September 4 - 9

Labor Day – “The one who eats everything must no treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.” (Romans 14:3) Here’s the problem.  Some followers of Jesus, in Rome, would buy and eat meat that had been used as a sacrifice to the Greco-Roman pantheon of gods.  Other followers of Jesus, in Rome, refused to buy and eat meat that had been a part of a pagan religious ritual.  This caused problems in the church.  People fought with each other.  Both sides declared that they were right.  Paul’s solution?  It just doesn’t matter, in the scheme of life.  Do what your conscious dictates and show grace to everyone else!  Everything old is new again. 


Tuesday, September 5 – “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) Basically, do everything right, all the time.  That can’t be?  Well, on this we all agree.  The perfection that Jesus is calling us to, in Matthew’s gospel, is not about never making any mistakes.  It’s about loving people.  In this specific case, it’s about loving your enemies.  Which, by the way, is God’s specialty.  God loves all of creation.  God loves all people.  Even people who don’t care about God.  That’s the example of perfection that Jesus is calling us to live into.


Wednesday, September 6 – “And walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:2) Before Jesus, the only way someone could be made right with God, receive forgiveness from God and be made whole by God, was to offer a sacrifice at the Temple in Jerusalem.  The act of sacrifice, the spilling of blood, cleansed the people from their iniquities.  Yet, they would have to return to Jerusalem again and again and make sacrifices again and again.  Jesus died on the cross once, for all.  The spilling of his blood made all of humanity right with God.  Once and for all.  This gift was even given to all of the people who won’t ever care about Jesus. That’s love!


Thursday, September 7 – “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.” (Romans 15:5) What mind toward each other did Jesus have?  Well, here’s some of his greatest hits – “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another.”  “Love your enemies.”  “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  It isn’t hard to see what Jesus’ attitude of mind was toward the people in his life.  And it isn’t hard to see who Jesus is calling you to be, toward the people in your life.  Now it’s up to you.  Will you follow Jesus’ example? 


Friday, September 8 – “Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.” (Romans 14:1) Disputable matters are matters that aren’t essential.  Followers of Jesus can disagree over disputable matters because it doesn’t impact anyone’s salvation. The disputable matter that Paul was dealing with was the practice of buying and eating meat that had been sacrificed to pagan gods.  Paul’s point was simple: Since it has no impact on salvation, followers of Jesus can disagree and stay in community.  Each following their own conscious, without condemnation.  What is the only indisputable matter?  Faith in Jesus.  Everything else is disputable.  Thus, concerning everything else, Paul calls us to practice grace.



Saturday, September 9 – “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13) Forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person.  For you might forgive someone who will never forgive you.  Or you might forgive someone who is no longer alive.  Forgiveness isn’t something that you do.  Forgiveness is who you are.  You are forgiving, because you are forgiven.  You can’t accept the forgiveness of Jesus in your life and then turn around and be unforgiving to others.  Unless, of course, you desire to be a hypocrite!  And if that is the case, the question then is if you ever really accepted the gift of forgiveness Jesus offers in the first place?