Monday, December 31, 2012

Do not faint or fear...

  Let not your heart faint, and be not fearful
  at the report heard in the land,
 when a report comes in one year
  and afterward a report in another year,
 and violence is in the land,
  and ruler is against ruler.
(Jeremiah 51:46 ESV)
As we sit at the end of another year, and looking forward to another, unknowing, we are not to faint in despair or fear with terror.  Jeremiah wrote at one of the lowest points in the more and political history of Israel, yet he had hope.  So should we.  Tomorrow is another day, another year, lived before the Lord, who is sovereign.  We have hope, we have life, in Him.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Ultimate Messenger

 Of the angels he says,
  “He makes his angels winds,
  and his ministers a flame of fire.”
  But of the Son he says,
  “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
  the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
 therefore God, your God, has anointed you
  with the oil of gladness beyond your companions
(Hebrews 1:7-9 ESV)
God has sent us messages for centuries through His prophets and angels - truths we needed to guide us.  But His greatest Messenger is His Son.  He is also the greatest Message - revealing to us most fully the character and plan of God.  The Babe in the manger is the Christ of eternity and Lord of History.  May we respond to Him appropriately.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Bow down for your rights...

 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:9-13 ESV)
As a nation built on "justice for all," we have become consumed with our "rights."  One right we should insist on is becoming a child of God.  But this "right" is not obtained by demanding that we receive it, but by humbly receiving The Light, the Word, Jesus Christ as the Savior we need. We receive the right to be heirs of heaven when we bow before the One who made the world and came to the word, and believe in Him as the one who made us all and indeed owns us all. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

He was there all the time...

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5 ESV)
Many of us who are old enough know the song "He was There All the Time," which reminds us that whatever struggles come into our lives, the Lord is always there, even when we are oblivious to it.  That is consistent with the fact that Christ has been there all the time. We did not have to wait for Him to come to earth and then grow up; He has always been.  But there is something of total importance that He has now come into the world - His light shines on our darkness.  His salvation has been revealed.  We have the golden opportunity to receive Him and be received into God's family.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Can you hear the familiar sound???

 “Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him. (Exodus 23:20-21 ESV)
As God promised to Moses and Israel His ongoing presence as He led them toward the promised land, He spoke of His Angel, One whom they should obey, One Who had within Him the very name of God.  Fast forward a few thousand years to a group of people gathered to hear John the Baptist, and as One comes up out of the water, a Voice from heaven says: "This is My beloved Son; hear Him."  And so the writer of Hebrews concludes: "Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (Hebrews 1:1-3 ESV)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

He shows up again...

 Now the angel of the LORD had commanded Gad to say to David that David should go up and raise an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. (1 Chronicles 21:18 ESV)
The Angel of the Lord keeps showing up at critical events in the history of the relationship of God and man - the call to Abraham, the burning bush with Moses, and the call to build the temple.  God wants a relationship with us, so it is so relevant that the Son appears to call for that special relationship at these key historical events, to show us how important they are.  If God cares that much to send His Son, should we not respond enthusiastically to Him?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

All appropriate responses...

 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (Luke 2:18-20 ESV)
The people wondered; Mary treasured and pondered; the shepherds glorified and praised God.  All are valid responses to Christ coming to us and for us.  Let's take time to do them all today.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Lord will provide...

 But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.” (Genesis 22:11-14 ESV)
Throughout the Bible we have this thread of hope of a coming deliverer - that God will provide, in His own special way, the Savior we need.  On some occasions He does so through prophets, on others, through angels, and, at critical moments through the Angel of the Lord.  The promised One Himself is the one to say: "I will provide the salvation you need." How marvelous indeed is the plan of God!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Remembering where we came from...

This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created. (Genesis 5:1-2 ESV)
Christmas and the cross make no sense unless we start here: that God created us in His image, for His glory, and chose to bless us with this special privilege of relationship with Him.  As we create Christmas memories this year, let's not forget where we came from - from the one Who made us, loves us, and sent His Son for us.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hope even in heartbreak...

And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD.(Genesis 4:25-26 ESV)
Adam had experienced the crushing curses of caving in to sin. He and Eve had grieved the death of Abel and the exodus of Cain into a culture of darkness.  Hope of the promised seed was apparently lost. Then God gave them Seth, and hope returned. Not only the hope of godly line, but hope because they now called upon the name of the Lord, our true hope, even in the midst of terrible heartbreak.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Defeating Death...

 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:21-22 ESV)
The big killer in the Fall was death.  As a result of sin, death put a shadow over all of creation, especially mankind.  Rather than claim to have a bum rap, our response is to admit that we are sinners by nature AND by choice, and would have done the same as Adam.  This is not fatalism, but the first step in realizing that we need the New Adam, Christ, to defeat death for us, to deal with our sin, and give us new life.  I Corinthians 15 is a celebration of that fact.  Rejoice!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Man

For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. I Corinthians 15:21-23
Paul goes to great pains on a few occasions to remind us that Christ became a man.  In order to be our perfect substitute, He came to experience all that we do, including temptation, troubling people and glue stuck to His sandals - in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  This qualified Him to "undo" what Adam had done, what we all have done.  He is our best, only and glorious hope!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Fullness of time...

 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:4-7 ESV).
Some people are never happy.  Okay, most people are never happy.  To be sure, those who longed for the Messiah's coming in the age of B.C. must have wondered why Messiah did not come in THEIR Day.  But in our day, we use the same excuse - "I'll believe it when I see it." In other words, Jesus should have waited to come now, not 2000+ years ago.  But much to our personal shock and amazement, the world does not spin around me and my clock, but the fulness of time, the right time, HIS time.  And He knows best.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Read to the end...

