Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Day 31~ Mark 6 & Prov. 29

“A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household. (6:4)

I bet if you poled people, even non-Christians, they would have an idea what this means.  The English Oxford of Living Dictionaries explains the “proverb” as, “A persons gifts and talents are rarely appreciated by those close to them.”

Huh!….as I read today, I didn’t think that was what Jesus was teaching……in fact, I am going to go as far to say that it is one of Satan’s little tricks to dumb it down to the English Oxfords definition……😳

Well,…think about it….do you really think that Matt. 13:57 and Luke 4:24 repeat the same words just to teach that any ol’ prophet isn’t appreciated?

I think the words of Jesus here are much more weightier than that.  Why would the writers of each gospel repeat this story? While they are actively trying to demonstrate the divinity of Jesus by relaying all the miracles he did, they throw this statement in there?

I have two theories. 
1.) The statement Jesus uses illustrates that a true belief in Him is a prerequisite to having him change your life.
2.) The statement is a foreshadowing of the fact that the Jewish people as a whole would reject and crucify Jesus.

Those two points are pivotal in the redemption story of Christ! That makes that verse very heavy and profound! But we don’t think of those points when we read the verse above.  Wouldn’t it be just like Satan to make us miss those key points and apply something more mild, sublime……that in time becomes a blasΓ© figure of speech? 

I’m just say’en………watch out for Satan’s little tricks!  He is known for using scripture to trip you up! (i.e. Matt. 4:6)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Day 30 ~ Mark 5 & Prov. 28

Demons, Disease and Death….Oh, My!  What a radical chapter! 

I loved the endings to each story!

They saw “..the man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind..” (5:15)

“..the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth.” (5:33)

“..and they (the parents of the 12 yr. old) were immediately overcome with amazement.” (5: 42)

Being in your right mind, telling the whole truth, being overcome with amazement.  Those are the responses of ones who have had a real encounter with Christ.
They weren’t left guessing if they had a real encounter.  They knew it!!

Their responses inspired me!  The "legion" guy  begged to follow Jesus and after, he “proclaimed” what Jesus had done for him.  The “bleeding” woman “fell down" before him, and in front of everyone, told her personal story.  What great examples for us!!!
If one has a real encounter with Christ, he/she would be amazed, thankful and wanting to share their story with others!! 

That is the way I need to be thinking when someone asks me to share my testimony!😬

Monday, January 29, 2018

Day 29~ Mark 4 & Prov. 27

“And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light” (Mark 4:21)

I think I have always blown past this verse because in my mind I put it with the verse in Matthew, thinking it is the same illustration, just a different book.  But as I took a closer look today, I saw a difference. 
 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” (Matthew. 5:14-15)

They sound super similar! But in each in it’s own context, has different implications. 
The Pulpit Commentary says, “It is evident that he (Jesus) repeated his sayings, and used them sometimes in a different connection.  The lamp is here (in Mark) the light of Divine truth, shining in the person of Christ.”  
Another commentary says todays verse implies “He (Jesus) makes hidden things (i.e. hard heart, hidden sin) apparent.
So, the verse in todays reading is Jesus being the light that exposes truth.

That is different than the verse in Matthew that we have connected with a nursery song. (This little light of mine…🎢I’m going to let it shine….).  The context there speaks of us being the light (because Jesus is in us) and sharing the gospel with others (not spot lighting sin in their life)! 

So, while you are shining your little light light, lovingly sharing the gospel with others, don’t be surprised that some people won’t like you.  The light they are receiving is actually Jesus doing the spot lighting. They will see a difference between a Christ follower and themselves.  Either they will be drawn toward the Christ follower because it looks attractive to them, or they will be repelled because they hate the light (John 3:20).

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Day 28~ Mark 3 & Prov. 26

Imagine you come from a large, close-knit family with a few sisters and five brothers.  You all have done pretty well since your dad died because your oldest brother stepped into the provider role and kept the family business running smoothly.  Ahh,…your oldest brother…..such a sweet guy!  Kind and loving….almost too much!  At times you would see others in business try to take advantage of him.  Once, you were going to get even with one customer who you saw clearly cheat in a transaction.  But your brother put his hand on your shoulder and said, “Let it go.”  You admired that response but it bugged you as well….  

