Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Sabbath

12/12- 10 Commandments 4- remember the Sabbath Day

Read: “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.  Six days you shall work, but on the seventh you shall rest.” “God allows us to enter His Sabbath rest because He came.”  (Heb. 4).

Thoughts: The Bible indicates work and play are good.  God calls us to work and to play.  We are to work for six days.  But we need to leave room for rest and worship.  God calls us away to take a breather to refresh our bodies, our minds, and our souls.  The Bible picks one day for everyone so we can rest together and not encourage each other to work.  For Christians, the Sabbath is called “The Lord’s Day” because it is the day Jesus rose from the dead- Sunday.  We need to leave room for refreshment.  Just as the body gets dehydrated without water, so the soul gets dried up without rest and worship.  If we believe work and play is important, we also need to believe rest and worship is important.  When so many others are playing instead of worshiping; or working instead of resting this is a reminder from God we are to be different from everyone else.  Perhaps more than any other commandment, this commandment invites us to show our friends we believe and our belief effects our what we do. 

Activity: Prepare the family to really take a day off Sunday.  Worship comes first.  No one plays sports today.  Leave room for doing something to help someone in need- maybe writing a letter to a relative or a friend; or visiting a neighbor who is sick;  Leave room on the Sabbath for deeds of love and mercy.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for rest.  Thank you that you came that we might have peace and rest.  

Monday, December 11, 2017

God is first

12/11- - 10 Commandments- 1,2,3

Read: “I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other Gods before me.  You shall not worship idols.  You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” (Ex. 20); “Glory to God in the highest.” (Lk. 2:14)

Thoughts: The first three commandments teach us to respect God.  We have a tendency to make God in our image instead of listening to God’s description of Himself.  We should be careful to not make other things more important than God in our lives- or those things become our false gods.  This means no toy, no game, nothing should be above God in our hearts.  When we talk about God we need to be careful to talk about Him reverently and kindly.  When the angels sang at Christmas, "Glory to God in the highest" they meant that He is always first and receives highest praise and glory.  

Activity:  At Christmas we can get so busy.  Make time each day to do these devotionals together, and make time to go to church – even if we stayed up late doing other things the night before.  

Prayer: Help me to remember Lord, that you are God.  May you have first place in my heart and life.  

Lake Murray Presbyterian pulpit at advent

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Listening to God

12/10- Why is Talking and Listening to God important?  John 14:21

Read: “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.  He who loves me will be loved of my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”  (John 14:21)
“I am the Lord’s servant.  May it be to me as you have said.”  (Luke 1:38)
“When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.”  (Matthew 1:24)

Thoughts: We talk to God in prayer.  We listen to God through God’s Word- which is the Spirit speaking through the Bible.  We believe the Bible is not just a history book or a record of how people loved God years ago.  We believe the scriptures are written for human beings to convey God’s purpose and will for us.  Therefore it is important to read the Bible- or Bible story books.  There are great Bible apps (like the Youversion Bible apps), that can be on your smartphone, ipad or computer.  When we love God we are called to listen to Him- just like when you love someone here on this earth you want to listen to them.

Activity: In the room you are in, have one person start singing, “Old McDonald had a farm” over and over, turn up two music players (phone or something else), one TV (if in the room),then try to tell each person in the room one thing you like about them.  Now turn it all off- yes the singing too- and try to say the same thing.  When there is a lot of noise we call those things distractions.  Many things can distract us from hearing God today.  Make sure you make non-distracted space to listen to God and the Bible each day. 

Prayer: Thank you God that you listen to me.  Help me to listen to you through your Word.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Thine is the Glory

12/9- Lord’s Prayer- 60 “For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”
Read: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31); He shines on us to guide us into the path of peace. (Lk. 1:79)

“What is the main purpose of man?”  “It is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”  (Westminster Shorter Catechism- question 1). 

Thoughts: In the end, God’s purpose and plan will happen.  No one can fight against God and win.  We might as well be on God’s side and try to do His will.  To glorify God means to reflect His glory or His light or His will in your life.  We are to be like mirrors- so that when someone looks at us they get a little glimpse of God’s glory or light. 

