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Thursday, March 31, 2016

God is The God of the Living

In review of Matthew 22:31-32 it says, “But now, as to whether there will be a resurrection of the dead—haven’t you ever read about this in the Scriptures? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ So he is the God of the living, not the dead.”

Today's passage comes toward the end of Matthew chapter 22. In it he is answering questions about eternal life and what marriage will be like then. The questions come from some religious leaders. The wondered if there was a resurrection after death and if so, if a family followed the custom of having a brother marry his brother's wife if he passed away would work with a series of brothers who in sequence would die. Whose wife would it be in eternal life. Jesus replied that these leaders that they really didn't understand what was written in scriptures and the power of God. For in eternal life, when the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. In heaven there will be no reason or need for marriage.

Furthermore, as to whether there will be a resurrection of the dead, hadn't they ever read about this in the scriptures. Jesus then explained to them that long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' He didn't say he 'was the God of', but rather, more in the present pretense of being 'the God of'. God is the God of the living, not the dead.

In this passage, Jesus pointed out that although Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had long since died, God was still their God. The fact that they are living even today, though their bodies are dead, indicates that every human being is immortal. Yes, immortal.

The implication for me is that though my body will one day fail, a resurrection is coming, and at that time, my body will live again. In the book of Acts, chapter 24 verse 15 teaches that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.

Now is the time to decide if we want to enter into eternity as one of the righteous or one of the wicked. The fate of those who are wicked will not be good. Eternity is just that, and eternity of what we had decided here.

This afternoon, I thank You God so much for creating me with a plan and purpose for this life. Thank You that Your love for me is so great that You created an eternal soul inside of my body — a soul that has the opportunity to live with You forever. Please guide me daily in living out Your purpose for the glory of Your kingdom. In Jesus’ name.

Bottom Line:
God is The God of the Living and not the Dead.

What this means to me:

God intends for me to be with him always. First in the flesh here on earth and later with him in eternity.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

God is Bold

In review of Matthew 21:12-13 it says, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!”

Today's passage comes from the Matthew chapter 21, just after Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem. This passage speaks of the boldness of Jesus. As the passage states Jesus entered the Temple. He must have been appalled at what he saw. There were merchants within the temple and people were buying and selling animals for sacrifice. Jesus proceeded to know over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. He said to them, "The scriptures declare, 'My Temple will be called a house of prayer,' but you have turned it into a den of thieves!"  

It appears that people were so accustomed to the rules of the pharisees, which they had derived from the times of Moses. The pharisees appeared more interested in following the customs as they were in the original meaning behind them. The merchants found convenience in selling animals for sacrifice to those who traveled within the actual temple thus defiling the purpose.

This reminds me that often I too, can easily substitute process and procedure for what actually matters the most.

I'm also reminded of the boldness of Jesus. He stood up for what was right and took action.  He did not fear what the religious leaders would think of or even try to do to him.  I would have thought what Jesus did would have been considered very disruptive to the normal flow of commerce. I would have thought Authorities would have come and either arrested him or sternly warned him.  This action Jesus took is a great reminder for me to do what is right, regardless of what others should think or possibly even due to me.  

I can easily see that God is unashamed. God is not silent. God does not back down from seemingly impossible situations. He will make all things possible for those who believe. He is fearless.

Also, He is just. He will always do what is right and necessary for His people to return to Him. God stands boldly for righteousness and does not allow His name to be abused or stained. With strength from the Holy Spirit, I, too, can have this type of bold faith.

I should consider where I may need to be bold for the kingdom of God? Are there circumstances or situations around me that require me to take a stand?

Dear God, today I ask you to help me to be bold in my faith. Let me be part of a generation that is bold and fearless for the sake of Your name. Help me to believe all things are possible. May I stand in confidence to walk unnervingly in Your power and truth. In Jesus’ name.

Bottom Line:
God is Bold

What this means to me:
Like Jesus, I need to become bold, a man of integrity, who will stand in the gap and defend what is right, regardless of the potential outcome.

Friday, March 25, 2016

God Is My King, I Am To Do His Work

In review of Matthew 20:6-7 it says, "About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

Today's passage comes from the first half of Matthew chapter 20 in which Jesus tells a parable of the vineyard workers. In this parable He starts by comparing the Kingdom of Heaven to that of a landowner who went out early to hire workers. He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and then sent them out to work.

