Monday, February 28, 2011

put yourself in their shoes

Mark 2:1-17

Jesus was teaching inside a house, and the crowd was so thick that
some people couldn't get their paralyzed friend to Jesus.  They knew
that if they could just get him to Jesus...  So they climbed the roof,
dug a hole through, and lowered their paralyzed friend right down in
front of Jesus.  I mean, it's obvious that he's paralyzed, so they are
waiting in anticipation... Jesus looked each of them straight in the
eye, and then He said, "My child, your sins are forgiven."

Maybe they thought something like this, "That's great, Jesus. Thanks.
But I don't know if you noticed that this man is PARALYZED!  Can you
do something about that?"

I think sometimes I think I know what someone's "real" need is.  But
Jesus saw the deep spiritual need. The man was spiritually paralyzed
with sin, so Jesus healed him. I think I often take for granted how
powerful it is to be forgiven of my sins so that I can enjoy
fellowship with God.

I want to respond to Christ's call to follow Him like Levi did. He
didn't come up with some elaborate scheme to evangelize, nor did he
beat people over the head with the Torah - he simply invited people
over to his house to hang out with him and Jesus. I hope that the
homegroup that we started a couple of weeks ago is like that. I hope
we hang out with Jesus so that people can see His love through us and
respond by following Him.

Heavenly Father, thank you for forgiving my sins through Christ's
sacrifice. Jesus, thank you for healing me spiritually so that I can
walk with you. Holy Spirit, please help me be a witness for Christ
today: I pray that I will be salty and bright. I love you. Please
fill me with the joy and peace of your love. I ask in the name of
Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Jesus the servant

Mark 1:1-20
John the Baptist, Jesus's baptism and temptation, calling His first disciples, all within 20 verses.  No geneology, no birth or childhood stories - Mark is cutting to the chase: Jesus's ministry was servanthood.
Heavenly Father, please don't let me think of myself so important.  Lord, I want to walk with Christ.  I want to be like Jesus.  In is ministry here, He served others. That's what I want to do.  Lord, please deal with me, even if it makes me uncomfortable, and heal my deafness and dumness.  Lord Jesus, please use me as your hands and feet, and may I be a servant to others so that they will know that you are my Master.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Mark 28:1-10
I just don't think I really get it.  I mean, He was resurrected from the dead.  That means He really really died, and now He really really lives.  How is that possible?  And what do I do about it?
I see two responses at this point.  First, we need to experience His resurrection personally (Phil. 3), and second, we need to share His resurrection with everyone around us.
Heavenly Father, thank you for raising Jesus from the dead.  Jesus, thank you for defeating death and sin.  Holy Spirit, please extend Christ's victory to me and my life, and show me how to live in Christ's resurrection power.  I feel like I am so far away from understanding and living the way you want.  Please guide me.  I love you, Lord.  Thank you for Life.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

crucifixion: juxtaposition

Matthew 27:32-66
As I read the account of the people mocking Jesus as He was crucified, I think the insult that stung the worst was this one:
42 "He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, 'I am the Son of God.'"
Sometimes I just wish He had climbed down off that cross, punched those punks in the face, and then climbed back up on the cross.  But that wouldn't be very Jesus-like, would it.  And like Shaie Linn says, "You miss the point if you don't see your face in the crowd."  But Jesus denied His natural desire to be vindicated in that moment.  He trusted in God, but the Father's will was for Christ to die, not to miraculously jump off the cross.  Yes, He is the Son of God, but His mission here on earth was as the Son of Man.  He will no doubt return in full glory as the Son of Man and Son of God, and everyone will see clearly then.  I wonder if it was that taunt in v. 43 that prompted Jesus to ask in v. 46,
"My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"
I can't help but think about 2 Cor. 5:21:
21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
At first glance, this seems to me like God came out on the short end of the deal.  Jesus lived a perfect life, so why did He have to get dirty?  And I sure don't feel like "the righteousness of God."
Heavenly Father, thank you for your mercy and grace through the Cross of Christ.  Lord Jesus, thank you for your incredible commitment to the Father's will, in spite of mockery and physical pain.  Holy Spirit, please use me as a witness of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and may I experience His life, death, and resurrection in my own life.  I love you, Lord.  Thank you for your crazy love which would prompt you to do something so crazy as dying for me.  I love you, and I want my life to be cleaned up and used for you.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

