Words with Jesus devotional - Week 4
Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost – “Gulf is Crossed”
September 25, 2025 – Luke 16:19-31; 1 Timothy 6:6-19
Call to Worship (from psalm 91):
1 You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, 2 we will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.” 3 For the Most High will deliver you from the snare of the hunter and from the deadly pestilence; 4 The Most High will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and defense. 5 You will not fear the terror of the night or the arrow that flies by day 6 Nor will we fear the pestilence that stalks in darkness or the destruction that wastes at noonday.
Leader: Let us abide in the shelter of the Most High!
Prayer of Illumination:
God of power and justice, like Jeremiah you weep over those who wander from you, and enter into chaos and destruction. By your tears and through your mercy, teach us your ways and write them on our hearts so that we may follow faithfully the path you show us. Amen.
1st Reading: 1 Timothy 6:6-19 (NRSV) Updated Edition
Introductory Notes: This reading comes from a letter written by the apostle Paul to one of his beloved students, Timothy. Although this is from a personal letter, the words have become Scripture on account of many people in the Early Church finding benefit and guidance from this letter. We call the letters written to certain people(s) or groups “Epistles”, and they are often read in conjunction with a Gospel text to further expound upon words that Jesus was speaking or a story that happened in Jesus’ life. Hear now the words scribed to the man named Timothy:
6 Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it, 8 but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. 9 But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.
The Good Fight of Faith
11 But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will bring about at the right time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. 16 It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
17 As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches but rather on God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, 19 thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.
Gospel (Preaching) Text: Luke 16:19-31 (NRSV) Updated Edition
The Rich Man and Lazarus
19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried.
23 In Hades, where he was being tormented, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. 24 He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames.’
25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things and Lazarus in like manner evil things, but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. 26 Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’
27 He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’
29 Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’
30 He said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
31 He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”
Reflections by our beloved quilter, Cathie Favret
“A Work in Progress”
It’s a commonly repeated myth in the quilting community that the Amish deliberately include a mistake in their quilts because only God can make something perfect. This has been repeated many, many times until some people actually do include a deliberate mistake in their quilts – perhaps a block turned on its side or one piece of the wrong color sewn into a block.
I’ve always thought that each one of my quilts will include at least one mistake, but it’s not a deliberate one! While only God can make something perfect, I’m not there yet. I’m one of many of God’s works in progress. This process will last all of my life, but isn’t the journey marvelous?!
A Note from Pastor Wynne:
Our readings for this week present us with quite a challenge! We are called to an accounting of our works that show the profundity of our faith. Young Timothy is shown a very stark contrast between those who seek money as the end game and those whose primary purpose in this life is to do good works, to bring comfort to the poor, to shelter those who are needy and provide nourishment to the hungry.
Those whose goal it is to satisfy only their own desires, without consideration for the disenfranchised, those who are on the underbelly of society, or even those who simply are struggling to make ends meet are shown as being the antithesis of the healing that the Kingdom of God is here to share with the world.
We read last week that we cannot serve two masters. We cannot serve God and serve money. And yet, there is such a temptation in this society to aspire to do both. The scriptures are plain on this subject, and Jesus pulls no punches when it comes to this particular debate. There is only one Master, and only one Source. Anything that keeps us focused on something other than that Source is a distraction from our true purpose.
Imagine, if you will, that you have been given a gift from someone who loves you very much. What would it be like if you enshrined that gift but ignored the giver? What would happen to your relationship? And what would you be doing to yourself?
Faithfulness grows when gratitude flows. God is the Source of all of our gifts, and therefore, we should never hesitate to share our resources or to be afraid of those in need. Should we cling to the things we have been given? If we do, we are in for a sorrowful surprise in the times beyond this life, whether or not we have ease and luxury while we are here.
God is the Source of all of our blessings. May we never forget this!
Let us pray:
Source of Blessing and Source of All Life, we see the inequity of the society in which we live. We often do not know how best to work within the parameters we have been born into, even when we have compassion on our neighbors and those around us who are in need.
Inscribe on our hearts the wisdom and discernment we need to employ when encountering our fellow human dirt creatures. Help us to comprehend the vastness of your generosity in creating and sharing the Divine Natural World, of which we humans are such a small part. Help us to receive with gratitude and to share generously. And help us, when we are found with imperfections, to reconnect with you so that you can bring a beautiful pattern into the ways in which we live.
Truly, your creation is a patchwork quilt, and we are a work in process. We desire to come together into a beautiful creation after all is said and done. In Jesus’ name, amen.