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?