Stoning Jesus (Luke 4; Hosea 8)

January 23, 2018

28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away. Luke 4:28-30

Yes, it is true, not everyone loves Jesus!  The fact is, more people hate Jesus than love Jesus.  As a person who has become a student of Scripture and a preacher of the gospel I have over and over seen the truth of this fact.

How could anyone reject Jesus?  How could anyone not want to follow the one who does the following:

  • Proclaims good news to the poor.
  • Proclaims liberty to the captives.
  • Heals the sick and sets at liberty those who are oppressed.

The darkness in men’s hearts blinds their eyes to the truth.  This is clearly seen in Jesus own home town.

Jesus comes to their synagogue.  He is invited to give the message.  He reads from Isaiah 61:1-2.  He completes His reading by saying, I am the Messiah.  The people are impressed with His knowledge and with His miracles in other places.  However, they refuse to believe He is  God’s Son.  So they attempt to stone the Son of God.

Yes, they attempt to stone the Son of God.

In this day of unrest and hate in our nation, we are called to be Jesus ambassadors of love.  Jesus could have called down fire from heaven and destroyed the people.  But He did not.  He simply passed through their midst.  Brothers and sisters there is a strong message in this for us today.

Take time to praise Him for opening your eyes to the truth.  Take time to prepare yourself for the battle that waits for you at work, in class, or in the home.  As the Father was with Jesus, so to is the Son with you in every trial.

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How do we know He is Lord? (Exodus 20; Leviticus 23)

January 22, 2018

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:8-11

As I sit down to write this blog I have already finished my personal devotion time and I have just completed my workout.  So I can say, “I am spiritually charged but physically exhausted.”

It seems to me that God has me in a good place to write to you about today’s question.  Here is the question: How do we know He is Lord?  In Exodus 20 we find ten indicators of Christ’s Lordship of our lives.  We label these indicators as 10 commandments.  This morning I took the time to make them personal to my own life in my journey.  I confess to you that I was not keeping all ten without failure.  The truth is I am a sinner who can never perfectly keep the commandments.  But I strive in the New Nature to obey them all.

For our time this morning I want to focus on Commandment number 4.   I wrote the following in my journal: “I will set aside one day each week for my Lord.”

Take a moment and truly allow this to sink down into your being.  Does anyone have a day they can just take off from working?  Bill Gates is quoted as saying, “One of the main reasons I am not a Christian is because I cannot follow a God who tells me to waste one day a week.”

Brothers and sisters could we be secretly saying the same thing about the Lord’s day?  In my life, Sunday is the day where I have a calling to serve.  So for me, I attempt to take Friday as my day to give to God.  It is on this day that I focus more on God through rest, reflection, and renewal with Him.

  • I rest as I refuse to allow my mind to focus on work and worries.  I truly do things that allow me to focus totally on Him.
  • I reflect as I spend time in the word.  I watch or listen to someone preach the Word of God.  I read a good book.  I spend time outdoors focusing on His glorious work among men.
  • I refuel as I anticipate what God is going to do in the next week. Pray is sweet.  Time with my family lifts me up.

With these three things accomplished I am ready for what is coming in the week.  You see, when we are rested, refreshed, and reflecting on the greatness of God we live our lives proclaiming, “No weapon formed against me shall prosper.”

Choice verses responsibility (Romans 9)

January 19, 2018

16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion,[b] but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. Romans 9:16-18

Whoever first said, “life is filled with choices,” really knew what they were talking about.  In a lifetime you and I will make untold numbers of choices.

Here is a big deal truth: We have responsibility for every choice.  Question: What choices are before you today?

Your choice maybe in buying a car or maybe where to eat tonight.  It could be more serious, a choice of marriage, a choice of career, or the choice to retire.

In Romans 9 we find 2 choices being made:

  • Paul chose to love his fellow countrymen.

He was so burned for their souls that he was willing to give his own life if it would mean their salvation.  However, he knew this could not be.  Despite the love of God poured out through Paul, most of Paul’s countrymen would not turn to Jesus.

  • God chose to show mercy to those He desired.

In God’s providence he chose to have mercy on Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and many of Israel.  He also chose to have mercy on Gentiles.  Pay close attention to what I am about to write: “Somethings are beyond our understanding.”  This part of Romans falls in the somethings.

