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“Day by Day for Others”

Ecclesiastes 2: 4: “I enlarged my works; I built houses for myself; I planted vineyards for myself.” Ecclesiastes is the musings of a frustrated man, and here in its second chapter we find out why this formerly great king has come to this. Five times in verses 4-9 Solomon tells of things he did “for myself.” If he had only understood the words of Jesus, “Do unto others”, his last days could have been as great as his first!

Day 77: Spiritual Food in Quarantine

“He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive.” (Jn 7:39) Pentecost is about being filled with the Holy Spirit so that in us, Jesus can increase while we decrease. The Spirit is the reason scared disciples came out of hiding and boldly proclaimed the gospel of the Lord. He is the Guide who converted Saul into Paul and made him see that the letter kills but the Spirit gives life. He is the Teacher who made Peter understand that he should not consider unclean what God has made clean. He helps, defends, builds up and gives life. If we hate, condemn, destroy or kill, we don’t know what kind of spirit we are of. But if we demonstrate love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,

Day 76: Spiritual Food in Quarantine

“Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil.” (Eph 6:11) We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers in heavenly places. That’s a familiar scripture. The preceding exhortation puts it in context - don’t be deceived by the devil. “Diabolos” means divide into two. It also means slander and destroy. The devil sows division to cause destruction, which is his other name (Heb: Abaddon, Gk: Apollyon), by making us think people are our adversary. In effect, Paul is telling us that if we hate our brother and see them as the enemy, we are being tricked by the real enemy. To fight him, we are to put on the full armor of God by st

“Let’s Consider”

Psalm 107: 43: “Who is wise? Let him give heed to these things; and consider the lovingkindnesses of the Lord.” In illustrating the tortuous journeys of various types of people—the loners, the rebellious, the fools, the greedy—the psalmist is careful to include the end of each odyssey that finds the Lord. God is always there in His lovingkindness, to elevate the lives of those who turn to Him and choose to walk His way. Come on, let’s make our recent (and current) journey count for something!

Day 75: Spiritual Food in Quarantine

“Many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with Jesus and his followers.” (Mt 9:10) I’ve heard of teachings misrepresenting God as someone who can’t stand the presence of sinful people. I know that’s not true because Jesus, the exact representation of the Father, showed the opposite. Ironically, it was the not-so-sinless Pharisees who would not go near sinners, who to them were either the quasi-religious Jews or immoral people like tax collectors and prostitutes. They couldn’t understand why Jesus would befriend and eat with such. That’s why He revealed the heart of God and told them it is the sick who need a physician, not the healthy. He doesn't practice moral distancing because He know

“It’s Time to Understand”

Ephesians 5: 17: “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” OK, so what’s the will of the Lord? Everything St. Paul just said in chapter five: Imitate God, walk in love, don’t be greedy, watch your words, don’t lie, and so forth, Why? Because that’s how the Kingdom of God operates, that’s what’s coming, and is already here, so you might as well get comfortable with that light right now. You’ll find it’s so much better than the darkness!

Day 74: Spiritual Food in Quarantine

“Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph 4:24) To be holy means to be set apart and different, not to be uber-religious or puritanical. Christians are called to be peculiar in that we are to follow the way of Jesus and not the way of the world. We have been made righteous, that is, restored in right relationship with God to be like Him. It’s that likeness that makes us different. The manner of the world has no place in our lives and in the kingdom we belong to. That’s why we are to put away all bitterness, rage, anger, quarrelling, abusive speech and hatred. There are no “righteous versions” of them. Instead, we are to be kind and compassionate,

“Why Did We Come Here?”

Psalm 105: 44, 45: “He gave them also the lands of the nations, that they might take possession of the fruit of the people’s labor, so that they might keep His statutes, and observe His laws. Praise the Lord!” For forty-three verses the palmist summarizes Israel’s evolution from lone nomad to a multitude in possession of the land. But again, why? If you miss the point in the last two verses (as it seems much of Israel did), it all degrades into a useless exercise of futility. If you get it – Praise the Lord!

Day 73: Spiritual Food in Quarantine

“As each part does its work, He makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Eph 4:16) Ephesians 4 urges us to walk in a manner worthy of our calling in love and to be diligent to preserve unity. God gave leaders to equip the saints for the work of service to build up the body of Christ. The work is to go on until we reach the stature of Jesus so that we’re not swayed by adversity. Jesus causes the growth of the body AS EACH MEMBER DOES HIS PART. In this social media culture, sometimes there are too many cooks who think they know better and they spoil the broth. It’s not wrong to offer help, but we should realize some are called to be food servers. If we Christians do our part

“Upon Arrival”

Matthew 8: 28: “And when they had come to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs; they were so exceedingly violent that no one could pass by that road.” The issue was never “Will we make it to the other side?” That was a foregone conclusion—wasn’t Jesus in the boat with them? But what was the purpose for the voyage? The restoration of the two men, and, by extension, the entire region of the Gadarenes. This is the goal of post-distress life.

