Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Isaiah 52:7

Think about how beautiful it will be to look up onto the mountainside and to see messengers with good news running our way -- messengers shouting out "Peace! God is still on the throne. He has saved us!" 

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Luke 12:13-21

Someone called out from the crowd which had formed around Jesus, saying to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to give me a share of the family inheritance.”

14 Jesus replied, “Friend, how is it that you want to suck me into your family squabble -- positioning me to be the arbitrator between you and your brother?”

15 Then Jesus said to them, “Watch out lest you give greed even a small foothold. After all, the significance of your life is not defined by what you own -- even if you own a lot!”

16 Jesus then told them a story to make his point: “There was once a rich and successful farmer whose land continually produced bumper crops. 17 The fruitfulness of the land created a problem that he noodled on day after day. ‘I have no place to store my harvest!’ 18 Finally, he came up with an idea, ‘If I tear down my barns I can build bigger ones. Then I’ll be able to store ALL my grain and goods. 19 With such capacity I’ll be solid for years to come -- take early retirement -- kick back -- eat, drink, and live the life.’

20 “But then God showed up with a different plan, ‘Fool! Tonight you die. Now who’s going to end up with all the stuff you’ve been saving for your future?’

21 “This is what happens to those who hoard riches to secure their own futures but who live impoverished lives in relation to God and the things which are important to him.”

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Luke 10:1-20

Later on, the Lord chose and commissioned seventy-two apprentices. He sent them out in pairs as advance teams to the places he was planning to travel. 2 He instructed them saying, “There is a huge harvest out there, but few harvesters. So, beg God, who is producing this bumper crop, to send out workers to bring it all in.

3 “Move out, but beware! I’m sending you out as lambs among wolves who are lying in wait to pounce. 4 Act with caution, moving under the radar. Leave the stuff which makes you a visible target at home -- wallets, backpacks, extra sandals -- leave it all behind. Don't get sucked into trivial conversations along the way. 5 And whenever you do enter a house, first say, ‘Peace be on this house.’ 6 If your blessing is well received that is an indicator that God’s peace rests there and it’s a good place to stay. If the people of the house seem hostile or even indifferent to the blessing, just move on to another house. 7 “If you do stay with a household, receive the hospitality of food and drink as it is offered. Think of it all as wages for being kingdom workers. But don't get carried away with the idea -- moving from house to house angling for more and better. 8 Whenever you’re welcomed into a town just say ‘thank you’ for the food they offer and enjoy that. 9 Extend healing to the sick there and declare, ‘God’s kingdom has come upon you.’

10-11 “However, whenever you enter a town and there is no welcome -- no hospitality -- as you’re leaving it make sure you leave behind even the dust from your feet. Then say, ‘God’s kingdom has come to you -- but you’ve rejected it.’ 12 And know that come Judgment Day the town will be worse off than ancient Sodom.

13 “Trouble awaits you quintessential Jewish towns of Chorazin and Bethsaida. You’re so hard-hearted that if the miracles done among you had been done in the ancient pagan towns of Tyre and Sidon, they would have turned to God in an instant. They’d have put on their mourning clothes and covered themselves with ashes. 14 Indeed, as bad as Tyre and Sidon were, they will be better off than you when judgment comes.

15 “O, and you, Capernaum, do you think you’re going to be welcomed with a parade up into heaven? Huh… you’re heading down the trash chute to hell. 16 “Those who listen to you, apprentices, are listening to me. Those who reject you are rejecting me. And whoever rejects me is rejecting God, the one who sent me.”

17 When the seventy-two apprentices returned to Jesus upon completion of their mission trips, they were ecstatic. “Lord, you should have seen it -- at the mere mention of your name even the demons obeyed.”

18 Jesus replied, “I’m not in the least bit surprised. I could see Satan knocked from his throne, dropping like a bolt of lightning from the sky. 19 Look, I have given you the power and authority to trample on snakes and scorpions -- total dominion over the enemy. Nothing can hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, don’t get all excited because you’re able to ride herd over a bunch of spirits. No, rejoice in the fact that God has recorded your names in his heavenly registry -- that you are recognized by him. That’s really worth getting excited about.”

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Luke 9:51-62

51 Now as it was getting closer for Jesus to be drawn up into the heaven-determined events of the cross and resurrection, he resolutely set his course for Jerusalem.

52 Jesus sent a vanguard of messengers to make arrangements for his stops along the way. They entered a certain Samaritan village 53 but the residents there were inhospitable toward the advance men because Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.

This was a precursor of the rejection that would follow once he arrived there.

54 When the apprentices James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, “Boss, do you want us to summon fire from heaven to wipe them out -- like when Elijah called down fire in 2 Kings 1 to kill those soldiers who were disrespecting him?” 55 But Jesus rebuked the apprentices for their response to the insult.

56 So they just went on their way toward another village.

57 As Jesus and his apprentices walked along the road, someone volunteered to join him and his entourage, saying, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 Jesus replied, “If you’re going to follow me you need to understand that foxes have their dens and birds have their nests but Uberman is homeless.”

Then Jesus invited someone else to join him -- “Follow me.”

That man replied, “Boss, I need to wait a bit so that I can go fulfill my obligation and bury my father.”

