Posts

Showing posts from September, 2014

What Will We Do With What We Have?

Scripture:

Luke 13:6 ¶ Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none.
Luke 13:7 So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’
Luke 13:8 He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it.
Luke 13:9 If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

Observation:

In this parable Jesus is referring to the Jews. They are the ones that have been planted in the vineyard, receiving spiritual food and nourishment for years. Now, for three years the Messiah has been visiting the vineyard and looking for the fruit which the tree should be bearing, and yet there is no fruit. The Messiah himself intercedes for the life of the fig tree — give it one more chance. The fig tree receives all the investment and care necessary for i…

A Sense of Responsibility

Scripture:

Luke 12:43 Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives.
Luke 12:44 Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions.
Luke 12:45 But if that slave says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and if he begins to beat the other slaves, men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk,
Luke 12:46 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and put him with the unfaithful.
Luke 12:47 That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating.
Luke 12:48 But the one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.

Observation:

Around the fringes of the conversation stood the religious leaders. Th…

Splitting Hairs

Scripture:

Luke 10:25 ¶ Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Luke 10:26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?”
Luke 10:27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
Luke 10:28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
Luke 10:29 ¶ But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Observation:

The lawyer had come to Jesus to ask him what he had to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus had answered him with another question regarding the law. The lawyer may have found this embarrassing because Jesus’ response was one that made the assumption that the lawyer should have known the answer — for he knew the law! Trying to justify himself and sound as if he knew what he was talking about, he decided to tes…

And On a Practical Note…

Scripture:

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

Observation:

God is the one who is responsible for the results of our labor. We must be wholly dependent upon him in all that we do and allow him to lead and guide us in ways we may have never even imagined. If not, we really are laboring in vain.

God is our protector and he is the one in whom we must depend. We must have common sense and place the guards on the city walls, but at the same time, trusting in him.

Working ourselves to death and not getting enough sleep will not build the house! God builds the house.

Application:

And the practical note is that we need to trust God and get enough rest. Workings ourselves to death and losing our health will gain us n…

Shouts of Joy and Weeping

Scripture:

Ezra 3:10 ¶ When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments were stationed to praise the LORD with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, according to the directions of King David of Israel;
Ezra 3:11 and they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD,
    “For he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.”
And all the people responded with a great shout when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.
Ezra 3:12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of families, old people who had seen the first house on its foundations, wept with a loud voice when they saw this house, though many shouted aloud for joy,
Ezra 3:13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted so loudly that the sound was heard far away.

Observation:

The children of…

Desire for the Lord

Scripture:

Psa. 84:1     How lovely is your dwelling place,
        O LORD of hosts!
Psa. 84:2     My soul longs, indeed it faints
        for the courts of the LORD;
    my heart and my flesh sing for joy
        to the living God.

Observation:


The Psalmist has experienced worship in the presence of the Lord. We hear the cry of the heart for one who has been in the dwelling place of the LORD of hosts. The passion or desire to be with the LORD becomes overwhelming and there is a sense or feeling of drawing this one back over and over again to the courts of the LORD. The experience of being in God’s presence evokes a response in which heart and “flesh sing for joy to the living God.”

Application:

There are times in life when I have been blessed to experience the presence of the Lord in a very powerful way. Psalm 34:8 says, “taste and see that the Lord is good.” Once you have had that “taste” there is nothing else like it in this world and the desire to return over and over again can become ove…

The God Beloved by Women

Scripture:

Dan. 11:37 He shall pay no respect to the gods of his ancestors, or to the one beloved by women; he shall pay no respect to any other god, for he shall consider himself greater than all.

