Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Wednesday, December 2, 2015
A WARNING ABOUT DIVISION
Matthew 12:22-30 Then a demon-possessed man, who was blind and couldn't speak, was brought to Jesus. He healed the man so that he could both speak and see. (23) The crowd was amazed and asked, "Could it be that Jesus is the Son of David, the Messiah?" (24) But when the Pharisees heard about the miracle, they said, "No wonder He can cast out demons. He gets His power from Satan, the prince of demons." (25) Jesus knew their thoughts and replied, "Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart. (26) And if Satan is casting out Satan, he is divided and fighting against himself. His own kingdom will not survive. (27) And if I am empowered by Satan, what about your own exorcists? They cast out demons, too, so they will condemn you for what you have said. (28) But if I am casting out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you. (29) For who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man like Satan and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house. (30) "Anyone who isn't with Me opposes Me, and anyone who isn't working with Me is actually working against Me.
A demon possessed man is set free. “Hallelujah! The Kingdom of God is among us.”
All too quickly that man is forgotten, dismissed, if you will. The religious leaders of the day attack the healer and the Spirit with which He operates. Their motive is not revealed in this passage and Jesus does not address it. First He addresses the foolishness of their argument. A house divided cannot continue to stand. It will fall miserably.
There is also an ominous warning here. Jesus alludes to His power and ability to plunder and bind Satan and then He says this, "Anyone who isn't with Me opposes Me, and anyone who isn't working with Me is actually working against Me.”
Today three armed gunmen killed several people and wounded others in San Bernardino, CA. Before the attackers were caught, their motives known and the bodies of the dead had a chance to get cold, social media lit up with arguments over gun control. Well-meaning believers on both sides of this issue pulled out all stops to disgrace the other side.
Many people posted things like, “Praying for San Bernardino.” In the midst of it all, a friend far away in Pakistan contacted me. Not being fully aware of our geography here, she was concerned for my safety. I was touched even though I’m over 2,000 miles away. Her posts on social media was all about praying for the nations of the world.
I was… no, I am convicted by her faith and her conviction to pray instead of argue.
Yes, I have a conviction on the issue of gun control, but this is neither the place, nor the time. Now is the time to pray, “Our Father in heaven, holy is Your name. Bring Your Kingdom in all its fullness to this planet. Cause Your will to be done here as it is in heaven. Meet our needs. Forgive our sins, and remind us, empower us to forgive those who sin against us. Lead us away from temptation. Deliver us from evil and the evil one. Yours is the Kingdom, the power and the glory forever. Comfort those in San Bernardino and bring the truth to the forefront. Draw the lost to Yourself. And, Father, unite Your church. Even so, Lord Jesus, come. In Jesus name, AMEN!!!
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
HOPE OF ALL THE WORLD
Matthew 12:14-21 Then the Pharisees called a meeting to plot how to kill Jesus. (15) But Jesus knew what they were planning. So He left that area, and many people followed Him. He healed all the sick among them, (16) but He warned them not to reveal who He was. (17) This fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah concerning Him: (18) "Look at My Servant, whom I have chosen. He is My Beloved, who pleases Me. I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He will proclaim justice to the nations. (19) He will not fight or shout or raise His voice in public. (20) He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Finally He will cause justice to be victorious. (21) And His name will be the hope of all the world."
Although there are no red letters in this passage the words of Christ are implied and His actions speak volumes.
Someone recently asked me why Jesus often told people not to tell who He was. 1) In this case there were people out to kill Him and it was not yet time for Him to die. 2) Jesus goal was always to glorify the Father, not Himself. His glory would come in the Father’s time. 3) Where there is light there will be bugs. Larger crowds don’t necessarily mean more faithful followers. And larger crowds can impede helping those who really need help.
