Devotional for Sept. 9, 2012 – Living the Questions: What do you need?


Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor

Bible/Theme Background

We are launching into a new theme this week that we are calling “Living the Questions.”  This fall we are going to take on a number of tough questions and try to really explore what the bible tells us, what Christian life tells us and what the world tells us about these issues.  Hopefully we will get into some great discussions, deeper relationships with God and with one another.

The very first question that we are asking is, “What do you need?” This Sunday we will explore our needs but also our needs into paths of service. What is our foundation that motivates us into service?  This is a nice segue from talking about all of the areas that you all serve to restore creation.  What are our needs in a path that follows Christ into service?

When we talk about needs, there are many things that come to mind. I first thought of the illustration of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  Maslow argued that in order to continue to grow as a person there is an order to getting our needs met in order to continue to grow.  Before we can get creative we have to have our basic needs met, such as food, shelter, and sleep.  Then we can remove worry long enough to move into security and work, etc.  Our needs have a place and some are more necessary than others. But then we start to get into the nitty gritty of things.  Are there foods that are more necessary than others for example? Or how much shelter does each one need? Maybe we should be looking at how we can serve everyone to receive their needs rather than comparing.

How do we reconcile this with what we read in our bible stories this week?  The people following Moses are saying that their needs are not being met.  They are tired, they want (they say they need) meat, and they are bored with what God is giving them even though it fulfills the basics.  God responds with questions.  Isn’t it all enough? Isn’t what God provides enough to meet needs? There is some negotiation going on here.  God says that what God provides does meet our basic needs and perhaps we should look around to see how all are being fed rather than what.  God in fact will provide more presence to our whining. God shows up.

In the Gospel lesson, the disciples are upset because people are working God’s miracles without being commissioned. They argue that there are people out there doing work without the credentials they need. Jesus responds similarly to how God responds.  God’s job is to provide those basic needs and if it is good, it is of God. Perhaps our job is not to complain but to see what is good and help God out.  We have the power, in other words, to help get basic needs met for everyone if we stop whining and work together.  This is not to suggest that basic needs aren’t important but perhaps we need to rethink what those basic needs are.  On top of that, we need to make sure that everyone gets their needs met, not just us.  When all people are served, good things happen.

Quotes for the Week

Your friend is your needs answered. – Khalil Gibran


Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. –John Muir


All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt. –Charles M. Schulz


Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly? ― Frida Kahlo


All I really need is a song in my heart, food in my belly and love in my family. – Raffi


Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29 (Message)

The riffraff among the people had a craving and soon they had the People of Israel whining, “Why can’t we have meat? We ate fish in Egypt—and got it free!—to say nothing of the cucumbers and melons, the leeks and onions and garlic. But nothing tastes good out here; all we get is manna, manna, manna.” Moses heard the whining, all those families whining in front of their tents. God’s anger blazed up. Moses saw that things were in a bad way.

Moses said to God, “Why are you treating me this way? What did I ever do to you to deserve this? Did I conceive them? Was I their mother? So why dump the responsibility of this people on me? Why tell me to carry them around like a nursing mother, carry them all the way to the land you promised to their ancestors? Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people who are whining to me, ‘Give us meat; we want meat.’ I can’t do this by myself—it’s too much, all these people. If this is how you intend to treat me, do me a favor and kill me. I’ve seen enough; I’ve had enough. Let me out of here.”

God said to Moses, “Gather together seventy men from among the leaders of Israel, men whom you know to be respected and responsible. Take them to the Tent of Meeting. I’ll meet you there.

So Moses went out and told the people what God had said. He called together seventy of the leaders and had them stand around the Tent. God came down in a cloud and spoke to Moses and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy leaders. When the Spirit rested on them they prophesied. But they didn’t continue; it was a onetime event.

Meanwhile two men, Eldad and Medad, had stayed in the camp. They were listed as leaders but they didn’t leave camp to go to the Tent. Still, the Spirit also rested on them and they prophesied in the camp. A young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp!” Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ right-hand man since his youth, said, “Moses, master! Stop them!” But Moses said, “Are you jealous for me? Would that all God’s people were prophets. Would that God would put his Spirit on all of them.”

Mark 9:38-50 (NRSV)

John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

“For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

Questions for the Week

What are your basic needs?

What things do you think are basic needs that perhaps are not?

How can we make sure everyone has the basics?



About pastorcourt

Courtney McHill is the pastor at Rose City Park United Methodist Church in Northeast Portland where they love compassionately and inclusively!
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