Monday, June 30, 2014


John 6:29        The crowds asked Jesus, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

 .Jesus fed 5,000 people with a boy’s five small barley loaves and two small fish (John 6:9). The disciples had seen no available resources available to help so many people. The result of this feeding miracle was that the people he fed wanted to make him king, by force. Later that day, the disciples boarded a boat to cross the lake. On the way a large wind threatened to capsize them. Jesus approached the boat walking on the water. They were at least three miles from shore. The disciples were terrified.

People today struggle to understand and make sense of Jesus’ miracles. People work hard to find an earthly explanation for feeding 5,000 people. Could it be that many people had already eaten, having brought their own food. Maybe those needing food were in the minority and the crumbs left over were the remnants from people who had brought food.  Was Jesus able to walk on water because he knew where the sand bars and hidden boulders were in the lake? Maybe the wind had blown the water so fiercely that the level of the lake dropped to a foot deep. Explanations leaves us with answers that require more faith than the miracle itself.

             To believe that Jesus is the Son of God gifted with the powers to perform these miracles is a struggle for many people. It takes great effort to believe, trust and walk in His footsteps. To explain his miracles Jesus says that we are to work at believing that He is the one God sent into the world. Believing is work. It is a struggle to set aside our propensity for explanation and to trust that what is said about Jesus is true, accurate and historical. To believe that Jesus is the Son of God is work. Not performing good deeds, not feeding nor clothing but working to believe is the most difficult task we face each day as Christians.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Squeaking through

Matthew 7:13-14         Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

The Sermon on the Mount reveals the two ways in which we can live. The Christian way is restricting in devotion, not self-centered in service, private in worship and uncomfortable in living. It is a way which can be described as "small is the gate and narrow the road". The world's way is unrestrictive in its many alternatives to devotion and conformity to world opinions. The world's focus is on the individual and his wants. The word worships the creation, not the creator. For them "wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction".

The Sermon on the Mount is a call to believers to be different from the world. There are only two ways to live your life. The narrow way of Christ will cause persecution to the believer. If you are not persecuted then you have been accepted by the world, no different from them. If you conform you are left alone; if you are different you are persecuted.

The Christian does not interpret God's law like a Pharisee in order to make it conform to their lifestyle. The Christian extends God's law to make it more restrictive. The value a Christian places on life is different. A Christian is preoccupied with pleasing God in order to faithfully live as a child of His. We seek eternal treasures. We ask only for our daily needs. We only knock on God’s door for help. Narrow may be our life, but our reward is infinite.   

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The old testament summarized

Matthew 7:12              So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

The Law of Love is specifically Christian. It is only found here in the positive form noted above. Other religious writers have similar phrases but they are written in the negative; ie. Do not lie to others, otherwise they will lie to you.

Jesus' Law of Love is a fulfilling of the Old Testament Law. If we act with love toward others then our self-centered approach to relationships would vanish. All the prohibitions of the Ten Commandments would be met if we were to practice this Law of Love. It does not diminish but leads us to a better understanding of Biblical ethics. The foundation on which God set His Law was Love.

God so loved His creation that "he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). God's love opened the door for the poor in spirit, opened the eyes of the meek and gave good gifts to the hungry and thirsty.

There are times when patience and kindness would make me feel better. If I spent less time envying others for what they had, I would boast less about myself and realize how much my pride dictates by actions. When I take the time to honor others I have less time to be self-seeking and angry. Without time on my hands I wouldn’t bother to keep track of what others do to me nor plot to get back at them. If I look to find the truth in others I can respond with a protecting and trusting posture. I can persevere with them and hope for them. In the end, I would never fail to be there for them.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Ask who?

Matthew 7:7                Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

A long time ago I was told that the only way to raise money for the ministry was to get out there. Knock on people’s doors and ask them to support your Mission. Tell them the stories about needy families and homeless people living in the woods. The more people you seek out the more that will support your efforts. The people that were saying this were using the passage above as the basis for their teaching. They were wrong.

Jesus starts by stating in a factual tone to ask, seek and knock. For those that do this will receive, find or have the door opened. There is no formula required, no prerequisite no condition is needed to go before God with our needs. Everyone that goes before the Father will be heard. The point Jesus is making is that God is the one, the only one, who hears, is present and responds to our deepest needs. Using his words in any context apart from God is a misapplication.

