Daily Devotionals from Grace in the Workplace
Thursday, June 30 2016
Verse of the Day
For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. [Romans 7:5-7 – NIV]
In the Old Testament, the Israelites lived under the Law. It consisted of the Ten Commandments and many other commands and rules that God provided to ensure that His people were holy. The Law provided a means of covering sin, but it did not eliminate it. The Sadducees, Pharisees, and other religious leaders became very adept at keeping the letter of the Law; appearances mattered to them. Form over substance, so to speak. Thankfully, this all came to an end thanks to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. His death and resurrection put an end to the Law. But did it?
In one sense, yes; because we no longer need the Law and its system of sacrifices to cover our sins. But as the Apostle Paul suggests, we still need the law to reveal sin. That is one of the many gifts of the Spirit. The Spirit helps us identify sin in our lives. Once revealed, we need to repent and sin no more. Sin is still with us and we still need a means of dealing with it. But Praise God for His Son, Jesus who has freed us from the penalty of sin forever. Hallelujah!
Wednesday, June 29 2016
Verse of the Day
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. [Matthew 5:16 – NKJV]
It’s 6:15 a.m. and you’ve got a long bus ride to work. A grumpy man plops down in the seat next to you and immediately starts a loud and annoying conversation on his cell phone. Later, as you wander into the coffee bar for your third cup of coffee, you overhear a conversation about how the company is about to lay off half of the people in your department. You get back from lunch and your boss drops by to visit. She tells you that you’ve got to stay late to get a rush project done before the board meeting. Finally, as you pull out of the bus lot on the way home, one of your fellow drivers cuts you off. How do you handle these and the myriad of other things that pop up during the typical day at work? Do you gossip or complain? Do you lose your temper? Do you let your pride get in the way of having a congenial, respectful, and productive relationship with your coworkers and boss? If so, then you are straying from God’s path as you go about your daily life.
In today’s passage, Jesus tells us that we are to let our light shine. More precisely, as Believers we are to let the light of Jesus shine through us. After all, we are His “ambassadors” sharing the Good News with the rest of mankind. When those around us see that we are living in accordance with His Word, it is a testimony to His presence in our lives and “glorifies our Father in heaven.” Your words and actions at work and elsewhere else do make a difference. They matter. Our behavior says a great deal about what and who we are. One of the most effective techniques for sharing Jesus at work is just being you. So, let the light of Jesus shine through today and every day and give God the glory!
Tuesday, June 28 2016
Verse of the Day
I said to the king, “If it please the king, and if your servant has found favor before you, send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.” [Nehemiah 2:5 –NASB]
In 1917 as the United States was on the verge of entering World War I, President Wilson spoke to all Americans calling for a “war to end all wars.” Many businessmen, bankers, lawyers, and other professional men respond by joining the executive ranks of various government departments which were sorely in need of experienced leadership. They typically received a dollar a year in salary as remuneration for their services, hence the moniker Dollar-a-Year Men.
In today’s passage, Nehemiah asks permission of King Artaxerxes for a leave of absence so that he could help rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. Nehemiah was cupbearer to the king, a high position indeed, but not one that would necessarily equip him with the leadership skills and abilities needed for the task at hand. However, there is no doubt that God chose the right man for the job. Nehemiah turned out to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, leaders in the Bible. He was gifted at organizing and planning, problem solving, teamwork, and encouragement. He successfully dealt with conflict and opposition from both external and internal sources. Perhaps his most defining characteristic was his relationship with the Lord his God. When Nehemiah was confronted with a problem, He always turned to God first for guidance.
If you are a leader or aspire to be one, there is much you can learn from reading about Nehemiah. Like the Dollar-a-Year Men of modern times, he sacrificed much to serve his people and his God. Let’s pray that the leaders of today are made of the same cloth!
