Putting God's Word into Practice…

Matthew 25:1-35-Wisdom, Abandon, Betrayal, Sacrifice, Abandon

Wisdom (Verses 1-5)  God’s plan specifically called for Jesus to be crucified during the Passover.  Man’s plan was to wait until after the Passover to not cause a scene.  God’s wisdom will always override human wisdom.

Abandon  (Verses 6-13) While Jesus was reclining at the table a woman came and broke her alabaster flask of very expensive ointment and poured it on Jesus.  One definition of abandon is to allow oneself to indulge in the pleasure of giving freely.  This women gave a precious gift to Jesus.  She was accused of wasting her gift.  Nothing is ever wasted when it’s done for Jesus!  He is worthy of our all!

Betrayal (Verse 14-25)  Again, we find Jesus reclining.  (There is a side lesson in that for me that no matter what I’m facing, if it is filtered through the hands of God and part of his plan for me, I should embrace it and rest in his plan.)  Jesus tells the disciples that one of them will betray Him.  Each one wonders if they are capable of it.  But then they find out that Judas is the one.

Sacrifice (Verse 26-29) Passover commemorates the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.  God had them kill a lamb and put the blood over their door during the death plague.  Anyone who obeyed was saved from death and walked into freedom.  Jesus says here at the Passover celebration that His blood is going to be poured out for the forgiveness of sins–to save us from death and to bring us freedom.

Abandon (Verse 30-35) Another definition of abandon is “cease to support; desert.”  Jesus tells his disciples they will all abandon Him.  Somehow not being named the betrayer must have boosted their confidence because now they all disagree with Jesus, and say, “Not us, we’ll never fall away.” The harsh reality for me is that I don’t know how I would respond to fearful situations or tragic loss.  It’s easy to say I’d never walk away from God, but we are all capable of it.  At the end Peter says, “I will never…I will not.”  Maybe what they should have done is appeal to His grace.  Lord, whatever You send my way, give me the grace to stay by Your side.  Let me cling to You and trust You.

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Matthew 25:31-46–Baa vs. Maa

WHEN the Son of Man comes in his glory, and ALL the angels with him, then he WILL sit on his glorious throne.  Before him WILL be gathered ALL the nations, and he WILL separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  And he WILL place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. (31-33) And He WILL tell the sheep, “Come” (34) and the goats, “Depart” (41).

How does He recognize the difference?  Sheep and goats sound differently, they look differently, and  they behave differently from one another.  On the Sheep101 website (I’m not joking.  It does exist.) there is a page that differentiates sheep from goats, and the startling trait to me was that goats behave independently while sheep are dependent creatures.  No matter what we say or how we look on the outside, if in our hearts we live like we don’t need a God and Savior, then we will be told, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”  However, if we realize that our righteousness, provision and protection is completely provided by our Shepherd, we will be told, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

Another way Christ can recognize His followers is by our actions.  If we show love to people in tangible ways, it is the same as loving Him.  Those who understand love and mercy and sacrifice live it and offer it to others.  What are the two greatest commandments?  Love God and Love People!    Am I doing it?

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Matthew 25:14-30-A Long Time Comin

How often do we think about Jesus’ return?  Does it shape our choices on how we spend our time, talents and treasure?  In verse 19 it says, “Now after a long time, the master came and settled accounts with them.”  It’s so easy to lose sight of the fact that God has given us a job to do and gifts to do it, and that we will stand and give an account to him for how we spend our lives.  We will give an account for how we steward His resources, His grace and the good news. 

If I stood before Him today, would He call me “good and faithful?”  That’s a sobering thought.

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Matthew 25:1-13 Anticipation and Preparation

Have you ever been so excited about something that it seems the day would never come–maybe vacation, or the birth of a child, or your wedding day?   When I am excited about an event, I do a lot of preparing to get things ready in anticipation.  My husband is the opposite.  He would rather sleep as much as possible because he thinks it makes time pass more quickly.  In day to day life, I don’t think that either response is wrong.  However, when it comes to the return of Jesus, there is only one approach–anticipation AND preparation!

The coming of Jesus Christ is referred to in wedding symbolism.  The 10 virgins all came in anticipation to meet Jesus (the Bridegroom) with their lamps, but only half of them brought oil along to keep them burning until His return.  Only those who were prepared entered into the wedding feast, the others were locked out.

It may be going out on a limb to say this, but I’ve often heard the Holy Spirit referenced as “oil.”  The Holy Spirit is who sets believers apart from unbelievers.  Believers enter into eternal joy in the presence of God.  Unbelievers are cast away from His presence into eternal darkness and torment.

It’s not too late to be prepared.  Jesus could return today!

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Matthew 24-Jesus IS Coming Back

This past week at Ladies’ Bible Study we finished up our study through the book of James.  In 5:7-11 James gives us tools to help us be patient in suffering and the first one is to remember that Jesus is coming back.  This life is a wisp of time in comparison to eternity.

I believe like in Matthew 24 that because we don’t fix our minds on the truth that Jesus is coming back, we are easily led astray from passionately pursuing His purposes in our lives.  When we forget that He is coming, we start to live for temporary desires and accumulating earthly treasures.

Jesus IS coming back–Stay awake! (Verse 42)

Jesus IS coming back–Be ready! (Verse 44)

Jesus IS coming back–Be faithful and wise in service (Verse 45-46)

Jesus IS coming back!

Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son Man…and they will see the Son Man coming on the clouds of heaven with POWER and GREAT GLORY.

Come Lord Jesus!


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Matthew 23 *Insert Clever Title Here*

Initially reading this chapter what stood out to me was the distinct contrast between religious leaders and Jesus Christ.

