Showing posts from May, 2011

Mundane no more

23 Jesus said, "You're tied down to the mundane; I'm in touch with what is beyond your horizons. You live in terms of what you see and touch. I'm living on other terms. (John 8:23) Jesus is answering the accusations of the religious leaders - they are all hung up in the fact that he was from Galilee and that he could not possibly be of the line of David, so he could not be the Messiah.  They could not see the evidence of his divinity because they were so focused on the details of his lineage.  It is kind of like not seeing the trees for the forest.  To their accusations that he could neither be prophet or Messiah, he rebukes them with these words.   He reveals much in his answer to their arguments: You are bound by the mundane - tied down by it.  It was like an anchor around their foot, holding them to one thing and not allowing them to see the bigger picture.   You are living in terms of those things that you can see or touch - the natural.  In that very fact, they

The journey of a lifetime - Part II

1-2 These are the sermons Moses preached to all Israel when they were east of the Jordan River in the Arabah Wilderness, opposite Suph, in the vicinity of Paran, Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Dizahab. It takes eleven days to travel from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea following the Mount Seir route. 3-4  It was on the first day of the eleventh month of the fortieth year when Moses addressed the People of Israel, telling them everything  God  had commanded him concerning them. This came after he had defeated Sihon king of the Amorites, who ruled from Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who ruled from Ashtaroth in Edrei. It was east of the Jordan in the land of Moab that Moses set out to explain this Revelation. (Deuteronomy 1:1-4) We began to look at this book of history a little yesterday.  Israel was taking up on an 11 day journey that would ultimately take them 40 years to make.  We examined how this is not unlike us as we consider our journey toward deliverance from the things that hold us back,

The journey of a lifetime - Part I

1-2 These are the sermons Moses preached to all Israel when they were east of the Jordan River in the Arabah Wilderness, opposite Suph, in the vicinity of Paran, Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Dizahab. It takes eleven days to travel from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea following the Mount Seir route. 3-4  It was on the first day of the eleventh month of the fortieth year when Moses addressed the People of Israel, telling them everything  God  had commanded him concerning them. This came after he had defeated Sihon king of the Amorites, who ruled from Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who ruled from Ashtaroth in Edrei. It was east of the Jordan in the land of Moab that Moses set out to explain this Revelation. (Deuteronomy 1:1-4) There are certain books of the Bible that keep each of us away - simply because they don't seem to speak "loudly" to us or they just don't seem pertinent to the day and the hour in which they live.  Yet, even our curriculum within our schools include hist

Learn to live for the moment

  7-8  Oh, how sweet the light of day,    And how wonderful to live in the sunshine!    Even if you live a long time, don't take a single day for granted.    Take delight in each light-filled hour... (Ecclesiastes 11:7-8) It is just about time for the sun to creep slowly over the horizon and bring the light of a new day to rest on the Valley of the Sun.  For those of us that live in Arizona, we don't celebrate the sun as much as we celebrate the infrequent breaks from the sun!  A few clouds are a welcome thing once in a while around here - a relief from the scorching of the sun.  I imagine that those facing day after day of tornadoes, cloud cover, and incessant rain that produces flooding would love nothing more than to say, "Here comes the sun!"  It is all about perspective - what we live with for a while becomes something we often take for granted. This is true about the very fact that we wake each morning and go about our days involved in the routine matters o

Affected, but not always accepted

37-39 On the final and climactic day of the Feast, Jesus took his stand. He cried out, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says." (He said this in regard to the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were about to receive. The Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.)    40-44 Those in the crowd who heard these words were saying, "This has to be the Prophet." Others said, "He is the Messiah!" But others were saying, "The Messiah doesn't come from Galilee, does he? Don't the Scriptures tell us that the Messiah comes from David's line and from Bethlehem, David's village?" So there was a split in the crowd over him. (John 7:37-44) The crowds were growing as Jesus walked the streets with his disciples, healing the sick, setting bound free, and opening blind eyes.  Mor

Some things are not meant to be known

43-46 Jesus said, "Don't bicker among yourselves over me. You're not in charge here. The Father who sent me is in charge. He draws people to me—that's the only way you'll ever come. Only then do I do my work, putting people together, setting them on their feet, ready for the End. This is what the prophets meant when they wrote, 'And then they will all be personally taught by God.' Anyone who has spent any time at all listening to the Father, really listening and therefore learning, comes to me to be taught personally—to see it with his own eyes, hear it with his own ears, from me, since I have it firsthand from the Father. No one has seen the Father except the One who has his Being alongside the Father—and you can see me." (John 6:43-46) Jesus has just spent time teaching those who were following him about the importance of not wasting their time striving for things that were perishable - instead, he encourages them to put their trust in him.  Why?  

