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Showing posts from January, 2013

The Arrogance of Humankind

Scripture:

Acts 7:48 “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says:
49 “‘Heaven is my throne,
    and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me?
says the Lord.
    Or where will my resting place be?
50 Has not my hand made all these things?’

Observation:

Stephen continues his defense before the Sanhedrin.  He is simply reminding them of their history and what has brought them to this day but the words and scriptures he uses cuts them to the quick.  It is a constant awareness of their arrogance for they are proud of the religion that they have built.  Unfortunately it has not been built together with God.  Too much concern has been placed in having power, political power, and making the secular authorities happy with what they have been doing.  Compromise has been the common response.  Stephen reminds them that there is no way to contain God, or even to direct God.  Then, he attacks their arrogance by reminding them that …

Stephen - the Scapegoat

Scripture:

Acts 6:12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”

15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Observation:

Yesterday we read that the Sanhedrin had brought Peter and John before them and shared concern that they were making them look bad.  Is it any surprise that we discover that they have brought Stephen before them?  Not at all, and now Stephen is to become the scapegoat for their guilt ridden consciences.  However, the only way to justify his guilt is to bring false witnesses before them.  These men were still trying to justify their actions against…

When Guilt Gets the Best of You

Scripture:

Acts 5:27 The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

Observation:

The Apostles continued to perform miracles everywhere they went.  In many ways it wasn't even that they were trying but the power exuding from them was so great that even if their shadow fell on people they were healed.  Obviously the city of Jerusalem was in a complete uproar over what was happening -- people clamoring to see these men.  Everywhere they went they were preaching about Jesus and his resurrection.  How could they help it -- for he had become the central focus of everything in their lives.  They knew that Jesus was the Messiah and they knew that they had experienced power from the Lord on high and this consumed their lives.  Jesus was the overwhelming passion …

What We Have Seen and Heard

Scripture:

Acts 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”
18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Observation:

Within a very short pe…

Prayer First

Prayer First

Scripture:


Acts 3:1-2 Peter Heals a Crippled Beggar Chapter 3  One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple.
Acts 3:6 But Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.”

Observation:
Peter and John were in the habit of going to the daily prayer meeting.  On their way to prayer they came across a man who had never been able to walk.  For years he had been lying there at the gate hoping that people would help him, begging for financial assistance.  The disciples were very certainly not rich individuals.  They actually had very little from a materialistic standpoint, but they  had everything from an eternal perspective.  Why would they need things h…

For the Generations to Come

Scripture:

Exodus 16:33 So Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the Lord to be kept for the generations to come.”

Acts 2:38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

Observation:

The children of Israel were provided with all that they needed for forty years.  For six days a week they would step outside their homes and fresh bread from God was lying on the ground.  All they had to do was collect it and use it.  On the sixth day they could collect enough for two days and they could re…

The Foreigner Residing Among You

Scripture:

Exodus 12:48 “A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the Lord’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it. 49 The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you.”

Observation:


We read of the plagues which came over the Egyptians because they would not let the people of God be released to go home.  Over and over again the plagues strike the people of Egypt, but in the land of Goshen where the Israelites live, they remain untouched.  God has his hand on the Israelites and now this final plague is to come to the country.  This is the final and worst plague -- one in which the first born of all creatures will die.  The result is terrible emotional pain throughout the entire land.  Only the Israelites are to be saved -- or so I remembered until reading this portion of scripture today.  From the very beginning the God of the Israelit…

Burning Hearts

Scripture:

Luke 24:30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

Observation:

Jesus' followers were devastated by the news of his death.  Many had waited around in Jerusalem for a few days but the time had now come to go home.  We discover two men walking home to Emmaus.  They are sad and distraught.  On their way home they are joined by a man who walks with them and asks them why they are feeling so d…

Their Shouts Prevailed

Scripture:

Luke 23:20 Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. 21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
22 For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.”
23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.

