Jesus’ Early Ministry

Matthew 4, Luke 4-5, and John 1:15-51

In Luke 5, we find the story of Jesus calling his first disciples. Jesus was at the Lake of Gennesaret (better known as the Sea of Galilee) teaching large crowds.  Peter had been fishing all night, without catching anything, and was washing his nets while Jesus was teaching.  In order to help the crowds hear better, Jesus got into Peter’s boat and asked Peter to push out from shore.  After Jesus finished teaching, he asked Peter to go into deeper water and let down his net.

Let’s think of this from Peter’s perspective. He was a professional fisherman and knew how to fish – fish at night in shallow water.  What did this stranger know about fishing?  And Peter had fished all night, and hadn’t caught anything.  If I had been Peter, I think I might have pointed out these facts and then might have dropped this uninvited guest at the shore.  Fortunately for Peter, and ultimately for us, Peter didn’t argue (much), he just obeyed – and caught so many fish the nets began to break.  After Peter called his partners in another boat, they loaded all the fish into both boats – but there were so many fish, both boats began to sink.

Peter finally recognized he was in the presence of a great prophet of God, and ashamed by his own sinfulness, asked Jesus to leave. Instead of leaving Peter, Jesus invited Peter to follow Him.  So Peter did something else irrational.  He pulled his boat up to shore, left everything, and followed Jesus.

You might be thinking, “This is an interesting story, but how could this apply to me?”  I’m glad you asked.  

First, we see that Peter obeyed Jesus in a very little thing – taking Jesus out a little from shore.  If Peter hadn’t obeyed this tiny command, he never would have witnessed a spectacular miracle.  Later, when Jesus asked Peter to do something that totally defied reason, Peter also obeyed.  I love the reason he gave in Luke 5:5, “but because you say so, I will let down the nets.”  Peter was willing to submit to authority, even though he didn’t understand the rationale – and remember, there may still have been a crowd watching from shore.  Because of his obedience, Peter was then able to witness an incredible miracle.  Finally, when Peter acknowledged he wasn’t worthy, Jesus invited Peter to join Him.  So, Peter left everything and followed Jesus.

I have found that God often builds our faith little by little.  It’s important to obey God in even the smallest of things.  God will then build on those experiences and obedience for the future.  Sometimes, this may take the form of trials.  1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  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 stand up under it.”

I believe no one starts as a giant in the faith.  We obey little by little.  We face trials little by little.  And at some point, you can look back on your life and realize, “Wow, God and I have come a long way together.”

So I challenge you to get into God’s word.  As you do, God will prick your conscience and guide your thoughts.  Follow God’s direction, even in the little things.  At some point, you will recognize, like Peter – “I’m not worthy.”  But the good news is, Jesus is still calling people to leave their former life behind and completely follow Him.  This includes me.  This includes you.

— Steve Mattison

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Matthew 4, Luke 4-5, and John 1:15-51

Tomorrow we will read John 2-4 as we continue to SeekGrowLove on our 2020 reading plan.

Transformation

Exodus 22-24

Exodus 22 31 a NIV

                Social transformation is often a long and painful process.  Think about efforts at equality within the United States.  The founders’ vision was for a society where everyone had the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  The Declaration of Independence expressed this in 1776.  Yet it took nearly a century and a Civil War to bring an end to slavery.  It took nearly 150 years for women to be able to vote and it nearly 200 years and a lot of blood, sweat and tears to make significant strides toward racial equality.

                How does one take a community that has been enslaved for over 400 years and transform them into a nation that shines a beacon of light to all other nations in the world pointing them to the true God.  How does an entire nation become holy, set apart for God’s service and God’s glory?

                This is the challenge that was before God, Moses and the nation of Israel.  They were leaving behind one type of structure, slavery, to enter into a new way of living.  They needed a new structure to help them know how to live.  They had to be taught how to live in community.  They had to be taught how to work, and how to rest, how to care for their neighbors, and how to punish wrongdoing that threatened to destroy their community.

                In today’s reading we see how God begins to organize and structure the transforming community of Israel.  He teaches them how they are to live and become a holy nation and a royal priesthood.  This transformation would not come quickly or easily.

                They had to be taught how to show respect for personal property: “Whoever steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it must pay back five head of cattle for the ox and four sheep for the sheep.” (22:1)  Those who steal must give restitution.

                They had to be taught to respect the family structure and to place their sexuality within proper boundaries: “If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife. If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins.” (22:16-17)

                They had to be taught that there were severe consequences for failing to follow appropriate sexual boundaries: “Anyone who has sexual relations with an animal is to be put to death.” (22:19).

                They had to be taught to have empathy and to show kindness to strangers and people who were different: “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” (22:21).

                They had to be taught to have compassion for people in the community who had suffered major losses: “Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. (22:22).

                They had to be taught to show respect both to God and to their earthly leaders: “ Do not blaspheme God or curse the ruler of your people.” (22:28)

                They had to be taught how to live as a just community by not giving false testimony, and by neither showing favoritism toward the poor nor withholding justice from the poor (23:1-6).

                They had to be taught to care for their bodies and minds by getting appropriate rest. (23:12).

                It was also important that everyone be taught these and other guidelines for how to live in community as God’s people and that they verbally acknowledge that they understand and intend to follow “Everything the Lord has said we will do.” (24:3)

                Israel’s transformation from slavery to covenant people of God living a set apart life as the community of God’s people was a slow and challenging process.  It was painfully difficult, but necessary.  In the end, people failed more often than they succeeded to carrying out their assignments.  And yet, somehow, despite tremendous opposition from aggressive and hate filled neighbors, the Nation of Israel survived.

                As Christians, we can learn much from studying how God worked with His people Israel to bring about their transformation.  It is important to note that they were God’s people first, and then they were given this particular set of laws.  In the same way, as Christians, we become God’s people first, through faith in Jesus Christ, and then we commit to following Jesus and obeying Jesus’ commands.  We do not become God’s people by following laws, but by following Jesus Christ.  However, when we follow Jesus Christ, we do not descend into lawlessness.  Structure is still required.  So Jesus spends three years teaching his disciples how to live as the people of God who are called to be holy, set apart to be a light to all nations.  We complete the mission that the nation of Israel began, and we do so following the yoke or community guidelines as laid down by Jesus Christ.  The foundational teaching of Jesus is to Love God and Love our Neighbors.  That is a good place for each of us to start each day.

Jeff Fletcher

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=exodus+22-24&version=NIV

 

Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be Exodus 25-27 as we continue on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Pursuit of a Righteous Life

Job 35-37

Job 35 3 CSB

Today, we read as Elihu continues to reason out why bad things happen to good people. In chapter 35, we read about a dangerous attitude: being righteous for the sake of what we can gain from God or others. The second that our circumstances turn negative, we can easily fall into the trap that Elihu explains in verses 2-9. In these verses, he says, “Do you think it is just when you say, ‘I am righteous before God?’ For you ask, “What does it profit you, and what benefit comes to me, if I do not sin?”

 

Even though we may not admit it, we may begin to think the same questions as Elihu and Job when we face difficult circumstances. Sometimes we think that we follow God for the benefits that we gain in this life. We feel that if we do the right things (we do not lie, cheat, steal, etc.) that we should have a good life with a good family, nice house, and steady paycheck. It is true that following the wisdom that we find in Proverbs and other books can lead to better life outcomes than following the path of the wicked. This being said, we were never promised an easy life full of worldly comforts. In fact, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:19 that he should be pitied more than all other men if it’s only for this life that he is hoping for. Jesus said in John 16:33 that we will have suffering in this world. In Luke 6:20-23, Jesus even says that we are blessed when we mourn and face persecution and difficult times. When we choose to follow Jesus and pursue a righteous life, we are choosing a more difficult path.

 

When we think in terms of what we can gain in this life, it may seem like there is not much benefit in pursuing a righteous life. So why should we decide to live a righteous life and not sin? Elihu attempts to answer how our sin affects God and others in verses 6-9. He says, “Your wickedness affects a person like yourself, and your righteousness another human being. People cry out because of severe oppression; they shout for help because of the arm of the mighty.” When we sin, we not only are grieving God, but also we are hurting those around us. Yes, we may not always have an easy life, but ultimately, we are living a better life when we choose to live by the commands that God gives us.

 

If you are facing difficult circumstances, you may feel like giving up on God. It may seem like he is silent. You may feel like the sacrifices you’ve made for your faith are not resulting in the good things that you want from God. But, don’t give up on pursuing a righteous life! Your actions will lead to a better life for you and those around you and will guide more people to the kingdom.

