Love for Jesus is Never Wasted

Bible:

And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Mark 14:3-9 ESV

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7 ESV

Reflection:

My dad was always very careful with his money, and he was much happier saving money than spending it. When I started thinking about getting a second college degree, I was worried about telling him, because I knew it would cost him more money. But he said something to me that I’ll never forget: “No time or money spent on education is ever wasted.” Some people figure out how much an education costs and then they figure out how much extra money a person might earn with that education, and that’s how they figure out if money spent on education is wasted. But my dad had a different idea. He believed that education changes people for the better, and gives people a broader understanding of life. He knew that there is no way to put a price tag on the value of education, so he didn’t try to make calculations like that.

Jesus said something similar when a woman (John’s Gospel tells us it was Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus) poured some very expensive ointment over Jesus’ head. They scolded her for this act of love, and they said she had wasted money that could have been given to the poor. They were starting to calculate how much food, or how many coats or pairs of sandals, they might have bought for poor people with that money. But Jesus told them to stop scolding Mary. He said that she had done a beautiful thing for him. He knew that his death was coming, and that he wouldn’t be with them much longer, and he even said that she was preparing his body for being buried. One thing Jesus was saying is that no act of love spent on him is ever wasted.

Sometimes people do things because they love Jesus, and others feel as if it is a waste. Maybe they try to help people in need, but those people don’t really appreciate it or work to change their lives. Maybe a person spends years doing mission work, but very few people come to know the love of Jesus through that work. Maybe someone is kind to hateful, hurtful people, but their hearts don’t change. “What a waste!” we might think. But anything done for the love of Jesus is never wasted. He sees and knows about the work we are doing in his name, and he can bless it in ways we might never understand. Jesus poured out his life for us and for all people on the cross, even those who reject him, and we can freely pour out our love for him and other people, trusting him to bless that love in the way that is best.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for your wonderful love that you poured out for us. Thank you for accepting and blessing the love we give you back. Amen.

 

Entrusted with Gifts

Bible:

As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’” Luke 19:11-27 ESV

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. I Peter 4:10-11 ESV

Reflection:

When King Herod the Great died a little after Jesus’ birth,  his son Archelaus had to go to Rome so that the emperor Augustus would confirm him as the next king. But many Jewish people hated him because he was a cruel man that they didn’t feel they could trust. They didn’t want him to be their king, so they sent a delegation of fifty men to Rome to protest to Augustus. The emperor did not make Archelaus a king like his father, but instead gave him the rule of part of the territory his father had ruled, and gave some territory to his brothers Antipas and Philip. During the rule of Archelaus there were outbreaks of rebellion in his territory, and about ten years later another delegation of Jews and Samaritans went to Rome to complain about him, and this time he was taken from his throne and banished.

The people who followed Jesus would have known this story. They also would have known that kingdoms are not always secure, and that it can be a risk to support an unpopular man who might not come home as a king, but instead be taken from the throne. Jesus told a story about a man who went to receive his kingdom, but had a delegation of people following him saying they didn’t want him as their king. The focus of his story is on some of his servants. The man gave each servant some money as a gift to use while he was gone. If they used his gifts, it would show that they believed he would come back as their king, even though the people around them might have thought otherwise. To hide the gift away and not use it showed that the servant didn’t believe the man would come back as king, and that he was afraid of the people around him. The man in the story did come back as king, and he rewarded the servants who believed in him and used his gifts. The king punished the servant who wasn’t willing to act in faith that he would come back as king, and who played it safe with the gift he had been given.

We recognize Jesus as the king of this story. He won his kingdom for us by dying on the cross and rising again to defeat sin and death. He has returned to his Father in heaven, but he’s promised to come back someday and establish his kingdom forever. Many people don’t want Jesus to be their king, and they won’t follow or obey him. But Jesus gives gifts to all his people, and he asks us to serve him with these gifts. Sometimes we are tempted not to use our gifts for Jesus’ sake, because we are afraid of the people around us who don’t love Jesus or believe in him. We sometimes forget that he promised to come back, and we start to act as if it would be better to play it safe and not work to spread his kingdom. Jesus sends us his Holy Spirit to make our faith stronger and to help us risk living lives that show our faith in him and in the kingdom he will establish when he returns.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for dying to bring us into your kingdom. Please help us to trust you and to use the gifts you give us. Amen.

Source:

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/1729-archelaus

Changed by Jesus’ Love

Bible:

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:1-10 ESV

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. I Timothy 1:15 ESV

Reflection:

There’s an old proverb that says, “A cat may look at a king.” This saying came from England and goes back almost 500 years! What it means is that anyone, no matter how humble or unimportant they might be, has some basic rights that not even a powerful king can take away from him or her.

