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The Two Blind Men (Church Fast Day 11)

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Todays Reading: Matthew 20:17 – 21:27

Have you ever begged for something? I’m sure you have. You may have even promised something in return.

I think a lot of us have asked Jesus for something in return for, perhaps, being good? Or to be more devout followers?

But what happened when Jesus provided and then the seasons changed? Did your relationship with Jesus strengthen or wither?

In my experience, I did not uphold my end of the deal. I let my selfish ambitions, my family, and my sins get in the way of my relationship with Jesus.

Matthew 20:29-34 displays a powerful image of two blind men who begged Jesus to be healed. Jesus heals the men and they immediately begin following Him. 

They followed Him immediately! And not just casually, but wholeheartedly. These two men began living for Jesus. Their whole lifestyle changed.

This passage serves as a metaphor for being a lost and hopeless sinner to becoming a found and hopeful follower of Jesus.

When prayers were answered in your life, how did you react? Did you put Jesus back on the shelf to collect dust, or did you make Him top priority and Lord of your life?

My challenge for you is simple: if you can see the blessings that Jesus has given you in your life, what is stopping you from living fully for Jesus?

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The Love of Christ (Church Fast Day 10)

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Todays Reading: Matthew 19:13 – 20:16

The love that Christ has for us is unfathomable. What we see in these verses may be confusing for some just because parables can be confusing to understand and be taken in different understandings. So just know that this is what I take away from the reading of Matthew 19:13 – 20:16.

In these verses (and throughout the whole Bible of course) we can see Christ’s love, even thru the many parables that Christ teaches.

In the first of the verses, we read of Jesus blessing the children. As we see in other parts of the New Testament, Jesus loves children. He sees them as what they are, still spiritually immature and still learning. But, in that, they have so much hope, faith, and love they are showing and learning in Jesus and God the Father. What we also can see in these verses is that Jesus still loves us no matter what. No matter how spiritually immature we may be if we keep reading the word, keep trusting in Him, and put our faith, hope, and love in Him, He loves us!

In the next verses (Matthew 19:16 – 22), we read the parable of the rich young ruler. In reading this, my understanding is that this young ruler seemed to want the easy way to get into heaven. He was asking Jesus what else can I do to make sure I get into heaven, however, when Jesus told him to give up his worldly possessions to follow Him, the ruler could not. Jesus is trying to show us, that even though we may “look” like the “perfect” Christian by following all the commandments, reading the word, etc. But, if we don’t truly believe, trust, love, and have faith in Him, then what are we? We must not be of the world and worldly things. We must trust in God that He will provide everything we need! In this parable, we see that the ruler could not give up his possessions to follow Jesus because of his LOVE for his worldly possessions. He had more love for them than he did for Christ.

In the next verses (19:23-30), where he explains possessions and the Kingdom, He states, “I assure you: It will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven!”

I don’t take it as ALL rich people cannot enter heaven. I truly believe that there are some great truly God-loving “rich” people. However, what I believe Jesus may be saying is the people or “rich” people that will not enter heaven are the ones that have more LOVE of their worldly things, riches, and possessions than they do for our Father in Heaven. But the disciples saw that well… truly as humans we struggle with this every day. So, they ask, “who can be saved?”

“With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matt 19:26

Once again, He is stating that humans are sinners no matter what. We will have struggles, tribulations, and everything in this life. But, when we trust in God, all things are possible. God is loving and will forgive us.

Jesus moves onto another parable, The Vineyard Workers. Now with this parable, I truthfully had to read it a couple of times. I wanted to make sure I really grasped what it is saying. We read about the owner of the vineyard going out many times the same day to the marketplace to hire workers. When he goes to pay them, all of them get paid the same, no matter how long they worked. The vineyard owner says, “So the last will be first, and the first last.” – Matt 20:16

We also read earlier in the passage Jesus tells the disciples, “But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” – Matt 19:30

I believe what Jesus is trying to teach is that those who are last are those who have given up the world and worldly things for the Kingdom. They may be last in this world, but in the Kingdom of Heaven they will be first. God is just, merciful, fair, and forgiving. Even the person who has been sinning their whole life, if at the last moment they give their everything to God, He will be there. He will forgive. He loves no matter what.

