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Showing posts from April, 2017

The Blessing of Godly Parents

Scripture Psalm 116:16O Lord, I am your servant; I am your servant, the child of your serving girl. You have loosed my bonds. 17I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice and call on the name of the Lord. 18I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, 19in the courts of the house of the Lord, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!
Observation
The Psalmist has a heart filled with gratitude for the things of God. Even in difficult hours there is something that can be praised. This servant of the Lord knows that his life has been greatly influenced by his mother. She was a woman who served God and therefore placed before the Psalmist a model for holy living. The blessing of his childhood has brought him into a life of thanksgiving. He has learned to call on the name of the Lord and to publicly avow his faith. He rejoices and praises the Lord!
Application
Sometimes the role of godly parents is overlooked within the Christian life, however, we know the it is foundational to…

Peace, Peace

Scripture Isaiah 26:3Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace— in peace because they trust in you.
Observation
Those who put their trust in the LORD will experience perfect peace. This is literally “peace, peace.” This is a place of genuine and full well-being. Not just a passive form of peace, but the fact that our lives our are steadied by resting and trusting in the LORD. Imagine having the rocking ship steadied by the hand of God and this brings peace into every facet of our being. We are kept in peace, -- peace steadying us in the storms of life. This is two-fold, perfect peace. 
Application
It seems to me that this perfect peace, this two-fold peace, encompasses both mind and body. The perfection of this peace is that it reaches through every part of our being and brings us to a place of complete and total peace. This is only possible by participation in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ entire peace fills our entire being and we rest upon him in every facet …

Indescribable Joy

Scripture 1 Peter 1:8 Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Observation
Resurrection power is revealed in and through Jesus’ followers. The first century of Christianity was filled with those who never had the opportunity to personally meet Jesus and yet, they grew in their faith. They loved Jesus without having ever seen him. It was in their faith journey that they grew in their love and discovered an indescribable joy. This relationship with Jesus transcended the things of the world and they lived in the glorious salvation of their souls.
Application
There are days when my mind is filled with everything that is happening in my life. The reality is that there’s not a lot of joy in that. However, when I slow down and spend time in the word and quietly listening to the voice of God things seem …

The Sign of Jonah

Scripture Matt. 12:38   Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth. 41 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
After everything that Jesus had done and the religious leaders had observed they wanted yet another sign. This would be the sign of the resurrection, but they would refuse to accept it. Because they were evil and adulterous, they believed that they needed yet more proof of Jesus. The sign of Jonah would be repeated in Christ. Three days Jonah was in the grips…

Hope Reaching Beyond

Scripture 1Cor. 15:19 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
Observation
The early Christians faced many trials for being followers of Jesus Christ. They were persecuted, often losing their jobs or positions. Many were tortured and martyred. The loss of  livelihood meant there was no status to be gained in society. Rather, this was a life that may have been fraught with suffering and sacrifice. Therefore the hope in the resurrection took the people to a far greater understanding than simply this life. Jesus broke down the barriers between life and death and opened the passageway to life eternal. Paul encouraged the people to not lose hope because of the realities of this life, but to live into the resurrection and eternal life. It was the resurrection that opened up eternal possibilities for all of humanity and provided opportunity for hope to reach beyond the current circumstances.
Application
Having an eternal perspective begins to transfo…

The Fact Is

Scripture 1Cor. 15:20   But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.
Observation
In this letter to the church in Corinth Paul continues to bring home the point of the resurrection. Everything was different as a result of Christ having been raised from the dead. He preached this as a fact which became the turning point of history. From this time on the Christians viewed death differently than those in the secular world. Their language surrounding death became that of sleep. This was nothing to fear for there would come a time when the individual who died in Christ would again wake up. This was now fact because Jesus was the first who had been raised from the dead, preparing a pathway for all of those who would come after him. Paul preached the resurrection as a fact which would, and did change history.
Application
There are facts in life which we believe intellectually and there are those which affect us in practice. I have always been struck b…

“My Lord and my God”

Scripture John 20:26   A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 
Observation
Thomas’ interaction with Jesus comes as a climax, for now the entire discipleship community is embracing the resurrection. Thomas is the last to finally believe and it is his response that is surprising in its theological grasp. To declare Jesus Lord and God is to begin to understand the very nature of Christ who was human and divine. The Son is like the Father in that he is truly God. He is also truly human for the wounds in his flesh are those of a man who has suffered greatly. The declaration becomes the culmination of a faith statement by all of those who are embracing the resurrection and are then r…

