“He who rejects me rejects him who sent me”


Friday (September 30): Scripture: 

13 “Woe to you, Chora’zin! woe to you, Beth-sa’ida! for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it shall be more tolerable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15 And you, Caper’na-um, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. 16 “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

Meditation: If Jesus were to visit your community today, what would he say? Would he issue a warning like the one he gave to Chorazin and Bethsaida? And how would you respond? Wherever Jesus went he did mighty works to show the people how much God had for them. Chorazin and Bethsaida had been blessed with the visitation of God. They heard the good news and experienced the wonderful works which Jesus did for them. Why was Jesus upset with these communities? The word woe is also translated as alas. It is as much as an expression of sorrowful pity as it is of anger. Why does Jesus lament and issue a stern warning? The people who heard the gospel here very likely responded with indifference. Jesus upbraids them for doing nothing! Repentance demands change – a change of heart and way of life. God’s word is life-giving and it saves us from destruction – the destruction of soul as well as body. Jesus’ anger is directed toward sin and everything which hinders us from doing the will of God and receiving his blessing. In love he calls us to walk in his way of truth and freedom, grace and mercy, justice and holiness. Do you receive his word with faith and submission or with doubt and indifference?

“Lord Jesus, give me the child-like simplicity and purity of faith to gaze upon your face with joy and confidence in your all-merciful love. Remove every doubt, fear, and proud thought which would hinder me from receiving your word with trust and humble submission.”

Psalm 139

1 O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue, lo, O LORD, you know it altogether.
5 You beset me behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it.
7 Whither shall I go from your Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Let only darkness cover me, and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you, the night is bright as the day; for darkness is as light with you.
13 For you did form my inward parts, you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for you are fearful and wonderful. Wonderful are your works!


“If you sit in the lowest place …you will be honored in the presence of all”


Jesus at the house of the Pharisean, by Jacopo...

Image via Wikipedia

Saturday (October 29): 

Scripture: Luke 14:1, 7-11
1 One sabbath when he went to dine at the house of a ruler who belonged to the Pharisees, they were watching him. 7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he marked how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by any one to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him; 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, `Give place to this man,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, `Friend, go up higher’; then you  will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Meditation: Who wants to be last? Isn’t it only natural to desire respect and esteem from others? Jesus’ parable of the guests invited to the marriage feast probes our motives for seeking honor and position. Self-promotion is most often achieved at the expense of others! Jesus’ parable reinforces the teaching of Proverbs: Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great; for it is better to be told, “Come up here,” than to be put lower in the presence of the prince(Proverbs 25:6-7).
What is true humility and why should we make it a characteristic mark of our life and action? True humility is not feeling bad about yourself, or having a low opinion of yourself, or thinking of yourself as inferior to others. True humility frees us from preoccupation with ourselves, whereas a low self-opinion tends to focus our attention on ourselves. Humility is truth in self-understanding and truth in action. Viewing ourselves truthfully, with sober judgment, means seeing ourselves the way God sees us (Psalm 139:1-4). A humble person makes a realistic assessment of himself or herself without illusion or pretense to be something he or she is not. The humble regard themselves neither smaller nor larger than they truly are. True humility frees us to be our true selves and to avoid despair and pride. A humble person does not have to wear a mask or put on a facade in order to look good to others, especially to those who are not really familiar with that person. The humble are not swayed by accidentals, such as fame, reputation, success, or failure.
Humility is the queen or foundation of all the other virtues because it enables us to view and judge ourselves correctly, the way God sees us. Humility leads to true self-knowledge, honesty, realism, strength, and dedication to give ourselves to something greater than ourselves. Humility frees us to love and serve others selflessly, for their sake, rather than our own. Paul the Apostles, gives us the  greatest example and model of humility in the person of Jesus Christ, who emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, …who humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:7-8). The Lord Jesus gives grace to those who seek him humbly. Do you want to be a servant as Jesus served?
“Lord Jesus, you became a servant for my sake to set me free from the tyranny of sin, selfishness, and conceit. Help me to be humble as you are humble and to love freely and graciously all whom you call me to serve.”
Psalm 62:6-9
6 He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
7 On God rests my deliverance and my honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him;  God is a refuge for us. [Selah]
9 Men of low estate are but a breath, men of high estate are a delusion;  in the balances they go up;  they are together lighter than a breath.

