Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Empty Threats

Empty Threats

Today's reading reminds me of a story from China. A fearless Chinese evangelist was put in prison for 26 years, because he would not stop preaching the Good News of Jesus. He continued to preach inside the prison.

By the time they let him out, he was an old man. Everyone in his family had died. So he set up next to the prison gates, preaching fearlessly to everyone who came or went.

They would often threaten him, telling him to stop.

"What are you going to do?" he would say. "Put me in prison? I can preach just as well inside prison as I can outside prison!"

In today's story the Jewish religious leaders were making the threats...

Acts 4:5 "The next day the council of all the rulers and elders and teachers of religious law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, along with Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and other relatives of the high priest. 7 They brought in the two disciples and demanded, “By what power, or in whose name, have you done this?”

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of our people, 9 are we being questioned today because we’ve done a good deed for a crippled man? Do you want to know how he was healed? 10 Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene,[b] the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. 11 For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says,

‘The stone that you builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.’[c]

12 There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”

13 The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing right there among them, there was nothing the council could say. 15 So they ordered Peter and John out of the council chamber[d] and conferred among themselves.

16 “What should we do with these men?” they asked each other. “We can’t deny that they have performed a miraculous sign, and everybody in Jerusalem knows about it. 17 But to keep them from spreading their propaganda any further, we must warn them not to speak to anyone in Jesus’ name again.” 18 So they called the apostles back in and commanded them never again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus.

19 But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? 20 We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.”

21 The council then threatened them further, but they finally let them go because they didn’t know how to punish them without starting a riot. For everyone was praising God 22 for this miraculous sign—the healing of a man who had been lame for more than forty years."

And thus began the explosion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that has continued unabated for 2000 years.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Confronted, Disturbed, Arrested


Jesus created a sensation wherever he went. Even at his birth there was the star, the angels, the shepherds coming in off the fields, the "king" of Israel killing everyone under 2 years old to do him in.

In his ministry he did miracles and healed thousands of people. He cast out demons. But it was his teaching that created the most radical reaction.

Then the mock trial, the illegal beating, the crucifixtion. The earth went dark. The entire area was shaken. The curtain ripped in two from top to bottom, demonstrating that the holy of holies was accesible to men because of Jesus' death.

The resurrection! The massive stone was rolled back. The grave was empty, but the grave clothes were neither cut open or unrolled!! People saw him. He spoke. He did miracles.

Then the assention! He went up into the air before their eyes! Said he was coming back the same way.

The sensation did not end with his death or resurrection. Read today's story...

While Peter and John were speaking to the people, they were confronted by the priests, the captain of the Temple guard, and some of the Sadducees. 2 These leaders were very disturbed that Peter and John were teaching the people that through Jesus there is a resurrection of the dead. 3 They arrested them.

Let's see. Killing the leader didn't work. Maybe arresting the followers would...

1 "While Peter and John were speaking to the people, they were confronted by the priests, the captain of the Temple guard, and some of the Sadducees. 2 These leaders were very disturbed that Peter and John were teaching the people that through Jesus there is a resurrection of the dead. 3 They arrested them and, since it was already evening, put them in jail until morning. 4 But many of the people who heard their message believed it, so the number of believers now totaled about 5,000 men, not counting women and children.[a]
5 The next day the council of all the rulers and elders and teachers of religious law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, along with Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and other relatives of the high priest. 7 They brought in the two disciples and demanded, “By what power, or in whose name, have you done this?”

That is an excellent question!

Is what I believe, what I follow, how I live my life - an extraordinary power, with authority from on high?

Or is my life quiet?
My religion powerless?
My beliefs meaningless?

Do I quietly grumble that Christ is not present in government, in education, in culture?

By what power?
In whose name?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Oh What a Difference He Makes!



When Jesus was being betrayed, all his disciples fled except for Peter and John. They hung out all night as Jesus went through the horrible events of that night.

But IN that hostile environment, when Peter was confronted by a number of the people hanging around, he denied that he knew Jesus.