Observation:

The prophetic vision provided in the book of Daniel has led to much speculation throughout the years. Depending on their context the commentary writer places this within their time. Calvin examines this Scripture in light of the movement of Islam and claims that it could be Mohammed about whom this is written. Calvin comments on Mohammed’s view toward women and the way in which polygamy was encouraged led women to be disrespected. In the same commentary Calvin takes on the Pope and argues that celibacy takes away the love that God had intended for women and men to experience in a marriage relationship. Another commentator places this within Church history at a time soon after Daniel and that it referred to the arrogance of the ruler who was so self-centered that he didn’t recogni…

Overwhelming Gratitude

Scripture:

Luke 5:27 ¶ After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.”
Luke 5:28 And he got up, left everything, and followed him.
Luke 5:29 ¶ Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others sitting at the table with them.
Luke 5:30 The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Luke 5:31 Jesus answered, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick;
Luke 5:32 I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Observation:

As a result of his work as a tax collector Levi was a wealthy man. Unfortunately the way in which tax collectors became wealthy was by taking advantage of those around them and overcharging them for their taxes. They were not viewed fondly within society. Levi chose to leave this life behind and follow Jesus. We…

They Hung Up Their Harps

Scripture:

Psa. 137:2     On the willows there
        we hung up our harps.
Psa. 137:3     For there our captors
        asked us for songs,
    and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying,
        “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

Observation:

The children of Israel were living in exile and as they journeyed their captors asked them to sing their songs of Zion. There was no joy in their hearts and they had no desire to perform for those who had taken them into captivity. In public protest they took their harps and hung them on the willow trees. The harps were not hidden away under bushes but hung up for all to see. The had lost their songs. Their joy was gone. But sadly, as they refused to sing for their captors, so they refused to sing to God.

Application:

I believe that there are times that we feel like this in life. Everything that we have been going through is simply enough and we are sick and tired. No longer do we want to praise the Lord, sing, or go to church. We want to hang up our …

Justice and Repentance

Scripture:

Luke 3:14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.”

Observation:
John the Baptist had begun his public ministry and masses of people were coming to visit him. All kinds of officials were a part of that crowd and many were convicted of their way of life including tax collectors, and now, soldiers. John’s ministry was to call people to repentance in preparation for the arrival of the Messiah. A soldier stands before him and asks what he is to do. In this instance we understand that there is a connection between repentance and justice. For this man to repent of the direction he has been going in his life means that he must also change the way in which he lives his life. The soldiers were not living within their financial means with what had been provided for them. Instead they were extorting additional funds from the vulnerable people surrounding them. …

Jehovah - Shammah, the LORD is Here!

Scripture:

Ezek. 48:35 The circumference of the city shall be eighteen thousand cubits. And the name of the city from that time on shall be, The LORD is There.

Observation:

The book of Ezekiel opens with a vision of the Israelites who have forgotten their God. Now, the book ends with the vision of the New Jerusalem and the city to be called Jehovah- Shammah (The LORD is Here (or There). The shekinah glory, the presence of God will be eternally in the city for the LORD is There!

Application:

This vision of the presence of the LORD does not need to be something that we are awaiting and/or anticipating in some future time. The Israelites were to return from exile as a people with whom God resided.

We are invited back from our personal exiles to be a people who are living in the presence of the Lord. May it be written of us Jehovah-Shammah!

This is the God’s plan in the already of his kingdom — a kingdom which is living and alive in and through each and every one of us! This is God’s desire —…

God’s Vision of Justice in the Kingdom

Scripture:

Ezek. 45:9 ¶ Thus says the Lord GOD: Enough, O princes of Israel! Put away violence and oppression, and do what is just and right. Cease your evictions of my people, says the Lord GOD.
Ezek. 45:10 ¶ You shall have honest balances, an honest ephah, and an honest bath.
Ezek. 45:11 The ephah and the bath shall be of the same measure, the bath containing one-tenth of a homer, and the ephah one-tenth of a homer; the homer shall be the standard measure.
Ezek. 45:12 The shekel shall be twenty gerahs. Twenty shekels, twenty-five shekels, and fifteen shekels shall make a mina for you.

Observation:

Ezekiel is writing about the vision he has received from God regarding the new Jerusalem. This is a new kingdom where the old practices have been put away. In the new kingdom there is a sense of justice that is practiced at a level never seen before among the Israelites. No longer do the princes or rulers oppress their their people. Instead, their hearts are filled with a desire to rule just…

Water, Salt and Thirst

Scripture:

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

Observation:


We all need air to breathe and water to drink to sustain us in our lives. Here in the very closing chapter of the word of God we here this invitation. The Spirit and the bride are welcoming us to come — to respond to the invitation. The invitation is for us to come and to drink. Jesus had told the woman at the well that he had water that would sustain her eternally. This is the gift, the eternally sustaining water which may be found in Christ alone. Here, at the end of the story we really find the beginning where we are welcomed into the eternally sustaining embrace of God.

