Thought For The Day 06/25/13

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Zacchaeus

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Zacchaeus in the Scyamore Tree Luke 19:2-5

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“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”

 Kahlil Gibran

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/giving

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We have come to understand that one of Christ’s Disciples was a Tax Collector. We read this in the Gospel of Mark, where Levi, son of Alphaeus, is discussed. Interestingly though, Mark never again speaks of Levi, instead introducing Matthew and James as the sons of this very same man…Alphaeus, as disciples in the list of the twelve disciples Mark 3:14-19 KJV, 14 And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, 15 And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils: 16 And Simon he surnamed Peter; 17 And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder: 18 And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus, and Simon the Canaanite, 19 And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went into a house. Luke’s Gospel pretty much says the same thing. And since we know that the disciples did not just disappear, the issue seems to be clarified in the Gospel of Matthew when the name by which the Tax Collector is introduced is none other than that of Matthew, himself!

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Now whether you accept Matthew as Levi or Levi as Matthew, it is clear that this man is not the only Tax Collector that is spoken of when it comes to Christ’s converts, which prompts me to ask THE question; why were Tax Collectors so hated then? Tax Collectors exist even today, and yet, these people are loving and productive and usually hardworking members of families and society. And while they may not be our favorite people here in the United States come every April 15th, what was the difference back then? Why were they detested so?

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Of the three tax types that existed then, the same are mirrored today. Land Tax (AKA Property Tax), Head Tax (AKA Income Tax), and the Customs System (AKA Sales Tax) were the primary systems enforced to generate revenue for the Roman Empire. But, unlike today, the way the Customs System was managed, lent itself to corruption since the “independent contractors” hired by Rome to enforce this part, implemented strong armed tactics to see to it that the moneys were collected…..OR ELSE! Sound familiar? Yep, those men and our modern underworld empires were at the very least, kissing cousins, if not downright “brothers by another mother”! So when we read of the conversion of a Tax Collector by the words and example given by our Lord and Savior, it is easy to understand the skepticism and doubt held by the population, at large. Consider Zacchaeus, for one!

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Did you know that the name Zacchaeus, in Hebrew, means pure and innocent? Which, if looking at the life of this man, was anything but! Now Zacchaeus was the chief Tax Collector for Jericho. And as was common for the day, the amount Rome expected was fixed, but any moneys collected above and beyond that became the property of the collector. And since we know this man was very wealthy, we can presume his methods for doing so were very bad, indeed! But as wealthy as he was, Zacchaeus was just as short, and while Christ was passing through Jericho, the curious Zacchaeus had to resort to climbing a tree to get a better look. Christ spied him, bade he come down and announced he was going to have dinner at Zacchaeus’ house. Positively scandalous, according to the masses, but the moment his eyes locked with Christ’s, the promises were made. Luke 19:4-8 ESV, 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”

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Can we all say that we would do the same? Doubtful! We have a difficult enough time, sharing the message and giving back in our own communities, where the need is so great and want is to be found in the most unlikely of places. But while we do not hear again of Zacchaeus, that he kept the promises he made, I do not doubt. And so I ask of you to do something proactive for those in need in your own part of the world. Yes, if you can, give of your property. So many who are in want need the tangibles we can offer. However, I would be just as happy hearing that you gave of your time or your talents! Do you think this is something you can manage? Challenge yourself to do something wonderful for others in the days ahead and live your life as one who knows, appreciates and pays homage to the sacrifice made all those thousands of years ago! And always remember that the gifts you give today will reap rewards far beyond that which can be imagined!

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41 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. 42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 43 And he called [unto him] his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: 44 For all [they] did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, [even] all her living.

Mark 12:41-44

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Copyright © 2011-2013 “MandysPath” Ministry

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About Mandy Bruscella

Mandy's Story: As a Registered Professional Nurse with Certification in a number of specialties including home care, I was afforded the opportunity of working closely with various Social Service Agencies in NY and NJ. ~ A lifelong Christian, I was ordained as a Presbyterian deacon in 1993 and, after relocating to SC in 2000, elected to become ordained as a non-denominational minister. ~ I established "MandysPath" Ministry in 2011. "MandysPath" Ministry is a member of Pacific Life Church, El Sobrante, CA, network of ministries. ~ I direct an outreach ministry in an alternative setting, providing spiritual care to a congregation of more than 500 people from around the world via the Internet. ~ As part of this outreach, I write a daily faith based blog. In March, 2012 I was asked to become a board member of Heroes For Children which is a non-profit foundation, established to assists the Guardian ad Litem program of Horry County, SC. Guardians ad Litem are a group of court appointed advocates who represent the best interests of children in Family Court proceedings involving allegations of abuse or neglect. Working closely with these men and women who make a difference in the lives of children, I completed training and have been sworn in to serve as a Guardian ad Litem for the state of South Carolina . ~ I have been married since 1975 to a wonderful man, Daniel. I have a son Daniel and his wife Melissa who live in NYC. My daughter Sabrina and my grandson Landon live here in SC. ~ My father Harold continues to share his wisdom with me and is responsible for many of the ideas I write about!

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