“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Our mouths were filled with laughter then, and our tongues with shouts of joy. Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord had done great things for us; we were joyful.
Restore our fortunes, Lord, like watercourses in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy. Though one goes along weeping, carrying the bag of seed, he will surely come back with shouts of joy, carrying his sheaves.”
The Israelites had several experiences where they were in bondage, away from their home. Each time they were in sorrow and each time God was faithful in delivering them. When they returned, they were joyful and were again reminded of God’s faithfulness to them. They had reason to shout “The Lord has done great things.”
We go through seasons where we weep, where we sow in tears. There are seasons where we struggle in depression and hurt. But God is faithful, there will come a time when we will “reap with shouts of joy”. God will deliver us through to the other side. And we will shout out “The Lord has done great things for us.” This week let us encourage one another with these words. Let us remember God’s faithfulness in those seasons when we sow in tears and be grateful when reaping with shouts of joy.
“Give thanks to Yahweh, call on His name; proclaim His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell about all His wonderful works! Honor His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek Yahweh rejoice. Search for the Lord and for His strength; seek His face always.” (Psalm 105:1-4)
One of the great things about Psalms is the reminder of God’s goodness and His faithfulness. There are many psalms throughout the book that sing of these attributes. Not only that, they call us to remember them daily. These verses are a part of just such a psalm.
We have so much to be thankful for that God has given to us. We can rejoice and be glad. But we are not just to keep it to ourselves. We are to share them with everyone around us. We are to “proclaim His deeds among the people.” It should just burst forth because we have been blessed so much to share that with others.
The other key part in these verses is the psalmist says we should seek God’s face always. We should always be pursing being before God. So this week, let us be thankful, let us be sharing and let us be seeking. Let us be thankful for all that God has given us. Let us be sharing with others about what God has done. And let us be seeking the Lord every day.
“He went into the temple complex and began to throw out those who were selling, and He said, “It is written, My house will be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves!”
Every day He was teaching in the temple complex. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people were looking for a way to destroy Him, but they could not find a way to do it, because all the people were captivated by what they heard.” (Luke 19:45-48)
Most people know these verses for the cleansing of the Temple which Jesus did during his last week before His crucifixion. That is important because the temple was where worship was supposed to take place but there were money changers and others that were taking advantage of people and pushing out real worship taking place.
But look at the next couple of verses. Jesus that last week would spend every day teaching in the temple. And while this didn’t please the chief priests and scribes, the people gathered daily to hear Jesus teach. They crowds were “captivated by what they heard.” We should have that kind of heart and desire. We should be people that are drawn to hear what Jesus has to say to us every day through our time reading Scripture, through our prayer time, through times throughout the day that the Holy Spirit speaks to us.
This week, let us desire to have hearts like that. Let us be like the crowd that gathered to hear Jesus teach in the temple. Let us be a people that are captivated by what we hear from the Lord.
“Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be serious and disciplined for prayer. Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:7-11)
Peter wrote these words to fellow believers in one of his letters to the churches. These verses are a part of the end of the letter as he is beginning to wrap up his thoughts.
There are many passages that deal with how to handle the “end times”. Some of them are prophetic of the actual “day of the Lord” and some are more of the times that are to signal the “day of the Lord”. This is one of those passages that’s the latter. Peter is telling the readers (and in turn telling us) that we should be prepared for when the Lord returns.
How are we to prepare? First, we need to be all about prayer. Praying to God giving thanks, praying for strength to endure, praying for others and their needs. We need to be praying. Second, we need to show love to one another. Peter says to “maintain an intense love”. In the world right now we see hate permeate. But we know that God is love and when we are connected to Him then we are able to love one another better. Third, our words and actions should reflect the Father. We are here to advance the Kingdom of God and proclaim the Good News. Our words and actions should be all about that.
In these times now more than ever, let us be about praying, let us be about loving, let us be about serving and let us be about sharing the Good news of Jesus.
“So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God.Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent.” (Luke 20:21-26)
The chief priests and leaders tried again and again to trip up Jesus. This instance was another of those times. They sent a group to try and ask a question to get Jesus in trouble with either the people or the Romans. The question they asked came down to paying taxes to to the Romans. Their hope was that either Jesus would say yes to paying tribute and have Him run afoul with the people or to say no and run afoul with the Romans.
Instead, Jesus answered them by taking a Roman coin and using it as a teaching tool. The denarius had a picture of Caesar on it and therefore Jesus responded “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar and unto God the things that are God.” We are to obey the government because government has been ordained by God to watch over and protect us (and if they do not do these things God will take care of that) and we are to honor and obey the things that belong to God.
What is something that belongs to God? Us. We are made in the image of God. Like the coin is to be rendered unto Caesar, we are to be rendered unto God. God made us and we belong to Him. We should live our lives in following Him and pleasing to Him.
This week, let us honor God with our lives and give to Him all that He deserves.
“And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it.” (Luke 19:28-35)
On the way to Jerusalem before Jesus was to give His life for our sins, he sends two of His disciples on a mission. Jesus tells them to go into the village and untie a colt and bring it to Him. He tells them exactly where the colt will be and even tells them the response to give when the owners asked about what they were doing. The disciples were faithful and did as they were told and they brought the colt back to Jesus.
This is a part of Jesus’ earthly ministry that kind of gets glossed over because it was what led into the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem by Jesus but it is a great reminder of faithfulness to us. The two disciples that Jesus sent to get the colt were faithful to go and retrieve the colt. They were faithful to convey the message that Jesus told them to share with the owners of the colt. And the owners of the colt were faithful as well. When the disciples told them “The Lord has need of it.”, they readily and graciously gave them the colt for Jesus to use. We don’t know the names of these people but we do know of their faithfulness.
This week let us be faithful in serving God. Let us use our gifts and talents for God’s glory and may we point people to Jesus through it.
“After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.
And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them.And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:27-32)
These verses share the story of how Levi (also known as Matthew) became one of Jesus’ disciples. It is a great reminder that Jesus calls everyone to follow Him. Tax collectors in that time were looked upon as the lowest people because they were considered “sellouts” to the Romans and were greedy and stole from fellow Jews.
Matthew was one such tax collector. However, when he encountered Jesus, his life changed. He began to follow Him and became one of Jesus’ disciples. Not only that, he invited all his friends to hear Jesus teach. He wanted others to follow Jesus too. Matthew would later go on to write one of the four Gospels.
This encounter is a great reminder that Jesus loves us no matter where we are. He wants us to follow Him. He gives us the same opportunity. Let us take that opportunity and let us share the good news with others.