Monday, June 27 2016
Verse of the Day
…do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. [Matthew 6:34 – NIV]
Here’s another rock ’n’ roll theme: “Let’s Live for Today,” a 1967 hit by The Grass Roots. If you listen to the lyrics you will hear words and phrases like “worries” and “people in a hurry” and so on. Well, maybe the songwriter was spending time in the Gospel of Matthew before putting pen to paper. Anyway, before we consider today’s passage, I think it’s only fair to point out that most devotionals about worry focus on the need to “seek ye first the Kingdom of God,” which certainly is the key to overcoming the worry problem. Those of us in the workplace need lots of help with worry and stress. After all, they are the most common byproducts of our work environment. Did you get your report done? What about that promotion you’re expecting? Are you going to meet the deadline? We are under constant stress and we worry nonstop. Putting God at the center of your life is the first step to controlling and eventually eliminating worry. When you put Him in charge and take yourself out of the equation, there is a peace in your life like you never imagined. Everything becomes crystal clear. He is holy and we’re not. So, seeking God and His will for your life is the key to your worry problem.
But, there is more. In today’s passage we get some added insight into why we worry and why it’s so futile and pointless to do so. Worry happens when we delude ourselves into thinking that we, and not God, are in control of our lives. But, because we are really weak, flawed beings, there is really nothing we can do to control or shape future events. Hence, we worry because we don’t know what’s going to happen. Our sinful pride prevents us for seeing the reality of the situation. That’s why today’s passage is so neat. When Jesus says “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself” what He’s really saying is that tomorrow will take care of itself; i.e., that the natural course of events will control and shape what happens in the future. And here is where it gets really fun; He goes on to say, “Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Well, there’s no doubt about that, is there?
So, here’s the lesson for today. Only God is omniscient and omnipresent. He knows everything and He is everywhere at once. He is in the past, present, and the future. Since He is in the future, doesn’t it make sense for us to seek Him and His will for our lives? We have to live in the present, so why don’t we just get comfortable with that fact and stop dwelling on possible future events over which we have no control? There is absolutely no point in worrying; it is a total waste of time. We need to turn ourselves over to God, seek His will, and live in the present. After all, that is where we are. So, live for today!
Friday, June 24 2016
Verse of the Day
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. [2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – NIV]
I don’t know about you, but I have a few weaknesses, a few faults. Actually, there are so many I can’t count them. Most of us delude ourselves and put on a façade of strength and wisdom, as though we are masters of our fate and in total control of every situation. Who are we kidding? But it’s one thing to acknowledge our weaknesses and quite another to welcome them and celebrate them as Paul did. So delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties, because in doing so, Jesus Christ our Savior manifests Himself in our lives and gives us strength. As Paul says, only in His strength am I strong. So pray for adversities!
Thursday, June 23 2016
Verse of the Day
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. [Psalm 141:3 – NKJV]
I don’t know about you, but I frequently say stupid and occasionally hurtful things to others. Most of the time this is unintentional, but regardless, it shouldn’t happen. The problem is I think I’m a funny and humorous guy, and the vast majority of the situations in which I say something mean or inappropriate to someone stems from an attempt at humor. A quick wit generally means a quick (and often hurtful) tongue.
Speaking without thinking is a real problem, isn’t it? We could all benefit from the advice of the Psalmist to “set a guard over my mouth.” Actually in my case it should be a muzzle. The key here is to think first. Instead of responding like a machine gun in a conversation, let your heart and mind form your thoughts and that will help ensure that your response will be appropriate. Better yet, get into the habit of listening to others. A wise man listens.
Wednesday, June 22 2016
Verse of the Day
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. [Colossians 3:2 – NIV]
There’s a lot of clutter in our lives nowadays, perhaps more than at any other time in history. There are many people and things vying for our time. There are demands at work and at home. We are bombarded with more information than we can possibly process or absorb from a myriad of sources. And all too frequently we chose to waste our time in pursuit of entertainment and leisure, i.e., mindless stuff. So when do we have time for God?
It’s all a matter of focus. Are you too concerned with the things of this world or are you about your Father’s business? Never forget to store up treasures in Heaven because where your treasure is there your heart will be also!
Tuesday, June 21 2016
Verse of the Day
For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. [Colossians 2:9-10 – NKJV]
Many devotionals have been written on Immanuel, God with us. The fact that God came to earth to live with us as a man is incredibly important, but that is not the point of today’s passage from scripture. Although He was a man, Jesus in His incarnation reflected the image of God the Father. While He walked the earth, He was God in human form. He was and is perfect. In much the same way, when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are perfected by the righteousness of Christ that God imparts to us. We are brought into fullness by being positionally perfected in God’s sight. Only Jesus and His blood that was shed on the cross for us could accomplish this. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Jesus is our Savior and Redeemer! Thank you Jesus!