In taking all this, there is still so much more to unpack from just these few verses. From what I have read in these verses (and hope you see as well) God’s love is in all of this.

 

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How We Treat Others (Church Fast Day 9)

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Today’s Reading: Matthew 18:15 – 19:12

Today in our reading, we see several examples of how Jesus expects us to treat each other when “sin” or a disagreement happens in our relationships. We are shown here that we should be respectful, kind, quick to forgive, and merciful. We are also shown to uphold healthy boundaries and principles. This can be a tough balancing act for many of us.

Matthew 18: 15-17 –When a brother or sister sins

We see here that Jesus instructs us to first approach our fellow brother/sister privately. If they listen to you, that is as far as it needs to go. This is showing respect to that person and the sensitivity of the matter. If they continue in their sin, then you are to take one or two others with you to discuss with them. This is still showing respect and kindness, however now we are bringing in a couple of others to agree to pointing out the sin or fault in hopes that the person will stop whatever it is they are doing. If they continue to do the wrong thing, you then take it before the church. This is a more severe way to try and hold someone accountable by exposing their sin.

Notice that we aren’t going straight to the last step. We are to be gentle, yet firm. We give that person an opportunity for change before the more severe action is taken. This is an example of grace. We also see where the boundary is laid and that we do not allow our brother or sister to continue in their sin and pretend it is OK.

 

Matthew 18: 21-35 – The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

Here we see Peter asking Jesus how many times we are to forgive someone who has wronged him. Peter, like many of us, is looking at this question through the eyes of the world and not through the eyes of Jesus.

Jesus then tells us a parable of a servant who owed the king a lot of money. More than he could ever pay back in his lifetime. So the king ordered that the servant, his wife, his children, and everything he possessed be sold in order to repay the debt. But then the servant cried out in desperation. The king showed him mercy and forgave the debt altogether!

Later on the same servant came across a man that owed him money. Instead of showing mercy and kindness towards him, he had him thrown in jail. When hearing of this, the king became very angry with the servant whom he forgave saying “Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” He then punished the servant severely.

Who are we to put limits on forgiveness and mercy? I for one, am so thankful that God does not count the times he shows me grace, forgiveness, and mercy!

Matthew 19: 1-12 – Concerning Divorce

The Pharisees approach Jesus here asking if it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason. Jesus responds by reciting Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 which pretty much explains why when you make the commitment of marriage, you should not divorce. They then ask him if that is so, “why did Moses say that a man can simply write a certificate of divorce and send his wife away?”

Jesus responds beautifully here in telling them that Moses permitted this because of the hardness in their hearts, but that this was never the way God intended. When you make a commitment to someone in marriage, you should make every effort possible to stay together. We should be slow to anger, forgiving, compassionate and loving to our spouse.

 

In our culture today we see the opposite of what Jesus is teaching us. People treat each other with disrespect, anger, and hatred. We hold grudges and have nothing to do with people who have wronged us in the past. For others, there seem to be no boundaries at all. Anything goes – as long as it doesn’t affect me.  Marriage commitments are not taken seriously.

Jesus teaches us how to be balanced and mature in our thought processes and ways that we treat each other. I am thankful that He shows us a better way to live and to be. I pray today that we all put aside the darkness in our hearts when we respond the way the world does. That we would strive to live and treat each other as Jesus has instructed us to.

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Transforming (Church Fast Day 8)

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Todays Reading: Matthew 17:1 – 18:14

 

Transforming

In the beginning of today’s reading we are given the account of the Transfiguration of Jesus. Verse 2 reads ‘’He was transformed in front of them, and His face shone like the sun. Even His clothes became as white as the light.” This is a small glimpse of to the revealing of His glory to Peter, James, and John.

Then it goes on to say in Verse 5 that suddenly a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him!” Of course, the disciples were terrified by this and fell on their faces. But then Jesus touches them and says “Rise and have no fear.” To me, these passages show us that we are to follow Jesus, confirmed by God the Father. Not in fear, but in faith.

