April 9, 2018
CONSIDER YOUR OWN SINFULNESS
After hearing the news of certain Galileans being murdered by Pilate in Jerusalem and of those who died when the tower in Siloam fell, Jesus corrected the people’s assumption that those who died must have been the worst of sinners. Jesus asked, “Do you think this happened to them because they were the worst sinners?”
Jesus answered His own question with, “Not a all!” They didn’t die because their sin was worse than others. They perished because sin always brings suffering and death.
Jesus urged the people to stop focusing on the sins of others and to consider their own sinfulness. Stop thinking you’re good because someone else’s sin seems worse than yours. Instead, “repent” of your own sinfulness. Focus on your own condition. Admit your sin and ask God to help you repent of it. Turn away (“repent”) of your sin and turn to God.
God doesn’t measure you by calculating your good works vs. you evil works. Nor does He compare you to the righteousness/unrighteousness of others. God judges you according to His standard of righteousness. And only One person has measured up to this standard–– Jesus. Therefore, repenting of your sins is recognition of your desparate need of Jesus as Savior. And turning to God is surrendering your will to Jesus as Lord.
April 8, 2018
THE REWARD OF READINESS
Jesus told His disciples a parable about a master rewarding his servants because they were “ready and waiting for his return.” This is a parable about Christ’s return and the reward He will give to those who are “ready and waiting” for Him. He said that He will wait tables for them while they enjoy the banquet. Can you imagine this? Jesus leaning over you asking, “What would you like to drink? Can I get you some dessert?” O what a Master we serve! That He is willing even now to serve us. How we must be willing to serve others in His name!
April 7, 2018
WHAT MAKES THE FATHER HAPPY?
Giving. That’s what make the Father happy. He loves to give. Jesus told His “little flock” of disciples not to worry nor be afraid about material things. For the Father loves to give.
So, don’t concern yourself with food and clothes, houses and wealth. The Father “will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). Why would He withhold anything from us since He has already given us His Son? As the apostle Paul wrote, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32).
For the sake of God’s great love, He gave us His Son, King Jesus. For the sake of God’s great happiness, He gives us the Kingdom. How do you seek the Kingdom? Seek the King. How do you experience the Father’s happiness? Receive His Kingdom by receiving King Jesus.
April 6, 2018
WHY THIS GENERATION WAS HELD RESPONSIBLE
Jesus told the religious leaders of his day that their generation would be held responsible for all the prophets that God had sent them since creation. Why would God hold this generation responsible for all the prophets before them being murdered?
Jesus summarized the list of prophets killed beginning with Abel, whose murder was recorded in the first book, Genesis, and ending with the murder of Zechariah, whose stoning was recorded in 2 Chronicles, the last book according to the order of the Hebrew Bible. The first murder victim, Abel, was killed by his brother because he had “by faith offered a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain” (Heb. 11:4). Abel brought the firstborn of his flock as a sacrifice of blood, which in effect prophetically pointed to its fulfillment in Christ. God accepted Abel’s offering, but rejected Cain’s. And Cain murdered his own brother out of jealousy.
The last prophet recorded as being murdered in the Hebrew Bible was Zechariah, the son of the high priest, Jehoiada. King Joash conspired to have him stoned to death in the Temple courts because he had prophesied against him for forsaking the daily sacrifices and turning to idolatry (2 Chron. 24:15-22).
God had delayed His judgment against the Jews, so that the coming of the promised Seed, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, might be given to them and through them to the whole world. But this generation would reject and murder the very One to whom all the murdered prophets had pointed. And upon them God’s accumulated wrath would be spent. Indeed, this generation saw the fall of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD, so that those that remained were dispersed among the nations.
April 5, 2018
BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HEAR AND OBEY
A woman in the crowd that had gathered listening to Jesus teach, exclaimed, “God bless your mother!” To which Jesus replied, “Even more blessed are those who hear and obey God’s Word.” Surely, the blessing that Mary, the mother of Jesus, had received was great. The woman who cried out was correct. Jesus’ mother was blessed. Yet, Jesus would have the woman and everyone in the crowd know that an even greater blessing was available to them. For if they would only allow the seed of God’s Word to penetrate their hearts, they would be born again.
That the Son of God was born of woman is indeed a great blessing. That everyone who hears and obeys the good news about God’s Son will experience new birth themselves is an even greater blessing.
April 3, 2018
THE LONGING OF GENERATIONS FULFILLED IN JESUS
Jesus told His disciples that they were blessed because they were privileged to see and hear that which their forefathers had long awaited. The coming of the Messiah had been prophesied since the Garden when God spoke to the serpent saying that the woman’s “Seed shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Gen. 3:15). For centuries, people of faith looked forward to the coming of Messiah, yet they didn’t see it. As the author of Hebrews wrote, “All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it” (Heb. 11:13). The disciples were seeing and hearing what generations had longed for, namely, Jesus the Messiah.
