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Showing posts from September, 2013

Love Truth and Peace

Scripture:

Zech. 8:19 Thus says the LORD of hosts: The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be seasons of joy and gladness, and cheerful festivals for the house of Judah: therefore love truth and peace.

Observation:

The people of God had been fasting the days in which they commemorated the fateful events in the life of Israel.  The "fast of the fourth month" was to remind Israel that Nebuchadnezzar had entered Jerusalem in 586 B.C.  The fast of the fifth month "commemorated the burning of the Temple and other buildings in 586. The seventh remembered Gedaliah’s assassination. The tenth recalled the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem in 588 (2 Kings 25:1)." (Ryrie)  When Israel is restored all of this will change.  Fasting will become feasting in a period of time when the people love truth and peace. 

Application:

When would truth come?  Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life…

Unmarked Graves

Scripture:

Luke 11:44 Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it.”

Observation:

Jesus is rebuking the Pharisees -- those who believed they were extremely spiritual.  They must have winced as they heard these words from Jesus, for to walk over and touch, even an unmarked grave, was to make one unclean.  Jesus is saying that the Pharisees are living such hypocritical lives that they are dragging others down spiritually -- making them unclean when they are unsuspecting.

Application:

I think the indictment here is pretty strong.  There are those who are falling away, or being hurt in their faith because of the "faith" of those who see themselves as being spiritual.  It should stop and give all of us pause.  What is it about our lives that could be a detriment to the faith of others?  Would there be anything that someone would see in my life that might drive them away from Jesus Christ? 

I have to confess that there are times when I h…

Showing Mercy

Scripture:

Luke 10:36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”
Luke 10:37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Observation:

These are the closing statements of a conversation between Jesus and an expert in the law.  Jesus explained to him that we are to love God and love neighbor.  Then the man asked, "and who is my neighbor?"  Jesus followed up that question with the story of the Good Samaritan.  We jump into that story at the very conclusion where Jesus helps him understand that the one who showed mercy was the one who was being a neighbor.  Somehow showing mercy to those around us in the world is the key to loving our neighbor -- and we are to "Go and do likewise."

Application:

What we find here is an attitude of the heart, one which reflects the very nature of Jesus Christ.  Jesus' nature was to go about doing good.  Jesus did good for many who ultimately …

Resting in God

Scripture:

Psa. 127:1     Unless the LORD builds the house,
        those who build it labor in vain.
    Unless the LORD guards the city,
        the guard keeps watch in vain.
Psa. 127:2     It is in vain that you rise up early
        and go late to rest,
    eating the bread of anxious toil;
        for he gives sleep to his beloved.

Observation:

There are several ways in which this scripture can be understood.  Could it relate to the time in which the Israelites are building Solomon's temple?  Solomon had wisdom and wealth and so much capacity to do things "for" God -- and yet, if he didn't simply trust in God and allow this to be God's project -- he would be laboring in vain. 

Or, could it be that this song was sung when the children of Israel had returned from exile and Nehemiah had established teams to be rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem? They stayed up day and night to get the work done -- but was it a reminder that all of that labor belonged to the Lord!  That …

Rejoicing in the Foundation

Scripture:

Ezra 3:10 ¶ When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments were stationed to praise the LORD with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, according to the directions of King David of Israel;
Ezra 3:11 and they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD,
    “For he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.”
And all the people responded with a great shout when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.

Observation:

The children of Israel had returned from exile and now were engaging in the rebuilding of the temple.  They were a people who were rebuilding their faith and with great effort they worked to lay the foundation of the temple, the place in which they would worship God -- and God alone!  They followed the instructions that had been given them in the past and once the foundation was laid, they stopped and rejoiced and took time…

Revive Us Again

Scripture:

Psa. 85:4      ¶ Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
        and put away your indignation toward us.
Psa. 85:5     Will you be angry with us forever?
        Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
Psa. 85:6     Will you not revive us again,
        so that your people may rejoice in you?
Psa. 85:7     Show us your steadfast love, O LORD,
        and grant us your salvation.

