Showing posts from April, 2012

Things we do for Practical Reasons


Matt. 17:24 ¶ When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?”
Matt. 17:25 He said, “Yes, he does.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?”
Matt. 17:26 When Peter said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the children are free.
Matt. 17:27 However, so that we do not give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me.”


Jesus and his disciples had been traveling around for a long period of time and had rarely been at home.  The time of paying the temple tax had come and gone and the tax had not been paid -- presumably because Jesus had not been at home.  The collectors of the temple tax came to Peter's home to check o…

Reacting to Bad News

Scripture Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities.
(Matthew 14:13 NASB)
John the Baptist had prepared the way for Jesus and had baptized him at the onset of his ministry. Now, John had been imprisoned and finally beheaded. The disciples of John came and personally brought the news to Jesus and his disciples. Jesus experienced very human emotions and had to take time to go and deal with his grief. He couldn't be around all the people, but he got into a boat and went off to be by himself.
There is much to be learned from Jesus, and not just about his death on the cross and what that means for us, but also from the way in which he lived life. Jesus is the ultimate example of living out the sanctified life here on this earth. I think that there are times that we think of Jesus as superhuman and of being able…

Where did this man get all these things?

Scripture When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there.
(Matthew 13:53 NASB)
He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?
(Matthew 13:54 NASB)
“Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?
(Matthew 13:55 NASB)
“And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”
(Matthew 13:56 NASB)
Jesus had been teaching the people of his nation about the kingdom of God and some were really getting it and learning from him. However, when he traveled home to Nazareth -- they didn't get it. They remembered the little carpenter boy who had grown up in their town. They all knew his mother and his brothers and sisters. They absolutely could not figure out how he had become so wise and why he had miraculous power. …

Disunity in the Body

Scripture And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand.
(Matthew 12:25 NASB)
The Pharisees struggled with Jesus because he did not fit their paradigm of the Messiah. Not only did he not meet their expectations, but he seemed to have a different attitude toward the Law. For them the Law had become a legalistic and rigid way in which to live their lives. They fought for and defended the Law on a regular basis. Jesus viewed the Law through a different lens; through the love of God. When the Law was viewed in a relational manner (Love God -- Love your neighbor) it changed everything. The Pharisees could not see this and were sure that he was going to destroy everything and complained that he must not be from God, but rather from Satan. Jesus knew what they were thinking and tried to help them see that he was not being destructive to the kin…

Soft Clothing?

Scripture “But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces!
(Matthew 11:8 NASB)
The people were questioning Jesus about John the Baptist. They had the wrong impression of the one who was to announce the way before the Messiah. Somehow they had developed their own thoughts on what he ought to be like and were disturbed by the one who had been sent to them. Had they expected someone looking like a king? Well, they had certainly looked in the wrong place for John was not in soft clothing like those in the palaces who did not have to work, but rather he was dressed to live in the wilderness and was preparing the way for Christ.
How often do have expectations of how God is supposed to become involved in the affairs of our lives? We have a rather worldly perspective and vision of what his work in the world is supposed to look like. Often that is what might be viewed as "an acc…

Lord of the Flies


Matt. 10:24  ¶     “A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.
Matt. 10:25 It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!


Jesus was telling his apostles what to expect when they spread out in their apostolic mission in the world.  They would always and forever be associated with their teacher -- Jesus, and the world already had already developed preconceived notions about who Jesus was and what he was like.  The student, or disciple, would not be thought of more highly than the teacher.  Neither would those who serve Jesus be thought of more highly than he.  The apostles were called to be like their teacher but the result was not necessarily pleasant, for Jesus as the head of their household was looked upon with disdain by many in his day.  Evidently there were those who had taken to calling Jesus "Beelze…

Ministry in the Home

Scripture When Jesus came into Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever.
(Matthew 8:14 NASB)
He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she got up and waited on Him.
(Matthew 8:15 NASB)
When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill.
(Matthew 8:16 NASB)

Peter and family have established a home in Capernaum. Peter is living with his wife and mother-in-law which is a rather unusual arrangement. It means that there was probably the loss of all men in that household and so instead of Peter having his wife come and join his home, he was willing to become the man of his wife's home. One can only imagine this tight-knit family and today you can visit Capernaum and find the ruins of an early church which was built right on this very site .
This was the home that loved and nurtured Jesus. When you look closely at the years he spe…

What kind of fruit?