 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.  (Romans 5:12-14 ESV)
The first two verses of this paragraph can get quite depressing - sin and death affect us all, from Adam on.  But keep on reading.  Adam was the type, a picture, of One to come.  The hope has been alive since death entered the world.  Salvation has been on the horizon since sin grabbed our hearts.  He who was to come has come.  His story is not only history, but hope.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Battle

  I will put enmity between you and the woman,
  and between your offspring and her offspring;
 he shall bruise your head,
  and you shall bruise his heel.”
(Genesis 3:15 ESV)
After the Fall the effects were devastating: exile from the garden; stuggle in marriage; thorns in the ground; hostility in the world, and... death.  But even in the curses God points out, we find love and hope.  It's found in The Seed, the offspring - Someone in human history who will come and win the battle we have lost - the battle with sin and Satan.  If those from Adam forward could look forward in hope, can not we, who have the privilege of hindsight, have even greater hope because Christ has come? He has won the victory.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Seeing the hand of God

 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. (Genesis 50:19-20 ESV)
When their father Jacob had died, Joseph's brothers were afraid that Joseph would no longer be nice to them - that he would finally take revenge on them for how they had treated him as a young man.  But Joseph had moved so far beyond that - he could see God's plan - to keep their line alive - not just for the present, but for the future God had for them.  He knew God had something, Someone in the future, to come through their people. He saw the whole series of events - the joy and the sorrow, as part of the big picture.  We need help seeing that at times, especially in the midst of sorrow. God means it for good.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Lion of Judah...

  “Judah, your brothers shall praise you;
  your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
  your father's sons shall bow down before you.
 Judah is a lion's cub;
  from the prey, my son, you have gone up.
 He stooped down; he crouched as a lion
  and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?
 The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
  nor the ruler's staff from between his feet,
 until tribute comes to him;
  and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
(Genesis 49:8-10 ESV)
Joseph knew what it was like to have his father's sons bow down before him.  But at great as he had become in the land of Egypt, and had been a blessing by his position to many peoples, he knew that there would be another in the line of his family's seed to come who would have his people and all people bow before him as King.  As great as Joseph had risen among men, there was One to come who would be above all kings and men - the Messiah, the Lion of Judah.

Friday, December 14, 2012

When Repetition is Not Redundant...

 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body. The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.” (Genesis 35:11-12 ESV)
On several occasions God repeated His promise of blessing on the Patriarchal family - that they would be a great nation, with great kings, in a great land, with a great future. And especially that they would be blessed to be a blessing to others - that their "seed" would be the one of blessing.  We cannot hear that too much.  And we need to be reminded that we are not blessed because we are so wonderful, but because He is God Almighty and has chosen to bless us.  The privilege of being included in His plan.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

He got it!

 And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”(Genesis 22:15-18 ESV)
When Abraham followed God's command to take Isaac, his long-awaited son, out to sacrifice, he demonstrated his full faith and obedience to God.  To God, this was huge, in large part because what Abraham had done was express his understanding of the heart of God - a loving Father willing to give His only Son, and the faith to believe that a good, sovereign God will make it all work out. He has the plan, and His plan is best and will come to pass.  It's all a part of the great big picture.  May we have such faith and know God so well that we do the same.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's you and Me...

 “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”
(Genesis 17:4-8 ESV)
God's promises are very personal.  Here He tells Abraham that they have a covenant. He is making it; He will be Abraham's descendents' God.  So it is with all the people involved in the Incarnation story: He made announcements to Mary, Joseph, Zacharias, and the shepherds and said: you will be the one entrusted to carry My Son; you will be the main man in His earthly life; you will be the one to lead the one to be the forerunner; you will be my witnesses of this great event.  And He will be our God, watching over every detail and event of our story as we are a part of His great story.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Blessed are those who believe...

 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:4-6 ESV)
Throughout God's story of love for us, He is always seeking two things: for us to believe, and to receive His blessings so we in turn can be a channel of blessing for Him.  Abraham was blessed because he believed; Mary was blessed when she beleived and received God's message through the angel. We too are blessed if we will believe the LORD, and receive His Gift to us.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Blessed to be a blessing...

 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”(Genesis 12:1-3 ESV)
Abram was blessed to be a part of The Story.  So are we.  The story of the sent Savior is one filled with blessing - for those who looked forward to His coming, and those of us who look back.  At times, it seemed impossible for Abra(ha)m to believe; at times we act like it never happened. We forget the blessings we have, in Christ, and we fail to be the blessing He intends us to be, as part of His story.  Let's ask Him who He wants us to bless today.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Out of Egypt

 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”(Matthew 2:13-15 ESV)
Egypt has a history that goes way back with God's people.  For some it was a place of blessing and deliverance; for others it had been a place you wanted to be delivered from.  Moses was the man - the one called to do that deliverance. But he and the other prophets of old saw another son to be called, another who would Himself be delivered from death at a young age, to come and be the Great Deliverer of all times.  God has a plan; it will surely come to pass.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

It's all Him

  Surely he has borne our griefs
  and carried our sorrows;
 yet we esteemed him stricken,
  smitten by God, and afflicted.
 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
  he was crushed for our iniquities;
 upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
  and with his wounds we are healed.
 All we like sheep have gone astray;
  we have turned—every one—to his own way;
 and the LORD has laid on him
  the iniquity of us all.
(Isaiah 53:4-6 ESV)
As he looked forward to the promised Messiah, Isaiah was overcome with one thing: It's all Him.  He did it all, for us.  All our sin on Him. He took the initiative.  HE paid the price. His the focal point of history, because of what He did for you an me.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Cold face

  He was despised and rejected by men;
  a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
 and as one from whom men hide their faces
  he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
(Isaiah 53:3 ESV)
Often we refer to people "giving us the cold shoulder" - ignoring us on purpose.  The treatment of Christ when He came (and as He is revealed to us) is much stronger - We turn our faces and our hearts from Him - the ultimate rejection, a total lack of the respect and reverence and rejoicing He deserves.  The prophets had announced: He is coming, but when He did, everyone turned their faces and hid.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Who believes the prophets???

