A Crowd Pleaser (Matthew 20-21)

The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”  “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”  “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9) There's a reason why people enjoy pleasing the crowd: it opens the door to acceptance.  As people, we're acceptance magnets.  Our hearts gravitate to environments of ... [Continue Reading]

Being Great (Matthew 19; Mark 10)

“Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.” (Mark 10:43b-44) Death has a way of bringing certain things to light, doesn't it?  Have you ever been to a funeral for a person who wasn't that great of a person?  People get up and try to express in words their feelings now that he or she is gone. ... [Continue Reading]

What Kind of Tree Are You? (Matthew 12:1-21; Mark 3; Luke 6)

Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. (Luke 6:44) Trees are very predictable.  If you plant an orange tree, then you can expect juicy oranges to eventually grow from it.  If you plant an apple tree, you can expect apples.  Peach trees grow peaches.  My guess is that you get the idea.  What's really cool, ... [Continue Reading]

Daniel’s Secret (Daniel 10-12)

Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel.  Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.” (Daniel 10:12) Why is it that Daniel's prayers were heard?  Why was he such an effective leader for the people of Israel?  How did he have so much power to ... [Continue Reading]

More Than Words (Joel)

Rend your heart and not your garments. (Joel 2:13a) Have you ever told God, "I'll never do _________ again"?  It's actually a relatively easy thing to say to Him.  Sometimes the statement comes as a kind of bargaining chip to get God to give us what we want or to do as we desire.  Other times, it's a statement of regret in the midst of seeking His forgiveness for ... [Continue Reading]

Reduced to a Line (2 Kings 22-23; 2 Chronicles 34-35)

Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses. (2 Kings 23:25) When I was in college a friend asked me what I wanted written on my tombstone.  That's a big question to ask.  How do you boil your life down into one, simple ... [Continue Reading]

The Damaging Nature of Pride (Isaiah 37-39; Psalm 76)

Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord Almighty: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon.  Nothing will be left, says the Lord. (Isaiah 39:5-6) Pride is dangerous.  Without realizing what he's doing, the proud person makes decision based on the ... [Continue Reading]

Restoration (Psalm 48; Hosea 1-4)

I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’  I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.’” (Hosea 2:23) There's something beautiful about old, broken things being restored, isn't there?  I believe that, when we see such beauty, we get a taste of what's to come ... [Continue Reading]

Hindsight (2 Kings 18:1-8; 2 Chronicles 29-31)

Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel.  There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. (2 Kings 18:5) The quality of a person and his or her leadership isn't always known until years after the person's life is over.  It's only in hindsight that we can truly see the motives behind a person's actions and the quality of a ... [Continue Reading]

Becoming Popular (Amos 7-9)

Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Get out, you seer!  Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there.” There's a sense in which we all want to be popular.  We all want to be liked, included, and appreciated.  Some people even go to great lengths to make sure that people like them, but becoming popular can be costly - particularly when it's at ... [Continue Reading]