Start walking!

1-6 Soon another Feast came around and Jesus was back in Jerusalem.     Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there was a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, with five alcoves. Hundreds of sick people—blind, crippled, paralyzed—were in these alcoves. One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, "Do you want to get well?"   7 The sick man said, "Sir, when the water is stirred, I don't have anybody to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in." (John 5:1-6) Today's passage is a story of a sick man - likely a paralytic or lame by some disease that has left him unable to walk on his own.  The custom of the day was that these sick people would be gathered in various parts of the town, usually in a place where many "well people" would pass by them all day.  They would spend their days begging for just a couple of coins - somethi

But I don't get it!

3 Jesus said, "You're absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it's not possible to see what I'm pointing to—to God's kingdom."   4 "How can anyone," said Nicodemus, "be born who has already been born and grown up? You can't re-enter your mother's womb and be born again. What are you saying with this 'born-from-above' talk?" (John 3:3-4) We began to look at the story of Nicodemus yesterday.  As we continue to day, keep in mind that Nicodemus was a Pharisee.  The Pharisees were religious leaders of the day - supposedly the experts on the interpretation of scripture, the wisdom of the day dwelt in them.  He starts his conversation that late night with Jesus with an observation and a question.  He tells Jesus that people recognize him as a great teacher from God.  He comes to this conclusion because of the simple fact that Jesus has done tremendous miracles in front of them and they cannot deny th

In the cloak of darkness

1  There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee.  2  After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.” (John 3:1-2) The story of Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader, one of the elite group known as Pharisees, came to Jesus "under the cloak of darkness".  His reasoning was probably pretty evident - the Pharisees did not like Jesus' teachings and he would be "called out" for his behavior in seeking Jesus out.  Jesus has just finished cleaning out the temple - throwing out all the money-changers and vendors who were making a living off of selling the offerings at the steps of the temple.  He had made several important statement that day in response to the Jews' question, "What credentials can you present to us?" Jesus' response was pretty vivid and every Jew within in hearing distance pr

Go to your room!

Let your love dictate how you deal with me;       teach me from your textbook on life.    I'm your servant—help me understand what that means,       the inner meaning of your instructions.  (Psalm 119:124-125) As a parent, whenever one of my children did something that deserved some "discipline", I had to "weigh" what would be appropriate for the offense.  If it was a minor not having the breakfast dishes they'd used that morning washed when I got warranted a much "lighter" punishment.  When they struck each other, threw things in anger, or lied, there were differing forms of discipline required.  Why is it that we "vary" the discipline we give our children? It is simply because we want them to learn from their errors, but we don't want to crush them in the process of the learning!  When love "dictates" how we deal with our children, we learn to be compassionate with them as they fail.  We use

Beat your head on that wall one more time

9  A sage trying to work things out with a fool    gets only scorn and sarcasm for his trouble.  (Proverbs 29:9) There is absolutely nothing to be gained by trying to convince a fool that his thoughts or actions are foolish!  Try it sometime and you will walk away from the experience feeling like you have spent that hour hitting your head against the wall!  A fool just cannot see the trees for the forest - they just don't have perspective. I have been in conversations at times that I feel as though they are "spinning out of control" - much like a tornado!  What I have learned is that I cannot ever "convince" the one who is not going to be open to being convinced!  When you present evidence, and there is absolutely no openness to evidence, it is hard to move beyond that resistance. So, how do we deal with the folks in our lives that just don't ever seem to be open to the evidence - whether it is the facts they need to do their job better, the truth they n

