Whom Do You Hope is Looking?

In Matthew 23 Jesus begins a list of rebukes and woes to the scribes and Pharisees. One of the most interesting facts that I learned about Israel during the time of Christ is that the Pharisees were not completely running everything. In the gospels, Jesus seems to be in the greatest conflict with the Pharisees. They are depicted as being His primary enemies and opponents. In the Bible we can get the impression that the Pharisees were the dominant force in Israel. The reality was that the Pharisees were a powerful conservative reform group, but they were not completely dominating all of Israel. It was the Pharisees who promoted the strictest adherence to the laws of God. They were, howe

Learn Like Jesus Did

Jesus "learned obedience from the things which He suffered" Hebrews 5:8. If you take time to read all of chapter 5, you will see how Christ became our perfect high priest during His time on earth. Say what?! God, the Son learning, obeying, and being made perfect; now this is hard to explain, eh? Jesus was not made perfect in deity, character, holiness, or sinlessness. He has always been completely God, the Son. This process refers to all that He experienced as the Son of Man in His earthly ministry. Jesus completed the process of becoming our perfect high priest in at least three ways. First, he differed from Aaron's line of priests by offering Himself as the sacrifice instead of anot

In the Way of God's Best

A couple of weeks ago I was working around my yard and house. I decided that it was time to check and clear my gutters. Most of it was clear but one section was completely full—even the downspout was clogged. Anyone who has ever cleaned out gutters knows how gross things can get. Decomposing leaves, trash, sticks, and other unidentifiable mess build up and form a thick, wet, black soup. Even though some people have tried to make tools to clean out the gutters, nothing really works well except just digging your hands in a pulling it all out. What’s the problem with clogged gutters? Why does it matter anyway? Well the simple and rudimentary answer is that gutters are designed to direct w

The Blind Spot

Matthew 19:16-22 Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, “ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ 19 ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to t

Philippi Outbreak

When we think of outbreaks and pandemics our minds immediately think of those that have been impacted by COVID-19. If we look in the past, we see outbreaks of cholera, the Bubonic plague, SARS, HIV/Aids, Ebola, and others. Greg Stier in his book Outbreak: Creating a Contagious Youth Ministry Through Viral Evangelism, argues that viruses are among some of the strongest and deadly forces on the Earth. They spread easily, are difficult to contain, and can overwhelm a person’s life and the region they live in. Stier challenges the reader to consider the connection of the spread of the gospel with a virus outbreak, only this time it is bringing life rather than disease and death. The enemy has do

What is God Up To?

Right now it would make sense for someone to ask “What is God doing through all of this?” or maybe “Why would God allow this pandemic to happen?” Great tragedy and earth shaking events remind us all of how little we are when viewed on a cosmic scale. The Bible compares our lives to a vapor. Jesus asked the question: “Who can add 10 years to his life?” Many people like to express the sentiment that God must have some purpose or plan for them since they are still living, and that they just have to wait to find it. I would suggest that we can know with certainty what God is doing. We can know what He is doing on several different magnifications. If we were to zoom out, we would see that,

Philippians 2:1-11

God's Spirit inspired the writing of five questions with obvious "yes" answers. This form of grammar draws the readers to conclude that "SINCE" all five questions ARE eternally "yes," true, and really in existence, then we can pull together instead of being pulled apart. For example, if birds really fly, then "fulfill ye my joy by being of the same mind, of one accord," and so on in verses 1-5. Or, if chocolate, with almonds, caramel, and sea salt on top is a great attitude adjustment pill, (and it is for many people, eh), then have the same attitudes as Jesus Christ (vs. 5-11). What were some of the temporal realities that Paul and Philippian believers faced that can tend to pull people

Bow the Knee

As I have been studying and praying this week, I have been meditating on what it truly means to bow the knee to the Lord through this crisis. It might be in our best interests to turn off the news sometimes and/or take a break from social media. Are you tired of the endless merry-go-round of the blame game? Are you avoiding foolish controversies and avoiding stirring up strife during civil discourses that are far from civil? The world is absolutely terrified right now, and they are seeking answers and looking to hastily place blame without investigations and due process. We are seeing the hatred and strife in the world stirred up in a large-scale bonfire that leaves massive destruction in it

The Only Sign You'll Ever Need

For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (Matthew 12:40). Many people desire a tangible experience to validate their spiritual life. Some people call it "putting out a fleece." Other people say that God gave them a sign, or that they want God to give them a sign. We can appreciate how some might desire a sign even right now. God give me a sign that I will get through this difficult time and be alright. However, God says that we have something better: "the more sure word of prophecy." We have God's complete revelation--the Bible. We also have the ultimate sign--the s

Pilgrims of Dispersion

Do We Take Assembly for Granted? If there is one thing that these current circumstances have taught me, it is that we oftentimes take assembly as believers for granted, especially in the United States. I don't know about you, but there have been countless times where I have gotten into my car to head to church without a second thought of how much it is a blessing from God to be able to do so. We have a habit of getting into a "comfortable" routine, and often lose sight of the blessings that can so easily be taken for granted. Do we "expect" certain blessings rather than having an attitude of gratitude? Do we give "thanks to God the Father through Him (Jesus Christ)" as Paul commands in C

Can Animosity be Appropriate?

