In the next two weeks in our encounters with Jesus, we will be looking at some of His final words to His disciples before Pentecost. This week we’ll be looking specifically at Acts 1: 6-11, where Jesus ascends into heaven: … Continue reading
This week we are going deeper into Psalm 1. Each week of our readings has a different theme. As you know, or have noticed, the concept of “taking root” is a be theme here at St. Matthew’s. And, you may or … Continue reading
Over the next few weeks in our Rooted in Christ Study, we’ll be looking at some of the favorite passages from our staff at St. Matthew’s UMC. These are some of the parts of the Bible to mean to most … Continue reading
Today’s reading is Acts 20: 17-38 Paul has a mission ahead of him; he knows it is great. Because of this, he knows that he may never see some of these friends again. He is worried about them. He doesn’t know … Continue reading
Today’s reading is Acts 15: 22-35 Today we see the results of the debate of the previous chapter. We see that the leaders of the church tell these Gentile believers that, no, you don’t have to be Jewish. You simply follow … Continue reading
As I was reading today’s readings, something caught my attention from a book of the Bible that I typically don’t turn to. That’s why it is good to have a plan of reading scripture that isn’t just books or concepts … Continue reading
June 27 marked the fourth Sunday of my renewal leave (i.e. Sabbatical), and I’m just about at my halfway point of this time. It has been a real blessing. I took my first church job in 1997, as Youth Minister … Continue reading
Today in 1 Corinthians 1:9-13, we see one of my favorite passions of Paul. Paul is huge on the unity of the church. Listen to what he says here, and then we’ll talk about what is happening:
9 God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 10 Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. 12 What I mean is that each of you says, ‘I belong to Paul,’ or ‘I belong to Apollos,’ or ‘I belong to Cephas,’ or ‘I belong to Christ.’ 13 Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
This is the way it worked in Paul’s time. Preachers in churches weren’t sent by the conference nor were they called by the local church. There were wandering itinerant preachers that came to the town and to the church, stayed for a while, and then moved on to the next town and church. And they would have been followed by another preacher in much the same way.
So the same church, over a period of time, would have had several preachers come through and teach. And that’s what has happened here in Corinth. There have been several preachers come through, and the loyalty that the members of the church have towards their “favorite” preacher is one of the many things that is dividing the church.
That is why Paul reminds them, none of the preachers that they know has divided for their sins. They were not baptized in the name of any of these preachers. They were called into salvation by God, not by any human. Now God may have used that human, but that person was not the cause of their salvation.
God is the one calling us into salvation and God is the one that is saving us.
Not any human.
I think for us today, this is an important reminder. We all have our preferences and our favorites. We all have things that impactful to us. We have a preacher that really speaks to us. Or a style of worship that truly touches our heart or a hymn that really impacts us. Or a denomination (or local church) whose theology and structure that we like. And these things are all wonderful. I am the same way.
But the danger is this. When we allow these things to divide us as believers. Just because you or I have something or someone that is the way that we prefer it, doesn’t mean that someone that has a different favorite preacher or style of worship is not our brother or sister in Christ.
Because we aren’t saved by preachers or styles of worship or denominations or anything such as that. We are saved by Jesus.
So, if you are believer, then you are family. We can’t allow these things to divide us. We are one. And the world needs us to be one.
Let us love each other, even when we disagree over these things. Because the love that God has placed in our hearts must be bigger than any of this!
As followers of Christ, let us love!
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Today we look at Mark 8:14-21:
The Yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod
14 Now the disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out—beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” 16 They said to one another, “It is because we have no bread.” 17 And becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” They said to him, “Twelve.” 20 “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” And they said to him, “Seven.” 21 Then he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
What do you see? Friday in Mark we talked about seeing miracles everywhere when we believe. Today, we see Jesus talk about something very similar. Today He’s talking about sight. But it’s not necessarily the sight of miracles. It’s the deeper truth that can be found.
And I think today this is especially true with scripture. I subscribe what Wesley called a simple reading of scripture. You need to understand context, you need to understand the bigger picture with scripture, but for most of scripture, it simply means what it says.
