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!”

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.