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Showing posts from October, 2016

Don’t You Get It?

Scripture

Luke 12:49    “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!  50 I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed!  51 Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!  52 From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three;  53 they will be divided:
    father against son
        and son against father,
    mother against daughter
        and daughter against mother,
    mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
        and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Luke 12:54   He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’; and so it happens.  55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’; and it happens.  56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret t…

Abandon Anxiety

Scripture

Luke 12:22   He said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear.  23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.  24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!  25 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?  26 If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest?  27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.  28 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!  29 And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying.  30 For it is the nations…

WYSIWYG

Scripture

Luke 12:1   Meanwhile, when the crowd gathered by the thousands, so that they trampled on one another, he began to speak first to his disciples, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, that is, their hypocrisy.  2 Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known.  3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops.

Observation

The religious leaders had a reputation of appearing to be spiritual on the outside and yet, were driven by the self-centered motivations of the heart. Jesus was concerned that his disciples might be influenced by these religious leaders. He warned that they were like yeast which penetrates the dough and has an effect on the entire batch. Trying to be like the Pharisees would not result in the type of authentic spiritual life that Jesus wanted for his disciples. There was to be no pretense in their liv…

Give Us A Sign

Scripture

Luke 11:29   When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation; it asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.  30 For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be to this generation.  31 The queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here!  32 The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here! 

Observation

The crowds had come wanting a sign and expecting Jesus to perform for them. He would never succumb to the temptation to turn the power of God into some type of magic trick. As the people crushed in upon him he spoke to them regarding a sign. They would never rece…

The Danger in Waiting

Scripture

Luke 11:24   “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’  25 When it comes, it finds it swept and put in order.  26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

Observation

The new believer repents and turns to follow Christ. The old is gone and the new has come, but instead of following Christ a period of waiting begins. Maybe there is a period of questioning and assessing the depth to which the new believer will follow Christ. While waiting, the person places themselves in terrible danger. What they need is to follow the passions of their heart headlong in following Christ. There is power in following the affections of the heart and soon the home is filled with the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit. But if that ho…

Two

Scripture

Matthew 18:19 Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.

Observation

Unity and harmony within the body of Christ seems to reflect the unity and harmony found within God. We are invited to fellowship with the divine nature — with the Holy Trinity. When two agree on earth — or when two or three gather together in prayer the fellowship of the Trinity is reflected in them. The power of God’s people being united in praying God’s will over situations and circumstances seems to tap into kingdom power. Jesus was revealing this secret to his disciples.

Application

This past week I had the privilege of preaching at rural church in Ohio. The pastor has had a powerful influence on the local community as he intentionally engages with those around him on a daily basis. He wears a pin with “2” on it — daily. This is very intentional as he hopes that it will encourage someone to ask, “Why are you wearing the numb…

The Better Part

Scripture

Luke 10:38   Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.  39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying.  40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.”  41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things;  42 there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Observation

This story has often been used to contrast the behaviors of Mary and Martha, making one seem to be in the right, and the other not. That does not seem to be the point that Jesus is making. It was an important ministry to prepare food and feed Jesus and the group of travelers with him. Jesus often speaks of showing hospitality, and he feeds the 5000, so what Mar…

When You Already Know the Answer

When you know the answer

Scripture

Luke 10:26
He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?”

Observation

The lawyer comes to Jesus to ask what he has to do to inherit eternal life. This was a well educated man and he really did know the answer to his own question. The problem is that he had not been living in this way. Therefore it was easier to pretend he didn't know and ask Jesus. In that way he could claim ignorance. But Jesus didn't let him get away with it. He knows that the man would know God's law. Therefore he asks him, "What is written in the law? What do you read there?"

It's obvious if the man is a lawyer that he must know the law, and that he must read it! The man has been caught in his own ruse by Jesus. The man gives the right answer to Jesus. It is then that Jesus responds, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” (Luke 10:28) he knew the right answer all along but the problem was that he didn't …

The Discipleship Continuum

Scripture

Luke 10:1    After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go.  2 He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.  3 Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.  4 Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road.  5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’  6 And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you.  7 Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house.  8 Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you;  9 cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’  10 But whenever you enter …

Absolute Commitment

Scripture

Luke 9:57   As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”  58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”  59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”  60 But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”  61 Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.”  62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Observation

The public appeal of following Jesus had tickled the ears of some people.  Why not put yourself in the place of apostolic honor? It appears that it was easy to say that you would follow Jesus without really understanding the commitment. Jesus wasn’t calling followers who would be with him for a short period of time and then run back …

Trusting Chariots and Horses

Scripture

Psa. 20:7     Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses,
        but our pride is in the name of the LORD our God.
8     They will collapse and fall,
        but we shall rise and stand upright.

Observation

Surrounded by enemies who had much more “firepower” than he did, David still proclaimed his faith and trust in the LORD. According to God’s law, David was not allowed to have chariots, nor horses. These were signs of strength in a worldly political system backed by an overwhelming military presence. The great and powerful rulers of this world had chariots and horses and they took pride in all that they had.

