Monday, March 310, 2015 – Our Daily Readings in the New Testament
1: John pictures the seven churches as seven golden lampstands (to hold oil lamps). What does John’s picture tell us about the function of the church?
4-5:How do the four creatures and the twenty-four elders respond to God’s glory (vv. 8, 10-11)? How does their reaction help us define and practice worship?
(These questions are from IVP Quiet Time Bible Study)
Monday, July 29, 2013
He said, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be your name…”
Now note how the Master begins by focusing our attention on God. “When you pray, say: ‘Father . . .’” This is important.
When we pray it is tempting to hop right in with our needs, our hurts, our petitions and our concerns. And it’s as if God is a peripheral player in our universe, because our focus is on the almighty me, and not the almighty thee. And that is the spirit of our times. It’s all about me. Me, me, me. But enough about me, what do you think of me. But Jesus began his prayer by focusing on God.
“Father,” he began. What a revolutionary statement of faith that was, of course. Only Jesus would be bold enough to call the Creator of all the universe Father. But more than that…in the Aramaic it was even more intimate as Jesus Abba, Dad, Daddy. What a contrast to the religious culture of his time for Israel, God was Creator, Deliverer, Judge, Redeemer, the one high and lifted up — but only very rarely referred to as “Abba, Father, Daddy.”
A Roman war hero was returning home. Soldiers were lined along the streets to keep the masses from getting in the way of the parade. A little boy tried to break through. A soldier grabbed him and said: “Hey, don’t get in the way of the emperor.”
The boy replied, “He may be the emperor to you, but he is father to me.”
God is our Father, because Christ our brother, has paid the debt of our sin, so that we can approach the Holy God of Creation and the Judge of the Universe, because we are his children. And don’t you ever forget that. And that realization makes all the difference when we pray.
Monday, July 22, 2013
We all need to take time to sit at the feet of Jesus as too often we Christians fall into the proverbial syndrome of worshiping our work, working at our play, and playing at our worship. And that’s how we come out of balance. And when we become out of balance, we become undone. And when we become undone, we are no good for nothing.
Thus, we need to take time for Jesus and sit at his feet and listen to his word.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Last Wednesday at Men’s Breakfast I shared the story about Jewish Nobel prize winner, Isaac Isidor Rabi. A friend once asked Rabi how he became a scientist.
Rabi replied that every day after school his mother would talk to him about his day at school. She wasn’t so much interested in what he had learned that day, but she always inquired, “Did you ask a good question today?”
“Asking good questions,” Rabi said, “made me become a scientist.”
Another Nobel winner said this: “You can tell whether a person is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a person is wise by his questions.”
It was French philosopher Voltaire who said: “Judge a person by his questions rather than by his answers.”
And that’s good advice. So, what do you learn about this lawyer here in our text today from the question that he asks Jesus (Luke 10:25-37)? And the question is: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Now what’s the basic assumption behind that question? That salvation is something that we must earn. Do. Qualify for. Meet the prerequisites of. Of course, as we all know, when it comes to receiving an inheritance, what’s more important is who are rather than what we do. Right? A prince receives the inheritance of the king more because of who he is rather than what he has done, right? And so too, when it come to inheriting eternal life, it’s more important that we are an adopted daughter or son of God, rather what we do. For we know that we cannot earn our salvation by our own good works, but we instead receive it by faith in the grace of God’s love.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
I thank God that the Christian church has for centuries, fed the hungry, clothed the naked, educated the ignorant, taken in the orphan, built schools and universities and hospitals, fought for justice, fought for the end of slavery, fought for the equality of women, fought to bring an end to racism, fought to protect those who are abused or oppressed, and so many other wonderful things. I praise God for that, and pray that we will continue to do all of those things, and more. But…but…if that is all we do, and don’t introduce people to Jesus, then we are nothing more than political party that meets on Sundays, or a feeding program that uses a church kitchen, or a public school that convenes in a sanctuary. Indeed, we are that, but we are more than that, because in addition to all of that, we are doing the best and most wonderful thing we could ever do for a person: we are introducing them to the God of the universe, to the savior of humanity, and to the hope of eternity. I mean, you know the old line, give a man a fish, and you feed for a day. Give him a fishing pole and you feed him for a lifetime. You know that line? Right? Well, as Christians we take that one step further, we say: make him a fisher of men and you will not feed him for a day, you will not feed him for a lifetime, you will fulfill him for all of eternity.
Monday, July 1, 2013
Luke 9:57-62 The Cost of Following Jesus
As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”He said to another man, “Follow me. But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Do you get sidetracked by the “But-First Syndrome.” As in, “I’ll follow Jesus, but first I need to . . . .”
Is this common problem for most of us? It could be.
Is this a serious problem for many of us? It can be.
