Saturday, August 31, 2013

Trying to trip Jesus up in His talk

Matthew 22:15-22

Pharisees and Herodians look for ways to entangle Jesus in His talk.  

They ask if it's lawful or not to pay taxes to Caesar or not.  

Jesus sees right through their plan to trip Him up and calls them out on it.  

He asks the money to be brought out to Him.  Then He once again asks a question.  

Whose image and inscription is on the coin? 

After they answer Caesar He tells them give to Caesar what is His and give to God what belongs to God.  

He wasn't looking to get into a philosophical debate.  He gets right to the heart, the nitty gritty, and He makes them answer a question to get
to it.  Wise to imitate.  When there is something that is not going to be productive in furthering the gospel, don't get lured in by the bait to go on a rampage about it.  Stand in what you know is truth and let those that want to debate about it be left to answer the question.  


It's simple:  give to God what belongs to Him and give to others what belongs to them.  Simple.  

Friday, August 30, 2013

invitation to the wedding feast

Matthew 22:1-14

A parable about heaven

It's like a King who plans a wedding for His son.  He sends out His servants to call those invited to the wedding.  

Those invited weren't wanting to come.
He sends them out again.
Shares that He has prepared a dinner for them.  The best of the best meal.  Everything is ready.  

Those invited make light of it.  They go their own ways.  
Others treated them spitefully and killed the servants.

This made the King furious.  

So He sent out His airs and destroyed the murderers and burned up their cities.  

Then He sends out His servants and says again: those who were invited were not worthy.  Go to the highways and invite as many as you can find.  Servants went out and found good and bad - the wedding was filled with guests.  

The king saw a man there who did not have wedding garments.  And he was sent away into the outer darkness.   

Many were called few were chosen.  

This is a good picture of God's heart.  He wants all of us to come to Him.  He invites everyone to His celebration - but some are too busy to come, not recognizing the honor and the privilege it is to be invited, and they don't make a big deal out of it.  Others don't like the invitation and kill the messengers.  
So He goes for those that long and ache for Him and those that will come and show their devotion to Him.  It really is a beautiful story of a redeemer, but it is sad for those who choose not to come.  

Application:  be Faithful to tell those around me about His invitation.  Be His servant.  Tell my children about this wedding feast.  Maybe even prepare a very special feast for them with all the fixings and share the story of God's love to them through this parable.  

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Reject or receive the Messenger?

Matthew 28:33-46

Jesus had a clear message.  And those indignant towards Him did not want to hear it.  

The message brought their sin and struggles to life.  And instead of owning up to where they had fallen, they became hard and would not could not see the truth.  

God had sent many messengers, prophets to Israel, to help them turn from their ways and come back to Him who loved them.  And so often Israel rejected them.  Often killing them.  Because they didn't like the message.  This time God sent His Son to Israel to give the message, and they once again didn't like His message.  And they are rejecting Him.  

God is going to take the kingdom from those that are rejecting it and going to give it to a nation who will bear fruit from it.  

Their response was they wanted to lay hands on Him but because of the multitudes they didn't.  

Isn't that how it is?  Someone comes with a message that convicts right to the core and the natural response is to reject it.  We don't want to hear it, we certainly don't want to change, so we choose to reject the message instead.  Or we can take it to the next level and come against the message giver.  Seek to bring harm to that person.  

That is the message of Jesus.  He does not compromise for anyone.  Either you are going to like what He says, or not.  You may wrestle with certain parts or You may accept them freely as truth.  He is unchanging.  

We have to choose when He brings light to things in our life that need to change, how will we respond?  Will we respond in humbleness and seeking Him to help us?  Or will we reject the message and go our own way and become hard to His truth?  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Matthew 21:28-32

Matthew 21:28-32

Jesus is still talking to the Chief priests and Pharisees. 

A man has two son:

One hears the will of the father and says no, but then regrets it and changes his mind and does it.  

Another hears the will of his father, says he will do it, but he does not.  

Which one did the father's will?  

The answer is the first one.  

John came in the way of righteousness and the scribes and Pharisees did not believe him.  Then tax collectors and harlots believed him, and even then when they saw it, they still did not afterward relent and believe.  

Am I doing God's will?  Or am I giving lip service saying I want to do this or that and praising His name on Sunday but when I go home am I living that out?  Am I believing and acting on in faith what He told me to do, or is it just for face.  
Seriously worth considering our hearts in this and asking God if we are doing what He leads us to do?  Surrender is a hard thing.  Letting go of pride and securities to trust Him.  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Beware of indignity to Jesus

Matthew 21:23-27
Chief priests and elders of the people confront Him while He is teaching.  They ask Him two questions:

By what authority are you doing these things?  And who gave you this authority?  

Jesus responds with a question that if they answer He will answer their questions:
Where was the baptism of John from?  Heaven or men?  

They are unsure how to answer for fear of the people or fear of being confronted by Jesus on why They did not believe John's words.  So they answer: 
"We don't know."

Jesus responds by telling them He will not share by what authority He is doing these things. 

The priests and elders already knew what Jesus answer would be to what authority Jesus was doing those things.  