Zacchaeus wasn’t really a humble or unimportant person, but not many people liked him very much. He was a tax collector, and he took people’s money and gave it to the Roman government, so it seemed as if he was working for the enemy. Worse than that, Zacchaeus wasn’t honest. He took more money than he had a right to take, and he cheated and stole from people. He was very rich for that reason, but that didn’t win him many friends. When Jesus was walking by, he wanted to see him, but he was really short, and no one would get out of his way so he could see Jesus. So he climbed a tree!

All Zacchaeus wanted to do was to see Jesus. He knew he had done some terribly wrong things, and he couldn’t hope that Jesus would be willing to talk to him or love him or forgive him. But when Jesus saw him, he told him to come down from the tree. He wanted to visit Zacchaeus’ home! Zacchaeus was very happy to have Jesus come and visit him. He knew then that Jesus loved him and forgave him his sins, and it changed his life. Even though other people were upset that Jesus loved and forgave Zacchaeus, the tax collector responded to Jesus’ love by promising to be honest in the future. He promised to pay back everything he stole, and to give half of his money to the poor. Jesus’ love had made a huge difference in his life.

Jesus’ love and forgiveness also makes a difference in our lives, too. We know that Jesus died on the cross to win God’s forgiveness for us, and that his live will never fail us. He sends us his Holy Spirit to help us live new lives that respond to that love.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for your wonderful love. Help us respond to your love by loving others. Amen

 

Take Heart!

Bible:

And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way. Mark 10:46-52 ESV

For he delivers the needy when he calls,
the poor and him who has no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence he redeems their life,
and precious is their blood in his sight. Psalm 72:12-14 ESV

Reflection:

The prince had a problem. He had fallen in love with a beautiful young woman at his ball, but he didn’t know how to find her again. The only clue he had was a glass slipper, so he told his servants to go out into his kingdom and find the young woman whose foot would fit into the glass slipper. When his servants came to Cinderella’s house, they tried the slipper on the feet of her two stepsisters, but it didn’t fit. Then Cinderella appeared and asked if she could try on the slipper. Her stepmother and stepsisters told her to get lost. They were sure that the prince wouldn’t want his servants wasting their time with a dirty, ragged kitchen maid. But the servants called Cinderella to come to them. The prince’s order was that all the young woman were to try on the glass slipper, and that included Cinderella.

When a blind beggar named Bartimaeus heard a commotion, he knew that something was happening. He asked the people around him what was happening, and they told him that Jesus was passing by the roadside where he was sitting. Bartimaeus started  calling out to Jesus for help. He called Jesus the Son of David, which showed his faith that he was the Messiah that God had promised. He was certain that Jesus could help him, but everyone told him to be quiet. They were sure that an important man like Jesus wouldn’t want to waste his time with a beggar. But Bartimaeus wouldn’t be quiet. He kept on crying out to Jesus for help, and Jesus heard him and called Bartimaeus to come to him. The other people told him to get up and said, “Take heart!” Jesus was calling him! When he got to Jesus, Jesus asked him what he wanted, and he said that he wanted to see again. So Jesus healed him, and Bartimaeus followed Jesus.

We might sometimes worry that we aren’t important enough for Jesus to hear our prayers or to help us, but Jesus loves all people, and he is always ready to listen to us and to give us what we need. We can be sure of that, because he came to be with us and to die on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven and we could be God’s people forever. God’s love is for everyone, no matter how weak or unimportant they seem to be, and we can be sure that he is ready to hear and help all people, no matter who they are.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for your wonderful love for all people. Please hear our prayers and help us. Amen.

To Give His Life

Bible:

And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:24-28 ESV

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” Romans 15:1-3 ESV

Reflection:

In the Middle Ages, people thought that when there wasn’t enough food, a mother pelican would feed her hungry babies by tearing the flesh off of her own breast and feeding it to them. This really isn’t true, but when people believed it, they thought of the pelican as a picture of Jesus and what he’s done for us. For this reason, sometimes in old churches you might see pictures of a mother pelican feeding her babies in stained glass or paintings or embroidery. The pelican reminded people of Jesus and his love.

When Jesus’ other ten apostles heard what James and John and their mother had asked of him, they were really upset and angry. Jesus called them together and taught them that his people need to be different from the people of the world. In the world, people want to be great and strong and powerful and to be served by other people, but among the Lord’s people, everyone is to love and serve others and treat other people as more important than themselves. Jesus calls us to give of ourselves for the sake of others they way people once thought the pelican gave herself for her babies.

Jesus didn’t come to gain power and glory, but instead to be humble and gentle and to serve others. The greatest service Jesus gave was to die on the cross so that we could be God’s people and have eternal life. We see the most wonderful example of self-giving love when we look at Jesus, and it is our privilege and joy when he loves and serves other people through us.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for giving yourself for us. Please help us to love and serve others for your sake. Amen.