Then the Holy Spirit came.

Oh what a difference He makes!!!

Acts 2:1 "On the day of Pentecost[f] all the believers were meeting together in one place. 2 Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. 3 Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. 4 And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages,[g] as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

5 At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. 6 When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.

7 They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee, 8 and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages! 9 Here we are—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, 10 Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans, and Arabs. And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!” 12 They stood there amazed and perplexed. “What can this mean?” they asked each other.

13 But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, “They’re just drunk, that’s all!”

Peter Preaches to the Crowd


14 Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this. 15 These people are not drunk, as some of you are assuming. Nine o’clock in the morning is much too early for that. 16 No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel:

17 ‘In the last days,’ God says,
‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.
18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit
even on my servants—men and women alike—
and they will prophesy.
19 And I will cause wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below—
blood and fire and clouds of smoke.
20 The sun will become dark,
and the moon will turn blood red
before that great and glorious day of the Lord arrives.
21 But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord
will be saved.’[h]

22 “People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene[i] by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

All Authority on Heaven and Earth


The disciples had just come through an amazing and scary week. Jesus was cricified. He rose again.

For 40 days Jesus had been with them.

Now he leaves.

He gives them a command and a promise.

16 Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted!
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,[b] baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

And with that He went up into the clouds!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

They stood there in unbelief!



They stood there in unbelief!

The two women had said that Jesus had risen.
Peter and John reported that Jesus had risen.
The two disciples came into the group and reported that Jesus had risen.

When Jesus Himself came to stand among them, they stood there in unbelief!


35 "Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread. 36 And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 37 But the whole group was startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost!

38 “Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? 39 Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.” 40 As he spoke, he showed them his hands and his feet.

41 Still they stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder. Then he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he ate it as they watched.

44 Then he said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. 46 And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. 47 It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations,[f] beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ 48 You are witnesses of all these things.
49 “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”

A most unusual conversation

A most unusual conversation

It had been a puzzling week. Two of Jesus' disciples are walking, and talking, about the events of the day. Suddenly...

The Walk to Emmaus
13 "That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles[c] from Jerusalem. 14 As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. 16 But God kept them from recognizing him.

17 He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?”
They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. 18 Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”

19 “What things?” Jesus asked.

“The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. 20 But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. 21 We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.

22 “Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. 23 They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! 24 Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.”

25 Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. 26 Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” 27 Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, 29 but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. 30 As they sat down to eat,[d] he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. 31 Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!

32 They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” 33 And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, 34 who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.[e]”

Didn't our hearts burn within us?

Shouldn't we have known?

Wasn't it obvious all along??

He Is Alive!!!

He Is Alive!!!

Three small words that changed the world forever.

Jesus - carpenter, prophet, rabbi, miracle worker, teacher.
Jesus, who was crucified, IS ALIVE!

That is both the message of Christianity and the power of Christianity. That is why Christianity the the only truly universal belief system. Why it alone explains God's plan for earth, God's plan for salvation, God's plan for having a relationship with God Almighty!


The Resurrection
1 "But very early on Sunday morning[a] the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. 3 So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes.

5 The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? 6 He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man[b] must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.”

8 Then they remembered that he had said this. 9 So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples—and everyone else—what had happened. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several other women who told the apostles what had happened. 11 But the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn’t believe it. 12 However, Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb to look. Stooping, he peered in and saw the empty linen wrappings; then he went home again, wondering what had happened."

Bewildered then. Ecstatic later!

Jesus, the Messiah, the Savior of the world, is ALIVE!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Universe Was Shaken!


God incarnate.

Suffering and dying on a cross.

For the sins of the world.

This event split history into Before Christ and After Death.

33 "At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 34 Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”[f]
35 Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. 36 One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. “Wait!” he said. “Let’s see whether Elijah comes to take him down!”
37 Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
39 When the Roman officer[g] who stood facing him[h] saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!”
40 Some women were there, watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James the younger and of Joseph[i]), and Salome. 41 They had been followers of Jesus and had cared for him while he was in Galilee. Many other women who had come with him to Jerusalem were also there."

