Thursday, December 30, 2010

His Temple

Jesus drove the merchants out of the temple on two occasions. This time he drove them out during his last week on earth. Notice what he said to them as he sent them flying. “My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”(Mathew 21:13).

First he called the temple “my house”. The temple of Solomon was made for God to inhabit. When Jesus called it his house, he was declaring both his divinity and his divine right to be worshiped.

Secondly he said it was to be a house of prayer. Prayer involves petition, praise, thanksgiving and worship.

Thirdly he said “you have made it a den of thieves.” Selling oxen, sheep and doves was not a problem. It was the fact that the merchants were over charging the worshipers.

We are now the temple of God. What is happening there? (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


The people yelled in the streets, “Hosanna” which means help or save us. “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Mathew 21:9).

People milling around Jerusalem, preparing for the Passover heard the commotion. “What’s going on?” They asked. “It’s the prophet, Jesus of Galilee,”
others responded excitedly.

The promise of the Messiah had been passed down from generation to generation. It must have seemed surreal to have him appear in their lifetime. Who had not prayed that the anointed One would come while they were alive? Those who had lost hope of ever seeing the Promised One now dared to consider the possibility that he had now come. If this were not the Christ, would the Christ do greater works than this man? (John 7:31).

We also look for the Anointed One to return, but not in regards to removing our sin. We look for him to come to take us home with him (I Thessalonians 4:16; Hebrews 9:28).

Each generation since Christ’s resurrection has looked for his return. Each generation that passes brings us one generation closer, until the generation is born who will see his coming. One generation will expect his return and will see it. Who’s to say we are not the ones?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Donkey's Perspective

Mathew is telling us about the prophecy of Jesus riding into Jerusalem riding on a donkey’s colt (Mt 21:1-7).

I like the story where we are likened to the donkey who thinks all the praise and fuss is over him, not recognizing that the creator of the universe is riding on his back.

May we be aware that anything of value in us is being done by the Father of Lights.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Rated PG Christmas

I cannot watch certain movies because of their graphic portrayals of violence. When the detective programs that I do watch show blood and gore, I close my eyes. I don’t want those pictures rolling around in my head when I go to sleep at night.

In moments when I have been shown the devastation that my sinful, foolish or selfish choices have created in the lives of others, I also wanted to close my eyes. But God, who is rich in mercy, was gracious to show me these violent scenes, so that I could better catch a glimpse of the wondrous riches of his grace and mercy.

If at this Christmas season, you are experiencing the consequence of your sin or the sin of another against you, determine not to allow it take away the beauty of Christmas. Instead, use it to remind you of the over abundance of his love in the birth of his son.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Blind Beggars

Two blind men sat by the road begging. During the hot hours of the afternoon while others got out of the hot son, they would chat with one another. It was good to have a companion who understood what it was like to be rejected and to be considered so full of sin that God had caused you to be blind (John 9:1).

Then one afternoon everything in their lives changed forever. They could hear a crowd approaching long before the dusty feet reached where they were sitting. As the outskirts of the multitude reached the blind men they called out, “Who is it? What’s going on?”

“It’s Jesus of Nazareth.” Someone said shushing them. Ignoring the dissenter, they began to scream above the noise of the crowd “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” They raised their voices till their throats were hoarse.

It was worth every mocking from the crowd, every rejection they had ever experienced, every scolding, every false statement of God’s rejection. It was worth it all because Jesus heard their cries and healed them (Mathew 20:29-33). .

Know he also hears you.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Found Authority

Perhaps you have had the experience of dealing with someone with little authority that clung to it like a cat on a falling tree. The person won’t budge for love or mercy and seem blind to reasoning. The writer of proverbs put it this way.

"Under three things the earth quakes; And under four, it cannot bear up: Under a slave when he becomes king, And a fool when he is satisfied with food, Under an unloved woman when she gets a husband, And a maidservant when she supplants her mistress" (Proverbs 30:22-23).

Jesus told his disciples, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.”

Jesus demonstrated his point by dying on the cross for our sins. Oh the joy of serving God who loves us. Let’s determine to let others know our love through our service to them.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Asking for the Right Thing

Jesus had just finished telling his disciples that he was going to be crucified. While they were still in shock the twin’s (James and John) mother approached Jesus and asked that her sons might sit on each side of his thrown in his kingdom. The disciples w eredumbfounded (Mt 20:24). But Jesus remained calm because he knew the hearts of those who followed him (John 6:71).

“You do not know what you ask,” he said (Mt 20:23). You will indeed drink my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on my right hand and on my left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father”

Because the disciples did not understand the nature of God’s kingdom at that time, they asked for the wrong thing. Scripture tells us that God will separate those who are true followers of him from those who are not. The righteous will be on his right and the unrighteous on his left (Mt 25:33). I am sure James and John are extremely grateful Jesus did not grant their request.

Only God knows all things. That is why we are wise to always preface our requests with “If God is willing” (James 4:13-16).

Friday, December 17, 2010

Shocking Words

On one of their trips to Jerusalem, Jesus left the dusty road and sat down in the grass nearby. His disciples were undoubtedly glad to get off their feet and take a rest. But the words that began to come out of their master’s mouth worried them. “Listen, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn him to death, and deliver him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and crucify. And on the third day He will rise again” (Mathew 20:18-29).

They stopped listening after the word Crucify (John 20:9). How could Jesus allow himself to be tortured? Wasn’t he supposed to set up his kingdom and weren’t they supposed to rule with him? They knew that when someone was crucified anyone associated with the criminal had the potential of being crucified too. This was not what they had signed up for.

Many point to Christ as the way to fulfill desires for fame, wealth and health on earth, but following Jesus does not always lead to an easy life. However, it does lead to a life of peace, joy, strength and confidence (Philippians 4:6; Proverbs 3:26; Romans 15:13).

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Jealous of Ministry

Jesus ended his parable about the hired field-hands with this question. “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?” (Mathew 20:15).

Have you ever experienced, as many of us have, jealousy over ministries of others? Passion for ministry can drive us to fast and pray for God to give us the ability to minister as he has given to others and yet nothing changes. Some might tell us we need to fast more, pray more or believe more. They want us to believe the reason we don’t have a powerful ministry is because we have failed.

What does scripture say about this issue? John 3:27 tells us the decision of the expanse of a ministry comes from heaven. Romans 12:5-6 says we have differing gifts according to the grace of God that has been given to us. Hebrews 2:4 tells us that the Holy Spirit distributes gifts according to his will. The scriptures tell us to desire gifts, but never teaches that we decide which ones we have.

Our job is to seek God. He will then give us the ministry he has predestined us to have. The issue is not size of ministry, but obedience.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's not fair

It doesn’t seem fair that people who work only 2 hours should be paid the same as those who worked the entire day...that is unless we are the ones who received the mercy payment (Mt 20:1-17).

Our perspective of mercy depends on our recognition of our need for it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Eyes on the Riches of Others

Life can be overwhelming, especially at Christmas. We are constantly being bombarded by advertisements and tempted by music and bright lights to buy more than what we can afford. We begin to think others have so much more than we do and we are tempted to focus on material things.

Peter fell to that temptation when he saw the rich young ruler approach Jesus. When the man turned away from Jesus, Peter pointed out that contrary to the young stranger, he and his friends had given up everything to follow Jesus (Mathew 19:16-27).

Jesus told Peter that all he had given up would fade into oblivion in comparison to how God would reward him. (Mt 19:28-30). Jesus said this same principle is for all who follow him.

When we feel overwhelmed with our loses, lets cheer ourselves with the memory of our gains.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Jesus told the disciples that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. It is true there was a gate in the temple called the eye of a needle that was so small that a camel could not pass through with anything attached to his back. But Jesus is not saying people who are rich have to give all their wealth away in order to enter heaven. If that were true we could buy our way into heaven, and we know the only entrance to heaven is through the forgiveness of our sins.

When we are wealthy we are less likely to recognize our need of him and more likely to be consumed with our riches. When we are poor, we can also be consumed with our lack of riches. Jesus said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible (Mt 19:23-26).

We are saved, not because of our wealth or poverty, but simply because God chose to open our eyes to the truth of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. By grace we are saved, not by anything else.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Giving It All Away

A young man ran to Jesus and fell at his feet. “What must I do to have eternal life?” After he told Jesus he had never murdered anyone, stolen from anyone, had not committed adultery, was not in the habit of lying, honored his parents and loved his neighbor like he loved himself, Jesus told him there was only one more thing he had to do.

“If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Mt 19:21; Mk 10:21).

How would we feel if Jesus said the same thing to us? When we sense God is asking us to give to a need at church, when the offering plate is passed for missionaries, when our church needs special funding due to the difficult economy, what is our response?

Perhaps our reactions reflect what the young man in our story felt. He went away sad.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010



Divorce is a sensitive subject. Is there ever a reason to divorce? And if we divorce, does God condone remarriage?