The world wants so desperately to be heard and to be comforted by a god. But it is always on their terms. This is the reason so many get frustrated with “god” or “spiritual” things. Their petitions go unanswered in the time allotted. Circumstances do not change to their liking. Others don’t change.

Use this passage for your own benefit. You seek God; you knock on His door; you ask Him. Seek change for yourself first. Seek God for his opening of doors. Wait upon God and He will answer your petitions.  

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Power in the word

Matthew 7:6        Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.

This passage causes me to pause and reflect on those who would hear our message of hope. Years of sinful living make many people addictively focused on the world around them. Materialism drives their seeing, hearing and speaking. This alone is a challenge to overcome. But the Holy Spirit is able to remove the scales from their eyes.

This passage leads me to some general deductions about my audience. The full effect of sin on the unbeliever is evident in these words of Jesus. Man is so blinded from the truth that he will react with extremely negative feelings towards me and the Word of God. His world is threatened by the very mention of “God” or stating that there is a universal truth to be known. Sin has so dominated his existence that he refuses to allow anything so threatening to enter his thoughts or to have a relationship with.  

The nature God's Word is so powerful a force to cause such reaction in people. His Word is varied and complete in its nature. There is knowledge for every level of man's understanding and for every aspect of his life. Some portions can only be appreciated by ones with deeper faith. The variety of God's Word can be compared to the food of the body, such as milk and meat. The fear of choosing the wrong passage is minimized by the fact that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training”. (2 Timothy 3:16)

God's Word seems to require the human element when it is presented and fully understood. The story of the eunuch in Acts 8 helps explain this idea. The indiscriminate distribution of tracts seems, to me, not to be scriptural. We are to be careful in how we share the Word of God. It is best to know about the person(s) with whom we speak. To see them face to face allows us to know what impact we are having and how the Holy Spirit is working in them. May He guide us.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Know your audience

Matthew 7:6        Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.

Teaching should be given in accordance with the spiritual capacity of the learner. Here are some things to keep in mind.

      First we are to learn to distinguish between the different types of people. We are to understand these types in order to learn how to approach them with the gospel. There are those which we will not be able to approach and others we can approach with our message.

Secondly, we are to learn by their type, how and what to give them from God’s Word. Some may not be ready for the full meat of the message. Others may not be satisfied with only the simple milk of the message either.

Next, we are to be careful in the way we present the message. In learning to assess people our method of presenting the message will need to reflect this assessment of them. In love we are to present the message in order that we don’t become a hindrance to their hearing the Good News.

Lastly, we are to know what part of the message is appropriate for each particular situation. We should assess the level of faith and be able to nurture the listener in their spiritual growth.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Blinded by a bat

Matthew 7:5    You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.                       

Again Jesus uses an extreme illustration to get his point across to us. Remember what it is like to get a speck of dust in your eye? You squint, feel the tears well up, and struggled to focus from your other eye. It was difficult to see and to even think of anything else until you got that small speck out, right? Now imagine having a baseball bat in your eye. It would be impossible to see or concentrate on anything else but your own problem. Well, this is the perspective Jesus wants you listening from.

When helping others along their Christian journey care is needed. We can get overconfident in our own beliefs and spiritual progress that we fail to empathize with others who struggle. Sometimes we become the obstacle to another’s growth or hearing of our message. Over confidence and dogmatic prescriptions do not heal people. The Holy Spirit does.

The presence of objects that cause our blindness cannot make us more effective in ministering to others. Without a healthy understanding of our own sinfulness and imperfect faith, we cannot understand the struggle that others face. We may never understand their fall into sin if we have not admitted to ourselves the sinfulness of our actions at times.

If we want to really help someone else, we would start by helping ourselves. Begin with repentance of our own sin and brokenness. Let God remove our sin, heal us of their damaging effects and restore us to a new relationship with Him. Only then will our approach to others will bring help and not further harm.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Here comes the judge

Matthew 7:1         Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Today the term “judge” brings to mind the courtroom arguments of attorneys, plaintiffs and defendants in view of a jury. A courtroom judge’s role is to administer the law and prescribe its punishments. A judge has the final authority for the cases presented to him.

Also, the judge is accountable to the same laws and punishments as others. When a judge, or law enforcement officer, is himself found guilty of a violation, he would suffer the same, and often times, harsher punishment. Because he was given the responsibility to enforce the laws, he should have known better the consequences for its violation.

