By Deacon Ken and Marie Finn
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Pray and ask God to speak to you through His Holy Spirit.
“THE PARACLETE, THE HOLY SPIRIT WHOM THE FATHER WILL SEND IN MY NAME, WILL INSTRUCT YOU IN EVERYTHING, AND REMIND YOU OF ALL THAT I TOLD YOU.” (JOHN 14:26)
FIRST DAY Reread last week’s readings.
- What was a helpful or new thought from the readings or from the homily you heard on Sunday?
- From what you learned, what personal application did you choose to apply to your life this week?
SECOND DAY READ JEREMIAH 20:7-9 FIRST READING
(“But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart.”
- Who is speaking and to whom is he speaking? Jer 20:1, 7
- How did the Word of the Lord come to Jeremiah, and what was his response? Jer 1:4-7
- What did he say the Lord did to him, what happened, and why? Jeremiah 20:7
- What happens all the day long? Jeremiah 20:7
- Whenever he speaks, what is his message? Jeremiah 20:8
- What has the Word of the Lord brought to him? Jer 20:8
- What does Jeremiah say to himself? Jeremiah 20:9
- What happens to his heart and his bones when he does not speak out? Jeremiah 20:9
- Of what does Jeremiah grow weary, and what can he not endure? Jeremiah 20:9
- What did Paul say about preaching the Gospel? 1 Corinthians 9:16-17
Personal – In what way have you had a burning desire to teach or preach the Word of God since you have been studying his Word? Stop growing weary by holding it in, and share with those closest to you what the Lord has taught you.
THIRD DAY READ ROMANS 12:1-2 SECOND READING
(“…be transformed by the renewal of your mind,”)
- To whom is Paul speaking? Romans 1:7, Romans 12:1
- What does he beg them to do to their bodies through the mercy of God, and how are they to do it? Romans 12:1
- For what was Christ’s death, once for all; and to what must we consider ourselves dead? Romans 6:10-11
- For whom are we alive, and what must we not let our body do? Romans 6:11-12
- To whom do we offer our body, and for what reason? Romans 6:13
- To what must we not conform? Romans 12:2
- By what must we be transformed, and for what reason? Romans 12:2
- From where does renewal come? Titus 3:5
- On what do we live that transforms the mind? Matthew 4:4
- How can we judge God’s will? John 12:44-48, concentrating on verse 48
Personal – Through your study of scripture, what way has God transformed your mind this week? How has that affected those around you? In what way have you worshipped God in your body? Is your body holy and acceptable for worship?
FOURTH DAY READ MATTHEW 16:21-27 GOSPEL
(If a man wishes to come after me, he must deny his very self,…”)
- Where did Jesus say that he must go, what would happen there, and by whose hand? Matthew 16:21
- What did Peter do and say to Jesus? Matthew 16:22
- How did Jesus respond to Peter, whom did he say was an obstacle to him, and how did Jesus say Peter was thinking? Matthew 16:23
- What kind of Jews are nothing other than members of Satan’s assembly? Revelation 2:9
- Whom did Jesus say a man must deny, what must he take up, and what must he begin to do? Matthew 16:24
- What happens to him who seeks only himself, and how do we discover who we are? Matthew 10:39
- What is not self-seeking? 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
- Whoever would save his life will do what, but whoever loses his life for Jesus sake will what? Matthew 16:25
- What two questions does Jesus ask his disciples in Matthew 16:26?
- When the Son of Man comes with his Father’s glory accompanied by his angels, how will he repay each man? Matthew 16:27
- How do we follow in Jesus’ footsteps? Matthew 25:31- 40
Personal – Write down on a piece of paper things you have done this week that indicate a dying to self. Also, write down specific ways in which you are following Jesus. Read and meditate on Philippians 2:3-5. Give one specific way you deliberately thought of another’s interest before your own interest.
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 63:2-6, 8-9
(“…with lips of joy my mouth shall praise you.”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 63:2-6, 8-9.
What is the Lord saying to you personally through the Psalm?
How can you apply this to your life?
SIXTH DAY READ ALL OF THE COMMENTARY
Jeremiah was a prophet who served God for over 40 years. His message was coming to a nation that had rejected God and was sliding head long into ruin. Jeremiah was regarded as a meddler and a traitor. People, nobles and kings alternately tried to put him to death. Jeremiah had reached the point where, if he proclaimed God’s word, people became angry. They did not want to hear the truth from him, because the truth would convict them of their sinfulness.
