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.”

Friday, March 15, 2019

Matthew 5:5

God honors those who are powerless; ultimately they will dominate the world.

Psalm 27:1-14

The Lord lights up the roadway through my life. He keeps me safe. Should I fear anyone? The Lord is my protector. Is there anything I should be afraid of? What a silly question!

2 When thugs come at me, eager to eat me alive -- it’s the pathetic lowlifes who will end up doubled over on the ground! 3 If a whole army attacks -- I won't flinch. Even if we're forced into war -- I will continue to trust you.

4 There is but one thing I am asking of the Lord -- it’s all I seek: to live in his house for the rest of my life -- basking in his beauty -- contemplating his awesomeness.

5 When the tough times hit, the Lord will shelter me in his house; he will hide me in his tent; he will position me on a safe spot high on a rock where I can’t be attacked. 6 My enemies might surround me but I will confidently hold my head up as I offer sacrifices to the Lord in his sanctuary, along with joyous shouting and glorious praise music.

7 Lord, listen to me as I call out to you -- have mercy on me and respond to my cries!

8 My heart tells me to shift my focus toward God’s face. Lord, that is exactly what I’m doing! 9 Please don’t hide your face from me! Don’t get annoyed with me and brush me aside. I’m your servant and you have already been my help! Stay true to what you’ve done in the past. God, don’t let me down now!

10 Even if my father and mother abandoned me, Lord, you’d take me in.

11 Lord, direct me onto your roadway. My adversaries are looking for an opportunity to get me, so lead me along a good road. 12 Don’t allow me to fall into the hands of my enemies -- slanderous fakes -- violent accusers who have made it clear that they are out to take me down.

13 But my faith in you remains solid. And I am confident that I will experience the Lord’s goodness -- even now, here in the land of the living!

14 Okay, heart, stay the course! Hope in the Lord! Hope in the Lord!

Monday, March 4, 2019

Luke 9:28-36

About eight days after Jesus was talking about his glory and denying self to take up a cross, he again went up onto a mountain to pray -- taking Peter (who had just acknowledged Jesus as “the Messiah sent from God”), John, and James with him. 29 As Jesus was praying, he started to glow -- his face -- his clothes -- pulsating lightning bright.

30 Then if that were not intense enough, two long-gone men, Moses the lawgiver, and Elijah the most distinguished prophet, were there talking with Jesus. 31 They were dressed like heavenly beings with their own glow. And the three of them were heavy in discussion about Jesus’ pending exodus and what was transpiring in Jerusalem.

32 Peter and his two buddies were half asleep but eventually managed to awaken to what was going on. They saw Jesus in his glory, as well as the two men with him.

33 As the two men were turning to leave, Peter said to Jesus, “Boss, it’s good that we’re here. We’ll build three shrines so we can hold onto this moment -- one for you -- one for Moses -- and one for Elijah.”

But Peter was just running his mouth -- not tuning into what was really happening. 34 And he was still talking when a cloud suddenly engulfed them. They were covered with goosebumps.

35 Then from inside the cloud -- a voice -- “This is my Son -- the one I’ve appointed. Listen to him!” 36 Even before the voice stopped talking, Moses and Elijah disappeared and Jesus was standing there by himself. Peter, John, and James were speechless. And they didn’t tell anyone about what they had seen until sometime later.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Luke 5:1-11

Once Jesus was standing along the edge of Lake Gennesaret teaching God’s word and the crowd started pressing in around him so they could hear better. 2 Jesus noticed two boats sitting by the lake. (The fishermen had gone ashore to wash their nets.) 3 So Jesus hopped into one of the boats -- the one that belonged to Simon -- whom he then drafted to row him out a bit from the shore. Jesus sat in the boat and taught the crowds. 4 After he finished the lesson, he turned to Simon and instructed him, “Row out into the deep water and drop your nets. Let’s go catch some fish!”

5 Simon replied, “Master, we’ve worked our tails off all night and caught nothing -- zippo -- zilch. But if you say so -- we’ll try again.”

6 So they rowed out -- dropped the nets -- and soon the nets were bursting with fish -- literally -- they were starting to split under the weight. 7 The crew signaled for a second boat. And once their partners arrived both boats were quickly so full that they were starting to sink.

8 When Simon Peter saw the catch, he dropped to his knees in front of Jesus and said, “Lord, don’t get too close to me. I’m such a pathetic sinner!”

9-10 Peter and his posse (including Zebedee’s sons James and John) were blown away by the size of the catch.

Jesus responded to Simon, “I’ve got a new assignment for you. But you don’t need to fear the change. From now on, you’re going to be fishing for people -- rescuing them from drowning and into life.”

11 As soon as Peter and the guys got the boats to shore, they turned and walked away from it all -- boats, nets, fish pile, success... And they followed Jesus.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Luke 4:14-21

After soundly defeating the temptor out in the wilderness, the Holy Spirit empowered Jesus to return to the region of Galilee. Reports of his activity spread like wildfire across the countryside; 15 and everyone was singing his praises as he taught in the various synagogues throughout the region.

16 Jesus returned to his hometown of Nazareth and on the Sabbath day he went as usual to the synagogue, where he stood up to read scripture. 17 The assistant handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Jesus unrolled it until he found chapters 58 and 61, where he read:
18 The Lord’s Spirit is in me,
Indeed he has anointed me -- chosen and dispatched --
to preach good news to the poor,
to proclaim a prisoner release
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to liberate those who have been oppressed,
19 and to announce the arrival of the era when the Lord’s generosity will be on display.
20 Jesus stopped reading, rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the synagogue assistant, and sat down on the teacher’s seat. Every single eye in that synagogue was fixed on him -- eager for Jesus’ sermon. 21 But all he said was, “This is an historical moment, for just as you were hearing me read it, the scripture was fulfilled.”

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Matthew 2:1-12

After Jesus was born in the Judean village of Bethlehem (this was during the reign of King Herod), magi, scholars from the east, traveled to Jerusalem. 2 They inquired, “Where is the newly born Jewish king? We noticed his star in the eastern sky, and we’ve made a pilgrimage here to worship him.”

3 When King Herod heard about the star and newborn king he started to worry -- and everyone in Jerusalem became terribly uneasy. 4 So Herod assembled all the leaders -- the chief priests -- the religion scholars. And he asked them where the Messiah was supposed to be born. 5 They explained that it would be in the Judean village of Bethlehem,

“For this is what the prophet Micah wrote in Micah 5:2, 6 Hey you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Contrary to public opinion you are not the least of the Judeans -- quite the opposite! You should look for one of your own to become a ruler to shepherd my people Israel.”
7 Then Herod arranged for a secret meeting with the magi. From them, he found out when the star first appeared. 8 Then he sent them on to Bethlehem. Pretending that he wanted to join them in honoring the child he said, “Go and do a thorough search for him. And once you’ve found him report back to me so that I can join you in recognizing him.”

9 As instructed they went on their way to Bethlehem. And that star they had seen from their home in the east preceded them until it was positioned over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped -- they were about to burst with joyous excitement. 11 They went into the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. The magi fell to their knees and worshipped him. Then they pulled out gifts from their luggage. They gave him gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

12 The magi were warned in a dream to not return to Herod, and they snuck out of the territory and back to their own country on back roads.