Scripture: Luke 14:26-27 “26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”
Observations: I have never liked the story of Shechem and Dinah found in Genesis 34. It just seems wrong all the way around. Rape…deception…murder…slavery. All these bad things rolled into one short chapter. It seemed so unnecessary to include that story, yet, it is there for a purpose. Jacob never looked upon his eldest sons the same. In today’s readings, Rebekah dies in childbirth, and yet Jacob continues to be blessed, and his name is changed to Israel. A whole chapter is devoted to Esau’s offspring, and later we’ll hear more about Edom. Luke 14 is all about the cost to be paid in following Jesus, and the Scripture passage that kept speaking to me was this one about hating your family and even your life! Seems so harsh when we are told that hate is like murder, but in this case hate is simply putting them second. Jesus has to be first in our lives. Too many times, our family becomes like an idol to us. I almost fell into this trap. I knew God was calling me to the Nazarene church, but since my family was Catholic, I felt I was betraying them by leaving the Catholic Church. I didn’t hate them and I didn’t hate our traditions, but I knew God wanted me elsewhere. I was in a habit of waking at 5 a.m. and reading Scripture and other books on faith. One night in a hotel room, in Au Gres, Mi, when I was working away from home, I told the Lord that I just couldn’t challenge my faith anymore. I was going to accept, on faith, that my parents, and my grandparents had walked the correct path, and that I should follow in their footsteps. I decided to sleep in the next morning so I set my clock for 7 a.m. In the morning, at exactly 5 a.m., a booming voice said ‘NO’. It startled me awake. I looked out the window and down the hall and saw no one. Then I recalled my conversation with God the night before, and I resumed my studies and eventually joined the Nazarene church.
Application: We don’t literally hate our family to follow God, but we have to love God first and foremost in order to love our family correctly. Sometimes we have to make tough decisions about our life’s directions to do what God is directing us to do. Taking up our cross to follow Christ is not easy. We must count the cost and we must not turn back.
Prayer: Father, I am forever grateful for the 5 a.m. wakeup call. I’m stubborn and sometimes I get misdirected, but you have never given up on me and for that I am so thankful. Direct my path. When my cross seems like a burden, remind me of yours. Lord, thank you for sending your son to set an example for us. Thank you for your love. Tonight I do pray for the people of the Philippines suffering from the recent volcano, the people of Australia suffering from wildfires, and the people of Iran who are suffering oppression. I also pray for all your missionaries around the world, especially those in harm’s way. Protect them and keep them dear Lord. Fill their every need. Amen
Tomorrow’s Reading: Genesis 37-28; Psalm 7; Luke 15