Weekly Devotions by Pastor Joseph

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Dec 8, 2019 - Luke 18: 35-44

Luke 18: 35-44 “Are you able to drink the cup that I will drink?”

Here is one of those accounts in the gospels which show the real humanity of the Apostles. James and John come to Jesus asking to have places of power in the Kingdom. “Let us sit one on right and one on your left in your Kingdom.” I am sure Jesus shook his head and wondered why he ever came. “It’s not about power, it is about your willingness to sacrifice. It is about you loving your neighbor. It is about giving it all up for the sake of the Kingdom. It is about losing your life for my sake.” Jesus doesn’t want those who hunger and thirst after power and fame. Jesus wants those who a have humble, servant’s heart. Amen.

Dec 1, 2019 - Luke 18: 18-30

Luke 18: 18-30. “But when he heard this he became sad, because he was very rich.”

Contrary to popular belief, “Money is not the root of all evil.” Rather, “It IS the LOVE of money that is the root of all evil.” Money is a “thing” it is not good or bad, it just is. Loving money, believing that vast amounts of money will give us all that we need, and doing anything and everything to get money that is wrong. Luther said, “A god is that to which a person looks for his highest good.” The rich young ruler’s god was money. It was his be all and his end all. Yet is was precisely his love for money that kept him from God and the Kingdom. In the gospel of Mark, we are told, Jesus looked at the man with love. Jesus knew that as long as the rich man’s god was money, there would never be any room in his heart for God’s grace. The rich man went away sad, because Jesus told him to get rid of his love and faith in money and replace it with love and faith in God. I wonder if the rich young ruler ever touched another coin without thinking of Jesus. Amen

Nov 24, 2019 - Luke 18: 15-17

Luke 18: 15-17 “…whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”

In Jesus day, under Roman law, children were a commodity, like livestock or slaves, they could be used, abused, neglected, and even put to death by parents without any concern for legal retribution. Yet here, Jesus raises children above everyone else. It is the child’s helplessness and the child’s trust that makes him eligible for the Kingdom. The child recognizes that he has nothing and can do nothing on his own. The child also trusts that his parents will take care of his every need. The child does not come in from play asking his mother, “Is there going to be any dinner?’ No, he comes in asking, “What’s for dinner?” The child has total trust that his parents will supply him with what he needs. It is that total trust in God that enables us to receive God’s grace. Amen.

Nov 17, 2019 - Luke 18: 9-14

Luke 18: 9-14 “…this man went home justified rather than the other.”

In Micah 6: 8 God lays out what he expects from people who choose to follow him. God requires us, “To do justice, love mercifully, and to walk humbly with God.” That third one can be kind of difficult, since we all think we are pretty good people. Oh we are not like the guy next door, who drinks too much, yells at his wife and kids, and kicks the dog. No, we are a good and virtuous people. Yet it is the kind of arrogance that keeps us from the Kingdom. It is in recognizing that we are sinful people, that we are open to God’s grace. The Pharisee believed in his heart of hearts he was good. His heart was filled with his own arrogance. There was no room in his heart for God’s grace because his heart was filled to overflowing with arrogance. The tax collector realizing that he is a sinner had plenty of room to fill his heart with God’s grace. And it was the sinner, the tax collector and not the Pharisee who was saved by the grace of God. What is your heart filled with? Amen

Nov 10, 2019 - Luke 18: 1-8

Luke 18: 1-8 “…I will grant her justice…”

Parables were told by Jesus to give us some insight into the Kingdom through earthly stories. Here we have a story of a corrupt judge and a widow woman, who wants justice. The judge sells is “decisions” to the highest bidder. We don’t know the case, it’s not important, what we do know is that the women was cheated out of justice by a corrupt judge. So, she does the only thing she can do. Every day she comes to the courthouse asking the judge for justice. Every day, five days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. Finally, the judge says, “No amount of bribery is worth putting up with this woman. I will give her justice just so she will leave me alone.” Jesus concludes by saying, “If a corrupt judge finally gives a woman what she deserves, how much more will a loving God give you what you need.” Amen.

Nov 3, 2019 - Luke 17: 20-35

Luke 17: 20-35 “Remember Lot’s wife.”

Jesus knew his time with his disciples was coming to a close. He knew in a short time he would be crucified, risen, and ascended. What he needed to do was give them hope. Hope of a great future. Hope of the Kingdom in which peace, justice, and love would prevail. For that hope you must look forward. “Remember Lot’s wife.” She looked back, she wanted to live in the past. The people of God are the people of the future. The future hope of the Kingdom is what keeps the church going in the most difficult times. As God says in Jeremiah, “I will remember your ‘passed’ transgression no more.” God wants us to look ahead, not at what was, but to tomorrow. Above all else the followers of Christ are a people of hope. We hope, we look forward to that day when Christ will return in glory, will raise and reunite the dead with their loved ones, and will institute the Kingdom where there will be no more sickness, no more death, no more war. We pray, “Come Lord Jesus!” Amen

Oct 27, 2019 - Luke 17: 11- 19

Luke 17: 11- 19 “‘Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they?

In his Small Catechism Martin Luther said we are to use God’s name in three ways, “Prayer, praise, and thanksgiving.” When we worship we are praising God. When we pray we are asking, invoking God’s blessings. We may ask for wisdom, or clarity in decision making, to help us from sinning, to help a friend or family member in need. But we are also called up to use God’s name in Thanksgiving. We are all good in “Asking”, but rather lax in “Thanking God”.

Ten men who suffered from leprosy were healed by Jesus. To be a leper meant that you were cut off from family, friends, any group encounters, and worship. You were an outcast. Yet when the ten were made clean after asking Jesus to heal them, only one came back to say thank you. God wants us to come to him in prayer, but it would be nice and loving to thank God when he hears and answers our prayers. Amen.