Friday, October 18, 2019

You Were Not Willing

I suppose one of the saddest verses in the Bible is a lament over Jerusalem by Jesus. (Matthew 23:37) As He was teaching there before His crucifixion and resurrection, He turned to the city and told those who would listen that He had wanted to gather the people of Jerusalem to Himself as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings for safety. Then, He mournfully says, "But you were not willing." He came to His own, but His own did not receive Him, and it crushed the heart of the Savior. I wonder how many times He feels that way for people today?

Jesus reveals Himself to everyone, because He loves all of us. He speaks to our hearts, and He shows us through His creation how great and wise He is. He has even given us the Bible which is a testimony of Himself and His love for us. However, Jesus will not force anyone to follow Him or love Him. We all have a choice. Many choose to reject Him and go their own way. They don't know what they are missing. It is not only life in heaven for eternity. Those who come to Jesus are cared for in His love and protected by the peace that passes understanding, even as we go through the trials of life. Yes, we abide under the shadow of His wings, and there is no safer, warmer place in the universe.
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Tomorrow, I intend to read Matthew 24-27.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Salvation for the Wealthy

Jesus had an encounter with a very rich young man who wanted to know how to be saved. Jesus pointed him to the commandments and said he needed to keep them. The man felt he had kept the commandments, so Jesus got to the heart of the matter. He called on this man to sell his possessions and follow Him. The man was very sad, because of his wealth, and he was unwilling to obey Jesus' command. When His disciples asked Jesus about this, He told them that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. They were amazed at this response. They thought rich people were blessed and on their way to heaven. They wanted to know who could be saved then? Jesus told them salvation of wealthy people was possible with God, but with man it was impossible. (Matthew 19:24,26) Why would Jesus say that? We need to stop and think about it.

Jesus made it clear in several passages that to be His disciples we have to "follow Him." In fact, He said to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. He made it clear we have to love Him first, so that our love for others and ourselves amounts to hatred. (Luke 9:23; 14:26) This shows we must surrender all that we are and all that we have to Him, so that He is Lord of our life. That is very difficult for a rich person to do. It is not only that they do not want to surrender their money to His Lordship, but they have so many other distractions because of their wealth. The scary thing about this is that most of us in the USA are wealthy. Therefore, it is impossible for us to enter the kingdom on our own, but when we do surrender all to Jesus, it is possible for God to save us and change us. I pray that we have all experienced this miracle of salvation. The changes that come are humanly impossible, like a camel going through a needle. However, they are very real by the power of God. Everything else fades in comparison to our love and devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ.
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Tomorrow, I intend to read Matthew 20-23.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Who Is Jesus?

If someone asked you, "Who is Jesus?," what would you say. I am sure some people would say that Jesus was a man, and others would say that He never existed as a man, at all. However, I asked, "Who is Jesus?" because He is alive and well today. All of us must come to decide who Jesus is. Our eternity depends on our sincere answer. Peter gave the only correct answer, when Jesus asked the disciples who they said He was. (Matthew 16:15,16) That makes Peter's response important for all of us.

Peter's confession was a clear response of faith. Peter was convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, which means the One sent from God, the Anointed One. He added that Jesus was the Son of the Living God. That meant Jesus was God, and He came to show us the Father, as well as to die for our salvation. For us to be saved from our sins we must believe that Jesus is much more than a man. He is the God/Man, sent from God, the Father, to live a sinless life and die for our sins. Then, we must believe that God raised Jesus from the dead to show His victory over sin, death, and Satan. (Romans 10:9,10) Also, since Jesus is the Son of the Living God, He is Lord of all, and we must surrender to him in faith, asking Him to be our personal Lord. When Jesus heard Peter's answer, He affirmed that he was correct and that he was believing this because the Father had revealed it to him, not because others had said it to him. We must come to hear from God and respond in faith to God's revelation of the truth like Peter did. All of this comes by God's grace, as we put our trust in Jesus.
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Tomorrow, I intend to read Matthew 17-19.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A Prophet Without Honor

Jesus went home to Nazareth. It is nice to go back home, but Jesus found out that it has its disadvantages. Yes, he knew the people, and they knew Him, but their familiarity with Him bred contempt for Him. They did not want to listen to Him as He spoke God's words and taught them. They did not recognize Him as a prophet or as the Messiah. (Matthew 13:57) Therefore, Jesus did not do as many miracles there, because of their unbelief. Just stop to think about that. Their unbelief  caused them not to experience the power of the Lord, who was right there. Could we have a similar problem today?