God the Father, in an agony we cannot imagine, brought darkness to the earth.

Split the curtain in the temple in two.

Matthew 27:50 "Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, 52 and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. 53 They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people."

God the Father shook the earth.

Split rocks apart.

Released many from the grave...

The Universe was shaken!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Not so scary now, are you?

Jesus amazing miracles, and even more amazing words had created a lot of awe and wonder in Palestine.

Some believed.

Some did not.

32 Along the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene,[g] and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. 33 And they went out to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”). 34 The soldiers gave him wine mixed with bitter gall, but when he had tasted it, he refused to drink it.

The soldiers did not believe:

35 After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.[h] 36 Then they sat around and kept guard as he hung there. 37 A sign was fastened to the cross above Jesus’ head, announcing the charge against him. It read: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” 38 Two revolutionaries[i] were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.

Many people did not believe:

39 The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. 40 “Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!”

The religious leaders did not believe:

41 The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. 42 “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him! 43 He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”

One of the two thieves crucified with him did not believe:

44 Even the revolutionaries who were crucified with him ridiculed him in the same way.

It is the same today:

Some believe.

Some choose not to.

God has designed this whole thing so we have free will.

Some believe.

Some do not.

Oversight of the military

The job of the military is to impose the rule of those in power on the subjects.

The military is sanctioned to kill people and has all the tools and power to do that.

The life of a soldier rotates between boredom and violence. In battle the soldier is often fighting for his life. In peacetime the soldier is often bored.

This shows why the military has to have strict oversight. The combination of power over life and death, the tools of killing, and boredom can make for a pretty dangerous combination

Here is a group of soldiers, in a time of peace, who are cleared bored.

One day they are given a prisoner to kill. This one is unusually interesting. He reportedly has the power to do miracles. And it is said that he claimed to be the king of the Jews.

This assignment, gruesome as it was, was going to have some entertainment value!



Mark reports Mark 15:16 "The soldiers took Jesus into the courtyard of the governor’s headquarters (called the Praetorium) and called out the entire regiment. 17 They dressed him in a purple robe, and they wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head. 18 Then they saluted him and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” 19 And they struck him on the head with a reed stick, spit on him, and dropped to their knees in mock worship. 20 When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified."

Of course, they had no notion it was the King of Glory they were taunting. That each one of them would appear before Him after they died. That He - the righteous judge of heaven and earth - had the ultimate power.

They didn't know any of that.

They were just bored.

And had an unusually interesting prisoner...

Navigating the legal, political, religious and military maze


The Jewish religious leaders needed to get rid a big problem that was getting bigger. They couldn't impose the death penalty, but the government could.

The political leaders wanted to avert an insurrection in their domain. Appeasement of the masses. They didn't want to make the restless, resentful subjects even more angry than they already were.

The military was taught to blindly carry out the orders given to them. They would intimidate, brutalize or kill anyone or any group that stepped out of line of the rule of the empire.

Jesus himself knew that he must die, a sinless sacrifice, to pay for the sins of the world.

Mark 15:1 "Very early in the morning the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law—the entire high council[a]—met to discuss their next step. They bound Jesus, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor.

2 Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus replied, “You have said it.”
3 Then the leading priests kept accusing him of many crimes, 4 and Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer them? What about all these charges they are bringing against you?” 5 But Jesus said nothing, much to Pilate’s surprise.

6 Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner—anyone the people requested. 7 One of the prisoners at that time was Barabbas, a revolutionary who had committed murder in an uprising. 8 The crowd went to Pilate and asked him to release a prisoner as usual.

9 “Would you like me to release to you this ‘King of the Jews’?” Pilate asked. 10 (For he realized by now that the leading priests had arrested Jesus out of envy.) 11 But at this point the leading priests stirred up the crowd to demand the release of Barabbas instead of Jesus. 12 Pilate asked them, “Then what should I do with this man you call the king of the Jews?”

13 They shouted back, “Crucify him!”

14 “Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?”

