MARCH 29, 2023

The Lord's prayer is an amazing change in how we approach God. For over a thousand years Israel prayed twice daily of their devotion to God from the law; but Jesus goes a different direction. Our model prayer is entirely about God who does it all. And we present him with needs that only he can provide -- provision for tomorrow, forgiveness, and protection from evil. May our lives reflect the truth that our only hope is in trusting our loving Father.


MARCH 22, 2023

From Matthew 6. Jesus takes our good behaviors -- giving, praying, disciplines -- and turns them on their heads. Real goodness would be nobody seeing them but God, not even ourselves knowing about them, because we can't get away from self-righteousness. The only one who is trustworthy is God himself, who in his hiddenness is accomplishing everything on his own, without our help at all. What a wonderful Savior we have!


MARCH 15, 2023

From Matthew 5. We all want to do what we promise, to establish justice, to love our neighbors. So when Jesus speaks in the Sermon on the Mount, we get uncomfortable. The truth is God's representatives have no power; give up personal justice; love enemies. These don't affirm us, they expose our hearts in wanting our own reasonable (to us) righteousness. Uncomfortably condemned, and left with the only hope we will ever have -- Jesus, who forgives our sin and unites us to him forever.


MARCH 8, 2023

Sermon on the Mount. There's no escaping the uncomfortableness of our failure at lawkeeping. Jesus heightens the law so no one hurdles it; he drives it into our hearts and exposes us to judgment. That's uncomfortable. I want to find some way for me to be right in my relationship with God through my own efforts. Yet there is no way. There is only "the way" -- Jesus Christ for us, his forgiveness and our union with him. Receive this incredible gift!


MARCH 1, 2023

From Matthew 5. If you're not the salt of the earth, you deserve to be trampled. And what you are can't be hidden! Those don't feel like encouraging words, especially given that the standard is obedience to the law of God at the level of the heart. So why do we think this is the way to God? Instead we see God come to us, speaking these words which humble us, give us no way out except forgiveness and trust in the one who fulfills the Law: Jesus Christ.


FEBRUARY 22, 2023

The beatitudes are often seen as an 'if then' start to Jesus' incredible Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. But they aren't new commands. They are incredible cause for rejoicing for the spiritually bankrupt, the losers, those who don't have righteousness. You are so blessed, Jesus proclaims, because God gives to just such people. And God himself came down for us. Be blessed -- Jesus really did it all for us!


FEBRUARY 15, 2023

We started a journey through the Sermon on the Mount this week. And were struck by how Jesus is so closely tied to Israel's history. He's the true Israel, the better Moses... and way more. Where people trembled in fear far away, now Jesus brings the crowds close. God in the midst of lost losers, bringing forgiveness and life. What a wonderful Savior!


FEBRUARY 8, 2023

Exams are anxiety-provoking for many, because of the real possibility of failure. Have we studied enough, do we know enough, have we done enough? Often people use just that approach to the Christian life. Self-examination is a way to gauge and spur improvement. But that's not Paul. His exam is an encouraging statement about our actual assurance: Jesus Christ in us, by promise, received and not earned. Our trust is in him for us, and this is solid ground we have from him, forever.


FEBRUARY 1, 2023

We think we're being wise, getting stronger, increasing in personal ability. Paul calls all that... foolish. Instead God's statement for him is that power is made perfect in weakness. His power, our weakness. Thus we make known our broken, lost, littleness, trusting that the gospel is true: that Jesus forgives and gives us his righteousness forever.


JANUARY 25, 2023

How foolish we are! We're so caught up in improvement and strengthening and morality that we often miss that Jesus Christ is life through death, strength through weakness, forgiveness for failures. And we're all failures, weak, and dying. May we find our hope in him, trusting him who has truly done it all for us.


JANUARY 18, 2023

2 Corinthians 10. Paul's passionate about obedience, all right -- the obedience of Christ. Where so many are focused on our obedience, our accomplishment, our improvement, and our flesh, Paul points passionately to our real hope: the obedience of someone else. Faith is trust in Christ's obedience for us, and this is the work of the Spirit in us. Come, receive the forgiveness and love found in Christ for you.


JANUARY 11, 2023

We are so prone to see church as a gym where we strengthen ourselves, a lighthouse where we shine, a hospital where we make people well. But Jesus is upside down in his gospel, which is about death and resurrection! We strengthen in dependence, his light shines, and we comfort each other as we die, trusting in the promise that we will be raised new. What astonishing truth!


JANUARY 4, 2023

So often what is presented to us as Christians is that our life is one of self-improvement, with some help from God. We try to climb a ladder to God, to get to his level, to be approved, stronger, complete. Yet the ladder the Bible presents is a down ladder. Our incredible news is Christ come down to us. Life is not strengthening the flesh but a new creation, one that he creates through death and resurrection. Our direction looks aimless and foolish but is actually towards an incredible life in trusting Him, not us.


DECEMBER 28, 2022

Such an amazing Savior! The angels and heavenly host don't surround the manger. Instead God calls the lowly shepherds and pagan gentile astrologers to come and see -- and believe -- in his wondrous gift. Any who would receive, what a blessing we have in Jesus Christ!


