Friday, October 31, 2008

The Eye of a Needle

October 31: Matthew 19 & Mark 10

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”
Mark 10:17-27

The Eye of a Needle

In our Bible passage for today, we meet a young man who desired to follow Jesus. When asking what he needed to do to receive eternal life, Jesus explained that he needed to keep all of the commandments. This was good news to the young man because he explained to Christ that he had kept all of the commandments from his youth.

Jesus replied, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

Sadly, that was too much to ask, for the young man was quite wealthy. Was the young man's problem only his great wealth? Did he truly keep all of the commandments from his youth? Can anyone keep all of the commandments of God?

Those who believe they keep all of the commandments are those who believe they are righteous, and need no Savior. Let's look at just two of the commandments and discuss ways we all break them.

Thou shalt not kill. Do you ever feel hatred toward anyone? Do you ever speak badly of someone behind their back? Do you ever eat things that are physically bad for you? This commandment entails much more than just murder. We are to do everything to protect and keep ourselves from destroying our own body, or that of another person, including destroying their good name.

Thou shalt not steal. Do you cheat on tests? Do you take items from your place of work (pencils, pens, etc.) home with you? Do you go back and give the cashier their money when you get home and discover that they have given you $2.00 too much in change? Do you borrow money from a friend (even if it is less than $1.00) and forget to pay it back?

The point is that no one is perfect except Christ. We may view ourselves as being better than someone else, but committing just one sin is enough to send us to eternity in Hell! If we are Christians, does that mean we are better than those lost sinners out there who break the commandments and then brag about it? No, it does not! Our righteousness is only in Christ; anything good we ever say or do is by the grace of God and not of ourselves.

As we ponder these things, we should ask ourselves one last question. How much do we love God? Are we willing to go out and sell all that we have and just follow Him?

Ouch! That is a hard question is it not. Jesus said, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

How much do we love Christ? That is our question to ponder this day.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

God, Be Merciful to Me!

October 30: Luke 17-18


9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Luke 18:9-14


God, Be Merciful to Me!


In our reading today we see two men coming to God in prayer. Who were they, and how were their prayers different? Which prayer was more pleasing to the Lord, and why?


The first prayer recorded is that of the Pharisee.


"God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get."


Oh how proud he was of his demonstrations of Godliness. He did not extort money from men, was not unjust in his dealings with others, and did not commit adultery. In other words, he was the perfect "church-goer." In fact, he was so righteous that he made sure that his prayer was heard by all those gathered around. Oh, did I forget? He fasted twice a week, gave a tithe of his money to the Lord, and was not like this wicked tax collector. How much more righteous could a man be?


Then we have the simple prayer of the tax collector.


"God, be merciful to me, a sinner!"


Standing before God, not even able to lift his eyes to heaven, with all pretension gone, he implored God to save him from his sins. In his heart of hearts he knew that, as a sinner, he was not worthy to be called a child of God, and yet implored God to be merciful to him.


What was Christ's summation of the two prayers?


"I tell you, this man [the tax collector] went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”


How do you come before God in prayer? Are you quick to remind Him of all the things you do for the church? Do you come in confidence, knowing that God is really impressed with all of the things you do for Him?


What is your attitude toward other "Christians?" Are you quick to stand before them and remind them of all of the good things you do for the church? Are you terrified that your good reputation before others might be tarnished? Do you group people in two categories, 1-Those who are better than you in riches, knowledge, and/or good deeds; and 2-Those who are beneath you?


Oh how great is our sin of pride! Does God know us? In our heart of hearts does He understand who we really are?


I encourage you this day to fall before God and cry out, "God, Be Merciful to Me!"


We were conceived in sin and would continue our entire lives immersed in sin unless God, in His mercy, through the shed blood of Christ, did not reach down and breathe into us the breath of life. As Christians here on this earth, our greatest battle is within; there exists a constant war between our sin nature and our desire to live for Christ.


Are you a sinner? Praise God that you perceive your true nature, and go to Christ, who alone can rescue you from the clutches of sin.


God, be merciful to me!


God Bless You,
Linda


All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Death of Lazarus

October 29: John 11

1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.

