Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20 ESV) In a very real sense, the Resurrection is the climax in the Incarnation of Christ - He has won the victory. But the Epilogue is the part that pulls everything together: when the dust all settles, what difference does it make? How is it more than just an exciting story? Jesus tells us: He has all authority. What He has done can and will make a difference here and for eternity in the life of everyone who will trust and follow Him. What that means for us is simple: take it to the streets; let them know; live it and let it be known.
Monday, April 21, 2014
While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day. (Matthew 28:11-15 ESV) It's hard to imagine how anyone nearby the resurrection of Christ could not be impacted in such a way as to repent, trust and worship Christ. Except for "the spin." Spin is nothing new in D.C. It has been around since The Garden - taking the facts, taking the statements of God, and twisting them in such a way that we doubt the love and truthfulness of God. Many times, we trust in the spin instead of Him. Despite the spin, He is Risen from the dead; He has not deceived us; He is Lord of all.
Sunday, April 20, 2014
Luke 24:1-8 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words. God has been constantly telling us to remember, and finally someone does! The Disciples remembered what Jesus had said about rising again! It's starting to sink in! May God work in our hearts today, to let a little more sink in, about who Christ is, why He came, and what our response should be, as we remember and celebrate His resurrection.
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Luke 20:41-44 Then Jesus said to them, “Why is it said that the Messiah is the son of David? David himself declares in the Book of Psalms:“‘The Lord said to my Lord:“Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’ David calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?” As Jesus pointed out what was really important during his final days and hours before the cross,one key question had to do with the Messiah. Were they looking for a mere mortal? Or is He something more? They knew He was to be in the line of David, but David had said He would be even more. He would be The Lord. And He is. Definitely something we need to come to terms with this Passion Week. He is risen from the dead and He is Lord.
Friday, April 18, 2014
There came to him some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children. And the second and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. Afterward the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.” 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. 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 20:27-40 ESV) The Sadducees were in denial about many things: their need of repentance and salvation, the Lordship of Jesus, and the fact of the resurrection. They took their denial to Jesus' grave, and then, when He did rise, tried to deny it ever happened. The is coming - for some to eternal life, and, in Jesus' words, for some "to eternal damnation." Deny it all you want - It's Friday, Sunday's coming. The resurrection is real.
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Luke 20:20-21, 23-26 Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be sincere. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said, so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. He saw through their duplicity and said to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?”“Caesar’s,” they replied. He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent. That first Easter, like this one, was near April 15th. Taxes were on people's minds. They didn't like them, nor the taxcollectors who gathered them. They also wanted to discredit Jesus. Here was a way to get at both. But like them, we are the problem. We don't like taxes, but we expect too much from government. We want them to provide all we need; we trust in them instead of God. And, like them, we often want free from God's expectations on our lives; we are not will to give to God what is God's. Jesus gets to the core issues here this final week before the cross: "Am I willing to give, or is all I want to do is get?"
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Luke 20:17-19 Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written:“‘The stone the builders rejectedhas become the cornerstone’? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people. Jesus had just given the Parable of the vineyard stewards - about how a vineyard owner (God) had entrusted His vineyard to some stewards (the Jewish leaders.) When He sent servants to His stewards(the Prophets) to receive the harvest of the vineyard, they stewards rejected, beat, and even killed His servants. Finally, He sent His Son. The Jewish leaders were not numb - they knew He was addressing them. But this also spoke more deeply to the first paragraph of the chapter. If Jesus knew their hearts and intentions, then they should realize He does have the authority of the Vineyard Owner, and that He is the Son of God. He is all-knowing and has all authority.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Luke 20:1-8 One day as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?” He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me: John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.” So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.” Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” One of the first issues we need to settle in our relationship with God is authority. He has made us; we belong to Him; we are accountable to Him - He has authority over us. As Jesus was hitting on the important points during His final week of ministry before the cross - He hit this issue head on. He had the authority of Almighty God because He is God the Son. Question answered. Case closed.
Monday, April 14, 2014
Luke 19:45-48 When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words. After the triumphal entry, Jesus went right to business. He drove out the materialists to make room for sincere spiritual seekers. And he spoke the truth. It was His Word that kept the enemy at bay. As He spoke, people listened. People long for truth, so they stuck to Jesus. This kept the Jewish leaders from being able to get to Him. When we hang on to the Words of Christ, we are putting ourselves in a safe place. We are keeping the enemy at bay. We are clinging to Truth, and the Truth will set us free.
Friday, April 11, 2014
And in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, graciously freed Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison. And he spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat above the seats of the kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jehoiachin put off his prison garments. And every day of his life he dined regularly at the king's table, and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, according to his daily needs, as long as he lived. (2 Kings 25:27-30 ESV) In the darkest hours, God still has a way of giving us hope. Like Israel, the Southern Kingdom of Judah also fell due breaking covenant with God. Their temple, city and country were devastated, families divided, leaders shamed. Yet, this man with "Evil" in his name "graciously frees" the king of Judah, honors him, and provides for him. What in the world is God doing? Why was He doing it? He keeps us reading, to find out more. He keeps us trusting, to know Him more.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
2 Kings 15:8-12 In the thirty-eighth year of Azariah king of Judah, Zechariah son of Jeroboam became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned six months. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, as his predecessors had done. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit. Shallum son of Jabesh conspired against Zechariah. He attacked him in front of the people, assassinated him and succeeded him as king. The other events of Zechariah’s reign are written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel. So the word of the Lord spoken to Jehu was fulfilled: “Your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.” Reading through the accounts of the Kings of Israel and Judah, it is easy to get lulled into a rhythm of repetition that keeps you from missing important details: most of these guys "did evil in the eyes of The Lord... like Jereboam son of Nebat..." But here we find little details throughout that shows God wants to keep us awake and see His hand. He had "promised" Jehu that he would have a descendent on the throne for four generations - no more, no less. He would not have a King forever on the throne, like promised David. God was very specific, and kept his promise. Let us not miss these details. God remembers. May he help us remember and respond appropriately.