  Who has believed what he has heard from us?
  And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
  and like a root out of dry ground;
 he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
  and no beauty that we should desire him.
(Isaiah 53:1-2 ESV)
Who can see what God is doing?  For centuries the Lord was showing and telling through His prophets about the One to come.  He has been revealing Himself through His word. And now, as Hebrews tells us, and Isaiah tells us here, He has revealed Himself through the young plant, the Root, the Son.  Since He set aside all the showiness of His glory (Philippians 2) it is not outwardly obvious just to look at Him.  It is in His words, His actions, His authority and compassion, that we find His revelation. Who has believed? 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

When Little is Big

   But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
  who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
 from you shall come forth for me
  one who is to be ruler in Israel,
 whose coming forth is from of old,
  from ancient days.
 Therefore he shall give them up until the time
  when she who is in labor has given birth;
 then the rest of his brothers shall return
  to the people of Israel.
 And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD,
  in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
 And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
  to the ends of the earth.
(Micah 5:2-4 ESV)
This prophecy of little Bethlehem by one of the "little" prophets about a little boy to be born is Big.  It is Big for so many reasons.  Where else would we expect, the Messiah, the seed of David to come from?  This baby is from the "Ancient of Days" - the Eternal One.  He is at the same time a helpless infant and Almighty God.  And these "minor" prophets are in no way to be minimalized.  They saw and told us major truths.  Just consider Micah 6:8.  This is BIG. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Passion of the Promised One

  There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
  and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
  the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
  the Spirit of counsel and might,
  the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.
 He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
  or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
(Isaiah 11:1-3 ESV)
Jesus is so many things.  He has lived up to all the hype of the Old Testament prophecies about Who He would be.  His passion for Truth, Justice and Wisdom pervades everything He is and does. What a contrast to any other person in history. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Prophet... The Prophet

 “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—(Deuteronomy 18:15 ESV)
As Moses was giving the people of Israel their marching orders for living in the promised land, he was able to see beyond himself to another Prophet - One they should really listen to, far better than they had listened to him.  Moses saw himself in light of the bigger picture, where someone else is the focus of human history.  If Moses was able to do that from his point in history, how much more we should as we look back at the Christ who came, of whom God the Father testified: "This is my beloved Son; hear Him." 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Coming of the Wonder Worker

  Strengthen the weak hands,
  and make firm the feeble knees.
 Say to those who have an anxious heart,
  “Be strong; fear not!
 Behold, your God
  will come with vengeance,
 with the recompense of God.
  He will come and save you.”
  Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
  and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
 then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
  and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
 For waters break forth in the wilderness,
  and streams in the desert;
(Isaiah 35:3-6 ESV)
With the coming of the Christ we celebrate the Great Physician, who heals every hurt and heart given to Him.  The Jesus did this in His ministry on earth is obvious; what be comes so obscure to us in day to day living is that He still does so today. May we joyfully meet with Him today.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Murderous opposition...

  Thus says the LORD:
 “A voice is heard in Ramah,
  lamentation and bitter weeping.
 Rachel is weeping for her children;
  she refuses to be comforted for her children,
  because they are no more.”
(Jeremiah 31:15 ESV)
In almost all of the prophesies of the coming Messiah we have a mixed bag: our Deliverer is coming, but He will be opposed.  Whether it is descriptions of the end of His days on earth, with the Passion, or His entry into the world, like here, Satan does not want the Lord's plan to succeed, and will work to stop it at every point, at any cost.  Such evil and opposition still exists in the world today, as does such a low value of life.  Yet, our Redeemer has come, and lives, and is coming again to give life eternal.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Let us return

“Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.
(Hosea 6:1-2)
Besides being an early prophecy of the resurrection, this is a great call for us to return to the Lord. Every time God threw in a mention of the Messiah, it was in the midst of a call to get right with Him, to live life in His presence.  Every time we celebrate Advent is a season for us to repent, to return to Him, to seek His revival. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mercy and Grace

And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. Zechariah 12:10
It's what we need: God's mercy and grace. God promised to send it - in fact, to pour it out. And He has - in His Son Who was pierced and Who shed His blood for us.  So thankful He keeps His promises.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Righteous One

"Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’  " Jeremiah 23:
As much as Israel was looking for their Messiah to come - a king after the line of David, deep down they knew, and God reminded them, that what they needed was righteousness.  They were not right with God; they needed One to save them and to rule over them.  Jesus is that righteous One, the one we all need to save us and rule over us.  God has raised Him up for us.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Looking for a sign from God???

 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14 ESV)
As He promised, God has sent a sign, a living and breathing sign, who displayed for us His love and power.  Everywhere we go we see signs for sales, trying to tell us what we need.  But they are made of dead wood.  Jesus is the one we need - the living Word of God to us.  Let us look to Him!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Time to get ready...

 “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. (Malachi 3:1-2 ESV)
Israel was looking for Her long-awaited Messiah.  But was she ready? Are we ready? Malachi, the last-recorded prophet of the Old Testament challenged them and challenges us to get ready for His coming.  Let us look back and be reminded of His promises.  Let us look up and seek Him. Let us look within and open our hearts to see and listen.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Glad you came... glad you left???

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.  (Luke 24:50-53 ESV)
Jesus left this earth much as He came - without worldwide public acclaim, something special to look at in the sky, a special messenger from heaven, and... joy.  His Incarnation and ascension were both accompanied by great joy.  His followers were glad to see Him go.  What a change from the days of the cross and before. Whenever He talked about "going away" they became upset. But now, joy. Why? Because now their hearts and minds were open to see how it all fits together. Now they believe all the promises are true - those of Scripture, those of the Savior. And He is coming back, just as He said. It's all part of the big picture. Now, when we talk of Christ at any time in His visitation, we can look at it with great joy, as we look forward to His return as well.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Opened Minds

 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 and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:44-49 ESV)
Skepticism.  It rules and reigns in our hearts and minds.  Even with all the evidence and testimony that Christ has presented and others have given throughout history, we have a bent toward skepticism.  We have closed minds to the truth.  When that stops, and the light comes on, and the Holy Spirit takes the truth and transforms our lives, it makes all the difference.  It is something we not only believe, but can not help but share.