But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!”

15 So to pacify the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified."

Jesus - sinless - was condemned to die!

The accountant jumps out the window

We in tough times right now.

This is the worst it has been financially since the last great depression - in the 1920's.

The most notorious images from that time is people jumping out the window to their death below. It must have been a desperate situation to feel like things have turned out so bad that your only alternative is to jump to your death.

Today we are in the last days of Jesus.

His accountant commits suicide...

What series of events made HIM feel so desperate that he literally jumped to his death?

Here is the story.

Matthew 27:1 "Very early in the morning the leading priests and the elders met again to lay plans for putting Jesus to death. 2 Then they bound him, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor.
3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.”

“What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.”
5 Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself.
6 The leading priests picked up the coins. “It wouldn’t be right to put this money in the Temple treasury,” they said, “since it was payment for murder.”[a] 7 After some discussion they finally decided to buy the potter’s field, and they made it into a cemetery for foreigners. 8 That is why the field is still called the Field of Blood. 9 This fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah that says,
“They took[b] the thirty pieces of silver—

the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel,

10 and purchased the potter’s field,

as the Lord directed.[c]”

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!


As a culture we have learned to feel for animals.

Not so much for plants.

Today Jesus is describing a process we all know well.

It is called pruning. A competent arborist, or even a back yard gardener, knows that you have to prune fruit trees or they get all leafy and overgrown, and don't produce fruit.

But today Jesus applies that rather violent example to us!

Ouch!!

John 15:1 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tough Times


They say tough times build character.

That may be true, but it seems to me that tough times reveal character more than build character.

In today's reading we are with Jesus during the toughest time of his life.

He was still with all 12 of his disciples, but he knew one would betray him, one would deny him, and all would abandon him.

How did he act around these fickle friends?

John 13:18 “I am not saying these things to all of you; I know the ones I have chosen. But this fulfills the Scripture that says, ‘The one who eats my food has turned against me.’[d] 19 I tell you this beforehand, so that when it happens you will believe that I Am the Messiah.[e] 20 I tell you the truth, anyone who welcomes my messenger is welcoming me, and anyone who welcomes me is welcoming the Father who sent me.”
21 Now Jesus was deeply troubled,[f] and he exclaimed, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me!”
22 The disciples looked at each other, wondering whom he could mean. 23 The disciple Jesus loved was sitting next to Jesus at the table.[g] 24 Simon Peter motioned to him to ask, “Who’s he talking about?” 25 So that disciple leaned over to Jesus and asked, “Lord, who is it?”

26 Jesus responded, “It is the one to whom I give the bread I dip in the bowl.” And when he had dipped it, he gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot. 27 When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him. Then Jesus told him, “Hurry and do what you’re going to do.” 28 None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant. 29 Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money to the poor. 30 So Judas left at once, going out into the night."

Tough times reveal character.

Mine is fully exposed.

How is yours?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Scathing indictment!!


Scathing indictment!!

Jesus said, bring the little children to me, because the kingdom of God is made up of such as these.

Today he said to the religious leaders - Snakes! Sons of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of hell?

So, he is drawn to simple faith. Uncluttered desire to please God.

And he is pretty hacked off at people who create barriers to God. Who make legalistic hoops to jump through, making it difficult and discouraging to begin and maintain a relationship of love with the creator.

Read on...

Matthew 23:1 "Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses.[a] 3 So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. 4 They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.
5 “Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels.[b] 6 And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues. 7 They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi.’[c]
8 “Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters.[d] 9 And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father. 10 And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you must be a servant. 12 But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."

He is not finished. But it is long. And not pretty!



