When Jesus asks you a question. (Matthew 22-24)

I am working through the Cornoa virus. It’s no fun. Lots of fever, chills, and all the other stuff. If the last serveral days and next several days seem off. I’m probably writing with a fever. One of the things I found most difficult about maintaining a daily bible reading time while I’m sick is that reading has become more wearysome. Several years ago I downloaded an app that reads the bible to you. Today instead of reading the text myself I let the app do it and it was easier to concentrate.

The story is told of a young man who showed up at the Louvre museum one day. He came to the Mona Lisa, perhaps the most famous painting in the world and a masterpiece. He begins to make fun of the painting. He points out what he thinks are flaws and inconsistencies. A large crowd gathers as he mocks the painting and it’s artist, Leonardo Da Vinci. Just then the curator to the museum walks up to hear the comotion. Finally when he can take it no longer he says, “Young man, the Mona Lisa is not on trial here today. It is recognized around the world as a master piece. But you are on trial today, because while you made your accusations and assumptions your ignorance became evident to everyone.”

Jesus and the religious leaders get into it in these chapters. The religious leaders question him, hoping to trip him up and make him stumble in what he says. However, his responses reveal how little the religious leaders really knew. Somewhere along the way the religious leaders fell in love with the idea of appearances, but they missed out on the real thing. Jesus compared them to white-washed tombs. Pretty on the outside, but full of death and decay. The sad things is all these leaders had to do was recieve Jesus. But they loved their power and postition so much that they knew who he was and they rejected him.

Father, guard me from thinking too much of myself or doing things for mere appearances. Certainly we should live godly lives, but I pray that godliness is found in a transformed heart, not a thin vinere meant to impress others. In Jesus Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

Last Year’s Post

Bible.is App

Join us in reading though the New Testament in 90 Days! You can find the plan and previous posts here.

It’s not what you do, it’s what has been done for you (Matthew 19-21)

My son and I have been playing an adventure video game. The main character has a backpack that you can load up with stuff. I’m impressed with how much it actually “holds” but it does have a limit. I went to pick up a new item the other day and the game said I couldn’t add anything else until I got rid of something in my back pack. The item I was trying to pick up was way more valuable than the stuff I already had and so I gladly made the trade.

As Jesus deals with the rich young ruler, it becomes apparent that this guy seems to have it all… and that was the problem, he had too much. Too much confidence in his own ability to “do” something to merit eternal life. This guy didn’t need to “do” anything, he just had to recieve what Jesus would do for him. The only way that trade would really take place is if he let go of the stuff he was holding on to. (not because Jesus wanted his money, he said to give it all to the poor!) The only way we can approach Jesus and it do us any good is to come humbly and empty so that he might fill us.

Father, thank you for your amazing gospel of grace. Thank you that it’s not what I can do to earn eternal life that get’s me into the kingdom of heaven, but what you have already done. Help me to be free from distraction and trust in you completely in every way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

Last Year’s Post

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Clean Hands or Clean Heart? (Matthew 13-15)

it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.

Matthew 15:11

Today, everyone is talking about washing hands. We all know the drill; wear a mask, stay six feet apart, wash your hands, avoid large crowds, etc… We are all certainly more aware and concience of germs than we used to be. Most of us (I would like to think), practiced generally good hygene before all this but with Covid-19 there is a new hyper awareness. So culturally when Jesus doesn’t seem to think its a big deal if his disciples wash their hands or not, it really jumps off the page.

The modern reader might be worried about if Jesus knew or cared about germs. While there might be plenty of helpful hygene information in scripture (there is more than you might suspect), the primary concern of those complaining was a tradition handed down like it was a law. The Jewish folks had a ritual practice of washing hands before they ate. It symbolized being clean before God and only taking in what is right, pure and wholesome. It wasn’t really a law but it was a symbol. Therefore in the eyes of those watching, when the disciples didn’t conform to the rutual practice, they appeared to be hypocrites.

Jesus used this opportunity to expose the hearts of those who were quick to condemn his disciples. God wasn’t nearly as concerned about if someone had ritually clean hands as much as we was about if they had a spiritually clean heart. He charged the Pharisees and scribes of holding on to the forms (appearance) of God’s law, but completely ignoring the substance (the actual Law of God). He quoted Isaiah in saying that they honored God with their lips but, there hearts were far from God.

We might give the Pharisees and scribes a hard time because they should know better, but some times we can be guilty of the same thing. There are many who try to hold on to some sort of appearance of godliness rather than actually seeking to honor and obey God from the heart. We shold be careful of putting on a “show” and more intent on allowing God to conform us into the image of Chirst.