Could it be that when we get familiar with a prophet in our life that we discount what he says because we know him so well? If that could happen to Jesus, I believe it could happen today. Many people are enamored with new faces and new messages. They feel that because they are famous somewhere else they should pay attention to what they say and what they are doing. That is why we say, "An expert is a person from 30+ miles away who has a briefcase." People are quick to believe what they say and do what they say to do. If their message is true to God's Word and people believe it, then they see the results of their belief. However, couldn't the same thing happen if they listened to the familiar prophets around them and exercised their faith in God's Word shared by them? I believe so. I so long to see many miracles done in every hometown in our world, so that our world is transformed by the power of God. I pray we will all listen to all of God's prophets, whether they are familiar to us or not, and see what God is able to do.
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Tomorrow, I intend to read Matthew 14-16.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Not Worthy of the Lord

We have to meet very high standards to be worthy of being in the presence of a king or a president. If we do not live up to that standard, there is no way we will meet them or have a relationship with them. That is how it works in this world. When it comes to Jesus, it is different. Anyone can meet the standard needed to have a relationship with Jesus, even though it is a high standard, too. The Lord inspired Matthew to record what it takes to be worthy of Jesus. (Matthew 10:37,38) What do you think it is? It is not something we want to miss, because it means an eternity separated  from Him in hell. Let's examine what He said.

If we love our family more than we love Jesus, we are not worthy of Him. This includes our love for our father or mother, as well as, a son or a daughter. In Luke's gospel he includes our husband or wife, too. (Luke 14:26) Our love for Jesus must surpass our love for our family members for us to be worthy of Him. Yes, we must love Jesus supremely, even more than we love ourselves. That is why Jesus says if we are not willing to take up our cross and follow Him we are not worthy of Him, either. The cross was the instrument of death. Jesus is saying we must die to ourselves, the love of ourselves and of what we want to do, so that we follow Him and love Him fully. If we will do those two things, we will be worthy of the Lord Jesus and have a close relationship with Him. Anyone can love this way and die to self this way, but it is hard It will only happen when we acknowledge Jesus is Lord, so that He is worthy of our highest love and all of our devotion to doing His will, not ours. I pray that we will all heed these words, and make sure we are worthy of Jesus.
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Tomorrow, I intend to read Matthew 11-13. 

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Being Fruit Inspectors

People have many opinions about what it takes to be a Christian. If we just go by our feelings or what we think is right, we could miss being saved, while we are thinking we are saved from our sins. Jesus warned about that situation in the Sermon on the Mount. He told us that people would stand before the Lord and speak of the good works they have done, but He will tell them to depart from Him, because He had never known them. We do not want that to happen to us or anyone else. So how can we be sure that we are saved? Jesus said that we need to be fruit inspectors. The fruit of a person's life never lies. Good trees bring forth good fruit, but bad trees only bring forth bad fruit. Therefore, by our fruit we can know our relationship with Jesus. (Matthew 7:17,20) Let's consider why this is true.

Good works are things that people can do without any help from the Lord. Yes, people can do good things, but they are not fruit. They are simply religious exercises by which they hope to get God's favor. Fruit is totally different. Fruit is when we have something in our lives or we are able to do something that is only possible because God does it in us by the Holy Spirit. Look at Galatians 5:22,23. The fruit of the Spirit will be evident in the life of any believer. I am not just talking about one of the nine things listed, either. It is the fruit of the Spirit, not the fruits of the Spirit. If we have these things in our lives, and they are increasing, we can be assured God is working in us. When we are able to witness to others and see them saved, that is fruit, too. Only God can save, but He can work through us to see the miracle of salvation happen. Then, at other times we can see the gifts of the Spirit in operation in our life. That shows we have the Spirit, too. Therefore, we need to be fruit inspectors, and if there is not any of these types of good fruit, we need to go to the Lord in repentance and trust Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior.
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Tomorrow, I intend to read Matthew 8-10.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Teaching, Preaching, and Healing

When Jesus started His ministry, one of the first things He did was go to John, the Baptist, to be baptized in the Jordan River. After His baptism, the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. Jesus resisted Satan's deceptions, and Satan departed. Then, Jesus called some of His disciples to follow Him and learn from being with Him. Almost immediately he took His early disciples on a tour of the cities of Galilee. He was teaching in the synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of diseases. (Matthew 4:23)  Jesus could have done many things, but He chose these three things. We need to ask ourselves why He ministered in these three ways.

All people are body, soul, and spirit. We are a unity, one person, but we have three parts that make-up who were are as humans. It makes us think of God and the fact that He is Father, Son, and Spirit, but only One God. When Jesus ministered He engaged the whole person in what He did. Jesus taught the people. This was His ministry to their soul. The soul is our mind, will, and emotions. His teaching informed their minds, their decisions, and even how they felt about things. His preaching was calling them to communicate with God through their spirit. He wanted them to decide to repent and cry out to God in faith to forgive their sins. His good news was that He had come to pay for our sins so all who trusted Him alone for their salvation would be forgiven. Finally, Jesus cared for their bodies, too. He healed people of all kinds of diseases. He does the same today. He doesn't heal everyone all of the time, but He can and does heal all kinds of diseases. We need to learn from Jesus, so that we do the same things in our ministry for Him. We need to teach His Word, appeal to people to turn to the Lord Jesus in repentance and faith, and to care for their physical needs, as well. When we do that we will be showing the love of Jesus in a complete way.
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Tomorrow, I intend to read Matthew 5-7.