Archive for June, 2007

Paul Potts Surprises Even Simon Cowell

This blog is about Bible reading. However, I’m occasionally moved by a current events story that I must share with my readers. Now, I could go into the Biblical ramifications of how the Bible tells us that when Christ comes into our lives, what was once unknown and less than useful becomes alive and useful in the hands of the Master. But I won’t…

Check out the story of Paul Potts. He was recently the winner of “Britain’s Got Talent”, the UK version of the show American Idol. He really surprised everyone and I think you’ll be touched.

Now – what God does with Him will be interesting.

Enjoy!

peace,
e

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Guilty because you claim to see… – John 9

blindman.jpgWow – I got so excited when I read this chapter. What a great example of Jesus’ power and authority.

First, a question. Do you get the feeling that Jesus intentionally healed people on the Sabbath to irritate the religious leaders? Or, do you think we just are not hearing about all the other examples of Jesus’ healing on a daily basis?

I love verses 39-41. Jesus heard what had happened to the blind man – he got thrown out of the synagogue because he told the truth about what Jesus did – and he got a bit snippy (which I loved). The blind man just got done confessing to Jesus that he believed!

39 Then Jesus told him, “I have come to judge the world. I have come to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.” 40 The Pharisees who were standing there heard him and asked, “Are you saying we are blind?” 41 “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus replied. “But you remain guilty because you claim you can see.

Look at it again: If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty, but you remain guilty because you claim you can see.

Pride & humility.

Some of the religious leaders believed Jesus was the Messiah – but we hear much about those who were too proud and too comfortable in their “religiosity” to accept the fact. Their eyes were blind because their hearts were hard and their minds were closed.

Lord, keep my heart soft and my mind open to what You are doing. I confess that You are God and You are holy. There is nothing You cannot do. Thank You for the sight You have given me. Continue to show me Your ways. -amen

peace,
e

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It’s Not About Me (again) – John 7

It’s Not About Me (again) - John 7Here it is again! Jesus is making it clear that we have less to do with all this than we might think. Once again, I’m reminded of my four favorite words: It’s not about me!

Look at this passage:

Jesus secretly attends the festival of shelters – a celebration that occurs about 6 months after Passover where the Jews stay in tents to remind them of their days in misery in the wilderness. After a bit, He is found in the Temple teaching. Soon, the leaders try to have him arrested, but no one can touch Him:

30 Then the leaders tried to arrest him; but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come.

Do you see the power being displayed for us here? Look at these verses:

45 The Temple guards who had been sent to arrest him returned to the leading priests and Pharisees. “Why didn’t you bring him in?” they demanded. 46 “We have never heard anyone talk like this!” the guards responded.

Do they think they can actually do anything out of turn or without permission of God? They clearly have no idea who He is.

Once again, I’m made more aware of my limitations and of the mighty power of God. His plan will be carried out. The Jewish leaders think they are acting all of their own, but this is the plan that has been begun. They are simply fulfilling the scriptures.

I’m so thankful to have been called by God. I’m thankful that He knows my future and has plans for me. I know He has given us free will and we do make wrong choices, but because of what Jesus did – and all the difficulties He went through that we read about in books like John, we can have the victory. He IS in control.

peace,

e

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Happy only if Helped – John 6

Happy only if Helped - John 6As I read this chapter again this morning, I found the progression of the people’s comments very interesting – and very disappointing. Look at the progression:

14 When the people saw this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!”

30 They replied, “You must show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What will you do for us?

34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day of our lives.”

41 Then the people began to murmur in disagreement because he had said, “I am the bread from heaven.” 42 They said, “This is Jesus, the son of Joseph. We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

As long as they were fed and shown miracles, they would believe. The minute it required some kind of faith, they murmur (I love that word) and eventually deserted Jesus altogether.

Do you ever think about why God gave us the Bible in the first place? As I read it, sometimes I wonder why God chose to put certain verses in there for us. In this case, it seems obvious. If those people who saw the miracles and got fed by Jesus that day were so easily discouraged, what about us today? All we have is faith. We’ve never seen Him do a miracle. We’ve never seen His face. We’ve never sat before Him as He teaches. How do we keep the faith?