Friday, November 23, 2012


 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them. (Luke 24:36-43 ESV)
This is the big question of the chapter. Why do you seek the living among the dead? Why are you so slow of heart to believe? Why are you still confused and doubtful even now?  Like Peter's failed attempt to walk on water, Jesus still rightly asks not only "Why DID you doubt?", but "Why are you still doubting?"  Seeing is not believing.  We are waiting for something else... the One who will help us understand that all His Words are true, just as He said.  Without the Holy Spirit all the facts still do not add up. We need Him.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The light comes on...

 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.(Luke 24:28-35 ESV)
What was the key that enlightened them? The Scriptures.  Jesus had shown them scripture after scripture that pointed to Him as the Messiah.  Finally, they can put it all together.  Over and over we see this priniciple - without the Word of God, and the Spirit of God, there is no light.  All the physical evidence in the world is insufficient to lead us to the Truth without them. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Here's the problem...

 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27 ESV)
The disciples of Jesus were confused, full of doubt, and beside themselves.  Why? They had failed to remember, appreciate, and fully receive the things God had been saying throughout history, and especially now through His Son.  Not only was His suffering prophesied. It was essential - necessary to what God was doing.   Let us listen in faith.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

One little detail...

 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” (Luke 24:19-24 ESV)
They fell for it.  The old "seeing is believing" lie.  They had a few years of evidence that Jesus was not just merely a man (yet they refer to Him the way skeptics and gossipers did, as "Jesus of Nazareth.") They had had high hopes.  They had the empty tomb, testimony of the angels, and heart-felt conviction of the women, but it was just not enough. Their self-attested faith had failed to bring them through.  So it is no suprise when Jesus said: "Blessed are those who have not seen, and have believed."

Monday, November 19, 2012

Who's the clueless one???

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” (Luke 24:13-18 ESV)
To be sure, all of the disciples were puzzled over the occurances of Resurrection Day.  Even though they had Jesus' promises that this would happen, it was a mind-boggling event.  What is so telling is how these two, like we often do, think that this Stranger is the one who is deaf and blind to reality.  We often fail to see God at work right in front of us. In reality, we act is if we know more than He does.  We definitely need a much more humble approach, as we step back, shut up, and let Him explain.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What we're called to be

 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV)
Paul, like Jesus, would occasionally double up his words to make emphasis. In this case, our calling is important.  As a manual on "How to do Church," his letter to the Ephesians makes it very clear what we are called to do in the fellowship of beleivers: allow God to smooth off the rough edges and cool down our tempers, bringing peace and love within us as individuals, so that those virtues will also be what characterizes the church to which we belong.  The Body can be no better than the parts which make it. Let us carry out our calling today.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Quiet meeting...

 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 ESV)
Looking back on the week and forward to tomorrow, I have a thankful heart. Among other events of the week was our church annual meeting, which was very quiet and positive - verse 13 in action.  And I feel esteemed, considering our upcoming trip to Israel (I think that means they love us...).  And it's great to have a group of couples open themselves up to God's Word and ways, even allowing Him to admonish us on how to love each other better.  Much to be thankful for indeed.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Getting a Grip on Reality

 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened. (Luke 24:12 ESV)
Having heard the unbelievable, Peter ran to see the evidence for himself: the wrappings, the empty tomb.  And he went home marveling, still not believing.  Seeing is not believing, as much of a realist as one may claim to be.  Peter had also heard.  But unlike the women, he refused to remember and trust.  Trust in God and in the One He sent to tell us.  That is essential if we are to embrace reality.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

There's that little word again...

 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. (Luke 24:10-11 ESV)
Luke, the historian who interviewed eyewitnesses of the life of Jesus, gives names here to a credibility to his record.  These were women who knew Jesus best, inside and out. They loved the Truth, so their word should not have been questioned. BUT the apostles had a hard time accepting the truth, even though they were the first ones Jesus had told and they themselves had told these women what Jesus had said.  How hard-headed and hard-hearted we men can be. We often choose not to believe. Thank God for His persistence and patience.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The three Rs of faith

 And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. (Luke 24:8-9 ESV)
Most of us old enough to remember when Math was Arithmetic recall the three Rs of school - reading, wRiting and aRithmetic.  These women had three Rs in their faith journey that resurrection morning. First, they did Remember what Jesus had said. His word came back to them. Then they Returned to where they were to be - praying together. Finally, they Reported what they had remembered, seen and heard, and what that meant - He is risen indeed, just as He said.  We need to do the same thing when life startles us: remember what God has said, return to where we need in prayer and fellowship with Him, and share with others what God has taught us, to help each other in our faith journey.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” (Luke 24:4-7 ESV)
These two messengers call on these women to think and rethink what is happening in light of what Jesus had said.  All through Luke that has been the question: "Do you believe what Jesus says? If you really believed what He said, you wouldn't be here right now." That still leaves some remembering and soul-searching as to where they SHOULD be; but it is quite there that the tomb is not the place they should expect to find Jesus.  He has risen.

Monday, November 12, 2012


 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. (Luke 24:1-3 ESV)
Luke is the great historian and fact-finder.  He has presented Theopholis with repeated testimony that Jesus Christ was wrongly executed as an innocent man.  He now begins to present evidence that He did not stay dead: the moved stone, the lack of a body - these things call for further investigation, which is exactly what Luke is calling for.  The evidence is overwhelming that Jesus has done what He said He will do: lay down His life and take it up again.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Who wants a dead Savior?

 Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.
 On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment. 
(Luke 23:50-56 ESV)
Why come forward now? That is the question for Joseph of Arimathea.  He had kept his life as a follower of Jesus secret for this long; why come forward now and look like a follower of a loser? And these women: give it up already! They have ministered to Jesus all through His ministry. One of them anointed Him ahead of time; they saw what Joseph did - why keep planning to follow and minister to a dead body?  Because Jesus gives hope to the hopeless.  This is a sign of true faith in the true Savior: He is going to make a way out of this; I, like Job, just need to keep following and sticking close to Him.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Look who's watching

 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun's light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.(Luke 23:44-49 ESV)
We have seen that as the crowds watched, all but one of the witnesses mocked Jesus in some way or another, but at His death, other witnesses come forward.  First, and foremost, God the Father has been watching the whole time and tears the veil, as the High priest had torn his garment, as if to say on the one hand blasphemy has been committed, and on the other hand, that He was welcoming His Son into His presence.  The centurion, who has seen the whole event over the course of hours, proclaims that Jesus was innocent, righteous, acceptable to God.  Many of the crowd now react as if to say: "This just isn't right!"  And those who knew Him well, especially these women, keep watching in shocked silence.  They had been there the whole journey to Jerusalem, and now it was over. Or was it?