Jeremiah is considered “out of date,” “not in the mainstream of today’s theology,” and “old fashioned.” He becomes a laughing-stock of the countryside. When he would not proclaim God’s Word because of the constant rejection, his whole body would constrict and his heart would become like a burning fire. He became weary of trying to hold it in and preach what the people wanted to hear. He could not do it because the call to truth was the call of God and he would not turn away from that call.
Do you speak God’s holy truth when you are among your friends, or do you fall into line and speak what you think people want to hear? Jeremiah never felt he was qualified to be a prophet, and he never had a following of adoring fans. He chose to go on because his heart was burning like a fire for the Lord.
Today’s passage is a tremendous message of hope to all of God’s children, and that message is that God loves you. He formed you in your mother’s womb, and he knows you by name (Jer. 1:4-7).
Do not let the voice of the world be your guide. Let the quiet whisper of God who spoke to Elijah in the cave be the source of your words.
People will laugh and mock us today for proclaiming God’s word, but that is all right because the Lord is our shepherd and we shall not want (Psalm 23:1). A shepherd always protects his flock, and we have a shepherd who loves us so much he even died for us.
The call of God is so vibrant in the message of the New Testament. He is calling us to believe in his only begotten Son, Jesus, and if we do, we will have eternal life (John 3:16). This promise is made by God to the whole world. Yet much of the world has rejected this message which lets us live life in all of its fullness.
Why is so much of the world not living a life of fullness (John 10:10) when so many know about Jesus Christ? The answer is sin. To live abundantly we must serve the Lord, Jesus Christ. Jesus showed us how to be an example of service by dying for us on the cross. As stated in this reading from Romans, we are to “present our bodies” in voluntary surrender to the will of God. God must control the use of the whole person, and we are to present our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice.
We have been called to be temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:20), and we must set our sights on what is above (Col. 3:1-2). Our temple of the Holy Spirit does not include drugs, alcohol or fornication. The world laughs at the description of our being a temple of the Holy Spirit, but Jesus commands us to be filled with his Holy Spirit.
You, my Christian friends, have been transformed by the power of God and no longer conform to the agenda of the world. Because of the Holy Spirit who lives in you, you now have the power to conform to the good, acceptable and perfect will of God; and you will enjoy a life that is physically, emotionally and spiritually full. Let your mind be renewed by God’s Holy Word, by spending time in quiet prayer and in fellowship with other Christians. And, finally, as the Psalmist so powerfully describes, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:11)
Discipleship is very costly, and yet, it is a cost that we can not afford to reject. A disciple is a learner who follows the teachings of the master. Jesus tells us that if we really wish to follow him, we are to take up our cross and carry it in his name. Jesus took up his cross and carried it to Calvary and allowed himself to be crucified for us. He dies on his cross so that you and I could have eternal life.
We are called to carry our cross daily and do the same things that Christ did. We are called to die to self and to put others before us (Phil. 2:2-4). We look around and see so much turmoil in our world, and the main reason is that many people do not want to pick up and carry their daily cross. The essence of sin is self and the only way that we break the bondage of sin is to die to self. It is in the losing of our life for Christ or in the dying to self that the saving of one’s life happens. “Why are some people’s crosses heavier than others?” is asked by many people. The more one dies to self on a daily basis, the lighter that cross becomes. We see people going through some horrendous events in their lives and there is a sense of inner peace and joy. This is a person who has yielded to the call of Christ and has cast all his cares upon the Lord (1 Peter 5:7).
When we yield to the power of the Holy Spirit, he will empower us to become disciples of the Lord, Jesus Christ. We can go out and make disciples of others (Matt. 28:19) only when we have learned to die to ourselves and live for Jesus Christ. To die for Christ is very noble; to live for Christ is much harder. It calls for a daily commitment. We need to remember that anything we achieve or own in this life will end when we die. When we die to ourselves and pick up our daily cross and live for others in Christ, we will live forever in victory with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The first reading shows us that perseverance is a virtue of a prophet. The second reading tells us to live the abundant life, and calls for a commitment of our mind, body and soul. This week’s Gospel tells us that in order to live forever, we must die like Christ if we are to rise like Christ.
This week let us practice dying to ourselves in our family by trying to do some of the following:
Parents – set aside some time every day to share with each child and your spouse.
Children – find a time each day to serve a member of your family, such as helping a brother or sister do their chores. Help your parents around the home, or financially as they get older.
Everyone – Die to yourself in school or work by listening to others and really hearing what they have to say.
Remember, to lose our life for Christ is the best way to rise with Christ.