Monthly Archives: November 2011

Who do you resemble?

My good friend Chris who also runs next generation disciples wrote the post below.  It is based around our reading from today I really hope you enjoy it as much as I did… Has anybody ever told you that you remind them of somebody?  It might be just a visual resemblance or it could be a matter of your actions and characteristics, but there is something about you that reminds them of a certain someone.  As believers we are called to resemble Christ this should be one of our primary goals in the process of sanctification and can only be achieved by spending time with Christ, we see this in Acts 3 and 4. In Acts 3 we see Peter heal a lame beggar and as the onlookers see this they rush to him, as the rush to the apostles Peter begins to preach to them Jesus and the resurrection; he reminds them of what they did and he began to preach repentance to them.  As this was going on the Sanhedrin priests seized Peter and John and as they were questioned Peter gave all glory and credit to Jesus saying, “Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead— by this name this man stands here before you in good health.”  What happens next is what we should all pray for, “Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John […]

Nothing at all? (Day 24 John 18:20 NET)

 I have said nothing in secret.  John 18:20 NET Have you ever noticed this profound statement in John 18:20?  Have you ever seriously considered it?  As I was going through the reading today this short passage just jumped off the page at me.  I could not help but stop and consider what a powerful statement this is.  Imagine being able to say that you had never whispered anything in secret.  That all your words and ways had been so pure and so right there was nothing at all to hide. 1 John 2:5–6 NET says  5 But whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has been perfected. By this we know that we are in him. 6 The one who says he resides in God ought himself to walk just as Jesus walked. To walk as Jesus walked means, in part, living in such a way that nothing has to be hidden in shadows or whispered in secret.  As I ponder the possibility of such a life I am naturally drawn to the seeming impossibility of this desire.  Yet at the same time, my soul leaps with expectation and excitement at the thought of not having anything to hide.  Like most, I harbor no great secret or unconfessed dreaded sin in my life.  However, I would be lying if I said I never said things secretly in hopes that no one else will find out or hear of my conversation. In these moments of weakness, I forget that God does indeed hear everything that I say, and that I have been encouraged  to guard my words and speak as a person who is speaking for God each time I open […]

So that’s why… (Day 23 John 15:18–19 NET)

“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you do not belong to the world, but I chose you out of the world, for this reason the world hates you.” (John 15:18–19 NET) Christians frequently wonder why we face so much opposition from the non-believing world that surrounds us.  After all, who could really be against a faith as generous, loving, kind, gracious, and positive as ours?  At the center of our faith is the good news that we have all come to discover.  However, most of the modern world has yet to find the saving power of the cross.  So even when we attempt to do good things, we face opposition.  Recently a church member told me they had proposed doing a food drive at their work place for Thanksgiving.  The idea was declined by upper management because it seemed “too Christian.”  Really??? We are not going to help feed people because it was a Christian who proposed the idea?  Most of the things we face here in America seem trivial compared to the opposition in other parts of the world.  Despite the level of persecution or opposition we face, we can take heart when we read these words of Christ. He knows what it is like to be opposed and hated.  The reason we are hated by the world is because we no longer belong to the world.  This is not bad news, it is good news!  It is never fun or pleasant to face ridicule, strife, or opposition, but when we do we are perhaps closer to Christ and further from this […]

The Privilege of Discipleship (Luke 10:23-24)

 23 Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” (Luke 10:23–24 NET) Jesus once said,  “For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry” (Matthew 11:30 NET).  Yet many modern day believers are convinced that this is untrue.  After all, Jesus also said “Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. But the gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13–14 NET).  Can it be both ways?  After all, this seems to be a case of having our cake and eating it too, does it not?  I wanted to highlight the conversation in Luke 10:23-24 because it jumps off the page as an example of what the privilege of discipleship actually looks like.  There are many others present, but Jesus takes time to turn to his disciples and say you guys are so blessed to be a part of this.  Guys do you realize that the prophets and kings of old longed to be in such a privileged position where they could witness such things? Walking with Jesus has never been easy in the sense that we normally think of it.  Still today those who choose to follow Christ will find life difficult at times, full of struggle, pain, and hardship as we walk down […]