5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. . . . 11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.

17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. . . . 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” . . . 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
John 11:1, 5-6, 11-15, 17, 21-22 & 25-27

Death of Lazarus

It is very hard to truncate John 11 without leaving out important details, so I urge you to take the time to read the entire chapter.

Jesus had a very important reason for the death of Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha. How do I know this? Read verse 6: So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Does that not seem strange to you? When we hear of the serious illness of a dear friend or relative, we normally want to go immediately to see them. Then, in verses 14 and 15, Jesus states to his disciples, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe." Jesus states, "So that you may believe."

As Jesus approaches the village, Martha comes running to meet him saying, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”

Look at the testimony of Martha, later on in verse 27. Jesus explained that He was the resurrection and the life, and then asks Martha if she believes that. Martha responds, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” No wonder Jesus had such great love for Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

As the story unfolds, we find that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Nothing, however, is impossible for God. Jesus called out, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” (John 11:41b-43)

Then what happened? The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

How does this story of the death of Lazarus apply to Christians today? Jesus clearly used this event to reveal to Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and the other people gathered to reveal that He indeed was the Son of God, the Savior of His people. Is this the Christ that you love with all of your heart? Do you truly believe that He is not only the Son of God and Savior of His people, but also that He is your Savior as well?

What powers do you attribute to Christ? Is He limited in any way by mans' attitudes toward Him, including their unbelief? As you go about your duties this day, I challenge you to live this day in total confidence that the Lord Jesus Christ not only walks beside you, but is in complete control of your life!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Unrighteous Money

October 28: Luke 16-17

10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. 15 And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

Luke 16:10-15

Unrighteous Money

In verse 11, shown above, the words "unrighteous wealth" are often translated "unrighteous money". Does that mean that money is unrighteous? It is an interesting question to ask, because I have often heard people say that money is the root of all evil. But, what is there in money that would make it evil? The Bible does tell us that the love of money is the root of all evil; of course, that is more in keeping with the parables of Luke 16.

The very point that Christ was making in the first parable was that the people of this world often are more shrewd in their dealings--especially money matters--than Christians. When the dishonest manager was caught, he knew he had to come up with something fast or he would be out on the streets begging. Apparently he had been overcharging his master's customers, so he quickly reduced their debts drastically so that his master would get his money. Though it meant he would make little or no money on the deal, he was hoping to "buy" friends who would take him in when he was destitute.

What does money mean to us? As Christians, what should money mean to us? It is certainly not wrong for the Christian to have money, but it is wrong for all Christians, rich and poor alike, to set their goal of amassing "things" of this world while ignoring the needs of those around them.

The problem with the Pharisees, in Luke 16:14, was that they understood what Jesus was saying and were highly offended because they loved money and honor above all things.

In the end, our Christian walk always comes down to the same thing, does it not? Christianity is a heart religion; when our hearts are turned completely to serving our Lord Jesus Christ, even our attitudes about possessions will be affected.

So pray today that you will not fall victim to "unrighteous money" or rather an unrighteous attitude toward money. Go to Christ and ask Him for the grace to turn all areas of your life completely over to Him. It is a change in your life you will never regret.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lost and Found

October 27: Luke 14-15

3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Luke 15:3-10

Lost and Found

In Luke 15, Jesus told three parables, the last of which is probably the most well-known. First He told of a man who had 100 sheep; when one became lost he left the 99 and went in search for the lost sheep. Next, the story was told of a woman who lost one of her 10 silver coins, and sought diligently to find it. The third is the story of the prodigal son, who took his inheritance, squandered it, and then returned to his father to become one of the hired hands.

What do these three have in common, and why are these stories so relevant to us in this present day? Interestingly enough, these three parables were told after the pharisees and scribes made the following comment.

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
Luke 15:1-2

What happened in the first parable? When the man found the lost sheep he called in his friends and neighbors to rejoice with him for finding his sheep. Christ ended this story with these words, "Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

In the second parable, the woman, too, called in her neighbors and friends to rejoice with her for finding her lost coin. Christ ended this parable with similar words, "Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

In the parable of the prodigal son, instead of having to return to his father as a hired hand, his father was so overjoyed to see his son that he threw a large banquet in his honor. The prodigal's brother was highly offended because his father had never thrown any kind of a banquet for him, even though he had served his father faithfully. His father replied to him, "It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found."

