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Showing posts from September, 2012

Weighing Words

Scripture But the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness.
(Luke 11:39 NASB)
“You foolish ones, did not He who made the outside make the inside also?
(Luke 11:40 NASB)
“But give that which is within as charity, and then all things are clean for you.
(Luke 11:41 NASB)
One of the lawyers said to Him in reply, “Teacher, when You say this, You insult us too.”
(Luke 11:45 NASB)
But He said, “Woe to you lawyers as well! For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers.
(Luke 11:46 NASB)
“Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were entering.”
(Luke 11:52 NASB)
Observation
As Jesus became more popular in his ministry he became a greater threat to those who had the religious power. They constantly came after h…

The One Who Showed Mercy

Scripture And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”
(Luke 10:37 NASB)
Observation
This is the final portion of the story of the Good Samaritan. We have all read and/or heard that story numerous times and we know that we are admonished to do good to those who are in need. However, there is more here than just doing good, but showing mercy -- and we are called to do the same.
Application What all does showing mercy entail? There are several texts which give us a clue. For example Luke 6:36 says, "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." In other words, this is a part of God's nature -- to be merciful and we are to clothe ourselves in his very nature and respond to our world in the same way that he would respond. The word merciful may also mean showing compassion, forgiveness, sympathy, understanding, leniency and benevolence. This is what God would want us to show to a needy and hurting w…

Bad Advice

Scripture Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah, and frightened them from building,
(Ezra 4:4 NASB)
and hired counselors against them to frustrate their counsel all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
(Ezra 4:5 NASB)
Observation
The scene opens on the people of God wanting to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. This wasn't Solomon's temple but the second temple, after the people had been in exile in Babylon. However, the people of God continue to be tempted as the enemy finds whatever way possible to keep them from their task. What better way to keep these people in disarray than to thwart their efforts to build a temple which would unify them in their worship of God. Interestingly the "people of the land" included the Samaritans -- remnants of the Israelites who should have known better. They are the ones who are willing to sell themselves to the rulers of the day and to frustrate …

Transformation of the Unclean

Scripture Of the sons of the priests: the sons of Habaiah, the sons of Hakkoz, the sons of Barzillai, who took a wife from the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and he was called by their name.
(Ezra 2:61 NASB)
These searched among their ancestral registration, but they could not be located; therefore they were considered unclean and excluded from the priesthood.
(Ezra 2:62 NASB)
The governor said to them that they should not eat from the most holy things until a priest stood up with Urim and Thummim.
(Ezra 2:63 NASB)
And a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone,
(Luke 8:43 NASB)
came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped.
(Luke 8:44 NASB)
And Jesus said, “Who is the one who touched Me?” And while they were all denying it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing in on You.”
(Luke 8:45 NASB)
But Jesus said, “Someone did touch Me, for I was aware that powe…

Am I Grateful?

Scripture And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.”
(Luke 7:40 NASB)
“A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.
(Luke 7:41 NASB)
“When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?”
(Luke 7:42 NASB)
Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.”
(Luke 7:43 NASB)
Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.
(Luke 7:44 NASB)
“You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet.
(Luke 7:45 NASB)
“You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume.
(Luke 7:46 NASB)
“For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she lo…

Mercy and Judgement

Scripture “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.
(Luke 6:26 NASB)
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.
(Luke 6:35 NASB)
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
(Luke 6:36 NASB)
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.
(Luke 6:37 NASB)
Observation The Beatitudes are a blueprint for the holy life and through them we are challenged to understand what Christ was presenting to his followers. The kingdom of God is radically opposed to the kingdom of the world and the standard way in which things and people function. Jesus understood that to live life within the kingdom would not necessarily be seen as "acceptable" behavior. We all like to h…

Go Home Glorifying God

Scripture Immediately he got up before them, and picked up what he had been lying on, and went home glorifying God.
(Luke 5:25 NASB)
Observation
This is the man who had been paralyzed and his friends brought him to Jesus. So often we remember that he was healed and could now walk but we don't remember how he left the presence of Jesus. He picked up his mat and left glorifying God for what he had done.
Application There is an important message here in the healing of the paralytic and that is that Jesus did not just heal people physically, he healed them spiritually. As a result of his healing this man knew that it was God who had healed him. He entered into a personal relationship with God as a result of what had happened and when he went home he didn't keep it to himself, but instead he left telling people about what God had done for him.

