Tag Archives: Matthew

Proclaim Something Worth Proclaiming

READ
Matthew 9:35-10:23

REFLECT
I am really bad a proclaiming the Good News – or at least making it a priority in my everyday life. I have to admit it. I become distracted and do a great job at proclaiming other things – mostly what I think about things.

We all do a good job at proclaiming what we believe about society, culture, politics, about this or that asinine things a celebrity did or said. We have our opinions on which sports team is best, who deserved or didn’t deserve the Oscar – whether Apple or Microsoft is better. Iphone or Android. You get the picture.

The reading from Matthew reminds us what we ought to be proclaiming in word and deed – The Good News. We who believe are the ones Christ is expecting to be the laborers in the ripe fields.

The next time you want to spout off (or I want to spout off) with some great life-changing, world-saving bit of wisdom about things that will pass with time take pause. Proclaim rather that which is really important and that which is eternal: Christ died for your sins so that you might be with him for eternity.

PRAY
God, by your Spirit come to me and guide my heart and my mouth to proclaim the greatness of you and the greatness you have shown to mankind in the salvation the Son, Jesus Christ. Help us to be laborers and proclaim that which truly matters, AMEN.

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The Real “Never Ending Story”

READ
Matthew 28:16-20

REFLECT
The story of Christ is a hard one to tell chronologically when you try to fit it in the church year. It would be nice if we had a way to fit Jesus and the Gospel into the traditional form of a story: beginning, middle, and end. But when we hear of Jesus throughout the year it just doesn’t work that way. It’s all jumbled up.

The year begins with Advent – great. We are awaiting the birth of the King, the Messiah, Jesus. But we are also looking toward the return of Jesus – the second coming of the King. We also have John the Baptist proclaiming the Messiah – so Jesus is already born and an adult. The timeline is all out of whack here. Okay, let’s start at Christmas. We go along good for a bit: baby in the manger, but closely linked to his is the story of the Magi at Epiphany – which is really three years or so after Jesus is born.

This could be very frustrating if we are hoping to see the Gospel as a story, like some novel, but it is not. It doesn’t begin at Christmas and end at Easter. Jesus does not “ride off into the sunset” so to speak. It doesn’t end at the Ascension, because Pentecost comes and Jesus – though his earthly ministry is finish – remains with us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Be God’s grace he comes to us physically in the Lord’s Supper.

The story never ends. It is ongoing AND IT IS ONGOING IN OUR LIVES. The “book” is never closed and put back on the shelf, and we are not simply readers but participants. The Great Commission in Matthew 28 and Jesus admonition to “Go, Make, Baptize, and Teach” calls us into the story with Jesus. We are in this together.

PRAY
Lord God, by the power of your Holy Spirit help me to always remember that I am part of the Gospel story and that the Gospel is really not a story at all. It has no beginning, middle, or end – it is eternal, just as you are eternal. Help me to participate fully with Jesus in making the world know your grace and mercy. AMEN.

Frederick the Failed Pharisee

READ
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

REFLECT
I have to admit it. I am a lousy Pharisee. I tried to be all holy once, to perfectly live so my outward behavior would be a representation of God’s ability to change the human heart. I failed at it and truth be told I continue to fail at it. I am not saying I do not want to live a Godly life, to keep Jesus commandments and to do good works – as the fruit of a new obedience to God. I do pretty good for a while then I do or say something – often say something in jest – and blow it all. Other times I let my emotions get the better of me.

Basically I stink in the Pharisee department. But maybe because I am lousy at it and know it I have a chance  of not really be one. Perhaps that is my saving grace. Were I better at keeping the outward appearance of a holy guy (all the while failing inside) I could become a “joy” to be around (not!). In the end I know I am a failure at being holy and so all I can do is rely on Jesus for my forgiveness. All I can do is have Jesus as my righteousness – as I have none of my own.

I know there are those who do not think I am “saved” or a plethora of other holy things (maybe even not much of a pastor) because of the failed and sinful flesh encasing the heart – a heart that wants to live for God. Oh well! All I can do is my best, which isn’t much. That is all anyone can do and ask for God’s help and forgiveness. We we have done all we can, cry out to Jesus, “I am a sinner. Save me.”

PRAY
Lord God, I try but I fail, miserably so. I want to live for you and be a shining example of your love in this world, but I am weak, prideful, thoughtless, self-centered, heartless, in a word “sinful.” By your grace in Jesus Christ, save me, for I cannot save myself and help me to live as you would have me live. AMEN.

Lead By Example

READ
Matthew 3:13-17

REFLECT
The best leaders lead from the front. The worst lead from the rear. That is sort of sarcastic but makes a good point – you cannot lead from the rear and if you are in the back and think you are lead think again. You have to be out front – that is why they call it “leading” and not “pushing.”

The best leaders we have when I was in the Army where the officers and N.C.Os who where not afraid to get their hands dirty, the ones who suffered the cold, the wet, the heat – all of it.

