Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Matthew 11:19: “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.”
Mark 2:16-17: “And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.””

Garfield the cat was looking down at a caterpillar, who said (thought), “I’m going to be a butterfly”. “And just how are you going to do that?” Garfield asked. “Uh…” the caterpillar says, pauses, and then says, “I know a guy.” When I read that, I smiled, thinking that the caterpillar was referring to the Creator.

Back in my post of Acts 11:25-26, I used the “I know a guy” quote in the analogy of Barnabas and Paul. In society today, it seems like everyone “knows” someone who’s well-connected, has influence or power, or has favors. Garth Brooks turned this phrase on its ear with his old country ballad “Friends in Low Places”. However, when you think about it, it is always nice to know someone who can help you in situations where you cannot help yourself or achieve some goal by yourself.

The scoffers derided Jesus Christ out loud, saying he frequently was seen with “tax collectors and sinners”, the lowest of the low. Even in Mark 2:16-17, they question why He ate with them. How blessed are we sinners that Jesus didn’t separate Himself, but came to us, to save us, to pay our price, to redeem us. Our Messiah wasn’t some upper-crust rich snob who didn’t let himself be seen with those lower in class; instead, He reached out to us, as a Friend.

What a Friend we have in Jesus!

Something to think about.

Advertisements

Mark 6:3 [“]Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” so they were offended at Him.”

My oldest son is about to embark on his first post-graduate job in his chosen field. Up to now, he had a job at a concrete fabrication plant. It was hard work, but it demonstrated his work ethic and provided a decent paycheck. He knew God had a carpenter’s job for him, though…it was what he wanted to do. He has good gifts for it, and graduated from our local technical school with a degree in it. Now he’ll get to fulfill his love of carpentry. I always told him that, among other benefits, carpentry is one occupation that can’t be “offshored” to a foreign country. Whenever I take that 2 week break to travel with our Carpenters for Christ, even though I’m primarily a videographer, I do pitch in and help where I can. It’s such a sense of fulfillment to see a building rise from an empty foundation, and by the time we leave, a structure for a church body is sitting on that site. You get a great sense of accomplishment.

Jesus is a builder. Of course, in the verse today, the scoffers were referencing the fact that Jesus was a carpenter, having learned the trade from his human father, Joseph, also a carpenter. That is why they couldn’t understand the wisdom and teachings he was preaching. “But, he’s just a carpenter”, they said. No, Jesus is THE Carpenter. He is the Master Builder who can take destroyed lives and fix them. He is in the business of building up, not tearing down.

Have you put your life in the hands of the Carpenter today?

Isaiah 28:16 – “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily.””
Ephesians 2:20 – “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,”

The following dialogue comes from the new Super Secret Secret Squirrel cartoon, which Hanna-Barbera aired as part of the show 2 Stupid Dogs.

Secret Squirrel was locked up in a cell in a straitjacket. A microscopic menace named Quark had made it look like he was crazy so that he would be locked up. Quark was destroying massive buildings, to which Secret asked him: “how could a subatomic speck like you destroy all those structures?”

Quark: “oh, it’s so simple; I just pulled out the bottom atom!” (which he demonstrates by removing the bottom atom of the stool Secret had sat upon, causing it to crumble.)

After bragging about his plan to wipe out North America for his entertainment career, he escapes. Suddenly the wall falls down; there stands Secret’s faithful sidekick, Morocco Mole!

Secret: “Morocco!”
Morocco: “Secret! I knew you weren’t crazy. You’re only crazy about catching criminals!”
Secret: “Thanks, Morocco. By the way, how did you knock down that huge wall?”
Morocco: “Simple; I just pulled out the bottom brick! heh.” (showing Secret the bottom brick as he unties him.)

Now what that humorous cartoon points out is a very simple construction fact: most all structures have a dependent component that the rest of the building is fabricated upon. It’s known as the cornerstone in most buildings. Wikipedia defines a cornerstone as “The cornerstone (or foundation stone or setting stone) is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornerstone)

My father, a retired brick mason, always started laying out a building by constructing a corner to build the intersecting walls off of; without that steady corner, the walls wouldn’t be sound enough.