The quote from Isaiah 42 is one of my favorite prophecies because it clearly proclaims the gentleness of our Savior. It proclaims, “If there is the least flicker of light, any hint of hope, the smallest seed of faith God will help.” In Mark 9 A man brings his son to Jesus seeking deliverance for the lad. He has tried for some time to help his boy, and even tried the disciples of Jesus to no avail. In speaking with Christ he expresses some doubt. “Heal him if you can.” Jesus addresses the doubt, not because He wishes to heap condemnation on the man. Rather, Jesus is causing him to search his heart for that which pleases the Father and overcomes the world, faith and honesty. (See Hebrews 11:6, 1John 5:4, John 4:23-24)
Mark 9:24 The father instantly cried out, "I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!"
This dad does it. He gets it right. He is honest about how much faith he has. And Jesus looks beyond all the doubt and sees that flicker of light, that hint of hope. Yes, Jesus sees that tiny seed of faith and He pulls it to the forefront. And then Jesus commands the evil spirit to leave and of course, it does. In that moment that dad is strengthened, that weak reed becomes unbreakable, the flickering candle flares up into a bright light. He is victorious in Jesus and hope has returned to his heart.
Father in heaven, may our words and our lives point to You and Your glory. Grant us the ability to see the light in those around us, however dim that light may be. And rather than snuffing it out grant us wisdom to fan it into healing, faithful hope. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!
Monday, November 23, 2015
WHAT DO YOU SEE?
Matthew 12:9-13 Then Jesus went over to their synagogue, (10) where He noticed a man with a deformed hand. The Pharisees asked Jesus, "Does the law permit a person to work by healing on the Sabbath?" (They were hoping He would say yes, so they could bring charges against Him.) (11) And He answered, "If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn't you work to pull it out? Of course you would. (12) And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath." (13) Then He said to the man, "Hold out your hand." So the man held out his hand, and it was restored, just like the other one!
Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees is reminiscent of Solomon’s answer to the two women arguing over a living baby. (1Kings 3:16-25)
It had been prophesied the Jesus would be wise. Isaiah 11:2 And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him—the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
Not only is He wise but He is compassionate. The Pharisees only see the potential of someone breaking one of their rules. Though the Sabbath laws are pretty particular the Pharisees had added to them making the Sabbath a burden instead of a rest. But Jesus, Lord of the Sabbath sees the man with the withered hand. He sees the opportunity to give this man a blessing of rest that will remove the yoke of oppressive begging, and return him to the work force. He is giving Him a new yoke, a fitting yoke.
Before presenting the blessing He answers the Pharisees, silencing them with His wisdom. In His answer there is so much more. I repeat myself, but please grasp this. Whether you are the one ignored because of rules, or the one ignoring others because of rules… Jesus sees the man as a man who has worth. In God’s sight you have worth and those around you have worth.
Do you see others? Do you see the hurting? Are you in such a hurry, or so agenda driven that you miss the opportunities to bless those around you? Dallas Willard said, “Arrange your days so that you experience total contentment, joy and confidence in your everyday life with God.” Do you pack your days so full that any interruption, or “chance meetings” (God moments) would be frustrating?
I would be remiss not to point out that Jesus gave the man with the withered hand a part in his healing. Some will read this and say, “Yeah, you people should see me and help me.” Jesus never encourages laziness nor a refusal to work. And Paul takes it a step further, saying "Those unwilling to work will not get to eat." (2Thess 3:10b)
Father in heaven, as we look at our calendar and plan our day remind us to leave breathing room, that is room for contentment, joy and confidence in You. Open our eyes to see, really see those around us who need a compassionate word or a helping hand. Grant us wisdom, health and strength to accomplish what must be done. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!
Saturday, November 21, 2015
MERCY VS RULES
Matthew 12:1-8 At about that time Jesus was walking through some grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, so they began breaking off some heads of grain and eating them. (2) But some Pharisees saw them do it and protested, "Look, Your disciples are breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath." (3) Jesus said to them, "Haven't you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? (4) He went into the house of God, and he and his companions broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat. (5) And haven't you read in the law of Moses that the priests on duty in the Temple may work on the Sabbath? (6) I tell you, there is One here who is even greater than the Temple! (7) But you would not have condemned My innocent disciples if you knew the meaning of this Scripture: 'I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.' (8) For the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!"