I go back to my four favorite words: “It’s Not About Me.” It’s not easy for me to understand, but Jesus says it a few times in this chapter:

44 For people can’t come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them from the dead.

63 It is the Spirit who gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing.

Lord, this seems like a difficult teaching – about faith, about communion with you. Increase my faith – and the faith of my brothers as we journey to know You better. Thank You again for Your Word.

peace,
e

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Poolside Torture – John 5

Poolside Torture - John 5Imagine for a moment that you had a serious illness that was not getting better. Imagine that right next to you was a cure that would heal you of this illness. Now imagine that every time you reached for the cure, someone else would grab it and use it for their illness – and they got healed instead of you.

Frustrating, huh?

Now, imagine that this went on for years – up to 38 years! That’s what happened to the lame man at the pool of Bethesda. Every day an angel of the Lord stirred up the water and the first one in the pool was healed. This man tried and tried, but there was no one there to help him so he could never get into the pool.

I can imagine that the first few days were very frustrating. For a few weeks, this man must have felt disappointed day after day. For a few months, he must have anguished at the thought of missing the opportunity every single day. He must have felt anger for those selfish people around him and felt sorry for himself because there was no one to help him in his situation.

But, I imagine after some time – a few months or years – he became accustomed to the thought that he’d never get healed. He must have watched longingly as every day some other blind, deaf or otherwise afflicted body came up out of the cleansing water. He must have grown weary of hearing the cries of joy and shouts of praise. But there he sat.

Then Jesus came and changed everything.

Jesus had compassion on this man. Jesus singled him out from everyone else there that day. Jesus spoke to the man:

6 When Jesus saw him and knew how long he had been ill, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?” 7 “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred up. While I am trying to get there, someone else always gets in ahead of me.”

He never asked to be healed. He had apparently become accustomed to the fact that he had no chance of ever being healed. Even his response to Jesus, “I can’t, sir” denotes his hopelessness and defeat. But The Healer is not deterred:

8 Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your sleeping mat, and walk!” 9 Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up the mat and began walking!

I’m reminded of my own afflictions. Not that I’ve ever known what it’s like to be seriously ill for more than a day or two – let alone 38 years. Yet, there exist in me spiritual maladies that I have carried for many years. I’m a blind man and I’m withered in many areas.

Have I become like this man by the pool of Bathesda? Has it become easier for me to believe that I’ll never be separated from these afflictions? Have I quit trying to move to the pool because of the many years that have passed?

The good news is that God loves us too much to let us stay the same. Like the hopeless man by the pool Jesus singles us out and commands us to break free – take up our bed and walk away from the scenery that has for so long been torturous to endure.

Ask Him to heal you. Quit waiting for someone to come along and push you in. Stop being comfortable where you’re at. Ask for His help to move away from the sidelines, watching everyone else get healed. Stand up and start walking!

Lord, Your love is amazing. Thank You for choosing me and healing me. What you’ve begun – please continue to work on. I have a long way to go, Lord, but I no longer want to sit here comfortable with my afflictions. You have that power, Lord. Speak to me. Command me to break free. I need You, Lord.

peace,
e

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Living Water For All – John 4

Living Water For All - John 4

Arguably one of the more famous passages of scripture is the “woman at the well” story found in chapter 4 of the book of John. It’s a wonderful story of love and compassion how Jesus, being a Jew, shared a drink with a Samaritan woman (despised by Jewish people).

In the end, Jesus’ compassion for her led her to believe and countless others – as she went back to her village and told of this “prophet” who gave her “living water.”

If you don’t know the story – please take time and read it. This is a powerful passage.

I noticed something in reading this story over again today that I’ve not really paid much attention to before. Look at the following exerpt:

16 “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her. 17 “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied. Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband 18 for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now.” 19 “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. 20 So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?”

Earlier in this story, Jesus first got her attention by asking her for a drink. He told her of the living water He could give her and she wanted it. Then, in these verses, He reveals His power to her. She gets it. She acknowledges it right away: “Sir, you must be a prophet.”