Father, I pray that I would never obscure the substance of your word with a mere form or practice. I thank you that Jesus is the only one who can make us truly righteous from the inside out. I pray that we would all be found righteous in him. I pray that we would all be surenedered and sensative to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives that He might conform us more and more into the image of Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

Last Year’s Post

Join us in reading though the New Testament in 90 Days! You can find the plan and previous posts here.

Judgement Day is Coming (Matthew 11-12)

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak

MATTHEW 12:36

I remember the first semester of my freshman year of high school. Most of the school work came easily to me and just like 8th grade, I assumed I’d make really good grades with little effort. I had signed up for Spanish class that summer to go a head and get it out of the way. I made the mistake of believing I’d pick up on things naturally like I did in the other classes and so I spent alot of time goofing off with my friends in the class. When the first test rolled around I knew I was in trouble. My brain didn’t learn foreign languages the same way I was able to learn in other classes. I knew then I had to buckle down and study harder. I also thought that there was plenty of time to catch up and so I went on cutting up in class. I really didn’t learn anything that semester other than a few curse words in Spanish that I had looked up in the Spanish-English dictionary.

It really shouldn’t have surprised me when my teacher told me I had failed the class. Yet, somehow it did. I had the delusion that it would all somehow get better. I told myself that I’d have time to buckle down and learn. I thought I could fix it. Before I knew it, report cards were out and I started my high school transcript with a big fat F.

The current that runs just beneath the surface through these two chapters is that there is a day of judgement coming. There will be a day of reckoning. It will be here quicker than anyone can imagine. Jesus declares that previous generations known for their wickedness, will judge those of his day. They would have repented of their sins if they had the witness of Christ Himself. Yet these cities hardened their hearts against God. You can’t read these chapters without seeing the urgency that judgement day is coming and will be here before you know it.

I’ve often wondered what Jesus will say about my generation on the day of judgement. We seem to have no lack of bible study tools and resources. We have so much available to us. Yet we often try and reduce God’s Word to trivial little cliche’s and rob it of it’s power.

I was convicted by Matthew 12:36 today. We live in a world of careless words. It can be too easy to get caught up in the fray and think it’s no big deal. Don’t be decieved, judement day is coming and what you say now will judge you then. It’s not too late to repent and turn to Christ for Salvation.

Father, I am sobered by your words in Matthew 11-12 today. There were many who didn’t recieve your witness, many who will stand on the day of judgement and be condemned by their idle word. Guard our hearts from taking anything trivial that is urgent. Help us to be bold in proclaiming the gospel to our friends, neighbors, and around the world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

Last Year’s Post

Join us in reading though the New Testament in 90 Days! You can find the plan and previous posts here.

No Matter What My Plans Are For Others, You Follow Me (John 19 – 21)

Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what [is that] to you? You follow Me.”

John 21:22

I try and get my ten thousand steps in each day and sometimes when I need a few extra steps I’ll walk the hallway in our house. When my youngest kid sees me doing that, she challenges me to a race. She loves going back in forth in the hallway to see who gets to the door first. She’ll often say, “I win you lost.” or I’ll taunt her and say, “I win, you lose.” What can I say, we’re both competative. Everyonce in a while we end up changing the competition, I’ll stop walking and we start playing some other silly game (That conincidentally I’m really good at). Before I know it, I’m way down in my step count again. Somewhere along the way my focus changed from getting in steps to teaching my child sportsmanship aka how to be a good loser because Dad’s the best.

Peter was walking with the risen Jesus. He has just been restored to ministry. Jesus is telling him the plan for his life. He’s letting him know that he will face persecution, but that Jesus will be with him all the way. While they are walking Peter gets distracted and notices the other disciple lagging behind them and wants to know what the Lord’s plan is for the other disciple. Jesus response is one that should help us all to stay in our lane. He simply tells Peter it doesn’t matter, but that Peter is to follow him.

I know in ministy sometimes it can be really easy for me to get distracted by seeing what other ministries and preachers are doing. It’s tempting to compare church size, budgets, baptisms, etc. and either pat myself on the back because someone is doing “worse” or to feel like I’m striking out at T-ball because someone is doing better. Jesus hasn’t called up to play the comparison or competition game, He has called us to follow Him.

Father, I confess that I too can be walking in lock-step with you and then be quickly distracted and moved by what others are or aren’t doing. It is easy to lose focus. Thank you for the solid reminder today that my job is not to compare or compete with others, but to simply follow you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

Last Year’s Post

Join us in reading though the New Testament in 90 Days! You can find the plan and previous posts here.