Application:


A number of years ago my husband went on a weekend prayer retreat in Russia. He was going to pray and fast throughout his time but forgot to take any drinking water with him. When he arriv…

Holiness and Happiness

Scripture:


Psa. 128:1     Happy is everyone who fears the LORD,
        who walks in his ways.
Psa. 128:2     You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
        you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you.

Psa. 128:3      ¶ Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
        within your house;
    your children will be like olive shoots
        around your table.
Psa. 128:4     Thus shall the man be blessed
        who fears the LORD.

Psa. 128:5      ¶ The LORD bless you from Zion.
        May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
        all the days of your life.
Psa. 128:6     May you see your children’s children.
        Peace be upon Israel!

Observation:

This is a Psalm which declares the results of a life lived in humble reverence before God. Henry tells us, “Only those who are truly holy, are truly happy.” God’s desire is to set women and men free from the things of the world which entangle them in such a way that it makes it nearly impossible to be truly happy. Being set free from t…

Praising God from One Generation to the Next

Scripture:

Psa. 145:4      ¶ One generation shall laud your works to another,
        and shall declare your mighty acts.
Psa. 145:5     On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
        and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
Psa. 145:6     The might of your awesome deeds shall be proclaimed,
        and I will declare your greatness.
Psa. 145:7     They shall celebrate the fame of your abundant goodness,
        and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

Observation:

This Psalm is attributed to David and it’s another one of his acrostic poems that takes us through the Hebrew alphabet. We don’t know if it was written for any certain occasion and the reality is that it doesn’t need to be! There are times when our hearts simply explode with love and gratitude for the God whom we love and serve. This seems to have been one of those occasions in the life of David. In the midst of the acrostic he focuses on the importance of praising God and sharing God’s good deeds from one generation to …

Say Yes To the Dress!

Scripture:

Rev. 19:6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying out,
    “Hallelujah!
    For the Lord our God
        the Almighty reigns.
Rev. 19:7     Let us rejoice and exult
        and give him the glory,
    for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
        and his bride has made herself ready;
Rev. 19:8     to her it has been granted to be clothed
        with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
Rev. 19:9 ¶ And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.”

Observation:

The invitation is being prepared for the marriage supper of the Lamb. The bride is readied for the wedding, being clothed “with fine linen, bright and pure.” And this linen consists of “the righteous deeds of the saints.” The bridal gown has been made pure and white b…

Hearing but not Obeying

Scripture:

Ezek. 33:31 They come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear your words, but they will not obey them. For flattery is on their lips, but their hearts is set on their gain.
Ezek. 33:32 To them you are like a singer of love songs, one who has a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument; they hear what you say, but they will not do it.

Observation:

The people of Ezekiel’s day seemed to recognize his role as a prophet. They would gather to hear him speak the words of God. They would listen to what he had to say but they did not change their ways and the moment they left him, their minds were back on the things of the world. Just like attending a wonderful musical concert the people were moved with great emotion but their emotion never gave way to obedience.

Application:


The people love to come and sit in the worship services. They shop around for the one that is the best “fit” for them. Because we get to see and hear so many preachers on te…

Get a Mouth Full

Scripture:

Psa. 81:10     I am the LORD your God,
        who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.
        Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.

Observation:

This Psalm brings us to the Festival of Booths celebrating the Israelites' release from Egypt. It was a reminder of God’s provision for his people. God had provided for freedom in the past and would provide for his people in the present and into the future. Just as young birds open their mouths wide for their parents to feed them, so the children of Israel were to open their mouths and allow God to fill them with all that they needed. The result was a mouthful of God’s provision.

Application:


We are also challenged to remember that God has saved us. We have served our own time in slavery to sin, but Jesus has set us free. The Israelites celebrated this freedom from Egypt in an annual celebration of booths — or living out in tents or simple “booths” made of twigs and foliage. It was a time of camping out as families and rememb…

Where Does God Dwell?

Scripture:

Dan. 2:11 The thing that the king is asking is too difficult, and no one can reveal it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with mortals.”