Activity: Bring a flashlight.  Go in a room with a big mirror.  Turn off the light.  Have the children turn on the flashlight- pointing at the mirror.  Note that when the light shines on the mirror it makes it twice as bright than when the light is shined somewhere other than the mirror.  As we reflect God’s glory in our lives, we make His light and truth brighter in our world.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

12/8- Lord’s Prayer- 5- “And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”

Read: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  (Romans 12:21);
“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 Corinthians 10:13);  God raises a Son to rescue us from the hand of our enemies and enable us to serve Him without fear.”  (Lk. 1:74)

Thoughts: God is our protector from temptation and from evil.  It is good to pray for God to protect us not only from hurt and harm but also from temptation and evil.  “God Guard our hearts” is a good prayer for families to pray. 

Activity: What do you do when someone is mean to you?  There are bullies at school, work, even home- and we can be tempted to be a bully too.  Talk about what to do if someone is mean to you.
The Bible is full of stories of people who were mean.  People were mean to Daniel- throwing him in a lion’s den.  Joseph’s brothers were mean to him.  People were even mean to Jesus- trying to kill Him on the cross- but the cross was not the last word.  Make a cut out of a cross as a reminder that when people were mean to Jesus He overcame them by both his death and rising at Easter. Trace the Lord’s Prayer on the picture, saying it together. 

Prayer: Father, when people are mean to me, help me to trust in you.  Let me not be afraid of people.  

Other thoughts: The Pope recently raised an issue about re-translating the Lord's Prayer particularly about this petition.  Below are my thoughts on this: 

Lead us not into temptation is the phrase in question.  The words "lead us not" (the traditional translation) vs. "do not let us fall into" (as the Pope proposed).  No doubt the idea of God's leading us into temptation is problematic.  The problem, I believe, is not with the text, but with our ability to believe it.  The passage is a prayer that God would not bring us to a place where we will be tempted.  God guides us wherever we go in His providence.  Sometimes suffering and crosses are not evil in themselves.  God often uses the sufferings we face to sharpen us and shape us as a potter would mold clay.  It is more problematic, perhaps, to believe that God is not able to keep us from a situation that is tempting.  To "not fall" is passive whereas to "lead us not" implies God plays a more active roll in protecting us from both temptation and evil.  Either way, we are the one who falls into temptaion.  

In Greek the word "lead" is eisphero- which means to bring in.  It is actually not fall.  It literally means bring us not to temptation.  It seems to me the gist of the passage means, "Do not bring me to the place of temptation."  The Pope has good intentions, and it is not wrong to re-translate this, but it just misses a good portion of the point of the prayer.    

I am not opposed to translating the Lord's Prayer so that it is in modern English.  Language changes.  But we're not supposed to change meanings just because we don't think it jives with what we think God should have said.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

He Came to Forgive

12/7- Lord’s Prayer- 4- “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”
Read: “Be kind, one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ has forgiven you.”  (Ephesians 4:32);You…will give His people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sins.”  (Lk. 1:77)

Thoughts: Jesus came at Christmas so that when we mess up we can still get to God.  God gives us a second chance.  He also wants us to give others another chance too- even if they hurt us and we don’t want to trust them.  If we want to be forgiven when we mess up, then we need to be forgiving toward others who also hurt us- even if they do not deserve forgiveness.
    There are lots of people who rise up out of their inaction to hurt or get revenge for a wrong.  Jesus came to forgive.  Then He asks all those who follow Him to be forgivers too. 

Activity: On a piece of paper write down one thing you want to be forgiven.  Put the pieces from each family member in a box.  Then go outside and burn them- saying, “As far as the east is from the west so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”  Trace the Lord’s Prayer on the illustration above, saying it together.

Prayer: Thank you Jesus that you came to forgive us.  Give us the grace and help we need to forgive others.  

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Daily Bread- Jesus the Bread

12/6- Lord’s Prayer- 3- “Give us this day our daily bread.”

Read: “All good things are a gift from God coming down from the father of lights and the Lord of love.”  (James 1:17) Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came from heaven.” John 6:51

Thoughts: God is the great provider.  All that we have is a gift.  He gives us life, time, ability, and puts us in the right place at the right time to get the right job.  The prayer here is not for a lot of extras- but for only daily bread.  This doesn’t mean God only wants us to eat bread.  It does mean God wants us to ask Him for help in providing for our needs.  When God provides more than just the stuff to survive, He would ask us to think of sharing with others. 
     Jesus is the living bread that came from heaven.  We need to nourish our souls on Him daily by reading His Word.  The Bible is also called "the bread of life." 

