Archive for : October, 2018

10/31/2018 — Matthew Chapter 19 and Mark Chapter 10

Mark 10:  32 They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. 33 “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, 34 who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”

Did you notice the two words that described the reaction of the “disciples” (the 12) vs. “others” who followed Jesus?  “Frightened” is certainly appropriate since Jesus was heading into the “lion’s den”  of opposition and the leaders were planning his death.

But the word attributed to the emotion of the apostles, “astonished,” is interesting.  The Greek word means  “to stupefy (with surprise), i.e. astound:–amaze; terrify.”  So, while the crowds were “frightened” the apostles could not even begin to conceptualize that Jesus was actually going to Jerusalem.

And, yet, through faith the went with Him …

 

October 30, 2018 — Luke Chapter 18

Luke 18:  And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 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?”

… and how quickly we see this teaching demonstrated

Luke 18:   38 He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”  40 Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?”  “Lord, I want to see,” he replied.  42 Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.”

October 29, 2018 — John Chapter 11

Of Jesus’s miracles I have always thought that the raising of Lazarus was the most dramatic.  Unlike the rather private raising of Jairus’s daughter this miracle was performed in full view of “many” Jews from the capital of Jerusalem.  Jesus’s compassion for a friend is described.  And the drama of Lazarus walking from the tomb, still sheathed in the wrappings of death is overwhelming.

When I read this passage today the statements of two individuals caught my eye:

John 111Then Thomas (also known as Didymus said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.

John 11:  26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”  27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God,who is to come into the world.”

Some think of Thomas as the “doubter.”  Yet, we see in this verse we read that he has faith to the point of being willing to die for the Lord.

And Martha, we may think of her as the “Type A, workaholic” who did not place worship as a priority over works.  Yet, we see her succinctly state her understanding of Jesus’s mission and who he really is.

10/28/2018 — Luke Chapters 16 & 17

Luke 16:   “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

The above verses of course are from the parable of the “the Unjust (or Shrewd) Servant.”  And this is another of Jesus’s teachings that I have had to “ponder” because it appears that He is justifying deceitful business practices.

But a close reading shows that Jesus is not saying that we need to follow the example of the servant and use what we are blessed to have received deceitfully.  But, as good stewards, we are to use them (not hoard) to “store up riches for heaven.”

Luke 16:  I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

 

 

 

10/27/2018 — Luke Chapters 14 & 15

Two points to share in today’s reading.   Luke 14 details another of Jesus’s healing on the Sabbath, and there have been several.  Coffman conveniently summarizes all of them, as follows:

  • The healing of Simon’s wife’s mother (Luke 4:38)
  • The healing of the man with the withered hand (Luke 6:6)
  • The healing of the woman crippled eighteen years (Luke 13:14)
  • The healing of the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:9)
  • The healing of the man born blind (John 9:14)
  • The healing of the demoniac in the synagogue at Capernaum (Mark 1:21)
  • The healing of the man with dropsy [swelling 0f his body,] (Luke 14:1)

The second point is a precept that I use in teaching management courses — humility.  I pretty much paraphrase Luke 14:7-10 (using a business dinner vs. a wedding.)  After this lesson I leave the class brainstorming how they can “humble” themselves in the eyes of the workers they will be leading.  Then I conclude with a paraphrase of Luke 14:11 — how important it is to never forget who we serve and that our accomplishments are the result of the blessing brought to us.  For managers this is the talent they lead.  For believers this is our Lord …

When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

 

10/26/2018 — Luke Chapters 12-13

Often while reviewing a passage I find it refreshing and educational to turn to the writings of others for their insight.  Sometimes they will see the verse or chapter differently that I do.  Sometimes they may have a wonderful overview of what I just read.  So it is with Chapter 12.  Coffman developed a marvelous summary that I find interesting. He states:

“Here are in this remarkable sermon a series of nine warnings, as follows:

Warning against the leaven of the Pharisees (Luke 12:1-7).Warning against the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Luke 12:8-12).

Warning against covetousness (Luke 12:13-21).

Warning against anxieties (Luke 12:22-34).

Warning against failure to “watch” (Luke 12:35-40).

Warning against unfaithfulness (Luke 12:41-48).

Warning against divisions due to God’s word (Luke 12:49-53).

Warning against ignoring the signs of the time (Luke 12:54-56).

Warning against failure to make peace with God now (Luke 12:57-59)

10/25/2018 — Luke Chapter 10

Again, a reading with so many important teachings and examples.  But a single word from Luke 38-41 caught my attention.

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

From earlier verses we see that Martha was not idle — in fact she was doing “good works.”  She was serving the Lord and His disciples.  So, what she was doing was in no way wrong (and we should also be doing “good works.”)  But she had set aside the greatest priority to perform a lesser one.

What she neglected was worship & a focus on the Lord. The lesson for us is obvious.

 

10/23/2018 — John Chapters 7 & 8

In these chapters Jesus is persistent in teaching the leaders of the Jews the reality of who He is — the Son of the Living God.  In my opinion there is a single verse that with a little word study summarizes Jesus deity.

John 8:   57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”  58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

The Greek expression used here literally means “I exist.”  Jesus was not saying “I was there”  Instead he is saying that he existed then and exists now — He has been and always will be.

Coffman summarizes:  The majestic “I AM” with which Jesus concluded this confrontation suggests God’s “I AM THAT I AM” (Exodus 3:14) and there can be no reasonable denial that Jesus here claimed equality with God.  A check of the teachings in this chapter reveals that Jesus presented himself as one with Almighty God no less than a dozen times.

10/22/2018 — Matthew Chapter 18

Today’s & another recent reading provide examples of where the values of the Kingdom are so different from the values of the “world.”  Jesus taught that to “achieve” a goal we have to “be” just the opposite.

Matthew 16:   25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

Matthew 18:  Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

 

10/21/2018 — Matthew Chapter 17 & Mark Chapter 9

Mark 9:    His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.  Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)

Matthew 17:6 records that the disciples were “terrified” (NIV)   And why not?  They had just seen standing before them the patriarchs of everything they had been taught since childhood — the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah.)

But isn’t it interesting that they still did not fully understand the divinity & salvation in their midst — the only Son of the Living God.

 

Mark 9: As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant. 

10/20/2018 — Matthew Chapter 16 & Mark Chapter 8

Again in today’s reading we go from a “mountain-top” to a “rock-bottom” moment This time it is one man — Peter who experiences the momentous change.

The mountain-top:  Matthew 16:  “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.

The rock-bottom:  Mark 8:    32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.  33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.

And we know that, like Peter, we experience moments of victory and moments of defeat on our journey as believers.  Our challenge — remain faithful and keep always moving forward towards our goal!

 

 

 

 

10/19/2018 — Matthew Chapter 15 and Mark Chapter 7

Matthew 15:   1Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”  16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them

Mark 7:   After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18 “Are you so dull? he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? 

So, when I read the word “dull” here my thought was “OK, it sounds a bit harsh  — was Jesus really questioning his disciples ability to understand?”  So, I went word searching and the word used here leaves little doubt.  The Greek word is “asunetoj” and per Strong’s’ Lexicon it literally means “unintelligent; by implication, wicked:–foolish, without understanding.

But before we criticize the apostles too strongly remember the tenants that had been taught the apostles from their birth by their religious leaders.   I think commentator AT Robertson makes an excellent point:   It was a discouraging moment for the great Teacher if his own chosen pupils (disciples) were still under the spell of the Pharisaic theological outlook. It was a riddle to them. “They had been trained in Judaism, in which the distinction between clean and unclean is ingrained, and could not understand a statement abrogating this” (Gould). 

A message for us today — we should never stop comparing the teachings we hear to the inspired Word of God.  And that is why establishing a routine of Bible reading and study is critical to our spiritual development.

