Sunday Devotional: Luke 19:45-48

“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.

Sunday Devotional: James 1:19-25

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;  for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.  Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.  For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.  But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”  James 1:19-25

The letter that the apostle James wrote back in the 1st century to fellow believers was one that was very practical for that time.  It is also very practical and relevant for today.  In this portion of the letter, James talks about several things that resonate very deeply in 2016.

We as a society are very quick to speak and quick to anger.  James knew this was a bad combination and made a point to focus on that.  Very easily we can shut off listening to people and just rant and rage.  When we listen first and speak second, we hear the hearts and minds of those around us.  Those that are in need, those that are struggling, those that are hurting.  Then when the time is right for us to speak, we are in a better place to speak out of love and not out of anger.

Those that are followers of Jesus know the truth.  We know that we are called to love God and love one another.  We have the Gospel to share and it is our duty to share it and not just hear it.  James also makes that clear in this passage in that we are to be doers and hearers and not just hearers.  There is a world that is hurting and we are to carry that message of the One who brings comfort, the one who brings hope.

This week, let us be quick to listen to others.  Let us be slow to speak until the time is right.  Let us be slow to anger and show mercy and grace.  And let us hear from God and do what He says.  That is what being a follower of Jesus is about.

Lessons Learned from a Random Movie Scene

A few days ago, I was watching a movie on Netflix.  It was one of those nights that there wasn’t anything on TV so thought I’d check something out on streaming Netflix.  I ended up watching a random movie I found on there.  The movie was okay, wasn’t great but wasn’t bad.

There was one scene towards the end of the movie that had me thinking.  Now this movie was an indie low budget movie so that was taken into account.  The scene was at a park.  It was at night and it was raining.  An actor and actress were standing out in the rain having a key conversation.  Instead of paying attention to the conversation, I was distracted from it.  How was I distracted?  Well the rain in the scene looked like the rain machine was turned all the way up and was drenching the characters.  The wind machine was turned all the way up and was howling.  It make it look like the characters were standing in a hurricane instead of just in the rain.  The music sounded like someone was playing the same three notes on the piano.  But the main thing was all this background noise drowned out (pun not intended) the voices of the actors.  I could barely hear the actress speak and couldn’t really hear the actor at all.  I don’t know if it was a bad microphone or if the actor was just whispering the lines or what but I had a hard time hearing what was said.  It took away from what the scene was trying to get across.

So what lessons did I learn from this?  I learned that sometimes distractions in my life can be like that wind and rain machine and the monotone music.  It can keep me from hearing what God is trying to say to me.  That noise drowns out and keeps me from hearing God.  It’s not to say those things that are “distractions” are bad, just like the wind machine and rain machine and the music are good things they need to be used in the right context.  That’s why it’s good sometimes to just get away from everything and pray and listen to what God has to say.  Jesus regularly would get away from everything, away from distractions and pray.  That should be our example as well.

God used a scene from a random movie on Netflix to teach me a lesson.  You have to be open to listening to what He has to say.