That was when your brother was in his 20’s, now in his 30’s, he isn’t home as much, but  that’s been OK. The other brothers are doing well running the family business now.

Today you get word that your oldest brother is coming home with some friends; 12 friends.  Your mom enlists your help to make a meal for everyone.  The preparations are done, you look out the window and see a crowd approaching town, but you don’t for a moment imagine the crowd would involve you or your family.  You sit down to wait for your brother….

The food is getting old simmering at a slow boil in the pot….
your mom and siblings exchange worried looks as they glance at the crowd that had formed across the way…..crowds can get out of control…..will they trample the garden you had worked so hard on this past spring?…..
Your brother should have been here by now.  You are getting irritable because you are hungry and tired of waiting for him to arrive….
One brother leaves to see what the crowd is all about.  He returns to tell his mother and everyone else….”Our brother is in the middle of that crowd!!!”  Another brother announces, “This is ridiculous! Let’s just go get him!”  
“How would we get him out from that crowd?”, asks Jude.  “Follow my lead”,  says James….

That’s what my mind does as I read…… 

“Then he went home , and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat.  And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” (3:20). 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Day 27~ Mark 2 & Prov. 25

So, I’m slightly irritated with Peter!  I know that Jesus used parables when talking with the crowd.  I also know Jesus explained all his parables to his disciples (Mark 4:34).  My question to Peter would be, “Why did you only explain two of the 10 parables you wrote about?”  “If you knew the explanation of all of them, why didn’t you share them with us?”……………(Actually, if this is, and I believe it is, the inspired word of God,….. apparently this is how God wanted it written…….so I can’t get too irritated with Peter can I? …πŸ˜›)
Anyway, we are left with some pretty good educated guesses as to what the other parables mean.  After all, the Holy Spirit is the one educating us! (John 14:26)

All that to say, I have often pondered why Jesus goes from talking about John’s disciples fasting and then he jumps to wine and wineskins.  It leads me to think that he was saying John’s teaching, as good as it was, is not the end all. John was preparing the way, but he was not the way.  John’s baptism was one of “repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (1:4) which is also in line with the Jewish system of repenting with sacrifices at the temple (Old Covenant). But Jesus is more (New Covenant)!  

I like what one commentary said, “The Old Covenant in its present form is not capable of holding all the blessings and glory that is the New Covenant in Christ Jesus.” 
The writer of Hebrews expands on the idea Jesus introduced to the crowds.
“But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.” (Heb. 8:6)

I actually understand why Jesus used the parable of the wine/wineskin when he was introducing this new idea.  Can you imagine if he announced plainly to a crowd of devout Jews, “Listen up! Out with the old, in with the new!”  The crowd would have rejected him on the spot and not listen to another word he had to say because of their standing as the special race, chosen by God.  A new way could threatened their “specialness”! 

What we know with hindsight is that some would eventually learn that they were still the special, chosen people that got to introduce Christ’s new way to all the ends of the earth!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Day 26~ Matt. 28 & Mark 1

At the time I made the reading schedule it made sense why I skipped a proverb day and put Matt & Mark together.  But today I’m like, “Why did I do that?” Hahaha
Therefore, today we read about the ‘great commission' and then move straight back to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  In a way, the reading order, illustrates that the story of Jesus never ends! πŸ˜ƒ

Just a reminder about Mark.  He was not an eyewitness to Jesus.  Think of him as Peter’s secretary.  He wrote everything he heard from Peter’s teachings (this according to Biblical historians).  So, the book of Mark could very well have been titled “Peter’s Perspective”.

It’s kind’a funny reading the beginning of Mark with the frame of mind that it’s from Peter.  We get a super quick overview of John baptizing Jesus & Jesus being tempted in the wilderness, probably because Peter wasn’t there.  He didn’t elaborate on the details since they would have been second hand for him. But then, the narrative gets way more detailed when Peter is on the scene!  Using details such as where (Sea of Galilee) and who (brothers; Sons of Zebedee), we see Peter knows the scene well! 
We can practically hear him say, “He saw me” (Simon, vs. 16), “And I (Simon) searched for him.” (1:36)
As funny as it is to see the obvious extra details of Peter’s narrative when it involves him, it’s also very encouraging.  It acts as evidence that this isn’t just a made up story, but a first hand account, from Peter, as he remembers it.