Observation:


In many ways this is a rather strange interaction.  Pilate is the leader.  He finds nothing wrong with Jesus and wants to release him.  (I really wonder why he just doesn't!)  Of course the crowd is out of control and they continue to shout that he needs to be crucified.  Pilate comes out again and announces to the people that he won't have Jesus crucified, but …

When you don't feel comfortable

Scripture:

Exodus 4:13 But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”

Observation:

Moses had been quietly living his life away from the pampered royalty of his childhood.  He enjoyed the serenity of life with his wife and two sons and spending time out herding.  Now, quite suddenly, God comes to him in a burning bush and tells him that he is to go and lead his people out of captivity.  The tasks seems overwhelming and Moses lacks the self-confidence to go and make a difference.  It seems that in the very presence of God, the one who is sending you, that you would respond in his confidence. This was not the case with Moses.  In a polite manner he responded, asking God to please send someone else.  He knew that he lacked the personal skills, and especially the public speaking skills to take on this task.  While Moses was quite capable with the help of God, God did allow him to partner with his brother in the project which lay ahead.  In doing so the task became more…

Jesus' Routine

Jesus' Routine
Scripture:
Luke 21:37-38 Every day he was teaching in the temple, and at night he would go out and spend the night on the Mount of Olives, as it was called. And all the people would get up early in the morning to listen to him in the temple.
Observation:
In this frenetic world at times it's nice to imagine what kind of form or structure could be useful to our lives.  Jesus is our role model and if we are to be like him, we are to model our lives after him.  Jesus faithfully went about his business on a daily basis.  He knew that he was called to teach.  There were times that he preached, but also many times that he taught.  While he maintained his schedule of teaching, he knew that he could not do this without power and strength from the Father.  He would depart from the crowd of people and he would go out to the Mount of Olives where he could be fed emotionally, spiritually and physically.  Then, early in the morning he was back again in the temple, back at wo…

Strength through Praise

Strength through Praise
Scripture:
Psalm 8
1 Lord, our Lord,     how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory     in the heavens. 2 Through the praise of children and infants     you have established a stronghold against your enemies,     to silence the foe and the avenger.
Observation:
The mighty warrior David knew much about strength.  Much of his life was spent fighting battles and he was known for his physical prowess.  He also knows how to give praise and honor to God.  He worships God, recognizing the hand of God seen in all of creation.  Interestingly he also recognizes the power of the praise of children, possibly even more powerful than that of grown-ups!  It is through the praise of children and infants that enemies are put down, and God is victorious.  
Application:
The purity of praise found in infants and children is powerful enough to put down God's enemies.  Sadly, I wonder what this says about the praise of those of us who are older?  Have w…

Waiting around for the Kingdom to Come

Scripture:

Luke 19:11 ¶ As they were listening to this, he went on to tell a parable, because he was near Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately.
Luke 19:12 So he said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to get royal power for himself and then return.
Luke 19:13 He summoned ten of his slaves, and gave them ten pounds, and said to them, ‘Do business with these until I come back.’
Luke 19:14 But the citizens of his country hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to rule over us.’
Luke 19:15 When he returned, having received royal power, he ordered these slaves, to whom he had given the money, to be summoned so that he might find out what they had gained by trading.
Luke 19:16 The first came forward and said, ‘Lord, your pound has made ten more pounds.’
Luke 19:17 He said to him, ‘Well done, good slave! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small thing, take charge of ten cities.’
Luke 19:18 Then …

A Merciful God

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Scripture:

Luke 18

6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

35 As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”
38 He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
39 Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he…

Famine in the Presence of Food

Scripture:

Genesis 42:1 When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you just keep looking at each other?” 2 He continued, “I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die.”

Psalm 5:1Listen to my words, Lord,
    consider my lament.
2 Hear my cry for help,
    my King and my God,
    for to you I pray.
7But I, by your great love,
    can come into your house;
in reverence I bow down
    toward your holy temple.
11But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
    let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
    that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

Luke 17:1 Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. 2 It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3 So watch yourselves.

37b He replied, “Where there is…

Spiritual Famine

Scripture:

Genesis 41:53 The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food. 55 When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.”
56 When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. 57 And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere.

Luke 16:10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will …