Advent Daily Devotional


Lenten Devotional 2-26-23

Sermon on the Mount

February 27

Matthew 5: 6

A disciple is hungry and thirsty for righteousness. 

This is not just a desire to be provided with righteousness.

This is an active search for it. 

An obsessive pursuit of God’s righteousness.

What is God’s righteousness?

Well, it’s what God approves of. 

Who God is and What God does and so what we are to try to be and do.

It includes such things as integrity and virtue and curiosity and persistence.

It asks this question constantly.

“What does God want us to do in this time and place?”

It is the desire for this, the hunger and thirst for this, that is rewarded.

When we are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, we are blessed.

Lenten Devotional 2-25-23

Sermon on the Mount

February 25

Matthew 5: 5

5 ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 

When I was a kid, I read comic books. The Avengers was my favorite. I’m a big fan of Captain America. You know his story, right? Steve Rogers wants to be a soldier and fight the Nazis during WWII. But Steve is a sickly, scrawny little guy. He volunteers for an experiment. He will be injected with a secret serum that will enhance his physical attributes and so become a sort of super soldier for the Allies. It works and he becomes … well … Captain America.

At the end of most issues there would be an advertisement that had a scrawny little guy on the beach with a girl. Some big guy would kick sand on them and knock the little guy down when he protested. Then the girl would go with the big guy because he was manlier. So, the little guy would sign up for some muscle building program. He gets big. Like Steve Rogers. Then back to the beach, put a beat down on the guy who stole his girl. OK, that’s not so much like Steve Rogers, but you get the picture. Who wants to be the little guy or girl who gets pushed around?

Pretty ridiculous, but it was an example of the view that the mighty are the ones who prevail. We live in a culture that celebrates the ones who say, “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”. We don’t just want to win; we want to humiliate our adversaries.

Yet Jesus tells us that disciples are meek. Jesus says the meek are blessed. What could Jesus possibly mean? Well, first we need to know what Jesus meant by meek.

Listen to Psalm 37:

Do not fret because of the wicked;
   do not be envious of wrongdoers,
for they will soon fade like the grass,
   and wither like the green herb.
Trust in the Lord, and do good;
   so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.
Take delight in the Lord,
   and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
   trust in him, and he will act.
He will make your vindication shine like the light,
   and the justice of your cause like the noonday.
Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him;
   do not fret over those who prosper in their way,
   over those who carry out evil devices.
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath.
   Do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For the wicked shall be cut off,
   but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more;
   though you look diligently for their place, they will not be there.
But the meek shall inherit the land,
   and delight in abundant prosperity. 

The meek shall inherit the land. That’s what Jesus said. But who are these meek people? Those who:

  • Trust in the Lord, and do good;
  • Take delight in the Lord,
  • Commit their ways to the Lord;
  • Are still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him;
  • Refrain from anger and forsake wrath.
  • Wait for the Lord.

The meek are totally reliant on God. And so, they are nearer to God. That is why they are blessed. They live the Jesus Way. But before we think this means that we have to be spineless whimpering cowards, let’s take a look at the only two people in the Bible who are described as meek.

First one?

Moses. The guy who murdered an overseer of slaves because he beat them. The guy who stood up to the Egyptian ruler and demanded that the Jews be freed from slavery. The guy who led a bunch of whining, thankless people in the wilderness for 40 years. The guy who negotiated with God to save them from his anger at their lack of faith. Meek? Moses was only meek when it came to God. Moses put God’s will before his own.

Then there is the only other person described in the Bible as meek.

Jesus. Really? The guy who sparred with the devil for 40 days in the wilderness. The guy who went to his home town and declared himself the fulfiller of Isaiah’s prophecy at the risk of death. The guy stood up to the religious leaders of his people. The guy who physically chased the moneychangers out of the Temple in Jerusalem with a whip while turning over their tables. The guy who voluntarily allowed himself to be betrayed, tortured and crucified for folks like you and me. Meek? Well … meek in the sense that he carried out the will of God. If we follow God, we are meek, too. We need to be non-violent righteousness seekers. We need to stand beside those who are bullied. Those who are oppressed. Those who are abused. Those suffering from injustice. When we do that, we do the will of God. 

Meek but blessed.

Lenten Devotional 2-24-23

Sermon on the Mount

February 24

Matthew 5: 4

4 ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 

Mourning is defined as an expected response to despair about one’s surrounding circumstances and grief over the loss of something important. It is as old as humanity and is both an emotion and an event. Mourning is what  we feel when we are despondent over a loss and is typically followed by some sort of ritual management of the emotion. For example, when we are faced with the death of a loved one, we feel the loss. What follows is a ritual that allows us to be surrounded by others who comfort us. There are many such rituals but the most common is a viewing, funeral, burial and reception. Then, there is a return to our daily lives. But here is the thing, the mourning continues. I tell people that they should not want to stop mourning entirely. That might minimize the loss of a beloved person. The depth of our mourning demonstrates the intensity of our love. It is important to grieve. But there is another kind of mourning.

But mourning can also be grief about our surrounding circumstances. The world we live in might seem dark and dangerous. We mourn that things are not the way they should be. That the world is broken and unsafe and filled with chaos. That humanity is distant from God. And like the Jews in Babylonian captivity after Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed, we mourn deeply, but the Jews also believed that God would redeem them and return them to Jerusalem and to the Temple thus putting an end to their mourning. We too have such a hope. Our hope is in Jesus, the one who will lead us to the Kingdom of God. So, disciples are mourners who grieve our distance from God while having hope that Jesus will take us to God’ presence. But in the meantime, God promises to be with us when we mourn and suffer. God too has mourned and suffered, and knows what we need. God is our comforter. Our hope. Our blessing.

So, when we mourn, we are comforted and so, we are blessed.