We already know the truth, “You must not follow a crowd in doing evil things” Exodus 23.2 NET. We may not yet be as aware of the power of a crowd to sidetrack us from our mission.

The next morning Jesus departed and went to a deserted place. Yet the crowds were seeking him, and they came to him and tried to keep him from leaving them.
Luke 4.42 NET Continue reading

Just think how much more individuals and some congregations could do if they would just spend as much time thinking about the growth of the kingdom as they do planning their vacation or where to set the thermostat during worship. via MercEmail (06-20-12)

Great thought by Steve Higginbotham on the parable of the shrewd steward (though he forgot to change the title). Jesus seems wistful when he says, “For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their contemporaries than the people of light” (Luke 16.8 NET). Continue reading

Have you ever witnessed people having strange reactions in situations where you expected a very different behavior? Normally, people cry when they lose a loved one. But not the disciples:

So they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.
Luke 24:52 NET

Jesus had just risen into the heavens, leaving the disciples on earth. But they felt great joy because Jesus had risen from the dead. Continue reading

Jesus wants to hear words that assume the commitment to be a follower and that understand the cost of that commitment. Mere words aren’t sufficient, the same way that mere actions aren’t sufficient either.

As they were walking along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus said to him, “Foxes have dens and the birds in the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
Luke 9:57-58 NET

If we follow Jesus, let us forget our comfort, leave off worrying with physical safety, think hard about the sacrifice he calls us to make.

Let us follow the Master calculating the cost, in order to forget it thereafter.

After all, to walk with him is the highest of blessings.

 

Ready to dieWhen someone keeps a promise made to us, we feel tremendously satisfied. The Spirit made a promise to the good and righteous Simeon that he would see the Messiah. The day of promise arrives:

… when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what was customary according to the law, Simeon took him in his arms and blessed God, saying, “Now, according to your word, Sovereign Lord, permit your servant to depart in peace.”
Luke 2:26b-29 NET

By all indications Simeon was aged, though the text doesn’t actually state the fact. And Simeon didn’t actually see the redemption of Israel. But he saw the child who, later as an adult, would bring salvation. It would not happen for another 30 years, almost a generation away. Continue reading

When a righteous person prays with faith and perseverance, God answers his prayer. And the Lord gives not only what he asks, but answers far beyond his dreams.

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son; you will name him John. Joy and gladness will come to you, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go as forerunner before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared for him.”
Luke 1:13-17 NET

For what did Zechariah pray, for so long? For a son? What else did he ask? Probably, he didn’t ask for much more than a son. Maybe for his son’s good health. Maybe to see his son grow into a man. Normal things, desires that the majority of people have. Continue reading

Talk is cheap. So they say. But when Jesus, during his life, offered forgiveness, he spoke at every turn in the shadow of the Cross.

Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Luke 7:48 NET

Easy words, apparently, repeated several times to very different people. Jesus could offer the forgiveness of sins, because shortly he would die for them. All forgiveness before the Cross looks to the sacrifice of Christ.

At times, the Lord did not require either confession or demonstrations of repentance.

Today, on this side of the Cross where we live, Jesus still offers forgiveness. But in his personal absence, he has left procedures — what to do in order to be sure that one day we will hear from his lips the same words that he spoke to the sinful woman.

What are these procedures? See how simple they are.

 

famousCelebrity today is the continual process of attributing divine qualities to an interminable series of human beings, whose deeds call attention to themselves, but whose errors soon disqualify them. Celebrity has risen in modern times because people do not recognize in Jesus the person of God.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God.
John 1:1 NET

Fred Allen joked that a celebrity is one who works hard all his life to become known and afterwards uses dark glasses to avoid being recognized.

The Word (John’s term for the eternal Jesus) became known by assuming the human condition. He always desires to be known by all, for through knowing him, we know God.

Eternal God, thank you for allowing us to know the Word, the perfect expression of your mind, constant presence among us.