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!”

Monday, June 22, 2020

Jeremiah 20:7-13

Lord, you pressured me to take this prophet gig -- and you were so convincing, that I couldn't resist. But now I'm the laughingstock of the country -- a national joke. 8 Without fail, whenever I deliver your message, as I'm compelled to do, and declare that “violence and destruction are on the way” -- the laughing starts. Your message brings me nothing but constant insult and trouble.

9 So, when I try to quit -- to forget about you and all this prophet nonsense, that's when the fire inside me starts to flare, consuming my heart and then burning in my bones. I'm drained trying to hold it all in, until finally the words again erupt.

10 Then they start whispering behind my back. But I can hear what they're saying, "We need to put an end to Mr Doom and Destruction."

All my so-called friends are waiting for me to somehow trip-up so they can put me out of their misery. They want revenge!

11 But the Lord is standing by me -- like a heavily armed soldier defending me against all of their attacks.

So, in the end, my oppressors will trip-up but I'll still be standing. Their failure will be their humiliation and dishonor. No one will ever forget their disgrace.

12 Lord-over-the-armies, through your power you show who is right. For you have insight into the heart and mind. Pay them back for what they've done to me. I rest my case. It's in your hands.

13 Sing to the Lord, praise him -- for he rescues the oppressed -- snatching them from the clutches of evildoers.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

2 Corinthians 13:11-13

Brothers and sisters, as I wrap things up, be happy and well. Get your act together. Respond to my goading by living in harmonious and peaceful community. When you do that, the God of love and peace will be at home with you.

12 Holy hugs for everyone! Warm greetings from all of God’s people here.

13 Might all of you experience the outrageous generosity of the Master, Jesus Christ; along with the unrelenting love of God; and the intimate fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Amen!

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Acts 1:1-14

In my first volume, dedicated to our dear friend Theophilus, I spelled out everything Jesus did and taught from the beginning, 2 right up to the day when he was taken up into heaven. Before he ascended, the Holy Spirit empowered Jesus to give his chosen agents some final instructions. 3 After his death he kept appearing to them over a period of 40 days -- convincing them that he was alive and explaining to them about God’s regime. 4-5 Once, during a meal, Jesus ordered them to wait in Jerusalem for the Father's promised gift -- the Holy Spirit. He said, “I'm not saying anything new. You've heard this before. John baptized people with water, but in just a few days you'll be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

6 When they heard this, those gathered asked Jesus, “Master, does this mean that the time has come for you to re-establish the kingdom of Israel as a superpower?”

7 Jesus replied, “That information is way above your pay grade so don't fixate on figuring out the timing which the Father has established by his own authority. 8 But know this, the Holy Spirit is going to come to you. At that time you'll be empowered as my witnesses, first in Jerusalem, and then throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. From there you will move out to the entire planet with the news of what you have seen and heard from me.”

9 After Jesus finished these final instructions, as they were watching, he was lifted up and engulfed in a cloud that hid him from their sight. 10 While this was happening and they were looking up -- straining to see him in the sky -- two white-robed men rather suddenly appeared next to them. 11 They said, “Hey Galileans, are you going to stand here all day staring into the sky? Jesus is no longer here with you because he's been taken into heaven. But he'll be back. As certain as you saw him go, you can be certain that he'll return.”

12 They then returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives -- about a half mile walk from Jerusalem. 13 Once they got back into the city, they went to the upstairs room where they were staying. Peter, John, James, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James, Alphaeus’ son; Simon the zealot; and Judas, James’ son -- 14 together they turned their attention to prayer. And they were not the only ones. Some women (including Mary the mother of Jesus) and Jesus' brothers were in the group, too.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

John 1:1-14

In my first volume, dedicated to our dear friend Theophilus, I spelled out everything Jesus did and taught from the beginning, 2 right up to the day when he was taken up into heaven. Before he ascended, the Holy Spirit empowered Jesus to give his chosen agents some final instructions. 3 After his death he kept appearing to them over a period of 40 days -- convincing them that he was alive and explaining to them about God’s regime. 4-5 Once, during a meal, Jesus ordered them to wait in Jerusalem for the Father's promised gift -- the Holy Spirit. He said, “I'm not saying anything new. You've heard this before. John baptized people with water, but in just a few days you'll be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

6 When they heard this, those gathered asked Jesus, “Master, does this mean that the time has come for you to re-establish the kingdom of Israel as a superpower?”

7 Jesus replied, “That information is above your pay grade so don't fixate on figuring out the timing which the Father has established by his own authority. 8 But know this, the Holy Spirit is going to come to you. At that time you'll be empowered as my witnesses, first in Jerusalem, and then throughout the regions Judea and Samaria. From there you will move out to the entire planet with the news of what you have seen and heard from me.”

