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.