At 9am as he passed through the marketplace he saw some additional people standing around doing nothing, so he hired them, telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day. He did the same thing at noon and at 3pm. Finally at 5pm he was in town and found even more people standing around. He had them go out and join the others in the field.

That evening the workers were called in to be paid. The owner started with the employees who were hired last and paid them a full day's wage. When those who were hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more and protested how they worked longer and harder for the same amount.

The owner answered saying, have I been unfair?  Didn't you all agree to work all day for the usual wage? Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I'm kind to others?

This passage brings to mind several things. First I think it could be an illustration of what was to come, where salvation that was promised first to the Jews, would thereafter be offered to the Gentiles. Next, it reminds me that God calls us to be his people and to share his message. We get to be in heaven with him whether we do this for many years or one day.  Lastly it reminds me that I, like the early hired workers think that I would receive in proportion to my efforts and be rewarded.

When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, I didn’t have to fill out a job application; yet I would consider myself as being hired in the kingdom of God!  As a believer I am called, or commissioned, by our King and Father to spread the Gospel message.

I have been much like the workers in the parable, stand around letting others do the work or thinking that the work is only for pastors and missionaries.

Although my kingdom work may look quite different from their full-time ministry, my position in God’s corporation is invaluable and can only be filled by me! So wherever I’m at, God is waiting for me to go to work for Him.

This morning Father, I pray that You open my spiritual eyes to the kingdom work that You have prepared for me to do. Lead me today to people who need to hear the hope of Your eternal salvation through Jesus Christ. Let my efforts bring honor to Your name and glorify Your kingdom! In Jesus’ name.

Bottom Line:
Don’t just stand around waiting, go out and work.

What this means to me:
As a Christian, I am called to not just stand around, but rather to go out and work in His vineyard.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

God Is Always Available

In review of Matthew 19:13-14 it says, Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” Matthew 19:13-14 NIV

Today's passage comes from middle of Matthew chapter 19 in which we see Jesus allowing the children to come to him. In these passages we see that on one particular day some parents had brought their children to Jesus so that he could lay his hands on them and pray for them.

The disciples, still didn't really get it. They saw this as just an irritant and scolded the parents from coming and bothering Jesus.  

Jesus replied, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Then he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.

In this passage we see another lesson Jesus provides to his disciples about who the Kingdom is for and the type of heart that will inherit it. Jesus again uses the example of a child to illustrate the innocence and faith that a child can show. God's Kingdom belongs to those who have hearts such as these children.

By not letting the parents and children be driven away we can see the heart of the Father who is never too busy to be bothered with us.  He is always available.

In my own life, there have been times when I felt like I had really messed up. In these times I even felt as if I could not go to God because I was ashamed of what I had done.

In this passage, it is amazing to see the love that God demonstrates through Jesus. At one point, the disciples tried to stop people from bringing children to Jesus, but He said to let them come anyway. In Mark 10:14-15, Jesus explains that the kingdom of God is for those who will approach Him with childlike faith. God is always available for His children, for those who trust in Him.

I think this also means that to trust Him fully, I will have to believe in the way a child believes. The innocence and purity of a child gives the advantage of being able to trust God without any hang-ups or skewed perspectives resulting from negative life experiences.

As I decide to live with God in a place of innocent trust, I will find that He is always available. I can always approach God because I am his child. Nothing can hold me back. There is no person, sin, regret, or doubt that can keep me from God.

This morning Lord, I thank You for always being available to me, even in moments of sin or doubt. I pray that You open my eyes to trust You fully. Show me what it looks like to be Your child and to approach You with confidence and enthusiasm. I am so grateful that Your kingdom is at hand and that as a child, I receive it! In Jesus’ name.

Bottom Line:
God is always available.

What this means to me:

I can always place my trust in Him, he will always be available to me when I seek him.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

God Is My Shelter

In review of Matthew 18:12-14 it says, What do you think? If someone had one hundred sheep and one of them wandered off, wouldn’t he leave the ninety-nine on the hillsides and go in search for the one that wandered off? If he finds it, I assure you that he is happier about having that one sheep than about the ninety-nine who didn’t wander off. In the same way, my Father who is in heaven doesn’t want to lose one of these little ones.” Matthew 18:12-14 CEB

Bottom Line:
God does not want to lose anyone.

What this means to me:
God does not want to lose me. I need to rest in his protection and not allow myself to be ever drawn away.