In our service for the Lord, what kind of people does the Lord lead us to? He leads us to the lost! You see, the righteous see no need of a Savior, but the lost know they are lost, and know they need salvation. In one of the churches I went to, years ago, the pastor used to say, we must get them lost before they can be saved! Though that is humorous, it really is just the point Christ was making. The Pharisees had no need of a Savior, because they believed they were righteous.

What about today? How do people respond to Christ in our culture? Just this last week a man who works with my husband said that religion was just for those people who needed a crutch to lean upon. Our country is fast disassociating itself with God. Even our latest coins have been minted with the words, "In God We Trust," removed.

Lost and Found! Which one are you? Remember, as a Christian, God is sending you out to the lost; do not be dissuaded by the "righteous" who have no need of Christ.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Leaven

October 26: Luke 12-13

1 In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

8 “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, 9 but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.

Luke 12:1-9

Leaven

Luke 12:1-8 very succinctly gives us a picture the the true Christian life. Beginning with a warning, we are reminded that we must always be on our guard so that the world around us will not consume us, showing that we really have no part in Christ. The leaven of the Pharisees in that day is the same as the sins of the world all around us in our day.

It is one thing to look and act like a Christian on the outside, but God always looks on the heart.

Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

This is a sober warning that our very words that we said in secret, and the deeds we have done in the dark will be proclaimed on the housetops. It is so common in our day to grumble and complain about others that, as Christians, we hardly even think of it as a sin. Yet, in doing so, we are destroying the reputation of another.

Though it may seem impossible, everything we do and say, publicly and privately, must be done in obedience to Christ. Pray for grace to not be entangled in the sins and actions of the world, but rather to be busy living every moment of every day for Christ.

Many times, the things we do and say are done in fear of what others will think or say about us. In some countries today, we may even be killed for our faith in Christ. Christ tells us, however, to not fear men who can kill our bodies, but rather to fear the One who can kill the body and the soul.

Are you alone in this? Though you may have no Christians with whom to speak and fellowship, God reminds you that He never leaves nor forsakes you. Even the very hairs on your head are numbered, and not one falls to the ground without His knowledge.

By the grace of God, take that step today; cast off the leaven that so corrupts your life. Pray that God will help you cast away everything that is of the world, and from this day forward, live completely committed to Him every moment of every day.

God will answer your prayer, and you will be a different person. What an amazing God we have!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Two by Two

October 25: Luke 10-11 & John 10

1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. 2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Luke 10:1-2 & 17-20

Two by Two

When we think of Christ's disciples, we usually think of the 12 disciples who walked with Him during most of His ministry here on earth. However, in our reading today we find that Jesus sent out seventy-two disciples, two by two, to go to every town and place where He was about to go. What happened when these disciples returned to Him with a report of their success? Though this is covered in four short verses, it is well worth our time to consider the words of Christ to these disciples.

The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”

What were the first words Christ spoke in response to the seventy-two?

And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven." That seems to be a rather unusual response; what was Christ saying to them? Satan, the most beautiful of all the angels, fell from heaven because of the sin of pride. We, being so much less than the angels, must be very careful that we do not succumb to the same temptation.

Is it wrong to be filled with joy when others come to Christ? Of course not! Is it wrong to be filled with joy when others come to Christ because we were the ones who "saved" them? Yes! When God gives us the opportunity to share Christ with others and they respond positively, we do not gain another "notch" on our belt because we led another one to Christ. If your hear someone say, "I have led 24, or 48, or 258 people to Christ" (the number is irrelevant), run!

Look at the rest of the words that Jesus spoke to the seventy-two.

"Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Christ is reminding them that when people come to Christ through our words or actions, it is Christ who saved them, not we ourselves. We are to rejoice in their salvation, humbly praising God for what He has done in their lives as well as what He has done in ours.