I’m reminded of the cowboy who retired after many years on the range. He moved into a city and attended a big city church. His fanciest clothing consisted of a clean pair of faded jeans and a plaid shirt which he wore with his customary cowboy boots. As he was leaving after his first visit the pastor shook his hand and said, “I’m so glad you were able to join us today for service and I hope you will return, but would you do me a favor?”
The cowboy politely indicated he would try.
The pastor went on, “Would you ask the Lord what the proper attire is for attending worship here.”
The cowboy promised he would do that. The following week he returned to the same church wearing the exact same clothing. Again, on the way out the pastor shook his hand and said, “I’m so glad you came back, but I thought we agreed you would ask the Lord what the proper attire is for attending worship here.”
The cowboy replied, “Yes sir, we did and I did indeed pray and ask the Lord this week.”
The pastor smirked and asked, “And what did the Lord tell you?”
To which the cowboy replied, “He said He didn’t know because He has never been here.”
I’m so grateful for the mercy that our Heavenly Father has shown us and shows us daily. It is important to note that the ceremonial and dietary laws were given to show us that we all fall short of God’s glory. No one was able to keep all the law except Jesus and He is Lord, even over the Sabbath.
We all have preferences in life. Some of those preferences we feel very strong about. We might even be willing to fight for them, but should we? There are things in the scriptures that are non-negotiables, but those aren’t usually what we fight over.
God’s desire for us is that we would be merciful as He is merciful. I love the way that the NLT puts this… Hosea 6:6 I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know Me more than I want burnt offerings.
Father in heaven, fill us with Your amazing love, Your mercy, Your grace. Remind us when we are getting caught up in our preferences and putting them above people. Help us to walk in holiness, but to do it with much love. In Jesus Holy and precious name, AMEN!!!
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Matthew 11:28-30 Then Jesus said, "Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (29) Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (30) For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light."
Jesus goes from a scathing rebuke (vs 21-24) to thanksgiving and praise (vs 25) to a Messianic proclamation of Who Jesus really is (vs27) to a most comforting invitation.
This invitation promises rest. I hear people all around me telling how busy they are, how tired, exhausted, worn out they are, as if in competition of who carries the heaviest load and who among them is the most likely to suddenly die of over exhaustion.
All around us, for us, in us and through us Jesus is doing miracles, but like the people of Korazin we miss them and think them the works of chance or worse, miracles of our own doing.
But for those who feel the weight of what they are doing and can see that their efforts are falling short and wearing them out He calls out, “Come to Me.” When they answer Him He urges them to lay down their heavy burdens and He touches them with a holy rest. He does not leave them to sleep too long, but urges them to take on a different load. They will still work, but in a fitting yoke. This yoke will not chafe nor wear down the wearer. The work He gives will matter for it will be the work for which they were created. Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” He will teach them this work and in it they will find a refreshing as they go along. The work itself will bring new life to their souls.
If you are participating in the competition and finding yourself winning the gripe sessions with other busy, worn out individuals. Stop. Yes, stop. Listen to the invitation of Jesus. Go to Him. Lay down your burdens, your ideas of what it is to serve. Accept the rest He offers. When you awaken make a list of all you are doing and give Him permission to go over that list with you. Give Him permission to tell you what needs to go. You will have to learn the word, “No.”
Then ask Him if there is anything you are not doing that you should be doing. Listen. If you are His sheep, then He promises you will hear His voice. Now follow His guidance.
Father in heaven, we pile stuff on that You did not plan for us. We live in a society that praises busyness and has no patience for waiting or really resting. One of Your commandments is for us to Sabbath. Forgive us for ignoring You and the healing, peaceful rest You offer. Help us as Your children to accept this gift You offer. Cause our ears to be open to Your direction and may we be found faithful to the work for which You created each of us. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!
Monday, November 16, 2015
WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR STRENGTH?
Matthew 11:25-27 At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: "O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank You for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. (26) Yes, Father, it pleased You to do it this way! (27) "My Father has entrusted everything to Me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him."