But they didn't want to really believe that was the answer.  It says they were indignant to Him.  Why?  He was doing all these miracles and headings and speaking words of life and truth.  But the words of truth were full of conviction to the leaders.  Which either meant change or meant gathering together and being indignant to change.  

Something to be careful of.  Careful when things come to us and maybe they are convicting, maybe they are changing things done differently in the past...  We have to take every thing back to the Word of Truth and see what  it says, pray about it asking for wisdom from the Holy Spirit.  Often when those things are brought into our lives it is to help clean up sin that we might be struggling with.  But do we choose to address it, keeping our hearts soft, or do we harden up and stay the way we are.  

It also meant if one of the leaders were to acknowledge Jesus as truth, they would have been separating themselves from the others around them.  Fear of man brings a snare.  

Jesus offends people.  Not everyone is going to like Him or want to follow Him. But He is who He is without compromise.  And to the blind and the lame He was exactly who they wanted.  They couldn't see but their eyes were opened to truth.  They knew they needed fixing that could only found in Him.  And to them Jesus was very attractive.  

I heard in church this week that we need to how the world the attractiveness of Jesus without compromise.  I pray that is how I can live my life.  That those around me will see my life solidified in Jesus and they will see His beauty in me.  

Monday, August 26, 2013

Asking believing and receiving

Matthew 21:20-22

His disciples marvel at the fig tree withering away so soon.  
They ask Jesus how it happened so fast?

Jesus answer:  if you have faith you will see even bigger things than that.  You will be able to say to a mountain be removed and cast into the sea and it will be done.  

Point:  ask and what you ask for in prayer believing you will receive.  

This passage can bring up a lot of questions:  

Does this mean I can make God my vending machine and whatever number I push in it will be dispensed to me?  Or why when I ask God things so they not happen?  Or will I literally cast a mountain into the sea?  

I have prayed prayers many times and not seen immediate outcome.  It can begin to rock your faith if you have something you desperately want and ask God for and He doesn't do it.  

So how do we respond to this passage?  

I always go back to Psalm 37

Delight Yourself in The Lord
Commit Your plans to The Lord.
Trust also in Him. 
Feed on His faithfulness.
Rest and wait patiently for Him.  

Are my things I'm asking part of His desires?  I think the focus in this area always needs to start with checking to make sure our focus is to be delighting in Him, committing our plans to Him...  
I have found when we do this our heart desires can become more inline with what His plans are, and then the things we are asking are the things He wants to see happen too.  

And when we are praying and asking God's will, we will see amazing things happen.  

It starts with surrender.  And then following His lead in what we should be asking.  

So instead of putting our focus on the miracles we need to place our focus on Him and delighting in Him.  

And then when we are lead to ask Him something, do not doubt.  Ask in prayer, and believe you will receive.  

And when we do give all the glory to God.  And not on the fact that we asked, but the fact that He is faithful!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Being a fig tree far away and up close.

Matthew 21:18-19

Jesus was hungry in the morning and came to a fig tree by the road.  
When he came to it there were only leaves, no figs.

So He says "let no fruit grow on you again!" The tree immediately withered away.

I was reading a commentary and its take on this passage was an indication towards what hypocrisy looks like.  As I think about it, I think it definitely could represent that.  The fig tree gave every indication that there would be fruit on it.  The leaves all over the plant were there.  

This summer I have been watching my raspberry and blueberry plants grow.  They barely produced any fruit.  I was confused as to what was going on.  Nick found out that he had it set up on a watering line in our yard that did not get the watering it needed.  The leaves were all there but there was not enough water to produce fruit.  

We don't want to just look like Christians.  When people come close to examine us we want them to see fruit blooming in our lives.  We want to be a follower of Christ from a far away view and up close.  
How do we make sure in our own lives this can happen?  We make sure we are getting enough water to nourish us in ourselves, that His Spirit in us can begin to produce the fruit we are capable of producing.  
We want to be what we look like from a distance up close.  

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Cleaning out the temple and praise perfected

Matthew 21:12-17

Jesus entered the temple of God and drove out all the money changers, all those who were buying and selling in the market, the seats of those who sold doves.  

How sad it must have made Jesus to witness His house being a place that people made into a den of thieves...  People taking advantage of God, using His name, His dwelling place to make money.  

He cleans out His temple, and then uses it for what it was meant for.  The blind and the lame come to Jesus in the temple and He heals them.  
And the children were crying out in the temple and praising Him.  

And the scribes were watching what He was doing and what the children were saying.  And they were indignant.
Jesus quotes scripture that out of the mouth of babes you perfect praise.  

Then on that thought He leaves then and goes into Bethany and lodges there.  


Our bodies are now the temple of His Holy Spirit.  What do we use them for?  Are they designed for praise and being a vessel that Jesus can use to minister to others?  Or are they a place that Jesus would have to clean out and drive out things that don't belong there?  

Also, I have been in grocery stores before where I was doing something God laid on my heart for someone in need and you know what I witnessed?  At the time my then two year old girls in unison swaying back and forth in the carts singing Jesus loves me quite loudly.  It is so true... My little children unaware of the cultural norms praise Jesus.  Praise perfected.  It was beautiful to watch I will never forget it. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Jesus moves a city and is faithful

Matthew 21:1-11

Jesus prepares to enter Jerusalem and He sends two disciples to go into the town and get the donkey and a colt with it.  And bring them to Him.  If anyone asks just say "the Lord has need of them."  