How fun it will be, reading Mark the next couple weeks, keeping in mind that it’s Peter’s perspective.  What a great person to hear from since he was in the “inner circle” of the 12 disciples!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Day 25~ Matt. 27 & Prov. 24

My five year old wakes my up frequently in the middle of the night saying he had a bad dream.  Even though he is quite shaken, by morning he usually doesn’t remember his dream or if he does, it’s pretty vague and doesn’t make sense.  

The dream that Pilate’s wife had stood out to me today.  “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” (27:19)
Her dream bothered her way more than any dream my 5 year old has had or any I have had for that matter.  I say that because I would never dare interrupt my husband, after he had already gone to work, to share with him my dream! She dared!  Pilate had already sat down to hear cases (27:19) for the day in his “judgement seat” and she sent a text (I mean, sent word) to him.  She was convinced that her dream was more than just a dream.  It was a God given message.

What is remarkable to me about this scene is that when everyone else, who could have given witness to his character, had abandoned Jesus, God still provided someone to give testimony to his innocence. “Righteous man” implies his innocence. He used a lady! 

Unfortunately for Pilate, he did not give heed to the testimony about Jesus; he didn’t listen to his wife.  (I bet he got an ear load when he got home from work that day!)

Matthew Henry made an interesting observation in his commentary.  “God has many ways of giving checks to sinners, in their sinful pursuits, and it is a great mercy to have such checks from Providence, from faithful friends and from our own consciences. O do not this abominable thing which the Lord hates! is what we may hear said to us, when we are entering into temptation, if we will but regard it.” 

This reminds me of 1 Corinthians 10:13, “ But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 
But if you don’t take the “way out” that he provides, it’s no ones fault but your own.  As much as Pilate would like to wash his hands of the guilty, he couldn’t.  He didn’t take the “way out” that was given to him by God through his wife. 

May I always be open to hearing and taking the way out given to me!!! 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Day 24~ Matt. 26 & Prov. 23~ Friendship

Remember the other day I talked about how Jesus was so kind to bring the donkey along to comfort the colt? (Day 19)   I was touched to see how even Jesus needed his friends near by during his hard time. 
“And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled.  Then he said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death, remain here, and watch with me.’ ” (Matt 26: 37-38)
I can learn two things from Jesus’ example. 

1.)   The disciples didn’t say anything that encouraged Jesus.  They just stayed with him.  I can do that!  When a friend is in need, I can just stay with him/her.  I don’t need to say anything profound or deeply spiritual.  I just need to be with them.

2.)  I shouldn’t isolate myself when I am going through a hard time.  I need to tell a couple close friends so that they can “be” with me.

So simple! This is how God designed us.  This is how we should respond in hard times.  Don’t ignore other peoples pain.  Go to them.
Don’t try to go through hard times alone.  Ask for friends to come around you.
And here is a side note for those of you who like to sing,🎀 “I am a rock.  I am an iii..island”
Jesus not only asked his friends to come along side him during his hard time, but he had to asked two more times!!  Some times it takes friends a little bit of time to clue in….

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Day 23~ Matt. 25 & Prov. 22

The fifth and final discourse (see Day 1) found in Matthew answers the question, “How will human history end?” (Chs. 24-25)  These two chapters are a summary of a private conversation Jesus was having with his disciples (24:3), maybe just the 12 or maybe a few more, since Matthias and Justus were around the whole time (Acts 1:21).

