Sermon: What Makes a Family
Scripture Reading: Romans 12:1-8, Mark 3:31-35
Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:31-35)
Monday June 18 — Psalm 15
This short Psalm asks and then answers a very important question: who may come into the presence of God? Each of the answers to the question are worth our time and attention. The commands to speak the truth, not use our tongues to slander others, or do evil to our friends and neighbors hit particularly close to home. We know how easily we can hurt people close to us with what we say about them. This week, pay attention to what you say about people who are not present? Do you build them up? Or do you tear them down? Using Psalm 15, think about what God expects of you.
- Prayer: Eternal God, thank you for expecting the best out of me. Help me live up to your expectations for my all aspects of life.
Tuesday June 19 — Matthew 7:12-14
The Golden Rule is an excellent guide when speaking about our friends, neighbors, and members of the church family. Jesus’ teaches us that we should talk about others the way we want others to talk about us. Most of us want our friends to defend us and speak highly of us, but many of us do not defend our friends and speak highly of them when they are not in the room. Many of us choose to take the easier path. Answer this question: how do I want my friends and neighbors to talk about me? Then use your answer to guide your conversations when you are talking about other people.
- Prayer: Merciful God, forgive me when I fail to obey the teaching of Jesus. Forgive me when I choose the easy path instead of the right path.
Wednesday June 20 — James 2:8-13
James reminds us of the words Jesus quoted when he was asked which commandment is the greatest of the commandments: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). Like the Golden Rule, the Great Commandment serves as a valuable guide for everyday life. However, we cannot forget that Jesus also answered the question: who is my neighbor? (See Luke 10:15-37) How have you treated your neighbors today? Have you loved your neighbors “as yourself”? If not, why not?
- Prayer: Loving God, fill me with your love, so that I might share your love today with everyone who is my neighbor.
Thursday June 21 — James 3:3-6
In describing the power of the tongue, James says that words can start a fire the way a spark sets a forest ablaze. It is very difficult to extinguish a forest fire. In the same way, it is very difficult to stop gossip from spreading out of control. The best way to control gossip is to prevent it from starting in the first place and extinguish it before it is out of control. How do you feel about gossip? Is it harmless fun? Or is it dangerous and hurtful? When you hear gossip about someone, do you fan the flames, or do you try to put out the fire?
- Prayer: God of Wisdom, grant me the courage and self-control I need to keep silent and hold my tongue when necessary. Use me to put out “gossip” fires.
Friday June 22 — James 4:11-12
Using our words wisely means that we choose carefully when we speak to one another and when we speak about one another. James warns us about the danger of speaking evil against our brothers and sisters. His warnings about speaking evil are set in the context of his warnings about “friendship with the world” (see James 4:1-10). The fact that everyone else spreads gossip, doesn’t mean that we should spread gossip. What kind of gossip (or hearsay) are you tempted to spread about others? What helps you resist the temptation to gossip?
- Prayer: Almighty God, I am humbled in your presence. Cleanse my heart and mind so that I can fully obey your teaching.
Saturday June 23 — Ephesians 4:15-16, 25-32
The Bible is clear: we must, “grow up in every way . . . into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). This “growing up” includes learning to control our tongues and to think (and pray) before we speak. The rules for a new life include “putting away falsehood,” “speaking truth to our neighbors,” saying “only what is useful for building up,” and “being kind to one another” (Ephesians 4:25-32). Which of these instructions for growing up into Christ are easiest for you? Which of these instructions are most challenging? Which have you done more of this week: build up or tear down?
- Prayer: Heavenly Father, fill me with your Spirit and renew my heart and mind. Transform my life. Help me grow up into the full stature of Christ.