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Showing posts from April, 2013

Hairy Crowns

Scripture:

Psa. 68:21      ¶ But God will shatter the heads of his enemies,
        the hairy crown of those who walk in their guilty ways.

Observation:

The Psalmist David was praising God for victory over numerous enemies.  Some of those enemies were referred to as ones with hairy crowns.  This meant that the very scalp of their head was hairy.  Who were these enemies?  It could have been David's son Absalom who was obsessed with his own hair and eventually died as a result of having so much long hair that it got caught up in a tree. Or, it could have referred to some of the more barbaric enemies in the region.  In an effort to make themselves look scary to the people they would grow their hair out long, not caring for it until it was simply a wild and unruly mess on the top of their heads.  It didn't matter -- either those who were prideful of their hair, or those who chose to use their hair as a crazy costume -- God was going to be victorious, and he used the very center of th…

Flip Flop Faith

Scripture:

Matt. 16:21 ¶ From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.
Matt. 16:22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.”

Observation:

Peter had just confessed that Jesus was the Messiah, the very son of God.  This was a very powerful statement and up until this time Jesus had been praying that the disciples would begin to fully understand who he was and his mission.  Once this powerful confession was given, Jesus felt that he could reveal the next stage of his work with the disciples.  First, they had to know that he was the Messiah, and now they had to know what was coming.  There would be difficult days ahead. 

They would have to go to Jerusalem where he would undergo great suffering.  A contingent of individuals were already in Jerusalem who wou…

Are your traditions standing in the way of Jesus?

Scripture:

Matt. 15:1  ¶ Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said,
Matt. 15:2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands before they eat.”
Matt. 15:3 He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?

Observation:

The disciples had broken a traditional rule.  They had eaten before washing their hands.  The Pharisees and the scribes were quick to point this out to Jesus.  Why did they not follow the traditions of the elders?  Jesus turned the question around and asked them why they were willing to break commandments for the sake of their tradition! 

Application:

Somehow the Pharisees and the scribes had allowed themselves to prioritize their traditions over the very commandments of God.  These rules about being ceremonially unclean really did not matter to Jesus.  Look at what Jesus did with the water for ceremonial cleansing at the wedding in Cana in Galilee.  He took that …

A Guilty Conscience

Scripture:

Matt. 14:3 For Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife,
Matt. 14:4 because John had been telling him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.”
Matt. 14:5 Though Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded him as a prophet.
Matt. 14:6 But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and she pleased Herod
Matt. 14:7 so much that he promised on oath to grant her whatever she might ask.
Matt. 14:8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.”
Matt. 14:9 The king was grieved, yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he commanded it to be given;
Matt. 14:10 he sent and had John beheaded in the prison.
Matt. 14:11 The head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who brought it to her mother.
Matt. 14:12 His disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went and told Jesus. 

Stories that Revealed Great Secrets

Scripture:

Matt. 13:35 This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet:
    “I will open my mouth to speak in parables;
        I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.”

Observation:

Jesus had just completed an entire series of parables which helped the disciples understand that the spreading of the kingdom would be slow but methodical.  There would be seeds that would be scattered.  Some would take root.  There would be a field planted, but the enemy would come and sow weeds.  There would be a little yeast, but eventually it would be mixed throughout the entire dough.  And now, finally, our author decides to let us in on a little secret.  Jesus is talking this way on purpose.  He is using the parables or stories as a way to fulfill prophecy and to reveal great secrets.  It was Asaph the Psalmist who said:

Psa. 78:2     I will open my mouth in a parable;
        I will utter dark sayings from of old,

But there was a purpose in uttering the dark say…

Miracles on Demand

Scripture:

Matt. 12:38 ¶ Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.”
Matt. 12:39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
Matt. 12:40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth.
Matt. 12:41 The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here!

Observation:


Jesus had just completed miracles of healing in the sight of these religious leaders but now, they had the audacity to stand before him and ask him to "perform" for them.  They had even accused him of being in partnership with the Devil.  But what they had seen was not enough for them and they wanted to be able to ask for…

Have You Fought the Yoke?

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Scripture:

Matt. 11:28 ¶ “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
Matt. 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Matt. 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Observation:


There was a great promise from Jesus to the people of his day that carries all the way to the present.  If we are tired and weary from carrying our burdens, he wants to give us rest.  As if we were a beast of burden he says to shake off the yoke we are currently wearing and yoke ourselves to him.  Why?  Because he wants to help carry our load.  He is the one who is gentle and humble and the result is that we will find incredible rest in him.  His yoke is like no other and the result is that when we are yoked to him our burden will be light.

Application:

The important thing to understand here is that every single person is yoked to something.  Most of us allow ourselves to be…

I Love You More!

I Love You More!
Scripture:
Matthew 10:37-39 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
Observation:
Jesus is sending out the disciples to travel from village to village among the Jews sharing about the kingdom.  What kind of a message are they to bring?  It really comes down to what God has always said to the Israelites.  They are to remember the Shema...."Hear Oh Israel, The Lord your God, The Lord is one." There were never, ever, to be any gods before the God of all creation!  
Jesus knew that there were things that people might consider good that had taken over the place of God in the lives of his people.  This included the love of family members, or family life.  That is why he told them to preach that whoever lov…

Wisdom in the face of Adversity

Scripture:

1Sam. 25:32 ¶ David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who sent you to meet me today!
1Sam. 25:33 Blessed be your good sense, and blessed be you, who have kept me today from bloodguilt and from avenging myself by my own hand!
1Sam. 25:34 For as surely as the LORD the God of Israel lives, who has restrained me from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, truly by morning there would not have been left to Nabal so much as one male.”
1Sam. 25:35 Then David received from her hand what she had brought him; he said to her, “Go up to your house in peace; see, I have heeded your voice, and I have granted your petition.”

Observation:

Abigail was married to a stubborn man by the name of Nabal.  He had been rude and unkind to David and his men, even after David's men had been good to him!  David was angry with this man and was coming to destroy him and his entire household.  Abigail, the wife of Nabal, knew how foolish her husband was and she …

How Do We Treat Our Enemies?

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Scripture:

1Sam. 24:1 ¶ When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “David is in the wilderness of En-gedi.”
1Sam. 24:2 Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to look for David and his men in the direction of the Rocks of the Wild Goats.
1Sam. 24:3 He came to the sheepfolds beside the road, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave.
1Sam. 24:4 The men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.’” Then David went and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak.
1Sam. 24:5 Afterward David was stricken to the heart because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak.
1Sam. 24:6 He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’S anointed, to raise my hand against him; for he is the LORD’S anointed.”
1Sam. 24…

Is there fruit?

Scripture:

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

Observation:
This chapter begins with Jesus warning people not to judge others.  He talks about having a plank in your own eye and being hypocritical when pointing out the speck in someone else's eye.  He is speaking to those who saw themselves as spiritual.   Those who believe that they are doing everything right must be aware, for they will be identified by the fruit that they bear.  

There have always been those who have wanted to take advantage of people through their spiri…

What do your eyes reveal?

Scripture:

Matt. 6:22 ¶ “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light;
Matt. 6:23 but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

Observation:

This is another parable from Jesus.  He understands the need for humanity to be in right relationship with God.  When humans have turned from their sin and are seeking the face of God, they are facing in his direction.  Theirs eyes are seeking God and the radiance of God's glory shines into their very eyes. 

The way that humans see is through light entering the eye and being absorbed by the retina which is found on the back of the eye.  Your optic nerve then takes all of that light and converts it to data which is sent to your brain.  Your brain then understands what it is seeing.

In the Greek this Scripture actually says that the eye is "single."  This word can be translated several different…

Radiant Glory

Scripture:

Psa. 34:4      ¶ I sought the LORD, and he answered me,
        and delivered me from all my fears.
Psa. 34:5     Look to him, and be radiant;
        so your faces shall never be ashamed.
Psa. 34:6     This poor soul cried, and was heard by the LORD,
        and was saved from every trouble.
Psa. 34:7     The angel of the LORD encamps
        around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Matt. 5:14 ¶ “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid.
Matt. 5:15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.
Matt. 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Observation:

Over and over we are reminded of the fact that we are to reflect the glory of the Lord.  David had found himself in a very difficult circumstance, surrounded by the enemy.  What did he do?  He looked to God to deliver him.  He w…

The Intervention of God's Holiness

Scripture:

Psa. 59:1  ¶     Deliver me from my enemies, O God;
        protect me from those who rise up against me.
Psa. 59:2     Deliver me from evildoers
        and save me from bloodthirsty men.

Psa. 59:3  ¶     See how they lie in wait for me!
        Fierce men conspire against me
        for no offense or sin of mine, O LORD.
Psa. 59:4     I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me.
        Arise to help me; look on my plight!
Psa. 59:5     O LORD God Almighty, the God of Israel,
        rouse yourself to punish all the nations;
        show no mercy to wicked traitors.    

1Sam. 19:23  ¶     So Saul went to Naioth at Ramah. But the Spirit of God came even upon him, and he walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth.
1Sam. 19:24 He stripped off his robes and also prophesied in Samuel’s presence. He lay that way all that day and night. This is why people say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”


Observation:

Saul became terribly jealous of David, his son-in-law.  David had …

Proclaiming the Coming Kingdom

Scripture:

Matt. 3:1  ¶ In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming,
Matt. 3:2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Observation:

John was sent by God to call the people back to his kingdom.  He was their wake-up call!  For far too long they had been doing their own thing and not paying attention to the call to be God's holy people.  Now God was going to step into human flesh and create a pathway for the salvation for all humankind.  John's purpose was tell people to "Wake Up -- Pay Attention!"  And in the midst of all he was doing, Jesus showed up and the already of the new kingdom was begun.