Many people read Romans 9 and say, “So my sin is not my own fault.”  God responds, “Not so, you are responsible for your own decisions.”

God is sovereign in the affairs of this world.  God’s church is tasked with sowing the gospel in all the world.  God is sovereign in saving all who say “yes” to Jesus.  God is also just in judging all who say no to Jesus.

My calling and your calling is to praise Him for His mercy and to proclaim His gospel to the nations.

This very day, I am at peace because God is at work.  But at the same time I am productive because I know I am going to be judged for my choices when He returns.  I leave you with I Corinthians 3:10-16

10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled[b] master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

What did you see? (Matthew 9)

January 18, 2018

36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36

Each morning for many years I have arisen to my time in the word.  Each morning I offer a short prayer before I read.  Here is the prayer: “Let me see what you intend for me to see.” This very morning I needed a second look at Matthew 8 before my spiritual eyes adjusted to the text.

Question: What did you see when you read Matthew 8?

From the text, here are 8 things I got to see:

  • In Capernaum Jesus heals a man soul and heals his paralysis, Vs: 1-7.
  • By the sea Jesus calls a tax-collector to follow Him, Vs: 8-9.
  • We meet Jesus as the “Great Physician” in Matthews house, Vs: 10-12.
  • In the city Jesus teaches us about the importance of the new life, Vs: 13-17.
  • As Jesus went on his way, He heals a sick woman and raises a father’s daughter from the dead, Vs: 18-26.
  • Next there was the blind men who were healed.
  • Lastly, we see the healing of a mute man.

Brothers and sisters, in the span of one chapter we read of six miracles in the lives of people who were hurting.  Question: Did you see these things in your first reading of the text?

Ed Stetzer said, in a message on this passage:  “Consistent prayer gives you the eyes to see the needs of the world.”

This comes directly from the last two verses of Matthew 9.  Here they are for you to see once again:

37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:37-38

If you and I desire better spiritual sight we ned to lean into prayer and we need to look into God’s Word more and more every day.  Here is how we know when we are doing this correctly, We will become more and more compassionate.

Remember what Jesus said in this very chapter: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice, go and learn what this means.”

My story and your story (Romans 3)

January 17, 2018

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23

This morning I watched a clip from and NBA game where two players got into a heated argument. As I watched I heard the announcer comment, “This is reality TV.”  I can honestly say I was saddened by what I saw.

I also can say that my sadness intensified as I read the first 20 verses of Romans 3. As I opened the Bible I was thinking, I am glad I am not like those guys.  Twenty-verses later I know I am like those guys without Jesus!!!

Romans 3 is Paul’s theological discussion concerning the state of every man and the salvation that is offered to every man apart from the Law.  The Jewish people had a great advantage in knowing these things, but they chose to try to justify their sinfulness before God.  However, it was clear, their excuses had no merit.

Beginning in Vs: 9 we see the true state of all men:

  • Before God, our position is unrighteous, Vs: 9-10.
  • Before God, our path is wicked, Vs: 11-18.
  • Before God, our sentence is justified, Vs: 19-20.

When I read these verses I realize I am worse off, without Christ, than those two guys arguing in the NBA game.  But God has not left us without hope.

Beginning in Vs: 21 we see the salvation that is provided for all who repent and believe:

  • A person can be right with God through faith in Jesus Christ.
  •  A person is made right through the declaration of God (justification) when he or she repents of their sins and evidences faith before God, trusting in the atoning work of Jesus for their sins.

Praise God for Jesus being just and the justifier of all men who come to Him by faith!!!

In the NBA game both players were ejected from the court because they were both wrong.  In eternity, all who have rejected the truth about their state and have rejected the way of salvation will know they have been ejected from the possibility of heaven because of their own choices.

The old hymn comes to mind, “Redeemed.”  Enjoy it in your devotion today:

  1. Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
    Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
    Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
    His child and forever I am.

    • Refrain:
      Redeemed, redeemed,
      Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
      Redeemed, redeemed,
      His child and forever I am.
  2. Redeemed, and so happy in Jesus,
    No language my rapture can tell;
    I know that the light of His presence
    With me doth continually dwell.
  3. I think of my blessed Redeemer,
    I think of Him all the day long:
    I sing, for I cannot be silent;
    His love is the theme of my song.
  4. I know I shall see in His beauty
    The King in whose law I delight;
    Who lovingly guardeth my footsteps,
    And giveth me songs in the night.
  5. I know there’s a crown that is waiting
    In yonder bright mansion for me,
    And soon, with the spirits made perfect,
    At home with the Lord I shall be.