The debate is too involved to address in two or three paragraphs. So I will keep it to a few principles that are clear.

God designed marriage (Mt 19:5-6).

God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman (Mt 19:4).

God designed for marriage to involve sexual intercourse (Mt 19:5).

God has made provision for divorce because of the hardness of the human heart (Mt 19:8)

God only accepts divorce and remarriage when the marriage covenant is broken by infidelity (Mt 19:9).

But, as in all cases, we must always use all scripture to come to conclusions about any one subject. 1 Corinthians chapter 7 gives us enough information to know that God does sanction separation in some cases (1 Cor 7:10-11).

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Itinerate Teacher

Jesus often traveled from Galilee to Judea and back again. He would remain for a couple of days in one place, move on to another then return. Where ever he went he taught about his Heavenly Father and healed people.

Our tendency is to think we need to accomplish everything in one encounter. Jesus taught by example that we are building a little at a time (Mathew 19:12).

Monday, December 6, 2010

Judgment Verses Forgiveness

Did you ever wonder why Jesus tells us to treat an unrepentant man like an unbeliever (Mt 18:15-17), and just a few words later tells to forgive our brother seventy times seven (Mt 18:19-20)? Then he immediately tells us if we don’t forgive our brother God will not forgive us (Mt 18:35).

Bringing a brother before the church has to do with sins that endanger a man’s soul, adultery, fraud, stealing etc (Galatians 5:19-21). Verses 15-35 is reminding us, though we may be required to take action in an attempt to rescue the individual, we are never licensed to hold a grudge against the individual, but must forgive them from our heart.

All of our interaction with those who offended are geared toward rescuing the person from eternal judgment and never toward justifying ourselves.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Painful Grudges

Peter asks what all of us want to ask; How long do I have to put up with this guy I don’t particularly care for? Peter put it this way, “How often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Is seven times enough?” (Mathew 18:21).

Jesus’ answer disappoints us if we are the one offended, but were pretty happy about them if we offended someone else. “I say not to you, seven times, but seventy time seven.”

This seems an impossible task until Jesus uses a story to point out how much he has forgiven us. One man forgave his servant who owned him ten thousand talents, enough to sell his wife and child to pay for the debt. But after that man was forgiven he got into a physical fight with someone who owed him ten times less than what he had been forgiven.

When we are tempted to hold a grudge against someone, we need to remember what it would be like if God held a grudge against us (Mathew 18:23-35).

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Unrepentant Heart

It is extremely important that we read Jesus’ words in context. A single verse, standing alone can be misleading. We are about to see several verses that are used as “proof texts” to make a theological point. But when they are read as an entire passage, our understanding of the principle taught may change. See if you recognize these verses.

“Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18;18). And Mathew 18:19, “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my father which is heaven.” And finally, “For where two or three of you are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mathew 18:20). Take a moment and think about what you have been taught about these verses. Then re-read them as part of the entire discussion starting with verse 15.

These verses are directly connected with confronting sinful behavior. In other words, heaven itself is witness against the unrepentant heart.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Have you ever had an experience like me that you felt so angry you could spit? My pulse sky rockets, my shoulders tighten and I become super vigilant of my words. We have all had the temptation to let our words fly and give someone a piece of our minds.

Jesus addressed our feelings of being violated, telling us how to handle the situation.

First, we are instructed to go to the person and confront them privately. If the person repents from their unfair treatment, the situation stops there.

Second, if the person scorns your attempts to resolve the problem we are to bring one or two more people with us to confront the violator. There are times when this is enough to make the other person realize they had made wrong choices. To them it is no longer your opinion against theirs, but they see that others view the situation from your point of view. If that person repents, the issue is dropped.

In rare cases, when the one who is in the wrong remains unrepentant, we are instructed to bring that person before church. This is not an injunction to stand up on the middle of a church services and announce the sin of another. It is rather and admonition to take the situation before the leaders of the church. If the person continues to refuse to repent, the person is treated as an unbeliever.

The qualification for this kind of discipline can only be for serious sinful behavior, not a difference of opinion (Mathew 18:15-18).

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Lost Sheep

Some of us have children who have left the safety of faith in Jesus. Their choices grieve us and we find ourselves caught between self condemnation and depression. Where did we go wrong? What could we have done better?

The truth is there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Everyone one of us has done or said things that could be used as an excuse to forsake the faith. But thank God our children’s salvation is not dependent on us. Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Lk 19:10; Mt 18:11).

He will not stop seeking out your children.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Lost Lamb

If you were a new sheep farmer and had taken a second mortgage out on your house to purchase 100 sheep, you would take great care of those sheep. Imagine a family came to visit whom you had not seen since they had children. You marvel at how beautiful they are, how much they have grown and how fast time flies. Near dinner time you call the children in from playing around the farm. One of your children casually mentions the one of the visitors had opened the gate and one of the sheep had fun away. I wonder how long it would take you to leave the kitchen and head out to hunt for that sheep.

• Jesus said if a farmer has one hundred sheep and one is lost, the shepherd leaves the 99 and hunts for the missing sheep. He likened the shepherd to his Father searching for lost sheep. Jesus said, “For the Son of man is come to save the lost,…Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish” (Mathew 18:11-14).

• Jesus came to seek you out so that he could make you his child.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Angels on Assignment

Jesus said, “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven, for the Son of Man has come to save that which is lost” (Mt 18:10-11).

Jesus connects the fact that angels are assigned to individuals with the fact that he has come to seek and save the lost. I am reminded of Hebrews 1:14 which explains that angels are ministering spirits sent to those who will inherit salvation, and Romans 8:28-29 and Ephesians 1:11 which assures us that God works all things for our good. I also think of 1 Corinthians 4:9 and 11:10, and 1 Peter 3:22, and 1 Tim 5:21 which all mention the observation of angels in things pertaining to salvation.

In other words, God uses angels in our lives to maneuver things according to his will. There are many more things going on than we can see or imagine. All of which are for our benefit. We do indeed have much to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

All God's Children

In reading Jesus’ words about cutting off limbs rather than harming children, let’s not forget how the conversation started. The disciples had asked Jesus who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus said, “Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself, as a little child is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Mathew 18:1-4).

That means when he is talking about harming children, he is not only speaking of chronological age, but all believers.

Jesus takes the purposeful act of harming any of his children very seriously. That should give us all pause in how we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Plucking Out Eyes

In the middle of Jesus’ discourse about children, he apparently interrupts himself to say, “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire” (Mathew 18:8-9).

He immediately goes back to talking about children. Why did he change subjects so quickly, only to return to children in the next breath?

It is not as it appears. When he talked about cutting off arms and plucking out eyes, he was talking about the severity of his wrath against those who purposely harm children. Children are harmed when people place greater value on their own lusts or desires than on the welfare of children.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Child's God

We are God to our children because we are so much more powerful than they are and know so much more than they do. Their conception of who God is, is formed by how we relate to them. If we tell them by our actions that God is angry, unforgiving, unmerciful, unjust, harsh, critical, unloving, they will believe it and struggle to relate to God all of their lives.

If on the other hand we relate to them with firmness, love, forgiveness, justice, loving authority, gentleness, kindness, support, encouragement, they will see God in the same light. They will find it much easier to believe that God authentically cares for them.

We are not just forming a relationship with our children as they become adults, but we are forming their concept of God.

What does God look like to your children? (Mt 18:6-7)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Obsessed with Power

Our culture is obsessed with power, fame and wealth. It is the condition of human nature. If we meet someone who is an owner of a business or the CEO of fortune 500 company, do we show deference to them over the school janitor or the garbage man?

The disciples had the same flaw. Several times they asked Jesus who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Mathew 18:1; Mark 9:34; Luke 9:45). Jesus answered by picking up a small child and setting him on his lap. “…Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in my name receives me” (Mt 18:2-6).

Little children are loud. They cry. They laugh. They climb. They jump. They scream. They can be obnoxious. Did Jesus mean we should be immature like children?

No. He did mean we are to be authentic. Have you ever been in a room with two toddlers? If one falls the other cries with him. Neither one of them asks about the status of the other. They authentically care for each other.

Let’s check our motives.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Fish as a Piggy Bank

After Peter was confronted by those who collected taxes from the Temple, he wanted to ask Jesus about these kinds of taxes. Jesus anticipated his question and told him before he had a chance to speak, “What do you think, Simon? Whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?”

“From strangers.” Peter answered.

“Then the sons are free. Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for me and you” (Mathew 17:25-17).

There are things we are free not to do, but we do them, not because people command it, but simply because it will keep them from stumbling.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Jesus healed the diseased, raised the dead and performed innumerable signs and wonders. Yet the people who collected the temple tax were worried about whether he paid his taxes (Mathew 17:24). They probably thought with all the crowds following him, he must have been accumulating great wealth and they didn’t want to miss out on their portion.

