7/3/20

Our scripture this week is Matthew 11:25-30.

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

In this passage Jesus tells us “All things have been committed to me by my Father” (v. 27), indicating the confidence God has in Him and the depth of their connection. When the angel Gabriel announced the coming of Jesus to Mary, he said “they will call him Immanuel, which means God with us”. In John 14:9 Jesus says “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father”. While we may not understand fully, we believe the truth these passages teach us – Jesus and God are one.

In the hymn “They’ll Know We Are Christians” we sing “we are one in the spirit, we are one in the Lord”. We know that Jesus came to be with us and teach us how we can be joined to God and each other through our faith. He tells us this unity in love is the most important part of that relationship.

Are we showing we are Christians by our love? Be aware of the many opportunities we are given each day to share the Good News, to show the world a better way by living as Jesus did. May we be obedient to His commands and may He say of us “Anyone who knows you knows Me”.

Loving Lord, help us to be strong but kind bearers of Your word. May the world come to know the truth of Your love and justice through the work You have given us. Amen.

7/2/20

Our scripture this week is Matthew 11:25-30.

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Jesus says His yoke is easy and His burden is light. This is much different than the forced allegiance to the occupying Roman government of that time. Jesus wants us to be obedient by our own choice and accept the responsibility that entails.

When we are obedient to God’s commands we find a freedom that surprises us. When we are responsible for our actions and our connection to God and each other, we discover that there is a new and higher purpose to our lives. Submitting to God’s will is nothing like earthly submission!

Being obedient and responsible means being like Jesus. He was obedient even unto death, and He took His responsibility very seriously. God had placed a call on His life, and God calls us as well. Listen, learn and be ready to serve the kingdom!

Gracious God, You call us all to be part of the wonder and work in the world You have made. Help us to see the needs around us and use the gifts You have given us to meet them. Amen.

7/1/20

Our scripture this week is Matthew 11:25-30.

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Jesus invites us to give up things that weigh us down and follow Him. He calls us to “take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (v. 29). This is much different than imperial edicts of Rome or the intricate law of the Pharisees that the people knew then.

Our current situation finds us worried and weary of the things we face. In that respect we are no different than the first century folk who looked to Jesus for rest and hope. While our society and lifestyle may be different, Jesus calls us to His side just as He has always done.

What burden are you carrying that weighs you down? Ask Jesus for the strength you need to bear it or the wisdom to lay down those things not worth dragging around any longer. In Him we are promised rest for our souls.

Loving Lord, You call us to let go of the temporary and take up the eternal by following You. Show us the way to be the children of God, loving and caring for each other as You intended. Amen.

6/30/20

Our scripture this week is Matthew 11:25-30.

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Jesus tells us that God has “hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children” (v. 25). He often called His followers “little children”, indicating their status as learners and their desire to know more. He was thanking God for His marvelous plan to share the Good News with ordinary people, rather than the rich and powerful.

This was a bottom up approach to salvation, a grassroots effort we might say. In line with God’s invitation to accept a relationship with Him, rather than a forced connection, He used ordinary people who could not coerce others into belief, but simply told their story so that those who heard might want to know more. Inviting and sharing is still the way we let others hear of God’s love.

In Matthew 18 Jesus teaches us “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”. We must put aside our pride and our preconceptions if we are to inherit the kingdom. Jesus calls us to be part of His work here, learning and growing in our faith as children of God.

Loving Lord, we are Your children, in need of Your love and care. Help us to share the joy of our connection with You to all Your children everywhere. Amen.

6/29/20

Our scripture this week is Matthew 11:25-30.

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

In this week’s scripture lesson, we hear Jesus explain the connection between Himself and God – “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son” (v. 27). I’m sure the disciples said “wait, we know you, Lord and we know God”, wanting to justify their relationship. Jesus continues with “and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him”, assuring them that they will have their own personal relationship with both Him and God.

