Monday, December 23, 2013

I will return January 1st 2014

I have taken a break over the last month. My schedule has not allowed me the time or energy to write. I apologize for this. I am planning to return for 2014 with a daily commentary on our new reading plan here at West Side. I have already included a link to the 2014 reading plan. I hope you will journey with me again next year.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

November 27 – 1 Thessalonians 1 – 5 & 2 Thessalonians 1 – 3

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from 1 Thessalonians 1 – 5 & 2 Thessalonians 1 – 3. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

In our reading today we come to the books of 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Thessalonica was a town in the region of Macedonia. It is a modern day city as well in the country of Greece; again it is in the region of Macedonia. Paul had the privilege of bringing the Gospel to this city and establishing the church there. He writes two letters to encourage the Christians there and also provide some teaching for areas of concern that they had.

In the fourth chapter of his first book, Paul praises them for the love that they have for one another, “Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.” (1 Thessalonians 4:9 NIV) The Thessalonians were doing a good job of loving each other. This is an area of praise from Paul. But Paul encourages them to ramp up their love another notch, specifically to do so more and more.


I do not know how much love you have in your heart for fellow Christians. I do not know how much love you show to fellow Christians. Wherever your level is, will you take Paul’s encouragement to the Thessalonians and ramp it up another notch. What a great time of the year to do so as well with the Christmas season right around the corner. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

November 26 – Acts 17

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Acts 17. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art
 One of the hypothetical questions that seem to be discussed in American Christian circles is that of persecution. In a lot of ways Americans have not had to experience the physical side of persecution. We are privileged to be living in a country and a time where we are allowed to worship freely. For the majority of our nation’s history Christianity was the norm. Not only did that keep Christians from the persecution that others experience around the globe, but Christians were and still are protected to worship freely. While we are no longer the norm … Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Atheism, Agnosticism, and many other world religions are gaining acceptances in America … we still have the freedom to worship God how we choose.

In our reading today we come to a story about a man named Jason. Jason lived in Thessalonica and was a believer in Jesus. He let Paul and Silas stay with him while they were in town. Because of this, some Jews wanting to rid their city of the Apostle, rounded up Jason and others and brought them before the courts. They were punished and a bond was set, all because they were following Jesus and being kind to His followers.


When we read that story what floods our mind. Are we detached from that story because we have never as American’s really experienced that type of persecution? Do we read it and simply continue on? Do we internalize it and try to imagine what it would be like? Does it transform us in any way? If you take nothing else from today’s reading contemplate how you would respond to a threat like Jason faced (or imagine one even worse). How does your answer today differ than an answer you would have given just a few years ago?  

Monday, November 25, 2013

November 25 – Galatians 4-6

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Galatians 4-6. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

In our reading plan we have come to the book of Galatians. This is the first book we see written by the Apostle Paul. This however was not originally a book but a letter. Paul was the first to carry the Gospel to the churches of Galatia … Galatia was a region not a city. Now the church is facing some difficult times … many theological. People have come in preaching and teaching a false doctrine of following Jesus. Not only that, but they are still bombarded by Jews who are trying to destroy the church. In the midst of these false teachings, they also have the Gentile worship of their land to fight off and turn away from. There is definitely confusion taking place.

Paul is writing to them to encourage them and to teach them. In chapter four Paul solicits an emotion and memory that he holds dear … “Where is that joyful and grateful spirit you felt then?” (Galatians 4:15 NLT) Paul reminds them of the joy and spirit they had when he first came and preached the message of Jesus and they accepted. Somehow in someway they have let that slip away.

As I look at the church too often I feel the same thing has happened to many Christians. They initially found joy in Christ and the new relationship that they begun with Him. They felt relief from the burdens they carried around. They felt a new lease on life. They were on fire. The spirit of God was overwhelming them in a really amazing way. But somewhere along the way that joy evaporated.

As followers of Christ we have the greatest reason to find joy. We have been saved through the blood of Jesus! We have reason to be joyful to know that this world is not our home. Sure there will be moments of frustration, worry, doubt, and struggle. But those emotions should not dominate our lives. Our lives should be filled with joy and that joy should radiate for all to see!


Let me ask you, be honest with yourself, would people see joy in your heart and life through a simple encounter with you?

Friday, November 22, 2013

November 22 – James 1 - 5

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from James 1 - 5. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

God has a wonderful sense of timing. Today he showed himself to me in a powerful way. My heart is hurting right now. I just have a mix of emotions flooding my mind. I have struggled to be productive, to write, to listen, and to worship because my heart has been heavy. I am not going to skirt around the truth … sometimes ministry is hard. Sometimes I get deflated. Sometimes people can sting. Often it is a culmination of things over a longer period of time.

Oh there are joys. The mountain tops are amazing. Watching someone come to Jesus is the greatest joy any minister could see and participate in. Watching people grow in Christ is just as rewarding. Participating in the weddings and funerals of members are both rewarding in their own ways. Being able to walk with church members in the trials of their lives gives ministry a real sense of purpose. Being able to communicate and teach the text of God’s Word is an immense responsibility and pleasure. I truly love my job.

But then there are seasons where I doubt my leadership. There are seasons when I doubt my strength. There are seasons I look at what I have been called to and think it is way above my own abilities and knowledge. I think these thoughts because I am serving real people, with real desires, with real problems, with real limitations, with real personalities, with real sin issues, and with real life happing.