Is this a critically grave problem when it comes to our response to the call of God in our life? Always. Indeed, as one preacher said, “when it comes to responding to Jesus, delayed obedience is instant disobedience. Is that true? You bet.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
The Trinity is a mystery as the true nature of God is a bit beyond our finite conceptions. But shouldn’t this be expected…since he is infinite and we are finite. Shouldn’t there understandably be a bit of a disconnect between what we can understand about God and what God truly is? I mean, let’s face it, we can’t even cure the common cold. What makes us thinks we can someone get our minds around God. In fact, if there weren’t mystery to the Bible we would be suspicious of it’s divine origin because man-made religions assume they can explain everything by human reason. But, I believe, that’s because they are man-made and not
Wednesday, April 17, 2013: Courage
As the Lord prepares Joshua to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, He instructs Joshua repeatedly to be courageous. Did Joshua struggle with a lack of courage? Was he harboring thoughts of failure? Was he fearful? This is the same Joshua who entered Canaan forty years ago along with eleven other spies. Even after seeing formidable foes in the land, it was Joshua and Caleb, who encouraged the Israelites to take the land.
Numbers 14: 8 If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. 9 Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.”
Unfortunately, the Israelites were not willing to put their trust in God’s protection and provision and they allowed fear and thoughts of failure to keep them from taking the land God had promised. This led to forty more years of wandering in the desert. Now Moses has died, and Joshua has been commissioned and challenged to lead the people into Canaan. It is at this moment that God encourages Joshua – three times – reminding Joshua that the battle is the Lord’s and if Joshua keeps his eyes on the Lord and meditates on His word, then the people of Israel will rise to the challenge and take the lands that God promised. As we face challenges in our lives, may we turn to the Lord for encouragement and empowerment and know that if we fix our eyes on Him and meditate on His word, we can do just about anything! Blessings, Christie Zoba
Wednesday, April 10, 2013: The simplicity of the Message
Today’s meditation from Our Daily Bread was titled, “Keep It Simple”, and I think that when it comes to God’s message of salvation, we need to remember that. In the 16th chapter of Acts (part of our daily Bible reading), Paul is asked by his jailer, “what must I do to be save?” to which he responded, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved . . ” (v. 30-31). I think many people struggle in their faith, because they want to have to somehow earn their salvation – they want to be able to complete a ‘to do’ list and have the satisfaction that they met all the criteria for their salvation. The truth is that salvation is not complicated and there is nothing we could ever do to ‘earn’ it. We are called to believe – something that doesn’t take great intelligence, or a master’s degree – it’s a simple step of faith. Bob delivered a wonderful message about faith and doubt, and I encourage you to listen to it – it’s available on the website. May you focus today on the uncomplicated grace that Jesus offers you and rejoice! Blessings, Christie Zoba
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
There are a group of 40 or so of us at Second Union Church reading through the Bible in 2013. This is the fourth year we’ve taken on the task, and it has been such a rewarding experience. The first year we read through the Bible beginning in Genesis and ending in Revelation. The second year we read through the Bible in the Message version. Last year we read through in chronological order, which I particularly found to be very meaningful as it gave us a fresh perspective on the historical events of the Old and New Testament.
This year each day we read one or two chapters from the Old Testament, a Psalm and a chapter in the New Testament, and I am really enjoying the blend of the three focuses. It is refreshing to be able to read the familiar passages in the gospels as you read through some of the genealogies and the laws of Numbers and Deuteronomy. Bob and I try to begin each day by reading the passages on the schedule, and I find myself thinking about the words I’ve read throughout the day.
The most rewarding aspect of a structured plan of reading through the Bible is, of course, the time spent each day in the Word. It requires resolve and determination, but the reward far outweighs the effort as the Holy Spirit reveals God’s message to us. Blessings, Christie Zoba
Resurrection Sunday Sunday, March 31, 2013
Raised – contributed by Pastor Bob Zoba
1 Corinthians 15: 12-14,17-20 — Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. … If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.
One of the saddest experiences for our 2UC family last year was the loss of our dear sister, Marina McCormack. She was loved and appreciated by so many and her passing has left a great void in our church family. However, as I look back on that sad time and the funeral that followed, I am happily reminded of the song selection that her three musical children presented. It was the Israel Kamakawiwao’ole version of the famous song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.
Now, granted, some scolds might regard a mere pop song to be rudely inappropriate on such a solemn occasion. (I must admit, I have never heard it at any funeral I ever attended.) However, I believe if you listen closely to the lyrics of this classic song, you will have to agree that it was a truly inspired selection. As they sang it, I could just picture Marina singing it to us from her newly achieved perch on life. If you think about it, that song is really all about what heaven is going to be like…a place, somewhere over the rainbow, where the dark clouds of this life will be far behind us and where our present troubles will melt like lemon drops, high above chimney tops. That’s where you will find Marina now. And that’s where you will find all who have gone to be with the Lord.
Of course, this may sound, to some, like a silly, sappy message of the sweet by and by; however, on this Easter Sunday we know that it is not simply a fairy-tale dream, but instead a dream that will one day come true. And the reason we are certain of this is the historical fact of Christ’s resurrection which is attested to us by so many witnesses who died for what they saw. So too, it is attested to us by the Holy Spirit who has come into our hearts to change us, transform us, and give us victory over sin. Yes, He lives, He lives, He lives. And you ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart!!!