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(c) 2011 Don Schwager

“No one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God”


 Wednesday (September 28):  

Scripture: 
57 As they were going along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 But he said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Meditation: Are you ready to follow the Lord wherever he may lead you? With the call the Lord gives the grace to respond and the strength to follow all the way to the end. Why does Jesus issue a challenge with the call? Jesus was utterly honest in telling people what it would cost to follow him. When a would-be disciple approached Jesus and said he was ready to follow, Jesus told him it would require sacrifice – the sacrifice of certain creaturely comforts. Jesus appealed to this man’s heart and told him to detach himself from whatever might hold him back. Spiritual detachment is a necessary step for following the Lord. It frees us to give ourselves without reserve to the Lord and his service. While many of us may not need to give up the comfort of our own home and bed to follow Jesus, we, nonetheless, must be willing to part with anything that might stand in the way of doing God’s will. Another would-be disciple said he would follow as soon as he had buried his father. What he meant by this expression was that he felt the need to return to his home to take care of his father through old age until he died. The third had no obligation to return home, but simply wanted to go back and say good-bye. Jesus surprised these would-be disciples with the stark truth that nothing should hinder us from following the Lord. Was Jesus being harsh and rude to his would-be followers? Not really. We are free to decide whether we will take the path which Jesus offers. But if we choose to go, then the Lord wants us to count the cost and choose for it freely.
What does the story of a plowman have to do with the journey? A plowman who looked back while plowing his field caused the line or furrow he cut into the soil to become crooked. One crooked line easily leads to another until the whole field is a mess. The plowman had to look straight ahead in order to keep the plow from going off course. Likewise, if we look back on what we have freely left behind to follow the Lord – whether that be some distraction, attachment, or sinful habit which leads us away from doing God’s will – our path will likely diverge and we’ll miss what God has for us. The gospel does not record the response from these three would-be disciples. We are only left with the question which Jesus intends for us as well.  Are you ready to take the path Jesus offers? His grace is sufficient and his love is strong. There is nothing greater we can do with our lives than to place them at the service of the Lord and Master of the universe. We cannot outgive God in generosity. Jesus promises that those who are willing to part with what is most dear to them for his sake “will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29). The Lord Jesus offers us a kingdom of lasting peace, unending joy, surpassing love, enduring friendship, and abundant life. Is there anything holding you back from pursuing the Lord and his will for you life?
“Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my whole will. All that I am and all that I possess you have given me. I surrender it all to you to be disposed of according to your will.  Give me only your love and your grace – with these I will be rich enough and will desire nothing more.” (Prayer of Ignatius Loyola, 1491-1556)
Psalm 88:9-15
9 Every day I call upon you, O LORD; I spread out my hands to you.
10 Do you work wonders for the dead? Do the shades rise up to praiseyou? [Selah]
11 Is your steadfast love declared in the grave, or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
12 Are your wonders known in the darkness, or your saving help in the land of forgetfulness?
13 But I, O LORD, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes beforeyou.
14 O LORD, why do you cast me off? Why do you hide your face from me?
15 Afflicted and close to death from my youth up, I sufferyour terrors; I am helpless.

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(c) 2011 Don Schwager

“The people would not receive Jesus, because his face was set toward Jerusalem”


 Tuesday (September 27):  

