Sunday, May 26, 2019

Luke 7-8~ Day 26~What to do with doubts.

I've heard sermons on John the Baptist and his little episode of doubt.  Who wouldn't have doubts in his situation? Here he was doing what God called him to do and he was being punished for it!  If I were in his shoes, I would be wondering.....Why, God?  Why would Jesus leave me in here?  I was pointing people to him!"

The sermons I have heard usually focus on how Jesus assured John that in fact he was the Messiah for whom John was sent to prepare the way. This time reading the story, I noticed something different; a practical application for me!

First of all, I am pretty sure John knew, without a doubt, that his "relative" (Luke 1:36) was the Messiah.  After all, he was there when "the Holy Spirit descended on him (Jesus) in a physical appearance like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven: "You are my beloved son; with you I am well-pleased." (Luke 3:22)
He also just heard from his disciples that Jesus raised a young man, the widow’s son, from the dead. (Luke 7:18).
John's knowledge of the truth and his belief in Jesus reminds me of mine!  Yes, I believe! I know it to be true!  Yet,.....like John, I have moments of doubt, especially when things seem to be going side-ways. 😰

Did you notice how Jesus responded to John's disciples when they conveyed John's question to Him? It's like he said, "When you have doubts, go back to God's word!"
Jesus used scripture to answer them! In fact he quotes from three different chapters in Isaiah!
What a good, practical application for me when I have doubts.  God’s Word speaks to us! Don't go to other sources.  Don't go to self-help books or read the most popular sociology/psychology/secular insight.  That doesn't help with doubts in Jesus!

Jesus gives explicit directions on what to do when questioning one's faith, Go to the Bible!  Remind yourself of what you know is true!
What a great reminder! 

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Luke 5-6~ Day 25~ Jesus IS our Sabbath

Let’s talk about the Sabbath since we read a lot about it in today’s reading.

“The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath” (6:5)  Have you ever given that sentence much thought? What does Jesus mean when he says he is the Lord of the Sabbath? My footnote says it’s that he had “authority to overrule the Pharisees tradition because Jesus had created the Sabbath. The creator is always greater than the creation.”

That’s true, but I think there is even more to it than that! The Sabbath is much more than “a day of rest”, it is symbolic of something greater!
I’m reading a book called Kingdom Come by Sam Storms. He does an excellent job of pointing out how everything in the Old Testament points to Jesus. In fact he asserts that “the Old Testament finds its consummate fulfillment in the person of Christ and his body, the Church” (pg. 16)

For example, Jesus is the true temple of God. The temple of the Old Testament with the  “shekinah” glory of God is now fulfilled in Jesus. God now dwells with his people (John 1:14).

He also talks about how Jesus is our Sabbath rest.  When Paul writes in Colossians that the Sabbath is “A shadow of what was to come; the substance of Christ.“, he is saying the Sabbath, though the immediate purpose in the Old Testament was to provide rest from physical labor, the foreshadowing and symbolism of the Sabbath finds its fulfillment in the spiritual rest provided by Jesus.
We cease from our labors, not by resting physically one day in seven, but by resting spiritually every day and forever in Christ by faith alone." (Storms p. 25)

So, in essence, for as Christians, every day is the Sabbath. Therefore Jesus is Lord over every day in a Christian’s life!  I love that! With all that in mind, I totally understand what Jesus is proclaiming in Luke 6:5, “The Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath”.
Let him be Lord of your life because he gives you spiritual rest every day of it! You no longer need to work for your righteousness. Rest knowing you are righteous!
Aaahhh......😌

Friday, May 24, 2019

Luke 3-4~ Day 24~ Demons!😳😈

I am always left pondering demonic warfare when I read this section of scripture, "Also, demons were coming out of many, shouting and saying, "You are the Son of God!" (Luke 4:31)

Why is it that in our current culture no one, including Christians, would ever believe that a person is demon possessed?  People were back then... why not now?  We have been taught to believe a person's issues are always psychologically rooted.  Therefore give them medicine or psychotherapy.  I would venture to guess that it would be even a Christian's first thought to seek psychiatric help for someone with behavior that caused them to want to be naked (Luke 8:27), cut themselves (Mark 5:5) or attempt suicide (Mark 9:22).
I often wonder, what would be my role when confronted with a person with mental disorders?  Do I refer that person to a psychiatrist or do I pray in the name of Jesus to expel the demon (like they do in Mark 9:29, 9:38 & Luke 10:17)?

Remember, I am a nurse who believes God gave man wisdom to treat, medically, all kinds of infirmities.  Yet, I am also a Christian who reads the Bible.  So, when I read something like "Some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities.." (Luke 8:2), I must acknowledge both conditions exist in our world and both can be healed by the power of Jesus.

It's interesting that we just got finished reading Mark where it says, "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.  And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons..." (16:16)
Humm... I haven't cast out any demons yet....in fact,  I am being totally honest here.....I wonder if it would dawn on me to try.

My first thought if I came across someone cutting or one who has a history of trying to kill themselves, would first be,  go the medical route. My next thoughts would be,  if I started to pray in the name of Jesus to expel a demon,
1.  People would look at me as a religious wacko. 
2. My faith would falter, not believing that a demon would really come out.
πŸ˜•
I am a product of our culture! πŸ˜«
I realize, I need to pray after reading these verses and pondering it all!  I need help!!  

Lord, please increase my faith!  Don't let me be a product of my culture!  I am just a visitor here, let me have a heavenly mind.  Remind me that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13) and please teach me not to be concerned of what others think of me.  Who cares if I'm a religious wacko!  Especially if the result of praying in your name could lead to another being freed from a demon!!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Luke 1-2~ Day 23~ Parents prep the soil!!

