Sunday, April 30, 2017

Psalm 17: Deliverance

You may not be able to relate to the woes of the psalmist (David) as he appeals to the Lord for help.  He is facing an onslaught from wicked foes who "surround" him like lions hungry for prey.  His enemies seek to throw him down and destroy him.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Acts 10: Things Are About To Change

Acts 10 represents a major turning point not only in the Book of Acts or even just the Bible, but in the history of the world!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Acts 9: Better Call Saul

Remember that guy we met in Acts 7 who was working as the coat check attendant for the people martyring Stephen?  Saul?  Yeah, it wasn't long before this young man was causing more mischief for the Church of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Monday, April 24, 2017

Acts 7: A Little History Lesson

We only just met Stephen in Acts 6, and we must already say good-bye to him in Acts 7.  Stephen is regarded as the first Christian martyr (one killed for his or her faith), but he would not be the last.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Psalm 16: True Peace

The sixteenth psalm is a song of true peace.  David releases his heart to pour out his feelings of security and steadfastness in the Lord.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Acts 4: Something About That Name

Something incredible is happening in Jerusalem in the weeks after Jesus' ministry.  His disciples (Peter and John) are carrying on His practice of working miracles!  They admit that they don't do this through any strength of their own, but through the power of Holy Spirit and in the name of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Acts 3: Visual Aids

Most preachers know that the more concrete and visible they can make their point, the easier it will be for the congregation to understand and remember it.  That explains why we so often employ "object lessons" in the children's message, as well as the growing popularity of video screens in the sanctuary for use during the sermon.

Peter and John use the occasion of a dramatic healing at the temple gate as a "visual aid" to draw a crowd and impress upon it their message of Jesus.  A beggar who had been crippled from birth experienced an instant strengthening of his ankles and feet.  (I love how he immediately takes to walking and "jumping"!)  As the people run together to see this amazing sight, Peter seizes the opportunity to testify about Jesus.

First, Peter is quick to give credit where credit is due.  He points not to himself as the worker of this miracle, but to the name of Jesus (more about this in tomorrow's blog!) 

Then Peter launches into an account of recent history featuring the rejection, betrayal, and murder of God's anointed servant.  All of this is used to make his point: now is the time for repentance and reconciliation with God.  An impressive act such as the healing of a man crippled from birth could only add to the power and conviction of Peter's compelling sermon.

When has a visual aid or object lesson impacted your faith?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Acts 2: Pentecost!

Pentecost is regarded as the "birthday" of the Church!  Something about the disciples fundamentally changed on that day.  With the coming of the Holy Spirit, poured out on them in power, they received not only spiritual gifts (such as speaking in tongues) but were also empowered with courage and boldness.  Gone were the half-hearted followers who deserted/denied Jesus a scant 50 days earlier.  In their place were the (literally) on-fire men and women who would turn the world upside-down!  Peter, who rode out Good Friday shrugging and asking, "Who's Jesus?  Never heard of Him," spends Pentecost telling the crowd exactly who this Jesus is!  Looking for a clue to the success of the early church?  It starts with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Acts 1: After Easter

The disciples were confused.  Hadn't they just spent years traveling around the countryside with Jesus?  Hadn't they seen him arrested, killed, and raised to life?  Wasn't now finally the time for His kingdom to be established?

Instead, WHOOSH!  Jesus is taken up into heaven.  He has something else in mind than "the end."  The disciples are going to receive a hand-off of His ministry to begin a new era of God's activity in the world.  They will be His witnesses, and their mission is to take His message everywhere (in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and "the ends of the earth.")

The book of Acts is about what happened after.  After Jesus' ministry.  After Easter.  After the coming of the Holy Spirit - but hold on, I'm getting ahead of myself.  For that part of the story, you'll have to wait for chapter 2!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Luke 24: The New Beginning

Just when everyone thought the story of Jesus was over...the Resurrection happened!  Easter was a day of new beginnings!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Luke 23: The End

Imagine if the story of Jesus ended abruptly here, at the end of Luke 23.  We know it didn't, of course.  But the same could not be said for His contemporaries.  When they went through it nearly 2000 years ago, they were watching Jesus' story unfold for the very first time.  They weren't expecting a resurrection  They had never seen someone come back from a crucifixion before.  Quite naturally, everyone supposed the cross would be the end of Jesus.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Luke 22: The Power Of Darkness

Every so often, the world starts doubting the existence of evil.  It's as if we conclude that the good/evil dichotomy is merely a matter of perspective or taste and only for the simple-minded to believe.  Then a genocide happens, or a terrorist attack, or the use of chemical weapons, or a school shooting, and we see evil up close and personal.  We have to come to believe in it all over again.  Until the memory fades once more...

Luke 21: What Lies Ahead

Have you ever been to Washington, D.C.?  Have you walked on the Mall, seeing the Washington Monument, the Capitol Building, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Smithsonian buildings lining the way?  Imagine hearing someone say, in full seriousness, that a day was coming when not one of those marble blocks would be left upon another.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Luke 20: Q & A

Here's the scene: it is Holy Week.  Jesus has already entered Jerusalem triumphantly.  Supporters are watching and waiting to see if He will announce His identity as Messiah and thus begin the revolution.  Enemies are also watching and waiting in the hopes of trapping Him and catching Him in a mistake.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Friday, April 7, 2017

Luke 19: In The Mean Time

People always seem to expect the end to be imminent.  Even in the days of Jesus' ministry, the crowds were all ready for the final judgment to hurry up and come already!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Luke 18: Insights

Luke 18 is very helpful in shedding light into the character of God...and Jesus.  The various events and teachings in this chapter set us straight in regard to some important truths about God.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Luke 17: Hold On Loosely

What kind of grasp do you have on life?  Is it a white-knuckled, both-fists-clenched, "grip of death?"  According to Jesus, a looser hold on life is what is called for.  Whether we're talking about sin and forgiveness, faith and works, or thankfulness and preparedness, Jesus recommends that we always put God first and ourselves last.  

Monday, April 3, 2017

Luke 16: Surprising Stories

We have come to expect the comfortable parables of God's unconditional love and amazing grace that we find in Luke 15.  But what do we do with the surprising stories of Luke 16?  Are we supposed to imitate the dishonest manager?  Do people in hellfire actually converse with people in heaven?  What is Jesus' intent in telling these stories?

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Luke 15: Lost And Found

It's difficult to over-state the compelling nature of the three (four?) parables we find in Luke 15.

Psalm 14: I Pity The Fool!

Nobody likes to be called a fool.  But David doesn't pull any punches in this Psalm.  He makes it plain that fools choose the path of disbelief in God, which leads them into ruin.  In fact, David says something rather harsh about everyone: We've all missed the boat on righteousness.  There is no one - not one - who does good.  It's a good thing that Jesus came for precisely this reason: to reclaim the lost and get us back on track!