Monday, March 30, 2015

3-31-15 Refusing to Believe

37Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:
“Lord, who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”h
39For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:
40“He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their hearts,
so they can neither see with their eyes,
nor understand with their hearts,
nor turn—and I would heal them.”i
41Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.
42Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43for they loved human praise more than praise from God. (John 12)

Thoughts: Some think that if they have enough evidence, they would believe.  Similarly, some Christians believe that if they could argue or debate better or present just a little more evidence those they hope would believe actually would.  This passage is a reminder that evidence is not the only thing that counts.  Some saw many miracles but would not believe, but would continually seek an explanation.  Just as there are some who still believe that man didn't go to the moon- but think the whole thing was a staged event in a Hollywood basement, some would rather make up other explanations.
    This passage says something else- God does not open everyone's eyes (vs. 40).  It is the Spirit who gives faith.
     Yet others believed, but squelched that belief out of a desire for the praise and riches of this world.  Both unbelief of the evidence and hiding the belief are evidence of human pride above love for God.  True belief comes with a deep love for God that is not hidden or silenced. 

Prayer: May my love for you overwhelm my eyes and my pride, O Lord.  Help me to see clearly, love thee more dearly and follow thee more nearly day by day.  

Sunday, March 29, 2015

3-30-15 Call to Serve

23Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
27“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name!”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.
30Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32And I, when I am lifted upg from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. (John 12)

Thoughts: Jesus knew that he had come to die- to this very hour (vs. 27).  Jesus was very human and did not love pain.  He was no masochist.  His suffering was real and the prospect of His suffering made it that much worse.  His ultimate service to us is to give His life for us.
       He knew that His death would give much fruit.  But He also wanted to encourage His disciples to die to themselves.  That is, He wanted His followers to swallow their pride and die to selfishness in order to help other people.  We are called to follow Him.  If we seek to preserve our lives by seeking comfort, we may have temporary comfort but in the end we will lose our meaning,hope, and purpose. But if we give ourselves fully to the Lord, we will find our meaning and true eternal life.
       Then He gives a promise to those who walk in His way: if you serve me, I will be with you.  God blesses those who do His will with His presence.
        The voice of the Father was heard at the baptism and at the transfiguration as means of encouragement to answer the call.  This voice is for our benefit.  For the voice of God calls us and draws us to do what He asks us to do in life, even if it means discomfort or a cross.  For with each cross is a purpose.  After each cross is a resurrection.  

Prayer: Lord, Help me to answer your call to serve. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

3-28-15 Lessons from the "King of Israel"

9Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.
12The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.13They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!d ” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”e “Blessed is the king of Israel!” (John 12)

Thoughts: The context of Palm Sunday and Jesus' crucifixion began with what happened in Bethany.  The secularists miss this.  Without the miracles of Christ, and especially the two miracles that bookcased passion week (the resurrection of Lazarus and the resurrection of Jesus), Jesus would have been just a good teacher who died and the "movement" would have been snuffed out like the movement of Judas the Galilean in 6 AD or the rebellious movements of 70 and 120 AD that died out.  The crowds gathered at the top of the Mount of Olives- at Bethany- because of Lazarus' resurrection.  This happened just a few days before the Passover.  The crowds at Jerusalem swelled to over a million (like the crowds at the beach in the summertime swell).  The Romans and the Jewish authorities were nervous about another rebellion, and word that a king was proclaimed riding into Jerusalem no doubt made them more nervous.  But Pilate rightly knew Jesus was changing the religion more than the government.  The crowds that followed Jesus were children and the poorer folk who did not have places to stay in the city.  They were not afraid that the soldiers would stop their parade.  Jesus did not come on a war horse but on a baby donkey. We do not need to be afraid to praise God.  Our purpose is not to change the government or to achieve or deny civil rights.  Our purpose is the changing of the soul.  Jesus always cared for the needy- the physically needy.  But He was less concerned about laws than He was about individual treatment and fairness, and going the extra mile.  The church should care about justice.  Certainly Jesus kept the condemning from stoning the woman caught in adultery.  But when the church gets involved in government too much on the left or the right we lose our purpose and our soul.  The resurrection power of Christ changes and corrects all injustices.  It is not all up to us.  

