Monday, March 28, 2022

JOHN 3:7-8

Nicodemus, you shouldn't be so surprised when I say that you need to start life all over again. This time you need a heavenly birth. God's Spirit is like the wind, blowing uncontrollably this way and then that. You can hear the wind howling but you don't know where it is coming from or where it is going to. Like the wind, you can't nail down and explain the life-giving activity of the Spirit.

Friday, January 21, 2022

1 Corinthians 12:12-31

If you want to understand how so much diversity is united, think of the human body as an illustration of Christ. The body has a lot of different parts with differing functions -- all working together to keep the whole body functioning. 13 Through baptism the Holy Spirit has brought together people from a lot of different backgrounds into a single body. Some of those bonded through baptism are Jewish. Some not-at-all Jewish. Some are slaves, while others are free. Can you think of a more unlikely mix brought together by the one Spirit? 14 Our bodies aren’t made up of a single part. There are many organs. 15 Imagine the foot throwing a pity party because it’s not a hand! Is the foot any less important to the body because it’s not a hand? 16 Or, what about the ear? Does the ear complain because it’s not an eye? Does the fact that the ear can’t see make it any less a part of the body? 17 Consider the absurdity of the whole body consisting of a single giant eyeball! If that were the case how would the body hear? Or if the body were a giant ear how would it smell? 18 God has designed each of the body parts to carry out a function of his choosing. 19 What would happen to a body if all the organs were exactly the same? 20 It is plain and obvious that just as there is one body, that one body has many parts. 21 So the eye isn’t allowed to tell the hand that it isn’t needed. Likewise, the head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” 22 The irony, of course, is that some of the less-prominent body parts are the most essential. 23 Even the private parts that we’re most likely to cover up end up getting the most attention. 24 The presentable parts don’t get the same scrutiny. God has designed the body so that the less presentable parts of the body end up getting more noticed. 25 He did this so that all the diverse parts of the body would work together and look out for each other. 26 If one part struggles, all the parts struggle; if one part is well, all the other parts are happy for it. 27 Here’s the point, together y’all are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it -- an essential part attached to all the other parts. 28 This is evident in the way that the church functions. First off, God appointed some to be apostles. Then he appointed some to be prophets. Then came the teachers, those who could do miracles, the gifted healers, the super helpers, the skilled leaders, and those gifted in languages. 29 Consider how clunky and non-functional things would be if everyone were an apostle, or a prophet, or a teacher, or a miracle-worker, 30 or a healer, or a polyglot, or one who can interpret mysterious languages. 31 Yes, yes, strive to develop gifts that have a great impact but let me show you something even more significant.

Friday, October 8, 2021

James 5:13-20

 If you’re hurting, then you should pray. If you’re on top of the world, then you should belt out songs that praise God. 14If you’re ill, then you should ask the mature churchfolk to come to pray with you as they anoint you with healing oil -- in the name of the Lord. 15 Prayer that flows from faith in the Lord will heal the sick, for the Lord is the one who restores people to health. And if your woes are the result of sin you will be forgiven. 16 This is why you should quit trying to hide your sins. As you publicly own your sins you can pray for each other and experience healing, for the prayers of right-living people are super powerful and effective. 17 For example, Elijah was just such a person -- even though he was a prophet he was not so different from us. When he poured himself into praying that it wouldn’t rain, the clouds were locked tight for three and a half years. 18 Then he prayed again and God sent rain, ending the drought and filling the fields with bumper crops.

19 My dear brothers and sisters, if anyone wanders away from the truth and someone leads the wanderer back home, 20 honor that leader. For the one who leads a sinner back onto the right path saves them from eternal destruction and guides them into a life of forgiveness.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

James 2:1-17

 My brothers and sisters, when you heap attention on some people but ignore others you are acting contrary to the pattern of faithfulness established by our Lord Jesus, the glorious anointed king. 2 Imagine two people coming into your meeting -- one dressed to the nines, with all the designer labels, draped in jewelry. In contrast, the other person who shows up is clearly poor, dressed like a bag lady. 

3 Then suppose that you were to give the well-dressed person special attention -- offering her the best seat in the house. But to the bag lady, you say, “If you don’t want to stand you can sit in the back row away from everyone.” 4 If you did that, wouldn't you through your words and actions be saying that some people are better than other people? You’d have become corrupt judges.

5 Listen up, my dear brothers and sisters! God has chosen those whom the world sees as poor to be rich in faith. Aren’t these the very people that God has selected to be the heirs of his kingdom -- the kingdom he promises to those who love him? 6 But through your attitudes and actions you shame the poor people God honors. 

Think about it -- the wealthy people are the ones who make your life miserable with all their demands and legal threats. 7 They slander the good name of Jesus -- the name which you embraced at your baptism. How is it that you have become such boot-lickers at the expense of the poor?

8 Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way. Focus on keeping the rules of the kingdom -- the royal law expressed no fewer than seven times in scripture -- Love your neighbor with the same energy that you naturally give to loving yourself. 