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Now when Elisha had fallen sick with the illness of which he was to die, Joash king of Israel went down to him and wept before him, crying, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And Elisha said to him, “Take a bow and arrows.” So he took a bow and arrows. Then he said to the king of Israel, “Draw the bow,” and he drew it. And Elisha laid his hands on the king's hands. And he said, “Open the window eastward,” and he opened it. Then Elisha said, “Shoot,” and he shot. And he said, “The LORD's arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Syria! For you shall fight the Syrians in Aphek until you have made an end of them.” And he said, “Take the arrows,” and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground with them.” And he struck three times and stopped. Then the man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck down Syria until you had made an end of it, but now you will strike down Syria only three times.” (2 Kings 13:14-19 ESV) Joash knew that when Elisha passed away things would not be the same. Yet his respect for God's prophet, and his belief in the Word of the Lord given through him was not strong. He went through the motions with little emotion. He wanted Elisha's blessing, but he really did not want it enough. He held back. That's what we often do. We say we trust God; we say we want to go all out for him, but when the time comes to show it, we hold back. Let us hold back nothing from obeying God and living fully for Him today.
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
2 Kings 9:20 The lookout reported, “He has reached them, but he isn’t coming back either. The driving is like that of Jehu son of Nimshi—he drives like a maniac.” Jehu had been called by God to "cleanse the land". Both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel and Judah had strayed far from God, led by lousy leaders. As he approached where the two kings were gathered he would not be stopped. Three servants had been sent out to check his intentions - all three were told to shut up and join him, which they did. He would not be deterred from what God had called him to do; he was driven. How driven are we to obey God. Are we willing to be considered maniacs? Bible-thumpers? A Peculiar people? (Disclaimer: Crazy driving does not count...)
Monday, April 7, 2014
2 Kings 5:13-14 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy. This is one of those easy to visualize accounts we often hear as a child. It appeals to a child-like faith. Naaman had come to God's servant to be healed of leprosy, and was given simple instructions. His pride almost kept him from being healed; he was offended by this silly solution. But his servants had wisdom; they understood obedience as a key to blessing; they lived a life of humble service to Naaman. Salvation by grace through faith in and of itself seems too easy, too simple for many; we want to make it hard, so we can do it ourselves. May we learn from Naaman's servants the wisdom to walk in humble obedience to His every command, no matter how difficult or easy it may seem.
Friday, April 4, 2014
Now Ahaziah fell through the lattice in his upper chamber in Samaria, and lay sick; so he sent messengers, telling them, “Go, inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this sickness.” But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? Now therefore thus says the LORD, You shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.’” So Elijah went. (2 Kings 1:2-4 ESV) The introductory paragraph to II Kings is an eyecatcher! God's book is the best read. The big question is right there from the beginning: "Do you believe in God or not?" It is shown by our actions. We have all sorts of questions for God when we get in trouble, like Ahaziah did here, but his actions speak volumes: He turns anywhere from God, because God tells the truth. And we don't always like the truth. We need to act every day as if God is real, because He is.
Thursday, April 3, 2014
1 Kings 18:36-39 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!” As we go through the Bible, there are certain "mountain top" experiences that make us say: "I would like to have seen that!" This is one of them. Despite the response of the people here, Elijah soon pines that he alone is faithful to God. to be sure, many of us respond simply emotionally to big events like this, but there were many who sincerely were saying "The Lord - He is God!!!" We most likely will not see fire come down from heaven physically today, but may we have hearts open to see our God is Alive an at work in our lives, and renew our faith.
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
1 Kings 15:25-30 Nadab son of Jeroboam became king of Israel in the second year of Asa king of Judah, and he reigned over Israel two years. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the ways of his father and committing the same sin his father had caused Israel to commit. Baasha son of Ahijah from the tribe of Issachar plotted against him, and he struck him down at Gibbethon, a Philistine town, while Nadab and all Israel were besieging it. Baasha killed Nadab in the third year of Asa king of Judah and succeeded him as king. As soon as he began to reign, he killed Jeroboam’s whole family. He did not leave Jeroboam anyone that breathed, but destroyed them all, according to the word of the Lord given through his servant Ahijah the Shilonite. This happened because of the sins Jeroboam had committed and had caused Israel to commit, and because he aroused the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel. When Jeroboam became king of Israel and chose to provide substitute gods and worship for the people, he set in motion an atmosphere of intrigue and deceit that would haunt the nation till their exile. There would NOT be a line of kings but a long line of coups, murders and moral decline. That is what we always find when leaders turn from God.