Will We Miss It? (SOAP)

Today in our reflection, we’ll look at Matthew 13:53-58.

S – scripture

Be sure to slow down.  Yeah, we’ve got a busy week this week. But, in this moment, don’t worry about that.  Let the worries and stress of this day/week/month/year/life fade away.  Listen for God’s voice in today.  Listen.

Matthew 13:53-58:

And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.

home sweet homeO – observation

The people knew Jesus, and so weren’t listening to Him

This was Jesus home town.  They had known Him for years. They had seen Him grow. They knew His family, in fact His family was still in the synagogue, still part of the community, still part of the life of that town. And because they knew all these things, knew all this family, they knew, just knew, that there was no way that Jesus could do all these things and be who everyone says that He was.

The were familiar with Him.  They knew Him, or so they thought.  And so they knew that He couldn’t be all that.  They were so familiar with Him, they missed Him.   Because they weren’t paying attention.

It isn’t just that they didn’t listen, they were offended

It isn’t just that they missed Him, they were offended by Him.  Who is He, coming in here, telling them what to do. Who does He think that He is.  What right did this man that they helped raise, what right did He have, coming in here now!  I mean, the nerve!

Their pride got in the way. And because they were too proud, they missed what God was trying to do.

Their lack of faith stopped things from  happening

Because they didn’t believe, Jesus couldn’t do some of the thing that were possible.  For the spirit to move, for God to do certain things, He needs us to do our part.  Yes, we have a part to play in God’s plan.  We have a purpose.  We have a role. We have a part to play in the movement of God’s spirit.

We have to believe. We have to have faith.  We have to cling tight, and be obedient to what the spirit is leading.  That’s our job. That’s our roll.  And when we don’t do it, there is so much that God is not abel to do. Because we aren’t doing our part.

A- application

Who are we not listening to, that we should?

In our lives, there is someone that God may want to speak through, someone that God may want to challenge us through, convict us through, speak to us through. But, we haven’t been listening.  Maybe we’ve heard them speak too many times.  Or maybe we don’t know them.  Maybe we know them too well.  There could be a million different reasons. But, there is someone in all our lives, that God may wish to speak to us through, but just aren’t listening.

Today, will you listen?

Where is our pride getting in the way?

They took offense at Jesus because of their pride. Today, where in our lives, is there something that need to do, but we won’t because we are too proud?  Maybe we need to ask someone for forgiveness.  Maybe we need make a change.  Maybe we need to start something new. Maybe we need to move on.  I don’t know what it is, but for each of us, there is something we are missing, or something we are not doing, because we are too proud to admit it.

They were too proud to hear Jesus.  And they missed what He wanted to do.  May we not make the same mistake.

Where is our lack of faith stopping God?

Our faith is the spark that causes things to happen sometimes. Our faith moves mountains.  Our faith makes leaps.  Our faith does amazing, amazing things. When we truly believe, God can do something special.  But, we have to have faith. We have to trust.  We have to place ourselves in His hands. And jump.

Today, God wants to use you. Do great things.  Move mountains.  If we will just believe.  If we will just have faith.  He will do it.  Today, will will take His hand. And jump.  He will catch us.  He promised.

P – prayer

Great God, teach us to listen. Teach us to humble ourselves. Teach us to have faith.  Loving God, may we see you today, may we hear you today, and may we follow you today.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

Like a Child (SOAP)

Today, let’s reflect upon Matthew 18:1-6 together!

S – scripture

Matthew 18: 1-6:

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

O – observation

Jesus exalts a child as the example of faith

Jesus tells us that we should have a faith like a little child.  And that sounds nice and sweet to us, but in Jesus’ day, that wasn’t the case.  Children were not important.  They were little more than property in that day.  The number of kids you had would show the wealth that you possessed, but it was not a child friendly society like ours is.

So, Jesus takes a child, of little worth in the culture, and says, be like this.  Humble yourself.  Don’t be proud.  Be humble. And in that, you will find the kingdom.

Jesus tells us welcome little children

Jesus doesn’t just tell us to humble ourselves like a little child (which is bad enough!) but He tells us that we should welcome children.  In His day, that simply was not the case.  Children were to be seen (rarely) and never heard. They didn’t matter.  They didn’t have value in that day. They were simply not important.

First, He tells to be like someone not important. And now He tells us to welcome someone not important.

Jesus is challenging us to consider our values of who is important and who is not important.

millstoneJesus warns us to consider out actions

And finally, Jesus tells us that if we cause one of these little ones to fall, our fate would not be good.  A mill stone is HUGE stone.  Bigger than any stone that you have ever soon. There is  no way that you could tie it around your neck, it’s simply too big.  Jesus is making a point here.  It would be better for you to do something impossible than for your actions to hurt one of these.

