Living Dangerously – Matthew 10:34-39

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:34-39, ESV).

In a post-game interview Baker Mayfield, rookie quarterback for the Cleveland Browns was asked how he had led his team to an amazing victory. Mayfield responded, “I woke up feeling dangerous today!”

Following Jesus is a dangerous undertaking! It sets you at odds with the very world in which you live.

Following Jesus can set your family against you when you love Jesus more than them. Following Jesus can set your your friends and colleagues against you when it becomes a higher priority than work or hobbies.

Following Jesus can set you against the popular culture and politics of this world when His values become your values.

It makes you look suspicious… unusual… dangerous!

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The Wrestling Match – Genesis 32:27-31

“He said to Jacob, ‘What’s your name?’ and he said, ‘Jacob.’ Then he said, ‘Your name won’t be Jacob any longer, but Israel, because you struggled with God and with men and won.’ Jacob also asked and said, ‘Tell me your name.’ But he said, ‘Why do you ask for my name?’ and he blessed Jacob there. Jacob named the place Peniel, ‘because I’ve seen God face-to-face, and my life has been saved.’ The sun rose as Jacob passed Penuel, limping because of his thigh” (Genesis 32:27-31,CEB).

I once heard it preached that choosing to believe Jesus was the Son of God and died for our sins so we could have eternal life was more plausible than choosing not to believe.  Because, if you believed and got to the end of your life and it wasn’t true, you still lived a good life with no regrets. But, if you didn’t believe and it was true then you risked a dreadful eternity.

In other words, it is more logical (and eternally safe) to believe in God than not to believe. And, we get to choose…

While our modern minds try to analyze everything, even faith in God, and make it logical and rational and human-centric, the biblical pattern is actually something quite different: God chooses us and we choose whether to accept His challenge or not.

And, it’s not like a debate.

It’s more like a wrestling match!

In fact, struggling with God is the normal Christian life.

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Resurrection! Part 2: Just Let Him Die – John 11:5-7

die-to-self“Now Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. Then after that, He said to the disciples, ‘Let’s go to Judea again.'” (John 11:5-7, HCSB).

This meditation is Part 2 of a four-part series from the story of the raising of Lazarus from death. When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was two more days…


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Supply and Demand in God’s Economy – 2 Kings 4

supply_and_demand“And when they gave it to the people, there was plenty for all and some left over, just as the Lord had promised” (2 Kings 4: 44, NLT).

In 2 Kings 4 the prophet Elisha performs two miracles that demonstrate the principle of supply and demand according to the economy of God’s Kingdom.

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Shine! – Matthew 5:14-16, Part 1: Being the Light

Shine my Light“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16, NASB).

I’ve tried to live by this verse for most of my life. It is, in my opinion, one of the best descriptions of what we are to be doing as Christians.

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Who Needs Whom? – Psalm 50:7-15

wholeworldinhishands1“Listen, My people, and I will speak; I will testify against you, Israel. I am God, your God. I do not rebuke you for your sacrifices or for your burnt offerings, which are continually before Me…If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and everything in it is Mine…Sacrifice a thank offering to God, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call on Me in a day of trouble; I will rescue you, and you will honor Me.” (Psalm 50:7-15, HCSB)

God did not need the sacrifices of Israel to be exalted.

Since God already owned every kind of animal, He did not need their sacrifices to make Him glorious or almighty.

Yet, Israel continually offered sacrifices to God.

So, a lack or religiosity was not Israel’s main problem. They certainly knew how to be religious!

The problem was that their religious practices were not transformative! The burnt offerings sacrificed in worship to God did not seem to make a difference in them.

So their sacrifices made no difference to God!

And, today, our best religious practices do not exalt God. Even being our religious best does not make God more glorious or almighty!

God is God, Exalted, Glorious,and Almighty, regardless of anything we can say or do.

So, what God was trying to tell Israel then, and us today, is that it’s not He Who needs us, but we who need Him!

God does not need our worship or our religious practices to somehow make Him omnipotent. He IS omnipotent!

Our worship is a celebration of God’s majesty, His exalted state of being. Our worship is a pledge of our allegiance to Him, a surrender of our lives and wills to His authority.

We cannot give God something He needs, but we can offer ourselves fully and completely to God and then He will be everything we need.  

Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1, HCSB)