Sunday, January 31, 2010
"He appointed twelve—designating them apostles that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him."
Are we not all one big family? Jesus teaches His family is anyone who does the will of God. In addition to bloodlines, we are family as we do God's will. We all are a part of God's family! The church can help us expand our notion of family.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Quick theological issues emerge about fasting and keeping the Sabbath. And one measure of how "thinking out of the theological box" challenges the establishment when Jesus eats with sinners. In all issues Jesus expands the teaching about the Kingdom of God, in the face of rigid legalism. More to come in this growing tension. The images of new wine and new wineskin sum up Jesus' teaching of the Kingdom and the inflexibility of the Pharisees.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Here is the passage..."Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!"Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come." So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons."
Jesus knew people would come by the thousands. He also knew His purpose was greater than responding to everyone that came to Him. Jesus stayed focused on God's purpose. These passages of Jesus taking time to reflect and pray is a great model for us to follow.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
In the drama of God's work this combination of fear and joy seem to be in tandem. Is not the trust of God the reason for joy? And the reason our fears do not get the best of us? I am going to ponder this tandem of fear and joy along the way. Does God not reveal Himself to us in such times?
By the way...we are now out of the Psalms for the first time in 150 days.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Jesus teaches earlier in Matthew 7 that "wide is the gate that leads to destruction and many follow this path." Fast growing crowds can be fickle and short-lived. Jesus challenges those who follow Him to be disciples. Disciples form a crowd over time. And the crowds of disciples become strong and dedicated.
We in the church like crowds. The best crowds are not the sudden ones but the ones who grow through discipleship. I see this patten small groups of disciples over time produce exponentially into a crowd. Bishop Dick Wills describes this as "growing larger by growing smaller."
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
"At that time Jesus said to the crowd, "Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled." Then all the disciples deserted him and fled."
In the opposite of a Nicodemus conversion at night, they came to avoid the crowd too...but their motive was to make the arrest look more suspicious. Jesus' Word to them makes this clear. Evil does often lurk in the shadows and not in the light of day. They could have arrested Jesus without clubs and without resistance.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Teaching one: Ready or not!
"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
Teaching two: Use it or lose it!
"For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him."
Teaching three: How we treat others is a reflection of how we love Jesus.
'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
Sunday, January 24, 2010
"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."
One biblical message is clear..."be ready, no one knows the day or hour!"
Saturday, January 23, 2010
"For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."
Friday, January 22, 2010
"Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."
In response to the unanswerable law question from a lawyer...
"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
Jesus walked on water, He fed multitudes with loaves and fishes, He gave sight to the blind, and...He answered unanswerable questions with silencing truth!
Thursday, January 21, 2010
One week that is also timeless and changes our lives even today.
In all the Gospels this one week will dominate. As we move through all the significant stories and teachings, think about all that was recorded about one week. And then, think about all Jesus did not recorded in the Gospels. The Gospel of John will allude to this fact in saying..."And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book" (John 20:30)
Surely Jesus did many signs, wonders, miracles, and teachings not in the Book. Holy Week helps us view this special seven day period in the life of our Lord. All this in one week, imagine all that happened in the life of Jesus during His three year ministry. Then imagine the difference Jesus has made in the last 2000 years and in our lives now. Jesus is timeless. He is "the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow." (Hebrews 13:8) We engage one week, one quarter of the Gospel, and One for all time."
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Is this parable unfair? Only for those who come late to know God. They would have missed out on the joy of serving the Lord all those years! Jesus' Kingdom is often upside down from the world view. How true with this parable!
In our life journey grace if offered all of our life. The most blessed people show up early. And one other note they do not resent those who come late!
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Monday, January 18, 2010
Who is the greatest part one? Children.
Who is the greatest part two? Those who come as a child.
Who is the greatest part three? Servant.
Which sheep out of 100 hundred matters the most? The Lost One.
How many times should we forgive? 490 7x70.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
One of the greatest themes of the Bible is faith. Yesterday, I examined the need to "think lofty." Today we can add faith as indispensable in thinking big. Faith is more than wishful thinking or hoping God will do it without our help. Faith requires our obedience, commitment, faithfulness to the Lord in His plans and not ours.
The passage says we cannot do great things for God because of our lack of faith...""Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."
A relevant example would be God would want us to think big in helping Haiti. We are to champion those who are poor and in trouble. Does God want us to "think big" for self-serving reasons...absolutely not. Faith and obedience to God's higher purposes belong together. In our giving together through UMCOR, prayers, and help we can accomplish great things for the Lord.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Here are a few excerpts...
"You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD."
"Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there;if I make my bed in the depths, you are there."
"even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you."
"How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand."
Jesus also lifts us out of small thinking by saying... "the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church." He also challenges the disciples small thinking by saying the miracle of feeding 5000 was not about bread! His message is about not following "yeast" of the Pharisees.
Friday, January 15, 2010
of the most famous passages is in Joshua 24. I have seen passage in many homes..."But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."