Today's shorter passage comes from the middle of Matthew Chapter 18. Jesus tells his disciples the parable of the lost sheep. In it, Jesus speaks of a man who owns a hundred sheep, but finds that one of them has wandered off. Jesus said, wouldn't the man leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost?  If he does find it, wouldn't he rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn't wander away!  In the same way, it is not the heavenly Father's will that even one of these little ones should perish.

From my understanding, our heavenly Father does not wish to lose anyone. He is very concerned about having a restored relationship with all.  When a sheep leaves the protection of his shepherd or owner, he becomes vulnerable.

In my own life, I know there are times when I have questioned, doubted, and eventually wandered from God’s presence. In those times, I like the lost sheep, have left His shelter. Psalm 91:1 NIV says, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” When I willingly choose to leave His presence and no longer dwell with Him, I also choose to leave His protection as well.

What ultimately happens outside of God’s shelter and rest is emotional turmoil. This can translate into division in the home, conflict at work, or any number of other stresses from which God longs to shelter me. So, when life becomes difficult, I need to learn to take joy in His shelter and count it a blessing to be called one of His sheep.

This morning Father, in spite of all the labels I am given, and all of the duties I perform in my day-to-day life, do not let me lose sight of who I am in You. Let me stay grounded in Your Word, always, as I seek Your will for my life. In Jesus’ name.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

God Is Able

In review of Matthew 17:18-20 it says, You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment. Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.

Today's' passage comes from the middle of Matthew chapter 17 and tells of how Jesus healed a demon-possessed boy and how he taught his disciples and us about faith.  

As the passage unfolds, we find a large crowd was waiting for them at the foot of a mountain. A man came pleading before Jesus and said, "Lord, have mercy on my son, he has seizures and suffers terribly." He even has been hurting himself (falling in fire or water.) I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn't heal him.

Jesus replied with, you faithless, corrupt and stubborn people How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy, then he commanded the demon, and it left the boy.

Afterwards the disciples asked Jesus, "why couldn't we cast that demon out?"  Jesus told them that they didn't have enough faith. He went on to tell them that if they have faith even as small as a mustard seed, they could tell this mountain to move and it would. Nothing would be impossible for them.

At first I thought Jesus response was a bit harsh with his disciples. I’m sure he had been working with and teaching them and was surprised when they struggled. However, I’m a lot like the disciples. Many times I have prayed for something and wondered why God didn’t respond in the way I had hoped. I’m reminded of the parable of the mustard seed in Matthew 13. In this Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed and explained that, even though it is the smallest of all seeds, it grows into a tree if planted.

Perhaps my faith is still a seed and needs to be planted in the fertile soil of God’s Word so that it can grow, bear fruit, and provide comfort to others who are struggling in their faith. Maturing in my walk with God is a crucial step in receiving all that He is willing and able to do in my life.

Today, I should consider what steps can I take to help my faith to grow?

This morning Father, I thank You for being able to do immeasurably more than I can. Thank You for revealing my need for You. I want to know You more deeply every day. Please bless my effort to gain spiritual wisdom so that my faith will be like a mustard seed, renewed and transformed by You. In Jesus’ name.

Bottom Line:
Faith can falter when we take our eyes off of the one we have faith in.

What this means to me:
My faith can falter if I take my eyes off of the one I have faith in or think that it is impossible to accomplish. It also falters when I put more faith in my own abilities than in what Jesus can do for me.  

Monday, March 21, 2016

God Is Never Forceful, It’s My Choice

In review of Matthew 16:24-27 it says, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds.

Today's passage comes from the last part of Matthew chapter 16 in which Jesus predicts His death. The passage illustrate how Jesus told his disciples that it would be necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the religious leaders. While there He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.

In unbelief, Peter took Jesus aside saying that this will never happen. Jesus reminded Peter that he was seeing things merely from a human point of view and not from God's.

Jesus then went on to explain to his disciples that if anyone wants to be his follower, they must give up their own way, take up their cross, and follow him. Ultimately you will only lose your life if you try to hang onto it. However if I was to give up my life for his sake, I would end up saving it. Besides what benefit will it be to me to gain the whole world, but lose my soul just to have it.

In addition, there are several very important things to notice within these passages. First is to consider Jesus choice of words in saying, “If any of you wants to be my follower ...” God desires, more than anything else, that I will truly choose to follow Him.

But what does it mean to “take up my cross, and follow”? I believe He is asking me to die to myself. Turn from the things in my life that take His place. It could be that I find security in my income, and when my money gets low, so does my spirit. That would be a clear sign that I trust in money more than I trust in God’s willingness and ability to provide for my every need.

