Scriptures for this week:
Jeremiah 15:15-21; Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 16:21-28
Now think of this:
We would often like to think that having faith in God should lead to an easy life. Jeremiah discovered the opposite. And in Matthew’s Gospel, Peter made a God-given confession last Sunday but this Sunday he opposes Jesus by arguing for that easy life. Still, what is it to “take up our cross?” This is not a call to invent new sufferings nor to think we will save ourselves nor to counsel other people to put up with injustice. Rather, we need to tell the truth about how the world is full of suffering and see that in sharing our sufferings and death, God in Christ saves us all and shows us a way to walk behind him. Paul gives detail to that way: taking no vengeance; associating with people who are considered lowly; weeping with those who weep; not claiming to be wiser than we are; persevering in prayer; rejoicing in hope — those are some of the traits of the way of the cross for us. In ordinary times we were able to be strengthened for this humble way by receiving the gift of Christ’s life-giving cross in the holy communion. But now, in this time of waiting, we can still gladly join Jeremiah in eating — trusting and taking deeply into our lives— the words we read.
“Diamonds do not dazzle with beauty unless they are cut. When cut, the rays of the sun fall on them and make them shine with wonderful colors. So when we are cut by the cross, we shall shine as jewels in the kingdom of God.” – Sadhu Sundar Singh
Storing Up Treasures in Heaven
Jim Elliot, who was a missionary and a martyr for his faith, gave us this profound statement: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Through faith, we understand the truth in this statement. All of our worldly possessions will at some time be taken away from us. We will lose them during our lifetimes, or they will be taken away at death. However, we have the opportunity to use our material possessions in service to the Lord by giving to those in need and God’s Church. What we give through faith will provide spiritual dividends for us as well as for others. As Paul wrote, “[The gifts you sent] are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God” (Philippians 4:18). In verse 17, he wrote, “Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account.” What we do in Christ’s name for him, stores up treasures in heaven.
Prayer: Dear Lord, show me my sin that I might repent and be restored to fellowship with you through the blood of Jesus. I pray that you will help me to be a faithful steward of all the blessings you have entrusted to my care. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.
Fireplace Chats Continue:
Thanks to all who listened in to the first of our Fireplace Chats. Moving forward these will posted to our Facebook Page and Youtube channel on Tuesdays rather than Sundays. Our chat this coming week is on “abiding church identity and missional focus,” the second characteristic of Thriving Congregations.
Summer Bible School:
Response to the Bible Study “Women of the Old Testament” does not make it feasible to continue…. Stay tuned for more and different studies to be offered in the future.
Blessings on your stewardship journey!
Bible Reading for Next Week
Ezekiel 33: 7-11
Psalm 119: 33-40
Romans 13: 8-14
Matthew 18: 15-20