 

The incident at the well (John 4)

January 16, 2018

 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.”  John 4:34

As I got into my car, the radio was already turned on. It was on the channel where the broadcast of the NFL playoff game.  Little did I know that I had tuned in when a football miracle was about to happen.  With 25 seconds left the Minnesota Vikings were able to win with an unbelievable play.  The announcers were going crazy as they broadcast. In this moment the announcer said, “This is a Minnesota miracle.”

In John 4, the announcer, The Apostle John, writes about a Samaritan miracle.  Take time to read the chapter knowing that Jesus brings this woman from darkness to light.  Before the day is through she will be not only drinking from the living water, but she will be directing others to the living water.

But there were those who almost missed the incident at the well.  The Apprentices almost missed it.

  • They had come to a city they probably did not want to be in with people they did not want to be around.
  • They were takes with an assignment that took them away from the front lines of ministry.
  • They return (Vs: 27) just in time to see Jesus as He talked with the woman at the well.

Question: How often do you and I miss out on the miracles God intends for us simply because we are focused on other things?

Jesus helps the Apprentices to know how to come to the place where their days would be filled with true significance:

  1. They needed to focus each day in the Word of God.
  2. They needed to focus their energy in doing the will of God.
  3. They needed to find their joy in the work of God.

As I sit at my desk, I realize this very moment is a miracle from God.  I have been blessed to have God’s will before me.  What is before me? The Word of God.  I have increased strength because I know His will for my day.  I am getting ready to face the day knowing that I am a part of God’s greater plan of sowing and reaping.

Outside of these walls are people who I can meet who can experience a miracle.  I am going out with the Word doing the will of God enjoying the work of God.  This in itself is a great miracle.

If I could just experience a miracle (Luke 5)

January 15, 2018

26 And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.” Luke 5:26

In Luke chapter 5 there are no less than 5 miracles recorded.  Can you write down each?  Take a moment and stop reading the blog and go back through Luke 5 in  your copy of God’s Word.

Question: “Did you get all five?”  Here they are for you:

  • The almost boat sinking catch of fish, Vs: 1-11.
  • The cleansing of a leper, Vs: 12-16.
  • The healing of the paralyzed man, Vs: 17-26

Those three were easy to spot, but the other two might not seem as great as the other three but the truth is they are even greater.  Here they are for you.

  • The miracle of the fisherman leaving everything for Jesus, Luke 5:8-11.
  • The miracle of Matthew’s salvation and surrender of everything to Jesus, Luke 5: 27-31.

Why does it seem that most of us overlook the greater miracles in search of the lesser miracles?

Think about  what we have read.  Jesus provided fish for the fisherman so that they would understand where their hope came from.  The greater miracle was in the changed lives of the men.  We often live broken lives asking God to prop up those broken lives with miracles that really do not change who we are.

God’s greatest miracles are in the changed lives of individuals who follow Him.  Genesis 18:14 says, “nothing is impossible with God.” So, when you are asking for a miracle in a relationship, in a circumstance, or with anything else.  Consider first what God wants to do in you so that He can then get the glory in what He is doing in others.

May this be a day of miracles for each of us.

Psalm 40:16 “but may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you.  May those who love your salvation, say continually, great is the Lord.”

What’s this all about? (Ephesians 5)

January 12, 2018

for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light, Ephesians 5:8

It was uncomfortable from the state.  He said “hello” and I responded, “Hello.”  But from there the conversation went downhill.  He was on one page and I was on a different page.  Both of us had a view of what the project should be about and they were totally different.

Question: “Do you eve find yourself in this circumstance in your friendships?”

In Ephesians 5 Paul is teaching us about what are lives are to be about now that we are “in Christ.”  Before coming to Christ each of us, if we were honest, really did not know what our lives were about.  It was daily grind to find God’s plan.  But now that one is in Christ he or she knows what they are all about or do they?

4 things we are all about as Christ-followers:

  • We are all about our new identity.

We are now imitators of Christ.  We are now Children of Light. We are not walking in Spirit-filled wisdom.