Cayce Fletcher

You can read or listen to today’s passage here – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+35-37&version=CSB

Tomorrow’s passage will be Job 38-39 as we follow the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Sweet & Sour

Revelation Ch. 10

Revelation 10 11 NIIV.png

Every time that I go back and read through Revelation, I think about how awesome it would be to see it in a movie or comic book, since it is full of amazing imagery, suspense, and some humor. I see a little bit of dramatic humor coming out in chapter ten, as we are about to get the information that we have been desiring since chapter five… and then we don’t. I feel as if John wants to keep us on the suspense train as long as possible in order to make his point.

 

After the sixth trumpet sounds, we are introduced to an angel that is holding a “small” scroll in his hand. Now, this scroll is likely the same Scroll that we saw in God’s hand in chapter five, and the same Scroll that had the seven seals broken off through chapters six, seven, and eight. Narratively speaking, we have not learned the contents of that original Scroll yet, so it is unlikely that this is a brand-new scroll that is being introduced into the storyline. The size of the Scroll is not a major point; it is possible that the Scroll had to become smaller for John to later eat it. If the Scroll was the same size as it was in chapter five, being able to fit in God’s hand, John could be eating it for quite a while.

 

Coming back to the dramatics of the story, we are finally going to learn what the Scroll says! This is the moment when we find out what God’s message is to His people!… and then John eats it… and it is sweet in his mouth, but bitter in his stomach… What in the world is going on here?

 

John is acting like one of the Old Testament prophets, Ezekiel, who also was told to eat a scroll from God and then to speak the message of its contents (see Ezekiel 3:1-3). In like manner, whatever John is going to speak next in the story is going to be the contents of this Scroll. Although it is a strange method to communicate to the seven churches, it gets the job done; it is probably better that we don’t question everything God chooses to do, because we could drive ourselves crazy trying to understand it all.

 

What we can learn practically today from this message is that sometimes God’s message can be sweet and bitter at the same time. The gospel is fantastic news that will bring us eternal, perfect life, but is also bitter as we are called to die to ourselves daily as we follow Jesus. Just like everything in life, there are good and difficult consequences to our decisions, and the decision to follow Jesus is no different. I encourage you to look at both sides of the coin before moving forward, because it can become difficult. Is the reward enough for you to go through the bitter consequences?

 

Talon Paul

You Do You! or ?

Proverbs 14

Proverbs 14 12 NIV.png

“You do you!” This phrase is ubiquitous… I’ve seen it on social media, heard it on commercials,  and tween shows my daughter enjoys watching. I’ve even heard actual people say it directly to actual people. 🙂

On the face of it, it’s a pretty positive and encouraging phrase.  Don’t let others define you. Do what you enjoy. Do what makes you happy! And that’s all great and wonderful…to a point. That point is the Holy Bible. You can totally do You if the You that you do is aligned with God’s word. The problem comes when your You goes with whatever you FEEL is right, rather than what you KNOW is scriptural.

Here in Proverbs 14 (especially in verse 12) we are reminded that so many of the things, thoughts, and actions we think are right, actually lead to destruction.

Proverbs 14:1 really hit me hard in this area. Unlike the wise woman building her house, I was letting my struggle with anger threaten mine. For a season, my anger was quick, hot, and in my mind, justified. I was right to be angry. I was being taken for granted, no one understood what I was going through, why was everything up to me???  I often felt the anger from my stomach up to my jaw.  Proverbs 14 repeatedly warns of the folly of anger (16, 17, 29) but I was choosing to follow my feelings over wisdom.

I thought I was right…but only because of the grace of God and a forgiving family, my “rightness” did not lead to destruction.

Everyone should evaluate their You. If doing You involves sin (Galatians 5:19-21), you must let that go. Christ goes even further to say that if we are to be his disciples, we must DENY ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow him (Matthew 16:24).

When looking to Godly wisdom, such as found in Proverbs 14, You will start to look less like you and more like Christ. That is true wisdom.

So this song came out when I was 14 (1986). Having it tucked in my head has often helped me make choices to please God.

