Are all religions the same? Do all roads really lead to heaven? Last week we looked at Luke 13:22-30, where Jesus made so clear the need to speak precisely when you're talking about religion and your relationship with God. Do you remember how he said that when the time comes, there would be those who thought they were just fine with God in this life who would be "outside, knocking and pleading"? But Jesus will answer, "I don't know you or where you come from," (Luke 13:27).
They told Amelia Bedelia to "hit the road" and she took a stick and started punishing the asphalt. They told her to make "chocolate chip cookies" and she got out the Hershey's and the potato chips. Now, for a children's book character, when she doesn't "get it," that's funny. But when we realize that all too often we do that same thing with religion, the chuckles cease.
It's good to be established, isn't it? I'm sure you've seen businesses advertising how long they've been around, "Est. 1853" or something like that. Have you ever thought about why some companies or schools last so long? It has something to do with that word "established," doesn't it? Well today, in our reading from God's word - Paul prays that God establishes us, his readers.
Do you enjoy moving? All the carrying of boxes, lifting furniture, cramming stuff into a truck? Do you like it? But there are things that can make it a little easier, right? Appliance dollies... plenty of help... professional movers.
Do you like riddles? Most of the time, they are a fun little diversion, right? Most of the time, they get your mind working a little bit but don't mean a whole lot. You know, like "What do you call a man who's always wiring for money? (An electrician.)"
I never cease to be amazed at people and how they react to good news. I remember watching television game shows with my grandmother when I was a child. Her favorite was the game show where the contestants had to guess the price of something, and if they were lucky enough to guess close enough to the actual price, they would win the item as their prize. Some of the contestants would run to the mike almost breathlessly, while others would just briskly walk. If they won the item, some contestants would laugh while others would cry tears of joy.
Psalm 17:6-7 (New Living Translation): I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray. Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemies.
Last week, we saw Jesus tell us to pray for workers to go tell people about their salvation, to go help those who were headed for hell. And we saw why. It's because God loves us…and them. But then something strange happened, we realized that when we prayed the prayer Jesus asked us to pray, to send workers into the harvest field, God answered it. You, the one reading this, you are that worker you just prayed for.
In our family, traditions determine how we do certain things, talk certain ways, and observe certain rituals. Some traditions go back many generations, and some are traditions that we have started in our immediate family.