In the Sermon on The Mount, Jesus talks about three acts of righteousness - giving to the needy, praying, and fasting - and challenges us to check the motives of our act first and foremost. Are we seeking the praise of people or are we seeking to please God?
In this teaching, Jesus gets to a root problem that all people have. Whether you are rich or poor we all struggle with greed. When it comes to possessions we can be guilty of two sins - we can be anxious about not having enough or we can be greedy about what we have.
Jesus tells a parable of a widow who persistently comes before a godless judge - who eventually gives in. Jesus says if that godless judge will eventually listen, how much more does our loving and gracious God listen to us? The key - persistence.
The beatitudes are a very familiar set of passages in Scripture. What some fail to realize is that Matthew 5 ties together with Isaiah 61. Jesus quotes Isaiah 61 as his ministry mission statement when he begins His public ministry.
Jesus heals the paralytic man on the Sabbath and controversy erupts over the healing. Jesus's response to his antagonizers reveals his unique relationship with the Father. Because he claims to be equal to God they seek to kill him.
Jesus meets the woman at the well and she has a transformation in how she views Jesus. She begins calling him a "Jew" progresses to Jesus is a prophet and finally realizes He is the one hoped for - the coming one.
John 4 gives us a geographical oddity in that it tells us that Jesus "had" to pass through Samaria. What is going on in this passage? Why would Jesus go through an area where he was hated already because of his ethnicity and beliefs?
This passage in Isaiah identifies the Messianic figure that will be anointed with the Spirit. Jesus will quote this passage in Luke 4 when he reads from the scroll in the Nazareth synagogue. Jesus will proclaim that this passage is about him. Some have called this the "Nazareth Manifesto."
Jesus comes to the synagogue on the Sabbath in Capernaum. He teaches as "one with authority" and the people are in amazement. To top it off, Jesus casts out an unclean spirit from a demon-possessed man that showed up for "church" that day. The fame of Jesus spreads throughout Galilee.
"The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians..." What do others see in you? A perfect life? Someone who has it all together? Someone with no struggles? Be careful - you might be the one thing standing between them and Christ.
Jesus tells Simon to let down his nets in the deeper water and Simon, James, and John witness a miracle. After fishing all night and catching nothing they catch so many fish their nets are breaking. Simon realizes he is in the presence of someone great and holy. His response to Jesus is much like Isaiah and his vision of God in Isaiah 6. Jesus calls Simon and his friends to put their nets down and become fishers of men.
Today's Psalm may be one you can identify with as you deal with difficulties. Maybe you find yourself in the pit of despair and need God's rescue. Once that rescue comes we cry out to God "Great is the Lord!"
John tells the reader that Jesus has come from heaven to earth to reveal the things "from above." Jesus, being the perfect God-man, reveals the will of the Father to us and shows us what it means to be "authentically human." The Son came to do the will of the Father. The Father loves the Son and has given all things to Him.
John the Baptist had to remind his disciples what his life - his ministry - was all about. We, too, need to be reminded that "He must increase and I must decrease" isn't just a good saying that looks cool on a t-shirt - it's truly the only way for a Christian to live.
Paul likens the Christian's baptism to the Red Sea crossing of Israel and the Lord's Supper as God's food for the journey. Paul reminds us that God will never allow us to be tempted beyond what we can withstand.
Jesus goes into the wilderness after His baptism to be tempted by the Devil. He faces some of the same temptations that Adam and Eve faced and Israel faced during the Exodus except he passes His text. Jesus is triumphant over temptation.
The Roman Christians were abusing grace. They had a belief that the more they sinned the more grace abounded. Paul shows them the folly of thinking that way and the absurdity of abusing grace. He reminds them of an important event in their lives - their baptism.
The Psalmist describes the state of wicked as beginning with a lack of fear of God. Then he describes God in four ways. God is full of covenant love, faithfulness, righteousness, and justice. In our podcast, we describe what it means to be a person of righteousness and justice.
Luke sets us on a journey where we will see Jesus accepting the obligations before Him and those surrounding Him continually missing it. And Luke starts it with a 12 year old boy left behind at the temple...
Joseph, at God's command, takes Jesus to Egypt to escape Herod. This leads to three different prophecies from the Old Testament prophets being fulfilled. God's hand is in every moment to bring about salvation for all people!
In our reading today we learn of Magi that come from the East. The Magi were the educated elite of the time of Christ. They were well connected, wealthy, and practiced astrology. In our story, we look at the strange idea of pagans coming to worship the new king of Israel.
