Day 164 Zacchaeus Like 19: 1-10

Guided reflection:

The Zacchaeusstory is only told by Luke. What a great story of redemption.  Zacchaeus is a man hated by his neighbors because he has worked for the Romans and cheats them all in the process.  But he has one of those inquiring minds that wants to know… he wants to see Jesus!  But being ignored by those around him and being a short person, he climbs a tree to see Jesus.  Jesus stops right under the tree and calls him by name… and invites himself to a party.  Zacchaeus’ life is transformed – once the opportunist who used others for his own gain, now  used what he had to help others.  Isn’t that just like Jesus?   Have you ever been, or you know persons that are, a Zaccheaus today?  Where has Jesus turned your heart around?  Have you been transformed by Jesus?

Guided Prayer:

Loving God, where I am like Zacchaeus in my life?   What do you need to change my heart and my point of view?  Am I an opportunist?  Allow me to make the most of opportunities to serve you by loving others.  Amen” 

Day 163 Bartimaeus is healed Matt 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18: 35-45

Guided reflection:

            Have you noticed that these last few days, all three of the gospels have included these stories? 

These days must have made a powerful impact!   I love this story – a man sees his chance to be healed and starts yelling at Jesus… others are embarrassed and try to shush him, but he would not be shushed!  He was so close to a possible miracle, he would not allow the opinion of others to keep him for his miracle!  Then, Jesus hears him and asks “what do you want me to do for you?”  “Heal my sight!  I want to see!”  And Jesus did… and he rejoiced… and all the others rejoiced… what a day!  If Jesus came close to you today, how would you respond to the question: “What do you need from me today?”

Guided Prayer:

            “Jesus, today this is what I need from you:  ____________________________”

 (Be gut honest as you fill in the blank from your heart’s point of view.) 

Day 162 Momma’s boys! Matt 20:20-28; Mark 10:35-45; Luke 22: 24-27

Guided reflection:

Every mother wants what is best for her children, but the mother of James and John took this to a new level – she asked Jesus to command that they sit on the right and left side of him in Jesus’ kingdom.  Now, of course, she is thinking of an earthly kingdom where a king had his best men beside him… but Jesus’ kingdom was not of this earth.  She had no clue that she was really asking that they participate in his suffering.  He nailed her when he said the greatest would become the least and the least would become the greatest… in HIS book, the greats did not have special seats, but are on their knees, serving others.  I wonder, did she go away aggravated that Jesus did not grant her wish… did she go away sad, knowing that the story was going to include suffering?  This is why we offer our children to God at Baptism… His ways are not our ways!

Guided Prayer:

O Loving God, I want to be special too!  Help me to match my heart with your heart… help me know that I will be great when I lose my desire for it and begin to serve others as Christ would serve.  Amen” 

Day 161 Prediction of the Death of Jesus Matt. 20:17-19; Mark 10:32-34; Luke 18: 31-34

Guided Reflection:

All three of the gospel writers include this short passage that shows that Jesus tried to tell the Disciples that they were going to Jerusalem with a particular assignment.  Jesus does not say “I am going to die”, but uses a phrase he often used to describe himself:  “The Son of Man” .  It is in hindsight that the gospels were written, but here is where he clearly tells them what is going to happen and the end result.  But they did not grasp what Jesus said.  I wonder, would I have understood what Jesus was talking about?  It would not have even entered my mind to accept what Jesus was saying.  I do so love it that the gospels show the real humanness of the disciples.

Guided prayer:

“Thank you, Lord Jesus, for going to the cross on my behalf… and for rising from the dead for me.  I know I am so much like those disciple – slow to learn, hard to teach.  But, Lord, keep showing me the way, even if the way gets rough sometimes.  Amen” 

Day 160 The Parable of the laborers in the vineyard Matthew 20: 1-16

Guided reflection:

This parable has always made me uncomfortable because I have focused on the unfairness of the owner’s pay scale!   The owner of the vineyard was never home, he was always out looking for more folks, so maybe the story is about the owner’s heart that wanted as many to work as they could…that way the work was done and all had what they needed.  You see, God does not give us what we deserve… God always gives us more and wants all included!  That is what grace is about – unmerited favor!  This is one of those “abundance vs. scarcity” parables – there is enough for everyone!