In Jesus’ time the word "to judge" meant to sift or separate.  It refers to an attitude of discernment, distinguishing or assessing. It did not mean to condemn or punish. It was not a legal or judicial term. Judging was more a matter of trying to understand the situation, not to find fault. Understood this way, we are better able to see our Christian responsibility in terms of repentance, not punishment. We should do more to distinguish facts, evaluate motives, assess intentions and discern moral standards. We are not judges empowered by God to render a final sentence. We are called by Jesus to forgive and help lead others not into temptation.

 As sinners we are not above the law. If we pronounce judgment on others, we are setting ourselves up to the same standard by which we will be judged. We are no more perfect than those we expect to be perfect. In the end, we will be judged by the same standard we hold them to.  

We are to be loving, concerned and responsible brothers in Christ. We are to repent of our own sins and to discipline ourselves in order to help our brothers through their sins. We are to seek God's will in the lives of all believers. We cannot do this unless we are free of the sins that cloud and darken our minds and hearts. We must have good eyes to enlighten our body to see our own way and then the way for others.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Defendant and Dependent

Matthew 6:9-13                Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one, for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

When asked to pray, you can always pray as Jesus taught us with these words. There is nothing shameful in using this prayer. If all our prayers followed this pattern, then we will be in good shape, even when words are hard to find.

Our prayers are to bring glory to God. In our words and deeds both at church and in the world we are to praise and glorify Him. The holiness of God's name is understood in terms of God's will, work and existence; not merely uttering His name. Our hearts are to be ever mindful of His presence in our lives. We are to pray for His Kingdom to be extended throughout the world as it now is in heaven. His kingdom is the righteous reign over the lives and hearts of his people. The Kingdom also refers to the second coming of Christ when His kingdom shall be on the earth. We should pray that God's will be achieved and advanced to its fullest level on earth as it now is fully achieved in heaven.

After glorifying God, the praying Christian turns to his own need. We pray first that God's interest in and provision for us be granted when we pray for "our daily bread". God, our Sustainer, maintains our spiritual and material lives daily.

We acknowledge God's power and control of our lives in asking for forgiveness from our sins. Sin affects our lives daily. We are to pray for reconciliation with God in order that we may be made holy like Him. We forgive sins against us knowing that our actions are motivated by our desire to please Him. We need his help to remain free from evil and temptation. We ask God to not allow us to be led into situations where temptation overpowers us. We seek His help in avoiding the temptations to disobey or ignore God. We need His guidance daily to resist an immoral world and to walk in the light of His path.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Loving The Loveless

Matthew 5:43-48         But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. 

Let’s face it, the Pharisees do everything that Jesus says we are not to do. When it comes to loving people, they again restrict their love to only those they deem worthy or they limit their love to those within their little community of people. Jesus will not stand for this either.

Jesus meant love to be for everyone the believer comes in contact with. Yes, this can be very difficult at times. When we are most upset or angered by someone, love is the last thing on our minds or in our hearts. Let’s face it, Jesus will not stand for this either. He died for us so that so that we might submit to his Spirit and love as he loved.

It is difficult to love someone who persecutes you. The cynic in us makes love difficult for a total stranger. But the stories we see in the Gospels about Jesus reveal his willingness to love beyond his comfort zone.
Jesus extended love to all people we come in contact with.

As God sends the rains on the righteous and the unrighteous, we are to do rain down his love on all. The love God has shown for us is the same love we are to show to others. Jesus tells us that we are to be like Him. We are to follow the perfect model God has set before us, his Son, Jesus Christ. To model Him is to be love in action and in form.

Jesus tells us to "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect". Loving the loveless reveals a nature transformed by Christ.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Listen To The Right Person

Matthew 5:21        You have heard that it was said to the people long ago…. 

The problem faced by the people listening to Jesus was the contradictory statements they had heard from the Pharisees and teachers of the law. Who was right when it comes to understanding and applying the various laws given by God in the Old Testament? Should they listen to Jesus or their teachers?

Jesus opposed the traditional and distorted interpretations given by the Pharisees. He never denied the importance of what was written. Jesus did denounce the oral traditions, misinterpretations and misapplications of God’s Word by the teachers.

The reason for Jesus’ position is simple. The Pharisees reduced the impact of the Law by making the restrictions less constricting and the permissions more universal. Their efforts at applying the Law were an attempt to make it conform to their thoughts on what God expected of his people. The Pharisees want the law to be attainable by the people. If the Law was easily obeyed then they would be able, of their own efforts, to meet the righteous standards of God.