60 Jesus said to him, “Let those who are dead take care of the dead. Your priority, however, is to go spread the news of God’s kingdom.”

61 Another person said to Jesus, “Boss, I’m ready to follow you, but first I need to go get my house in order.”

62 Jesus replied, “Don’t get distracted! Anyone who starts plowing but looks away -- even for a moment -- creates a crooked row. If you turn away you’re not helping God’s kingdom.”

Sunday, June 9, 2019

John 14:8-17

The apprentice Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, just show us the Father, and we’ll be happy.”

9 Jesus replied, “Phillip! I’ve spent all this time with you and you still don’t know who I am? If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father! So what’s up with the “show us the Father” bit? 10 Don’t you believe that the Father and I are so interconnected that when I speak, the words that come out are from him? We’re so tightly connected that his work comes through me. 11 Believe me, we’re totally together on this -- the Father and I. At the very least believe because of what you’ve seen me do.

12 “This is the truth, those who believe in me will do the same kind of stuff that I’ve been doing -- might I say, even greater things. That’s because I’m soon on the way to be with the Father. 13 And since I’ll be right there with him, when you ask anything of me that fits with my agenda you can expect that the request will go straight to the Father. I’ll make it happen. And in doing so I’ll be heaping honor onto him. 14 Just in case you missed it, ask for anything and everything that fits with who I am and what I’m about, and I will do it!

15 “If you really do love me, do exactly what I’m telling you to do. 16-17 I will then ask the Father, and he will send another advocate, the Holy Spirit, to always be with you. He’ll show you what is true in this world filled with lies and half-truths. The world refuses to have anything to do with the Spirit because it isn’t interested in what he’s offering -- and frankly, they wouldn’t recognize him if they saw him. But YOU already know him! He’s been living with you and in the future will be living in you.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

John 14:22-29

“Boss,” Judas (but not Judas Iscariot) said, “why is it that you are about to reveal who you are to us but not to the world?”

Jesus responded to his apprentice’s question, 23 “They lack the kind of love needed to act on what I’m saying. If anyone truly loves me, that person will become fanatical about following my instructions and my Father and I will move right in to live in that person’s life. That’s how we love! 24 However, whoever doesn’t love me will fail when it comes to acting on my instructions. This is important because what I’m telling you to do doesn’t just come from me. These are the instructions from the Father who sent me.

25 “I‘ve been saying all this to you while I’m still here with you. 26 The Father will send the Holy Spirit, the advocate, to you on my behalf. He is going to be your new teacher, tutoring you in all that you need to know and reminding you of all that I’ve already told you.

27 “So don’t let fear overwhelm or overtake you. I am leaving you with peace. It is the unique one-of-a-kind peace that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. And I am giving it to you.

28 “You’ve heard me say that, ‘I’m going away for awhile but will be returning to you.’ If you love me, you’ll be happy that I’m going to be with the Father, for he is my everything -- my goal, purpose, and being. 29 I’m telling all of this to you before it happens so that when it does happen your faith will kick into high gear.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

John 10:10-30

Unlike all those scoundrels who are out to ruin lives, I came to give life -- indeed, life richer and fuller than anyone can imagine. 11 You might even say that “I am the GOOD shepherd -- the kind of shepherd who sacrifices his life for the well being of the sheep.

12-13 “Minimum wage shepherds turn and run when they see a wolf coming -- leaving the sheep to fend for themselves. That’s because they aren’t invested in the flock. The sheep don’t really belong to them so they don’t care very much. The wolf attacks the sheep and the survivors are scattered.

14 “Again -- I am the GOOD shepherd. I know my own sheep and they know me. 15 Our relationship is akin to that which the Father and I have together. I give up my life for the sheep.

16 Of course, I have other sheep that don’t belong to this sheep pen. I am leading them, too. There will be a united flock that includes all the sheep which recognize my voice. One flock -- one shepherd.

17 “The Father’s love in me is expressed in the way that I am sacrificing my life -- this sets things up so that I can live again. 18 I do this voluntarily. No one is forcing me or taking my life from me. I have divine authority to give up my life, and the Father gives me the same authority (indeed, the mandate!) to restore life to myself.”

19 Jesus’ words divided the Jewish crowd again. 20 Many of them were saying, “A demon has taken over his life. He’s totally lost his mind. Who cares what he says?”

21 Yet, others protested, “He doesn’t sound like a demonic! Can a demon heal the eyes of the blind?”

22-23 Winter arrived in Jerusalem. During the Hanukkah celebration, Jesus was walking in the area of the Temple called Solomon’s Porch. 24 His opponents from among the Jewish leaders encircled him and demanded, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the anointed one -- the Christ, just come out and say it.”

25 Jesus answered, “I've already told you what you need to know -- but you still don’t believe! Certainly, all that I've done on behalf of my Father shows you everything you need to know about me. 26 Yet -- you remain unbelievers. And that's because you don’t belong to my flock. 27 My sheep recognize my voice and follow me. So, I know them. 28 And I give them eternal life. They will be never be lost; nor will they be snatched from me. 29 I mean, think about it -- if my Father who has given these sheep to me is greater than anything or anyone, no one is powerful enough to grab them out of his hands. 30 I and the Father are together on this -- totally united.”