Perhaps throughout the day I’m able to find a few minutes here and there to review and possibly post messages on social media, yet at the end of the day, I still have not opened God’s Word. This, too, could indicate an area of life where I’m are looking for joy in the things of this world instead of seeking true joy in relationship with my Heavenly Father.

So, If I’m valuing my finances, social life, or entertainment as more important than my relationship with God, then I’m limiting God’s blessings and, ultimately, rejecting the peace and joy that come from willingly and completely following Him.

Today, I will consider what, if any, ways God is calling me to die to myself and turn to Him?

This morning Father, I thank You for the free will to choose my path for myself. Though I choose to surrender my will to You, I am grateful for the freedom to make that decision. I honor You by looking to Your will, Lord, to lead my steps and guide my heart in all that I do. You have chosen me, and I am Yours. In Jesus’ name.

Bottom Line:
Don’t try to hang onto the things of this world, rather give your life to Him to save it. This life on earth is not worth the rewards within it.

What this means to me:

More than anything else, that I will truly choose to focus my life on and follow Him. I will need to die to myself and turn from the things in my life that take His place.

Friday, March 18, 2016

God’s Love Is Unconditional

In review of Matthew 15:28 it says, "'Dear woman,' Jesus said to her, 'your faith is great. Your request is granted.' And her daughter was instantly healed."

Bottom Line:

His love is unconditional

Today's passage comes from the middle of Matthew Chapter 15. In this passage we learn about the faith of a gentile woman. As Jesus was going from North from Galilee to the areas of Tyre and Sidon, A gentile woman who lived there came pleading to Him.

From what I understand at the time of this story, anyone who was not a descendent from Israel was considered a gentile. Israel had been God's original people that he was raising to be his example. Thus there became a distrust between the two people groups, with people from Israel, thinking themselves higher/more privileged and others being less. For the most part the Jewish people didn't even talk to those who were gentiles.

This gentile woman recognizing him as the Lord, asked Jesus to have mercy on her daughter who was possessed by a demon who had been tormenting her severely.

At first, Jesus gave no reply. His disciples urged him to send her away, she is bothering us with all her begging.

Jesus told her that he was sent only to help God's lost sheep (people of Israel.) However still she came forward and worshiped him, pleading again, "Lord, help me!". Jesus responded with, "It isn't right to take food from children to fee the dogs". The woman replied, "true, but even dogs are allowed to eat scraps that fall from the table."

Jesus then said, dear woman, "your faith is great. Your request is granted" and her daughter was instantly healed.

In this passage, it's interesting to see that at first Jesus gave no reply to the woman's request. This seems harsh at first, however I've been reminded lately that one of Jesus main objectives here on earth was to train disciples who would make disciples.  I'm thinking that he was waiting to see what his disciples would do with this. Up to this point, Jesus had been very compassionate with people and had healed all that came to him. I think he wanted to see how his disciples would respond. We eventually see the disciples response, "send her away, she is bothering us with all her begging."

This response pretty much hits home with me. I can easily be irritated and want the irritation to go away.  However what I’m learning is that the irritation is often a need or a lesson being presented to me. Just yesterday I was listening to an old recording from the late 1970's where Rick Warren (before he started his Saddleback church), was speaking to a group of students on how to a one-on-one time with someone you are discipling.  The core of the message related to responding to situations, problems or irritants around us.  Rick mentioned that often God will put these things into our lives to see how we'll respond and where our heart is on the matter. God's goal is to make us more and more like Jesus. For example one way to teach us how to love isn't to bring around people that are easy to love, but rather bring around ones that are difficult. We often just need to recognize this and then praise God for bringing this into our lives. In praise we can learn to deal with and overcome our problems.

In getting back to this passage, after the disciples tell Jesus to send her away, Jesus responds to her with some statements about giving good stuff meant for a chosen people to those who were thought of as less. The woman responded with a statement of faith from her heart. She knew in this culture and at this time, her heritage made her appear as less, however, she had faith that even the leftovers or scraps would be sufficient for her.  

The woman responded with what was in her heart, which was true faith. Jesus responded this proclamation of faith with his affirmation that "her faith was great and that her request would be granted.

I'm certain that Jesus knew all along where this woman's heart was. He used this situation as a way to teach his disciples an example of what true faith is. It was also a foreshadow of the future where the good news will be for all and not just Israel. This passage not only gave the disciples a real life example of what faith is (from the heart), it provides one for me as well.

