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Showing posts from August, 2013

Who Among Us Could Save Us?

Scripture:

Ezek. 14:12 ¶ The word of the LORD came to me:
Ezek. 14:13 Mortal, when a land sins against me by acting faithlessly, and I stretch out my hand against it, and break its staff of bread and send famine upon it, and cut off from it human beings and animals,
Ezek. 14:14 even if Noah, Daniel, and Job, these three, were in it, they would save only their own lives by their righteousness, says the Lord GOD.

Observation:

The people of God had, as a whole, rejected the Lord.  No longer were they willing to serve him, but they had given themselves over to the idols of other lands.  Now, they were facing utter destruction and a life in exile.  Maybe they had thought that there would be those around them who would save them!  Maybe it didn't matter that the collective whole had turned aside from God, but a few good people sprinkled among them would bring about the salvation of all.  Sadly, this was not to be the case.  Not even Noah, Daniel or Job could save them now. 

Noah had been …

The Delight of a Sanctified Ear

Scripture:

Rev. 4:8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day and night without ceasing they sing,
    “Holy, holy, holy,
    the Lord God the Almighty,
        who was and is and is to come.”

Isaiah. 6:3 And one called to another and said:
    “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
    the whole earth is full of his glory.”

Observation:


The Apostle has been describing for us the visions that he has seen in heaven.  These visions provide for us such joy and excitement because they produce for us delight for the sanctified eye, as they give us a glimpse of what is to come.  But now we move from simply a vision to a song of heaven, a song which brings delight to the sanctified ear.  We are privileged to listen in when the hymn of heaven is sung.  The four living creatures worship God day and night by singing praises, revealing the very nature of God.  God is on the throne and just as royalty may be addressed as "your majesty&q…

Do You Think You Have it All?

Scripture:

Rev. 3:18 Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich; and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.

Observation:


The people in Laodicaea were wealthy -- they thought that they had it all!  These are the church-folks, the ones who believed that they were actively participating in the work of the Kingdom, and yet something was wrong.  They had gold and silver -- those things that they believed provided them with great wealth.  They had beautiful clothing -- the city of Laodicaea was famous for it's cloth and beautiful dye work.  They also had some of the best medical doctors around and were well-known for the special ointments and salves made for those who struggled with eye problems.  These are people who had it all! And yet, it is in the things that they thought they had, that they really had nothing.  Jesus offered them so much more than th…

Permission for what?

Scripture:

Rev. 2:6 Yet this is to your credit: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Rev. 2:7 Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers, I will give permission to eat from the tree of life that is in the paradise of God.

Observation:

The words here are spoken to the church in Ephesus.  This was the city famous for the worship of the goddess Diana also called Artemis.  The tourist industry of the entire city had been threatened during the time of Paul.  Too many people were converting to Christianity and the souvenir sellers weren't able to make as much money as they had in the past.  Back in Paul's day, they rioted out of anger. 

By the time John's Revelation is written the church has been firmly established for a number of years.  He is concerned for their welfare and wants them to overcome the evil surrounding them.  What had happened was that the evil surrounding them was now much more subt…

Mouths and Hands

Scripture:

Psa. 144:9      ¶ I will sing a new song to you, O God;
        upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you,
Psa. 144:10     the one who gives victory to kings,
        who rescues his servant David.
Psa. 144:11     Rescue me from the cruel sword,
        and deliver me from the hand of aliens,
    whose mouths speak lies,
        and whose right hands are false.

Observation:

It is from the Psalmist that we learn much about prayer.  God is good and faithful and as we enter into our time of prayer with him we begin by singing songs of praise.  Our praises rise up from the new things that God continually is doing in our lives and in this world.  He is alive and active and engaged in every part of our being.  Therefore I want to sing my praises to him with my lips and yet that is not enough -- I want to praise him with my hands as I play an instrument to him.  Everything that I am is overwhelmed with praise and worship of my King.  My King is my rescuer from those who want to come aga…

Cracked Cisterns

Scripture:

Jer. 2:13     for my people have committed two evils:
        they have forsaken me,
    the fountain of living water,
        and dug out cisterns for themselves,
    cracked cisterns
        that can hold no water.

Observation:

The prophet Jeremiah speaks to the people regarding their infidelity to God.  He declares that they have committed two evils for they have turned their backs on God and they have put their trust in foreign gods.  The true God is the fountain of living water.  He is the one who provides us with all that is needed for life on a daily basis.  The water runs directly from the source, from God himself, and refreshes on a daily basis.  This water brings life to the sinner and refreshes the saint.  It provides us with a direct connection to the source of all life and fills us to the brim with the overflowing presence of the Lord. 

But the people have turned away from God and have chosen to worship foreign gods.  They ignore the beautiful flowing river of life whi…

Walk in Truth

Scripture:

2John 1 ¶ The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth, and not only I but also all who know the truth,
2John 2 because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever:
2John 3 ¶ Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, in truth and love.
2John 4 ¶ I was overjoyed to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we have been commanded by the Father.