As a Christian, remember to rejoice that your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life as you go about the duties of this day.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Friday, October 24, 2008

One Flock, One Shepherd

October 24: John 9-10

7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
John 10:7-11

One Flock, One Shepherd

I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

John 10 is one of my favorite Bible passages because it so beautifully illustrates the relationship of Christ to His children. As Christians, we are the sheep and Christ is our Shepherd. There are two very significant points that Jesus makes in this passage that relate directly to all Christians. The first is found in verses 17 and 18 of chapter 10.

I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.

Do you remember all of the times the Jews tried to kill Jesus, but He just seemed to disappear into the crowd? Jesus lay down His own life for His sheep; when on the cross, we are told that He gave up His life and died. Jesus was not a victim! He came to this life for one reason, and when here He fulfilled that purpose. No one took His life from Him; rather He gave it up for His sheep.

Secondly, look at John 10:16.

And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

Though it may have been a surprise to the disciples, after the resurrection of Christ, that they were sent to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews, it was not an after thought to Christ. From the beginning, He purposed that salvation would be offered to all men. Not only was salvation to be offered to all men, but those who responded in faith would all be members of one church with one Shepherd.

In our days of denominationalism, God's church is scattered among many denominations. That does not negate the fact that in the eyes of Christ, they are all members of one church--His church! That is an important distinction for us to make; remember that our allegiance is to Christ and to His Holy Word, the Bible. To the degree that our own particular church agrees with the Bible, we must also agree with our church. But as true children of God, it is always our responsibility to read and study God's Word so that we would know if we are being taught errors from our pastors or teachers.

That thought should never be offensive to pastors or teachers. Fortunate is the pastor who has a flock that is well versed in the Scriptures.

Pray today that you would be faithful in your own personal Bible study and prayer time with the Lord, because you are part of One Flock, and have One Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I Know Him

October 23: John 7-8

48 The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” 52 The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ 55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
John 8:48-59

I Know Him

As I read through the Bible passage shown above, I was thinking that it is a very strange discussion. It is almost as though Jesus and the Pharisees were talking about two entirely different things, and, in a certain sense, they were!

The conversation began with the Pharisees telling Jesus that He was a demon-possessed Samaritan. Then, Jesus' answer catapulted them into a whole new discussion about death. Plainly, the Pharisees did not have a clue about what Jesus was really saying. They were thinking of physical death, but He was speaking of spiritual, or eternal, death.

As the Jews brought up examples of men who were great and yet had died, the conversation turned to Abraham. They really become undone when Jesus stated, "Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” After all, Jesus was not yet even 50 years old, so how could He have known Abraham? Then Jesus concluded with these words.

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

Notice, that Jesus did not say, "I was." Rather, He said, "I am." The Jews got it this time; God had revealed Himself to Moses with the name, "I am." Jesus equating Himself with God was the final insult; they took up stones to stone him, but He disappeared into the temple.

How do we "score" compared to the Pharisees? Jesus had said earlier that if they truly knew the Father, they would know Him. Can you say, I know Him? This passage today again brings up a very important point. We are blind sinners from the moment of conception; unless God reveals himself to us, we will remain blind sinners for eternity. None of us can understand Christ apart from the Spirit dwelling within and teaching us the truth.

Do you know Him? Go to Christ; it is only through our Savior that our eyes can be opened so that now we see!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Who is the Greatest?

October 22: Matthew 18

1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven."
Matthew 18:1-6 & 10

Who is the Greatest?

What an interesting question! Who is the greatest? The thinking of the disciples is no different than in our culture today. For what do we strive? We want to be the greatest, the most intelligent, the fastest, the most wealthy, the most powerful, and so the list goes on and on.

Jesus said, "Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

Do you think the disciples were surprised by Christ's answer? Are you surprised by Christ's answer? Does God desire the greatest, the most intelligent, the fastest, the most wealthy, or the most powerful to be a part of his team? No, God only desires the most humble, trusting servant!

Like a child who trusts implicitly in his parent's or care giver's care, so we must trust in Christ. Does a child worry about his next meal, his housing, the state of his clothing, or any other such thing that seems to relentlessly occupy our minds? When children come to Christ, they come to Him with all of their heart and soul, never doubting that He is able to watch over them. That is the secret!

