Gracious and loving God, I bow my head to you this night with thanksgiving. Keep me warm through the night, that my spirit may be cleansed afresh until the morning. Thank you, beyond belief, for the experience of knowing you, my God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Daily Archives: January 16, 2021
Psalm 21:1-7 (ESV)
The King Rejoices in the Lord’s Strength
21 O Lord, in your strength the king rejoices,
and in your salvation how greatly he exults!
2 You have given him his heart’s desire
and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah
3 For you meet him with rich blessings;
you set a crown of fine gold upon his head.
4 He asked life of you; you gave it to him,
length of days forever and ever.
5 His glory is great through your salvation;
splendor and majesty you bestow on him.
6 For you make him most blessed forever;
you make him glad with the joy of your presence.
7 For the king trusts in the Lord,
and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.
Mark 2:13-17 (ESV)
Jesus Calls Levi
13 He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
15 And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
“Follow me” (Mark 2:14)
One of the lectionary readings for this day comes from 1 Samuel 9, and in that passage, we meet Saul as he is anointed king over Israel. This handsome young man showed so much promise as he set out to serve God with sincerity. Yet when we recall how Saul ends up – a brooding, paranoid man who loses God’s favor – the story of Samuel’s surprising selection is bittersweet at best.
Fast-forward about one thousand years to Levi, a tax collector accustomed to cheating his own people to gain wealth and power. Yet as hardened as he may have been, he readily leaves it all behind to follow Jesus.
Such very different stories! One man followed God but then grew distant. The other was distant from God but then grew closer.
Clearly, the outcome of each of their lives was not dictated by the way they began. Saul’s story shows that no matter how godly you begin, there is always the risk that you will step out of God’s path for your life. You have to keep listening to the Lord and obeying his call. On the other hand, Levi teaches us that no matter how steeped in sin you are, you can still step onto the path of God’s life. It’s never too late to come into a relationship with God. So whether you begin well or begin badly, repentance is always available, and your Father will always welcome you.
What is God’s will for you? This question doesn’t belong just at the start of our relationship with the Lord; it’s something we should ask every day. Staying in touch with him is the only way to be sure we won’t stray onto our own path and end up distant from him and his grace.
So reach out to the Lord today. Listen for his voice. Don’t be afraid to put aside your own plans if you find that they lead you away from God. What Levi learned and Saul forgot is that only grace can bring us to God and keep us close to him.
Lord, I offer you all my shortcomings, sins, and fears. Help me to walk forward, trusting in your mercy and grace. Amen.