Bible Study

11/22/14 Daily Devotion – What would your answer be?


““Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?” He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me, John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or from men?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.” So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.” Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”” (Luke 20:2–8, NIV84)

How important is it for us to be able to discern between the messages of the two kingdoms? Just study these verses for the answer. The religious leaders want Jesus to tell them by what authority He teaches and does His miracles. Before Jesus would answer their question, He asked them a discerning question. He asked them to discern whether John the Baptist’s ministry was from the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of the world. This should have been an easy question for them to answer because they were the spiritual leaders of the people. So what was their answer? They refused to answer. They refused to provide a discerning answer because they would find themselves condemned either way. If they said heaven, they would condemn themselves for not following him. If they said from men, the people would condemn them for their lack of spiritual truth. Based on their refusal to commit, He refused to answer their question. Why? Because their answer would not have moved them to faith, just like John’s ministry.

This morning, what is our answer to the question, “What kingdom brought us John’s and Jesus’ ministries? Have we properly discerned and committed our lives to our answer? The religious leaders knew what the possible answers were. They just refused to believe and commit. Today, let’s be completely committed to Jesus and the message and ministry of the kingdom of heaven.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


11/20/14 Daily Devotion – The contrast of the two kingdoms!


“Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.” (Luke 19:47–48, NIV84)

These two verses, once again, show the contrast between the two kingdoms (heaven & this world) and who is actually in control during the last week of Jesus’ life (Holy Week). The clash between the kingdoms is evidenced by the fact that the common people were hanging on Jesus’ every word, while the religious leaders were continuously plotting for a way to kill Him. Here Jesus is preaching a life-giving message and the religious leaders want Him dead. You can sense the force of evil behind those following the kingdom of this world. Jesus said about Satan, “He is a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies he speaks his native language because he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44). And again in John 10:10, “The thief (Satan) comes to kill, steal and destroy…” This week Jesus is doing battle with Satan and his kingdom, and on this day, Jesus exercises His control and continues to take over His temple and proclaims the truth about the kingdom of heaven. And the people hang on every word.

As I write this devotion, I am forced to ask myself, “Am I as aware of the lines that distinguish the two kingdoms as I ought to be? And, do I live in the confidence that the kingdom of this world is not in control, although through the eyes of sight it would appear to be at times. We can only grow to be more certain about these things as we are more and more firmly rooted into God’s Word. Notice the lines of distinction are always around truth and lies. The kingdom of this world will always have lies as a base of thinking. Why? Because Satan is a liar and can do nothing else but attempt to imitate truth. Also, the more we are in God’s Word, the more we will run into event after event where God showed Himself to be in control and worked His will as the result of the event.

May we be confident today that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is in control and is working out all things for the good of those who love Him.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


11/19/14 Daily Devotion – It’s time for a good cleaning!


“Then he entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. “It is written,” he said to them, “ ‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”” (Luke 19:45–46, NIV84)

From my perspective, the last week of Jesus’ life is an opportunity for God to show that the kingdom of God is in absolute control. The week begins with Jesus peacefully entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on a donkey while accepting the praise and honor only due the promised Messiah.  He declares to the Pharisees that if the people were to be hushed, the very rocks would cry out God’s praise.

The next thing Jesus does in the city is clear out all the salespeople from the temple area. He cleanses the temple so that He might take over the sanctuary and teach. The God who filled the temple with His glory in the days of Solomon fills it once again as He teaches Monday through Thursday the last week of His life. No Pharisee, Sadducee ,or teacher of the law was able to do anything about the fact that Jesus took over the temple on the busiest week of the year.

May Jesus have that same control over our hearts and lives. May He clean out whatever needs to be removed from within us so that the teachings of His Word might completely fill us.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


11/18/14 Daily Devotion – “…the stones will cry out!”


“When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”” (Luke 19:37–40, NIV84)

Most of the time, in my life, the distinction between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world is vague and blurry.  I’m certain that is the result of getting too connected to the kingdom of this world and not seeing what is plainly out there to be seen.  But then there are those times when the distinction is sharp and clear.  God has blessed me with many moments of clarity when I have been able to see His kingdom in clear focus and sharp detail.

