April 22, 2019

What I read today;

1 Corinthians 6; Matthew 22; Jeremiah 46; Psalm 112; Ezra 7-8; Numbers 1

Paul was a little upset at the church in Corinth.  People had stopped calling out the sinful behavior of others.  He was definitely angry.

The world we live in is now filled with images of all kinds of immorality.  What we see on TV now would have been entirely unacceptable just 15 short years ago.  We send messages to our young people that you can have it all at any time just because you deserve it.

We continually see violent images on our TV screens.  Our news is nothing short of mean spirited and in many cases distorts the truth.  Sex sells and business is good.  The bad guys are idolized, and the good guy is now an image of weakness.

The church needs to be the voice of reason and hope in this day and age.  Yet too often we are too busy in petty squabbles among each other.

We need to take God’s message of grace and forgiveness to the world.  We need to open a new generation up to the healing and conviction of the holy spirit.  Only God’s love can pierce the darkness that surrounds our world today.

April 21, 2019

What I read today;

1 Corinthians 5; Matthew 21; Jeremiah 45; Psalm 111; Ezra 5-6; Leviticus 27

Jesus begins his final trip.  This one will lead to the cross.  As soon as he arrives, he goes after the religious establishment.

First, he enters Jerusalem to the praise of a large crowd.  Then he walks into the temple and tosses out the people taking advantage of the religious pilgrims and gets in the face of the religious leaders who were profiting from this enterprise.

Then he went right to work offering compassion, healing, and kindness to the blind and the lame and all the while the people singing praises to his name.  This sent the religious establishment into outer space.

Jesus spends the rest of the chapter letting them have it.  The self-righteous religious leadership had no intention of shining God’s love into the world.  They were only interested in their power and control.  Jesus would have none of it.

Does our church today reach out to the sick and needy?  Do we seek the lost?  Do we provide a haven for the poor?  Or are we more interested in our doctrine and building programs?

 

April 20, 2019

What I read today;

1 Corinthians 4; Matthew 20; Jeremiah 44; Psalm 110; Ezra 3-4; Leviticus 26

We find Jesus walking out of Jericho with a large crowd around him at the end of Matthew 20.  Two blind men are sitting next to the road begging.  They are not a pretty site.  They can’t care for themselves, they smell, and quite frankly they don’t look the type of people who Jesus should concern himself with.

Yet they know Jesus is there.  So they start to beg for his help.  They want to see.  They are shouting so loudly that it’s making quite a commotion.  The church-going folks have no idea what to do, so they do what comes naturally.  They tell them to shut up.  In spite of the admonition to keep quiet the men start to shout louder.

Then Jesus calls them to him.

Stunned the crowd suddenly turns directions and guides the men to Jesus who promptly heals them.

What do we do when we see people who need Jesus, but they don’t look like us?  Do we point them in Jesus direction or do we shuffle the other way?  Do we want them to stay quiet or do we want them to turn to Christ?

Sometimes those who are the most unlovable are the ones most in need of Jesus healing touch.  Don’t turn them away because they don’t fit in!

April 19, 2019

What I read today;

1 Corinthians 3; Matthew 19; Jeremiah 43; Psalm 109; Ezra 1-2; Leviticus 25

In Leviticus 25 we hear about the year of Jubilee.  Every 7th year was a Sabbath year.  The land was allowed to rest, and the entire people are given time to worship and honor God.  People were to return to their families and their native lands for a year of worship.

In the 50th year (7 sets of 7 year periods) the Israelites would celebrate the year of Jubilee.  In that year Indentured Israelite servants were to be set free, and those who had sold their property because of financial difficulties were allowed to re-acquire that property.  It was almost like a time to hit a reset button.

Strangely, there are very few references to the year of Jubilee taking place.  Human greed may have gotten in the way of celebrating the year of Jubilee.  Truth is that we don’t really know if that year was ever truly celebrated or not.

But how many of us, if we had the chance, would hit a reset button and go back to a time and place where we made some big mistake in our lives.  How many would wish to declare a do-over?

I’ll bet many of us wish we could.

I believe that the year of Jubilee is God’s way of telling us that there was going to be a day when he declared a do-over.  A day when creation would be set back to before Sin and rebellion entered his perfect creation.  A new day when we would all be able to proclaim with one voice the beauty and majesty of what our God did for us.

That day would actually occur some 4000 years later on a hill in Jerusalem.  In a place called Golgotha.  On a day when God himself in the form of his son Jesus would sacrifice himself to allow each of us to have a do-over.  On a day when God would turn away from his own son and put all the sins of the world onto him.  A moment in time when Jesus would say “it is finished” and a day when the curtain separating mankind from a holy God would tear in to and allow each one of us to enter into the presence of God.