Once again, this new version for me (CSB), makes a verse stand out like it never has before!
When Gabriel is telling Zach that he will have a son and what that son would do, he says, "And he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn hearts of fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to make ready for the Lord a prepared people." (1:17)

I had to re-read that verse to try to understand "turn the hearts of fathers to their children."  My footnote helped me,  "John's message would include the straightforward admonition to families to restore godly leadership in the home.  He would call fathers to turn to their children with love and compassion, persuading their offspring to look to God."

I love that!  Fathers need to turn to their children and teach them about God!  We need that same message proclaimed here, today, in the USA!  We need dads to have the desire to teach their children about Jesus rather than turn their hearts to their favorite sport or TV series!  What a different culture we would have if dads took up the spiritual leadership in their homes!

I bet you anything that John used Deuteronomy 11:13-21 when he appealed to his Jewish audience!!

 “If you carefully obey my commands I am giving you today, to love the Lord your God and worship him with all your heart and all your soul, 14 I will provide rain for your land.....18 “Imprint these words of mine on your hearts and minds, bind them as a sign on your hands, and let them be a symbol on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates, 21 so that as long as the heavens are above the earth, your days and those of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your fathers."

The result of parents teaching their children spiritual truths is stated in our reading, "To make ready for the Lord a prepared people." (Luke 1:8). Children who have been taught truth, grow up to have soil prepared to receive the seed of Jesus in their heart (like the parable in Mark 4:7) when the time comes for them to make their own decision to follow Him or not.  What an honor and privilege we get as parents to play a role in prepping the soil!  Lord, let the hearts of fathers in our country turn to their kids and prepare them, make them ready for you!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Mark 15-16~ Day 22~ There’s no way he could keep faking it!

Obviously, if you are a "believer" you will see thousands of examples in the gospel writings that prove Jesus was/is the Messiah.
One such example stood out to me today.  I would love to have a conversation with a nonbeliever and discuss this one point.
First of all, it would need to be established that the writings of Mark is a first hand account of events.  Whatever was not witnessed by John Mark, the young man who ran away naked in the garden (14:51) was probably retold to him by Peter (first hand account) with whom he worked closely with (Acts 12:12 & 1 Peter 5:13).

So, after establishing that Peter or Mark heard the words of Jesus as he hung on the cross, it can be established that Jesus really said, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" (Mark 15:34)

One could argue that Jesus was a brilliant man and memorized much of the Old Testament.  He spent his life pretending he was the Messiah and threw out quotes when they fit.  One can even argue that he set up the borrowing of the colt prior to telling Peter and John to go get it (Mark 11;2).  It would be a stretch for me to believe that Jesus pre-set up all his miracles and then went back to the scene to act them out.  He was always traveling with a group people.  They would have noticed long stretches of absences from the group.  Anyway, let's just say that this Jesus guy had a severe case of "delusions of grandeur".
Would that person, Jesus, be able to hold to the deception up to the last moments of their life.  After being beaten severely and crucified, would that person still be able to quote Old Testament scripture just because it fit in at the moment?
Jesus's lasts words are more proof to me that he was/is, indeed, the Messiah. On the cross he is not just quoting Old Testament scripture, he is living out what the prophet, predicted (nearly 1000 years before) Jesus would say, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?  Why are you so far from my deliverance and from my words of groaning?" (Psalm 22:1)   That same Psalm has the words, "They divided my garments among themselves and they cast lots for my clothing." (vs. 18)

Even a person who suffers from delusions of grandeur could not carry their deception to their final, labored breath!  They could not pre-arrange that the soldiers would divide the clothes!

To me, it is so obvious what the truth is here!  I would love to point all this out to a nonbeliever!!  But, the fact is, some people who don't want a savior, will fight to keep from seeing the real one.  It doesn't matter how convincing an argument can be.  It doesn't matter if one gives a great, logical argument. Some just don't want to be saved. πŸ˜”

But.......some do!!  Therefore, when I ever do get to have a conversation with a nonbeliever about the truth of Jesus, I'm going to be ready!!
πŸ˜ƒ

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Mark 13-14~ Day 21~ "Yet, not what I will.."

In church this past weekend, we had a missionary share about the work God is doing in India.  This particular missionary is Indian himself, he came to America and become the lead pastor of a church in Irvine, CA.  However, after several years here in the USA, he felt God calling him back to India to encourage the pastors there.  He went on to share a bit about the politics of India.  He explained that the government system has something like 530 voting seats. There must be a 75% majority to agree to change the constitution. There is a push right now to fill the up coming vacant seats in the next election with more of the majority who are pushing to change the constitution.  If they can get the 75% control, the plan is to make Christianity illegal as per the country's constitution.  Christians are already being persecuted in this mostly Hindu country, but the laws don't not say it is illegal....yet.

The missionary sharing this information with us asked us to pray that the party against Christianity would not get the "majority" to change the constitution.  Then he added, "But even if they do, that will not stop us from doing the work God has called us to do!"

How inspiring!  I will definitely be praying for him!!
I thought of him when I read today how Jesus prayed, "Abba, Father," he said, " everything is possible for you.  Take this cup form me,  Yet, not what I will, but what you will." (14:36).

The missionary was asking us to pray just as Jesus did.

Lord, it's possible that you can make it so that this powerful political party can not change the constitution, but even if it's your will that they do, please give the missionary, the pastors and all Christians there in India, the strength and protection to continue the work you want them to do. Also, Lord, may the first part of this prayer never be needed for the USA! 