As Christians, we are all children of God. We come to Him with our faults completely exposed; nothing is hidden from God. Think about that the next time you are surrounded by believers, and remember the charge we are given in Matthew 18:10.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven."

Yes, Christ is speaking here of the children, but God's care of his own sheep does not end when they reach adulthood. Pray that God would give you that humble heart of trust in Him, and would help you to be an encouragement to other believers, no matter how intelligent, wealthy, or powerful they are, or are not.

Who is the Greatest? Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Transfiguration

October 21: Matthew 17, Mark 9 & Luke 9

28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34 As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.
Luke 9:28-36

The Transfiguration

The account of the transfiguration of Christ appears in all three of the Gospels shown above. It is interesting to compare the differences; neither Matthew, Mark, or Luke were there, so all of them are giving the account from what they have heard.

For example, look at the what was said regarding the appearance of Christ.

And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.
Matthew 17:2

And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them.
Mark 9:2b-3

And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white.
Luke 9:29

We do not really know how white, white is! Even the colors on our earth are affected by sin. The men were at loss to describe the appearance of Christ and his clothing, when he was transfigured. Remember, Moses experienced the same thing when God passed by him and he was only able to see God's back side. Even that was almost too much for him in its dazzling wonder.

How would our life be different today if God granted us the ability to go one day without sinning? We really do not know, do we? Everything we see, everything we do, and everything we say is tainted by a world drenched in the darkness of sin.

Yet, one day it will not be so. Just take some time today and contemplate the wonders of heaven and life on a perfect, sinless, new earth. By God's grace may we fix our eyes on Jesus, who now sits, transfigured, beside God in heaven. The transfiguration is a picture of our hope and glory--our future, as Christians.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Response of Peter

October 20: Matthew 16, Mark 8 & Luke 9

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
Matthew 16:15b-16 & 22-23

And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”

31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
Mark 8:27b-29 & 31-33

20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”
Luke 9:20

Response of Peter

As I read through today's Bible reading I noticed that all three Gospels included Peter's responses to the Lord. Somehow I have always felt a certain kinship to Peter because I, too, am prone to speaking without thinking ahead of what I am saying.

I found it interesting that when Christ asked who men said He was, only the words of Peter were recorded, and they were recorded by Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

This is one case of Peter giving the right answer when he blurted out, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

We are then told that Christ told his disciples of some things that must come to pass.

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.

Horrified at these words, Peter drew Christ aside and said, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”

Why did Christ rebuke Peter for these words?

Christ's disciples understood so much and yet so little! Quickly Peter acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, but he did not understand that it was necessary for Christ to die. That is why, after the crucifixion, the disciples were devastated--they just did not know how to think about what had transpired. Not until the resurrection, and the appearing of Christ again to his disciples did they finally get it!

Is not that just like us? As Christians, we, too, believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. But, also like Peter, we do not understand the twists and turns of life. We, too, ponder the age old questions, Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do babies have to die?

Sin has left and ugly wreck of a world in which we live; its effects are seen everywhere. But, for the Christian these things should not lead us to despair. Just as the disciples finally understood, so, too, must we understand that in the resurrection Christ conquered death for once and for all. Not only did He die for our sins, but in His resurrection He grants us the faith and hope that we, too, will live to be with Him forever on the Great Resurrection Day!

Do you, too, find the response of Peter to be all too familiar in your own life. Through Christ the victory has already been won, so pray that you will acknowledge the words of this song.

This is the day that the Lord has made.
I will rejoice and be glad in it.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Astonished

October 19: Matthew 15 & Mark 7

21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
Matthew 15:21-28

31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, "Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
Mark 7:31-37

Astonished

Who needs Jesus? In our Scripture today we find two people who needed Jesus; their circumstances were different, but their needs were the same.

Both Matthew 15 and Mark 7 give the account of the Canaanite woman; but Matthew gives more of the actual conversation between Jesus and the woman. First we see that Jesus ignored her pleas for help, but that did not stop the persistent woman from following him. You see, she was a gentile, but Jesus was sent to the Jews. I think, however, that Jesus was trying to make a point here to his disciples; even during Jesus'ministry there were indications that the salvation He offered would go beyond just the Jewish nation. As she plead for help, Jesus said to her,

“It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

In Mark 7 we are told of the man who was deaf and also had a speech impediment. Again, he knew that only Jesus could help him.

