THE PREACHING OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
“When the crowd of people came out for baptism because it was the popular thing to do, John exploded, “Brood of snakes! What do you think you’re doing slithering down here to the river? Do you think a little water on your snakeskins is going to deflect God’s judgment? It’s your life that must change, not your skin. And don’t think you can pull rank by claiming Abraham as ‘father’. Being a child of Abraham is neither here nor there—children of Abraham are a dime a dozen. God can make children from stones if he wants. What counts is your life. Is it green and blossoming? Because if it’s deadwood, it goes on the fire.”
The crowd asked him,” Then what are we supposed to do?”
“If you have two coats, give one away,” he said. “Do the same with your food.”
Tax men also came to be baptized and said, “Teacher, what should we do?”
He told them, “No more extortion—collect only what is required by law.”
Soldiers asked him, “and what should be do?”
He told them, “No shakedowns, no blackmail,and be content with your rations.”
The interest of the people by now was building. They were all beginning to wonder, “Could this John be the Messiah?”
But John intervened: “I’m baptizing you here in the river. The main character in this drama, to whom I’m mere stagehand, will ignite the kingdom life, a fire, the Holy Spirit with in you, changing you from the inside out. He’s going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God, everything false he’ll put out with the trash to be burned.”
There was a lot more of this—words that gave strength to the people, words that put heart in them. The Message!” Luke 3: 7-18 (Message)
Prayer: Stir up the wills of your faithful people, Lord God, and open our ears to the preaching of John, that, rejoicing in your salvation, we may bring forth the fruits of repentance; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
ARE YOU LISTENING?
“Come and listen to my counsel. I’ll share my heart with you and make you wise.” Proverbs 1:23 (NLT)
Wherever I heard someone talking about hearing God to speak to them, I wondered what that would be like and if He’d ever talk to me. Would I recognize Him? Well, in December 2006, I did.
Our son, Nick, was ill, and I asked him to describe the pain. He said he just didn’t feel well and his stomach hurt in the middle of his abdomen. Later that night I spoke with the pediatrician and, for some reason, asked what we’d look for if it was appendicitis. The answer was pain of the right side that was so severe it would be hard to walk, lay flat, or sleep. Those symptoms really didn’t fit this case, it seemed.
Nick couldn’t sleep, though, and I sat in his room. Around midnight, in the quiet of the night, I had an overwhelming feeling that I should take him to the emergency room. I had never been to an ER before but felt like we should go.
The emergency room doctor was not overly concerned about Nick but did order a CT scan. Before the doctor came back with the results, Nick told us that he thought he felt a little better. What? Can you imagine the medical bills just because I had to run him to the ER? I was thinking about this when the doctor came in and said the CT scan showed Nick did have appendicitis and the surgeon was being called in.
The surgery lasted twice as long as what they said it would. When the surgeon came out he explained that Nick’s appendix indeed was indeed infected, but had been located in an odd spot-behind his organs in the back of his body. He would have never had pain on his right side because his appendix wasn’t located there.
Once all this sank in I realized that the thought I had to take Nick to the hospital was the Holy Spirit moving in me. Running to the emergency room was unusual for me, especially without Nick having the typical symptoms of appendicitis. Left to my own design I don’t think we would have gone to the hospital, but thank God we did. Now I try to remember to stop and be still sometimes—you never know when God will speak to you.
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for your wisdom and forethought. Please help us to hear you when You are speaking to us. Quiet our daily worries and concerns that we might better listen. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen
OPEN MY EYES, LORD
“He has showed you, O Man, what is good; and what does the lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness and the walk humbly with your God?” Micah 7:8 (RSV)
While walking around our property with my 14 month old granddaughter one Palm Sunday, she was fascinated with all the trees, bushes and green grass. She’d touch and feel each blade of grass, each leaf, and each branch. But, the one thing that really caught her eyes was the clusters of jonquils with their green heads ready to bloom blowing freely in the wind. The following Sunday, as she got out of the car, she made a mad dash over to the cluster and squealed, pointed and tried as she might in her jibber jabber to let me know that the green buds were now beautiful yellow jonquils.
As we looked together at the jonquils, her excitement brought to mind my sometimes “take for granted” walk, “without seeing” attitude I have with God. He provides all this beauty, the clouds, sun, trees, bugs, animals, birds, food, etc. Sure I see them, but I do I take the time daily to say, “Thank you, Lord for all you provide.” “No.” God’s handiwork is there, daily, and I’m so involved with myself and others I don’t see.