So the Pharisees limited or restricted the commandments on murder and adultery to the act itself. Oath taking was restricted to those made in the name of the Lord. Neighborly love was restricted to their fellow religious brethren. The permissions in the Law were extended by them to cover a broader scope than originally intended. Divorce was allowed for virtually any reason the husband could conceive. Retribution became not an act of the courts for punishment but was made an act of revenge for the victim.

 It is never easy to obey the letter of the law. That fact is the reason God gave us his laws. He wanted us to recognize the impossible demands we faced, and he wanted us to see our need for Him. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014


Matthew 5:32              But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.    

The only ground for divorce that Jesus gives to his followers is marital unfaithfulness. A divorce for other reasons causes the divorcing partner to be an adulterer should they remarry. Also, the person marrying the divorcee becomes an adulterer, too, once the marriage is consummated.
Jesus is confronting the liberalization of divorce that had occurred under the leadership of the Pharisees. The Pharisees’ beliefs on divorce were divided between two schools of interpretation. The school of Shammai held that the only reason for divorce is an immoral or unseemly sexual act. The opposing school of Hillel took their liberty with the definition of unseemly acts. They first dropped the restriction of “sexual” for the unseemly act to become grounds for divorce. This opened the door for divorce for any “unseemly act”. The result was that a wife's burning of the dinner meal or the physical decline of an older woman's attractiveness became legitimate and allowable grounds for divorce.

Jesus did not buy it. Jesus knew that Moses permitted or allowed divorce to occur because of the hardness of man's heart. It was a concession from God. Moses did not command divorce as the Pharisees believed. Divorce was a breaking of the blessed act of marriage which God has ordained from the beginning. The Pharisees, preoccupied with their ability to keep every article of the law, interpreted the "unseemly behavior" so widely that it gave the husband virtually any reason for divorce. They found ways to allow divorce. They made God’s restriction less restricting in order to meet their standards. They made allowances for divorce that were never intended, simply to make God’s Law easier, manageable and appealing.

God intended that divorce be for sexual unfaithfulness. Divorce was an allowed option, not a commandment, for the injured party. God prefers that we be reconciled with one another, as He has reconciled each of us to himself through Jesus Christ, not separated from Him by sin or by divorce. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Anger Is Deadly To The Soul

Matthew 5:22      I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. … But anyone who says, ‘You fool !’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.   

Words can scar a person for life. Children are most susceptible to this form of abuse and mistreatment. Unkind and untrue words can leave scars that last a lifetime. Jesus reminds us of this same truth when he teaches us about the sin of murder.

The Pharisees limited this commandment on murder to the one specific act and the judicial punishment related to it. Jesus expands the coverage of murder beyond the act. He includes the words and motives of anger, malice, revenge, hatred and prideful spite. The intent leading up to the final act of murder is truly the source to which God's commandment is directed.
The inward motives noted can and do lead to the one act. It is this inward motive which is to be addressed in order to correct our problem. If we are to deal with these inward problems earnestly then we cannot waste a single moment in settling our conflicts with others. Jesus describes this earnest need to deal with our inward acts by giving two examples.
The first concerns our worship of God only after we have acted and dealt with others in a Godly manner. If we have unsettled conflicts with our fellow man we must come to terms with them before we can offer pure hearts of prayer to the Lord. Jesus speaks of the urgency to do this before it is too late for us to be reconciled. He then uses the example of the two men going to court to face the judge. Jesus shows us the need to be reconciled before the court appearance. For if they wait for the judge to render his verdict the punishment may be beyond the ability of the accused to withstand.
Every word spoken and deed finished will be seen by God. We all will give account for them, one day.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Light Of The World

Matthew 5:14-16         You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven

Christ also said that we are the light of the world. We are not to be this later in heaven but are this quality to the world now. As light we are to reflect the love and forgiveness shown to us by our heavenly Father. The world is to experience His love through us. We are to be loving and forgiving in all dealings. Our works in faith are His light to the world. They are a reflection of God to the world through us.
Our light is to positively reflect the truth of God's word as given to us in scripture. Only His truth contains the answers to life's complex and often puzzling questions. Our faith in God and His word will be seen by others in the way we live our lives and respond to this world and all its challenges. For as we are seen by the world we become the light that shines truth from the Father. As light, we bring answers to the world. A light that directs the chosen of God from sin’s darkness to the light of eternal life.
Our light must shine continually in order to reveal God's love through His disciples. If we hide or inhibit our Christian position we are like the candle put under a bushel and become ineffective in providing God's light and truth to a darkened and lost world.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Life Begins With Poverty

Matthew 5:3-12      Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.