I've been writing a lot lately about responding to Gender Based Violence (GBV) in our world. Why? Because there a…

What's the vision?

Scripture:

Dan. 8:27 ¶ So I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days; then I arose and went about the king’s business. But I was dismayed by the vision and did not understand it.


Observation:

Daniel was a man of prayer who spent lengthy periods of time in God's holy presence.  His daily discipline included three separate times of prayer every single day.  He wasn't shy about this practice -- throwing open the window of his home and praying as he looked up toward heaven.  There were times, however, where Daniel received visions as he prayed.  This particular vision came in the third year of King Belshazzar's reign and it was extremely vivid.  Daniel wasn't sure about what he had seen but God sent Gabriel to speak to him.  Gabriel told him that the vision spoke of the "appointed time of the end."  Daniel, a man whose heart was very close to God and to whom much had been revealed, did not know what this meant.  The vision was overwhelming and literally mad…

Your Life-Breath

Scripture Belshazzar the king held a great feast for a thousand of his nobles, and he was drinking wine in the presence of the thousand.
(Daniel 5:1 NASB)
When Belshazzar tasted the wine, he gave orders to bring the gold and silver vessels which Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them.
(Daniel 5:2 NASB)
Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God which was in Jerusalem; and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them.
(Daniel 5:3 NASB)
They drank the wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.
(Daniel 5:4 NASB)
“Yet you, his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this,
(Daniel 5:22 NASB)
but you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you a…

Whose house?

Scripture Then he brought me back to the door of the house; and behold, water was flowing from under the threshold of the house toward the east, for the house faced east. And the water was flowing down from under, from the right side of the house, from south of the altar.
(Ezekiel 47:1 NASB)
He brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate by way of the gate that faces east. And behold, water was trickling from the south side.
(Ezekiel 47:2 NASB)
“By the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.”
(Ezekiel 47:12 NASB)
The city shall be 18,000 cubits round about; and the name of the city from that day shall be, ‘The LORD is there.’”
(Ezekiel 48:35 NASB)
And He said to them, “Why is it t…

For the People

Scripture Then he brought me out into the outer court and led me across to the four corners of the court; and behold, in every corner of the court there was a small court.
(Ezekiel 46:21 NASB)
In the four corners of the court there were enclosed courts, forty cubits long and thirty wide; these four in the corners were the same size.
(Ezekiel 46:22 NASB)
There was a row of masonry round about in them, around the four of them, and boiling places were made under the rows round about.
(Ezekiel 46:23 NASB)
Then he said to me, “These are the boiling places where the ministers of the house shall boil the sacrifices of the people.”
(Ezekiel 46:24 NASB)
Observation
This is a description of the reconstruction of God's temple and ultimately where the Priests were to be located when making sacrifices for the people. Out in the furthermost corners of the courtyard were small private courtyards and it was in these places that sacrifices could be boiled. These courtyards were desi…

Discernment

Scripture “Moreover, they shall teach My people thedifference between the holy and the profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.
(Ezekiel 44:23 NASB)
Observation
God is speaking through his prophet and is preparing a way for when the exiles will return. The Levites are again to fulfill their duties and function as priests, one of which is to teach the people about things which are holy and profane so that they can discern between clean and unclean. The priests are not just to be serving God in the temple but to be the ones who teach and train the people of God -- to be the people of God.
Application
These days it seems as if "anything" goes. Society has taught us that being "tolerant" means that we have to accept every single behavior as "acceptable" behavior. The problem with this is that the church has developed a couple of responses to this. One is a rather rigid response that truly is not "tolerant,…

