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
We can be thankful for our family. For the great nation in which we live. For those that protect and take care of us. For the teachers and schools that take care of our children. For our churches. For all the things that we have been given.
But it’s not just the things that we’ve been given, it’s the things that we get to do. We have this day. We have a calling. We have the chance to make a difference.
We have so much to be thankful for.
But listen to what Jesus tells us today in Luke 10: 17-20:
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Jesus tells us; it’s great that you’ve done all these great things. It’s great that you have seen and done this. But be truly thankful in this.
Your names are written in heaven.
Yeah, we’ve got a lot to be thankful for. We’ve got so many blessings so many and things to be thankful for.
Even those of us that don’t have much to be thankful for, we are still so blessed to live where we live. For all of us in the west, we are so blessed, and we never need to forget that. We never need to forget our blessings.
But our greatest is this. As believers, our names are written in heaven. And nothing, nothing, nothing is greater than that.
So, today, be thankful. You are His, and He is yours. And everything pales in comparison to that.
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Holy Week is the week that stretches from Palm Sunday to Easter. There are several “highlights” if that’s the right word to use. Maundy Thursday is the time when we stop, and remember the betrayal of Christ, and remember His giving to us the great gift of Holy Communion. On Good Friday, we take time to remember the cross, and the penalty that Jesus Christ paid for our sins.
And while are the really significant times of this week, there are other moments that are important. And through this week, we will take time to look at what happens each day of Holy Week, and see what we can learn, as we move towards the cross and the empty grave.
Today we read from John 12:1-8:
Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
There’s a lot that we can unpack in this passage, but I want to focus on Mary’s devotion to Jesus. He has raised her brother Lazarus from the dead, and now He has come to their home. And what is Mary’s response? Pure thankfulness.
She takes this perfume and anoints Jesus, then she wipes His feet with her hair. It is an act of pure, humble, devotion and love. You could argue it’s nearly humiliating to do this. But she doesn’t care. She is so thankful to Jesus for what He has done for her, for your family. Her heart overflows with thanksgiving for the work of Jesus in her life.
And contrast that with the grumbling of the disciples. Judas speaks here, but the other gospels allude that he is merely speaking up for everyone. (Though John does give us a little insight in Judas’ character. His motives weren’t pure. Neither are ours, all the time.) They all thought that this was a waste of resources. They could have done something with it.
And Jesus says this – you won’t always have me with you. Be thankful. Be thankful. That’s our first job today. To be thankful.
Your first job today is to be thankful. Before you go. Before you serve. Your first just to merely be thankful for what God has done for you.
Then, with thankful hearts, go and serve. But, first, we must give thanks. We must. For true service comes from there. From a thankful heart.
Today, are we thankful? That’s our first job.
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.
This morning, I was reading through an old devotional favorite of mine, a book called A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God. It has within a scripture for the day, some suggested reading, and a guide for prayer.
And, as I was reading, it talked a lot about thanksgiving in prayer, and when it came time for the prayer, it said start off with thanking God for the blessing of your life.
So, I thanked God for my family. . . .
My church. . . . .
My friends. . . . .
My health. . . . .
And it hit me. I can’t remember the last time I actually did that. That I actually stopped in my prayer time and thanked God for these things.
Now, I pray for my family all the time. I pray for church all the time. I pray for my friends all the time.
But, I don’t thank God for them enough. I am not thankful enough for what God has given me.
We can get so busy with good things, we can forget to be thankful. We can get so busy focusing on what should be or needs to be, we can forget to thank God for is.
May the words of Paul in Philippians 1:3 ring true to us today:
I thank my God every time I remember you
Today, what are you thankful for? What are your blessings? Where has God blessed you this day?
Today, as you go throughout your day, may you take time to stop, every so often and thank God.
Thank Him for the blessings of your life, thank Him for the goodness He has given you.
May we take time today to thank our God.
Today, in Luke’s Gospel, we read about Jesus healing some folks. This one of those miracles that has something expected in it.
In fact, what happens after the miracle is more amazing than the miracle it’s self.