While we may not transfigure as Jesus did, we do have transforming moments in our lives. God’s glory can be revealed in us if we allow it to.

Much like Jesus and the disciples climbed a mountain where God’s glory was revealed, Jesus will help us to climb “mountains” in our own lives. Think about what it would take to actually climb a mountain. It is hard and often dangerous! But once you are there at the top, the feeling of climbing the mountain and the view is like nothing else.

Another example of transforming we are given in today’s reading is in Matthew 18. The disciples were busy discussing amongst themselves (in another place in scripture it even says that they were arguing) who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Jesus uses a child among them and says “Unless you turn and become like children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” He goes on to further explain that whoever humbles themselves like a child would be considered the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. He is trying to teach us here that we must transform ourselves from the ways of this world.

We see in the world that people are often prideful, arrogant, and want everyone to know about their “accomplishments”. They consider themselves to be great. Jesus flips this way of thinking upside down. In contrast to the world’s view of what greatness is, we see that God desires us to be humble, willing to learn, and to be dependent on Him.

This type of transformation in our lives can only come from God. When you accept Jesus as your savior and decide to follow Him, you are also agreeing to allow Him to transform you. Whether it be helping us to climb the mountains in our lives, or by teaching us to look at life through the eyes of a child, Jesus transforms us to be more like Him so that we too can allow God’s glory shine through.

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Jesus Says Go (Church Fast Day 6)

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In Matthew 28:19, right before Jesus ascends to Heaven, He tells the disciples 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” This is commonly known as “The Great Commission” and is used at just about any missions service you will ever go to. We tend to take this commission and only think of it in a more global concept instead of a local concept as well.

Have we ever thought that we are all called to missions? We think of missions as going overseas and helping build orphanages or bring clean water to people while telling them about Christ, but these are just side effects of people carrying out missions. True missions is to share the Gospel. John Wesley said, “You have one business on earth – to save souls.” This should be our foremost thought and goal.

I remember when I was much younger one of the churches, we attended had signs above all the doors to the sanctuary. As you were exiting these signs said, “You are now entering the mission field.” Missions does not require travel or going to some far-off place. Missions is here and now. Charles Spurgeon said, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an impostor.”

Too often I think we find ourselves as imposters. We will donate to foreign missions and talk about how much we wish we could go share the Gospel, but we ignore the mission field right in front of us. Whether it be in your job, your school, your neighborhood, or community that is your mission field. Wherever you live is where God has called you to do missions.

We are to share the Gospel. That is what the Great Commission entails and what should be the focus of every church. We share Christ and Him crucified and raised to life. This is the Gospel. Not to love our neighbor or to take care of widows and orphans. These are good and are commanded by scripture, but they are not the Gospel. The Gospel message is much too precious to share space with anything else. The fact that the sovereign God of all creation, came down to earth and walked and talked and experienced everything we experience. Then died in the most humiliating, painful method of execution, satisfying the wrath of God for all that would believe on Him. Then He rose and conquered death and the grave and has now gone to prepare a place for us. This is the Gospel. This is the Good News. This is the core of the Great Commission.

If you have the opportunity, and feel God leading you to it, go on a short-term mission’s trip. I promise you it will change your life if you allow it to. Go fellowship and share the Gospel with other brothers and sisters around the world, but don’t ignore your own mission field. Don’t think that because you are not able to go to somewhere far away from where you live you cannot be involved in missions. Jesus said in Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Go and be that light to your friends, to your co-workers, to those you consider your enemies. Let the light of Christ shine from within you to all that you encounter. Show others Jesus through your actions and your words. This is your missions’ field. Jesus simply says go.

“God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshipers for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. He has an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the supremacy of His Name among the nations. Therefore, let us bring our affections into line with His, and, for the sake of His name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts and join His global purpose.” — John Piper

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Why Do Christians Fast (Church Fast Day 5)

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There are more answers to this question than one devotion could ever afford.  The believers fasted in decisions, they fasted in concern, they fasted as they mourned, they fasted as they performed ministry and even more.  However in covering fasting in one devotion, there is a general point of fasting.