How uncomfortable Judas must have been feeling!  Hearing he needed to stay alert and ready for an undefined amount of time, all while investing his talents for God and caring for the unfortunate, must have thrown him for a loop.  It must have been confusing for him because he thought the political reign of Jesus was immanent.  Judas was there with the whole group,…. hearing what would happen to those who didn’t follow Jesus..…..yet, I think, at some point, he stopped listening… He didn’t hear that part….😞

We can learn some valuable lessons from Judas.  One thing is, don’t let confusion get in the way of obedience. Still seek clarity…but obey while you are seeking…Otherwise, it doesn’t end well (Matt. 25:46). 😳

Monday, January 22, 2018

Day 22~ Matt. 24 & Prov. 21

I am doing a Bible study of Revelation right now with a wonderful group of Christians couples.  It’s great being with these people, pondering over the word of God!  The author of the book we are using holds to the view of “pre-tribulation”, meaning the rapture occurs before the antichrist comes.  There are other views that Biblical scholars take on the subject (mid-trib. , post-trib.).  It’s quite a controversial subject actually because all sides can back their view with scripture.  

The author of our book backs his view point by using Rev. 3:10, “I also will keep you from this hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”  The author says the Greek translates “keep you from” as “to keep you out”. 
However, other scholars read the same words, using the Greek as, “to watch over, to guard”, meaning “keep you” in the faith, during this time of testing. 

Ugg!  It’s hard to know, pre- trip….mid-trib….I see why there is debate! 
I heard someone say in the study, “We don’t have to worry about the tribulation, we won’t be here when all this happens.”…umm….I’m not so sure about that after todays reading in Matthew….

What I do know for sure is that Jesus warns us here in Matt. 24:4, “See that no one leads you astray.”  Keep your faith!  He doesn’t say the disciples will escape tribulation.  

The bottom line is, we can/should ‘Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.’  That’s where I stand! 

I trust, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (vs13)  So, that’s what I plan to do regardless if I find myself in the great tribulation or not!!😊

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Day 21~ Matt. 23 & Prov. 20

I have a five year old who asks me frequently what my favorite number is.  His favorite number changes from time to time. I remember talking about favorite numbers with my sister when we were little.  People have favorite numbers.  I am noticing that 7 may be God’s favorite number! Maybe because he got to rest on the 7th day…who knows…but he uses 7 a lot!!

Anyway, in today’s reading we see Jesus using 7 again!  7 Woes!  Scholars note that the 7 woes here are in contrast to the seven blessings in Matt. 5:3-9.  I thought I would compare the two lists of 7: 

Blessed are the:
1.) Poor in spirit

2.) Meek

3.) Merciful

4.) Pure in Heart

5.) Peacemakers

6.) Persecuted for righteousness

7.) Others persecute you on Jesus’ account 

Woe to those who:
1.) Shut the kingdom of heaven in peoples faces

2.) Entrap converts

3.) Use biding oaths

4.) Neglect weighty matters

5.)  Look clean yet are filthy inside

6.) Have outward beauty, dead inside

7.) Follow ancestors footsteps by murdering prophets

It’s remarkable how the blessed list describes one with pure motives, thinking of others; the other with self-serving motives regardless of how it affects others.  
I’m reminded of what we just read in Matthew 22. Jesus described how to love God and others and ended with, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (22:40)
God never changes (Malachi 3:6); His law was always about grace and mercy.  Man did the changes. Clearly, the scribes and Pharisees over time, got derailed from what Old Testament Law taught and Jesus was setting everyone straight again. Thankfully we still have Jesus, in our heart, setting us straight when our natural tendency is to be like the scribes and Pharisees! 

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Day 20~ Matt. 22 & Prov. 19

Oh my!  Matthew 22 has some heavy theological concepts!  In the wedding parable, scholars feel that Jesus is “alluding to imputed righteousness.”  πŸ€” Meaning, the guy who was thrown out of the banquet because he didn’t have the right wedding clothes, is compared to one who doesn’t have the righteousness given by Christ.  Paul clarifies the subject more in his letter to the Romans, but Jesus introduces the idea here.  

Then in the same parable we read the concept of “the elect”. 😳
"For many are called, but few are chosen.” (22:14); another topic expanded on by Paul in Romans 9:11.
The concept of “the elect” is really hard for me to get my brain around, but I always end with this thought, thank you God, for inviting everyone to the banquet, AND giving me the sense to come and put the wedding clothes on!

