Friday, October 31, 2014

II Peter 3: The Fire Next Time

Peter mentions three times in II Peter 3 that a judgment by fire is coming upon our world:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

II Peter 2: Examples of Evil

II Peter 2 is a good example of why the Old Testament is relevant to New Testament Christians!  Peter cites numerous examples from the Old Testament to drive home the point that evil is real, and God knows how to judge it and deliver from it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

II Peter 1: The Story That Is True

As a young pastor, I once found myself in hot water with a member of my congregation who objected to my reference from the pulpit to "Bible stories."

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I Peter 5: The Call to Humility

One of the most overlooked virtues is that of humility.  It is a uniquely Christian virtue in that the world does not see much use in it.  In fact, humility is often scorned and misunderstood because of its similarity to the word humiliation.  But humility actually encourages us to adopt a right view of ourselves and to recognize the need to put others and God ahead of our own interests.

Monday, October 27, 2014

I Peter 4: The Difference

Peter argues that, when it comes to living the Christian life, there should be a difference between believers and non-believers.  This difference manifests itself in our behavior, our motives and character.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Psalm 42: Thirsty for God

The Psalmist of Psalm 42 and 43 (they go together) is deeply troubled.  His experience is one of being a joyful worshiper in the past - even a leader of religious pilgrims (vs. 4) - yet now is a time of spiritual dryness.  He remembers being once quenched and satisfied by God's presence, like a cascading waterfall, but now he is as a thirsty deer, longing for a fresh encounter with the living God.

Friday, October 24, 2014

I Peter 3: Deeper Things

Peter is interested in taking our faith to a deeper level.  Rather than focusing on shallow and superficial pursuits like physical beauty (vs. 3) or when bad things happen to bad people (vs. 17), Peter explores the topics of inner spiritual beauty and the call to suffer for doing good.  Peter challenges us to consider what is really important in our marriages and in our dealings with one another.  Obedience and Christlikeness is the goal!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I Peter 2: The Rock on the Stone

Peter wasn't always named Peter.  He used to be Simon.  But somewhere along the way, Jesus saw something in Simon that prompted Him to give Simon a new name: Peter, the Rock.  Even though Peter didn't always act like a rock (i.e. Good Friday), the name stuck.  Years later, as "The Rock" wrote his first letter to the Christian believers scattered around the world, he reflected on how his Lord and Master is like a Stone Himself!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I Peter 1: Perishable and Imperishable

I Peter begins by talking about two things that endure forever: our inheritance in heaven (vs. 4) and the seed by which we have been born again by the living word of God (vs. 23).  Everything else in this world - the flesh, as Peter describes it (vs. 24) - fades like the grass.  Even gold, which is tested by fire, is perishable (vs. 7).  In a world of change and decay, it is good news that not everything is perishable!  In fact, it is THE GOOD NEWS itself which is the word of God and endures forever! (vs 25)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mark 16: The Surprising Conclusion

Jesus' story ends like none other.  This is true for two reasons.  First, Jesus is like no other.  And second, His story does not end.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mark 15: The First Penal Substitution

"So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified."

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Friday, October 17, 2014

Mark 14: The Unanswered Prayer of Jesus

"Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me..." (vs. 36)

Did all of Jesus' prayers get answered?  What if I were to tell you that even the Son of God did not get everything He wanted while on earth?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mark 13: End of Days

As I write this blog entry on October 16, 2014, the world news is dominated by such stories as the spread of the Ebola virus, the conflict with ISIS, and economic uncertainties.  While fears that the world is about to spin out of control may once again prove to be unfounded, it is revealing to find how quickly things can change for the worse.  This may not be the biblical "end of days," but the Jesus assures us that at some point in the future, it will be.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mark 12:Q & A

It is Holy Week.  By the time we reach Mark 12, Jesus has arrived in Jerusalem for Passover, cleansed the Temple, and is now available to the religious authorities for their own investigation.  No longer do they have to send out spies and fact-finding teams.  They can look into Jesus' teaching for themselves.  Here are some of the questions that are fielded in the Q & A:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mark 11: Donkey Joy Ride Through a Ticker Tape Parade

If the events described in Mark 11:1-11 were to happen today, I can't help but think that what we would witness is a case of a joyride through a parade!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mark 10: Divorce Is Not An Option

Whenever you want to trip someone up, try introducing a controversial topic.  That's what the Pharisees were hoping to do by "testing" Jesus with a question about the nettlesome issue of divorce.  "Is it lawful," they asked, "for a man to divorce his wife?"

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Psalm 40: Choosing God

You don't have to live very long in this world to have an experience of being in "the pit."  It's a universal human condition.  We're not sure exactly what situation David is referring to in vs. 2 when he sings, "He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog."  But it is clear that God is the One who David turns to, and the One who delivers him from his circumstances.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Mark 9: Highs and Lows

Mark 9 is a study in contrast from the ascent on a high mountain to experience the Transfiguration to the descent that brings Jesus face to face with a deaf and mute spirit.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Mark 8: Who Do You Say That He Is?

It is a question that all of us must answer for ourselves.  Who is Jesus?  Who do you say that He is?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Mark 7: Clean Hands - or Clean Heart?

As we reach Mark 7, Jesus has earned enough notoriety that He is now being investigated by a team of Pharisees and scribes dispatched from Jerusalem.  As they scrutinize His ministry, they make some petty criticisms: "Your disciples are disgusting; they don't wash their hands before they eat!"

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Mark 6: Faith, and Lack of Faith

Can God's power be limited by humans?  The answer to that question is apparently yes, based on vs. 1-6.  Because the hometown crowd found it difficult to put their faith in Mary's boy, Jesus "could do no deed of power there," except for a few healings.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Mark 5: Restoration

Three supernatural miracles make up Mark 5: the exorcism of the Gerasene demoniac, the healing of the bleeding woman, and the resurrection of Jairus' daughter.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Psalm 39: Getting Perspective

My wife tells me that one of my strengths is an ability to be objective when the moment calls for it.  Rather than letting heady emotions run away with me, I can take a step back and look coolly and dispassionately at the situation.  (It's a very helpful skill to have in a threatening or overwhelming crisis.)  Sometimes this is called "getting perspective," and it seems to be what David is doing in this Psalm.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Mark 4: Nature and Supernature

Mark 4 introduces us to Jesus' favorite teaching method: Parables.

A parable, sometimes described as "an earthly story with a heavenly meaning," uses familiar, ordinary, everyday objects and experiences to reveal a deeper spiritual truth.  Many of Jesus' parables are organic devices, using lessons drawn from nature.  Not only was this approach simple enough for His original audience to understand, but the universal, timeless aspects of the elements in His parables allow others of different cultures, places, and eras to likewise participate in the discovery.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Mark 3: Jesus: Good or Evil?

C.S. Lewis penned a famous essay that suggests we really only have three honest choices open to us when it comes to forming an opinion about Jesus: that He is either liar, lunatic, or Lord.  In Mark 3, we see each of those conclusions expressed by varying groups of people.  The verdict we reach could scarcely be more important.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Mark 2: Criticism and Opposition

Well, that didn't take long!

Here we are, in only the second chapter of Mark, and we find Jesus as the target of criticism and complaint.  Opposition is already building to this prophet from Galilee, and it is coming from the religious establishment of scribes and Pharisees.  He is confounding them because he refuses to meet their expectations of what a holy person ought to be and do.

From Mark 2:1 to Mark 3:5, there are 5 reported instances of Jesus coming under attack for his words and actions: