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“Where’s the Church?”

Acts 28: 22: “But we desire to hear from you what your views are; for concerning this sect, it is known to us that it is spoken against everywhere.” We know that there had been a decent-sized Church in Rome for some time, for Paul had written it a letter several years before, and some of them had met Paul upon his arrival in the Eternal City. Yet these leading Jews seemed to know nothing of them, nor of their message. But we shouldn’t criticize; does today’s church have a more effective impact in our communities than the Romans of that time?

“True Wisdom”

1 Kings 5: 6: “Now therefore, command that they cut for me cedars from Lebanon, and my servants will be with your servants; and I will give you wages for your servants according to all that you say, for you know that there is no one among us who knows how to cut timber like the Sidonians.” Do you want to know wisdom? Here it is. Solomon, in his strength and wealth, could have commanded Hiram to give him the timber. If Hiram refused he could have fought a long, bloody war and seized the trees. But Solomon, in his wisdom, just asked for the opportunity to buy, even complimenting Hiram in the process. He got what he wanted, without a costly war. So how many wise leaders are there among the

“Waterproof”

Acts 27: 40: “And casting off the anchors, they left them in the sea while at the same time they were loosening the ropes of the rudders, and hoisting the foresail to the wind, they were heading for the beach.” These were the last of seven sailors’ tricks, strategies which seafarers used to avoid shipwreck. They didn’t work, either (v. 41). What did work was the purpose of God. He had already told Paul that He was going to get him safely to Rome (vv. 25, 26) after first getting him to a ‘certain island’, where a sick man and a pagan people who needed the Gospel awaited. The purposes of God beat sailors’ tricks every time!

“Persistent Poverty”

Mark 14: 7: “For the poor you always have with you, and whenever you wish, you can do them good.” It’s one of those promises of God that His children rarely claim: the poor will always be among us (Deuteronomy 15: 11). But why, don’t His principles work? Sure they do. And one of those principles is that God’s people seek out the poor, go to where they are, and even invite them into their own homes, if necessary. If there are no poor in the Church, the Church isn’t doing its job.

“A Matter of Perspective”

Psalm 10: 1: “Why do You stand afar off, O Lord? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?” Sometimes we find ourselves in a mess and wonder where God went. “It’s not a good time to be playing ‘hide and seek,’ Lord!” Chances are, we are the ones pulling a Jonah. We left the Lord, and that’s why things aren’t working anymore. But nationally, personally, or world-wide, if you don’t feel the Lord is close any more, guess who moved?

“One Thing You Lack”

1 Kings 1: 5: “Now Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, ‘I will be king.’ So he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen with fifty men to run before him.” Adonijah had almost everything he needed to be king: Natural right of succession (he was the fourth son of David, and the first three were either dead or missing), support of the leaders of the military and the Church, fancy military displays – impressive! The only thing he was missing was the calling of God and the support of the current king. Oops! Anytime you feel as if you have to exalt yourself, expect trouble down the road. It never ends well.

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: “Walking in Narrow Pathways”

Isaiah 66:18-21 Psalm 46 Hebrews 12:25-29 Luke 13:22-30 Today is the day of the Lord’s favor. We are grateful that God is with us even though sometimes circumstances are not perfect. We are grateful that we can trust in the Lord our God. Scriptures says to count it all joy when we fall into various trials and temptations. Even if things look like they are not going to according to our expectations, it doesn’t mean everything is going to go apart because we have a God who’s got our backs. From the reading, God wants to communicate to us this principle: let us not neglect the opportunities which God’s favor provides. Because of His favor, we always get another chance. A minister named R

"Enter Through the Narrow Door"

In our text, Luke emphasizes Jesus’ teaching ministry: “He was passing through from one city and village to another, teaching and proceeding on His way to Jerusalem” (Luke 13:22). If you know the end of the story, the mention of Jerusalem strikes an ominous note, because it meant rejection by the nation and the horror of the cross. Somewhere in some village some unnamed person in the crowd asked Jesus an interesting theological question: “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” I don’t know the man’s motives for asking the question. Perhaps he saw the increasing opposition from the religious leaders and he could sense that the crowds, although superficially interested in Jesus’ mess

“Not the Way to Prosper”

Psalm 144: 7b, 8, 11: “Rescue me and deliver me out of great waters, out of the hand of aliens whose mouths speak deceit, and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.” As we have seen for the last seven weeks, a lot of people – local as well as alien – spoke deceit and falsehood against King David. None of them ended well. No, David wasn’t perfect, but he was king, chosen and crowned by God Himself. It is not a coincidence that every day this week we have been warned in the Scriptures about cursing or speaking ill against leaders. It is rampant today, and we need to make sure it is a habit that we do not get sucked into!

“Cursing the Leaders?”

Mark 12: 38-40: “And in His teaching He was saying, ‘Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes, and like respectful greetings in the marketplaces, and chief seats in the synagogues, and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation.” So, did Jesus finally break Moses’ commandment here? For that to be true, the scribes – along with the Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees, all of whom, one by one, had tried to trap Jesus in His words on this day – would have to be God-appointed leaders of the people. They weren’t. They had “placed themselves in Moses’ chair” (Matthew 23: 2). Pl

“Over the Line”

2 Samuel 19: 5-6, 13: “Then Joab came into the house to the king and said, ‘Today you have covered with shame the faces of all your servants … by loving those who hate you, and by hating those who love you … for I know this day that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased.’ … ‘And say to Amasa, “May God do so to me, and more also, if you will not be commander of the army before me continually in place of Joab.”’” David had let his cousin Joab get away with murder for years (literally – he had killed in cold blood both Abner and Absalom), but when he dissed the king to his face in his own house it was over for him. Again we see Exodus 22: 28 in action!

“Deeper than Skin”

2 Samuel 18: 26: “Then the watchman saw another man running; and the watchman called to the gatekeeper and said, ‘Behold, another man running by himself.’” As the story tells us, this ‘other man’ was a Cushhite – an Ethiopian – who was obviously black (the meaning of ‘Cush’ is ‘black’). Yet the watchman did not go with the obvious judgment and say, “Hey, a Cushite, a black guy, is coming this way!” He did not identify (and judge) the man by his skin. Would this story play out this way today? What has happened?

“Practice What You Preach”

Mark 12: 12: “And they were seeking to seize Him; and yet they feared the multitude; for they understood that He spoke the parable against them.” So, wasn’t Jesus violating Exodus 22: 28 here? Doesn’t he, in so many words, curse the vine-growers? No. The parable isn’t even about them; the focus is on the vineyard owner and his son. Although Jesus’ enemies gave Him much reason to curse them during Holy Tuesday, as we shall see this week, He always takes the high road.

“Have You Read This?”

Acts 23: 5: “And Paul said, ‘I was not aware, brethren, that he was high priest; for it is written, “You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.”’” By my personal count, this had to be the MIC (Most Ignored Commandment) of all time, especially these days. It comes from Exodus 22: 28, and gives no exemptions if the leader is red or blue, left or right, old or new, secular or religious, high or low. (It says a leader, not the leader) Ananias might have earned this curse, for was no Holy Joe. Paul; however, didn’t use that cop-out, either. But just imagine: If we removed all anti-leadership rants from the media, there might actually be some room for some good news for a change!

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time: “Walking in Accurate Analysis”

Jeremiah 23:23-29 Psalm 82 Hebrews 12:1-6 Luke 12:49-56 The gospel today is a little bit controversial in that Jesus, the Prince of Peace, said that He did not come to bring peace on earth but to bring division. We thought that division came from the devil, which is the meaning of his name. So what does Jesus mean when He said, “I came not to bring peace, but division? From now on, father will be against son, son against father, daughter against mother, and mother against daughter; mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” Jesus meant something different. He used the figure of speech to emphasize His message. There should be a marked difference bet

Walking in Accurate Analysis

Exacting Through His Word It's rainy season once again, and we do rely on the weather forecast via social media, TV and radio broadcasting stations. Weather awareness in this present age must be taken seriously through education and proper information because of the La Niña effect brought about by climate change. Worries may creep into our hearts over the needed preparedness and preventive measures, which entail costs. But wait! We've long been interpreting these signs of the weather, but how about the interpretation of our spiritual realm? In last Sunday's Gospel reading, Luke 12:32a, Jesus said, "Do not be afraid." Don’t forget last Sunday's reading and the gradual verse from Psalm 119:14

“Concerned Citizens”

Mark 11: 5: “And some of the bystanders were saying to them, ‘What are you doing, untying the colt?’” Quick show of hands: How many of us today would get involved in this situation? Or would we just say, “Hey look, those guys are taking Joshua’s colt! Oh well, they look kinda tough … better not get involved.” Being a neighbor should mean more than it does these days.

“Respectable Citizen”

Acts 22: 12: “A certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well-spoken of by all the Jews who lived there …” This is somewhat of a miracle. To the typical Jew, any Christian was an enemy of their religion. Yet Ananias, an obvious believer in Christ, was well spoken of by all the Jews of Damascus. How could this be? Well, in the next verse he calls Saul, notorious persecutor of his entire religion, ‘brother.’ Question answered, example given. Received?

“Faithful Immigrants”

2 Samuel 15: 8: “Now all his servants passed on beside him, all the Cherethites, all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men who had come with him from Gath.” Out of all the tribes and people of Israel, who were the most faithful to David, not only in regard to Absalom, but for over fifty years of good times and bad? This group, who had first joined David in the wilderness. And they were Philistines; aliens; immigrants, if you please. Let it be written, let it be said: You can’t judge a book by its passport cover.

“Hard Road”

Mark 10: 23: … How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the Kingdom of God! What, Jesus doesn’t love rich people? Of course He does. But, as numerous bible characters will attest, those with wealth tend to put their trust in wealth, and as wealth opens more and more doors for self-indulgence, the less the wealthy are inclined to self-denial. Many of us couldn’t handle the temptation. But there are those special people who can have wealth while avoiding this indulgence. These believers, the Lord can trust with both temporal and true riches.

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