Monday, June 20 2016
Verse of the Day
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. [1 John 1:1 – NIV]
Even though I’m a retired tax lawyer, I do know a little bit about evidence and trial practice. Lawyers rely on different types of evidence to establish the facts and prove their case. Evidence varies in its strength, effectiveness, and usefulness. Generally speaking, the strongest and most credible type of evidence is eyewitness testimony. And it becomes even more reliable and convincing when more than one person has witnessed the event at issue. So it strikes me as odd that there are so many doubters about Jesus being the Messiah, but then Satan has done a great job of planting seeds of doubt for the past two thousand years. That’s why, as a lawyer, today’s passage is so important. It’s the backbone of the case. Despite Satan’s lies and deceit, the fact remains that there were many independent eyewitnesses (aka, the 12 disciples and other followers of Jesus, the Apostle Paul, and many more) to Jesus’ life—not just as a man, but as the Son of God. Case closed.
Friday, June 17 2016
Verse of the Day
Give us this day our daily bread. [Matthew 6:11 – NKJV]
This is a familiar passage from the Lord’s Prayer. But, does it really have something to do with our diet? Are we supposed to eat bread and water every day? Or, is there more to it than we realize? The “daily bread” referred to in the prayer goes way beyond rye, pumpernickel, wheat, white, or sourdough. What it’s really all about is that God will provide for our everyday needs—not only the physical ones, but the mental, emotional, and spiritual ones, too. When you are praying to Him for your needs, be comforted and assured by the fact that He can take care of all of them regardless of what they are. He will give you whatever you need, not only to provide for your own needs and those of your family, but the needs of others as He uses you to fulfill His Plan!
Thursday, June 16 2016
Verse of the Day
I said, “I will guard my ways, Lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, While the wicked are before me.” [Psalm 39:1 – NKJV]
In the old days public libraries were dark, musty, quiet places—so quiet, in fact, that you could hear a pin drop. Just in case you didn’t get the message about proper library decorum, there were signs posted everywhere that read “Quiet Please!” And if you transgressed and your voice rose above a whisper, you got the evil eye and a word of warning from the librarian. After all, “quiet, please” is really just a polite euphemism for “shut up!”
It’s one thing to be loud and quite another to be rude and offensive. We are all too prone to let our tongues get out of control. We say rude, thoughtless, hurtful things to others far too often. And it happens in all kinds of situations, even when we are trying our hardest to be on our best behavior. Most of the time our excuse is “we just can’t help it.” We shoot off our mouths at home, at work, at church, on the golf course, at the grocery store; in fact just about everywhere we go.
King David gives us great advice. We need to restrain our mouths with muzzles. Now that’s a thought! Just imagine what life would be like at work, at home, and everywhere in between if we were actually civil and kind to one another! Pray to your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ for His insight and guidance in controlling your tongue. A word to the wise: if we’re not talking, then we’re listening, and that’s certainly a good habit to get into. It’s really about humility. Pray that there will be less of us and more of others today!
Wednesday, June 15 2016
Verse of the Day
Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” [Revelation 11:15 – NKJV]
I love music, all kinds of music…rock ’n’ roll, classical, blues, Broadway musicals, etc. But my absolute favorite composition of all time is Handel’s Messiah. The reason isn’t just the music. Although it’s magnificent and moving to one’s core, it’s the words that really get me. And why shouldn’t they? Handel did an inspired job of picking Biblical passages that best describe the story of Jesus, the Messiah. It is truly a glorious work; full of passages from God’s Word all of which point to and glorify Jesus.
Perhaps the best known piece from the Messiah is the Hallelujah Chorus. The custom of standing for the Hallelujah chorus is based on the belief that King George II was so moved that he stood up in approval at the London premiere in 1743 (although there is no evidence that he did so). Regardless, it is somewhat ironic that at the end of the Hallelujah Chorus most people assume that the performance is over and break into applause (a big no-no for a classical audience). But as you know, there is more to come in Revelation. So Handel continues the story of Jesus right up to the end (or should I say the beginning of life everlasting?!?!).