Observation:


The Psalmist is pleading for the renewal of God's people.  This psalm may have been written by David, or at a later time period, when returning from exile.  Whichever period it was, the people were still struggling with giving themselves wholeheartedly over to God.  The Psalmist knows that God's people need to be restored so that they can be faithful witnesses of and to him.  They have been unfaithful and, if this is when they returned from exile, they are concerned about how long God will be angry with them.  It's time for revival to come.  The prayer is for God to come…

Holiness and Mercy

Scripture:

Luke 6:27 ¶ “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
Luke 6:28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
Luke 6:29 If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.
Luke 6:30 Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.
Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Luke 6:32 ¶ “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
Luke 6:33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
Luke 6:34 If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
Luke 6:35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most H…

We Need Both

Scripture:

Luke 5:36 He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and sews it on an old garment; otherwise the new will be torn, and the piece from the new will not match the old.
Luke 5:37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed.
Luke 5:38 But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.
Luke 5:39 And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but says, ‘The old is good.’”

Observation:

With the presence of Jesus Christ on earth things were different.  His presence meant radical changes to the Jew's understanding of worship practices.  The religious leaders couldn't understand why Jesus' disciples didn't pray and fast on the right days!  But, why should they -- the one for whom they were praying and fasting was right there in their midst.  And now suddenly there was what had been -- and what would be -- right in their midst and they wondered …

Faithfulness in the Workplace

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 had just experienced an overwhelming vision from God.  He saw future destruction and he felt the weight of what he had seen.  God had opened his eyes to have a vision of the future and yet it was one which he was not allowed to share publicly.  He was going to have to bear the burden of this knowledge himself and the burden made him sick.  But while the burden made him sick, he also knew that God had called him to public service to the king.  He had a very high and prominent government position, and even as a prophet of God, he needed to go back to work.  During the day in and day out of life, his witness to God was seen in his outstanding service to the kingdom and the King.  He was not only God's messenger, but he remained faithful in the workplace, which allowed him to have inf…

Nearness to Jesus

Scripture:

Matt. 20:20 ¶ Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him.
Matt. 20:21 And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.”
Matt. 20:22 But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.”
Matt. 20:23 He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
Matt. 20:24 ¶ When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers.
Matt. 20:25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them.
Matt. 20:26 It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be y…

What's Feeding You?

Scripture:

Ezek. 47:6 He said to me, “Mortal, have you seen this?” ¶ Then he led me back along the bank of the river.
Ezek. 47:7 As I came back, I saw on the bank of the river a great many trees on the one side and on the other.
Ezek. 47:8 He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah; and when it enters the sea, the sea of stagnant waters, the water will become fresh.
Ezek. 47:9 Wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish, once these waters reach there. It will become fresh; and everything will live where the river goes.
Ezek. 47:10 People will stand fishing beside the sea from En-gedi to En-eglaim; it will be a place for the spreading of nets; its fish will be of a great many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea.
Ezek. 47:11 But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt.
Ezek. 47:12 On the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds …

The Might of the Strong God

Scripture:

Luke 1:19 The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.
Luke 1:20 But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.”

Observation:

"I am Gabriel."  Simply by stating his name this Angel was expressing that what God had intended was possible for his name meant, "the might of the strong God."  In his personal visit to Zechariah he represented the power of the God of all creation and the realization that "with God all things are possible."  This angel was one who would "stand in the presence of God;" the very concept of a Prime Minister who would have access to the King or the President as no other.  Here was one who had been sent from the very presence of God to bring the good news to Zechariah, and yet, Zechariah doubted.  Because of his unbel…

It's time to Come

Scripture:

Rev. 22:17     The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”
    And let everyone who hears say, “Come.”
    And let everyone who is thirsty come.
    Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.

Observation:

We come to the close of the Revelation of Jesus Christ and here we find a great invitation.  Each and every one is invited to come into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  The days in which John was living were extremely difficult and yet, for those who may have been in doubt, it was time to come!  The Holy Spirit was moving in and among those who would listen to the Word through the ministry of the new and fledgling church -- the bride.  The church was proclaiming the Word and through these the Spirit was drawing all men to the Lord.  For all of those who heard the Word, the invitation was to come.  For all of those who were in need of the water of eternal life -- the invitation was to come.  For those hungry and thirsty spiritually, it was time to respond to th…

The Sea Is No More!

