Archive for : July, 2017

1 Corinthians 1

“Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” When I read that statement from Paul I thought of so many conversations I have had with people who just don’t get it when I share with them about spiritual things. They frame their world on the wisdom they learned in school and anything outside of that framework is just foolishness. The sad reality is, that there seems to be a whole generation today that can only see their world in the framework of “worldly wisdom.” The same was true in Paul’s day – those who were highly educated in his day were having greater difficulties seeing the world through a spiritual framework and because of that they missed out on true life and wisdom! Education is very important, but it must not be our god! It is sad, but for many today “world wisdom” has become their idol!!

Luke 24

That must been an amazing journey as Jesus unfolded to these disciples the O.T. scriptures and how they are related to Him! All of a sudden the dots would have come together and a veil was being removed as it all became ever clearer. They would have come to understand that the coming kingdom was not national but spiritual. They would begin to see that victory was not over Rome but sin and Satan. That resurrection was not some fate dream but an undeniable reality. That it’s not about a better life here but an amazing life in the hereafter. See, this conversation would have helped these disciples to begin to understand what Jesus truly meant when He was with them teaching. No wonder their hearts burned as our Lord opened the scriptures to them! Of course we will discover the very same things as we explor and study God’s word. The more you connect the dots, the more it all begins to open like a beautiful flower!

Reflections

Today is a day to pause and reflect over our readings this week. We saw the events that lead up to the Crucifixion and we watched as our Lord died in our place for our sins! I would suggest that it would be good to reflect not only on what we observed, but our feelings. For me I felt a profound sadness and anger – because my Lord had to suffer on a cross for me! I felt overwhelming gratefulness for what took place on the cross gives me hope and a relationship with my Creator! I felt so unworthy and so loved that I am in awe!! Praise God!

Reflections to consider

Why would the Messiah, the Son of God, have to die such a violent, terrible, excruciating death? The Scripture is plain. First, he died for sin. Isaiah says, We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And GOD has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him. (Isaiah 53: 6 MSG) Peter also confirms, He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. (1 Peter 2: 24 NLT) Yet for Jesus, more awful than the pain of physical suffering he endured was the spiritual pain of bearing the guilt for our sins. He died not only for sin; he died in place of the sinner. Romans 5: 6 (NLT) announces, “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.” And 1 Peter 3: 18 concurs, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” Jesus took on the cross what you will have to take for all eternity if you don’t take Jesus. He died such a violent death to illustrate how horrible sin is, how holy God is, and how much we need him to die in our place for our sins.
(52 Weeks with Jesus)

Luke 23

Two people were crucified with Jesus. Many scholars feel these men were most likely part of the insurrection that Barabbas was charged with – they were not as fortunate as Barabbas. One of these criminals took part in hurling insults at Jesus, but the other criminal realized that Jesus was innocent. He seemed to be aware of what Jesus was teaching – as he wanted to be remembered when Jesus comes into His kingdom. Over the years people have used this as a case showing that baptism is not required in obeying the gospel, for Jesus declared to the man that he would join Him in paradise, the waiting place for God’s people. There are a few things to keep in mind. (1) This is not the first time that Jesus tells a person your sins are forgiven (look at Mark 2:1-12). So, a personal encounter with the Son of God would be required to duplicate this pattern for salvation! (2) What took place with this criminal – took place BEFORE the new covenant. The new covenant was established after Jesus had died (Eph. 2:11-18). To discover how one responds to the gospel we need to go to the record in the book of Acts, where we will find what the apostles taught in the new covenant as to how one obeys the gospel! Of course the very vechiel for the thief’s forgiveness and our forgiveness is being played out in our reading!

Luke 22

The Passover meal commemorated the Jews’ deliverance from slavery in Egypt. It also had a much deeper spiritual application that, as Jesus explained here, would be fulfilled through His death. The Jewish nation as a whole had missed any future prophetic meaning of the Passover. On the night of the original Passover the Jews had to slay a spotless lamb and take its blood and apply it to the doorposts of their homes. When the Lord passed through the land at midnight to execute His judgment, He passed over the homes of those who had applied the lamb’s blood to their doors, and no one was hurt. This is a perfect picture of the redemption that Jesus has provided for us. Truly, Jesus is our Passover lamb (1Cor. 5:7)! So our Lord completed or fulfilled the Passover and Christians celebrate that each first of the week when we take the Lord Supper. The detail of God’s scheme of redemption over the centuries is just amazing! How loved we truly are by our Creator!!