And then I read this, “Whoever gets sense loves his own soul; he who keeps understanding will discover good.” (Proverbs 19:8)
Do you get it or is it given?...who knows!.....I'm thankful I have it and pray for those who don't!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Day 19~ Matt. 21 & Prov. 18

What would I do without my commentary?!  I read, “They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them.”  I’m thinking…how did he sit on both the donkey and the colt?…Did he sit on both animals because the prophecy mentioned both animals?…His bottom on one animal his legs on the other?…..I’m trying to picture it……I’m confused….

Then I read my commentary, “he sat on them”..refers to the cloaks not the two animals.
Ahhh…that makes sense!  πŸ˜‚Silly me!
Jesus sat on just the colt, which fulfilled the prophesy.  The mother, according to my commentary, was most likely brought to walk along side the unbroken colt, which would be a good way to calm the colt during the noisy entrance into Jerusalem.

Well, my thought to that was, Jesus in all his God glory could easily keep a colt calm by himself.  However, I think it’s kind’a cute that Jesus cares about the colt’s well being so much, he knows the donkey will be a comfort to the little one. Jesus does the same with us!  He can calm us by himself, but he often brings others along side us to give us that tangible comfort.  

So, I have just made this observation in Matthew and turn to the Proverbs reading.  The first verse hits me, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire, he breaks out against all sound judgement.” (18:1)

Wow!  What a reiteration of a point! Don’t isolate yourself during hard times!  Allow Jesus to use others to come along side you for comfort! Who would have thought there was a great lesson to be learned in the use of a donkey and a colt?!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Day 18~ Matt 20 & Prov. 17

As I am sure you are aware, the things God says in His word often have multiple applications.  We see that in prophesies and stories in the Old Testament. For example, Jonah being in the belly of a fish is likened to Jesus in the grave for three days (Matt 12:40). 
So it shouldn’t be surprising that the master story teller could use one parable to teach many different lessons.  Today we read about the laborers in the vineyard. There are a lot of things that can be learned from that parable.
  1. Don’t measure your worth by comparing yourself to others.
  2. God is generous.
  3. God has the prerogative to do what he wants.
  4. Jews were first in on the promise but now it has been opened up to the Gentiles.
My commentary mentioned another lesson that Jesus could have been teaching that I never thought of before.  Jesus could have been using this illustration to “warn early followers (i.e. the 12) that they should not despise those who would come later” into a relationship with Jesus.  Isn’t that a true possibility?!  Especially in the light of the little “tiff” the disciples got into when they heard about the request of James and John to sit on Jesus left and right. (20:24)  
After all, the disciples gave up everything and followed Jesus for 3 years!  I can see that they might have been prone to feeling a little privileged.  They may have enjoyed more believers coming into the fold in Acts, but maybe they were in danger of feeling like they deserved more than the newbies.  Jesus knowing his children took a moment to warn them otherwise.

Who know if that was really the motivation for this parable to the disciples,……but what a great example of how many things can be learned from one parable!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Day 17~ Matt. 19 & Prov 16

Whenever I come across a Biblical concept that makes me ponder, I find that Biblical scholars have already grappled with the concept and have written doctorate papers on the topic!  I often feel like I am coming late to the party.  Case in point, levels of faith.

I am really trying to grasp the idea of “little faith”.  I got into quite a discussion with my husband and oldest son about “levels of faith” when we were talking about what I wrote on the blog the day before yesterday.  Are there levels? I have read some interesting papers that others have written.  They have left me very unsure about the “level” thing….

Well, as I continue to ponder the matter and continue in my reading today, I can’t help think, doesn’t the rich, young man in verses 16-22 sound like he has a little faith?  After all, he kept the 10 commandments and wanted to be sure of his eternal life so he went to Jesus.  Doesn’t that sound like one who has something to begin with?  The problem we see with “a little faith” in this case, is that there was no faith in Jesus.  He chose not to follow Jesus.
I think that the reason I get so caught up in trying to clarify “little faith” with “saving faith” is that I have a genuine concern for those people who think they are safe with the little faith they have.  A little faith wasn’t good for the young ruler and it wasn’t good for Judas.  I think the problem lies with the term “little”.  We think “amount”, when maybe we should be thinking “type” not amount.  

This article has a the greek translation for “little faith” that brings more clarity to the subject.

