Be Alert

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost | August 11, 2019

Isaiah 1:1, 10-20 • Psalm 50:1-8, 22-23 • Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16 • Luke 12:32-40

32 “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.

33 “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. 34 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

39 “Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would not permit his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”

35 “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. 37 The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat! 38 He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn. But whenever he comes, he will reward the servants who are ready.

Luke 12:32-40 New Living Translation (NLT)

I want to pick up something that Jesus says right before this morning’s text.

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.”

Luke 12:31

This verse is important to understand what Jesus is getting at in the words that follow. The work of the Kingdom and seeking the Kingdom should be the number one priority of every believer – and we are promised by Jesus, if we make that our number one priority – everything else will fall in line.

That’s why Jesus then says, “So don’t be afraid little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.” (vs. 32) Jesus goes on to tell his disciples to invest in the Kingdom, because “where your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” (vs. 34)

Believers are to seek the Kingdom of God with all we have – just as we are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love our neighbors as ourselves. Which is one of the reasons he tells his disciples to sell their possessions and give to those in need.

Those possessions aren’t important as we think about the Kingdom of heaven – Those possession aren’t important as we think about the return of the Lord. Jesus changes gears now and reminds his disciples to be ready for the Lord’s return – it’s not a complete change of direction because being ready for the Lord’s return is seeking the Kingdom of God. We need to keep our hearts ready and we need to do our best and making sure that others are ready for the Kingdom of God – which again is what it means to seek the Kingdom of God.

This is our promise that if we are ready, we will receive the reward that the Lord has promised.

But whenever he comes, he will reward the servants who are ready

Luke 12:38b


Prayer for the Week

Let your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend your Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Most Important Thing

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Eighth Sunday After Pentecost | August 4, 2019

Hosea 11:1-11 • Psalm 107:1-9, 43 • Colossians 3:1-11 • Luke 12:13-21

13 Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.”

14 Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” 15 Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”

16 Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. 17 He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ 18 Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. 19 And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’

21 “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

Luke 12:13-21 New Living Translation (NLT)

This week Jesus reminds us of what is important – we are reminded that riches are not the most important thing in life. The most important thing is to have a rich relationship with God.

This conversation comes about because a man yells from the crowd. He feels he is being treated unfairly by his brother. We don’t know anymore of the details, but apparently they are trying to settle the estate of their father. It’s interesting how this goes in families. Perhaps Jesus knew in his heart what the man’s problem was – perhaps it was greed because that is what Jesus answers. He warns the gathered crowd to watch against greed.

He gives an illustration about a man who has too many crops. Instead of giving them away, he builds bigger barns, not knowing that his life will soon be over. He lived for the day. We all know people, even maybe yourself, who live for the day – after all you only go around once. But we are reminded it is not our riches that are important, but our relationship with God. Let’s make that first and foremost in our lives.

Prayer for the Week

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Teach Us to Pray

Seventh Sunday After Pentecost | July 28, 2019

Image by Dean Moriarty from Pixabay

Hosea 1:2-10 • Psalm 85 • Colossians 2:6-19 • Luke 11:1-13

11 Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

Jesus said, “This is how you should pray:

“Father, may your name be kept holy.
    May your Kingdom come soon.
Give us each day the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
    as we forgive those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation.”

Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.

“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

11 “You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? 12 Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! 13 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

Luke 11:1-13 New Living Translation (NLT)

Jesus disciples come to him and ask him to teach them how to pray, just as John has taught his disciple to pray. He then says the words that we know as either The Lord’s Prayer or The Our Father. Last fall, Pam and I did a series called Teach Us to P.R.A.Y. The letters in pray stand for:

  • Praise
  • Repent
  • Ask
  • Yield

As we look at the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples, these four elements are included in Jesus’ model prayer. Prayer begins with praise. We praise God for who He is. This is the most important part of praise, but we also praise Him for what He has done in our lives.

When we praise God for who He is and what He has done, we remember that He is God and we are not. We realize that we are not worthy and many times we remember how we have not lived as we should, which leads to repentance and asking forgiveness from God.

Once our hearts are clean, we move on to the part of prayer that many think prayer is – the Ask. As we have already seen, prayer is so much more than simply asking God for a long laundry list. Asking is only one small part of prayer. After we ask, then we yield to God’s will and not yield to temptation.

Then Jesus does some additional teaching on prayer. He tells His disciples that we must be persistent in prayer – that we must always be asking. Keep on asking – Keep on seeking – Keep on knocking. As Paul tells us, we must pray without ceasing. This is one reason that our prayers are not answer – but not always. We must be persistent in prayer and keep asking – after all God’s own Son, Jesus, told us we should be persistent.

Why should we be persistent in prayer? Because God is desirous to give good gifts to His children – just as we earthly parents like to give good gifts to our children when they ask. If we ask, he will give us the gift of the Holy Spirit, so that we will know how to pray, but we MUST ask.

Prayer for the Week

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

What’s Most Important

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost | July 21, 2019

Adriaenssen, Vincent, 1595-1675. Christ in the House of Mary and Martha, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved July 19, 2019]. Original source:

Amos 8:1-12 • Psalm 52 • Colossians 1:15-28 • Luke 10:38-42

38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42 New Living Translation (NLT)

We continue our journey through Luke. Two weeks ago we looked at Jesus sending out his disciples. Last week we looked at the most important commandment. We are in Luke 10 again this week with a short story about Mary and Martha. Luke reminds us again that Jesus is continuing toward Jerusalem. He comes to the house where two sisters live, Mary and Martha. If you are like me, you’ve heard many interpretations about this passage. This afternoon, James and I went out for ice cream and I began to think about this passage again. While my application is similar – it comes with a little twist.

As you remember Martha welcomed Jesus and disciples into her home. If this is the same Mary and Martha who had a brother named Lazarus, they weren’t far from Jerusalem. We don’t get that sense in this passage. Martha is busy preparing a meal. Her sister Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to Him. We’ve all been there – working on a big dinner – trying to keep up with it all, but we would love someone to help us. Martha doesn’t say anything, but you know how that goes. You are working and working and it seems like nobody even cares. Finally she blurts out to Jesus, “Doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work?” She even tells Jesus what she wants out of it, “Tell her to come and help me.”

Jesus gently rebukes Martha, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it…” Ouch. I’m sure that Martha wasn’t expecting that.

So what can we learn from this little exchange? It wasn’t as if Mary was not concerned about the preparations for the meal, but Jesus was here! What would you be more concerned about if Jesus came to visit you in the flesh? Would you concerned what your house looked like? Would you be overly concerned about entertaining him? Apparently this is what distracted Martha, but Mary wanted to hang on to every word. She wanted to know how to follow Jesus more closely. Martha was busy taking care of business. It’s quite like us at times – we are like Martha busy taking care of the business of the church and fail to get close to Jesus – and yet there are those – who aren’t interested in going through the motions – they want to be like Mary and learn from Jesus. This is what discipleship is all about. It’s learning how to be more like Jesus.

But wait…there’s more. What if learning to be more like Jesus also means that we are doers of the Word – doers of Jesus? (James 1:25) Not doers like Martha was – who was simply concerned about the externals…not only listening to Jesus – being a disciple – being a Christ-follower, but doing what He tells us to do. Several weeks ago, I was reminded of this statement: “We are educated well beyond the level of our obedience.” Sometimes we hunger for more and more and more of God’s Word and yet God wants us to act on what we already know. Perhaps this is what Martha was lacking. Jesus knew that she needed to hear more from Himself (God’s Word) in order to obey the Word better. Sometimes we need to listen, but more often we simply need to act on what we already know.