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Showing posts from 2017

Time to Praise

Scripture:
Psalms 148:13-14
Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven. He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his faithful, for the people of Israel who are close to him. Praise the Lord!
Observation:
The prophetic promises of God would result in great praise. Putting this in reference to the coming of the Messiah, the great name of the Lord was and is exalted. Jesus’ name is praised and lifted up because of his incredible work. God’s glory is reflected in the work of his son, Jesus. The glory of God is greater than anything that has been created, for he is above creation. 
God’s people have been in need of his strength (horn). Jesus is the one who provides the strength for every day of life. God is faithful in providing all that is needed for those who serve the son, Jesus. The people of Israel were welcomed to draw near to Jesus, the Messiah. Those who did saw their lives transformed. It became a time to praise. 
App…

Compassion as a Sign

Scripture:
Isaiah 49:13
Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his suffering ones.
Observation:
The prophetic words spoke of a day and time when the people of God would give and receive compassion. The whole earth will rejoice at the complete and total healing which will be revealed in the lives of God’s people. The joy of this salvation will no longer be contained, but spontaneous singing will break out. God will comfort his people and reach out in compassion to his children who are suffering. This will be a sign of a new day.
Application
This passage in the Old Testament is a foreshadowing of what is to come. A divine prophecy that things would be different after the Messiah came. Later in Matthew 25 we Jesus’ prophetic words about the coming judgement. However, he makes clear that in the meantime there is an expectation for God’s holy people. Jesus is ushering in a new kingdom, o…

Living in Light

Scripture:
1John 1:5   This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; 7 but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
Observation:
Here we learn that the essence of God is seen as light. This is in contrast to darkness, which is viewed as evil. There is no darkness, or evil in God at all. The presence of darkness or evil, is the absence of light. We cannot walk in darkness and claim that we are in a relationship with God, because God is not in the darkness. We are simply lying about our relationship with God. But if we are willing to step out, into the brightness of God’s light, we will have holy fellowship with God, and with all of those who are in the light. It is in this place of bright light …

Mob Violence: Closing Our Ears to Truth

Scripture:
Acts 7:57 But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. 58 Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
Observation:
Stephen was a good man who was faithfully serving God. When he preached in front of the crowds they became angry. The words he spoke were cutting to the heart of the matter and this made them uncomfortable. Instead of listening to the truth, they physically began to cover their ears. They wanted to believe their own version of truth and would not be swayed any other way. Covering their ears they became a mob and rushed at Stephen, dragging him out of the city and stoning him.
The young man, Saul, was zealous for the truth and he “knew” these believers were wrong. We don’t read that he covered his ears, because I would like to believe that his curiosity got the best of him. He wanted to hear what Stephen had to say because maybe he cou…

Spiritual Darkness

Scripture:
Isaiah 9:2
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined.
Observation:
God’s people allowed the darkness of the world to cloud their spiritual lives. By worshipping other gods, succumbing to the practices of the world and allowing their hearts to be turned toward evil, the darkness had engulfed them. Spiritual blindness resulted from such a prolonged period of time in darkness.
The words of the prophet are a promise of what is to come. Those who have suffered from spiritual darkness will experience great light. Not a blinding light that leaves them crippled, but instead a wonderful counselor or guide who will gently walk them back out into the light. Those who have lived in deep darkness will be drawn out into the light for the light will seek them out. The light will shine on those in the darkness and suddenly the spiritual life will have an opportunity to flourish. In the beauty of daylight will r…

The Perfect Gift

Scripture:
Hebrews 1:3 He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
Observation:
This assertion about the nature of Jesus Christ is fundamental to understanding the incredible gift that we received through the birth of Jesus Christ. No ordinary human, Jesus was an exact imprint of the nature of God. As soft wax received the exact imprint of the king’s signet, so Jesus was the image of the Father. He carried within him the essence of God and this radiated with the very glory of God.
Jesus, in his creative role, has spoken life into this world, and continues to sustain all things. As the exact imprint of God, in human flesh, he is able to serve in a priestly function, offering the atoning sacrifice for the sins of all humanity. Then, jumping past the resurrection and the ascension the author takes us immediately in…

Preparation

Scripture:
Mark 9:9   As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean. 11 Then they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” 12 He said to them, “Elijah is indeed coming first to restore all things. How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt? 13 But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written about him.”
Observation:
The transfiguration is a moment of preparation. It is a glimpse of what is to come, when Jesus is transfigured on the mountain. Those who are with him are astounded and he tries to explain to them that he will rise from the dead. This seems to further confuse them, but again, this is a foreshadowing of the moment when the heart of the Fath…