Before reading today I sat down broken. I tried reading some blogs, but they just reminded me of another area of my life that I feel is not where I desire it to be. Thankfully that has all happened because it took me to my prayer journal. It forced me to go to the only place I could … to God. I sat and wrote my heart break before God. I turned on a cover of Wrecking Ball and God spoke to me. I then listened to Garden by NEEDTOBREATH and worship ensued. As I wrote I poured my heart to God through writing and another song Rest by Carrolton. Through it all God and I connected in a way that I had put off far too long.

And then God reminded me what trials and difficulties are in place for. When I sat down to read, and came to the passage I laughed. It is James 1. After his greeting James gives rather strange advice … “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:24 NIV) Here I am broken, going through trial, and it all erupts on the day we are scheduled to read this passage.


God I love you. I love your timing. I love your comfort. I love your strength. Thank you for your amazing reminder that you have a plan. Thank you for your reminder that you are involved in my life. Thank you for the reminder that you are running me through the fire to mold me and shape me into the creation you desire me to be. I know that when I walk with you, nothing is too big, or too out of reach, because of who you are. Thank you for the reminder that when I am hurting, I can turn to you! God I love you. 
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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November 20 – Acts 11 & 12

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Acts 11 & 12. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.
Photo Credit: Kieran Connellan

I am in love with an Indie Rock Band Walk Off The Earth from Burlington, Ontario, Canada. They are incredibly talented group of musicians and vocalist. They are well known for their YouTube videos covering some of the most popular music of today’s current artists. Their video covers often take a song to an amazing new level. I am blown away by the talent God has blessed them with. Their most recent release was one of the members of the group along with two friends covering Miley Cyrus’ newest song Wrecking Ball. I am not a Miley fan, did not even care for the song until I listened to this cover. The pain and emotion displayed in this song is just amazing from these three ladies.


Through their emotion I am reminded that there are so many people in our world whose lives have been confronted by the proverbial wrecking ball. Maybe it was their marriage. Maybe it was their finances. Maybe it is currently a relationship with family members. Maybe it is a job situation. Maybe it is legal trouble. Maybe it is some kind of consequence to sinful choices. As Christians how should we respond when people come to us in the midst of the wrecking ball experience of life?  

In our reading today we encountered a man named Barnabas. Barnabas was not his real name, only his nickname. Barnabas means Son of Encouragement (Acts 4:36). The early church has nicknamed this man by his dominate characteristic. So as the church grew, and people outside the Jewish community started becoming Christians, it is obvious to send the encourager to these new Christians.

We can be confident that these people who were coming to Christ were certainly people who knew the wrecking ball of life. They were people who more than likely worshiped the god’s of the day, not the one true God. But soon they began worshiping the one true God and accepting Jesus as Lord. Barnabas goes and is excited to see God working. It is here that he begins encouraging … “When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.” (Acts 11:23 NIV) From Barnabas we can learn a valuable lesson.


When people in our church, in our lives, in our communities encounter the wrecking ball, often what they need most is a little bit of Barnabas. They need encouragement. They need to be uplifted. Let me encourage you to face the wrecking ball with encouragement to remain faithful! 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November 19 – Acts 9 & 10

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Acts 9 & 10. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.

Have you ever worked on a project and no matter what you did you were not able to be successful? You kept working and working but nothing you did made you successful. Finally you just set the project down and walked away. Then amazingly when you came back and picked it up you completed the project successfully on the first try? I do not know how many times I have done this. I remember in college I was playing a video game. For days I worked to try and beat what turned out to be the final level. No matter what I did I was not successful. Finally I got frustrated and stopped playing the game for months. One day I decided to pick the game back up, went in and completed the mission on my first try.

Why do we do this? Sometimes it’s because we do not know any other way. Sometimes our skills just are not up to the task at hand. Other times our knowledge might not be as great. Sometimes we just are not ready to learn. Sometimes we need to step away, clear our minds, and approach the problem or task with fresh eyes. Many times it is new perspective (at least fresh perspective) that gives us the needed clarity to complete the project.

In our reading today we find Peter, one of the twelve, the man who had the privilege of delivering the first presentation of the gospel message (a message where three thousand people were baptized), and he needed a new perspective. Until chapter ten of Acts all Christians were Jews who accepted Christ. There were some exceptions … the Samaritans, but they were simply half bread Jews, and others who had fully converted to Judaism. Now for the first time God is ready to extend salvation to a full on Gentile.

So to prepare Peter, God works to give him a new perspective. He shows the vision of the white sheet and the unclean animals. He tells Peter to accept the messenger’s invitation. He pours out the Holy Spirit before baptism. He does all of this to bring about new perspective; this time a new inclusion of people into the Kingdom of God.

Is there a place in your heart where you could use a time away to draw a new perspective? Maybe it is clothing worn to church. Maybe it is a new heart for hurting people. Maybe it is a new look at your marriage. Maybe it is a renewed approach to your parenting. Maybe it is a fresh approach to worship. I do not know what your current perspective is, but I am confident there is an area that we can all improve ours in. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

November 18 – Acts 7 & 8

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Acts 7 & 8. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.

The life of Jesus is now behind us. He has went to the cross and resurrected. He has even left His disciples on earth until His final return at the end of days. While He has left earth, He has not left His disciples alone. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon mankind bringing salvation along with it. Now the church has begun. People are being brought to a life changing relationship with Jesus. Those who are opposed to Jesus, pulling the old power strings, are fighting back against the church. They have now arrested Stephen.

Stephen stands before the Sanhedrin and he is telling them the story of their ancestral history, concluding with their deliverer from Egyptian slavery, Moses. In this retelling Stephen gave this line after God called Moses, “So God sent back the same man his people had previously rejected when they demanded, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge over us?’” (Acts 7:35 NLT). I absolutely love when something new stands out to me no matter how many times I have read a passage … this was one of those times.

In many ways Jesus was compared to Moses. Moses delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Jesus delivered all of mankind from the slavery of sin. Moses was considered a prophet. Jesus was considered a prophet. Moses gave God’s original Law. Jesus fulfilled the Law and provided a new Law … Grace. And in another similarity Moses was rejected by the people he came to rescue. Jesus was rejected by the people He came to rescue.


What is wonderful is both times God won. When God is in charge, when God is leading the way, when God is the one we trust, we will come out victorious. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

November 14 – Matthew 28 & Mark 16

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Matthew 28 & Mark 16. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

When I was young (somewhere between five and seven years old) I had a project I was working on and I borrowed a pair of my father’s adjustable pliers. I do not know why but these pliers where designed to come apart; a fact that I was not aware of.  While using them they did just that; came apart. I was petrified that I had broken the pliers. I did not ask permission to use them, so instead of owning up to my error I took the pliers and hid them behind a shelving unit in the basement. From the moment I hid them I began rehearsing my story for the day when I would get caught. I have never gotten caught for my crime (I even checked for the pliers sometime in high school and they were not there anymore. I am assuming they were found apart, put back together with a question as to how they ended up falling behind the shelf). However, that day I began a practice in my life of preparing a statement for wrongs committed.

Have you ever done it in your life? You do something wrong so you begin talking to yourself preparing your statement … what your going to tell, how your going to tell it, what details you are going to add (embellished or not), what details you will conveniently leave out, and on and on. Now I do not know why you do it, but as an adult I know why I do it. I do it because I do not think quickly on my feet. I like to be prepared. I write an outline/manuscript of my sermons because I do not think quickly on my feet. I was never the kid to raise my hand to answer a question, because I took a while to process the question. My daughter is now three years old, very perceptive, so my wife has started spelling things, and we got in an argument because I have a hard time processing what she is spelling. My brain processes slowly in many regards, and because of that I gave rehearsed explanations for my crimes.

In our reading today we see that very thing play out with the Jewish leaders. When the women go to Jesus tomb the tomb is empty. Jesus is not there. The men who were supposed to be guarding were doing their job but they had no power over God. Jesus resurrected. However, this empty tomb meant possible death for these guards. What were they to do? What were they to say? Well the Jewish leaders had their backs. They gave them a prepared statement to go to the Roman officials with. Now this was not to protect the guards, but to control the story.


The Jewish leaders did not want people believing that Jesus actually resurrected. They wanted people to believe His disciples stole the body. So they prepared and rehearsed and shared their story. But friends, as we know, there is greater power in truth. Truth needs no preparation. Truth needs no rehearsal. Truth needs no thought. Truth is truth, and it will stand the test of time. That is the beauty of the Gospel. The tomb of Jesus is empty. He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

November 13 – Luke 23, and John 18 & 19

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Luke 23, and John 18 & 19. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.
Photo Credit: Serf Publishing Inc.

The reason the Jews chanted crucify was they felt threatened. They felt threatened by the claims Jesus made. They felt threatened that He might mess up the power they had by causing a revolt, and bringing the hand of Rome down even stronger. So to get rid of the threat, they sought Jesus death. I do not believe any of this went unnoticed by Pilate.

When Jesus was placed on the cross, Pilate had a sign simply reading … “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” (John 19:19 NLT) Did Pilate do this because he really believed Jesus was the King of the Jews? I do not believe so. Did he do this because he couldn't stand what the Jewish leaders were making him do? Possibly. Did he do this to get back at the Jews? Absolutely. I am sure he saw these people as a problem, so just to grind it in, he did something that made them mad.

And did it ever. Like little children crying to their parents to make someone else change their behavior, they objected and said … “Change it from ‘The King of the Jews’ to “He said, I am King of the Jews.” (John 19:21 NLT) They did not want people believing that Jesus was their King. But they did not get their way. Pilate told them no.


What the Jews did not understand is that what Pilate had written was the truth. Jesus was the King of the Jews. His family tree took Him all the way back to King David. His blood line was pure royalty, both as a descendent of David and as the Son of God. Now the King of the Jews was about to become the savior of the world. These men who sent Jesus to cross, who felt threatened by His claims, did what was necessary. Their fear brought salvation to the world. For that I am thankful. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November 12 – Matthew 27 & Mark 15

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Matthew 27 & Mark 15. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

It is hard to imagine crucifixion as a good thing. Its history dates back all the way to the Assyrian Empire … the same empire that ended up destroying the northern kingdom of Israel in 725 B.C. It was a rather rudimentary procedure … they basically took a log, sharpened the end, impaled a person through their stomach and then placed the log in a hole in the ground to let the person slowly die. By the time the Romans arrived on the scene and the Jewish leaders chanted crucify, crucifixion had become a perfected art form, designed to cause the most excruciating death possible. Crucifixion could take hours, or days, or even up to a week to claim the life of its victim.

With all that in our minds it is hard to see the cross as anything but gory. So we have canceled all that out. We now look at the cross as a decoration for our churches and our homes. We now wear crosses on our necklaces. We now use the symbol as a marking that we belong to Christ. Why? Because of what Christ did on the cross. Christ paid our debt on the cross. The cross which was gory has now become a symbol of glory.