He reminds us that our actions have consequences that we can never even see.

A – application

Who is not important to us, that is important to Jesus?

Jesus calls us to pay attention to those that don’t “count.”  That don’t “matter.”  That aren’t “important.”  Why?  Because they count, the matter, and they are important to Him. They matter to Him.  He loves them, wants us to love them, and they may have something to teach us about faith.  God may be wanting to use that one that you think doesn’t matter to point other to Him.  He may have a high and lofty purpose for them, that we’ll never understand.

But He does. And He wants us to respect, love, and care for them.

Today, who are we missing, that Jesus isn’t?  Today is not important to us, that is very important to Jesus?

How can I humble myself?

CS Lewis said “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”  We have to learn to humble ourselves, and take the focus off of us, and put it on Him.  But our vision, our plans, our lives on Him.  He calls us over, and over and over again to humility.

Every wondered why?

If we are focused only on us, we will never be able to see Him.  Today, may we take the focus off of us, and place it upon Him.

Have I considered the consequences of my actions?

My life, my decisions, my actions, they have have consequences.  They affect others.  I don’t live only for myself.  I live for God, and I live for His plan.  The choices I make today, they will affect others in ways that I can’t imagine. Today, in our lives, may we remember that the choices that we make, the have a great affect on others, than we realize.  May we live with that knowledge.

P – prayer

Dear Father, my I live today, keeping my eyes open for those that I normally miss because I am so busy.  May I seek to place the focus of my life upon you, and may I consider how my actions affect others.  Give me grace for this day.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

Take Up Your Cross (SOAP Method)

Since it was so well received last week, we’ll continue using the SOAP method of scripture for some posts this week.

Let’s start!

S – scripture

Remember to read slowly.  Don’t worry about the things that you have to do today.  Don’t focus on the problems of the day, or the regrets of the past.  In this moment, slow down, and listen.  Listen for Gods’ voice in Mark 8:34-37:

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

O – observation

urlTake up your cross

Jesus tells us that His disciples must take up their cross.  That sounds a little unpleasant to us, and our western ears, but in Jesus day, to take up your cross would be a terrifying thing.  The cross was a means of death in that day, a terrible, painful, humiliating, awful death.  It was the means that Rome used to make a example of someone.  It was the public hanging of it’s day.

And that’s what Jesus calls us to do.  He calls us to take up our cross.  The cross, in Jesus day, was not the serene symbol of peace that we have made it to be.  It was a means of execution. And that is what Jesus calls us to.

Living for the gospel

Jesus doesn’t just call us to death (thankfully!) but He calls us to live as well.  He tell us whoever lives for the Gospel will find life, and is truly alive.  He tells us that if we live for our life, we will lose it, but if we live for the Gospel, we will find more life than we could ever again.

So, first, we die to ourselves, because if we are living for ourselves, we will not be able to focus on anything but ourselves.  And then, when we take the focus off ourselves, we find something really worth living for, the Gospel.

What is worth your soul

Jesus poses as question in the end.  Is is worth it?  Is what you are living for, it is worth losing your soul. Because in the end, we each must make a choice.  We can gain the whole world, all the power, all the fame, all the wealth, everything. But, if in that process, we lose our soul, what have we truly gained?  Jesus asks us to consider that question this morning.

A – application

What difficult thing is God calling me to?

Today, we are called to take up our cross?  What does that mean?  It means taking the focus off of us, and our “stuff” and focusing on what God is calling us to do. And, today, He may be calling us to something challenging.  He may be calling us to something hard.  He may be calling us to somewhere that we don’t want to go.

And hears the thing. He has promised us, that place that we may not want to go, if He has called us there, that place actually is the way of life.  By taking up our cross, we will find life.  He has promised us.  By dying to us, we can live for Him.

Am I finding my life in God or my my stuff?

Simple and sweet.  What are we living for today?  Where is my life?  What is the point of my life?  Is it for me?  My stuff?  My dreams?  My life?  Or is it for God. Scripture tell us that the only way for life is to live for Him. That’s it.  That’s the only way. If we live for ourselves alone, in time, we will lose our soul.  If we live for the Gospel, we will live.

It’s our choice.  Today, what are we living for?  Today, are we alive, or are we running the risk of losing our soul?

P – prayer

Holy God, help us each to remember where our life is found, and help us to make sure that today, and each day, we are living for the right purpose.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phone.

SOAP – Day Five– 1 Corinthians 10:11-13

324904370_640Today, we do day five of our SOAP challenge.  I really do hope that you will continue to use this method of studying the Bible in your daily lives.  I will continue, from time to time, to use this method for these daily reflections.  I may do it every day, but I will use it again.