Source:

http://www.thewestologist.com/symbols/the-symbol-of-self-sacrifice

You will Drink My Cup

Bible:

And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” Matthew 20:17-23 ESV

About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword. Acts 12:1-2 ESV

I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. Revelation 1:9 ESV

Reflection:

There’s a very old story that when James was being taken to his place of execution under the orders of King Herod, a paralyzed man sat by the side of the road. This man saw James going by and begged the apostle to heal him. James replied, “In the name of Jesus Christ, for whom I am being led to die, be made whole, and arise, and bless your Creator!” The sick man was immediately healed and jumped to his feet. Then the man who was leading James out to die fell at the apostle’s feet, begged his forgiveness, and said that he wanted to become a Christian. Because of this he was put to death along with James. Both of these men paid the ultimate price for following Jesus.

Right after Jesus told his disciples once again that he was heading to Jerusalem to be put to death on the cross, James and John and their mother came and knelt in front of Jesus. She wanted to ask him for a big favor: to let her two sons sit at his right hand and at his left hand in his kingdom. But Jesus said that she didn’t know what she was asking. He asked the disciples if they were able drink the cup he was about to drink, and they said that they were able. Jesus said that they would, in fact, drink from his cup, but that it wasn’t for him to grant their request. Only his Heavenly Father could do that.

Jesus brought about his kingdom when he defeated sin and death on the cross, and when he died in terrible pain, there was a criminal dying on his right and on his left. James and John truly didn’t know what they were asking for! They both did suffer for Jesus’ sake. James was put to death, and John suffered imprisonment on an island called Patmos. Following Jesus often means sorrow and suffering, and sometimes even death, rather than glory and power on earth. But because Jesus has won the victory for us on the cross, in the end everyone who believes in Jesus will know joy and blessing forever with him in his heavenly kingdom.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for suffering and dying on the cross so that we can be part of your kingdom. Please give us the strength to meet sadness and suffering for your sake, until we know the joy of being with you forever. Amen.

Source:

http://www.mcah.columbia.edu/courses/medmil/pages/non-mma-pages/text_links/gl_james.html

Workers in the Vineyard

Bible:

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.” Matthew 20:1-16 ESV

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV

Reflection:

A man was speaking on the radio, and he was very angry. He had just heard the news that another man, who had been a murderer and was in prison, had become a Christian. The man on the radio thought that it wasn’t fair that this other man, who had done some terrible things in his life, would get to go to heaven. He said that he didn’t want to share heaven with a murderer! It wasn’t fair!

Jesus told a story about some people who had gone to work in a man’s vineyard for a day. The ones who were hired the first thing in the morning had agreed to work for the fair day’s pay that any worker would get, but people who were hired later, even the ones who had stood around in the marketplace all day hoping to find work, also got a fair day’s pay at the end of the day. This didn’t seem fair to the first workers. They had worked hard in the hot sun all day, and they didn’t think it was right that people who had worked only one hour got paid the same amount! But the owner of the vineyard explained to them that he had paid them fairly, and that he had chosen to help the men who had been waiting and hoping for work all day. He wanted them to also be able to go home to their families with enough money to take care of them, so he gave them the gift of a fair day’s pay.

Sometimes people who have been Christians for a long time feel angry and jealous of people who only became Christians after many years of going their own way. We often forget that being in God’s kingdom is a gift, and not something that we earn by our good lives. Some of the workers in the vineyard earned a day’s pay by doing a full day’s work, but we can never earn our way into heaven. Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and to make it possible to live as the Lord’s people, now and always. This is a gift for everyone, and every day we have in God’s kingdom is a gift. It’s when we forget that, and get tired of going God’s way, that we get angry and upset about the love and forgiveness the Lord gives to others. But when we remember the gift of God’s amazing love for us, we know that this gift is for all people, and our Heavenly Father gives us thankful hearts that know the joy of seeing this gift given to others as well.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of your love and mercy. Please give us joy in sharing this gift with others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Possible with God

Bible:

And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:23-27 ESV

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV

Reflection:

Once there was a miller who bragged to the king that his daughter could spin straw into gold. The king was a very greedy man, and so he took the miller’s daughter and locked her into a room filled with straw. He told her that she had to spin all the straw into gold before morning, or she would be put to death. When the miller’s daughter was left alone, she began to cry, because she couldn’t really spin straw into gold. It was impossible for her to do, but suddenly a little man appeared who knew how to do this. He did it for her, and her impossible task was finished before the night was over.

After the disciples saw the rich young man walk away from Jesus very sadly, he said to them that it is very hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. The disciples were really surprised to hear this, because they believed that God blessed rich people with their wealth because they were extra-good people. Rich people often get what they want in this life, and it seemed reasonable to believe that they would get whatever they wanted from God, too. But Jesus said that that wasn’t the case. He also said that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. Of course, it’s impossible for a huge camel to go through the eye of a tiny needle! The disciples wondered who could possibly be saved then, and Jesus said that what is an impossible task for people is completely possible for God.

