Monday, November 30, 2015

shout to the Lord

Psalm 100

1 Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth!
2   Worship the LORD with gladness.
  Come before him, singing with joy.
3 Acknowledge that the LORD is God!
  He made us, and we are his.
  We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
  go into his courts with praise.
  Give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good.
  His unfailing love continues forever,
  and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

the poor

Remember as you read this, it is Jesus speaking...

Juxtapose what Jesus is saying here to the current attitudes toward the poor.

Matthew 25

31 "But when the Son of Man* comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations* will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

  34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.'

  37 "Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?'

  40 "And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,* you were doing it to me!'

  41 "Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, 'Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn't feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn't give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn't invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn't give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn't visit me.'

  44 "Then they will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?'

  45 "And he will answer, 'I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.'

  46 "And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life."

Saturday, November 28, 2015

another outburst

Here's another “outburst” by Paul.

In his letters he can rock along talking about stuff or give instructions.

And then he'll come out with a bunch of stuff that is incredibly pivotal.

This chapter is another one of those “outbursts”

There's a LOT of stuff in here – read it slowly...

Romans 12

1 And so, dear brothers and sisters,* I plead with you to give your bodies to God

because of all he has done for you.

Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable.

This is truly the way to worship him.

2 Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world,

but let God transform you into a new person

by changing the way you think.

Then you will learn to know God's will for you,

which is good and pleasing and perfect.

  3 Because of the privilege and authority* God has given me, I give each of you this warning:

Don't think you are better than you really are.

Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves,

measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function,

5 so it is with Christ's body.

We are many parts of one body,

and we all belong to each other.

  6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.

So if God has given you the ability to prophesy,

speak out with as much faith as God has given you.

7 If your gift is serving others,

serve them well.

If you are a teacher,

teach well.

8 If your gift is to encourage others,

be encouraging.

If it is giving,

give generously.

If God has given you leadership ability,

take the responsibility seriously.

And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others,

do it gladly.

  9 Don't just pretend to love others.

Really love them.

Hate what is wrong.

Hold tightly to what is good.

10 Love each other with genuine affection,

and take delight in honoring each other.

11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.

12 Rejoice in our confident hope.

Be patient in trouble,

and keep on praying.

13 When God's people are in need, be ready to help them.

Always be eager to practice hospitality.

  14 Bless those who persecute you.

Don't curse them;

pray that God will bless them.

15 Be happy with those who are happy,

and weep with those who weep.

16 Live in harmony with each other.

Don't be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people.

And don't think you know it all!

17 Never pay back evil with more evil.

Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.

18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

  19 Dear friends, never take revenge.

Leave that to the righteous anger of God.

For the Scriptures say,

"I will take revenge;
  I will pay them back,"*
  says the LORD.
20 Instead,

"If your enemies are hungry, feed them.
  If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap
  burning coals of shame on their heads."*

21 Don't let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

Friday, November 27, 2015

the long & short of it

Matthew 22

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again.

35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question:

36 "Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?"

  37 Jesus replied,

"'You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.'

38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

39 A second is equally important:

'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments."

This section came from the chapter I read yesterday.

I've talked about this passage before here in this blog.

Jesus is asked a question with the hope of trapping Him.

Jews had a gajillion rule, regulations, & commands.

It was a heavy, HEAVY load.

Jesus cuts to the chase & sums up the whole of what it means to God to follow Him.

What Jesus said is most important to God can be summed up in 4 words.

4 words...

Love God, love people.

And that's all there is to it for us, too.

Love God, love people.

And as Jesus said, that's the long & short if it.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

a song of praise & thanksgiving

In the sequential reading of psalms that I do every day, this was the psalm I was scheduled to read.

I thought it was appropriate for me to shore on this Thanksgiving Day, 2015.