On Pentecost, a great miracle occurs. The Holy Spirit comes and we witness the birth of a new time in the history of God's people. This event is tied together with great events in the past in Sacred Scripture but it looks ahead to a new dawning of hope for man.
The task before the Apostles was massive! Jesus had gone up into heaven and they were waiting for the arrival of the Holy Spirit, as Jesus had promised. Oh, and they needed to select someone to take the place of Judas! But they started with something we so often neglect - Prayer.
Luke wrote the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts as a two-volume set. In Luke, he begins with the life of Christ, and by the time we get to the end of Acts the Jesus movement (the church) has reached Rome.
In this hymn of David, we meet David in a very low time of his life. He is on the run for his life but he still puts his trust in God. David praises the Lord and invites the reader to taste and see that the Lord is good.
The Christ-child has been brought to the Temple by His parents to be dedicated to the Lord. The Holy Family meets two people that are only mentioned in the Gospel of Luke. Both Simeon and Anna are advanced in years and have been waiting for the coming of the Messiah.
Caesar Augustus issues a decree that everyone should return home for a census. Joseph and Mary have to come to the city of Bethlehem and the House of David. Jesus who is the bread of life will be born in the "House of Bread" (Bethlehem) and he will be laid in a feeding trough. Early we see that Jesus will offer up His body for us. Luke will end his two-volume set with Paul in the city of Rome preaching under Caesar's nose.
Zechariah's prophecy ties together many loose ends that were left at the end of the OT. John the Baptist will be the prophet God's people have been waiting for and he will come to prepare the way for the coming One.
In response to the birth of his son, John the Baptist, Zachariah breaks forth in praise and prophecy. His prophecy weaves together many OT passages and he builds a theologically thick foundation for the purpose of his son John.
John, the cousin of Jesus, is born to Elizabeth and Zechariah. They name him John to the chagrin of their neighbors and family. The mute Zechariah communicates that is name is John to then receive his voice back.
While Zechariah is ministering in the Temple he is visited by the angel Gabriel with an important message. He will have a son that will have a very important mission. The Messiah is coming and his son, John the Baptist, will be the Elijah that is to come to prepare the way.
If we pay attention to Paul's argument in these verses we quickly realize this is not an argument informing us on the concept of original sin, rather, arguing the power of the atoning death of Jesus Christ.
In the family tree of Jesus,2 we find some significant things. Jesus is the 77th person mentioned in the family tree. Luke wants us to realize that Jesus is the new Adam and is the savior of all humanity.
David probably wrote this Psalm when he brought the Ark of the Covenant from the house of Obed Edom to Jerusalem. This Psalm highlights how we go through low points in life and many troubles. Scripture reminds us that these afflictions are like a light momentary affliction compared to the weight of glory that awaits us.
Daniel receives a final message of hope from two heavenly messengers. This message is enigmatic and is hard to figure out. The message focuses on the oppression of Judah under Antiochus in 167 BC and the coming Messianic age.
Daniel is approached by another spiritual being who wishes to inform him of a vision concerning the future. But not before letting Daniel catch a glimpse of what is going on in the spiritual realm between the earthly kingdoms.
Daniel has seen a vision that has really shaken him to his core. God dispatches a heavenly visitor with an answer to this vision but the experience of seeing this spiritual being is a bit unnerving too for Daniel.
Daniel's vision has really disturbed him. The angel Gabriel comes to give him the answer to his vision. Daniel's vision looks forward to the end of the age and big events for the future of God's people.
The imprecatory Psalms are embarrassing to some people but the Christian should not shy away from these Psalms. Sometimes our prayer lives are too puny and we need to bear our hearts to God. God invites us into His presence to share with him our hurts.
Belshazzar is a ruler that will let his pride lead to his downfall and the demise of his nation. 25 years before Nebuchadnezzar was humbled by God and responded accordingly. Belshazzar has blasphemed the God of Israel and now his time is up.
Nebuchadnezzar's pride has brought about the judgment of God. Pride leads one to act as a best and only look out for their own interests. Nebuchadnezzar's punishment is that God shows him where pride takes you - reduced to being a beast.
King Nebuchadnezzar is the master of his world. He has everything but he is troubled by a dream. Daniel is the only one that can provide an answer to the king's strange dream. In this podcast, we see that all the possessions and the power in this world cannot bring you contentment.