Activity: Put aside a can for each family member to give to We Care Sunday.  If you feed the birds, give them an extra helping of bird food today- reading Matthew 6:26 before filling up the feeders. Trace the Lord’s prayer on the picture above, saying it together.

Prayer: Thank you that we have enough to eat.  We remember people like in South Sudan or Puerto Rico who struggle to have daily food.  

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Thy Will Be Done

12/5- Lord’s Prayer- 2- “Thy Kingdom come, they will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Read: “Father not my will but yours be done.”  [Jesus in the Garden before he died]. Luke 22:42
Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant.  May it be to me as you have said.”  Luke 1:38

Thoughts: When we pray to God we are not demanding from Him what we want.  He is God, we are not.  Whatever we pray, we want God’s will to be done.  God is the great King.  We, as God’s children, are a part of His kingdom and we want His kingdom to be great and that His will is more important than our will.  If anything, we want to pray that God’s will and our will would be the same thing (one). 

Activity: Smartphone prayer:  Take a phone- and pray for the last three persons you have called or texted.  Look at the last three people you took a picture of and pray for them too.  Trace the Lord’s prayer with the picture above as you pray it together. 

Prayer: Lord, you are Lord.  May your will be done in our family in my life.  Amen. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Lord's Prayer and Advent

12/4- Lord’s Prayer- 1- “Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name”

Read:  “You have the Spirit of adoption so you call out Abba, Father.”  Romans 8:15
“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.” Lk. 2:11

Thoughts: When Jesus said we should pray “Our Father who art in heaven.”  He says some really important things about God.  God is a God who loves us as a loving father- better than any father on earth.  God is not uncaring and God is not an it but a person who loves us.  The word “our” means that God wants us to call on Him together and not just alone.  Yet God is the only Father who is above all of us in heaven.  He is the Father who is good, pure, and will help us.  The word “hallowed” just means holy- pure or perfect.  Even God’s name is holy and to be treated with respect. 
Activity- get a phone, ipad, or computer out.  Then google your address and see if you can get a picture of where you live.  Remember that God knows you by name.  Each day, use the picture below to trace the Lord’s Prayer as you say it together. 

Prayer: Father, thank you for your love, thank you that you are holy.  

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Advent Begins

Here is a devotional book about advent written for my families at Lake Murray Presbyterian Church.
The devotional focuses on the basics of the Christian faith: The Lord's Prayer, Apostles' Creed, Ten Commandments, and Beatitudes. 

Advent is really a tool of the church to grow in our faith and discipleship.  It is a season because though we are supposed to live the Christian life, the intensity of the Christian life cannot be easily maintained for most people 356 days a year. 

Advent means "coming."  But it is an opportunity to come nearer the One who came near to us.

Prayer; Lord, help me to draw closer to you this advent. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Weak Guard

62The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate.63“Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”
65“Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. (Matthew 27:62-66)

Thoughts: The disciples were so afraid when Jesus was arrested that they all ran away.  Peter denied Jesus out of fear. The next time we see them they were all huddled in a room with the door locked in fear of the Romans.  That they would confront a Roman guard is almost laughable. 
   But what is more unreasonable is to suppose we can fight against God.  Pharaoh tried and the plagues came and his army was destroyed and the slaves were set free. Sennacherib the mighty king of Assyria mocked God and 185,000 were destroyed.  Paul was going from house to house arresting Christians when Jesus came to him telling him he was "kicking against the goads" (goads were cattle prods that cows kicked against to their own demise).  Paul went from being a persecutor to a missionary.  If Jesus is really who he said he was "God in the flesh" then they could not start to keep him in a tomb with a guard and a seal.  They could easily keep the disciples from entering in.  It was a death penalty to be on guard duty and fall asleep.  But no weapon forged against God will work, and no amount of human strength or number of soldiers can keep His power at bay. So, we might as well not fight against the Lord, but join Him wholeheartedly. 

Prayer: Lord, keep me from guarding my heart against you  Instead, help me to give myself fully to you.  

Friday, December 1, 2017

Joseph of Arimathea

57As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.

