Ordinary man–extraordinary life

RE Verse reading–Amos 1-2 (day three)  “The words of Amos, one of the shepherds of Tekoa–what he saw concerning Israel two years before the earthquake” (vs 1)  The Amos story is extraordinary.  Not because he is different than we are.  Just the opposite.  He is the “poster child” of ordinary life.  He is a “little bit country”, but learns truth and courage from God that catapults him into kingdom service.  As a shepherd, I suspect Amos had some initial hesitation.  No seminary training.  Perhaps he felt the sting when Amaziah treated him with disrespect and kicked him out of the country (chapter 7)  The extraordinary thing?  He didn’t give up!  He went back to Tekoa and wrote his message down.  The first prophet to do so.  The door into a new era.   Irrepressible!  Martin Luther said, “A simple layman armed with scripture is to be believed above a pope or a council without it.”  I think Amos would have agreed.  Extraordinary!

Our blind spot

RE Verse reading–Amos 1-2 (day two)  “This is what the Lord says, ‘for three sins of Israel, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath” (vs 6)  It is an old trap–seeing the sins of others but not our own.  The people who listened to Amos enjoyed the first part of his sermon better than the last.  For several minutes, he listed the sins of the neighboring nations. Nodding heads and amens.  Finally, he came to the real point–the sins of Israel.  The wrath of God is a strange subject.  Most of us feel like it is uncalled for where we are concerned.  Aren’t we different?   The Bible says no.  “There are no distinctions“, says Paul as he develops this same theme in the book of Romans.  “For ALL have sinned (past tense) and fall (present tense) short of the glory of God”  (Romans 3:22-23)  Forgivness is possible, but blindness to sin in ourselves is the deepest blindness of all.

A lion has roared

RE Verse reading–Amos 1-2 (day one)  “The Lord roars from Zion” (vs 2)  “A lion has roared!  Who will not fear?”(Amos 3:8)  Ever hear a lion roar?  I have a friend who makes regular trips to Africa to hunt.  He says if you ever hear a lion roar in the wild (not having the assurance that he is in a cage) you will NEVER forget it.  He say it is bone-chilling to realize that you are not just hunting him, HE IS HUNTING YOU!   Amos knew.  The first words in his book, repeated later in chapter 3,  paint a verbal picture of a God whose holy wrath has finally reached a crisis.  He roars to warn us of danger.  He roars to call us to repent.  Does God ever reach such a moment with His own people?  Are we exempt from such holy/hard discipline?  Amos says no.  “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked.”  (Galatians 6:7)  THE Lion has roared!  Anyone listening?

The Great Comfort

RE Verse reading–Matthew 28:16-20 (day seven)  “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age”  (vs 20)  Sometimes I feel overwhelmed.  As a Pastor, a father, a husband, a citizen.  The darkness seems so deep.  My stength seems so inadequate.  It is not an unhelpful moment! As strange as it seems to self-absorbed, self-sufficient people, feeling powerless is often the beginning of a new/better chapter.  In Matthew 28, Jesus spoke words to shift the disciples’ focus from themselves (and their challenges) to Himself.  “I will be with you always”, He said.  The lesson was Christ-confidence.  The same Lord who walked on the water and healed blind eyes and answered angry Pharisees promised (then and now) , ” I am with you when death comes”.  “I am with you are weary”. ” I am with you when you fail others and yourself”.  “I will stay near”.  What a great comfort!  What a great Savior!. . . for us who are sometimes overwhelmed.

The Great Commission–Why?

RE Verse reading–Matthew 28:16-20 (day six)  “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying. . .Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations”  (vs 18-19)  I just have one question.  Why?  Why would God choose to involve us in saving the world?  Why would He vest frail fallible folks like us with such a responsiblity?  Ok, that is three questions, but you get my point.  It is for our benefit!  Mountain climbers could save time and energy if they reached the summit by helicopter.  They would, however, not learn anything.  The point for climbing mountains is to test character and learn courage.  So with us.  If we are to become like the Savior we must be involved with His work–every decision, every failure, every heart-broken prayer.  The reason God uses us to reach/teach the world is that He is continuing to reach/teach us.  We are a force for good in the world. . .for His glory and our own good.