9 After Jesus finished these final instructions, as they were watching, he was lifted up and engulfed in a cloud that hid him from their sight. 10 While this was happening and they were looking up -- straining to see him in the sky -- two white-robed men rather suddenly appeared next to them. 11 They said, “Hey Galileans, are you going to stand here all day staring into the sky? Jesus is no longer here with you because he's been taken into heaven. But he'll be back. As certain as you saw him go, you can be certain that he'll return.”

12 They then returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives -- about a half mile walk from Jerusalem. 13 Once they got back into the city, they went to the upstairs room where they were staying. Peter, John, James, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James, Alphaeus’ son; Simon the zealot; and Judas, James’ son -- 14 together they turned their attention to prayer. And they were not the only ones. Some women (including Mary the mother of Jesus) and Jesus' brothers were in the group, too.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

John 14:1-14

Don’t let any of this stress you out. Just as you trust in God, trust me. 2 My Father has a huge spacious house. Why do you think I said that I'm headed there to prepare a room for you? Do you think I'm just making this stuff up? 3 Once things are ready I'll be back to get you so that we can live there together. Yes, we'll be together. 4 You have the directions to where I'm headed so you know how to get there.”

5 Thomas interrupted, “Wait, Master, we still don’t know where this place is. How can we know which road to take?”

6 Jesus answered, “I’m the road -- the road paved with truth and life. And I’m the only road to the Father’s house. You can’t get there otherwise. 7 Knowing me is how you know the Father. Indeed, you do know him and you’ve seen him in as much as you know and have seen me.”

8 Philip said, “Master, if you’d just show us the Father we’d be satisfied.”

9 “Philip!” Jesus replied, “even after all this time I’ve been with y’all, you still can’t see it? If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10-11 Don’t you realize that the Father and I are so interconnected that I am in him and he’s in me? So, everything I’ve said to you isn’t just flowing from me but it’s all from him. If nothing else, believe it because of all the miracles you’ve seen me do. They flow from the Father who lives in me. 12 And if that were not enough -- get this -- because it’s the truth; anyone who believes in me will do the same miracles I do -- yes, even more significant miracles. Because I am going to be with the Father you’ll be carrying on the work. 13 And I will do through you whatever you ask that is consistent with me and my agenda. In that way the Father will be honored through the Son. 14 Just ask along these lines -- no limits -- I’ll do it.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

1 Peter 1:13-25

13-14 So, clear your heads and engage your brains. As you're doing that, make the coming appearance of Jesus Christ the focus of all your hopes and aspirations. For the extent of God's kindness will be revealed at that point and you will start to realize how generous he is. IOW, instead of sliding back into the old ways (where you couldn't help but give into every craving and desire) behave yourselves like obedient children.

15 Live lives completely and exclusively dedicated to divine service. This is the life for which God chose you. 16 In Leviticus 19:2 God says, “Since I'm all about a purpose that is exclusively different from the goals of the world, so you must be, too.”

17 Don't go thinking that the heavenly Father (the one to whom you direct your prayers) will let you get away with all kinds of mischief because you're his "favorite child." In this sense God has no "favorites" to whom he turns a blind eye. Certainly not! As sure as he rewards obedient behavior he will not put up with sloppy living. So you must revere and honor him during your time here in this strange place where you don't fit in. 18 You realize, don't you, that God actually paid a lot to get you out of this hell-hole life into which you were born. And we're not talking about money. You weren't ransomed with gold or silver 19 but with the precious blood of the chosen one -- the faultless and perfect sacrificial Lamb who came from God. 20 This was no after-thought on God's part. Long before the world began he had already designated the chosen one to be the ransom for us. But now, in these last days, way down the pipeline of history, God has revealed him to us. 21 Through this chosen one, raised by God from death and lavished with glorious honor, you have started to put your trust in God. And, indeed, you have remained faithful to him.

22 You've cleaned up your lives by acting on the truth. So now take the next step and start living out genuine love amongst your Christian siblings. Let the love freely flow from the depths of your purified being. 23-24 For you have been born all over again into a life that is endless. The old life ends at death, but your new life, triggered by the unending enduring message from God, will last forever. As we read in Isaiah 40:6-8,
“People are in their prime for such a brief time -- really when you think about it, no different than the grass, or a beautiful flower in a field. How long does the grass last before it withers or the flower before it fades and dries up?

25 In contrast -- and here's the point -- God's word is constant from now and through all eternity.”
And this message from God is our Good News for you.