First Things Are Gone

Scripture And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,
(Revelation 21:3 NASB)
and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
(Revelation 21:4 NASB)
Observation
John's vision is beginning to come to a close as he sees the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven. He realizes that what he is seeing is something completely new and different from anything that has ever existed. He has been living in the period of the "first things" and now all of those are passing away. The first things included death, tears, hurt, anger, mourning and pain. In the new Jerusalem none of these will exist. Instead, God wipes away all the tears and comes down to physically dwell with his people and a…

God's Sanctification

Scripture All Your works shall give thanks to You, O LORD, And Your godly ones shall bless You.
(Psalms 145:10 NASB)
They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom And talk of Your power;
(Psalms 145:11 NASB)
My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.
(Psalms 145:21 NASB)
“When I bring them back from the peoples and gather them from the lands of their enemies, then I shall be sanctified through them in the sight of the many nations.
(Ezekiel 39:27 NASB)
Observation
That title probably seems a bit odd because we all know that God is holy, it is his very nature, and he is not in need of sanctification. However, the world's perception of God comes through what they see in his people. God is not viewed as a holy God if his people are not viewed as a holy people. When God's people act and respond in ways which are not in line with God's character, the people of the world assume that this is God's …

Restoration

Scripture “Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land;
(Ezekiel 37:21 NASB)
and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations and no longer be divided into two kingdoms.
(Ezekiel 37:22 NASB)
“They will no longer defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. And they will be My people, and I will be their God.
(Ezekiel 37:23 NASB)
Observation
After all the failures of the Israelites, God was confirming their restoration. Their time in exile would come to an end and they would be gathered back together as God's holy people. Not only were they goi…

Fat Sheep and Lean Sheep

Scripture Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD to them, “Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep.
(Ezekiel 34:20 NASB)
“Because you push with side and with shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns until you have scattered them abroad,
(Ezekiel 34:21 NASB)
therefore, I will deliver My flock, and they will no longer be a prey; and I will judge between one sheep and another.
(Ezekiel 34:22 NASB)
Observation
This scripture is not an indictment on what we eat or how well we exercise but instead has to do with those who have and those who do not. Even those within the Christian world there are those who have more than others, and not just in a physical sense, but even in the sense of power and influence. Sadly there were those who were in positions of leadership, those with power and influence, who were pushing and shoving the weaker ones to the side. Instead of caring for the weaker sheep, they pushed them aside, scattering them. G…

God is faithful -- are we?

I had written today's entire devotional thought when the computer lost it.  Don't we love those days -- when things just seem to go wrong?  They do happen from time to time, but I was actually quite inspired today by the story in Daniel 3 of Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego.  So often our focus is on the fact that these three men are saved from the fiery furnace and that is very true and it's exciting to see how God steps into history and does something like this.  At the same time there is something else very important happening in this event.  The Israelites were in exile because they had been unfaithful to God and had been willing to bow down and worship foreign gods.  This seems to be a very pivotal moment in the life of the Israelites as a whole, not just these three.  This signals a turning point in their relationship to God.  It's as if these three represent the people of God who are saying "enough is enough, we will no longer worship any foreign god." …

It Is Done!

