Paul’s Approach to Ministry

Text: 1 Corinthians 9:16-27 Reflection and Question: Paul is a preacher through and through. He doesn’t do it for the money or the power. He does it because the doing of it gives him joy, “the satisfaction of preaching the Gospel.” And preaching requires him to understand other people deeply, accepting both Jews and Gentiles, […]

The Conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount

Text: Matthew 7:22-29 Reflection and Question: Jesus ends the Sermon on the Mount with two warnings. First, there will be people who claim faithful service to Jesus as Lord, to whom Jesus will say, “I never knew you; out of my sight!” Second, Jesus uses the image of houses built on rock and sand to […]

The Eating of Meat Sacrificed to Idols

Text: 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 Reflection and Question: There is no dilemma about eating meat sacrificed to idols in our church as there was for Paul and the Christians in Corinth. But there is a principle in Paul’s logic that does apply to the problems facing us now: Love is more important than knowledge. For example, […]

Wisdom and Praise

Text: Psalm 36 Reflection and Question: This psalm reflects the perspective of the Wisdom tradition that includes Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes. There is a stark distinction between the wicked and the good. In this psalm, what characterizes the good person is embrace of God’s love. The writer models this embrace by beautifully describing God’s unfailing […]

Jesus Says More About Material Possessions

Text: Matthew 6:25-34 Reflection and Question: Jesus’ trust in God here can clash with our real responsibility to put food on the table and a roof over our heads. His assurance that all we need will come if we set our minds on God’s justice displays a faith that is way beyond most of us. […]

The Defeat of Israel by Assyria

Text: 2 Kings 17:1-18 Reflection and Question: In this analysis of the Assyrian defeat of Israel, the writers of Deuteronomy condemn worship practices that were common in ancient Israel. I remember vividly from seminary my Old Testament prof commenting that the people of Israel thought they were worshipping Yahweh, the God of Israel, when they […]

Jesus’ Words on Wealth

Text: Matthew 6:19-24 Reflection and Question: Most people will probably agree with Jesus’ conclusion that, “You can not serve God and wealth.” And yet our consumer economy relies upon our storing up treasure here on earth — and even most Christians devote much of daily life to serving “wealth” rather than God. The point is […]

Paul’s Advice on Morality and Marriage

Text: 1 Corinthians 7:1-9 Reflection and Question: This is one of the Biblical passages at the center of our faithful effort to integrate our sexuality and our spirituality. The best thing, Paul says, is to remain unmarried and chaste, as he does. But for the majority of us, who have not been given the gift […]

Faithful Thanks for Healing and Restoration

Text: Psalm 116 Reflection and Question: There were apparently no copyright laws at the time the Psalms were compiled. This Psalm is a patchwork of sections and verses found elsewhere, Psalm 18 and Psalm 56, for example. This suggests that the speaker is a faithful person whose heart was full of the prayers of Israel […]

Jesus’ Call to Perfection

Text:Matthew 5:38-48 Reflection and Question: Jesus places us before a high standard indeed: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” It can’t be done. And the examples given bear this out. How difficult it is for us to turn the other cheek and to go the second mile! And how many times have […]