Peace

Scripture John 20:19   When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 
Observation
As the disciples gathered in fear, Jesus came and spoke peace over them. He was born as the Prince of Peace and his desire was to bring peace to this world. The new kingdom ushered in by the Messiah would bring a new kind of peace, one that was not the result of worldly circumstances, but of participation with our holy God. While some may see this as an ordinary greeting, it became unordinary when the resurrected Jesus spoke. These words were the fulfillment of the vision from the Father. Now, the peace of the Father would rest upon them and…

Because of the Resurrection

Scripture 1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 
Observation
Paul was radically transformed by the vision he had of the resurrected Christ  on the Damascus Road.  He understood that Jesus had reached out to him by grace. The combination of grace and resurrection power had made him the man he was. “I am what I am” was the way in which he now described himself, as a person who was a partaker of the divine nature. Because of the resurrection he was a new man and his gratitude for this transformation would define the way in which he lived his life. 
The grace that he received did not mean that he would be inactive, but exactly the opposite. He felt so unworthy of this grace that he wanted to give back to Christ. He certainly never thought that he could or should be considered to the disciples and was humbled to be pr…

Faithful Obedience Leads Home

Scripture

Joshua 3:17 While all Israel were crossing over on dry ground, the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, until the entire nation finished crossing over the Jordan.

Observation


It was time for the long journey in the wilderness to come to an end. The Israelites were now to cross over the Jordan river and enter into the promised land. Passing through the water seems to bookend the story which began with Moses as the leader and the crossing of the Red Sea. Now, the people are to show the same type of faith and trust in God. In complete obedience they follow God’s instructions and the priests with the Ark of the Covenant step into the water of the River Jordan. This is an act of faith because the river is at flood stage and the author makes great note of this. The river is overflowing and just as Moses had led the people to safety, beyond the reach of the destroyed Egyptian Army, now Joshua is leading the people on the…

Christ Rules!

Scripture

Col. 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Observation


If we are not careful a battle of authority will wage within our beings. Paul uses the language of “rule” here in regard to peace. It is a sporting word, much like an umpire who determines the call, or who wins the day. We are to allow Christ to be the one to make the calls in our lives, in complete and total submission to him and his will. This is where the Christian life must begin and it will lead to gratitude. This kind of peace means that we don’t have to live in fear or anxiety in regard to decision-making. Instead, we live in complete a…

All in All

Scripture

Col. 3:5   Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. 7 These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. 8 But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices 10 and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. 11 In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!

Observation

The resurrection of Jesus Christ transformed everything. As Paul writes to the Colossians he reminds them what life lived in the resurrected Christ is to be like. No longer do we continue engaging i…

Weeping

Scripture

John 20:11   But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher).

Observation

Mary went to the tomb out of great sadness. Jesus, the man who had taught her so much was now dead. When she arrived at the tomb she discovered it was open and …

Stepping Out of the Darkness

Scripture

John 19:38   After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. 39 Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. 40 They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. 42 And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Observation


The darkness of Jesus’ death was overwhelming to those who had seen him as their hope. There were those who had openly followed him and then there were those who had stayed in the shadows. Nicodemus had come to Jesus at night …

Modeling Humility

Scripture

John 13:12   After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16 Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

Observation

This moment where Jesus washes the feet of his disciples in one in which he models humility, not only for the disciples, but all Christ-followers who would come after. He humbled himself and then used his actions as a teachable moment. He didn’t just verbally teach them lessons, he acted them out. This was a visible image of the kingdom of God. The Lord and Teacher would humble him…

One For Many

Scripture

John 12:23 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

It was Greeks who had found Philip and asked if they could see Jesus. The significance in this moment is that Jesus speaks a truth to them regarding their adoption into God’s family. We are not sure that they understood what he was saying but it was another glimpse of the dividing walls which would be brought down through Jesus’ death. The glorification of Jesus would happen as a result of his death and resurrection. This was the week of his passion and so much would be changed before resurrection …

Foolish Thoughts

Scripture

John 12:9   When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

Observation

It was just six days before the Passover that Jesus came to visit his friends in Bethany. Massive crowds of Jewish people had come to see the man who had been dead for four days but was now alive and walking around. His life was such a witness to the power of Jesus Christ that people came from far and near just to see this man who was alive! Every glimpse of Lazarus led to more power for Jesus and this was a threat to the religious leaders. Their convoluted plan was to get rid of Lazarus by killing him. What foolish thoughts to think that you would kill the one who had already been raised from the dead. If Jesus could raise him once, couldn…

Jesus Knew What He Was Doing

Scripture

Philippians 2:5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
6     who, though he was in the form of God,
        did not regard equality with God
        as something to be exploited,
7     but emptied himself,
        taking the form of a slave,
        being born in human likeness.
    And being found in human form,
8         he humbled himself
        and became obedient to the point of death—
        even death on a cross.

