April 22, 2017
As Jesus watched the people putting their gifts into the Temple offering, he offered several insights into how God sees our giving. One insight is that God sees our giving. He watches over our giving, looking to see who is generous and who is not. Another insight is that God sees the proportion of our giving. He knows whether we give sacrificially or not. He cares less about the amount of our giving and more about the motivation and proportion of our giving.
That Jesus sat near the place where he could watch those giving their offerings, and that he used it to teach his disciples about giving, should not surprise us. He wants us to understand that God cares more for the heart of the giver than the amount of the gift. Love and giving are connected. “For God so loved the world that he gave…” (John 3:16).
April 17, 2017
Many come to Jesus, attracted to His person, but unwilling to admit their own spiritual bankruptcy. So it was for the RYR (“Rich Young Ruler”). He thought to add Jesus to his portfolio of good works. Yet, Jesus saw his heart. Jesus challenged him to die to his former life and leave everything behind to follow Him. This filled the RYR with sorrow, for he had great worldly wealth. It also revealed his failure to keep even the first of the ten commandments, putting his love of money ahead of his love of God.
The invitation to follow Christ is not a call to religious effort (i.e. “What shall I do?”), but a call to come and die, that you might be born again in newness of life in Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:4, 11).
April 11, 2017
Jesus taught this timeless spiritual principle promoting humility over self-promotion. He illustrated the principle with a parable concerning seat selection at a wedding banquet. He observed that it would be better to take a “lowly” seat at the table and have the master elevate you to a better one, than vice versa. A corollary to this principle is “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth” (Prov. 27:2).
April 9, 2017
The planting and growth of the gospel is like the small, yet ultimately great growth of the mustard seed. The gospel seed was planted by Jesus into His small band of followers. It went unseen and unnoticed by most of the world at that time. Yet, before even a generation had passed, the apostles had carried the gospel throughout the Roman empire and beyond. Today, even many nations rest like birds on the branches of the gospel, supported by its work in men.
Have you received the mustard seed of the gospel? Have you planted it in your family and in your city? It always starts out small and barely seen, but it grows to have huge results!
April 8, 2017
At least four spiritual principles were taught in this parable. 1. The Lord will come again.
2. The Lord might return unexpectantly at any time.
3. Faithfulness means being dependable to fulfill the responsibilities to which the Master has called you.
4. Faithfulness is based on what you do with the gifts God has given you. “To whom much is given, much is required.”
As the Lord asked Moses from the burning bush, “What’s that in your hand?” So, He asks you, “What are you doing with the calling and gifts I have given you?”
Will you be found to be a faithful and wise steward?
April 6, 2017
After warning his disciples about the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, Jesus warned that ultimately all things that people have sought to cover up or hide, will be exposed. Our public persona will have its mask removed. As the Lord warned the Israelites before they entered the Promised Land, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Num.32:23).
Better to confess and repent of all sin, willingly exposing it to the light of Christ, so that you no longer walk in darkness. As the apostle John taught, “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
April 5, 2017
Hearing the words that Jesus taught, a woman in the crowd shouted out that the mother of such a son must surely be blessed. Jesus did not correct her, but he did redirect her to the true source of blessing, namely, the Word of God. Rather than visualizing what a blessing it would be to have been the mother of such a son, Jesus wanted the woman to hear and believe the Word of God that he was teaching. In other words, Jesus told the woman that she didn’t have to be his mother to be blessed, she, and all those present, could experience God’s blessing by hearing and keeping the Word.
Many today tend to focus on secondary details of the gospel. They recognize the goodness of Jesus and the excellence of his words and work. Perhaps they even imagine what it would have been like to be one of his disciples. Yet, they do not believe and receive his Word. If only they would “hear” and “keep” it, then they would become, as the woman in the crowd seemed to desire, Christ’s “brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:35).
April 4, 2017
Does God give good gifts when we ask? Can we trust His response to our prayers? If we give ourselves fully to Him in prayer, will He test us with things we don’t want and take away things that we do?
Jesus answered these implied questions by asking His own, “If a son asks any father among you for bread, or fish, or eggs, will he give a rock for bread, a serpent for fish, or a scorpion for an egg?”
I’m sure His hearers must’ve responded with laughter at the ridiculous imagery of His rhetorical questions. “Certainly not!” They no doubt replied.
Jesus taught us to ask, seek, and knock in prayer expecting the Father to answer. We need not worry whether such persistence might cause the Father to give us hurtful or undesirable gifts. For if a sinful, mortal father knows how to give good, certainly the righteous God will give not only good gifts, but even the “Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
Never doubt the Father’s love and care for you. You can depend on Him to meet your needs when you ask. More than that, He knows your deepest need, namely, the Holy Spirit. For God has sent His Son to reconcile us to Himself, so that we might be adopted into His family by the Spirit of adoption, that we might truly be called children of God.