I find it interesting to note, that after Jesus healed the deaf man, he charged all of the people in the crowd to tell no one. How did the people respond?

But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Who needs Jesus? How astonished are we today? Jesus is everything; nothing good we ever say or do is done apart from Him. Without Christ, we would be nothing; every step we take this day as a Christian is taken with Christ.

Who needs Jesus? Everyone! Pray, today, that you would be astonished at all Christ has done and is doing for you.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

To Whom Shall We Go?

October 18: John 6

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst."

58 "This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”

60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
John 6:35, 58, 60-63 & 66-69

To Whom Shall We Go

After the feeding of the 5000, throngs of people continued to flock to Jesus, following Him all the way to Capernaum on the other side of the sea. For what were they seeking? Were they looking for more free food, or more amazing miracles to witness?

In today's reading Jesus speaks plainly to the people when He says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. . . . Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”

Why was this so offensive to the people, many of whom had been following Him as disciples of this new teaching? The Jews wanted a king who would rise up and defeat the Roman armies, but this Man, who claimed to be the Son of God, certainly did not act like a king. Watching Him perform miracles was mesmerizing, but believing that He was the only way to God was just too much to accept. How could any man say such a thing?

After many of the people had left Him, Jesus turned to his twelve disciples and said, “Do you want to go away as well?”

Who was the first to respond? Yes, Peter, in all of his exuberance, proclaimed, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

Yes, Peter got it, did he not? When all is said and done and we look at all the great things this life has to offer, what should be our conclusion? Like Peter, we must pray that our response would be, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

Just meditate on that verse as you go about your duties of this day.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Jesus said, "Come"

October 17: Matthew 14, Mark 6 & Luke 9

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Matthew 14:22-33


Jesus said, "Come"

Our Bible passage today has three main "characters" or groups of people: Jesus, Peter, and the disciples. The day had been long; Jesus had preached for several hours to a crowd of over 5000. After miraculously feeding the crowd, the disciples got into a boat to travel to the other side of the lake. Jesus, however, took this time to spend some private time praying to God, His Father. As the night drew to a close, a terrible wind was lashing at the boat. Jesus, knowing the disciples' fear, went to them. When they saw Him walking on the water, they were really terrified, because they thought He was a ghost!

But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
He said, “Come.”

Peter immediately stepped up on the water and walked to Jesus.

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”

The Lord reached out His hand and helped him back to the boat. As soon as they stepped into the boat, the winds stopped. How did the disciples react?


And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

When Jesus says, "Come," who are we more like? Do we stand trembling in the background like the disciples, or do we bolt forward like Peter, and then begin to sink when we are filled with doubts. The interesting thing to note is that in the end, all of them responded correctly.

Peter launched forward in faith, began to doubt, but then cried out to Christ for help. The disciples stood trembling in the background, but when they saw that the even the wind and the waves obeyed Christ, they said, Truly you are the Son of God.

If we find ourselves doubting or being overcome by fear, does that mean that we are not Christians? No, it means that we are human! The hymn says it this way:

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.
Prone to leave the God I love.

When Jesus said, "Come," the answer for both groups was to cling to Christ, realizing that Jesus truly was the Son of God.

Today we, too, understand that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save a people for Himself, and sits by the throne of God interceding for us.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard version of the Bible.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Are You Blind?

October 16: Matthew 9-10

27 And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” 28 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” 29 Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” 30 And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it.” 31 But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.
Matthew 9:27-31

Are You Blind?

As I was thinking through the Scripture shown above, a thought occurred to me; the two blind men knew they were blind. Now I know that is not exactly profound, but think about it for a moment. Also, not only did the blind men know they were blind, but, they knew who could help them.

I can picture them persistently following the Lord Jesus through all the difficulties that entailed. After all, they could not see Him! Even though they could not see Him, they heard his voice and continued toward that sound until they reached Him. It was not an easy task, but they would follow that sound for the rest of their lives, if necessary, because there was no other way they could possibly receive their sight.

