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).