With Jesus, a great teaching moment can also be a miracle. In today’s story, thousands of hungry people are fed by the power and presence of Jesus. And as this miracle is unfolding, Jesus also teaches his disciples an essential attitude of the kingdom of God. He moves his followers from an attitude of scarcity to an attitude of abundance.
In today’s story, Jesus sits down on the floor and invites his disciples to sit with him. This is always a sign that Jesus is preparing to teach a really important life lesson. Of course, it was the disciples who created this opportunity for the perfect teaching moment. Jesus picks up on their argument over who would be considered the greatest among them all. We can’t really judge them for this, because we also struggle between longing to be recognized in some important way, and choosing to live in humility.
Jesus never missed a good teaching moment. In this week’s First 15s we’ll be reading stories in the Gospels of five highly important teaching moments where Jesus reveals essential attitudes for living in the kingdom of God. Teachers in our community, like Dr. Jim Vaszauskas who spoke in our worship services this past weekend, use the acronym TEKS, which stands for “Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills.” We might say, this week’s First 15s are about moments when Jesus taught “Kingdom Essential Knowledge and Skills.”
The above passage from Mark is a well-known passage, to be sure. Jesus considers this the greatest of all the commandments, and it is only seconded by the command to love one’s neighbor as themselves. But what does it mean to love God in this way? For our purposes, I want to focus on loving God from the heart.
In Marjorie J. Thompson’s Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Spiritual Life, she discusses various spiritual disciplines that enrich and enliven the spiritual life. Of worship, she says it is the “work of all the faithful who gather to praise, honor and glorify God. We offer our will, strength, and gifts in gratitude for who God is and what God has done for us.” Today, I’d like to talk about what it means to have a worshipful life. What does it mean to live a life of worship?
This particular excerpt is part of a psalm for giving grateful praise. Psalm 100 contains familiar poetic commands like "Shout for joy to the Lord (verse 1). Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good, and his love endures forever (verses 4 and 5)." It is, by all means, praise.
Alexander MacLaren was a well-known English Baptist preacher from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s He was known to be as prominent as some of his fellow contemporaries like Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Joseph Parker and F.B. Meyer. Meyer himself, in comparing Maclaren to his many notable contemporaries, said, “Dr. Maclaren is said with truth to have changed the whole style of the British pulpit.” When asked about his vocation, he replied, “I cannot ever recall any hesitation as to being a minister.” He said, “It just had to be.”
A few years ago, a good friend of mine posted a promotional video for the May 20th release of a new album by Christian rap artist Shai Linne on Facebook. As a person who worked in graphics and communications, I appreciated the creativity of the video; however I was more so engaged by the content. After watching it, I decided to look the artist up. This particular album is the second of a two-part series called “Lyrical Theology”.
These are some of the only words of hope we find in the book of Lamentations. There was a reason it was given this name. It’s a book filled with words of lament, expressions of sorrow and pain. Yet even in the remembrance of “affliction and my wandering,” when “my soul is downcast within me” we hear these words of faith, “I have hope.”
Remember the main character from our reading yesterday. It was King David. In looking at an incredibly bad season in his life we noted that the one who the scriptures describe as, “a man after God’s own heart,” had wandered from what Jesus would later describe as that “narrow path.” Growing too comfortable with his authority and power, David found himself doing the unimaginable.
King David was having a bad day. Actually, he was experiencing a season of continual bad days. The one who the scriptures describe as, “a man after God’s own heart,” had wandered from what Jesus would later describe as that “narrow path.” Growing too comfortable with his authority and power, David found himself doing the unimaginable. Taking another man’s wife while sending the husband off to war to be killed. It was an incredible stain on his story, and prior to this encounter with Nathan, the entire sordid affair had been carefully “swept under the rug.”
I wonder if you have anyone in your life like the Apostle Paul. If I had to choose one word to describe the personality of Paul we see reflected in his writings it would be intense. I imagine that some of his contemporaries thought he lived at the border of “obsession” when it came to his work of sharing the Gospel. I know people like that. They are the ones who are always challenging me to keep up!
This week we are focusing on moving forward in our stories and each day we are closing our reflections by praying the Serenity Prayer. My guess is that many of you are familiar with the first few lines of that prayer while the second half of that may be new to you.
You have probably heard before the proverb, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” The origin of this wisdom saying is unknown, but it is one which often comes to mind as we consider how we might best help another in need. Of course, the reality is that sometimes a need is so extraordinary that training someone how to fish must wait for later. The need is so desperate, it must be met im-mediately.
We’ve spent a week looking at the Bible - the history of it and how we think of it in the context of our faith. As Christians, we see the Bible as sacred and holy. And beyond that there are lots of ways of framing it. Let me suggest what I believe to be one of the most helpful ways to look at the Bible.