Matt. 7:15 ¶ “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
Matt. 7:16 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?
Matt. 7:17 In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.
Matt. 7:18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
Matt. 7:19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Matt. 7:20 Thus you will know them by their fruits.


Jesus knew that there would always be those who would try to be a part of the movement but who really did not know him personally.  He knew that there would be those who would preach with false motivation, and that at times it might be difficult to discern the truth.  How were we to find that truth?  By looking at the fruit in their lives.  Do they bear fruit at all and if so, what does it look like?  Ultimately, if they do not bear good frui…

When you pray...

Scripture “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
(Matthew 6:5 NASB)
“But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
(Matthew 6:6 NASB)
“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.
(Matthew 6:7 NASB)
“So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
(Matthew 6:8 NASB)
“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
(Matthew 6:9 NASB)
‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
(Matthew 6:10 NASB)
‘Give us this day our daily bread.
(Matthew 6:11 NASB)
‘And forgive us our debts, as we a…

Perfection in Relationships


Matt. 5:43 ¶ “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
Matt. 5:44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Matt. 5:45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.
Matt. 5:46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
Matt. 5:47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
Matt. 5:48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.


The entire Sermon on the Mount is about a new kingdom in which the love of God rules all things.  Jesus sits down with his disciples and lays out for them the blueprint of his kingdom in which things operate on a completely different level than they do within earthly kingdoms.  The final paragraph…

Sheerah who -- did what?


1Chr. 7:24 His daughter was Sheerah, who built both Lower and Upper Beth-horon, and Uzzen-sheerah.


Ephraim and his family had been attacked by the people of Gath and many of them killed.  Ephraim was horribly grieved by the attacks on his family and the loss of life.  He has a son after the attacks whom he names Beriah, "because disaster had befallen his house."  But out of the disaster comes a daughter who learns something from this experience.  You don't have to sit around and be the victim over and over again.  It was time to get the family out of the tents and sitting as targets before their enemies.  It was better to live in cities with walls around them for protection.  She has a plan that she believes will help her family and so she takes action.   This girl oversees the construction of three cities.  No, they are not major cities, but they are cities non-the-less and provide protection for a family that has faced much destruction.  Three citie…

The Face of God

Scripture For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; The upright will behold His face.
(Psalms 11:7 NASB)
The Psalmist understood that the very nature of God is righteousness. It is the Lord's desire that all of his children be a reflection of him and therefore of his righteousness, but this is not possible unless we are turned toward him and seeking his face. If we will do this, and only if we are seeking after him and living a life that reflects his righteousness -- will we see the face of God.
There is vulnerability involved in seeing the face of God. We cannot hide in the shadows and seek him. Instead, we must be willing to come out of our own safe places and move towards God. Sometimes this means that we open ourselves up to attacks from the enemy on all sides. People around us may think that we are strange because our behavior doesn't fit the mold of what we as humans have defined as the Christian walk. But who are…

God is Greater!

Scripture Put them in fear, O LORD; Let the nations know that they are but men. Selah.
(Psalms 9:20 NASB)
The Psalmist David had experienced the power of God in his life. He had slain the giant, Goliath when all odds were against him. Young David, small in comparison to Goliath, went out with no armor and took on the giant. David had faith in God and in the abilities that God had given him. The Philistine fell. When he fell, the entire army fell.

