Friday, April 30, 2021

John 15:1-8

Jesus continued teaching his apprentices, saying, “I am the vital vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He’s into pruning -- lopping off any of my branches that don’t produce fruit. And then he cuts back the fruit-bearing branches -- so that they’re even more fruitful. 3 My teaching has already begun to cut into your life. 4 Just make sure that we remain connected -- stay attached to me and I will remain attached to you. Remember, a branch disconnected from the tree won’t produce fruit by itself. It MUST remain attached to the vine. Likewise, you can’t produce fruit unless you remain connected to me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches connected to the vine. If you remain connected to me -- and my sap flows into you -- then you will produce a lot of fruit. However, without this living connection, you’ll be fruitless. 6 If you become disconnected, you’ll dry up and be tossed onto the burn pile, where you’ll be unable to escape the hot flames. 7 But if you remain attached to me and my teaching is likewise growing out of your life, go ahead and ask me for anything you want and it will happen -- for your wants will mirror my wants. 8 My Father is honored when you produce a lot of fruit. Your bumper crop will validate that you are really my apprentices.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

1 John 3:1-8

Look! This is really cool -- the mind-boggling love gift that God the Father has given to us. He called us his “children” -- and indeed that is who we are. Of course, the world doesn’t recognize the family resemblance but that’s because they’re unfamiliar with the Father!

2 Dear friends, we ARE God’s children and it remains to be seen where that will lead us. We do know that when the curtain is pulled back and we again see Jesus we will be seen to be like him. The family resemblance will be glaringly obvious. 3 In light of what we confidently expect to happen, we busy ourselves cleaning up our lives, so that at the big reveal moment we’ll truly look like we belong to the ultraclean Jesus. 4 Everyone who indulges sin is on the wrong track by God’s standards. Sinful living is fractious -- for sin is by definition fractious.

5 Surely you know that Jesus was shown to remove sin -- even though he himself was sinless. 6 Everyone connected with Jesus rejects sin. Any person who continues to indulge sin hasn’t really seen him or known him.

7 So dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you. The righteous person is the one who acts in the right way -- who lives in accordance with the righteousness of Jesus. 8 But those who make a practice of sin are straight from the devil, who has been sinning from the get-go. The Son of God came to cancel the devil’s sinful ways.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Psalm 71:9

God, don’t throw me out with the trash just because I've gotten old. Now that my strength is waning I need you more than ever.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

 Some people seem to be getting all worked up over buying and eating meat that came to the market through the pagan temple system. Before it got to the market the meat was at one point sacrificed to idols. Of course, those believers who claim enlightenment aren’t worried because they know that the whole idol thing is bogus -- the so-called deities are fakes. 

In a sense we’re all enlightened with this “knowledge.” Yet, knowledge tends to turn us into arrogant prudes. Love, on the other hand, does the opposite, because it is all about strengthening others. 

2 So, if anyone thinks they’ve got it all figured out -- that they have “knowledge” under their belt -- they have an inflated understanding of their knowledge. 3 But if someone loves God, they realize that they don’t really know God but that they are known by God.

4 Now, concerning the food sacrificed to the idols, we know that idols are a meaningless fiction in this world. There are no real gods behind them. We do, however, know that there is but one real God. 5 Granted, there are many beings called “gods” -- both in heaven and on earth -- the traditional Roman deities and the deities of the new cults -- “the lords”. 6 However, we believers recognize only one God -- the Father. Everything that exists comes from him and we live for him.

And there is one Lord -- Jesus Christ. Everything exists through him and we live through him.

7  However, not all have been able to fully absorb this knowledge. Because of their prior experiences with idols they struggle eating meat that has been previously sacrificed. For them, with their damaged and weak consciences, it feels too real. 

8 Of course, the food itself is not the real issue here. The type of food we eat doesn’t affect our relationship with God. We’re not missing out if we don’t eat the meat, and we don’t have any spiritual advantage if we do eat the meat. 9 Just be careful so that your freedom doesn’t create problems for those who are weak.
10 For example, if you are someone with “knowledge” and someone with a weaker conscience sees you eating steak in a restaurant known to get its grade-A beef from a particular idol’s temple, how will that affect them? What if they feel pressured to eat there, too, creating a crisis of faith for them? 11 At that point your “knowledge” is destroying the weak brother or sister -- someone for whom Christ died. 12 If you wound your weaker Christian sibling in this way you’re actually sinning against Christ himself. 

13 So, if eating meat might cause my brother or sister to crash and burn, I’d gladly become a vegetarian for the rest of my life! I don’t want my freedom to contribute to the fall of my siblings.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Romans 3:22-24

God makes things right between us and himself through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ -- a righteousness which we access as we put our faith in him. It doesn't matter who you are or to which group of people you belong; it's the same for all. Just as all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standards, so is freedom from that sin generously delivered to all by Christ Jesus.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

1 Peter 2:9

 You are the people that God has chosen -- a nation dedicated to serving him alone, a kingdom of priests representing him, his treasured people. You've been placed in this spot so that you can show God's goodness to others. He's called you away from all that is dark and into all that is light -- his amazing light. 

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Jesus told the gathered crowd yet another short story:
“The regime rooted in heaven’s agenda is like someone who planted high-quality seed in his field. 25But there was an enemy determined to sabotage the farmer’s livelihood. One night while the farmhands were sleeping, an enemy snuck into the field and scattered darnel seeds -- poisonous weeds -- on top of the wheat seeds that had previously been sown. The perps slipped away undetected.

26Then, soon after the stalks sprouted and started to form grain -- you guessed it -- a million weeds emerged next to all that high-quality expensive wheat.

27“The farmhands went to the landowner and said, ‘Master, you planted quality seed in the field, didn’t you? How is it, then, that we have a bumper crop of darnel?’

28“‘An enemy must have done this!’ he exclaimed.

“The workers said to him, ‘We’ll get the Weed Whackers.’ 29“‘Wait,’ the landowner replied, ‘If you whack the weeds you'll pulverize the wheat along with them. 30Just let both grow side by side and we’ll take care of the problem at harvest time. I’ll instruct the reapers to go through the field twice -- the first time to gather all the weeds -- which we’ll bundle to be burned. Then, I’ll have them go through a second time to collect the wheat -- which will be brought into my barn.’”

36After Jesus left the crowds and went into the house, his apprentices approached him and said, “Explain to us the story of the weeds in the field.”

37Jesus replied, “I, the Uber Man, have sown good seed into 38the field, which is the world. And the good seeds are those people who have embraced the regime rooted in heaven’s agenda. But the weeds are all those people who have embraced the devil’s agenda. 39The weed-sowing enemy is the devil. The harvest is the end of this present age. And the reapers are the angels.

40“At the end of this age it will be like when farm hands throw weeds into the fire. 41I, the Uber Man, will send my angels to remove from my kingdom everything and everyone which causes people to trip-up -- all who disregard my agenda. 42I’ll toss them into the burn barrel. From there, they’ll wail unheard -- endlessly -- about how they’re the mistreated victims. 43At that point, once the weeds are out of the picture, those who have majored in doing the right thing will be as Daniel 12:3 suggests, the bright stars illuminating their Father’s kingdom. If you’ve got ears -- and I know you do -- listen
up -- pay attention!”