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!!😄

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. 😱

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?   🤔

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!!" 😞  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!