godly sorrow

Matthew 27:1-31
I can't help but think about Isaiah 52-53 when I read about Jesus being falsely accused, unjustly sentenced to crucifixion, and mocked and tortured before His death.  On the one hand, I don't think it is appropriate for us to wallow in self-pity for way that Jesus bore the consequences of our sins, but at the same time, I think it is appropriate for us to have a "godly sorrow" for our sin and the price that our Savior paid for us.  He endured all of the suffering and abuse because He loves us.  I want to love Him in response to His selfless love.  I want to have a godly sorrow for my sin and the abuse that He took in my place:
26 So Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified. 27 Some of the governor's soldiers took Jesus into their headquarters and called out the entire regiment. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him. 29 They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head, and they placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted, "Hail! King of the Jews!" 30 And they spit on him and grabbed the stick and struck him on the head with it. 31 When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.
Heavenly Father, I am sorry for my sin.  I want to live a lifestlye of repentance.  I want to know Christ and experience total forgiveness and the joy of a clean heart.  I want to walk in your presence with thankfulness and love for what Christ has done.  I want to love you and serve you.  I want to be holy as you are holy. I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Monday, February 21, 2011

living according to the Word

Matthew 26:47-75
Even Jesus did:
53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?"
I was reminded of Phil. 2, which describes Jesus's humility to come to earth and obey the will of the Father, even to death on a cross.  I was also reminded of Mary's response to the angel when he told her that she was going to give birth to the Son of God, and she said, "I am your servant.  May it be to me according to your word."
Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word which guides us, and I pray that we will live according to your Word in a relational way, not a religionist way.  Lord, thank you for hearing our prayers, and thank you for being our Father.  Thank you for taking care of us.  Please give us the grace of your presence when we walk the road of suffering, and may we honor you and follow you even in the middle of suffering. I love you, Lord, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Friday, February 18, 2011

watching and waiting

Matthew 25:1-30

I want to be ready when Christ comes so that I get invited to dinner:

10And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut.

I think being ready means living a life full of the Holy Spirit and walking with Christ in every moment.  Through that lifestyle, I think we will be good stewards and make a good return on the Lord's investment in us:

23His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'

Heavenly Father, I want to have a soft heart to you.  Lord Jesus, I want to know you and be ready for you when you return.  Holy Spirit, please fill me today, and may I walk in the joy of life with you.  Please show your power and love through me so that others will come to know you, and may we be so devoted to you that the oil of your Spirit saturates the vessels of our souls.  I love you, Lord, and I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

faithful servant

Matthew 24:32-51

 45 "A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. 46 If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. 47 I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns. 48 But what if the servant is evil and thinks, 'My master won't be back for a while,' 49 and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk? 50 The master will return unannounced and unexpected, 51 and he will cut the servant to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Heavenly Father, please let me be a faithful, sensible servant.  Lord, I want to be a good steward of the time, money, and relationships that you have given me.  Lord Jesus, I want to be waiting for you and expecting you when you return so that you will find me doing exactly what you want me to be doing for your Kingdom.  Lord, please help me stay focused and not get distracted with the things in this world.  I want my life to count.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Sincerely.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

the end

Matthew 24:1-31

This verse seems to me to be important:

14And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Am I preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom?  Am I making disciples who submit to the Lordship of King Jesus?  Am I even submitting to Him myself?

Heavenly Father, thank you for your mercy and grace.  Thank you for your Word which gives us a picture of what will happen in the future.  Lord, I want to live the way I am supposed to in light of these future events. I want my life to count for the Kingdom.  Please use me, and deliver me from being a waste.  I love you, and I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

the big picture and the details

Matthew 23:23-39
23 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
I am very thankful that my parents taught me the principle of tithing from an early age.  I think you have to develop the discipline of tithing as a child so that it will be a natural part of your finances for the rest of your life.  However, I have recently come to think that we as followers of Christ are not required to "tithe".  In fact, I think some Christians use "tithing" as a religionists way to feel like they have given enough.  As followers of Christ, I think we have to look at financial stewardship from the perspective that it all belongs to Him, and I think we should strive to continue giving a larger and larger fraction of our income to support the work of the Church.  For instance, it doesn't seem to me like the members of the early Church had a "tithing" program; they simply sold their posessions to take care of those in need.  In Matt. 23:23, the "justice, mercy, and faithfulness" quote reminds me of Isaiah 1:17 and Micah 6:8:
I 1:17 Learn to do right; seek justice.
   Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
   plead the case of the widow.
M 6:8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
   And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
   and to walk humbly with your God.
 So, I think that giving should be an overflow of our desires for justice, mercy, and faithfulness.  As our hearts are united with His, then our desires will match His, and we will (super)naturally want to support the ministries that please Him.
Heavenly Father, your goodness and kindness are amazing.  Lord, I want to copy your goodness and show your love to others.  Lord, please don't let me get caught up in religionism, especially with finances.  Lord, I want to be a good steward and invest in your kindom.  Please help me know your will and do it.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Matthew 23:1-22

How tragic that so many people (especially in the US) think they are Christians, but they are really only religionists.  Jesus spoke this to the religionists of His day:

13 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

I sure don't want to be a religionist.  I don't want to be a hypocrite.  I want to be a genuine disciple of Christ who loves God and loves people.  I thought about it a little bit, and I think they way you circumvent becoming a religionist is by really loving Jesus and enjoying life with Him.

