Too much stuff. We trip over it. It clutters our cabinets, crowds our closets, and weighs down our pocketbooks. It makes us a target of theft. It demands to be maintained. And it lords over us, making us hesitant and regretful about what we might do, or could do, or should do with our money, if it weren’t for our relationship with our stuff.
A young man came to Jesus, wanting eternal life. When questioned by Jesus, this rich young ruler said he’d kept the ten commandments from his youth. What more could he do? Jesus named only one thing the young man lacked: he needed to get rid of his stuff by selling it and distributing the proceeds to the poor. And if the young man would accept the challenge, what then? Jesus offered him treasure in heaven and eternal life. Jesus said, “Come, follow me” (Luke 18:23.) But he didn’t. The young man was very sorrowful, because he had a lot of stuff.
Is it wrong to have stuff? Not at all. But we must always ask ourselves, in the back of our minds where we weigh out our decisions, do we give Jesus less of ourselves because of the relationship we’ve built with our stuff?
Whatcha want to talk about? Let’s talk about the biased media and the embellishers of the truth. Let’s rant about those who worship false gods of terror, or modern-day pagan gods of materialism. Let’s whisper and shake our heads over the woman who can’t control her children or the husband who can’t control his temper.
In Luke 18, Jesus told a story to teach us a valuable lesson. He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others (v.9). The Pharisee prayed and told God how glad he was that he wasn’t a dirty sinner like “other men.” Then a tax collector prayed and expressed his grief over his own sin. Jesus said only one man walked away from prayer time justified by the Father. Which one was it?
Every day, in every way, we all desperately need the mercy of God. We need God’s help to see our own sin for what it is. “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (v.14).
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. (Psalm 139:14)
You looked in the mirror this morning and inspected every wrinkle. All wrinkles present and accounted for, and maybe a little more pronounced today. You located your favorite scar; nope, it didn’t move while you slept. You turned for a sideways view. Hmm…no good.
How would your life change if you made peace with your appearance? I’m not talking about letting yourself go. I’m talking about embracing what God has put together when He created beautiful you. He loves your face, He knows every scar intimately, and He thinks you’re fabulous.
This week, every time negative thoughts about your appearance creep up, thank God for making you with careful hands. Pray for acceptance and new perspective.
Anybody want to share: What self-criticism are you letting go of?
When I know company’s coming, I tidy the house, fix my hair, and put on an outfit that is distinctly different from my typical I’m-lounging-around-the-house-in-my-elastic-waistband ensemble. I get ready when I know guests are coming, when I have the opportunity to control how they find me when they arrive.
Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8) We know when He comes He will call us the children of God and take us to heaven, those of us who have surrendered our lives to Christ, but this is a different consideration; when He comes, will He find faith in His people?
Question for reflection: Am I choosing to live my life in such a way that requires me to have faith in God?
Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart. (Luke 18:1)
Jesus knew the faithful would suffer. He told a story in their honor.
A woman was being unfairly oppressed, and she went to the local judge to ask for help. The judge was wicked and disinterested in justice, but because the woman was persistent he intervened to get her out of his face. Jesus’ point? Even a wicked judge can be persuaded to take action; how much more can we count on the Righteous Judge to intervene on behalf of His suffering servants when we faithfully call out to Him for help?
Keep praying for the oppressed and the oppressor. Keep up the prayers! Do not lose heart.
Do all things without complaining and disputing. (Philippians 2:14)
God doesn’t like complaining. Just ask the Children of Israel who wandered in the wilderness. Complaining brings your spirit down, it spreads negativity, and it doesn’t honor God. It also doesn’t help.
Resolve to make this a complaint-free week. When you feel negative comments traveling from your brain to your mouth, stop them in their tracks and instead make a comment of praise to God, thankfulness, or compliment to someone else. Don’t just bite your tongue, spread praise! If you’re really serious about stopping the complaints, invite a friend to hold you accountable.
Anybody want to share: What are you thankful for?
A man who has friends must himself be friendly. (Proverbs 18:24)
This is the week of Valentine’s Day, and many people are either greatly looking forward to it or desperate to get the day behind them. Not everyone has a sweetheart, not everyone feels special…not everyone has even a friend.
Open your eyes this week to find that hurting person who needs a friend. She may be new to the community, or perhaps just a tad timid. Maybe that person who seems to keep to herself because (you assume) she is snobby is actually just shy and in need of someone to come to her first. But don’t take this step as if this someone is your latest project; open your heart to be friendly to everyone, and let God give you – and her – the gift of a new friend.
Anybody want to share: How is God using your friendships to strengthen your walk with Christ?
Warren Wiersbe wrote:
The thief says, “What’s yours is mine – I’ll take it!”
The selfish man says, “What’s mine is mine – I’ll keep it!”
But the Christian must say, “What’s mine is a gift from God – I’ll share it!”
We are stewards of the time, resources, gifts and talents God has given to us. We are also stewards of the Gospel. May we be found faithful stewards!
Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. (Psalm 119:11)
It’s not just for kiddos. We need God’s Word within us to strengthen, cheer, and guide us. God has brought His Word to my mind many times when I needed Him in a moment of crisis, or to wash peace over me in a moment of rest.
If you’re rusty on Scripture memorization, how about one verse a week? Even two verses a month would be a great start! Write a verse on a sticky note and put it on the bathroom mirror, start a memory journal, or use flashcards. Ask God to help you. He will.
Anybody want to share: What memory verse would you suggest to others?