Craig's List on Doomsday

  36   “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows." (Matthew 24:36) Last night, I caught a short clip on the TV about all the stuff that is the works for this Saturday - the supposed date of the Lord's Second Coming!  According to the report, the propagator of this sensationalism (a California church leader) is touting that he knows that the "end of days" is happening this Saturday!  Hmmm....I wonder how he does that when even the angels and Christ himself don't know when they will receive their "marching orders" for his return!!!  And what is absolutely amazing is the up-tick in "business" around this supposed  second coming of Christ! Search the infamous "Craig's List" website and you will find hundreds advertising a "safe house" for the rapture, emergency water and food caches, etc.  But...I had to share this most pr

Edit away

1-6   God , investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand.    I'm an open book to you;   even from a distance, you know what I'm thinking.    You know when I leave and when I get back;   I'm never out of your sight.    You know everything I'm going to say   before I start the first sentence.    I look behind me and you're there,   then up ahead and you're there, too—your reassuring presence, coming and going.    This is too much, too wonderful—I can't take it all in!   (Psalm 139:1-6) Without reservation, most of us would admit that there are "chapters" in our lives that we'd like no one to read.  We have some failures we'd rather no one really knew about, dreams that seem kind of silly when considered by others, and problems with memories that we just cannot seem to let loose of no matter how hard we try.  These "pages" of our lives are inscribed through the passage of time and the events of the days gone by.  David does what

Yep, you've got chaos!

Every morning you'll hear me at it again.    Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on your altar       and watch for fire to descend.  (Psalm 5:2-3) As I was waking up this morning, my radio was playing a song whose lyrics contained the words, "It feels like you are creating chaos in me".  The idea was that out of chaos, God brings good stuff.  The fact of the matter is that we all frequently feel this same way - like all that God is up to in us is chaos.  David was no exception.  He frequently conversed with God about the "stuff" that just seemed to surround him with all kinds of challenge, busy-work, and unknown outcomes.  This passage from the Psalms captures it best...Every morning you'll hear me at it again! I think we might think God gets tired hearing about our lives.  After all, how many times does he need to hear that we are frustrated with our pain, or disappointed with the loss of our youthfulness?  How many times does he need to liste

See for yourself

"Come along and see for yourself." (John 1:39) The book of John opens with a calling of the disciples - the intimate twelve that would become the inner circle of companions to follow in his footsteps, learn of his teachings, and be support in his times of trial.  In looking at the call to become a disciple, I see that words, "Come along and see for yourself."  Jesus was not in the business of convincing these men to follow him - leaving all they had to follow along in his ministry.  Instead, he asked for them to decide for themselves what it was that he proclaimed as truth. As I considered these words, several things came to mind: Discipleship requires us turning our attention from what it is we are doing at the moment towards the Great Teacher, Jesus.  These fishermen, tax collectors, and tradesmen had to specifically turn from what they were doing to follow Jesus.  This was no easy matter for them - their entire livelihood was affected by this one matter of redi

Before anything else fails

11-13 Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life? Daily expect the Day of God, eager for its arrival. The galaxies will burn up and the elements melt down that day—but we'll hardly notice. We'll be looking the other way, ready for the promised new heavens and the promised new earth, all landscaped with righteousness. (2 Peter 3:11-13) Peter has spent a great deal of time in this second letter to the New Testament church dealing with the idea of being on alert for false teachers and being sensitive to the Word of God as a measure to evaluate the teaching we receive.  In the second chapter of this book, he brings out the fact that false teachers actually divide the church, pitting one against another, instead of unifying believers in purpose and task.  They slander the truth - making a mockery of the truth contained in the Word of God by twisting it to their own liking.  Their end is not a happy one - they will bea

A Powerful Sword

5-9 So don't lose a minute in building on what you've been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can't see what's right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books. (2 Peter 2:5-9) We sometimes struggle with what it takes to live a godly life, but Peter tells us that everything we need is provided to us IN CHRIST JESUS.   Our part in the relationship is to grow in intimate relationship with him – depth, awareness, and consistency is implied here.   We are called to receive his greatness and power – people who understand their calling will a