 

God Pleaser by Petra

So many voices telling me which way to go

So many choices come from those who think they know

There’s a way that seems right to a man

But it only brings him death

I want to go the way that leads to life

Till I draw my dying breath

Don’t want to be a man pleaser – I want to be a God pleaser

I just want to have the wisdom to discern the two apart

Don’t want to be a man pleaser – I want to be a God pleaser

I just want to do the things that please the Father’s heart

Some make a sacrifice and never let it show

Some make a point of letting everybody know

Some will live their lives as unto men

And they have their reward

I just want to do everything I do

With all my heart unto the Lord

I just want my life to glorify His Son

To make my Father proud that I’m His child before I’m done

No need to pat me on the back or stop to shake my hand

I just want to hear my Father say “Well done, well done”

I just want to hear my Father say “Well done”

 

devotion by Maria Knowlton

[Insert Your Name] Here

Psalm 37 31.png

We continue this intentionally slow journey through Psalm 37.  I use the word “intentionally” intentionally (see what I did there?)  Why intentionally slow?

            Maybe it is just my own personal preference.  Most of the time I’m more of a plodder.  I tell people “if you ever see me running, you should run too ‘cause something really bad must be about to happen and I’m trying to get away.”  When I walk with my wife I’m forever telling her to “slow down!” She has one speed and it’s always full throttle.  Someone sent me an article one time that said science has proven that people who walk faster usually live longer than people who walk slower.  If that’s the case my wife will be around for a long time.

            Walking fast may be better for your physical health, but when it comes to your spiritual health and reading the Bible, I find it pays to slow down.  Lectio Divina* forces you to slow down.  Think of it as a fancy, 5 course meal.  Don’t rush through it.  Take your time to slowly savor and enjoy each bite.

  1.  Read Psalm 37:30-34  slowly at least 3 times…

30 The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
and their tongues speak what is just.
31 The law of their God is in their hearts;
their feet do not slip.

32 The wicked lie in wait for the righteous,
intent on putting them to death;
33 but the Lord will not leave them in the power of the wicked
or let them be condemned when brought to trial.

34 Hope in the Lord
and keep his way.
He will exalt you to inherit the land;
when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it.

  1.  Meditate- choose a word or phrase that really speaks to you and spend some time ruminating on what it says and what it means.

As an example: As I was meditating on this portion of the Psalm, I saw it on one level as a prophetic picture of Jesus.  Instead of “the righteous” I insert “Jesus”.

      The mouth of Jesus utters wisdom.

      Jesus speaks with his tongue what is just.

      The law of God is in Jesus’ heart.

      Jesus’ feet do not slip.

      The wicked lie in wait for Jesus (think of the scribes and Pharisees, and Judas).

      The wicked are intent on putting Jesus to death.

But the LORD (YWHW) will not leave Jesus in the power of the wicked (Jesus was only temporarily in the grave under the control of the wicked.  God rolled away the stone and set him free to everlasting life.)

Or let Jesus be condemned when brought to trial (Remember, Pontius Pilate said “I find no guilt in this man.” Jesus had done nothing worthy of condemnation. His death was due to the sinful hearts of others, not his own guilt.)

Jesus hoped in the LORD and kept God’s way (without sin).

He will exalt Jesus (At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue confess Jesus as Lord)

To inherit the land (Jesus will rule as King over all the earth).

When the wicked are destroyed Jesus will see it (In the end, Jesus rules as King, the wicked come to their final judgment).

            As I continue to meditate on how Jesus fulfills every bit of this Psalm, I’m led to think about what Jesus calls me to be and to do.  Jesus says “follow me.”  Jesus says “deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.”  Jesus said to Peter “get behind me.”  I want to follow the path that Jesus laid out.  To be a follower or disciple (student) of Jesus means to hear his word and do what he says.  If I do that, then that which was prophetically spoken of Jesus here in Psalm 37 will also be true of me:

            “The mouth of Jeff utters wisdom”

            “Jeff speaks with his tongue what is just”

            “The Law of God is in Jeff’s heart.”

            “Jeff’s feet do not slip.”

            “The wicked lie in wait for Jeff and are intent on putting Jeff to death”

“The LORD will not leave Jeff in the power of the wicked or let Jeff be condemned when brought to trial”

“Jeff hopes in the Lord and keeps his way”

“God will exalt Jeff to inherit the land.”

“When the wicked are destroyed Jeff will see it.”

Now, it’s your turn.  Insert your name or personalize it…

The mouth of ________________ utters wisdom (or my mouth utters wisdom)

“_____________speaks with his tongue what is just”

 “The Law of God is in _______________’s heart.”

 “__________________’s  feet do not slip.”

“The wicked lie in wait for _________________ and are intent on putting _________ to death”

“The LORD will not leave _________________ in the power of the wicked or let __________ be condemned when brought to trial”

“__________ hopes in the Lord and keeps his way”

“God will exalt ____________ to inherit the land.”

