This content is part of a series.
NOTE: This sermon is part 35 and 36 of a 40 part devotional series. Two sermons outlines are included in this download.
Thirty-Fifth Day (35 of 40)
Series: Lenten Devotion
‘‘Someday, I, Yahweh, will cut a tender twig from the top of a cedar tree, then plant it on the peak of Israel’s tallest mountain, where it will grow strong branches and produce large fruit. All kinds of birds will find shelter under the tree, and they will rest in the shade of its branches. Every tree in the forest will know that I, Yahweh, can bring down tall trees and help short ones grow. I dry up green trees and make dry ones green. I, Yahweh, have spoken, and I will keep my word.’’ Ezekiel 17:22-24
Ezekiel’s words spring from the perspective of the Babylonian exile. Israel had been dispersed under the Assyrians and Judah had found itself deported to Babylon. Zedekiah, king of Judah had signed a treaty with Babylon, swearing to it by the name of Yahweh. He had then broken the treaty, seeking alliance with Egypt to protect Judah from Nebuchadnezzar. What had once been a people under the great kings, David and Solomon was now a captive remnant bowed under the sway of Babylon.
Thirty-Sixth Day (36 of 40)
Series: Lenten Devotion
‘‘Peter and John answered, ‘Do you think God wants us to obey you or to obey him? We cannot keep quiet about what we have seen and heard.’’’ Acts 4:19-20
Even in ministry there are times when one is called on to place some other concern ahead of faithfully serving God. There are institutions to protect; there are donors one should not upset; there are issues the general public is not prepared to discuss or understand. There are concerns over paying homage to history, tradition, and heritage that may contradict the teaching of Scripture or the mission of Christ Jesus for the church. There are hot button issues of society that to addressing stirs up a hornet’s nest of controversy. It is tempting to go along with the flow - to allow the swell of public opinion or the direction of institutional heritage sweep us along in its current.
This is somewhat the situation Peter and John faced. They did not consider themselves as preaching a new religion, breaking off from Judaism. Jesus was, after all, a Jew. He had remained so through his death and resurrection. He had never disavowed his heritage or the basic structure of Jewish faith. On the other hand, he had questioned certain emphases from tradition and legalism as he spoke of grace, forgiveness, love, and God’s desire to reconcile all people under the banner of faith.