Joel 2:12 ESV  “Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;

Life, from the perspective of the believer, is the return of God’s people to their God.  With that, in all aspects of life, we turn to Him.  Fasting is one of the signs of our return to God.  It is why all these occasions exist as to why a person fasts.  In mourning, decisions, concerns, ministry, requests and even repentance among other reasons, we set our hearts back towards God when we fast.

Paul furthers this idea when he declares that every person is in a flesh vs. spirit battle in their daily lives.

Romans 8:13 ESV For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Fasting is one way we physically choose to deny the very flesh we are at war with.  There is a mandate for us to win this battle within with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5:16 ESV But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

The lesson here is incredibly important because we often believe the greatest battles are around us or in front of us, but the most important battle before any other is to win the battle within.  We are the first enemy we must conquer in life and we cannot defeat this enemy without the help of the Holy Spirit.

In the end, Satan may be the father of lies, but we are the liars.  The most cringe-worthy thing I hear from Hollywood these days is “Follow your heart!”  The Bible says this:

Jeremiah 17:9 ESV The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Fasting is one of a number of ways that we respond to the Spirit’s work within us to transform our hearts from deceit to truth, from sick to well, from death to life.

Often when we fast, we want God to do something, or we want answers, or maybe we just want God to change the situations we are in.  However, in the full reality of fasting, the reminder is not that God will change our situation, but that He will change us.

In the end, the goal of fasting is not that you are hungry.  It is the reminder that even in physical hunger, you can be satisfied in Christ.  As we fast, we surrender our flesh to the work of the Spirit and we pray that God would make us new.

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A letter from a friend (Church Fast Day 4)

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Todays Reading: Matthew 15

I decided I didn’t know how to write a devotional (mostly due to no experience) but, I knew how to write a letter to a friend. So hey friend! Today, we read Matthew 15 and there is A LOT to unpack. I am not skillful enough to unpack it all or any of it without Christ. So with a lot prayer and many tears, here we go.

The opening passage to Matthew 15 starts with the Pharisees questioning Jesus on why His disciples break the traditions of the elders by not washing their hands when they ate. Jesus ends up rebuking them for following traditions of man vs. God’s Commandments.  Jesus references back to Isaiah 29:13 “And the Lord said: Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men.” (side note: I love when you see Jesus and the disciples referring back to the old testament. It reminds me of 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”)

When we go a little further down, Jesus expounds upon what actually defiles us.

Matthew 15:10-20 10 And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides.[c] And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled?[d] 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

Goodness, every time I get here I feel overwhelmed with fear that I wouldn’t explain this part right. Would it be legalism? It could be.  Obviously, in the beginning of the chapter the Pharisees are well ,the Pharisees. But, is that all we can take away from this? Don’t be legalistic, have a nice day? What about matter of the defilement of sin? All would be great topics, I am sure. (I have many opinions on both. Let’s talk later about it.) I want to talk about what fixes those issues. How do we stay away from legalism and, die to our sin?

We remind ourselves of the Good News. We have been saved by grace through faith in Christ. The God of the universe sent His one and only son to be the last sacrifice ever needed for the atonement of our sins, so that we could be called sons and daughters of God. Stop for a minute and, be in awe with me. We are ADOPTED BY GOD.  Because of this, we no longer have to be slaves to sin or the demands of legalism. Our only duty in life now, is to live it for the Glory of God. How freeing is that?

Soli Deo Gloria!

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Matthew Chapter 14 (Church Fast Day 3)

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Todays Reading: Matthew 14

The Death of John the Baptist

This chapter starts out pretty graphic and incredibly sad with the beheading of John the Baptist. Before it flashes back to Herod killing John, the first two verses talk about Herod speaking to his servants about the fame of Jesus and all the miracles He was performing. He made a point to say that this is John the Baptist. Herod feared John was resurrected and performing these miracles through Jesus. Guilt plagued him for having John executed.

Now I have never had anyone beheaded before, but I know I can relate with the guilt that Herod was feeling. There have been many times in my life where I know I helped nail those nails in Jesus’s hands because of my sin. I have felt that utter guilt. I have feared His punishment. Thankfully, Jesus came for the sinners. He gives us grace. We should confess, repent, and turn away from our sin, striving each day for the spirit of excellence as an old pastor friend would tell us.