Entering the kingdom of God is an impossible task for anyone, because we all are sinners. We need God to bring us into his kingdom, and that’s why he sent Jesus. Jesus died on the cross to pay for all of our sins, and because of what he did for us, we are forgiven and have become God’s people. It can be extra-hard for people who think they can take care of everything by themselves to trust God for eternal life, and that’s why it can be extra-hard for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom. But God sends us his Holy Spirit, who gives us hearts of faith to trust what Jesus has done for us.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for bringing us into your kingdom through Jesus, our Savior. In His Name, Amen.

The Rich Young Man

Bible:

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Mark 10:17-22 ESV

He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep. Ecclesiastes 5:10-12 ESV

Reflection:

Prince Karl was sent to a university when he was a young man. He was in line for the throne of his little country, and he was supposed to marry a princess, although he and the princess didn’t love each other. While Prince Karl was at the university, he enjoyed being a common student and having good times with his friends. He also fell in love with a beautiful young woman named Kathie. But when his grandfather died, he was called to come home again, to prepare to take the throne someday, and to marry the princess. He had to say goodbye to his friends and to his true love, Kathie. Because of his calling in life, he had to leave everything behind that he had come to love and enjoy.

A rich young man came to Jesus once and asked what good things he had to do to inherit eternal life. This young man didn’t understand that eternal life is a gift from God and can never be earned. Jesus wanted him to understand how hopeless it is to earn eternal life, and repeated some of the Ten Commandments to him, but the young man said that he had kept all of these commandments since he was young. Jesus loved this young man, and he could see into his heart. He could see that this young man loved money more than God, and so Jesus called him to leave behind all of the wealth and comfort he loved and enjoyed and to come and follow him as a poor man. The rich young man knew he couldn’t do this, so he went away very sadly.

Does Jesus want everyone to give all of their money and possessions away and to be poor in order to follow him? We need to understand that we can never buy our way into God’s kingdom, no matter how rich we are or how many good things we do with our money. We need to understand that God loves us and helps us whether we are rich or poor, and not be anxious about getting or hanging onto any riches we might have. If God gives us good things, he wants us to be generous and to share with others rather than keeping it all for ourselves. In fact, everything we have is God’s, and we should never think of it as something we own ourselves. Some people do come to a point of deciding to give away their wealth to God and following Jesus as poor people. But that doesn’t get anyone into heaven. Jesus died on the cross to take away all our sins, including our sins of greed and the love of money. Eternal life is God’s free gift through Jesus, and Jesus sends us his Holy Spirit to help us live lives that please God, including lives that handle and understand money in God’s way.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for all your good gifts to us. Help us to value eternal life with you more than anything else, and to manage your gifts of money and wealth in ways that please you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

Thorpe, Richard, dir. The Student Prince Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1954. Film.

Jesus Loves Children

Bible:

And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. Mark 10:13-16 ESV

He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments. Psalm 78:5-7 ESV

Reflection:

Mr. Gray was very unhappy when he saw Mrs. Sanders get on the plane. Mrs. Sanders was leading a little girl by the hand, and carrying a baby in her arms. The worst thing was, the family sat right next to Mr. Gray. Amanda, the little girl, talked and sang quietly during the whole flight, and Baby Joey cried when the plane took off, and again when it landed, because it hurt his ears. Mr. Gray didn’t like children, and it made him very angry that he had to sit next to a couple of kids. He complained to the flight attendant and tried to get his seat changed, but it wasn’t possible. So he was unhappy and upset for the whole flight.

Sometimes children behave badly, but even when they don’t, and simply act like children, some people get angry and upset. Has that ever happened to you? One day some mothers brought their little children and babies to Jesus so that he could bless them, and it made his disciples unhappy and annoyed. They didn’t think an important man like Jesus should have to deal with children, and they started to scold the mothers and tell them to go away. But this made Jesus angry when he saw what was happening, and he scolded his disciples. He said that they should let the little children come to him and never try to stop them. He even said that the kingdom of God belongs to them. Then he picked the children up and held them and touched them and blessed them.

Jesus said something else about children that day. He said that unless people receive the kingdom of God the way little children do, they can’t even come in! What did he mean? Have you ever seen a little child want to be picked up by a mom or a dad, and they way the little one will lift up his or her arms? Children know that they are small and weak and helpless, and that they need their parents to take care of them and help them with things. Sometimes older children and grownups think that they can handle things all by themselves, and that doesn’t work in God’s kingdom. We are all sinners, and we can’t bring ourselves to God. But God loves us and sent Jesus to die for us, and because of Jesus, our sins are forgiven and we are God’s children. Because of Jesus, God is our Heavenly Father, and we are in his kingdom, now and always.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for loving us and making us God’s children. Amen