Observation:

Daniel and his friends have been taken into exile in Babylon. They were now in royal service to the King. One night the King has a very disturbing dream and asks for the magicians, astrologers, etc. to come and, not only interpret the dream, but tell him what his dream was! They are dumbfounded at his request and their response is today’s Scripture. This could only be revealed by gods — “whose dwelling is not with mortals.” This was because they did not understand about the one true God, but Daniel did. This statement is also a foreshadowing of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. God spoke through Daniel but all the way along the story is pointing toward the coming of Jesus Christ. God does come and dwell with mortals.

Application:


This understanding regarding God living among mortals is vital for us. Our God is not l…

Paying For Water

Scripture:

Lam. 5:4     We must pay for the water we drink;
        the wood we get must be bought.

Observation:

The Israelites have been defeated and Jerusalem is in despair. Nothing belongs to them anymore. Water and fire had always been free for the inhabitants of the city. Now, they had to pay a tax to drink the water from their own cisterns. They had to pay to use their own wood. And as they were marched into exile they had to pay to drink from the rivers along the journey. That which was needed to sustain life was no longer provided but instead, had to be acquired at a very steep price.

Application:

Portions of the United States are currently suffering from a severe drought. California is now in its third year of drought and people can be fined for wasting water. What, at times, seems so normal to use and consume becomes a very precious commodity.

In the Middle East people are fighting over water and who has control over the source as well as portions of rivers. Whose water is it? Wh…

Who Can Bring Me Down?

Scripture:

Obad. 3     Your proud heart has deceived you,
        you that live in the clefts of the rock,
        whose dwelling is in the heights.
    You say in your heart,
        “Who will bring me down to the ground?”

Observation:

The Edomites were a proud people who believed that they could not be destroyed. They trusted in their own personal resources. They lived in fortresses that were cut high into the rocks. The question is mockingly rhetorical; “Who will bring me down to the ground?”

Application:

We know that the Edomites fall, for there is no place so lofty from which we cannot fall. As a matter of fact, we know that the fall is even greater when it comes from great heights.

Too often our own pride keeps us from being vulnerable before the Lord. We do all that we can from an earthly perspective to shore up our lives and yet, it is never enough. We cannot control everything around us and when we try, we fail.

We are created to be in relationship with God. This is what it means to …

What are we Telling the Next Generation?

Scripture:

Psa. 48:12      ¶ Walk about Zion, go all around it,
        count its towers,
Psa. 48:13     consider well its ramparts;
        go through its citadels,
    that you may tell the next generation
Psa. 48:14         that this is God,
    our God forever and ever.
        He will be our guide forever.

Observation:

This Psalm of praise is a reminder of the faithfulness of God. Sadly God’s people have a tendency to slip into unfaithfulness and this Psalm serves as a praise and reminder to God’s people. In this case it is important to physically walk around the city of God, and as you point out the physical features of the city, remind the next generation of the faithfulness of God. It is a reinforcement of the Shema as well — hear Oh Israel this is our God! This is our one God and he is ours forever and ever. This is the God who will guide his people and it is absolutely vital that this message be passed from generation to generation.

Application:


One of the things that I love about the …

A Song in the Midst of Persecution

Scripture:

Rev. 12:10     Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming,
    “Now have come the salvation and the power
        and the kingdom of our God
        and the authority of his Messiah,
    for the accuser of our comrades has been thrown down,
        who accuses them day and night before our God.
Rev. 12:11     But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb
        and by the word of their testimony,
    for they did not cling to life even in the face of death.

Observation:


The vision was one of heaven which was breaking out into victorious song. The victory would come as a result of the death of Jesus Christ. His blood, shed for the world provides a way for his followers to find victory, even in death. The combination of the blood of the lamb and the word of the testimony led to eternal life, and this was the victory. Death on this earth only led to life with Christ and therefore the martyrs were ultimately victorious.

Application:

This is a song to be sung in the midst of …

A Covenant Sighting

Scripture:

Rev. 11:19 ¶ Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.

Observation:,

The seventh trumpet has sounded and the apostasy of this earth is beyond human comprehension, but just when it seems that all hope is gone, there is a Covenant Sighting. Even in the midst of such calamities which are the result of human unfaithfulness God is revealed. There is a vision of God’s temple in heaven and there in the very midst is the ark of the covenant. This vision, revealed to all of humanity in numerous ways, remains until the very end. God’s covenant promise to his people will never be destroyed.