  • We are all about our new actions of life.

We are people who now walk in love because we have God’s imprint on our lives.  We are people who have the fruit of the light in our lives.  We are daily casting off the works of darkness.

  • We are all about doing what pleases the Lord.

The sins mentioned in Vs: 2-8 clearly are proof of people who are rebels.  The directions for husbands and wives in Vs: 22-33 are a life strategy that pleases the Lord.

  • We are all about giving everything to our new assignments.

Every moment counts for the Lord.  Daily want to please Him.  Daily we lean in to God’s Spiritual filling.

When we are about these things, others will know what we are about.  When our brothers and sisters are at odds with us.  First do a check up to see what you are all about and then begin to pray that they also would be about what God is about.

Before long you and your friend can both know what each is about, which is the glory of God.

What is on your mind? (Acts 14)

January 11, 2018

27 And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.  Acts 14:27

Lately I have noticed a lot of people who seem to be preoccupied in their thinking.  They seem to be deeply thinking about the issues they are facing in life.  Recently, I asked a friend, “What is on your mind?”  Before they even spoke the tears began to flow.

Question: What is on your mind?

In Acts 14 we could ask Paul the same question.  It would seem to be obvious answer that Paul’s mind had to be on the troubles he was having:

  • In Iconium he faced a city divided that attempted to stone him.
  • In Lystra Paul was stoned and left for dead.

But to our amazement, when Paul returned to his home church in Antioch, he did not report the negative things that happened.  He said: “God opened a door for the gospel.”

Paul’s mind was focused on the souls that were saved and the miracles accomplished in every city.  Paul had come to a place where his mind thought correct thoughts.  Here are, according to 14:22 some of the thoughts he stayed focused on:

  • Paul understood that serving the Lord would stir up battles with the enemy.
  • Paul understood that there was daily encouragement in the Word of God.
  • Paul understood life was filled with trials.
  • Paul understood his faith in God was real and he knew the Lord would see him through every trial.  Heaven would be his home.

Brothers and sisters, you and I have to learn how to retrain our minds away from the what ifs, the what is not good in life. We have to focus on what God is doing in all the moments of our lives.  He will redeem everything in his time.  And by the way He knows what He is doing!!!

Here are some encouraging insights for our minds today:  Philippians 4:8-9

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned[e] and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

A time for a change (Psalm 119:1-11; John 1:1-5; Hebrews 4)

January 10, 2018

Oh that my ways may be steadfast
    in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame,
    having my eyes fixed on all your commandments. Psalm 119:5-6

It seemed as if one team was going to totally dominate the other team.  But the coach made a bold decision at half-time.  He decided to make a change at quarterback in the National Championship game.  The change worked and Alabama once again is the National Champions in NCAA football.

Question:  Could it be that you and need to make a change?

As you open your Bible to Psalm 119 you discover God’s thesis for the chapter: God will bless those who are blameless before in Him in obeying His law (i.e. the 10 Commandments).

As you read the thesis verses (1-3) it becomes clear, there is a problem.  No one, on their own can perfectly keep the law of God.  R.C. Sproul comments are helpful: “God sent His son to keep the law for us.  The law no longer condemns us. Jesus has set us free to accept the law as our own guide for pleasing the one who died in our place.” Cited from Pg. 843, “Reformation Study Bible.”

  • God has commanded that we keep the law, Vs: 4.

The Psalmist wants to keep the law and he knows shame will come if he fails to keep it.

  • God has provided a way for us to keep the law through Jesus, Gal. 2:15-17; 3:1-3; 5:1,16.

 

  • God’s people center their lives on keep His law as liberated saints, Vs 7-16.

We praise God for giving us His law, Vs: 7.  We purse the keeping of His law, Vs: 7b-8.  We practice the keeping of His law each day, Vs: 9-16.

This Psalm clearly reminds me of the change that Jesus has made in my life.  This Psalm clearly challenges me to daily be in God’s Word so that I would be daily changing into what He wants me to be!!!

The writer of the following praise course says it better than I can:

Change My Heart Oh God Change my heart oh God Make it ever true Change my heart oh God May I be like You Change my heart oh God Make it ever true Change my heart oh God May I be like You You are the potter I am the clay Mold me and make me This is what I pray Change my heart oh God Make it ever true Change my heart oh God May I be like You