Tuesday, June 4, 2019

John 1-2~ Day 35~ I love everything about John's intro!

Yesterday I listed some Old Testament verses that prophesied about the coming Messiah.  One of them was from the last prophet Malachi, who wrote these words nearly 450 years before Jesus,
"Look, I am going to send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children. Otherwise, I will come and strike the land with a curse." (4:6)

So, having just read that, it stood out to me that John starts his gospel account talking about John the Baptist.  He starts exactly where Malachi left off...talking about the Elijah that was to come before the Messiah.  Now, even though John said he was not Elijah (1:21), he was!

I can see why he, himself, might have missed that fact.  After all, he was the boy raised by Zach and Liz, and he grew up in the dessert (Luke 1:11-17).  He was told by God to tell people to repent.  God didn't say, "Hey John, you will be talking to the people in the spirit of Elijah."  Nope, he just heard from God to go tell people to repent and baptize.  John knew he wasn't Elijah reincarnated.  So, he didn't put two and two together.  I get that.  Also, it would be pretty boastful to compare yourself with the well known prophet, held in such high esteem by all the religious leaders.  (Remember, Elijah was one of the rare prophets they didn't kill.  He had a show stopping exit form this world that you can read about in 2 Kings 2.)

Yet, Jesus did put two and two together for him, the disciples and us (Matthew 11:14, 17:10 and Luke 7:26-27).

Anyway, back to our reading. I think it's a cool place to start the gospel, telling of John the Baptist, because that is where Malachi left off.  It's the last words the Jewish people were left hanging on. What a great reminder for John's initial readers --"This is what you were waiting for, "the terrible day of the Lord" (Mal. 4:5)!!!
On a side note, why would that day be terrible?  I think Jesus told us why in Matthew 21:42-43 when he said, "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone....Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruit."

Christ's coming is a terrible day indeed for those who decide to reject him!

Monday, June 3, 2019

Luke 23-24~ Day 34~I want to take a walk with Jesus!

It stood out to me today when Jesus said, "How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!...Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted for them the things concerning himself in all the scriptures." (24: 25 & 27)

Oh man, I wish I had been part of that conversation!!!  Their hearts burned as He was explaining the scriptures!  Mine would have too!  I would have loved to have gotten all the dots connected for me! I found a commentary that listed many of the prophesies predicting the coming Messiah. The Jewish people definitely had cause to be waiting for one!
Genesis 3:15 & 49:10, Numbers 21:89, Deuteronomy 18:15, Isaiah 9:6-7, Isaiah 53:1-12, Psalm 16:1-11, 22 110:1-7, Daniel 9:25-27 and Malachi 4:5.

I am doing a Bible study on Daniel right now.  I so wish I could ask Jesus, himself, about Dan. 9:25-27.  Talking about confusing!  I'm jealous of these two people walking on the road back to their home town, Emmaus (24:13).  Jesus explained it clearly to them....

But, I know that the Lord has given His spirit to me and can help me understand those prophesies as well! "This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit explaining spiritual realities with Spirit taught words." ( 1 Cor. 2:13)

So, please Lord, with the wisdom you can give me, help me understand Daniel! 😊

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Luke 21-22~ Day 33~ Free will giving

There are big themes in our daily reading, but lately my mind has been drawn to the little paragraphs that I often skim past in order to focus on the big theme.  Yet those little paragraphs hold some gems!

For example, chapter 21 is all about signs these people can look for that point to the destruction of Jerusalem and Jesus coming "in a cloud with power and great glory" (21:27).  Those are huge things to try to comprehend, absorb and imagine!

So, it's easy to miss the quick observation and comment Jesus made about the widow dropping her money into the temple treasury (21:1-4).  Boy, did those four verses get me to ponder!
What exactly does this scripture mean for me?  Would I put in all I had?

First, I was thinking about the lady.  I don't know why, but "poor, old"  made me think hunched over, wobbling up to a collection box and feebly raising her arm to drop her coins into a box (something like the witch in Snow White).  I'm probably totally wrong on that picture!  Maybe she was tall, stood upright and proud, walking with determined steps up to a table where money is placed for all to see.
Anyway, who cares what the lady looked like!  What I should be imagining is me walking up to the treasury!
What would I put in it?  I think Jesus is telling me to put my whole self on the table.  All that I have!  My time, energy, effort, money, house, car, food...give it all to the service of God.  Wouldn't that be sacrificial?!

The thing to remember about the widow's giving was that it wasn't done out of obligation.  She wasn't paying the required temple tax, she was putting her money in the free will offering and she gave sacrificially!

Wow! So much to learn from 4 little verse!  Lord, help me to be like the widow!

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Luke 19-20~ Oh, Jerusalem... 😰

The short little paragraph describing the grief Jesus had when looking at Jerusalem, can get lost in our feelings of celebration as we read about his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  This time reading through the short paragraph (19:41-44), it hit me hard when I read that Jesus wept because I noticed how Jesus (in Luke's account) sandwiched that scene of him weeping over Jerusalem with two parables explaining why.

