Blessed… Don’t Take it For Granted

Then he began to scold the cities where he had done his greatest miracles because they didn’t change their hearts and lives. “How terrible it will be for you, Chorazin! How terrible it will be for you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles done among you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have changed their hearts and lives and put on funeral clothes and ashes a long time ago. But I say to you that Tyre and Sidon will be better off on Judgment Day than you. And you, Capernaum, will you be honored by being raised up to heaven? No, you will be thrown down to the place of the dead. After all, if the miracles that were done among you had been done in Sodom, it would still be here today.  But I say to you that it will be better for the land of Sodom on the Judgment Day than it will be for you” (Matthew 11:20-24, Common English Bible).

This is one of those places where Jesus has some tough words for his listeners. Jesus’ listeners would have very well known what became of Sodom and Gomorrah (if you are unfamiliar with the story read Genesis 19). And, here Jesus is saying it would be better for Sodom, a city entirely destroyed because of how terribly they sinned, than it would be for Capernaum at Judgement Day! Those are some scary words that at least to this point, seem to have little impact.

So what is the big deal? With all that Jesus was doing in and around Capernaum and Bethsaida, with all the miracles they saw performed, they just took the miracles for granted. They didn’t seem impressed by what they saw Jesus do. They were used to having Jesus around and doing things. To my way of thinking, what it really amounted to is: Yawn, “It’s no big deal. We’ve seen it before. There is more where that came from. Sure, Jesus brought a little girl back to life (see Matthew 9:18-26), but he did it once, he can do it again.

Is it really any different for us? In American society today, we take God’s provision for granted. So much of the time we take what God does and what God gives and think we did it ourselves. Even if the event is beyond our own capabilities, it was fate, we just lucked out. We might even say that God was looking out for us, but all too often it changes nothing about how we are living our lives.

I’ve often wondered, after Jesus’ little lecture here, if the folks in Bethsaida, Chorazin and Capernaum changed their ways. There might have been a slight change but I tend to think that because of the human condition, there was little long-term change.

The same is often true for us. We know what Jesus has done. We know what the Holy Spirit does. When we really think about it, we are thankful but it doesn’t take too much time until we are slipping back into old habits.

Perhaps what we really need is another miracle, a miracle that will help us to remain faithful and thankful for what God has done for us.

How would you pray for God to help you to be more faithful?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy, Peace and Thanksgiving,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

"The Pastor Ponders" is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. Bishop and I live in Sweeny, Texas where I am the pastor of First United Methodist Church. I have served here for the past two years. For the past 27 years I have served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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