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Showing posts from April, 2014

How Not To Have a Marriage

Scripture:

2Sam. 6:16 ¶ As the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.
2Sam. 6:17 ¶ They brought in the ark of the LORD, and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and offerings of well-being before the LORD.
2Sam. 6:18 When David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the offerings of well-being, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts,
2Sam. 6:19 and distributed food among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, to each a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins. Then all the people went back to their homes.
2Sam. 6:20 ¶ David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of hi…

Check Out the Weather Forecast

Scripture:

Matt. 16:1 ¶ The Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test Jesus they asked him to show them a sign from heaven.
Matt. 16:2 He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’
Matt. 16:3 And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.
Matt. 16:4 An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Then he left them and went away.

Observation:

Meteorology has been around for a long time.  Maybe not as the profession that it is today but there have always been those who have been the predictors of weather.  Even in Jesus’ time they had ways of “reading the sky” and determining what type of weather lie ahead.  Evidently they were pretty good at it.

Jesus acknowledged their weatherman skills and the fact that people knew how to make observations an…

How Did I End Up In This Pit?

Scripture:

Matt. 15:14 Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.”

Observation:


Jesus was warning the disciples about the Pharisees.  They had distorted the word of God and were leading others to the pit of destruction.  The disciples were to leave these kinds of leaders alone for the result of their teaching would lead to the pit.  They were blind guides, but they were also leading the blind and those who followed needed to take responsibility for their blindness.  If only they had personally studied the Scriptures and not blindly followed blind leaders they would not have fallen into the pit.

Application:

After following blind leadership there may be a day when one awakes and asks, “How’d I end up in this pit?” 

It doesn’t happen just overnight.  Landing in the pit results from spiritual blindness and spiritual blindness may happen a little at a time. 

We become too busy with life to REALLY spend time with the Lo…

When God’s Portion is More Than Enough

Scripture:

Psa. 142:5      ¶ I cry to you, O LORD;
        I say, “You are my refuge,
        my portion in the land of the living.”

Observation:

David found himself trapped in a cave and running from King Saul, the earthly leader who should have provided him with refuge and a portion.  Safety from the king would surely have been expected and yet, the king saw David as a threat.  Where could David and his men go but to run for a place of safety?  Instead of being able to freely live out in the open they would have to hide away.  Realizing his relationship with Saul was terribly strained, David also had no way in which he could live out life with the portion of land and hesitance he should have received.  Not only did he and his band of men have to hide out in caves, they literally had to side with the enemy so they could have a place to live and exist. 

In a moment of despair David cries out the Lord and in his lament we hear a valuable truth.  No matter what the world throws at you or tr…

Do You Know What You Have?

Scripture:

Matt. 13:16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.
Matt. 13:17 Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.

Observation:

Jesus was speaking to his disciples and explaining to them that they were truly blessed.  The world had long awaited the coming of the Messiah.  There were many prophets and righteous people who would have loved to have been with Jesus but they didn’t get to walk and talk with him.  Instead, these disciples were the ones who had the blessing of seeing and hearing Jesus.  The beauty was that they were appreciative of what they were experiencing.  Their eyes truly saw, and their ears truly heard and as a result they were followers of the Messiah, the promised one. 

Application:

After Jesus ascended into heaven he sent the Holy Spirit to be the Comforter among his people.  This promise of the Holy Spirit is important in the lif…

A Sheep, in a Pit, on the Sabbath

Scripture:

Matt. 12:11 He said to them, “Suppose one of you has only one sheep and it falls into a pit on the sabbath; will you not lay hold of it and lift it out?
Matt. 12:12 How much more valuable is a human being than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the sabbath.”

Observation:

Jesus had gone into the synagogue of the Pharisees and it was the sabbath.  The rules of the sabbath day had almost taken on a life of their own and instead of understanding the intent of a sabbath rest for the people of God, the Pharisees had made the people of God subservient to the sabbath.  Their worship of the day itself was almost (or was) idolatrous. 