Mary at the Feet of Jesus (John 10 – 12)

A few years ago I made a 3-4 hour journey to purchase a puppy for our family. Somewhere along the trip back we bonded. I became his master and he became my dog.

In the evening my wife will let him out to go do what dogs do in the yard one last time before bed. Then She will call him to come in, but often he ignores her. She can get kind of frustrated waiting for him to respond and so I’ll go to the back and call him in. As soon as he hears my voice he comes running back in. He knows my voice. He knows who he belongs to and he responds when I call.

Jesus wasn’t worried about the religious leaders who were posing as gateways to the kingdom of heaven. He knew they were frauds and He knew those who belonged to Him would respond when He called. Those who didn’t, wouldn’t. At the end of the day there were only two real responses to Jesus and that was to either follow Him to eternal life or don’t.

We see this dynamic continue to play out through the gospel with religious leaders (the very people you would expect to receive Him) rejecting Him and common, ordinary folks trusting Him. Folks like Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. Every time we see her, she is at the feet of Jesus. Grieving her brother and anointing Jesus’ feet here in John but also learning at his feet in the gospel of Luke. Mary knew Jesus’ voice and reponded when he called. Do you?

Father, thank you that when you call your sheep they hear you and respond. Thank you for the amazing work you did in my heart to respond to you when you called. I pray that I would always have ears to hear what you would say and that I always respond with trust and obedience. Thank you for the power of the resurrection demonstrated in Lazarus, perfected in Christ. In Jesus Christ Name Amen

Resources:

Last Year’s Post

A Few Tips on Consistently Reading the Bible

Join us in reading though the New Testament in 90 Days! You can find the plan and previous posts here.

Opening the Eyes of the Blind: John 7 -9

Imagine sitting in a college classroom at the beginning of the semester and an individual gets up to introduce the curriculum. They seem like they know what they are doing. Their voice carries authority like they know what they are talking about. Then another man stands up and starts correcting the “teacher.” The second mand reveals that he is the real teacher and he is also the author of the text book you will be using.

The imposter, who was pretending to be the teacher, doesn’t want the real teacher/author to speak. He takes his case to the court of public opinion and wages a political war saying that the real teacher couldn’t possibly know what he was talking about because of where he was born. The imposter casts doubt on the circumstances of the real teacher’s birth, and he even charges him with being delusional.

As you observe it becomes clear, only the true author/ teacher has the truth and knows what he is talking about. The more the imposter accuses the real teacher of being delusional, the more his own delusion is revealed. If the imposter wants to learn the subject at hand, they must not fight the teacher but humble themselves to receive what the real teacher offers.

The Jewish leaders didn’t want to believe Jesus because of the region where he lived. He was from Galilee and did lots of ministry in that region. Galilee had recently been brought back under Jewish influence and several Israelite settlers moved back to this region. It was akin to the old Wild West in the United States.

The leaders also rejected Jesus for healing on the sabbath. They had misunderstood God’s law in a serious way. They presumed an authority over God’s word, but were really ignorant of what it taught. What God had intended to free people, they were using to ensnare them.

Through these chapters today it is apparent that there are two reactions to Jesus. Some come to Him and believe while others have rejected Him. Those who reject Jesus claim to have the answers, but ultimately reveal themselves to be spiritually blind. This forces us to consider what our reaction to Jesus is. Have you trusted in Him for eternal life or are you rejecting Him?

Father, Thank you that Jesus has come into the world. Thank you that He has come to show us the truth. We pray today that we would be those who recieve you with humbility. Where we are blind, we ask that you would open our eyes to see. Guard us from becoming arrogant and delusional. Thank you for your amazing grace. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Resources:

Last Year’s Post

John 7

John 8:24

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They Did Not Know Him: John 1 – 3

I saw an old friend the other day. I didn’t recognize them because they had a mask on. Yet all the things they were saying were vaguely familiar. Finally when the mask came down and they were revealed I realized who I had been talking too. I was so embarrassed. I should have recognized my friend.

What if God we’re speaking to you and you didn’t know it? That’s exactly what John says happened when Jesus dwelt among us. The very people who should have recognized him, didn’t. Further John reminds us that it wasn’t because he was wearing a mask, but because sin had blinded our hearts. The good news is that Jesus had come to deal with our sin and give us new hearts.

