LET'S PRAY TOGETHER Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Lord bless the world through Your people Let us bring love, joy, peace and patience Jesus help us show kindness, gentleness, and goodness Spirit grow in us the faithfulness, self-control and discipline To seek and serve You with diligence and self-control. may You guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm; may You bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders You have shown us; may You bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors. Amen
MEDITATION I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naïve people. Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. Romans 16:17-19 niv The question we have to ask is, “What is ‘the teaching we have learned’?” How do we sum up what is the heart and soul of what it means to follow Christ? Paul travelled all around the Mediterranean Sea in the Roman Empire planting churches. As he circled back to these young churches or wrote to them, he continually encouraged unity and fought division. In today’s world there seems to be the false notion that we have only two options: 1) agree with someone no matter what and just “get along” or 2) disagree with someone and reject them. At first glance it may seem that Paul is endorsing option 2 in the above verse, however in the context of “teaching we have learned” Paul is actually pointing to a third way. Paul, like Jesus, reserves his harshest words for false leaders and false teachers. Often as he would move on to a new location, false teachers would try to undermine his teaching and sow division in the churches he planted. Both Paul and Jesus warn of these wolves in sheep’s clothing that try to lead people astray for their own benefit. Paul does not want the Roman church to get caught up in any fads or hybrid beliefs touted by these “wolves”. Perhaps a modern adaptation might be, “Look out for talking heads, radio hosts, or TV personalities that stir up hatred or anger, this is not what Jesus or the Bible taught. Turn off the radio or stop following them on twitter if you do not see the evidence that God is at work in their lives and in the words that they promote. They are only out to stoke their egos, stir up division, and make money, they don’t serve God or you. Don’t be naïve and get sucked in, keep your focus on truth and love-period-! The third way that Jesus and Paul modeled was a willingness to engage with people they did not agree with IN LOVE and respect. They never stopped reaching for relationship, listening to their stories, and seeking to serve them. They did not affirm things that were not true, they did not accept sinful behavior, but they did see the person as made in God’s image and worthy of love. This is harder. It requires patience, diplomacy, wisdom, and kindness when we don’t feel like it. It is inconvenient and at times will require us to apologize, backtrack and humble ourselves. We may have to admit we are wrong to people who are wrong (and won’t admit it). It is The Way that Christ modeled for us. It is living out the greatest commandment according to Jesus, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and Prophets hang on this” This is the “teaching we have learned”! Is this the teaching we are willing to live?
DAILY SCRIPTURE READING
Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/ If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me. I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/jeremiah/ for an overview of Jeremiah and https://bibleproject.com/explore/colossians/ for an overview of Paul’s letter to the church in Colosse. These videos will help with the “big picture” and the main themes. Jeremiah 7:30-9:16 These last verses of chapter 7 hit hard. What is Judah being accused of? (v 30 & 31) I think it’s hard sometimes to understand the Old Testament, because we don’t practice idolatry and sacrifice in these same ways. But both are about seeking and gaining the favor of some god, with a little g. Of all the evil committed by Judah, what is the one thing they refuse to do? (v 6) Chapter 8 ends with a picture of God’s heart or is it potentially the heart of Jeremiah? What is the longing this individual feels for his people? (v 21 & 22) This longing will continue into chapter 9. Colossians 1:1-23 Who seems to have planted the church in Colosse? (v 7) How is their faith doing? (v 4) I imagine because Paul has not planted this church, he wants to sum up for them, who Christ is. Which is why we have the description of Christ that we do here at the beginning of Colossians. Does any part of this description jump out at you? Psalm 116:12-19 Verse 12 asks the question, “How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?” What is the psalmist’s response in verses 13 & 14? Jeremiah 9:17-11:17 Verses 9:23-24 sound like something Paul has said. That's because Paul will quote this text in 1 Corinthians 1:31. What do we boast in? Chapter 10 is another one of the descriptions of the differences between God and idols. What are some of these differences? My favorite is what we see at the very end of verse 5. What can an idol not do? What were the terms of the covenant God established with Israel? (v 4 & 5) Did Israel hold up its end? Colossians 1:24-2:5 How can Paul rejoice in suffering? This is something to think about. What does Paul's suffering confirm? (I think about how many extremists, recruit others to suffer but refuse to suffer themselves) Psalm 117:1-2 What a short, but powerful psalm. What does it mean, to praise the Lord?