Good News Daily Devotionals
Wednesday, June 13
Matthew 16:1-12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (v.12)
Yeah, I know it’s not funny, but I always get a chuckle out of how “obtuse” the apostles were at times. Actually, it just makes me feel a little better about myself when I eventually realize how limited my own understanding, action, statement, etc. has been.
The teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees was symptomatic of the old ways, and the apostles, as well as everyone else, were susceptible to their logic and persuasion. There are competing voices in our churches today. Divisions, based on denominations, new learnings, new understandings and heresy, are prevalent. As I continue my study of the Bible and learn more about the theology of my faith, it is apparent that effort and diligence is required. So, I point myself to the words of Paul in 2 Timothy when he reminds the reader, “Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” Great advice that I will follow
Ecclesiastes 9:11-18; Psalm 72; Galatians 5:1-15
Thursday, June 14
Galatians 5:16-24 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (vv.22-23)
Are the fruits of the Spirit exclusive to the Spirit? Do non-believers (and even evil doers) get to enjoy the qualities of love, joy, and self-control? Apparently so. Why is it that I lose my self-control and my gentleness? That I stomp about the world in my abruptness?
Maybe I am a little too hard on myself and a little too naive when I observe other people. They probably get their fair share of difficulty, frustration, and shame. The lesson I am getting from Paul in his exhortation to the Galatians is that there is a conflict (a constant and ever-present conflict) between my flesh and my spirit. When I was much younger, I was of the mind that such conflicts would eventually, you know, just go away. Well, that’s one more thing I was wrong about.
This reading ends with, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” It’s time to “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk.” I’m not sure that I have crucified my flesh of its passions and desires, but I do know that I have experienced more and more of the fruits of the Spirit. And if that is taking place in my life, perhaps my flesh is moving ever so closer to the cross
Ecclesiastes 11:1-8; Psalms 70, 71; Matthew 16:13-20
Friday, June 15
Matthew 16:21-28 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” (vv.24-25)
I read this passage and condemn myself. I seek a comfortable life for myself and not the cross. Jesus is telling his disciples (that’s me included) that this world is to be denied. I can barely deny myself an ice cream treat after a big meal.
Am I any different than a morally up-right non-believer? What is setting me apart? OK, maybe I’m forsaking worldly status-that’s not hard-not much status to forsake. How about worldly plans (if I had them, which I don’t). The cross means death. Whether I discern that fact in a literal or metaphorical sense, it is inescapable. Jesus came to save me from my sin, and accepting him must include recognizing his right to rule my life. I am so far from perfection that having a loving God who would seek a relationship with me is in itself a mystery. I recognize who my Lord is. I pray for the strength to bear my cross
Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:14; Psalm 69; Galatians 5:25-6:10
Saturday, June 16
Numbers 3:1-13 The Lord said to Moses, “Bring the tribe of Levi and present them to Aaron the priest to assist him. They are to perform duties for him and for the whole community at the Tent of Meeting by doing the work of the tabernacle.” (vv.5-7)
I delight in this passage because to reminds me of the privilege I have received as being a member of my church’s Altar Guild. Being called out for service has been a blessing and a continuing ministry. The Levites were elevated to perform holy service, presumably, for their ability to channel their strong character in the service of God. Loyalty to Moses during the episode of the Golden Calf resulted in their reward of spiritual service that was lost to the firstborn of the other tribes.
Performing spiritual service is a reward in and of itself. My connection with the Altar Guild is an experience that connects me with each and every person attending our worship service. It is a service that provides an additional pathway to connect with the Spirit in prayer and with a grateful heart
Psalms 75, 76; Galatians 6:11-18; Matthew 17:1-13
Sunday, June 17
Numbers 6:22-27 The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites.’” (vv.22-23 NIV)
Almost every Sunday, our priest raised his hand and repeated these verses as he made the sign of the cross over the congregation. The words became almost diluted of their power after a while until I realized that this was a commandment from God to the priests from the very get-go. Then suddenly their power seared into my heart like a brand onto a steer’s hide.
Much of our rich, liturgical tradition stems back from the Pentateuch, or the first five books of the Bible. These practices have been carried on for thousands of years and passed from priest to priest, synagogue to church, city to city, all over the globe.
Jesus is our Vine, and the roots of our worship run very, very deep indeed. As it states in the lesson from Luke, the master puts the manager in charge of his servants and holds him (or her) accountable. How often do you thank your priest (or pastor) for carrying out the Master’s commands
Psalms 93, 96; Acts 13:1-12; Luke 12:41-48
Monday, June 18
Psalm 80 Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved. (v.3)
The allusion to the Aaronic blessing from yesterday’s passage is repeated almost as a chorus throughout this psalm. What does it mean and why is it so important?
Think of when people’s faces shine. Couples in love have a glow about them. So do women who are pregnant, or grandparents when the hug their grandchildren.
When, through confession, our sins are forgiven through the sacrifice of Jesus, God can then turn to us. When He does, His face shimmers with love and happiness. His child has returned. The relationship, once broken by sin, is restored. Being able to shine His face upon us, His children, was important enough for God to sacrifice His own Son in order to make it happen. Should it not carry a great deal of weight with us as well?
Lord, may I start out each day with this verse on my lips and in my heart
Numbers 9:15-23, 10:29-36; Romans 1:1-15; Matthew 17:14-21
Tuesday, June 19
Romans 1:16-25 The wrath of God is being revealed against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness. (v.18)
If you live in Texas, as I do, June “Teenth” has a special meaning. On this day in history, the slaves in my state learned of the Emancipation Proclamation. (No cyberspace or TV back in 1863 to broadcast the news quickly.) Some owners didn’t want the word to get out. They wanted to keep people in slavery.
Today, people are still enslaved-by sin. Nothing new. As you read what Paul wrote to the first century Romans, you’d almost believe he meant it for today’s readers. Pleasure cannot set us free. Exploitation of others either. Money can’t do it or power. Only the blood of Jesus can.
As was the case two thousand years ago, we have a choice. We can be restored to a right relationship, or go on about our wicked ways just as our ancestors did. Let us choose to loosen the chains that bind us to sin and then quickly proclaim to others the emancipation that is available to all who believe Jesus is Christ
Numbers 11:1-23; Psalm 78:1-39; Matthew 17:22-27