It is through Jesus that the terrible cross became beautiful. Think about that as you listen to the words of Selah’s song Beautiful Terrible Cross. If you cannot see the video in your RSS reader or email click here


Monday, November 11, 2013

November 11 – John 14-17

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from John 14-17. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.

In our reading today we find Jesus discussing in great length what is about to happen to Him. While He discusses it in great length, there is a lot of detail that was probably confusing to the disciples. In fact it was confusing to me and I have the ability to look back with the cross and resurrection already in mind. Regardless this is a wonderful discussion given by Jesus that reveals His true identity and purpose on this earth.

The discourse concludes with Jesus offering a prayer for Himself, the disciples who made up the remaining eleven, and all followers to come. This prayer ends with Jesus praying for us, the followers throughout the ages. As I finished the prayer I wandered if Jesus would look at the church today and feel sad for the state it’s in. Look back at the words of His prayer … “May they experience such perfect unity that they world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.” (John 17:23 NLT) Do you think the church makes Jesus proud?

I do not know the answer to that per say, but I do not the church today is not unified. How many “brands” of Christianity exist? How may different doctrines have split churches? How many worship wars have wreaked havoc on congregations? How many building programs have created a wedge between people of faith?


As a minister of a “restoration” church it my mission to seek unity. I love the phrase, “in matters of faith unity, in matter of opinion liberty, in all things love.” I also love the saying, “not the only Christians but Christians only.” These remind me that no matter what difference we may have, there is only one church and that church is made up of all people who have found a life saving relationship with Jesus Christ. When we begin to live like that, we begin to fulfill the prayer of Jesus. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

November 6 – Matthew 24

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Matthew 24. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.

Our reading today had the disciples seeking clarification on a teaching of Jesus after He predicted the destruction of the Temple. This clarification turned into a teaching on the coming days. Now many turn this teaching of Jesus into a discussion on the last days. I am not confident that this is a true discussion on the last days of this earth. O certainly there are elements that point to the last days, but the majority of the conversation points to what will happen to the disciples after the resurrection.

There are several reasons we read into this passage end times discussion. In a few places the text specifically talks about the end of days. In those instances that is probably the implied teaching. But we must be careful to only read that in those sections. Other sections are Jesus preparing His disciples for what they will face as they carry the message of the gospel to the world.


We must be careful when reading the Bible to seek the author or speakers intended purpose. Too many times we come to the Bible with our theological point of view regardless of the truth. Just imagine if you read the Bible each time for the first time, with no understanding of Christianity. How would that alter the way you read the Bible? I know for me it would be transformational. Next time you sit down to read, clear your mind and absorb the Bible with a fresh mind. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November 5 – Matthew 23 & Luke 20 & 21

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Matthew 23 & Luke 20 & 21. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.

I apologize for the lack of posts these last few days. We have been out of town and while I have had internet access I did not have the ability to use my laptop to post. Thank you for your understanding.

There are many areas that people feel uncomfortable discussing in a church setting ... sex and money tend to be two that top the list. However, Jesus does not steer clear of either; especially when it comes to money. Jesus was not uncomfortable with it. We only are because we often have a warped view of money; mainly because we look at it as ours.

One day Jesus was in the Temple with His disciples. As He stood there watching the crowds he noticed two distinct people. The first was a group of people. They were wealthy people. Tradition and historical records have taught us that the money was given in such a way that when it was placed in the offering jars a sound would ring out. The sound indicated the level of the gifts. Through this wealthy people were able to show off what they were giving.

The second was a single widow. This widow came to the time of offering and dropped in two small coins. These coins wouldn’t have made much of a racket, especially in a crowded and noisy Temple. While the masses missed what she had done, the creator of the universe did not. He saw more than anyone in the crowd would have seen even if they were watching … He saw her heart.

She did not give for show. She did not give to be honored by those around her. She didn’t give because of an obligation. She gave because of love. Jesus indicated this much as He called to attention her gift … “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.” (Luke 21:3-4 NLT).

Our giving reflects our heart. Our giving reflects our love of the church. Our giving reflects our love of our God. Be honest with yourself … if you were in the Temple, what would Jesus say about your giving?

Want to hear more about how to handle your finances join us for worship at West Side as we take a Clear Thinking Approach to Stewardship

Thursday, October 31, 2013

October 31 – Matthew 19 & Mark 10

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Matthew 19 & Mark 10. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.

I do not write what I am about to write in a proud and boastful way, only as a teaching element. In 2007 I graduated college with a degree in Bible and Theology. I spent four academic years of my life studying the Bible. I was given tools and knowledge to better understand the Bible. In those four years I studied nearly every book of the Bible on some intimate detail level. Sadly to say, it was not until 2012 that I actually for the first time read the Bible cover to cover. I had read it all over different parts of my life, but never in an organized attempt to do so. With all that training, with all that study, and with all the times I have read the Bible, especially many sections of the Bible, you would think it would be hard to have a new understanding, especially over familiar passages.
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Well in our reading today, I found an amazing truth nestled in the words of Jesus. A rich young man comes to Jesus and asks what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus goes over some basics and the man confirms that he has kept all of them. Jesus reminds him there is one wrong thing he has done … he has clung to his wordily wealth. When the man leaves sad and dejected, Jesus turns to his disciples and tells them … “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. In facts, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:24-25 NLT) From here Jesus disciples are perplexed and they struggle with the thought that no one can enter into God’s kingdom. Here is where I had a new revelation … “Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” (Mark 10:27 NLT)

I have always read the camel in the eye of the needle story independently without the follow up. At least I have never connected them. In the first part Jesus is teaching that in reality, there is nothing that anyone can do to enter into the Kingdom of God. Rich men cannot buy it. Poor man cannot be pure enough. Religious men cannot do enough. There is nothing you and I can do to inherit the Kingdom of God. But that is where God steps in on this matter … “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God.” I do not know about you, but that tells me there is something God is up to.

As Christians we know the rest of the story. We know that Jesus will go to the cross … something He alludes to latter in the chapter … where He will pay the debt for our sins. A camel goes through the eye of a needle easier because there is nothing you and I do to inherit the Kingdom of God. It is the work of God in Jesus on the Cross.


Now I did not learn anything new in our reading today. I only saw for the first time this teaching Jesus used here in Mark 10 to illustrate it yet another time in scripture. Friends, no matter how many times you have read the Bible there is always something new and something different that you can draw from God’s Word. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October 30 – Luke 18

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Luke 18. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

If we return to our theme of grouping we come to Luke 18 and see a series of stories strung together. We see the persistent widow who comes to the unjust judge, followed by the Parable where the Pharisee brags he is not a sinner while the tax collector falls broken before God, followed by the story of the little children coming to Jesus. What theme do you see from these stories?

I see the theme of a just but loving God. God is one who serves justice to those who have sinned against him. His love for us forces Him to do so. As I write this my mind goes back to the scene that played out before sitting down to write. I just finished disciplining my daughter for throwing a fit when I told her no to using my iPad at this moment. I would not have shown her love if I did not discipline her for her choice to behave with a fit. Friends that unfortunately is justice produced by love.


But … God does not stop there. Not only does His love require justice, His love also shares forgiveness. The little children coming to Jesus in their purity is what God desires of His children. The tax collector falling broken before God is the process of returning to Jesus with the purity of the children. In that state, God’s love overwhelms in forgiveness. God is not like the unjust judge. It is not through persistence that God’s hand is forced. God is always just, both in administering justice and love. But we can learn from the widow, we must always come before God, persistently in a broken state realizing that without God we are not like the little children. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

October 29 – John 11

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from John 11. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.

Jesus says something rather remarkable in our reading today. Jesus has been close with three siblings from the Jerusalem suburb of Bethany. Lazarus, the brother and possible bread winner of this family has taken ill. Jesus is a considerable distance away from Bethany, but certainly close enough to come to the aid of Lazarus. However, when the news of his illness reaches Jesus ears, Jesus stays back and says … “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” (John 11:4 NLT) At first glance that statement does not seem all that remarkable but let’s break it down.

Jesus has insight into what will happen to Lazarus. Jesus knows that Lazarus is going to die. He also knows that He will bring Lazarus back to life. If you happened to be someone who was reading this for the first time you may not have picked up on that bit of information. But as someone who knows the story, who has read it multiple times, we are able to see the foreshadowing Jesus is giving. None of that is the amazing part.

What amazes me is the reason for death. Jesus is going to let Lazarus die, even though He has the ability to heal him remotely. Why? So that glory will come to Jesus and God through the resurrection. And that is exactly what happens. Many people believe and they could not keep quiet. God and Jesus were both being glorified for this event. But the glory does not stop here.

It is through this event that eventual glory will take place in Jesus own death and resurrection. Look at verse fifty-three again … “So from that time on, the Jewish leaders began to plot Jesus’ death.” (John 11:53 NLT) Had Jesus not returned like His disciples advised Him to, then maybe something else would have been the catalyst for the crucifixion. But Jesus foreshadowed in a powerful way. Not only do we have the glory of the here and now event, but we have the glory of the cross from this one event. I find that remarkable.


So … on a side note, maybe the events in your life; the ups and downs, the joys and pains, the tears and laughter, are part of God orchestrating and event to bring Himself glory. Approaching situations with that mindset might help you through the trying times. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Luke 14 - 15

Hello everyone. I want to apologize for not updating in several days. To be honest we have hit a section of the reading where I have simply hit writers block. I apologize and hope to be back at this tomorrow. Thank you for understanding.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

October 23 – John 7 & 8

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from John 7 & 8. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.

I love Jesus. Our reading today may just be one of the boldest two days of Jesus life. Here He is in Jerusalem, in the Temple area, and making some of the most outlandishly true statements of His ministry. Our reading opens up with His brothers encouraging Him to go to Jerusalem. They want Him to do publicly there what he has been doing in other regions. They are beginning to believe He is the political Messiah they have been waiting on. Jesus knows that He is not, and that the heat is too much, and that a trip to Jerusalem would possibly be deadly. He stays back, but only for a short amount of time.

In Jerusalem people are looking for Jesus but He is laying low. Finally He speaks and when He does, He gives them some bold proclamations …

“For if the correct time for circumcising your son falls on the Sabbath, you go ahead and do it so as not to break the law of Moses. So why should you be angry with me for healing a man on the Sabbath? Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”” (John 7:23-24 NLT)
  
“Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (John 7:37-38 NLT)

“I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12 NLT)

“Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.” (John 8:19 NLT)

“No,” Jesus said, I have no demon in me. For I honor my Father—and you dishonor me. And though I have no wish to glorify myself, God is going to glorify me. He is the true judge. I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!” (John 8:49-51 NLT)

“Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I Am!” At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple.” (John 8:58-59 NLT)

Jesus does not mince words. He speaks pointedly about who He is and who it that sent Him. While not everyone understands all that He says, it is clear that Jesus is calling God His father and making deity claims about Himself.