Friday, November 9, 2012

There's one in every crowd...

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43 ESV)
Jesus was looking all around at the crowd looking for someone, anyone, who would trust Him and reverence Him for Who He was - the Messiah, the Savior, the Son of God.  As we often see in the Gospels, He found Him in the most unlikely place - on the cross right next to Him. This man was willing to admit the sinner he was, fear God, and ask Christ for the grace only He could give.  It is a pivotal event in the flow of a horrible day, as we will see in what happens next...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Each in their own way...

 And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”  (Luke 23:34b-38 ESV)
As we examine the crowd that gathered around the cross, each one "consented to his death" (a phrase used to describe those who watched Stephen be stoned in Acts 7)  Here, the rulers scoffed at the idea that He could be their Savior.  The Soldiers piped in and added a mockery of His Messiahship, and Pilate, by way of the sign, added his mockery in abstentia.  But the bottom line is that almost everyone there mocked Him and was content to see Him silenced - by their silence. They "stood by, watching."  Each one of us has our share in putting Christ on the cross.  Thankfully, by faith, each one of us can have our share in what He did there.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Led away

 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:32-34a ESV)
Luke leaves out some of the nasty details found in the other gospels.  There is no need: Theopholis, the Roman official to whom he wrote was all too familiar with crucifixion.  It was a cruel execution for criminals, which Pilate, another Roman official, had made very clear Jesus was not.  Jesus' response to all this? Plead for their forgiveness.  They had been led away from the truth as they led Jesus and the other two away from the city and out to the Skull.  We are so easily led away and led astray. Father, forgive us. May we be more like Him.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dead wood burns fast...

 And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23:27-31 ESV)
As Jesus was being led to the cross, many people, who were not privy to the proceedings that brought the pronouncement of death, flocked to His support.  Luke, who often shows the part of women in the life and ministry of Jesus, records this event where they mourned what was happening. And mourning was appropriate, but not mainly for the reason they did so.  Israel was rejecting their Messiah, and so, would bring upon herself destruction - a destruction Jesus had spoken about.  Just as He had had compassion and wept over Jerusalem, He was still the compassionate Christ here, as He was concerned over these women.  Weep they should - in repentance and faith, accepting Him as Messiah. Because judgment day is coming.  And if the Romans crucified Him as an innocent Man, what would they do with a nation with blood on their hands?  When the judgment of God would come, it would not be like green wood, full of life like He was, that would overcome the fire (His resurrection), but it would be an all-consuming fire that rushes through a pile of dead brush.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A special privilege...

 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. (Luke 23:26 ESV)
Sometimes I wonder strange things.  We know that all the disciples had scattered in the garden.  Peter and another disciple showed up at the trials, and we don't know how long that other disciple hung around.  Then John shows up at the foot of the cross.  But what about this journey? Did any of them join the crowds for the walk to the crucifixion? From the descriptions of the gospels it might appear so.  If so, what went through their minds, to see someone else take up the cross and follow after Jesus? What goes through our minds when we see someone else doing what God has called us to do, and we have abandoned it?  What special privileges do we miss out on?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Standing in the breach(gap)

 And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none. Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord GOD.” (Ezekiel 22:30-31 ESV)
The next three days have been declares a time of prayer and repentance, fasting, and then doing what God has called us to do - vote biblically.  May we take this sacred responsibility seriously and joyfully before Him.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Basic Economics

For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day. II Thessalonians 3:7,8
This simple truth is home base when it comes to every area of economics: the home, the church, the community, the nation.  To be sure there are "exceptions" to the rule - the scriptures list many.  But when the exceptions become the rule, then we are too far from home base.  Everyone needs to do their part: every family member needs to pitch in with chores; every church member needs to his/her gifts and talents for the work of the body; every community member needs to see themselves as contributing to the whole, and not see the community as "owing" them.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Humility of Heart

"And you ... have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored." (Daniel 5:17ff.)
As Daniel addressed this king, he got to the point.  He was going to be replaced because he was puffed up with pride. He knew full well Who God is, what He is capable of, and what He expects, but the king failed to honor Him.  Instead, his praise and trust went elsewhere.  As we prepare to vote in this election, not all candidates will declare faith in Christ; some will say they believe because it is what people want to hear.  May we be discerning as we seek to see what their actions say. Do they honor God and trust Him? If not, may the kingdom be taken from them.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What do you want to do with Him?

 So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will. (Luke 23:24-25 ESV)
Here is the most powerful man in Jerusalem giving in to these complaining conspirators.  Luke puts it very bluntly - he allowed the people to put a hardened criminal back on the streets, while releasing to them the Innocent Man of all times, to do as they wished.  Of course, God was allowing this for the accomplishment of His will, which has infinitely greater authority than Pilate's power.  But it also raises another issue - our free will.  What would we do with Jesus if we had our own way - if we were given liberty to do whatever we wanted?  Maybe we should ask "What do we do with Him?" Ignore Him?  Occasionally used His name as a curse?  Wish He would just stop convicting us?  Before we self-righteously accuse these leaders, what would we do, if we could do anything we wanted?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Loud complainers...

 But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”—a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. (Luke 23:18-23 ESV)
This last sentence is like the nails in the coffin... or the cross.  After an intense week of presenting Himself to His people as the Messiah - contending with the self-righteous, preaching His heart out, and being rushed on the railroad of resentment, the complainers finally get their way.  The squeeky wheel gets the grease.  Evil prevails over innocence.  Why do we give in to their demanding, pestering voices?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Easy way out...

 Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. I will therefore punish and release him.” (Luke 23:13-16 ESV)
Pilate was totally convinced Jesus was not guilty of the charges of insurrection laid against Him by the Jewish leaders. Yet, he knew how bent they were against Jesus.  What to do.  It seems crazy, but you beat the innocent guy.  Don't kill Him; just impress upon Him you are in control.  Pilate was trying to appease the people by beating Jesus.  The Sanhedrin themselves repeated this practice in the early church when they hoped beating the apostles would intimidate them from preaching the Gospel.  Neither time did the practice work, yet we still to this day try to take the easy way out - to go just far enough to please others and get Jesus off our hands.  It still doesn't work.  He was and is in control; He does not go away.  Deal with Him now, or deal with Him later: it's up to you.

Monday, October 29, 2012

God hasn't changed His mind... and I'm glad

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:31-33 ESV)
As I look at God's design for marriage, the family and the church, and then see the destruction caused by all the distortions of His design, I cannot help by stand in awe of His wisdom and love for us as His creation, and for me personally.  My wife flies out of town today for a few days, and at times like this it seems all the more real to me - God really knows what He is doing, and why, because He is God.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Healthcare, Plan A

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
James 5:13-16
People who reach a certain age of "maturity" begin to have an increased amount of physical challenges and opportunties to engage medical professionals.  With these "opportunites" come financial liabilities, which are often met with a couple types of insurance.  Back up.  Where are we to look first when those things happen at any age?  Plan A, described in the scripture above.  This is not to discount the medical marvels of the world, or the wisdom imparted by God for these challenges, but the point is: the Lord Himself is the forgotten Physician.  Our first and greatest trust and hope must not be in any person or business or governmental organization, but in God Himself.  Is He your Plan A, B or Z? 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Privilege

Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Ephesians 4:28
As we consider how God has made us in His image, we cannot ignore how He has given us creativity - the desire to make and do something that will bring Him glory and us satisfaction.  In our fallen state, we often settle for the "easy way out," and would rather not work. We often buy the lie that work is part of the curse, when it is really part of creation.  But there truly is no greater satisfaction than to work hard for the Lord in whatever we do, have a little saved away, and then give it away anonymously to bless a brother or sister in need.

Friday, October 26, 2012

When personhood begins...

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you,    when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:13-16
In this amazing Psalm we find God's view of our lives.  He is intensely concerned with every detail from Day 1 through our whole lives - every thought, every word, every action.  He knows about every lost hair, every new cell. He knows it all.  And it begins at conception, and one could even make the case (as some do) - at fertilization.  Philosophically that speaks volumes about the sanctity of life.  Practically, that means that when we begin to think God does not know or care, we fail to realize he knows and cares about more than we do.  He sees the smallest details, and the biggest picture - how we fit into His perfect plan, the purpose He has for our lives here, and beyond.  So let us know, live, vote, and act by these truths.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cut to the chase...

This is the interpretation of the matter: MENE, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; TEKEL, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; PERES, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” - Daniel 5:27,28
Wow!  The King of Babylon had had a disturbing dream and wanted to know what it meant. God had given Daniel the ability to interpret dreams, and He expected him to use it - even with the king, even if they were not nice words to make friends and influence people.  From the King's reaction, I don't think Daniel was nasty about it, just honest.  God still calls on us to speak the truth today, even when unpopular. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The newest game in town...

 When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other. (Luke 23:6-12 ESV)
Everyone looked at this situation for what they could get out of it. The Jewish leaders wanted to get rid of Jesus as competition. Herod wanted to get a look at this elusive wonder-worker.  Pilate saw a way to get brownie points with Herod that he could turn in later for a favor. And all of them got their jollies beating on Jesus.  All at Jesus' expense.  What do we hope to get at Jesus' expense? Something He offers us freely? Or something else we realy don't need?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A short walk... big changes

 Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.” (Luke 23:1-5 ESV)
The stroll from the Council to Pilate's place was not far, but by the time they get there the charges have changed: Jesus is no longer the blasphemer who talked about tearing down the temple, He was now a Man accused of three charges as an insurgent wanting to lead the people in a quest to take over the nation.  Of course, the last statement is the one that catches Pilate's ear, so he investigates the claim.  No big threat here.  But the story gets bigger and bigger.  Often is the case with us, the stories get bigger and bigger, and the real issues get buried deeper and deeper in our own self-righetousness.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Plain as day...

 When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.” (Luke 22:66-71 ESV)
After arresting Jesus and holding a preliminary hearing under the cover of darkness, his accusers now bring him to the Council the first thing in the morning. They press Him and press Him to answer whether He is the Messiah or not.  They want Him to say "yes", not so they can follow Him, but so they can accuse Him of blasphemy.  He knows their hearts as He knows all things, and rebukes them for their unbelief. He then says "You say that I am."  Since He has included the name of God: "I am", that is close enough for them.  It's plain as day to them.  But what they have missed is that it is plain as day that He truly is the Christ.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Worth Repeating...

For some reason the scripture did not get posted with this blog, which is, of course, the most important part!  So here it is again, because apparently someone (me?) needed to read it again... 
Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest's house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:54-62 ESV)
As we look at this failure in Peter's following after Jesus, the most striking point is that he was the most courageous and confident of the apostles, often willing to speak up and step out of the boat when none else would.  In other words, we would be no different.  Even in his failure, he followed longer and closer than the rest.  He falling fell in the fact that he was relying on his own faithfulness, rather than relying on the grace and strength of Jesus.  And that is where we usually fail as well - trying to show God how strong we are, instead of relying on how strong He is.  Take heed, lest ye fall.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Afraid to look in His eyes?

 Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him. They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him. (Luke 22:63-65 ESV)
To be sure, one purpose of the blindfold was so these officers could play their little game with Jesus - to try to show that He wasn't the great prophet He was cracked up to be.  But it did something else - it made it so they did not have to look at His eyes - the same eyes that had just looked at Peter and spoken a thousand words - the eyes that look at you and know everything, the eyes that offer the grace and compassion many are unwilling to accept, the eyes that cry over our hard-heartedness.  As we look at the parallel passages in the other gospels, when this beating takes place, the Chief Priest has just pronounced Jesus is guitly of blasphemy - an unjust appraisal; the response to that is to blaspheme Him, the true son of God. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Don't be so sure of yourself...

As we look at this failure in Peter's following after Jesus, the most striking point is that he was the most courageous and confident of the apostles, often willing to speak up and step out of the boat when none else would.  In other words, we would be no different.  Even in his failure, he followed longer and closer than the rest.  He falling fell in the fact that he was relying on his own faithfulness, rather than relying on the grace and strength of Jesus.  And that is where we usually fail as well - trying to show God how strong we are, instead of relying on how strong He is.  Take heed, lest ye fall.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Deeds of Darkness

Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” (Luke 22:52-53 ESV)
As Jesus questions the group that has come out to arrest Him, He asks them a question that has an implied answer:  "Why do you come out here to take me, when you could have done it any day of the week in broad daylight?"  Implied answer?  "Because what you are doing is a deed of darkness - backed by the powers of Darkness and the prince of Darkness."  The unholy trinity is hard at work, having converged to take Jesus by force.  This is their hour, their short time of fame, or infamy if you will.  This is one more confrontation, in a series of many, aimed at self-examination.  Again, they fail to take that opportunity.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Not ready for battle...

 While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him.(Luke 22:47-51 ESV)
Twice Jesus had told His disciples to get ready for battle with prayer.  Now the challenge had come. But rather than remember these two calls, they remembered they had two swords.  In a sense we could say they "prayed" when they asked about the swords, but prayer is always a two-way conversation, and they didn't wait for an answer. They acted in haste (and recklessly at that).  When Jesus did answer, it was very clear: "NO! Not this way!"  He knows that in order to gain a hearing, He and His followers will have to be innocent.  What needs to stand out is that He is the great Healer.  The only evidence that needs to be available is that He does Good, speaks great, and truly is God.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Another letdown...

 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Luke 22:43-46 ESV)
Jesus had told His disicples to watch and pray, but they did not obey.  Just as they had let Him down by one of them becoming a traitor, all of them arguing over greatness, and wrongly thinking they had enough strength on their own to remain faithful, they again let him down. And it's not just that they were sleeping - they were sleeping for sorrow, wallowing in self-pity because He was going away.  The temptation is to give in to our discouragements and failures instead of giving them over to God. But He has been praying earnestly for us.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tempation - no, God's will - yes

 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:39-42 ESV)
True to form, Jesus prays. And His disciples follow Him - an example for us.  His prayer for us, and Himself, was to resist tempation - to choose the Father's will instead of our own selfish, sinfule desires.  What a place to start as we pray - not for what we want, but what we need - His power to do His will.  Jesus knew the attack was coming - Satan and his allies were on the way.  They still are today. Pray to do the Father's will.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

HE is faithful, when we're not...

 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”
 And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.” 
(Luke 22:31-38 ESV)
Though none of us plan to fail the Lord, we all do, like Peter.  But He always remains faithful for us, interceding on our behalf, and providing what we need to be victorious.  While letting Peter know he will not be able to sustain faithfulness in his own strength, He also reminds him, and us, that He has been faithful to provide in the past.  Even if things get tough, as they most certainly will, He is more than enough for all we need.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Think it through...

 A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.
 “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the
twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke 22:24-30 ESV)
After getting started with the comparison game debating who the traitor was, the disciples further divide themselves over the future.  When it comes to such games, Jesus simple says: "Don't so it." First, we are to be different than the world, where this is standard procedure. Secondly, we are to be like HIM, the servant of all. And thirdly, He sees our faithfulness (or lack thereof) and is quite able to respond to it, and reward us for it accordingly.  It's His kingdom after all, not ours. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Who's responsible???

 But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this. (Luke 22:21-23 ESV)
In some of the other Gospels we find that some of the disciples even asked Jesus if they were the one who would do this.  But here we find that they were getting in little cliques and talking about one another: "Do you think it's Bartholemew? We never hear much from him!"  But most important of all, Jesus makes sure that personal responsibility is not ignored.  Yes, God will work it all out so that the handing over and murder of Jesus results in victory; but that does not excuse the one who betrays Him. It is a sad loss, a woe to Jesus, that one of His closest followers would not trust in Him and turn on Him. And for one who would be so close and reject Him, there could be no hope. A sad, sad story.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Why the Passion?

 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. (Luke 22:14-20 ESV)
As Jesus sat there with His apostles He expressed the great desire with which He had anticipated that time.  Why? Because there He would give them the things He had come to give: Himself, His Spirit, His peace.  His giving them the elements was an expression of His giving of Himself.  He could not wait to give us all He came to give.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Not so minor detail...

 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.” They said to him, “Where will you have us prepare it?” He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.” And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.(Luke 22:7-13 ESV)
When Jesus instructed His two most trusted disciples to arrange for the Passover, the big question was "where?"  They were from out of town and would only know the streets of Jerusalem from their annual visits there.  Rather than give them an address (123 Bethesda Street) or location, He sends them on a scavenger hunt of faith.  One reason is to continue to teach us to trust Him every step of the way. (For the other reason, I'll see you Sunday.) He wants us to trust Him even when we don't know exactly where we're going or how to get there. He wants us to believe what He says and follow Him.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Unholy Triangle.

 Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people.
 Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.
(Luke 22:1-6 ESV)
Both Satan and the angered leaders had failed to trap Jesus on their own - Satan in the Wilderness, and the leaders ever since on an increasing basis.  They were both afraid, and rightfully so.  In Judas they hoped to have the missing key, the insider information to make Jesus fall. Judas knows where to find Jesus - at all times, and when He is most alone, like in the evenings, after leaving the temple (21:38) This unholy triangle is excited about their prospects.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A simple statement...