Then, look at the very first words out of her mouth when she realizes who He is: “So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist…”

Do you see the hurt? Her phrase “you Jews” speaks volumes. Obviously this woman knew first hand of the hypocricy of the “chosen of God” in how Jewish people refused to associate with, talk with or even look at “her kind.” At last she has the opportunity to have an audience with a Jewish person (a powerful, somehow different Jewish person) and she takes full advantage of it. The questions in her mind burst forth like water from a firehose.

I get the sense that she, too, wanted to be part of “the chosen.” But, for some reason, through no fault of her own, she was born in a different country. She was born of parents who were somehow inferior. Because of her heritage, she grew up thinking she would never know the creator of all she sees. How hopeless is that? It’s no surprise to me that her choices in life reflect hopelessness and dispair. It’s no wonder she ended up going from relationship to relationship and had been married 5 times.

How wonderfuly freeing are Jesus’ words back to her:

21 Jesus replied, “Believe me, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father here or in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans know so little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. 23 But the time is coming and is already here when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for anyone who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” 25 The woman said, “I know the Messiah will come the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” 26 Then Jesus told her, “I am the Messiah!”

The father is looking for anyone, Samaritan or Jew, American or Iraqi, black or white, old or young, male or female, Republican or Democrat, who will worship Him in spirit and in truth.

The Messiah has come and hopelessness has ended. We’re no longer bound by tradition or ritual, prejudice or law. Christ has come so that EVERYONE who believes can be saved.

This was good news to the Samaritan woman. Look at her response:

28 The woman left her water jar beside the well and went back to the village and told everyone, 29 “Come and meet a man who told me everything I ever did! Can this be the Messiah?” 30 So the people came streaming from the village to see him.

And as a result, look what else happened:

39 Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!”

Jesus came for the broken and poor in spirit. This woman had much to gain for knowing the Messiah. She was excited to tell everyone – and the Samaritans were drawn in. Oh, for that kind of excitement in today’s church?

Send revival, Lord! Renew the joy of our salvation!

peace,
e

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Scandal: Religious Leader Visits Jesus Under Cover of Nightfall – John 3

Religious Leader Visits Jesus Under Cover of Nightfall - John 3I love the story of Nicodemus.
If you know anything about the religious leaders in Jesus’ time, the Pharisees, you know that most encounters with Jesus were antagonistic. These encounters usually ended with Jesus giving the Pharisees a nice big serving of public humility pie.

But in the midst of all this constant fighting, there’s the story of one religious leader that actually hears Jesus’ words and they penetrate his heart. Nicodemus is so moved by Jesus that he makes an appointment (under cover of night) to speak with Jesus personally. Look at the encounter described in the 3rd chapter of the book of John:

1 There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. 2 After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”

3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

4 “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”

5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. 6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. 7 So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus asked for further clarification – and this resulted in one of Jesus’ most famous passages about salvation:

16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

Isn’t it good to know that Jesus’ love and message can reach even the hardest heart – even that of a proud, knowledgeable religious leader? God specializes in finding and changing people we might consider “unreachable.” And, as a result many others are draw to Jesus.

Can you imagine what would have happened to Nick if his peers would have found out that he was actually having an intelligent conversation with Jesus? Well, later in the book of John we will see what happens…

Thank you, Lord, for your Word and the power within. Thank You that it’s You doing the drawing of needy people. Use me to draw others to Yourself today.

peace,
e

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Temple Purge – John 2

Temple Purge - John 2Today’s reading brings us the story of Jesus’ first private miracle (changing of the water to wine) and His first public “ministry” (the purging of the Temple).

As I read today, I noticed several things I had not considered before about this episode at the Temple. First, I noticed the timing. Since Jesus called Capernaum “His home” (see Mt. 4:13), it seems like Jesus had seen the “sacrifice vendors” and money changers at the Temple before. Why did Jesus wait until now to make a stink?

Thinking further, I observed that upon arriving at Capernaum, His first stop was the Temple. His first public ministry – something that would bring him visibility and scrutiny (which, by the way, was foretold in Mal. 3) – was this purging of the Temple.

Jesus’ time had come. And, He starts out with a controversial (?) bang! Let no one doubt, what Jesus needed to do, He did. And He only had a few years to do it. There is no wasted time with Jesus. His timing is perfect.

