Tag Archives: Luke

Two criminals with Jesus

In our travels through the book of Luke, we have made it to the Easter season 2014 at the same time we read and preach the last moments of Jesus life on the cross.

This past Sunday was Luke Part 123 in a series of sermons taking us all the way through the book of Luke.  This has taken five years, yet has been met with interludes along the way like Christmas, Easter, B90X, and other short book or series studies.

I don’t think this is by accident that we meet right now with a intersection of these ideas.

The thought I had this morning related both to the sermon last Sunday and the group of men I have the privilege of meeting with every Wednesday morning.  I don’t even begin to think that I have the all-inclusive, final answer to every section of scripture which I preach.  For this past Sunday, the Holy Spirit lead me to share some particular ideas relating to the four verses surrounding the two thieves crucified at the same time as Jesus.

The cool thing which happened this morning at coffee was how much more there is to the story than meets the eye.  Nearly all six of us which spoke up about it, had a little different take, inflection, or depth to the story than the others.  Granted we all had the same foundational view.  However, each of us brought a different light, perspective, or world-view to the passageScreen Shot 2014-04-09 at 9.05.26 AM.  It was mighty.

One of the things our time together this morning reminded me was how alive and living the Word of God is.  Taking the time to meditate on it can bring to light all sorts of things.  Rather than me thinking I have to have all the answers for everyone each and every Sunday, some ideas are spread around like the sower and his seed in Matt. 13, and those seeds fall on different kinds of hearts and lives and grow (or don’t grow) in all sorts of ways.

This was a really rich time for me.  Thank you Jim, Chris, Rick, Vince, Nathan, and Bill for sharing your hearts and thoughts on the Living Word of God.

Stats on Bible reading from YouVersion

biblesI am a bit old fashioned, in that, I still like my paper Bible.  As a church pastor, I occasionally ask folks to hold up their Bibles.  More and more folks are turning to electronic versions of their Bibles.  IPhones and Droids are becoming the tool of choice for Bible reading.

Because folks are accessing the web for Bible reading, this has allowed for keeping stats on which Bible books are read.  The number of hits on a book, chapter, or scripture are tracked and we are left with some really interesting data.  Interesting sociological points can be gleaned from this information.  However, that is not the point of this post.  Rather, I am just going to jot down a few of the highlights which interested me.

First, YouVersion has topped over 100 million members.  That is pretty cool.

Here are the books accessed most and the highest viewed scripture in each:

1. Psalms ( you could have guessed that one) 74,044,741  views and its most popular verse is Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord; and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

2. Matthew 44,986,813 views and its most popular verse is Matt 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

3. Proverbs 43,288,764 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” Prov. 3:5

4. Romans 32,569,657 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Romans 12:25

5. John 29,571,356 (any guesses here, I am not even going to write it out?!)

6. Luke 26,355,373  ”Give, and it will be given to you, Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.  For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38

7. Ephesians 22,736,846 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Eph 4:32

8. 1Corinthians 20,392,129 “Love is patient, and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant.” 1 Cor 13:4

9. Isaiah 20,205,218 “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Is 40:31

10. Lastly, Genesis 19,055,482  ”Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Gen 2:24

Interesting stuff.  Can you interpret anything out of this?
How does this list compare to your most read books or favorite verses? Have you navigated away from a paper Bible to an electronic version? How has that helped you in your Bible study or scriptural acumen?

“Seek the Good of Everyone?” Really? Really.

“But you wouldn’t believe what he did to me!”
“And he says he is a Christian.”
“It is just way too hard to forgive her for what she did.”
“She didn’t act like she was sorry when she apologized.”

In Luke 17, Jesus implores his followers to work with people of all types with the utmost respect and dignity.  To further drive the point home regarding dealing with people and their issues, John Calvin makes a good argument. We have no choice but to forgive people when they repent and ask for forgiveness.

If anyone, therefore, appears before you who is in need of your kind services, you have no reason to refuse him your help.

Suppose he is a stranger; yet the Lord has pressed his own stamp on him and made him as one of your family, and he forbids you to despise your own flesh and blood.

Suppose he is despicable and worthless; yet the Lord has deigned him worthy to be adorned with his own image.

Suppose that you have no obligation toward him for services; yet the Lord has made him as it were his substitute, so that you have obligation for numerous and unforgettable benefits.

Suppose that he is unworthy of your least exertion; but the image of God which recommends him to you deserves that you surrender yourself and all your possessions to him.

If he has deserved no kindness, but just the opposite, because he has maddened you with his injuries and insults, even this is no reaosn why you should not surround him with your affection and show him all sorts of favors.

You may say that he has deserved a very difficult treatment, but what does the Lord command but to forgive all men their offenses and to charge them against himself?     (Calvin, GBTCL, 37-38)

B90X2012 “Servant Song #5″

The fifth and final song comes in Isaiah 61:1-11.  The good news comes.  The Servant is anointed to bring the messianic jubilee, where the people will be restored to the land after exile.  There is no introduction by God.  The servant says, ‘here I am.’  Lots of review and progression from the previous Songs.

Look at all the verbs involved in what the Servant has done and is going to do- preach, bind, proclaim, release, proclaim (again), comfort, provide, bestow, rebuild, restore, and renew.

Isaiah’s tree imagery pops out in v. 3- ‘oaks of righteousness.’

Jesus broke the silence and the mystery of who the Servant was in Luke 4 when he preaches his first sermon.  He purposely turns to Isaiah 61 and reads a portion of that Song.  He purposely stopped short at the section about vengeance because that day has not come yet.  His time on earth at that time was for revelation about Father and reconciliation of humanity.

Then ironically, right after this first sermon and the unveiling of his Messiahship, the crowd wants to take him out and push him off a cliff.  Now that is a flashy kick-off to a preaching tour.  Kind of makes me not feel so bad.  Folks didn’t want to kill me after my first sermon.

Everything explodes with Jesus!  He is the Servant.  He is the mystery man.  Everything stated in the five Servant Songs is true and is fulfilled.  A new definition of freedom- not just socio/economic, but physical and spiritual as well.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief tour into this special literary aspect of Isaiah.  It is so cool to find this stuff and see how the Holy Spirit wove it into the Word.

“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” Prov. 25:2

How a “Charlie Brown Christmas” almost never happened

 A great article on how the infamous and highly popular Charlie Brown Christmas Special almost never aired and wasn’t going to be run ever again.

Few headlines about network television make me giddy. Fewer still make me hopeful that all is good in the world. But back in August of 2010, I read the following headline from the media pages with great excitement: “Charlie Brown Is Here to Stay: ABC Picks Up ‘Peanuts’ Specials Through 2015.” The first of these to be made, the famous Christmas special, was an instant classic when it was created by Charles Schulz on a shoestring budget back in 1965, and thanks to some smart television executives, it will be around for at least another five years for all of us to see and enjoy.

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