In this Gospel account from Matthew Jesus is not afraid to get his hands dirty – so to speak – to show that He too is subject to the will of God, even though he needed not baptism for either repentance or to be made a child of God. He did it as an example of humility. This is the same humility we are called to exhibit.

PRAY
God of all mercy, come to us by the power of your Holy Spirit that we might be as humble as Jesus in all that we do. Empower us to have fellowship with all your people and forgive us when we hold ourselves above and before others. In Jesus’ name I pray – AMEN.

In to Our Hands is Placed a Treasure

READ
Matthew 24:14-30

REFLECT

As Christians our Lord and master, Jesus Christ, has left us with a precious treasure. In our hands He placed not only His Gospel message; but also the commandments to love God and neighbor and the Great Commission. It is not only a duty but a privilege to be tasked with bringing forth and increase on behalf of God.

The Lord does not call us to bury what we have been give, in essence to keep it for ourselves. Rather, we are called to bring forth and increase for Him, for what we have been given is does not belong to us but has been give to us to hold in trust.

PRAY
Heavenly Father, help us to see that all we have is held in trust for you. All that we have been given comes from you. All our time, talent and possessions are to be used to your glory. The most important these things given in trust is the Gospel message of your son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Let us not bury this treasure but rather give us the courage to “invest” it in our fellow-man that he might come to know Christ and your glory may yield an increase. AMEN.

Be Ready

READ
Matthew 25:1-13

REFLECT
Wouldn’t it nice if we had an advanced warning system for the return of Christ? But we don’t, regardless of what the Left Behind films, the associated hoopla and the erroneous theology that surrounds them have to say about the matter. This whole Rapture business with the Tribulation and Christ’s multiple returns is a relatively modern invention from the mid-19th century, which took off with the publication of the “Schofield Bible” in the early 1900s. This might be as shock to some but we Lutherans, along with the majority of the Christian Church, have never held with what is called “Pre-millennial Dispensation” – a big word for “Jesus is coming back so you better be ready, and if not you get a second chance cause He’ll be back again.”

What we know is this: Jesus will return and we have no idea when that will be. Says who?…well, Jesus, that’s who. Read Matthew 24:36-44. Jesus clearly states that not even He will know. Only the Father knows. This is why we need to be ready at all times.

We are called to be like the wise bridesmaids who awaited with readiness the return of the bridegroom. It is easy to think that Christ’s return will be at some future date or there will be enough warning so we can run out and get the “oil of righteousness” or do everything at the last minute. Sadly this will not be so. This is why it is incumbent upon us to live in accordance with the will of God, follow His commandments, pray, incorporate His word in our lives and above all trust in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation. It is not something we can buy or earn and certainly not something we can buy or earn once the bridegroom has returned.

PRAY
Gracious and mighty God, we ask you to give us the wisdom of the wise bridesmaids so that we might seek your face while there is still time and not be like the foolish bridesmaids shunning your will and your way. Increase our faith in the only one who can save: Jesus Christ our Lord, AMEN.

Persecution is Not a Thing of the Past

READ
Matt. 25:35-40

REFLECT
We often speak about providing for the needs of others. The poor and the homeless come to mind. But what about the persecuted church? It is easy for us who sit in the midst of a comfortable life (and yes, despite what we might think at any given moment, we are pretty comfortable) to imagine that people suffering for their faith in Christ as something historical, something from the days of Rome. The fact is that Christians have been persecuted throughout history. Lately, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, Islamic terrorism and ISIS in Syria and Iraq have brought this sad state of things to the forefront again.

Crucifixion, beheading, being hunted down, discriminated against, robbed, beaten, raped, murdered, loss of life and home: these are very real things for many of our brothers and sisters worldwide and especially in the Middle-East. All over the world followers of Christ are in need as many have lost livelihood, home, possessions and have been driven from lands their families have occupied since the time the Son of God walked among us.

Persecuted Christians are in need firstly of our prayers but equally so of our support. They are hungry, thirsty, imprisoned, wounded and sick. They need us. As it says in the reading from Matthew, we are not only caring for our brothers and sisters when we support the persecuted church but we are also doing these things ‘to Christ” as well. Likewise if we do not provide for our needy fellow Christians, it is the same as not providing for Jesus himself.

In Luke 10, the Good Samaritan provides for the needs of a stranger without thought or concern for who the man was or from where he came. How then can we not provide for our own given that Christ commands us to do so? And how can we forget that, despite the distance between us, they are indeed our own?

Therefore I urge you to pray and find ways to support our brothers and sisters who suffer at the hands of the ungodly for their love of Christ.

PRAY
Father, we cry out to you for your persecuted children, for those who endure the worse for their faith in Your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Send your sustaining spirit to be with those who are in pain. May your spirit change the hearts of those who dwell in sin and evil – those who harass, torture and victimize. Move us by that same spirit to come to the aid of our brothers and sisters who suffer. In Jesus name I pray, AMEN.