I Am The Door… (Day Twenty One John 10:7)

“I am the door for the sheep.” (John 10:7 NET) For years I thought about this verse in the context of my American upbringing.  Despite growing up on a large working farm and ranch, I still had little concept of what it actually meant to be a shepherd.  When Jesus said he was the door for the sheep I just assumed that essentially meant that this statement was similar to the one he makes in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the father except through me.”  While this is true to the main concept of the point, Jesus’ audience would have understood this statement in a different way.   Years later I read the following commentary which brought even more clarity to these words of Christ. “After a shepherd’s flock has been separated from the other sheep, he takes them to pasture. Near the pasture is an enclosure for the sheep. The shepherd takes his place in the doorway or entrance and functions as a door or gate. The sheep can go out to the pasture in front of the enclosure, or if afraid, they can retreat into the security of the enclosure. The spiritual meaning is that Jesus is the only Gate by which people can enter into God’s provision for them.”[1] I later learned that it was common practice during the time of Christ for the shepherds to literally sleep in the opening of the pen his herd resided in.  There was no gate other than the shepherd.  The picture Jesus paints here is one that tells us that he is extremely invested in His herd.  He is not “a gate” He is “the […]

Safe with no escape (Day 20 John 6:68-69)

 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God!”  (John 6:68–69 NET) Like most Americans I have grown accustom to having choices and options in life.  When I pump my gas I have multiple options to chose from.  When I dine out there are ample choices in both restaurant selection and inside the menu. When I shop there are aisles of the most basic products like shampoo, soap, bread, milk, and laundry detergent.  Recently my wife and I decided to look into buying a new mattress.  When we arrived at the mattress store I was overwhelmed with the selection.  Because I have grown so accustom to having options I am always tempted to be self reliant which causes separation between Christ and myself.  I want options in life and I always want to have a plan B, C, D, and if possible E.  I really admire the words of Peter in the text above.  Jesus has just seen a large portion of his followers walk away after proclaiming a hard teaching.  He then asks the Disciples, “Are you going to leave too?”  To which Peter says, “Where would we go?”  In other words we have no plan B, there is no other option for us, we have put all of our eggs in one basket here.  Those who departed the presence of Christ after receiving this difficult teaching differed greatly from the twelve.  They still had options.  Jobs, family, and homes were waiting for them so leaving was an option.  But the twelve had left everything behind to follow […]

Who Was John? (Day Nineteen John 1-4)

As we did with Luke, it seems only right to get to know the author of the text we will be reading over the next few days.  So who was John?  For starters we know that he was the son of Zebedee and Salome (Mk. 1:20, 15:40; Matt 27:56).  He was a very experienced and wealthy fisherman on the Sea of Galilee (Mark 1:20).  John was also the younger brother of another well known Biblical character named James which means he was also most likely a cousin of Jesus. Jesus’ mother Mary and Salome may have been sisters (Jn. 19:25).  He was also a disciple of John the Baptist before following Christ’s ministry.  While he was a very prolific figure and writer it is interesting that John never mentions himself by name in his gospel.  Even though his name is never mentioned there is evidence that he did not exclude himself entirely from the biblical text.  For example it is believed that the account in John 1:35-40 is about John leaving John the Baptist in order to follow Christ.   Like James and Peter, John was part of the inner circle of the Twelve (cf. Matt. 17:1; Mark 5:37; 13:3; 14:33).  After Christ returned to heaven John became one of the leaders of the Jerusalem church (Acts 1:13; 3:1–11; 4:13–21; 8:14; Gal. 2:9).  Tradition says he lived in Ephesus overseeing the church there toward the end of his life. This is most likely where he wrote his gospel and three epistles.  John lived until the time of the emperor Trajan [A.D. 98–117] and was banished to the island of Patmos. It was there that he received and wrote the visions described in the book of Revelation […]

