Daily Bible Reading:
Monday, February 18. Read John 1:10-14. 1) What did John saw about Jesus in verse 14? 2) What was his relationship with the world was like? 3) What does a relationship with Jesus create?
Tuesday, February 19. Read Matthe 10:32-33. 1) What does Jesus say about denying we know him or announcing that we know him in a public way? 2) Why do you think Jesus regards that as important?
Wednesday, February 20. Read Luke 14:25-33. 1) What does Jesus require of his disciples? 2) What does Jesus say we should do before making a decision to follow him? 3) Who is qualified to make such a decision?
Thursday, February 21. Read Matthe 8:18:22. 1) What did the three wannabe’s say to Jesus? 2) What do you think their motivations were? 3) What was Jesus’ reply to them?
Friday, February 22. Read James 5:1-6. 1) On whom does James pronounce a woe? 2) What does he say was the result of their wealth? 3) Who are victims of the wealthy?
Saturday, February 23. Read Luke 6:20-42. This is Sunday’s sermon text.
Prayer for the Week:
God of Justice,
open our eyes
to see you in the face of the poor.
Open our ears
to hear you in the cries of the exploited.
Open our mouths
to defend you in the public squares
as well as in private deeds.
Remind us that what we do
to the least ones,
we do to you.
Hymn of the Week:
Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life
Frederick Mason North, 1905
Where cross the crowded ways of life,
where sound the cries of race and clan,
above the noise of selfish strife,
we hear your voice, O Son of Man.
In haunts of wretchedness and need,
on shadowed thresholds fraught with fears,
from paths where hide the lures of greed,
we catch the vision of your tears.
From tender childhood’s helplessness,
from human grief and burdened toil,
from famished souls, from sorrow’s stress,
your heart has never known recoil.
The cup of water given for you
still holds the freshness of your grace;
yet long these multitudes to view
the sweet compassion of your face.
O Master, from the mountainside,
make haste to heal these hearts of pain;
among these restless throngs abide;
O tread the city’s streets again;
Till all the world shall learn your love,
and follow where your feet have trod;
till glorious from your heaven above
shall come the city of our God.
Devotional Article of the Week:
The Good Life: Following the Way of Jesus: Jesus went up on the mountain and taught his followers to live the good life — to live as Jesus did! by James Nored & Phil Ware
Jesus taught his followers that their goal was to be like their teacher (Luke 6:40): he called them to live a Jesus-styled life. The apostle Paul held up this Jesus-styled life as the only way for them to live (Philippians 2:5-11). In fact, he encouraged those he taught to follow his example of living as he followed the Jesus way (1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17; 4:9).
But, how do we know how to live that life?
We have two clear ways as believers to follow the Jesus way of life.
First, we focus on WHAT Jesus taught. Some people call this red-letter living after the printed Bibles that show Jesus’ teaching in red ink. People who live this way look at what Jesus taught when he was here on earth, then do what he said.
This Jesus-styled living, this obedient lifestyle, is wise living (Matthew 7:24-25 NLT). Jesus called it the blessed life as he began his famous teachings found in what we call the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-16). Today’s video from James Nored focuses on this teaching and how it furnished the lifestyle for Christians in the first few centuries. This lifestyle, this way of Jesus, swept through the Roman Empire because his followers actually lived the life Jesus called them to live. As James said in the video below, those early disciples took it upon themselves to become “little Jesuses”! They lived the love, compassion, character, and sacrifice that Jesus demonstrated.
Second, we can learn to live the Jesus-styled life by noticing HOW Jesus treated people. The way Jesus treated people becomes a spiritual hearing aide to help us understand and more clearly hear what Jesus taught. I encourage you to read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and begin a notebook of reflections that notes how Jesus treated people in his interactions with them.
Today, many mourn the way followers of Jesus are portrayed in the media, caricatured by critics as close-minded bigots, and the political trolls of hate. Some of this can be attributed to our own failings. As culture has changed, many who call themselves Christians have forgotten to listen and obey Jesus. We’ve quit living the Jesus way, the blessed life, and we’ve begun to live the political life, the defensive life.
When we go back and watch the Lord as he dealt with people, we can’t help but notice the difference between Jesus and the church that is supposed to be his bodily presence in the world. The people who flocked to Jesus don’t want to have anything to do with the people of his church today. Why? What are we doing differently from what Jesus did? Why are the lost, the last, and the least not drawn to the message of Christ that we preach today when they were drawn to him when he was here?
James’ observations about the work of the church in those first three centuries after Jesus are a reminder to us of the difference. They tried to practice the Jesus way of life. They advocated for the vulnerable — the poor, the foreigner, the child not accepted into the family (whether newborn or unborn), the widow, and the orphan. They cared for the sick, the imprisoned, and the needy. They welcomed people of all races and status as equal citizens of Jesus’ kingdom.
This lifestyle, this way of Jesus, was what he taught in the beatitudes and explained in the Sermon on the Mount. It is what Jesus lived when he was here. It is what he calls the blessed life. It is the way of life that makes us his family. Let’s make sure this way is also our way! Our world needs the modern day church to move from reformation to restoration, from church hierarchy to a people on our knees in service. We don’t need to tweak how we do church; we need the new wine of a Jesus-styled transformation. The world needs us, those who claim to follow Jesus, to restore the presence of Jesus to the world through the way we live.