The question that remains for us is simple … are we willing to follow Jesus example and stand boldly in our world making the same claims to an unbelieving generation?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

October 22 – Mathew 18

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Matthew 18. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.

In a recent post I commented on the idea that it is often best to read the gospels by their topical arrangement. You can read that post here. By doing so we are able to get a complete picture of that particular grouping of stories. It will enhance your Bible study immensely if you do so.

Today’s reading is another one where grouping helps. The conversation revolves around the Kingdom of Heaven. In it we are given different aspects of what the Kingdom of Heaven will be like. We are given a glimpse as to who will get in and the pursuit that God is on after us. We are also given a glimpse of how the people who belong to the Kingdom of Heaven are to treat one another. What strikes me about this discussion is it is alluding to the fact that Kingdom of Heaven is not a future tense object, but something currently present.


How we treat children is a here and now concept. How we pursue people who are not part of the Kingdom of Heaven is a here and now concept. How we look out for the mistakes of others is a here and now concept. How we forgive others of their debts and wrong doing’s is a here and now concept. If the Kingdom of Heaven is so great, then why on earth would we want to wait for it? Wouldn't life be much more enjoyable if we all worked to make the Kingdom of Heaven a reality in our present day lives? 

Monday, October 21, 2013

October 21 – Mathew 17 & Mark 9

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Matthew 15 & Mark 7. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.
Photo Credit: sean/mundy

Every year I spend a week at Butler Springs Christian Camp serving a week of camp with fourth and fifth graders. This is the first full week that campers come and spend an entire week, Sunday through Friday, at camp. One of the issues we always face is homesickness. For many this is their first time away from home without parents or other family members with them. For many this is their first time disconnected from technology. For many of them this is their first time really getting dirty, playing in the woods, and learning about Jesus. With all this new or different stuff going on homesickness can show up.

Jesus has spent around thirty years on this earth by the time we find Him in our reading today. He takes the three disciples of His inner development circle up onto the mountainside with Him. He leaves the remaining nine at their basecamp in town. On the mountain side God shows up in a powerful way along with Elijah and Moses. God shares with all present that Jesus is His son. For a brief moment Jesus is reminded that this earth, full of all its dirt and grime, its lack of glory, is not His home; He is just temporarily visiting.

Immediately on their return home Jesus is reminded of the differences between earth and heaven … He is certainly not in heaven any more. The disciples left behind have been unsuccessful at casting out a destructive demon from the body of a young boy. The father comes to Jesus asking Him to do what the disciples could not … heal His boy. Jesus then utters these harsh words … “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” (Matthew 17:17 NLT) I wander what the tone and volume of these words was. Regardless Jesus is sharing His heart. Hours before He was reminded that this earth is not His home. He was in the presence once again of God and now He has returned to the grime of our lives. How He must have been homesick.

What caused Him to be here? It was His love for us and His desire to restore the relationship torn apart because of sin. Jesus put up with all the messed up stuff we offer so that He could do life with us again. For that I am thankful. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

October 19 – Mathew 15 & Mark 7

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Matthew 15 & Mark 7. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

A few days ago on this blog I wrote about how the gospels are not always in chronological order but sometimes grouped. Understanding the grouping today will help us understand a very difficult action of Jesus. Throughout our reading today there is a battle Jesus had with the Pharisees. They are concerned with the letter of keeping the Law and not the heart of the Law. To add burning coals to their already smoldering fire, the Laws they are concerned most with tend to be the ones they have come up with … not the ones given to Moses from God. Jesus scolds them for this.

Following this interaction both of our authors show us that Jesus was not about the status quo. Jesus leaves the Jewish regions and moves into a predominate Gentile region. Here a woman who has a daughter possessed by a demon comes to Jesus seeking for His help. But Jesus gives her this tough to understand response … “First I should feed the children-my own family, the Jews. It is not right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” (Mark 7:27 NLT) We struggle with this statement because we see Jesus as all loving and sent to love all people, but this verse does not support that, at least in a first reading.

Let’s look back at the beginning story … Jesus is scolding the Pharisees for their supposed following of God, now as Jesus is interacting with this Gentile woman, Jesus is teaching His disciples. To His disciples this woman has many things against her … she is a woman, she is all alone with a wild child, and she is a Gentile. In their minds she can be seen as a dirty dog … dogs were considered dirty and unclean, unwelcome in the home of a Jew. That is the point of Jesus response. The disciple’s actions prove their hearts. In Matthew the disciples ask Jesus to get rid of her. Do not take that too harshly, they are annoyed by her, and all they ask Jesus to do is get rid of her. This was not a request to not heal her daughter, they more than likely wanted Jesus to heal her problem and send her away. But Jesus wants to teach His disciples.


While His primary target audience was the Jewish people, His kingdom would extend to all people. So just as He challenged the minds of the Pharisees, He is now challenging the minds of His disciples. Teaching them that their thought of this woman as a dirty dog is not the way God views her. We have to remember that sometimes Jesus will work in a way that we might find offensive and rude so He can show and teach His disciples. What a wonderful and powerful way to teach. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

October 18 – John 6

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from John 6. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.