Their focus was not on the kingdom of God, but on wealth. They had no idea that Jesus had no place to lay his head (Mt 8:20). Jesus was definitely not in ministry for the money.

We are no exception. Thinking that to pastor a church is an easy task, many people are quick to criticize or accuse. They have no concept of what it is like to have people continually misunderstand, assume things and generally expect perfection from you.

That brings to mind three principles. 1) We need to seek God on behalf of our leaders. 2) If we think we are called to lead,we need to take time to count the cost. 3) All of us, leaders and followers alike, need to make sure we take time to be alone with God to rejuvenate our spirits and allow him to give us right attitudes.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Shock to the Disciples

Jesus came healing the sick, casting out demons, raising the dead, feeding thousands of people in one sitting and generally manifesting the power of God. I can imagine the excitement that was building up in his followers as they witnessed this unbelievable power. Their minds couldn’t help but be filled with excitement at the thought of the destruction of the Roman Empire and the setting up of the peaceable kingdom of God.

No wonder scripture tells us sorrow filled the hearts of the disciples when they heard Jesus say, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him.” They were so overwrought with his first words that they missed entirely the rest of his message, “and the third day he will be raised up” (Mathew 17:22-23).

When we face sorrow we also tend to forget that God will also raise us up out of our troubles. Paul wrote, “If the Spirit of him who raise Jesus from the dead dwells in you, then that same spirit who raised Christ from the dead is able to give life to your mortal bodies through his spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8;11). This is not only talking about physical life after death, but spiritual life now.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Formula to Destroy Doubt

A father came to Jesus desperate for help. His son’s body often succumbed to violent epileptic fits, causing him to fall into fire or into the water. Every waking moment was dedicated to protecting his child from injury. There were no pills to take, no acupuncture, no process that could bring relief. God was this child’s only hope.

At first the father had brought his son to the disciples. He had heard of this band of men whom miracles surrounded everywhere they went. And the disciples did pray for the son, but to no avail. The poor boy immediately went into yet another disfiguring convulsion. Looking up the father saw Jesus walking down the side of the hill with three of his men (Peter, James and John). Immediately he ran to him.

“Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely… I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.”

Jesus said, “Bring him to me.” And he healed the child (Mathew 17:14-18)”. The disciples asked Jesus why they had not been able to heal the boy. Jesus told them it was because of their unbelief. “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Mathew 17:21).

Many interpret Jesus’ words as meaning the boy could not have been healed except the disciples first prayed and fasted. However, there is another way to look at what Jesus said. His words could be telling us that doubting will leave as we pray and fast.

Spending time in God’s presence certainly does relieve us of the weight of doubt.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mystery of Elijah

After Peter, James and John had seen Jesus in his glory, they realized who he was but were confused about what they had learned before Jesus’ coming. They asked Jesus, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” (Mathew 17:10).

Jesus answered, “’Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has com already and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands’ (John 17:11-12). Then the disciples understood that he spoke to them of John the Baptist.”

Things usually do not happen the way we think they will. We are wise to place our trust in God alone and not in our understanding of how the world works. When God reveals things to us, it is usually in small bits of information. His thoughts and ways are far too complicated for us to understand fully. He reveals just enough so that when something comes to pass, we recognize it as belonging to God.

Peace comes when we trust him alone, not our understanding (Isaiah 55:8-12).

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Spiritual Place

Jesus told his disciples, “Assuredly I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (Mathew 16:28), yet everyone of the disciples died. So what did he mean?

Six days after saying this Jesus took Peter, James and John up a mountain. There he was changed in front of their eyes. His face was as brilliant as the sun and his clothes radiate light from them. They were seeing Jesus in his kingdom glory.

Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus. Imagine the overwhelming emotions that swept over these three disciples! Is it really so shocking that Peter responded, “Let us build three tabernacles; one for you, one for Moses sand one for Elijah”? He wasn’t thinking clearly.

We also need to be careful. There are huge churches built on plots of land because people have experienced an unusual sense of God’s presence. Great crowds have followed certain men and women because God has used these ministers to perform miracles. But it is not the plot of land nor the man or woman who did the miracle. God did it.

We must be careful never to worship or give glory (credit) to anyone but God.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Self Appointed Cross

There are people who enjoy suffering. They are the ones who can talk of nothing else. Every day is marked by some hardship, some disappointment or some injustice. Their minds are self-focused so their conversation runs in the same vein. This is not the kind of suffering Jesus is talking about when he tells us to pick up our cross daily.

When we must choose God’s ways over ours that is a cross that brings God glory. When all we talk about is what we suffer, we are attempting to bring ourselves glory.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

a Good Reason for Suffering

Immediately after rebuking Peter for telling him he did not have to suffer, Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mathew 16:23-26).

If we focus on the negative things of this world we can become depressed. Our hearts can turn toward fear, envy, bitterness or anger. These are emotions that indicate our treasures are on earth.

If we focus on God’s love for us, his power to accomplish marvelous things through our life, even in our suffering, our hearts can be filled with joy and peace in believing. The writer of Hebrews admonishes us, “Look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Because we know that God is working in us his eternal purposes, we can enjoy the life he has given us without fear, envy, bitterness or anger.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Careful Now!

When Jesus explained to the disciples the things he would have to suffer, Peter reacted indignantly. The Bible says he took Jesus aside to speak with him. I can almost see the tension on Peter's face and hear the surprise in his voice to think that Jesus could be so mistaken. “Never, Lord!” This shall never happen to you!”

Jesus immediately rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men” (Mathew 16:21-23).

Peter thought Jesus should be king but certainly not be crucified. It didn’t make sense to him. But Jesus had to suffer so that he could save all of us, including Peter.

We need to be careful in saying no one needs to suffer. It is true there is only one Savior who suffers for our salvation. But we do not know specifically what God accomplishes through our suffering. It may be that is the road he has chosen for certain of his children so that his name will be magnified through them.

We know whether we suffer or not, Jesus will always be with us (Romans 8:17; Hebrews 18:5-6).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Another Mystery

Some of the things Jesus said will undoubtedly remain a mystery until we get to heaven and see how all things fit together by his will. One of the mysteries that many have attempted to explain is found in Mathew 16:19. “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Whether we understand the full significance of his statement or not, one thing is clear. Our actions on earth have an eternal significance.

That should give us pause.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Foundation Rock

Jesus told Peter, “Blessed at you Simon son of Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Mathew 16:17-18).

What is the rock upon which God will build his church? The rock is this, “Thou art the Christ the Son of the Living God.” The body of Christ, the universal church can be built on no one less than Christ himself.

Notice Jesus said he will build the church. We say what we need to say, when we need to say it, to whom we need to say it. That is all. The Holy Spirit does the work.

If our ministry is small in our own eyes, we need to remember it is God at work in us. What we see may appear small, but the eternal outcome is beyond our ability to see (John 3:27; Philipians 2:13).

Friday, October 29, 2010

How Do We Know

Sometimes our hearts become fearful about our salvation. We ask ourselves, do we really belong to God? Has God accepted us into his kingdom? Are we fooling ourselves to think we belong to God?

When Peter said to Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus replied, “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Mathew 16:13-17).

We can have confidence that we belong to God because we would not believe that Jesus was the Savior unless the Father himself revealed this to us. God does not play mind games. He does not reveal himself to those he does not want to be his.

The Holy Spirit reveals in this that we are the children of God (Romans 8:16).

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pharisaical Bread

The disciples forgot to bring food on one of their evangelistic trips. As they were about to go into the city to get something to eat, Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees” (Mathew 16:5-6). The Disciples thought he was rebuking them for not bringing food. But Jesus was not talking about physical food at all. He was talking about the self righteous attitude of the political groups.

The Pharisees and Sadducees thought by following the law and traditions handed down for generations, that they were accepted by God (Mathew 16:12). We are saved by the mercy and grace of God. None of us can be holy enough to earn God’s favor. God’s favor is given to us as a gift. He changes us to make us pleasing to himself.

If you have failed, rejoice that He has forgiven you. Then do as he told the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more” (John 8:11).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Know When to Walk Away

The Pharisees often asked for a sign from Jesus to prove he was the Christ. Jesus was frustrated with their unbelief and replied, “Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the skay, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shsall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” Then he walked away from them (Mathew 16:1-4).

There are times when people ask us question for no other reason but to attack us. They do not want to know the truth. They want to convince us of our error in believing in Christ. It is ok to follow Jesus’ example and refuse to fall into their mind games.

Sometimes it is best to simply walk away.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Our hearts are hidden from the world, but not for long. What we treasure in our hearts will come out our mouths (Mathew 15:10-20).
Thoughts lead to actions. If we mediate on it long enough, we will do it. It is human nature, a kind of law that you cannot stop any more than you can stop from coming back to earth when you jump into the air.

