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Showing posts from January, 2014

Living Oracles and the Works of our Hands

Scripture:

Acts 7:38 He is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living oracles to give to us.
Acts 7:39 Our ancestors were unwilling to obey him; instead, they pushed him aside, and in their hearts they turned back to Egypt,
Acts 7:40 saying to Aaron, ‘Make gods for us who will lead the way for us; as for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.’
Acts 7:41 At that time they made a calf, offered a sacrifice to the idol, and reveled in the works of their hands.

Observation:

Today’s scripture reading comes from Stephen’s speech before the Sanhedrin.  He is sharing with them his faith just before he is put to death and in doing so he lays out the history of the Jewish people.  While speaking of Moses he makes a very significant point regarding the Law.  He equates the Law with living oracles because they are given to Moses by God through …

What Kind of Olive Oil?

Scripture:

Ex. 27:20 ¶ You shall further command the Israelites to bring you pure oil of beaten olives for the light, so that a lamp may be set up to burn regularly.

Observation:

Instructions are being given for the building of the tabernacle.  God’s people are out in the desert and here in the midst they are to build a tabernacle for a place where they can come and worship God.  In this tabernacle there is to be a lamp that is to be continually burning.  For the lamp to burn the people are to bring in olive oil, but not just any olive oil.  This is to be the finest oil that comes from the olives.  When the olives are first bruised and beaten then the purest oil drips out of them.  This is before the olives are ever put into a mechanical press.  It is this, very best oil, which is to be used so that the lamp will burn bright and without any impurities.  Only in this way can the tabernacle be properly lit.

Application:

I often get confused with all the different types of Olive Oil we can f…

Proclaiming the Messiah

Scripture:

Acts 5:42 And every day in the temple and at home they did not cease to teach and proclaim Jesus as the Messiah.

Observation:

The Apostles had already faced many obstacles when it came to proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah.  The religious officials were hounding them, wanting them to stop.  They were threatened with imprisonment and beatings, and yet, they counted that a privilege.  They had fallen in love with Jesus and were now serving him, whether in difficulty or in ease.  None of that mattered to them because they were so filled with the Holy Spirit that they could not stop talking about Jesus!  Every single day and everywhere they went, in formal and in informal settings, they proclaimed “Jesus as the Messiah.”

Application:

What is my table conversation like? 

Is Jesus proclaimed in my home?

My husband and I are blessed to the parents of two incredible daughters and some of the best theological discussions we have ever had occurred around our kitchen table.  I will be foreve…

Speaking with Boldness

Scripture:

Acts 4:24 When they heard it, they raised their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and everything in them,
Acts 4:25 it is you who said by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant:
    ‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
        and the peoples imagine vain things?
Acts 4:26     The kings of the earth took their stand,
        and the rulers have gathered together
            against the Lord and against his Messiah.’
Acts 4:27 For in this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed,
Acts 4:28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.
Acts 4:29 And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness,
Acts 4:30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jes…

We Need Community

We Need Community

Scripture

Exodus 17:8-13
Amalek Attacks Israel and Is Defeated
 Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some men for us and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; so his hands were steady until the sun set. And Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the sword.

Observation:

This story of Aaron and Hur is a classical example for us that we are made to live and work together in community.  Moses may have been the leader but he could not do all of the work on his own.  He…

The LORD who Heals

Scripture:

Ex. 15:26 He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God, and do what is right in his sight, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will not bring upon you any of the diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the LORD who heals you.”

Observation:

The great getaway had just occurred.  The Israelites had escaped from Egypt and Pharaoh and his army had been swept into the sea.  Now, as they looked back over what God had done for them they rejoiced and celebrated.  And then the voice of the LORD spoke to them, providing them with a promise.  If the Israelites would listen to the voice of the LORD and do what he commanded them he would — not rescue them, provide them with everything they wanted — no he would heal them.

Application:

At this very moment in the lives of the Israelites I wonder why it was so important for God to assure them that he would be the God of their healing?  Could it be that while they had been in Egy…

Let’s Start Again

Scripture:

Ex. 12:1 ¶ The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt:
Ex. 12:2 This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you.

