Showing posts from August, 2009


It was the Sabbath day in Nazareth and people had gathered at the Synagogue. Three and four generations of family members assembled together perpetuating the weekly reminder that they were God’s people called out to serve Him.
It was required that there would be at least ten adult males present. Check – a quorum of Jewish men were present.[i] Among the crowd that day were members of the family of Joseph and Mary.
The meeting began with a recitation of the Shema.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NIV)4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
This was the …


Every day we have opportunity to accept or reject several times.
We are offered a slice of toast or bowl of cereal as we get ready to head out the door to start our workday. Accept or reject?
At a four-way stop sign, the other driver simultaneously arriving on your right waves you on. Will you accept his offer or insist on waving him on?
Your phone rings and call display shows the name of the caller. Will you accept or reject the call?
From minutia to life-changing quandaries, we make choices that sometimes cast votes on how we will make future decisions.
As we encounter the words of Jesus, we make a choice to accept Him in good faith or to turn away from Him. Often, His words will cause us to hold Him at arms’ length as we decide which way we want to go. Jesus brought a message of hope and good news. The question holds -- do we accept Him?
Brennan Manning says, ‘Faith is the courage to accept acceptance.’[i]
Through Jesus, God offers to accept us as sons and daughters. It takes coura…


While Matthew refers to ‘kingdom of heaven’, others refer to ‘kingdom of God’. In respect to a largely Jewish readership, Matthew may have been careful to not use ‘God’s name’. The Jews believed that God was so holy, that to utter His name would be dangerously disrespectful. This was based on the commandment to not take the Lord’s name in vain.
Matthew repeatedly uses language in his gospel that respects Jewish values.
For our understanding, ‘Kingdom of God’ and ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ are interchangeable. The ruler of Heaven is God. Therefore, the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ is the reign of God.
‘Change your way of thinking continually because the reign of God is coming upon you.’
If God is the King, then who is Jesus? He is the prince that has come to do the King’s business. The Son of God has come to earth on a mission to save humanity from their sin.
The Kingdom of God values humanity. That is why we repent. We recognize that God loves us and does not want us to be destroyed. Our thoug…


At the beginning of his three years of ministry touring, Jesus began repeating words that would characterize the call to his listeners. The theme of all his preaching would be centered in this one message –repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.
Matthew 4:17 (NIV)17From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."
It is implied that these words were the heading in which all other messages would follow.
The Greek word metanoia is used for repentance.
Metanoia is therefore primarily an after-thought, different from the former thought; a change of mind accompanied by regret and change of conduct, "change of mind and heart", or, "change of consciousness"[i]
To repent is to change your mind set. Your old thoughts on a matter are dismissed as invalid and replaced with new thoughts – new ways of thinking. This will change the values and conduct of the one repenting.
In the Greek, the verb is in the present aspect which sugge…


I am confused by politicians. They all believe that things will continue to get better if we follow their party and its values. In democracies, there are rarely unanimous votes of approval for one contender over another. Whoever wins, they begin their work to better the world while trying to remain popular and highly esteemed in the public eye.
They promise and they promise. The changes seldom come with any lasting improvement. The rich get richer and the poor are worse off. Every kingdom on earth eventually gets replaced.
Can you imagine if Jesus had chosen a political route to bring about change? If Jesus were a politician, he would need several platforms to his message. He would address the current problems facing the greatest number of citizens and preach a message on how he was going to change their world.
That is what politicians do. They lead you to believe that their party has the answers to solve problems and right the wrongs. His disciples had hoped he would establi…


There is an obnoxious kids' song entitled 'Who Took The Cookie From The Cookie Jar'. It is one of those repetitive songs that sticks in your head. It does not matter that I think of it as a stupid tune. It sticks like gum on a shoe. I have not heard it for thirty years.
The point of the song was to determine who stole the cookie. It asks and it blames and as ridiculous as the song was, I forget what the outcome was. Unfortunately, just remembering the song has replanted it firmly in my head and I will be stuck with it for the rest of the day.
GOD had a question for the first couple. Something was taken and GOD needed to hear their answer.
Genesis 3:11 And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"12 The man said, "The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?"
The …


Genesis 3:9 But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?"10 He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."
Why do we go into hiding? Adam has the answer. “I was afraid… so I hid.”
Following Jesus is a journey from the Kingdom of Fear to the Kingdom of Love. Fear leads us to isolation to cope with shame. Love leads us to relationship to resolve shame.
There is a difference between isolation and solitude. Isolation involves protective hiding and avoidance because of fear, anger and discomfort. Isolation creates a smaller world for us and disconnects us from the answers we need.
Solitude on the other hand, involves choosing to be alone for the purpose of meeting with God and seeking answers from Him. Solitude allows us to pray and worship and can lead us to rest and peace.
Most people choose isolation before they choose solitude. It seems easier to run and hide than to rest and reflect.


Genesis 3:8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
There are no secrets hidden from God. While Adam and Eve had a localized sense of God’s Presence, He was there all the time. As they experienced the sounds of God coming through the Garden toward them, they instinctively ran and hid in the bushes. The fig leaves weren’t good enough. God was too smart for that and they knew it.
This new feeling called shame is overwhelming. It makes people slip into the shadows and move frantically to avoid relationship. We hide in shame from the ones who might see the truth about our sin.
Many people shrink back spiritually when their sinfulness overwhelms them. A man filled with rage and bitterness finds he cannot pray easily. A young adult decides to abandon faith because they cannot maintain celibacy. Why believe in a God who has asked you for obedience? …


Adam and Eve were the first people to play ‘hide and seek’ with God. It is an inherent pattern passed on from generation to generation.
Genesis 3:6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Eve ate from ‘The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil’. What God had forbid, she was led to do when the Devil tempted her. While most people think their sin won’t affect anyone else, it led to her husband also eating the fruit.
It’s interesting to note that Adam was not at the far end of the Garden when this happened. Verse six says he was with her when she sinned.
When we first sin, there is a sense of nakedness and vulnerability that was not there before. For the fi…