Psalm 96

1 Sing a new song to the LORD!
Let the whole earth sing to the LORD!
2 Sing to the LORD; praise his name.
  Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.
3 Publish his glorious deeds among the nations.
  Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.
4 Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise!
  He is to be feared above all gods.
5 The gods of other nations are mere idols,
  but the LORD made the heavens!
6 Honor and majesty surround him;
  strength and beauty fill his sanctuary.

7 O nations of the world, recognize the LORD;

  recognize that the LORD is glorious and strong.
8 Give to the LORD the glory he deserves!
  Bring your offering and come into his courts.
9 Worship the LORD in all his holy splendor.
  Let all the earth tremble before him.
10 Tell all the nations, "The LORD reigns!"
  The world stands firm and cannot be shaken.
  He will judge all peoples fairly.

11 Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice!

  Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!
12 Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy!
  Let the trees of the forest rustle with praise
13 before the LORD, for he is coming!
  He is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with justice,
  and the nations with his truth.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

the results of faith

Matthew 21

18 In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry,

19 and he noticed a fig tree beside the road.

He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves.

Then he said to it,

"May you never bear fruit again!"

And immediately the fig tree withered up.

  20 The disciples were amazed when they saw this and asked,

"How did the fig tree wither so quickly?"

  21 Then Jesus told them,

"I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don't doubt, you can do things like this and much more.

You can even say to this mountain,

'May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,'

and it will happen.

22 You can pray for anything,

and if you have faith,

you will receive it."

What was Jesus talking about here? What is the reality?

I don't think He was saying that God is some sort of celestial vending machine, serving up fantastic miracles.

So what was He saying?

Was Jesus simply using hyperbole to highlight our general lack of faith in God?

What would our lives look like if we believed more in the power of God & His willingness to use His power at our request?

What do you think Jesus was really saying here?

If you'd like to share with me what you think, comment below.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

a towering statement

Every once in a while, Paul would be writing a letter to someone & then just break out in a fantastic statement about what we have as Christ followers.

Romans 8 is one of his biggest breakout statements.

This chapter contains so very VERY much that is pivotal to who we are in Christ.

Read all of it – it won't kill you! ;-) LOL

Romans 8

1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

2 And because you belong to him,

the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

3 The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature.

So God did what the law could not do.

He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have.

And in that body God declared an end to sin's control over us

by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.

4 He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us,

who no longer follow our sinful nature

but instead follow the Spirit.

  5 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things,

but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.

6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death.

But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.

7 For the sinful nature is always hostile to God.

It never did obey God's laws,

and it never will.
8 That's why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.

  9 But you are not controlled by your sinful nature.

You are controlled by the Spirit

if you have the Spirit of God living in you.

(And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.)

10 And Christ lives within you,

so even though your body will die because of sin,

the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.

11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you.

And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead,

he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.

13 For if you live by its dictates,

you will die.

But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature,

you will live.

14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves.

Instead, you received God's Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.

Now we call him, "Abba, Father."

16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God's children.

17 And since we are his children,

we are his heirs.

In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God's glory.

But if we are to share his glory,

we must also share his suffering.

18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.

19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.

20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God's curse.

But with eager hope,21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay.

22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

23 And we believers also groan,

even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory,

for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering.

We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.

24 We were given this hope when we were saved.

(If we already have something, we don't need to hope for it.

25 But if we look forward to something we don't yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)

  26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.

For example, we don't know what God wants us to pray for.

But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.

27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying,

for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God's own will.

28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God

and are called according to his purpose for them.

29 For God knew his people in advance,

and he chose them to become like his Son,

so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

30 And having chosen them,

he called them to come to him.

And having called them,

he gave them right standing with himself.

And having given them right standing,

he gave them his glory.

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these?

If God is for us, who can ever be against us?

32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all,

won't he also give us everything else?

33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own?

No one - for God himself has given us right standing with himself.

34 Who then will condemn us?

No one - for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us,

and he is sitting in the place of honor at God's right hand, pleading for us.

  35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love?

Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble

or calamity,

or are persecuted,

or hungry,

or destitute,

or in danger,

or threatened with death?

36 (As the Scriptures say, "For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.")

37 No, despite all these things,

overwhelming victory is ours through Christ,

who loved us

  38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love.

Neither death nor life,

neither angels nor demons,

neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow,

not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love.

39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below;

indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Monday, November 23, 2015

us & cowboys

Psalm 151

 Who may worship in your sanctuary, LORD?
  Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?
2 Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right,
  speaking the truth from sincere hearts.
3 Those who refuse to gossip
  or harm their neighbors
  or speak evil of their friends.
4 Those who despise flagrant sinners,
  and honor the faithful followers of the LORD,
  and keep their promises even when it hurts.
5 Those who lend money without charging interest,
  and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent.
Such people will stand firm forever.

One of the groups I'm a member of on FB is Save the Cowboy.

Save the Cowboy is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering personal and community growth through faith in God and the values of the working ranch cowboy.”

As a part of this ministry, there is this thing called the Simplified Cowboy Version of some of the Bible.

Here's how they handle Psalm 15...

(btw, when the say “Boss”, they are talking about God.)


Boss, who can throw a bedroll down by your fire?

Who can throw his horse in your corrals that sit on the most holy of mountains?

Whoever lives a life without blame,

does the right thing every time,

and who speaks without lies or deceit.

Those that do not talk about people behind their back,

or bring harm to another cowboy,

or even say something about their neighbor that can be taken as an insult.

Those that have nothing to do with anyone who knowingly lives in sin,

but who want to ride with those who follow the Lord.

They keep their word no matter what…

even when it is inconvenient to do so.

Those who lend money without interest

and lend a hand without expecting payback;

those who would never take a bribe to lie about an innocent person.

These cowboys will be unshakable.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

don't know who this is for

Don't know who this is for...

 Romans 6

12 Do not let sin control the way you live;

do not give in to sinful desires.

13 Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin.

Instead, give yourselves completely to God,

for you were dead,

but now you have new life.

So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.

14 Sin is no longer your master,

for you no longer live under the requirements of the law.

Instead, you live under the freedom of God's grace.

15 Well then, since God's grace has set us free from the law,

does that mean we can go on sinning?

Of course not!

16 Don't you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey?

You can be a slave to sin,

which leads to death,

or you can choose to obey God,

which leads to righteous living.

17 Thank God!

Once you were slaves of sin,

but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you.

18 Now you are free from your slavery to sin,

and you have become slaves to righteous living.

23 For the wages of sin is death,

but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

BIG statement

Ok, here's a BIG statement by Paul in his letter to the Christ followers in Rome.

And the last part of the last sentence should knock your socks off...

Romans 5

1 Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith,

we have peace with God

because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.

2 Because of our faith,

Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand,

and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory.

  3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials,

for we know that they help us develop endurance.

4 And endurance develops strength of character,

and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.

5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment.

For we know how dearly God loves us,

because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

6 When we were utterly helpless,

Christ came at just the right time

and died for us sinners.

7 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person,

though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good.

8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us

while we were still sinners.

9 And since we have been made right in God's sight by the blood of Christ,

he will certainly save us from God's condemnation.

10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies,

we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.

11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God

because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

Friday, November 20, 2015

take up your cross

Matthew 16

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples,

"If any of you wants to be my follower,

you must turn from your selfish ways,

take up your cross,

and follow me.

25 If you try to hang on to your life,

you will lose it.

But if you give up your life for my sake,

you will save it.

26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?

Is anything worth more than your soul?

27 For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father

and will judge all people according to their deeds.

I googled “take up your cross”, & went to a website called “, a faith-based website that tries to answer all kinds of questions.

Here's some of what they said about “take up your cross”...

'Take up your cross and follow Me' means being willing to die in order to follow Jesus. This is called “dying to self.” It’s a call to absolute surrender. After each time Jesus commanded cross bearing, He said, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9:24-25). Although the call is tough, the reward is matchless.”