Observation:

If you read the commentators you will discover that there are differing views regarding this Epistle.  Most all agree that "The elder" is again John and that he is the author.  The problem lies in the one to whom it is addressed, "the elect lady and her children."  Many of the early Church leaders believed that this was a particular woman, and more than likely a noble woman.  God was working in a variety of ways to spread the good news of Jesus around the known world.  One way was that a hand…

Discovering More Than You Wanted

Scripture:

1John 5:6 ¶ This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.
1John 5:7 There are three that testify:
1John 5:8 the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three agree.

Observation:

Jesus' life in the flesh provided the pathway for human transformation.  Jesus experienced baptism at the hand of his cousin John the Baptist in the Jordan River.  He also shed his blood on the cross when he died for our sins.  The water represents purity and the blood, justification.  The Holy Spirit provides a testimony, or stands by as a witness to the acts of Jesus Christ.  What Jesus has done for you and for me is the very truth that the great deceiver would hope we would never come to understand.  Therefore, may we stand in the power of the testimony of the three -- the Spirit, the water and the blood.  They all lead to our transformation.

Applica…

The Antichrist Might Be Closer Than You Think

Scripture:

1John 4:2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,
1John 4:3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming; and now it is already in the world.
1John 4:4 Little children, you are from God, and have conquered them; for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.


Observation:

John continues this beautiful letter to the followers of Jesus Christ but now touches on a delicate subject.  There have been lengthy discussions among the people regarding the incarnation of Jesus Christ.  There were many in the world who found it difficult to accept that God could exist in human flesh, for their view of the flesh was that it was somehow sinful.  How in the world could Jesus have lived in human form?  For John, these people were denying Jesus' very nature and his resultant work of reclaimi…

Enjoying the Lavishing Love of Family

Scripture:

1John 3:2 Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.
1John 3:3 And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Observation:


John continues this intimate appeal to those who are followers of Jesus Christ.  Not only are they followers, but they are members of the family of God, and as such, they are beloved children.  These beloved children are living in difficult days and he is encouraging them in their faith.  His desire for them, and God's desire for them, is that they grow up to be holy men and women of God, according to his plan.  At this point, however, they are awaiting the return of Jesus Christ and his physical representation of God's child here on this earth.  As reflections of Jesus Christ, a clear, earthly reflection will only be possible when Jesus returns and that his why "what we will be has not…

Holiness & Happiness Are Inseparable

Scripture:

1John 2:1 ¶ My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;

Observation:


The language of this verse opens up to us the beauty of a personal relationship with a holy God who can transform our lives.  First, the use of the phrase, my "little children" is only found here and in John's Gospel where Jesus spoke with great affection regarding his followers, "Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’" (John 13:33)  This is not a phrase simply referring to a group of small children, but instead it is a phrase of affection for those who had become dear.  Jesus is speaking with great love and affection for those who had become his followers and now John is passing on the depth of that love relationship to those whom he had been di…

From the Personal to the Prophetic

Scripture:

Psa. 67:1     May God be gracious to us and bless us
        and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
Psa. 67:2     that your way may be known upon earth,
        your saving power among all nations.
Psa. 67:3     Let the peoples praise you, O God;
        let all the peoples praise you.

Observation:


This beautiful Psalm begins by expressing the beauty of the personal relationship with God.  The Psalmist cries out for God's personal grace to reach out to each and every single individual -- that God's face would shine upon us.  From there it moves to the prophetic, for in this Psalm we see a glimpse of the Great Commission.  It is in the personal relationship with God that he is to be glorified, and in this, the world will see God.  The power of God is revealed in his saving grace.  Therefore, all the people of the earth are called to praise the Lord!

Application:

The very first verse of this Psalm brings us to an understanding of God's grace.  It is humanity that has tu…

Come and Have Breakfast

Scripture:

John 21:12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord.
John 21:13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.

Observation:

Jesus had been resurrected but he was not consistently with the disciples.  He appeared to them but then he would be gone.  Not sure what to do they went back to what they knew best -- fishing.  Here we discover that they had fished all night but had not caught anything.  It is this morning when Jesus tells them to put their net on the other side and they catch a literal boat-load of fish.  They were exhausted from the work and when they came ashore Jesus prepared breakfast for them. 

Application:

There is something comforting in Jesus engaging in the ordinary.  Actually, he began with the extraordinary by telling the disciples to cast their nets on the other side of the boat and there they found numerous fish to catch.  B…

He Calls Our Name

Scripture:

John 20:16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher).  

Observation:

Mary was distraught over the loss of Jesus.  She had gone early that Sunday morning to his tomb to mourn his death.  What she discovered was an empty tomb with two angels who told her that Jesus was no longer dead.  Staggered by the news she could not comprehend she wandered out and ran into a man she presumed to be the gardener.  There in the midst of her utter pain and desolation she heard the voice of one who loved her.  He didn't need to say anything more than simply call her by name, "Mary."  In that instant she knew that it was Jesus and she turned and responded with "Rabbouni!"  In that instant her life changed and for the remainder of her life here on earth she was a leader in the movement of the "The Way" -- having been the evangelist -- the one to carry the good news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Applic…

"I am Thirsty"

Scripture:

John 19:28 ¶ After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.”

