Archive for : April, 2019

04/30/19 – John 1:1-28; Psalm 101:1-8; Proverbs 14:13-14

A personal sharing from today’s reading.  On April 10th we buried my Dad at the age of 85.  We were blessed because I think that everyone my Dad would have wanted to attend his funeral was there — relatives, former co-workers, and neighbors.  During the time of family greeting there was a terrific amount of laughter and smiling as everyone shared their personal stories & how my Dad and his integrity, compassion, sense of duty and love of learning had touched their lives.

Today’s verses from Proverbs reminded me of the celebration we had — knowing that we were saying our final good-byes on this earth:

Proverbs 1413 Even in laughter the heart may ache, and rejoicing may end in grief.  14 The faithless will be fully repaid for their ways, and the good rewarded for theirs.

Not only did David capture the emotion of the moment – heartfelt grief even within the sound of laughter.  He also captured the reality that “the good will be rewarded” in accordance with God’s plan and His schedule.

04/29/19 – Luke 24:13-53; Psalm 100:1-5; Proverbs 14:11-12

Several weeks ago Artie brought a marvelous message on how the book of Acts was a record of “witnesses” of the initial days of the church.  As I was reading through our Luke passage today I saw another references to “witnesses,” and this time from the Lord, himself:

Luke 24:  45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

While we are certainly not “eyewitnesses” as were the apostles, we are witnesses of the power of the God through our blessing of having the complete, inspired Word.  And we share the same mission, sharing the Good News of the repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  Let us not forsake our mission.  

04/28/19 – Luke 23:44-24:12; Psalm 99:1-12; Proverbs 14:9-10

Luke 23: 47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” 48 When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away.

Did you pick-up on the above highlighted expression & denote what “all the people” did?  At the death of Jesus all of those who had participated in his death expressed sorrow at the deed they had fully supported.  I think William Barclay captures the essence of their act, as follows:

The centurion and the crowd were deeply moved as Jesus died. His death did what even his life could not do; it broke the hard hearts of men. Already Jesus’ saying was coming true–“I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw an men to myself.” The magnet of the cross had begun its work, even as he breathed his last.

04/27/19 – Luke 23:13-43; Psalm 97:1-98:9; Proverbs 14:7-8

Luke 23:  27 A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 28 Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then “‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!”and to the hills, “Cover us!”

Just a thought and an observation — Jesus is about to undergo terrible suffering and death.  And, yet, He thought more about the terrible fate that was approaching for Jerusalem when the city was destroyed by Rome.

Can you think of another example of such great love?

 

 

04/26/19 – Luke 22:54-23:12; Psalm 95:1-96:5; Proverbs 14:5-6

I am sure that like all of us sometimes there is a song whose lyrics and tune you just cannot get “out of your head.”   Sometimes you even find yourself humming and mouthing the words.

Psalm 96:

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.                                 Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.   Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.   For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;                                                              he is to be feared above all gods.                                                                                              For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.   Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary.

When I read the inspired words from Psalm 96 I am reminded of the lyrics from a contemporary Christian song.   And this is one song who’s message I want to always remain “in my head” and in my heart.

How Great Is Out God
The splendor of a King, clothed in majesty
Let all the Earth rejoice
All the Earth rejoice
He wraps himself in light
And darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice
Trembles at His voice.
How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God.
          — Chris Tomlin

 

 

 

 

04/25/19 – Luke 22:35-53; Psalm 94:1-23; Proverbs 14:2-4

Luke 22:   35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered.  36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.” 38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”  “That’s enough!” he replied.

Have you read these verses and wondered what is the significance of the “swords?”  After all, was not Jesus a Man of Peace who taught “turn the other cheek.”  Like you, these thoughts entered my mind and I needed to do a bit of reading.

As he often does I think Coffman offers a good perspective:

The view maintained here is that self-defense is exactly what Jesus taught. Self-defense is a basic, natural right of all men, and there is no lawful government on earth that denies it. Just why should it be supposed that Jesus denied to Christians such a basic right has never been explained. “Resist not evil … go the second mile … turn the other cheek… give thy cloak also, etc.” are not applicable to situations in which one’s life is threatened, or endangered.