The first piece of bread, so to speak, is Jesus telling the parable of the king and the ten servants,  "But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them-bring them here and kill them in front of me."(19:27). The other side of the sandwich is the parable of the vineyard, with Jesus saying, "What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them?  He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others." (20:16)

The people of Jerusalem were the enemies of the king in the first parable and the tenants in the second parable.  In essence, Jesus gave three warnings (including him clearly stating, "the days will come when your enemies will...crush you" (19:43), telling them they were going to be punished for not "recognizing the time when God visited" them. (19:44).

It's understandable that he would weep!  We readers today get the why and how, of the discipline.  Jesus gives a vivid description of what was to happen 40 years after his crucifixion.  (Matt. 24:15-32, Mark 13:14-31 & Luke 21:20-32)

Like I mentioned in a previous post, the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, was an eyewitness to the atrocities inflicted on Jerusalem by the Roman army in 70AD.  It was bad!  In fact, he unknowingly  used the words that Jesus used about the distress, "the kind that hasn't taken place from the beginning of the world...." (Matt. 24:21) when he (Josephus) wrote, "That neither did any other city suffer such miseries, nor did any age ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness that (then) this was, from the beginning of the world."
😨
For full writings of Josephus see:
https://www.biblestudytools.com/history/flavius-josephus/war-of-the-jews/book-6/

It's no wonder that Jesus wept over Jerusalem (19:41).  It made me sad to read that Jesus cried, but I understood since I have read the why and how of what he was sad about.  He knew the people would be punished severely.  I could weep too thinking of the horror!

Friday, May 31, 2019

Luke 17-18~ Day 31~ Will Jesus find faith on earth?

How is the reading going for you?  What did you get out of the reading today?  I would love to hear!  As for me, every time I read the parable of the persistent widow, I get re-inspired to pray!
"Pray always and don't give up (18:1)

The thing with the widow is that she knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt that the judge had the power to help her.  In fact he was the only one who could help her.  "Give me justice against my adversary." (18:3)  So, she pestered him.  That was all she could do.

In the same way, Jesus is the only one who can help me!  I know that full well!...at least...I think I believe that...... So, why don't I pester like the widow does?  I think the question Jesus poses at the end of the parable is a sad one.  "Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? (18:8)  Do I have faith like the widow had; a faith that believes Jesus is the only one who can help me?  Or do I tend to rely on myself and others to get me out of a mess or fix things?  Is my faith a "head knowledge" but not a "heart knowledge"?

Lord, please find me with the faith you are looking for!  Thank you for clarifying that it doesn't have to be a lot (17:6), it just needs to be real!  Help me to be like the widow, persistent and fully trusting you can do all things (Matt. 19:26)!  Help me believe that in my heart as well as my head!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Luke 15-16~ Day 30~ Here's a heavy topic...Hell..😳.

I have pondered the concept of hell a lot in past readings of both the Old and New Testament.  I even contemplated that perhaps there is no hell for certain "good people" who did not make Jesus their Lord and Savior.  I thought, maybe, their souls just ceased to exist after their physical death.  I pondered that idea based on verses like, "The dead do not praise the Lord, nor do any who go down to silence." (Psalm 115:17) and "When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; (Psalm 146:4) Also verses found in the New Testament, (Matt. 10:28b and John 3:16) made me ponder "perishing".

I talked about this point with someone who was going to seminary.  He knew all the "terms" for different schools of thought, so when I voiced my thoughts he said, "Oh, you are an annihilationist!"........I was?......That was a new term for me!  An annihilationist believes that verses speaking of the second death refer to ceasing to exist.  I suppose that one could call me that if I held to that way thinking, but I couldn't.  That way of thinking conflicts with other words of Jesus, "And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (Matt. 25:46)

Like you have heard me say before, one must use other scripture to help understand scripture.  You can't ignore certain verses in order to hold to an interpretation of other verses.  Case in point, the parable we read today about the rich man dying and being tormented in Hades (16: 23).  An annihilationist would have to ignore this parable.  The parable alludes to the fact that there is a hell. I like what my footnote said about this:  "Although these vivid words fall within a parable and thus are not an actual description of hell, they do coincide with other biblical information on the place of torment." (Is 66:24; Mt. 18:8-9, 25:4, to name a couple).

So my conclusion.....there is no annihilation of our spirits...they continue on....in one place or the other.....😬


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Luke 13-14 ~ Day 29~ Decide before he gets up and shuts the door!

The theme that I picked up on yesterday sure did carry through into today's reading! You gotta make a choice in this lifetime....
  • The man with the fig tree says, "Cut is down!  Why should it even waste the soil? (13:7)  That parable shows Israel is in jeopardy of God's judgement, just as we are!
  • "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because I tell you, many will try to enter and won't be able once the homeowner gets up and shuts the door." (13:24)
There is one thing our reading says each person must do to get in the house before "the homeowner gets up and shuts the door." (vs. 25)
REPENT!! 
"Unless you repent, you will all perish as well." (13:3 & 5)  Peter put it this way, "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out." (Acts 3:19)
So actually it's three things each person must "do":

  1. Make the choice to repent
  2. Repent
  3. Turn to Jesus
Again, back to what I said yesterday.  Everyone needs to make the choice to repent and turn to Jesus, or......not, but the choice needs to be made in this life.  I'm reminded of this famous quote by the theologian, Harvey Cox,...."Not to decide is to decide".😬