Monthly Archives: September 2016

19th Sunday After Pentecost, September 25, 2016

Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost (Year C)

Scripture Readings*: Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15, Psalm 96:1-6, 14-16, 1 Timothy 6:6-19, Luke 16:19-31

Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15

Family land was considered to be a sacred inheritance. It was important to keep it from passing into the hands of someone else (1 Kings 21:3). Jeremiah’s act of obedience preceded illumination. It required great faith to purchase land when silver could have been used to purchase scarce food. In addition, to purchase property when the Babylonians were poised to overrun the land was not a prudent decision. However, Jeremiah’s symbolic act expressed confidence that life would return to normal, and title deeds would once again be valid… a remarkable statement of hope for the future!

1 Timothy 6:6-19

coin_with_a_portrait_of_julius_caesar_poster-rf5096df2ec9e4cbd9cad9055439668d5_wvc_8byvr_512Some argue that Paul is suggesting that money is evil. This is not accurate. He stresses that the love of money opens the door for all sorts of complications and problems in our life. When we desire anything other than, or more than, wanting to do God’s will, a terrible conflict is created.

It is only when we abandon our desire for riches that we can we be truly free. Wealth – like every other gift – is from God. Riches can be used for good, as can any other resource. The attraction of money always seeks to distract us from our commitment to do God’s will.

Luke 16:19-31

In the 1st century, and in rabbinical Judaism, giving to the destitute was considered a great good deed, meritorious in God’s eyes (cf. Matt. 6:1–4). In this parable, the rich man discovers that wealth cannot help him in death. What we do with our resources while we have them is what matters most. His desire to spare his living relatives from peril is noble, but not practical. The truth is… without honest repentance, people will not listen; even if Moses or the prophets were to warn them.

Scale of Economy

A stable job. Retirement accounts. Savings. Property Values. In the past few years, we’ve seen how all these measures of economic security can evaporate. As we’ve ridden the roller coaster of the Great Recession, we’ve seen how quickly circumstances can change. Though painful, these changes often reveal true wealth and the value of a person’s character.

In today’s readings, we’re reminded that financial resources are a gift from God meant to further His Kingdom – in our lives and the lives of those around us. We are blessed to be a blessing! When we view our resources through this lens, we begin to live generously. This generosity creates a spiritual wealth of eternal riches measured by God’s scale. But it also creates a physical generosity that impacts the lives of those around us.

When we live our lives by the scale of God’s economy, we make investments of hope that yield an eternal return of purpose and provision – in our lives and the lives of those we touch!

Prayer for Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost – Almighty God, give me Your grace to live generously, storing up eternal treasures in Your heavenly Kingdom; 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

18th Sunday After Pentecost, September 18, 2016

Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost (Year C)

Scripture Readings*: Jeremiah 8:18-9:1, Psalm 79:1-9, 1 Timothy 2:1-7, Luke 16:1-13

Jeremiah 8:18-9:1

Rather than gloat at the vindication of his ministry, Jeremiah is heartbroken at the suffering of his fellow countrymen. Love for God and love for others sometimes are in tension. But loving God doesn’t mean we must stop caring for others, even when their tragedies are a consequence of their own sins.

1 Timothy 2:1-7

Paul emphasizes the universality of the gospel. He reminds Timothy (and us) that prayer is to be made for all men; God is the Savior who wishes all men to be saved; and that Jesus gave his life a ransom for all. As Walter Lock writes: “God’s will to save is as wide as his will to create.”

Luke 16:1-13

The Bible views wealth like other special gifts, as a resource to be used in serving God and others. The whole parable reminds us that nothing we possess is truly “ours,” but belongs to God. He has entrusted it to us, and we are his stewards, commissioned to use what we have in His service.

What’s In Your Hand?

It’s amazing what an open, extended hand can accomplish. In this posture, our hands can reach… touch… help… heal. Open hands are easy to fill. In them, God can place special gifts. In turn, open hands can share those gifts with those around us.

handssandToo often, we find our hands closed. We tightly grip what we’ve been given – only to discover a too tight grip damages or destroys what we’ve desperately grasped. Unable to reach or connect with others, closed hands keep us in isolation.

Today’s readings remind us that God’s gifts are for all people in all the world. Jesus opens nail-scarred hands to embrace all who seek Him; He asks us to do the same. Open your hands. Receive the gifts God has for you. Then keep your hands open and watch how God multiplies those gifts, blessing the lives of many.