Scripture: 
51 When the days drew near for him to be received up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him; 53 but the people would not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?” 55 But he turned and rebuked them. 56 And they went on to another village.
Meditation: Are you surprised to see two of Jesus’ disciples praying for the destruction of a Samaritan village? The Jews and Samaritans had been divided for centuries. Jewish pilgrims who passed through Samaritan territory were often assaulted. Jesus did the unthinkable for a Jew. He not only decided to travel through Samaritan territory at personal risk, but he also asked for hospitality in one of their villages! Jesus’ offer of friendship was rebuffed. Is there any wonder that the disciples were indignant and felt justified in wanting to see retribution done to this village? Wouldn’t you respond the same way? Jesus, however, rebukes his disciples for their lack of toleration.  Jesus had “set his face toward Jerusalem” to die on a cross that Jew, Samaritan and Gentile might be reconciled with God and be united as one people in Christ.
Tolerance is a much needed virtue today. But aren’t we often tolerant for the wrong thing or for the wrong motive? Christian love seeks the highest good of both one’s neighbor and one’s enemy. When Abraham Lincoln was criticized for his courtesy and tolerance towards his enemies during the American Civil War, he responded: “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” How do you treat those who cross you and cause you trouble? Do you seek their good rather than their harm?
“Lord Jesus, you are gracious, merciful, and kind. Set me free from my prejudice and intolerance towards those I find disagreeable, and widen my heart to love and to do good even to those who wish me harm or evil.”
Psalm 88:2-8
2 Let my prayer come before you, incline your ear to my cry!
3 For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol.
4 I am reckoned among those who go down to the Pit; I am a man who has no strength,
5 like one forsaken among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, like those whom you remember no more, for they are cut off from your hand.
6 You have put me in the depths of the Pit, in the regions dark and deep.
7 Your wrath lies heavy upon me, and you overwhelm me with all your waves. [Selah]
8 You have caused my companions to shun me; you have made me a thing of horror to them.  I am shut in so that I cannot escape.

Go to | Daily Reading & Meditation Index |
(c) 2011 Don Schwager

“Jesus perceived the thought of their hearts”


 Monday (September 26):  Scripture:  Luke 9:46-50

46 And an argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. 47 But when Jesus perceived the thought of their hearts, he took a child and put him by his side, 48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me; for he who is least among you all is the one who is great.” 49 John answered, “Master, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he does not follow with us.” 50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him; for he that is not against you is for you.”

Meditation: Are you surprised to see the disciples of Jesus arguing about who is the greatest among them? Don’t we do the same thing? The appetite for glory and greatness seems to be inbred in us. Who doesn’t cherish the ambition to be “somebody” whom others admire rather than a “nobody”?  Even the psalms speak about the glory God has destined for us. “You have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:5). Jesus made a dramatic gesture by placing a child next to himself to show his disciples who really is the greatest in the kingdom of God. What can a little child possibly teach us about greatness? Children in the ancient world had no rights, position, or privileges of their own. They were socially at the “bottom of the rung” and at the service of their parents, much like the household staff and domestic servants. What is the significance of Jesus’ gesture? Jesus elevated a little child in the presence of his disciples by placing the child in a privileged position of honor at his right side. It is customary, even today, to seat the guest of honor at the right side of the host. Who is the greatest in God’s kingdom? The one who is humble and lowly of heart – who instead of asserting their rights willingly empty themselves of pride and self-seeking glory by taking the lowly position of a servant or child.

Jesus, himself, is our model. He came not to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28). Paul the Apostles states that Jesus “emptied himself and took the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:7).  Jesus lowered himself (he whose place is at the right hand of God the Father) and took on our lowly nature that he might raise us up and clothe us in his divine nature. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). If we want to be filled with God’s life and power, then we need to empty ourselves of everything which stands in the way – pride, envy, self-seeking glory, vanity, and possessiveness. God wants empty vessels so he can fill them with his own glory, power, and love (2 Corinthians 4:7). Are you ready to humble yourself and to serve as Jesus did?

“Lord Jesus, your grace knows no bounds. You give freely to the humble of heart and you grant us freedom to love and serve others selflessly. May my love for you express itself in an eagerness to do good for others.”

Psalm 17:1-7

1 Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit!
2 From you let my vindication come! Let your eyes see the right!
3 If you try my heart, if you visit me by night, if you test me, you will find no wickedness in me;  my mouth does not transgress.
4 With regard to the works of men, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent.
5 My steps have held fast to your paths, my feet have not slipped.
6 I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me, hear my words.
7 Wondrously show your steadfast love, O savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand.