In the preceding verses Jesus proclaims the horror of the final judgment of the occupants of five cities. But, in verse 25 He turns His heart and mind to praising the Father. Though judgment will be horrendous there will be a remnant and Jesus praises God for it. He rejoices in what pleases the Father. In that rejoicing He is trusting the Father’s perfect plan for His own, for those He will save.
I’m reminded of the time that David and his men had gone out to battle only to return and find their city burned and their families taken. David’s men, being discouraged, tired, and angry began talking of killing David. Read David’s response… 1 Samuel 30:6 David was now in great danger because all his men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters, and they began to talk of stoning him. But David found strength in the LORD his God.
Jesus wept over Jerusalem as He approached it (Luke 19:41). No doubt He was broken hearted over Chorazin, Bethsaida, Tyre, Sidon and Capernaum, but He found strength in the Father and His plans.
In what do you find strength when all around you seems devastating? The news of late is depressing, maddening even. Jesus warned of wars and rumors of wars, persecutions, earthquakes and all sorts of calamities. But He also said, John 14:27 "I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid.”
Father in heaven, strengthen our brothers and sisters in Paris who are dealing with such a massive loss because of evil. Draw the lost to Yourself. Grant Your comfort and Your peace. Remind us where our strength comes from by the power and grace of Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!
Monday, November 9, 2015
To those reading this blog,
Thank you for reading and studying along with me. I'm going to take this week off and Lord willing, I will return on November 16.
Continue walking with Jesus and applying what you have already learned.
In the love of Jesus Christ,
Thank you for reading and studying along with me. I'm going to take this week off and Lord willing, I will return on November 16.
Continue walking with Jesus and applying what you have already learned.
In the love of Jesus Christ,
Saturday, November 7, 2015
Matthew 11:21-24 "What sorrow awaits you, Korazin and Bethsaida! For if the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people would have repented of their sins long ago, clothing themselves in burlap and throwing ashes on their heads to show their remorse. (22) I tell you, Tyre and Sidon will be better off on judgment day than you. (23) "And you people of Capernaum, will you be honored in heaven? No, you will go down to the place of the dead. For if the miracles I did for you had been done in wicked Sodom, it would still be here today. (24) I tell you, even Sodom will be better off on judgment day than you."
Jesus shows here that God will take a person’s life circumstances into consideration as He passes judgment. And it appears that there will be degrees to eternal judgment.
The more important thing for us as believers to consider is that rewards in heaven will be by degree according to how we have lived. (See 1Corinthians 3:12-15) In the passage above Jesus points to the miracles He performed in these cities. The judgment He speaks of is because of their reaction, or lack thereof, to His miracles. He works miracles around us every day. Creation, the air we breathe, the many processes of our bodies are all miracles.
Are your eyes open to see them? Do you give them any thought? Do you look to Him daily expecting miracles, not only for yourself but also for those around you? Are you facing today with anticipation or dread? Do you believe He is Who He says He is and will do what He says He will do?
Father in heaven, thank You for another day. Thank You for the gifts of Your
Son and Your Holy Spirit. Open our eyes today to see Your handy work all about us and open our hearts to live in anticipation of what You will do this day. And may we be found willing to join You in Your miraculous plans. In Jesus Name AMEN!!!
Thursday, November 5, 2015
PRAISE AND APPROVAL
Matthew 11:16-19 "To what can I compare this generation? It is like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends, (17) 'We played wedding songs, and you didn't dance, so we played funeral songs, and you didn't mourn.' (18) For John didn't spend his time eating and drinking, and you say, 'He's possessed by a demon.' (19) The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, 'He's a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!' But wisdom is shown to be right by its results."
I’m so glad that Jesus is a friend of sinners. That means He is my friend… OH HALELLUJAH!!!
I believe the main point He is making here is that some people will never be satisfied. They will set themselves against you and no matter what you do they will find fault. So, you must follow the path of wisdom. That path begins with the fear of the Lord. Proverbs 9:10 “Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.”
Jesus says this in John 5:44 No wonder you can't believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don't care about the honor that comes from the One who alone is God.
How important to you is the praise and approval of men? If you will be wise and choose to live to please God the results will be wonderful. Just don’t attempt to please Him to gain salvation. That is His gift to you. Strive to please Him out of love for Him.
Father in heaven, thank You for the gift of salvation You so freely give. Grant that we would truly understand our position with You in Christ. And may we live for You out of pure love for You. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
GREATER THAN JOHN THE BAPTIST
Mat 11:7-15 As John's disciples were leaving, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. "What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? (8) Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people with expensive clothes live in palaces. (9) Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. (10) John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say, 'Look, I am sending My messenger ahead of You, and he will prepare Your way before You.' (11) "I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is! (12) And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it. (13) For before John came, all the prophets and the law of Moses looked forward to this present time. (14) And if you are willing to accept what I say, he is Elijah, the one the prophets said would come. (15) Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!
John was faithful in his ministry. Jesus gives John honor and clarifies to all who will hear that John is the Elijah and the forerunner of the Messiah. In this Jesus is also pointing to Himself as the Messiah.
Verse 12 has been translated different ways. Some translate it, “the Kingdom suffers violence and the violent take it by force.” It seems that there were and perhaps are those who are trying to force their way into the Kingdom of God. One commentary points out that there were those who tried to make Jesus king of an earthly kingdom by force.
Everything in the scriptures up to and including John point to this time, the coming of the Messiah. And now He is here. He, Jesus is the Messiah, the Anointed One, the King of Kings, the Savior.
There was a lot of confusion over what kind of Savior He would be. The people wanted a king now. They wanted someone to build David’s kingdom again. They missed that Jesus came to bring something much more permanent than an earthly kingdom.
Hear and understand, though He sees you in your present situation His goals and plans are much loftier than a temporary quick fix. He wants to change you into something greater than John the Baptist. He wants to make you whole in every aspect and use you for His eternal glory to spread His Heavenly Kingdom and its amazing Good News.
Father in heaven, grant that we would yield to Your plans for Your sake. Let us see the bigger Kingdom vision and live for You in pursuing it. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!
Monday, November 2, 2015
WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN AND HEARD?
Mat 11:4-6 Jesus told them, "Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— (5) the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. (6) And tell him, 'God blesses those who do not turn away because of Me. '"
The question asked of Jesus at this point was inspired by John the Baptist. He sent his disciples to ask, “Are you the Messiah?” Based on Jesus’ answer these followers of John had been with Him long enough to see some of His miracles.
How long have you walked with Jesus? What have you seen and heard? If someone asked you about Jesus what would your answer be? Would it be just the academic answers from Sunday School or would you be able to recount blessings and miracles?
I guess the real question here is this, “Is your walk with God just academic or is it a relationship full of stories you can share about His goodness, His character, His provision, love, joy, peace?” Only you and God can answer that question. I urge you to spend some time meditating on that question today.
Father in heaven, thank You that you desire such a relationship with us. May we be found faithful in walking with You and in sharing You with others. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!
Friday, October 30, 2015
COUNTING THE COST
If you take the time to go back and read Matthew 10 slowly and take note of the cost of following Christ it can be a bit daunting. Therefore, I urge you to also take note of the blessings and promises that come with an intimate, obedient relationship with Jesus. And that is what I’m going to focus on here today.
VS 8. You will have the power of the Holy Spirit working through you as you share what you have been freely given.
VS 9. You will have the opportunity to trust God for His provision along the way.
VS 18. You will have the opportunity to tell others about Jesus.
VS’ 19-20. You will have the Holy Spirit speaking through you. Have you ever finished a conversation realizing you said some pretty amazing things with some awesome wisdom and then realized that God spoke through you? That brings me an incredible sense of peace and joy.
VS 22. When you endure to the end you will be saved. This is so much more than what we think of as eternal life. This is the Greek word, “sōzō ,“ which means to be made completely whole. Anything the enemy takes from you will be completely restored.
VS’ 29-31. God cares for you. Everything you face He knows about. Nothing is hidden from His all-seeing, loving eyes. Because of that you need fear nothing.
VS 32. Jesus talks about you to the Father.
VS 39. You will find real life. Your life will not be meaningless, rather it will be abundant.
VS’ 41-42. You get rewards, the same rewards as prophets and righteous people.
Father in heaven, thank you that Jesus didn’t sugar coat the cost of following Him, and that You offer us such wonderful blessings along the way. May we be faithful and may our eyes be upon the prize of the high calling of Jesus Christ. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!
Thursday, October 29, 2015
ACKNOWLEDGE OR DENY
Matthew 10:32-42 "Everyone who acknowledges Me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before My Father in heaven. (33) But everyone who denies Me here on earth, I will also deny before My Father in heaven. (34) "Don't imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword. (35) 'I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. (36) Your enemies will be right in your own household!' (37) "If you love your father or mother more than you love Me, you are not worthy of being Mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than Me, you are not worthy of being Mine. (38) If you refuse to take up your cross and follow Me, you are not worthy of being Mine. (39) If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for Me, you will find it. (40) "Anyone who receives you receives Me, and anyone who receives Me receives the Father who sent Me. (41) If you receive a prophet as one who speaks for God, you will be given the same reward as a prophet. And if you receive righteous people because of their righteousness, you will be given a reward like theirs. (42) And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of My followers, you will surely be rewarded."
Sadly, verses 32 and 33 are probably the two most quoted scriptures on social media. They usually accompany some heart wrenching story and a rant about denying Jesus if you don’t like and share the story with the whole world. However, Jesus explains what He’s talking about in verses 34-42.
Jesus brought a sword that divides people, not by family lines but by faith lines. (I’m not talking about denominational lines here.) It divides believers and unbelievers. People of the same household will turn against those who choose Jesus Christ. So, if your daughter, son, parent or even spouse threatens to leave you over your faith, to deny Him would be to choose them over Him.
To refuse to take up your cross and follow Him is to deny Him. What that means for each person is different. (See John 21:18-23)
Clinging to “your” life is to deny Him. Laying down your life, that is, your desires, your treasures, your time is to follow and to acknowledge Him as Lord.
Receiving and caring for the children of God is acknowledging Him.
Father in heaven, may we be found acknowledging You. May we honor and love You more than we love our family, our life. Lead us by the power of Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
HIS EYE IS ON THE SPARROW
Matthew 10:26-31 "But don't be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. (27) What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear! (28) "Don't be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (29) What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. (30) And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. (31) So don't be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
Don’t be afraid. Tell the world what Jesus has done for you. Proclaim His goodness from the house tops.
Again He points out the cost of proclaiming the Good News, there will be those who will want to kill us. But He gives a reminder and an encouragement.
The Reminder: Though our bodies are fragile and can be destroyed our souls are indestructible by human means. Fear of those who cannot destroy our souls is misplaced fear. I like how the Message Bible puts this, “Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life--body and soul--in his hands.”
The Encouragement: His eye is on the sparrow. There’s an old hymn with that title and I remember we sang it often in our little country church where I grew up. It was a favorite of my mothers who, for years was the church organist. So, when I’m having a rough day I still sing that song as a reminder of God’s love. So far my rough days haven’t included floggings, arrests, nor death threats, but the encouragement is for all God’s children regardless of their lot in life. He sees every tiny sparrow and not one falls that He doesn’t know about it. How much more He cares for you. He has every hair on your head counted. He knows what you are facing today.
One verse in that song says: “Why should I feel discouraged? Why should the shadows come? Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home, When Jesus is my portion, my constant friend is He?” –Public Domain.
Jesus is my portion and He is my friend. Can you say that with certainty? I declare to you that He loves you and wants to be that friend.
Verse 31 starts out, “Don’t be afraid.” I’m reminded of 1 John 4:17-18 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. (18) Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love.
So, if you’re going to have fear, fear God, but know this. As you grow in your understanding of Him, His perfect love will replace all fear.
Father in heaven, give us more understanding of Who You are. Grow Your perfect love in our hearts. Lift away the fear of bodily destruction in this life and help us to live in faith trusting You with our eternal souls. May we, with the apostle Paul, boldly say, “I know the One in whom I trust, and I am sure that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until the day of His return.” (2Timothy 1:12b) In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Matthew 10:24-25 "Students are not greater than their teacher, and slaves are not greater than their master. (25) Students are to be like their teacher, and slaves are to be like their master. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, the members of My household will be called by even worse names!
This makes me think of an old song titled, “Oh To Be Like Thee.” The fourth verse and chorus are as follows:
Oh to be like Thee
Lowly in spirit
Holy and harmless
Patient and brave
Willing to suffer
Others to save
Oh to be like Thee
Oh to be like Thee
Pure as Thou art
Come in Thy Sweetness
Come in Thy Fullness
Stamp Thine own Image
Deep on my heart
--Thomas Obediah Chisholm | William James Kirkpatrick
© Words: Public Domain
Music: Public Domain
“Cruel reproaches willing to suffer?” Are you? Am I?
Jesus made it clear what the costs of following Him would be and still are today. The floggings might be easier on our mind in the long run. At least then we have scars to show what we have put up with. Unkind remarks leave no visible wound whereby we may gain some sympathy. I say this because sympathy (understanding) from others does make our suffering a bit easier to take. Ah, but Jesus has already told us He understands, for they called him names and made fun of Him. So we are encouraged to keep our “eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne.” (Hebrews 12:1b)
Father in heaven, as children we quote the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” In reality names can hurt. We want people to like us. Make it clear in our hearts that it is much more important to please You than it is to please the people around us. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Matthew 10:23 When you are persecuted in one town, flee to the next. I tell you the truth, the Son of Man will return before you have reached all the towns of Israel.
Jesus gives permission to move on in the case of persecution. There is no need to make yourself a martyr just because you can. If persecution arises and you have the ability to move on, then do so. This is true even in conversations where people become combative in their speech. If you have graciously shared the truth and just as graciously listened to them then move on. Don’t aggravate someone just because you can.
Regarding His statement about returning before they had reached all the towns of Israel:
1. There is no need to stay where you are not wanted. There are many towns to preach in and time is short. You cannot argue anyone into salvation. The Holy Spirit has to draw them or they will not come to Christ. Keep moving on until you find someone who desires to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
2. A reference primarily, no doubt, to the Lord coming into his kingdom. Matthew 16:28 And I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom.". He was thus to come in the life time of some of the apostles. He did thus come in the establishment of his kingdom in power on the day of Pentecost. He also came in judgment on the Jews at the destruction of Jerusalem. This event ended Jewish persecution. There is also the final coming to judge the world, but the meaning here does not include that. –People’s New Testament
Father in heaven, this seems to fall back to being wise as serpents. We need to know when it’s time to move on. Grant us that wisdom. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Matthew 10:21-22 "A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. (22) And all nations will hate you because you are My followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved.
It is a dark time in our world. All over Christians are being persecuted. It is imperative to remember that the world hates us because we follow Jesus. They hated Him, and they hate us. The key word in these two verses is in the word, “but.” Everyone who endures to the end will be saved.
I like the way the People’s New Testament Commentary explains this last sentence… “Perseverance gives proof of genuine faith, and is sure of reward.”
Peter encouraged his readers… 2 Peter 1:10 So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away.
Is your faith genuine? Will you be able to endure when persecution comes? Will you be faithful? Is your religion really just a convenience? Are you in it for the long haul and for God’s glory?
Father in heaven, it’s getting ugly down here in a lot of places. Every day we hear about more of Your children who have been persecuted, tortured for the faith and even killed. Grant that our faith not fail. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit and give us grace to keep on proclaiming Your goodness. Even so, Lord Jesus come. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
SHEEP, WOLVES, SNAKES AND DOVES
Matthew 10:16-20 "Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. (17) But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. (18) You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are My followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about Me. (19) When you are arrested, don't worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. (20) For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Jesus doesn’t sugar coat the task set before us. “Sheep among wolves,” “flogged with whips,” “trial before governors and kings.” I’m not crazy about any of those things. And we are to face these things with wisdom and without harming anyone.
I believe the key here is once again trust. We are to see these trials as opportunities to tell others about Jesus and what He has done for them. We’re told, “don’t worry… God will give you the right words at the right time.”
