Bible Study

02/24/15 Daily Devotion – It’s still about the kingdom of God!


After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3 NIV84)

Today we enter into a series of devotions based on Luke’s second book, the book of Acts. At the end of the Gospel of Luke, he records the ascension of Jesus into heaven. It is important to remember that Luke was not an eyewitness of the event. After hearing from eyewitnesses like Peter, he felt compelled to share the ascension with Theophilus. Luke not only ends his gospel with the ascension, but he begins the book of Acts (also written to Theophilus) with Jesus’ ascension. Jesus physically ascended into heaven before their very eyes. He returned to His heavenly kingdom–a kingdom as real as the world in which we live, even though we cannot see it.

The kingdom of God was an important topic for Jesus. Jesus talked about and referenced the kingdom of God (Heaven) more than any other topic. During the 40 days prior to His ascension, He continued to speak to His disciples about the kingdom of God.

How important is the kingdom of God to you? To me? Are we so wrapped up in the kingdom we live in that we rarely contemplate the realities of God’s eternal kingdom? We need to be reminded that Heaven is our home. We live here, but our citizenship is in Heaven. We need to make sure that our lives are committed to the truths of God’s kingdom. We need to be in this world, but not of it. Honestly, we need to bring our faith and trust in the kingdom of God into the world in which we live. Our homes, schools, workplaces, and communities need to be touched by love of the King in whose kingdom we belong.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


02/23/15 Daily Devotion – The message remains the same!


“and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:47 NIV84)

Jesus opens the meaning of the Scriptures to His disciples and explains why it was necessary that He die and rise again so that humanity might be saved, and then He tells them that their message would be the same as John the Baptist’s and His. He tells them that the message they are going to take to the world is the message of forgiveness to all who come to God with repentant hearts. And over 2000 years later the message remains the same. The Christian church continues to preach a message of repentance and forgiveness. You and I are members of the kingdom of God today because we responded to the time-proven message of repentance and forgiveness.

I fear that too many Christians today think that the tried and true message of repentance and salvation needs to be altered or repackaged. I’m wondering if they fear that the message is not relevant for today or that it seems to be a bit offensive to today’s politically correct society. In response to both of these thoughts, let me respond by saying that the Gospel message has and will always be an offensive message. Our sinful nature resists any accusation of defect. Our pride blinds us from seeing our own brokenness. The message of repentance is tough to hear, but it is as relevant today as it has been for every century before us. Without the acknowledgement that we are lost and separated from God because of our sin, we can’t appreciate the message of forgiveness and salvation won by Jesus through His death and resurrection.

As God’s people, may we understand that our message must remain the same until Jesus returns to call us home.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


02/20/15 Daily Devotion – We will experience a physical resurrection!


“Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence. (Luke 24:39-43 NIV84)

After Jesus’ death He didn’t just live again in some ghost-like state. He wasn’t floating around like some paranormal spirit. Jesus physically resurrected from the dead. Mary not only could see Him and hear Him, but she could cling to Him. In our verses for today Jesus tells His doubting disciples to reach out and touch the wounded areas on His hands and feet. He even asks them for food and eats in from of them. If you want to have a glimpse into what life will be like in heaven, look at Jesus. We will have physical bodies that can do the same things that our bodies can do today. Remember, what Jesus came to do was bring back the Garden of Eden. He came to the earth to deal with sin and its consequences, so that the heavenly life lived out in Eden could be restored.

We Christians must always remember that this world is not our home. As the Apostle Paul says, “Our citizenship is in Heaven.” A day is coming when we will leave this life of pain and sorrow and enter into our permanent residence (Heaven) where there is no more suffering, pain, tears or sorrow. We will live in a new Heaven and a new earth, as John says in Revelation. Our glorified bodies will be physically perfect. There will be no pains from aging. There will be no illnesses or cancers. As Jesus offers to His disciples to reach out and touch Him, He offers to you and me the promise that there is more to life than the one currently lived. There is more! And it is heavenly! And it is perfect!

Peace!

Pastor Tom


02/14/15 Daily Devotion – They saw everything, but understood nothing!