Jesus has just feed five thousand men plus women and children with two fish and five loaves of bread. This is the same story that we experienced yesterday in the other three gospels. After the feeding, the next morning the crowds wake up to find that Jesus and his disciples are not there. Now they know how the disciples got across, they saw them leave by boat. But Jesus went up on the hillside to pray. It was during the night that Jesus walked to them on the water. They are surprised and perplexed as to how Jesus beat them to that side of the sea.

Jesus knows what’s on their minds when they show up … “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.” (John 6:26-27 NLT). They come wanting what Jesus can give them. They do not necessarily want a relationship with Him. They are focused on here and now not the eternal life He has come to provide.


How much are we like them? Examine your prayer life; is it full of request for the here and now or does it encompass a broader spectrum of your relationship with Christ? We live in the here and now. We have aches and pains, broken hearts, and real physical needs. There is an element to our relationship with God that we trust He will provide and care for us. But our relationship with Christ should be much deeper and broader than just the physical needs of our life. We have been promised eternal life with God through Jesus. Cherish that each and every day! 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

October 17 – Matthew 14, Mark 6, and Luke 9

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Matthew 14, Mark 6, and Luke 9. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Jesus heart is breaking. His cousin, friend, and colleague has just been beheaded by Herod. His disciples have just returned from their first preaching journey. On top of all that the crowds are swelling. They do not want to comfort Jesus in this time of mourning; they want to take from Jesus; His teaching, His time, His heart, and His healing abilities. The Bible tells us that Jesus has compassion on them and He turns His attention to them. This is where we find the familiar story of the feeding of the five-thousand. When their bellies are full Jesus turns to His own personal needs.

He puts the disciples into a boat and sends them across the sea. Jesus goes up on a hillside by Himself where He prays. “Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves.” (Mark 6:47-48 NLT). I love this. Here Jesus is alone, off mourning His heartbreak and connecting with His father. While He may be alone, He has positioned Himself so His disciples would always be in sight.


Friends … never forget that. You are a child of God. You are His disciple. No matter what you are going through, no matter what waves come tossing your life back and forth, you are always in the sight of God. When things seem too much, when the oars just do not seem to be touching the water, God sees you, and loves you and cares about you. In your own life, it is in these moments that God will come walking on the rough seas of your life, just as Jesus did that night. React like Peter, walk out to Him, but do not loose faith when the wind blows. Continue in faith, because no matter what has come your way, God has always kept you in His sights. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

October 16 – Matthew 10

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Matthew 10. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

In our reading today Jesus sends His disciples out on a preaching journey. He gives them very specific instructions on what they are to carry out on this journey. They are to travel without many possession or resources. They are not to worry about their needs, but to trust that God will provide throughout their tour. This entire exercise is a training tool Jesus employed with His disciples while He was still with them.

This was their training time. A time would come when the training would be over and they would be unleashed to bring salvation to the world. Jesus reminds them that this is a training time … “What I tell you now in darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!” (Matthew 10:27 NLT) We might read into these instructions that Jesus is teaching them and preparing them for a greater public ministry some time in the future. We can understand this to indicate that in some ways the time was not yet right.


Sometimes timing is important. There are times when we want to do something, but God says not right now. There are times when we want to see changes in people, but we are not willing to invest the necessary love, teaching, and direction into their lives. The disciples would have to wait a little while longer before they would get to shout from the housetops. That day will come. And so will ours. I don’t know what God is planning for your life, but give Him time to work and move, and when the day is right, we can boldly proclaim what is He has for us to proclaim. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

October 15 – Mark 4-5

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Mark 4-5. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.

In our reading today Jesus encounters a man who is possessed by demons. His case is severe. They have caused the man to live in a cemetery because of his wild behavior. He could no longer be restrained because he broke the chains and shackles. There was no one strong enough subdue the man and he spent his days wandering the hills and caves howling and hurting himself. When Jesus arrives on the scene he comes out to great Jesus. To a normal person we might have run at the sight of this man, but Jesus did not.

Why? Because the man came before Jesus paying the utmost respect and honor due to the creator of all things. Does that response startle you? It should. People do not just run up to someone and bow before them. It happens here because the demons possessing this man know who Jesus is, “With a shriek, he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In the name of God, I beg you, do not torture me!” (Mark 5:7 NLT) When this demon saw Jesus he knew immediately who he was.

While the people traveling with Jesus were still not sure who he was … remember the scene before in Mark 4 when Jesus calmed the storm they were left questioning who Jesus was that the wind and the waves obey him … this demon knows Jesus! There was no doubt in their minds who He was and why He was here on this earth. He was here to end the reign of Satan. He was here to end their reign of terror and ultimately crush evil and death.

Do you believe with the same conviction in Jesus that the demons did? While they rejected obedience to God, they believed in God, they believed in Jesus, and they knew that their days were numbered. This may sound odd, but we should develop the level of faith the demons possessed … just do not follow their example of obedience to God. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

October 14 – Matthew 13 & Luke 8

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Matthew 13 & Luke 8. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.

One of the tricks to reading the Bible is getting past the chapter and verse markings. They are valuable tools. They allow for us to easily locate any section of Scripture. It would be incredibly difficult to navigate the Bible without them. However, they are not God ordained markings. They were added by the hands of humans needing a referencing system. Sometimes they even hinder our reading. When doing a Bible reading plan we typically break the Bible down by reading through select chapters. We have done so in our reading plan. That is why we have had days with multiple chapters and days with very few. There are places in Scripture that the chapter ends, but the thought of the author does not. These issues present some minor problems to our reading.