The Pharisees are being given a moment like this in our text.  Jesus has had many arguments and debates with them over religious doctrine and practice.  But today, the Pharisees are given the opportunity to try to see the kingdom of God more clearly.  Jesus is riding into the city of Jerusalem being hailed as “king”.  The crowd is spontaneously crying out that Jesus is the promised King from God who would bring peace to both heaven and earth.  They were praising God and declaring Jesus to be the Messiah.  The Pharisees got the message.  They understood exactly what was happening.  But instead of joining the crowd in honoring the Messiah, they requested that Jesus tell the people to stop.  They refused to accept Jesus to be the promised Messiah, so they vehemently requested that Jesus stop the proceeding.  Please note Jesus’ response, “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out!”  Jesus is clearly telling them that He is the Messiah and that there would be honor and praise on that day one way or the other.  If no one would have been found to honor and praise Jesus on that day, creation itself would have begun to cry out!

What an amazing contrast between the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of heaven!  May we today, and always, be found among those who recognize God’s kingdom at work and rightly honor and praise Him for His mighty works on our behalf.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


11/17/14 Daily Devotion – God weeps!


“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”” (Luke 19:41–44, NIV84)

What causes God to weep? In our verses for today we find Jesus weeping for the people of Jerusalem. Why would God ever weep? What would cause an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing, ever-present God to cry? Rejection! In His very essence God is perfect love. His character is defined by His heart. His heart is visible to us in Jesus. And in our verses for today, Jesus weeps over the people of Jerusalem because they have rejected His love for them. He has tried to show it any and every way He could, but they still are rejecting Him. Jesus says in verse 44 that they did not recognize the time of God’s coming to them. In Jesus Christ, God had come to them with all of His love and grace so that He might bring them back into His kingdom. But they refused. And God’s heart breaks.

If you’re reading this devotion today as a Christian, please spend a moment to praise God that His moment of coming to you was not in vain. Between you, Him and the Holy Spirit, you stand before God as a recipient of His grace and a believer in His saving work on the cross. But know and remember often in your prayers, that there are still so many more out there that need to hear the message of God’s love. We need to constantly be in prayer that the moments of grace we have shared with Jesus are multiplied to a world out there dying because they don’t know that love. We have to be willing to be used by God as instruments to share that love with people God brings into our lives.

If you are reading this devotion as a non-Christan, then know for certain that today is the day of God’s coming into your life. Open your eyes and your heart to receive His love and grace. See Jesus dying on the cross to redeem you, to save you, and to bring you home to be with Him. Don’t miss the day of His coming!

Peace!

Pastor Tom


11/14/14 Daily Devotion – Who is in control?


““Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it.’ ” Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They replied, “The Lord needs it.”” (Luke 19:30–34, NIV84)

I chuckle a little every time I read the story of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. I try to put myself in the place of the disciples hearing Jesus give us the command to go to some guy’s house and untie his donkey and bring it to Him, and if the man asks why you are taking his donkey tell him, “The Lord needs it.” Of course we don’t say anything to Jesus, but as we walk into town we are thinking to ourselves, “I sure hope the man is not there.” What a predicament Jesus seems to be getting us into.

So we walk into town. We see the donkey and its foal outside the house. We go there and untie them so we can take them to Jesus. Just as we are releasing the last knot in the rope, a man comes out of the house and wants to know what we are doing with his donkeys. You see, this looks a lot like stealing. We gulp and use the words that Jesus told us to use. “The Lord needs it.” And the man lets us go! Amazing! If you look at the original language of the text, it could be translated, “Its Lord has need of it.” But regardless, did you catch the main point? Jesus, for the first time, I think, has referred to Himself as the Lord. “Tell him, the Lord needs it.” Jesus enters Jerusalem as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He is in absolute control of all that is happening on this day and for the rest of Holy Week.

Let’s remember this event the next time we feel God pushing us in a direction that we aren’t so sure of. When that happens, let’s be certain that He is the Lord and He is in control.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


11/13/14 Daily Devotion – Let’s know, believe and act!


““Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’ “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’” (Luke 19:20–23, NIV84)

In our last devotion we talked about how a steward’s proper focus is not on himself, but on the Giver of the gifts and talents to be used in His service.  Two servants proved that concept to be true.  Believe it.  And put it into practice.  They immediately began to put the Master’s money to work and it began to increase.  The third servant did quite a different thing.  He simply put the Master’s money away.  Refused to use it!  And so when the Master came back for an accounting, the servant had gained nothing.  The servant said that he knew that the Master was a hard man who reaped what He did not sow.  But he didn’t believe it!  And because he didn’t believe it, he didn’t do anything with the Master’s money.  The Master rightly condemned him with his own words.  “If you really knew and believed that I was a Master who could reap where I did not sow, then you should have at least put My money in the bank and trusted it would draw interest.”  But in fact, the servant didn’t really believe any of it.  He simply went about living his own life while leaving his responsibilities to the Master on the “back burner”.

