Friday, January 5, 2018

Galatians 4:4-7

4 But when the timing was right, God the Father sent his Son. He was born through a human woman into a world which was structured around certain demands and expectations. 5 This was no accident. He was born into the system so that he could rescue those living under such systems -- freeing them from obligation to follow the social and religious rules. They were given new status and can now rely on their privilege as adopted members of God’s family. 6 Indeed as privileged members of the family -- sons and daughters -- you don’t function with an external agenda but with the internal prompting of the Spirit of God’s Son, whom he sent to reside in your hearts. So you can call out to God as your dear father. 7 The whole dynamic of the relationship is different. You are no longer a slave with obligations but a child with direct access to the father -- and indeed the privileges that go with being an heir to his estate.

Monday, December 18, 2017

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

12 Brothers and sisters, we’re asking you to honor the leaders who are working in your midst as teachers. 13 Respect and show love to them because of the work they do. And make sure that you live peacefully with each other. 14 Dear ones, we urge you to warn those who are undisciplined, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, and be patient with everyone. 15 See to it that no one indulges in pay-back behavior.Instead, through the good you do elevate everyone who enters your sphere of influence.

16 Be joyful at all times and in all situations. 17 Likewise, with prayer. Keep at it. 18 And give thanks no matter what happens -- good or bad. This is what God wants for those of you who are united with Christ Jesus. 19-22 Don’t suppress the Holy Spirit or blow off Spirit-inspired messages. Instead, carefully examine every idea, action, and message that comes along. Hang on to what is good and carefully avoid everything which is associated with evil.

23 Now, may the God who is all about peace cause you to be completely dedicated to him -- the whole package of your being -- spirit, soul, and body. Might he hold you together so that your integrity will pay off when our Lord Jesus Christ comes. 24 As overwhelming as it all sounds, rest assured that God, who is calling you to this way of life, is totally dependable and will pull it off on your behalf.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Mark 1:1-8

The beginning of the good news that comes through God’s Son Jesus Christ. 2-3 As it is written in the prophecy of Isaiah:
Pay attention because I’m sending my messenger as the advanceman. In preparation for the arrival he will raise his powerful voice to clear the way through the wilderness. His message will be:
“Get everything ready for the Lord! He’s coming! So straighten things up for him.”
4 Of course, we’re talking about John the Baptizer, who from his wilderness pulpit was calling people to be baptized as a means of demonstrating that they had a complete change of heart and that they wanted God to forgive them of their sins.

5 He was a big deal and everyone in Judea -- including all the people of Jerusalem -- took the 20-mile hike out to the Jordan River. That’s where John was baptizing people as they confessed their sins.

6 Reminiscent of the ancient and hairy prophet Elijah, John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. His diet consisted of grasshoppers and wild honey. 7 In short, this was the message that he preached, “It’s not about me. Someone more powerful than I will be coming after me. Frankly, I’m not even in the same league. I’m unworthy to function as his slave -- stooping over to unstrap his sandals. 8 I’m baptizing you with water, washing away your old life to replace it with a kingdom-of-God-defined life. He, on the other hand, will baptize you with the Holy Spirit -- the powerful, purifying presence of God himself.”

Sunday, December 3, 2017

1 Corinthians 1:3-9

3 Might God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ extend divine generosity to you and flood your life with peace.

4 I’m constantly thanking God for you; for through Christ Jesus, he has been very generous to you. 5-6 He has enriched your church in every way -- resulting in well-said words that express your deep knowledge of spiritual matters -- all of which verify your testimony about Christ. 7 So, it’s pretty clear that you’ve already got all that God has given -- more than enough to keep you going while you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 God will continue to confirm your testimony about Christ so that on at the grand finale -- the day of our Lord Jesus Christ -- you will be found innocent and blameless. 9 God, who invited you to participate in all this, is totally reliable and will make it happen. You can’t possibly have a better partner than his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Matthew 25:31-46

31 “Picture this. The Ultimate Human comes as the radiant King surrounded by his angels. He takes his seat on the glorious throne. 32 All the nations of the world assemble before him to hear his verdict. He starts to separate them from each other in the same way that a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He sends the sheep to the place of honor on his right side. However, he directs the goats to his left.

34 “Then the king declares to those on his right, ‘Congratulations, my Father favors you. Receive the kingdom that was put on reserve for you even before the first day of creation. 35 For when I was hungry, you gave me food. When I was thirsty, you gave me a drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed me. 36 When I was naked, you clothed me. When I was sick, you cared for me. And then when I was in prison, you visited me there.’

37 “Then those righteous sheep reply to the king, ‘Lord, we can’t remember feeding you or giving you a drink. 38 When did we welcome you -- or clothe you? 39 And when did we care for you during sickness or visit you in prison?’ 40 “Then the king replies to them, ‘You may not realize it, but this is the truth, when you did those things for even one of my needy brothers and sisters, you were doing it for me.’