Thoughts: Joseph of Arimathea was a wealthy man.  Isaiah 53:9, speaking of the Messiah's death mentions that he would be assigned a tomb with the rich.  Mark 15:23 points out that Joseph was a part of the council (the Sanhedrin) and Luke adds that he did not consent to their sentence.  His vote made him stand out.  But he was willing.  We should be willing to stand out for what is right as well.  As the church tries to be nice and fit in it will never stand out (you cannot fit in and stand out at the same time- Deshaun Watson).  He was willing to ask Pilate for the body.  This is in sharp contrast to Peter who would not be identified ith Christ.  Joseph could have lost everything.  Instead, his name goes down in history. 
    Mary and Mary saw where Jesus lay.  Why is this important ?  They came back the next day and they knew where they were going.  
People don;t forget where their loved one is buried.  Jesus burial is important. It showed he was human and really did die.  

Prayer: Lord, give me faith to stand out.  Keep me from burying my faith in order not to offend anyone.  

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Thoughts on the Death of Christ

45From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,c lemasabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).d
47When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”
48Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”
50And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection ande went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
54When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
55Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph,fand the mother of Zebedee’s sons. (Matthew 27:45-56)

Thoughts: The way Jesus died was both sad, awful and amazing.  None of these witnesses were exhaustive in their coverage, but the only words Matthew has Jesus saying was the quote from Psalm 22- "My God, my God why have you forsaken me."  It was the cry of the lamb being sacrificed for the sins of the people.  Jesus cried out again in a loud voice.  This is probably the "It is finished" cry recorded by John (19:30).
     But Matthew, more than others speaks of immediate positive things that happened when Christ died.
1) The curtain was torn in two.  This was a symbol that God was being let loose on the world.  The Temple had concentric circles of intimacy built in.  There was a court of the Gentiles, then a court of the women, then a court of the men, then the court where the priests could enter, then the Holy of Holies where the high priest only went once a year.  When the curtain was torn in twain, when Jesus died, the opening up of access of God was symbolized.  Indeed the message of Christianity is for all people- Jew, Greek, slave, free, men and women. 
2) The earth shook and the tombs opened- some of the godly were raised.  Scientists can go back and look at seismological history and tell there were several earthquake events on the Mt. of Olives when Jesus died on that Passover 14 Nisan (April 3rd) 33 AD.  The tombs not only broke open in the earthquake, but several godly people who had died were raised to life and went throughout Jerusalem.  It wasn't too long after this that several thousand were converted to Christ in Jerusalem all at once.  Perhaps having uncle Joe, that you knew was dead for several months, all of a sudden come back might make you wander what happened.  The theological point is that the death of Christ brings life.
3) The executors said, "Surely this was the Son of God."  John Wayne played the centurion in "The Greatest Story Ever Told."  But it wasn't just the centurion- all the guard said it.  The Romans were usually superstitious and were probably in awe at the bravery and few words  of Christ.  He was not complaining or whining but facing mockery bravery.  Add to that the earthquake, darkness at mid day, and tombs breaking open and they could tell this was no ordinary man dying an ordinary death.  Our call as well is to look at the death of Christ and say, 'Surely this was the Son of God." 

Prayer: Lord, your death is inspiring.  Yet it is horrible.  Let me appreciate your love shown in your death and even in how you died. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


32As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”).34There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.35When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
38Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42“He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” 44In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him. (Matthew 27)
Thoughts: The higher you go the greater your fall.  So this "king" of the Jews was mocked.  He became the lightning rod- accused of things he didn't even say so that people could feel good about his fall.  There is a type of blood lust that shows itself today when a prominent minister or politician or entertainer is dethroned.  What this does is to keep good people away from the needed higher positions.  Who wants to go through the scrutiny in the name of public service when half the public not only doesn't want you to serve, they will do everything they can to stymie you?
      Ironically, Matthew quotes from Psalm 22 and 51 to point out that these mockeries were predicted long before they were made.  Thus even in mockery and false accusations, God is still in control.  The difference is obvious however, none of us is perfect.  Jesus, however deserved none of this.  He was the real king.  The mockeries showed how ignorant the people were.  It is never good to mock. We should be sensitive and recognize our need to be kind and gracious.  Would that they had been kind and gracious to Jesus. 

Prayer: Lord, help me to be more kind than I am and more generous in my thoughts of others.  