13 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either.[e]
15 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell[f] you yourselves are!
16 “Blind guides! What sorrow awaits you! For you say that it means nothing to swear ‘by God’s Temple,’ but that it is binding to swear ‘by the gold in the Temple.’ 17 Blind fools! Which is more important—the gold or the Temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 And you say that to swear ‘by the altar’ is not binding, but to swear ‘by the gifts on the altar’ is binding. 19 How blind! For which is more important—the gift on the altar or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 When you swear ‘by the altar,’ you are swearing by it and by everything on it. 21 And when you swear ‘by the Temple,’ you are swearing by it and by God, who lives in it. 22 And when you swear ‘by heaven,’ you are swearing by the throne of God and by God, who sits on the throne.
23 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens,[g] but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. 24 Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel![h]
25 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! 26 You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish,[i] and then the outside will become clean, too.
27 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. 28 Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.
29 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you build tombs for the prophets your ancestors killed, and you decorate the monuments of the godly people your ancestors destroyed. 30 Then you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would never have joined them in killing the prophets.’
31 “But in saying that, you testify against yourselves that you are indeed the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead and finish what your ancestors started. 33 Snakes! Sons of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of hell?
34 “Therefore, I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers of religious law. But you will kill some by crucifixion, and you will flog others with whips in your synagogues, chasing them from city to city. 35 As a result, you will be held responsible for the murder of all godly people of all time—from the murder of righteous Abel to the murder of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you killed in the Temple between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 I tell you the truth, this judgment will fall on this very generation."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Theft and Community Involvement


Jesus was poor.
He needed a ride.
So he borrowed one.

It looked like theft to those standing around.
So they appropriately stepped in, and objected.

Mark 11:1 "As Jesus and his disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. 2 “Go into that village over there,” he told them. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks, ‘What are you doing?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it and will return it soon.’”


4 The two disciples left and found the colt standing in the street, tied outside the front door. 5 As they were untying it, some bystanders demanded, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They said what Jesus had told them to say, and they were permitted to take it. 7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it, and he sat on it."

I am learning there are lots of creative ways to accomplish what you want to do when money is tight.

Jesus was not afraid to borrow transportation.

I don't think insurance was an issue.

And the owner granted permission.

But I am impressed that the guys near the ride didn't let it just be stolen.

That in itself is a good lesson for today.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Jesus likes Kids. I do too...


In Jesus day kids were abundant. And not considered as important as adults. So Jesus surprised his disciples, and the culture...

Luke 18:15 "One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But when the disciples saw this, they scolded the parents for bothering him.

16 Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. 17 I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”

Here is a recent story from my older daughter.
"On the way to the conference in the car our discussion turned to money and how everyone wants it. Bobby said to our 7 year old son, “But money doesn’t make us happy does it?” From the back comes a, “Noooo.” So Bobby asked, “What does bring true happiness then?” And our son said "God and Jesus and candyyyyyy.”  That made us laugh!

Monday, November 1, 2010

How do you stand out in a crowd?


Blind Ben and his buddy Bill were sitting by the road begging.

No seeing eye dogs back then. No employment for the disabled. Their life was reduced to begging for food, and depending on their family to get them to and from their begging spot for the day.

They had heard about Jesus. It seemed too good to be true that he was healing people. He healed people of every kind of disease.

One day he happened to pass right by where they were sitting.

But there was a huge crowd! How to get His attention?

29 "As Jesus and the disciples left the town of Jericho, a large crowd followed behind. 30 Two blind men were sitting beside the road. When they heard that Jesus was coming that way, they began shouting, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

They were a distraction. An embarrasement!


31 “Be quiet!” the crowd yelled at them."

Now Jesus must be near. They could hear the size of the crowd. The excited chatter of people. This was their only chance. Their chance of a lifetime!
"But they only shouted louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

No one was going to shut them up. They were yelling their heads off!

Suddenly the crowd stopped. There was a hush. They could tell that Jesus was coming over to where they were.
32 "When Jesus heard them, he stopped and called, “What do you want me to do for you?”

33 “Lord,” they said, “we want to see!” 34 Jesus felt sorry for them and touched their eyes. Instantly they could see! Then they followed him."

Can you imagine the glee?

Can you imagine the devotion?

Two new disciples. Unstoppable. Unembarrased. Unashamed.

I was blind, but now I see!!!