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain! Hallelujah and amen!
Tuesday, June 14 2016
Verse of the Day
If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” [John 14:7 – NIV]
Many ask, “What’s God the Father really like?” In the Old Testament we see a well-woven tapestry that depicts a close, personal, and constant relationship between God and His People. Many Old Testament figures walked and talked with God: Adam and Eve (before the Fall from Grace), Enoch, Noah (who God chose to continue man’s presence on earth after the Flood), Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Samuel, David, and many other prophets and kings. And let’s not forget that the Israelites, His Chosen People, had a close, personal relationship with Him, too. They saw His miracles (as well as His judgment), His presence (as represented by fire and smoke), and occasionally heard His voice. But, after the remnant returned from Babylon, God seems to have disappeared.
In the New Testament, we get occasional signs that God still speaks to His people, most notably when Jesus was being baptized (see Matthew 3:17: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”). As the New Testament times draw to a close, God no longer makes Himself known to His People, at least in an audible or visible way. There are reasons for this disappearance; the principle one being that, after His death, Jesus sent a Wise Counselor to us. Now, thanks to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we Believers have the Spirit of God with us 24/7!
But, just as in Jesus’s day when the disciples wanted to know the Father, we too have an insatiable curiosity to know more about our Heavenly Daddy. We wonder, “What is God really like?” Well, in today’s passage, Jesus has the answer for us: if you want to know God the Father, get to know His Son. How do you do this? One of the best ways is to read the Word. The more you learn about Jesus, the more you will get to know God the Father.
Many think that the Father is stoic, mean, heartless, unfeeling, and uncaring. This belief is based on a misreading; a miscomprehension of the Old Testament. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus was none of these things. Above all else, Jesus demonstrated love, compassion, and mercy. Did Jesus have emotions? Yes. Did Jesus get angry? Yes. But, all this tells us is that these are not bad characteristics to possess when handled with discipline and love. Bottom line; we have a Father who really loves us. How much, you ask? Well, He sent His Son to die for us on the cross. Jesus shed His blood so that we Believers could share eternity with Him. Thank you Jesus!
Monday, June 13 2016
Verse of the Day
Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; when I fall, I will arise; when I sit in darkness, The Lord will be a light to me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against Him, until He pleads my case and executes justice for me. He will bring me forth to the light; I will see His righteousness. [Micah 7:8-9 – NKJV]
It’s just a question of time. We all fall short; we all miss the mark. None of us are capable of living a sinless life. The Apostle Paul says it best in Romans 3: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But God in His infinite love and mercy provides us with a bridge, a pathway to redemption—His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Today’s passage from Micah reminds us about the attitude that we should have when we do fall into sin. Instead of being forlorn, bitter, and doubtful when we sin, we need to be confident in our God. Thanks to Jesus, “He will bring [us] forth into the light.” Please don’t misunderstand; we need to be vigilant in our battle against sin, but when we do stray, we can take comfort in the fact that we have a loving and forgiving God. This fact is made abundantly clear in 1 John 1:8-9 where we find the very direct promise of God’s forgiveness which should give us confidence as we confess our sins when we fail. Thank you, Jesus!
Friday, June 10 2016
Verse of the Day
Fear God and keep His commandments… [Ecclesiastes 12:13 – NKJV]
King Solomon started off strong in his walk with the Lord, but eventually he lost his way. His downward spiral was attributable to the two things he railed against the most in Proverbs: women and money. Like many in the secular world today, he found life to be empty, meaningless, pointless, and futile; eventually he hit rock bottom. Later in life he “rediscovered” God. Solomon chronicles his life experiences in the book of Ecclesiastes.
Today’s passage provides the answer to Solomon’s search for meaning and purpose in life: “Fear God and keep His commandments.” Ecclesiastes is a very profound book; it speaks to Believers and non-believers alike.