“When the wicked are destroyed _________ will see it.”

See how reading slowly and savoring it opens up all kinds of new flavors?

What emerges for you as you meditate on this part of Psalm 37?

  1.  Pray- As you go through this reading, what does it stir up within you?  Thoughts? Questions?  Concerns?  Does it make you want to raise your hands and worship God?  Does it make you want to fall on your knees and confess your sin?  Does it drive you to go to Jesus and seek his mercy?  Does it make you want to follow Jesus more closely in your daily walk?  Bring those things to God in prayer.

  1.  Rest in God.  After you have brought these things to God in pray, simply enter into his rest.  Be present to God as God is present to you.

Now go follow in Jesus’ footsteps today.

-Pastor Jeff Fletcher

*If you are unfamiliar with the Lectio Divina method of prayer/scripture study please refer to the Sunday, August 11th devotion.

Growing Faith

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Mark 4

    In this chapter Mark tells of some of Jesus’ arguably most famous and well known parables.

The first is the parable of the sower and soils. “3 “Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. 6 And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. 8 Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” 9 And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”” (NASB).

After Jesus preached this to the crowd from a boat, his disciples were confused as to what its meaning was. Jesus then explains what it meant in the next verses.

“13 And He *said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them. 16 In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; 17 and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, 19 but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.20 And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.””

 

After this Jesus tells them to shine their light and not hide it. He also says to be careful as to what they listen to.

 

The next Parable is the parable of the seed. It compares the kingdom of God to a man putting his seed on the soil. It grows, but he doesn’t know how. The soil grows the seed one section at a time. This too is how our faith grows. When the crop is ready, it will be harvested.

 

The final parable is probably one of the most well known parables in the Bible. It is the parable of the mustard seed. A mustard seed is the smallest seed grown in soil. But, almost miraculously, it grows into a very large plant. In this, Jesus shows that, no matter how small your faith is when you start your walk in the faith, you can grow it so much. This gives me so much hope. To know that, even if my faith is very small at times, I can grow it like a mustard seed and become strong in my faith when I grow it in the right conditions.

 

Later that day, Jesus took his disciples on the boat. While he was sleeping, a huge storm overtook it. His disciples became very scared (wouldn’t you?) and woke up Jesus asking him why he didn’t care that they were going to die. So, Jesus got up and said, “Hush. Be still” to the waters. And it immediately became calm. He then scolded his disciples asking them if they had no faith.This further scared the disciples. (But wouldn’t you also be scared if your friend could calm the sea?) They started to wonder who Jesus really was and what power he had if he could do all of these things.

 

Mark 4 is a great chapter for many reasons. Not only does Jesus show us that we need the right conditions to grow our faith and also that there is hope for even people with the smallest of faith, but the actions of his disciples also teach us something.

They are confused as to what his parables mean and also seem to continually lack faith. Our first thought may be to judge them. They literally had JESUS, the one who saved us from our sins, right in front of them! How could they not see it? But, if you think about it, how many times has God put things right in front of your face that you didn’t see until afterwards?

Furthermore, the disciples reveal Jesus’ compassion and patience. Jesus kept leading them even when they didn’t understand or were reluctant and scared to follow.

Jesus will do the same for you. Even though your faith may seem as small as a mustard seed, all you need is to trust in him and follow the word. Always remember that Jesus died for you. He loves you that much. Even when you have little faith.

-Samantha Stokes

Success & Popularity

Mark 3

mark 3 8b

“Jesus withdrew to the sea with His disciples; and a great multitude from Galilee followed; and also from Judea, and from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and from beyond the Jordan, and the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon, a great number of people heard of all that He was doing and came to Him” Mark 3:7-8 (NASB)

At times we may have difficulty grasping the complete size of this crowd.  This was not just a few people, or even a mere few thousand people.  No, there were tens of thousands of people in this crowd.  These people came from all over the country.  These people flocked out of cities to hear of this amazing and blessed prophet who had risen in Galilee.