I’m also reminded that God knows my heart. He sees through my exact circumstances, past my money and status in the world, right into my core. That’s where He meets me! He loves me all the way through my situation.

Surely the woman in this story had heard great and wonderful things about the power of Jesus. She may have heard reports that all who came to Him were healed and that He had the authority to cast out demons, if she believed.

So, this woman heard. She acted. She received. She was healed immediately. Jesus didn’t ask her for her progress report first. He didn’t even ask her about her past sins or if she had unforgiveness in her heart. No, she just believed, so she received. His love is unconditional; He gives it freely.

One other question to ask myself this morning is, what have I heard about that I need to act on? Is something holding me back from doing so? Am I trying to get my act together before Him on it? What I need to keep in mind is that His love is unconditional! Like the woman, I can believe and reach out to Him.

Father, this morning I thank You!  As I sit at Your feet with my weary head in Your lap, Your love rushes over me and lulls me to sleep. Your unconditional, unquestioning, never-exhausted love brings security and peace to my soul. In Jesus’ name.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

God Is Miraculous

In review of Matthew 14:15-17, 19 it says, That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.” “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered. Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people.

Today's verses come from the middle of Matthew chapter 14. This is Matthew's briefer version of Jesus feeding five thousand people in a very remote location.

As the story unfolds Jesus has just learned of John the Baptist's death, so he left in a bot to a remote area to be alone. However, large crowds followed Jesus to this remote area. Jesus had compassion on people and healed their sick. It was getting late and it was a very remote location so the disciples suggested that Jesus sent the crowds away so that they could buy food for themselves.  But Jesus, had something different in mind and instead told the disciples to feed the crowds.

Immediately the disciples answered, but we have only five loaves of bread and two fish. This is just like me, I say, “but... how?”

Jesus instructed them to bring the food to him. Jesus took the food, looked toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, he broke the loaves into pieces.  All ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. About 5,000 men (not including the women and children with them) were fed that day.

At the beginning of the story, we see Jesus, at hearing the bad news of John's death, deciding to retreat to a remote area. I can only speculate this was to be a strengthening communion relationship with his Father in prayer and with his close friends (the disciples.) However, in his desire to be alone, he still saw, recognized and served with compassion; especially at a time when I'm sure he would have rather been in a smaller fellowship group. Like Jesus there may be times when I'd rather be alone, but will need to serve with an open heart and compassion (not begrudgingly.)

Jesus uses the opportunity of meeting a physical need to reveal Himself through a miracle. He also uses this as a training opportunity to have have his disciples participate.

Like the disciples there may be times where I may need serve and it may not make practical sense (i.e. how would I feed a large crowd with a small amount of food), I need to trust God and not myself or my own understanding.

Overall God is the God of miracles. Even today He is willing and able to reveal Himself through miracles. He can take my feelings of inadequacy, unbelief, burdens, sickness and turn them into something extraordinary.

2 Corinthians 1:20 teaches the answers to God’s promises are always “yes” and “amen.” I can lean on Him and should learn to trust Him completely.

Bottom Line:
God is just miraculous

What this means to me:
Like Jesus, there may be times when I'd rather be alone, but will need to serve with an open heart and compassion (not begrudgingly.) Like the disciples, there may be times where I may need serve and it may not make practical sense (i.e. how would I feed a large crowd with a small amount of food). When this happens, I need to trust God and not myself or my own understanding. God is miraculous and can do anything that He wants to accomplish his purposes.  He may even use me to help.

This morning Father I ask you to help me to trust the small things as well as the big things to Your care. I don’t just want to believe; I want to expect miracles in my everyday life because You are that good! In Jesus’ name.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

God Is The Harvester

In review of Matthew 13:30 it says, Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.

Bottom Line:
God will ultimately harvest the world. Both wheat and weeds grow in it. He will sort out the weeds from the wheat and burn them, saving the wheat for his Kingdom.

What this means to me:
In this life, myself as a follower of Jesus will be intermixed with the weeds. In God's timing he will start his harvest, and sort the weeds from his wheat, sending the weeds into the fire and saving the wheat for his Kingdom.

Today's passage comes from one of the parables Jesus told about wheat and weeds. In this parable the farmer plants good seed, but the enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat. As the wheat began to grow, so did the weeds. The farmer decided to let both grow, as pulling the weeds may disturb the wheat. At the time of the harvest, he will have the harvesters sort out the weed and burn it.