DECEMBER 21, 2022

God is love, and Jesus came to earth because of the incredible love he has for us. You might think that his love is like ours -- attracted to what is beautiful, strong, upright, good. But God's love in Christ is different. His love isn't attracted to what he likes; rather it creates what he desires. God's love is for losers, because there's nothing attractive in us, just a one-way action for our good that doesn't care at all that we are lost, little, wicked, dead. Christmas is the best news ever -- because there is love for losers!


DECEMBER 14, 2022

We're bombarded with instructions to 'choose joy' or do things to get joy. Yet the best biblical pictures of joy are as a gift. We are the lost and hopeless; God is the shepherd who joyfully finds us. We have passing joys, but the joy of Christ is a joy given, a joy that finds, a joy that reflects the Savior who came as a babe, not for a favor or as a transaction or investment, but as a gift. May the incredible joy of Christmas flood your heart this season and always!


DECEMBER 7, 2022

The wicked get no peace. No harmony. No right relationship with God. So we think -- ok, let's work on not being wicked. But there's no hope there. Our hearts are desperately wicked, and rightly judged. That's why advent is such a fabulous event. Peace came to earth, and our peace is not in ourselves but in Jesus, who forgives and loves and is our peace forever.


NOVEMBER 30, 2022

Advent, the coming of Christ to earth, is a shocking story. The story of God who comes differently than we'd expect, without regard to the ways we judge power and strength and uprightness. And that's incredible assurance for those (us) who are powerless, weak, and sinners. Hope for the hopeless.


NOVEMBER 23, 2022

Christianity isn't about thanking God for every circumstance. We aren't required to find a silver lining in death, cancer, or loss. But we abound in thanksgiving because of the incredible reality we know: Christ for us. That's why communion is called the Eucharist, which is the greek word for Thanksgiving. Like our daily bread, we constantly come back to the ground of our faith -- full and free forgiveness in Jesus who came for us. Happy Thanksgiving!


NOVEMBER 16, 2022

2 Corinthians 9. We are so focused on externals that we miss God is looking at the heart. The point of reaping what you sow is not about amounts, like God is an investment multiplier; rather it is about having an attitude to bless because you've been graced by God in Christ. There's no must, just a wondrous cheer in the indescribable gift of Christ to us!


NOVEMBER 9, 2022

Surprising New Testament approach to giving in 2 Corinthians 8. Paul asks them to do what they desire to do, knowing that the Holy Spirit works in hearts, rather than following a mandated 'tithe' or some other law. So grateful that the gospel is true, that His gift is free, and that our God prompts our hearts to give!


NOVEMBER 2, 2022

From 2 Corinthians 7. On our own, our broken relationships lead to defensiveness and despair, and eventually death. But the wonder of life is that the Spirit actually works on our hearts to open our eyes to hope outside of us: the incredible forgiveness of Christ. What fruit it is to know that you have nothing in yourself, but have the promise of Jesus forever!


OCTOBER 26, 2022

"Do not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever." Who hasn't heard this as a directive marriage or business partnerships? Yet Paul has in mind something more foundational to all of us: don't be in agreement with those who say their righteousness is not in Christ alone. Who may say they are Christians but will not see that Jesus became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God in him. All we have is a gift; don't move from this amazing salvation!


OCTOBER 19, 2022

We constantly put obstacles between people and Jesus. We don't even realize it. We give impressions that you have to clean up or climb up to God. We think that temporal blessing or personal strength, moral or otherwise, is the mark of Christianity; we hint that Christianity is about us being victorious, instead of Christ alone. We have the best message ever: Jesus became sin so we might become the righteousness of God in him.


OCTOBER 12, 2022

Reason serves us well. We know that judgment is coming, Paul says, so we persuade people. We know that God looks at the heart, not just the outward behavior, so we too logically move toward internal virtue. But in the midst of our reasonable rationality comes an explosive grenade that defies all logic. It is a message. A proclamation. That Jesus was made sin so that we might be made the very righteousness of God. And this is so far beyond reasonable thinking that it must simply be received. By faith in a God who is wonderfully beyond logic.


OCTOBER 5, 2022

Christian living isn't the gym. We aren't in the place with a wall of mirrors to monitor our improving strength as we work toward fitness. Rather we have a life of walking by faith and not by sight. In the midst of weakness our confidence is in the promise of Christ for us.


SEPTEMBER 28, 2022

"For Jesus came to raise the dead. He did not come to reward the rewardable, improve the improvable, or correct the correctible; he came simply to be the resurrection and the life of those who will take their stand on a death he can use instead of a life he cannot." Capon's words reflect Paul's insistence that our witness is the rock-solid assurance that in the midst of our failure, smallness, and death, we have a Savior who will raise us from the dead and be with us forever.


SEPTEMBER 21, 2022

Living by the letter seems like the path to life. Keep the 10 commandments. Improve yourself. Reveal the glory of blessing by obedience. But Paul says that's the way of condemnation and death. Life is actually by the Spirit -- a total gift of God's righteousness in Christ. We don't look like much, but we have the promise of the new covenant -- Christ in us, the hope of glory!


SEPTEMBER 14, 2022

We have this idea that "being a Christian" means getting stronger, better, circumstances breaking our way because now God is for us. But God's "yes" is hidden in a "no." We are weak and broken and saved not to greater strength but to trust that Jesus really is for us. Because all God's promises are 'yes' in Him ... and we say 'amen.'




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