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Showing posts from August, 2018

Bearing Loving Fruit

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Scripture:
John 15:16-17 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
Observation:
Jesus is speaking to his disciples and they are charged to love one another, and to bear fruit. There seems to be a connection between love and fruit bearing, for when the plant is fed by holy love, it bears fruit that will last. Whatever is needed for tending the fruit is available from the Father, we simply need to ask. All of this is to be done so that Jesus’ disciples will love one another. 
Application:
I would guess that many of us might feel uncomfortable with the idea that Jesus has appointed us to go and bear fruit. Some older translations used the word ordained and therefore some would view this as a calling which would only be embraced by those called to the ministry. However, I don’t think that’s what Jesus is d…

We All Need a Good Friend

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Scripture:
Eph. 6:21   So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus will tell you everything. He is a dear brother and a faithful minister in the Lord. 22 I am sending him to you for this very purpose, to let you know how we are, and to encourage your hearts.
Eph. 6:23   Peace be to the whole community, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all who have an undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ.
Observation:
Tychicus appears in Paul’s writings five times, a couple of times being referred to as “a dear brother and faithful minister.” Later, one of the early church historians lists him as one of the 70 disciples sent out by Jesus. It may well have been in that early ministry with Jesus that he accepted his role as one who would be sent out frequently to strengthen the growing work of the church. Whether by Paul’s side, or sent on his behalf, Tychicus faithfully supported the work and his friend, Paul.
Application:
When I th…

The Kingdom and Evangelism

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Scripture:
1 Kings 8:41-43
“Likewise when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a distant land because of your name —for they shall hear of your great name, your mighty hand, and your outstretched arm—when a foreigner comes and prays toward this house, then hear in heaven your dwelling place, and do according to all that the foreigner calls to you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and so that they may know that your name has been invoked on this house that I have built.
Observation:
This prayer of Solomon is prophetic and thought-provoking. During his dedication of the temple he includes an evangelistic prayer for the foreigners who will come and visit his land. Solomon believes that God will do great and powerful things in Israel and that people will come from far and wide just to see for themselves the ways in which God is at work. 
He prays that when the foreigners arrive that they will be so inspired tha…

A Slow Grief

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Scripture:
Psalms 127:1
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain.
Observation:
There is a foundation to the house of this life, and that must be the Lord.
Application:
I think it started this week when we got off the plane in Boise. A flood of memories began to overwhelm me as I reminisced about the way that things used to be. Many years ago, when we were living in Russia, we would come back home to the United States on furlough, and that always meant coming to Boise, Idaho. My parents were living here and had built a home with two guest rooms that we would call “home” for three months. Exiting the security area at the airport, my parents were always there, waiting with expectant smiles, for us to finally arrive. I can see my mom, clapping her hands, with a grin from ear to ear, just waiting to wrap her arms around every one of us. This week, I glanced at the waiting area as we exited the security …

Are We Having the Same Conversation?

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Scripture:
Mark 8:14-21
Now the disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out—beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” They said to one another, “It is because we have no bread.” And becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” And they said to him, “Seven.” Then he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
Observation:
Jesus and the disciples seemed to be having communication problems. More than that, the communication problems seemed to stem from a …

Trouble Within and Without

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Scripture:
Acts 6:1   Now during those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. 2 And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, 4 while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.” 5 What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6 They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
Acts 6:7   The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly i…

Parting Thoughts

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Scripture:
1Kings 2:1   When David’s time to die drew near, he charged his son Solomon, saying: 2 “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, be courageous, 3 and keep the charge of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his ordinances, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn. 4 Then the LORD will establish his word that he spoke concerning me: ‘If your heirs take heed to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail you a successor on the throne of Israel.’
Observation:
David calls his son Solomon to his side, knowing that he would soon be passing away. He wants to give Solomon his parting thoughts. This father recognizes that the most important and foundational truth for his son’s life, is the he should walk in the ways of God. If Solomon will live into this truth, then he will lead …

Do You Know What’s Going On?