A Willing Mentor

Scripture:
2Kings 2:9   When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” 10 He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” 11 As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. 12 Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.
2Kings 2:13   He picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 He took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” When he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one…

Yes, Another Time

Scripture:
1 Kings 18:7-16
As Obadiah was on the way, Elijah met him; Obadiah recognized him, fell on his face, and said, “Is it you, my lord Elijah?” He answered him, “It is I. Go, tell your lord that Elijah is here.” And he said, “How have I sinned, that you would hand your servant over to Ahab, to kill me? As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom to which my lord has not sent to seek you; and when they would say, ‘He is not here,’ he would require an oath of the kingdom or nation, that they had not found you. But now you say, ‘Go, tell your lord that Elijah is here.’ As soon as I have gone from you, the spirit of the Lord will carry you I know not where; so, when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me, although I your servant have revered the Lord from my youth. Has it not been told my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, how I hid a hundred of the Lord’s prophets fifty to a cave, and provided them with bread and water? …

Worshipping with a Grateful Heart

Scripture:
Matthew 21:31-32 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.
Observation:
Jesus was again speaking to the people in parables and it often left people confused. They had lived in a world where the religious leaders believed that they would bring salvation to the people of God by embracing holiness. Sadly, while they may have begun with the right heart and motivation, they became obsessed with their rules and regulations. In the meantime Jesus had arrived and was proclaiming the kingdom of God. This was a kingdom in which everything would be radically different. Those who had been first would suddenly become last. Those who had followed all the rules, but not allowed their hearts to be transfor…

Announce the Good News

Scripture:
Habbakuk 2:2Then the Lord answered me and said: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it. 3For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.
Observation:
There is good news for those who wait for the Messiah, for he will bring about the final deliverance for all of God’s people. This news is to be placed in a prominent location for all to see, for no one would want to hide such wonderful news!
Application:
God’s people continue to journey through the season of advent with great anticipation of the arrival of the Christ-child. It’s a fun season with so much happening around the celebration of Christmas. Our calendars are filled with dates for parties, concerts, and dinners. One wonders whether they can survive the season in the same size of clothing! There’s just so much to do. But sometimes I wonder whether within the hubbub of the seaso…

The Gift: Even to the Gentiles

Scripture:
Acts 11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” 18 When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.”
Observation:
Peter is in Jerusalem meeting with the leaders of the new church and there are concerns because rumors are circulating about his work. It’s purported that Peter had met with uncircumcised Gentiles, and that they had received the Holy Spirit. This greatly concerned those who were in leadership because they assumed that Jesus had come for the Jews. Surely someone would have to convert to Judaism before receiving the Holy Spirit! But suddenly that …

Participating in Preparation

Scripture:
Mark 1:7 He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.
Observation:
John the Baptist fully understood his role and didn’t want anyone to think otherwise. A great preacher who drew huge crowds, he could have lived into his popularity, but he refused. This ministry was not to be about him, but about pointing in the direction of the Messiah. Compared to Christ, John was not even worthy of being a slave, and he was committed to completing the most mundane of tasks. He was to participate in the details of the preparation, making way for the arrival of Christ.
Application:
This weekend didn’t quite go as planned. Traveling to the airport on Friday morning I anticipated a trip where I would get to meet a whole new group of church leaders, and share thoughts on the season of Advent and the arrival of God incarnate. Little did I know that snow in Atlanta would upend the travel plans of thousand…

Wholeheartedly Embracing the Mission

Scripture:
Jer. 1:4   Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, 5“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” 6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” 7 But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you, 8Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.”
Observation:
Jeremiah was a young man, living during the time of king Josiah. The world would change dramatically during his lifetime and God wanted to use him in a significant way. God had known Jeremiah from before he was born and had called him out to be a prophet. The mission of being a prophet was not something to be sought ought by the individual, but rather it was God who chose the person for the role of prophet. When Jeremiah discovered this was God’s will for his life, his responsibility…

Synergy and Unity

Scripture:
Eph. 3:7   Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. 8 Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; 10 so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him. 13 I pray therefore that you may not lose heart over my sufferings for you; they are your glory.
Observation:
The incredible mystery of God is revealed in Jesus Christ, and this is the mystery — that all things are to be united in Christ. The church is to be the expression o…

Citizens with the Saints

Scripture:
Ephesians 2:19-22 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.
Observation:
The followers of Jesus Christ were sanctified, being made holy, as they continued on the journey of life. The saints were God’s holy people, those who had been saved and were now being sanctified. The holy ones had been adopted into God’s household. This was a new home, a house where Christ was the cornerstone. 
This new home was the dwelling place of God, a holy temple. Every member of the new household was a stone, held together by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, so that, together, we could serve as a holy temple in the Lord. As a corporate body w…