The Christians relationship to God is given in verses 3-6 and his relationship to men is given in verses 7-12.
In his relationship to God the Christian is acknowledging his spiritual poverty and his helpless struggle against his sinful nature. This leads him to repentance before God and sorrow for his sins. Acknowledging God as his source of hope for himself, he can feel compassion toward others for their blinding sinfulness knowing he is no better than they. This spiritual self-awareness leads him to thirst for God's righteousness in his moral and social life. A thirst that is ongoing until fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.
He then can deal mercifully with other men for God has shown him mercy through Jesus, evidence of his repentant heart. His motives become selfless and are centered on God and His will for the lives of men. He can then deal sincerely and openly with men. The Christian then is able to work for God's will and peace in the lives of people and the world around him. His efforts will be met with ridicule and persecution for the righteousness of God will show through in his dealings. The Christian can take this as a sign of his genuine beliefs being worthy to God by the worldly rejection he receives.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Evolution Of Depravity

Genesis 6:5-6              The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.

            Depravity, as used in the Bible, means more than simply doing wrong. Rather it goes deeper. It means that we are so established in the wrong way of thinking and acting that we take pleasure in what we do wrong. There exists a type of inspiration in choosing to do wrong. It is a simplification of life. We stop needing to make excuses for what we do. We are without excuse anymore. We have become callously fixed in our nature to do wrong. The nature we have is the same as Satan.

            Apart from God, the human heart is depraved. If our depravity is not recognized by us, it is either because we refuse to accept Jesus Christ’s remedy for our problem or we have been saved and cleansed by God’s mighty and gracious hand.

            According to Jesus, these evil desires live deep within our moral fiber. If we trust his offer of healing and cleansing we will not experience what depravity is. But if we trust our own ignorant thinking we will remain enslaved and blinded to this reality of depravity.

            We have been warned in Scripture of the extent of our human condition and this depraved state of sin in which we live. Whenever we choose to disregard Scripture’s teachings and God’s offer of salvation through faith in Christ’s atoning sacrifice we confirm our condition. Blindly we allow ourselves to be led further from God.  

Friday, June 13, 2014

You Must Master Sin

Genesis 4:6-7              Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

Cain and Abel presented their offerings to God. Without other details we can presume that Adam had instructed them concerning the acceptable form of worship and offerings to God. Both brought their best. Cain brought some fruits of the soil but Abel brought fat portions from the firstborn of his flock. Cain’s offering was rejected and Abel’s bloody sacrifice was accepted. The result, Cain became very angry with God.

People have trouble understanding how God could be as callous as to reject Cain’s offering and not Abel’s. What’s the big deal? Cain’s offering is just as good as Abel’s. But Abel’s bloody sacrifice testifies to the reality God showed to their parents in the Garden. God had to sacrifice an animal to cover Adam and Eve with skins. Since sin means death, an innocent victim must die in order that the sinner might be covered, pardoned for their sin. “I’ll cover your tab” someone might say at the restaurant. This person is saying that he will pay the price for another. The sacrifice God made to cover the sin of Adam and Eve points forward to the sacrifice of Christ for us. Acknowledging sin and need for a savior is reflected in the bloody sacrifice of Abel.

Abel’s sacrifice was accepted because it was an offering of blood. He was believed God and was looking forward to the God’s provision of a deliverer. Cain’s offering was given in a manner that he thought was best. It did not reflect an acknowledgment of God’s provision of a future deliverer for sinners. Cain’s offering reflected the wisdom of sinful man in presenting to God what he thought was best and acceptable by God. But God does not want our good deeds and sacrifices until after we have accepted his plan for our redemption. Unless we accepted God’s Son, Jesus Christ as the final sacrifice for sin, we are left with ineffective offerings and our sin.

 If you do what is right you will be accepted. The right thing to do is confess your sin and your need for a savior. Accept God’s offering of Christ as the only covering you need for your sin. Then God will accept you.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


John 20:11-14            As Mary wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been... They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” She said, “They have taken my Lord away and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

We have come to the end of the story of Jesus earthly life as told us by the Apostle John. If we stop reading here, we would be like Mary, wondering who this was that had spoken to her. The Apostle says it was Jesus, but how do we know? Who on earth is there to validate the statement? How could he come back to life after dying on the cross?

