Thursday, November 30, 2017

Matthew 7: The Underestimated Importance Of Follow Through

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven" (verse 21)

Matthew 6: Looking Out For Number One

Who's Number One in your life?  While Matthew 6 includes an array of practical teaching on many spiritual topics, the underlying theme of them all is the importance of giving God the place of first priority in your life.

Matthew 5: The Spirit Of The Law

When I was a youth pastor, there was one question I could always count on whenever the topic was sexual purity.  "How far is too far?"  The question wasn't a request for intellectual information; it was all about knowing where the line was - so it could be walked right up to.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Matthew 4: The Devil Went Down To Jordan

Satan looks for the most opportune time to get you off God's plan.  For Jesus, the devil showed up when He was about to start His ministry, perhaps filled with questions about His role and His mission, and coming at the end of a 40 day fast.  If there was ever a moment of spiritual vulnerability in Jesus' life (short of the Garden of Gethsemane), this was it.

Psalm 46: A Song For Troubled Times

In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, many Americans turned to the scriptures in search of comfort, understanding, and hope.  I remember Psalm 46 serving as a beloved resource in those troubled times.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Matthew 3: Theophany!

You may have heard of "Epiphany" - the celebration twelve days after Christmas which celebrates the revelation of Jesus to the world (especially Gentiles).  This coincides with the arrival of the magi from the East which was described in Matthew 2.  Today's term - "Theophany" - is similar.  It means a striking revelation of God, or a physical manifestation of God.  It is often associated with Jesus' baptism as recounted in Matthew 3.

Matthew 2: The Old Testament Connection

Matthew goes to great lengths to connect the story of Jesus Christ with what has come before in the Old Testament.  In addition to beginning his Gospel with a genealogy that spans the story of the Jewish people, he continues to link events in the life of Jesus with Old Testament prophecies.  He lists four of these fulfilled scriptures in his second chapter.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Matthew 1: Something About That Name

Matthew begins his story of Jesus with a recap of the Old Testament genealogy of the Jewish people leading up to the birth of their Messiah.  From Abraham to King David, 14 generations.  From David to the Exile, 14 generations.  And from the Exile to the Christ, 14 generations.  It is clear that Matthew believes God is doing something BIG in the life of Jesus.

Jude: Contend For The Faith!

The little book of Jude contains some powerful words against straying from the faith.  If you are in danger of wavering - or of placidly condoning the backsliding of other believers - give Jude a listen to!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Hebrews 13: Jesus Is Enough

Wrapping up his letter to the Hebrews, the anonymous author concludes by returning to his theme of the sufficiency of Christ.  Whether comparing the New Covenant to the Old, or considering how to live out our faith in this hostile world, his message is the same: Jesus is enough!

Psalm 45: Celebrating The King

Psalm 45 is rather unique.  It was originally composed as a wedding ode for a king and his bride. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Hebrews 12: Firm Up Your Flabby Faith!

"Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed" (vs. 12-13)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Hebrews 11: The Hall Of Fame Of Faith

Hebrews 11 is one of the Bible's crown jewels.  With a stunning sweep of Old Testament characters and events, it presents a panorama of what it means to follow the Lord in bold, saving faith.  We are given examples ranging from Adam to the prophets, with Noah, Abraham, Moses and many others included.  Hebrews 11 is truly the "Hall of Fame" of faith!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Hebrews 10: It Is Finished

The sacrifice of Christ upon the cross is perfect, complete, finished.  "Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin" (vs. 18).

Hebrews 9: By The Blood

"Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness for sin."

Monday, November 13, 2017

Hebrews 8: New Covenant > Old Covenant

You might be picking up by now that one of the main themes of Hebrews is the superiority of Jesus and His ministry over everything else, even the good Jewish/Hebrew elements that preceded Him.  While the Old Covenant was a gift of God and helped show people the way, the New Covenant is better.  Jesus is the way.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Psalm 44: When Bad Things Happen To A Good People

There is an undeniable pattern in the Old Testament: 1. God's people rebel and reject their covenant; 2. God delivers them over to their enemies; 3. The people are struck with remorse and decide to repent, calling out to God for help; 4. God hears His people and remembers His covenant with them and rescues them; 5. God's people prosper and become complacent, soon beginning the cycle all over again.  

But Psalm 44 sticks out as a sharp reminder that this pattern does not always apply.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Hebrews 7: Jesus > Priests

In continuing to extol Jesus as superior in every way, the author of Hebrews goes to great lengths to demonstrate how He surpasses and exceeds the Levitical priesthood.

Hebrews 6: Once Saved, Always Saved?

Want to start an incendiary debate among a group of Christians?  Ask them if they think it's possible to lose one's salvation!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Hebrews 5: Jesus, The High Priest

In continuing to explain Jesus' identity and role, the author of Hebrews describes Jesus as the high priest.

Hebrews 4: Rebellion Or Rest?

"Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion...As in my anger I swore, 'They shall not enter my rest.'"

Monday, November 6, 2017

Hebrews 3: Jesus > Moses

How does Jesus compare with Moses, who played such an important role in the covenant established at Sinai?  While both were faithful in all God's house, Jesus is regarded as a Son while Moses is regarded as a servant.  The author of Hebrews again makes the point that Jesus is above all, even one as great as Moses!

Psalm 43: Hopelessness And Hopefulness

Psalm 42 and 43 vacillate between postures of hopelessness and hopefulness.

The recurring theme of "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?" strikes me as an expression of deep hopelessness.  The Psalmist has been remembering his times leading the multitude and participating in worship in the house of the Lord.  Yet something has happened to make these experiences nothing more than memories for him now.  His current state is one of being oppressed by enemies and persecuted by the ungodly. 

His sights, however, are set not on his past joys or his present troubles but on hopes of better times to come - when he will "go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy and praise you with the harp O God, my God" (vs. 4).  The cure for his [our] hopelessness is hopefulness - and not just in anything, but in God!

"Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God" (vs. 5).

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Hebrews 2: Just Like Us

Even though Jesus is higher than angels (ch. 1) the author of Hebrews strives to point out that He is also just like us (ch. 2)!

"Brothers and sisters" is the term applied to our relationship with Jesus (vs. 11, 12, and 17).  Jesus, the Son of God, took on flesh and blood in order to make us sons - and daughters - of God. 

Hebrews explains that He accomplished this through His suffering.  Jesus suffered everything that we do, and even suffered to the point of death to break the power of death.  

Because Jesus suffered, He is able to help us who are suffering!

Hebrews 1: Jesus > Angels

The Book of Hebrews contains a lot of theology.  It begins by exploring the question of just who Jesus is.  Remember that the first generation of Christians had a lot of questions and uncertainties regarding their faith.  Was Jesus the greatest human being who ever lived - or was He something more?  Could He possibly be considered on a par with the angels?

The book's author (whose identity is known only to God) is determined to demonstrate that Jesus, as the Son of God, ranks far above even angelic creatures.

While angels are divine servants, Jesus Himself is divine!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

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: