When Jesus visited His home town of Nazareth, the people took offense that a carpenter could speak with such authority and conduct miracles. Mark 6:4, Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” Jesus understood how people can be judged throughout their entire lives for what people think they are. They forget the power God has to transform anyone into a new creation. In Jesus’ case He was already transformed as God’s Son here on earth as a human and He is a perfect example of how God makes all things new. What we believe to be true about others, based on their past, does not define them. What does define them is the cleansing blood of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross to make all things new and make us worth of eternal life with Him.
When the Bible talks about fearing the Lord, it is not talking about a fear that overcomes us to hide and cower, it simply means to revere and honor Him. Proverbs 28:14 says, Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble. It is when we refuse to acknowledge God for who He truly is that we fall into trouble. God deserves our respect, recognition, and honor.
We end the book of Romans with Paul sending out greetings and some final instructions. While Paul is an obvious authority to the audience of this letter, he is very deliberate in giving God all of the glory. In the final verse of the book, Paul says in Romans 16:27, to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen. There was never any doubt to Paul or the readers of this letter as to who deserved the glory. Let us use this example in how we conduct our lives; to give God the glory for everything we do and everything we have.
Lately I have heard a lot about the importance of God’s story. I have been reminded several times in the past couple of weeks that my life and my story are supposed to be about glorifying God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. When I let go of my glory and realize God is capable of turn all the good, and even the bad, in my life to His glory, it frees me to focus on Him rather than me. There is a lot of pressure each of us put on ourselves, but when we realize we are not alone and our glory doesn’t matter, it frees us from the burden of living this life for ourselves and focuses it on God.
God is worth of our praise. He is worthy of more praise than we could ever possibly give to Him. Psalm 145:3 says, Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. The truth is we are incapable of comprehending all He has done for us or even through us. I have often said that I do not know how people make it through this life without God in their lives. I can not imagine what my life would be like without Him. And yet, there are times I take Him for granted. I must remember God is worthy of my praise, attention, acknowledgement, and respect. He deserves nothing less and so much more.
For our first reflection day, I wanted to share a video someone shared with me a few years ago. This is Reverend David Wilkerson’s soul-stirring sermon on the necessity of anguish – to bear God’s heart, passion, and burden within our lives. It is lest than 8 minutes long and is one of the more powerful messages I have heard in a while. I’d love to hear your comments on it.
In verses 44-46 it says, 44 Then Jesus cried out, “When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. My favorite thing about this passage is that Jesus recognizes the most important thing is to reflect God’s glory. He also makes it clear that His purpose is to shine the light back to God. If we believe in God we don’t want to stay in the dark, we want to be in the light and in turn we will reflect His light for all to see.
Jesus deserves our praise and we often feel that we need to rebuke others into giving Him their praise as well. When Jesus is making His triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the Pharisees begin to rebuke the people for praising Him, Jesus makes a beautiful statement in verse 40, “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Jesus wants our praise, but he certainly does not need it to make Him any more praiseworthy than He already is. Even “the stones will cry out” if people are quiet. It makes it so much more powerful in my mind to know that Jesus doesn’t need me to praise Him because in the end He will receive it whether I give it to Him or not, though I certainly want to be someone who praises Him!
Ok, I’ll be the first one to admit that I don’t fully get the parable of the Shrewd Manager. To me it seems like the manager did something wrong and cheated his master out of what was rightfully his. It’s not until we get down to verse 13 that we start to understand where Jesus is going, “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” The point is that money can either be used for personal gain or to further the kingdom of God. In this case, the servant was able to use money to gain influence for himself and, more importantly, for his master. When we use what God has given us to advance His influence, we are being shrewd. It is less important how much money or influence we have and more important how we use it.
There is so much information in today’s reading. Jesus has an amazing dialog with the religious leaders. I love the way He made it clear that the glory belongs to God the Father. In the second part of verses 49 and in all of 50 it says, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge.” Then Jesus makes it clear that the glory He does receive only comes from the Father. In verse 54 it says, “Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.” It is difficult sometimes to remember that everything we do is for the glory of God and no one else! Jesus is the perfect example of how we are to serve and how we are to acknowledge God as worthy.