Psa. 22:15     my mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
        and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
        you lay me in the dust of death.

Psa. 69:21     They gave me poison for food,
        and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.


Observation:

Jesus had over and over again spoken about the living water that was available to his followers.  The woman at the well wanted to know about the water so that she would never have to come out and draw again in the middle of the day.  Jesus had spent his ministry pointing people in the direction of the living and eternal water that would quench the thirst of their souls.  The significance of this moment for Jesus on the cross is that now Jesus is the one who is thirsty.  The one who is the source of eternal waters of satisfaction, is thirsty!  Could it be that at this very moment, as he takes upon himself the …

We Have No Right To Execute Anyone

Scripture:

John 18:31 Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”
“But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected.

Observation:

The bald declaration here on the part of the religious leaders here is almost shocking!  Here they were -- religious leaders who supposedly fought to keep every ounce of their religious laws!  This is why they were angry with Jesus, they thought that he stretched the rules a bit.  Now, they are stretching them to the extreme.  They have already decided, in advance, that they want Jesus to be put to death.  However, they are not allowed to put him to death, therefore they are willing to go to the government authorities and try to manipulate them into taking this action.  Pilate doesn't want to do anything to Jesus, he doesn't even understand the crime that is he is supposed to have committed.  The religious leaders openly declare, "But we have no right to execute anyone."

Application:


Isn't that the point - the…

The Hope of Holiness

Scripture:

John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
John 17:18 As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
John 17:19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

Observation:


Jesus' beautiful prayer found in John 17 includes his desire for his followers to be sanctified.  He uses that very word, praying that the Father would "Sanctify them in the truth."  The word "sanctify" brings with it a dual meaning here; it means that Jesus' desire is that his disciples would be made holy and this is an act of God.  But it is also a prayer that they be consecrated or set-aside for the special calling they have received from Jesus.  He knows that he is about to die for them and that they will be set-aside to be his representatives in the world until the day they die.  His prayer is for them to be a people who have consecrated themselves wholeheartedly to God, made holy by God and sent i…

Sin, Righteousness & Judgment

Scripture:

John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
John 16:8 And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment:
John 16:9 about sin, because they do not believe in me;
John 16:10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer;
John 16:11 about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

Observation:

Jesus knew that he had to complete the work that his father had given him and should this not be accomplished then the Advocate would not be able to come and be present among his followers.  Although the disciples did not understand, Jesus knew that this was better for them.  The Holy Spirit would be present and active and moving throughout the whole earth and would be able to "prove the world wrong about sing and righteousness and judgment." 

Jesus…

Discipleship: The result of abiding in Christ

Scripture:

John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
John 15:8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

Observation:

Jesus is paving the way for his followers to understand what it truly means to be a disciple.  The important factor in this Scripture is the concept of "abiding."  We are called upon to abide in Christ.  This unity with Christ results in our participation or fellowship with the Holy Trinity -- our very own abiding in koinonia with God.  God is glorified in this relationship for it is in this abiding relationship that we become a clearer reflection of him.  The natural result of abiding in him is that we are disciples, who bear much fruit.  We don't bear fruit to become a disciple -- there is no separation of the two.  A disciple is one who abides in Christ and as a result bears fruit -- because Jesus bears fruit! 

Application:

We could probably sit a…

Is there no balm in Gilead?

Scripture:

Jer. 8:22      ¶ Is there no balm in Gilead?
        Is there no physician there?
    Why then has the health of my poor people
        not been restored?

Observation:

God's people were wounded -- wounded by their own behavior and sin and as a result were suffering the consequences of their infidelity.   Israel was being destroyed both by those enemies that surrounded them but also by their personal sin which was like a cancer killing them from the inside out.  Was there no way for them to be healed?  This was a rhetorical question for obviously there was a cure for what ailed them.  Gilead was within the borders of Israel -- so yes, there was a balm for healing and it could be found within their very own borders.  The God of Israel was there, waiting to provide for his own people.  Therefore, the question must be asked, "Why then has the health of my poor people not been restored?"  Why indeed!  Because they refused the cure.

Application:

Often have I had people come…

God's Little Children

Scripture:
John 13:33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’

Observation:

This is the night of Jesus' final meal with his disciples.  Jesus had already washed their feet and they had finished eating.  Judas left the room, bent on betraying his master, and the intimate group that remained didn't quite understand what was happening.  In this moment Jesus addressed his "little children."  The word used here is one of endearment, used only this one time in the Gospels.  John will reuse the term later in his Epistles -- but it is the only moment that we experience Jesus using it for these, his dearly beloved disciples.  They were no longer simply a rag-tag group of followers wanting to be fed, taught and experience miracles, they had become one with him -- they were now part of the family.  This is what pained Jesus deeply, for they could not remain togeth…