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Peter & John — Mark 10:17-31

As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’” “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. In fact, 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!” The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” Then Peter began to speak up. “We’ve given up everything to follow you,” he said. “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.”
Mark 10:17-31
Dear God, there is something in our nature that wants to “inherit eternal life.” There are some revealing things in this passage about the disciples’ thinking about things. Perhaps they reveal something about our own thinking.
  • It seems like we are always worried about what is next as opposed to worrying about what’s now. Wouldn’t a better question for this young man to ask have been, “Good teacher, what must I do to be in complete relationship with God now?” Ironically, Jesus’ answer would probably have been the same. I saw a billboard yesterday on the Interstate that said, “When you die you WILL meet God.” Yes, that’s true, and that’s an interesting threat to give someone while they are driving at 75 mph. And maybe that works on some people. I would prefer to think about being at peace with the God of the universe now and then think about meeting you later.
  • The disciples were still in the mindset that everything is easier when you have plenty of money. Now for some things that is definitely true. I am the director of a nonprofit and I always joke that the board meetings are a lot easier when there is plenty of money. But the money only goes so far. My wife and I were talking the other day about a friend who has made plenty of money, but he just uses it to continue to buy toys, vacations, and comfort. The phrase we used (which I learned from a Sesame Street/Cookie Monster sketch when I was little) is that he is looking for “everlasting joy and happiness.” He won’t find it doing what he’s doing. The other thing I’ve learned about giving is that if we don’t do it when we have a little, it is likely that we won’t do it when we have more. It’s an attitude of sacrifice that is learned, and it can be hard for a person who has never done it to give at a significant level when they have more.
    Peter exhibits that insecure five-year-old that is inside all of us. Can’t you just hear a parent being critical of a child for not making their bed or cleaning up after themselves and their little brother comes in and says, “I made my bed this morning! I’m good, right?” That’s Peter here, and that insecure child is in all of us.
Father, help me to simply rest in you. I’m in the middle of an extended vacation and I don’t have much practice at this. I don’t feel like I do it very well. But I know that I want to get out of this time what you have for me. So please make me very present in this moment. Help me to rest. Help me to love my wife. Help me to receive love from her. And help me to not miss the opportunities that you put in front of me.
In Jesus’ name I pray,
Amen
 
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Posted by on October 8, 2018 in Mark, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — Matthew 19:23-20:16

And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Then Peter said to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?” And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last; and the last, first. 20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 When he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the market place; 4 and to those he said, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ And so they went. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did the same thing. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing around; and he *said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day long?’ 7 They *said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He *said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ 8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard *said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last group to the first.’ 9 When those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius. 10 When those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they grumbled at the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.’ 13 But he answered and said to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’ 16 So the last shall be first, and the first last.”

Matthew 19:23-20:16

Dear God, there is a neediness and insecurity in Peter’s question of Jesus. After the “rich young ruler” leaves, Peter wants to make sure that 1.) Jesus is proud of him and 2.) this is all going to be worth it.

And Jesus seems to affirm him. I might have thought Jesus would have gotten on to him, but Jesus has some teaching to do. And this story about the vineyard workers applies to Peter and the disciples in two ways. First, they are the laborers that joined later in the day. Second, one day, they will be the ones welcoming laborers even later in the day. So the good news is that the master hired them and they are working in the vineyard. They have the grace of a full day’s wage for only partial work. The bad news is that it will soon be their job to hire more workers who get the same wage (except for the sitting on thrones and judging the twelve tribes of Israel part) and they will need to be accepting of it.

I got to visit with a friend yesterday about our faith and how we work that out as individuals. While we talked, I hoped to share with her some of the things you’ve taught me over the last 30 years. And she was able to share her life lessons with me as well. My perception is that she is already part of your vineyard staff, but she is still figuring out how you would have her work. What does living out her faith on a daily basis look like? How does she approach her children, parents, husband, etc. when it comes to her faith and relationship with you. I pray that you will help her to find the answers for which I think she is searching.

Father, help me to be at peace and to not have Peter’s need to know that the reward is on its way. I don’t want to simply use this relationship with you for my ultimate reward. I want to be in this relationship because you love me, you gave yourself for me, and you are my source of love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2018 in Matthew, Peter and John

 

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Emails to God – One thing I lack… (Luke 18:18-23)

18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’”

21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.

22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.

Dear God, there is a fatigue in self-sufficiency. It can be hard to always do things yourself—to insist on being able to say that you are the one who deserves credit for everything you have accomplished. That’s what this rich young ruler was saying: “I have done it. I have done it all. From honoring the commandments to making money, I have done it within my power and succeeded.”

I am reading a book right now where the “hero” (protagonist is probably a better word because I don’t know that he is that heroic) has accomplished a lot on his own. He started out poor, became a star running back in college, and then a successful lawyer. But the writer is doing a good job of setting up the idea that, even though the man sees his life as safe and impenetrable, it is actually very fragile and only a couple of things have to go wrong for it to all fall apart.

Father, help me to surrender my resources, talent, sinfulness, and everything in between to you. Help me to embrace and absorb you a little more each day. Help me to never cease taking you into my being and surrendering all of me to you. I metaphorically turn my fists downward, open them up and drop everything to which I hold so tight, and then turn my open palms up to you, asking that you will them simply with your presence. And then help me to influence my children to do the same.

 

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Emails to God – Mission IMPOSSIBLE (Matthew 19:16-30)

16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

18 “Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”

20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter thekingdom ofGod.”

25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”

28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

Dear God, verse 26 makes me think of a line I read in a book yesterday. It basically said that the God of Judaism and Christianity (you) is the only God who loves sinners. All other false gods that men make up hate sinners, but the true God loves sinners and made a way to connect with us by reaching out to us. When the disciples asked in verse 25, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus basically answered them that no one can be saved by their own merit—you have to do it for them.

I also like how Peter totally missed the meaning of verse 26 and goes back to a performance-based system in verse 27: “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” It’s like a little kid trying to know how impressed you are with him and what he gets as his reward.

I once had a man work for me who was pretty insecure. He was always comparing himself with coworkers and trying to show how he was superior to them in how he did his job. It was hard to watch, but then when I stop and wonder how much of that I do myself I get a little humbled. I love for people to be impressed with me. I love it when I get glory and rewards. I’m better about it and less needy than I used to be, but it is still an issue.

Father, help me to embrace verse 26. Help me to embrace and absorb the idea that “impossible” means “IMPOSSIBLE”. It doesn’t mean “REALLY HARD”. It’s not like the show “Mission Impossible” where it really possible if you are smart enough, brave enough, and fortunate enough to pull it off—it is truly IMPOSSIBLE to be saved by my own ability or actions. It’s too late. That ship has sailed. I cannot save myself. I need YOU to make it POSSIBLE, which of course you already have. I just need to remember it and BELIEVE it.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2012 in Matthew

 

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