I am going to start a 21 day scripture reading challenge today and I invite you to join me. This is a challenge that is being provided through Youversion.com If you start today and go through 21 days of any reading plan without missing a day you could win an iPad mini.
I chose the
Deeper Into Scripture: A 21-Day Plan
Today’s reading is Mark 1:1-8
Scripture: 1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah,the Son of God, 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”—
3“a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’ ”
4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Observation: As I read through this the second time the thing that really stood out to me was the last part of the prophecy from Isaiah in verse 3, “make straight paths for him.”
Application: Yesterday I accompanied some of our Staff Parish Relations Committee members to a training event at First UMC in Cookeville. While there we learned that the Bishop is looking to change and improve the way the appointment system works. During the question and answers part of the training it seemed to me that the majority of the comments that were made were people looking for fuel for their fires. In other words, I’m going to get an answer here and then take this back to the church and prove my point and say, “That’s what the District Superintendent says!” I thought Rev. Archer did a fine job answering these questions with grace and sincerity. I don’t mean to be harsh to those who made the comments, and perhaps I was looking through clouded lenses at the time, but it seemed as though I could just hear the conversations and complaints and arguments that were truly behind the comments and questions.
As I read this scripture today I heard Isaiah saying, make straight paths for him. To me that means we all need to be working together for a common goal, we need to lift each other up, we need to support each others ministries. When it comes to relations between a pastor and their flock, the pastor should be loving the people, even the people who seem difficult to love, and the people should be loving the pastors, even the pastors that seem to be difficult to love. Anything other than a loving cooperation of pastor and church members is, in my eyes, making crooked paths. Complaining and mumbling, nitpicking and gossiping can kill a church, it can kill a pastor, it not only makes the path crooked and hard follow, but at times it can put a barricade on the path which has to be torn down before any progress can be made.
I hope that you don’t get the notion that I’m thinking about anyone in particular, or even any specific circumstance. We all have our individual paths which are filled with unique situations. My question is, “Are we making straight paths, or are we throwing rocks on the trail?”
Please help me to be always in a spirit of cooperation and grace when doing my work. Let me serve you with gladness and take away any bitterness or complaining that may arise in my heart. Grant me the ability to make straight paths for your coming. Come quickly Lord.
Yield: I surrender my hurt feelings when people do not like me. I give up my striking back. I turn it over to you Lord.