Monday, May 20, 2019

Mark 11-12~ Day 20~Did something get lost in translation?

So, I commented once in the past about this observation, but I thought I would mention it again for anyone new to the reading plan and caught the little detail that is easily missed.

It would be fun to know if anyone else caught this little detail; let me know if you did.

The CSB version says,
25 "And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrong doing."
27 "They came again to Jerusalem..."

That wording is pretty much the same in the NIV.  Did you notice there is no verse 26?
Is anyone reading the New King James? That version has verse 26 saying,
26 "But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

So, what's the deal?  Why are new versions leaving out the verse but keeping the number order?  I found a site that does a good job explaining. 
I thought I would share this interesting bit of trivia for you! I got the insight from the website, Evidence for Christianity.


"There is a textual variant in the Greek manuscripts.  The great majority of Greek manuscripts include this verse, but all the oldest manuscripts (such as Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus and Codex Alexandrinus) do NOT include this verse.  Many Bibles have Mark 11:26 in brackets.  It is [But if you don’t forgive, neither will your Father i heaven forgive your wrongdoing.] Probably a scribe added this verse in order to make Mark 11 agree with Matthew 18:35.  Such attempts by scribes to improve the text, of course, never actually improves it.  The reason for the verse numbering is that back in the 1600s when these were being added, the only available Greek manuscripts were later ones which are not of as good a quality.  Besides, the Latin Vulgate, which was by far the most read Bible at the time also contained this verse.  It is too late to change the numbering, so we are stuck with Mark 11:26 which almost certainly was not in the original.
This is a fairly typical example of the kind of errors that are found in our Greek manuscripts.  First of all, in this case it is quite easy for scholars to determine the likely original.  Second, because this verse is in Matthew anyway, there is really no important Christian teaching which is affected by including or excluding this verse."

Isn't that interesting?!  I thought you might like to know since you are digging into the Bible with me these 120 days!  However, if the above answer leaves you feeling uncomfortable, asking, "Well, if the verse was added by a scribe and not in the original NT, how can we be sure the Bible is perfect?", click the link to get a logical answer from John Oaks on that: http://evidenceforchristianity.org/if-mark-1126-was-added-by-a-scribe-and-not-in-the-original-nt-how-can-we-be-sure-the-bible-is-perfect/

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Mark 9-10~ Day 19~ In the name of Jesus.

It stood out to me how many times Jesus said, "In my name" as he was giving instructions to his disciples.
"Whoever welcomes one little child such as this in my name, welcomes me." (9:37)

"...because there is no one who will perform a miracle in my name who can soon afterward speak evil of me." (9:39)

"And whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you belong to Christ-..." (9:41)

Jesus is pointing out that there is a big difference between doing benevolent acts verses doing loving acts in His name.  Someone who is not a believer and does three years of the Peace Corp may have helped meet the temporary physical needs of some, but they did nothing of the eternal, spiritual needs of the people they were with.  That person has altruistic motives and maybe even perhaps felt they "covered their bases" as far as being a "good person".

A disciple of Christ however, should not miss what Jesus is repeating here.  Kind acts are only truly loving when it is done in the name of Jesus.  The ultimate loving act is to point the other to Jesus, and at how to have a right relationship with him.  Jesus is giving a two part command.  We can't forget about the second part of the command and focus only on the first part.  If we do, we miss the whole point of what Jesus is asking us to do!

I am reminded of a couple I met in the Andes mountains of Ecuador.  The couple had been missionaries for 40 years to one particular village and it's surrounding areas.  They told us what the village people were like when they first arrived.  The culture had been ruined by alcohol.  Men would start drinking early in the day.  It would be a common occurrence to see multiple men passed out in the gutters of the street in the middle of the day.  Men were not working, abandoned their families and caused the women to do the child rearing and figure out how to get food on the table.  The family unit was in shambles.  Over time, as they shared the gospel with the people, they noticed a visible change in the culture! Men's lives started to change.  Some stopped drinking, went back to work and provided for their families.  When we arrived, we did not see any sign of a broken society as a whole.

We got the opportunity to show the Jesus film to the village and were stunned at how many people came!  Talking about a ripe harvest!!  It was by far, more people than what the village could hold!  People had hiked all day to come and see the film.  The field, where we gathered, was crowded!  That scene helps me picture what it was like when Jesus came to town in the gospel stories we are reading.

At first, one might think that the help this culture needed was a better farming system or a better travel system between towns or easier water access for the women.  Those would have been "giving a cup of water" but it would not be in Jesus name if Jesus was never mentioned.  Instead, this couple went in with the goal of doing all their work in the name of Jesus.  What an affect it had on the culture!!  The villagers did better as a society, able to figure out their own ways of "giving a cup of water" to their families and surrounding town people.  They were able to do it themselves because their brains were no longer clouded by alcohol, but filled with Jesus!

I think these verses are good litmus tests to any volunteer work or charitable giving I may do.  Am I doing something to meet physical needs while also sharing Christ?  Does the organization I am thinking of being involved in have the goal to share Christ with those they come in contact with?  If the answer is no, than I can comfortably know that others in our society will have a benevolent heart toward those organizations, but I don't have to be the one to help them out.  I need to keep my attention on the programs and organizations that work "in the name of Jesus".

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Mark 7-8 Day 18~ Demanding a sign? You gotta be kidding!

I'm hosting a party tonight.  It's making me think "meal prep" and how to serve it up.  One event I had at my house, I served the food like I normally do, down one side of the table.  I regretted doing it that way when I realized they could have gone down both sides of the table, serving everyone twice as fast. As it was, some people were done eating while others were still in line!
 πŸ˜
So, needless to say, my attention is drawn once again to the feeding of thousands of people!  I am mesmerized by it, actually.  The logistics of getting that food spread out to everyone and then going through the crowd to collect the left overs seems overwhelming to me! 

Luke 10: 3-17 refers to Jesus sending out 70 disciples to prepare the way for him.  Maybe these 70 people were there to help with the distribution of bread, instead of just the closest 12.  Even so, that is 75 people (not including women and children) for each one of those 70 disciples serving up the bread and fish.  I think because I have planned big events and have been part of big events, I find the logistics of this story remarkable.  Yet, I can't tell you how many times I have glossed over it, not giving it much of a thought. The story has almost become blasΓ©.  This time though,.....I'm blown away by this miracle!

So, I keep reading and get to this..."The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, demanding of him a sign from heaven to test him." (8:11)
Are you kidding me???!!!  What do you think he has been doing (said this disciple)?

No wonder Jesus sighed deeply! (vs.12)  I would have been right there with him! 
I'm thinking again, what I wrote yesterday, I hope I don't become so busy or hard hearted that I don't see the miracles Jesus does in my life.  I would be so sad if I got to heaven and got a run down of my life and saw how many times Jesus sighed at me!! So, my prayer is the same as yesterday, "Lord, please help me be spiritually attuned to you and how you are work in my life!"

Friday, May 17, 2019

Mark 5-6~ Day 17~Too busy to see the miracles?

The CSB version of the Bible I am reading had a slightly different way to word Mark 6:41b.  "He kept giving them (the broken loaves) to his disciples to set before the people.  He also divided the two fish among them all."
The NIV says, "Then he gave them to his disciples."
I had a new way to picture the scene when I read, "He kept giving them" the broken pieces.  

Maybe the disciples, for example, Andy, Tom and Bart, got a handful of broken pieces from Jesus, went to the closest group of 50 sitting down, passed what they had out to the people and then went back to Jesus, he hands them more and they turn around again and go to the next group.  Eventually every group of 50-100 had a disciple like Thad or Simon approach them with an arm full of broken pieces of bread....Then came the second course~fish!!

I love trying to visualize the scene!  I bet the disciples were so busy running back and forth passing out food, that they weren't really thinking about how Jesus was able to continually divide what he had in his hands.  If they took the time to think about it, they probably would have stopped in their tracks and thought, "What on earth is going on here?!"  But, they were too busy to think about it.

So, here is a question, was it busyness that made their hearts heard? They couldn't see the miracle happening before their eyes.  It amazed me to read after the storm, "They were completely astounded because they had not understood about the loaves.  Instead, their hearts were hardened." (6:51-52)

What a great lesson for us (me in particular)!  God does miraculous things around us all the time!  Does the busyness of life keep me from seeing God in action?
Lord, please don't allow me to develop a hardened heart!  Slow me down enough to see the miracles you do every day.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Mark 3-4~ Day 16~ More will be given!! Woo woo!!

He said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear. By the measure you use, it will be measured to you-and more will be added to you. For whoever has, more will be given to him, and whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” (Mark 4:24-245)

I have always read that thinking it seems harsh. Why would God “take away” what little spiritual truth one may possess or understand? Isn’t a little truth better than none? After all, doesn’t Jesus say that faith as small as a mustard seed can do big things? (Matt. 17:20).
Well, as I was pondering this, I read the footnote in my Bible. It was so well stated, I thought I would just quote the whole thing for you.

“The parables of the lamp and measure in Mark are stern exhortations to be spiritually perceptive. Jesus did not come for His kingdom to be hidden but to be revealed fully to all. The more you appropriate spiritual truth now, the more you will receive in the future. If you do not make spiritual perceptiveness a high priority now, even the little spiritual perception you think you have will be taken from you. In other words, you had better wonder if you have truly made a commitment to Christ and are counted as his disciple if pursuing spiritual understanding is not a priority. Those who do not have an interest in spiritual things will soon find themselves falling further away from the kingdom (v.25).”

Ohh, that was good!! That doesn’t seem as harsh. Rather, it’s a stern warning to do some self evaluation. It’s not the quantity of faith, but the quality of faith; is it real? Real faith doesn’t hide, but shines for all to see. There will be no question to others as to what your beliefs are.

“Pay attention to what you hear!”  I know I’m speaking to the choir here, because we are doing just that! We are paying attention to spiritual things revealed in our reading everyday. Lucky us, more will be added to you and me!! πŸ€—

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Mark 1-2~Day 15~ Be like the healed guy!

Sorry everyone, about the late posting yesterday. I tried a new method of scheduling the post to release and it didn’t work. Ugh. Anyway, I hope you are keeping up on the reading and are happy about finishing a book in the Bible already!!!
On to Mark!  Boy, he gets right into the miracles Jesus performed in these two chapters!
 He doesn’t feel the need to prove the lineage of Jesus or the background of his birth. Nope, he just gets right to it!  He goes right to proving who Jesus was by listing the supernatural miracles Jesus did.

I love how the accounts very in how they present the gospel. For example, I’m not Jewish so the lineage written in both Matthew and Luke aren’t as important to me as proof of who Jesus is. Mark, they say, is directed to Gentiles, like me.  Hearing how God’s voice from heaven was heard by those who saw him get baptized, hearing of his control over demons, hearing of the immediate healing’s from a fever, leprosy and paralysis… Those things make me think, “Wow, Jesus was and is God!”  

