Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Exodus 11, Luke 14, Job 29 and I Corinthians 15

We know from the story of Job that God considered Job a righteous person. If you are anything like me, then you want God to consider you a righteous person as well, right? I want to honor the righteousness that Jesus has given me on the cross by living as a righteous man. How about you? Well, in chapter 29 Job gives us a little breakdown on the life that he lived...the character he had...the thing he fought for...and I think it gives us a great started point for living righteous, God-honoring lives. Check it out...

He helped the poor.

He helped orphans (He was a father to the fatherless).

He took care of widows.

He became eyes for the blind.

He became the feet for the crippled.

He stood up to those who tried to take advantage of others.

These are the righteous acts of the man who God held up as an example of what a man is supposed to look like. Does your life look like that? Could that list be applied to your life?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Exodus 10, Luke 13, Job 28, I Corinthians 14

Luke 13:8-9 - I love this picture of God's grace! When bad things happen to believers is it a direct result of sin n their lives? No...or at least, not always (Sometimes when people give in to toxic sin they bring pain down on themselves). If you need proof, see: the Life of Jesus (Hint: perfect God/man, crucified). When god things happen in the lives of evil people does it mean that God is not just? No! What is means is that God is patient, just like Jesus tells us with his parable. Sometimes he gives fruitless trees the opportunity to grow...he adds manure and care (a.k.a. blessings) with a hope that the once dead tree will come to life and bear good fruit. Thank you God for your patience with me and all of humanity.

Job 28 - Wisdom is not found in dominating nature...it is not found in wealth...it is not found in power or achievement...or anything else we seem to endlessly seek on this earth. In fact, it is the pursuit of such tings that turns humanity into something not far above animals. Read Job 28:28. The truth is that wisdom is found only in the fear of the Lord...n the understand that God is everything. When we spend our life seeking out God and fleeing from evil...we are filling ourselves with wisdom and understanding.

I Corinthians 14 - I love this verse..."Be infants of evil, but in your thinking mature." So the bible tells us that there are times when we are supposed to act like babies! It's true. Yet it is not giving u a free pass to whine and complain when things don't go are way...it says that we should be like babies when it comes to evil. We need to live n innocence. Live with joy. Find delight and wonder in the world, not just dark and vileness. We need to live in such a way that we do not allow ourselves to be corrupted by evil!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Exodus 9, Luke 12, Job 27 and I Corinthians 13

Job 27:5 - No matter who is pressuring him...no matter what Job has to suffer...he refuses to sacrifice his integrity. Virtually everything he had was taken away from him - his kids, property, wealth, livestock, etc...but what cannot be taken from him is his integrity...his character. His integrity is priceless to him...it is a sign of the union he has with God...he will not betray the image of the great I AM that reside in him by corrupting his character. Do you feel as strongly?

I Corinthians 13:12 - When we allow love to shape us and dictate who we are, then we get a glimpse (albeit a dim one) of the world to come...a glimpse of what it is like to walk in the presence of God - the God who is LOVE. When our words, actions, thoughts, are anchored in love, then our lives are anchored in God.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Exodus 8, Luke 11, Job 25 and 26, and I Corinthians 12

I was really struck by the hard to see inner sins that are discussed in both Luke 11 and I Corinthians 12. Sometimes as Christians we love to focus in on the "flashy" external sins of others, which is strange when we take the time to see that Jesus railed most powerfully against the hidden inner sins of God followers.

Luke 11 - Jesus confronts the religious leaders of his day on their inner sin issues. They go through the "process" of worshipping God, but do not let that worship touch their hearts. They tithe religiously and go to the temple and discuss the Torah, but then they ignore the needy and act unmercifully. That doesn't make sense, because people who are truly connected to God should be the first to act out of compassion...they should be living out God's character in their communities. They were doing evil in the eyes of Jesus by robotically following rules instead of passionately following God. And this is something that is still very prevalent in the Church...going through the motions of Christianity while operating inwardly in an anti-Christian manner. That is sin...plain and simple.

I Corinthians 12 - In this passage, Paul shows us what pride can do to the Church. Everyone has different gifts and those gifts are given to Christ-followers by the Holy Spirit of God (I hope you spend time thinking about how God has gifted you, so that you can use those gifts to effectively serve the Kingdom). If you look jealously at the things that others do...if you find yourself playing the comparison game - wondering why you can't have the gifts that others do...then you are denying the validity of the unique gifts that God has given you. That's wrong. On the flip side, if you look arrogantly down on others because they are not gifted in the ways that you are...if you cast judgment on people who cannot do what you do...you are pridefully belittling the work of the Spirit in their lives. F.Y.I. - this is also wrong! Go back and read I Corinthians 12:22 again...this is a very powerful verse for me, because it reminds me that the quiet, faithful servants that operate under the radar in the Christian community are often more indispensable than the gifted speakers and worship leaders. Each and every part of this Body matters and has an integral part to play in the growing Body of Christ...don't let jealousy and pride damage the Bride of Jesus-.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Exodus 7, Luke 10, Job 24 and I Corinthians 11

Luke 10 - She chose the better portion. Mary chose to sit at Jesus' feet...the listen to his teaching...to dwell in his presence (Something which would have been very culturally inappropriate...women were not generally welcome to sit in on spiritual discussions with men). Martha chose to run around like a crazy person trying to make everything "perfect" for Jesus visit. The text doesn't get into it, but I assume that she wanted to make a great impression on the people in her house...I believe that her pride plays a large part in the choice she makes to place work before Jesus. When Martha complains to Jesus about Mary not helping, Jesus states very clearly which of the two women made the better choice about how to use her time - Mary did! How often do we get so caught up in trying to be the best...trying to be "perfect"...trying to be impressive...that we forget to sit down in the presence of Jesus?