The Bible says there is no greater man born of women than John the Baptist (Matt. 11:11) He was faithful to his death. His life was doing God’s will.  He served the Father and the Son throughout his life. Comparing myself with John, I am lacking greatly.

Jesus Feeds the 5000

After Jesus heard of his cousins death, he withdrew to a desolate place to mourn. The crowds followed and Jesus had compassion for them and fulfilled their needs.  It’s understandable he would want to get away, but he put himself aside because of his love for them. Not only did he have compassion, but he healed and fed the crowds who left everything behind to hear Jesus’s words and see the miracles he was performing.

Jesus Walks on the Water

When Jesus finishes praying on the mountain, he walks on the water toward the boat where his disciples are. They were afraid at the sight of him.  But Jesus says some powerful words here: “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”  Because of Jesus, we do not have to fear anything. We can be courageous with all the trials and tribulations we face. He is with us always.

Even though Peter had doubt in this passage, he still cried out for Jesus.  We tend to make fun of the disciple’s doubt with everything they have seen, but haven’t we done the same in our own lives? When the world around us is chaotic, we tend to sink also. When we find ourselves sinking, we should follow Peter’s example and cry out to the Lord. If we shift our focus to Jesus, we will stay afloat.

Jesus Heals the Sick in Gennesaret

Jesus is for anyone who wants him. He goes on to Gennesaret, where he heals everyone sick that was brought to him. Their faith was so strong that they only asked to touch a fringe of His garment, and they were made well.

There is a lapse of faith throughout this chapter, but there is also incredible faith. It teaches us the need for prayer and to serve those in need. It gives us examples from Jesus’s sacrifice and also taking time to get away to pray. It tells us to be courageous and be willing to face our challenges for He is with us. It shows us that Jesus is the ultimate provider, the ultimate physician, and the Savior to all who believe in Him.

 

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Hear then The Parable (Church Fast Day 2)

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Todays Reading Matthew 13:18 – 58

How great it is that we get to read the parables of Jesus from the bible.  We get to read them in context.  The bible tells us why Jesus speaks in parables. The bible even explains the parables.  The parables tell us who is for us and who is against us.  Where treasure and wealth are found.  They even tell us the future.

The Sower

In the parable of the sower, He tells us that the devil is against us (along the path), our own fleshly desires are against us (on the rocky ground), and the world is against us (among the thorns).  But there is hope for the good soil.  But what is the good soil?  The one who hears and understands the word!  So, then I have to ask myself, what am I doing to hear and understand the word?  Am I doing enough?

The Wheat and the Weeds

We as believers in Christ (the wheat) are growing in the same field (the world) as the weeds (from the devil).  God’s plan for us is to grow in the same field but not feed on the same food.  After all, once upon a time we were weeds ourselves, feeding on the bread of the world.  But God worked through someone to change our lives.  They fed us with truth.  By the grace of God, we are now fed by every word that comes from the mouth of God.  Also, by His grace and mercy we will be separated from the weeds at the end of the age and shine like the sun. In order to serve others as someone has served us, we must feed on the Bread of Life so that we may have what we need to feed others.  I ask myself these questions.  What are you feeding on? Who are you feeding and what are you feeding them?  We can’t give what we don’t have lest we get it from somewhere else.

The Mustard Seed and the Leaven

The impact of something small can make all the difference in the world.  Granted the life of Jesus wasn’t small. He has made an eternal impact on the world. What other man can lay claim to that?  Jesus said the kingdom of heaven was like a mustard seed and leaven.  Both are small things that can grow and affect everything around it.  Jesus is the kingdom of heaven, so he was comparing himself to something small that would affect everything around him. And we can see it today.  His leaven has spread across the whole world.  He ministered for over three years and his ministry is still carrying on through his followers.  Am I part of the leaven that is spreading out affecting everything around me?