His Great Claim

RE Verse reading–Matthew 28:16-20 (day five)  “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”  (vs 18)  Jesus Christ is the center of Christianity.  In a complicated and hostile world, He is our only confidence.  With eyes on Him, we experience progress and peace.  With eyes are on ourselves, defeat and fear.  Before the disciples were commissioned to reach the nations, Jesus directed their attention to Himself.  His astounding claim was that all authority had been given to Him.  Not only power, but permission to exercise it.  On earth and in heaven too.  Jesus believed that the Father had, as promised, “crowned Him with glory and honor” (Hebrews 2:9)  If He had ever been a “candidate”, He was no longer.  By decision and declaration of God the Father,  the Son was now the legal owner and ruler of all things.  To resist would be treason.  Amazing!  Before we hear the Great Commission, we must hear the Great Claim.

Long live the King!

RE Verse reading–Matthew 28:16-20 (day four) “All authority has been given to me. . . go and make disciples. . .I am with you always”  (vs 18-20)  Long live the King.  As Americans we probably miss the meaning of such words.  We don’t have a King nor understand the hope expressed.  A good King is great government.  If he is wise and strong and fair, almost nothing is better.  Matthew 28 is the declaration of a living King.  “I am alive forevermore” (Revelation 1:18)  He lives, and by His own choice does so and through the lives of His people.  “As the Father has sent me so send I you”  (John 20:21)  A dead church cannot speak authentically of the Risen Savior. ” A non-missionary church never has much of Christ’s presence” (Alexander Maclaren) There is no place for hesitation or fear.  All authority is now His!  We are commanded to make disciples!  He is with us as we do!  Long live the King!

Make disciples

RE Verse reading–Matthew 28:16-20 (day three)  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (vs 19)  A disciple is a learner.  The greek word is mathetes (english word “math”).  It referred to one who was learning from a teacher by means of association and instruction.  Think apprentice without Donald Trump.  The disciples had clear memories of where Jesus had taken them and what He had told them to teach them new life.  Now, they are empowered to offer this same relationship to others!  Be clear!  Jesus will still be the teacher. (cf Matthew 23:8)  By His resurection,  those of us who have never seen Him are still the recepients of His personal involvement and instruction.  Think of it!  The Lord, through His Spirit, is pressing on us specific lessons at this very moment!  He is training us and giving us the privilege to invite others into “the school of the Savior”.  By introducing them to Christ, we make them disciples.


RE Verse reading–Matthew 28:16-20 (day two)  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”  (vs 19)  I borrow a title from John Lennon because I think he is psychologically correct. (His theology is a different story)  Our failure as children of God is often at the point of imagination.  We cannot (do not) conceive a world different or better and by this lapse we perpetuate the one we have.  The days after the resurrection were “bright horizoned”.  Having experienced what they never imagined, the Lord required the disciples to imagine something else.  Not a kingdom that would belong to Israel, the Lord called them to consider a WORLD unified by a growing group of “learners”, a transnational, transcultural family, united in the Spirit, loving each other and serving others as they pressed toward a better world promised by God.  This dream ignited a fire.  Imagine!

The defeat of doubt

RE Verse reading–Matthew 28:16-20 (day one)  “When they saw Him they worshiped Him; but some doubted”  (vs 17)  It is a completely unexpected detail.  If there ever was a moment when doubt should be impossible it would have been the reunion in Galilee between the disciples and the resurrected Christ!  Matthew, however,  has a different report.  He says that “some doubted”.  Some of the eleven?  Some of the others who joined them?  (1 Corinthians 15:6?)  We don’t know.  What we do know is that the defeat of doubt is the first necessary accomplishment of the the Holy Spirit’s work.  None of us can follow Christ so long as we are plagued by concerns–“will everything be ok?”, “where is this going?”  Even when the evidence is compelling, every believer still must experience a personal miracle–the defeat of doubt in his/her own heart.  “God has not given us a spirit of fear”  (2 Timothy 1:7)  We either worship or doubt.  We cannot do both. ” I have decided. . . “