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Showing posts from September, 2017

Let’s Try This Again

Scripture
Zech. 7:8   The word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying: 9 Thus says the Lord of hosts: Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another; 10 do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another. 11 But they refused to listen, and turned a stubborn shoulder, and stopped their ears in order not to hear. 12 They made their hearts adamant in order not to hear the law and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great wrath came from the Lord of hosts.
Observation
For some reason the people whom God had chosen refused to be obedient. They were hung up on legalistic issues such as fasting but refused to see that God wanted them to help transform society by practicing justice and having a great love for mercy. If this were true, they would tend to the welfare of the community and the result would be peace. These words are a reminder, God speaking on…

The Case for Hospitality

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.
Luke 10:10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town.
Luke 10:29   But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.
Luke 10:38   Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcom…

What’s Important?

Scripture
Luke 6:20Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Observation
Jesus’ preaching always seemed to shake people to the core. The religious officials would have been pleased with their financial status. They didn’t enjoy hanging out with poor people and more and likely avoided them because they were “unclean.” They could see their own riches and what they have accumulated before their very eyes but here was the irony; their own wealth was blinding them from what Jesus had to offer. They thought they had it all, when in reality their personal wealth was nothing in comparison to the kingdom of God. The poor were blessed for their vision of the kingdom was clear. They could see what Jesus was offering and they walked wholeheartedly after the one who would lead them to the kingdom of God.
Application
Just imagine waking up one day and realizing that everything you have worked so hard for is nothing in comparison to what w…

Where Are You Sharing the Good News?

Scripture
Luke 5:27   After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And he got up, left everything, and followed him.
Luke 5:29   Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others sitting at the table with them. 30 The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 Jesus answered, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; 32 I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
Observation
Levi is identified by Luke as a tax collector. Historically these were people whom the religious officials regarded as “unclean” because of their work for the Roman officials. The tax collectors had learned how to manipulate the situation for their own good and they exacted bribes from their fellow-Jews. They associated with people of society…

Paradise Restored

Scripture
Rev. 22:1   Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
Observation
This is the concluding vision of the city of God and it looks surprisingly like the paradise of Eden. While there was an earthly river flowing through paradise, now there is the eternal flow of the Holy Spirit in and through God’s people and the church. This Spirit runs through the center of paradise, feeding the tree of life which has been hidden since the fall of humanity. Now the tree perpetually produces fruit, providing for every need and/or taste. The leaves of the tree are taken and used as a medicinal balm to bring about healing for the nations. This is paradise restored where the effects of the curse are …

The Promise of Nearness

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Scripture
Psalm 145:18The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
Observation
The great and beautiful promise of the Lord is nearness. We are invited into a beautiful space of intimacy with our holy God. We are responsible to come to the Lord and call on him in truth.
Application
Often we may feel alone, even when we are in the midst of many people. The noise, hustle and bustle of this world will not satisfy our deep longing for relationship. We are created for fellowship which is satisfied by drawing near to our Lord.
These days I have the joy of spending time with our two adorable granddaughters. However, I also have to spend quite a bit of my time in travel and away from home. On those days I will FaceTime with the girls. The little one, Alice, doesn’t really pay any attention but I like seeing her. Mackenzie, the two-year-old knows that it’s me and will smile and laugh and try and tell me things. It’s a joy to hear their voices and see what new things they …

Bemoaning the Loss of the Things of the World

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Scripture
Rev. 18:11  And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, 12 cargo of gold, silver, jewels and pearls, fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet, all kinds of scented wood, all articles of ivory, all articles of costly wood, bronze, iron, and marble, 13 cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, olive oil, choice flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, slaves—and human lives.
Observation
This is a vision of the end times when there is large-scale destruction. The sad news is that the kings are lamenting their loss of power and the merchants are lamenting their loss of revenue. Along the way it seems that no one is bemoaning the loss of life. All that can be see is the loss of their fortunes and the market that will purchase their cargo. The items within the holds are listed, which include very precious things of this world. Sadly, nothing else mattered to them and they were left weeping and mourning over the …