Observation:


The children of Israel had now been living in Egypt for generations.  Life was a grind serving as slaves to the Egyptians but now God wasmoving to set his people free.  His promise of freedom was to be marked by a new beginning.  From now on the calendar would begin with the event of God’s intervention in the lives of his people. 

Application:

Life is filled with new beginnings.  Sometimes it’s a whole new book, and sometimes it’s a new chapter in that book.  When Christ enters our lives it is the beginning of a whole new book.  The story is just being written — fresh and new.  The old book — it’s gone!  Now it’s time to start with clean pages, ones that can be filled and empowered by the presence of the Holy Spirit.  The adventure is greater than anything that we could ever begin to imag…

No More of This!

Scripture:

Luke 22:51 But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him.

Observation:

Jesus had been in the garden praying while his disciples had been falling asleep.  It was that final night in that place where Jesus went so often to pray that the old was breaking down and the new was being ushered in.  The disciples had wanted him to be a political leader and to overthrow the rulers of the day.  As they came to take Jesus away one of the disciples struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear.  This was their natural response — to fight!  But this was no longer to be the natural response for in the new kingdom we don’t respond in this way.  Jesus says, “No more of this!” — and he actually heals the man.  This moment is a turning point in all of history.

Application:

As we enter into life in the kingdom, our behavior should change as well.  Literally — there should be “no more of this!”  We are now kingdom citizens and as such, we are to respond in this w…

Abundance and Poverty

Scripture:

Luke 21:1-4
The Widow’s Offering
Chapter 21
He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”

Observation:

There have always been those who have more than others.  Many live in an abundance while others in poverty and this was true in Jesus’ day.  While we may find ourselves in different places in life, it is Jesus who can look past all of the clutter and see the intentions of our hearts.  The rich people had no problem giving to Jesus.  They had plenty.  They could put in a large offering but it really cost them nothing.  When the poor woman came she also participated in the offering.  She could have just passed it by and been justified in not giving.  This, however, was not the case.  Instead she put in two…

Rewriting History

Scripture:

Psa. 8:3      ¶ When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
        the moon and the stars that you have established;
Psa. 8:4     what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
        mortals that you care for them?

Psa. 8:5      ¶ Yet you have made them a little lower than God,
        and crowned them with glory and honor.
Psa. 8:6     You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
        you have put all things under their feet,
Psa. 8:7     all sheep and oxen,
        and also the beasts of the field,
Psa. 8:8     the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
        whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

Psa. 8:9      ¶ O LORD, our Sovereign,
        how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Observation:

God in his creative abilities and majesty has created all things.  The crowning jewel of creation was humanity, made in the image of God, to be a reflection of him in all the earth.  While we may look with awe and wonder at the stars of the …

Gone to the House of the Sinner

Scripture:

Luke 19:7 All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.”
Luke 19:8 Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.”
Luke 19:9 Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham.
Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”

Observation:

Jesus’ mission statement is found in the last verse — he “came to seek out and to save the lost.”  He didn’t wait around for all the sinners to come to him, but he actively went to where they were.  This meant that he had to go to the homes of people like Zacchaeus, for Zacchaeus was a sinner.  Jesus was fulfilling his mission but those around him could not see it!  Instead they complained that he was going to be the “guest of one who is a sinner.” 

Application:


If followers of Christ are …

Leaving the Past Behind

Scripture:

Gen. 45:24 Then he sent his brothers on their way, and as they were leaving he said to them, “Do not quarrel along the way.”

Observation:

In very emotional scene where Joseph reveals himself as the long lost brother of these men standing before him.  He is overcome with emotion and begins to sob as he lets his brothers know that he is the one whom they had sold into slavery to many years before.  However, he makes it clear that he has forgiven them and that God has used the circumstances to change all of their lives!

Joseph provides them with all that they need to go home but encourages them to return with their father.  All that they need is now in Egypt and Joseph will care for them.  However, Joseph knows these men all too well!  He knew that they would dig up the past, his presence being a reminder of the terrible deed they had done so long ago.  The finger-pointing would be a part of their entire journey home; “It was your idea,”  “Well, you took him out of the well and …

Blaming God

Scripture:

Gen. 42:28 He said to his brothers, “My money has been put back; here it is in my sack!” At this they lost heart and turned trembling to one another, saying, “What is this that God has done to us?”