Therefore, if we mediate on the Word of God that if will influence our actions.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cleanliness Next to Godliness

Jesus warned his disciples against the righteousness of the Pharisees. When we are living moral lives it is a temptation to think our behavior wins God’s favor. Jesus quoted Isaiah to the Pharisees, “These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines he commandments of men” (Mathew 15:8-9).

Have you ever been surprised to find something you thought was in the Bible was actually a saying handed down from generation to generation? An example is the saying, “Cleanliness is next to godliness,” and “God helps those who help themselves.” Neither one of these are scripture.

Often when we are judging fellow believers, we are basing our judgment on our spiritual tradition and not on something that is actually in the Word of God. We need to be careful.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Respecting Parents

In some cultures when a couple is married they move in with the groom's parents. The matriarch of the family is the eldest female. She is in charge of designating all household chores and where things are placed. The eldest male is the patriarch and runs the family. However, in our society rebellion has become expected and almost traditional. Disrespect of elders begins at an early age and is completely out of hand by the teen years.

But the command of God to honor our parents has never changed. We will be held accountable for how we interact with our parents. This command is not only for children, but as adults we show respect to those who God used to bring us life.

Some parents do not deserve respect. In those cases, we are not to succumb to their abuse. However, when we set our boundaries with them we are careful not to be abuseive in return(1 Peter 2:21-23).

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wash Your Hands

As a kid did you ever try to come to the table with dirty hands? If you mom was like mine, you had to leave the table, go and wash and come back to eat.

Scripture tells us the Pharisees criticized the disciples saying, “Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? They do not wash their hands when they eat bread (Mathew 15:1). If you look closely you will see they referred to the tradition of the elders. They were not talking about merely washing the dirt off your hands but a ritual ceremony to make themselves spiritually ready to eat.

Jesus pointed out their hypocrisy. “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’ and, ‘He who curses father or mother; let him be put to death,’ but you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God” – then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your radiation.” (Mathew 15:3-6).

It is easy to get caught up in traditional spirituality not realizing we are actually following our traditions, things that are not in scripture. It is important that we do not judge our brothers and sisters in Christ who worship and serve God in a way we don’t understand.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Wind was Howling

The wind was howling. The waves were rocking the boat unmercifully. The disciples knew that these unpredictable storms had killed many unsuspecting sailors. Then they saw Jesus walking on the water toward them. Their fear escalated to panic. Then Jesus called to them over the rough seas, “Be of good cheer! It is I: do not be afraid.”

Peter filled with faith called back, “If it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” What was Jesus’ response? “Come”.

Peter got out of the boat. Set his feet on what was liquid but now felt like cement under his feet. Taking a few steps, he saw a huge swell moving toward him. He began to sink. “Lord, save me!” He screamed. Scripture says Jesus “stretched out his hand and caught him, and said o him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat the wind ceased.

Peter started out with great faith, but the storm distracted him from the Lord.

Often in the beginning of a trial we have faith that God will see us through. But as time wears on we begin to doubt. We see the swell and are sure we are going to drown. Though the Lord may rebuke us for lack of faith as he did Peter, he will never forsake us.

Be confident. He will catch you before you drown.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Storms that Bring Peace

Mathew gives us much more detail than John in telling about Jesus walking on water. It happened in the fourth watch of the night, which is the early morning hours. Evidently the disciples had been struggling against the wind nearly all night because John tells us the disciples had gone to the boats in the evening. He says they had rowed only three or four miles when they saw Jesus walking on the water (John 6:16-21; Mathew 14:22-33).

There are times when God allows us to struggle with the wind and the waves. But he allows it to teach us about himself and to cause us to trust in him.

None of us likes storms in our lives. But no storm is without purpose. It will yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness when God's work for that storm is finished(Hebrews 12:11).

Friday, October 8, 2010

Miracle in 1970

While attending Bible School in 1970, I joined a singing group that toured the United States. We stayed in folks' homes and traveled during the day. On one particular occasion an elderly lady prepared a meal for a group of about 12 of the singers. I helped set the table and heat the food. The hostess opened one can of corn to serve all the guests and a small amount of potatoes, gravy and meat, enough to serve three guests at the most.

We all stole glances at one another, determining to take tiny portions to make the food last. To our surprise each person took a scoop of food but the amount in the bowl did not diminish. When the meal was finished every guest was full and we had as much food left over as what we began with. No one said anything to the woman but we were filled with chatter at the wonder we had just experienced when we drove away.

Jesus fed 5,000 hungry men not counting women and children with a small boys lunch, five barely loaves and two small fish (Mathew 14:16-21; John 6:4-14).

Do not fear, God is able to feed you.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Compassion in Grief

Herodias had John the Baptist’s head. She didn’t care what happened to the rest of him. So John’s disciples came and buried their teacher’s body. When the news reached Jesus, he got into a boat and went to a deserted place to be by himself to grieve for John.

But Jesus was not allowed time to himself. The crowds followed him (Mathew 14:12-13). He knew that John the Baptist's disciples would now come to him. In spite of his own sorrow, he had compassion on the lost souls who came into the desert to be with him (Mathew 14:14).

Jesus never stopped ministering to any who were seeking for the truth. God always has compassion on honestly grieving hearts.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

High Priced Ticket

Herod had locked John the Baptist into prison intending to eventually kill him. But as he waited for the anger of the crowds to subside and for people to forget John, he became fascinated with John’s preaching. As much as Herod’s wife nagged him to kill John, Herod kept him as a kind of self indulging hobby.

But Herod’s birthday was about to change all that. He threw a huge party. Among the entertainment that day was the performance of a extremely seductive dance by his step-daughter. Herod’s passions were aroused to the point of swearing off half his kingdom to the young seductress. Herodias saw her chance. She instructed her daughter, “Ask for John the Baptist’s head on a silver platter.” Her daughter agreed.

It was time for Herod to pay the piper for his lust for power. The ruler grieved that he had made such a rash promise, but he knew to go back on his promise was to destroy his reputation among his guests. So within minutes, John the Baptist’s head was delivered on the silver tray (Mathew 14:1-11).

Pride is a high ticket item and will cost you the most when you expect it the least.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fascinated with the Truth

Herod had been appointed by the Romans to rule over the Jews. It was his job to keep the Hebrew people under the Roman thumb and to prevent uprisings. The Jews were an extremely religious group and riots could be easily started by rumors of violations of their religious codes. So when John the Baptist began publicly ridiculing Herod for stealing his brother’s wife and marrying her, he became extremely angry with John. His wife, Herodias, was angrier. She wanted John dead.

Herod was afraid it would be political suicide to kill John because he was a favorite of the crowds. But to quiet his wife’s nagging, Herod had John the Baptist arrested and thrown into prison. At first he hoped to kill John as soon as the crowds forgot him. However, John continued to preach, in prison and Herod became fascinated with his prisoner (Mathew 14:1-5; Mark 6:14-20).

Day after day Herod was drawn to hear John’s voice echoing across the brick walls. The words tore at his heart, but the prestige of his position was too costly to give up. Herod was not ready to believe.

Fascination with the Truth is not the same as believing the Truth.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Winning our Family

When Jesus visited his home town, his ministry was very limited. He told his disciples, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house” (Mathew 13:57-58).

I knew a young man years ago who after becoming a Christians lead his entire family to the Lord. In the book of John we read about the nobleman whose son was sick to the point of death. When Jesus healed his son, the father and all of his house believed in Jesus (John 4:46-53). Sometimes when we read or hear of families coming to God, we start to feel like the responsibility to win our families to Christ lies at our door steps.

It is important to remember that people are born again, not from our efforts, but because the Holy Spirit does a work in them (John 1:10-13). Jesus was perfect, said everything and did everything perfectly, and yet his family did not believe until after his death.

Pray for your family, but do not be discouraged if God is not choosing to use you to win them to himself. He is still at work behind the scenes in ways you cannot understand.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Family Squabbles

Jesus had four brothers and more than one sister. His brothers names are given to us,James, Joses, Simon and Judas, but his sisters’ names do not appear. Jesus knew what it was like to grow up in a large family. As the oldest brother he had two strikes against him. First, because he was the oldest and often younger siblings resent the eldest. Secondly because he was the Son of God he was sinless. Siblings usually resent a “goodie two shows. (John 7:1-5).”

Our High Priest, Jesus of Nazareth,” knows all about family struggles (Hebrews 4:14-16). If you find yourself in the middle of family resentments, remember he experienced them as well and allow him to give you wisdom and to comfort you.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Red Flags

Hell is my least favorite subject. Many have stumbled over Jesus teaching of eternal damnation. It is a difficult subject. But Jesus did not sidestep the issue as we are tempted to do. We avoid the subject for fear of being ridiculed or rejected by our peers. But Jesus spoke plainly in order to warn against the dangers of rejecting him.

He told the disciples, “Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out his angels and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Mathew 13:40-42).