Day 72: Spiritual Food in Quarantine

“He gave orders to cross to the other side.” (Mt 8:18b) Jesus told His disciples they were crossing over to the other side of the sea. He got into the boat with them. On the way, a storm arose and the waves were covering the boat; but He was sleeping. In panic, they roused Him, shouting, “Lord, save us, we’re sinking!” We should realize Jesus was with the disciples throughout the journey. If a storm hit, it would distress Him. If the boat sank, it would also drown Him. Our lives and our calling are like that boat ride. Jesus is with us all the way. At times it may seem like He’s sleeping but the truth is He faces challenges with us, suffers with us and is ready to sink with us (in fact He al

“Scribe’s Excellent Adventure?”

Matthew 8: 19: “And a certain scribe came and said to Him, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever You go.’” This scribe was like the Israelites; he, too, was focused on the journey and all its attractions. Jesus points out to him that the trip also has it pitfalls (as the storm on the Sea of Galilee soon illustrates), and that there’s more to getting to the other side than just getting to the other side (v. 18).

DAY 71: Spiritual Food in Quarantine

“He touched her hand and the fever left her; and she got up and served Him.” (Mt 8:15) Many of us were like Peter’s mother-in-law - afflicted, down, helpless and unable to do anything. Then Jesus touched us, we got healed and our ability to be productive was restored. The first thing she did was serve Him. That’s the best response to Jesus’ raising us up from our low ebb. He doesn’t require (or expect) us to repay Him. He doesn’t need anything from anyone and He doesn’t bless to get something in return. He does desire a response expressing thankfulness because it is for our good. If you have experienced His healing, deliverance or favor, first honor Him out of gratefulness. Use your restored

“Refined Purpose”

Joshua 1: 2b: “Arise, cross the Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel.” For forty years the people of Israel have had one goal, to get to the Promised Land. Now their purpose expands: Get in there and take it! Recent months have taught many of us that our aims in life have been too low, too self-centered. As we resume a more familiar existence let us remember that the journey is not enough. It’s about the life lived at the destination.

Day 70: Spiritual Food in Quarantine

This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. John 17:3 Eternal life is defined for us by Jesus Himself. It is to know Him and God. It’s not a reward we can have after this earthly life and it’s not a deal we secure to make sure we don’t end up in a horrifying place for eternity. If that’s what we’re after, then we’re exploiting God and missing the point. In the Bible “know” means “be intimate with.” That’s why it uses marriage to illustrate the relationship between God and man. The Father reconciled us to Himself through Christ to initiate that relationship. It’s available here and now. We should enter into it to grow in a healthy unio

Seventh Sunday of Easter: “We Proclaim His Glory!”

Acts 1: 6-14 Psalm 68: 4-10; 18-20 1 Peter 4: 12-16 John 17: 1-11 In the Gospel today, we have Jesus praying what is called a high priestly prayer. I want to focus on one thing that He said. He defined for us “eternal life”. In John 17:3, Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Renew our minds about our wrong ideas of eternal life. Eternal life is not the assurance of escaping a dreadful destiny after we die. Eternal life is not something we get either from a deal or a transaction that we enter into with God to secure that insurance. It’s not something only Christians can obtain or something that non-Christians wil

Day 69: Spiritual Food in Quarantine

He taught with real authority - quite unlike their teachers of the law. Jesus’ ways are different, and higher, than the world’s ways. To defeat powerful rulers, He came as an infant. To conquer beasts, He became a lamb. To topple Caesar, He armed His people with palm branches. He’s a paradoxical puzzle. It makes me wonder what kind of teacher He was. Fiery? Loud? Flamboyant? Mt 7:29 says He taught with authority and not as the scribes. The big difference is explained in one translation - “When Jesus concluded His address, the crowd burst into applause. They had never heard a teaching like this. It was apparent that He was living everything He was saying - quite a contrast to their religion t

“Equipped with the Spirit”

Numbers 11: 25a: “Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him; and He took of the Spirit Who was upon him and placed Him upon the seventy elders.” Having been reminded of the Ascension (Thursday) and the essential nature of the Great Commission there given (Friday), we now see how God can possibly expect us to accomplish all that. It’s all gearing up to the next step in Christian theology and in the Christian experience: the Holy Spirit and Pentecost.

Day 68: Spiritual Food in Quarantine

He who hears my words and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. The Sermon on the Mount concludes with Jesus stressing the wisdom of truly hearing and obeying His words. He says it’s possible to seem obedient and yet not follow His command. We can prophesy, cast out demons or perform miracles and yet not fulfill God’s will. Paul echoes this by saying we can speak with eloquence, possess all knowledge, have faith to remove mountains, give all our possessions to feed the poor and surrender our bodies to be burned, and yet not have love. If that is so, it amounts to nothing. God’s will is for us to love Him with all of our being and our neighbor as ourselves. If this is not

“Equipped with a Foundation”

Matthew 7: 24: “Everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon a rock.” Which words of Jesus? Well, all of them, but particularly His last words before ascending: He has done the job His Father gave Him, He’s going back to the Father’s right hand, and now it’s our turn to do the work the Father has for us. This is the foundation of a wise man’s faith.

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