It's done to fulfill what a prophet said about Him.  

They did this and laid their clothes on them and set Jesus on them.  

A great multitude went before Jesus and laid their clothes out for Him and some went before Him and others followed Him and cried out:
"Hosanna to the Son of David, Blessed is He who comes in the name of The Lord!  Hosanna in the Highest!"

When He comes into the city it was moved, 
saying: "Who is this?"  

The multitudes answered: "this is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.

Two thoughts:  

1. It's important to God to fulfill what He promises.  Details so often are brought up that say in the Bible to fulfill what had been spoken before.  This is one of them.  Little parts of the story that are important.  They show He is true on His word and He doesn't forget what God purposes to do.  
But keep in mind it was generations before that these words were spoken.  Some things on earth we will not see the fulfillment of what He has promised on this side, but His perspective and timing is so much bigger than what we can picture in our minds.  So just because we don't see something happen in our time does not mean He isn't doing anything.  It means we have to trust Him.  He is faithful. 

2.  The city was moved when He came into the city.  He moves cities.  Pray for movement in our city.  :). May we usher Him in. We can be the multitudes to praise Jesus and share of His faithfulness in our lives of how He has saved us and healed us and be faithful to allow His Spirit to move in us and watch Him move in our cities towns and neighborhoods. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Two blind men listen for Jesus

Matthew 20:29-34

As Jesus and His disciples were leaving Jericho a great multitude followed Him.  

Two blind man heard Jesus was passing by and cried out for mercy.

The multitude told them to be quiet but they cried out more asking for mercy.  

Jesus stood still.  He asked them what they wanted Him to do for them?  

They asked for open eyes.  

Jesus had compassion.  Jesus touched their eyes.  

Immediately they received sight and followed Him.  

These men sitting by the side of the road couldn't see Jesus coming, but they used what they had to listen for Him.  

Then they asked for mercy and Jesus asked "what can I do for You?" 

They asked for the ability to see.   

Jesus gave it to them and they followed Him.  

They were healed because they took the time to listen for Him.  For His Spirit to speak and me to listen.  
As I am walking through this time of healing in my life more than anything this is one of my biggest goals:  to take the time to listen for Him.  To be in relationship with Him.  To see Him and follow Him.  
He is a compassionate God.  He deeply cares for us.  For our needs.  He reaches out and touches our brokenness.  And He wants to fix us.  To show us mercy and heal us...  
Fixing is not alway how we think it should be... But it is always what is best for us done in compassion and mercy.  Because He loves us.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A bold request by a mom...

Matthew 20:18-28

A Jewish mother, comes and asks Jesus, as she kneels down, to please let her sons sit on the right and the left in His kingdom.  

This bold request is missing the point.  

Jesus He tells them they will drink His cup and be baptized with His baptism but as to who sits on either side of Him is not for Him to decide.  

It's not the main focus. 

This request riles up the other disciples.  Jesus intervenes with instruction.  

The goal is not lording over others or exercising control.  Not focusing on being first.

Greatness is about becoming a servant to those around you.  Jesus is about to give the greatest example of this.  He already has shown how He lived His life not to be served but to serve.  Now He is about to show them the greatest act in this by giving His life as a ransom for many.  

If I want to be like Jesus...

 Don't be self seeking out position.  It's not about position in what you are doing.  It's about what you are doing with His love for the people around you.  In that also be careful as a mom to allow my children to experience humbling opportunities and not always be looking to push them into the best position...

He was not seeking being ruler to all these people who questioned Him, or lording it over them.  He knew the drink He was about to drink, that He was about to be put to death by these people whom questioned Him... And He was going to let them do that.  

Such backward thinking to the world such forward thinking to the eternal kingdom God is preparing.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Jesus shares with His disciples the plans

Matthew 20:17-19

Jesus was heading up to Jerusalem with His disciples.  
He tells them the plan:

1. We are going up to Jerusalem 
2. I am going to be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes 
3. I will be condemned to death by them
4. I will be delivered to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified
5. Then on the third day I will rise again.  

I wonder what they thought of this plan they were heading into.  Plans to watch their teacher die.  Or were they listening?  Jesus told them this several times and yet when it comes time to happen they break apart and flee.  

Jesus could see the big picture that death was not the end, but life was going to come from it all.  He knew what He would have to go through would be painful but in the end it would bring freedom to the world if they would choose it.  

How often do we miss the big picture in our day to day trials and troubles.  How often does God speak to us in His word the plans He has for us, and yet do we really listen and trust and believe?  Or do we miss what He has said from not taking the time to listen, and then ask God where did you go?  What are You doing?  

He has told us the plans He has for our lives.  In His word He is a God of redemption.  We have to keep our eyes and ears open and watch and hear what He hopes to do.  Commit our plans  to Him trust Him and then spend our time delighting in Him and cultivating faithfulness... 

And listen when He speaks.