Weekly Devotions by Pastor Joseph

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March 15, 2020 - MATTHEW 7: 27

“…and great was its fall.”  I bought a kit to make a desk many years ago.  After I looked at the picture of the desk on the box, I opened the box, pulled out all the parts, cast the directions aside, and built the desk.  When completed, I called my wife to show her what a great job I did.  She looked it over.  Circled around.  Asked me what the extra pieces were for, and then grabbed the directions.  She leaned slightly on the desk and it began to buckle.  “Uh, those extra pieces are to keep the desk from buckling,” she said as she handed me the directions and walked out of the room.  Jesus is telling us that if we do not live out the faith, if we do not use the Word of God as our directions, as our blue print of life, eventually we will be overcome and our lives we will come to a crashing end.  Follow the directions.  Amen.

March 8, 2020 - MATTHEW 7: 25

“…but it did not fall.”  Jesus continues on with the idea that faith shows itself in action.  Not reading the instructions is kind of a guy thing.  If I have to read directions then it kind of diminishes my intellect, my skill, my “guyness.”  The problem is that half way through the assembly process you realize you made a mistake back at the beginning.  Jesus uses the image of building to describe the Christian life.   It is not just reading directions but it is following the directions.  If we follow the directions (live out the faith in daily life) the “house we are building can face the most difficult storms of life.  We may face illness, suffer loss, lose a loved one, but we overcome because of the strength of our faith life.  If we hear God’s Word, if we live out God’s Word, then nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s love.  If the foundation of our lives is built on faith in God’s Word, nothing can shake that foundation.  Amen

March 1, 2020 - MATTHEW 7: 16

“You will know them by their fruits.”  If I plant an apple tree, I expect apples in the late Summer and early Fall.  If I plant a peach tree, I expect peaches in late Summer or early Fall.  If I move into a house with a tree in the back yard, I won’t know until late Summer or early Fall, what kind of tree it is by the fruit it produces.   Jesus is using the fruit tree in a symbolic way to describe the Christian life.  It is not just in “saying” I believe in Jesus, but it is the “saying and the doing” that shows that one is truly a Christian.  “Talk is cheap.”   “You talk the talk but do you walk the walk,” are expressions we use to define or describe a person.  The Christian produces forgiveness, patience, kindness, faithfulness, humility, self-control, and love.  These are the fruits of the faith.  These actions do indeed speak louder than words.  What kind of fruit are you producing?  Amen.

Feb 23, 2020 - MATTHEW 7:13

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate this is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it.”  I get a kick out of people who say, “I don’t live by any rules,” or “I don’t have any rules for my children,” or “I’m a free spirit.”  People who say that total hypocrites.  They want other people to live by rules, but not them.  If you work for a living, you live by rules.  If you have a mortgage or a loan, you live by rules.  If you tell your children that it’s bed time, if you tell your children it is not polite to call someone a nasty name, you are making and keeping rules.  Even the jungle has rules.  The predator always eats the prey.  The strongest survive.  The narrowness of the gate that opens into God’s kingdom is bounded on one side by: Loving God and on the other side by: Loving our neighbor as we love ourselves.  In fact, all the rules of life have been instituted because we care for others.   Amen.

Feb 16, 2020 - MATTHEW 7:1

“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.”  If I had a nickel for every time I heard some sanctimonious person utter those words I’d be a rich man.  Now if that is the case what do you do with Matthew 18 where Jesus tells us to correct a person who is sinning?  Isn’t that making a judgment?  Of course it is.  What Jesus is saying here is do not condemn others or you will be condemned.  It is our duty, our obligation to lead people to God by telling them how much God loves them and that the things they are doing are wrong.  We do not have the duty to CONDEMN someone.  That is beyond our pay grade.  .Condemnation is God’s business, not ours.  Jesus is telling us not to condemn someone to hell for what they are doing or have done, but simply to guide them back to God.  Amen.

Feb 9, 2020 - Matthew 6: 25

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what  you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear.”  In a study done years ago it was discovered that 93% of the things we worry about NEVER HAPPEN.  Of the remaining 7%, that will happen, 5% are done to us and are beyond our control.  2% of the things that will happen are in our control.  So, why worry.  That is exactly what Jesus is saying.  Worry contributes to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and more.  When we worry we are actually killing ourselves.  So, then what is the difference between worry and concern.  Concern leads me to prayer and to God.  Worry leads me to rely on myself.  Concern leads me to understand that everything is on God’s shoulders, while worry leads me to believe everything is on my shoulders.  Concern leads to positive steps, worry leads to handwringing and an early grave.  Are you concerned or worried?  Amen

Feb 2, 2020 - MATTHEW 6: 24

“You cannot serve God and wealth.”  We often hear the expression, “Money is the root of all evil,” but the reality is in 1 Tim 6: 10, Paul says, “The love of money is the root of all evil.”  Money is a “thing.”  It is neither good nor evil.  What we do with it is good or evil.  Luther said, “God is that to which we look for our highest good.”  Sadly, many people think that money will give them their highest good.  They work and slave to amass fortunes but the reality is that when the end comes you can’t take it with you.  Money will not forgive your sins.  Money will not save you from physical or spiritual death.  Money cannot give you eternal life.  Rich people, poor people, and those in between die every day.  The person who is truly rich is the one who believes that the heavenly Father is the one true God and that in God there is light and life?  Who or what do you look to for you highest good?  Amen.