Rejecting the ways of God is dangerous business.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Modern Scribes

If you are like many of us we have two kinds of physical treasures in our home. There are the sentimental treasures, things that our parents or grandparents had which we have inherited. There might be a painting a relative did or a piece of jewelry that our great grandmother wore.

Then there are those treasures that we purchased ourselves. They may be a vase we bought on our honeymoon, or a new car that sits proudly in our drive way.

Jesus said every scribe is like an owner of a house that has new and old treasures.

As persons who study God’s word we study both the Old and the New Testament. Eeach part of God's Word sheds light on every other part. If we neglect any of God's Word, we miss much of what we are studying.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Worth Every Sacrifice

Jesus explains that the good seed is sown by the Son of Man (Jesus). The bad weeds were sown by Satan. In the last judgment the wheat and the weeds will be separated. The weeds will be burned with fire. The wheat will receive everlasting Joy and will shine like the sun (Mathew 13:37-43; 47-50).

Giving up all the treasures in this world is worth it when we recognize what we are gaining by following the Master (Mathew 13:44-45).

Friday, September 24, 2010

Secret Things

Jesus spoke in parables for several reasons. He told his disciples that he spoke in parables so that only those who choose to follow him would understand (Mathew 13:10-11). Scripture also tells us that Jesus spoke in parables to fulfill prophecy, “I will open my mouth in parables:” (Mathew 13:35; Psalm 78:2). Jesus also used parables to reveal secrets that had been hidden since before the foundation of the world was laid (Mathew 13:35; Psalm 78:2).

There are things God purposely has hidden until an exact moment in time. “I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world.” (Mathew 13:35; Mark 4:11; ). The revelation of these secrets was determined before time began (1 Corinthians 2:7).

God does not reveal everything at once, but has set times for specific reasons. If this is true for his work in the world, then it must also be true in our individual lives.

When we can’t understand his hand, we can trust his heart.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Freshly Baked Bread

Baking Bread was once understood by every household. On certain days of the week the home would be filled with the aroma of freshly baked bread. Mouths watered at the thought of melted butter running down the side of glistening rolls or pockets of fresh jelly spread over a freshly cut slice of bread. Now we place loaves of bread in our shopping carts without giving much thought to the process of kneading dough, waiting for it to rise and heating the oven to 350.

When making white, wheat or rye bread, yeast and sugar are added to make the dough rise. The sugar activates the yeast and the yeast raises the dough. No one has ever heard of half a loaf rising and the other half coming out flat like a pancake. If part of the loaf rises, the entire loaf rises.

Jesus said the kingdom of God is like the yeast in a loaf of bread. The entire loaf is affected. So the kingdom of God affects every part of our life (Mathew 13:33).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Heavenly Mustard

Jesus also said the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed. It is one of the tiniest of seeds, but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes like a tree. It is so large that birds can make nests in its branches.

Often our faith seems smaller than everyone else’s. But God responds to all measures of faith in him. Not to worry, he will respond to yours too.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Strange Crop

There were two farmers who were neighbors. One was a good man who worked his fields and was respected in the community. The second farmer was a mean spirited fellow and did not have much good to say about anyone. He resented the good reputation of his neighbor and as most disgruntled people have a habit of doing, he thought of the good farmer as a know it all. Stewing over the other man’s reputation for being wise, he decided he would teach the other farmer and the community how foolish they were in their confidence.

In the middle of the night, he went out into his neighbor’s fields and threw millions of tiny seeds of a weed that mimics the appearance of wheat in the early stages of growth. Each day he watched the farmer move the irrigation tubing, as he walked the fields in the early morning hours when the sun was white against the blue sky. He smiled to himself waiting for the day when it would become clear there was something dreadfully wrong with the crop.

Early one morning the good farmer’s field worker came to him at breakfast. “Sir, I was sure we purchased the grain from our usual supplier, but something has happened. The fields are full of weeds.”

“I have known for months,” said the farmer, smiling up at him.

“But shouldn’t we pull them out before they choke out the wheat?” The employee rubbed his temples. “How has this happened?

“An enemy has done this but do not worry,” said the farmer. “. Allow the plants to grow together. If we attempt to remove the weeds now we may accidently destroy much of the wheat. It is better to let them grow together until the harvest. Then it will be plain which is which. The weeds will be burned then.”

Jesus said the kingdom of God is like this field. At the judgment it will become clear who is wheat and who are weeds. Should we be surprised when we notice hypocrites in church? (Mathew 13:24-30).

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fresh Fruit

Jesus said the seed that falls on fertile soil will bear fruit, some hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty (Mathew 13:23). That is good news for us. As we receive the Word of God into our spirits God will produce fruit in us.

We will be full of love, joy, peace. We will have the ability to show kindness, goodness and faithfulness. We will be gentle and have self control. The abundance of fruit we produce may be directly related to what we need in any given situation.

The psalmist says he who delights in the law of the Lord day and night will be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth fruit in its season. His leaf will not wither and whatever he does will prosper (Psalm 1:3).

Friday, September 17, 2010

Rich Soil

The parable of the sewer and the various types of ground teaches that there will be persecution, tribulation, temptation and attacks from the Satan (Mathew 13:18-22). The one place where the seed thrives despite these difficulties and temptations is the good soil.

This ground represents the person who hears the truth, understands it and bears fruit. In other words, lives what he learns from God. He trusts God during persecution and tribulation. He rejects temptations choosing rather to suffer with God’s people (Hebrews 11:24-26). He does not pursue riches (Pr 11:28; 23:4). He commits himself to God and resists the evil one (1 Peter 5:6-9).

We all know from experience that life has difficulties, but if we have walked any length of time with God we also know that he gives us joy in our journey. As Paul wrote, “What shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

Take courage. God is with you.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Thorns and Thistles

Thorns and weeds choke healthy plants so that they die early. The seeds may be from perfectly healthy plants. Their genetics are stellar. If planted in the right soil, watered and nourished, they would become strong green plants yielding a crop for those who cultivate it. But the weeds kill the plant while it is still young.

The same is true about the Word of God. We can hear the truth, may even consider the truth and say we believe it. But if the worries of the world are allowed to control our thoughts and if the desire for wealth and success manipulate our lives, then the Word which we have been taught will be choked out of our lives and our spirits will die.

It is natural to be tempted by this world, to feel overwhelmed by experiences in life. But when this happens, we must run to our Father and purposely decide to put our trust in him.

Only then will our spirits remain alive.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Missing Roots

Some plants can be set in a glass of water and roots will form. The plant can then be placed in soil and grow into a mature tree, bush or flower. But if you break off a branch of a bush, place it directly into the ground it will wither in a matter of days, all of its leaves turn a crispy brown.

Jesus said that is how some people are who get excited about the word of God, yet do not have any roots in themselves (Mathew 13:20-21). As long as things are going well, the individual is happy and rejoicing, saying all the right words and singing all the right songs. But when persecution comes or things get difficult, the joy comes to a sudden end. The individual moves on to the next exciting fad and disappears.

Jesus’ point is that we must allow the Word of God to take root in our lives. This happens when we put into practice what we have learned, when we continue to trust God when things get rough.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Understanding What We Hear

It is extremely important that we understand what we are hearing when someone tells us God’s word. Jesus said if we do not understand the word given to us, the enemy of our soul will snatch it away from us (Mathew 13:18). We cannot afford to accept what we are taught without investigating its full meaning. If we rely solely on others we will not be subjecting ourselves to God, but to people’s opinions based on their experiences.

When someone gives you direction and you feel strongly what they are telling you is wrong, don’t ignore those red flags. Take the time to research scripture on the subject. Read other people’s insights. Jesus promised he would give us wisdom and teach us the truth and guide us individually.

Be cautious about following someone else’s advice over what you believe to the correct decision.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Closed until Sept 8, 2010

This webpage will be closed until September 8th.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Blinded from the Light

Jesus explained to the disciples that the truth of God was often given in parables so that those who did not truly want to follow God would not understand them. Jesus quoted Isaiah. “Hearing you will hear and not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; for the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and urn, so that I should heal them” (Mathew 13:14-15).

This sounds cruel, to blind people so they cannot see the truth, until you remember the history of these people. God had given them the truth many times before, but hating the truth, they killed the prophets whom they knew spoke God’s message. They had rejected the truth time and again, so that when Truth came (Jesus, the Son of God) God blinded their eyes so they would not recognize him for who he was.

“He, that is often reproved and hardens his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Proverbs 29:1).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Strange Story

After being cramped into a house, so full of people that no one could eat the food the host had prepared, Jesus needed fresh air (Mark 3:20; 4:1; Mathew 13:1). He went for a walk by the sea. The seagulls calling to one another through the air, the sound of water lapping the shore, the sand sift beneath his feet would have refreshed his spirit. But there was no place to stand, no less sit because the multitude who had surrounded the house had followed him pressing each other in an effort to get close to the teacher (Mathew 13:1-3).