Jesus tries to clarify when he says even a small amount will do great things (Matt. 17:20).  But, it needs to be the right type, right?  The type that follows Jesus.  The young man didn’t have that type, and chose to walk away from Jesus….It wasn’t a quantity issue, it was a quality (or type) issue.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Day 16~ Matt. 18 & Prov 15

We come to the 4th of 5 discourses Matthew lays out in his book.  This one answers the question, “What warnings did Jesus give about not hindering entrance into the kingdom and on forgiveness? 

(See Day 1)

It’s hard not to have a gut wrenching reaction when you hear Jesus say, “For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!” (18:7)😳
When I read that, I naturally want to do the Latin hand slap.  Which is like saying. “Oooh, they are in trouuuble!”
What's that hand slap?  When I was first married, my husband and I lived in Costa Rica to try to learn Spanish.  We lived with a family that had a seven year old boy, Diego.  I think Diego taught us more about the Latin culture than our teachers!  When Diego saw someone else get in trouble or embarrassed, spill, trip, etc.  He would lift his elbow upward, dangle his hand and shake it in a way that made the fingers slap.  It became such an appropriate response to something bad, my husband and I integrated it into our response when we see something worthy.  I can’t think of an American equivalent.  (If you are curious to see the hand slap, I found a funny video that demonstrates it, but excuse the language!  πŸ˜›This may be funny only to me and my husband.)

Needless to say, when I read verse 7, I did the “hand slap”.  
Woe to that person!  I pray that I would never be one that would cause another to be tempted to do wrong!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Day 15~ Matt.17 & Prov. 14- Faith

When the disciples asked Jesus why they couldn’t cast out the demon, I was struck with his answer.  “Because of your little faith.” (17:20)  Is a little faith enough to be saving faith?  After I did a little digging, I am going to propose that it is not.  You either have a saving faith or you don’t.  But how can I say that in light of Jesus using the words “ of little faith”?
Well, the disciples weren’t saved yet, they were learning how to be saved.  Case in point, Judas didn’t grow in his understanding of who Jesus was never convinced that Jesus was God.  He had no faith.  (You are either convince of a fact or your are not. You don’t grow in your conviction of a fact.)  Also, we know how Peter and Thomas both decided to “have faith” after they saw Jesus back from the dead. 

Do you realize that Jesus has already said this to the disciples four other times?
6:30-  When Jesus was addressing the topic of worry. “If that is how God clothes the grass…will he not cloth you, O you of little faith?”
8:26-  During the storm on the Sea of Galilee, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’
14:31-Peter sinking, “Jesus immediately ..took hold of him, “O you of little faith.”
16:8-  After feeding 5000 one time and 4000 the other, they were worried, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread?”

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that from Jesus perspective, “little faith” was equal to no faith.  I say this because in our reading today he just grouped his disciples in with the crowd he called a, “faithless & twisted generation” (vs 17)  He also said that if they had faith as small as a mustard seed (pretty darn small), they would be able to do great things (vs. 21).  The disciples were exhibiting no faith when he said you of “little faith”.  
To me it sounds like you either have faith in Jesus or you don’t.  

He will mention faith again in 
21:21- “..if you have faith and do not doubt,…whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
He doesn’t address the amount, it is just a matter of having true faith or not.
Lucky for us, the writer of Hebrews spelled out what saving faith entails, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (11:1)

What are your thoughts on that?  Do you have scripture to back up your thoughts?  I would love to hear?
First though, if you use , Mark 9:24 to back up a point of having faith and doubt at the same time you may want to read a paper I thought was very insightful.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Day 14~ Matt. 16 & Prov. 13

Jesus lays out only two options for all people.

1.) “…let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (16:24)
2.) “..he (Jesus) will repay each person according to what he has done.” (16:27)

My commentary simplifies it by saying that Jesus “will bring judgement for those who have chosen to follow their own will, and reward only those who have taken up the cross.”

That’s pretty black and white!  It’s either one or the other, nothing in between.  Picking up the cross isn’t just for the really committed Christians (i.e.pastors, missionaries); nope.  It’s for everyone who claims to be a Christian.  That’s radical!!  That means every Christian is to be radical!  