Here, on this sabbath day they confront Jesus with a man with a withered hand and asked him if it was legal to cure on the sabbath.  For Jesus this question was ridiculous so he answers their question with another question.  If one of your sheep falls into a pit on the sabbath, won’t you go and get it out?  Of course an owner would have compassion on …

Overly Blessed?

Scripture:

Matt. 11:20  ¶ Then he began to reproach the cities in which most of his deeds of power had been done, because they did not repent.
Matt. 11:21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
Matt. 11:22 But I tell you, on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you.
Matt. 11:23 And you, Capernaum,
    will you be exalted to heaven?
        No, you will be brought down to Hades.
For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
Matt. 11:24 But I tell you that on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for you.”

Observation:

During much of Jesus’ period of ministry he lived in Capernaum.  The cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida were nearby and the citizens of these three towns were blessed with opportunities to watch Christ in action.  They …

How Radical Are you Willing to Be?

Scripture:

Matt. 10:34  ¶ “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
Matt. 10:35     For I have come to set a man against his father,
    and a daughter against her mother,
    and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
Matt. 10:36     and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
Matt. 10:37 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;
Matt. 10:38 and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
Matt. 10:39 Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

Observation:


Jesus knew that living life in the kingdom was something incredibly radical.  He also realized that most people would not be prepared for what it meant to be such a radical follower of Jesus Christ.  Service in the kingdom meant that there would be discord among the societal systems.  Typica…

Does Anyone Have Compassion or Concern for Those Who Need Christ?

Scripture:

Matt. 9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Matt. 9:37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;
Matt. 9:38 therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Observation:


Jesus looks out over the multitude of people who have been following him and he is moved with compassion.  Why?  Because they have been living under a burden of religious oppression that has led them to the point of feeling “harassed and helpless.”  No matter what they do, they just can’t seem to get it right and they are exhausted from trying.  Jesus, is the good shepherd and his realization is that there is no one caring for these people and their true spiritual welfare.  No one is shepherding them as a good shepherd.  Instead they are being used by the system.

This is why Jesus then tells his disciples “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers ar…

The Continuing Life of Discipleship

Scripture:

Matt. 8:18 ¶ Now when Jesus saw great crowds around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side.
Matt. 8:19 A scribe then approached and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
Matt. 8:20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
Matt. 8:21 Another of his disciples said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
Matt. 8:22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Observation:

Considering how the scribes and the pharisees are represented in Scripture it seems unusual that this person would come and tell Jesus that he was ready to follow him.  He even calls Jesus “teacher.”  Jesus has been talking about life within the kingdom and the invitation is not just to follow Christ, but to engage in life within the kingdom.  What does that mean for this religious man?  Jesus is unsure of the man’s understanding and level of commitment.  This is no…

No More Fear

Scripture:

Matt. 28:1 ¶ After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.
Matt. 28:2 And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.
Matt. 28:3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.
Matt. 28:4 For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men.
Matt. 28:5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.
Matt. 28:6 He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.
Matt. 28:7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.”
Matt. 28:8 So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.
Matt. 28:9 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” A…

Don’t Worry About Tomorrow

Scripture:

Matt. 6:33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matt. 6:34 ¶ “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Observation:


Jesus understood that the things of this world carry very little value in light of eternity.  The things of this earth are simply temporary and will some day pass away.  On the other hand, the things of God and the kingdom will last forever.  Therefore we are to be actively engaged in the work of the kingdom.

Jesus was engaged in kingdom work.  On that dark and silent Saturday when the disciples had no clue as to the future, Jesus was working.  Everything he did was about the kingdom. 

On that Saturday the disciples were in despair.  Everything had changed with Jesus’ death.  What would happen tomorrow?  Could they muster the strength to remember the words of Jesus?  “Do not worry about tomorrow.”  They certainly woul…

Blessed Jesus

Scripture:

Psa. 34:1     I will bless the LORD at all times;
        his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
Psa. 34:2     My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
        let the humble hear and be glad.
Psa. 34:3     O magnify the LORD with me,
        and let us exalt his name together.

