Working for God

It sometimes happens that sons and daughters take on the business of their parents. It’s what we call a “family business.” God’s people in the wilderness also had families that took on special works.  Such a family were the Levites, the sons of Aaron.  They were the ministers of God’s worship and cared for the prayer-tent and all its details.  They received their wages from a part of the offerings of the people, since all their work was dedicated to God.

That’s the way it is with ministry.  John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, used to ask this question to those who wanted to be pastors; it’s still asked of those to this day who are about to be ordained:  “Are you determined to employ all your time in the work of God?”  That’s a very important question for pastors.  But you know, for every Christian, what would you want to do that was not for God’s praise and glory?  

Numbers 18:20-32

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 from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed 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.

Jolts into a Wider World

“Happy rather are those who hear God’s Word and keep it.”
Luke 11:28

When a plant in a little pot needs to be transplanted to the ground, the change is a shock.  The pot is turned upside; after a few strong whacks on the bottom, the plant is loosened from the pot and is ready to be transplanted.

When a baby is born, it’s often given a whack on the behind to begin breathing. A newborn baby is like being transplanted from the small container which is the womb of the mother, to the big wide world of air outside.

Sometimes things happen in life that give us a big whack.  These jolts are meant to “transplant” us into new spiritual ground where we will grow and flourish more.  Jolts in life are the things that God uses to have us keep our world wide and free, instead of the small and musty space of only what others want from us.

What is it that waters the life of us transplanted into God?  Prayer.  Jesus teaches his disciples about prayer.  Place yourself right there and listen in. One final note: in the last verse there is the saying of Jesus about those being blessed who hear the Word of God and keep it.  The meaning of “keep” is “protection.”  The Word of God is like a seed planted inside us that needs our faith, hope and love to protect it so that it can grow to full flower through us.

Luke 11:1-28

Fridays are dedicated to the Gospels. This being Year C,
the third year in the cycle, we generally read from the Gospel of Luke.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed 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.

Lifted to Glory

My wife’s elderly Mom came to live with us several years ago, after my wife’s father had died.  They had celebrated sixty-four years of marriage! At the end of each day, we would help her up the stairs so that she could go to bed.  Her legs were so weak that my wife and I had to help her up the steps, one at a time.  When she arrived at the top, there was a feeling of relief for her, for she had finally gotten to the second floor and her bedroom.

Jesus came down and suffered with us so that he would lift us up step by step to heaven.  Today’s chapter of the letter to the Hebrews tells of the meaning of the comfort that Jesus gives us by being with us in suffering so that we can be lifted up to glory! 

Hebrews 2

Thursdays are dedicated to the letters of Paul, other letters,
the Book of Acts, and the Book of Revelation.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed 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.

Praise Yah!

Praise the Lord!
    You who serve the Lord—praise!
    Praise the Lord’s name!
Psalm 113:1

Today and for the next five Wednesdays we will be praying psalms that have something special about them; each one begins with the cry of joy, “Alleluia!”  This familiar word only occurs in the psalms―twenty-six times, to be exact.  We have a feeling about the word, but what does “Alleluia” mean?

The word is made up of two parts.  The first is hallel, the Hebrew word for “praise.”  The last syllable Yah is a kind of nickname for the name of God given to Moses at the burning bush, “Yahweh”. So the word is not only a shout of joy, it means “Praise Yah!” 

For these special summer Wednesdays, here in the middle of the week, we give a shout of praise to God for the week and pray that the world will praise God.  Many won’t be doing this, so how about you praising God for them?    

Psalm 113

Wednesdays are devoted to the reading of the Psalms,
one a week across the three-year cycle.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed 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.

The Sacred Family Tree

God’s people lost the memory of their sacred family tree. 

After a very serious accident, it sometimes happens that the person completely forgets not only what happened, but who they are.  They no longer recognize their family.  It is called amnesia.  Think what this might be like for you to be totally cut off from your past!

This is what happened to God’s people after so many years in exile away from their homeland.  They lost the memory of their sacred family tree.  After being allowed to return and rebuild Jerusalem, imagine what a joy it was for them to find God’s Word! They also discovered records of their ancestors.  They got to know who they are again.

Continue to skim through these names with the feeling of joy that it must have brought these people to have found their roots.  How far back in your family tree can you go?    

1 Chronicles 4-6

Tuesdays are dedicated to the the History and Writings
of the Hebrew Scriptures.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed 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.

Never Put Down

“For surely I will command,
And will sift the house of Israel among all nations,
As grain is sifted in a sieve;
Yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.
Amos 9:9

All of a sudden in the prophet Amos, there is an upward shift to hope and joy as this book comes to an end.  Amos has had harsh words of judgment against God’s people for forgetting about living the way God wanted them to live.  Here in the final paragraphs, like a locked door that suddenly opens wide, God tells the people that joy and prosperity will return once again.  People in exile will come back to their homeland and plant the fields and enjoy the harvest.

 Verse nine says that though there will be persecution for God’s people, yet “No true kernel will be lost.”  It’s as though there is a rampage through a corn field; with all the destruction, the kernels true to the Lord will not be crushed or lost.

If you and I are true to God’s ways and keep our eyes on the Lord, then no one can really get to you! No one can put you down when it is God who lifts you up!

Amos 9:7-15

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed 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.

Going Up

Jerusalem is built on a small plateau.  When pilgrims used to make the sacred journey to the city to celebrate the festivals, they would sing, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go up to the house of the Lord’” (Psalm 122).  Now it wasn’t like climbing a mountain; still there was the feeling of going up.

Jesus feels something like this.  He keeps his eyes on Jerusalem for he would go up there, and then go further up on Mount Calvary to be even lifted further up on the cross.   

There is another meaning to “going up” that Jesus has in mind: to go back up to heaven.  All kinds of feelings of “going up” are felt in this passage.  What keeps all these feelings together are Jesus’s eyes straight ahead of him on his way to Jerusalem.  Jesus would offer himself there.    

From verse 57 you will read about the price that one has to pay for following Jesus.  Eyes any place else but on Jesus and following him will lessen the joy that God wants you to have in your life. One day you  will be lifted up to be with Jesus and all the saints in heaven forever.

Luke 9:51-62

On Sundays we follow the Gospels from the Revised Common Lectionary.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed 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.