Observation:

Joseph’s brothers had traveled down to Egypt during the time of famine.  Little did they know that they had encountered the brother whom they had sold so long ago and that he was now a ruler in this foreign land.  They brought their silver with them to buy food, which they did, however, on their way home they opened the sacks of food only to discover that their money was in the sacks as well. 

Now, they feared the man who was in charge of famine relief.  They “lost heart and turned trembling” and immediately saw this as a bad thing — and they blamed God!

Application:

I'm afraid that God gets credit for a lot of stuff these days!  Probably much more than he would care to have assigned to him.  How often have I heard good people say after a bad or sad incident, “well, …

Entering the Kingdom by Force

Scripture:

Luke 16:16 ¶ “The law and the prophets were in effect until John came; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is proclaimed, and everyone tries to enter it by force.
Luke 16:17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one stroke of a letter in the law to be dropped.

Observation:

The arrival of John the Baptist signaled a turning point in human history.  Until that time “the law and the prophets were in effect.”  John began to proclaim the coming kingdom and the response was huge.  People came in mass numbers, urging one another to enter the kingdom.  The force of the crowd coming out to hear about the new kingdom was overwhelming.  But did they really understand what it all meant?  The law was not going away, but instead it was being fulfilled through Jesus Christ and would be written on the very hearts of the people.  The things of the world might shift and change, but the kingdom was about fulfillment of the law, not its destruction. 

Application…

A Passion for the Lost

Scripture:

Luke 15:1 ¶ Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him.
Luke 15:2 And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Luke 15:3 ¶ So he told them this parable:
Luke 15:4 “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?
Luke 15:5 When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices.
Luke 15:6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’
Luke 15:7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Observation:


The official religious folk were always looking out for Jesus, just hoping to catch him in doing something wrong!  In their minds, one of the worst things that he d…

Early Success May Be Temporal

Scripture:

Genesis 36:15
These were the chiefs among Esau’s descendants:
The sons of Eliphaz the firstborn of Esau:
Chiefs Teman, Omar, Zepho, Kenaz,
16 Korah, Gatam and Amalek. These were the chiefs descended from Eliphaz in Edom; they were grandsons of Adah.

Observation:


It was Esau’s brother, Jacob who had wrestled with God and who was renamed Israel.  He was the one through whom the holy lineage was to come and yet when we read through these portions of scripture we find that Esau’s sons are called Chiefs while Jacob’s sons are simple shepherds.  Some of the older biblical translations referred to Esau’s sons as Dukes!  Somehow they had ascribed to them entire groups of people and they were considered the leaders.  Whether it meant they were the head of clan, they were a Chief or a Duke, there was a distinct terminology used here for Esau’s sons that was not used when it came to Jacob’s sons. 

A kingdom was being established through Esau, one which would become known as the Edomites.  …

False Sincerity

Scripture:

Luke 13:31 ¶ At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.”
Luke 13:32 He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work.
Luke 13:33 Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’
Luke 13:34 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!
Luke 13:35 See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Observation:

What seems so unusual about this scripture is that the Pharisees seem out of character.  Why would they suddenly come to Jesus to warn him t…

Stewardship In His Absence

Scripture:

Luke 12:42 The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? 43 It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. 46 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.

Observation:

Jesus is sharing another parable with his followers and this one has to do with those whom he will leave in charge.  There is a leadership role which the apostles will take over when he is no longer with them, and this is the place of wise and faithful management.  This ma…

My Vow

Scripture:

Gen. 28:20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear,
Gen. 28:21 so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God,
Gen. 28:22 and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house; and of all that you give me I will surely give one tenth to you.”

Observation:

It appears that during the time of Jacob there were very few people who served God.  His father and his grandfather had personal relationships with God and yet there would have to be a commitment on the part of this young man that he, too, would follow the LORD.  The faith of his parents would not be enough, he would have to make a vow himself.  During the night he had an incredible dream that became very personal and when he awakened he realized the need for his own personal commitment to God. 

