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Showing posts from May, 2014

There is no Love without Action

Scripture:

Rom. 12:9 ¶ Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good;
Rom. 12:10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.
Rom. 12:11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Rom. 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.
Rom. 12:13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

Observation:

To be filled to overflowing with God’s love means that his love splashes out of us and into the world that surrounds us.  God’s love cannot be contained and so, as God’s holy people, those filled with his holy love, there is a direction action and reaction. 

Love must be genuine.  Love cannot be fake, or faked.  Genuine love is the very nature of God which is poured out into his people who invite him to fill every nook and cranny of their being.  That is why genuine love must be God’s holy love.  The result is an attraction to that which is good and an inability to be attached to…

The Need for Advice

Scripture:

Prov. 13:10     By insolence the heedless make strife,
        but wisdom is with those who take advice. (NRSV)
10 Where there is strife, there is pride,
    but wisdom is found in those who take advice. (NIV)

Observation:

How often are problems created when there is pride involved, a pride that does not allow one to get advice from those around them.  The result is moving forward without heeding the warnings or direction of others and strife is found along the way. 

Those who are wise are willing to get advice.  They are willing to say, “I don’t know,” and then ask others for direction and ultimately they discover they are wise, not because of their own personal knowledge, but because they have gleaned from those around them.

Application:


I remember as a child that I hated asking my parents for help.  I wanted to prove to them that I could do it on my own! 

I also remember our little girls wanting to build a “house” of their own out in the back yard of our youth center in Russia. …

The Importance of Honesty

Scripture:

Prov. 11:1     A false balance is an abomination to the LORD,
        but an accurate weight is his delight.

Observation:


The wise people of God will live in such a way that the world notices the difference.  This includes being people of integrity when it comes to business dealings.  The Christian should never be known as a “wheeler-dealer” but instead should be one of the finest at what they do.  They should not lie or bear false witness.  They should give people all that is expected, or even more. 

The business person of the past was usually someone buying or selling in the market place.  Each city had their own set of official measurements that were to be used for transactions.  This included a measurement of length and/or an item of weight.  When weighing something it had to be weighed against the official weight.  If someone balanced out the scale with something other than the official weight, they could, of course try to cheat other people into paying too much for somet…

My Help Is From God!

Scripture:

Psa. 121:1     I lift up my eyes to the hills—
        from where will my help come?
Psa. 121:2     My help comes from the LORD,
        who made heaven and earth.

Psa. 121:3      ¶ He will not let your foot be moved;
        he who keeps you will not slumber.
Psa. 121:4     He who keeps Israel
        will neither slumber nor sleep.

Psa. 121:5      ¶ The LORD is your keeper;
        the LORD is your shade at your right hand.
Psa. 121:6     The sun shall not strike you by day,
        nor the moon by night.

Psa. 121:7      ¶ The LORD will keep you from all evil;
        he will keep your life.
Psa. 121:8     The LORD will keep
        your going out and your coming in
        from this time on and forevermore.

Observation:

The pagan gods were strewn across the hilltops of Israel.  The people had allowed pagan worship to become a part of their society which God had told them to avoid at all cost.  The Psalmist lifts up his eyes and sees the gods of the mountaintops and proclaims that his h…

Oh The Deep Love of Jesus

Scripture:

Rom. 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Rom. 8:38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
Rom. 8:39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Observation:

Paul has spent time expounding on the possibilities available to God’s people who are living in the Spirit.  The life transformation is radical as everything is focused, not on the flesh, but upon life in the Spirit.  It is the Spirit who leads into all aspects of life and living.  The result is that the love of God is poured in and through his people and this love becomes the very substance which brings all of who we are and what we do into cohesion. 

We are encouraged by Paul that we can be “more than conquerors.”  I have been traveling this last week through Germany and England and seeing site af…

Despising Discipline

Scripture:

Prov. 3:11      ¶ My child, do not despise the LORD’S discipline
        or be weary of his reproof,
Prov. 3:12     for the LORD reproves the one he loves,
        as a father the son in whom he delights.

Observation:

Receiving discipline should be part of the natural order of life.  It is those, however, who are filled with themselves, their own pride, that are unable to accept any form of discipline or reproof.  Because they desire to show the world that they are self-confident, they are unwilling to receive any type of help or redirection.  The Proverb reminds us that that it is important to be willing to accept discipline and reproof from the Lord.  Why?  Because just as an earthly parent takes the time to correct their child, because their desire is to teach them, so the “LORD reproves the one he loves.”  There is a direct correlation between discipline and love. 

Application:

The correlation between love and discipline is an interesting one and certainly one which may need …

Obedient from the Heart

Scripture:

Rom. 6:15 ¶ What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
Rom. 6:16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
Rom. 6:17 But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted,
Rom. 6:18 and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
Rom. 6:19 I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.