Scripture:

Rev. 21:1  ¶ Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
Rev. 21:2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Rev. 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
    “See, the home of God is among mortals.
    He will dwell with them as their God;
    they will be his peoples,
    and God himself will be with them;
Rev. 21:4     he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
    Death will be no more;
    mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
    for the first things have passed away.”

Observation:

We are coming to the climax of the story of God.  There will be a new heaven and a new earth.  On this new earth there will no longer be any sea -- whether physically or metaphorically speaking.  Could it be that the majority of the earth will no longer need to be covered by water?  Or could it be that the sea had perpet…

How Committed Are You?

Scripture:

Rev. 20:44 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Observation:


John continues to share with us what he sees in this revelation.  During this period of time there were many who were being martyred for their faith and now, in his vision, he sees them - those who have died for their faith in Jesus Christ.  They have been willing to stand up for what they believe and were unwilling to compromise with the things of the world.  And now they are resurrected and are reigning together with Jesus Christ.

Application:


Just the other day a friend of mine was sharing about his recent trip into a very volatile part of the world.  Religious extremists are trying to …

Who Has Your Hills?

Scripture:

Ezek. 36:1 ¶ And you, mortal, prophesy to the mountains of Israel, and say: O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the LORD.
Ezek. 36:2 Thus says the Lord GOD: Because the enemy said of you, “Aha!” and, “The ancient heights have become our possession,”
Ezek. 36:3 therefore prophesy, and say: Thus says the Lord GOD: Because they made you desolate indeed, and crushed you from all sides, so that you became the possession of the rest of the nations, and you became an object of gossip and slander among the people;
Ezek. 36:4 therefore, O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD: Thus says the Lord GOD to the mountains and the hills, the watercourses and the valleys, the desolate wastes and the deserted towns, which have become a source of plunder and an object of derision to the rest of the nations all around;
Ezek. 36:5 therefore thus says the Lord GOD: I am speaking in my hot jealousy against the rest of the nations, and against all Edom, who, with wholehearted joy a…

To Whom Are We Taking the Good News?

Scripture:

Luke 4:18     “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
        because he has anointed me
            to bring good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
        and recovery of sight to the blind,
            to let the oppressed go free,
Luke 4:19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Observation:

Jesus goes home to Nazareth and on the Sabbath goes to the synagogue worship.  He stands up to read from the scroll and he reads this portion of scripture written by the prophet Isaiah.  When he finishes reading he tells the people that this scripture has been fulfilled in their presence. 

This is about Jesus, himself, and he is the one who is anointed to take the good news to the poor.  He is speaking about his mission and where his father is sending him.  It is a sign of what the people are to see in the months and years ahead from Jesus and his ministry. 

The people of his hometown are not pleased -- and they try to throw him off a cliff.  Here…

Be Prepared

Scripture:

Rev. 16:15 (“See, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and is clothed, not going about naked and exposed to shame.”)

Matt. 24:43 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.

Luke 12:39 ¶ “But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.

1Th. 5:2 For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

1Th. 5:4 But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief;

2Pet. 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.

Mark 13:35 Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house wi…

I Will Hope In Him

Scripture:

Lam. 3:22      ¶ The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,
        his mercies never come to an end;
Lam. 3:23     they are new every morning;
        great is your faithfulness.
Lam. 3:24     “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
        “therefore I will hope in him.”

Observation:


The prophet had just been lamenting all the difficulties he had faced when suddenly he changed the tone of his voice.  In the midst of the difficulties we find these words of praise.  Even when things are extremely difficult God's love continues to be poured out on his people.  God is eternal, his nature, his love is eternal and will never, ever cease.  Every morning, in the face of the horrific circumstances God sends out his mercy to his children.  Again, the mercies of God will never come to an end, for he is infinite!  Every day when life throws us another curveball, he will extend to us the mercies necessary to deal with those difficulties.  Why?  Because the LORD is the one in whom we h…

A Sketch of a True Believer

Scripture:

Rev. 14:1 ¶ Then I looked, and there was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion! And with him were one hundred forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.
Rev. 14:2 And I heard a voice from heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder; the voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps,
Rev. 14:3 and they sing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the one hundred forty-four thousand who have been redeemed from the earth.
Rev. 14:4 It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins; these follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been redeemed from humankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb,
Rev. 14:5 and in their mouth no lie was found; they are blameless.