My kids hate it when we sit down to watch a movie and with two or three minutes left I get up and go to bed or do something else. “Don’t you want to see how it ends?” they complain to me. My answer is always, “No, I know how this kind of story ends.” There not impressed. But I do know.

The story of Jesus does not end here. The Apostle’s account of Jesus continues for another chapter. It is there that we find the corroborating evidence. In that chapter you have people who faced the same news of Jesus’ death. But something happens between here and the end. Jesus appears and shows himself to many of his followers. The end of the news story has changed for them. It is not over. Jesus is alive, he rose from the grave. They saw him, touched him, talked with him, and ate with him.

After you read the final chapter how will you respond? Do you see the truth being told about Jesus in these pages? Have you accepted Him as your Savior and your Lord? Will you repent of your sins and ask Him to forgive you? Here rests the final decision.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


John 12: 27-28           Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!  

Never forget the humanity of Christ. Yes he was the Son of God, divine in his nature. But he was also a bearer of the human condition. His human nature allowed him to experience life as we do. He felt physical pain. He experienced the sadness and sorrow over someone who died. His cleansing of the Temple reflected the frustration and anger for his Father’s house to be defiled. He knew the confusion that circumstances can bring us as we see in this passage and his praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. Now where do we find his reflection of the human condition which is not true or beyond what all people experience and share in this fallen world.

The sole difference in Christ’s humanity and ours is that he was without sin. When we experience life, circumstances, threats, frustration, fear and anxiety; we will not always respond righteously. That is, we may respond to others and to God from our sinful nature. We will doubt God. We will claim him to be unjust toward us and others. We will directly disobey his commands and his plans for our lives. But Jesus never did. He became troubled, anguished and overwhelmed with sorrow yet submitted to God’s plan for him and the Cross. Only doing the Father’s will is what Jesus chose to do. He made the right decision and took the righteous road. He did not sin, he did not obey the Father.

His obedience in a time of deep anguish and monumental significance he did not falter. In obediently going to the Cross and dying, he has secured for us the freedom from sin’s punishment on us. By his sacrifice of himself we are freed from suffering a similar fate. Having obeyed the Father we will share in the benefits that his victory has won from Satan. He blesses us with freedom from the enslavement to sin. He blesses us with his presence in the Holy Spirit. He blesses us with the hope that we will one day spend eternity in his presence. Never forget that we have overcome our own human nature because of the divine nature, Holy Spirit, that indwells us today.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


John 18:38-39            “What is truth?” Pilate asked Jesus. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”

The final hours of Jesus’ life were conditioned by the sinful hearts of the religious and political authorities and one disciple. Each had a role to play in bringing about God’s plan of salvation for his people.  

The religious authorities put Jesus through routine questioning at his trial. They knew what his answers would be since many of them had followed his ministry, had questioned him in the past and had been present at some of the places he taught. Some had hosted dinners and had invited Jesus to speak at their gatherings. They understood the negative impact his teaching was having on their control over the people. As Jesus’ followers grew in number the religious authorities’ control of the people shrank and directly threatened their customs and practices at the Temple.  

The political authority was headed by Pontius Pilate. His job was to maintain peace in the occupied lands and prosecute any violation of Roman laws. The religious laws would be handled by the various religious leaders in the land. The Jews brought Jesus to Pilate because they were not permitted to execute anyone. It was the Passover and it not in their best interests to deal with such an “unclean” issue as Jesus. They washed their hands of any responsibility for him. When asked by Pilate whom he should release for the customary holiday pardon, they chose Barabbas, not Jesus. 

In the world, truth is conditioned by the voices around you. Truth is not found on the lips of men or in the pages of a book. Truth is found in the loudest voices and the latest public opinion polls. What is best for our position and authority dictates to the world which voice will be listened to. Jesus listened only to God. Pilate listened to the loudest voice. Jesus made decisions based on the Word of God. Pilate made decisions based on the popularity polls of others. He chose the option that best suited his position, his power and his purpose. That is the world’s meaning of truth.

Monday, June 9, 2014


John 17:20-21            My prayer is not for them [the original disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Have you ever looked at the prayers of Jesus in the New Testament? There are many different scenes where he prayed. I have not counted the scenes depicted in each Gospel, only the unduplicated number. I think there are twelve. Some scenes merely allude to Jesus going off to pray in a solitary place. Others give the words he actually used in his prayers. Of the prayers that we have with his words, they are important to consider. If you were to look at all the prayers in the New Testament that Jesus prayed, what do you think you would find?