Through the eyes of a 14 month old, I have decided to be more appreciated and more aware of God’s treasures and beauty that surround me daily and to praise and thank Him for His wondrous works.
“For the beauty of the earth.
For the beauty of the skies.
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.
For the wonder of each hour
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale and tree and flow’r,
Sun and moon and stars and sight.
Christ our Lord, to you we raise
This our sacrifice of praise.”
Folliott S. Pierpoint
Daily, I will walk with God and take the time to practice His presence by seeing Him in all the small and splendid things around you. I will open your heart and ponder God’s masterpieces in front of me.
Prayer: Father, you made all the wonderful things surrounding our lives. By your power you have granted us the opportunity to explore and participate in all that you have done. Help us to be more appreciative of your handiwork and to daily take the time to say thank you. Thank you, Lord, Thank you. Amen
GOD LOVES ME, ALWAYS
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why; so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.” John 3:16-17(Message)
John 3: 16 was the first Bible verse that we, as youth, memorized. It was that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” He, Jesus, died for us because He loves us so much. We think that is very awesome because He knew us before we were born. Jesus died on the cross because He loves us so much. We pray to Him every day and He always answers our prayers. We pray for our friends and family. We also pray that everyone gets a happy ending.
Prayer: Dear God, we thank you for loving us so much that you gave your only son, Jesus, for us and for answering our prayers. Amen
MY FAVORITE STORY
“And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant: For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me. And holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.” Luke 1:46-50 (NIV)
May the peace of our Lord be with you!
Over the years many people have asked me what my favorite Christmas story is. The story of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ is one of my favorite stories. I think how surprised Mary was to find out she was going to be the mother of our Lord. Can you imagine that!!!
Can we imagine how God can use us when we think that we cannot be used and follow His will?
God bless you.
Prayer: Eternal Father, giver of all gifts, especially the gift of your dear son, Jesus Christ. We thank you for all that you have given us and praise you all the blessings you have placed in our lives. Bless all children everywhere and give us a child-like heart; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
“That their hearts may be encouraged as they are knit together in love, to have all the riches of assured understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, of Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:2-3 (TEV)
Why must everything in life be easily or logically explained? Why must all phenomenon’s and mysteries be solved in our time?
When we think of it, God has His mysterious way with His people. God doesn’t change, yet through His unconditional, unswerving love for His people, His unending mysteries change us. We struggle with our faith, our trust and question the unsolved. God should do only good things, no surprises, right? Not all this mysterious stuff.
Yet, in God’s word it says, “all things are wearisome: man is not able tell to it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with hearing.” (Eccl 1:8) We want immediate action and understanding for everything that is going on around us. God knows our free will and through His word encourages us to hold on to our unfailing love for one another and receive each other as good stewards of God’s love. We have to be satisfied with His mysterious ways. Bible Study, worship, fellowship and prayer can direct us to a better understanding and trust in our Lord. We can seek, but it is God’s will to answer His mysteries in His time.
Prayer: Almighty God, You have always shown us your unconditional love and forgive us for questioning your ways. Thank you for being there through all the changes and chances of our lives and for revealing to us you dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
SAINT, WHO ME?
“Make me to know thy way, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth and teach me, for thou art the God of my salvation.” Psalms 25:4-5 (RSV)
A friend of ours is moving and told us that he bought a St. Christopher figurine to bury in his backyard, because St. Christopher is the patriarch saint of good luck. We think of all the saints that we have heard about in our studies and readings; St. Timothy, St. Paul, St. Peter, St. Francis of Assisi, etc. However, all these saints are deceased.
We refer to people around us as saints when they have done something special for us or someone else. But have you ever referred to yourself as a saint. Shocking isn’t it? Me, a saint! St. Paul says we should all be saints and “rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, and be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.” (Roman 12:12)
Paul wants us to all be saints, someone who would give of themselves to others without thinking of the consequences. Think of those around you, you call a saint. Those people, who feed the hungry, help the flood victims, read to the blind, drive cancer patients to treatments, caregivers, a teacher teaching reading to adults, etc. This list could go on but Jesus wants us all to be on that list of saints. We can serve God and do what Jesus has told us to do. Help our fellowman the best we can with God’s guidance.
Prayer: Eternal Father, Lord of our life and God of our salvation, we need your help in restoring ourselves to you. Giver of all that we have, teach us to give of ourselves both in body and mind that we can serve you as you see fit. Thank you for being there when we pray and for forgiving us when we ask for forgiveness. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen