- Created on 18 November 2013
What do we owe God and our neighbor? Scripture tells us to give to everyone whatever is their due and to "owe no one anything, except to love one another" (Romans 13:6-8). The Jewish authorities sought to trap Jesus in a religious-state issue. The Jews resented their foreign rulers and despised paying taxes to Caesar. They posed a dilemma to test Jesus to see if he was loyal to them and to their understanding of religion. If Jesus answered that it was lawful to pay taxes to a pagan ruler, then he would lose credibility with the Jewish nation who would regard him as a coward and a friend of Caesar.
The Meaning Of Psalm 23: The Lord Is My Shepherd
If he said it was not lawful, then the Pharisees would have grounds to report him to the Roman authorities as a political trouble-maker and have him arrested. Jesus avoided their trap by confronting them with the image of a coin. Coinage in the ancient world had significant political power. Rulers issued coins with their own image and inscription on them. In a certain sense the coin was regarded as the personal property of the ruler. Where the coin was valid the ruler held political sway over the people. Since the Jews used the Roman currency, Jesus explained that what belonged to Caesar must be given to Caesar.
The Pharisees went off
and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech.
They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying,
"Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man
and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
And you are not concerned with anyone's opinion,
for you do not regard a person's status.
Tell us, then, what is your opinion:
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?"
Knowing their malice, Jesus said,
"Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?
Show me the coin that pays the census tax."
Then they handed him the Roman coin.
He said to them, "Whose image is this and whose inscription?"
They replied, "Caesar's."
At that he said to them,
"Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God."
This story has another deeper meaning as well. We, too, have been stamped with God's image since we are created in his own likeness – "God created man in his own image ..male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:26-27). We rightfully belong not to ourselves, but to God who created us and redeemed us in the precious blood of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Paul the Apostle says that we are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1). Do you acknowledge that your life and everything you possess belongs to God and not to yourself? And do you give to God what rightfully belongs to Him?
- Created on 15 November 2013
Desperation is an emotion that can drive people to suicide. This summer we saw suicides rise. It is holiday time when people feel the lowest.
I can only imagine the distress anyone would be under to commit suicide. It is a feeling of being hopeless and disconnected. If there is anyone out there feeling so desperate I write these words for you my sister. I hope this prayer lifts you up from what is happening. Please know someone somewhere is praying for you.
Heal my broken heart, My Lord, Heal my broken soul,
I feel torn apart, My Lord, And You can make me whole.
Take me in Your arms, My Lord, And hold me to Your breast,
I am oh-so weary, Lord, And You can give me rest.
Wipe away my tears, My Lord, With gentle hands of love,
Quiet down my fears, My Lord, With graces from above.
Stay with me awhile, My Lord, For I feel all alone,
I'm like a little child, My Lord, With You I feel at home.
Help me bear this cross, My Lord, Help me with this pain,
Unite me with Your Cross, My Lord, And I'll be strong again.
Tell me how to cope, My Lord, Let me hear Your voice,
Encourage me with hope, My Lord,Your way, my only choice.
- Created on 14 November 2013
Have you ever encountered a once in a life-time opportunity you knew you could not pass up? Every so often life presents us with opportunities. Such a moment came for a blind and destitute man, named Bartimaeus. He was determined to get near the one person who could meet his need. He knew who Jesus was and had heard of his fame for healing, but until now had no means of making contact with the Son of David, a clear reference and title for the Messiah.
Mark 10: 46-52
As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd,
Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus,
sat by the roadside begging.
On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth,
he began to cry out and say,
"Jesus, son of David, have pity on me."
And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.
But he kept calling out all the more, "Son of David, have pity on me."
Jesus stopped and said, "Call him."
So they called the blind man, saying to him,
"Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you."
He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.
Jesus said to him in reply, "What do you want me to do for you?"
The blind man replied to him, "Master, I want to see."
Jesus told him, 'Go your way; your faith has saved you."
Immediately he received his sight
and followed him on the way.
It took a lot of "guts" and persistence for Bartimaeus to get the attention of Jesus over the din of a noisy throng who crowded around Jesus as he made his way out of town. Why was the crowd annoyed with the blind man's persistent shouts? He was disturbing their peace and interrupting Jesus' discourse. It was common for a rabbi to teach as he walked with others. Jesus was on his way to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem and a band of pilgrims followed him. When the crowd tried to silence the blind man he overpowered them with his emotional outburst and thus caught the attention of Jesus.
This incident reveals something important about how God interacts with us. The blind man was determined to get Jesus' attention and he was persistent in the face of opposition. Jesus could have ignored or rebuffed him because he was disturbing his talk and his audience. Jesus showed that acting was more important than talking. This man was in desperate need and Jesus was ready, not only to empathize with his suffering, but to relieve it as well. A great speaker can command attention and respect, but a man or woman with a helping hand and a big heart is loved more. Jesus commends Bartimaeus for recognizing who he is with the eyes of faith and grants him physical sight as well.
Read more here.
- Created on 13 November 2013
Rick Warren, founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., has confirmed a visit to disgraced former Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in his North Carolina prison on Friday, describing the visit in a public statement as a "private moment."
"This is a private moment and we just want to love on him and pray with him," Warren said in a statement, according to the Chicago-Sun Times Voices blog.
An Atlanta attorney named C.K. Hoffler was reportedly facilitating Jackson's visits, and has said that Warren and Miller found the former Congressman in "good spirits all things considered."
"He continues to regret all of the pain, shame and embarrassment that he has caused his family, his constituents and his friends but has begun the process of repaying his debt to society," the Voices blog reported Hoffler as saying.
According to WLS-TV in Chicago, Pastor Warren added, "We believe in leaders and second chances."
It was not known if Jackson and his representatives requested a visit from Pastor Warren, or whether the California megachurch pastor took it upon himself to make a trip to the federal correctional facility in North Carolina.Rick has had a difficult year. This year his son died. Matthew Warren, the mega-pastor's son died on April 5. Rick and Kay Warren have been speaking out about his troubled life, how the tragedy changed their faith and their new mission to draw attention to mental illness. It is plain to see that he is using the corporal works of mercy.
Our sister site NewsOne is reporting that if all goes well during his 2.5-year federal prison sentence, former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. could be looking at a December 31, 2015 release date.