Guided Prayer:

“Thank you God, for finding a place for all of us to work and be of value.  Thank you for being more concerned about including us all than in what is fair or unfair..  Thank goodness you do not give me what I deserve!  Thank you for your love and grace to me.  Amen”

Day 159 The Rich Young Man Matt 19:16-30; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 18:-30

Guided reflection:

A driven, successful young man has the chance to speak to Jesus.  He wants to do everything right - but Jesus turns what he holds as truth, upside down!  The young man believes that if you watch your behavior and do all the right things, you will get into heaven… and be successful along the way!   But Jesus must have sensed a hint of a compulsive do-gooder in this young man and tells him to give away all that he has.  It says he went away sad… but we do not know whether he eventually figured out that his stuff was not as important as loving people, I hope he did.    Jesus explained to the Disciples that those who are rich in earthly things have a harder time facing their need of a savior – they think can handle it!  But, Jesus adds : “Nothing is impossible with God!”     Always a word of hope can be found!

Guided prayer:

“Loving God, are there things in my heart that I have placed too much importance?  I know you want me to be a responsible person, but do I think I can handle it all on my own?  Do I think that my stuff is a measuring stick for my worthiness?  Help me see past my stuff and find your heart. Amen”    

Day 158 Jesus Blesses the Children Matt 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16, Luke 18: 15-17

Guided reflection:

Babies and little children were a nuisance to the disciples… they wanted them out of sight and out of mind, but Jesus had another way of looking at children.  Like the chorus, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world”.  That is why I like to make a big fuss about babies – the first time they come to worship, when they are baptized, when they go to Sunday School, when they sing their little songs… Oh, the joy of little children.  They are filled with promise and potential.         

Guided prayer:

“I love to know that Jesus would have hugged and kissed me as a baby… and would want to hold my babies close.   But now that I am grown, Loving God, help me keep my heart and mind open in the innocence and wonder of a little child.  Help me give my inner child a chance to influence the way I look at the world and all ofyour children.  Amen”    

Day 157 Marriage and Divorce Matt 19: 1-2, Mark 10: 1-12

Guided reflection:

As a women who wrestled with divorce and dysfunction, I read a book about this scripture with the question in my heart: is there grace for persons who leave to become more whole?  The author said that it was never God’s plan for marriage to end in divorce… but neither was it God’s plan for us to live in dysfunctional situations… that is why Moses made the concept of Divorce… to offer grace when life falls short of God’s dream.    Sometimes our reality falls short of God’s dream, but never short of God’s grace.  But, obviously, ending a marriage is not something to do lightly.

Guided Prayer:

“Dear God, help me to do all within my power to live as whole and loving as possible with my spouse.  If there are places of deep pain, will you come and make us whole?  Help me to know that your love and your grace is bigger than I am.  Amen”     

Day 156 The Pharisee and the Publican Luke 18: 9-14

Guided reflection:

When do spiritual disciplines become empty rituals?  I try to discipline myself in my spiritual growth with prayer and meditation, devotionals, worship, tithing, intentional reaching out to the poor… when do I becomelike the Pharisees in this parable?  Maybe it is our motivation behind our lists – one is to be intentional about staying in love with Jesus… the other is to make myself look good and worthy.  When the sinner man beat his breast and prayed “God be merciful to me a sinner”, it came from a broken and honest place… while the prayer of the Pharisee came from a proud and arrogant place.   Have you ever felt pleased with yourself for all your good works?  Have you ever humbled yourself and faced your sin and asked God to forgive you, just as you are?   

Guided prayer         

            “God, be merciful to me… me, a sinner… one who stands in the need of your grace.  Amen”

Day 155 The Unjust judge Luke 18: 1-8

Guided reflection:   

Is Jesus saying that if we keep praying, that our much praying will make God

respond because we will wear him out?   Or is Jesus saying that an unrighteous judge would do that, but God is not like that, won’t a loving God respond to our cries?   When it is my time for Christ to come for me, will I be found faithful?   

Guided Prayer:

                 “Loving God, hear my prayer.  Listen to what my soul needs to say today_______

                 (what do you need to say?)  Hear my prayer, O Lord.  Amen.”