Miracles convince me!! And, about that guy who was healed from leprosy( 1:40-45), I hate to say it, but I’m sure I would have been just like him. As much as I would like to obey Jesus, I would probably be out telling everyone how I was healed!
Now that I’m thinking about it, I have had a lot of things happen in my life that I think are God’s direct miracles for me. I am like that guy! I love to tell the stories of what God has done in my life!
What about you? Are you like the one who was healed? Do you share stories of how God has shown himself in your life? 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Matthew 27-28~ Day 14~ Don't serve up leftovers!

This is one of the saddest sections of reading to me, but since we just read of the reality that Jesus will return, I was able to get through it without wanting to cry!

My mom has a saying she often used when she came to babysit my kids.  "OK, hurry up and leave so that you can come back."
I found myself wanting to say that to Jesus as I read today!

Also, I took special note of the rich man, Joseph, from Arimathea in today's reading (Matt. 27:57).  Obviously, it's not impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God (Matt. 19:23).  It may be hard, but not impossible.  Joseph, a disciple of Jesus, is proof of that!

I have been told that most American's, on a global scale, are rich.  So, going by that standard, I'm rich like Joseph!  Joseph gave the brand new tomb, that had been prepared for his family, to Jesus.  Would I give something brand new, specifically prepared for my family, to Jesus?  Joseph wrapped the dead body in "fine linen".  Would I have used fine linen to do something like that?

Joseph's generosity as a disciple was remarkable!!  He played such a valuable role in this story!  He was showing honor to the King!  I want to be like Joseph!!  I want my wealth to be counted for something that honors the King!  What a great way to be remembered; being generous to one's Savior.
I am so thankful for Joseph's example.  I want to learn from him~
Give your best to Jesus, not your leftovers.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Matthew 25-26~ Day 13~ One with warning, one without.

I have been accused of never giving a short answer.  Well,.....I ain't got nothin' on Jesus!

Remember the question the disciples asked him back in 24:3?, "Tell us, when will these things happen?"  Jesus proceeds to give a lengthy answer that goes all the way to 26:1, "When Jesus had finished saying all these things.."

Jesus used 4 parables and a lot of prophesying to answer their two fold question.  Remember yesterday, I pointed out that the disciples thought the two events were one.  But Jesus makes it clear that they are two seperate events.  Matthew 24:4-35, he tells of the obvious predictable signs that will lead up to the destruction of the temple. Then, starting at 24:36 and going all the way through to 25:46,  he switches to the not so obvious day when he will return.

What a contrast!  The prediction of the temple was very obvious- "So when you see the abomination of desolation...then those in Judea must flee to the mountains." (24:16)  It's like he is saying, "Run!! Get out of town!  It's happening!"
Yet, the prediction of when Jesus returns will be quite the opposite to that.  Jesus makes that clear with the parable of the 10 virgins and the talents we read about today- there will be no warning!

Did you notice that Jesus repeats himself in a matter of words? "This is why you are also to be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." (24:44) and  "Therefore be alert, because you don't know either the day or the hour." (Matt. 25:13)
That was my take away from yesterday's reading and today's! ~Be ready~stay ready!

I love this reading plan! The consistency in the reading helps see the continuity in the writing.  Jesus is very clear on his answer to their question.  I think I would have missed it if I broke it up and only read certain verses.  I'm having fun with these new insights!  What about you?  What are you getting out of the reading?

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Matthew 23-24~ Day 12~ Happy Mother's Day!

I hope your kids are serving you breakfast in bed and then leaving you alone, because this is a long post and you will need that alone time!! Haha

So, wow! Jesus is super harsh with the generation of religious leaders he was dealing with in our reading today! He radically called them out on their support of what their forefathers did to the prophets, "You testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets." (23:31) and he condemns this group of people, living in Jerusalem at the time, to a very harsh end!
"And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth..." (23:35) Eekk!  πŸ˜±

Jesus goes on to describe what they had to look forward to.  "Truly I tell you, this will come on this generation." (23:36) "This generation" are the people living in the time of Jesus.  They will (and did) see the destruction of the temple and have a miserable end.  Here's what they experienced:
  • "Not one stone are will be left on another." (24:2) We know that Jerusalem was destroyed by the army under Vespasian in 70 AD.
  • "Many will try to deceive." (24:5)  We read about that those in Acts 5:36-37, 8:9-10 13:6 and 12:38. 
  • Nation will rise against nation (24:7).  Here's a little history for you, the Annals of Tacitus  describe events from 14AD to 68 that include conflicts in Germany, Africa, Thrace, Gaul, Parthians, (I've never heard of the last three but apparently they were nations), Britain, and Armenia.
  • There will be famine. (24:7)  We read about that in Acts 11:28.
  •  Earthquakes (24:7b). One is mentioned in Acts16:26, but others are recorded in 58 AD by Seneca- a Roman philosopher (60AD).
  • They will hand you over to be persecuted and they will kill you (24:10). You can read about that fulfillment in Acts 4:1-18, 12:1 and 23:24.
  • Many false prophets will deceive many (24:11). Nearly every N.T. letter warns the early Christians of those! These include, but are not limited to Acts 20:29-30, Rom. 16:17-18 & 2 Cor. 11:13.
  • This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world (24:14).  We read how the  apostles are scattered in Acts 8:1 and Paul writes how the good news spread to the whole world in Col. 1:23b.
  • The abomination of desolation standing in the Holy Place (24:15).  This could be in reference to the Roman army who brought sacrifices to the burnt/destroyed temple, declaring Titus the victor over Jerusalem. (Titus is Vespasian's son who was in charge of the siege after his dad went back to Rome to take over as Emperor after Emperior Nero killed himself.) 
  • The urgency to get out of the city is well warranted due to the great distress about to ensue (24:21).The brutality of the destruction is described in detail by the historian Josephus, who was an eye witness. I've read some of his account, it's brutal!😰

It all came about just as Jesus predicted!  That generation, let's say they were in their 30's to 40's when they killed Jesus around 30-36AD, were then in their 70's - 80's when they experienced Jerusalem being obliterated in 70 AD.  It makes sense that this generation suffered the way they did.  After all they they were the ones who killed the Son of God.  God didn't let them get away with it.