Jesus finally got into a boat and sat down. The multitude stood facing him waiting for the next miracle, the next teaching. He began with this story, “Behold a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop; some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Mathew 13:8-8).

It was a nice story, but what did it mean? His disciples who were with him in the boat asked him; “Why do you speak to them in parables?” They could not understand why he didn’t just tell the people plainly what he wanted them to know. Jesus told them God’s truth is only given to those who respond to his calling (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Family Problems

When Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, they could not get into the house where he was because of the crowd. So they sent word to him that they wanted him to come out to them. Jesus’ response at first appears rude. “But he answered and said to the one who told him, ‘Who is my mother and who are my brothers/” And He stretched out his hand toward his disciples and said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my father in heaven is my bother and sister and mother” (Mathew 12:48-49).

But Mark gives us a little more insight. He writes of the same occasion, “Then the multitude came together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. But when his own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind” (Mark 3:20-21).

If our families are not believers they will most likely see us as unstable. Though we continue to love our family, we realize that we have heavenly brothers and sisters, those who do the will of God (Mathew 12:48-49; Mark 3:35).

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Warning to a Nation

Yesterday we looked at Jesus’ warning about the returning demon’s affect on an individual. But his warning was also to a nation. “So shall it also be with this wicked generation” (Mathew 12:43-45).

This is especially troubling to me because our nation was founded on godly principles. The Children if Israel rejected God turning to false gods of other nations. Now America is doing the same. The Mosques in America are increasing exponentially. Yoga classes are offered in most gyms and in some churches. It is not unusual to see alters with incense burning to ancestors or gods in Asian restaurants and nail solons. Wicca is practiced in many homes and business, the high priestess being asked to bless new endeavors. The most popular god in the United States is the god or goddess of self.

In every nation that made these choices the behavior of the population deteriorate to infant sacrifice, oppression and slavery. The stories written in the Old Testament about the depths Israel went into send a shiver up my spine (Jeremiah, 2 Kings). The end came suddenly. But God continued to sustain those who belonged to him though they also suffered during the fall of the nation. God will also sustain us no matter what we face.

The only way to stay true in fearful times, is the same way we stay true today, depend fully on his grace (Mathew 28:20, Philippians 4:12-13).

Monday, August 23, 2010

Once I Know

Jesus said, “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation” (Mathew 12:43-45).

Notice Jesus is speaking of two victims. One is a man; the other is a nation.

Knowing the truth and then turning from it only embitters a man. Peter says it would be better if they had never believed the truth in the first place (2 Peter 2:20-21). The writer of Hebrews wrote that living sinfully after having once tasted of God’s goodness results in living in dread and fear that the judgment of God is true (Hebrews 10:26-31).

Turning away from truth is not a viable option for us who know God. Remaining dependent on his grace and mercy to give us strength to withstand trouble is the only logical choice for us (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Friday, August 20, 2010

Nineveh Judges

The people of Nineveh were fierce. When they conquered their enemies they sometimes skinned them alive. They often chopped of their enemies’ heads and put them on poles around the city to warn others of their power and vengeance. It was no wonder Jonah fled when God told him to preach to these evil people. But eventually Jonah obeyed and the people escaped the judgment of God because of their repentance. (the Book of Jonah).

Jesus told the Pharisees, “The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed One greater than Jonah is here” (Mathew 12:39-41).

This was a slap in the face to the Pharisees. They considered themselves righteous and were nothing like the Ninevites. They were so blinded by their pride in following the Law of Moses that they refused to listen to the One whom Moses wrote would come, the Messiah. Pride blinds our eyes to the truth and will result in our destruction.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Confident Speech

We can tend to look at the negatives in scripture, Jesus warnings, people’s sins and eternal judgment. And we do need to consider these things. But we also need to focus on the good, the promises the eternal rewards. So, let’s take another look at Jesus’ words to the Pharisees in this passage we have been studying.

Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things…” (Mathew 12:34b-35a).

How do we become good? When we accept God’s forgiveness of our sin (1 John 1:9) and partake of his divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). We can be confident that God will give us the words we need to say exactly when we need to say them (Mt 10:18-20).

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Tree in Our Heart

Jesus warned us, “…Every idle word men may speak they will give account of it in the Day of Judgment. For by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned” (Mt 12:36-37).

The Pharisees were judging Jesus’ miracles as being from Satan with no solid basis from which to make that judgment. Jesus said to them, “How can you being evil, speak good things. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

Our words are the fruit from the tree of our heart. That is why we will be judged by what we say. Idle words are words that spill out of our mouths without thinking. They reveal the secrets of our heart.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Jesus was a confronter. He did not pretend that people were good. He did not ignore their poor behavior. He called those who attributed the Holy Spirit’s work to Satan A Brood of vipers (poisonous snakes). He told them, “How can you being evil, speak good things. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Mathew 12:34).

Sometimes we are under the wrong impression that Christians should always think the best of everyone. God did not call his children to ignore sinful behavior. Jesus taught us to “call a spade a spade.” He told us to recognize when men are evil.

Only when we acknowledge the truth about others can we confront them and pray for their salvation.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Unforgiveble Sin

Jesus said, “Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come” (Mathew 12:31-32).

The word, “Therefore” always refers back to what was just said. It is like saying, “For this reason,” or ‘because of this.” The Pharisees just said that Jesus cast out demons by the power of Satan. These men are not accidently connecting the Holy Spirit with Satan. They know what they are doing. Jesus said to the Pharisees, “If you were blind, you would have no sin, but now you say ‘we see’. Therefore your sin remains” (John 9:41). When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead these men were more worried about losing their political positions than recognizing the visitation of God (John 11:45-48).

The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts us of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8-11). He is the one who teaches us all truth, guides us into all truth, and reminds us of all Jesus has taught (John 14:26; 16:13). To turn against the Holy Spirit is to turn away from God. No one who dies while rejecting God can be saved.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Jesus said, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters abroad” (Mathew 12:30).

Over and over again, Jesus said he and the Father are one, that he did not speak in his own authority, but only spoke what God told him to say. He said that the works he did were not done by him, but by his father. He told Philip, “He who has seen me has seen the father.” He told the crowds, “He who believes in me does not believe in me but in him who sent me.”

To not work with Jesus is to work against God. That means we are against all that is holy, righteous and peaceable. We are in the process of destroying lives, because that is always the result of sin. There is no sin that is of little consequence. Unless sin is killed outright, it will keep producing death.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Winning Every Battle

Jesus said. “How can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house (Mathew 12:29).

Satan knows well that the best way to keep one of God’s children from being affective is to bind them. He may use fear, anxiety, addictions or doubt. His only power is what we lend him through our thoughts. But we can win every battle.

Here is a list of effective weapons

1. Bringing thoughts captive (2 Cor 10:5)
2. Focusing our attention on godly things (Philippians 4:8).
3. Always speaking truth to ourselves as well as others (Ephesians 6:14
4. Making every decision based on righteousness (Ephesians 6;14)
5. Reminding ourselves that the good news brings us peace (Ephesians 6:15)
6. Destroying Satan’s attacks by standing in the faithfulness of God (Ephesians 6:16)
7. Reminding us we are saved so have nothing to fear (Ephesians 6:17
8. Using the word of God when confronted by Satan (Ephesians 6:17).
9. Praying for God’s intervention (Ephesians 6:18)

We don’t have to allow Satan to rob us of our peace.

Monday, August 9, 2010

By What Power?

Jesus cast out demons setting people free from spiritual torment. The Pharisees accused him of casting out demons by the power of Satan. Jesus pointed out the illogic of their reasoning. Satan does not cast out his own servants. If he did that he would be thwarting his own plan to destroy people.

The problem for the Pharisees was that if Satan was not casting out his own servants then the only one left to attribute it to would be God. If God was casting out the demons, they had no choice but to recognize Jesus as righteous. If he was a righteous man, then all he said was true and that would leave the Pharisees in a very bad position.

People who do not want to know the truth will avoid it even if it means being illogical. The smartest people can make the most foolish decisions when they are based on emotions and not on the truth (Mathew 12:25-30)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Blind and Mute

Can you imagine what life must have been like for the man whom Jesus healed in Mathew 12:22-23? The torture this man and his family must have lived through would discourage anyone.

He was not only blind and mute but had a demon that tormented him night and day. He could not physically explain his mental anquish. He couldn’t see the eyes of those who may have had compassion on him, or the expressions of those who feared him. The persons who brought him to Jesus must have loved him inspite of all the emotional pain he had caused them (Mathew 12:22).

Jesus cast out the demon and healed him.

It is hard for us to imagine what it was like to be physically set free like this man was. But all of us have been tormented by unwelcome thoughts. All of us have been blind to the truth in the past. All of us have been left speechless with the hardness of life. But Jesus came to set all of us free from the darkness that would overtake us.