It’s a powerful message for the non-believer because Solomon walked in his/her shoes. If you are trying to find meaning in life by climbing the corporate ladder in a search for wealth and power; by buying a mansion in a gated community or a Ferrari for your garage, or hanging with the “in crowd” to elevate your social standing, you will no doubt become disillusioned, discouraged, and depressed. You will find life meaningless and without purpose. For a non-believer the only way to really discover the meaning of life is to “discover” God. A relationship with Jesus Christ is the key to a full and complete life. After all, our purpose in life is to worship and glorify (and enjoy!) the Lord our God.
Much as we hate to admit it, we Believers also go through times of disillusionment and depression. We occasionally see life as meaningless and futile. The book of Ecclesiastes is a great reminder for us that our lives have meaning and purpose only if we “fear God and keep His commandments.”
Thursday, June 09 2016
Verse of the Day
And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” [Genesis 11:4 – NKJV]
We have always been fascinated with the heights of buildings, skyscrapers that touch the heavens. This fixation with reaching into the sky has been part of all religions for centuries as mankind tries to connect with their gods. When the Israelites wandered away from the Lord their God, they worshipped the gods of the pagans in the “high places.” Clearly getting closer to the stars has meaning when trying to reach a higher power.
In today’s passage we see the futility of mankind after the Flood as they disobey God and build a tower to reach into Heaven. Ironically, the tower was probably only about seven stories tall, but that’s not the point. God disrupted their plans, confused their language, and the Tower of Babel was no more. But what about today?
Skyscrapers have been a part of our landscape for more than a century. There are good reasons for their existence: limitations on land use, the cost of land, economies of scale, etc. Most of these factors have to do with how our cities have developed, but that is certainly not the only reason that man seems to be so fascinated with the heights of these modern-day behemoths. There is always a competition going on, isn’t there? Who has the tallest building? New York? Chicago? Los Angeles? In the old days it was the Empire State Building and the Sears Tower. Then, we had the World Trade Center, which was tragically destroyed by terrorists on September 11, 2001. Today there are the competitors from other counties, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, and China. What’s up with all of this? Is man still fixated with trying to reach into the heavens? I think the answer is an emphatic “yes!”
Don’t you know that God is looking down on us and wondering why we don’t get it? We just never seem to learn, do we?
Wednesday, June 08 2016
Verse of the Day
“If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” [John 14:7 – NIV]
What is the Father like? If you want to know Him intimately, learn His ways; get to know Jesus. Read about Jesus our Lord and Savior in the New Testament and you will see God. You will learn His likes and dislikes; how He treats His people; what’s really important to Him and what’s not; and on and on. You will also learn that God has emotions. He is not some cold, distant god; He is not an automaton. Our God has feelings. He loves and hates; He gets angry. After all, He is God and He has a right to. He is righteous and holy, but even thought He is set apart He has a real love for His children and wants to be with us.
You might be surprised to learn that God has a sense of humor. In fact, as you get to know Him better you will learn that you can really identify with God in many ways. Getting to know Him is like getting to know an earthly friend. So, start getting to know Him today! He wants to have a close, intimate relationship with you. Read His Word; it’s the best way to learn more about Him. If you know Jesus, you will know the Father!
Tuesday, June 07 2016
Verse of the Day
Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. [Romans 1:28 – NIV]
Paul certainly hit the nail on the head in Romans. He really tells it like it is. The evil one may be able to portray the secular world as an attractive and desirable alternative to following God’s ways, but appealing to our base instincts really is self-defeating in the end. As we grow up, we are brainwashed into believing that the world has so much to offer us, but does it? On closer examination, it’s really an evil, vile, detestable place; dark and evil.
The tragedy is that as Paul says, the lost “know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” They really need to hear the Good News! Let’s make sure that we share Jesus with all we meet today!
Monday, June 06 2016
Verse of the Day
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” [Colossians 3:23 – NIV]
We are inundated nowadays with the view that our “exercise of religion” is limited to worship services on Sunday and that our religious beliefs and convictions have no relevance or place in our lives on the other days of the week. Don’t allow yourselves to be brainwashed into believing that your faith has no place at home, at work, or anywhere else that you may find yourself during the week.
The secular world is waging war on religion, especially Christianity. Of course, despite what you may hear on cable news or read in the newspapers, this is not exactly breaking news. It’s been going on for years; sometimes it’s subtle and sometimes not. It’s important, in fact critical, for Believers to resist this message.