Observation:

It’s the day of the year we call “Good Friday.”  On this day we remember that Christ went to his death for us all. 

The Psalmist loved God. 

He blessed the LORD continually. 

The focus of his life was his passionate love for God and his desire was to constantly exalt his name.

Application:


Blessed Jesus. 

Blessed Jesus.

Suffering on the cross.

May I bless him at all times!

May he be praised at all times!

May he be magnified at all times!

Blessed Jesus. 

Blessed Jesus.

Prayer:

Lord, thank you is not enough.  I am amazed at what you have done and eternally grateful.  Amen.




My Strength Comes From the Lord!

Scripture:

Psa. 59:16      ¶ But I will sing of your might;
        I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.
    For you have been a fortress for me
        and a refuge in the day of my distress.
Psa. 59:17     O my strength, I will sing praises to you,
        for you, O God, are my fortress,
        the God who shows me steadfast love.

Observation:

David had experienced God’s grace and wisdom as he had been able to escape the reach of Saul.  While David had warrior skills, he was constantly drawn back to the saving power of God and wanted to praise and glorify God.  David knew that he couldn’t survive on his own resources, but needed to trust in God. 

Love for God simply welled out of David and he sang and glorified God.  God was his fortress and strength. 

Application:

God was and is the source of steadfast love and when we are prepared to abandon ourselves to him, love for him will simply pour of us.  We will awaken in the morning and we will be overcome with the desire to…

Holy Week Walking

Scripture:

Matt. 16:24 ¶ Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
Matt. 16:25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
Matt. 16:26 For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?
John 13:15 For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

Observation:

Jesus’ entire life was one in which he was restoring humanity.  Before holy week even arrived Jesus was speaking to his disciples about taking up their cross and following him.  The symbolism of bringing their entire lives into submission to the authority of the kingdom was seen in this statement.  And yet, it was also a foreshadowing of what was to come. 

On this Wednesday of holy week, we are called to follow Jesus on the journey that would lead him to the cross.  It was a j…

The Destructive Nature of Jealousy

Scripture:

1Sam. 17:28 ¶ His eldest brother Eliab heard him talking to the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David. He said, “Why have you come down? With whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart; for you have come down just to see the battle.”
1Sam. 17:29 David said, “What have I done now? It was only a question.”

Observation:

David had been sent by his father to bring food to his older brothers who were lined up for battle against the Philistines.  When he arrived he began to ask questions about the situation.  This short exchange allows us to catch a glimpse of the relationship that existed between David and his oldest brother Eliab.  David must have been the pesky little brother and Eliab was annoyed at his sudden appearance.  David had a curious nature and was asking questions, taking stock of the situation.  David was probably being a little more assertive than Eliab had been and this touched a nerve.

What rig…

Obedience, Not Sacrifice

Scripture:

1Sam. 15:22 And Samuel said,
    “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
        as in obeying the voice of the LORD?
    Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice,
        and to heed than the fat of rams.

Observation:

Saul and his army had gone to battle.  God had instructed them to destroy the enemy and everything that they had.  Instead, Saul had saved the very best of their enemy and brought it home with him.  His excuse was that he would be using these in sacrifice to God.  However, that wasn’t what God had asked him to do and now the prophet Samuel has to come and confront him with his disobedience. 

God didn’t ask for the burnt offerings — he asked for Saul’s obedience.  Somehow Saul was rationalizing his behavior and saying because he was going to sacrifice these animals it was okay to take them, trying to appease God and Samuel.  It didn’t work.  Saul’s motivation came from selfishness and not out of a love and desire to be obedient to God.  The…

Grace, Love and Fellowship

Scripture:

2Cor. 13:13 ¶ The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

Observation:

This is Paul’s benediction for the people of Corinth and it is one in which we clearly see the Holy Trinity.  Jesus’ grace reaches out to all of humanity while the Father’s love characterizes the very nature of God.  All of this is brought together by the communion, or fellowship, or participation with the Holy Spirit.  It is in this revelation of God, seen in the Trinity, that we begin to understand the depths of God’s love and desire for all of humanity to be united together in holy loving fellowship.  It is a fitting benediction for the people of God.