Arrogance and pride in our human abilities will lead to our downfall. Nations, such as the Philistines, believed in themselves, or in the power of one individual. They were but men -- and men fall. Nations today are simply made up of men -- and God is greater than all of these.
The problem with humanity is that too often we get "too big for our britches!" We think that we have some kind of power on our own. Lord Acton famously said, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power co…

Who's missing?

Scripture Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (for he was the firstborn, but because he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph the son of Israel; so that he is not enrolled in the genealogy according to the birthright.
(1 Chronicles 5:1 NASB)
The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham:
(Matthew 1:1 NASB)
Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.
(Matthew 1:2 NASB)
As much as we would like to believe that there are no consequences for our behavior that is simply not true. Again and again we discover that not everything can be made right again. Reuben the oldest son of Jacob was responsible to care for his siblings. He allowed his brothers to take action against their little brother, Joseph and for this reason he loses his birthright. Note that back in 1 Chronicles it mentions that he is not enrolled …

The difference in a simple preposition!


2Cor. 13:3 since you desire proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful in you.
2Cor. 13:4 For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.


The tiny prepositions in these two scriptures jump out at me today.  What a difference little words like "in" "by" and "with" can make.  These simple words define where we may be in relation to God as Paul tries to draw the Corinthians on to a deeper walk with Christ.  This Corinthian church is a tough crowd and Paul is speaking to them with clear language.  Paul himself is "in" Christ.  He has united himself to Christ to the point that he has "put on" Christ and is allowing everything about the Christ nature to permeate his very being.  However, the Corinthians were not "in" Christ -- but were somewhere close by.  Ther…

What will be Your Legacy?


1Chr. 2:7 The sons of Carmi: Achar, the troubler of Israel, who transgressed in the matter of the devoted thing;
2Cor. 12:19 ¶ Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves before you? We are speaking in Christ before God. Everything we do, beloved, is for the sake of building you up.
2Cor. 12:20 For I fear that when I come, I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish; I fear that there may perhaps be quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.
2Cor. 12:21 I fear that when I come again, my God may humble me before you, and that I may have to mourn over many who previously sinned and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and licentiousness that they have practiced.


As I read this scripture today I had to take a little time to figure out who Achar was.  Who was this man who was simply remembered as the one who "transgressed in the matter of the devoted thing…

Committing Spiritual Adultery


2Cor. 11:2 I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I promised you in marriage to one husband, to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
2Cor. 11:3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by its cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
2Cor. 11:4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough.


Paul has some pretty strong words for the church in Corinth.  It sounds as if they have been inviting new and popular preachers to come into their midst.  They're willing to pay these people to come and preach because they are exciting and can put on a really good show.  Paul is deeply concerned!  Do these people really preach the gospel of Jesus Christ?  Do they have sound doctrine?  Why are the people flocking to them? 

Paul speaks of his divine…

Trusting God


1Sam. 10:21 He brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its families, and the family of the Matrites was taken by lot. Finally he brought the family of the Matrites near man by man, and Saul the son of Kish was taken by lot. But when they sought him, he could not be found.
1Sam. 10:22 So they inquired again of the LORD, “Did the man come here?” and the LORD said, “See, he has hidden himself among the baggage.”
1Sam. 10:23 Then they ran and brought him from there. When he took his stand among the people, he was head and shoulders taller than any of them.


The people of Israel had cried out that they wanted a king.  This was not God's intention for the people and yet, he listened to their cries and found them a king.  Saul was to become their king.  Samuel had met up with him a week before this particular meeting.  Saul knew that he had been chosen by God to become the leader of the people of Israel.  Here he was a big, strong, strapping young man who knew that God w…

How Great Is Your Vision?


2Cor. 9:6  ¶ The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.


It's Monday morning, and Easter is now over.  We've had a great time of celebrating the entire season leading up to Easter yesterday and now -- now what?  As we walk in the power and presence of God's Holy Spirit, he leads us to things beyond our imagination.  We are to move forward in God's confidence that he wants to do great and mighty things here on this earth.  He is encouraging us to join him in this venture.  We are not supposed to sow sparingly, but rather, we are to sow generously and then leave the results up to God. 