But, there are times, lots of times, many times, where there is a deeper truth right there in plain sight. Sometimes there is something right in front of us that we may or may not be able to see. Look at today’s text. The Disciples are talking about bread and Jesus basically says, guys, you are missing the point.
Do you not see the deeper meaning and deeper truth here. He recalls the feeding of the 5000 and the 4000. And then He asks how many baskets were left over. For the 5000, there were 12. For the 4000 there were 7. And then He says, do you not understand?
What should they have understood? What may we be missing?
Twelve and seven are very important numbers in scripture. Twelve in particular is important in two main places. There are 12 tribes of Israel (the 12 sons of Jacob). And there are 12 Apostles. The Old Covenant and the New Covenant. So this number is seen many times in scripture (a lot in Revelation) to mean everyone or a completeness. This number is many ways a number that is almost a code word for “all.”
Everyone that would have seen Him feed 5000 and then see 12 baskets left over would have understood that 12 was a big deal. He has come, preaching to the Jews first, so that they would complete their calling from Genesis 12 to be a light to the world. As God’s people, their mission would be the point others to who God is and be that light. This 12 means that the
The 5000, that crowd was mostly like all Jewish. The fact that Jesus recovered 12 baskets meant that God would call from His people a group that would finish the calling of Abraham. And that is what happened. How many Jewish disciples did Jesus have?
And where did they go? Everywhere.
And that brings us to the seven. Seven is another important number in scripture, and is often seen is as the “perfect” number. Think the seven days of creation. So it’s a word that associated with that creation account. The 4000, that crowd would have mostly included Gentiles within it. So on a day when a crowd including Gentiles in it was feed, there were seven baskets left. The number of creation. A creation that was made God. A creation that Jesus was coming to redeem.
In other words, Jesus didn’t just come to feed this crowd, He came to save them, and all (Jew or Gentile) that would believe.
That’s why He says, do you not get it? Do you not see the bigger truth?
This is why it’s so important to read the Bible together. Because together we can see the bigger truths that we may miss, just looking at the text. There are deeper truths that Bible study and shared conversation can teach us.
That’s one of the many, many reasons we need each other and need the church!
Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 8:22-26.
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Today in our daily journey through Mark, we look at Mark 3:31-35:
The True Kindred of Jesus
31 Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” 33 And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
Jesus has been ministering in his home. And He had seen great conflict there. Faced opposition. Folks tried to restrain Him, keep him from teaching, really not received Him well. And today, we see His family come to Him again, and it doesn’t really go well.
He says this is my family. Those that do my will.
Ok, a couple of things here. First, before we get too harsh and think that family doesn’t matter to Jesus, remember a couple of things. One of the very last things Jesus did upon the cross was look to Mary and look to John the Apostle and says to her – this is your son. And to John – this is your mother.
One of His very last acts up before His death and resurrection was to take care of His mother. Also, notice how in the Gospels and in Acts how his mother is one of His followers. You can’t take this one passage here and say that Jesus is saying – don’t take care of your family. That’s not what He is saying, His life didn’t doesn’t show that, nor do His words.
Be careful building an entire theology or worldview on one verse alone. We read scripture in relation to other scripture. We interpret the Bible through the Bible. You want to look at one verse through the lens of other verses. Jesus here is not saying don’t care about your family.
Ok then, what is He saying? This is what He is saying. Our family is more that just biological. As believers, as followers of Jesus, we are family. We are His family. And we are family to each other. If you are in Christ, tan you are as much my family as anyone that is “blood” kin to me.
As Christians, the blood relationship that matters the most is being washed in the blood of the Lamb. If you are His, if you are His child, if you are His disciple, then you are my sister or brother. And I am called to love you like family.
And you are called to love me like family.
Because we are.
This is Jesus family. Not just biology. But those that love Him and follow Him.
And this is my family. Not just biology. But those that love Jesus and follow Him.
Today, through Jesus, we are family. No matter what race, what denomination, what theology, what worship style, what whatever. Today in Jesus, we are family.
Monday we’ll look at Mark 4:1-9.
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