41 “Then the king declares to the goats on his left, ‘Get out of here. I’ll have nothing to do with you doomed lechers. Go to... the unending fire that has been reserved for the devil and his demons.

42 “For when I was hungry, you turned away and walked by me. When I was thirsty, you didn’t even give me a drink of water. 43 When I was a stranger, you left me out in the cold without a friend. When I was naked, you rolled your eyes and criticized me. When I was sick, you gave me meaningless medical advice and went on with your life. And when I was in prison, you never visited me.’

44 “Then those thoughtless goats will reply to the king, ‘Lord, we can’t remember you being hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick, or in prison. How could we have helped you if we didn’t see you?’

“Then the king will reply to them, ‘You may not realize it, but this is the truth, when you didn’t act on behalf of the needy, you didn’t act on my behalf.’ 46 “At that, the goats are led away to unending slaughter. But the righteous sheep are led to unending pasture.”

Matthew 25:14-30

14-15 “The emerging regime headquartered in heaven can be likened to this scenario. A man about to leave on a journey met with his employees and entrusted his assets to their care -- according to what he considered to be each’s ability. To one he gave five trillion dollars. Then to another, he handed over two trillion dollars. And to yet another employee he committed one trillion dollars. He then left on his journey.

16 “No sooner had he gone than the first employee, the one entrusted with five trillion dollars, put the money to work and doubled it. 17 The second employee acted with equal prowess and transformed the two trillion dollars entrusted to him into four. 18 However, the employee who had received one trillion dollars from the boss dug a hole in the ground and carefully buried the money.

19 “After being gone a long time the boss returned and called a meeting to get a report on his assets. 20 The employee who had received five trillion dollars spoke up first to show his gain on investment. He said, ‘Boss, you gave me five trillion dollars. Look, I’ve turned that into ten.’

21 “His boss replied, ‘Wow! You’re awesome -- a solid and trustworthy employee! You’ve faithful overseen a little, but now I’m going to put you in charge of a lot. Let’s party!’

22 “It was then the second employees turn to report. ‘Sir, you put me in charge of two trillion dollars. Look, I’ve turned that into four.’

23 “His boss was elated with him, too. ‘Well done! You, too, are a solid and trustworthy employee! You’ve faithful overseen a little, but now I’m going to put you in charge of a lot. Let’s party!’

24-25 “Next, the employee who had received one trillion dollars reported, ‘Sir, I know how demanding you are and I was afraid to risk the money, so I conservatively hid it in a hole in the ground. But here it is -- one trillion dollars -- every last cent -- nothing lost.’

26 “His boss was stunned and replied, ‘Seriously? You’re a lazy idiot! You’ve already mentioned how demanding I am, yet, you did nothing whatsoever to grow the money. 27 You should have just put it into a bank where it would have been safe -- while yielding a whopping 0.01% interest.

28 “The boss then ordered that the one trillion dollars be taken from him and given to the employee who had ten trillion dollars. 29 Those faithful people with a lot end up receiving more -- way more than they need. For faithfulness yields great rewards. But it’s a downward spiral for those who are unfaithful with the little they have. They end up losing even that little bit. 30 So escort this worthless former-employee out of the building and out into the unemployment line -- where there is weeping and grinding of teeth.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus went on to tell another story to illustrate the heavenly regime that he was inaugurating. “It will be like ten young women -- bridesmaids -- who went out with their lamps to the road to wait for the groom and his wedding parade. 2-4 Five of them wisely planned ahead and carried containers of extra lamp oil. However, five of them foolishly failed to plan and neglected to take extra oil.

5 “As often happened, the groom was inexplicably delayed. And the young women became drowsy and dozed off to sleep. 6 But at midnight they were all jolted awake by the forerunner’s cry for them to join the matrimonial parade. The groom was just about there.

7-8 “All the women jumped up and trimmed their lamps. However, at that point the ill-prepared women noticed a problem and turned to the others in panic. ‘Please give us some of your oil. We’ve run out!’

9 But the wise women replied, ‘If we did that we’d run out of oil ourselves and the parade would go dark before arriving at the bride’s house. You need to go buy some more oil for yourselves.’

10 “But while the ill-prepared bridesmaids were out in the dark at midnight shopping for oil, the groom arrived. And those who were ready went with him into the wedding. The door was then shut and locked.

11 “Eventually the other women who had been shopping for oil arrived and began pounding on the door and calling out, ‘Master, we’re here. The festivities can begin. Open up and let us in!’

12 “But doorkeeper replied, ‘I most certainly don’t know who you are.’

13 “So, it would behoove you to stay awake and prepared. For there is no way to know the exact time when the wedding festivities will begin -- and you don’t want to miss out.”