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“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rustdestroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21, ESV)



Chad Karger

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. (Isaiah 61:1).

Herod reclined on his throne. Maybe it was like any other day for a Roman tyrant. His hold on Jerusalem and the Jewish people as strong as it every had been. Then, from the east, men arrive in Jerusalem looking for the one who was “…born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him,” (Matthew 2:2). There’s no mention of how many men came looking for Jesus. Given Herod’s response, I tend to think it was quite an entourage! Or, if they were few in number, they must have been a pretty impressive that day. 

Whatever their number, Herod was none too pleased — tyrants are pretty stingy with their power. Matthew says that news of this “king of the Jews” caused acute emotional distress for Herod. Except, our English translations say that he was “greatly troubled” (or something like that) which doesn’t quite capture the storm of emotions and rage that Herod felt. He was livid. Hiding all of that emotion, he calmly says, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him,” (2:8).

“When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy,” (Matthew 2:10). Educated, respected, wealthy, and influential, these men “fell down and worshipped him… they offered him gifts,” (2:11). The appearance of Jesus, for magi and for every single man since then, brings us to our knees or evokes rage and rebellion. When the Light shines and the “glory of the Lord” rises on the earth, there’s no middle ground!

Welcome to Epiphany, a season of bright lights and liberation for all the earth! 

“The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer,” (Psalm 6:9).


Chad Karger

This is Holy Week. For Jesus’s disciples, it is the week that we follow him to the cross. It is the week we recall his burial. It is the week that ends in celebration of our victorious King! Yet, some who claim the name of Jesus want to arrive at Easter morning without going through Good Friday.

The twelve disciples became the eleven disciples on the way to the cross. Instead of counting the cost, Judas used Jesus for personal gain. Of course, whatever he gained wasn’t enough to keep him from a tragic ending.

To follow Jesus requires us to count the cost. Jesus took away the penalty of sin; we offer our life out of gratitude for His salvation. 

No sooner had Stephen been made a deacon in the church than he was being arrested and facing the death penalty. His day in court would end, not with the angry executioners, but with him following to sleep in the arms of Jesus.

While Jesus’s death means I no longer have to pay for the penalty of my sin, His grace means that I’m overcoming the power sin in my life. Overcoming the power of sin will cost me in very real and personal ways. In that struggle, we’ll be tempted to reach for quick fixes.

To be sure, genuine rest, peace, comfort, and strength come grace through faith in Jesus alone. When we meet Jesus on Good Friday, we are reminded that sin’s power has been shattered at the cross! Let us count the cost, then, of taking hold of that Christ’s power:

It costs the fleeting pleasure of addictions to follow real satisfaction in Jesus.

It costs the false security in riches to follow the treasure of heaven in Jesus.

It costs the world’s applause to follow the grace of God in Jesus.

It costs the satisfaction of revenge to follow the justice of Jesus.

It costs self-condemnation to follow love of Jesus.

It costs….

On Good Friday we will lay down the burden of making life work on our own terms. We will take up the life found only in Jesus. While costly, the benefits of Jesus are, as the old hymn says, “ten thousand charms.”

It cost Stephen his life. In the end, he was resting in the arms of Jesus when his executioners stoned him.

What does it cost you to follow Jesus? What does resting in the arms of Jesus mean for you? 

Close out Lent with a prayer of thanksgiving this Friday when you meet God’s gift at the cross.


Chad Karger

God is near.
God is powerful.
God is abundant.

These are three simple and profound confessions about God. As we come to know God in these three ways through Jesus, our eyes are opened to who we are apart from Him.


When Israel was making their way through the desert wilderness on their way to the Promised Land, God was powerfully and abundantly present every step of the way. Among other things, His presence was represented by the Tabernacle, which was called the "tent of witness.” It was a constant reminder of God in their midst. They would set it up in the wilderness and worship God.

For the church, God's presence is seen and experienced by the presence of the Holy Spirit who has been given to Jesus’s followers. Paul goes so far as to call our bodies “temples of the Holy Spirit,” (1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16). We experience God’s powerful and abundant presence personally and as a community. BOTH!

In Christ, we aren't striving to get close to God. God is near to us.
In Christ, we aren’t trying to be strong. God is strong given to us.
In Christ, we aren’t scraping by a meager existence. God is the abundant life.

God with us!

Lent is a time to be reminded of God's presence, even if we have to get honest about our distractions; be reminded of His power, even if we have to be honest about weakness; reminded of His abundance, even if we have to be honest about our weaknesses.

You don’t rush through God’s presence. You don’t presume upon God’s presence. You dwell with God. It’s a relationships, not religious ritual.

As Stephen reminds the religious leaders in his speech, “The Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands,” but in His creation made by His Word, and saved by His Word!

Next Sunday is Palm Sunday. As Jesus enters Jerusalem, so He enters our hearts and communities. He has come to be powerfully and abundantly near to us. 

He is God’s promise fulfilled!