Prayer: Lord, help to always look to help the helpless. But Lord, help me to keep my eyes fixed on you and that your kingdom is not of this world.  

Friday, March 27, 2015

3/28/15- Path to Life

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Proverbs 16:11)

9Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9)

Thoughts: The path of life is the path of God, the Creator of life.  The path of meaninglessness is the path of death.  The path of joy is also the path to the presence of God  Jesus came to show us the path of life.  He made a path to Jerusalem so that we might have a path to heaven.  His presence in Jerusalem elicited "Hosanna" from those who would believe.  But the thought of Jesus elicits "crucify him" from those who do not believe.  Those who are rebelling against the king do not want to see Him.  But those who love Him, who believe rejoice.  Jesus came to make known to us- not only that there is a path to life, but that HE is that path.

Prayer: Lord, let me take your path and stay in your will today.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

3-17-15 The Humble Way

1Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 2Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins. 3A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lorda make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 
4Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. 5And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. (Isaiah 40)

14And it will be said: “Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.” 15For this is what the high and exalted One says— he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place,  but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. (Isa. 57)

Thoughts: The way of the Lord is a comfort to His people.  This is a prophesy that says that God is coming to the world to make a way of comfort.  The glory of the Lord is coming to earth, Isaiah says.  Isaiah later says that the access to the high and holy place is given to the contrite.  Jesus left heaven out of concern and contrition for us.  The way is being prepared- built up where it is low and leveled where it is high.  The king's way is even and easy.  Jesus makes a way for the humble and repentant to come.  When people go their own way, they will refuse to go Jesus' way.  So the call of Jesus-- just by His coming down to earth-- is to be humble and listening for His way out to the high and holy place.  

Prayer: Your ways are higher than my ways, O Lord.  Your path of life leads to eternal life   Give me grace and mercy to be humble and go your way.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

3-26-15 The Way

1Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
5“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6“Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” (Acts 9) 

Thoughts: This passage and Acts 22 refer to following Christ as "followers of the Way."  Perhaps some think the easiest way to interpret this is to say these are people who follow the way of life or teachings of Jesus.  But it is more than just that.  It is following the path of Jesus- the path of love and light.  It is not just the practical teaching of love of neighbor or enemy that Christians follow, but also the teachings about God.  Jesus emphasized God as Father, even calling him "abba."  Jesus also claimed that if we see Him we see the Father- and He emphasized He was God in the flesh.  This is part of the way too- that distinguished Saul from those he was persecuting.
   Ironically, Saul was told when he persecuted believers in Christ he was persecuting Christ himself.  Those who are in this way of Christ are just following behind Him, or even with Him, but they are one with Him as a part of His body.  We are in the way and on the way with Him.  When Saul was being converted, Jesus told Saul where to go.  The way is not just a philosophy, but there is practical and directional guidance from our Lord.  The way is not just a spiritual, unearthly existence, but it is concrete- from the One who made all elements that make things concrete.  Jesus not only teaches the way- He IS the way- and asks us to be One with Him in our every day living.  

Prayer: Lord, apart from you I am lost. Keep me from forgetting what you have done.  Keep me in your way- and help me to encourage others to walk with you in this blessed wa.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

3-25-15 The Way

21Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.  (Isaiah 30:21)

This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, 'We will not walk in it.' (Jeremiah 6:16)

13“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13,14)

I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father but by me.  (John 14:6) 

Thoughts: The Christian life is described as a road- a path- a way.  We can choose the fashionable, wide and popular way that leads to destruction.  Or we can ask for the ancient, holy, narrow way.  Today the term "Narrow-minded" is seen as wrong-headed.  It is the broad thinker that is seen as more human.  But the one who is able to find the path of life through the valley of the shadow is the waymaker- the Lord who leads us through.  The One who made the path came down to show us the only path out.  That is the message of the Bible.  There is a way out, and God has come to show us that ancient, true, holy path that He has made.  We must take a path.  We can choose the path of life or the path of death.  We can choose the holy way- the way and the person of Christ or we can stay on the path of death. 

Prayer: Lord, lead me along the level ground, the ancient path of life.  Lead me to yourself and to the kingdom of heaven- your abode.