Another famous saying originated from Matthew..."the blind leading the blind." Here is the passgae..."If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit."
A famous Holy Communion line is also in the passage today..."Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour. We are not worthy but thanks be to God the Sacrament is still offered to us.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
The Bible is speaks to all of life. I do not understand the "gory" but I am inspired by the "glory" and lifted to new heights by "story" of feeding five thousand and Jesus walking on the water!
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
So What! Sow good seed. Matthew 13 is one of the strongest chapters in the Bible to teach. You can pick your parable. They are abundant.
Treasure in the Field
All of them reveal some of the mystery about the Kingdom of God. So what? Sow the good seeds of the Kingdom of God.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
#1 Saying..."When your ox is in a ditch" (A Sheep in this case)
Actual passage..."If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath,
will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more
valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good
on the Sabbath."
#2 Saying..."A house divided against itself cannot stand"
Actual passage..."Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every
city or household divided against itself will not stand."
Monday, January 11, 2010
Seriously, losing the weight of burdens is even better than weight loss and Jesus tells us how...
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Wow...rest for the soul. Is there any better rest? Jesus always offers the best!
Sunday, January 10, 2010
"How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard,running down on Aaron's beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore."
In these days, when you have unity that is a blessing and a wonderful sign in which to build a team to attempt great things for God.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Lasting change requires new habits in a new routine. Both the willingness and discipline. There is nothing superficial about change. It requires body, mind, and spirit in synergy. Only God can bring the deepest change of the heart. Only God can change the heart.
Every time I read this passage I wrestle with my own needs to change. A pep talk never hurts motivation but change requires more than determination. Jesus' Words about change are the best.
Jesus' power and grace are required for spiritual changes of the heart.
Friday, January 8, 2010
"On the day the LORD gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the LORD in the presence of Israel: "O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon." till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, as it is written in the Book of Jashar.
The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the LORD listened to a man. Surely the LORD was fighting for Israel!"
What an awesome thought that time stood still!
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Day 130...(Joshua 7,8; Psalm 130; Mathew 7)..."The Difference of Wise and Foolish and the need of Mercy"
In regard to Achan's stoning is this because sins that lead a whole people astray lead to a stiffer penalty? Psalm 130:3 says "Lord if you kept a record of all sins who could stand?" I am a bit bewildered by the lack of mercy for Achan but notice the hope with this passage. Jesus does say in Matthew 7..."not everyone who says 'Lord' will enter the kingdom. So many Biblical teachings deal with wise, foolish, and the need of mercy. The "rock solid" teaching today is about destruction that comes from building on the sand.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
On a completely different note, Jesus teaches do not "toot your own horn" about prayer, service, or fasting...and "your Heavenly Father Who sees in secret will reward you openly."
Matthew 6, also, has so much wonderful teaching which cannot be captured in a short blog. These including treasures in Heaven and how not to worry by "seeking first the Kingdom." The application of chapter six can inspire to set priorities, allegiance to God, while reducing worry and stress.
So much profound, inspiring, and interesting reading and so little blog.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Matthew five opens the Sermon on the Mount. Every line has a great message of major Kingdom of God themes. Among these include...the attitude of the Kingdom, shining for the Kingdom, striving toward perfection in every area of life, forgiveness, love of enemies, and going the extra mile. Matthew 5-7 can change your life. I cannot stop reading or thinking of these challenging teachings of Jesus.
In Joshua today, stones help commemorate the crossing of the River Jordan. What a great introduction to this miracle of God stacking up the water..."Joshua told the people, "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you."
We are challenged to follow and serve God who still does amazing things!
Monday, January 4, 2010
Psalm 127 says it so convincingly..."unless the Lord builds the house it will not stand." The theme of building God's way or destroying through disobedience continues.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
Another transition is John the Baptist prepares for Jesus. The Baptizer then yields to the the One greater than he. Jesus. John says he not worthy to carry His sandals. In another gospel he says..."He must increase I must decrease." What a great moment when Jesus was baptized by John and then got out of the way. Good leaders know when to get out of the way, and in this case, let God work.
Have we ever considered part of leadership is getting out of the way? Leaders always have to weigh out when to assert influence and when to get out of the way. In God's realm, we always have to be prepared even to get out of the way for the Lord to work. What do you think?
Saturday, January 2, 2010
I love the mountain images in the Psalm today. The Lord surrounds His people like mountains.
Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the LORD surrounds his people
both now and forevermore.
Jesus birth does not go without noticed by Herod. He uses worship of the "King of the Jews" as a excuse to spy. When tricked, he turns to violence. Joseph and Mary follow the path from Israel to Egypt and back to Israel. Jesus' birth is tied to the earlier Scripture.
Friday, January 1, 2010
Matthew opens with a focus on genealogy. Notice the orderly account of fourteen generations from Abraham to David, David to exile, and exile to Jesus. After this long wait for Jesus can we imagine how precious the word are...
"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, "God with us."
What a great thought for 2010! God is with us! Amen!