The reason Jesus gives for the floggings and such is, “because you are My followers.” The whole reason for this blog is because John 8:31 Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, "You are truly My disciples if you remain faithful to My teachings…”
Ask yourself these questions. “Am I faithful to the teaching of Christ? If Christianity were made illegal in my country today would there be enough evidence to convict me?”
Father in heaven, grant us wisdom and grace. Protect us as we walk among wolves. May we walk so closely with You and in Your teachings that there is no question whether we are Your followers. Grant us the peace that comes with trusting You wholly even when we are persecuted. Speak through us as Jesus promised in this passage. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!
Thursday, October 15, 2015
ENTER WITH A BLESSING
Matthew 10:11-15 "Whenever you enter a city or village, search for a worthy person and stay in his home until you leave town. (12) When you enter the home, give it your blessing. (13) If it turns out to be a worthy home, let your blessing stand; if it is not, take back the blessing. (14) If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave. (15) I tell you the truth, the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah will be better off than such a town on the judgment day.
As you enter a city, a home, a conversation, go with a blessing on your lips. Be more prepared to bless than to criticize. You carry the Good News. Share it. If they receive your message, then it will be well for them and you. If they do not receive it or even reject it and you, remember judgment belongs to your Heavenly Father.
Knock the dust from your feet. In other words, let that dust be a testimony of their denial and leave it at their door step. Do not carry it with you, nor the sting of their words in your heart. Release it at once and surrender them to their fate but you walk on in freedom. You have done what you were told to do.
Father in heaven, free our hearts from the desire to bring judgment on others. Set us free to believe that You truly do know best and will bring about justice in Your time. Ours is to spread the message and trust You for the outcome. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Matthew 10:9-10 "Don't take any money in your money belts—no gold, silver, or even copper coins. (10) Don't carry a traveler's bag with a change of clothes and sandals or even a walking stick. Don't hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve to be fed.
These instructions are about trust and faith as you carry the Good News to others. They were not to have a great fund raiser for their own needs before going. They were to take very little with them, in fact they were to take the clothes and shoes they were wearing. Keep in mind that this was a short term mission trip. Never-the-less Jesus instructs them to “accept hospitality.” Whatever was offered they were to receive with gratefulness knowing that a worker deserved to be fed.
They were to present the Good News in the power the Holy Spirit provided for healing and other miracles. Zechariah 4:6 Then he said to me, "This is what the LORD says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of Heaven's Armies.
I’m going to reiterate this on purpose. They were to go in the power of the Holy Spirit, trusting God to meet their needs and trusting God for the outcome of the work they were doing. This was a very simple approach and yet it worked in spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom.
Do we rely too much on technology and stage production in our services today and not enough on the Holy Spirit? Do we do the same when dealing with individuals, relying more on our intellect and fancy words?
Father in heaven, Paul told us to be being filled with Your Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18b My translation). Help us to understand what that means and position us for empowering from and by You. Help us to yield all our earthly devices to You. I do not doubt that You can use technology to draw others to You, but I also know we must rely on Your power. In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!
Monday, October 12, 2015
HEAL, RAISE, CURE, CAST FREELY
Matthew 10:8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!
Jesus is sending out His disciples to do the work of the ministry. Along with announcing the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven they are to perform these miracles. As they perform them they are to think about what they have “freely” received and they are to give freely.
God’s grace is given to each of us as a free gift. He grants salvation, healing, life and freedom from the bondage of demons. He gives these things to us. And Jesus commands that we give them to others. He grants us His authority to do so.
I urge you to be quicker to pray for the sick. Take this command seriously and have faith that God is Who He says He is, and that you are His child empowered to do the work He calls you to do.
Father in heaven, grant us the knowledge of Who You are and who we are in You. Grant that empowering in fresh anointing today and every day, along with the faith to heal the sick, raise the dead and cast our demons. And when we meet up with someone who is suffering for whatever reason may our first thought be, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand and I have freely received. Let me give freely.” In Jesus Name, AMEN!!!