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Shirley Choat

Blog writings by Shirley Choat.

 

SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER PENECOST

This is the day the LORD hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Authority often is concealed by weakness. David did not build a great temple so that Solomon could build one of God's design. Jesus did not seek popularity with His hometown neighbors so that He could do the full will of God. A healthy Paul might have been more effective, but in his weakness he was amenable to God's purposes for his life. We too may glory in our difficulties in order that the power of God maybe revealed in our lives.

SUNDAY DEVOTIONS

2 Samuel 7:1-17; 2 Cor. 12:1-10; Mark 6:1-6; Psalm 89:20-37

To say the least, Jesus’ hometown folk felt uneasy with him in their midst, especially when he taught in their synagogue on a Sabbath. We are not told why they were so offended. Perhaps it was just their jealousy that one whom they knew so well had become so famous. Certainly they thought He had gone beyond what one of His status as a humble carpenter should go. They would have had respect for Him as one skilled in such trades as carpentry that contributed to the general welfare of the community. But they would not have expected Him to be skilled in the interpretation of the scriptures or a radical social reformer. One of the contemporary group of Jesus scholars has speculated that although verbally gifted in a predominately oral culture, Jesus may have been illiterate.

Rejected at home, Jesus adopted another strategy. He gathered His disciples together and sent them out “with authority over the unclean spirits.” This may have meant that they merely had power to change people’s minds about what they might expect from Jesus. The gospel authors like Mark who wrote down the tradition for subsequent generations also believed that the disciples possessed the same authority over unclean spirits that Jesus Himself had demonstrated. Apparently that is what Mark intended. But was this “authority” (Greek ) a moral and spiritual authority of a pastoral nature or was it something more of a power to effect physical cures? Without question then as now, anyone suffering from an illness, however caused, would seriously affect everyone in the extended family or the immediate community of the sick person. In such circumstances, even death has a healing effect over time.

Blind unbelief is surer to err, and scan His work in vain,

God is His own interpreter, and He will make it plain.

Just trust in Christ--His Word believe

Eternal life you will receive.

PRAY

LORD Jesus as You once came to Your hometown to visit it with Your gracious words of life, we pray that You will come into our hearts with Your same Word of forgiveness and life. Grant us such faith that we, without doubting or questioning Your wisdom and ways, may truly believe Your Word and live according to Your will. Give us faith so that we may welcome You and Your message today. May we serve You in Godly peace and quietness; through Jesus Christ, our LORD, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

THROUGH THE BIBLE IN TWO YEARS

1 Samuel 10:17-27; Acts 7:44 - 8:1; Luke 22:52-62

SCRIPTURE

Luke 22:54 — Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest's house.

THOUGHTS TO PONDER

In the “old west” we, the posse, were the ultimate authority. When we caught the bank robbers, the horse thieves, or the cattle rustlers, we didn’t have to haul them before a judge somewhere. One of us changed hats, found a box, and used the rusted hammer with the broken handle for a gavel. There were only occasional appeals to the higher authority of Mom, but sentencing was usually swift and severe. We never hanged anyone, but a few were sentenced to be hanged, and lots of dangerous criminals got hundreds of years in jail. (That usually translated to about ten to fifteen minutes.) Not so with Jesus. He was arrested and dragged from one authority to the next. The high priest’s house was only the first stop. While only the Romans had the authority to execute, the Jewish authorities felt no restraint from beatings and humiliation along the way. The high priest’s house was excavated in Jerusalem several years ago. It includes a circular prison in the floor in which Jesus was most likely thrown while waiting to be “tried” by the high priest. Many of the trials Jesus had to endure were little more than “kangaroo courts”. We may sometimes be frustrated with the slowness of justice and the endless appeals of our courts, but how well would Jesus fare in our court system? How does Jesus fare in them? “What you do to the least....” We may thank the Lord that He took upon Himself the punishment of us all so that we might judge with loving mercy.

PRAYER

Sometimes I am so judgmental, dear God, being judge and jury and making up my mind too quickly. Forgive me for my lack of judgment and my lack of caring for those who are not receiving fair verdicts throughout the world. Use me to bring justice. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

1 Samuel 10:1-16; Romans 4:13-25; Matthew 21:23-32

SCRIPTURE

Matthew 21:31b — Jesus said to the (chief priests and elders), "Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you.

