January 23, 2017
Christ was sent first as Shepherd to the lost sheep of Israel and then as Redeemer for the whole world. As the apostle Paul wrote, “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers” (Rom.15:8). Jesus died on the cross and was raised, so that both believing Jews and Gentiles might be saved. Yet, His earthly ministry was entirely focused in Israel. However, when a Roman centurion or even a Canaanite mother asked for help, Jesus answered them according to their faith. So, the demon-possessed daughter of a Canaanite woman was healed. After Christ’s resurrection, He commissioned His disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). The good news was given first to the Jew, but then was to be carried to all the peoples of the world by Christ’s disciples. We are those who are still called to carry out the Great Commission of our Redeemer. As the Father sent the Son, so the Son sends us (John 20:21).
Where have you been sent?
January 21, 2017
I don’t know what you believe about heaven and hell, but Jesus taught that they were real places of eternal existence. In this parable of Jesus, He compared the kingdom of heaven to a fishing net that caught both good and bad fish. The good fish represented those who truly believed in Christ as Lord. And the bad represented those who were hypocrites.
The kingdom of heaven is to be populated by those who have made Christ king. However, there are those who pay lip service to Jesus outwardly, yet inwardly their hearts remain unchanged. They still have “self” on the throne. They have not made Christ the Lord of their lives. They are hypocrites. As the gospel “dragnet” gathers people into the church, both the saved and the hypocrite are present. Yet, at the “end of the age” (Matt.13:49), they will be separated. The “just” to everlasting life and the “wicked” to a place of everlasting torment called Hell.
This is why we must continually preach the gospel to the church. For we do not know who there is among us that has yet to truly confess Christ as King. And this is why each of us must examine our own hearts to be sure that we have truly submitted our lives to Jesus. Have you confessed Jesus as Lord and believed that God raised Him from the dead? Are you truly among the redeemed? The end of the age is coming. Are you ready?
January 14, 2017
It was Jesus who sent out the disciples. The Greek for “I send” is emphatic. It is Christ Himself who is sending them out. It is by His authority and command. In this sending, Jesus used the attributes of four animals to describe the way He was sending them:
1) “As sheep” – Meek and without apparent physical defense.
2) “Amidst wolves” – Wolves harm sheep. They represent those who will persecute and kill the disciples.
3) “As serpents” – Serpents were seen to move with wisdom and subtlety. Move like serpents, but strike as…
4) “As doves” – “Harmless.” Be wise like serpents, but don’t strike as they do. Be harmless as doves.
Jesus is still sending out His disciples with the same authority and in the same manner.
January 13, 2017
When Jesus healed two blind men, he instructed them not to tell anyone. Why He forbade them is not explained, for certainly He later commands His followers to go into all the world preaching the gospel (Mark 16:15). Perhaps He did not want the fame of His miracles to obscure His message. Or perhaps He didn’t want the news to limit His ability to move about freely until the appointed day of His crucifixion. Regardless, the men went throughout the country sharing the news of how Jesus had restored their sight, in spite of His warning. Isn’t it ironic that these men couldn’t be stopped from sharing what Christ had done for them, while many believers today cannot be urged to obey Christ’s clear command to witness.
January 10, 2017
This was the centurion according to Luke’s gospel that had built the synagogue in Capernaum (Luke 7:5). He was probably the commander of the Roman garrison in Capernaum and was very familiar with the Jewish religion and culture. He came to Jesus asking Him to heal his servant. Jesus immediately agreed to go to the centurion’s home and heal his servant. But the Roman commander insisted that he was “not worthy” of having the Lord enter his home and that if only He would “speak a word” he knew that his servant would be healed. This expressed both his awareness of Jewish reluctance to enter a Gentile’s home (Not specifically forbidden by Moses, but had become a Pharisaic practice), and his faith that Jesus had the authority to heal. The centurion went on the explain his understanding of Christ’s authority, saying it was similar to how he could command his soldiers and they obeyed. Christ commended the centurion’s faith and sent him on his way, having healed the servant according to the centurion’s request. When the centurion returned home he found that his servant had been healed at the very “same hour” that Jesus had spoke.
Oh, to have such faith! To believe that Christ has authority over all things and that His Word has the power to command all things to obey.
January 8, 2017
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus discussed the sinful and wasteful human activity of worry. Clearly, worry is sinful because it is an expression of anxious doubting. And doubt is the opposite of faith. Three times in this sermon, Jesus said, “Do not worry.” Now, if He had said it once, it would be enough, but He said it three times! Worry isn’t just a bad habit. It’s a sin. Not only that, it’s useless. Worry is a wasted activity. Jesus asked if anyone could cause their body to grow “one cubit” (about 18 inches) by worrying. Of course, this is a ridiculous question. Worry doesn’t work, it doesn’t accomplish anything. It certainly can’t cause growth of even one inch, much less, “one cubit.” So, what can we do? Jesus said to “seek first” God’s kingdom and let the Lord care for you. In other words, give your worries to God, turn them into prayers. As the apostle Paul said, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything” (Phil. 4:6 NLT).
January 4, 2017
Moving to Capernaum was both a prophetic fulfillment and an important strategic base of operations for Christ’s ministry. As Matthew reported, Jesus’ move to Capernaum was in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (Isa. 9:1-2). It was also strategic because Jesus would make this prosperous fishing town that sat on the crossroads of two important Roman roads His ministry headquarters. The Via Maris (“the Way of the Sea”, Matt. 4:15) led from Damascus, Syria through Galilee down to Egypt. And the Eastern road that led to the Decapolis and beyond intersected in Capernaum. Capernaum was the place where Jesus called His first four disciples, the two brother teams of Peter and Andrew, and James and John. It was a place where Jesus was accepted in the Synagogue and had great freedom and acceptance among this city populated by both Jews and Gentiles, including a Roman garrison.
Let us pray that our hometowns would accept Jesus and give Him freedom to move and minister just as Capernaum did.
January 3, 2017
John the Baptist described his baptism as one of “water unto repentance.” Those who received John’s baptism were publicly confessing their sin and committing themselves to a changed life. Yet, John’s ministry was preparatory. His main purpose was not to baptize, but to prepare the way for the Christ that was coming after him. Those that received Christ would be baptized “with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Both water and fire are seen as symbols for the Spirit in the Bible. With the coming of Christ, a new covenant had arrived when believers would be washed in the cleansing water of the Holy Spirit, and purified within by the Spirit’s “refining fire” (Malachi 3:2).