The Psalmist reminds us that God is the creator, sustainer, and ruler over everything. He then challenges those that would want to enter God's presence. We are called to have pure hands, pure hearts, and a life of integrity absent of idol worship.
The three Hebrew boys Shadrach, Meschach, and Abendigo show amazing courage and faith amidst pressure to worship the image created by Nebuchadnezzar. Once they are thrown into the furnace they are accompanied by a divine visitor. Who is this enigmatic "fourth" person in the flames with the boys?
Nebuchadnezzar has raised up a new statue that will act as a symbol of unity in his kingdom. However, Nebuchadnezzar has placed his faith in the wrong thing. YHWH is the only entity that can unite, bring peace, or prevent a kingdom from toppling.
Daniel interprets the dream of the king and reveals that there is a kingdom coming that will supersede all other kingdoms. A stone will destroy the other kingdoms and grow into a mountain the fills the earth. Daniel is reminding us that what matters most is the kingdom of God.
Nebuchadnezzar has had a disturbing dream and he has demanded that his wise men and magicians interpret his dream. To make matters worse he is demanding they give him the contents of his dream. He has commanded that they be put to death if they cannot both give the contents of his dream and provide an interpretation. Daniel will come to the king's aid and once again show the power of God at work in his life.
Nebuchadnezzar begins having troubling dreams and seeks out counsel on what to make of them. However, his Diviners, Enchanters, Sorcerers, and Chaldean wise men are not much help and he threatens their lives if they cannot solve his problem.
The four Hebrew boys have been sent into Babylonian captivity. Intense pressure has been applied to them to change. Their identity has been stripped. The Babylonians are attempting to indoctrinate them and the King wants them to depend on him for their sustenance. God will see them through as they stand strong for their faith.
Isaiah predicts a day of comfort is coming for God's people. In Isaiah 40 we see the prophecy of the coming of John the Baptist to prepare the way for the Lord and the gospel being proclaimed from Zion.
Paul encourages the church at Colossae with the fact that Jesus is completely sufficient in all things. Christ completely saves. We do not need to add other elements to our faith in Christ to bring us closer to God. Jesus and his perfect work of redemption on the cross brings complete salvation to us.
Isaiah looked ahead to a time when hope would come from the family of Jesse. A new king would arise and his reign would bring a reversal of the curse upon this world. We know as Christians that this new king is Jesus.
A messianic prediction from Isaiah gives us the now-famous lyric, "Unto us, a child is born..." In context, this really is speaking centuries before Jesus incarnates himself on earth to save us from death. The same death the Israelites feared from the Assyrians at the time of Isaiah's writing.
Isaiah 2 is a very familiar passage to many. Isaiah prophecies that a faithful remnant will be found in Jerusalem and that Mount Zion will be raised high above all other mountains. The nations will flow to Zion and peace will come to this world.
Psalm 19 tells us that God communicates through three "books." God communicates through the following: the heavens declare His glory, His Law is good and perfect, and our conscience bears witness to the truth of God. The psalmist reminds us that there is a general revelation of the created order and also the special revelation of God's word.
Micah has prophesied against the people of Judah and Israel. The common man is exploited by his wealthy neighbors. The people feel the pressure of the coming Assyrian invasion. Their world is filled with strife and pain. Micah prophesies of a coming day when peace will come. God will set all things right and the implements of war will turn into implements of food production and peace.
Through the prophet Micah the Lord warns Israel with a chilling assessment that they "hate good and love evil." God tells the leaders of Judah that since they perverted justice and made the straight paths crooked he will come in judgment.
Micah accuses unjust rulers, corrupt Israelites taking advantage of their poorer neighbors, false prophets, and even the victims of these false teachers. Micah ends the chapter by drawing out the New Testament confession of Jesus being our Good Shepherd.
Micah comes during a time when Assyria is a threat to the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. His warning is dire and God has come to judge both Samaria and Jerusalem. Micah repeatedly tells the people that God cares for the poor, for truth, and for human rights.
David is calling to the Lord for deliverance. What is most striking about this Psalm is the integrity of the Psalmist. When people are fully integrated with their beliefs and they practice what they preach they tend to be happy and fulfilled people.
The people have returned from Exile but they have not put their whole hearts into rebuilding the Temple. They have failed to realize the importance of God's presence in their lives. The Temple was God's dwelling and they are missing out on the blessings of God's presence with His people.
The Israelites, because they were focused on their own homes and lives, have neglected to complete the temple of the Lord. Through Haggai, God calls His people to "Work!", and that His grace is greater than their sins and failures.