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Showing posts from June, 2019

What Have I Done to You?

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Scripture:
1 Kings 19:20 He left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” Then Elijah said to him, “Go back again; for what have I done to you?”
Observation:
God had told Elijah to anoint leaders for the nation. While this final person, Elisha, was not anointed like the kings were, he was anointed by the act of Elijah throwing his mantle over his shoulders. It was a stunning moment in the life of a young man who appears to have been a wealthy farmer. He had twelve oxen yoked together which was a reflection of his success. As soon as Elijah through his mantle over him, Elisha knew that he had been called by God. The mantle itself represented a holy anointing for the work that would stretch out before Elisha.
In that moment Elijah realized the magnitude of the call on the life of Elisha crying out, “what have I done to you?” Elijah had his moments of despair as a prophet and he realized that he would be calling Elisha to a v…

The Pain of Miscarriage

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Scripture:
Galatians 4:19 My little children, for whom I am again in the pain of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, 20 I wish I were present with you now and could change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.
Observation:
Paul’s deep love for his spiritual children in Galatia becomes evident in this passage. With very pastoral tones his heart grieves that these children have not pursued their very basic need, and that is for Christ to be formed in them. All else becomes a distraction to the desire that they become Christlike disciples. His heart aches at the loss of his children, those that had already been conceived but failed to thrive. Chrysostom refers to the loss of these children as spiritual miscarriages, and those for whom Paul is again, willing to travail in labor. Paul is perplexed by the Galatians’ attitude and is at a loss for words to understand what they have done; the result is a broken heart.
Application:
Many churches have cute catchphrases and mission statement…

Serving the Master Well

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Scripture:
And he said, “O LORD, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. I am standing here by the spring of water, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. Let the girl to whom I shall say, ‘Please offer your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.” (Gen. 24:12–14 NRSV)
Observation:
This is the story of the servant, sent by his master Abraham, to find a wife for Abraham’s son. In this passage the servant invokes the “master” on numerous occasions. There is no question whom he is serving. His entire mission is done on behalf of his master and the focus is on doing this work well. 
The servant is incredibly wise as he lifts up this prayer to the the LORD, God of his master. The servant has come to know and understand the heart of …

Feeling Tossed About

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Scripture:
We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. (Eph. 4:14 NRSV)
Observation:
Most of the time when we read this text we assume that Paul is speaking to the believers in and around Ephesus and exhorting them to hold firm. Interestingly, Jerome, in the early centuries of Christianity suggests that Paul may be, in humility, speaking of his own faith: admitting that from time to time, he may be feeling tossed to and fro. This is a confession of his own awareness that he could be tempted by those who try to scheme and pull him away from the faith. 
Paul never seemed to expect anything from anyone else that he wouldn’t do himself. Therefore, this confession of his own weakness is then an example to others who are also being tossed about. He needed to remain firmly anchored, and if he did, so much more did his readers. 
Application:
There are days when secular humanism comes cras…

Prisoner in the Lord

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Scripture:
Eph. 4:1  I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
Observation:
This passage is an appeal to unity but before Paul goes into that detail, he wants to remind his readers that he is in chains in Rome. Following Christ is not necessarily an easy task and he wants those who will read his letter to know that they can, just as he has, rise above their circumstances. This includes ones personal and moral infirmities. Sometimes we are imprisoned by our own lives and Paul has intentionally given himself over to become a prisoner of Christ. 
Paul then begs or…

Saying What the Lord Says

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Scripture:
Numbers 24:13 ‘If Balak should give me his house full of silver and gold, I would not be able to go beyond the word of the LORD, to do either good or bad of my own will; what the LORD says, that is what I will say’?
Observation:
No amount of money from Balak could persuade Balaam to speak words beyond those that had been revealed to him by the LORD. Balak was angry because he had paid Balaam to complete a task and now he was claiming that Balaam was being either immoral or incompetent. This wasn’t the case, because Balaam had to contend with a higher authority. No amount of silver or gold could make him go against the word of the LORD. Even Balaam, whose character comes into question recognizes the authority of God. He is often associated with the old saying, “The Lord can strike a mighty blow with a crooked stick.”
Application:
Saying what the Lord says is not always the “politically correct” thing to do. Followers of Christ in many different cultures may be pressured to con…

Bitterness at the Call of God

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Scripture:
Then the spirit lifted me up, and as the glory of the LORD rose from its place, I heard behind me the sound of loud rumbling; it was the sound of the wings of the living creatures brushing against one another, and the sound of the wheels beside them, that sounded like a loud rumbling. The spirit lifted me up and bore me away; I went in bitterness in the heat of my spirit, the hand of the LORD being strong upon me. I came to the exiles at Tel-abib, who lived by the river Chebar. And I sat there among them, stunned, for seven days. (Ezek. 3:12–15 NRSV)
Observation:
Ezekiel had an amazing experience in the presence of God but now, his presence in the throne room of God was coming to an end. He, himself, was a stubborn Israelite, being drawn into a role as God’s prophet. Communion with God had been sweet, but now he was returned to the exiles, to dwell there among those with whom he had been living previously. However, Ezekiel knew that things were going to have to be different, …