Bethany Lutheran Brethren Church
Staten Island, NY

Bethany Blog

Bethany Blog

Check out Sunday's Messages and Devotionals from Pastor Paul Couch!

Summer Reading - July 11

Deuteronomy 11 & Mark 11

How has God convicted me of sin in these readings?

God has convicted to me of my idolatry.  In the Small Catechism Luther describes the demand of the first commandment: “this means that we are to fear, love and trust God above anything else.”  I so easily break this commandment.  God declares Himself to be my Good Shepherd (Psalm 23) and therefore will take care of me.  He will provide what I need, as He decides.  For Israel He said, “But the land you are going over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain from heaven, a land that the Lord your God cares for.  The eyes of the Lord your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.” (Deut. 11:11-12)  I am convicted that I covet what other people have that I do not.  I love stuff more than God and complain in my heart about what I lack.  I have broken His commandment by loving other things more than God.  I also confess that I have feared man rather than God.  “No one shall be able to stand against you.  The Lord your God will lay the fear of you and the dread of you on all the land that you shall tread, as he promised you.” (Deut. 11:25)  Instead of resting in holy fear of God, I act more like the chief priests, scribes and elders, who said in fear, “But shall we say ‘from man’? – they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet.” I am fearful of what people think of me, so all too often am trying to please them by what I say and do, ignoring God.  I admit that I “turn aside form the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known.” (Deut. 11:28b) My god of choice is the god of me.  I listen to my own thoughts, ideas, and desires.  I pursue what I think is best setting aside what God is saying.  I have sinned against God.

How has God comforted me with grace in these readings?

I am comforted by God’s word today as I see that Christ’s desire is to open my eyes more deeply that I might trust in Him more fully.  His word to Peter is a word to me, “Have faith in God.” (Mark 11:22)  All that Jesus does and says is for the purpose of helping me to trust in God.  I can trust Him because He offers to me great things; “so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” (Mark 11:26b)  I am comforted that Christ, the one who comes in the name of the Lord, has come to save me.

Where do I see Jesus in these readings?

I am amazed of Jesus, who shows no fear of man in Mark 11.  And as a result “they feared him.” (Mark 11:18).  I am so easily awed and in fear of man, but Jesus who is fixated on the Father’s will alone is unaffected by the opinions of man.  And that makes Him scary to the chief priests and scribes.  I see Jesus taming my fears by helping me to fear Him above everyone else.  Jesus fears, loves and trusts His Father above all.  Who better to teach me to walk in this then the One who walked perfectly in it already!

How is God calling me to respond to His word today?

God is calling me today to acknowledge His authority over me and all things.  To humbly bow my head to His authority and to rest in the assurance of His forgiveness.  Through His hand, I can learn to tame my fears as I praise Christ; “Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:9b-10)