The other thing I noticed was in verse 15:

“…He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables.“(NKJV)

The phrase “poured out the changers’ money” intrigued me. I could visualize Jesus taking the money bags and very deliberately pouring out the coins onto the ground – which to me is very symbolic. It seems to show such contempt for the money. Perhaps Jesus was thinking about all the future ministries and ministers who would seek after these coins first, rather than Himself – and find ruin.

Once again – it’s amazing how every word in the Bible is inspired and God-breathed. There is so much to uncover – even in familiar passages we’ve read time and time again. It’s all very deliberate and all very real…all very living and able to change the lives of those who read it.

Thank You, Lord, for how deliberate You are. Your Word is life-giving and alive. Increase my hunger to know You. Your timing is perfect. Your every thought and motion so full of purpose and intent. Have Your way with me today, my King.

peace,
e

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In the Beginning…John 1

In the Beginning…John 1In the Beginning…John 1The start of another book, one of my favorites, the book of John. With this new book, I’m renewing my commitment to read His Word every day. How fitting for the beginning of this chapter:

1 In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn’t make. 4 Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone.

I’m especially drawn to verses 3 and 4. Everything that is, was created by Him. There is so much to glean from these few verses…about life, about light, about God.

I am refreshing my commitment to read God’s Word every day and to be accountable for it with my dBrag group. Actually, it’s probably better to say I’m refreshing my commitment to seeking Him through prayer and reading His Word. There are days that my daily reading is nothing more than ritual and forced. I don’t want to be legalistic and I don’t want to boast about having read the Bible each day. I just want more faith. I want to know Him…everything about Him. The more I know Him, the more I live.

For me, the dBrag works. For you, one of the many Bible reading plans might work better. I need the accountability factor (as much as I hate to admit it). Whatever it is, I encourage you all to examine your commitment to reading His Word every day…for no other reason than getting to know Him better. Like it says in verse 5:

5 The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

Want to live in the light? Life in Jesus gives light to everyone. The more we seek Him, the more we’ll know Him (faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God). The more we know Him, the easier it is to live in the light.

Why not join us in this daily quest for God. Just get an accountability partner (or group), read a chapter a day, and then email your thoughts to each other. It only takes about 5-15 minutes and it can really make a huge difference in your day. I can testify what a difference it makes in your day. When I don’t do it, I can tell.

For more information, check out www.dbrag.org.

God’s Peace!
e

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Reward for God-Followers – Psalm 58

I got such a lift from reading today’s Psalm. It’s short, so I thought I’d include the entire thing here (NLT): 

1 For the choir director: A psalm of David, to be sung to the tune “Do Not Destroy!” Justice do you rulers know the meaning of the word? Do you judge the people fairly? 2 No, all your dealings are crooked; you hand out violence instead of justice. 3 These wicked people are born sinners; even from birth they have lied and gone their own way. 4 They spit poison like deadly snakes; they are like cobras that refuse to listen, 5 ignoring the tunes of the snake charmers, no matter how skillfully they play.

6 Break off their fangs, O God! Smash the jaws of these lions, O LORD! 7 May they disappear like water into thirsty ground. Make their weapons useless in their hands. 8 May they be like snails that dissolve into slime, like a stillborn child who will never see the sun. 9 God will sweep them away, both young and old, faster than a pot heats on an open flame. 10 The godly will rejoice when they see injustice avenged. They will wash their feet in the blood of the wicked. 11 Then at last everyone will say, “There truly is a reward for those who live for God; surely there is a God who judges justly here on earth.”

Many commentaries believe this was written by David during Saul’s persecution. If you’ve ever read David’s story (1 & 2 Samuel), you know how terrifying this must have been for David.

But as I read the last verse: “There truly is a reward for those who live for God…” I thought of how David became King. There is a reward for those who live for God – and not just our reward after our time on earth! God rewards the faithful HERE and NOW.

Concerning our enemies, not only will we not loose because of them, but we will be rewarded because of them. And, our enemies will be dealt with by God.

Drink that in today…

Thank You, Lord! I praise You for Your plan for us. No matter what our enemies do, You will deal with them and not only protect us, but reward us for following You. You truly are an Awesome God!

peace,
e

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