For those of us today that have placed our faith in Jesus, our longing is already fulfilled, but not yet. For the Lord has opened our spiritual eyes and ears, and we already have the Spirit of Christ with us and in us. Yet, our bodies long for the day when our “faith shall be made sight,” becoming like Jesus and seeing Him “as He really is” (1 John 3:2).
April 2, 2018
THE COST OF FOLLOWING JESUS IN MINISTRY
Luke listed three people that expressed a desire to follow Jesus, yet all three turned aside when they considered the cost.
The Lord challenged the material motivations of the first follower by pointing out that foxes and birds have places to live, but He had no “place to lay His head.” Following Jesus is not a means for worldly gain, but a call to deny oneself in this kingdom in pursuit of the eternal one.
The second potential follower expressed his desire to follow Jesus later, after a delay to do his duty for his father’s burial. Jesus’ reply seems harsh: “Let the dead bury the dead. Your duty is to go and preach.” But the duty to bury his father could take a year or longer as he followed the tradition of putting the bones into an ossuary. The cost of following Jesus must take priority over other duties and it must be taken with a sense of urgency.
The third one who expressed desire to follow Jesus, asked to return home first to say goodbye to his family. Jesus warned that those who look back are not fit to follow. Following requires focus on Jesus, not the past. It also requires giving Jesus first priority over all others.
Through the years, I’ve noticed these same three reasons that people turn back from following Jesus in ministry. Whether they feel called to serve in the local church, to missions, or to church planting, the three concerns of 1) a desire for material things, 2) competing duties/priorities, and 3) family concerns, often cause people to give up on their call to ministry.
There is a cost to following Jesus in ministry. Lord, give us the perseverance to finish the race following You. For there is a crown awaiting those who finish well.
March 31, 2018
JESUS PREDICTED HIS PASSION AND RESURRECTION
Jesus revealed His purpose and destiny to His disciples on many occasions. He said that He “must suffer.” In the Greek, the word “to suffer” is “paschō” (πάσχω), which is the origin of the English word “passion.” Yet, they didn’t grasp His meaning until after these things had happened. It must have been particularly difficult to understand Christ’s words on the day that Peter was commended for rightly identifying Jesus as the “Messiah and Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). Their view of the Messiah was one of a conquering king, not a suffering servant. They had not understood the many prophecies found in Bible passages like Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 that Jesus “must” fulfill.
So on that Good Friday, Jesus suffered just as He said and just as the prophets had foretold.
March 30, 2018
THE TOUCH THAT BOTH HEALED AND MADE CLEAN
A woman who had been hemorrhaging for twelve years saw her opportunity to touch the hem of Christ’s garment unseen, hidden by the press of the crowd. No doubt she wanted to avoid drawing attention to herself. Her condition meant that she was “ceremonially unclean” (Lev. 15:19), forbidden to touch anyone, nor to enter the Temple courts. If she were to touch someone, her ceremonial uncleanness would pass to them, so that they would be unclean until evening.
Dr. L. Lewis Wall, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University, believes that the woman may have been suffering from a “vesicovaginal fistula.” He has observed this condition in the women of third world countries which results when labor becomes obstructed and is not reversed with timely surgical intervention. Such a condition would have been incurable not only in the first century, but in all the years up until the modern era of surgical medicine.
Yet, in her desperation for wholeness, the woman secretly reached out to touch the “fringe” of Christ’s robe. This “fringe” was probably the “tassel” of His prayer shawl, worn as an outer garment over His robe. The prayer shawl or “tallit,” had four tassels tied to its four corners to represent the laws of Moses (Num. 15:37-41). In other words, the unclean woman touched the most holy part of Jesus’ clothing. But even though the law taught that her uncleanness would be transmitted to Jesus, instead, His holiness and healing were transmitted to her!
Jesus knew that “healing power” had gone out from Him. Her secret was out. She fell at His feet trembling with fear, admitting that she had touched Him. But Jesus commended her faith. A touch of Jesus had made her whole— physically and spiritually— whole.
March 29, 2018
THE WIND AND WAVES OBEY HIM
A fierce storm blew down onto the Sea of Galilee threatening to sink the boat with Jesus and His disciples aboard. Even the professional fishermen like Peter, James and John were afraid. Yet, Jesus remained asleep, untroubled by the storm. The disciples woke Jesus with shouts of “We’re going to drown!” Jesus raised up from His nap, rebuked the storm with a word and an immediate calm fell upon the sea. The disciples were amazed. Their fear of the storm outside the boat was replaced by fearful awe of the One inside the boat!
If even the wind and waves obey Him, so will I.