What is Jesus without the church? Well, He is still the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior, God; that doesn’t change. What is the church without Jesus? That’s the point in a nutshell. Without Jesus, the church would be like other religions that eventually cave in and collapse. It would be a shell, a sham, a house of cards that would fold under pressure.

Christian, remember today that Jesus is the Cornerstone of your faith; faith built upon such a Rock can stand up to anything.

Something to think about.

John 6:35 “And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.””

In the Columbo mystery episode entitled “Any Old Port in a Storm”, the killer tried to cover up the victim’s murder by making it look like he had hit his head while scuba diving, and thus drowned. The murderer disposed of the body several days later after returning from out of town to setup his alibi. Columbo is set on the case by the victim’s fiancée, who filed him as a missing person. The detective’s suspicion is aroused when he find out something in the autopsy report. In talking with the fiancée, he discovers the victim was a real healthy, athletic adventurer, and ate to support his active lifestyle. The autopsy report shows that he hadn’t eaten in several days; the fiancée confirms he would never starve himself like that. Columbo even cryptically quotes the report as “depriving himself of food would leave him extremely weak”…”so why would a guy go scuba diving, if he hasn’t eaten in several days?” Columbo thinks out loud.

Food is one of the basic necessities we must have to survive; our physical bodies must have nourishment.

Famed chef Jose Andres was interviewed back in November of 2017 by Anderson Cooper for the CBS news program 60 Minutes. In it, they were discussing the chef’s efforts to help feed the people of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. During the conversation, Cooper states that “it’s so interesting to me how for you (Andres), food is at the center of everything.” Jose Andres replied, “Anderson, food touches everything. Food is in our DNA. Food touches the economy. Food is science. Food is romanticism. Food is health. Food has many of the opportunities to have a better tomorrow.” (this entire interview can be found at https://www.cbsnews.com/news/feeding-puerto-rico/).

Jesus told his disciples, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger”. Our spiritual lives crave nourishment as well. They can wither into nothing without the fulfillment that they need to grow. Many a scientist has “withered” trying to fill that void with intellectual musings. Jesus is the only answer for our spiritual sustenance, growth, and maturity. Similar to what Jose Andres said about food, to a growing Christian, Jesus touches everything.

God gave my wife an epiphany on this title. She remarked, “The Bread of Life was laid in a feeding trough.” Remember, that’s what the manger in the stable was…a source of food.

Something to think about.

Well, my deepest apologies for being a couple of months late in starting this new series. Once 2018 hit, we had things going on left and right; also, I’ve been trying to concentrate on Scripture memorization after a message delivered at our church by author Robert J. Morgan inspired me to do so. However, I need to get back to it, so let me begin with a “why” of this particular subject, Jesus: I am the (fill-in-the-blank). This particular study may, at times, be more intermittent than the usual walkthrough of a book of the Bible, but I’m looking forward to it.

After wrapping up Acts, I remembered a devotional thought I was going to use regarding everyday items that we see, that Jesus used to describe Himself. I was also inspired by a late 2017 series our pastor did on some of the “I am the (fill-in-the-blank)” from the book of John. I then felt sort of sheepish, thinking that I didn’t want anyone to think I was just copying our pastor. However, after talking with him, he encouraged me to go ahead with the plan; he had only used the several items from John, and there were many more things in the Testaments that Jesus used to describe Himself to the disciples.

In fact, when I began some background preparation, I used the Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Holy Bible to look up all the “Names, Appellations, and Titles” used to describe Jesus. I found that there were roughly 232 titles and descriptions used to describe our Lord! Now, let me assure you, I’m not going to be covering all of those! However, I’m going to pray and select roughly a dozen to focus on, as the Lord leads me.

I’ve always liked analogies; if you’ve followed these devotions, you can see that. I guess my favorite story, which you’ve heard, is when I lived briefly with my grandmother while attending college and into my first post-graduate occupation. I came home from work as a programmer at a textile corporation, and she asked me how my day was. “Fine.” I replied. “Well, tell me, what did you do?” she asked. Now, my grandmother was not very technical; she couldn’t set the clock on her VCR (and I’m not being mean here…really, she couldn’t!). So how in the world was I going to talk about working with programs, JCL, COBOL, and procs on a mainframe computer? Simple: by phrasing it in a way she’d understand. I described my day like it was a recipe in her cookbook (and my grandmother DID know how to cook!) That way, I could convey what I did in a way she could comprehend.