Jesus said, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy hearted and I will give you rest.” (Mathew 11:28). You too are invited to rest in your Father’s love. Let him open your eyes to see who he is. Allow him to set you free from the darkness that seems to overpower you. Yield your life to him and trust him when you can’t see why he is allowing you to go through your particular circumstances.

Go to him, all of you who are weary of heart and you will find rest for your soul.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

God will Comfort his People

God will comfort his people. When we are suffering he will not crush us or chastise us, but speaks to us words of hope and comfort. Scripture says, “A bruised reed he will not break, and smoking flax he will not quench” (Mathew 12:20). Isaiah put it this way, “A bruised reed he will not break a dimly burning wick he will not extinguish (Isaiah 42:3).

A psalmist wrote, “He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds” (Ps 147:3). If you are in emotional pain today, rest your head on his shoulder and allow him to comfort you.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


A group of men and women in ragged clothes stood in front of the unemployment office. Here and there two or three would strike up a conversation, but the topic covered things like the poor quality of government, the high price of groceries and the unjust boss. Most stood with shoulders slopped, heads bent and hands in their pockets, silent in the afternoon heat.

A long legged man who stood head and shoulders above the crowd came to a small group at the back of the line. Quietly he invited them to join him in a walk to the back side of the building. Raising their shoulders to one another they stepped in line behind the stranger and disappeared from the crowd. Those in front of the line were too busy complaining to take notice making no protest.

For several weeks the unemployment process continued as normal. Then early one morning the tall legged man stood on the front step of the unemployment office and made the following announcement. “I have chosen to give my large fortune to a certain number of you.” The line lost its form as everyone crowded near the front waving hands hoping to get the attention of the speaker. “These chosen few are already chosen and have received the wealth I have accumulated over the last fifty years. You may apply to them for any additional benefits you may need.” With that he quickly stepped inside the door and locked it.

The people were furious. They pounded on the door and demanded their rights. Someone picked up a rock and threw it through a window. In a matter of minutes the door was forced open and every windowpane shattered in a million tiny pieces of glass.

Each one fell silent as they pushed their way past the entrance. The building was entirely empty, no chairs, no desks, no telephones, no computers, no faxes, nothing.

Furious, most people stormed out of the building yelling obscenities as they made their way back to their lean-tos. A few fell to their knees on the hard cement and wept. The sun set and the air cooled. Exhausted those who remained in the building found places to sleep on the floor. Near midnight, the moon forming a blue hue through the broken windows, the stranger returned and woke each sleeping form. “Come with me,’ he said gently. “I have prepared a place for you too.”

(Mathew 12: 21; Romans 15:8-12)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


God choose Abraham to be the Father of his people. But his descendents were not the only people God would choose to serve him. Mathew tells us, “And in his name Gentiles will trust” (Mathew 12:21). This is good news to those of us who are not Jewish by birth.

Paul put it this way, “They are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children who are the seed of Abraham, but in Isaac shall your seed be blessed. The children of the flesh are not the children of God, but the children of the promise shall be called the seed.”

John told us, “If we confess our sins, he (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). John also wrote, “As many as received him to them he gave the power to become the children of God, even as many as believe on his name” (John 1:12). Jesus said, “Whoever hears my word and believes in Him who sent me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24).

We are not physically born into the kingdom of God. We enter by faith in God and his Son Jesus Christ (John 3:36, John 6:37-39; Romans 8:9-11). We come to God because he calls us. We desire God because he wants us.

All who believe in him are welcomed into his presence, even me.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Spiritual Advertising

Jesus often told someone he healed not to tell others. This fulfilled prophecy in the Old Testament, “Nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets” (Mathew 12:19). Jesus did not have to brag. He simply allowed the father to work through him (John 14:10).

How different than many today who claim to perform miracles. They send out fliers in order to spread their names as far and wide as possible.

If God works through us, it is not for our glory, but for his.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Unreasonable People

Jesus healed a man with a withered hand, so the Pharisees plotted how they could destroy him (Mathew 12:9-14). He healed a lame man, and the Pharisees plotted to kill him (John 5:1-18). He opened the eyes of a blind man and they condemned him (John 9:1-16). The Pharisees did this because he did these things on the Sabbath.

But Jesus did not stop healing the sick, raising the dead or casting out demons. God had given him a command what to do and say and he obeyed, trusting his Father with the results.

God has given each of us tasks to accomplish. There will be unreasonable people who will oppose us, but we too need to place our lives in our Father’s hands. Often scripture says that those who tried to harm Jesus could not because his time was not yet come. We can trust that God also has the timing of our lives in his hands.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sheep in a Ditch

I am baffled by the Pharisees who were so entrenched in legalism that they the thought healing on the Sabbath would somehow violate God’s law (Mathew 12:9; John 8:13-16). Yet they thought nothing of pulling a sheep out of a pit on the Sabbath (Mathew 12:10). They valued animal more than their brothers.

Being consumed by our own righteousness blinds us to the illogic of our condemning others. We all fall short of God’s commands.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hungry Men

Jesus told the Pharisees that they judged according to appearances and admonished them to judge righteously instead. We tend to react like the Pharisees. Similar to the man in yesterdays story, we do not see three thirsty and hungry men, we see thieves. God would see men he created who were in desperate need of the oranges.

The disciples were hungry and ate grain from an open field on the Sabbath. According to the law given to Moses it was acceptable to eat grain from any field. The Pharisees were not complaining about the men stealing. They complained because they saw this as “harvesting” or working on the Sabbath. They were twisting the law of Moses so that they looked more spiritual than others.

Jesus told them, “if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ You would not have condemned the guiltless.”

God’s word needs to always be ministered with mercy (Mathew 12:1-7).

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


There were three men walking on a dusty road in late summer. One man pulled a handkerchief out of his back pocket and wiped his face. Another shielded his eyes from the glare coming off a tin roof. The third man groaned heavily as he placed one weary leg in front of the other.

“Look”, said the first man as he pointed to a group of trees a short distance from the road. “Aren’t those orange trees?”

Every man’s step quickened. Their breath no longer weighed heavily on their chest but came in quick successions of gasps as they finally reached the shade trees. One man picked up an orange off the ground, biting into the rind, he sat down under the first tree. The second man quickly peeled away a portion of the rind, then as he bit into the pulp, juice ran down his chin. The third man sat down in the grass and peeled the entire orange before quenching his thirst.

A sharp cry startled all three men as a man in a white shirt and black work boots stomped toward them from the door of the church with the tall steeple that sat across the way. “Stop! Thieves! Those oranges belong to God!

“That’s a relief,” said the man with the handkerchief. “I thought at first they belonged to you.” (Mathew 12:1-8)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Peace in Overwhelming Circumstances

Are you in the middle of a situation that has you baffled? Do you feel closed in and feel like no matter which choice you make it will be the wrong one? Many times life can become overwhelming. We become aware of our limited knowledge. We are wise to remind ourselves of the sovereignty of God and that he is indeed in control of our lives.

Remember Jesus words to us. “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Mathew 11:28-19).

"He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears it, he will answer you...Your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, "This is the way, walk in it" (Isaiah 30:19, 21).

Friday, July 23, 2010

Intimate Knowledge of God

There is a unity between the Father and the Son which we cannot fully comprehend because of our limited nature. The closets of friends disagree with one another at times. The most loving, loyal committed husband and wife argue. If one person continually submits to another, it is despite strong opposing views. But the Father and Son think alike yet each remain unique.

They know how one another thinks. They know how one another responds. They know each other’s goals, plans, love, anger, and what moves the other’s heart to compassion. There is nothing they do not know about one another.

Yet Jesus chooses to reveal the Father to us, his children.

“No one knows the Son except the Father, nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal him” (Mathew 11:27).

Jesus reveals the Father to each of his children. This takes my breath away.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Great Speakers

I enjoy listening to Ravi Zacharias, Charles Swindoll, John Piper and Alistair Begg. My heart is encouraged as they stimulate my thinking. But there are times when I mourn the fact that I am not as intelligent as they are. It feels like I could be so much more affective and reach so many more people if I could think on my feet like they do and reach such profound conclusions.

It is at those times when Jesus’ words are so encouraging when he prays to the Father, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things, from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes” (Mathew 11:25).

Paul wrote, :For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God” (1 Cor 1:26-29).

I can relax because God only holds me accountable for what he has given me to do. He has equipped me to do the work he has prepared for me, just as he as equipped them for what he has prepared for them. The outcome is his alone.

So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. (1 Cor 3:7).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Jesus words were not all kindness and forgiveness. Some were judgment. The towns that Jesus rebuked were places where he and his disciples lived. Bethsaida was where Andrew, Peter, Philip and Nathan lived. Capernaum was where Jesus and his disciples based much of their ministry. Jesus did many miracles in these places proving that he was the Son of God, yet the people did not believe (John 12:37;15:24).