Jesus death on the cross signals a new Jubilee.  A period of time when we all can hit the reset buttons of our lives and become new creations made in the image of Jesus himself.

That’s a Jubilee worth celebrating every day of the year!

April 18, 2019

What I read today;

1 Corinthians 2; Matthew 18; Jeremiah 42; Psalm 108; 2 Chronicles 35-36; Leviticus 24

Some people like to focus on Matthew 18 vs. 15-20.  They like to use these verses to invoke church discipline.  They miss the points that are brought up in the majority of the chapter.

It is the remainder of chapter 18 that actually focuses on our behavior not the behavior of others.

Verses 1-5 remind us to walk in humility.  Not to think highly of ourselves.  Not to behave in a manner that causes others to think less of our Lord.  Christians, of all people, should recognize that all of us are unworthy and that it is only by the grace and mercy of Jesus that we are saved.

Verses 6-7 instruct us to not allow our behavior or attitudes to cause someone else to turn away from Jesus Christ.  Is our behavior or attitude off-putting?  Are we finger pointing at other people or pointing our finger to direct people to Christ?

Verses 8-9 force us to look at our inward behaviors, thoughts, and actions.  Are we putting things ahead of Christ and his mission?  Are we doing things out of selfish ambition?  Are we focusing so much on our own self-righteousness that we miss the point of the Gospel?

Verses 10-12 show us how God feels about all mankind.  It tells us that God wants all of us to come to the knowledge of him and to be saved.  We should look with love on all people in spite of their actions and circumstances.  No matter how unloveable we must love.

Finally, Verses 21-35 order us to forgive as we have been forgiven.  We don’t forgive anymore.  We hold grudges, and we use those grudges to get even.  That’s not how God intended things to be.

While verses 15-20 are also relevant, they should be viewed in light of the rest of the chapter.  Instead of focusing on the church’s role in discipline maybe we should concentrate on our tendency to Gossip instead.  Maybe God is also telling us that if we are genuinely wronged, then we should be willing to go directly to that person and talk with them instead of talking behind that persons back.

When you read Matthew 18 next time try and focus inwardly on our own actions not outwardly on the actions of others.

April 17, 2019

What I read today;

1 Corinthians 1; Matthew 17; Jeremiah 41; Psalm 107; 2 Chronicles 33-34; Leviticus 23

There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom.  We have a considerable amount of knowledge today.  Our society is more educated today than at any time in our history.  We have more college degrees, more people graduate high school, more access to information thanks to the internet and in general have a higher level of literacy than at any time in our nations and worlds history.

Yet what do we do with that knowledge?  Often we use that knowledge to build monuments for ourselves or enrich ourselves.  We use our knowledge to rule over someone else.

In our churches, we argue about our knowledge.  We argue about interpretations of various scriptures.  We dispute amongst ourselves and point fingers at one another to make ourselves seem smarter than we really are.

In Corinth, it was no different.  Arguments had arisen in the church about who to follow. Paul, Apollos or Cephas.  Paul would have none of it.  Arguing about which sect is more knowledgeable is nothing new.  But Paul answers it with the line that has lived for over 2000 years.  “We preach Christ Crucified.”  It is now and always has been about Jesus Christ and his redeeming work on the cross to save lost humanity.  When we devolve into arguments about which church we go to or which scholar we follow we forget the simple truth that is really about God who stepped out of heaven knowing he would sacrifice himself on a cross to save each one of us.

That’s true wisdom.

April 16, 2019

What I read today;

Romans 16; Matthew 16; Jeremiah 40; Psalm 106; 2 Chronicles 31-32; Leviticus 22

Can we really believe that God almighty, the creator of the universe, the king of kings really watches over and cares about us?  After all, we’re sinful human beings aren’t we?  We know in our hearts the wrong we have done.  We’ve lied, and we’ve hurt people.   We know in our hearts what is right yet we fail to live up to God’s standards.

Psalm 106 begins by telling us what can make us happy.  But then it goes through the history of Israel.  A long history whereby the nation would slip into Idolatry and greed and then fall apart only to be saved by the hand of God.  This cycle repeated itself up until the moment Jesus returned.

But in spite of their our actions verses, 43 through 48 tell us of a merciful God who stands with his arms wide open waiting to accept us back into his loving embrace.  Yes, we stumble, and yes we fall.  But God is always there waiting to guide us safely back to him.  Jesus promise was that all who believed in him would be saved.  Trust in that promise.  When you stumble turn back to God.  He’s always waiting.