That thought has really got me to ponder!!…

What are your thoughts on that?

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Day 13~ Matt. 15 & Prov. 12

This is me.  I decide I need to lose a couple pounds.  Shouldn’t be too hard.  When I was young I would just skip a meal and voila, gone!  So, that’s what I decide to do.  I go on my marry way, out into the garden to pick some weeds….then a thought hits me out of no where….the girls made some homemade cookies last night and they are sitting in a tupperware in the kitchen…..I’m not having one….remember I want to loss a couple pounds.  I go into the house to do a load of laundry.  I wonder if the girls used chocolate chips?  I go to the computer to check my emails.  I wonder if the cookies are as soft today as they were when they were taken out of the oven yesterday.  STOP thinking about the cookies! 
I start paying some bills…..a little bit of half a cookie isn’t going to keep me from losing a couple of pounds….Trey wants me to read him a story.  “OK, pick out a book, I’ll read to you.”  We cuddle up in the big chair, the book he picked is,  If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.  Well, wouldn’t it be fun to have a cookie for a snack after the book, Trey?  We head to the kitchen and I give him one…..I give in to a taste.  Nope, they are not as soft.  I close the lid after the taste and leave Trey in the kitchen to finish his while I go to clean out my car.  But I can actually hear the rest of the cookie calling out to me….finish meeee! 

I pick this benign example to illustrate what is so very true, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15)  

Jesus, having beyond a doctorate in human psychology, knows this about his creation.  Maybe that’s why he repeated himself in today’s reading.  Whenever he repeats himself…..I perk up thinking, he REALLY wants to drive home a point. I just commented three days ago on Matt. 12:34, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”  Here in ch. 15 Jesus expands the idea from just words to thoughts and actions as well. “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.  These defile a person.” (15:18-19) (Remember, after reading chapter 5, we know that murder and adultery equal anger and lust, which are thoughts). 

Thoughts, like mine with the cookie, gives rise to sin….if we allow it.

It’s a heart issue.  Where do you lie up your treasures? (Matt. 6:21)  If we focus on our selves, that is where our heart is; wanting to please our appetites (of any kind) we give in every time. 

Lord, help me fill my heart completely with you!! Have it be so full of you that it is more natural to pour out thoughts of you than thoughts of me!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Day 12~ Matt. 14 & Prov. 11

Isn’t it our first reaction, when things go wrong, to think, “Why Lord?  Why me?  What did I do to deserve this? Why are you punishing me?”  
I get that; after all, there are verses in the Bible like Proverbs 12:21, “No ill befalls the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble.”  What’s up wit that?….ill fell on John!..Or did it…..

Taking a quick look at the translation of “ill”, commentators say the word can be translated “sin”.  So, it is true that those with faith in Christ will have no sin rest on them for eternity.  Christ took on our sins.  The wicked will be dealing with their “trouble” for eternity. (See Gill’s Exposition for more explanation:

Back to the Matthew reading…
If you ever wonder why you are going through a hard time, take heart, you don’t have it as bad as John did!  Maybe John had some of the same questions we automatically have when we are going through a bad time.  I don’t know.  What we do know is how John dealt with his doubts and hard time. He went to Jesus.  Well, actually, his friends went for him since he was tied up. Jesus sent back encouraging words.  He didn’t take John out of the bad situation, but he encouraged him in the hope John had.  I am confident that John received the peace that Jesus promises when we turn to him (Phil 4:7) therefore he was able to finish his race and keep his faith (just like Paul wrote in 2 Tim. 4:7).  What a great example for us!!

What I notice in both the Proverb verse and the Matthew reading, is that God has eternity on his mind.  While God’s view of us is in light of the long, long, long run, we get caught in the here and now.  

God had a plan for John’s life from the very beginning.  We see that from the time of his conception (Luke 1:24) all the way through to his ministry of making the paths straight for those who were to follow Jesus (Matt 11:10).  It was all ordained from the beginning of time!!!  It’s the same for us.  God knows the plan he has for each one of us.  “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16)  May we be like John and turn to Jesus during our times of doubt and pain so that we can be encouraged in our faith and think like God does~in the light of eternity.