Who Comes First for God?

For John came to you on the righteous road, and you didn’t believe him.
But tax collectors and prostitutes believed him.
Matthew 21:32

The religious leaders in Jesus’ time felt that they deserved to be first in the Kingdom of God because they were the bosses of God’s people.  They were proud, with heads tilted back and eyes cast down as they sneered at Jesus and the people he hung around with.   One group were the tax collectors. They were hated because they went about demanding the taxes that Jewish people had to pay to the Roman Emperor.  Then there were some women rejected from the company of the “nice” people.  However, Jesus loved these two groups so much, that they began to love themselves and each other. They came first for God. 

Loving from the heart and helping one another: this is what it means to live in the Kingdom of God.      Here’s a quote to think about I have learned that a person is entitled to look down on another only when he is helping the other up.” (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)  

Matthew 21:23–32

Examples of Bible Breaths Learn More…

Not by words, but by my deeds v. 29
Give me purity of heart v. 32
Longing for Your kingdom, Lord
Your life for me, mine for You

Check out Study Tools in BibleGateway.
I especially recommend the free resource
in Matthew Henry’s Commentary.‘s Commentary.

The Sunday Gospels follow the Revised Common Lectionary.
This is Year A, the Gospel of Matthew

These Firestarters are for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

God Like a Rock

Like an eagle protecting its nest,
    hovering over its young,
God spread out his wings, took hold of Israel,
    carried him on his back.
Deuteronomy 32:11

At the end of Moses’ long speeches, we come to a song.  We don’t have the melody, so you might take a few verses that touch you, and make a tune out of them.  

Moses sings about God being like a rock. He recalls how unfaithful God’s people were in their desert wanderings.  They looked to foreign gods as phony rocks that they thought could save them. How wrong they were!

     To get a feel for this, imagine that you are sitting on a great rock that has not moved for hundreds of thousands of years.  God is like that—never changing…always there…a place to rest.  Make it a high rock so that no enemies can get to you.  Enjoy this time of rest.  You can always return to God as your rock.  It takes just a moment of time to sense how good this feels.

Deuteronomy 32:1-39

Examples of Bible Breaths Learn More…

Your teaching falling like rain.  v. 2
You are faithful and upright.  v. 4
You cover me with Your wings.  v. 11
You nourish us with honey.  v. 13

Check out Study Tools in BibleGateway.
I especially recommend the free resource
in Matthew Henry’s Commentary.

The Saturday passages follow the reading list that Jewish people use in their synagogue worship throughout the world. They are taken from
“The Torah,” the first five books of the Bible from Genesis to Deuteronomy that are read each year beginning with autumn.

These Firestarters are for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

Fully Alive in God

He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. 
38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
 39 And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself.
Matthew 22: 37-39

Arguments, arguments!  That’s all the religious leaders want to do with Jesus—argue with him so that they can say, “Gotcha, Jesus!”

    Jesus always finds a way not to get caught.  Here’s one of those times.  Isn’t it sad that instead of sitting at Jesus’ feet and learning about the marvels of God’s love for them, they just want to play mind-games with him!   

The final verses of the reading get right to the most important things: how to live God’s ways.  Jesus gives the basics about loving as the way to be fully alive in God. Actually, this was already taught in the Old Testament.  It’s as though God is saying through Jesus: “Hey!  I really meant this thing about loving!”  Jesus takes this right up to the most powerful kind of love—to give up one’s life for one’s friends.”  John 15:13

Matthew 22:23-40

Examples of Bible Breaths Learn More…

Rising with You when I die v. 23
In You I’m fully alive. v. 32
Loving You, heart, soul and mind v. 37
Loving neighbor as myself v. 39

Check out Study Tools in BibleGateway.
I especially recommend the free resource
in Matthew Henry’s Commentary.‘s Commentary.

In Year A, we continue to read from the Gospel of St. Matthew.

These Firestarters are for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.