I spoke with my Brother Mark this morning, and I asked him how you practically turn your heart to the Lord each morning.  He told me that it is important to tell the Lord that we love Him, to call on the name of Jesus, and to be honest with Him about the things that are in our hearts (e.g., confession).  We need to not only read Scripture in the morning, but we need to pray that Scripture to Him so that we can enjoy the fellowship with Him.

Heavenly Father, I love you.  Lord Jesus, I love you.  Holy Spirit, I love you.  Lord, I need you to turn my heart to you.  I want you to be the sole focus of my heart, and I want all of the anxiousness of my heart to dissolve because of your love for me and my love for you.  Lord, please use me as salt and light so that I can help lead others to know you and enjoy you.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Matthew 21:23-46
The past few weeks, Greg's sermon series is titled, "The Forgotten Ways".  His first three sermons were about how we should BE: Spirit led, missional, and reproducing.  This past Sunday, Greg started the DO series, and he talked about surrender.  The point that I really appreciated was how surrender is both a one time, initial event, but it is also a continual, daily release, as well.
Last night we had our first Paseo Home group meeting, and I think it went really well.  Two other couples (Adam & Madelyn and Mark & Rachel) joined us for dinner and Bible study.  We talked about how Greg's challenge of surrender applies to our lives and how it connects with Mark 6:30-56 (Jesus feeds the 5000 and then walks on water).
I think surrenduring to Christ's authority is also shown in Matthew 21:
23 And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, "By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?" ... 32For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.  ...  42..."'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; ...
Heavenly Father, I want to surrender every aspect of my life to your authority.  Lord Jesus, I want you to take full control of my life and lead me where you want me to go.  Lord, I want to produce fruit for you.  Please help me see you clearly and walk with you today.  Please flow through me into other people's lives.  I love you, Lord, please have your way.  I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

they missed Him

Matthew 21:1-22
Prophecy about the King riding in on a colt; people shouting in the streets, "Hosanna to the Son of David"; and He even healed people in the Temple; but the pharisees still missed Him because of their pride.
Heavenly Father, please rescue me from my pride.  Lord Jesus, you were humble and meek here on earth even though you are the King of Kings!  Please soften my heart to see you, know you, and enjoy you.  Holy Spirit, please annoint me today to be a witness of Christ.  I want to be salt and light.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

servant leader

Matthew 20:17-34
Last night I had a chance to hang out with Beau for several hours while Brandi had a few hours with some girlfriends.  Beau and I had dinner, played catch/chase with a tennis ball, played guitar, read a book, and played with a giant top that sings a song when you spin it.   When Brandi got home, they played with the singing top a few minutes, and then Beau picked it up and brought it to me to spin it.  I felt like a hero!  I jumped up off the couch to take the top, which he was holding up in front of his face to give to me, but in the process my knee hit the top and knocked Beau straight in the mouth.  I felt like scum!  Of course, he started crying, wanted his momma, and didn't want to play with the top the rest of the evening.  It still hurts me inside.  To see the light and joy in a child's eyes when they want you to play with them, and then you ruin it by hurting them.  I don't ever want to do that again.
When I spoke to my Brother JJ on the phone a few days ago, he asked me, "What can I do to be a better servant-leader for my wife."   What a challenging question.  I know I have a long way to go in being a good servant-leader to my wife and son.  JJ, here is our prototype of servant-leadership:
17 And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, 18"See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death 19and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day."
25But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Do I really serve my wife?  What does she really need or want, anyway?  (Women are always so secretive about their true desires, despite their claims of dropping "subtle" hints, which are really just random comments that make no sense whatsoever from a guy's perspective.  But I digress.)  I don't feel like I really serve her.  Certainly not if you think about slavery in verse 27.  How can I serve her practically and spiritually?
How can I serve my son?  Obviously, I need to change diapers and feed him, but how about discipline and spiritual truth?  How should I be serving Him?
Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus and His model for us.  Lord, please help me see my wife, son, and everyone else through your eyes.  Help me see people's true needs so that I can serve them what they really need.  Lord, I feel like if I give my life away in slavery service to others, then I won't get the stuff done that I need to get done.  If I'm looking out for everyone else, who is looking out for me.  But I guess that's what Jesus meant when He said, "Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me."  I need to trust you with my life, Lord.  It's just hard sometimes.  Lord, please forgive my pride.  May I humbly follow you, love you, love others, serve you, and serve others.  Please annoint me with your presence today, and give me strength to follow you.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, February 7, 2011

