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The world is full of miracles

Morning: Psalms 63:1-8; 98;Exodus 28:1-4,30-38; I John 2:18-29
Evening: Psalm 103; Mark 6:30-44
What to make of Jesus’ miracles?  The ‘feeding of the 5,000’ (and that was just the men!) appears in all 4 Gospels.  That the story enjoyed such currency in early Christianity suggests that it carries truth.  There were, by all accounts, 5,000 – 10,000 witnesses who would have discredited the story had it been a lie.  We cannot easily dismiss as fable – though some do – stories with such strong foundations. What is so difficult? … The world is full of daily miracles.  Why did people flock to Jesus?  Wasn’t it simply that he did, in fact, heal and feed them?
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Values to live by

Morning: Psalms 30, 32; Exodus 25:1-22; Colossians 3:1-17
Evening: Psalms 42, 43;Matthew 4:18-25
In our materialistic culture, fame and fortune are acceptable values to live by.  There are many, though, who heed a different call … rather then their own success, they serve others and the well-being of the earth.  When Jesus calls Peter and Andrew, they cannot know that they will one day be known throughout the world for following Jesus.  Paul invites the Colossians to follow Jesus too … Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, forgiveness and, above all, love … let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts … and be thankful.  Values to live by.

Be ready! You don’t want to miss this …

Morning: Psalm 105:1-22;Exodus 24:1-18; Colossians 2:8-23
Evening: Psalm 105:23-45; Matthew 4:12-17
When Jesus speaks of the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’, he avoids the word ‘God’ out of reverence.  But he’s talking about God’s Kingdom, not a ‘heaven’ where you go when you die. Jesus’ hearers know he is a revolutionary.  In this revolution, God becomes king without the futile use of violence.  Violence cannot end violence.  Instead, Jesus announces that a new society is arriving imminently.  So be ready!  You don’t want to miss this.  You want to be a part of it … not so that you will become pious, but so that the whole world will come to itself.

Resist the temptation to be someone you’re not

Morning: Psalm 37:1-18; Exodus 20:1-21; Colossians 1:24-2:7
Evening: Psalm 37:19-42; Matthew 4:1-11
The story of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness is famous … probably because it echoes our own temptations and falls from grace.  The temptation of Jesus also echoes the Biblical examples of those who are tempted and succumb, like Adam and Eve, or the people of Israel in their wilderness. But Jesus does not succumb.  In Jesus, the essence of true humanity is shown.  We think that it’s ‘just being human’ to give in to temptation; on the contrary, it is the truly human in us that resists the temptation to be someone we are not.

Expect the unexpected

Morning: Psalm 38; Exodus 19:16-25; Colossians 1:15-23Evening: Psalm 119:25-48; Matthew 3:13-17
With Jesus, anything can happen, usually not what you expect.  It’s so surprising when people think they have figured Jesus out.  When John expects Jesus to assert his authority, Jesus submits to baptism by John in a moment of humility that indicates the significance of his whole life … he humbled himself.  There was a CBC radio personality called ‘the Voice.’  Today, the Voice is a hit TV vocal competition.  The Voice that is delighted with Jesus is bigger still and comes out of nowhere.  What delights this surprising Voice is how surprising Jesus is.  With Jesus, expect the unexpected.

Prepare the Way

Morning: Psalm 25;Exodus 18:13-27; I Peter 5:1-14
Evening: Psalms 9, 15; Matthew 3:1-6
A thousand years before Jesus, the people of Israel hoped God would come and establish his chosen people as a new Kingdom on earth.  They crossed the Jordan into their promised land.  Now John calls them back to the Jordan, to prepare the way for a new land of promise; they flock to him.  Isn’t it true that the old longing for something better, brighter, lasting and good still persists in the human soul?  And now we too are called: ‘Let go of false hope and turn again towards that better world … prepare the Way for it!’

This bit of the Gospel isn’t Good News; and it shows

Morning: Psalms 148, 149, 150;Exodus 18:1-12; I John 2:7-17
Evening: Psalms 114, 115; Mark 16:9-20
At the end of Mark, a very difficult saying is attributed to Jesus: “The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned.” Most respected Biblical scholars agree that this whole section is not part of the original Gospel of Mark. What does ‘condemned’ mean here, anyway, and who will do it?  It’s not ours to condemn anyone.  As for God condemning people, that does not fit well alongside Jesus’s message and embodiment of mercy and compassion.  I cannot see how this passage can possibly be called Good News.