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Scripture:
1 Kings 1:11 Then Nathan asked Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, “Have you not heard that Adonijah, the son of Haggith, has become king, and our lord David knows nothing about it?
Observation:
It seems that several times in life David was not aware of what was happening around him. Maybe he chose to live in ignorance to the activities of his sons because he hated to confront them, or he may have allowed himself to become completely out of touch with what was happening in his kingdom. Whatever the reason, it created huge problems when David became disengaged and allowed his emotions to guide his response.
Application:
We all have a sphere of influence, an area where we are responsible, whether it’s in the home, at work, or even in the church. Sometimes we want to use ignorance as our defense when we are confronted with a problem. Sadly, if we choose to be intentionally ignorant, there will be consequences.
Maybe there are tensions between you and your spouse. If you ignore the red f…

Are You Satisfied?

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Scripture:
John 6:35   Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
Observation:
Jesus was declaring that he could provide for the needs of his people. As the bread of life, he is the sustenance needed for living. As the living bread, he was more than the manna that they had received from heaven. The manna had provided for the peoples’ physical needs for a period of time. Jesus is our eternal food and water, symbolizing everything that we need can be found in him. To be satisfied, or filled is to never hunger and thirst for those “empty calories.” Jesus provides at a much deeper level, satisfying the most important needs.
Application:
When I think about what Jesus has to offer us, I am challenged to think about living in the place of rest, and having enough. The common mistake that people make is thinking about what Jesus is saying in the physical sense. This is no heath and wealth theology, but t…

Loyalty and Self-Sacrifice

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Scripture:
2Sam. 15:19   Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why are you also coming with us? Go back, and stay with the king; for you are a foreigner, and also an exile from your home. 20 You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander about with us, while I go wherever I can? Go back, and take your kinsfolk with you; and may the LORD show steadfast love and faithfulness to you.” 21 But Ittai answered the king, “As the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether for death or for life, there also your servant will be.” 22 David said to Ittai, “Go then, march on.” So Ittai the Gittite marched on, with all his men and all the little ones who were with him. 23 The whole country wept aloud as all the people passed by; the king crossed the Wadi Kidron, and all the people moved on toward the wilderness.
Observation:
Here we read about a man named Ittai, the Gittite. He was a Philistine who was faithfully serving the king. Now, as the k…

The Waste of Self-Centeredness

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Scripture:
2Sam. 18:9   Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak. His head caught fast in the oak, and he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on. 10 A man saw it, and told Joab, “I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.” 11 Joab said to the man who told him, “What, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? I would have been glad to give you ten pieces of silver and a belt.” 12 But the man said to Joab, “Even if I felt in my hand the weight of a thousand pieces of silver, I would not raise my hand against the king’s son; for in our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, saying: For my sake protect the young man Absalom!
18 Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up for himself a pillar that is in the King’s Valley, for he said, “I have no son to keep my name in remembrance”; he called the pillar by his own name…

Manipulation Won’t End Well

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Scripture:
2Sam. 15:1   After this Absalom got himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run ahead of him. 2 Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the road into the gate; and when anyone brought a suit before the king for judgment, Absalom would call out and say, “From what city are you?” When the person said, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,” 3 Absalom would say, “See, your claims are good and right; but there is no one deputed by the king to hear you.” 4 Absalom said moreover, “If only I were judge in the land! Then all who had a suit or cause might come to me, and I would give them justice.” 5 Whenever people came near to do obeisance to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of them, and kiss them. 6 Thus Absalom did to every Israelite who came to the king for judgment; so Absalom stole the hearts of the people of Israel.
Observation:
The sad truth of this story is that Absalom was an unusual young man, gifted with many skills and abilities. He s…

Don’t Give Up

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Scripture:
Galatians 6:9-10 So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.
Observation:
There is a moment here where Paul calls for a fact check! What are the motives of those who are serving God? The temptation always exists to be spurred on to finding success in the flesh. This is the short-cut approach in which we may be not always do what is right, because it’s not as expedient. 
Paul admonishes the believers in Galatia to not give up, but to be committed to that which is right for the long-haul. The harvest doesn’t come overnight — or if it does, it’s not a good harvest. The true harvest is that which comes after the long-term investment in caring for the soil and the seeds, working for the good of all. This is especially true for those who are a part of the church. 
Application:
We all want instant results,…