Let’s begin!

S – scripture

Listen.  Focus.  Read each word deliberately.   Don’t get in such a hurry to get done that you don’t focus on the word you are reading.  Breathe in, breathe out.  Listen for God’s voice in each word.

1 Corinthians 10:11-13:

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

O – observation

What did you see in this text?  This is what stood out to me.

Be careful

Paul warns us here, if you think you are standing firm, be very careful.  It’s the pride that goes before the fall.  The moment we think we’ve got it all figured out, the moment we believe that we are above temptation, and it could NEVER  happen to us, that’s when it happens.  Be very careful.  You are not as strong as you think that you are.  If we think we are standing on our own strength, we will fall.

Temptation will come

The reason we have be careful and not get arrogant is this.  Temptation is coming.  Write it down.  It will come.  You will face temptation today. I will face temptation today. It’s coming. Be ready.  Be aware.  Know this. Today, tomorrow, each day, you will face temptation.  It is going to come.  You are are not the first to face it, and you won’t be the last.

It’s coming.  Be ready.

There will be a way out

In temptation, know this though.  There is a way out.  Yes, you will face temptation, sure you will.  But it won’t be worse than anyone else.   You’re temptation is not more than you can bear.  It’s not.  Hear that.  Yes, it’s tough, but  you can do it.

And there is a way out.  God will open a door.  He will make a way.  You can get through this.

A – application

How can we apply what we noticed to our life today?

Remember that you are not perfect

If pride goes before the fall, one of the ways to deal with this is to remember that you are not perfect.  Yes, you’re awesome.  But you’re not perfect.  Yes, you are made in God’s image.  But you are not perfect.  Yes, you are gifted.  But you are not perfect.  It’s ok.  None of us are.  But, don’t forget that.  Don’t get prideful.  Don’t look down upon others.  There but by the grace of God go I.  Remember that, any goodness in us comes from God.

In short, stay humble.  Don’t get cocky.  Remember, that none of us are perfect, and the moment we start thinking that is the moment we get ourselves in trouble.

Be on the look out for temptation

So, you aren’t perfect.  And temptation is going to come.  So, be on the lookout. Be aware.  Keep your head up and on a swivel. The devil will love to trip you and get you in trouble.  He know where you are weak and struggle. And that’s where he will hit you.

Be looking.

What is it that you struggle with?  Where are you weaknesses? What are you temptations?  Be aware of yourself. Be looking. Be aware.  Know it’s coming. Be ready. Don’t be surprised when trouble comes your way.  Just get ready.

Have a plan

You temptation, it has a way out.  The word promises that it is not too much to bare.  It’s not too much.  You can do it.  Seriously.  You can do it. There is a way out. There is.

What is your plan?  Here’s some good ideas – have some scripture memorized to beat back temptation.  Have a friend to call/text.  Go for a walk.  Count to 10 and breathe.  Pray.  Any of these will help.

And if there is an area of your life where are prone to fall into temptation, as best you can, stay away from it!  Avoid temptation, as best you can.  Stay away from ares where you are weak.

Temptation is going to come your way to day. What will you do about it?  The word promises you can do it.

P – prayer

Loving God, as we face temptation in our lives today, help us remember our great need for you, and help us to know that whatever it is that we face, you will make a way out for us.  Give us that strength and hope today.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phone.

SOAP – Day Four– Luke 22:24-27

324904370_640Today is Day Four of our SOAP challenge.  I’ve head so much good feedback about this method, that I may continue doing it this way for a while longer.  I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Let’s start

S – scripture

Slow down.  No matter where you read this at, at work, at home, wherever, take this moment to breathe.  Take this moment to let the worries to this moment, the worries of tomorrow, the regrets of the past leave your mind.  Listen.  Listen to the Word of God.  Listen.

Luke 22:24-27:

A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

O – observation

How leadership works in the world

The disciples are fighting about who will be the greatest in the kingdom that is to come.  And Jesus basically handles that question in two ways.  First, he poses the question, how does leadership work in the world?

It’s about power, prestige, and money.  He says, they lord over you. The leaders act better than you, more powerful than you, they use that power to get you to do what they want you to do.  You do what they want you to do, because you don’t have any choice.  You have to.  That’s what the kings of Jesus day did.

How leadership works in the church

Jesus then asked, what about us?  How should it be for us?

Instead of power being the driving force of leadership for His people, greatness for us does not come from power, but from service.  Jesus tells us, that for us to be truly great in God’s kingdom, we must serve.  To truly be great or a leader or respected in God’s kingdom, it’s about how we serve.  How we love.  How we forgive.