Jesus' words in Mathew 11:20-24 warn us of the seriousness of ignoring all that God has done for us. We do not seek God for the signs and wonders, but we are not to ignore them as though God has not shown his love.

Let's not forget the power of the One we serve and thank him for all his marvelous gifts. Our lives are to reflect our gratitude.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


It is not a sin to be frustrated, but is a natural consequence of living in this world. We know that Jesus never sinned, yet he expressed frustration with the crowd’s attitude. “To what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions, and saying; ‘We played the flute and you did not dance; we mourned to you, and you did not lament.’

In other words, no matter what we did for you, you complained. John the Baptist did not eat regular food or drink wine and they said he had a demon. Jesus came eating foods and drinking wine, but they called him a wine bibber and a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Mathew 11:16-19).

Jesus acknowledged that you cannot please people. John still did not eat normal food or drink wine and Jesus continued to be a friend of tax collectors and sinners. They did not allow the criticism deter them from doing what God had directed them to do.

Though we are to accept correction from others, we can stop trying to please those who are filled with negative attitudes.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Offended at Christ

When John the Baptist struggled with doubt while waiting for his execution, Jesus reminded him of all the miracles Jesus had done. Then he adds this sentence. “And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”

Does that sentence puzzle you, as it did me? I had to be careful not to skim over it but to meditate on its meaning.

Jesus is telling us when we suffer that we are suffering for his sake. When we see miracles all around us yet we are left with no apparent miracle, our thoughts tend toward bitterness. We are offended.

That is why Jesus said, “Blessed is he who is not offended because of me. When he chooses not to give us the miracle but has called us to suffer, we are blessed if we continue to trust him (Mathew 11:4-6).

Friday, July 16, 2010

Doubt Under Fire

Herod’s wife was furious with John the Baptist because John had loudly proclaimed that their adulterous affair violated all that was holy. To please his wife, Herod threw John into prison. But he was spellbound by him and loved to hear him talk (Mark 6:16-20).

Everyone knew the consequences of being thrown into prison. It was sure death, especially if the supreme ruler of your providence was angry with you. John had seen the Holy Spirit descend from heaven onto Jesus. He had heard the voice of God speak that this was indeed the Christ (John 1:32; Mark 1:11). But when John was in prison, waiting for his death, Satan attacked him with doubt, and he sent two messengers to Jesus with his question (Mathew 11:1-2).

“Are you the expected one, or should we look for someone else?”

The enemy will invariably attack when we are down. He doesn’t say, “oh, well she is weak right now so I better lay off,” or “My goodness, he is so tired, I better wait until morning to attack him.” But God will never leave us to Satan’s devices. He will always come to comfort us as he did John (Mathew 11:4-6).

He reminded John of all John had heard and seen. He reminded him of the great works he (Jesus) was doing. So we also need to remind ourselves of all he has done for us in our lives and remind ourselves of the testimonies of others. It will encourage our hearts.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Glass of Water Please

God rewards the tiniest of things we do for one another.

“He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward” (Mathew 10:41-42).

We are asked to be faithful in small things, but receive rewards as though we have done great things. Part of the reason for that is because we are powerless to see the true value of what God has given us to do. He hides it from us so that we will not become puffed up.

The other reason is because the things that happen have nothing to do with our abilities, but what God has chosen to do through us. All glory belongs to him; none to us.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Losses Measured

Jesus promised what we gain is of far more value than what we lose. “…He who loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mathew 10:39; Romans 8:18).

At the time we are making the choice to serve God in the face of persecution, we see only the losses. It feels like we are losing everything. But we are in fact gaining everything. God will not forsake the pursuit of those same family members who are unwittingly persecuting you. They do not understand why you are saying no because God has not opened their eyes. Be patient, wait, and God will bring about victory.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Difficult Choices

Jesus has been discussing persecution, not only from civil authorities, but from family members. Then he speaks these words, “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mathew 10:39).

Fear grips our hearts when our family confronts us with choices between what God condemns and what God approves. We are loving people because we know the source of love. We don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings. We want everyone to know we love them and God loves them. We use love as an excuse participating in an activity that is clearly against scripture.

The problem is excuses are like water. God sees through them.

Just before Jesus was crucified we read these words about some of the Pharisees. “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42-43).

Jesus also warned us, “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will not certainly enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:20).

Monday, July 12, 2010

Loving Our Family

In America, we love to talk about God’s love, mercy and forgiveness. This is good, because it is the message of the gospel. But Jesus also taught things that are extremely difficult to accept. He not only taught of his father’s love for us, he taught that following him would cost everything.

Not only are our physical lives at stake but also our relationships with our families. “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For 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; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household” (Mathew 10:34-36).

People who come to the Lord in a Muslim or Hindu nation are rejected by their families. Sometimes their very lives are threatened. In America we are not willing to have our families angry with us, even if our lives are not in danger. Because of this many of us compromise what is clearly taught against in scripture to pacify family relationships.

To those of us who cower in fear, Jesus said, “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. And he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me” (Mathew 10:34-38).

Don’t be afraid to stand for what is right though your decision causes division in your family. God is fully aware that you cannot do this on your own. He will give you the grace you need at the moment you need it.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Persecution Coming to Life

Growing up in the church, scriptures about being persecuted for my beliefs were frightening. But morning always brought a sense of relief because the world looked like it did the day before. The sun would shine, the rain would fall, people would go to work or school, go on vacation or do work in the yard. Life in America was sweet.

But now that Christians are being taken to court more often and laws are being passed that continue to tighten the limitations of our religious freedom the verses on persecution are coming to life.

After talking about the kind of persecution that leads to our murder, Jesus says, “Therefore whoever confesses me before men, him I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies me before men, him I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Mathew 10:32-33).

Our greatest temptation to forsake God’s will is at the point of our death. We see this in Jesus’ prayer in the garden (Luke 22:39-46; Hebrews 5:7-8). Jesus prayed to his Father was heard but he still had to die. The prophet Isaiah gives us a window to look through at how Jesus survived his own death, “Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint and know I will not be put to shame” (Isaiah 50:7). We too must determine now that we will remain faithful to God.

We are told to “Look to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2). We will spiritually survive our own death as we remind ourselves eternity is longer than this life and God will sustain us through whatever he asks of us.

Scripture reminds us, “Faithful is he who calls you who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24). God will give us the strength the moment we need it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Fallen Bird

Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from my Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Mathew 10:28-31).

The sparrows Jesus is referring to are those that were bought for sacrifice. If an individual was so poor that they did not own livestock or could not purchase a regular sacrifice, they could buy two sparrows for a copper coin and offer them as a sacrifice to God.

Jesus is not saying we can be confident that we will never be killed in persecution because we are more valuable than sparrows. He is saying, we are much more valuable than sacrificial sparrows. He will not allow us to give the ultimate sacrifice of our lives unless there is no other way.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Grace to Die

It is never pleasant to consider one’s death. It is a subject most of us avoid. We put off making our wills, buying burial plots or discussing with one another what will happen after our death. Even as Christians, in our humanness, we react as though eternity were a myth and not reality. But death will happen to each of us.

Jesus tells us in Mathew 10:27-31” that death may come as a result of persecution. Jesus warned us that death could be part of following him.

When we do allow ourselves to contemplate death by persecution our hearts become frozen and fear stunts our brains into paralysis. We forget that God’s grace will sustain us and give us the strength when we need it, not before.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Surrounded by Darkness

“Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops” (Mathew 10:27).

Why would Jesus talk about us being in the dark? Didn’t he say, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life”? (John 8:12).

In John, Jesus is speaking of the light or darkness that is in our hearts. In Mathew, he is speaking of the light or darkness of the world. He has just told us that we will be persecuted and some of us die. That is a dark time in the world.

His words assure us that he will still speak to us in the middle of all the darkness. He will give us messages to speak to those who persecute us. We are to continue to listen closely for that still small voice in our spiritual ear. We are to remind ourselves that he will never leave us or forsake us.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Changing Nation

Our nation began as a Christian nation. There were those who were not believers but they also agreed on the founding principles set by the Bible.

Because the founders had been persecuted in their country of origin, they protected our country’s freedom to worship. They welcomed believers and unbelievers alike to come and live in America. And thus it remained for centuries.

But eventually people began to rely on their father’s faith and did not have their own personal walk with God. This was quickly followed by generations that did not believe in Christ at all. God created man to have faith in God, and when that is removed they will turn to faith in other things or other religions.

The most prominent in our society now is quickly becoming Muslim and Hindu. The rise of Muslim faith is reflected in the vast numbers of Mosques. The rise in Hindu faith is reflected in the quickly rising practice of Yoga, even among Christians.

This is leading to the persecution of Christians in our own country. We see the beginnings of it in mockery, rising law suits and will eventually lead to jail sentences. Jesus told us plainly what to expect. “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be reveled, and hidden that will not be known” (Mathew 10:24-26).

Be steady now and you will be steady later. Waver now and you will fall completely later.