I Corinthians 11 - It makes sense to me that if Paul's teachings about hair length and head covering do not apply as law across centuries and across cultures, then maybe his views on men and women should also change so that they remain culturally relevant. Even when he describes the husband as the "head" of the wife in this chapter, he compares it by saying that God is the "head" of Christ. We know from the words of Jesus himself that God and Jesus are one...which seems to suggest a more equal relationship between husbands and wives than has been historically practiced in the Church. Thoughts?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Exodus 6, Luke 9, Job 23, and I Corinthians 10

Luke 9:41 - Have you ever wondered about this passage? Why were the disciples defeated in this situation? Jesus had already blessed them with the ability to drive out demons and heal. They had already had experience roaming the countryside and doing just those things...they had been very successful. What happened in this instance? I think they were scared. Luke describes a pretty scary demon here that takes control of a little boy and forces its will upon him...I think in the face of disgusting evil, the disciples backed down...they didn't believe they were strong enough to face such a demon...they doubted God. Jesus is heartbroken when he hears about their failure, and he calls them out about it, "You faithless and twisted generation!" When you read this it comes across as a little harsh, but think about it from Jesus' perspective...them to losing faith when confronted by demonic evil is affirmation of their doubts about God's power. Sure they had seen God work...they had seen God miraculously heal...but this...this was really nasty evil, and their faith crumbled. The reality that Jesus understood was this - is there any form of evil that God cannot overcome? No. What is there to fear when you are followers of God? Nothing. Jesus is hurt by their faithlessness, and he responds by showing them what true power looks like...he effortlessly drives the demon out of the boy.

When we allow ourselves to be ruled by fear, we are doing nothing by highlighting our lack of faith. Everywhere I turn...the radio...the TV...the computer...somebody is talking about guns. Gun control. Right to bare arms. Etc. I don't really care about what gets decided from a political standpoint, but I do care that it seems like more and more Christians in our community are allowing themselves to be controlled by fear when it comes to guns. Any time we are being driven to act out of fear, we are not walking in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. What if somebody comes into the church offices? What if somebody comes into my home? What if...what if...what if...what if!!!? Let me ask you something...is God still in control? Is there any form of evil that God cannot overcome? Is the only possible response to violence in the world, responding with more violence...greater violence? Did the earliest Christians...those closest to Jesus...those led by the disciples...did they respond to persecution, jailing, beatings, death and torture with war? Did they start having CSL (Concealed sword carrying) classes in their places of worship? No, they responded with strength that can only come from God...they responded in love...they responded in forgiveness...they responded in non-violence...and they changed the world.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Exodus 5, Luke 8, Job 22, and I Corinthians 9

Luke 8: Jesus incredible mercy is highlighted for us in this chapter by his dealing with the demon-possessed man. A legion of demons lives inside that poor, tortured soul and Jesus shows compassion on them. Compassion on demons?!? Demons?! You gotta be kidding me. It's true...the demons beg Jesus to have mercy on them...to not send them directly to the abyss. Which tells us a couple things: first of all, the abyss is no place you wanna be. All the people that think hell is gonna be a party where all the cool people hang out and have wicked fun...think again...even the demons don't want to go back there...it is HELL! Secondly, does this tell us something about how hell operates? Do the demons need to cause some massive death and destruction before they can return to their master? If Jesus just sent them back defeated, would they have been tortured more than usual? Because they seem to be okay with going back to the abyss via a herd of pigs they drove to suicide...interesting stuff to think on. Regardless, Jesus hears their cries for mercy and sends them into the herd of pigs instead of sending them directly to the abyss. Have you ever thought about the example that Jesus is setting there for us? He even treats demons compassionately! You and I...we have no excuse for being unmerciful. Powerful lesson.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Exodus 4, Luke 7, Job 21 and I Corinthians 8

Moses in Exodus 4 and the Centurion in Luke 7 are an interesting contrast. Moses is personally called by God to bring about the salvation of the Israelite people in Egypt, but Moses begs God to send someone else to do it. The centurion begs Jesus to heal his servant, telling him that he doesn't even have to come because the Centurion trusts so deeply that Jesus need only to speak and the healing will happen. Moses sees only his own limitations and not the limitless nature of God. The Centurion understands the power that Jesus has and that everything is at his disposal. Moses' doubts about himself limit his faith, while the Centurion ignores and obstacles and wholly trusts Jesus. Who do you wanna be more like? Moses makes God angry, while the Centurion amazes Jesus. I want to amaze Jesus with my faith...I want to trust him utterly...I want to act when I feel Him urging me to act (not beg God to send somebody else)...I want to follow Jesus, not be dragged kicking and screaming into God's will. Lord give me the strength to do so.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Exodus 3, Luke 6, Job 20 and I Corinthians 7

Sorry I have been such a slacker on this over the holidays! Time to get back in the swing of things...

Exodus 3:11 - Moses says to God, "Who am I that I can go before the ruler of Egypt? I am just a shepherd! I have a speech impediment...I am not the man for the job!" Moses reminds me a lot of myself here. Don't we all do this kind of thing from time to time with God? Doubt what God can do through us? See only our weaknesses, choosing not to remember how God's strength shines through when we are weak? I have been having doubts like this recently. Doubts about my future. Questions about my effectiveness in ministry. Worries about my imperfections. I am like Moses, saying to God, "Who am I God? Who am I that you would use me as a valuable part of the ministry that you are doing at Northside?" I know how flawed I am...I know how selfish I can be...but this story reminds me of the powerful way that God worked through Moses. Moses was full of doubts, but Moses chose to trust that God could use him in spite of his human brokenness. I will do the same. I will offer my flawed self...I will offer my weaknesses and strengths and know that God will move int he lives of those who trust Him. How about you?