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Saturday, March 17, 2018


Mark 6:3 (here @ Bible Gateway) is an interesting verse.  The folks in Jesus’ hometown, were offended by Him.  The word can be translated “scandalized”.  I like that better.
Passages like this make me ask myself. “In what ways am I offended, scandalized, by Christ?

It would be easy to dismiss that question out of hand because after all, we are really spiritual.  But think about that for a while?

Paul was a persecutor of the Church.  Jesus not only saved Paul but placed him as an apostle to the Gentiles.  The Jerusalem church had a difficult time with that.  It was a scandal.

Speaking of the Gentiles, the notion that they could become followers of Christ without becoming Jews, was a scandal.  It took a council to determine that was ok.

What offends you?  Is it that a mass murderer trusts Christ just before he is executed?  Is it that your enemy, the one who has betrayed you and your family is prospering in business and in life?

Is it that the sovereign God allowed your loved one to contract cancer and die after a long and excruciating fight?

If I am honest.  There are things that God does about which I am scandalized.  Things He does that I do not understand.  Things with which it takes me much time to come to grips.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Fabulous Hard Time

You may remember that I get most of these posts from my journal.  I review past entries and determine if I have written on that passage by looking through my records on the blog. 

I am reviewing my journal from last year.  I am in January.  It was about the time that my father passed away and my daughter-in-law was about 25 weeks pregnant and fighting B-Cell lymphoma. 

Yesterday was her daughter’s first birthday.  She, however, was not there.  It was a great party.  It was fun to watch my granddaughter eat her smash cake.  It was fun to see the icing all over her face and arms.  It was fun to see her try to eat all of her presents.  It was great to see all 12 of the pictures recording her growth this year.

It was hard looking at the picture of her the month her mommy went to be with the Lord.  It was hard that her mommy was not with us.  We had pictures of my son and his wife at one year old to compare with her.  That was fun.

The evening was a fabulous celebration of my granddaughter’s first year.  For me, there was an undercurrent of sadness, grief, for a number of reasons primarily that my son’s wife was not physically with us. 

We know she is with the Lord.  That does not completely remove the underlying pain.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Standing Alert

If you are like me, there are times when you just need to check out.  Yesterday was like that.  For some reason, perhaps it was the cumulative effect of the last several weeks, I was out of it.  I did not want to do much of anything.  Pretty much vegged out.  It doesn’t happen often, but it happens.
Standing Alert
At some significant level, I fear those times.  I fear they will become more frequent, normal.  That scares me.

I also fear that there are more and more people who live vegged out.  They do not think for themselves, they accept what the “experts” tell them.  They do not stretch or challenge their thinking, they opt continually for entertainment, fiction, movies, TV series.

This afternoon I was reviewing a journal entry from early last year.  The passage that started the thought was Matthew 24:42 (here @ Bible Gateway).  The phrase in the passage that caught my attention was “be on the alert”.  I jotted down several other passages that echoed that imperative. 

That caused me to look for other places that word showed up in the text.  So I searched in Logos for instances where the Greek word that was translated “be alert” showed up.  Here is that list.

The command to be on the alert seems to be a relatively consistent theme in the New Testament.  It seems that there are two primary reasons for this consistent exhortation.  First, we have a Lord that will return for us, and we are to be alert, looking for His return, being about His business, not, as I was yesterday, vegged out.

Second, we have an enemy who would love nothing more than to take us out.  Which will be easier for him if we are, like I was yesterday, vegged out.

It is almost as if the Lord is calling us to stand watch.  We are to stand watch over ourselves, our families, our communities, and the Truth.

It is an assignment that I need to take more seriously.  What do you see in those passages?

