March 1, 2018
THE LAW AND HARD HEARTS
Some Pharisees came to Jesus with a question about divorce. He answered with His own question (as was His habit) whether they knew what Moses wrote in the law concerning divorce. They replied that the Mosaic law permitted divorce. Jesus responded that the law was a “concession” to “hard hearts.”
I wonder, wasn’t all the law written because of the hardness of our hearts? For if we could keep the Great Commandment, wouldn’t we have hearts filled with love and therefore no longer require the other laws? Would the one who loves God with all his heart, need to be told not to take the Lord’s name in vain? Would the one who loves their neighbor, need to be instructed not to murder them? If the human heart was not hardened by sin, the written law would have no purpose, for the law of love would already be written on our hearts. Yet, the law was needed because our hearts are hard until the old, sin callous is circumcised by faith in Christ, who is able to give us new and clean hearts filled with love.
February 27, 2018
LEARNING TO BE QUIET AND LISTEN
Peter couldn’t keep quiet in that holy moment on the mountaintop when Jesus was transfigured and Moses and Elijah appeared with Him. So, a cloud overshadowed Peter, James and John, and the voice of the Father was heard saying, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.”
Peter represents many of us. How often we interrupt holy moments with our own speech, when quiet listening is called for. Even in prayer, we pour out our laundry list of needs to the Father, but forget to be quiet and listen for the voice of His Son. Have you learned to say as young Samuel did, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening” (1 Sam. 3:7)?
February 26, 2018
A SECOND TOUCH FROM JESUS
Jesus healed many that were blind with a single word or touch, yet in this case, the blind man received a second touch. He saw light without focus on the first touch, but the second touch of Jesus gave him clarity, so that he saw “everything clearly.” We must be careful making a theological comment on this narrative, for Christ gave no explanation. Yet, perhaps this account points to the spiritual reality that some come out of the darkness and into the light, seeing clearly after a single encounter with Jesus. While for others, as in the case of this blind man, it is more of a progression.
February 24, 2018
WHO CAN CLEANSE OUR DIRTY HEARTS?
Jesus pointed out the hypocrisy of the Pharisee’s hand-washing rituals. For they were careful to wash their hands before putting food in their bodies, but not mindful of the sinful attitudes that originated within their hearts. Yet, who can cleanse dirty hearts?
Only Christ can cleanse us from the sin that defiles our hearts. As the apostle Paul wrote, “He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people” (Titus 2:14).
February 23, 2018
JESUS CALLS THOSE WHO SEE THE NEED TO MEET IT
When the disciples came to Jesus telling Him to send the hungry crowds away to get something to eat, He told the disciples, “You feed them.” You have to be careful what you ask of Jesus. He might just tell you to be the answer to the very need you lifted up to Him. In the case of the disciples, He had them do an inventory of the need, bring what food they discovered to Him to bless it, organize the people in groups, and then distribute the food. Jesus called them to meet the need that they seen with what they had, trusting Him to fill up the difference.
What can we learn from this?
February 22, 2018
FAMILIARITY IS NOT FAITH
When Jesus began teaching and performing miracles in His hometown of Nazareth, “He was amazed at their unbelief.” Can you imagine that? That the Son of God was “amazed” at the lack of faith He saw in the very neighbors that should have known Him best?
Those that have grown up going to church and hearing the gospel must be careful to examine their faith. For they are at risk of being like the folks of Nazareth. Although they had known Jesus for years and claimed him as a neighbor, they still did not place their faith in Him. Familiarity is not faith.
February 21, 2018
FEAR OR FAITH?
Jesus was on His way to heal Jairus’ daughter when messengers came to inform them that she had died. In response, Jesus told Jairus to have faith rather than fear. Jesus often put fear and faith as opposite choices that people could make as an act of the will. When Jesus arrived at Jairus’ house, He raised his daughter from the dead.
Fear seems like an automatic response rather than an act of the will. But Jesus teaches that we can learn to choose faith over fear.
Is this possible? That we can learn to replace our fear with faith?
February 20, 2018
JESUS SOMETIMES LEADS US INTO A STORM
Jesus told the disciples that He wanted to take the boat to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. So, they pushed off and Jesus lay down to sleep in the back of the boat after a long day of ministry. Soon a fierce storm came up and threatened to sink the boat. Fearful, they awoke Jesus and He stilled the storm with a simple command. Then, asked them why they were afraid and why they lacked faith.
1) Jesus led them into the storm.
2) Jesus was with them, but was sleeping.
3) Jesus had the power to still the storm.
4) Jesus made a point to question why they chose fear over faith.
What can we learn from this story?
February 19, 2018
THE LISTENING PRINCIPLE
Jesus instructed His disciples to “pay close attention” to His teachings. For the “closer” they listened, the more they would receive understanding from His Word. This principle seems obvious: “listen and learn.” Yet, there is a spiritual component. For Christ is making a promise to those that pay close attention to His teachings that they will be given more and more understanding. This is why we love God’s Word. We read it everyday and everyday it brings new meaning to our lives.