Luke 21

Jesus told His disciples they were going to have to suffer because of Him. They were going to face Jewish rulers, 
kings, and governors and they would be witnesses to them! “But this will give you an opportunity to tell about me.” (ERV) How these men faced this persecution was going to open doors of opportunity to share the gospel with men who were in positions of power. If there was no opposition to the message then the disciples would have never had the opportunity to stand before men like King Agrippa and proclaim the gospel. Just think God used this persecution to bring the gospel to the halls of Rome and the Emperor himself! Jesus told His disciples they would be hated and would have to die because of the message they were going to proclaim. Discipleship has a cost and it is our willingness to boldly face whatever the opposition throws at us that will open up doors to proclaim the gospel!  

Lukes 20

Jesus in our reading was openly teaching the people who gathered to listen. Thus, his opponents, seeking ways to kill him, tested him at the point of authority. What authority did he claim? The scribes had authority. They had studied with rabbis. The priests had authority. They had inherited the position of priest all the way back to their forefathers Aaron and Levi. The elders had authority. Their age and experience had gained them leadership in the social and economic affairs of the community. These three groups of Jewish leaders knew that Jesus had no formal training with the rabbis, no priestly lineage, and no experience of the elders. How dare he usurp their positions and contradict their teachings. Could these Jewish authorities expose Jesus’ lack of credentials and thus rob him of the authority everyone recognized in his teaching? Jesus turned the tables on them by having them deal with John’s authority! John had none of the credentials they were so proud of so like Him either John received his authority from God or his teachings were just the rants of a crazy man in the wilderness. Thus, Jesus got them to admit the possibility that both He and John received their authority from God!

Luke 19

Jesus in our reading notes how His coming was hidden from the eyes of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. How was it hidden from their eyes? It was hidden because they were not focused on God’s agenda, but their own. Pride and wealth had blinded them to the very signs that were playing out in front of them! Every time I make a statement like that in a Bible class the question always is asked – how could they be so blind? It is actually quite easy!! In our pride we close our hearts because we KNOW what the truth is, according to our understanding. Then when we encounter something that does not meet our truths and agenda – we rationalize it away! The Pharisees saw a miracle and they rationalized it away by calling that power the work of Satan, not God. What is their proof for such a conclusion – it does not fit into their “understanding” thus it can’t be of God! I encounter commentaries and teachers all the time that dismiss truths in the text on the grounds it does not fit a doctrine or system they had formulated. Of course it is important that our doctrines and systems be shaped by all of God’s word not one or two verses. Yet, it is also true we must be very careful not to approach God’s word with an agenda or like Israel in our pride we might miss the Messiah! 

Reflections

Today is a day to reflect over our readings. As we see the life of Jesus unfold we need to realize that He is establishing for us a pattern of the life we are called to live. John says that we are to “walk as Jesus walked.” So, as you think about your readings reflect not only on what Jesus taught but how He interacted with the world around Him. I have found all too often people have an image of Jesus that does reflect the image of Jesus we find in the gospels.

Reflections to consider

Only two things can come between you and God. One is unconfessed sin. The psalmist says, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Psalm 66: 18 NASB). So we are to pray, “Forgive us our debts.” The word forgive means “to cancel a debt.” Sin is a debt. We exist to worship and obey God. When we don’t, we owe a sin-debt to God. The only remedy for this debt is to declare spiritual bankruptcy, to go into a spiritual Chapter 11 and let somebody else pay the debt. That is exactly what Jesus Christ did on the cross. When Jesus Christ died on the cross and paid for our sins, he gave us the ability and the right to go to God and say, “Forgive us our debts.” Besides unforgiven sin, the other thing that can come between you and God is an unforgiving spirit. So we continue to pray, “as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6: 12). When you pray these words, you are asking God to forgive you in the same way you forgive others. It’s a dangerous prayer to pray! If you’re not willing to forgive the debts of others, you are actually asking God not to forgive you. That is not a prayer you want God to answer. (52 Weeks with Jesus)

Luke 18

“I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” “Jesus applied the story for his disciples. If an uncaring human judge acts like this, how much more does a loving heavenly Father care for his children. He will never put you off. He does care for you. You will receive justice. But remember, this involves continuing to pray day and night. The problem is not with God. He will answer when you need it. You can count on that. Persistent prayer, the work of the person of faith, continues on, no matter what the answer. When Christ returns, the person of persistent prayer will still be praying. I pray that I will be found in that number!!