10/18/2018 – John Chapter 6

OK, so when I first read John 6: 51-55 literally:

51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”   52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them

My thoughts reflected partly the perceptions of those of some of his disciples in vs. 60 & 66:

60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”  ….   66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

One of the real blessings I think we often overlook is that we can hold in our hands in many forms (books, tablets, cell-phones, etc) the complete inspired Word of God.

From reading the other Gospels and the letters and teachings provided us by the Holy Spirit we realize that “eating the bread” and “drinking the blood” are not the “cannibalistic” acts inferred by some of these disciples (and later even some Roman rulers.)

Rather, it is referencing the total sacrifice that the Lord will be making for the entire — both present and future.  As Coffman writes:

Christ is to the soul what food and drink are to the body. Without food and drink, the body dies; without Christ the soul dies. Any Christian who has for a lifetime studied the Holy Scriptures in their reference to Christ, and prayed to him daily, and worshiped him constantly, and who has sat down every Lord’s day for many years in a weekly assembly where tokens of his flesh and blood are actually eaten – such a person finds the flippant question of the skeptics mentioned here a lot more ridiculous than Jesus’ statement must have appeared to them

10/24/2018 — John Chapters 9 & 10

As is usual with the Gospel of John these chapters are crammed with Jesus’s teaching (e.g., the shepherd and his flock, the sheep and the gate.)  I do enjoy studying but sometimes do I study too much and “miss the forest for the trees?”

I was reminded of this as I read just two verses in John Chapter 9.  These are the profound statement of the healed “man born blind.”  In them he lays a foundation that no multitude of words could state better.  His statements:

John 9:  25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

John 9: 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.

Simple, believing faith is exemplified in his words …

 

10/17/2018 — Matthew 14; Mark 6; Luke 9

Matthew 14:  16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”  17 We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

Mark 6:   37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages[e]! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”  38 “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.”  When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”

Luke 9:  13 He replied, “You give them something to eat.” They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.

All three of these gospels describe the same event (and we will see John do the same.)  And do you see recorded a common action taken by the disciples. ?

I read once that when challenged with an apparent impossible task the disciples did what we do so often — they took an inventory what they had.   But they never looked at who they were following.

So, reflect a bit on the number of times that you (or a Body of Believers) may have made a perfectly acceptable “objective” decision but had not taken a “leap of faith?”

10/16/2018 — Matthew Chapter 10

Matthew 101“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

Being compared to a “dove” has never bothered me as a believer.  But what about being compared to a “snake?”  (I immediately think of a “Snake-oil” salesman-type image.)

Well, the popular view of snakes has changed greatly time.  Today to many snakes are evil and to be avoided.  However, at the time of Christ snakes were associated with wisdom by many cultures.

The commentator “Got Questions” stated, As we take the gospel to a hostile world, we must be wise (avoiding the snares set for us), and we must be innocent (serving the Lord blamelessly). Jesus was not suggesting that we stoop to deception but that we should model some of the serpent’s famous shrewdness in a positive way. Wisdom does not equal dishonesty, and innocence does not equal gullibility.

 

 

10/15/2018 — Mark Chapters 4 & 5

Mark 426 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

I have highlighted a few words that I seemed to have read for the very first time — well, maybe this is the first time I saw them “this way.”  We can certainly sow seed with our contacts and our evangelism.  But did you notice that regardless of the effort of the sower, it is not his effort that causes the kingdom of the Lord to grow?

The growth of God’s kingdom is greater than our efforts — this is not an excuse to “cut back” on seed planting.  We serve because we love.  But is is humbling to acknowledge the power of the Lord — His will shall be fulfilled!

 

 

 

10/14/2018 — Matthew Chapter 13 & Luke Chapter 8

Maybe (well, probably) because Liz and I have been blessed with three daughters and two granddaughters I cannot read the story of the healing of Jairus daughter in Luke 8:40-56 without actually becoming personally immersed in the emotion of this miracle.