Observation:


In contrast to the previous chapter, we now have a glimpse of the true Lamb -- and his victorious Church.  T…

Enter the Holy Mountain of Worship

Scripture:

Psa. 48:1     Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised
        in the city of our God.
    His holy mountain,
Psa. 48:2 beautiful in elevation,
        is the joy of all the earth,
    Mount Zion, in the far north,
        the city of the great King.
Psa. 48:3     Within its citadels God
        has shown himself a sure defense.

Observation:


Praise and worship of God are the theme of this Psalm.  There on the holy mountain, his sanctuary, we find a place of worship.  There in Jerusalem the temple has been built and in this place the people can come and worship God.  When the foreign kings come to visit the city they are overcome with what they see and experience.  In fear and reverence they return home and God remains the protector of his people, as long as they continued to praise and to worship him.

Application:

The holy mountain which we will enter today is our place of worship -- the church.  We, too, must remember that praise and worship of God are to be the theme of all that …

Who Is Like God?

Scripture:

Rev. 12:6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred sixty days.
Rev. 12:7  ¶ And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back,
Rev. 12:8 but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.

Observation:

The Church is the Bride of Christ and in the first century she was facing incredible persecution at the hands of the Roman Empire.  Christians had two choices when it came to responding to the secular powers against them.  Either they would become martyrs and be killed for their faith, or they would have to flee into the wildernesses.  It was during this period of time that the eremitic (hermits) types of monasticism developed.  These are the monks who went and lived out in the deserts to learn more from God.  Not only were they learning more from God, but they were surviving.  It was n…

A Foot In Both Worlds?

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.”

Zech. 14:9 ¶ And the LORD will become king over all the earth; on that day the LORD will be one and his name one.

Observation:

The seventh and final trumpet sounded and this brought all things to completion or perfection.  What was that perfection?  Satan has ruled this earth long enough and now the kingdom of the world is overthrown by the kingdom of our Lord.  God in heaven, seated on the throne sent his Messiah -- his only Son to be the ruler over the kingdom of the world.  Zechariah had prophesied about the coming of that day, when the LORD would reign over the earth.  All divisions would come to an end and there would be complete and total unity.  The Lord has sent his Messiah and the overthrow of the kingdom of the world has begun.  The vict…

Manifested Holiness

Scripture:

Ezek. 28:25 ¶ Thus says the Lord GOD: When I gather the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and manifest my holiness in them in the sight of the nations, then they shall settle on their own soil that I gave to my servant Jacob.

Observation:

Humanity was to be a reflection of God in this world.  The children of Israel had so completely turned their back on God and given themselves over to idol-worship that the true God, Yahweh, could never been found among them.  They were to be an evangelistic people, drawing the rest of the world to Yahweh.  Instead, they prostituted themselves with the gods of their enemies.  Now, they were going to suffer at the hands of their enemies spending years in exile.  However, the exile was not simply a punishment, but it was to become a time of cleansing.  It was during the exile that they would become a monotheistic people once again.  In the midst of their trials and difficulties they would realize that there is none…

Sealed and Warmed

Scripture:

Rev. 9:4 They were told not to damage the grass of the earth or any green growth or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.

Observation:

To give a clear explanation of this scripture is exceedingly difficult.  Nearly every commentator has a different perspective, except for their understanding for those who are "sealed."  There is a distinct difference between those followers of God who are sealed in him, and those who are not.  Too often there are those who call themselves Christians, and in the case of John's time -- there would have been the Israelites who believed they were "saved" because they were following the law, and these people believe they are okay spiritually without having a personal relationship with God.  These people are the hypocrites and they have not been sealed -- therefore they are not immune from eternal destruction. 

Interestingly the angel is told not to damage any of the green growth…