clean heart that loves you more dearly, hearing and obeying your command to love and serve in Your Name; through Jesus Christ, Amen.

*Readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary, Year C

Free download:  get pdf versions of these devotionals for every season in Year C

14th Sunday After Pentecost, August 21, 2016

Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost (Year C) 

Scripture Readings*: Isaiah 58:9b-14, Psalm 103:1-8, Hebrews 12:18-29, Luke 13:10-17

Isaiah 58:9b-14

True worship – the kind of worship that pleases God – requires our sincere effort to promote morality and to assist the poor and oppressed. The disenfranchised have always been close to God’s heart… and they should be close to ours as well.

Hebrews 12:18-29

Faith calls for us to live with others in holiness and peace (vv. 14–17). The first covenant was given to a frightened mob, who stood before an earthly mountain that trembled and shook. Our covenant, was given by Jesus who opens heaven itself (vv. 18–24). God now intends to shake not just a mountain but the earth and heavens as well, and we alone will inherit the unshakable kingdom of our God (vv. 25–27). We are to strive to live holy lives, fervent in worship of our amazing Lord. (vv. 28–29).[1]

Luke 13:10-17healinghands

Jesus heals a woman on the Sabbath. Rather than observing the compassion of God toward this woman, the synagogue ruler criticizes Jesus for breaking a rule (doing work on the Sabbath because it wasn’t deemed an emergency).

Jesus answers his critic and reminds him that he treats animals better than humans when it comes to the Sabbath. This woman is a daughter of Abraham who has suffered long enough — and the Sabbath is the ideal day to set her free!

It Hits You Where You Live

At the core of today’s readings lies a challenge, a decision, in how to live. The prophet Isaiah calls us to stop blaming and speaking evil, instead feeding the hungry and helping the hurting. He calls the people to become repairers of what is broken. In his letter to the Hebrews, Paul urges Christians to live in holiness, worshipping with reverence and awe. And in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus brings these examples to life, reaching out with compassion to heal a woman broken and bent with illness and suffering.

Notice the examples given in today’s readings. The decisions are ones made in our day-to-day living. Do we come across someone hungry? If so, feed him or her. Do we find ourselves speaking negatively about someone? It becomes our choice to stop; instead, speaking words of healing and life. As we’re driving to work, do we see the beauty of God’s creation and worship? As we cook dinner, are we aware of God’s provision and worship?

Becoming a repairer of what is broken – becoming an agent of God’s healing – is rarely about an epic battle or watershed moment. Healing occurs as we become aware of His presence all around us, worshipping our Creator, surrendering even our daily decisions to God’s will.

Prayer for Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost – Lord God, make me an instrument of Your healing, revealing Your power and glory to the watching world; through Jesus Christ, Amen.

*Readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary, Year C

[1] Lawrence O. Richards, The Bible Readers Companion, electronic ed. (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1991), 866.

Free download:  get pdf versions of these devotionals for every season in Year C

13th Sunday After Pentecost, August 14, 2016

Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost (Year C)

Scripture Readings*: Jeremiah 23:23-29, Psalm 82, Hebrews 11:29-12:2, Luke 12:49-56

Jeremiah 23:23-29

Most of us are familiar with the advertisement of Las Vegas: “What happens in Vegas – stays in Vegas.” The implication is that we’re safe to compromise our behavior because no one will know.

The false prophets of Jeremiah’s day made the assumption that God isn’t aware of what they’re doing, but they couldn’t be more wrong! Theologians call the knowledge that God has of all things—past, present, and future—omniscience. God does see us. Everywhere. And always.

Hebrews 11:29 – 12:2

Having faith does not guarantee earthly success. Even though faith may win great victories, my act of faith only serves to guarantee that I will please God and ultimately be rewarded by Him (vv. 29-38)

The great heroes of faith (vv 39-40) had relatively little knowledge of God. We who know Jesus should all the more be motivated to complete what they have begun by living a life of faith today.

Luke 12:49-56

Jesus reminded his followers that his coming would inevitably mean division. And it did. One of the great reasons the Romans hated Christianity is that it tore families in two. To follow Christ requires a decision and commitment that is often in conflict with the world.

The essence of Christianity is this: Loyalty to Christ demands precedence over the dearest loyalties of this earth.

Peek-A-Boo, God Sees Youhiding

We often hear the phrase, “Remember, God is watching you!” For the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day, these would not be comforting words! Our deeds – in public and in secret – are fully known to God. There is no place hidden from the Creator.

For those living in faith, these same words have infinite comfort. Our deeds – in public and in secret – are fully known to God. There is no place hidden from the Creator. When our faith is tested, God sees. When we are suffering, God sees. When following Christ costs us family and friendships, God sees.

Whatever you face today, God sees. If you feel lost and abandoned, forgotten or forsaken, God sees. His eyes are focused on you – His hands reaching for you. Look to Jesus – the author and finisher of faith – and find His loving gaze fixed on you.

Prayer for Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost – Holy God, give me grace to see and follow you, knowing you never lose sight of me; through Jesus Christ, Amen.

*Readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary, Year C

Free download:  get pdf versions of these devotionals for every season in Year C

12th Sunday After Pentecost, August 7, 2016

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost (Year C) 

Scripture Readings*: Genesis 15:1-6, Psalm 33:12-22, Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16, Luke 12:32-40

Genesis 15:1-6

Abraham is seen as a man of faith, not because his trust never wavered, but because the object of his trust (God) never wavers. Recognizing his childless condition, and the importance of having an heir, he assumes that it will occur through Eliezer… a slave born in his household.

However, God tells Abram that his heir will not be a slave, but a son coming from Abram’s own body. He points Abram to the stars to demonstrate how innumerable his offspring will be. The word by which God created the stars would also guarantee Abram’s seed.

Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16

Faith obeys God even when the promise is not seen. Abraham’s faith is demonstrated in a lifetime of nomadic living—and seeing his son and grandson live that same kind of life. They all looked beyond present circumstances to a future shaped by God’s promise.

Told to sacrifice his son Isaac, Abraham remained convinced that God would keep His promise, and concluded God would raise his son from the dead if necessary. Abraham believed the vision God gave of the future would come true—as he continued to obey God.

Luke 12:32-40

The operative command in this passage of Scripture is: “Be ready!” Jesus warned that the world is rushing toward judgment day. As a result, believers are admonished to serve God actively, and unbelievers are encouraged to make peace with God before it’s too late.

Are You Expecting?pregnant

Ask an expectant mother to describe the life growing inside her and you’ll be amazed at the description of beauty and hope she shares. The child she describes is one she sees not with her physical eyes but with the eyes of faith. Although her child has not yet been born, she sees through eyes of faith first steps… first day of school… first date… first grandchild.

This is the kind of faith in which God invites us to share. He asks us to see beyond today – beyond our lifetime – and look into eternity. When standing at the grave, it is faith that allows us to see a resurrection. As we face the reality of a pink slip, faith enables us to see God’s continuing provision.

What are you expecting? What is the vision God has given you? Who is it that God is calling you to become? It is faith that helps bring clarity to the vision. And it is faith that makes that vision a reality!

Prayer for Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost – Gracious Lord, as your Spirit enables me to live according to Your will, empower me to also see my life through Your eyes; through Jesus Christ, Amen.

*Readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary, Year C

Free download:  get pdf versions of these devotionals for every season in Year C