Galatians 6:14-15 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation." The answer to the question in the title is "Yes!" While reading the end of Galatians, I was struck by the way in which God inspired Paul to write about his relationship to the world. They both had been crucified to each other. This is a serious, intentional, and "all in" description. No one was ever accidentally crucified. Crucifixion did not take place on a whim. It was the most serious form of capital punishment reserved for

Inspection Time

When I was first married, I used to work for a company that repaired medical equipment. My specific job was repairing the scopes connected to surgical cameras so the doctors could see inside the body during a minimally invasive surgery. I spent hours looking through a microscope and working with tiny pieces. Before any instrument was ready to be sent back out it had to go through "QC" or "Quality Control." You could say that it was "inspection time." That meant the scope I had spent hours working on would be hooked up to a camera and monitor to see if it was working properly. If the image wasn't clear or if there was an imperfection appearing on the screen, then the scope would go back

Consider the Stars

Various trials can challenge our faith in ways never challenged before. As I sit back and reflect, I can't imagine going through a time such as this without the Lord. If we are in Christ, we also believe that God has a purpose and plan for both the virus threat and His children. Can you imagine going through this situation without Him? We serve an uppercase "G" God, but sometimes we can view Him with a lowercase "g". In other words, is our view of God large or small? Do we believe God is in control? Do we believe He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Throughout history men have worshiped various gods and idols of their own making. These false gods and idols have no real power, and c

Be Like Jesus

"It is enough." What is enough? I love when something is enough. That means I don't have to keep trying so hard, or I don't have to keep filling it up. It means that no more is needed. So what does Jesus say is enough? Matthew 10:25 says "It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master." As followers of Christ, it should be enough for you and for me to be like Jesus. We shouldn't want or need anything else. Nothing else is needed--Jesus is sufficient. Why should Jesus be sufficient for you and for me? How is it that He can be enough? Well, in the same chapter--Matthew 10:30-31--the Bible tells us that Jesus cares so much about us that He even

Corona Reminds Us of Crowns & Coronation

Psalm 99 says that the LORD reigns, He sits enthroned above the cherubim, He is elevated in Zion, He is exalted above the nations, He is holy (vs. 3, 5, 9), and the strong King who loves justice (vs.1-4). Let us reverence (v.1), praise Him (vs. 3, 5, 9), worship Him (vs. 5, 9), and obey (v. 7). God is still in control, as He was in the leadership of Moses, Aaron, and Samuel (vs. 6-7). Since He is the God who loves justice (v. 4), let us surrender rather than judge Him unjustly. Psalm 98:9 says that He comes to judge the earth. He judges the world fairly, and the nations in a just manner. Each time you read of God judging a generation, a nation, many nations, or an individual, make sure

Little Beginnings in a Far-Away Time & Place

On St. Paul's 2nd missionary trip he crossed over into southeastern Europe (northern Greece). He spread the gospel and planted a church in a little known place. Since that day the gospel spread westward through Europe and the Americas. Jesus illustrated this by saying that the Kingdom is like a grain of mustard seed. It is small, but the tree that follows is huge. The importance of little things in God's hands and plans is seen in a pebble being thrown into the water. The ripple effect is seen growing far out in every direction. Read Acts 16:11-15, a little passage to get a little glimpse into the growth of the Church into Europe for the first time. Little Paul Little mission team No s

The Time is Now!

As we all have seen over the past few weeks, life as we know it has come to a screeching halt. Events have been canceled, schools are moving to online learning, social distancing is drastically changing interactions, and many people are working from home or have lost their jobs. It feels like we have, as a nation, been put in timeout and sent to our rooms (houses). The American culture is so focused and centered around time. We get up, go through a daily routine, rest, and repeat all centered around the basis of time and schedules. Whether you are working in the pandemic or not, our schedule and routines have been impacted. The majority of Americans are finding themselves with extra ti

But This Doesn't Feel Like Christmas!

We need to be like Joseph--the earthly father of Jesus. No, I don't mean that we need to become carpenters--although some of us might have more time on our hands to attempt projects around the house. And no, I don't mean that we need to pack up our families and flee to a region in the south like Joseph took his family to Egypt. But I do see some helpful insights for today from Joseph's life found in Matthew chapter 1. When Joseph is first introduced outside the genealogy, we find him quietly thinking about how to handle the major problem in his life--Mary was pregnant and they were not married, and Joseph knew that he was not the father. I couldn't help but think that many of us are spen

Courage: Doing Right While You Are Fearful

As Joshua was leading God's people into the promised land of Canaan, God commanded them 4 times (in Joshua 1:6, 7, 9 &18) to be strong and of a good courage. The battles would be fierce. The walled cities of the enemies of God were high. The giants in some areas were huge. The diseases were rampant, and new to the children of Israel. Let us remember a few blessings and truths from that same God who is still on the throne. 1. Courage is not the lack of fear. It is the faith to obey God when we are fearful, nervous, or facing real danger. Let's ask God for courage to believe, to take precautions to protect, and then be able to serve others. 2. Courage is COMMANDED, which means that it

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