Devotional Thoughts Matthew 1:1-20
January 19-25, 2015
Monday, January 19, 2015
“When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him” (Matthew 5:1).
Juan trudged to the bus stop holding his mother’s hand. It was his first day of kindergarten and Juan was both excited and apprehensive. He was starting a new chapter in his life. Tabitha slipped her car into a vacant parking space and turned off the engine. A large five story building and her new job loomed before her. She took a few deep breaths, got out of the car and started her new life.
In the Old Testament, Moses brought in a new age—an age based on God’s relationship with the Israelites and God’s gift of the Ten Commandments for them to live by. This new age started when Moses ascended Mt. Sinai to receive God’s instructions. Now, Jesus was bringing in a new age. The kingdom of God had arrived. Like Moses he ascended a mountain, but Jesus sat down and taught the people how to new lives in God’s kingdom.
The new day stretches before us—and opportunity for us to freshly experience God’s love and grace in our lives. It is a new day when we can walk in a new way in God’s kingdom. As we journey in the kingdom, we have God’s promise to guide us and walk with us.
Loving God, Thank you for the gift of new life in your kingdom. Empower us to live in a new way, one that reflects your kingdom and invites others to live a new life. Amen.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).
Being financially rich or poor has nothing to do with being poor in spirit. While few people would intentionally seek poverty, being poor in spirit is a spiritual gift. A person who is poor in spirit lives from the perspective that he or she owns nothing.
For most of our lives we put an emphasis on “mine.” A child doesn’t want to share a toy with another child because that toy is “mine.” Food banks and shelters for the homeless struggle to remain open because the people who have much refuse to share their wealth with others who don’t. In our everyday conversation each of us talks about my car, my home, my job, my vacation. Mine, mine, mine!
A person who is poor in spirit sees everything in his or her life as a gift. They have not accumulated it, but rather they have been given it. Because it is a gift—something that another has given them to use—they don’t place the emphasis on “mine.” Seeing life as a gift allows them to be thankful for what have they received and share what they have been given with others. Being poor in spirit is a key element in living an abundant and free life.
Generous Lord, you have blessed us richly. Move within us so that we are thankful for what we have received and willing to share our blessings with others. Amen.
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
“Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).
Loss and the causes for grief enter our lives through many different doors. We can experience the loss of a loved one. An accident can cause us to lose an arm or a leg, or the loss of mobility. We might lose a job, or what once was a close relationship or the ability to participate in one of our favorite activities. All of these and more are causes for grief—for mourning.
No one is able to remove our grief. We can’t be talked out of it, shamed out of it or forced to leave it behind. Comfort comes by the Spirit speaking to our hearts. Comfort also comes in the form of people—our family, friends, neighbors, co-works and church family who sit with us, embrace us and shed tears with us. Little acts of love give comfort.
Loss is never easy and mourning is not something for which to seek. They are, though, a part of life. In the middle of our loss and mourning we can give thanks for the supporting community that surrounds us. We can also give thanks when we are a part of the community giving comfort. It is exciting and humbling to know that the Holy Spirit can use us to bring comfort to others.
Loving Lord, thank you for those who stand by us and minister to our needs. When the appropriate time comes, use us to give comfort to those who mourn. Amen.
Thursday, January 22, 2015
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7).
Though Jesus was very merciful, his followers are not known for that characteristic. In fact Christians have been labeled as anything but merciful. We have the reputation of being more judgmental than merciful and, if the truth be told, a little self-righteous. This is an odd response for a people to whom God has shown so much mercy and forgiveness.
Physics defines “power” as the transfer of energy. What would it look like if Christians transferred the energy of the mercy they received to the people around them? What would happen if they also transferred the energy of love, forgiveness and grace? Christians would demonstrate their power—the power of the Holy Spirit—not by forcing conformity by others, but by empowering others.
Mercy is not simply an action, it is also an attitude. That new attitude enables us to experience the kingdom of God in our lives.
Merciful Lord, You have been gracious and merciful to us. May we in turn share this mercy and grace with those around us—to your glory. Amen.
Friday, January 23, 2015
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matthew 5:11).
During the Civil Rights movement people of all colors and faiths descended on Selma, Alabama to demonstrate in support of African Americans having the right to vote. They were persecuted. Some were killed. Their efforts, though, enabled injustice to be righted and began to change an entire society.
In recent years the gay community has been persecuted as have those who have supported them. Though persecuted, they continued to fight for justice. Enduring persecution has begun to spread the ripples of change throughout the country.
Down through the centuries people have been persecuted for doing the right thing—for following Jesus, fighting for justice, standing with the oppressed and embracing the marginalized. Today we might face persecution, as we live in faithful obedience to our Lord and in humble service to our fellow human beings.
Almighty God, give us courage to face the hate and rage of others. May we endure persecution with thankful hearts knowing that we are obediently following you. Amen.
Saturday, January 24, 2015
“You are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13).
Salt is a foreign substance. It is not found naturally in meats, vegetables or breads. When it is added to these items, however, it transforms them by giving them flavor.
Jesus identifies his followers as the salt of the earth. Christians are not commanded to be salt, nor are they taught to be salt. Jesus sees them as salt because of our relationship with him. As disciples of Jesus, we are foreign substances in the world—just like salt. And just like salt we give flavor to the people and the world around us.
So, let us allow ourselves to be shaken in order that we might bring hope to a depressed and downtrodden world. Our salt brings comfort to those who hurt, encouragement to those who struggle and peace to those who are troubled. Salt makes the world a better place and allows people to have a glimpse of God’s kingdom—heaven.
God of power and might, pour us out that our salt may transform the world. Amen.
Sunday, January 25, 2015
“You are the light of the world … No one after lighting a lamp puts it under a bushel basket” (Matthew 5:25).
The smallest light can pierce the darkness and overcome it. A candle can light up a sanctuary. A match can light up a campfire site. Light doesn’t have to come from a lighthouse or a ball field to push the darkness back.
We are lights—that’s what we are. Lights are not something we become as we mature in our faith. The fact that we are followers of Jesus Christ and we are people filled with the Holy Spirit makes us lights. We don’t have to be big lights to overcome the darkness and accomplish the ministry to which we have been called. Lives can be changed and the world can be transformed by our light—when we don’t hide it but freely let is shine.
Shine Jesus shine in our lives, so that we may shine as your lights in the world today. Amen.