Following Jesus is easy when life runs smoothly; our true commitment to Him is revealed during trials. Jesus assured us that trials will come to His followers (John 16:33). Discipleship demands sacrifice, and Jesus never hid that cost.”

If you wonder if you are ready to take up your cross, consider these questions:
• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing some of your closest friends?
• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means alienation from your family?
• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means the loss of your reputation?
• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your job?
• Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your life?”

“In some places of the world, these consequences are reality. But notice the questions are phrased, “Are you willing?” Following Jesus doesn’t necessarily mean all these things will happen to you, but are you willing to take up your cross? If there comes a point in your life where you are faced with a choice—Jesus or the comforts of this life—which will you choose?”

“Commitment to Christ means taking up your cross daily, giving up your hopes, dreams, possessions, even your very life if need be for the cause of Christ. Only if you willingly take up your cross may you be called His disciple (Luke 14:27). The reward is worth the price. Jesus followed His call of death to self (“Take up your cross and follow Me”) with the gift of life in Christ: “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:25-26).”

In America, it would seem that the prevailing opinions about what life as a Christian should be don't necessarily line up with those last few paragraphs.

It seems the prevailing opinion is that Christians are successful, prosperous, empowered, & in charge.

Maybe we need to take a good hard look at the realities of a life of discipleship juxtaposed with the thoughts expressed about such a life by current pop Christian culture.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

how it all works

In 10 short verses, Paul makes a statement as to...

how Jesus makes it possible to reconnect with God,

what it takes on our part to make that reconnection happen,

how God looks at us because of Jesus,

and establishes, because of Jesus, the singularity of the opportunity to reconnect.

It would probably behoove each of us to at least memorize the location of this statement by Paul.

It's a good reference to remember about how all this stuff works within the faith we claim to have & the Person we claim to follow.

Romans 3

21 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law,

as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago.

22 We are made right in God's sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take way our sins.

We can all be saved in the same way,

no matter who we are or what we have done

23 For everyone has sinned;

we all fall short of God's glorious standard.

24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous.

He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin.

People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life,

shedding his blood.

This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past,

26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness,

for he himself is fair and just,

and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God?


because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law.

It is based on faith.

28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.

  29 After all, is God the God of the Jews only?

Isn't he also the God of the Gentiles?

Of course he is.

30 There is only one God,

and he makes people right with himself only by faith,

whether they are Jews or Gentiles.

31 Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law?

Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Matthew 14

13 As soon as Jesus heard the news (of the death of John the Baptists), he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone.

But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns.

14 Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat,

and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

15 That evening the disciples came to him and said,

"This is a remote place,

and it's already getting late.

Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves."
16 But Jesus said, "That isn't necessary—you feed them."
  17 "But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!" they answered.
  18 "Bring them here," he said.

19 Then he told the people to sit down on the grass.

Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them.

Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples,

who distributed it to the people.

20 They all ate as much as they wanted,

and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers.

21 About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!

Think about this...

This event is reported in each of the 4 Gospels – that's rare.

Matthew says there were 5000 men.

For the sake of conversation, let's say there were 5000 women there too;

even though at most religious events I've been to, women outnumber men.

Ok, how many children do you think were there?

Birth control wasn't anywhere near what it is today,

but for the sake of conversation, let's say that each woman had an average of 2 children with her...

remember: child care was nonexistent.

So if each woman had 2 children, that makes 10,000 children.

Grand total of people there?


Can you wrap your brain around how many people that is?

Have you ever seen clips from a college or pro basketball game, or been to a game?

Most of those arenas hold between 18K & 19K.

That's how many people Jesus fed that day.

And He started out with 5 loaves of bread & 2 fish.

And there were 12 baskets of leftovers.

Think about that today.

Wouldn't it stand to reason that if Jesus can pull off something like that, He can take care of our everyday needs?