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Mocking is Bullying

27Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. (Matthew 27:27-31)

Thoughts: There is much talk about bullying today.  But bullying has been around.  The sad thing is that the righteous are often the ones who are picked on, mocked, and bullied.  Today it is a bit easier because we can bully without doing so face to face, and many times we may bully another and express our opinion anonymously.  But here people in power bullied the righteous but seemingly powerless Jesus.  Jesus had reminded Pilate that he would have no power if it were not given to him on high (Jn. 19:10).  This was a reminder from Jesus that all power and energy and life comes from God and we need to not use our power/energy/life carelessly, unethically, and especially in a way that bullies or persecutes others.  

Prayer: Lord, help me to be kind and gentle not harsh and bullying.  

Monday, November 27, 2017

Jesus and the Roman Judge

11Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“You have said so,” Jesus replied.
12When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.
15Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd.16At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesusb Barabbas. 17So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.
19While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”
20But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
21“Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.
“Barabbas,” they answered.
22“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.
They all answered, “Crucify him!”
23“Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
24When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
25All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”
26Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.  (Matthew 27:11-26)

Thoughts: It is evident that Pilate wanted to find a reason to let Jesus go.  His wife told him to let him go.  He found no reason to condemn Him- even asking the crowd, "Why, what crime has he committed?"  He tried to let Him go and have Barabbas imprisoned instead.  But the crowd was insistent and Pilate did not have the guts to stand up for justice against a lynch-mob.  The Roman government was one of the best at creating laws and enforcing fairness.  The Romans gave the Pax Romana about this time that Jesus died.  The Romans gave us the common law which is based mainly on Roman thought.  But here the law failed.  Both the Jewish Law and the Roman Law- and the most innocent of all men was condemned to a horrible death.  Certainly this part of the Passion of Christ reminds us of the injustice inherent in life.  Yet we see this in face of the cross.  Injustice does not win in the end.  

Prayer: Lord, let me live justly and truthfully before you, even if no one else sees it.  Let me not simply live to please others- who are impossible to please.  

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Judas's Demise

1Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. 2So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor.
3When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4“I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”
“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”
5So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.
6The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. 8That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, 10and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”  (Matthew 27:1-10)

Thoughts: This passage could be labeled, "Judas's regret."  Jesus had predicted that the one who betrayed Him would wish he would never be born.  Judas fulfilled this in his suicide.  This passage does not teach us about suicide.  It does teach us about Judas.  When Judas "saw he was condemned" then he regretted it.  Perhaps something just clicked in his mind and woke him up to this evil.  But perhaps he only wanted Jesus to be arrested, not condemned.  The chief priests may have even told Judas that Jesus would not have any real harm. We do not know this.  However, betrayal of a friend is a very evil thing. 
     Acts also speaks of this.  Some get all hung up in the details- taking things too woodenly.  Matthew speaks of Judas hanging himself.  Acts speaks of his throwing himself down.  MGM had Judas hanging over a cliff and then falling in their movie.  There is some debate about the potter's field.  But the basic message is Judas died a terrible self-inflicted death.  It is a message for us to not deny or betray our Lord. 

Prayer: Lord, help me to be loyal to you, following you with all my heart.  

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Denying Him

69Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.
70But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.
71Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
72He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”
73After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”
74Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”
Immediately a rooster crowed. 75Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:69-75)

Thoughts: Peter was perhaps the second bravest of the disciples. John it seems, led Peter to the courtyard for he knew the high priest.  He had connections.  John went inside while Peter stayed out in the courtyard. 
     There is a bit of progression in Peter's challenges and a progression in Peter's denials. 
A servant girl said he was with Jesus. His first denial is I don't know- a mild denial.
Another servant girl confronted him and said, "This fellow was with Jesus" Peter clearly said, "I don't know the man."  Then more than one- several approached him about his accent being from Galilee.  Peter then cursed and said he didn't know Jesus. 
    Now, many would say because he denied him, he got to live another day.  Perhaps he would be brought up to trial as well.  Doubtless the priests servants were on the lookout for spies and servants of Jesus.  Perhaps the only way to tell the difference was their accents. This was used before when the tribe of Ephraim were asked to say "Shibbolet" and they left the "H" out. 
     All the reasons and excuse for denying Jesus went away when the rooster crowed.  Excuses do not matter when we truly remember the words of our Lord.  The One who died for us did not deny us.  

Prayer: Lord, help me to be faithful to you no matter what.  When the time comes to speak up for you, give me wisdom to speak with tenderness, grace, and truth.