Because David didn’t have horses, nor  chariots it would appear as if he had nothing. His enemies probably thought the idea of going into battle without the usual armaments was foolish. He didn’t fit the mold of a leader and his enemies would have simply laughed at what he was trying to accomplish. But David had complete and total trust in the LORD God. He believed in…

Struggling with Temptation

Scripture

Psa. 119:9        How can young people keep their way pure?
        By guarding it according to your word.
10     With my whole heart I seek you;
        do not let me stray from your commandments.
11     I treasure your word in my heart,
        so that I may not sin against you.
12     Blessed are you, O LORD;
        teach me your statutes.
13     With my lips I declare
        all the ordinances of your mouth.
14     I delight in the way of your decrees
        as much as in all riches.
15     I will meditate on your precepts,
        and fix my eyes on your ways.
16     I will delight in your statutes;
        I will not forget your word.

Observation

Purity of life has always been a challenge. The temptations of the flesh are great and yet, the Psalmist comes up with a solution. It is only by seeking God that one will not stray. The word of God becomes a weapon against sin. Jesus himself employed this tactic when he was tempted.

The LORD will teach us and lead us when we are absor…

Trying to Hide

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Scripture

Luke 8:47 When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed.

Observation

The woman with the issue of blood had reached out and touched Jesus. She had the faith to believe that simply touching him would heal her. She knew, however, that this was not the right thing to do, for she was considered unclean. Touching Jesus would have made him unclean and this would have been a horrible thing to do. But in her desperation, she reaches out and touches him anyway. Little did she know that he would sense healing power leaving his body and touching her. Now, she is embarrassed that he realizes something has happened. She has broken the law by touching this man. Therefore she decides that she will hide but she realizes this is futile. She has to admit what she has done and so she comes before Jesus and tells what she has done.

A…

Hidden Secrets Disclosed

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Scripture

Luke 8:16   “No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light.  17 For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light.  18 Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.”

Observation


The light of the kingdom of God will shine brightly in those who follow after Christ. Eventually no one will be able to hide the mysteries and secrets of the kingdom for they will all come to light. The light of kingdom will continue to burn brightly and therefore, those with the light are charged to be responsible with that light. Allow the light to shine brightly and lift it up before all. The more that you care for the light, the more hidden secrets will be disclosed.

Application

There are good secrets and there are bad secr…

Teamwork

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Scripture

Luke 8:1   Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him,  2 as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,  3 and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.

Observation

Partners in ministry may not always be those whom we expect. The disciples traveled with Jesus, along with a group of women whom Jesus had touched and cured of numerous infirmities. They comprised the rag-tag team that served together with Jesus, and it took all of them to complete the ministry.

So much of this teamwork was counter-cultural. Women would never have been allowed into the inner circle with a religious leader and yet, here they were. While they came with great gratitude for what Jesus had done in their lives, they were able to give back to J…

A Contagion

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Scripture

Acts 24:5 We have, in fact, found this man a pestilent fellow, an agitator among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.

Observation

The High Priest is bringing his case against Paul to the governor of the region. Trying to explain what it is that Paul has done he uses a descriptive word “loimos” — which can be translated pestilence or plague. While this is meant to be a negative descriptor, for Paul, it was probably a badge of honor. At the root of this word is an understanding of something infectious or contagious. The religious leaders were trying to contain an outbreak of the Nazarenes. So great and powerful was their faith that it was reaching epidemic proportions and the leadership felt that something had to be done to stop it.

Application

The faith of Paul had become contagious and an entire group of people, known as the Nazarenes had also become infected. The result was that nothing in the world could stop what was happening in a…

Protected

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Scripture

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

Observation

The Psalmist lifts up his eyes to the hills and recognizes that his strength doesn’t come from the gods which dot the mountainsides, but from the great Protector. The LORD — Yahweh is the one who will keep us in the time of trouble. The LORD stands at our right hand as one who bears a shield of protection so that our right arm is free to engage in spiritual battle. There the LORD stands between every threat, those real and those imagined. The sun brightens the daylight so the enemy can be seen and identified. In the shadow of the midnight hour imaginary threats begin to loom in the moonlight. No matter what the threat, whether excessive heat or baneful chills, the LORD is our keeper and our protector.

Application

Threats abound in life, whether real or imaginary. Whatever it is that strikes fear in the h…

Spiritual Sight

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Scripture

Luke 6:39   He also told them a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit?  40 A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher.  41 Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?  42 Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

Observation

In preparation for leadership, the disciples needed to understand their role as teachers. They were the ones who would be teaching and leading others in a life of faith. However, they would only be able to lead others as they had spiritual sight. If they were unable to see, they would cause others to stumble and to fall. It was their responsibility to care for their spiritual sight so tha…

Spiritual Discernment

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Scripture

1Cor. 2:14    Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.  15 Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny.
16     “For who has known the mind of the Lord
        so as to instruct him?”
But we have the mind of Christ.

Observation

There is an assumption here that Paul is referring to Isaiah 40:13, “Who has directed the spirit of the LORD, or as his counselor has instructed him?” The passage is intended to turn his readers to spiritual discernment, for Paul is consumed by a desire to know Christ. This is not an exercise in intellectual gain, but in participating together with Christ, and in doing so coming to know the mind of Christ. The result is the Divine source that infuses the life of the believer and provides spiritual discernment for life.

The confidence of Paul is his confidence i…