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Showing posts from February, 2016

A Daughter’s Resurrection

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Scripture:

41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 

Observation:

One of the synagogue leaders, Jairus, reported that his little daughter was ill. Before Jesus could even arrive she had died. We can’t imagine the grief of this father at the death of his daughter. Jesus comes to the house anyway and goes in to see the little girl. This is when the scene opens and he takes her by the hand and tells her to be raised up. These words appear here in Aramaic which only happens in a few cases in the New Testament. These are the words Jesus would have spoken in the language that would have made sense to the little girl. “Talitha cum” — “Little girl, get up!”  These were life-giving words to a child who had died, and immediately she was healed and got up. The daughter of Jairus had been resurrected.

Application:

Little girls have not always been that highly respected by society. Often parents have wanted boys who could ultimately provide more se…

The Holy Place of Worship

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Scripture:

Psa. 96:7        Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,
        ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
8     Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
        bring an offering, and come into his courts.
9     Worship the LORD in holy splendor;
        tremble before him, all the earth.

Observation:

The challenge of the Psalmist is to "ascribe to the Lord." The people were to bring with them “Yahweh’s glory and strength, the glory due his name.” (Bratcher, R. G., & Reyburn, W. D. (1991). A translator’s handbook on the book of Psalms (p. 835). New York: United Bible Societies.) That’s what “ascribe” really meant — the bringing in with them this glory and this glory often represents the holiness of God. The people themselves were to be in a holy relationship with God so that when they entered the temple, the entire place would be filled up with his holy splendor. God’s holy people were to worship him in holiness and this resulted in a holy place of worship…

One More Time

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Scripture:

Mark 4:35   On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.”  36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him.  37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.  38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”  39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.  40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”  41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Observation:

Over and over again in this chapter we have been reminded that it is God who divinely intercedes in life — whether producing a harvest of people coming to him — a spiritual harvest in our own l…

The Harvest Within

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Scripture:

Mark 4:26   He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground,  27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how.  28 The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head.  29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”

Observation:

In this fourth chapter of Mark, Jesus again talks about seeds and harvest. This time the harvest is one of spiritual growth within the life of the Christ-follower. Day by day we are to follow Christ, rising and sleeping, and faithfully care for the seed. But we are to remember that it is the Lord who makes the seed grow.

There must be a quiet, continuous and ongoing spiritual life where the seed is cared for and nourished, but there needn’t be anxiety. The seed will grow. How? Not by our own doing but by the hand of God. We can’t make ourselves grow spiritually but we can b…

A Crescendo of Momentum

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Scripture:

Mark 4:1    Again he began to teach beside the sea. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land.  2 He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them:  3 “Listen! A sower went out to sow.  4 And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up.  5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil.  6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away.  7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.  8 Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”  9 And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”

Observation:

Jesus explains this parable to his disciples, relating it to the preach…

When Kingdoms Clash

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Scripture:

Mark 3:31   Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him.  32 A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.”  33 And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?”  34 And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!  35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Observation:

The earthly kingdom came face to face with the kingdom of God in this moment. Jesus’ earthly mother and siblings came calling for him. The Old Testament law would have required Jesus to honor his father and mother — and to stop what he was doing and leave with his family. This moment intentionally allows us the opportunity to witness the kingdom of God being revealed and becoming the fulfillment of the Old Testament law. The priorities of God’s kingdom are different than those of the world and this is hard for the p…

Discipleship as an act of Love

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Scripture:

1 Corinthians 4:17 For this reason I sent you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ Jesus, as I teach them everywhere in every church.

Observation:


Paul was admonishing the church in Corinth to take on the very nature of Christ. There were a lot of good things happening in the church but there were still concerns. Paul especially emphasized the fact that he was consistent in his teaching “everywhere” that he went and in “every” church. He’s not just providing something different for this church but has the same expectation for discipleship here that he does in every church that he establishes.

Paul’s love for the Corinthians becomes apparent because he sends them Timothy. This young man had become like a son to Paul, and Timothy had learned what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. He preached the word, and lived the life of faith. The requirement for leadership was to be faithful in the Lord. They were to live liv…

The Physical Nature of Faith

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Scripture:

Rom. 6:12   Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions.  13 No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness.  14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Observation:

The Apostle Paul was convinced that Christians could be radically transformed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Sin was often manifest in the actions of people and in this case, in terms of sexual behaviors. He believed that faith in Jesus Christ would result in a change in human behavior.

Theodoret of Cyr described the relationship to sin in the flesh as either one of tyranny or the reign of righteousness. The point is that a tyrant rules without the consent of the people, but a monarch reigns when the subjects agree to and supports their rule. Si…

The Fragrance of Justice

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Scripture:

Gen. 37:25   Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt.  26 Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood?  27 Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers agreed.  28 When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.

Observation:

It was John Chrysostom who referred to this event as “the fragrance of justice.” This is divine justice which is catching up with this family and its members who have not always made the best decisions in regard to relationships. Joseph is to be the savior of his brothers and yet, they are far too jealous to be able to see this truth. The entire story…

Responding to Authority

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Scripture:

Mark 1:21   They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. 22 They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Observation:

Jesus moved from Nazareth to Capernaum where he engaged in much of his ministry activity. As we begin this first chapter of Mark we are taken in rapid succession through a series of events that identify the life of Christ. This includes calling Peter to ministry, and then this scene where he teaches in the synagogue in Capernaum. Peter responds immediately to the call of Christ while the religious leaders do not.

