Doing the Right Thing
The Good Samaritan
Hard to imagine but this was a shocking story when Jesus shared the parable of the good Samaritan. The people in Jesus community, His audience, thought Samaritans were less than nothing. There are different stories concerning the origin of the Samaritans. One part of the story is consistent. The Jews despised the Samaritans, felt they could do nothing good. They were thought to be liars, thieves, and worse by the Jews.
Jesus told the crowd a story about a man being robbed, beaten, and left for dead on the road. Two men, highly thought of in the local community, just walked on by the dying man.
Then a Samaritan man came upon the injured man. It’s the Samaritan who stopped and offered aid and comfort to the poor man. The Samaritan was the one that did the right thing in the story. The people listening had to be terribly confused. They would never believe a Samaritan capable of doing such a good deed.
That’s the whole point of the story. It’s not enough to say the right things. It’s necessary to follow those words with action. We must also DO the right thing. And a good place to begin doing the right thing is by ridding ourselves of misconceptions about people, groups in our society.
We still have Samaritans in our midst, people who, through no fault of their own, are outcasts, about whom terrible things are thought AND said.
In telling this story, Jesus makes it clear that things have changed. God is a God of ALL people, a God who loves all of us and Jesus came to save us all, even the Samaritans!
1. Who are the Samaritans in society today?
2. How do you feel about these people?
3. What do you say about them, without even thinking about it?
4. What message are you sharing about modern Samaritans with your children?
5. How can you offer a more positive message to your children?
6. What are you going to do, right now, to begin?
You Only Think You Want It
John and James
Does this story remind you of your kids? James and John ask for a big, REALLY big favor. They want to sit beside Jesus, one on each side, when He, and they, get to Heaven. Gee, that’s not much to ask! Jesus is quick to point out that there is a high price to pay for those seats and He doesn’t think James and John are prepared or qualified to pay that price.
The other disciples become angry when they hear them talking. Jesus puts an end to this discussion when He explains that the first will become the last and the last will become the first. Then Jesus says one of the most wonderful things. “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
In our society today, many people are focused on status. They want bigger and better. They want to impress. It isn’t enough to keep up with the Jones. We have to outdo them. This definitely is NOT what Jesus would do!
How do we instill a sense of servanthood in our children today? How can we help them understand that people are more important than things and status is fleeting? I suppose the best way is by following Jesus. We need to set an example for our children. We need to help them make the right decisions. We need to make certain they understand the price that must be paid, not always in cash, for the things we want. Then, we need to remind ourselves of the importance of these lessons in our lives as well.
1. How do you teach your children there is a price to be paid for the things they want, a price other than monetary?
2. How do you remind yourself of the price to be paid for the things you THINK you want?
3. Do you model servanthood in your life?
4. Have you ever talked to your children about servanthood?
5. How can you become more servant conscious in your life?
Oh, I’m Good Dirt!
Parable of the Sower
I find great reassurance in today’s verse. I didn’t always find reassurance until a professor in seminary pointed out the math of this verse. In the verse, 75% of the seed the sower plants bears no fruit. Only 25% of the seed planted comes to fruition. Why does this reassure me? Jesus is telling me that even He only expects a 25% fruition rate on all the seeds of faith He plants. WOW! I feel much better about my returns.
Of course, I have to be practical. I plant a vegetable garden every year. In fact, I dabble in urban farming. For me to produce the crops I want to harvest, I know I must plant more than I need. Already this year, 3 of my baby tomato plants have been eaten. I also know some of my seeds won’t come up or won’t bear fruit.
This lesson is the same whenever I share a Christian message, whether in class or a blog post like this. Only some of those receiving the message will bear fruit. In other words, only a few of you will ever act on any of the Lenten lessons in this book.
What about you? Do the distractions of life stop you from acting on the lessons, like birds pecking at the seeds? Are you unprepared for the material because you fail to pray before you begin or never take time to read Scripture or devotions, like the seeds landing on soil that wasn’t prepared for planting? Or are you the one with a hardened heart, reading the words and then grumbling about the material and refusing to take the message to heart?
Based on Jesus’ math, only 25% of you will read these daily lessons, take it to heart and act on it. Tell me, are you good dirt?
1. If you aren’t good dirt, how can you improve?
2. What prevents you from taking the lessons to heart and bearing fruit?
3. How does your attitude affect your family?
4. How can all of you change so you become good dirt?
Try Something New
Boy, is it easy to get into a rut! We just get so comfortable doing the same old thing. That’s too bad. Jesus has so many new opportunities to share with us but first, we must trade our old wineskins for new.
What does that mean? How are you ever going to experience something new if you are always doing the same old thing? Your new wineskin may be going out to experience something new. Perhaps you attend a class at church. Maybe it’s time to volunteer at a nonprofit in your community. Explore a new place in your city. Go out and do things, simple things, you never considered before. Plant an urban farm. Help at the senior center. The list is endless.
Until you are able to break free from your old wineskins, Jesus can never share His new wine with you. Consider some of the opportunities Jesus might have waiting for you if only you and your family took time to get out of your rut.
Life is an incredible experience but I believe we are only enjoying a fraction of all God has to offer us. It’s not going to show up in the living room while you are watching television. It’s not going to pop up on the computer screen as you surf the net. It’s not going to arrive in a text on your phone while you play a game. It’s out there, somewhere, waiting for you to show up.
Now, get up, peel off that old wineskin and prepare yourself for an adventure. You never know what Jesus has in store for you!
1. What kind of ruts are you and your family stuck in?
2. How can you break free from those ruts?
3. What new wineskins might you try in your life or community?
4. How can you begin the journey?
This week, make a commitment to try something new. Then prepare to see how Jesus works in your life.