Application:

Today is Palm Sunday and a great reminder of all that our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us.  His triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem was celebrated by the myriad of residents.  Unfortunately many of them had no idea who he really was, nor what he was bringing to them.  The…

What Do You Wish You Could Change?

Scripture:

2Cor. 12:8 Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me,
2Cor. 12:9 but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

Observation:

People have speculated about Paul’s “thorn in the flesh.”  Many suspect that it was his poor eyesight and that his prayer was that God would remove this burden from him.  Whether it was his eyesight or something else that he considered a weakness, Paul knew that he had issues in life.  Even the great Apostle Paul who daily lived out his love for Christ struggled with human frailty or infirmity.  He seemed to struggle with the fact that he wasn’t the greatest preacher, or that he had to work as a tent-maker for a living and then he may have also prayed for 20/20 vision.  But these things did not change in Paul’s life, and yet he did not waver from the faith. 

I’m sure there were times…

Putting Up With Abuses

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 frustrated that the Corinthians had been tolerating false prophets.  His writing is laced with irony as he chides them for being so wise as to put up with fools. 

The Corinthians had been so taken by some of these false preachers that they were willing to fall into the slavery of legalism.  More than likely this had to do with following Jewish law to the extent that they were not experiencing the freedom to be found in Christ.  And these great and powerful preachers were taking advantage of the ordinary people, preying on them and taking money and resources from them. 

These kinds of leaders don’t have the best interests of others in mind, instead they have themselves in mind and how they can use others for their own benefit…

Success From a Different Perspective

Scripture:

2Cor. 10:18 For it is not those who commend themselves that are approved, but those whom the Lord commends.

Observation:

Even in Paul’s day there were those who were considered the “great” and “successful” leaders from a human perspective.  They must have “boasted” about their abilities and felt “proud” of their successes.  Christianity was spreading rapidly and there were those who enjoyed the preaching of certain leaders.  Apparently the ones who were more engaging in their preaching were the more “successful.”  Paul, who himself said he was strong in his letters, wasn’t sure that he was that forceful in person. 

Paul’s concern was about faithfulness to Christ and not popularity among the people.  His goal was to know Christ more and more each day.  Therefore his commendation was not coming from the people around him, but from the Lord himself.  Human commendation of success within the kingdom may actually take us in a direction that is not in keeping with God’s intention.  …

Serving the Lord Only

Scripture:

1Sam. 7:2 ¶ From the day that the ark was lodged at Kiriath-jearim, a long time passed, some twenty years,
and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD.
(Then all the people of Israel turned back to the Lord. - NIV)
1Sam. 7:3 ¶ Then Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the LORD with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Astartes from among you. Direct your heart to the LORD, and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.”
1Sam. 7:4 So Israel put away the Baals and the Astartes, and they served the LORD only.

Observation:


The Israelites had not been serving God.  They had allowed the worship of other gods to infiltrate their lives and they had suffered the consequences.  Finally the ark of the covenant was back with them and they were seeking the LORD.  The NRSV says that they “lamented after the LORD.”  The NIV says that they “turned back to the Lord.”  They were willing to confess their sin a…

When Ebenezer is Just a Word

Scripture:

1Sam. 4:1 And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. ¶ In those days the Philistines mustered for war against Israel, and Israel went out to battle against them; they encamped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines encamped at Aphek.

Observation:

This is a sad time in the history of God’s people.  In the previous chapter we had learned that it was rare to hear the voice of the Lord.  Now, the Philistines are wanting to do battle against the Israelites.  We are told that the Israelites encamped at Ebenezer.  Interestingly this location does not get it’s name until chapter 7 of 1 Samuel.  This book is written after the fact and they are noting that the location where the Israelites encamped was near what would become known as Ebenezer.