A Few General Observations: God himself stepped back on to the planet He created and His people did not know Him. As I read this morning and I was reminded of the creation account. What we see in Genesis before the fall is that people walked with God. They knew God. They enjoyed His presence. Now when God walks among his people agian, they don’t recognize Him (John 1:10).

What is particularly disheartening is that his “own” people didn’t receive Him. By “own” people we can assume we are talking about the nation of Israel. These were God’s chosen people. He caused them to come into being through the miraculous birth of Isaac. Delivered them through Moses. Then He continued to choose and bless them all through the Old Testament. These people, even in their existence, were a testimony to the work of the One True Living God. So how did they miss Him?

In Chapter three we begin to see the whole picture. Jesus comes as light revealing God to all who will see, but many don’t want to see because they love the darkness (3:19). Sin has blinded us to Seeing Jesus for who He is, but Jesus has come to deal with our sin.

Prayer: Father, I am so thankful that you have revealed yourself to your creation that we might know you. Thank you for saving me from my sin and causing me to be born again. Thank you for the power of the Holy Spirit in my life. I pray that your light would shine in my life so that it might be evident to all that you are the one who has changed me from death to life. I’m Jesus name, Amen

Resources For further reflection

The Lightlings (Children’s Book) by RC Sproul (affiliate link)

Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior (Hymn) by Fanny Crosby

Day 90: Revelation 19-22 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Revelation 19-22 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

I find it interesting that the near the beginning of the bible we see a marriage (Adam and Eve in Genesis 2), Jesus begins his public ministry with a wedding (by attending the wedding in Canna in John 2), and now we find one near the end of the bible (Revelation 19). The marriage relationship points us to God’s design like no other earthly relationship that we may have.  Each wedding is a look back to the first wedding there in the garden and a look forward to the marriage supper of the Lamb. 

In these final chapters we see a great separation of mankind. On the one hand, we have those who are welcomed into the new Jerusalem, eternal life, etc. But on the other hand there will be those who never trust in the Lord and they will cast into the lake of fire. God’s judgement is always fair.

In Revelation 21:3 we see what makes heaven, heaven, God will dwell with his people once again. This was what was lost at the fall. This is what was demonstrated with the tabernacle in the wilderness and later the temple in Jerusalem. This is what is demonstrated in Christ. This is the promise received by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We will never be far from the LORD. The mountains are brought low, the valleys are raised up. The sea is clear. The light is the LORD himself.

One final thought. The gates to the city are made of pearl. Pearls are the only precious stone made by an organic creature. A little sand cause irritation in a clam and the clam covers it and covers it until it is no longer and irritation, but has become something valuable. When we cross through the pearly gates we will remember a life marred by sin, but redeemed by Jesus. Our brokenness will ultimately be covered over and fixed by the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

FATHER, Thank you for the grace of studying your word. Thank you for the opportunity to read the new testament together for the last 90 days. I ask that you would give us wisdom for the generation and moment that we live in. I pray that we would make the must use of our time for your kingdom and your glory. We look forward to the return of Christ and when all things are truly made new. Thank you for the grace of leading your people. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

 

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

Find out about New Testament 90 – Here

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Day 89: Revelation 16-18 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Revelation 16-18 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

The reading today is filled with a lot of imagery that many others have attempted to interpret so I won’t add anything there. What I’d like to notice is the wrath of God, especially as it concerns the persecution of the saints. God cannot be loving without being wrathful. Those two attributes go together. Indeed, because God is loving that He is wrathful. God loves the martyrs so he avenges them by pouring out his wrath. Notice that God’s wrath isn’t like ours. He makes no mistakes in judgement. It isn’t undeserved, if anything God has been patient with mankind by not pouring out his wrath sooner.

Notice also how this wrath serves to harden the hearts of those who hate God. They continue to curse him and blaspheme rather than repent and come to God on his terms. The fact that the wrath comes in waves serves to demonstrate that there is time and opportunity for repentance, but people continue to harden their heart. They would rather shake their finite fist at the Creator than repent of sin and turn to Him…. They are broken beyond repair. They will not turn from their sin.

I think this passage should cause a real sobriety among God’s people. We should recognize that God is in control, he will bring justice in his own time and at the exact right time. We should be quick to repent knowing that God offers all sorts of opportunities along the way to seek repentance. We should also be scared to ever harden our heart against God.

FATHER, I pray that we have tender hearts today. I ask that we would be ready to receive your word. We stand in awe of your greatness and your sovereignty. We are thankful for your patience and we rejoice in your justice. We pray that we would always be quick to repent when we find ourselves in sin. Thank you for the grace of leading your flock. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

Find out about New Testament 90 – Here

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