All in Scripture

Day 7: Certainty – Again (Luke 2:1–7)

Can such a story, so far as we have read, deliver what it says? After all, in the first chapter we have had to contend with quite a bit! Luke, I sense, recognizes the challenge of believing such a story. He returns to grounding his account in history—a census ordered by one of the most powerful Caesars of all time. This is no myth.

Day 5: When God Becomes Palpable (Luke 1:57–66)

There are moments when God reveals himself—reveals that his divine and supernatural hand is present. Not to get too far ahead, but verses 68 & 78 say “God visits.” These stories Luke has put before us, the ones he has researched, interviewing eyewitnesses, are stunning. Angels appear, women who should not be able to conceive are able, men are struck mute, while the unborn leap for joy. I mentioned there was a dark time in my life when God’s light shined very brightly. I had been praying for weeks, every night, for hours. One night I was jarred awake.

Day 4: Bursting for Joy (Luke 1:46–56)

There are moments in our lives when our joy erupts. We become disconnected from our center of logic and control—and after that moment is all said and done, we find it quite remarkable that we had such an outburst. Perhaps this is where Mary finds herself. Sometimes these moments come upon us—and sometimes we can move ourselves into them. But how?

Day 3: Following God (Luke 1:39–45)

With all this talk of certainty and waiting, it is good when confirmation comes that you are on the right path. Mary is simply walking toward the house. Elizabeth and her baby are filled with the Holy Spirit. The baby leaps in her womb. Elizabeth brings forth praise. Mary, whose womb is filled with infinity and eternity, responds. But first, I wonder. I don’t know, but I expect not every moment of every day in Mary’s life had this sort of confirmation from God. Many people, when they first begin following God, have all sorts of these delightful moments of confirmation. In my own life, I first came to know God, to put my trust in Him, when my world was very dark.

Day 2: Willingness (Luke 1:26–38)

Imagine you are minding your own business, and an angel appears and asks you to do something that is both wild and does not quite fit your idea of how things work. That is the situation Mary is presented with. For Luke, he has unearthed the angel Gabriel’s activities. The involvement of the heavenly angelic host should not surprise us. God is at work. His workers include mortal and immortal agents.

Day 1: Waiting (Luke 1:5-25)

It is interesting that we jump from the idea of certainty yesterday to a story today. Remember, Luke’s point is that this is not some once-upon-a-time fairy tale. No, this is real. It happened. He grounds it in a specific place, time, and people. Further, it is not a recent story. No, God wrote this story long before the beginning of time. And there have been many people WAITING in expectation. Why bring this up? Because for Luke, this is story of certainty: not human certainty, but the certainty of God.

Gospel of Luke - Introduction

I love math and science. I love solving problems, figuring out conundrums, and having confidence I obtained the right answer. Before coming to know Jesus, I was a difficult person, always thinking I was right. Luke tells us he is writing about certainty, certainty about Jesus. It ts how I am naturally wired, yet this certainty should not lead to arrogance. There is much in Luke’s opening sentences.

Seeking Change While Content

It’s December, and it’s the season—the season for commercials to join gyms, quit smoking, and more. At the Pocket Testament League, we even join in and invite people to begin reading God’s Word more regularly. For the most part, our New Year’s resolutions are aimed at helping us become better people. We want to change, to improve. Today in our text we read: I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.

Gaining the Gift You Already Have

I tend to be the kind of person who is usually striving after something—some goal. When I fall short of one of those goals, I can lose my sense of peace. It is not that being focused on a goal is bad—it is how I respond when I succeed (or do not succeed) at achieving and gaining that goal. How about you? What is a moment in your life when you worked very hard towards a specific goal and you accomplished it? Can you remember it right now?Maybe it was something you did as an individual. Maybe it was something as part of a group or team. Maybe it is something you are doing right now, and it is ongoing. Why do I ask? Because I think I’m so goal-oriented that I make following Jesus much harder than it needs to be.

Watch Out for the Dogs

The dogs my wife and I have had have all been easily distracted. The last fella we had, when a squirrel ran across our path, he would practically pull our arm out of its socket, as we tried to restrain his enthusiasm with a leash. My wife and I would start calling out, “squirrel!” Not when we were walking the dog, but when we were talking and one of us would take a sharp – and perhaps random – turn, departing from the main topic. Why bring this up? Because in the text today, maybe you think I should be yelling, “squirrel!” Our reading today starts innocently enough. Its starts with a statement, an exclamation even, of joy! But then it moves to a stern warning about false teaching, and even what appears to be prideful boasting. Did a squirrel just run in front of St. Paul?