Luke 17

Jesus in our reading warns the disciples against causing anyone to stumble, illustrates the power of faith with the parable of a mustard seed, and concludes with another parable on the proper attitude of a servant. For Jesus’ followers must see through the eyes of faith rather than be blinded by the concerns of the present age. This even applies to our relationship with our brethren. For Jesus said a heart of faith will strive to heal relationships with my brethren! That even if someone sins against us 7 times in a day we are to work at bring about repentance and forgiveness. A heart of faith is truly different from a heart focused on and in the world!

Luke 16

How do we use what God has blessed us with? That is the question that Jesus is putting on the table. Worldly gains should not be used to satisfy the desires of this world; instead, they should be used for things that are of eternal value. These followers of Jesus will be welcomed either by friends whom they have helped or by God himself, who will reward them for their generosity. For Jesus gets across in both parables in our reading that how we use the wealth and blessings that God gives us is a test. If we use what God has given us to help others and extend the Kingdom, then we will receive “True Riches” – when judgement comes. Yet, if we use what God has given us only for our pleasures and wellbeing we have failed the test!

Luke 15

Scholars have noted that similar parables like the Prodigal Son had been told in one form or another since Babylonian exile among the Jews. What is noteworthy is that Jesus’ parable ended in a very different way from the other parables. (The other parables went something like this) “When the son comes home there is no father waiting. When the son knocks on the door the father comes to the door and when he sees it is his wayward son he slams the door in the son’s face! The father rejects the son because of his rebellion and sin. Thus the community continues to live in peace because the bad apple (the prodigal son) was removed from the community.” For the rabbis used such a parable to show what would happen to one who rebelled against one’s father and sinned against God! So the twist in Jesus’ parable must have just dropped some jaws! For in Jesus’ parable the father (God) comes running to embrace and celebrate the return of His lost son! I am so thankful for a God that loves me so much, that even when am rebellious, He still yearns for my return and is ready to welcome me home with open arms!!

Luke 14

Jesus closed our reading by declaring: “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” In this place the salt appears to denote disciples and the idea to be: genuine disciples are an excellent thing, valuable as salt to a corrupt world, but disciples that are not genuine are utterly worthless as salt which has lost its saltiness. Discipleship requires a willingness to pay the cost and to renounce all! There can be nothing we are not willing to give up when it comes to following our Lord! A disciple who is not wholehearted in his commitment is of no value to our Lord or the church. Such a disciple will discover no joy or peace in their Christian walk!

Reflections

Today is a day to reflect over our readings. A text I would like to suggest that you reflect on is this: “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭12:6-7‬ ‭NIV In a world where our self worth is always under attack, it is important to realize how loved and precious we are to God! Truly that is worth of our reflection.

Reflections to consider

When you surrender your will to his will, you find that prayer changes you. Your prayers will change as well. That is why getting into that secret place every day and surrendering your will to his is so important. Don’t ever leave the place of prayer until you are fully surrendered to Jesus Christ. Without surrender, nothing will change in your life. Nothing will change the perspective of your life. Nothing will change the purpose of your life. Nothing will change the priority of your life like completely being surrendered to his will. When we pray, we want to know that God hears us. God says, ‘First, I want your worship. Focus on who I am, where I live, and what I want, because then you will want my will.’ You will never experience the power and joy of prayer until you are willing to find and do his will. I encourage you, perhaps over the next month, to take the first five minutes of each day and give God your worship. Focus on who he is, where he lives, and what he wants. Surrender to his will and watch how God changes your life. (52 Weeks with Jesus)

Luke 13

Why do things happen to us? That is often a question for which there is no answer. Calamities often appear as God’s judging his unfaithful people, but suffering does not always reflect God’s wrath. Jesus noted in our reading that those who are not affected by recent calamities should not assume that they are innocent and therefore immune from God’s judgment. Yet, latter in our reading Jesus spoke of a woman that was suffering and laid the blame at Satan’s feet. The answer to the “why” question will often elude us, what is more important is the “what” question! What will you or I do in the face of suffering and calamities? Often what we face is a wake up call and should cause us to look at our lives and draw closer to God and His Son. For God calls for us to trust in Him and be faithful to Him no matter what we have to face!!

Luke 12

All too often people want to paint God as either a God of love or wrath – but the God we worship is both! Yet in all this let’s not forget how much our Creator is aware and concerned about all that takes place in our lives. God is not a Divinity that just watches from a distance – He knows us so well the very hairs on our head are numbered! Maybe it’s time that we trust God and realize that we are of great concern and value to Him! Remember what Jesus said about the sparrows – “Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”