The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Readings for Sunday, November 2, 2008

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Proper 26 November 2, 2008
Matthew 23:1-12; 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13; Micah 3:5-12; Psalm 43

Matthew 23
Religious Fashion Shows

1-3 Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. “The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer.

4-7″Instead of giving you God’s Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn’t think of lifting a finger to help. Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called ‘Doctor’ and ‘Reverend.’

8-10″Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of ‘Father’; you have only one Father, and he’s in heaven. And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them-Christ.

11-12″Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

1 Thessalonians 2:9-13

9-12You remember us in those days, friends, working our fingers to the bone, up half the night, moonlighting so you wouldn’t have the burden of supporting us while we proclaimed God’s Message to you. You saw with your own eyes how discreet and courteous we were among you, with keen sensitivity to you as fellow believers. And God knows we weren’t freeloaders! You experienced it all firsthand. With each of you we were like a father with his child, holding your hand, whispering encouragement, showing you step-by-step how to live well before God, who called us into his own kingdom, into this delightful life.

13And now we look back on all this and thank God, an artesian well of thanks! When you got the Message of God we preached, you didn’t pass it off as just one more human opinion, but you took it to heart as God’s true word to you, which it is, God himself at work in you believers!

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Micah 3:5-12

5-7Here is God’s Message to the prophets,

the preachers who lie to my people:

“For as long as they’re well paid and well fed,

the prophets preach, ‘Isn’t life wonderful! Peace to all!’

But if you don’t pay up and jump on their bandwagon,

their ‘God bless you’ turns into ‘God damn you.’

Therefore, you’re going blind. You’ll see nothing.

You’ll live in deep shadows and know nothing.

The sun has set on the prophets.

They’ve had their day; from now on it’s night.

Visionaries will be confused,

experts will be all mixed up.

They’ll hide behind their reputations and make lame excuses

to cover up their God-ignorance.”

8But me-I’m filled with God’s power,

filled with God’s Spirit of justice and strength,

Ready to confront Jacob’s crime

and Israel’s sin.

9-12The leaders of Jacob and

the leaders of Israel are

Leaders contemptuous of justice,

who twist and distort right living,

Leaders who build Zion by killing people,

who expand Jerusalem by committing crimes.

Judges sell verdicts to the highest bidder,

priests mass-market their teaching,

prophets preach for high fees,

All the while posturing and pretending

dependence on God:

“We’ve got God on our side.

He’ll protect us from disaster.”

Because of people like you,

Zion will be turned back into farmland,

Jerusalem end up as a pile of rubble,

and instead of the Temple on the mountain,

a few scraggly scrub pines.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Psalm 43

1-2 Clear my name, God; stick up for me against these loveless, immoral people.

Get me out of here, away

from these lying degenerates.

I counted on you, God.

Why did you walk out on me?

Why am I pacing the floor, wringing my hands

over these outrageous people?

3-4 Give me your lantern and compass,

give me a map,

So I can find my way to the sacred mountain,

to the place of your presence,

To enter the place of worship,

meet my exuberant God,

Sing my thanks with a harp,

magnificent God, my God.

5 Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?

Why are you crying the blues?

Fix my eyes on God-

soon I’ll be praising again.

He puts a smile on my face.

He’s my God.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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Written by Monte

October 30, 2008 at 8:58 pm

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