Every prayer that Jesus offered to the Father was answered. Yes, there were times where is emotions got in the way but he allowed the truth to direct his petitions to the Father. When he wanted to elevate his will over the Father’s in the Garden of Gethsemane, what happened? Jesus relented of that urge and elevated the Father’s will over his. In submitting to the Father, each of his prayers would be answered for they were a part of God’s plan. Sometimes his prayers were general in nature but they were still in line with God’s plan for Jesus and for us.

May God continue to grow you in the likeness of His Son. May your prayers conform to His will. May you pray that God has his way in your heart and mind. Be mindful of the Spirit’s presence and ministry to you personally and allow Him free reign in your heart and mind. In submitting our prayer life to Him, we find more unity in thought and action as we align with His will.

Sunday, June 8, 2014


John 16:7-8    But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment. 

The Holy Spirit is a person. He is the third person of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Being a person, he is a spirit. He is not any old run of the mill spirit. He is God the Spirit, The Holy Spirit. Being one with the Father and the Son, he takes from them and communicates the truth to us. Christ send him to those Christ chooses to send him. The process of receiving the Holy Spirit is determined by Jesus Christ. He sends Him to us.

The purpose or mission of the person of the Holy Spirit is clear. He will convict people of their lost state of life. He will stir up within them a longing that they can never seem to fill or meet. People will attempt to fill that longing with activity, knowledge, material things, etc. but will never find the hunger or thirst relieved. The Holy Spirit is unique in his role and the manner in which he does this. The lost will always grope around in the world looking or sensing a need. The do not even know will fill the need. It is futile situation. Not unlike the rat on a treadmill trying to get to the end of the wheel, and not understanding why it is taking so long.

The Holy Spirit orders circumstances in the person’s life in a way that enables them to begin to see and hear the truth of Scripture. He moves the person to a place where the Gospel is preached, allowing them to experience their own guilty conscience. They know the guilt of sin by seeing the standard, the Living Word, whom they have violated. They recognize the sinless nature of Jesus the Christ and their comparative unworthiness. The person realizes that if Satan is defeated then God alone is the judge they will face.  Burdened by their predicament, they come to their senses, they confess Christ and begin the journey home to the Father. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014


John 12:9-11  Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was [at the home of Lazarus] and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him.

Throughout the New Testament, the more Jesus and God’s people speak the truth, heal the sick and raise the dead, the greater and more deadly becomes the response from the religious and secular authorities. You would think that doing good and telling the truth would be welcomed by all. But as is true then and today, truth places pressure on the authorities to conform to a different standard. Truth in God and his Son Jesus Christ entails submitting to an entirely different system or world view. The darkness hates the light.

In this story of Jesus’ anointing by Mary at the home of Lazarus we see the contrast between those devoted to Him and those devoted to themselves. Mary and Judas contrast this point. For her no expense was too great to anoint her Lord and show her devotion. Judas saw only the lost financial value of a special oil, the failure of his Lord and his soon to be shattered expectations for personal gain from following Jesus. 

The John’s concern at this point in the Gospel is to point us to the growing following for Jesus due to the miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection. He stresses the importance of the miracles or signs revealing the identity of Jesus. They have been chosen and documented by him for the purpose of Jesus’ self-revelation as the Christ, the Son of God.

Friday, June 6, 2014


John 13: 15-17           I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

In some Christian traditions, foot washing is a regular practice. It is not a sacrament but a practice that reflects a person’s our humility and willingness to serve others as Christ has served us. It is a symbolic act that Jesus used to teach his disciples. Jesus used this practice to reflect his willingness to serve others as a slave serves his master. Jesus wanted his disciples to see that as followers of him they were to take his lead in find ways to serve others.

It is a practice that was quite humiliating and degrading in Jesus day. Household slaves and servants were tasked with this duty. It was not unusal for someone to wash his own feet when entering a home. Wearing sandals or walking barefoot left your feed dusty and dirty. It was good manners to do this before entering. But to wash another’s feet is to take on a different role.

To wash someone’s feet today is almost unthinkable. If someone offered to do that when you entered McDonalds or Macy’s or Auto Zone, how many people would even want it done? How degrading an offer. Leaving foot washing behind, we see the principle Jesus was communicating. There is no personal need beneath the Christian when someone has a need. To wash and invalid is not below our line of duty. You can think of all the services to another human, they are not below our calling. We are called to serve, help and to reflect Christ in the process.