And every day he was teaching in the temple, but at night he went out and lodged on the mount called Olivet. And early in the morning all the people came to him in the temple to hear him.
 (Luke 21:37-38 ESV)
This simple statement is not made in passing, without purpose.  Not long before this, Luke had recorded this pattern of Jesus daily teaching in the temple during the week between the Triumphal Entry and Passover.  He also has told us that the people flocked to hear Him.   Why repeat it again?  Jesus is setting a pattern.  He would go out to pray and sleep at the Mount of Olives (tent city during Passover?)  This pattern will become important when someone decides he wants to turn Jesus in and needs to know where to find Him.  Jesus is setting a pattern and setting Himself up.  And that's okay with Him.  Everything is according to plan...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ready and Waiting.

 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36 ESV)
Whenever we see the word "but", we need to look back at what was just said, to see what we should do instead.  Instead of worrying about the disasters if the last day we are to focus on ourselves and our readiness.  True watchfulness is not watching from the windown and running to the bus when it stops at the corner. It is being there, where we should be - praying daily, involved in the life of the Kingdom of God, not stuck in the hustle of this life and living for fleeting pleasures.  We need to live life knowing we are going to "stand before the Son of Man."

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Look for Life

 And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. (Luke 21:29-33 ESV)
Often, when we think about the signs of Christ's coming, we are drawn to the disasters.  As these increase, we do know the time is near.  But what He wants us to focus on is the Kingdom of God being near, and for His followers that is deliverance, not destruction.  It is Him keeping His promises.  It is the beautiful warmth of summer, not the drear darkness of winter.  Rejoice, our redemtion draweth near!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Stand up and look to the horizon...

 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”(Luke 21:25-28 ESV)
As Jesus leaves the immediate future of His disciples and looks ahead long-term, things look rather scary.  And for one without Christ, they are.  But we are to have another perspective when we see His coming getting closer.  We are to stand up and take notice, because our Savior is coming.  We are not to look with fear to the horizon, but to look with anticipation for our salvation to be complete.  How do you look into the future?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

He knew...

 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:20-24 ESV)
Jesus finally gets back to the original question: When would the city fall and how would they know it? Jerusalem would be surrounded.  Conventional wisdom would say to run within the city walls for protection, but there they would not find it.  The city did fall, and many followers of Christ did heed His call to flee and escape the slaughter.  What we are all waiting for now is the full restoration and what we will see next...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

In this middle of all this is...

 And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.”  Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name's sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives. (Luke 21:9-19 ESV)
Your opportunity.  That is what is in the middle of all the wars and disasters and persecutions. That is what life will include, until He comes.  Rather than being filled with fear or wanting to flee, we need to "settle it in our minds" that we will not allow ourselves to be overcome, but  we will respond to these things with faith in Him to give the wisdom and words we need to face life's challenges.  What an opportunity to have Him work in us!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

And the answer is... a warning

 And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” And they asked him, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. (Luke 21:5-8 ESV)
Jesus often answered a question with a question, but now that the insincere questions have been silenced, he answers one His disciples ask which He incited: "When will this calamity happen and how can we know it's coming?" His answer? "Watch out for false teachers.  Do not go after them."
Jesus knew full well that we so much want to know the future that we often follow anyone who seems to have a line on it.  People flock to fortune tellers and apparent prophecy specialists - wanting to know the future.  Do not go after them. Stay the course of following Him.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Give till you totally trust

 Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4 ESV)
As Jesus watched those who had come to the Passover bring their offerings, which they had been saving up for this occasion, He comments on the contrast between their giving. This extremely poor widow - one of those who He had just mentioned in the setting before this; one who had been taken lightly and taken advantage of by the selfish scribes - she gives more than all combined, as she gives all she has left.  She gave more than till it hurt; she gave till it seemed right, till she fully trusted God to provide her every need.  How much do I trust God?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Scary Scribes...

 And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” (Luke 20:45-47 ESV)
Watch out!  Jesus warns us to watch out for those who live for appearances - especially appearances of true spirituality - they walk, talk, and even pray as if God is shining the spotlight on them for their innate goodness, when they are shining the light on themselves, instead of God. What is so scary is that people do actually follow them into their self-righteousness and turn away from truth and trust in Christ. One test is to compare to Christ on compassion - do they care about their own comfort above the most needy? Do we?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Putting the pieces together...

 But he said to them, “How can they say that the Christ is David's son? For David himself says in the Book of Psalms, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”’ David thus calls him Lord, so how is he his son?” (Luke 20:41-44 ESV)
When Jesus came into Jerusalem the people said and shouted statements that identified Jesus as the Messiah. But did they really understand Who he was?  Did they understand that not only did He descend from David, but that He also came before David and was a greater King than he was?  Could they put the pieces together to understand that He was the God-man and their only means of salvation? 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Here's why, part 2...

 But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.” Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him any question. (Luke 20:37-40 ESV)
As Jesus responds to the Sadducees' silly story, he points out not only how irrelevant their situation was - in the Kingdom marriage would not be needed - so Levirate marriage would be completely outdated; he also gets to the core mistake they made - ridiculing the resurrection.  Somehow, in studying every minute detail of the Mosaic Law, they had gotten off to a poor start at the beginning of Moses' call.  As God called him He came not as the God of the dead, but of the living Patriarchs. Though Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were long ago dead to man, they were very much alive with God, because the resurrection is real. Jesus shook the very foundation of their rationalism - that seeing something is what makes it real.  God is real. Resurrection is real. You better live that way.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Here's why, part 1...

 And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. (Luke 20:34-36 ESV)
In their silly little riddle, the Sadducees used the Old Testament  law of Levirate Marriage, a  practice rarely even used at the time.  When the Kingdom comes, and one is no longer confined to this life, marriage is no longer a factor.  The earth will no longer have to be populated because death will be defeated, and our relationship with God will be such that we will find our fullness in Him, and all others will fall into place with His.  The law of Levirate Marriage, therefore will be even more outdated then than it was in Jesus' day.  The key question then is: "Who is worthy to attain to that age?"