Chapter 24 can be confusing if one is trying to figure out if Jesus is predicting end time destruction.  Indeed the disciples must have thought the two events (destruction of the temple and end times) must happen concurrently.  "Tell us when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age."(Matt. 24:3)  After all, the temple seemed indestructible to them; if it were to be destroyed that must mean the end times had arrived.

I like how one commentary summed up the answer Jesus gave to their question:  "First he tells them that contrary to their expectations, his second coming and the end of the age are not to occur at the same time as the destruction of the temple.  In other words, the destruction of the temple can be dated by signs, but the second coming of Christ cannot." (Kingdom Come, by Storms, pg. 233) 

Then there would be a lengthy delay (24:36-25:30).  No signs will point to the precise moment Jesus will return.  Therefore, we must remain alert! (24:42)We are in that quiet period now!  Personally, since there will be no warning, I'm going to remain alert, just as all Christians have done before me! 
Jesus can return anytime!!  Woo hoo!!

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Matthew 21-22~ Day 11~It starts with the heart.

Reading the parables of the 2 sons, the vineyard owner and the wedding banquet, it got me thinking about what Jesus told the Gentile woman who was begging for his healing touch, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matt 15:24)
There are lessons, we Gentiles, can take away from these parables, but thinking about the original audience, I was saddened to see their hardened hearts toward parables that were clearly about them!

Jesus came to the house of Israel because they were the only ones on earth who were expecting the Messiah. Jesus had three years to get a whole people group, who had been waiting for the messiah since the days of King David (1000 years), to believe it was him!

Thinking about it, the use of parables was brilliant! Directly saying, "It's me!!", probably wouldn't attract the masses like the stories did.  These mysterious stories got the masses to come and listen and guess what they were about.  Curiosity has a way of drawing the masses, don't you think?
But, it doesn't take long to figure out exactly what Jesus is saying, and it doesn't take deep, profound spiritual insight to figure out the parables.  Indeed, the chief priests and the Pharisees knew exactly what Jesus was saying through the parables. (21:45)

Parables and the interpretation of them, expose the heart condition of the person hearing them.  All can understand, but some hearts can harden, not wanting to understand.  That idea makes Matthew 13:15 understandable, "For this people's heart has grown callous; their ears are hard of hearing and they have shut their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn back- and I would heal them."

There is a take away I got from hearing about those heard hearts listening to Jesus.  When wanting to share the gospel with friends, family and anyone else for that matter, I don't need to pray that I share the good news in a brilliant, intellectual way so that they can have full understanding.  Rather, I need to pray for the hearer to have a soft heart; a heart that is ready and willing to hear.  I need to pray that their heart does not grow callous so that they can hear and see truth!  To be honest, that takes a lot of pressure off of me!  It's not how or what I say, it's the condition of their heart/ears. Whew! My job is  just to say something!! (Rom. 10:14)

Friday, May 10, 2019

Matthew 19-20~ Day 10~ Slowing down to make sense out of scripture.

"Truly I tell you, in the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel." (19:28)

Just reading along quickly like I have done in the past, I have assumed Jesus is talking about the far future, end times and eternity beyond.  But, when I slowed down today, that verse left me with some questions....why those 12?  Why not John the Baptist, or other prominent O.T characters?  Why wouldn't they get a throne.  That doesn't seem fair.  And why would the 12 tribes of Israel get judged?  What about everyone else?  Yeah, I tend to ask a lot of questions....

Maybe Jesus isn't talking about what I assumed to be a renewal of the heavens and earth and the end of time.....well, I had to do some digging to get some answers!

On the surface, like I said, one can conclude (though not necessarily a correct conclusion) that this is in reference to our eternal life with Jesus.  Those 12 men will be judges on thrones for eternity.  However, there is another way to interpret this scripture.  Jesus, saying, when "the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne"  occurred after his resurrection (Acts 2:33) right?! Yes!!  That's not some future event! So, what does that mean for the 12 thrones?  Those 12 would "judge" or be witness to all Jewish people.  One commentary explained the thrones as  "a reference to the authority of these men, as bequeathed by Christ, and implemented by their subsequent teaching." (We will read about 12 disciples doing exactly that when we read Acts).
That same commentary explained that the "renewal of all things" does not mean a renewal of the "cosmos" or a new heaven or earth, but rather "restoration" of order that Peter talks about in Acts 3:21, "a fulfilment of God's purpose in attempting to reclaim fallen humanity, as now being implemented in the gospel age, the consummation of which will occur when Christ comes again."
https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/1060-regeneration-a-study-of-matthew-19-28-the

Ahh, that further digging helped me make much more sense of Matthew 19!  It's really quite cohesive! Jesus is talking about how hard it is for the rich to enter heaven (19:24) and that sacrificing all to follow Jesus is paramount.  He doesn't jump from the present to explain eschatological events and rewards, rather he continues the thought explaining that he would be giving authority to these disciples to show others how to do the same as they did. As a result, those who follow Christ "will inherit eternal life." (19:29)

This section of scripture is cohesive and encouraging to all! I love it!!!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Matthew 17-18~ Day 9~ Man's responsibility

As you know, I am reading a different version this time around, the Christian Standard Version. The different wording made this verse stand out to me today, "For offenses will inevitable come, but woe to that person by whom the offense comes.  If your hand or your foot causes you to fall away, cut it off and throw to away ( Matt. 18:7-8).