“He asked them, ‘What are you discussing together as you walk along?’ They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, ‘Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?’” (Luke 24:17–18, NIV84)

These two disciples who were on their way back to Emmaus were discussing everything that had recently occurred in their lives and the life of their teacher, Jesus. What a shocking few days. Just a few days before, Jesus was teaching every day in the temple and His popularity was increasing. And today? Well here He was thought to be dead because He was crucified and buried. These disciples even heard the report from the women, but it just seemed too amazing. Too unreal! They saw Him die. They saw everything but understood nothing! Their eyes were open, but their minds were closed. There are truths out there that require more than intellect to understand. We need spiritual discernment to see the truths of God’s word. The Apostle Paul said, “The natural man cannot accept the things of the spirit of God, because they are foolishness to him, he cannot understand them because they are spiritually appraised” (1 Cor. 2:14).  Jesus opened the scriptures to them about how the Son of Man had to suffer, die and rise again from the dead. Only then did they understand what they saw and experienced.

So, what do we learn from this? Just because our eyes have seen something, and our minds have interpreted what our eyes have seen, that doesn’t mean we properly understand what we have experienced. In order to have proper understanding of life events, we must have spiritual eyes that allow us to see things from God’s perspective. Those disciples did not have a proper understanding of the events of the last week until they were given the ability to see that week from God’s perspective. The same is true with the circumstances of our lives. We may think we know. We may think we understand. But we must ask the Holy Spirit to give us eyes that can see the spiritual truths buried within our life experiences.

Let’s make sure that we properly understand the things we see.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


02/13/15 Daily Devotion – ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead?’


“They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead?’” (Luke 24:2–5, NIV84)

I am struck by the fact that Jesus is the only religious leader ever to begin and end his life with life. Every other religious leader and philosopher died. Their bodies are entombed within the earth. Life ended for all of them. All of them except Jesus! His life continues on. He laid it down and then picked it up again. There is no need for a stone to cover the opening of a tomb that has no body in it. Jesus was right! He said at the tomb of Lazarus that He was the “resurrection and the life.” He proved it on that day when he asked for the stone to be rolled away from Lazarus’ tomb. He proved it on Easter morning when He rose as the conqueror of death itself. It is in the resurrection that every Christian puts all hope. We know that if death could be defeated, then anything is possible.

But what about the angels’ question? In our society today, I find this question rather ominous. I think everyone within themselves has some very core questions about origin, purpose, morality and destiny. The key to these deep questions is not the questions, but where the seeker goes to find the answer. The women on Easter morning were looking for the right person (Jesus), but they went to the wrong place to find Him. It is critical that we go to the right place for the answer to life’s key questions. But now the question is, “Where should we turn?” There are so many voices out there telling us they have the answers. Which one should we listen to? My suggestion: Let’s listen to the only religious leader who ever claimed to be the way, the truth and the life, and proved it by rising from the dead.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


02/11/15 Daily Devotion – Something’s wrong!


“When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away.” (Luke 23:48, NIV84)

Jesus had given up His life. The three hours of darkness had ended. The cursing, shouting and accusations had stopped. What seemed to have been a tsunami of rage and emotion now gave way to an eerie calm. The hours of demonic darkness had now been replaced with a soothing light. And for the first time, the people who could see things from the right perspective were overwhelmed with the thought: what did we do? They sensed that something was wrong. Luke tells us that as they contemplated the events surrounding Jesus’ death, they left beating their breasts. They were truly overwhelmed with what occurred. I sense they felt a bit of guilt and shame for what they participated in.

Have you ever gotten so caught up in the emotion of an event that it moved you to act in ways that you normally wouldn’t? Let me answer that question for you, YES! Yes, we all have been swept away by the emotion of an event. We’ve had those moments when we’ve acted contrary to our character because of the emotionally charged situation we were in. Satan has a way to of playing on our emotions, as long as we are willing to allow our emotions to be disconnected from our reason and senses.

How do we avoid such occurrences in our lives? I think the key is to stay firmly rooted in God’s Word. We need God’s Word to be the filter through which we discern truth even in the most emotionally charged situations. This will prevent Satan from getting an opening, and the Holy Spirit will have the opportunity to direct our actions in that moment.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


02/10/15 Daily Devotion – Jesus did not die by crucifixion!


“Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last.” (Luke 23:46, NIV84)

I get a lot of comfort from Jesus’ final statement from the cross. He no longer says, “My God, My God…”, but once again the deeply relational “Father” falls from His lips. “Father, into your hands…”. Now that is more like it! That is what I would expect to hear. You see, Jesus had fully paid the price for humanity’s sins. It truly is finished! Our salvation had been won, and Jesus returned to the Father victorious over Satan, the sinful world, and our sinful flesh. Jesus breathed His last and His Father graciously received His Son back into the heavenly realms.