Prayer for Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost – Gracious Lord, open my heart and hands to receive Your eternal gifts, sharing them here on this earth with those around 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

17th Sunday After Pentecost, September 11, 2016

Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost (Year C)

Scripture Readings*: Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28, Psalm 14, 1 Timothy 1:12-17, Luke 15:1-10

Jeremiah 4:11-12; 22-28

A person’s conscience can become so seared that even when caught he or she insists that they have done no wrong. God’s people had become so adept in doing evil that doing good was foreign to them. Like a heartbroken parent, God grieves for his people who encounter disastrous results because of their life-style choices. However, although it is painful for God, He allows everyone the freedom to choose their way.

1 Timothy 1:12-17

Timothy thought he was too young and lacked qualifications to be a minister. Paul uses himself as an example for Timothy – and for us. His reflection of his past indicated he was a blasphemer and murderer. However, because of the grace and mercy of God… Paul became a missionary for the cause of Christ.

If the grace of God can make a missionary out of a murderer, then it can make a success out of you!

Luke 15:1-10

These three parables reveal the joy of finding something that was lost. The shepherd rejoices that the lost sheep is found. The widow is full of joy because the lost coin has been found. The father celebrates because his son (whom he thought was dead) has returned. Being lost is being misplaced. Being found is being replaced to where we rightfully belong. No wonder heaven rejoices when one lost soul is found!

Do You Smell That?

A young man was walking his dog in the park. Up hills and through wooded paths they wandered. As they walked, the young man noticed how other owners had not picked up after their dogs. He saw where dogs had been allowed to dig at the earth, leaving holes that posed a tripping danger. The farther he walked and the more he saw, the angrier he grew. Soon, he was determined to do something about this and trudged resolutely in search of a park official.

Just as he spied the park ranger, he began to notice a foul odor. Puzzled, he looked around for further evidence of others’ irresponsibility. Then he looked down. In his own anger, he had missed his own dog’s “mess” – and stepped in it.

pexels-photo-54379Today’s readings are reminders that each of us “steps in it” from time to time. In spite of our desire to follow Christ, we become like the sheep that wandered away… the coin that is misplaced… the Israelites that lack understanding. Like Timothy, we need reminding that no matter how big our sin, God’s grace and mercy is greater – seeking us out and “replacing” us in God’s favor! In turn, we are able to humbly encourage each other, knowing we are all sinners in need of God’s forgiveness and restoration.

Prayer for Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost – Merciful Father, through Your Holy Spirit that inspires and enables me to seek You, direct and incline my heart toward your righteousness; 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

16th Sunday After Pentecost, September 4, 2016

Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost (Year C)

Scripture Readings*: Jeremiah 18:1-11, Psalm 139:1-5, 13-18, Philemon 1-21, Luke 14:25-33

Jeremiah 18:1-11

Potters-Wheel-Clay-e1386520119677By observing the potter at work, Jeremiah was reminded about the sovereignty of God. Like the potter who determines the shape the clay will take, God as Creator has that same authority over every nation and every person. However, Jeremiah also saw that God’s sovereignty is tempered by his mercy and patience. As the potter carefully reworks the clay to achieve the desired result, so God does not give up when we fail him.

Philemon 1-21

Paul appeals to Philemon on the basis that even repentant runaway slaves are useful in God’s economy. Some things are inherently right. Treating a brother fairly and mercifully falls into that category. No Christian has the right to abuse another human being. Paul did not ask that Onesimus be released, rather he urged Philemon to respond to his Christian commitments and do what God expected.

Luke 14:25-33

These seemingly “hard words” were spoken by Jesus on his way to the cross. Many of his followers envisioned that Jesus was on his way to power and prominence. Typical with the vividness of Eastern language, Jesus emphasizes what it really means to follow him. Those devoted to Jesus must be willing to love with a loyalty greater than the dearest things in life.

Peek-A-Boo!

Peek-a-boo; I see you! It’s one of the earliest games children learn to play. A mom will put her hand over her baby’s eyes, saying, “Peek-a-boo.” She quickly pulls her hand away and smiles while saying, “I see you!” This game is actually an important learning opportunity for her baby. The child learns that even when he can’t see his mother, she is still present. It’s a game that builds trust and confidence.

We play the same sort of “game” with God. At times, our life feels like the Potter’s wheel. We find ourselves – our world – spinning ’round and ’round. On the wheel, we become dizzy, disoriented, discouraged. In the midst of the whirling, we catch glimpses of God. I see Him – wait! He’s gone. Oops! He’s there again, but, oh! – now I can’t see Him. How tempting it is to jump off the wheel! How we long to stop the spinning and regain our bearings.

It takes a lot of discipline to remain humbled and on the wheel. It takes great faith to believe that even when life is spinning, God is in control, shaping and fashioning our lives into His perfect image. In times when God is difficult to see, it requires great trust to remember, “Peek-a-boo; God sees you!”

Prayer for Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost – Loving God, help me to be humble, trusting you with my whole heart, to complete the good work which You have begun in 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