As we discussed yesterday, like Jairus, I would certainly pray shamelessly for the healing of any of the girls & unabashedly rejoice at their healing.

In his song “Got to Tell Somebody” Christian songwriter Don Francisco puts these emotions into lyrics of poetry:

She kept on getting weaker
As day dragged into day
The doctors gave no hope for her
She seemed to fade away
My hours were filled with constant dread
Time became a knife
Slowly and relentlessly
Cut the cord of life

There was a Teacher in the region then
Some of us had heard
He’d healed the paralytic
By the power of just His word
So if the hope became rekindled
I went at once to see
If I could find a man named Jesus
From a town called Galilee

I began to search the city
And soon I saw the crowd
They were pressing in to touch Him
And they called His name out loud
But with the strength of desperation
I pushed them all aside
I threw myself before Him
And from my knees I cried

Lord, come and heal my daughter
Even now she’s close to death
Her fever’s uncontrolable
She fights for every breath
But God’s given you the power
Life is yours to give
If You’ll just lay Your hands on her
I know that she will live, she will live, she will live

Well, He just began to walk with me
When a face I saw with fear
Came towards me with the news
I knew I didn’t wanna hear
And although I tried still myself
I trembled when he said
Don’t bother the teacher anymore
Your little girl is dead

And then Jesus touched my shoulder
And told me not to grieve
The trembling stopped when He looked at me
And said only believe
And then He sent the crowds away
Except His closest men
And they followed right behind us
As we started off again

We were still a long ways down the road
When I heard the sounds and cries
Of the mourners and musicians
As they strove to dramatize
My grief, they had no business with
Beneath their loud disguise
My wife just sat there silently
And stared through empty eyes

Then Jesus asked the mourners
Why is it that you weep?
She isn’t dead as you suppose
The child is just asleep
It only took a moment
For their wails to turn to jeers
Who does this Man think He is?
Get Him outta here
With authority I’ve never heard
In the lips of any man
He spoke and every sound rolled out
With a thunder of command
And in the sudden silence
They all hurried for the door
Wondering what the reasons were
They’d ever come there for

Then He called His three disciples
That were with Him on the way
He led them and my wife and me
To where our daughter lay
He took her by the hand
He told her, child arise
And the words were barely spoken
When she opened up her eyes

She rose and walked across the room
And stood there at our sides
My wife knelt down and held her close
And at last she really cried
Then Jesus told us both to see
Our daughter had some food
And as to how her life was saved
Not to speak a word, not to speak a word

He gave me life when my hope was dead  

when there was grief He brought joy instead 

10/13/2018 — Luke Chapter 11

Again, each section of scripture that we read is filled with wisdom and examples.  There are many in this chapter.  But in 11:8 one word, as translated in the NIV, caught my attention:

I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.

What is it to ask shamelessly?  In my mind it is to put all of my pride, my trust in my own abilities, and any thoughts of hope without faith in the Lord totally out of my mind and to just fall on my knees in prayer.  We see multiple examples of this in scripture including the synagogue ruler falling at Jesus’s feet in pleading that his daughter be healed and the Canaanite (Syro-Phoenician) woman begging for the removal of demons from her daughter.

At times of crisis we also pray with this fervor, but do we do it daily when everything is “going well?”

10/12/2018 — Matthew Chapter 11

Isaiah 35:   Strengthen the feeble hands,  steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts,  “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”  Then will the eyes of the blind be opened  and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer,  and the mute tongue shout for joy.  Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.

Sound familiar?  Of course these are the signs that Jesus just gave John’s disciples.  And I am sure that when they returned John recognized the source of and the fulfillment of this prophecy.  But a reality that has saddened me is that if John recognized these signs, so should the leaders of the Jews.  And this is another realization of how hardened they had allowed their hearts to become.

Matthew 11: 4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy[b] are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”