It is important that we always remember that Jesus was in control of the occurrences of Good Friday. He willingly offered Himself up as a sacrifice so that He might redeem and save us. The crucifixion did not kill Jesus. He gave up His spirit because His work was finished. Listen to what Jesus said about this earlier in His ministry: “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life — only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father” (John 10:17–18, NIV84). No one can take His life from Him! Jesus accomplished all that was necessary to save the world by laying down His life, and on Easter morning, He will take it up again.

Even on Good Friday, Jesus is Lord!

Peace!

Pastor Tom


01/31/15 Daily Devotion – “Father forgive them…”


“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” (Luke 23:34, NIV84)

These are not the words I would expect to come from a man who had just been unjustly beaten, scourged and crucified. He doesn’t even plead His case from the cross. I would at least be declaring my innocence for the world to hear. But that is not what we heard from Jesus. Instead, we heard a word of prayer directed to His Father. He asked His Father to forgive, rather than hold accountable, the sins of His accusers. But wasn’t their rejection of Jesus worthy of punishment? Weren’t their actions worthy of some kind of divine retribution? Yes! But it came in a way that none of us would expect.

The punishment and retribution due Jesus’ accusers fell upon Him. That’s right! Paul says, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him, we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The innocent was dying for the wicked. Jesus took not only His accusers’ sins upon Himself, but He also took yours and mine. In this unimaginable act of grace, we see the love of God for His broken and lost creatures. He would rather die to save us than to lose us. Stop right there! Name another religion in the world that points us to such a God of grace. What philosophy provides the necessary remedy for what truly plagues humanity? Christianity alone points us to a God who loves us so much that He became the remedy.

Today, and every day, know that you are loved and forgiven by God!

Peace!

Pastor Tom


01/22/15 Daily Devotion – Their shouts prevailed!


“But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that He be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant them their demand.” (Luke 23:23-24)

This verse alone disproves the idea of majority rules. Why? Because the majority isn’t always right. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the minority or in the majority. What matters is truth. You see, there are absolute truths! The enemy (Satan) is powerless when a group of people is living in the truth of God’s word. When we back away from the truth, we open ourselves to the power of his lies and deceptions. During the last couple days of Jesus’ life, Satan used the mob mentality of the religious leaders to bring everything to a boiling point. How else does one go from dealing with a peaceful teacher to wanting Him crucified and dead?

Pilate tried repeatedly to release Jesus but finally gave in to the pressure of the mob. He wasn’t willing to risk any more unrest. But more important, when he had the opportunity to talk to Jesus about the truth, he didn’t. We need to assess the circumstances of our lives through the lens of absolute truths. We need to filter everything through truths of the word of God. Whether we are in the place of authority, like Pilate, or just a member of the crowd, we need to see things properly or things will get bad really quickly.

Remember, it doesn’t matter how loud or how large a group is. What matters is whether it is speaking the truth.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


01/20/15 Daily Devotion – The Look!


“The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.'” (Luke 22:61)

This verse has haunted me since my first reading of it — to have the Lord not only predict my denial, but then to catch me red-handed. To know that when my third denial took place and the rooster crowed Jesus intentionally turned to see me, to then look into the eyes of my Lord and Savior. All of this would be too overwhelming. So why does this verse haunt me? Because I am aware of my duplicity. I am aware of the fact that I feel I have gotten away with things because the Lord doesn’t see me. I don’t find myself looking into the eyes of Jesus in my times of weakness, and hence feel that I have gotten away with something.

How silly of me. How foolish to think that because I am not looking into Jesus’ eyes that He is not peering into mine. The book of Proverbs says, “A man’s ways are in full view of the Lord.” There is not a thing in our lives that He does not notice. We must remember that Jesus not only sees all things, but He also peers into our hearts and knows our thoughts and intentions. All of this reminds us that we cannot hide our sins from God. But I think there was something more in that look than judgment. I believe that as Peter peered back into His Savior’s eyes he saw the same compassion that Jesus had shown to so many during His ministry. Somehow Peter was both convicted and loved in the same look. And that look would provide him enough hope to live another day. He went out of the city weeping and waited for the Lord to bring healing to his broken heart. On Easter morning, Jesus rose from the dead with a message for Peter. Jesus told the women, “Go tell Peter…”. Jesus faithfully brought forgiveness and hope to Peter’s shattered life.

He promises to do the same for you and me, today and every day!

Peace!

Pastor Tom