Phil. 2:9        Therefore God also highly exalted him
        and gave him the name
        that is above every name,
10     so that at the name of Jesus
        every knee should bend,
        in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11     and every tongue should confess
        that Jesus Christ is Lord,
        to the glory of God the Father.

Observation

Jesus emptied himself to come to earth to provide a way of salvation for all of us. He knew what he was doing, but it wasn’t always easy.

Application

Today is Palm Sunday and we usually focus on the excitem…

Overflowing Love

Scripture

Philippians 1:9 And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight 10 to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, 11 having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

Observation

Paul’s prayer for the Philippian Christians is for us to abound in overflowing love. This is only possible when we get to know Christ at a much deeper level. The fruitfulness comes from service, but also from character. The character of Christ is revealed in the one who knows him with great knowledge and insight. The final result is God who gets the glory for this is the Lord’s work.

Application

It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of life. Making relationships a priority is not always easy when there are “things” to be done. If this can happen with our family and friend relationships, just imagine how easy it is to push aside our relation…

Longing for God

Scripture

Psalm 143:8     Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning,
        for in you I put my trust.
    Teach me the way I should go,
        for to you I lift up my soul.

Observation

This Psalm is written during a time of distress but the deep desire is for intimacy with God, not just for the end of difficulties. The Psalmist goes to the LORD in the morning, beginning the day in anticipation of steadfast love. This is the anchor for his day for the steadfast love of God keeps him secure throughout the storms of life. His trust is in no person, but in God alone. It is in this morning space of intimacy that the Psalmist receives his marching orders. As he lifts up his soul to the LORD, he has discovered that he will be taught the ways in which to go. This all happens when the Psalmist’s longing is for God.

Application

What a great way to start the morning! The Psalmist lays it all out there for all of us. Our desire should be to know God, not to get things from God. Therefore, wit…

It Is All Right

Scripture

2 Kings 4:25 So she set out, and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel.
 When the man of God saw her coming, he said to Gehazi his servant, “Look, there is the Shunammite woman; 26 run at once to meet her, and say to her, Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is the child all right?” She answered, “It is all right.” 27 When she came to the man of God at the mountain, she caught hold of his feet. Gehazi approached to push her away. But the man of God said, “Let her alone, for she is in bitter distress; the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me.” 28 Then she said, “Did I ask my lord for a son? Did I not say, Do not mislead me?” 29 He said to Gehazi, “Gird up your loins, and take my staff in your hand, and go. If you meet anyone, give no greeting, and if anyone greets you, do not answer; and lay my staff on the face of the child.”

Observation

The Shunammite woman had great faith and yet she was struggling with what she was facing. She and her husband had show…

Comfort in Worship

Scripture

Acts 20:7   On the first day of the week, when we met to break bread, Paul was holding a discussion with them; since he intended to leave the next day, he continued speaking until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the room upstairs where we were meeting. 9 A young man named Eutychus, who was sitting in the window, began to sink off into a deep sleep while Paul talked still longer. Overcome by sleep, he fell to the ground three floors below and was picked up dead. 10 But Paul went down, and bending over him took him in his arms, and said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” 11 Then Paul went upstairs, and after he had broken bread and eaten, he continued to converse with them until dawn; then he left. 12 Meanwhile they had taken the boy away alive and were not a little comforted.

Observation


This appears to be the first recorded meeting of worshippers on the first day of the week. This would have been a Sunday gathering and they came together to hear the word preache…

Misunderstood

Scripture

John 11:16 Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Observation

Thomas is one of those characters who is misunderstood. The scene before us is Jesus preparing to travel to Bethany where he will raise Lazarus from the dead. The problem was that the disciples knew that if Jesus returned anywhere near Jerusalem they would all be in danger. Some have thought that Thomas’ reaction was rather dark and negative. Maybe he tended to be the “glass half empty” guy in the group but there was also some reality here. He was willing to go with Jesus and became resigned to the fact that they just might all die.

This may possibly have revealed a bit of doubt on Thomas’ part, or it may have been keen insight, we just don’t know for sure. We do know that Jesus didn’t rebuke him, neither this time nor in the future. While Thomas is willing to express his doubts, he also becomes stronger as a result. Ultimately Thomas lives out a lif…

Opened Minds

Scripture

Luke 24:44   Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Observation


The resurrected Jesus was staring them right in the face and yet they were struggling to understand what all of this meant. Suddenly Jesus was able to open their minds so that they understood everything that he’d been saying to them for the last three years. Now, it made sense. Jesus IS the Messiah…