Mark emphasizes the crowd by stating in verse 20, “And He came home and the crowd gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal.”  Then, in verse 32, “A crowd was sitting around Him,”  These people who have traveled far and wide surrounded Jesus to have their afflictions healed through him.  For many this would be recognized as a sign of popularity or success, due to the amount of people drawn to Jesus.  In today’s world we would recognize these people as “stars” whether they be actors, athletes, politicians, or singers.  These people are “stars” largely due to their talent and attributes, and these people due to their talent and attributes have attained what in our day is a mark of success. For many this success would be overwhelming.  For many this would lead to sin as their stardom grows, so does their temptation for ungodly things.  This, however, was untrue for Jesus for he knew His path and trusted in his Father.

We, just like Jesus, should also trust in our Father to lead and guide us through the year as we settle back into our lives after camp.  Whether we are returning to high school, college, or daily work lives we should follow the footprints Jesus has laid for us and not fall into the temptation of society or our peers due to our success or popularity.  We should instead continue to grow in  our faith and strengthen our connection with you, our Father, as the year continues.

Let us pray:  “God, we thank you for all the people you have introduced to our lives along with those who we have strengthened our relationship with during the course of the week of FUEL.  We are grateful for the insight you have shown us and for the opportunity to grow in our relationship with you alongside likeminded people who strive just as we do.  We ask that you keep us accountable for the promises and commitments that we have made to you while at camp, while also providing the light to guide us towards the answers that we seek out within our journey in both our lives and our faith.”

–Jacob Bowen

A Different Monday

Mark 2 14

Mark 2:13-14

“Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. As he walked along he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth.

“Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.”

It’s Monday.

For many of us, that means going back to work, which can be hard after a normal week, but this is the first Monday after a week of camp. A lot of times it can be depressing coming home after Fuel. We have to jump back into the same old routine, same old habits, same old life.

But you know what’s crazy, we don’t have to go back to the same old routine. We have been called out of the mundane, from simply going through the motions.

We are called to be different.

Because of Jesus, we can live in a completely different way than the world around us. You see, when people think of Monday as the beginning of a long, tiresome, annoying, difficult, boring, frustrating, week, we as Christians can have a different approach. Mondays are the start of a NEW week, full of incredible opportunities and blessings. You have a brand new set of 168 hours for God to work through you. Think of all the people you can meet, how much time you have to get to know God better, and all the opportunities to spread His love!

Last week we learned that being different will cause you to stand out in this world. If you go around without grumbling about Monday, or even better, being joyful that it’s Monday; people are going to notice, and ask questions, and possibly even look down on you because of it. But how blessed we are to be able to be different. We are lights in this dark world. Something as simple as Monday can spark life-changing conversations. How crazy cool is that?

In the second chapter of Mark, we find Levi simply doing his job. Same old stuff he does everyday. But then Jesus entered the picture. Jesus called him out of just going through the motions and into something life-changing.

You are called out.

Now most of us can’t just drop everything and follow Jesus as Levi did, but we can follow his example in the everyday experiences. The people around you are your platform. Your life right now is your ministry. You are different. And you are a difference-maker.

So in closing, I want to challenge each of you to this: Make this Monday different.

Have a blessed week friends,

Katelyn Hawkins

The Best Construction Project

1 Corinthians 3

1 Corinthians 3 19 a

For the Corinthians and Greek culture in general, wisdom and knowledge were extremely important.  This is why Paul spends 1 Corinthians 1 emphasizing that it is through faith in Christ that we are saved, not through the wisdom they have worked towards their whole lives.  Then in 1 Corinthians 2 Paul says that wisdom is important for the Christian, but it is Godly wisdom that is very different from what they have learned, and it cannot be taught, but is given by the holy spirit.  Now in chapter 3 Paul is clearing up any last confusion in case they were not understanding up until now. He very clearly says that they need this Godly wisdom, but do not have it at all. They have been seeking an elevated status in their congregation because of their high learning and deep understandings.  Paul wants to set the record straight, living a Christian life is not about sitting in your plush study and writing treatises and books and musings, and becoming revered for your knowledge. It is about getting your hands dirty. He likens the Christians to farmers and builders who have work to do, and he is a worker right there with them.  This would have been a very shocking thing to the aristocratically minded members of the Corinthian Church who would have read this.

 

So let me be as clear as Paul was.  If you decide to follow Jesus and serve him, then you will be a servant.  Your life will not be a vacation, but a construction project. It will take work, but in the end you will hopefully do something valuable with your life and “the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.  If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.” 1 Corinthians 3:13-14.  That reward is everlasting life in God’s kingdom, and is worth so much more than a high position in society, or being revered for your earthly wisdom.

 

Your fellow servant

Chris Mattison