Observation:

Paul understood the dramatic change which could occur in the life of God’s children.  No longer were we to live as slaves as under the law, but we were to be ado…

The Long Reach of Obedience

Scripture:

Rom. 5:18 ¶ Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all.
Rom. 5:19 For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.
Rom. 5:20 But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
Rom. 5:21 so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Observation:

Here Paul is helping us to understand the work that has been done in Christ as compared to Adam.  The sin of Adam led to the bent toward sinning found in all of humanity but just as the act of disobedience left its imprint upon all, so Jesus’ act of obedience leads to justification for all.  Jesus’ obedience to the Father changed the face of everything that had been encountere…

Filled to Overflowing with the Glory of the Lord

Scripture:

2Chr. 5:13 It was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the LORD, and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the LORD,
    “For he is good,
        for his steadfast love endures forever,”
the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud,
2Chr. 5:14 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.

Observation:

Solomon had prayed his prayer of dedication over the temple.  All of the people were praising and worshiping the LORD.  As they praised him, his holy presence came and filled the place and once again the people of God saw the cloud of his glory.  The entire house of the LORD was filled with this presence and it was so thick that the priests couldn’t even stand to minister.  The place had become filled to overflowing with the glory of the Lord!

Application:


There have been m…

The Foundational Pillars

Scripture:

1Kings 7:21 He set up the pillars at the vestibule of the temple; he set up the pillar on the south and called it Jachin; and he set up the pillar on the north and called it Boaz.

Observation:

Solomon’s temple is being built and within this structure there are to be constant reminders of God’s power and our continual need for dependence upon him.  Two pillars are set up in the temple.  They do not support the structure, but are instead visible reminders as to our dependence upon God.  The one pillar, Jachin means “he establishes” and the other, Boaz, “in him is strength.”  These were to serve as a daily reminder to the priests that it is God who has established all things and only in him is strength to be found.

They were to put all of their trust in God, and in him alone.  This had always been a temptation for the people of God, to put their trust in their own power and abilities but this was a visual reminder of the Shema, “Hear oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.…

I Am Not Ashamed

Scripture:

Rom. 1:16 ¶ For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 

Observation:

Going out on a limb as a follower of Jesus Christ has never been easy.  Paul went against the religious leaders of the day to put his trust and faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  What he and the other apostles were proclaiming was something different and to many people it seemed like foolishness.  However, he knew that Jesus was the rejected cornerstone and he was putting all of his trust in the gospel, the good news about Jesus.  This good news included resurrection power found in the activity of Christ which resulted in power for salvation to all. 

While Paul was well educated in the Jewish world, he also responded to the call of God to go and minister to the non-Jews of his day.  Again, this could have been viewed as being foolish, but Paul was not ashamed of the calling that he received from God.  

Applica…

God’s Peace

Scripture:

2Th. 3:16 ¶ Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways. The Lord be with all of you.

Observation:

Paul wraps up this letter with a benediction for the followers in Thessalonica.  It is in this prayer that he specifically desires for them to understand the peace that can come from Christ.  Jesus is “the Lord of peace.”  The only way that we can comprehend the peace of Christ is to know Christ.  His peace is not the peace that the world understands, but it is a part of his nature which is beyond what we would normally describe. 

The simple beauty pageant answer of seeking “world peace” is not the peace of Christ.  We tend to describe peace as the lack of disruption and yet to know peace is to know Christ.  Knowing Christ doesn’t necessarily result in a lack of disruption in this world.  Instead, remember that Christ said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”  When we know Christ …

If God’s People…Then

Scripture:

1Kings 2:4 Then the LORD will establish his word that he spoke concerning me: ‘If your heirs take heed to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail you a successor on the throne of Israel.’

Observation:

Many times in the Scriptures we find what appear to be “If - Then” statements.  God is constantly reaching out to his people and calling them into covenant relationship with him.  His promises are given over and over again — if only the people would listen and response.  IF the people of God will simply be faithful to God, THEN he will take care of them. 

Here we find this promise again, made specifically to David.  IF his heirs will follow in the footsteps of David and have a deep and personal relationship with God, then he will make them successful leaders of the kingdom. 

The IF of the relationship including walking before God in faithfulness and the language that follows sounds quite familiar to somethin…

Getting Ahead of God

Scripture:

1Kings 1:5 ¶ Now Adonijah son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, “I will be king”; he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him.