Thursday, March 8, 2018

What He Promises

The workshops that I do are built around 2 Peter (here @ Bible Gateway).  There are a number of reasons for this.  One it is a short book, 61 verses, so participants can read it quickly, usually I give them 20 minutes.  Second, the content is incredibly deep.  There is one aspect of that content on which this post will focus…
What He Promises
First, look at Genesis 21:1 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Note the focus of the verse.  God did as He said, God did as He promised.  He was faithful to His Word.  He did what He said He would do.  Numbers 23:19 (here @ Bible Gateway) echoes this truth.  He says, He will do it.  He speaks, He will make it good.  He is consistent.  He is faithful.  He does not lie.  He always does what He says He will do.

Now look at 2 Peter 1:2 – 4 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Take a few minutes and make as many observations as you can about those two sentences (2 – 3 is one sentence).

There is a ton in these two sentences.  Focus on this for a minute, what does the near demonstrative “these” refer to in verse 4 (here @ Bible Gateway)?

I would suggest “these” refers to “His own glory and excellence”.  The promises of God are based on His nature, His character.  His Word, reflects who He is.

You know those whose word is not good.  You can be fairly sure that they will not do what they said they will do.  You also know those whose word is gold.  If they say something will be done, you do not have to ever wonder again if it was.  Their word is good.  For both, their word, or better their actions based on their word reveal their character.

It is the same with God.  Peter is telling us not only that we can trust God to do what He says, but also that what He promises us reveals His divine nature to us in that as we build our lives around what He has said and promised, we actually partake of His nature, it becomes part of our experience.

This is just a short intro into a profound truth of Scripture.  I have shared this more times than I can count.  However the reality of what Peter is sharing with us here, continues to overwhelm.

Do not gloss over this.  Spend some time praying and thinking through the implications of what Peter is saying here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Our Choices

Genesis 28:6 (here @ Bible Gateway) is interesting to me.  This is a subset of one of Abraham’s follies.  Kim shared another a couple of days ago.
Our Choices
Here it is the second instance of Abraham asking Sarah to misrepresent her relationship to Abraham.  As a result Abimelech took Sarah.

God stops Abimelech in a dream from having any relationship with Sarah.

Then in Genesis 28:6 (here @ Bible Gateway), God speaks to Abimelech.  Two observations
God’s sovereignty extends to the choices men make on baser issues, like sex.  The Lord can prevent or, as an implied corollary, cause a man to choose a course of action.
Abimelech did not sin against Abraham by taking Sarah, he sinned against God.

We may choose, but our choice is under God’s sovereignty.  If we choose to sin, our sin is against Him.

Ponder that.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Focus and Truth

Take a minute and read through Matthew 16:13 – 23 (here @ Bible Gateway).

Focus and TruthPeter both gets it right and wrong in the space of a few minutes.

In the first case the Father revealed the truth about His Son to Peter.  He got that right.

In the second case Peter rebuked Jesus when the Lord told the disciples that he would be killed in Jerusalem.  He got that one horribly wrong.

What was the difference and what are some of the implications for us?

In the first case Peter’s understanding was illuminated by the Father.  The Father allowed him to understand the truth of who Jesus really was.  Jesus said Peter was blessed to know this.

In the second case, Peter was focused on his interests, man’s interests, not God’s, not the Father’s.  Therefore rather than being illuminated with the truth, he was dead wrong.

I might suggest there are at least two implications of these moments in Peter’s life for us;
  1. Just because the Lord has given us illumination and we understand better a portion of His truth, we are not immune from error in the next sentence we utter.  We have to be hard after the Word of God to make sure that we do not deviate from its revealed truth.
  2. A primary source of error, if not the primary, is to set our mind on man’s, our, interests rather than seeking what God wants.
Unfortunately, I have made the error.  I have heard others do the same.  There are some

Under the reality of living in a fallen, broken world, it is all too easy to consider that our needs, wishes, and desires are what God wants to fulfill.  When we do that, it escapes our notice that what he wants us to do is focus on seeking His Kingdom, not our wants, needs, or desires.