Many small communities had synagogues which were used throughout the week as schools in which the Jewish boys of the community studied. If a community did not have a permanent rabbi then the synagogue would ask a visiting rabbi to teach on the Sabbath. Jesus was one of these visiting rabbis who taught on a regular basis. To add authority to their teach…

What is in Your Heart?

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Scripture:

Romans 10:8 But what does it say?
    “The word is near you,
        on your lips and in your heart”
(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim);
 9 because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Deut. 30:14 No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.

Observation:


We find here this continuing story from the Old Testament and brought to fruition in the New. The scripture from Deuteronomy is quoted and a more full meaning is brought to Moses’ understanding. With the reality of Christ there is now a heart change. It is faith in Christ — the risen Messiah which is transformational. When Christ is in you, then the profession of faith is quickly and easily released from our lips. The adoption into God’s family is possible through the indwelling of Christ and not because of human descent. Eternal life becomes possible for all.

What is in the heart …

Learning to Be Content

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Scripture:

Phil. 4:11 Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have.  12 I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need.  13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Observation:

Paul had not always enjoyed the comforts of life. There were times and places in his ministry where he was loved, accepted, and well cared for, but there were other times when this was not the case. In some instances, even when he had experienced incredible days in the ministry and led many to Christ, there were those who would turn their backs on him. The ups and downs of ministry were difficult on him and he could have easily backed away and tried to protect his heart from being hurt. It’s obvious that there were those whom he had loved and trusted that eventually caused him great pain.

The joy of…

Help These Women!

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Scripture:

Phil. 4:2   I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.  3 Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Observation:

Some kind of struggle had occurred in Euodia and Syntyche’s relationship. Paul tells us that they were laborers together with him in his ministry. They were not bad people but were women who were seeking to serve God. Even so, something had happened to create a rift in their relationship and this was hurting the church. Paul “urges” them “to be of the same mind in the Lord.” He doesn’t command them to get along, but he simply urges them to consider where they are in their walk with Christ.

This is a question of spiritual concern and these two women are valuable members in the kingdom’s work. So much so, that Paul asks his loyal companion to help these women. If it would…

Discipline for Holiness

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Scripture:

Hebrews 12:10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness.

Observation:

Earthly parents discipline their children because they want to raise them well. The purpose of healthy boundaries is to keep a child from becoming injured by their own actions or those of others. Most loving parents will discipline their children because they want to prepare them to live well. Without any discipline a child would die, for the ways of life would never be learned. However, a parent only has the opportunity to discipline a child until the child comes of age, or the parent is no longer a part of the child’s life. Then, the disciplining ends.

God’s desire for his children is holiness and because of this he disciplines us. This discipline establishes boundaries which keep us on the pathway that leads to participating in his holiness. This discipline never ends for we are invited to share in the holi…

What Else Is There?

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Scripture:

Philippians 3:8 More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Observation:

There seem to be moments when Paul becomes so filled with the idea of Christ that he has to share his passion again and again. There is nothing else in life that even comes close to knowing Christ. The things that he used to value — his reputation, prestige and education — they count as nothing in comparison to participating in Christ and becoming like him.

Paul’s theology in…

Removing the Veil

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Scripture:

2 Corinthians 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.

Observation:

The Holy Spirit has the power to remove the veil from our faces. Now, we are invited into a face to face relationship with our Lord. His glory is reflected in our lives as we draw closer to him. We are ever drawn closer to him, step by step, and glory by glory. There is never an end to the journey with our Lord as we are transformed into a reflection of him.

Application:

Remember when the bride used to walk down the aisle with her face covered in a veil? There was something about the moment when the veil was pulled back to reveal the beautiful bride, face to face with her groom. The church is the bride of Christ and yet when we read these words of Paul we realize that there had been a veil that had separated God from his people. In t…

Hungering for Good Food

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Scripture:

John 6:41   Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”

Observation:

The Jews were frustrated with Jesus. There was too much about what he said that bothered them. How could he have been bread from heaven? That claim sounded too much like manna which had been provided in the wilderness — and that came from God. Surely Jesus could not have been equating himself with God! The problem for the Jewish leaders was that they had no appetite for the type of Messiah that he was. They weren’t hungry for his type of bread ”for this bread requires the hunger of the inner person.” (Augustine, “Tractates on the Gospel of John 26.1) When the inner person is not hungry for good food, they won’t recognize it, even when it is served up right before them.

Application:


We have all seen the advertisements for heavenly desserts! The pictures are tantalizingly delicious and our mouths water at the very sight. It is that sight that makes us h…

I Believe!

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Scripture:

Hebrews 11: 5 By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death; and “he was not found, because God had taken him.” For it was attested before he was taken away that “he had pleased God.” 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Observation:

The great chapter on faith draws us into history by speaking of those who have lived by faith. With Enoch we learn of a man who walked so closely with God, so pleased God, that he was taken and didn’t experience death.  At the conclusion of the affirmation of Enoch’s life we receive this bit of instruction which informs the way in which he lived. Faith lies at the core of pleasing God. We must believe in God and who he is and the result is the reward which Enoch received. Enoch is eternally walking with God and by faith, by believing in God we are also invited into that same eternal reward. Enoch was unafraid to declare…