Observation:

Adonijah was now the oldest son of King David.  His father was in deteriorating health and there were those wondering who would take over the leadership of the kingdom.  In the vacuum of leadership Adonijah thought he would simply take the next steps necessary and begin acting as if he were the leader.  As seems to have been the case with David’s sons, Adonijah was handsome and used his considerable charm to convince a number of individuals to be a part of his team. 

Instead of waiting for things to become official, Adonijah began acting as if he were already the king.  He thought that this would surely make the people desire him and recognize his place of leadership.  The problem was that this wasn’t God’s plan and Adonijah knew it.  Instead of submitting to the system, his father’s leadership and God…

Hope in the Midst of Grief

Scripture:

1Th. 4:13 ¶ But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. (NRSV)

13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. (NIV)

Observation:

There was a concern that the believers in Thessalonica were uninformed regarding what happens to those who die in Christ.  The pagan society in which they lived mourned terribly the death of their loved ones.  For them there was no hope — everything was finished.  The person was gone forever and therefore the weeping and the mourning rose to levels of intense grief.  Paul did not want the believers to be living in this ignorance. 

For believers death was often referred to as “sleep.”  The two different translations above help us to see this comparison and the idea of sleeping in death is what brings us hope.  The word “Cemetery” comes …

Here Come the Saints

Scripture:

1Th. 3:12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you.
1Th. 3:13 And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

Observation:

This is a benediction prayed on behalf of the Thessalonians and within this prayer we find some simple nuggets of truth related to holiness.  Holiness is revealed in holy love because, as we love God with all of our being, then his love is poured out on us and the overflow reaches those around us.  Only when we are overfilled with his love does our love for others abound.  His holy nature, of holy love, transforms us into his holy people.  We are partaking of his very divine nature.

That’s why the prayer continues with the plea that our hearts are strengthened in holiness.  God’s desire is that we become like Christ and Christ is holy.  Of course it should be the prayer tha…

Depending On Your Own Resources

Scripture:

1Chr. 21:1 ¶ Satan stood up against Israel, and incited David to count the people of Israel.
1Chr. 21:2 So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, “Go, number Israel, from Beer-sheba to Dan, and bring me a report, so that I may know their number.”
1Chr. 21:3 But Joab said, “May the LORD increase the number of his people a hundredfold! Are they not, my lord the king, all of them my lord’s servants? Why then should my lord require this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?”
1Chr. 21:4 But the king’s word prevailed against Joab. So Joab departed and went throughout all Israel, and came back to Jerusalem.

Observation:


God had given Moses instructions as to how the census of the people of Israel was to be taken.  What David suggested here was not in accordance with God’s command but was, instead, a desire to count his own fighting men.  It came from a sense of pride over his own leadership and abilities.  He wanted to know how powerful he was in his own right without co…

Does God Delight in You?

Scripture:

2Sam. 22:20     He brought me out into a broad place;
        he delivered me, because he delighted in me.

Observation:

This is a Psalm of David and you can find the corresponding Scripture in Psalm 18.  Here, however, it is found in the final chapters of David’s life and written as a personal song to the Lord.  It is in these words that we discover the very personal relationship between David and the LORD.  David spent much of his life as a warrior and he gave praise and glory to God for the victories,  God came and rescued him at the point of his need and brought him out of his difficult situation.

Where did God bring David?  To a broad place.  David had a scrappy band of warriors who knew how to use the terrain to their benefit, but so did his enemies.  To be in a broad place meant that there would be no place for his enemies to hide.  This was a safer place, out where he could see all that was happening around him and where there would be no ambush waiting to catch him.  God…

The Best Promise Ever

Scripture:

Matt. 28:16 ¶ Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.
Matt. 28:17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
Matt. 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Matt. 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Matt. 28:20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Observation:

Jesus has risen from the dead and has been appearing to his disciples in many locations.  Now they are on the mountain in Galilee and as they are gathered together Jesus gives them the “Great Commission.”  This is the set of instructions they are to follow in the days, months and years ahead.  At the end of this Commission he gives them the incredible promise, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  At that mo…

Rich Man, Poor Man

Scripture:

Matt. 27:57 ¶ When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus.

Observation:

Jesus had died on the cross and the world stood by as witness.  After his death a rich man by the name of Joseph steped up to provide a place for Jesus’ body.  Jesus had no will.  Jesus had made no funeral arrangements.  No one had expected him to die in Jerusalem.  His family was from Nazareth where there may have been a place where family members were buried but now, he had died so far away. 