Personally, I need continual reminders of that truth.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Overcoming Resistance

If we choose to obey God, no matter how trivial the obedience may seem, the enemy will resist our obedience.  He will use others to distract us.  He will use circumstances to dissuade us.  He will use our environment to discourage us.  He wants us to fail.
Overcoming Resistance

Nehemiah faced all three of these.  Frankly, if you study all of those who followed the Lord, you find similar stories in all of their lives.  For Nehemiah the enemy used Sanballat to accomplish these three d’s.  Sanballat falsely accused Nehemiah – oh, you do remember that the enemy is a liar and the father of lies?

Look at Nehemiah 6:9 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Here the Lord reminds us how to deal with those who wish to deflect us from following the Lord.  This, by the way, was Nehemiah’s default action in the face of all that he faced.  He prayed.  He specifically prayed that the Lord would strengthen him.

Yesterday I spent an extensive time in my quiet time looking at passages that validate that all that we are able to do we do through His strength.  Take a look at Psalm 119 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Note all of the places in the psalm that David asks for or acknowledges his dependence on the Lord for anything that David understands about the Lord or His Word.

Both Nehemiah and David give us good clear examples of how we can deal with the enemy.  We can’t.  Apart from complete dependence on the Lord strengthening us to do so.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Abram’s Folly

Shortly after last night’s post was published, my wife suggested that I needed to point out that Abram was also engaged in folly…she was right.
Abram’s Folly
It could be argued that Abram’s folly was worse because he did it twice.  Look at:
In both cases Abram in the first case and Abraham in the second, rather than trusting the Lord for protection, schemed to preserve his life at the expense of his wife.  He was willing to put her into a situation where she could have been violated in order to preserve his life.

The first time he did this was just after God had called him and Abram had responded.  The second time was after the Lord had promised Abraham that Sarah would have a son.  It was after Abram had believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness, Genesis 15:6 (here @ Bible Gateway).

Think of that for a bit.  Abram, Abraham, had followed God, believed in His promises, and yet in the matter of Sarai, Sarah, did not trust God to protect them.

It leads me to think that no matter the closeness of our relationship to God, the fidelity of our obedience to Him, that there will always be those areas of our lives we hold back from Him.  That may be why we read David’s oft repeated cry for the Lord to revive, teach, lead, and instruct him in Psalm 119 (here @ Bible Gateway).

Regardless of how close we are to Him, we are completely dependent on Him to trust and follow.  Not to recognize this and proactively pray against this type of behavior, leaves us open to duplicating Abraham’s folly.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Sarai’s Folly

It is often hard to trust God.  Especially, if we are associated with one whom God is leading and we are charged with following.  Abram’s wife, Sarai, faced this reality.  Read Genesis 16:2 (here @ Bible Gateway).
Sarai’s Folly
Sarai knew what God had promised Abraham.  She came up with a scheme to help the promise along.

Here are some observations about this situation:
  • The promise was to Abram
  • Sarai was a part of that promise
  • Sarai was not the primary recipient of the promise
  • Sarai could not see how the promise could be fulfilled
  • Sarai came up with her own solution
  • Sarai thought her solution was in line with the promise
  • Sarai convinced Abram to follow her plan
  • She did not trust God, she trusted her scheme
Sarai’s actions parallel Eve’s actions in the garden (the enemy’s hand is all over this)
  • Question the Word (Promise) of God
  • What He said will not happen
  • Take matters into her own hand
  • Create a mess
If we are honest with ourselves, that pattern has repeated itself multiple times in our lives.

Sarai’s folly becomes ours.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Quickly Fickle

There have been times in my life when I wanted to be recognized, wanted people to notice what I had done, what I had accomplished.  Not proud of that, but it is the case.
Quickly Fickle
Acts 14:18 – 19 (here @ Bible Gateway) reminds me of one of the reasons that it is not a very good idea to desire recognition.

One sentence after Paul and Barnabas have a hard time restraining people from sacrificing to them as gods, the Jews turn the crowd against them and they attempt to stone Paul to death.

It is a quick, short distance from praise to hatred.  Seeking praise then would seem to invite that quick hate.