Listen to what happens today in Luke 17
15Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17Then Jesus asked, ‘Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’
Why is that? The text doesn’t say. We don’t know why only returned. But we know that it happened.
Perhaps they were busy. Perhaps they were seeing family and friends they hadn’t seen in a while. Perhaps in joy, they just forgot.
But, they didn’t return to give thanks. For whatever reason, they didn’t come back to give thanks.
And, even more amazing, the only one of the nine to return and give thanks was a Samaritan. He wasn’t even one of the “chosen.” He didn’t know who Jesus was. He wasn’t one of the people.
So, of the ten, the nine that were Jesus’ people, that we were Jewish, they didn’t return to give thanks.
And the only one that did, was a Samaritan, a foreigner. He gave thanks.
Today, are we thankful. Are we thankful for grace?
Today, yes, life may be hard. You may have a lot of challenges ahead of you in the days to come. Yes, it may not be easy.
But, you are here. You are breathing. You gotta a chance!
Be thankful. For the little things. For life. For the love of God and family. For all He has done.
And particularly those of us that are Christians, we should be most thankful.
For we know this – we are loved, we are forgiven.
We, among all folks, should be most thankful.
Today, give thanks, for God is good. And His love endures forever.
That’s a big question. It’s something we all wonder. It’s something we all struggle with.
Something we all feel like we need to know to live the way that He wants us to live.
We have passages like Micah 6:8 – God wants us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
Jesus tells us throughout the Gospels that the whole law is summed up in one command – love the lord your God with all that you are, and love your neighbor as yourself.
We see several different commands and points that we are supposed to live by.
But, we see where it all starts today in Psalm 50:
14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving *
and make good your vows to the Most High.
15 Call upon me in the day of trouble; *
I will deliver you, and you shall honor me.”
The sacrifice that God most demands from us is one of a broken and thankful heart.
Broken in terms of understanding that we are not the people that we ought to be. Broken in terms of understanding that we miss the mark over and over again.
Broken in terms of understanding that for our sins He suffered in died.
Broken in understanding who we are.
But, thankful, most of all, in knowing that we are loved. We are forgiven. We are treasured by God, no matter what.
Yes, we have all done wrong. We have all sinned. We all fall down.
You do, I do.
And we are loved. In spite of it all, God loves us. Forgives us. Saves us. Make us His.
What does He want from us today?
A thankful heart.
May we be thankful for all that He has forgiven us and for all He has given us.
And may we love others, as He has loved us.
In Scripture, there are just certain passages that you read and you go – that’s it! That’s how I feel! That’s what I’m feeling, that’s what I’m experiencing
For me, Paul’s words in Romans 7 are that. When I read the end of Romans 7, I say, yep, that’s the story of my life, that summarizes my feelings. Today, as I read through it, a couple of things from this chapter just leapt out to me.
I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
Hello? Man, oh man, I’ve been there. I know what’s right. I know what’s wrong. I know what I should do, I know what I shouldn’t do!
I know it. It’s not guess-work. I know the answer. I know how I should live, serve, give, who I should be. It’s a plain as the nose on my face.
And what do I do? What’s wrong. What I shouldn’t do. The very thing I don’t want to do. The very thing I despise.
The good I should do I don’t do, the evil I shouldn’t do, I do.
In other words, that thing that we struggle with. That we know we shouldn’t do. That day after day after day we know we should not do – that very thing we do!
UGH. It drive me crazy. I don’t want to do it! I want to be different. I want to live apart from these sins. Yet, I keep falling into it.
What am I to do?
The reason why I love this passage is because Paul gives an answer:
25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.
The answer is not my will power. It’s not in my being good enough, smart enough, strong enough.
I can’t. I’ve already proved that.
It’s not in what I can do. It’s in what He can do.
I can do nothing. He can do all things. I am weak, He is strong. I choose what is wrong. He is what is right.
Through ourselves, our own devices, our own choosing, we get ourselves in trouble.
Thanks be to God!
Today, trust in Him. Rely upon Him. Cast your cares on Him. He is life. He is strength. He is hope. Lean not on yourself, but on Him. Trust. Live. With Him.
Thanks be to God! For in Him, all things are possible.