And we will see Jesus address the proper use of “self-defense” in a later chapter when Peter strikes Malchus.

04/24/19 – Luke 22:14-34; Psalm 92:1-93:5; Proverbs 14:1-2

Luke 22:  14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

I am sure you have noticed that sometimes very small words having significant meanings.  In today’s reading from Luke such a word appears — what does the highlighted pronoun “it” reference in v. 16?

I looked through several commentaries and most conclude that Jesus is referring to his crucifixion and the purchasing of our souls via His sacrifice.

 

 

04/23/19 – Luke 21:29-22:13; Psalm 90:1-91:16; Proverbs 13:24-26

Today our readings from Psalm 90 and 91 are so wondrously inspired I think we should just focus on the reassurances we have due to the grace of God.  Read these verses slowly and just reflect:

Psalm 90:

1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place
    throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
    or you brought forth the whole world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Psalm 91: 

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

 

04/22/19 – Luke 21:1-28; Psalm 89:38-52; Proverbs 13:15-18

Luke 21: As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

Each time I read these verses I expect to see a verse 5 that states something like “When the poor widow left the temple she found two bags on the ground.  As she open them she found 400 talents of gold coin.  And she lived happily ever after.”

But we do not read this.  In fact we do not know what happened to the widow.  All we know is that she gave all that she had, she gave it freely and she was recognized by the Lord.

When we give of ourselves we may not immediately see the result or the reward.  But, as with the poor widow we will be blessed – not because of how much we gave but because “we gave.”

04/21/19 – Luke 20:27-47; Psalm 89:14-37; Proverbs 13:17-19

One of the realities of the question asked of Jesus by the Sadducees in Luke 20:27-33 is based on the Sadducee’s teaching that there was no resurrection of the dead.  And we see Jesus not only answer their question about “whose wife” she would be he also addresses the overall question of resurrection.

Luke 20:  37 But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” 39 Some of the teachers of the law responded, “Well said, teacher!” 40 And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

I find this teaching another in the series of promises that believers are given — we will experience eternity in the presence of the Living God!

 

 

04/20/19 – Luke 20:1-26; Psalm 89:1-13; Proverbs 13:15-16

Liz and I recently finished ten days in New Mexico visiting our daughter, Brittany, and her family. While we were there we were blessed with traveling throughout the northern part of the state.  From the snow covered mountains and valleys of Angel Fire to the high desert of Los Alamos and the plateaus surrounding the “Ghost Ranch.”

Several of the Lord’s creations in these areas were so magnificent to be beyond my description and too immense to be photographed — Echo Amphitheater; the red rock formations, mesas, and buttes; and , finally, the White Castle an area of pure white limestone that is highlighted by spires and and towers.

And today’s reading from Psalms reminds us of how humbled we were as we stood and were fixated by the images that lay before us:

Psalm 89:   The heavens praise your wondersLord your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.  For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord? Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings? In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him.  Who is like you, Lord God Almighty?  You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.

I think praise is sometimes best raised in silence and in awe  …

04/19/19 — Luke 19:28-48; Psalm 88:1-8; Proverbs 13:12-14

I enjoy reading history and have read several parts of the works of Josephus, the Jewish historian, who recorded the details of the Jewish nation, including the fall of Jerusalem.  And his history verifies the prophecies of Christ as he enters Jerusalem for the lat time:

Luke 19:  41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls.They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.

Josephus described that due to the terrain around Jerusalem it was from the north of the city the Romans made their assault. The siege required the building of massive  platforms of earth and timber that leveled the hill before the wall and to provide a solid base on which to lay the battering rams.

The prophecies contained within the inspired Word of God will be fulfilled … within His time line.  And I am assured that just as certainly as the prophecies will be fulfilled so will all of the promises we have been given.

John 14: My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

04/18/19 – Luke 19:1-27; Psalm 87:1-7; Proverbs 13:11

Luke 19:   11 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. 12 He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas.  ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back

Luke 19 begins with the redemption of Zacchaeus and as the people were “listening to this” Jesus told the parable of the kings and his servants use of ten minas he gives them.  I find it interesting that in Luke 19:11 the reason for this parable is stated as highlighted above.   The Jewish nation was awaiting the arrival of the king who would immediately restore their nation to prominence.

