The First Reading is recorded in Deuteronomy 30:15-20. The people of Israel are confronted with a choice: will they walk in the covenant the Lord has established with them, a covenant which will bring them life, or will they choose to turn away from the Lord to the false gods around them, and by so doing chose death? It seems to us to be a no-brainer; yet, how do we turn from the Lord to other things that promise life, but only rob life from us?
Lord God, let Your Holy Spirit work in our lives to keep us firm in You, keep us from turning away from You, the source and giver of life, to false gods that cannot give life. Keep us always in Jesus, the One Who gives us eternal life. Amen.
The psalm for today is Psalm 1. This psalm is a poetic form of the First Reading; notice the same theme weaving its way through the psalm, remain in the Lord and live, or turn from the Lord and be driven away like chaff in the wind.
Holy and loving Lord, keep us fresh, new, and alive in You. Be our only nourishment in life, and only way into eternal life. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.
The Second Reading is one of the shortest books of the Bible, Philemon 1:1-21. The background is a story of slavery and a runaway slave. But even before the letter was written, Philemon became a Christian through the apostle Paul’s message about Christ. Undoubtedly Onesimus (a name that means “Useful” – notice the pun in verse 11), heard the preaching of Paul, and when he ran away, he escaped to Paul. While with Paul, he became a Christian. Paul sent Onesimus back to Philemon, promising to pay any of Onesimus’ expenses, sending him back with this letter. Paul doesn’t tell Philemon to set Onesimus free, but the pressure sure is there for Philemon to do so. We see Paul advocating for Onesimus. What do you think Philemon did?
Lord Jesus, we are free from sin, death, and the devil in You because You have purchased us with Your holy and precious blood. Keep us as Yours throughout our lives and into eternity. Amen.
The Gospel for today is recorded in Luke 14:25-35. The question in this Gospel is: what is most important in your life? Jesus, or something else? Jesus is not cutting us off from the relationships in this life, but, even as important as they are, they cannot be allowed to cut us off from Him, only He is Lord and Savior. Ask yourself: what gets in the way of your relationship with the Lord? Set those things in their proper place, subservient to the Lord.
Jesus, all thanks and praise to You for being our Lord and Savior. Let Your Holy Spirit keep us firm in You, keeping all aspects of our lives in perspective with You alone as Lord. Amen.