Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you. Do not speak evil against one another, brethren. He that speaks evil against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you that you judge your neighbor?
“For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The Christian faith takes great courage. Much of what we do comes naturally. Yet, Jesus challenges us to move beyond what comes naturally, what we normally do. Jesus challenged the people he encountered to move beyond what was simple and easy and follow Him into a deeper and more challenging faith….
I recently saw an article titled, “The Dependability of Change.” My mind kept coming back to those four words and my uncomfortable reaction to them. I have never thought of change as something I could count on like my favorite sweater in the winter. But the more I mulled over this phrase, I have come to decide change is, indeed, dependable.
We know just a few things about Zacchaeus before he encounters Jesus. He was a wealthy Jewish man who lived in the community of Jericho. His occupation was tax collector. When he makes his appearance in Luke’s gospel, he is doing his best to catch a glimpse of Jesus as he travels through Jericho. Zacchaeus has a hard time seeing Jesus because, as the scripture says, “…he was short in stature.” He climbs up a tree to better see Jesus.
Every day on my drive to work, I pass a series of chalkboard signs on the side of the road that always have encouraging messages written on them. The signs would read, “Hang in there” or “We will get through this together” or “Stay safe!” I thought this was such a kind thing to do in the midst of all the fear and uncertainty we were dealing with…
She had been sick for over a decade. The scriptures tell us that she had seen many doctors, but her condition only got worse. She had done all she could to be made well, but she was sick and desperate. She heard that there was a man named Jesus who was healing people as he went from village to village. She allowed herself to hope and she went to seek Jesus.
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good life let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity. And the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain…
One of the most stunning and powerful moments in the Bible involves the prophet Ezekiel. In the book of Ezekiel, the readers encounter the powerful visions of the prophet as the people of Judah experience deportation after Jerusalem falls to the powerful Babylonians. It was a time when hope was lost, and no one knew what the future would hold for God’s people, their families, or even their own lives.