But in the parable we see that the true King will arrive at His appointed time. Until then we are to use the talents we have been given to serve in obedience & loyalty.  At that time we will be rewarded.  The parable applied then and continues to apply.

 

 

04/17/19 – Luke 18:18-43; Psalm 86:1-17; Proverbs 13:9-10

In today’s reading from Psalms I see David summarize an attitude that should be a goal of all believers:

Psalm 86:    11 Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness;                                     give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.

We are to seek God’s will through His word and we will be taught.  At the same time we are to guard our heart to remain faithful.

04/16/19 – Luke 18:1-17; Psalm 85:1-13; Proverbs 13:7-8

Luke 18: To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this
parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood
by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like
this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God,
have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all
those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

We often focus on the differences be between the social standing of the two men in this parable. The Pharisee
received recognition and honor from the people and was outwardly strictly following the words of the Law (as interpreted
by the leaders.) The tax collector – a hated traitor to the nation of Israel.

Today I want to focus on their actual prayers. Do you see the difference? The Pharisee was nearly a speech and self-centered
(see the use of the word “I”.) He asked for nothing, admitted no sin and acknowledged no mercy from God.

In contrast the tax collector used few words, recognized his weaknesses and appealed to God for a forgiveness that he
did not deserve. And for this meekness he will be blessed.

The lesson for all believers is simple — in our weakness we need to rely on the strength, mercy and love of the Lord.

04/15/19 – Luke 17:11-37; Psalm 84:1-12; Proverbs 13:5-6

Luke 17:   34 I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35 Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.” [36]   37 “Where, Lord?” they asked.  He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.

Today’s reading brings another of the verses I read and then have to research.  Of verse 37 Coffman writes:

In all probability, this refers to the body of mankind, at last completely dead in sin, demanding by their sins and rebellion against God that the final judgment be executed upon them; just as a dead body would draw vultures, so humanity that is morally dead will inevitably draw the judgment of God upon them. “As surely as a carcass draws birds of prey, so sin would draw judgment, and there would the Messiah be found.”

04/14/19 – Luke 16:19-17:10; Psalm 83:1-18; Proverbs 13:4

As we read through scripture we see Jesus offer many instructions and “words of warning” to His followers.   And today we see a very personal warning for each of us:

Luke 17: 1  Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves.

This is a very direct instruction.  We must examine our actions with the perspective of those around us to ensure that what we say, teach and “do” are within  God’s will.

04/13/19-Luke 16:1-18; Psalm 82:1-8; Proverbs 13:2-3

When I read a passage that does not seem clear to me I will refer to scholars who may be able to add perspective.  But as a word of caution we need to have sufficient knowledge of God’s word to be able to identify if the author is “on track” with the will of God or is strictly espousing a personal opinion.

A passage that struck me today is:  Luke 16:  17 It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.  18 “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

As in many cases I referred to the writings of John Coffman for his perspectives, as follows:

This statement of Jesus has in view the changing and perversion of God’s law by the Pharisees, who had perverted the moral requirements of it (as in the case of easy divorce, mentioned a moment later) in many ways, even seeking to change the nature of the kingdom God had promised to set up. They wanted an earthly kingdom, a Messiah on a white horse who would throw out the Romans! Jesus here reminded them that not one of the tiniest provisions of God’s law would be waived in favor of their materialistic views.

 

 

 

04/12/19 – Luke 15:1-32; Psalm 81:1-16; Proverbs 12:26

4/11/19 – Luke 14:7-35; Psalm 80:1-19; Proverbs 12:27-28

Luke 14:  28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you,30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

My thoughts — any mission we take should be performed with the full intention of finishing the task.   And to do this we must know what is expected and be prepared to give our full effort to bring the goal to completion.

And sometimes this takes sacrificing our pleasures and our goals — we must focus.  To me this is exactly what Jesus expects & describes in this parable.  We must count the cost and pursue the goal.