Changing Perspective

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S (Scripture): Mark 12:41 Jesus sat across from the collection box for the temple treasury and observed how the crowd gave their money. Many rich people were throwing in lots of money. 42 One poor widow came forward and put in two small copper coins worth a penny.43 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I assure you that this poor widow has put in more than everyone who’s been putting money in the treasury. 44  All of them are giving out of their spare change. But she from her hopeless poverty has given everything she had, even what she needed to live on.”

O (Observation): Jesus was all about reexamining the understanding of the Kingdom of God. Did God care more about the amount someone put in the offering plate? Or that someone was sensing that this money is first and foremost God’s money?

(Remember a few verses ago when Jesus was asked about paying taxes? How did he respond? Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. Give to God what is God’s. Reevaluating. Perspective. One must struggle with what belongs to God.)

How was Jesus changing the perspective of the Kingdom for his disciples in this observation regarding the widow?

What is valuable in the Kingdom? What is valuable in the world?

A (Application): So money is an obvious connection here. My wife and I struggled to reach a point where we acknowledged that the money we have is indeed a gift from God. As such, we give 10% of our income. The weird thing is that as we reached this point, I feel like our capacity to give has increased even more! The perspective changed from “How do we get to 10%?” to “how does God seem to magnify the margin in my life?”

I think this is all about perspective. What is God’s? And in a way that is joyful, we have responded to God’s call to see that our finances are God’s.

Now, I am in a situation where I have money to give. (Odd perspective since I still have student loans…but God has moved us…).

So, what about those who have very little? Well…let’s remember perspective. If someone has less money…what can they do? They can also choose to discern – for themselves – what they can give. If it’s 1%, or 5%, or 50%…if that is what they sense is God’s…then so be it. (That’s not snarky…it’s acknowledging what God is up to in our lives.)

Please don’t take my application as a judgment based on amounts or percentages. Rather, I encourage you to know that God’s Kingdom is different than that of this world. Don’t let anyone tell you that your gift of time or money or resources is yours to exploit.

The world places expectations on our money and time. I encourage you to discern how to use the gifts you have for God’s Kingdom. You have to decide what that looks like for you and yours.

P (Prayer): God, take my life that I may be consecrated Lord for thee. Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise. Amen.

Can You Believe It???

S (Scripture): John 4:39 Now many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the report of the woman who testified, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they began asking him to stay with them. He stayed there two days, 41 and because of his word many more believed. 42 They said to the woman, “No longer do we believe because of your words, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this one really is the Savior of the world.”

O (Observation):  Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well was the beginning of a movement.  He engaged in conversation with one woman who became a witness to her family and friends about Jesus being the Messiah – the Messiah of the whole world.  

Here is what my commentary says today:

There is irony in the Samaritans’ declaration that Jesus was really the Savior of the world, an irony foreshadowed in the prologue to the Fourth Gospel (1:11): “He came to his own, and his own did not receive him.” Yet the Samaritans welcomed Jesus and proclaimed him to be not the Jewish Messiah only, but the Savior of the world.

A (Application):  Word of the Messiah spread fast…and beyond the Jewish cultural boundaries…but should we be so surprised?  

As I’ve said many times, God has always loved the whole world, but for a time, God showed the whole world what love looks like by making a covenant with Israel and loving Israel despite all its faults and foibles.  Then, after generations of disloyalty, God comes back to God’s people and the whole world in the person of Jesus.  

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Israel and to the world.  Jesus shows the world what love looks like.  And the Holy Spirit connects us more now than ever before.  

Are you good at gathering people together?  Are you good at sharing the story of God?  Are you more likely to believe rather than spread the Good News?  We all have different gifts.   Use yours to the fullest.  

P (Prayer):  Lord, I am gifted by your Spirit. Help me to spread the word of your gracious love. Amen.  

A Light in Dark Places

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S (Scripture): John 9:1 Now as Jesus was passing by, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 9:2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who committed the sin that caused him to be born blind, this man or his parents?” 9:3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but he was born blind so that the acts of God may be revealed through what happens to him. 9:4 We must perform the deeds of the one who sent me as long as it is daytime. Night is coming when no one can work. 9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

O (Observation): In John 8, Jesus begins to describe that he is the light of the world. Here, in this text, he is living out what it means to be light in the world, by healing the man born blind.

Popular thought of the day was that one born with some deformity or illness had parents who sinned, thus causing the impediment. Jesus is stating that sin is not the cause here. In this particular case, Jesus says that this man was born blind so that Jesus could show everyone (through healing this man) that Jesus is the light of the world.

And as the light of the world, he doesn’t just walk around glowing : )
Rather, being the light is about Jesus’ effect on the world. He brings light where there is darkness. And he calls all to come to the light.

A (Application): We all have dark days. We all have struggles. And sometimes, they just are. No explanation. No “parents who’ve sinned.” Sometimes darkness just hangs over our heads. And, unfortunately, we don’t always feel the light.

The light is there. Jesus is waiting for us to accept the light…so we don’t stumble.

Now, as one who has been baptized, I believe that Jesus Christ is the light of the world. My struggles are not with eternal salvation…but with life on earth and the struggles we still contend with.

Will my/your suffering last? Maybe for a season, or a lifetime.

What to do? Allow others to come in a share in your pain, even just a little bit of it. The usually helps me.

I eagerly await the day of “Kingdom Come.” No more suffering. And the only tears will be tears of joy.

P (Prayer): Lord, you move about, even when our own struggles seem to block you out. Remind us that, even when we don’t / can’t see or feel You, the Light of the world, remind us that you ARE there still. Amen.