Jacob awakened and made a vow — one which would change the remainder of hi…

The Best Dish On the Table

Scripture:

Luke 10:38 ¶ Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.
Luke 10:39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying.
Luke 10:40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.”
Luke 10:41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things;
Luke 10:42 there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Observation:


Jesus went to visit some of his very dear friends and had arrived at their home.  Jesus didn’t travel alone, but his entire company of followers were with him and caring for them took a great amount of effort.  This was Martha’s home, and as such she had taken upon herself the responsibility to be the hostess and care for the needs…

Love Is A Choice

Love is a Choice

Scripture:

Genesis 24:67
Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent. He took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

Observation:

Isaac had never met Rebekah until his servant brought her home.  He trusted his servant to fulfill the mission on which he had been sent.  His servant arrived with a young woman from far away and yet, Isaac took her home and made her his wife.  Then there is a simple, but profound statement, "and he loved her."  Note, it doesn't say "he fell in love with her and then married her."  It's actually the other way around and there is something here which we should observe.  Isaac made a choice, a lifelong decision that he would love his wife.

Application:

Listening to the radio this morning on the way to the airport I heard an advertisement from a Law Office.  They mentioned that in the United States, right around 50% of marriages will end in divor…

Pay Attention To How You Listen

Scripture:

Luke 8:16 ¶ “No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light.
Luke 8:17 For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light.
Luke 8:18 Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.”

Observation:


The daily life of a Christian reveals the true character of the individual.  This is a serious relationship and one that should infuse every part of our being. 

Why do you turn on a light?  So that it will light the room.  You don’t turn it on just to hide it under something. 

The seriousness of this Christian walk cannot be emphasized more because there is nothing that we do that can be hidden from God.  What we do day in and day out will reveal who we are and whom we are following.  That’s why we need to pay a…

Grace Extended — Grace Rejected

Scripture:

Luke 7:29 (And all the people who heard this, including the tax collectors, acknowledged the justice of God, because they had been baptized with John’s baptism.
Luke 7:30 But by refusing to be baptized by him, the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves.)

Observation:


Thousands of people had flocked to hear John the Baptist preach as he called the people to repentance.  Tax collectors were considered to be the very worst of the very worst, and yet they were willing to listen to John’s preaching and repent.  God was justified in his action against the Israelites for they had been disobedient.  By being baptized these people acknowledged God’s justice, their need for repentance and received God’s grace reaching which was extended to them. 

The religious officials, by refusing the baptism of John also rejected God’s grace.  God’s desire was to reach out to them and to save them.  Even now they had witnessed the Messiah standing before them but the more gr…

What Are You Doing?

Scripture:

Luke 6:46 ¶ “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you?
Luke 6:47 I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them.
Luke 6:48 That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built.
Luke 6:49 But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.”

Observation:

It’s so much easier to follow the way of the crowd, the “broad way.”  God does show us the way to go and gives us good direction in life, and yet, there are times that we simply choose to not do what he tells us to do!  Our actions speak much louder than our words.  We cannot simply say that we will follow God, but our lives must be a reflection of him — of following him and imit…

Withdrawal

Scripture:

Luke 5:15 But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases.
Luke 5:16 But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.

Observation:

Quietly tucked into the narrative we find what very well may be the secret to Jesus’ ministry.  He was busy day in and day out doing the Father’s business.  Miraculous transformations were occurring in the lives of numerous people.  Blind could see, those with leprosy healed, the paralyzed could walk and the crowds were following him everywhere.  And yet, even Jesus knew that his strength had to come from his fellowship with the Father.  He had to withdraw and be alone so that he could pray.

Application:

I lead a pretty busy life (and I think it may have just gotten busier), and yet, my life is nothing like that of Jesus Christ.  I can’t imagine what it must have been like for him, continually ministering to so many people.  He was constantly giving of himself to hel…

Blessed in Christ

Scripture:

Ephesians 1:3-14
1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

1:4 just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.

1:5 He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will,

1:6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace

1:8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight

1:9 he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ,

1:10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

1:11 In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes …