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Showing posts from April, 2016

Waiting for Instruction

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Scripture:

Psa. 106:13        But they soon forgot his works;
        they did not wait for his counsel.
14     But they had a wanton craving in the wilderness,
        and put God to the test in the desert;
15     he gave them what they asked,
        but sent a wasting disease among them.

Observation:

God had been revealed as faithful over and over again, constantly supplying the needs of the Israelites. However, for them it was never enough. They were impatient and didn’t want to wait for God’s instruction for their lives. They wanted what they wanted and they wanted it now! They forgot the God of the past and they didn’t want to consult the God of the future. They succumbed to their unsanctified emotions, tiring of the food and becoming frustrated with the leadership God provided. “There comes a point where prayer can become stubborn insistence on our own way and, as an act of just judgment God gives us what we insisted we must have.”  (New Bible Commentary) In this case they are remind…

The Things We Treasure

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Scripture:

Matt. 6:19   “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal;  20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.  21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Observation:


Jesus knew how easy it was to treasure the things of this world. His comments here focus on having things made of fabric and metal. The wealthy in Jesus’ day had several outfits of clothing — the poor did not. Clothing that goes unworn is susceptible to moths and metal objects unused or uncared for — to rust. In other words, he is speaking to those who have more than what they need and what happens to those items when they are stored up and unused. But maybe those aren't just physical robes but there are also the robes of office. Moths could also destroy these as well!

The word used here for rust could also be worm, which could be a ref…

Discipline and Holiness

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Scripture:

Hebrews 12:7 Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline?  8 If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children.  9 Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live?  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.  11 Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Observation:


There will be difficulties for the life of the Christ-follower. There has never been a promise that things would be easy. These difficulties are to be seen as discipline. Every loving parent disciplines their children because if they do not,…

Prayer and Action

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Scripture:

1 Thess. 1:6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit,  7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.

Observation:

The followers of Jesus Christ in Thessalonica were inspired by the life of Paul and his ministry team. They were genuine and transparent in the way they lived their lives. They were a people of prayer, inspired by the Holy Spirit. This led them to be an active people of faith, living out and imitating the life of Paul. They had seen the ways in which he was persecuted but this did not stop them from boldly living out their faith. They combined their prayers with the imitation of Paul and of Christ — actions which spoke louder than their words. Their lives became an example to those in the entire region.

Application:

The daily challenge of the Christian life is the call to action. We are to rise up and follow Christ into the world. There …

Behind the Scenes

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Scripture:

Col. 4:10   Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, as does Mark the cousin of Barnabas, concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him.

Observation:

Paul sends greetings to the church in Collosae from  Aristarchus. He is a Macedonian from Thessalonica, possibly of Jewish ancestry. He journeys with Paul and during the riots of Ephesus is caught up by the crowd. Later we see him in Jerusalem when they return from Paul’s third missionary journey. Finally he goes to Rome with Paul where we discover that he is a fellow prisoner, jailed with the Apostle. Church tradition tells us that he is martyred in Rome by Nero. While this is all we know about him, he seemed to have faithfully served behind the scenes with Paul.

Application:


There aren’t very many people throughout history that are like the Apostle Paul. It seems that from time to time there will be a great religious leader through whom God will work to do powerful and amazing things. But thes…

In Zebulun and Naphtali

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Scripture:

Matt. 4:12    Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee.  13 He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali,  14 so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
15     “Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
        on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
16     the people who sat in darkness
        have seen a great light,
    and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
        light has dawned.”
17 From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Observation:

The regions of Zebulun and Naphtali had belonged to the northern kingdom of Israel and fell to Babylon long before Jerusalem. The darkness of their journey was well known by the religious Jews and they were not held in great respect. Nazareth and Capernaum are found in Zebulun and Naphtali, certainly not places of great light in the e…

The Perfect Image

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Scripture:

Col. 1:15   He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;

Observation:

There is so much about Christ that is difficult for us to understand or to explain. Jesus “is the image of the invisible God.” As incarnate man he reveals to us the very nature of God and is an exact and perfect image of God. It is in the Scriptures that we read and discover all that we need to know about the Father, for the Father is revealed in the Son. In the Son we see the visible and the invisible nature of God. He is able to perform the works of the Father. It is through his power and activity that the Father is revealed. It’s not the physical image of the Father that we see, but it is the very perfect image of the nature of the Father which is revealed in Christ. The Father is seen in Christ because he performs the Fathers works. Jesus is not defined by what he became in the flesh alone, but by his nature; by who he is.

Jesus is the “eikon” of God. This is not just a symbol bu…

Sharing Christ’s Sufferings

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Scripture:

1Pet. 4:12    Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  13 But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. 

Observation:

We don’t often like to consider the idea of suffering and yet we find it in scripture. Ordeals and difficulties are not something strange, but they are part of the ordinary of life. Christ suffered for us by way of his death on the cross. As we participate in the life of Christ we may also suffer for the life of Christ. The glory of Christ is revealed when he is clearly reflected in us. If Christ suffered for our sake, we may also be asked to suffer for the sake of others. This is Christ in us — and our participation in him.

Application:

Getting to really know Christ takes us to places where we may not feel comfortable. Jesus did not live a life of security within the wall…

Just Enough

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Scripture:

Ex. 16:13   In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp.  14 When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground.  15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat.  16 This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Gather as much of it as each of you needs, an omer to a person according to the number of persons, all providing for those in their own tents.’”  17 The Israelites did so, some gathering more, some less.  18 But when they measured it with an omer, those who gathered much had nothing over, and those who gathered little had no shortage; they gathered as much as each of them needed.  19 And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over until morning.”  20 But they did not listen to Moses; some left p…

A Constant, On-Going Action

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Scripture:

4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.

Observation:

Judas has left the intimate group of disciples and is going about his business. In the meantime Jesus is giving the remaining disciples instructions that will help them survive all that they will face in the days, weeks, and years to come. They are instructions for them but also for all those disciples who will come later. Judas has chosen to separate himself from Jesus and the rest of the disciples. He has gone off on his own and the results will be disastrous. Jesus gives the remedy for this type of disaster and it has to do with abiding.

That one simple word “abide” can teach us much about our spiritual lives. The form of this word in Greek indicates a constant, on-going action. This is not a one-time occurrence, but this is a constant all day, every day on-going connection to the vine. Other translators have sugge…

Grace Empowered Holiness

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Scripture:

1Pet. 1:13   Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed.  14 Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance.  15 Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct;  16 for it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Observation:

Peter charges Christ-followers to be prepared for action and to be imitators of Christ. All of this can only be seen or understood in light of the first 12 verses of the chapter. If we fail to see the grace of God at work in his children we will be more inclined to see this as a type of “works salvation.” That is not at all what the author had in mind. Instead it is a grace-filled holiness to which we are called. As the grace of God reaches out to his children we are drawn into a deeper relationship with Christ. It is in this koinonia, or fellowship, that we begin to …

Troubling Times

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Scripture:

John 14:1   “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.

Observation:

Jesus knew what he was facing and that the potential existed for the faith of his disciples to be shattered. There is a direct connection to the final conversation of the previous chapter where Jesus predicts the denial of Peter and the next phase of his own journey which will end in death. That’s why this statement is so powerful, it is sandwiched between denial and death and yet he tells his followers to not let their hearts be troubled.

The words of comfort come in the very short statement, “Believe in God, believe also in me.” It is this connection, that Jesus, himself is God which is to be of great comfort to them. The power of God is in Christ and if that is true, then no evil will be able to prevail against them. They didn’t realize that they were on the brink of catastrophic failure and he was providing them with words of comfort in advance. Troubling times were about to p…

Smoke and Mirrors

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Scripture:

Mark 12:18   Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, saying,  19 “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that ‘if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no child, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother.’  20 There were seven brothers; the first married and, when he died, left no children;  21 and the second married her and died, leaving no children; and the third likewise;  22 none of the seven left children. Last of all the woman herself died.  23 In the resurrection whose wife will she be? For the seven had married her.”

Mark 12:24   Jesus said to them, “Is not this the reason you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God?  25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.  26 And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the story about the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of A…

Remembrance resulting in Transformation

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Scripture:

Luke 24:6 Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,  7 that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”  8 Then they remembered his words,

Observation:

We know that Jesus had been teaching the disciples about the resurrection. This had occurred while they were traveling throughout the Galilee. We recognize here that the women had obviously been a part of the group of the disciples for they, too, had heard Jesus’ teaching. When the angels tell them to remember, they are being reminded of the words which Jesus had spoken to them. It is also an inclusion of the women into the close-knit group of disciples who had spent their time in service to Jesus. We see that not only are they encouraged to remember, but they do, indeed, remember what Jesus had told them. In the act of remembering they embrace his words and step into a life of discipleship and a new paradigm in which earthly barriers are destroyed in active …