May God find us to be servants like the first two whom the Master had an accounting.  May we know, believe, and act as servants for Almighty God who has the ability to make all of our stewardship a positive working for His kingdom.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


11/12/14 Daily Devotion – A proper stewardship focus!


““He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it. “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’ “ ‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’” (Luke 19:15–17, NIV84)

In this parable on stewardship, Jesus challenges us to focus more on the giver of the talents than on what we as stewards do with them.  Too often our focus, even as Christians, is on ourselves.  Jesus’ focus in this parable is on the King who gives money to his servants, not the servants themselves.  Notice that the king has the expectation that there has been “gain” from the money he gave the servants.  He calls his servants in for an accounting to see “what they had gained with it.”  What does this parable say about God and our lives?

Every good steward knows that God is the giver of all good gifts.  Every talent, penny, health, etc., that we have today is a gift from God.  He has given us these things to benefit our existence and to multiply His kingdom.  Remember, from God’s perspective, it is always about the kingdom of God.  He uses our stewardship of the blessing He gives us.  He mysteriously and wonderfully causes a multiplication.  When we properly use our gifts and talents to His glory, He uses the gifts in us to touch the world around us.  So, He not only blesses us with the gifts He gives us, but He also blesses others by our use of the gifts.  Hence the “gain”.  Because He is the giver of the gifts and the One who blesses their use, He has every right to expect a gain from what He has supplied.  The key to being a good steward is not to focus on our activity, but to focus on God’s activity in and through us.

Let’s focus today on the One who gives and blesses that which He gives.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


11/11/14 Daily Devotion – Who is seeking whom? Part 2


“Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.’” (Luke 19:9–10, NIV84)

In our last devotion we asked the question “Who is seeking whom?” We talk so much about man’s pursuit of God. Jesus, in this encounter with Zacchaeus, makes it clear that He is the one doing the seeking. In our verse for today, Jesus says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” You see, if we are seeking anything it can often be characterized as an aimless pursuit. Why? Because we are by nature “lost.” We tend to know something is missing in our lives. We just don’t know where to find what’s missing.

What an amazing God we have. He comes to this earth so that He might find us in our lost condition and set us on the path of truth. He tells Zacchaeus in our text for today that “salvation has come to this house.” Jesus did not come to give us subtle hints to truth. No! He came as “the way, the truth and the life.” He came seeking us so that He might save us from our lost condition. His work is not complete until we fully find our place in His eternal kingdom.

Today, may we be grateful to God for His relentless pursuit of our salvation.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


11/10/14 Daily Devotion – Who is seeking whom?


“When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”” (Luke 19:5, NIV84)

Over the last couple decades a very popular term has arisen in Christian circles.  That term is “Seeker”.  It is used to describe the interested non-Christian, or marginal Christian, who is searching for purpose and meaning.  Churches have been built to honor the pursuit of seekers.  Their entire ministry is focused on meeting the needs of those who are seeking God.  In our text today, Zacchaeus (a man of small stature) is seeking an opportunity to see Jesus as He comes to his town to visit and to teach.  Zacchaeus was familiar with Jesus’ reputation.  He didn’t want to miss what might be the only opportunity to see this much-talked-about prophet.  So he follows the crowd looking for an opportunity, but can’t seem to find a crack in the mob.  So he runs ahead and climbs into a tree so that He might have a bird’s-eye view of Jesus as He passes by.  But then the strangest thing happens.  Something that Zacchaeus could never have expected.  Jesus walks up to the tree that Zacchaeus is in, looks up, and says, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” Wait a minute!  Who was seeking whom?  Who was in pursuit of whom?  Jesus walks up to a tree, looks up, and calls Zacchaeus by name.  It seems that Jesus is seeking Zacchaeus.  Zacchaeus must have been stunned to hear his name come out of Jesus’ mouth.  And what an amazing request, “…come down immediately.  I must stay at your house today.  My friends, Jesus loves you so much that He is in constant pursuit of a relationship with you.  He knows you by name.  He knows where you are.  He will use every method possible to let you know that He is seeking you!  What wonderful news to take with us today.  We have a God who loves us so much that He would come down to our world.  He would touch our lives.  He would suffer and die for anything that separates us from Him.  He would call us by name and bring us into His kingdom. Know today that God is seeking you!

Peace!

Pastor Tom