Just as the ark of Noah was an ark of covenant with God’s people, so the ark within the Temple remained as a sign of God’s promise and now with a vision of apocalyptic times the steadfastness of God’s covenant is again revealed.

Not only is the cove…

It’s Bittersweet

Scripture:

Rev. 10:9 So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll; and he said to me, “Take it, and eat; it will be bitter to your stomach, but sweet as honey in your mouth.”
Rev. 10:10 So I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it; it was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter.

Observation:

Just as Ezekiel had eaten the prophetic words which were sweet in his mouth but became bitter in his stomach, so the same happened now in Revelation. Being privileged to see into the future and to know what it is that God is going to do may seem sweet at the moment but it becomes bitter when it all begins to sink in. The reality of the results of peoples’ behavior turns our stomachs and we are left with a bittersweet taste in our mouths.

Application:

The bittersweet taste that is left is because of God’s love which is to flow through us. We may become frustrated with the actions of those in the world who are not seeking t…

Everyone’s Got A Perspective

Scripture:

Rev. 9:20 ¶ The rest of humankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands or give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk.
Rev. 9:21 And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their fornication or their thefts.

Observation:


When we come to this point in the book of Revelation we have already experienced all kinds of plagues. Humanity has not been responding to the call of God to return to him. Although many have died as a result of their unfaithfulness, still they will not repent and they continue to worship at idols made by human hands.

Application:

I was reading through a number of commentaries to get a perspective on what the Scripture is trying to tell us in this place. So often we try to interpret the signs about which we read and determine a timing for the events that are listed and most of the time that has to do with predicting the fut…

Where Wisdom Commences

Scripture:

Psa. 111:10     The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
        all those who practice it have a good understanding.
        His praise endures forever.

Observation:


This Psalm is an acrostic of the Hebrew alphabet and declares praises to God. In this final verse we really come to a foundational concept. Wisdom commences with a fear of Jehovah.

A healthy respect and understanding for who God is must be foundational for everyone’s faith. Not only is it something that we must understand but it must inform our daily practices. A healthy respect and fear for the place of God in our lives creates boundaries for the way in which we live our lives. This leads to good understanding, not just about God, but about the way in which things in the world are designed to operate. When we live into that kind of understanding then we ourselves will show wisdom, for it will be his wisdom that is revealed in us. When his wisdom is revealed in us, then praise for him, to him, and about him…

Missing that Gentle Breeze

Scripture:

Rev. 7:1  ¶ After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth so that no wind could blow on earth or sea or against any tree.

Observation:

Most commentary writers say that the holding back of the winds refers to a time of peace, when there is no destructive wind upon the face of the earth. There are those who have interpreted this as a sign of the end times and have looked for a literal period of peace. However, I’d like to consider something a little different in looking at this Scripture and that is to imagine what the earth would be like if there were no wind.

Without the winds and the breezes we would experience an environmental disaster. The winds are necessary and healthy for this world. They bring with them the rains and they cool the desert in the midst of a blistering summer day.

Most often when we encounter the wind in Scripture it is referring to the movement of the Spirit. Let’s just imagine what the ea…

God Is Great!

Scripture:

Psa. 70:4      ¶ Let all who seek you
        rejoice and be glad in you.
    Let those who love your salvation
        say evermore, “God is great!”
Psa. 70:5     But I am poor and needy;
        hasten to me, O God!
    You are my help and my deliverer;
        O LORD, do not delay!

Observation:

The first half of this Psalm is a cry for deliverance but then the tone of the Psalmist changes. Yes, it is a cry for deliverance but also a deep understanding of what happens for those who do truly call upon the name of the Lord. There is a joy that comes to the heart of those who seek the Lord. This joy is found in the overwhelming love of God which consumes us on a daily basis. This love for him engulfs us and from the overflow of that love we declare for the whole world to hear, “God is great!”

Yes, we are poor and needy individuals for we are nothing without him. We cry to him and the LORD, our deliverer sustains us in our time of need.

Application:


There are a great number of circumsta…