It's a Team Sport

I remember once, a person leaving church, pointing out how they were tired of all the sports analogies. I appreciate they can get tiresome.

Let’s consider a list: sport teams, choirs, symphonies, marching bands... What other groups can you think of where people offer their individual gifts/labors and add them to the larger group?

In addition to the above, I can think of most jobs, the military, and church! Yes, the church.

No-grumbling Zone

I heard my wife say, “You must be feeling better.” “Why?” I asked. Her response, “Because you are complaining.” I had been out of work for weeks. I was sick, and I never get sick. As I slowly returned to health, I began returning to my natural state. I began grumbling. Pause for a moment and ask yourself: “When is it that I’m most likely to complain and grumble?” I can tell you my answer. It is when I am working really hard at something, and the outcome doesn’t turn out the way I want. Compare that to what we read today, and ask two questions about Paul’s situation.

Humility, Part Two: Its Source & Its Growth

In Part One, I more than suggested that the path to becoming humble is to start practicing acts of humility—acts where we put the interests of others above ourselves. It is through action that our lives will be transformed. We become more humble—our lives of humility grow—by action. Yet what is the root of this growth? As I presented this thought to us, taking action as the means to transform ourselves, I knew it was not complete. I left out God. We cannot, by ourselves, apart from God, accomplish anything. Especially when we are talking about taming our pride. We need God.

Humility, Part One: Just Do It!

If you live on this planet, you are familiar with the Nike slogan and their iconic Swoosh. It’s 30 years old. The slogan itself has quite a history, but at its core it has a simple message of action. Not words—action. In a world that is constantly saturated with information, action is appealing. I want to suggest that you and I probably don’t need more words about why we should be men and women of humility—we need to just do it. This brings to us a fundamental question about how you and I go about transforming and conforming ourselves to the Word of God. I don’t know about you, but I somehow fall into the trap of thinking that I can think myself into better behavior... some flawed notion that if I could better understand the why behind the what, then doing the what would somehow be as easy as falling off a horse. The reality is, nothing could be further from the truth.

Confidence leads to Conduct

Be confident in yourself—we hear this phrase regularly. Simply google “be confident” and you will find some pretty good advice, like this. As I read those types of articles and consider their advice, I find much of it good. Yet the center of it all is ME—and that makes this me the opposite of confident. At the bottom of all this advice is the belief that being confident requires we somehow screw ourselves up and be super reliant on all we intrinsically possess and extrinsically accomplish. I hear the Mighty mouse theme music in the background (sorry for slipping into sarcasm). What has my mind going in this direction? Quite simply the confident attitude of a person in prison—Paul. Listen again to what we read today…

When you’re not part of the main gang

What is the most elite group you have ever been a part of? Maybe you are having trouble remembering if you were ever part of such a group. Have you ever been a part of a group that had its own identity? Was it a good experience? Would you have “sold out” or “crossed over” to another gang or team? Today in Philippians, we read about a gang called the Imperial Guard. Are you thinking, “The Imperial Guard from Star Wars?” No, not those fellas who ran around in red outfits. Today, I am talking about a real gang who protected real Emperors. To put a point on the importance of this unit, emperors were not voted out of office—they were murdered.

Philippians 1:3-11 — If I had more time, I would write you a shorter letter

My title is attributed to many authors. Imagine, if you had time on your hands, and you wanted to communicate something important to your audience: what would you do? Many would grind, work hard, on how they were going to communicate, what to say, and how exactly to say it. Time is often the issue. In our day, we often feel pressed for time. Add to this environment the gift of instant communication—emails, text messaging, and more—and we often hit send too quickly. Have you ever regretted hitting that send button? As we come to the Letter to the Philippians, we do not have the problem of its author being rushed…

We’re living longer than ever

Google “living longer than ever” and you get any number of articles citing this phenomenon. Which makes some people ask, “Is living longer a blessing?” Longer life is not hyperbole. Scientists now predict that we will be able to live longer and longer. But the question remains, “Will it be worth living?” The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians reveals that for him, Jesus Christ made life profoundly worth living. Before we jump into the text, let’s have a brief introduction to this letter.

Colossians Wrap-up: Light Bulb Moments

Sometimes I get to the middle of something, get stuck, and then everything is clear. I realize that the answer was present from the beginning. Does that ever happen to you? It is that moment when the proverbial light bulb is turned on, and all that seemed dark and obscure, is now plainly in sight. Reading Colossians has, for me, been very much like this kind of situation.