The Great Treasure

The parable of the hidden treasure and of the pearl are one in the same. Both parables show that gaining the kingdom of heaven is worth any price.  Whatever is lost in pursuit of the kingdom of heaven is a small price to pay, considering the value of what is gained. What have you given up for the kingdom of heaven?  What do you need to give up?

New and Old Treasures

This parable is a little different than the previous ones. It is about the scribes or the teachers of the kingdom of heaven.  The master of the house is a teacher that will bring out his old and new treasure.  His old treasure is the Old Testament, and the new treasure is the life and teachings of Jesus.  Which will become the New Testament.  The teacher who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven understands the new revelation from Jesus and how it fulfills the Old Testament promises.  This parable tells us that the Old and New Testament are built on each other.

The Rejection

Jesus, through several of these parables, has told us how valuable his kingdom is.   He also illustrates that some would find this kingdom and be richly blessed.  Others would miss it for various reasons.  Those who miss it would hear but not understand and see but not perceive.

When Jesus returned to his hometown of Nazareth, he taught the people there with wisdom and authority and they were astonished. He even performed mighty works.  Yet they rejected him because of their pride.  How could a carpenters son teach with more wisdom and authority than the scribes?  But the truth didn’t matter to them.  Because they built up in their minds who Jesus was, they did not believe that he could do great things, even though they saw it.

Jesus is who the bible says he is.  When we hear or think something we should always test it against the scriptures.

 

 

 

 

 

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Sovereign God and Stumbling Pilgrims (Church Fast Day 1)

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Today’s Reading: Matthew 12:33-13:17

As we read through today’s passage, one thing is clear: Many of Jesus’ contemporaries did not truly understand God, His mission nor His ways, or worse, they had competing agendas, and they were willing to go to great lengths to realize them rather than surrender to the divine plan of God.

Isn’t this the dilemma many people have faced, including us living today? Passages such as this remind us of a long-standing truth.

History repeats itself. 

One thing we tragically see today, both inside and outside the Church, is that people desire God to fit a certain mold of their expectations rather than submitting and pursing God’s divine design of things.

Passages like this put us in a position where we see in fuller display, the sovereignty of God.

Why do so many of us fail to see God’s desired way of things and why do we combat Him?

It’s because many of us fail to accept God on His terms.

Yet, even to make that observation is not deep enough. 

What is at the heart of all the conflict we read of for today’s installment?

It is the continuous human ailment: 

That we desire to be God.

History, both globally and personally, shows us that when we are guilty of this ancient malady, we inevitably sow and reap distortion and destruction. This also leads to spiritual blindness which carries with it implications that touch every corner of life and to deadly effect.

When we also desire to be God, we miss out on the full beauty of the Gospel:

That Christ came into the world to testify to the Truth which pierces the darkness with an otherworldly light and clarity. 

That God rips us out of the clutches of death and holds us securely in His everlasting arms- those of us He chose before the very foundation of the world.

That Christ bore our sin and we inherited His righteousness.

That we, who were dead, He now makes alive.

Those who were hopelessly lost are now found.

Those who were once enemies of God can now be children of God.

Those who were guilty are pardoned. 

Those of us who have been born again, are no longer destined for eternal death.

All of this because of the overwhelming, reality-defying grace of God, and not because of how special we are, but because of how unfathomably good and merciful He is.

As we begin this fast, I hope we don’t miss the pivotal opportunity set before us: That we may truly behold the deep and incalculable beauty of our Messiah and His Gospel, and to live according to such a momentous realization.

I pray that we would leave our shallowness, sentimentalism, legalism, pietism and self-idolatry behind. That we would realize that these things will only produce death in the end. 

I pray we would fall into the arms of Life Himself, Jesus, and that we would never be the same, and that we shout from the rooftops and live out the one true Gospel as recorded in God’s word, and that we would see the life offered in God to all of His children in high definition. 

I pray that we who still need to experience this moment will: Die so we can truly live. 

May God draw us nearer to Him, and further away from ourselves and the vices of this dying world that cannot save or satisfy.

May we be the peculiar people we are called to be by the powerful working of the Holy Spirit as He helps conform us more and more in the image of our Lord, Savior, Redeemer, Protector, and Master: 

Jesus, The Christ.