To Fear Nothing but Offending God

Scripture
Dan. 3:19   Then Nebuchadnezzar was so filled with rage against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face was distorted. He ordered the furnace heated up seven times more than was customary, 20 and ordered some of the strongest guards in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and to throw them into the furnace of blazing fire. 21 So the men were bound, still wearing their tunics, their trousers, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the furnace of blazing fire. 22 Because the king’s command was urgent and the furnace was so overheated, the raging flames killed the men who lifted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 But the three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down, bound, into the furnace of blazing fire.
Observation
This passage reveals to us the egocentric character of Nebuchadnezzar. In the previous chapter we read about the way in which Daniel interpreted the king’s dream and saved the lives of all the magicians. Now, thos…

A Time for Prudence and Discretion

Scripture
Dan. 2:12   Because of this the king flew into a violent rage and commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed. 13 The decree was issued, and the wise men were about to be executed; and they looked for Daniel and his companions, to execute them. 14 Then Daniel responded with prudence and discretion to Arioch, the king’s chief executioner, who had gone out to execute the wise men of Babylon; 15 he asked Arioch, the royal official, “Why is the decree of the king so urgent?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. 16 So Daniel went in and requested that the king give him time and he would tell the king the interpretation.
Observation
The Babylonian wise men had been called before the king where they had been asked to do the impossible. They were supposed to not only interpret the king’s dream, but to tell him what it was that he did dream. Evidently Daniel had not attended this meeting, and it may have been his desire to keep himself pure and not to be associated w…

A Time to Lament

A Time to Lament
Scripture:
Lamentations 2:18-21
Cry aloud to the Lord! O wall of daughter Zion! Let tears stream down like a torrent day and night! Give yourself no rest, your eyes no respite! Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches! Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord! Lift your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint for hunger at the head of every street.
Look, O Lord, and consider! To whom have you done this? Should women eat their offspring, the children they have borne? Should priest and prophet be killed in the sanctuary of the Lord? The young and the old are lying on the ground in the streets; my young women and my young men have fallen by the sword; in the day of your anger you have killed them, slaughtering without mercy.
Observation:
The people of Jerusalem are instructed to cry out to God. They have tried far too long to make it on their own and it has simply brought them destruction. Now the prophet weeps for the city and invites them int…

Stiff Necks and Hard Hearts

Stiff necks and Hard hearts
Scripture 
2 Chronicles 36:11-14
Reign of Zedekiah Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he began to reign; he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord his God. He did not humble himself before the prophet Jeremiah who spoke from the mouth of the Lord. He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God; he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the Lord, the God of Israel. All the leading priests and the people also were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations; and they polluted the house of the Lord that he had consecrated in Jerusalem.
Observation
The comments about Zedekiah reflected the attitude of those who lived in Jerusalem. They had no regard for God, or the things of God. Zedekiah refused to listen to the words of the prophets and chose to do his own thing. He didn't seem to care that he was taking many people with him as he led them …

An Invitation to Citizenship

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Scripture
Rev. 11:15Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.” Rev. 11:16  Then the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 singing, “We give you thanks, Lord God Almighty, who are and who were, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.
Observation
The heavens are opened for John and he writes that which he sees. It is a revelation of the work of God and the kingdom of our Lord which is already actively engaged in our world. We see the earthly kingdoms, those which create boundaries and laws and struggle with maintaining peace. Peel back the curtains and we see the kingdom of the Lord in which the Prince of Peace reigns forever.
This kingdom of the Lord is already at work and the twenty-four elders symbolize those who have already actively stepped into life as citiz…

No Time for Mourning

Scripture
Ezek. 24:19   Then the people said to me, “Will you not tell us what these things mean for us, that you are acting this way?” 20 Then I said to them: The word of the Lord came to me: 21 Say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: I will profane my sanctuary, the pride of your power, the delight of your eyes, and your heart’s desire; and your sons and your daughters whom you left behind shall fall by the sword. 22 And you shall do as I have done; you shall not cover your upper lip or eat the bread of mourners. 23 Your turbans shall be on your heads and your sandals on your feet; you shall not mourn or weep, but you shall pine away in your iniquities and groan to one another. 24 Thus Ezekiel shall be a sign to you; you shall do just as he has done. When this comes, then you shall know that I am the Lord God.
Observation
Ezekiel’s own life experience was to be a prophetic expression to the people of Jerusalem. His wife died in the night and yet he had no time to properly …