Morning Musing: Mark 14:6-9

“Jesus replied, ‘Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a noble thing for me. You always have the poor with you, and you can do what is good for them whenever you want, but you do not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body in advance for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever been the victim of unfair criticism? That’s never a fun place to be. I once had someone come sit down with me in my office to offer “constructive” criticism. He came prepared a 4×6 note card filled front and back with everything he thought I was doing wrong. His complaints were all rooted in personal preferences of pastoral style rather than anything biblical, but he was convinced, as he told me, that I just didn’t preach the Gospel. Maybe you’ve been through something similar. Much to this man’s credit, he did not air his grievances publicly nor share them with a small group of others in an effort to build a coalition against me. And when it became clear we were not going to find common ground on some of them, he left quietly and found a church more to his liking. Other folks with less character and genuine intent to honor Christ with their life would have made a production of leaving. I respect him for that. Being criticized, no matter the source, is hard. When a woman made an incredible gesture of worship to Jesus, she faced intense criticism for it. Fortunately, she had Jesus in the room to defend her actions. Let’s look at the results this morning.

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Morning Musing: Mark 11:15-16

“They came to Jerusalem, and he went into the temple and began to throw out those buying and selling. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and would not permit anyone to carry goods through the temple.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I was listening to a counselor one time talk about how important it is to be engaged as a husband and father. He said that his wife and kids were having a heated argument one day. They were yelling and slamming things around. He walked into the kitchen where it was all happening and slammed a cabinet door good and hard. Everyone jumped and looked at him in shock. He said quietly, “I just wanted to feel like I was part of the fun.” He sent them the message that he was there with them even in their hard times. He made a scene, but for a purpose. When Jesus walked into the temple the morning after His grand arrival into the city, He made a scene for a purpose as well. Let’s talk about it.

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Morning Musing: Malachi 2:3-4

“‘Look, I am going to rebuke your descendants, and I will spread animal waste over your faces, the waste from your festival sacrifices, and you will be taken away with it. Then you will know that I sent you this decree, so that my covenant with Levi may continue,’ says the Lord of Armies.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

We have several different expressions in English to convey that someone has experienced some kind of embarrassment. One is to eat crow. This phrase comes from the fact that if you have to eat crow, you can’t afford to purchase real meat. It is a humbling state of affairs to be that poor. Another expression is to have egg on your face. This one came out of a time when soft-boiled eggs were a common breakfast item. Men with beards would sometimes leave remnants of their eggy breakfast on their face, and without realizing it carry it with them throughout the day. How embarrassing to later discover you’d been wearing evidence of your morning meal so publicly! In His anger here over the empty and cynical worship practices the priests were allowing and even encouraging, God says He is going to leave something on their faces, but it isn’t egg.

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Digging in Deeper: Malachi 1:12-13

“‘But you are profaning it when you say: “The Lord’s table is defiled, and its product, its food, is contemptible.” You also say: “Look, what a nuisance!” And you scorn it,’ says the Lord of Armies. ‘You bring stolen, lame, or sick animals. You bring this as an offering! Am I to accept that from your hands?’ asks the Lord.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

There is a genre of comedy I would call “office comedy.” Some of the more popular entries are the movie Office Space from several years ago and the more recent television show, The Office. Entries in this genre all carry the same basic understanding of work: It’s something you have to do because there are bills to be paid and we all like to eat. In this vein, work is a convenience to be sure. But other than the convenience of enabling us to, you know, live, it’s an enormous, soul-sucking inconvenience in our lives that gets in the way of all the things we’d rather be doing. In Malachi’s day–and in ours as well–people were taking the same approach in their thinking about their relationship with God. He wasn’t happy about it.

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Digging in Deeper: Zechariah 10:1-2

“Ask the Lord for rain in the season of spring rain. The Lord makes the rain clouds, and he will give them showers of rain and crops in the field for everyone. For the idols speak falsehood, and the diviners see illusions; they relate empty dreams and offer empty comfort. Therefore the people wander like sheep; they suffer affliction because there is no shepherd.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever stood in the wrong line for something? Was it a long wait? Lisa and I were going to a show once and spent 30 minutes waiting in line to get in with a whole crowd of people. The line never moved. An inch. Eventually, an employee came out and announced this was the line for will call. I think 75% of that line moved over to the pre-ticketed line. Our hopes in that were entirely false. It would not have gotten us where we wanted to go. It looked awfully similar, yes, but it was a fake all the same. As Zechariah points out here, this is kind of like what idolatry does to our lives.

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