As today’s passage reminds us, we work for God. He’s our Boss. So don’t leave your Bible at home when you go to work, but take His Word with you. Every aspect of your life, the decisions you make, your relationships, how you behave—all of it is based on your relationship with God. We don’t have two sets of rules in life. God’s Word is the only thing that matters in our lives. His rules are the ones that we should live by every day of the week!
Friday, June 03 2016
Verse of the Day
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. [Matthew 6:33-34 – NIV]
Businesses in America are always going through changes. There are mergers, acquisitions, downsizings, and other realignments. Many of you are facing a “life-changing” event. Some of you are losing your jobs. Some of you are moving forward with different companies. And others are virtually unaffected.
For those that are facing change, God has one thing to say to you: He will provide. You can take comfort in His Word. Trust in Him and He will provide. Change in corporate America is not an uncommon thing. Acquisitions are really not a bad thing, and you will be amazed at the future that is in store for you. Just wait for six months or so and you’ll see. And for those of you who are losing your jobs, believe me, God will provide new opportunities for you. Who knows? You may find your dream job, but regardless, He will provide.
The key is to trust and obey. Remember—don’t worry about tomorrow!
Thursday, June 02 2016
Verse of the Day
“…when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” [Luke 14:13-14 –NIV]
Although I was never a party animal, I have always enjoyed getting together with friends and having a good time. Sharon and I have occasional dinner parties, but we’ve never hosted a banquet; however, it does sound like a fun thing to do so maybe I’ll give it a shot someday.
Turning to today’s passage, the fact that I’m not ready to open our home to hundreds of people doesn’t mean that I get a pass from helping the poor and needy. At first blush, it would seem that Jesus’ point wasn’t merely the venue in which we meet the needs of the poor; it was about the nature or condition of our hearts as we reach out to them. Are we servants? Are we ready to do our part to help those less fortunate? Most of us can answer yes to these questions. We serve in homeless shelters, food pantries, soup kitchens, and we give financially to help the poor, but there is something more about this passage that bears mentioning.
The setting or location of the banquet in today’s passage really is significant; in fact it’s the key to the passage, and here’s why: When we volunteer at a homeless shelter we spend a few hours on a weekend helping some poor, down-and-out people get back on their feet. We share the Good News with them, we talk and laugh and sometimes we cry, but then we leave and return to our comfortable, cozy homes. What does that say about how we really feel about the poor and needy? Turn now to the banquet. When you throw a banquet you usually do so to honor the quests. You invite them into your home, you entertain them and feed them, and you show them honor and respect. I think that is what Jesus is saying here. It’s not enough to just care for the poor; it’s how you do it. Do you really care for those around you? Do you treat them with honor and respect? That’s the type of behavior that will ensure that you get “repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Thanks be to Jesus for showing us the Way! He is the Truth and the Light!
Wednesday, June 01 2016
Verse of the Day
Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” [Matthew 9:10-13 – NKJV]
The Pharisees were Jesus’s favorite target because they just didn’t get the point. They had deluded themselves (probably with a lot of help from Satan) into believing that it was enough just to keep the Law while forgetting why they were doing so. The purpose of the Law was to provide a means of covering sin so that God’s people could have a relationship with Him. The Law was about God, and when you take God out of the equation it becomes meaningless. The Pharisees had long forgotten the purpose of the Law. They were far more concerned with themselves than they were with God.
Then, Jesus entered the picture. I just love His response to the Pharisees in today’s passage, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” The Pharisees just didn’t get it; Jesus “did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” The message of salvation needs to be shared with everyone.
When we hear Jesus railing against the Pharisees we have a tendency to get all worked up about the righteous around us today, those who have placed religiosity above all else. You know, those who are too “churchy,” too full of themselves. We never focus inward, but we should. Don’t all of us have a tendency to think that we get it, that we are following the program? Guard against this kind of attitude. We are just as susceptible to falling into the trap of thinking that we are special and others aren’t. Who are your neighbors? Are there people that you shun? Do you share God’s Word with those who need to hear it or only those who already have? Again, who is your neighbor?