We can never fully understand the bond between Jesus and the Father in heaven. It is enough for us to have our own connection and to know the love that is shared for the good of all creation. Once we have accepted that relationship, we have more to learn and do.

Jesus also calls us to “take His yoke”, the challenge of sharing God’s truth and proclaiming the coming of His kingdom. This is the responsibility laid on those who call themselves His followers. We are all part of the effort to bring the world to Him.

Loving Lord, we are humbled by being chosen to work for Your kingdom. Strengthen us and make us effective advocates who care for Your people everywhere. Amen.

6/28/20

Our scripture this week is Matthew 10:40-42.

“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

The most important point in this passage is the fact that those who welcome His messengers welcome Jesus Himself, and by extension of that connection, God the Father who sent Him. Jesus wants us to know the joy He knows, the relationship He shares and the blessing it entails. Being one with God and each other is the message He has brought from the very beginning.

When He was born, the angels sang “Glory to God and peace on earth”, an indicator of what was intended for Jesus. He came to show us God’s love as one of us, in a way we could more easily understand and then become more like Him – more like the image in which we were created. God wasn’t doing something new, He was helping us remember something very old.

Scripture tells us the story – “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27) and “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). God made us with a purpose, to be His children, to love Him and each other. Jesus calls us to remember that purpose and act on the promise He shares, that we may have eternal life.

Gracious God, we are the work of Your hands, children of Your intent. Help us to live in the light of Your love, reminding all our brothers and sisters of the blessing we have in You. Amen.

6/27/20

Our scripture this week is Matthew 10:40-42.

“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

Jesus explains that even those who may not be active missionaries, in the sense of going from place to place, have a responsibility to support the “prophets” and “righteous persons” who do. Jesus also tells us that when we welcome them and encourage their ministry, we become part of that work. The kingdom of heaven has a position and a responsibility for each of us.

Perhaps you are not called to go build schools in far away places, but when you send a donation, your gift makes things happen. We are all both benefactors and beneficiaries in God’s economy, expected to give help when and where we are able, and accept the generosity of others when necessary.

Think about the number of worthy outreach efforts where you are or far away, and ask God to guide you in supporting ministry that will share His love with others. Learn where there is a need you can help meet. We can make a difference in the world with our prayers and our action.

Loving Lord, we see a world that cries out for the care we can provide. Help us to be the gift of love You send to meet these needs. Amen.

6/26/20

Our scripture this week is Matthew 10:40-42.

“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

Jesus speaks of a reward for those who welcome His messengers and His word – “a prophet’s reward…a righteous person’s reward”. It would seem that your reward depends on what message you receive. Are there different levels of being saved and spending eternity with God?

That’s certainly not what Jesus is saying. In other lessons He specifically taught that there is no ranking in God’s kingdom, we are all His beloved children. The parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matt.20:1-16) shows that God treats us all equally.

God is more concerned about our love for one another and our obedience to His commandments. When we use the gifts we have been given for the good of others, we are living out our faith. Our reward is our eternal connection to Him, to hear the welcome He has for us “well done, good and faithful servant “.

Heavenly Father, bless us to be humble and useful in Your plan for creation. May our love for You show in everything we do. Amen.

6/25/20

Our scripture this week is Matthew 10:40-42.

“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

Jesus talks of how the kingdom will spread, person to person, and of our individual responsibility for this. Each of us must be ready to share our experience so that others may come to know the Lord as we do. Those who welcome the message may then become part of the ongoing work.

We have different gifts to offer and different ways of reaching people. That’s the beauty and wonder of how God made us. One may not understand or relate to what another has to share but someone else may have a story that will open their heart. Jesus needs us all to tell the world of our connection so they might understand and believe.

When you give your life to Him, a marvelous purpose is there for you! God has plans for every one of us and when we say “yes Lord” He puts us into action. Be ready for what He calls you to do for His kingdom.

Gracious God, we are glad to be part of Your wonderful work. Make us useful in Your kingdom that all may know the joy of a life in You. Amen.