life versus living

Matthew 19:16-30
16And someone came to Him and said, "Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?"  17And He said to him, "Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments."  ...  20The young man said to Him, "All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?"  21Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."
Jesus wasn't preaching salvation by works.  He was talking about living the eternal life.  The New Testament makes it clear that justification from sin is made by God's grace through our faith in Jesus Christ alone.  However, just because we are saved doesn't mean we are automatically participating in the Kingdom of the Heavens.  We must love Christ and seek Him over everything else in our lives.  Of course, this is impossible in the flesh; we need Christ's life in us to accomplish righteous living which obeys the commandments.
Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus - He is the only way!  Lord, thank you for eternal salvation and forgiveness from my sins against you.  Lord, please fill me with the life of Christ so that I can live the righteous life that you desire from me.  Lord, I want to love Christ so much that I will gladly give up my possessions to store up treasure in Heaven and follow Christ.  Oh, Christ, be the center of my life!  I need you, Lord, and I love you.  Please purify my heart and mind to love you and serve you only.  Holy Spirit, please annoint me with your power to be a witness for Christ today, and may I listen to your voice and obey.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, February 4, 2011

church life

Matthew 18:1-20
  • humble as a little child
  • good role model
  • spiritually mortifying the flesh
  • seeking out the lost
  • gently reconciling a Brother who has sinned against you
  • working with the rest of the local church to bind Satan and his forces and loose the blessings of the Holy Spirit and the salvation of people around us
I don't feel like that discribes me much at all.
Heavenly Father, please make me a humble follower of Christ, filled with His mind and character.  Lord, please help me be an agent for your Kingdom.  I need you, Lord.  Please rescue me from myself, and may I set my mind on the Spirit today, and kill the flesh.  I love you, Lord, and I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

correction and provision

Matthew 17:14-27

After seeing Jesus baptized and hearing the voice of the Father say that Jesus is His Son, and promptly after seeing Jesus transfigured and hearing the voice of the Father say that Jesus is His Son, Peter was tested:

24 When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, "Does your teacher not pay the tax?" 25He said, "Yes." And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying,  "What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?" 26And when he said, "From others," Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are free.

Peter should have known that the Sons of the King don't pay the tax, but if he had any doubt, he should have deferred the question to Jesus instead of answering ignorantly.  How many times do we get asked a request to do something or a question about God and we simply answer off the top of our heads instead of asking the Lord first?  I wonder what our lives would look like if we made a habit of responding to questions/request, "Let me think about it and pray about it, and I will get back to you."  And what if we were so connected to the Father through prayer and in tune with the Holy Spirit that we were constantly discussing things with the Lord all day long?  I wish I lived that way.

Even though Peter spoke out of turn (and answered incorrectly), Jesus cares about our integrity, and He provides for us even in our ignorance:

27However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself."

Heavenly Father, thank you for your grace and mercy through Jesus Christ.  Jesus, thank you for paying the penalty of death for my sin, and thank you for your patient and enduring love.  Thank you for continuing to pick me up and lead me along this path with you even though I stumble and fall and get sidetracked so easily.  Lord, I want to honor you by letting you answer for me.  I want to know the Father's will and keep in step with the Holy Spirit so that you will be honored as the True King.  Thank you for your love, and thank you for the opportunity to know you and experience your live in me.  May I be a conduit and a catalyst for others to experience your grace and life.  I love you, Lord, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

nice snow

Matthew 17:1-13

The freshly fallen snow is so beautiful this morning!

2 As the men watched, Jesus' appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light.

The difference is that the freshly fallen snow just covers up all of the dirty mess, but the purity of Christ comes from inside and flows outward - more and more every day.

Prov. 4:18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
   shining ever brighter till the full light of day.

Heavenly Father, please purify me and make me holy like Jesus.  Lord Jesus, I want to follow you, and I want to shine your light in this dark world.  Please use me for your glory.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

sacrificial life

Matthew 16:21-28
Jesus knew what He was here to do:
21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
And He calls us to do the same:
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
How did Jesus know that He was going to die and be raised to life?  Because He was a prophet and spent so much time with the Father in prayer.  Maybe if I spent more time in prayer, I would have a better idea of how the Lord wants to spend my life.  And maybe I would be more willing to give my life to Him instead of to this world.
I feel like there is a fine line between working hard to honor God in your vocation versus working hard to please yourself or someone else.  I don't know where I am right now.  My heart is so easily deceived. 
Heavenly Father, please purify my heart.  Lord, I want to follow Christ, and I know that I have to lay down my own life to do that.  Please help me know how to do that.  What are the desires that I need to give up?  What are the desires that I need to follow because they are from you?  Lord, please help me follow you.  Lord, please help me live a sacrificial life. I want to be a disciple of Jesus.  Please help me.  I love you, Lord.  Amen.