One last thing. What do you get in return? Jesus says you will be blessed. And it won’t be in a material way, either. Now the question, do you want to be blessed?

Thursday, June 5, 2014


John 2:18-19  The Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

This exchange occurred after Jesus cleared the temple courts of shepherds selling livestock and men exchanging currencies. The place of worship for God’s people had become commercialized. No longer was God’s temple building and courts a place of awe, reverence and dignity. It had become a place that reflected the cultural norms, priorities and interests of the people. Worshipers had to force their way through those who had established other agendas for the temple courts. The focus had turned away from one looking upward in worship to God. They now were focused on material fulfillment and human approval.

Again Jesus’ actions are misunderstood. The people demanded to know by what right he could do this clearing of their temple courts. They wanted a sign, another miracle that proved his authority to judge their actions and criticize their use of the temple courts. The conflict was not merely over what was permitted within the temple areas but over who wielded ultimate authority over life and worship.

Jesus’ response was intended to take their focus away from the building to the real temple, the body in which God really dwells, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” They did not understand him then and they do not understand him today. It was not until after Jesus was raised from the dead that his followers understood this response he gave.

Religion can distort our view of God. The practices and biases of man can interfere with the truth as we strive to draw near to Him. Many drew close to Jesus for they recognized the signs and wonders as living proof of who Jesus was, the Messiah, the Son of God. They believed in Him because of what they saw. Others believed much later, after he was crucified and raised himself to life again. Sooner or later they believed.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Mark 12:41-44 A poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything--all she had to live on."

             The account of the widow’s mite suggests that all the best gifts come from the loving hearts of men and women who aren’t trying to impress anybody, even themselves, and who have won freedom precisely because they have stopped trying to trap life into paying them back for the good they do.

            I experienced a significant breakthrough into the freedom of the children of God at my first AA meeting. In the past I would have set great store not only on looking good but on thinking too often about who is looking. My self-image as a man of God and a disciplined disciple had to be protected at all costs. My ravenous insecurities made my sense of self-worth rise and fall like a sailboat on the winds of another’s approval or disapproval. It was a supreme moment of liberation to stand up, kick the pedestal aside and simply state: “My name is Brennan; I am an alcoholic.”

            My spiritual director once told me, “Brennan, give up trying to look and sound like a saint. It will be a lot easier on everybody.”

            Living by grace inspires a growing consciousness that I am what I am in the sight of Jesus and nothing more. It is His approval that counts. Making our home in Jesus, as He makes His in us, leads  to creative listening: “Has it crossed your mind that I am proud you accepted the gift of faith I offered you? Proud that you freely chose Me, after I had chosen you, as your friend and Lord? Proud that with all your warts and wrinkles you haven’t given up? Proud that your believe in Me enough to try again and again? Are you aware how I appreciate you for wanting Me? I want you to know how grateful I am when you pause to smile and comfort a child who has lost her way. I am grateful for the hours you devote to learning more about Me; for the word of encouragement you passed on to your burnt-out pastor, for your visit to the shut-in, for your tears for the retarded. What you did to them, you did to Me. Alas, I am sad when you do not believe that I have totally forgiven your or you feel uncomfortable approaching Me.”

The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning, pgs.148-149.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


  Matthew 6:19-24    "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!  "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

            Worldly possessions tend to turn the hearts of the disciples away from Jesus. What are we really devoted to? That is the question. Are our hearts set on earthly goods? Do we try to combine devotion to them with loyalty to Christ? Or are we devoted exclusively to him? The light of the body is the eye, and the light of the Christian is his heart. If the eye be dark, how great is the darkness of the body! But the heart is dark when it clings to earthly goods, for then, however urgently Jesus may call us, his call fails to find access to our hearts. Our hearts are closed, for they have already been given to another. As the light cannot penetrate the body when the eye is evil, so the word of Jesus cannot penetrate the disciple’s heart so long as it is closed against it. The word is choked like the seed which was sown among thorns, choked with the cares and riches and pleasures of this life.

            The singleness of eye and heart corresponds to that “hidden-ness” which knows nothing but the call and word of Christ, and which consists win perfect fellowship with him. How can the disciple have dealings with earthly goods and yet preserve this singleness of heart? Jesus does not forbid the possession of property in itself. He was man, he ate and drank like his disciples, and thereby sanctified the good things of life. These necessities, which are consumed in use and which meet the legitimate requirements of the body, are to be used by the disciple with thankfulness.

The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, pg. 193.

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