That’s what greatness looks like for us.

How Jesus lived

Jesus asks, in their culture, who would be “seen” as greater?  The one “reclining at the table” would basically be the one at the seat of honor.  Jesus says, what do I do?  I serve you.  And yet, who is more honorable that Jesus?  Who is greater than Jesus?  No one.  So, Jesus doesn’t just tell the disciples that they should serve and love, He actually does.

He is the greatest.   And He is the servant.

A – application

Am I using my “status” for my good or God’s?

God has you where He has you for a reason.  Your friends, your job, your connections, everything.  He has you there for a reason.  Are you using the place He has you for His purpose in your life, or for you own?  Are you using your resources for His good and His purpose, or are you using them only for your power, or position, or appearance.

He tells us that that’s what the world does. And He has told us that as Christians, that’s not what we are supposed to do.  How are we using all that God has given us?

Am I serving today as Jesus would have?

Jesus tells us to truly be great for Him, we have to serve.  Today, are we doing that?  Are we serving others?  Are we placing them ahead of ourselves?  Are we placing their needs, their stuff ahead of ours?  That’s were true greatness, true peace, true purpose comes from.  Not from living for ourselves, but for living for God’s purpose.

Jesus modeled that, He lived that, He showed that.

Today, as His followers, do we do the same?

P – prayer

Dear Father, today, help us to use everything that you have given us for your purpose and for your glory.  Help us to be truly great in your kingdom.  Help us to serve each other, as you served us.  Amen.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phone.

SOAP – Day Three – Psalm 91:1-6

324904370_640Today we continue with our SOAP challenge.  We’ll be doing our reflection today, using the method of bible study known as the SOAP method.  If you missed yesterday’s study, you can click here. Let’s begin!

S – scripture

Just a note, I read from the ESV translation. But used whatever version speaks to you. BibleGateway has a great collection of all the bibles out there for you to read through.

Remember to read slowly.  Listen.  Listen for what God will say to you this.  You have a lot to do today, I know. But take these moments to listen for His voice through His work.  It will change your day.  Psalm 91:1-6:

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

O – observation

What did you see when you read?  What did you notice?  This is what I observed.

God is our refuge, shelter, and the one that we trust

God is our safe place.  David, when he wrote the Psalm was on the run from King Saul. And so he was out in the open a lot, hiding.  The notion of a shelter or a refuge, those are huge. Those thing protect you.  Keep you safe.  Keep you from harm.  Not that there is not harm out there.  The fact that these things exist, means that there are things out there that can bring you great harm.

The fact that God is these things acknowledges that harm does exist.  But God will protect us from it.

God will hide us under His wings

A bird will bring their babies under their wings, to protect them. God will protect us. But, a bird doesn’t protect their babies with harm to themselves. If a baby bird is under the wing, yes, it is safe. But the wing of the parent will be hit, and potentially hurt. So, it isn’t just that God protects us and saves us, but he has allowed Himself to be harmed for our protection?

How?

The cross.  The thing that saves us, came at a great cost to Jesus.

We will not fear, by night or day, darkness or noon day

The night is scary because that’s where the thieves, robbers, and wild animals lurk.  No one ever likes to go out at night.  No one.  Today, we are reminded that God will protect us at night and in the dark.

The heat of the midday sun is unbearable in that part of the world.  It will sap your strength and your will.  It will make you want to give up, because the burden is too great.  God will protect us from the heat of the son.

A – application

How will I apply this to my life?

Find your protection in God.

You protection and safty does not come from your wealth, or power, or status, or connection, or any of these things.  They will not be your refuge.  They may provide comfort at times, but they are not the ultimate shelter in the storm. Today, what you are you relying on? Where is you hope?  Where is your strength?  God is our shelter.  Only He can truly protect.  Is He really your shelter today, or are you relying on something else?

I don’t need to take grace for granted 

The shelter of His wings came at high price to Him.  The grace that I and we receive, while free to us, cost Jesus dearly.  Remember that grace is free, but not cheap.  Let us never, ever, ever take His grace for granted.  May we always be thankful for our freedom and forgiveness.  May we always remember what that grace cost.

No matter what I am afraid of, God is bigger

There is nothing that we should fear to day. Dark or light, night or morning. God is our protection.  He is our hope.  He is bigger than no matter what you fear.  No matter what you are afraid of, God is bigger.  He is.  Trust that.  His word says it. Claim it today.

P- prayer

God, today, may I seek to live my life, placing my full hope in you, you along.  May I never take your grace for granted. And may I live life unafraid, because of your great power.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phone.