9 When you show favoritism, you are not only sinning but you are by the laws of the kingdom exposed as a lawbreaker. 10 Anyone who commits to keeping all the law but fails in this one point is guilty of breaking all the law. For everything hinges on this one command. 11 God not only told us to refrain from adultery but he also told us to refrain from murder. If you commit murder while refraining from adultery you are still a lawbreaker. 12 So then, walk and talk as someone who expects to be judged according to this standard -- the law that will be your freedom. 13 For if you refuse to let kindness dictate how you treat people don’t expect kindness to dictate how you are judged. On the other hand, if you have been merciful, God will be merciful toward you.

14 My brothers and sisters, what good is it if you say that you have faith but do nothing to show it? Claiming to have faith can’t save anyone, can it?

15 Suppose a brother or sister is living on the street without proper clothing or food. 16 And after your church meeting you send that person on their way saying, “Go in peace! I hope you’re warm and well-fed!” What good is it if you don’t actually do something about what they need? 17 Living faith generates kind and merciful responses to the needs of people. Without this kind of follow-through, it’s merely dead faith.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Ephesians 6:10-20

Finally, God is super strong and he wants to share his strength with you. 11 So suit up in the armor he provides. That way you’ll be able to stand your ground against the devil’s deviousness. 12 I’m not talking about conventional warfare in which you’re going up against other humans; but this is a battle of cosmic proportions where you’re taking on the dark powers of the universe -- the evil spiritual forces -- their generals and despots.

13 So, gird yourself with all the God-issued battle gear and you’ll be ready to stand your ground on that evil day. And then once the battle is over you’ll still be standing. 14 Wrap truth around your waist as a belt and strap on justice as your chest protection. 15 Then lace up your shoes so that your feet are ready to run with the good news of peace. 16 Most importantly, use faith as a shield. And when the devil shoots at you with his flaming arrows they’ll just burn out. 17 Wear salvation on your head as a helmet and strap on the sword of the Spirit -- which is God’s Word.

18 Keep praying! Pray for the needs of all the believers. Let the Spirit guide you in that. Don’t flake out. Without wavering, maintain COR -- your condition of readiness. 19 When you’re praying for me, ask that God will give me the right words so that anytime I speak, the mysterious message of God’s good news will be revealed.  20 I’m an ambassador in chains representing this good news. Pray that the Lord will give me confidence to say what needs to be said.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

John 6:35, 41-51

35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread that sustains life. Whoever is with me never goes hungry, and whoever puts their trust in me will never be thirsty.”

41 The Jewish opposition groused about him because he had
said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”

42 "Wait a minute," they protested, “isn’t this the same Jesus, Joseph’s son? We know his parents! How can he say, ‘I've come down from heaven’?”

43 Jesus responded, “Enough whining! 44 Only those who are
led to me by the Father who sent me will get me. Those are
the ones I will raise to life on the last day. 45 As it is written in Isaiah 54:13, they're all God-taught. All those who have
learned from the Father, having listened to him, come to me.
46 The only one who has actually seen the Father is the one
who comes from God. He's seen the Father. 47 And I assure
you that whoever believes me has real life -- life without end.
48 I am the bread that sustains life. 49 Your ancestors ate manna
in the wilderness but they eventually died. 50 This bread that
has now come down from heaven will keep those who eat it
from dying. 51 I am the life-giving bread that has come down
from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live on forever. And I'm talking about my flesh -- my flesh is the life-giving bread that
I will give for the life of the world.”

Monday, July 26, 2021

John 6:1-15

Sometime later, Jesus crossed Lake Galilee (aka Lake Tiberias). 2-4 After arriving, Jesus went up onto a mountainside and sat down with his apprentices. (It was, BTW, almost time for the Jewish Passover festival -- just making sure that you catch the thematic parallels with the Exodus story.)

A large crowd of people eager to see more of the miracles Jesus had done among the sick followed him across the lake. 5 When he looked up and saw the large crowd coming his way, Jesus turned to Philip and asked, “Where are we going to be able to buy enough food to feed all these people?” 6 (Jesus asked this to teach him, for he already had a plan.)

7 Philip replied, “It would take more than a half year’s salary worth of food just to provide hors d’oeuvres for everyone.”

8 One of Jesus’ other apprentices, Andrew, who was Simon Peter’s brother, chimed in, 9 “There is a kid here with five loaves of cheap barley bread and two sardine-size fish. But with a crowd this big I don’t know what good that would be.”

10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.”

There were about five thousand people who sat down in the grassy area. 11 Jesus then took the bread and after saying the prayer of thanks, distributed it to the seated people. He then served the fish in the same way. Everyone got their fill.

12 After they’d all had plenty to eat, Jesus said to his apprentices, “Go collect the leftovers. We don’t want to waste any of it.”

13 They filled twelve baskets with the leftovers of the five barley loaves from which the people had eaten.14 When the people realized that Jesus had performed a miraculous sign, they said, “Truly this is the prophet for whom the world has been waiting.”

15 Jesus read the crowd and realized that they were planning to try and force him to become their king; so he slipped away to a place where he could be alone on the mountain.