Friday, September 29, 2017

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.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Mark 4: Nature And Supernature

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

Mark 3: Liar, Lunatic, Or Lord?

C.S. Lewis penned a famous essay that suggests we really only have three options when it comes to forming an opinion about Jesus: that He is either liar, lunatic, or Lord.  The verdict we reach could scarcely be more important.

Monday, September 25, 2017

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:

Mark 1: Buckle Up!

Of all the gospels, Mark is the most fast-paced.  Jesus appears on the scene in chapter 1, and is already preaching 15 verses into this book.  Mark repeatedly uses the breathless phrasing of "immediately" or "at once" in his transitions between stories.  If you're looking for a story with a lot of "get up and go," Mark is the gospel for you!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Psalm 38: Looking To The Lord

Psalm 38 sounds like it was written by David in the throes of a serious physical ailment which he took to be a punishment from the Lord for his sins.  

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Philemon: Text And Subtext

I love the little book of Philemon!  In it, we get a glimpse of Paul's relationship with some early Christians, as well as his knack for bringing his strong personality to bear on them through his writing.  We also learn a little about the dynamics of household slavery in the first century.  (Plus, in a single session's reading, you can knock off 1/27th of the books of the New Testament!)

Titus 3: The Gospel In A Nutshell

Have you ever wondered just what is "the gospel?"  There are many places in the Bible that give hints or descriptions of the "good news" (the literal translation of "gospel").  One of these scriptures is Titus 3:3-7.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Titus 2: Priorities

In his letters, Paul is often concerned with the reputation of the early church.  Will the followers of Jesus Christ be known abroad for their gentleness and love - or for upsetting the social order and causing chaos?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Titus 1: Titus In Crete

Although Paul's final letter was most likely II Timothy, Paul's epistles are not arranged chronologically in the New Testament.  Instead, they are arranged from longest to shortest in two batches, first his letters to churches and second to individuals.  Thus, after his letters to Timothy, we pick up with a fresh missive to another disciple of Paul: Titus.

II Timothy 4: Famous Last Words

II Timothy is widely believed to be Paul's final letter, which would make today's chapter his last recorded words.  They are a mix of personal greetings and public sentiments, bittersweet good-byes and bold challenges.

Psalm 37: More Than Meets The Eye

It is a common lament: Why do the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper?  Or, as we may put it in a more modern expression: Why do bad things happen to good people?

Friday, September 15, 2017

II Timothy 3: Uncomfortable Christian Truth #37

"Indeed, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."

II Timothy 2: Remember

"Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David - that is my gospel." (vs. 8)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

II Timothy 1: Before The Beginning

"Join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.  This grace was given us in Jesus Christ before the beginning of time..." (II Timothy 1:8-9)

I Timothy 6: Godliness?

Three times in I Timothy 6 Paul uses the term "godliness."

Monday, September 11, 2017

I Timothy 5: Good Advice

Paul's instructions to Timothy about the leadership of a church continue in chapter 5 as he dispenses good advice regarding widows, elders...and wine!

Psalm 36: The Good, The Bad, And The Almighty

Psalm 36 is yet another appeal to God for His judgment upon the wicked in conjunction with deliverance for the righteous.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

I Timothy 4: Timothy's "To Do" List

Paul's personal advice to Timothy reaches a crescendo in chapter four.  He is determined to encourage Timothy in his mission of leadership service to the church. 

I Timothy 3: What Leadership Looks Like

In I Timothy 3, Paul addresses the necessary qualifications for church leadership.  What sort of person ought elders and deacons to be?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

I Timothy 2: Living In (Biblical) Tension

Do you demand complete clarity in your Bible?  Do you insist everything be a matter of black-and-white when it comes to biblical teaching?  If so, you may have difficulty reconciling various passages of scripture that approach some issues differently!  While I agree that the vast majority of scripture is quite plain and straightforward, there do exist areas of tension that arise naturally from the context of the verses in question.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

I Timothy 1: Dear Timothy...

As we transition to Paul's personal letters, we see a shift from his messages to congregations and groups toward a focus on speaking intimately to specific individuals.  

Monday, September 4, 2017

II Thessalonians 3: Christianity Is A No Idling Zone

In addition to being interested in the end-times, several in the Thessalonian church seemed to have a problem with idleness.  Paul warns them that such a lifestyle is not appropriate for believers. Rather than being dependent on others for their bread, everyone should work for their own food.  In fact, Paul even coins a new phrase: "Anyone unwilling to work should not eat."  This may sound harsh to twenty-first century American ears, but Paul is concerned for the integrity and respectability of the Church of Jesus Christ.  It is not a place for busybodies or freeloaders.  Independent living ought to be the goal for everyone. 

Christianity is a "No Idling Zone!"

Psalm 35: Vindication

Vindicate \ˈvin-də-ˌkāt\: To show that someone should not be blamed for a crime, mistake; to show that someone is not guilty.

Psalm 35 is a protest against injustice.  David the psalmist is crying out in the midst of being accused and attacked by a group of enemies.  In response, he asks for the Lord to be his defender.  He wants to see the designs and schemes of his opponents turned back upon their own heads.  He desires to be rescued from his plight by the vindication of the Lord.

Vindication is a powerful word.  Here David is seeking to be vindicated by God and declared not guilty.  ("Vindicate me, O Lord, my God, according to your righteousness, and do not let them rejoice over me" [vs. 24] and "Let those who desire my vindication shout for joy and be glad..." [vs. 27]) 

It is difficult to read Psalm 35 and not think about the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus.  So many of the images of a bullying mob, manufactured evidence, and shoddy justice that David composed in 1000 BC came to light in the life of his descendant Jesus a thousand years later. 

Praise God for His vindication of Jesus in the resurrection that came three days later!