The irony of the name is that it means “stone of help.”  This was a place where they would eventually note that it is God who is their help.  However, when this story unfolds the Israelites have been ignoring God and are simply going about their lives t…

A Heart-felt Prayer of Thanksgiving

Scripture:

1Sam. 2:1  ¶ Hannah prayed and said,
    “My heart exults in the LORD;
        my strength is exalted in my God.
    My mouth derides my enemies,
        because I rejoice in my victory.

1Sam. 2:2      ¶ “There is no Holy One like the LORD,
        no one besides you;
        there is no Rock like our God.
1Sam. 2:3     Talk no more so very proudly,
        let not arrogance come from your mouth;
    for the LORD is a God of knowledge,
        and by him actions are weighed.
1Sam. 2:4     The bows of the mighty are broken,
        but the feeble gird on strength.
1Sam. 2:5     Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
        but those who were hungry are fat with spoil.
    The barren has borne seven,
        but she who has many children is forlorn.
1Sam. 2:6     The LORD kills and brings to life;
        he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
1Sam. 2:7     The LORD makes poor and makes rich;
        he brings low, he also exalts.
1Sam. 2:8     He raises up the poor from th…

A Real Family

Scripture:

2Cor. 6:18     and I will be your father,
        and you shall be my sons and daughters,
    says the Lord Almighty.”

Observation:

The children of Israel turned their backs on a loving heavenly Father, rejecting the love that he had for them.  Paul was quoting from the Old Testament when he reminded them what God’s intention was in the very beginning.  He wanted us to be a part of his family.  The “Lord Almighty” — the one who is Lord and has power over everything — has a real family into which we are invited.  We are to become full heirs, true sons and daughters of the Father.  The rejection is not only of God, but of the Father, and the family life and everything that comes with it! 

Application:

I’m afraid that too often we want the benefits of being “saved” — that is, “saved” from eternal separation from God, and yet, we don’t want to be a part of the family.  We want the eternal benefits without the participation.  Unfortunately that’s not God’s intention.  God sent his so…

Compelled by the Love of God

Scripture:

2Cor. 5:14 For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. (NRSV)

14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. (NIV)

Observation:


Paul's life was focused on one simple truth.  His gratitude for the new life he had found in Christ meant that the love of Christ overwhelmed and permeated everything that he did.  Different translations have tried to help us understanding what it was that Paul was trying to say.  The KJV tells us that the love of Christ “constrained” him.  In some ways this is an interesting word because it gives us the idea that the love of Christ was so overwhelming that it squeezed the focus of Paul’s life into one singular direction.  The NRSV says that it’s the love that “urges us on.”  We are hugged tightly by the love of God that moves us in a direction each and every single day of our lives.  The NIV says that “Christ’s love compel…

With the Eternal In Mind

Scripture:

2Cor. 4:18 because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.

Observation:

Paul was keenly aware that the life that he was living in the flesh was simply temporary.  The materials things of the world really meant nothing as he had fixed his eyes on Jesus.  Paul’s desire was to be a reflection of Jesus Christ to the world around him and he knew this was only possible if he were focused on Christ.  Christ is eternal and when the gaze upon Christ becomes so compelling everything else simply fades into the background.

Application:

So many different factors in life can become distractions to our walk with Jesus Christ.  The “stuff” of life that gets thrown at us from day to day can sometimes get old and tiring but yet, it begins to fade in relation to Christ. 

When we begin to see relationships with others in terms of the eternal those things change as well.  Is a petty dispute really worth it?  …

Reflected Glory

Scripture:

2Cor. 3:18 And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. (NRSV)

18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate [or reflect] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (NIV)

“But we all, with unveiled face, reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord. Are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit.” (John Chrysostom)

Observation:


Moses had spent time in God’s presence and when he returned to his people they struggled with the fact that his face reflected the glory of God.  They could not look at him and asked him to please wear a veil so that the glory of God could not be seen.  This he did and it symbolized the fact that their very hearts were veiled and unwilling to accept the…