I guess that’s what drew me to all the names used to describe Jesus. When you think about it, how would God convey Who He was to human beings? The comprehension of that would stagger the most intelligent mind (and still does today!) So, Jesus took the items His disciples were familiar with: fishermen, bread, water, stars, etc., and revealed His glory through those. Sometimes, they still didn’t get it, but eventually they did…and eventually, we will to.

So next time, we’ll begin with Jesus: I am the Bread of Life.

May God bless this study and show you and me something through it.

Acts 28: 1-31

Verse 24: “And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved.”

Here we are, at the end of 2017. Tomorrow is January 1, 2018. Like most folks, I look back on this year reflectively. There are good memories and accomplishments; there are also some memories and incidents that I’d rather forget (and hope are not repeated in the new year!) Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, a French critic, journalist, and novelist, once stated that “the more things change, the more they stay the same” (this is a loose translation; I referenced this from the Wikipedia entry on Karr: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Baptiste_Alphonse_Karr). Sometimes you think things will be different, only to see that they still turn out the same way.

Paul must have felt some sense of this. After ministering on the isle of Malta, he finally makes it Rome. Granted some freedom to stay in a house while awaiting trial, he calls the local Jewish leaders to him and updates them on recent events as well as telling them the Good News. If you or I were Paul, we might be tempted to think, “well, this time will be different. This isn’t the local mob of Jews I’ve had to deal with. I’m in Rome now; the outcome will be much better.”

But what happened? The same result as before: some were persuaded and believed, but some disbelieved. It can be disheartening to keep trying over and over and yet feel rejected, but this didn’t stop Paul. He kept preaching the Gospel wherever he was and with whoever he was with. We should have this same attitude as well. God didn’t call us to save people to Him; only Jesus Christ can save people’s souls. God commands us, as Christians, to tell the Good News to as many as we can. We’re just messengers; we can’t make people accept Christ…but God takes the seeds that are sown in His name, and takes it from there.

So as we conclude this study of Acts, remember to be faithful messengers in Jesus’s name…telling the Good News of Jesus Christ. We’ll resume the studying in a few weeks with a series called “Jesus: I Am the (fill-in-the-blank)” It’s a study of some of the analogies that Jesus taught His disciples to better explain Who He is. These analogies are just as important to us years later, as well.

May God bless you this coming new year!

Acts 27: 1-44

Verses 23-24: “For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.'”

Whenever I do not drive myself on Carpenters for Christ mission trips, most of the other times I travel with my father in his truck. Since he is driving, I’ll chart our progress on a map to see how close we are to state lines and such (in most cases to take some snapshots). There have been times he has asked me where we are on the map and how close we are to certain landmarks or towns. He has even asked before how many miles we are to a certain area (good thing I took land navigation in high school!) I thought of this when reading all the detail that Luke put into the account of Paul travelling to Rome aboard the ship and his trials during the storm. Most of the account is filled with this navigational detail, but there were three things that drew my attention while reading this account.

In verse 3, Luke writes that Julius (the centurion in charge of the prisoners) treated Paul kindly. I’m reminded that God “clears the way” when we need His help, and sometimes that help comes in unexpected people that He sends our way.

The second item is in verses 23-24: that God reminded Paul that he was to make it to Rome alive to be brought before Caesar. Worry is one of the devil’s favorite weapons…with that weapon, he can rob us of the energy and focus that we need in ministering for God. Paul was probably emboldened and strengthened to be reminded of this by God’s angel. The weight of concern about their survival was lifted from him with this reminder, allowing him to focus on the task at hand.

The third item is in verse 36; Paul encouraged the men, who hadn’t eaten anything in the last 14 days, to take nourishment for their survival. The angel had told Paul that they would survive, but the ship would be run aground, so they would need strength to make it shore (go without food for 2 weeks, and see how strong you are!) This verse is a reminder that God gave us physical bodies that we need to take care of in order to better serve Him. That means making sure we take the nourishment we need to keep our bodies running as they should.

Sounds like common sense, right? But as I’m often reminded in this old world, common sense ain’t as common as it used to be. It’s better to let God do the driving and we “ride shotgun” with Him!

Something to think about.