Have you ever prayed for something and gotten a different outcome than you asked for? Chances are, you have. It seems that prayer does not have a 100 percent satisfaction rate; and yet in Matthew chapter seven, Jesus seems to be saying something completely contrary to this. He says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). How do we understand this in terms of our personal prayer lives, which don’t always seem to match up to these words of Jesus?
Deadlines, grading, lesson planning, behavior management, balancing work and family, providing for your children, making time to spend with your spouse, paying the bills, and the list goes on and on. These are just some of the things we commonly worry about. The temptation to worry over our own well-being and the well-being of our loved ones is great. In fact, our worry can become so natural to us that we worry if we are not worried!
There are many reasons why people decide to become teachers. Many choose to become teachers because of a love of children. Kids bring joy into our lives, and getting to spend all day leading and guiding little ones is a really rewarding career. Others choose to teach because of their commitment to helping youth create a better future for themselves and others. Knowing that children are the leaders of tomorrow, we desire to prepare them with the knowledge and skill they need to make a difference. Still, others choose to become teachers because it’s simply what they felt was right for them. The different skills and interests they’ve been given by God led them to feel called to teach.
Do you ever feel insecure about praying in front of others? Have thoughts come to mind, such as “I hope nobody asks me to say the prayer; I can’t pray like they can,” or “I can’t pray out loud; I never know what to say?” There’s good news for you; The Lord does not care how eloquent you are. In Matthew 6:5-8, Jesus explains that God is not concerned with fancy speech, and He is certainly not impressed by showy public displays of prayer to Him.
As a teacher, you’re likely accustomed to scrubbing tables, repeating yourself countless times, and taking care of sick and injured children (or cleaning up after them). Cafeteria duty, recess duty, and informing students on the necessity of good personal hygiene are also common aspects of the daily lives of teachers. Some days, you act simultaneously as the teacher, parent, nurse, and counselor of your classroom.
In the time of Jesus’ ministry, people were used to the idea of loving those who loved them and hating those who hated them. Jesus, however, throws this principle out when He teaches His followers to love all people, even those who hate and persecute them. This is so contrary to our instincts. For example, consider early childhood students. How many times have you seen a child go and hug the peer who stole his toy? Have you ever seen a seventh grader invite her bully to sit nearby for lunch? Loving our enemies is difficult stuff.
In our classrooms, we all have rules and procedures. These guidelines make our class run smoothly. They keep our students and our classroom materials from harm, and they teach our students about love and respect. They create a safe and positive learning environment for our students. We have undoubtedly put these rules and procedures in place for the benefit of our students and their learning. Since this is true, then why do our students have such a hard time living in accordance with our rules? At times, our students talk out of turn, they do not use positive language, and they fail to respect themselves and others. Why can’t they just follow the rules?
If someone called you “salt,” how would you respond? Would you be flattered, confused, or maybe even offended? Sodium chloride is not your typical term of endearment, and yet in Matthew 5:13–16, Jesus refers to His followers as the salt and light of the world! Why would Jesus choose to refer to us in this way?
Blessed are you… Jesus uses these words to begin the very well-known passage known as the Sermon on the Mount. This well-known section of Scripture is the longest sermon in the Bible. You might say that this is an important part of Christ’s ministry, and you’d be right! In fact, Jesus even made sure to go up onto a mountain before giving His sermon. In this culture, mountains were common places for significant events.
This past spring in church, we sang “I Am Content, My Jesus Ever Lives” (LSB 468), one of my favorite Easter hymns. If you’re not familiar with the hymn, the four stanzas recount the author’s contentment in knowing Jesus as his Savior. Each successive stanza recounts the work of Christ as He keeps the Law perfectly in our place, gives Himself as a sacrifice for our sins, and defeats death so that we might have eternal life with Him. After recounting the work of Christ on behalf of His people, each stanza ends with the repeated phrase, “I am content! I am content!”