Posted in Biblical Reflections

Authority to Cast Out Demons

“Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” (Matthew 10:1) Have you ever wished you had authority to cast out demons? Me too. Especially when my children are, well, you know… Recently, while thinking about this text and how Jesus sent His followers to those in need, I wondered why He doesn’t do the same thing today. Or does He? Without doubt, Jesus sends His followers out looking for those who are welcoming them into their lives. He sends us out into a broken world...

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Ox Over Easy?

Where there are no oxen, the feeding trough is empty, but an abundant harvest comes through the strength of an ox.  Proverbs 14:4 It’s easier not to do the hard work. It’s easier to blame the conditions. It’s easier to blame the hard soil. It’s easier to say you couldn’t get good help. It’s cleaner if you get the ones that don’t get messy. But ease usually leads to lean. It leads to clean and tidy and empty. Empty results. Empty soul. Empty purpose. Empty hopes. Empty pockets. Empty accounts. Empty pews. Empty baptistery. Empty rooms. Empty building. The hard thing is...

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Mary and the Good Samaritan

Have you ever noticed the connection between the story of the Good Samaritan and Mary listening to Jesus (while her sister frantically rushed around the house)? Luke, led along by the Holy Spirit, put these stories right next to each other (Luke 10:25-42). In one instance, the religious guys were too busy to give any attention to an obvious ministry need right in front of them. In the other instance, the religious sister was too busy to notice the “one thing that mattered” under her own roof. In one instance, a Samaritan took time – much time – to make sure an injured...

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Pay Attention to Your Reaction

At the end chapter 9, Luke records four different reactions by potential Jesus followers. First, James and John want to call down fire from heaven when they see that they, nor Jesus, are welcomed by Samaritans. They were being rejected. The Sons of Thunder reacted by wanting to live up to their name and bring destruction from the sky (see Luke 9:51-56). Second, a very zealous man was told by Jesus to think twice before following Him. Being with Jesus wasn’t about comfort and ease and “the good life” (see Luke 9:57-58). Third, a man’s reaction to Jesus’ invitation to...

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What are You Going to do About It?

5 So when Jesus looked up and noticed a huge crowd coming toward him, he asked Philip, “Where will we buy bread so that these people can eat?” 6 He asked this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread wouldn’t be enough for each of them to have a little.” (John 6:5-7) Have you ever been forced to stare down the barrel of an impossible situation? Have you ever been faced with an overwhelming circumstance? A cancer diagnosis? An impossible spouse? A lost neighbor? A difficult boss?...

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Stop Sinning!

After Jesus healed an invalid of 38 years, He told the man not to sin anymore so that something worse would not happen to him (John 5:14). How did this man take this counsel? How did he heed this directive? There’s one of two ways. First, he could have assumed Jesus meant that if he ever sinned – just once – something was coming his way that would be far worse than being paralyzed for 38 years. Can you imagine? The stress level!?!?! If this was how the man took what Jesus said, he would have spent every moment of...

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Waiting While Walking

The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. (John 4:50b-51) Capernaum is over 20 miles from Cana. Two days journey, at least. If someone left Capernaum toward Cana and another left Cana toward Capernaum, you might meet up at the end of day one. Assuming the healing of the son took place at 1 pm in the afternoon, the boy’s father and the father’s servants had to spend the night somewhere once it got dark, wake up the next morning...

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Mary’s Instruction & The Shock of a Headwaiter

“Do whatever He tells you.” (John 2:5) “You have saved the best for last!” (John 2:10) The only recorded instructions we have from Jesus’ mom just so happens to be some of the best counsel anyone could offer. She tells the servants at a wedding party to do whatever Jesus tells them to do. The headwaiter at this same wedding party thought the groom did made a brilliant social move. He assumed the groom saved the best and finest wine until later in the week, rather than the reverse. These statements by Mary (“Do whatever He tells you.”) and the headwaiter (“You...

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Day 2 of VBS: A Fragrant Offering

“…walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.” Ephesians 5:2 (emphasis mine) Ever wonder what Jesus smelled like? Can you imagine His odor on the cross? Or, how He smelled when He walked out of the leper colony? Or what could be detected on his clothes after leaving Matthew’s party? I cannot imagine He smelled like a bouquet of roses after He washed 24 feet in the Upper Room. To the Father, He smelled incredible. Like walking in your neighborhood and catching a whiff of someone grilling meat...

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Strawberry Picking and John 15

Recently, my wife and I had the opportunity to go and pick strawberries together at a nearby farm. Jesus’ words from John 15 came to mind. I came away with a couple of thoughts that I hope encourage and challenge you. #1. Bearing fruit is slow. It takes time. Strawberries can only be picked at certain times throughout the year. They aren’t always available, nor can they be produced overnight. It takes time. The weeks and months when they aren’t being picked? Well, they are being cultivated into maturity. Producing spiritual fruit is similar. It cannot be mass produced on...

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