“The tax collectors and harlots go into the kingdom of God before you”


 Sunday (September 25): 

Scripture: 
28 “What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, `Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 And he answered, `I will not’; but afterward he repented and went. 30 And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, `I go, sir,’ but did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him; and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him.
Meditation: What kind of future are you preparing for? Jesus encourages us to think – to think about the consequences of our choices, especially the choices and decisions that will count not just for now but for eternity as well. The choices we make now will affect and shape our future, both our future on earth as well as in the life of the age to come.
Jesus tells a simple story of two imperfect sons to illustrate the way of God’s kingdom. The father amply provided for his sons food, lodging, and everything they needed. Everything the father had belonged to them as well. The father also rewarded his sons with excellent work in his own vineyard. He expected them to show him gratitude, loyalty, and honor by doing their fair share of the daily work. The “rebellious” son told his father to his face that he would not work for him. But afterwards he changed his mind and did what his father commanded him. The “good” son said he would work for his father, but didn’t carry through. He did his own pleasure contrary to his father’s will. Now who was really the good son? Both sons disobeyed their father; but one repented and then did what the father told him.
Jesus makes his point clear: Good intentions are not enough. And promises don’t count unless they are performed. God wants to change our hearts so that we will show by our speech and by our actions that we respect his will and we are ready to do what he commands. God offers each of us the greatest treasure possible –  unending peace, joy, happiness, and life with him in his kingdom. We can lose that treasure if we refuse the grace God offers us to follow in his way of truth and righteousness. Do you respect the will of your Father in heaven?
“Lord Jesus, change my heart that I may truly desire that which is pleasing to you. Help me to respect your will and give me the strength, joy and perseverance to carry it out wholeheartedly.”
Psalm 25:4-9
4 Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.
5 Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation;  for you I wait all the day long.
6 Be mindful of your mercy, O LORD, and of your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth, or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for your goodness’ sake, O LORD!
8 Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.

“They were astonished at the majesty of God”


 Saturday (September 24): Scripture:  

43 And all were astonished at the majesty of God. But while they were all marveling at everything he did, he said to  his disciples, 44 “Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of man is to be delivered into the hands of men.” 45 But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, that they should not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

Meditation: Do you know the majesty of God? When we ascribe majesty to someone or something, we acknowledge greatness in that person or thing, and voice our respect for it. The miracles of Jesus revealed the majesty of God and displayed his grace and favor, especially towards the lowly and humble of heart. But with the miracles Jesus also gave a prophetic warning: There can be no share in God’s glory without the cross. Jesus prophesied his own betrayal and crucifixion. But it did not make any sense to the disciples because it did not fit their understanding of the Messiah who was supposed to come and free his people from tyranny and oppression. Little did they know that the way to victory over sin and death would be through the cross and resurrection of Christ.

When the disciples heard Jesus’ prediction of suffering and betrayal they were afraid to ask further questions. Like a person who might receive some bad news from the doctor about some tumor or disease that could destroy them and then refuse to ask any further questions, the disciples of Jesus didn’t want to know any more about the consequences of possible suffering, defeat, and death on a cross. They couldn’t understand how the cross could bring victory and lead to new life and freedom in Christ. How often do we reject what we do not wish to see? We have heard God’s word and we know the consequences of accepting it or rejecting it. But do we give it our full allegiance and mold our lives according to it? Ask the Lord Jesus to show you his majesty that you may grow in reverence of him and in godly fear of his word.

“Lord Jesus, by your cross you have redeemed the world and revealed your glory and triumph over sin and death. May I never fail to see your glory and victory in the cross. Help me to conform my life to your will and to follow in your way of love and holiness.”

Psalm 90:3-6,12-14,17

3 You turnt man back to the dust, and say, “Turn back, O children of men!”
4 For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.
5 You sweep men away; they are like a dream, like grass which is renewed in the morning:
6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers.
12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
13 Return, O LORD! How long? Have pity on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us, yes, the work of our hands establish it.