God intends both to grow together until he is ready for the harvest. At that time he will have his harvesters (His angels) sort out the weeds from the wheat, saving the wheat but throwing the weeds into the fiery furnace. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father's Kingdom.

Sometimes I feel like a single stalk of wheat among weeds. His Word tells me that I will experience times when people will try to sabotage my identity in Christ. However, I can be sure, though, that God knows the enemy’s plan. The good news is that He has given me everything I need to survive among the weeds until the time comes when He will ultimately rescue me.

I can rest in Him no matter who may be persecuting me. All He asks is that I maintain my relationship with Him. It is this relationship that will guarantee that instead of being pulled up with the weeds, I’ll be lovingly separated from them at harvest time.

Father, today I am grateful to know that You understand my struggles. I treasure Your promise to save me. in Jesus’ name.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

God Is What The Sabbath Is All About

God Is What The Sabbath Is All About

Matthew 12:1-8
At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.” He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:1-8 NIV

Bottom Line:
Jesus prefer's a flexible heart to an inflexible ritual

What this means to me:
I should not let rituals or habits keep me from what’s most important; a relationship with my Lord and with people.

Today's passages come from the first part of Matthew chapter 12 and it's a discussion that takes place about the Sabbath. In this passage the Pharisees point out how Jesus disciples were breaking heads of grain from a field and eatting them to satisfy their hunger on the Sabbath.

Jesus referred the Pharisees back to the story of David and how he and his companions broke the law by eating the sacred bread that only the priests were to eat. Furthermore he pointed out how the priests on duty in the Temple were allowed to work on the Sabbath. Present with them today, is one who is even greater than the Temple itself.

Jesus goes on to point out that they would have not condemned his disciples if they really understood the meaning of this Scripture, "I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices." Jesus was telling them that he prefer's a flexible heart to an inflexible ritual. Besides, for the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath.

The Pharisees had created categories of actions that they thought were forbidden on the Sabbath, all based on their interpretations of God’s law and Jewish custom. Harvesting grain was one of those forbidden actions.

On that particular day, Jesus and the disciples were picking grain because they were hungry, not because they wanted to harvest the grain for a profit. They were not “working” on the Sabbath. Unfortunately the Pharisees were too concerned about religious rituals and too determined to accuse Jesus of any wrongdoing. In this, they missed the whole purpose of the temple, which was to bring people closer to God. And because Jesus is even greater than the temple, He was much more capable of bringing people closer to God.

What I’m learning is that the Sabbath wasn’t about doing good works (or avoiding bad ones) as much as it was about relationship. In fact, Colossians 2:16-17 says that the Sabbath is now found in Jesus. Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ who is with us now.

Why is this teaching written down?  Its here for me to be cautious about anything I use as a tradition or habit that I have relied on instead of seeking a closer relationship with God?

Heavenly Father, this morning I ask you to forgive me for seeking results over relationship with You and the other people I love. I want to know You better. I long to be a child who takes after Your own heart.

Monday, March 14, 2016

God Is Truth

In review of Matthew 11:15 it says, “He who has ears to hear, let him be listening and let him consider and perceive and comprehend by hearing.”

Bottom Line:
Someone who is inclined to hear should listen and understand.

What this means to me:
John the Baptist fulfilled prophecy by becoming the messenger who prepared the way before Jesus.

In this passage I see John the Baptist, now in prison, hearing all about what Jesus was doing, sent his disciples to ask Jesus, "If he was the Messiah we've been expecting or should they keep looking."

Jesus told them to go back and tell John what they've seen and hear and letting that alone answer the question.

As they were leaving, Jesus began to talk about John the Baptist. Jesus testified of John saying he is the one that scriptures referred to when they say, "Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you and he will prepare your way before you."

None is greater than John the Baptist. If you are willing to accept what I say, he is Elijah, the one the prophets said would come. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!

For true wisdom is shown to be right by its results.

This is much like the times when I learned a new math concept in school. First, I listened to the teacher explain the new idea. But in order to understand and apply the concept on my own, I had to think about, consider, and comprehend it.

It is the same with the Word of God. Most of us can hear words easily enough, but in order for God’s Word to transform us, we have to do some mental work. We have to understand the truth and make it our own. Until I live out what I’ve heard, it isn't my truth.

This morning I ask you Lord to continue to reveal Your truth to me. I am hungry to know You more. I am willing to listen and hear Your voice. I believe Your Word, and I am desperate to know You better! Amen in Jesus’ name.