I think there is fear involved in sowing bountifully.  On a personal level, how much am I willing to open myself up to others so that I may sow seeds in them?  Often that requires an openness and transparency on my part, to be willing to make myself vulnerable to planting …

"I Have Seen the Lord!"


John 20:18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her.


It was the third day and Jesus had been buried in such a hurry that his body had not been properly prepared.  His followers had to wait until after the Sabbath day before they could come and prepare him properly.  That's what the women were doing that first Easter morning.  They hadn't come to the tomb with any kind of anticipation, but rather, to simply care for Christ's body.  They came as soon as they could -- at the first light of dawn on that first day of the week.  The women wondered who would roll the stone away from the tomb for them because they knew it was too heavy for them -- but even knowing this, they chose to come and care for their Lord. 

It's Mary that has the personal encounter with Jesus that morning.  In her tears and the dim morning light, she does not immediately recognize him -…

In an evil vacuum

Scripture Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the LORD
(1 Samuel 2:12 NASB)
and the custom of the priests with the people. When any man was offering a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand.
(1 Samuel 2:13 NASB)
Then he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. Thus they did in Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there.
(1 Samuel 2:14 NASB)
Thus the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD, for the men despised the offering of the LORD.
(1 Samuel 2:17 NASB)
Now Eli was very old; and he heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting.
(1 Samuel 2:22 NASB)
He said to them, “Why do you do such things, the evil things that I hear from all these people?
(1 Samuel 2:23 NASB)
“No, my sons; for the report i…

The Unlikely are Faithful

Scripture “Moreover, may your house be like the house of Perez whom Tamar bore to Judah, through the offspring which the LORD will give you by this young woman.”
(Ruth 4:12 NASB)
Now these are the generations of Perez: to Perez was born Hezron,
(Ruth 4:18 NASB)
and to Hezron was born Ram, and to Ram, Amminadab,
(Ruth 4:19 NASB)
and to Amminadab was born Nahshon, and to Nahshon, Salmon,
(Ruth 4:20 NASB)
and to Salmon was born Boaz, and to Boaz, Obed,
(Ruth 4:21 NASB)
and to Obed was born Jesse, and to Jesse, David.
(Ruth 4:22 NASB)
It's Good Friday and as we continue the journey through Holy Week we find ourselves walking through a day with Jesus' followers. This is a day which will end in darkness and death. Jesus will die today on a cross and tonight he will be laid in a tomb. Tonight the Disciples will not remember the promises that the temple will be rebuilt in three days, but rather, they will go into hiding, fearing for their very lives…

God's Tent

Let me dwell in Your tent forever; Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. Selah.
(Psalms 61:4 NASB)
For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
(2 Corinthians 5:1 NASB)
For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.
(2 Corinthians 5:4 NASB)
Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.
(2 Corinthians 5:5 NASB)
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
(2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB)
When I was a little girl my family used to go camping. We were living in Germany at the time and we would travel to different countries and stay in our tent -- and mom would do the cooking. It was a cheap way to tr…

Time to Take Action

Scripture But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine and brought her out to them; and they raped her and abused her all night until morning, then let her go at the approach of dawn.
(Judges 19:25 NASB)
As the day began to dawn, the woman came and fell down at the doorway of the man’s house where her master was, until full daylight.
(Judges 19:26 NASB)
All who saw it said, “Nothing like this has ever happened or been seen from the day when the sons of Israel came up from the land of Egypt to this day. Consider it, take counsel and speak up!”
(Judges 19:30 NASB)
“And I took hold of my concubine and cut her in pieces and sent her throughout the land of Israel’s inheritance; for they have committed a lewd and disgraceful act in Israel.
(Judges 20:6 NASB)
Then all the people arose as one man, saying, “Not one of us will go to his tent, nor will any of us return to his house.
(Judges 20:8 NASB)
“But now this is the thing which we will do to Gibeah…