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Showing posts from March, 2016

Remember

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Scripture:

Matt. 28:16   Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  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,  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:


As the gospel of Matthew comes to a conclusion we find the disciples still celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They are excited and yet apprehensive. They worship him, but some doubt. Jesus approaches them and reminds them that he is the all-powerful God. They are to remember that they are disciples of the one who has all authority in heaven and earth. It is in that remembrance that they are to go make disciples and baptize. It is that rem…

When the Truth is Inconvenient

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Scripture:

Matt. 28:11   While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened.  12 After the priests had assembled with the elders, they devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers,  13 telling them, “You must say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’  14 If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”  15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story is still told among the Jews to this day.

Observation:

The story was quickly spreading regarding the empty tomb. The idea of Christ’s resurrection would have been terrifying to the priests and elders for it would have confirmed the divinity of Jesus. Not only would they have to accept his resurrection, but they would have been guilty of condemning to death their Messiah. The truth would mean confronting their own sin and failure. 

Rather than dealing with the truth t…

The Cornerstone

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Scripture:

Psalm 118:14-24

14 The Lord is my strength and my defense[a];
    he has become my salvation. 15 Shouts of joy and victory
    resound in the tents of the righteous:
“The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!
16 The Lord’s right hand is lifted high;
    the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!”
17 I will not die but live,
    and will proclaim what the Lord has done.
18 The Lord has chastened me severely,
    but he has not given me over to death.
19 Open for me the gates of the righteous;
    I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord
 through which the righteous may enter.
21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
 you have become my salvation.

22 The stone the builders rejected
 has become the cornerstone;
23 the Lord has done this,
 and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 The Lord has done it this very day;
 let us rejoice today and be glad.

Observation:

The stone that was rejected has become our salvation.

Application:

In light of yes…

Transformation of the Flesh

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Scripture:

1 Peter 4:1-4

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same intention (for whoever has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin), so as to live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God. You have already spent enough time in doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry. They are surprised that you no longer join them in the same excesses of dissipation, and so they blaspheme.

Observation:

We don't know exactly what was happening on that silent Saturday but by Sunday everything was different. Jesus suffered and died in the flesh making it possible for us not to be controlled by "human desires." As a result of God's activity humanity is empowered to live by God's will. The transformation means that we do not have to be controlled by the flesh and live into every lustful passion which comes along.

The fi…

Power in Silence

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Scripture:

John 19:8   Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever.  9 He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer.  10 Pilate therefore said to him, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?”  11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”  12 From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.”

Observation:


There were so many things that Jesus could have said in response to Pilate — but he says nothing. There is no need for words for they are powerless. Jesus in his silence was living into kingdom power. What God was going to accomplish in and through him was far greater than any words which …

A Proclamation

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Scripture:
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
11:23 For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread,

11:24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me."

11:25 In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."

11:26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

Observation:

The Apostle Paul is concerned with behaviors in the church at Corinth. He reminds them about the way in which they remember that fateful night when Jesus had fellowship with the disciples, breaking the bread and drinking the wine. The people of Corinth were not faithfully participating in this Lord’s supper and while Paul quotes Jesus, that this is to be a memorial — a remembrance of Christ’s ac…

For the Love of Children

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Scripture:

John 13:31   When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him.  32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.  33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’  34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.  35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Observation:


The journey with Christ continues in this very intimate night with the disciples. Jesus washes the disciples feet and then they fellowship around the table. It is a blessed event until Judas can bear the burden of his duplicity no longer and he runs out. Jesus knows what all of this means and realizes that the events are being set into motion that will ultimately lead hi…

Serving as an Advocate

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Scripture:

John 12:20   Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks.  21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”  22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.  23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  24 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.

Observation:

We are not sure exactly why these Greek folks approach Philip, but they do. There seem to be a couple of explanations including the fact that Philip is from Bethsaida — and maybe these folks were as well. Or, Philip and Andrew, while b…

The Perfect Tent

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Scripture:

Hebrews 9:11-15
9:11 But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation),

9:12 he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.

9:13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified,

9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!

9:15 For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, because a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant.

Observation:


The greater and perfect tent of Christ became the completion of all thin…

On the Road to Jerusalem

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Scripture:

Mark 10:32   They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him,

Observation:

Jesus knows where he is headed and with confidence leads the way to the cross. Following behind him are two groups of people. The disciples are quite amazed at his sure steps to the place where he says he will meet his death. Another group of followers are straggling a little bit further behind, afraid of what is going on. Should they really follow him to Jerusalem or not? They are not sure and they are living in fear.

Over and again in Mark we see the intentional teaching that Jesus provides for his disciples. While they are amazed at what he is doing, he takes them aside and makes this another teachable moment. They must understand what it really means to be on the road to Jerusalem.

Application:

We are continuing our Lenten journey and…

Salted with Fire

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Scripture:

Mark 9:49   “For everyone will be salted with fire.

Observation:

This verse comes after the section where Jesus talks about stumbling blocks to the kingdom. This includes issues in our own lives which may cause us to go astray or, leading others astray by our own behavior. To be present before God we must be purified.

If you look up commentaries on this verse of scripture you will find multiple explanations as to its meaning and yet, there is a bit of consensus around the idea that salt preserves and fire purifies. Translating this portion of scripture from the original text is quite difficult and the idea of being “salted with fire” is a bit tricky so we will go back to the two concepts of preservation and purity. Relating those concepts then to life in the kingdom and not being a stumbling block to others, Jesus is explaining to his followers that they are to be purified and preserved to be servants in the kingdom of God.

Application:

The words of Jesus ring down through the …

Face to Face Power

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Scripture:

Psa. 31:14        But I trust in you, O LORD;
        I say, “You are my God.”
15     My times are in your hand;
        deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.
16     Let your face shine upon your servant;
        save me in your steadfast love.

Observation:

The Psalmist had his moments of difficulty in life and as he struggled he was constantly brought back to his relationship with the LORD. No matter what, he was going to trust in the LORD. No other god would be his salvation — on the true LORD! Too many things were out of his control and so he willingly placed his life in God’s hands. Yes, there were enemies and there were persecutors but he knew that he could trust in God.

David, himself, kept his face turned in the direction of God. He wanted everything that the LORD had for him. As the radiance of God’s glory shone upon him, the very nature of God filled him. This face to face relationship resulted in power infused by holy love. It was an indication of a l…

Help My Unbelief!

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Scripture:

Mark 9:23 Jesus said to him, “If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.”  24 Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Observation:

The father had watched his son suffer his entire life. He was often seized by a spirit which would send him crashing to the ground, sometimes into a fire at others into the water. That he had survived this long may have been because of the love of the father who watched over and cared for him. Now he saw his opportunity — maybe this Jesus could save his son! But he wasn’t quite sure!

He asked Jesus to have pity on him and help, if he could. And there was the problem — the “if” of that statement. Jesus then spoke to the need of the man. Jesus can do this — but the father needs to believe in Jesus. Obviously he just wasn’t totally convinced that Jesus would be capable of taking care of his son. The father realized his own deficiency of faith and that he was the one who needed spiritual heal…

Facing your Fears

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Scripture:

Ex. 2:5   The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it.  6 When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him, “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,” she said.  7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?”  8 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Yes.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother.  9 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed it.  10 When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, “because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”

Observation:

Pharaoh was determined to kill the Hebrew infant boys. Moses’ mother was desperate to save her baby boy but she couldn’t h…

Women Fearing God

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Scripture:

Ex. 1:15   The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah,  16 “When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live.”  17 But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live.  18 So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and allowed the boys to live?”  19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.”  20 So God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and became very strong.  21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.  22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live.”

Observation:

Shiphrah and Puah

Do You Get It?

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Scripture:

Mark 8:14   Now the disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.  15 And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out—beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.”  16 They said to one another, “It is because we have no bread.”  17 And becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?  18 Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember?  19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” They said to him, “Twelve.”  20 “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” And they said to him, “Seven.”  21 Then he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

Observation:

There seemed to be much that the disciples didn’t understand and the gospel writer wants to help make cl…

Kingdom Provision

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Scripture:

Mark 8:1   In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them,  2 “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat.  3 If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way—and some of them have come from a great distance.”  4 His disciples replied, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?”  5 He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.”  6 Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd.  7 They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed.  8 They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full.  9 Now there were about four thousand people. And he s…

“The Devil Made Me Do It”

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Scripture:

Mark 7:14   Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand:  15 there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”
Mark 7:17   When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable.  18 He said to them, “Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile,  19 since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)  20 And he said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles.  21 For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder,  22 adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly.  23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Observation:

Jesus made it clear that the motivations of the heart had a direct eff…

Walking on the Water

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Scripture:

Mark 6:47   When evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land.  48 When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the sea. He intended to pass them by.  49 But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out;  50 for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”  51 Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded,  52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

Observation:

Throughout the gospel of Mark, water constantly reminds us of the untethered nature of things in this world. The waves and the added wind are symbolic of the turbulent world in which God’s children are to live and minister. The disciples were in the boat of testing and were struggling with nature, “straining the oars agai…

God’s Unique Provision

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Scripture:

Mark 6:30   The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught.  31 He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.  32 And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.  33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them.  34 As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.  35 When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late;  36 send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.”  37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of brea…

Delightful!

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Scripture:

Psa. 119:97        Oh, how I love your law!
        It is my meditation all day long.
98     Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
        for it is always with me.
99     I have more understanding than all my teachers,
        for your decrees are my meditation.
100     I understand more than the aged,
        for I keep your precepts.
101     I hold back my feet from every evil way,
        in order to keep your word.
102     I do not turn away from your ordinances,
        for you have taught me.
103     How sweet are your words to my taste,
        sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104     Through your precepts I get understanding;
        therefore I hate every false way.

Observation:

Continuous meditation on the law becomes obedience in the life of one who follows God. The result is transformation as this individual faithfully follows the precepts of the law. Obedience then arises from the recognition of the divine authority of the word and ultimately, this turns to de…

God’s Provision

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Scripture:

Mark 6:8 He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts;  9 but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics.

Observation:

Jesus sends out the twelve to be engaged in ministry and as he sends them out they are given these instructions. Interestingly these are the same items that God instructs the Israelites to take with them when they leave Egypt. The children of Israel were to be prepared for a new and foundational shift in their relationship with God. The same could be said for the disciples for this signaled another major shift in humanity’s relationship to God. The old would pass away and the new would come and just as the Israelites were to be entirely dependent upon God for their needs, so were the followers of Jesus Christ. God provided for those who wandered in the wilderness and God provided for the disciples. The call was to a life unencumbered by the things of the world with the freedom to serve as a resu…