Now that we are in the New Testament, and reading the Gospels, let me share with you a writing technique of the Gospel authors. Remember the writers did not put the chapter and verse notations in their works. They also at times wrote in chronological order. But at other times they left chronological order to highlight the teachings of Jesus. We know this as grouping. Sometimes the authors will take a topic of Jesus and group it together regardless of the chronological timeframe.

Each chapter we read has a general topic to it. Matthew 13 is heavily concerned with the coming Kingdom of heaven and its growth. That is the heart of the Parable of the Sower, or the Wheat and Weeds, or the Mustard Seed, or the Yeast. They all point to the coming kingdom and its growth. If we want to understand the growth of God’s kingdom one of the best places to turn in our Bible’s is to Matthew 13 because it is one grouping of Jesus teaching on it.

When we look at Luke 8 can we tell what the major thought from Luke is? This is a trickier one in my opinion. The reason we read Matthew 13 and Luke 8 today is because they both start with the Parable of the Sower. However, this is where the man added chapter and verses throw us off. Luke offers two themes in this chapter. The first is the Kingdom concept of Matthew 13. But the chapter continues with a few more stories … Jesus calms the storm, Jesus heals a demon-possessed man, Jesus heals a sick woman, and Jesus raises a dead girl back to life. What do you think Luke’s theme is here? It suggests to me and understanding of Jesus power over the natural laws. Jesus has power over nature in calming the storm, Jesus has power over the spiritual world in casting out a demon, Jesus has power over the sicknesses of this life in healing the woman, and finally Jesus has power over death.


Understanding this grouping concept allows us to get a fuller understanding of the individual stories. When one puzzles us we can look to those in front and behind, regardless of their chapter and verse markings, to gain a full picture of the authors intent. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

October 10 – Matthew 5-7

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Matthew 5-7. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

It’s interesting how God works sometimes. In the last week I have had several interactions with people in need. One Sunday night we had a man who as hitch hiking back to New York state stop by the church. The following Thursday night I was in Cleveland attending a Browns football game. On my way into the stadium I passed by several people who I assume are homeless or in desperate need of work and help. This passed Tuesday I visited a member in our church in the hospital in Cincinnati. When I got off the interstate I sat at a light next to a man who was holding a sign and in need.

I share all that to say that I did not help any of the people I encountered in any real significant way. Several of them I walked and drove right by. But when I read the teachings of Jesus I am convicted at how much I fail in this particular area. Jesus talks here in Matthew 6:1-4 about giving in such a way as to not boast. I get that, and try to live by that. But the true heart here is that Jesus has an expectation that we are going to give to the needy.


Now I have no problem with giving to those in need. I really do not. I do believe that we have a responsibility to help people get back on their feet; I love to help those who truly need help. But I also want to be a good steward of what God has blessed me with. I want to see the resources I have be used to truly help someone. Maybe that should not be my concern. I do not know the answer. All I know is it is an area that I am convicted of right now and an area that I am seeking more guidance from God in. Where are you growing right now?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October 9 – Matthew 12, Mark 3, & Luke 6

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Matthew 12, Mark 3, & Luke 6. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

What are you concerned with, the details or the overall project? I have a friend who was a jet engine engineer. Because of confidentiality agreements, she was not allowed to discuss the parts she designed. Regardless of her agreement, she did not know much about the other parts. She only really knew about the part she was responsible for and how it affected the other parts around her. This was done on purpose in part so one person could specialize on one part. Because of this she was oblivious to the other parts of the engine. When we focus too much on one aspect of something, we loose sight of the bigger picture.

That is exactly where the Pharisees where. They were focused on the letter of the Law and not the heart of the Law. The permission for priest to work on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:5), or David getting food for his men (Matthew 12:3-4), or saving a sheep from a well (Matthew 12:11) all point to the fact that God left room for heart in the Law over strict observance to the Law.


Are we guilty of this today? Do we look at what the life of a Christian is supposed to look like and demand it forgetting our freedom and salvation in Christ? Do we forget that we are saved by grace that nothing we can do will save us, and rely and trust on God for it? I am not advocating a life filled with sin because of that freedom, just a life that has assurance regardless of the mistakes we make. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

October 8 – John 5

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from John 5. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.

Too often we look at the Pharisees in negative light. Their actions give us many valid reasons to do so. In our reading today they looked at the man Jesus healed and gave this condemnation, “You can’t work on the Sabbath! The law doesn't allow you to carry that sleeping mat!” (John 5:10b NLT) Too often they were more concerned about the letter of the Law than the heart of the Law. We give them a bad reputation for their hatred toward Jesus. In our minds, we think of them in completely negative terms.

However, as an honest man, I do have to give them credit where it is deserved. When they come to Jesus to harass Him for breaking Sabbath rules, they fully understand His claims. Jesus responds to their harassment by saying, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” (John 5:17 NLT) They were furious and wanted Jesus killed. In their reaction, they understood the claims Jesus was making.

We praise the Apostles for their ministries, and rightly so. But we often forget how much they struggled to understand Jesus and His claims. From very early in Jesus ministry the Pharisees understood the claims he was making. While they understood them, they certainly did not accept them. However, what it does show is that their education and study of scripture brought them to a point where they understood the rich claims Jesus was making.


How are you in your Bible reading and knowledge? Is it preparing you to be ready to see the evidence of God all around you? While they did not accept it, the Pharisees where prepared intellectually to understand the claims that Jesus was making. That is a valid lesson for us to learn and apply to our lives.