Wait a minute! Jesus said something very similarly in chapter 5; gouge out your eye, or cut off your hand if they causes you to sin (5:29-30).  In today's reading he reiterates again with the hand, foot or eye.  These verses illustrate the idea that man holds a responsibility in his salvation.
Jesus calls us to extreme action.  If we fail in that action, off to hell we go!  (18:8 & 9)
I didn't say it, he did! πŸ˜³
In all my reading and pondering of the New Testament, I have come to a conclusion about God's sovereignty and man's responsibility.  Both are true!  It's hard to understand with my human brain, but if the Bible speaks of both, both co-exist.  I am not the only one who has struggled with this concept and came to this conclusion.
C.H. Spurgeon (a famous preacher in the 1800's) is quoted as saying the two are "Friends", not needing to be reconciled to each other.  J.I. Packer (famous theologian popular in the 70's) says, "Divine sovereignty and human responsibility are not enemies.  They are not uneasy neighbors, they are not in an endless state of cold war with each other.  They are friends, and they work together."

I'll go with that, because it makes sense when you see all the verses that back both sides.  It makes today's reading VERY weighty doesn't it?  We better get rid of the things or people in our lives that cause us to sin.  It's our responsibility to do so!!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Matthew 15-16~ Day 8~ Not just lip service!

"This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me." (15:8)

How convicting is that?!  I know I have been guilty of that at times in my life!  It's easy to say, "Oh, what a beautiful sunset!  God is a master artist!" or "Wow! A baby!  What a miracle form God!"

But to live with God as the priority in my life always....that requires more than just talk!  I like how one fellow reader put it the other day, "The world is pulling us to live in it, and Jesus is pulling our hearts to him."  I commented back that I want Jesus to win that tug-a-war in my life!

I have found that the more I keep reading his Word regularly, the more I think about him.  This reading plan has helped me draw closer to Him and has even changed the worship time for me at church on Sundays.  I have a different mindset when I come to the "throne room" to sing my praises to him.

I pray that my heart will continue to draw near to Jesus and that I don't revert to just giving him lip service.  If I found what works, I better keep doing it!!.....I better keep reading!!πŸ˜„

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Matthew 13-14~ Day 7~ The wicked will be gathered first?

"At harvest time I'll tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to burn them, but collect the wheat in my barn." (Matt. 13:30)
Jesus explained that,  "The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.   Therefore just as the weeds are gathered (first) and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age."

I'm drawn to this section of scripture because I just read about those angles in Revelation (14:15-20).  They gathered up "the grapes" and threw then into the great winepress of God's wrath. πŸ˜±

So, here's a question for you Bible scholars.... if Jesus explains his parable as being about the last days, and he tells the reapers to gather the weeds first, why do we read 24:41 on the assumption that those taken first would be the righteous ones?  Matthew 24:31 and 1 Thess. 4:17 say the angels will gather the "elect"yet, we also know they will gather the wicked as well (13:41)

After today's reading, where Jesus says to "Gather up the weeds first",  I am left thinking about that 24:41 scripture in a new way!.... Interesting....don't you think?   πŸ€”

Monday, May 6, 2019

Matt.11-12~ Day 6~ Resting in a very good promise!

I often say, Satan teaches the exact opposite to what Jesus teaches. His teachings are prevalent in our world because he is the "ruler of the world", according to Jesus (John 12:31). Although he has already been defeated, he still has a heavy presence in our world (1 Peter 5:9) and will have a heavy presence until his final swim in fire (Rev. 20:10).  
The ruler of the world teaches to strive for recognition, success, and wealth in order for your life to mean anything.  He even tried to get Jesus to go along with that teaching (Matt.4).  The world (Satan) tries hard to distract people from the role of being a child of God, confusing their soul with a search for self-actualization, self- identification, self- realization, self, self self.  We are full of ourselves! 😝

I just smiled and breathed a sigh of relief when I read,
"Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (11:29-30)😌

We have rest for our souls when we follow Jesus.  There is no need to strive to fill ourselves with who knows what. I just sat and chewed on that sentence.  His yoke is easy.....his burden is light....
I'm going to rest in that!

What did you get out of the reading?

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Matthew 9-10~ Day 5~ A radical relationship

I have adult children now.  Over the years, I have had some good conversations with each of them about their dating life.  I'll confess, I like to use other peoples mistakes as examples for my kids to learn from; better someone else's mistakes than from their own, right?!
One mistake that I have pointed out is when we see another young person (who claims to be a believer) choose to date someone who is not a believer.  "It's not wise to missionary date!",  my kids have heard me say.  Inevitably, the believer slips in their convictions and slides into a life without Jesus being on the forefront of their mind.  We have seen it happen often amongst their friends.
I have a girlfriend who says, "You know the saying, you can choose who you date, but you can't choose who you love." So, my come back to that is, "Than you better choose to date only Christians!"

So, why am I saying all this?  Because being a follower of Jesus isn't a "side dish" that you can add to your life when you feel you have room for Him. Jesus is the main course!!  I find it so radical when he says, "Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." (10:37).  That' radical!!
If the bond between a parent and child should not trump our bond with Christ, than the same would be true of a boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse. no relationship should trump the primary one we have with Christ.

"Jesus said it, I didn't", I tell my kids.  This is a good verse to share with my kids!  It's a great reminder for me as well!!

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Matthew 7-8~ Day 4~ Jesus is already in charge!