Do all the blind know that they are blind? That is really the correct question to ask. The Pharisees were blind, too; but, they did not know that they were blind!

It is just the same in our day; people walk about in a blind stupor; but, they do not know that they are blind! All are conceived in sin, and are spiritually blind. Is there anything they can do in, and of, themselves to recover their sight? Are those who are able to see, better than those who remain blind? Are they more intelligent, more gifted, better looking, or more eloquent? In other words, are some more "savable" than others? No!

We know nothing of these blind men except that they were blind. The only requirement for salvation in Christ is to be blind! When Christ reveals our blindness, we come to despise ourselves and seek this One who can, alone, give us eyes to see. The amazing thing, though, is that most people refuse to believe that they are blind. They prefer to walk about in their blindness believing that it is the only means for complete freedom.

Are you blind? Yes, all are blind. Which category are you in? Do you know you are blind and therefor, seek the only remedy available to man for salvation, or do you continue in your blindness in total denial? Think about that as you go through the activities of this day.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Touched by the Light

October 15: Matthew 8 & Luke 4 & 5

And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
Mark 5:24b-34

Touched by the Light

You have had a disease for twelve years; all of your money has been spent on doctors, but to no avail. Not only did they not know what the real problem was, but they did not have a clue as to how to arrest, much less cure, the disease. Then, you heard of a man, claiming to be the Son of God, who heals diseases. Did you go to Him? Yes, you went to Him, but the crowds were so large you had to work your way gradually just to get near Him. Finally, you were there, but He was engaged in a conversation with someone else; so, you touched His garment, and suddenly your disease was gone! Yes, you knew then that this Man was truly the Son of God, the Messiah that was to come. You were touched by the Light, and your disease was gone.

As we read through these many passages that tell of Jesus' works among the people of that day, we marvel again and again at the faith of the common person. Yet, all the while, the rulers of the Jews became more and more hardened against Him. Why? Look at the healing He did and the dead He raised to life. How could they miss the fact that here was their promised Messiah? Quite simply, they were not touched by the Light.

Is it any different today? People will not be ruled by God; they desire complete freedom to live and do as they please. Does such freedom really exist? No, it does not. All people are either slaves to sin or slaves to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Slavery to sin only leads to misery, death, and destruction, but slavery to God leads to peace, life, and eternal joy with Christ in heaven. Things may seem more complicated than that, but truly the only difference is, "Who is your ruler, Christ or Satan?".

Have you been touched by the Light?

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Blessed Ears and Eyes

October 14: Matthew 13 & Luke 8

10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

“‘You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.
15 For this people's heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
Matthew 13:10-17

Blessed Ears and Eyes

Why did Jesus speak to the people in parables? That is exactly the same question that the disciples asked Jesus. The answer is an important question for us to consider, because it also gives us a better picture of the blindness of the blind all around us.

Can we save ourselves? Is there something that we can do to make ourselves acceptable to Christ so that He will save us? Does God look down over eternity and choose the "good" people to become Christians? All of these views are held by people in our culture today, but what does the Bible say?

Look at the prophecy from Isaiah that Christ uses,

“‘You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.
For this people's heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’


Salvation is all of Christ and none of us; before God we are dead. As dead people we cannot suddenly choose to become alive. I have to admit, I do not really understand this perfectly, but I know that Christ is all, and that He does all things right. As Christians, there is nothing in which we can boast; rather we should humbly fall before God in thankfulness that He has opened our eyes so that we may see and our ears so that we may hear and understand.

The real issue is expressed in verses 16 & 17,

16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

Why did Christ come to this earth and suffer the torments of men and then die a cruel and merciless death? Why did He choose to give up His life to save a people for Himself? I do not know; but everyday I praise and thank Him for the peace and joy I am able to experience through the salvation that He has granted.

Do you have blessed ears and eyes? Go to Christ. Do you have friends and loved ones who do not understand the Gospel? Go to Christ. Christ who did all of the miracles written in our Bibles still raises the dead to life again.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tree and Light

October 13: Matthew 12 & Luke 11

33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Matthew 12:33-37

33 “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. 35 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. 36 If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”
Luke 11:33-36

Tree and Light

Jesus often used analogies when speaking to the people to help them to better understand true faith. Many people profess Christ, but unfortunately, not all of them are true Christians.
In today's reading Jesus used a tree and light to demonstrate this point.

Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. . . . The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.

I grew up in apple and cherry country in Wisconsin; in summer I picked cherries to earn money for school clothes. Of course, we always wanted to pick from trees that were loaded with fruit, but every once in a while we would come upon a tree that was loaded, but was loaded with bad fruit. We were not allowed to pick from that tree, and when the picking season was over, the owner of that orchard would cut down that tree and replace it with a new tree.

Christ said that we are like trees! If Christ lives within us it will be evident by the good fruit that we produce. However, if we are filled with wickedness the only fruit that we can possibly bear is bad fruit. That was the point when Jesus said to the Pharisees,

You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

In an analogy from Luke 11, Jesus uses the example of light.

34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.

When I speak to people I try to look directly into their eyes; so much is revealed about a person in their eyes. Christ says, Your eye is the lamp of your body.

As Christians, what do we do with our light? Do we try to hide it under a bushel, or do we let it shine forth as a beacon of light, showing the way of salvation to all those around us who are still cast into darkness? Christ warns us to be careful that the light in us is not darkness.

When we become Christians, it is not the end for us, but rather the beginning! God has a specific purpose for us to shine the light He has given us into the darkness of sin all around us. Is that easy to do? No, it is not, but Christ, who gives us the light, will also give us the strength to shine forth.

Go! By the grace of God, be like the tree and light. Pray that you will bear good fruit and be a shining light of the Gospel wherever God has placed you.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Yoke of Rest

October 12: Matthew 11

25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:25-30

Yoke of Rest

In our reading today we are privileged to enter into one of the many prayers of Christ, and in so doing are encouraged to enter our Lord's yoke of rest. Who are the wise and understanding in verse 25, and who are the little children?

1 Corinthians 1 gives us more insight into what Christ is saying here.

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? . . . . 26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."

Spiritual wisdom knows no boundaries of intellect; the call of Christ is to sinners who are burdened and heavy laden with sin. Is it enough to just say, Lord I believe you are the Son of God? No, it is not! Becoming a Christian means we throw off the yoke of Satan and take on the yoke of Christ.

Christ is now our master, and we are His servants, put here with a true purpose designed by Him to advance His kingdom here on earth, and bring the repentant to Him. Just as John the Baptist was a messenger, so too, we are called to be Christ's messengers. For many people, you may be the only "Bible" that they read!

What does Christ say in Matthew 11 about His yoke?

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

There it is--the Yoke of Rest! Do you seek true joy and peace? Only through Christ will that joy and peace be yours! Go to Christ, the only Redeemer and intercessor between God and man.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

She is a Sinner

October 11: Matthew 8 & Luke 7

39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Luke 7:39-50

She is a Sinner

Jesus received a lot of criticism for His association with sinners; this passage from Luke 7 describes one such time. Before we offer too much criticism of this Pharisee, we must be careful to observe our own lives to see if we exhibit the same kind of prejudice.

A Pharisee invited Jesus to his house to eat; while there, a woman came and began washing Jesus' feet with her tears and hair. The Pharisee drew back in horror to think that Jesus' would allow this sinner to touch him. In answer to his reaction, Jesus told a story.

41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Put in those words, it is not hard to get the right answer, is it? The chief difficulty that the Pharisees faced was their own self-righteousness; they just did not believe that they were sinners. Unfortunately that attitude is predominant in our own culture. When we compare ourselves to each other, we see ourselves as being just as good as the next guy--maybe even a little better.

We live in a very critical society; just watch the group mentality when several are sitting together and one leaves. Almost immediately the topic of discussion will change to criticism of the person who just left. That is how we justify ourselves; if we can criticize our neighbor then we can elevate ourselves to a higher level.

But, what happens when we compare ourselves to God? Ah, now we can see our own sin which appears as black as coal.

When people look at us and say, "She is a sinner!" Our response should be, "Yes, a sinner saved by grace!"

Pray today that God would graciously restore to you the joy of your salvation.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.