Scripture Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, “It is done.”
(Revelation 16:17 NASB)
And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty.
(Revelation 16:18 NASB)
Observation
Here the final plague is poured out on humanity but this time it's not just on the earth, but it is diffused throughout the air as well. It is all consuming and all of heave and all of earth are able to witness what will occur. The result is that God's complete and total power are revealed to all of humanity -- those who have died and those who are alive. All can see what he is doing and it becomes the climax of all time -- with the result that it is all done. The plagues are over. This is it. God wins!
Application
It's done and God wins! T…

Gender Based Violence (GBV) in Jerusalem

Scripture Our skin has become as hot as an oven, Because of the burning heat of famine.
(Lamentations 5:10 NASB)
They ravished the women in Zion, The virgins in the cities of Judah.
(Lamentations 5:11 NASB)
Restore us to You, O LORD, that we may be restored; Renew our days as of old,
(Lamentations 5:21 NASB)
Observation
Lest we think that the issues facing our world today are new, we find similar circumstances in the writings of Jeremiah. The people who were left in Jerusalem were starving, searching on a daily basis for food. When Jerusalem was overtaken the women were raped -- right there in God's city, in Zion. And now the victims are suffering and trying to survive from one day to the next. Jeremiah cries out to God, for he knows that salvation can only come from him. He prays for restoration, that the Israelites may be able to again step into the relationship they had with their God, for only in this was there hope!
Application
It is amazing how history r…

And God Mourns

Scripture How lonely sits the city That was full of people! She has become like a widow Who was once great among the nations! She who was a princess among the provinces Has become a forced laborer!
(Lamentations 1:1 NASB)
She weeps bitterly in the night And her tears are on her cheeks; She has none to comfort her Among all her lovers. All her friends have dealt treacherously with her; They have become her enemies.
(Lamentations 1:2 NASB)
Judah has gone into exile under affliction And under harsh servitude; She dwells among the nations, But she has found no rest; All her pursuers have overtaken her In the midst of distress.
(Lamentations 1:3 NASB)
The roads of Zion are in mourning Because no one comes to the appointed feasts. All her gates are desolate; Her priests are groaning, Her virgins are afflicted, And she herself is bitter.
(Lamentations 1:4 NASB)
Observation
Lamentations opens on a very sad note leading us, together with God, into a time of mourning. Jerusalem,…

From one Generation to the Next

Scripture Consider her ramparts; Go through her palaces, That you may tell it to the next generation.
(Psalms 48:13 NASB)
For such is God, Our God forever and ever; He will guide us until death.
(Psalms 48:14 NASB)
Observation
God had always been faithful to his people. This is his nature and God's nature is unchangeable. Somehow the Israelites needed to be constantly reminded of the faithfulness of God, for they seemed to forget. The people needed to trust in him and share that from one generation to the next. It was important to understand that the faithful nature of God meant that his presence would be a constant forever.
Application We've all heard the different lines. "God doesn't have any grandchildren." "The church is only one generation away from extinction." And while these may sound like cliches that we've heard far too often, maybe we need to reflect upon them in a sober manner. The reality is that we ARE just on…

Make the Enemy Angry!

Scripture And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood.
(Revelation 12:15 NASB)
But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth.
(Revelation 12:16 NASB)
So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
(Revelation 12:17 NASB)
Observation
These scenes from Revelation are a bit cryptic and are, at times, difficult to decipher. However here we do understand that it one who is faithful that is under attack. The enemy is doing all that he can to sweep her away in the tide of his evil and ugliness. The earth responds to protect the woman from the flood of evil which is coming her way and while she is protected it seems to raise the ire or wrath of the enemy and so he goes after her childre…

The Kingdom of our Lord

Scripture

Rev. 11:15     Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying,
    “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord
        and of his Messiah,
    and he will reign forever and ever.”
Rev. 11:16  ¶ Then the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God,
Rev. 11:17 singing,
    “We give you thanks, Lord God Almighty,
        who are and who were,
    for you have taken your great power
        and begun to reign.


Observation

At this moment in John's revelation we become witnesses to a cosmic shift.  The earth had fallen under the authority of the enemy and he had ruled causing chaos and destruction but now, a new moment was appearing on the face of the earth.  The kingdom of the world was going to be replaced by the kingdom of God.  Jesus had preached for three years announcing the coming of the new kingdom.  The world, including the religious leaders of his day did not comprehend wh…