3rd Sunday in Easter
When You Know Who Jesus Is, You Share Who Jesus Is
Text: Acts 4:8-12
They certainly could have taken an easier way out. Peter and John, that is. They could have easily saved themselves a lot of trouble and trial had they done things differently.
The day before Peter and John were going up to the temple to pray and they ran across a man begging for money. This man was over 40 years old and had been crippled from birth. Peter told the man he didn’t have silver and gold but rather something even better for him. Then in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth he told him to get up and walk—and he did!
Quickly it became a scene. The man was walking and jumping around, whooping and hollering and praising God. As you can imagine, this caused quite the commotion. People started to come see what all the ruckus was about, especially when they realized this crippled man they saw begging every day was jumping around like a kindergartner set free for recess time.
As the bewildered people crowded around, Peter took advantage of the opportunity. He asked them why they were astonished. He told them that Jesus Christ, whom they crucified but whom God raised from the dead, was the one who has all power, including the power to heal that man. Peter called the people to repent of their sins and to turn in faith to the powerful Son of God. Hundreds, maybe thousands, came to faith that day. Read the rest of this entry
No More Fears or Tears
Text: John 20:1-18
Sometimes it’s just hard to know what to make of life, isn’t it? All kinds of religious rights laws being thrown around and even more opinions about what exactly they might mean for Christians. Unstable economies. Natural disasters that are unstoppable and unpredictable. Sicknesses. Diseases. Pandemic outbreaks. Wars all over the place. Nuclear weapons. Chemical weapons. Illegal weapons. Protests and race riots.
It’s a scary world out there. What exactly are we supposed to make of it? Any day could bring a disaster. Any day could bring an attack. And really any day could be our last. It’s hard not to live in fear and terror.
It’s a sad world out there too. What exactly are we supposed to make of it? Every day brings a new disappointment. Every day brings more trouble. Every day brings more heartache and heartbreak. Sometimes the tears flow like a leaky faucet that can’t be fixed. It’s hard not to live in sadness and sorrow.
Why does life have to be like that? Why do bad things happen? Read the rest of this entry
Walk with Jesus: Convicted for the Truth
Text: Luke 22:66-71
The rooster had just crowed. Peter’s cheeks were newly soaked from his sobbing over sin. As the sun slowly rose over the horizon, the new Friday morning light revealed a face that was left puffy and purple from punches. The guards had their fun humiliating and hurting Jesus, but that was only the beginning of a treacherous day of torture.
But for now, the pain was paused. “At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them.” This rude rabble gathered was the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin had 71 members consisting of elders, priests, and teachers (Pharisees). The high priest was president and leader of the group. This Sanhedrin had absolute power and authority when it came to religious matters in Israel. Now, Jesus stood before them—he the accused, they the jurors.
These Jews had been patiently waiting for the Meshiach, the Messiah, for ages. The Lord promised to send his chosen and anointed one, and that was whom they still waited for. At the same time, they knew the claims that this Jesus had been making. They knew the miraculous signs and wonders Jesus had performed. They knew that John the Baptist had proclaimed him to be the One. They knew that most people seemed to think he was the One. Thus, it became question number one at the trial: “If you are the Christ, tell us.” Read the rest of this entry
3rd Sunday after the Epiphany
Why Follow Jesus?
Text: Mark 1:14-20
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said. We do. We follow him. We’re Christians. But why? Why Follow Jesus? Have you ever thought how strange it is to be a Christian and follow him?
Everyone else sleeps in on Sunday morning. They sip coffee in their jammies and watch the news while I’m hustling to make it here on time. Everyone else goes home from work and hangs out with the family or unwinds or cleans up a bit around the house. But I make my schedule even more busy (as if that were possible!) by going to midweek Bible studies and dinners and services coming up during Lent. That’s strange.
Here in America, the king country of consumerism, my fellow Americans make money and buy whatever they want and can possibly afford (sometimes even what they can’t afford). Meanwhile I first plan and pray about my money. I set money aside—money I worked hard for and earned—and I give it away to support God’s work. And I’m directed by God to do this cheerfully and joyfully and before I even think about how I would like to spend that money on anything else.
Speaking of prayer by the way, I find myself at random times of the day with folded hands and bowed head showing utmost humility and trust in a God that I’ve never met and never seen. That’s strange, too. Read the rest of this entry
New Year’s Eve
“All men are like grass, all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall.” New Year’s resolution books and programs and articles make a lot of money off that Bible verse. Peter quotes from the prophet Isaiah and reminds us that all people are like grass or flowers of the field. We all wither and die. If you want evidence of sin in this world and the consequence of death, there is no better time to see this than at New Year’s.
Every year we do the same thing. We review the previous calendar year. We look at the things we have done, how our lives have changed, how we have aged. And with this review we quickly look to make changes for the new year because ever year we see the same sorts of things. I’ve gotten older this year and more out of shape and more flabby. I didn’t keep my resolutions for last year. Some of them fell miserably short. Some of the resolutions I made I didn’t even start on. Read the rest of this entry