Instead of just treating his body as an ordinary criminal, or as a poor man, Joseph stepped in and provided a place for Jesus.  The tomb that he provided may have been his own personal tomb and would probably have come at great expense.  He was willing to give up all of that for Jesus, for he had become one of Jesus’ disciples, which is interesting considering what Jesus had said about how hard it would be for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 

So …

They Sang the Hymn

Scripture:

Matt. 26:30  ¶ When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Observation:

The disciples were together celebrating the passover.  It was on that night that Jesus passed to them the bread and the cup and they celebrated the “Last Supper,” an event which would be repeated to this day.  Throughout the meal there would have been places where they traditionally sang Psalms.  The Psalms helped to solidify the story of their faith and this was a part of the tradition.  Jesus continued with this tradition because we see here that they concluded their time together with singing the hymn.

What was it that they sang?  More than likely they concluded by singing Psalms 115-118.  As we take the time to read these three Psalms we discover prophetic words regarding Christ.  However, the disciples probably didn’t notice, for they had no idea what was about to happen.  However, for Jesus, this would have been a sobering moment as he knew that his actions would be the fulf…

Give Me Oil In My Lamp

Scripture:

Matt. 25:1 ¶ “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.
Matt. 25:2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.
Matt. 25:3 When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them;
Matt. 25:4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.
Matt. 25:5 As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept.
Matt. 25:6 But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’
Matt. 25:7 Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps.
Matt. 25:8 The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’
Matt. 25:9 But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’
Matt. 25:10 And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut.
Matt. 25:11 Later the oth…

The Days of Noah

The Days of Noah

Scripture:

Matthew 24:37-39

For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man.

Observation:

The behavior of humans seems to repeat itself.  Over and over again God is revealing himself to us and yet, we seem to reject him.

Jesus was talking about the need for on-going faithfulness among God's people.  He knew there would be a time when he would come again and yet, he recognized that humanity would again be unfaithful.

Even while Jesus was walking the earth people wanted yet more signs about the future.  The sign of the future was standing before them, but they wanted still more.

Jesus knew that those who would come later would still be looking for signs.  Instead of living a life of faith every s…

The Hope of Restoration

Scripture:

Psa. 51:10      ¶ Create in me a clean heart, O God,
        and put a new and right spirit within me.
Psa. 51:11     Do not cast me away from your presence,
        and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Psa. 51:12     Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
        and sustain in me a willing spirit.

Observation:

David had committed a horrible sin in regard to Bathsheba and her husband Uriah.  Not only had he slept with someone else’s wife, but he had been cunning and conniving in playing with Uriah’s life.  What he had done was terrible and when the prophet Nathan visited with him and called out his sin David became a broken man.  Suddenly the depths of his sin became apparent and he realized the great chasm that had been created in his personal relationship with the LORD. 

Here was a man who had been intimately related to God and had yet, the more successful he had become, probably the less dependent he became on God.  All of a sudden he found himself staying home when he…

Self-Righteous Arrogance

Scripture:

Matt. 22:1 ¶ Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying:
Matt. 22:2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.
Matt. 22:3 He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come.
Matt. 22:4 Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’
Matt. 22:5 But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business,
Matt. 22:6 while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them.
Matt. 22:7 The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
Matt. 22:8 Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy.
Matt. 22:9 Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’
Matt. 22:10 Those …

A Spirit of Ingratitude

Scripture:

1Chr. 19:1 ¶ Some time afterward, King Nahash of the Ammonites died, and his son succeeded him.
1Chr. 19:2 David said, “I will deal loyally with Hanun son of Nahash, for his father dealt loyally with me.” So David sent messengers to console him concerning his father. When David’s servants came to Hanun in the land of the Ammonites, to console him,
1Chr. 19:3 the officials of the Ammonites said to Hanun, “Do you think, because David has sent consolers to you, that he is honoring your father? Have not his servants come to you to search and to overthrow and to spy out the land?”
1Chr. 19:4 So Hanun seized David’s servants, shaved them, cut off their garments in the middle at their hips, and sent them away;
1Chr. 19:5 and they departed. When David was told about the men, he sent messengers to them, for they felt greatly humiliated. The king said, “Remain at Jericho until your beards have grown, and then return.”

Observation:

David was trying to be kind to Hanun whose father had d…

Sitting Before the Lord

Scripture:

2Sam. 7:18 ¶ Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and said, “Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?

Observation:

This one little sentence gives us a glimpse into the relationship that David had with the LORD.  The great leader, King David “went in and sat before the LORD.”  It was in this setting that David had an intimate conversation with the Lord, spending time in prayer about the future of the kingdom. 

Application:
When reading about David it becomes obvious that he had a deeply intimate relationship with the LORD.  This wasn’t the first time that he had gone and “sat before the LORD.”  His relationship with the LORD was one such that he was able to go and sit before him on a regular basis and he and the LORD could have deep conversations.  The LORD loved David and David loved the LORD.  Throughout his life this relationship continued to be developed until David’s heart began to be like the LORD’s heart. 

Did David do ev…