Application:


What will it take to get our attention regarding the serious nature of our relationship with God?  Yesterday afternoon two bombs went off in Boston.  In an instant peoples' lives were altered and the freedom to which the United States has been accustomed may be changed forever.  There remains a very real presence…

Let the Nations Know They Are Only Human

Scripture:

Psa. 9:19      ¶ Rise up, O LORD! Do not let mortals prevail;
        let the nations be judged before you.
Psa. 9:20     Put them in fear, O LORD;
        let the nations know that they are only human. Selah

Observation:

David had experienced numerous victories in his lifetime -- all with the help of God.  While David had skills and abilities in his own right, he placed them in the hand of God so that he could be God's instrument.  His battle with Goliath became foundational to understanding how God would use him throughout his life.  The victory over Goliath was God's victory.  No sword was drawn for that battle, but simply a young man who believed he was God's instrument was obedient and a small stone brought down the giant. 

That is the way in which God works!  He uses the improbable to make a difference in the world.  The nations of this world believe that they are bold and they are powerful.  More than likely those who lead begin to believe that they are …

Mountain Top Experience

Scripture:

Matt. 17:4 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
Matt. 17:5 While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!”
Matt. 17:6 When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear.
Matt. 17:7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.”

Observation:


Jesus took the "inner circle" of his disciples with him to the Mount of Transfiguration.  Here they experienced something that they had never experienced before -- the very presence of God.  Peter was probably a little ADD -- and always had something to say before really thinking about the situation….but he is interrupted by the voice of God.  In this moment Jesus -- the Messiah - is declared to be the Son of God.  The disciple…

Would You Pass the Test?

Scripture:

2Cor. 13:5 ¶ Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless, indeed, you fail to meet the test!

Observation:

The goal for all of God's children is Christlikeness.  How is this possible?  According to the Apostle Paul -- by having Christ in us.  This was his encouragement to the Corinthian church.  He wanted them to test themselves and see if they were truly living lives that would reflect Jesus Christ to the world around them.  If they were living this kind of life then Christ would truly be living in them.  But then again -- there would be those who would not pass the test. 

Application:

The big question for us today is whether or not we would pass the test.  The life of the Christ-follower is supposed to be different!  Throughout my lifetime I have encountered many people who liked to talk about things in the Scriptures and about holiness but at the same time they were not very nice p…

Rise Up

Scripture:

Eph. 5:14 for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
    “Sleeper, awake!
        Rise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”
Eph. 5:15 ¶ Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise,
Eph. 5:16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil.

Last evening we began our Come to the Water Conference for Women Clergy here in Estes Park, Colorado.  What a beautiful sight to see a room packed with God's daughters and a few sons, ready to praise and to worship the Lord.  This morning I will be sharing a message that God has been birthing in my heart for a year and a half.  The Lord and I have been up talking about this for quite a few hours already this morning and I know there are a lot of people praying. 

God is challenging me to not be complacent in my spiritual walk.  He is encouraging me to walk in the light that he has created, to turn my face toward him and be reflection of him to the world.  The result of this is a …

What are you putting up with?

Scripture:

2Cor. 11:19 For you gladly put up with fools, being wise yourselves!
2Cor. 11:20 For you put up with it when someone makes slaves of you, or preys upon you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or gives you a slap in the face.

Observation:


Paul was writing to his dear Corinthian church, but there were lots of problems.  These people were constantly changing directions whenever anyone new came along and had a more exciting "show" than Paul had.  Paul had laid down his life for these people, he had discipled them and yet, he was not the flamboyant charismatic leader to whom they were all attracted.  He just wasn't flashy enough for them.  He was an ordinary, probably rather unattractive man who was deeply in love with God.  He spoke truth to them and encouraged them to live lives of holiness.  But shouldn't following God just be a bit more exciting than a daily life of self-discipline?

So, the people of Corinth were willing to submit themselves to what m…

How Easily We Forget

How Easily We Forget

Scripture:
1 Samuel 10:17-19 Saul Proclaimed King  Samuel summoned the people to the Lord at Mizpah and said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you. ’ But today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your calamities and your distresses; and you have said, ‘No! but set a king over us. ’ Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and by your clans.”
Observation:
The people had cried out to Samuel that they wanted an earthly king.  This had not been God's intention. His plan was that they would be his holy people and that he would be their king.  They rejected God so that they might be able to look like an earthly kingdom.  
They gathered at Mizpah for their new king to be revealed to them.  This is the very place where Samuel had raised the "Ebenezer," the rock that…