Judas and his dance with the devil (Day Eighteen Luke 22:3)

Then Satan entered Judas, the one called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve.  (Luke 22:3 NET) What a tragic truth this passage contains.  One who was seemingly so close to Jesus Christ himself was overcome with evil and indwelt by Satan.  Some have falsely accused Judas as being a betrayer from the beginning.  However, scripture paints an entirely different picture of the man Judas.  He seems to be equally as capable of a disciple as any of the others throughout the ministry of Christ Jesus.  Even after Christ identifies Judas as his betrayer in John 13 the other twelve seem confused and unaware of his evil deeds.  The scripture actually says  in John 13:28–29 NET  28 Now none of those present at the table understood why Jesus said this to Judas. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the money box, Jesus was telling him to buy whatever they needed for the feast, or to give something to the poor.  Certainly had Judas been some kind of evil villain after three years with these men they would have taken the words of Christ to heart and been able to easily identify this man for what he was.  Rather they are confused, conflicted, and unconvinced of his evil intentions.   Once the devil took control over his life things quickly grew worse and worse for Judas until he ended his own life.  From the life of Judas we learn that sin is a slippery slope, and as a result we should flee from it!  James 1:13–15 NET  brings a word of warning concerning temptation and sin when it proclaims 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God,” for God cannot […]

Persistant Prayer (Day Seventeen Luke 18:1)

“Then Jesus told them a parable to show them they should always pray and not lose heart.” (Luke 18:1 NET) Remaining persistent in prayer over any period of time can be extremely difficult. Too frequently we treat prayer as if it were the most simple of disciplines in the Christian faith.  We casually enter into our times of prayer with grand expectations of seeing, hearing, or feeling something from our creator.  We long to see our prayers answered and thus confirm that they have been heard by our Lord, yet far too often I find that my prayers are not answered at the moment of my initial request.  Perhaps I will linger in prayer over the next few hours or even days concerning the issue at hand, but then with time my fervor in these prayers fades.  This verse is unique because it is one of the rare occasions where Jesus gives the answer prior to laying out the parable.  This shows me how important prayer is, and not just that I participate in this amazing privilege but that I would remain there and never give up or lose heart.   1 Thessalonians 5:17 urges us to “constantly pray” to our father in heaven.  Prayer should never become an event in our day, instead it is a part of our lives as believers.  Consider some of the prayers you have given up on in the past.  Revisit them and once again ask God for the desires of your heart, whatever you do never give up or lose hope when it comes to prayer. Tips: If you really want to be a person who constantly prays, and never loses heart consider the following tips. Write your […]

Complainers (Day Sixteen Luke 15:1-2)

1 Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming to hear him. 2 But the Pharisees and the experts in the law were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:1–2 NET) As the leader of an organization I hear lots of complaining.  Sometimes it is disguised as “helpful criticism”, other times people just come right out and complain about whatever has grieved their heart. While on rare occasions, some of the complaining can be justified, most of the time it is nothing more than harassment from some critical on-looker. This was what Jesus faced throughout his ministry and yet again here in Luke 15.  The “experts” were once again complaining because Jesus was not acting the way they thought he should.  He was eating with people they despised and at the same time ignoring them. So Jesus gives them some attention, albeit not the kind of attention they wanted.  He starts into a series of parables to teach these complainers a lesson.  I have come to realize that there will always be someone to complain about anything you try to do.  It is true that making everyone happy is an impossible goal and one that not even Jesus was successful at.  As I read this text I am convicted about my own complaining.  Certainly I don’t want to be labeled a complainer by Christ, nor do I want to be perceived as a complainer in my community.  So below is a list of a few things that have helped me when I am tempted to become a complainer. Seriously consider the value of my complaint.  Is what I have to say really necessary?  Does it have the potential of positive […]

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