"When Jesus had finished saying these things the crowds were astonished at his teaching, because he was teaching them like one who had authority, and not like their scribes" (7:28-29).

He sure did!! I smiled when I read that verse because I had, myself, noticed how he had been talking!  I never made a mental note of this before- but this time it stood out to me that he was saying, "Many will say to me on that day, "Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in your name..?" (7:22) , "Then I will tell them plainly, "I never knew you," (7:23) and "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice..." (7:24)

"To me", "mine", "I will"....Jesus isn't establishing his authority, he is already in charge!!  I forget, when I read these verses, since I already know he has risen from the dead and is sitting at the right hand of God (Rom. 8:34) that these people had no understanding of all that.

Personally, I'm glad I am on this side of the story.  As much as I would have loved being in the crowd, listening to Jesus myself....I might have had a hard time computing what he was saying about himself.  
It just goes to show you, it doesn't matter what time period one is from... one needs faith to "get it".  Abraham, before Jesus, needed faith to understand; these people in the audience needed faith to understand; we on this side  (post the first coming of Jesus), need faith to understand.  Faith is the key to understanding that Jesus is Lord and is in charge now! (John 8:24, Heb. 11:6)

Friday, May 3, 2019

Matthew 5-6~ Day 3~ Who is Jesus talking to?

I had a new thought today reading "You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt should lose it's saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It's no longer good for anything, but to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet." (5:13)

I have always read that as if it were said to all Christians for all time (which it can be interpreted that way).  However, today, I was reading it thinking of the audience to whom Jesus was speaking.  They were all Jewish.  They already understood what Jesus meant when he said they were the salt of the earth.  They were the one group of people, on the entire globe, that God chose to reflect what it meant to be monotheistic and point the way to a right relationship with God.
Yet, Jesus is saying to them, if they lost that purpose....they were good for nothing....😧 Jewish people who don't look to Jesus as their Messiah have lost their role of being part of the "chosen people", pointing the way to Him.

This was the first time I read this verse like the warning that it is.  These Jewish people are being warned, by Jesus himself, of the reality that was soon to take place.  Jesus was saying, "If you don't show the world the righteousness that comes from me, you are not a true Israelite.  The true Israelites will still be the chosen people to point the world into a right relationship with God.  Those who believe in Christ as the Messiah, are the true Israelites.  (That means you and me~ see Hebrews for more on that.)

When the "true Israelites" in this crowd heard what Jesus was saying, they would turn and point others to Jesus. Those Jewish people caused all of us, in future generations, to also, "give glory to your God in heaven" (5:16b), because we got to benefit from their good deed of sharing the good news.

It's interesting how scripture works.  It's timeless. It's alive.  It spoke to the people in that audience and it still speaks to us now.  As a true Israelite, I don't want to lose my purpose, my saltiness, my light... I want to keep pointing people to Jesus! 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Matthew 3-4~ Day 2~ Lead me not in to temptation!!

I had some interesting thoughts when I read, "Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil." (4:1).....wait, what??😳
The Spirit led him "to be tempted"?  

Then....the Lord's Prayer, that I was taught as a kid, came to my mind.  Jesus told us that we should pray like this: "Lead me not into temptation" (Matt. 6:13)

Hmm.....

Well, I know that God doesn't do the tempting (James 1:13), but he certainly allows Satan to do some sifting, doesn't he?  (Luke 22:31)

So, in todays's reading, we see Jesus allowed Satan to tempt him.  I'm obviously impressed with each come back Jesus gives and how he sets an example for us when we are tempted, but to be honest, I don't know if I could conjure up quick come backs like Jesus did if I were in a situation that required one!......Therefore, I am just going to stick with praying the way Jesus told me I should!  I want to avoid the tempting situations all together!!

The beauty in praying is that, God hears!
Unlike when we try to avoid things on our own, "I won't eat that, I won't eat that, arg...I ate it!!" πŸ˜ž  God gives us his Spirit to give us the strength to overcome! (Phil. 4:13)  There is responsibility on our part, i.e. stop buying the food that stumbles, block your devices if they stumble, avoid certain people if they cause you to stumble, etc.  Yet, the Spirit gives us help as well.  He gives us a way out if we chose to take it. (1 Cor. 10:13) And he keeps us from it all together if we pray about it!

Know that Satan will keep asking to sift you, but remember your great defense, prayer!! Pray the way Jesus told us to!!  "Lead me not into temptation! " and then trust that God hears you and he will help you!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Matthew 1-2~ Day 1~ Let's get started!!πŸ˜„

Welcome to the four month reading plan!!  I pray God blesses the time you spend in His word!

I usually share a little something of what I got out of the reading, but I would also love to hear what you got out of your reading!  So, please say something in the comment section if you feel like sharing.
I am reading out of the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) this time through.  I like to mix it up with the versions because it makes different verses stand out in a different way at times.  I love that!!

So, let's get started!

The first verse got me thinking! "An account of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the Son of Abraham:" (1:1)

Immediately, I thought of what I just read in Revelation 22:16.  "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches.  I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star."

This is so cool!  Matthew takes the time to show us the genealogy of Jesus, proof that he is the "Offspring of David".  But, Jesus clarifies in Revelation that he is also the Root!! As the creator of all (Col. 1:16), he existed long before David!  David came from Him, who is the Root!  God had designed a plan from the beginning of time that the Messiah would come from the line of David (2 Sam 7:13, Isaiah 11:1, Jer 23:5).  And now we read exactly that in Matthew.

I am just so impressed with God, his creativity, his story telling and everything else about him!!  I am no English teacher, but I would give God an A+++ on this writing!πŸ˜‰