THOUGHTS TO PONDER

The “big kids” usually had the advantage over some of us younger ones. They were faster and more experienced in getting the best seats, the first treats, the most capable players. As we were preparing for a field trip to the big city of Norfolk, Nebraska, they were the first in the cars with their friends, making us squeeze in wherever there was room. If I’d have had a choice, I certainly wouldn’t have ridden between Blue and Schwendt! Both had left me with painful bruises from time to time. When we stopped for a snack at the bakery, the “big kids” were first in line for the treats. To their surprise and dismay, the baker declared, “Youngest ones first!” As a result we received the biggest cookies on the rack, while some of the “big kids” ended up with smaller, broken cookies.  The chief priests and elders (“big kids”) in the religious establishment considered their favored position to be secure, even in heaven. Jesus informed them that such was not necessarily the case. Some of the despised of the world who turned their lives over to God, would be better off, when the Day of Judgment came. In other words, entrance into the kingdom of God is not based on position or rank, but on the state of the heart in a person’s relationship with God. Have you been counting on the fact that your name is on the church books, or the fact that you serve on the church council, to get you into heaven? The question is, “Where is your heart in your relationship to Christ?”  Or, have you been feeling “less than holy and not good enough to enter God’s presence? Rejoice! Jesus judges hearts not rank or worldly wealth. He loves you “just the way you are!”

PRAYER

I am ashamed, dear Lord, that sometimes I think that because I am doing what you have called me to do, I deserve the best. Thank you for blessing me so abundantly. I pray that I will use my blessings to bless others who suffer and lack the basic needs in life. In the Holy Name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

1 Samuel 9:15-10:1; Acts 7:30-43; Luke 22:39-51

SCRIPTURE

Luke 22:43 — Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.

THOUGHTS TO PONDER

Most of our fields were hilly. We had one field near the creek that was very flat and surrounded by trees or hills. It was mid-summer and the corn needed to be cultivated. Dad sent me to that flat field to do the job. I enjoyed cultivating, and doing it on a flat field seemed like a treat. However, I forgot my water jug. The temperature approached 5,000 degrees, there was not a trace of a breeze, and the bindweed kept clogging up the shovels. In no time I was drenched with sweat, parched for thirst, and totally frustrated! To top it off, as I slid under the shovels to clean out the bindweed, one of the shovels ripped my jeans and sliced into my leg, making me think I’d probably bleed to death. Fortunately it was only a flesh wound and I didn’t die. I had to take a breathing break because the tractor fumes in the still hot air were getting to me. That was when Mom drove up - my angel of mercy - with a nice cool jug of water, a snack, and encouragement.  That kept me going. Jesus saw the pain, the suffering, and the cross about to overtake Him. Drenched in huge drops of sweat, He continued to pray for God’s will to be done. The messenger from His Father appeared, not with a cool jug of water, but the strengthening encouragement He needed to face whatever cup He would have to drink. Have you considered asking for God’s strength when you are at the edge of your own limits? The Psalmist said it best: You prepare a table before in the presence of my enemies, you anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. Ps 23:5

PRAYER

During these hot summer months, dear Lord, many times I thirst for your cool water. Let me also thirst for your word appreciate the refreshment that it gives. Thank you for strengthening and refreshing me by giving me encouragement. I pray this in the name of the water of life, Jesus my Christ. Amen.

1 Samuel 9:1-14; Acts 6:15 - 7:16; Luke 22:31-38

SCRIPTURE

Luke 22:31-32 — And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren."

THOUGHTS TO PONDER

When I grew up on the farm, we had to put our oats through a kind of sifter to get rid of chaff, dirt, small stones, and weed seeds. I had to invent a similar sifter for my compost. Compost can make the difference in mid-summer gardens. I was able to get loads of it free from a city leaf dump. The first year I spread it on my garden, but discovered that it was full of plastics, twigs, and other refuse. In order to make it useable I had to sift it through a screen. It took a lot more time and energy, but in the end it was worth it. Even Satan knows the value of sifting. The ancient method of sifting involved throwing the wheat seed in the air to let the wind blow away the chaff and waste. Jesus warned Peter that the winds of adversity would be blowing at him from every direction. They would even be strong enough to blow him off course, but all was not lost. Jesus’ prayer was that Peter’s faith would be strong enough to bring him back to give strength to the others who would be similarly “sifted”.  We all face times of “sifting”. The good news is that Jesus does not just “write us off”! Instead, Jesus prays for our return and our usefulness in strengthening others too. Have you identified the “sifting” in your life? Is your faith helping you return (repent) so that you too may be of use to the Lord?

Though Satan my be given power to carry out his goal, we know that in our darkest hour our Lord is in control. (Satan's ploys are no match for the Savior's power.)

PRAYER

Help me be strong enough in my faith so that when I am “sifted” I will remain close to you, dear God. I pray that I might cast off all those things that I do contrary to your will. Thank you for the gift of Jesus Christ and for not “writing me off” when I have gone astray. In His name I pray. Amen.

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