Religious Leaders place heavy burdens on people’s shoulders they won’t bear themselves.  Jesus says come to me all who are weary and loaded down with heavy burdens and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28-30).  Religious leaders want to be noticed, to receive honor and privilege.  Jesus tried to keep His power quiet (Matthew 16:20, 17:9).  Religious leaders exalt themselves.  Jesus humbled Himself and became a servant (Matthew 20:28). Religious leaders want the place of honor at feasts.  Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 9:10).

Also, in verse 23, Jesus says to the hypocrites, “You tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness.  These you ought to have done without neglecting the others.”  This reminded me of Micah 6:8: “What does the Lord require of you?  Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.”  I definitely have room for major improvement in this department.

Finally, for as much as I don’t like the Pharisees, I see that there are times in my life that I behave like one.  For instance, in verse 25 Jesus says, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.”  As much as it pains me to say it, if I’m being honest, a lot of times I look clean on the outside, but I am really intent on making sure my needs and comforts are met, and I rarely tell myself “no” to what I want.  I think this verse needs to go on a note card above my kitchen sink.

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Matthew 22-Stumped!

Many people were plotting to entangle Jesus in His answers to their “tricky” questions.  They tried to stump Him/outsmart Him–not realizing that He is wisdom, He created wisdom, and it is He who imparts wisdom.

In verses 15-22, The Pharisees and Herodians questioned Jesus about the lawfulness of Jewish people paying Roman taxes.  He responded, and they marveled.  And they left Him and went away.  

Sadducees queried Him about the impossibility of the afterlife in verses 23-23. They ended up astonished at His teaching.

Then Jesus gathered them together and asked a question.  Verse 46 says, “No one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.”

People who reject and question the wisdom of Jesus make themselves fools–it’s a harsh reality!  How thankful I am that my God cannot be stumped! “O the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33)

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Matthew 21-Self-Imposed Posers!

Please read the chapter before you read what I learned.  I really hope that anyone who happens to read this blog would search the Bible for themselves first. =)

Chief priests and scribes were most recently referenced in Matthew 20:18 when Jesus predicted that He would be delivered over to them and they would condemn Him to death.  The chief priests and scribes despised Jesus.  They were threatened by Him getting glory (21:15), coming into their territory (21:12), and extinguishing their authority (21:23).  They were clinging to their self-imposed authority and unwilling to yield to His true authority.  They even thought it was their plan to arrest and kill Jesus.  It was God’s plan–under His authority.  He knew their hearts were hardened and prideful enough to do it.

Jesus gave them ample warnings and opportunities to humble themselves to His Lordship.  In verses 14-17, they could have been moved by the songs of the children and joined in worshiping  Jesus through singing, “Hosanna!” Hosanna means, “Lord save us.”

In verses 23-27 they could have had their questions answered by Jesus about where His authority comes from, but they feared man more than God.

In verses 28-32 upon hearing of the mercy offered to tax collectors and prostitutes, they could have believed that Jesus was the Son of God and received His mercy for themselves.  But they would not concede.

Jesus warned them of death and spiritual rejection for going ahead with their hatred and plans in verses 33-46.  But they refused to give up their plans and accept Him as Lord.

Time and again, the chief priests and scribes would not let go of their pride, indignation and fear that ruled their hearts.  I believe there is such a thing as modern day “chief priests and scribes.”  Whenever I choose to follow my own plan and set myself up as the authority, I am rejecting Jesus’ authority. That can only last for a little while–true authority always wins in the end.  As long as we have breath, it is not too late to lay down our pride and plans and believe in Jesus as Lord.

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Matthew 20–Serving=Greatness!

Jesus set out for Jerusalem.  On the way, He foretold 5 things about his impending death and resurrection.  Two things stand out to me about this: 1. He knew about His death and willfully headed in that direction. 2. All that He promised came true and they were things out of His control.  He did not manipulate the prophecies.

Then James’ and John’s mother came to Him and asked if her boys could sit at the places of honor on the right and left of His throne in Heaven. Probably if Jesus had told her yes, they would have argued about who got the throne on the right!  (Reminds me of a Little League parent!)  Greatness is on a lot people’s minds.  I want to do great things!  I want my kids to grow up to do great things!  Facebook statuses and tweets are filled with 140 characters of greatness.  And if we aren’t desiring greatness for ourselves, we at least want to link ourselves to someone who is doing great things.

Is this desire to be great wrong?  That depends.  Do I want to be great for my own glory?  Do I want to be great because I think I deserve to be great?  It is important that I remember that Jesus is the main character in history (His Story), and I am a supporting character in a small scene.  I can fulfill this role in a great way if I do it His way.  And when I do things His way–He gets the glory!

So how does Jesus qualify greatness?  Matthew 20:26-28 has the answer; “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”  Jesus says if I want to be great, I must give up my life for others and serve everyone.  Or as Dr. Thomas L. Constable says it, “The cross must precede the crown.”

And just to drive the point home, as they were leaving two blind men called out to Jesus. They acknowledged His kingship and their need for His mercy.  Immediately they were healed.  The King of kings served them.

Father in Heaven, please let me serve like Jesus.  Please give me a humble, selfless heart.  Please help me be great at showing mercy to others.  And let me serve for no other reason than to bring You joy!

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Matthew 19-Is Jesus Enough?

A man approached Jesus and asked what good deeds he needed to do to earn eternal life.  Jesus said to keep the commandments.  Now, I would hope that my response would be, “Oh no, it’s too late for me. I’ve already broken them.  Please help me.”  But maybe I would think, like this man, that I had done a good job keeping them.  Now this man happened to be very wealthy, and Jesus told him to sell everything and give to the poor and then he would have treasures in heaven.  The man went away sorrowful because he had so much to give up.  

Whatever we are unwilling to give up shows what our hope is in–what we have made into a god in our lives.  To truly follow the command to love God with all our heart and love our neighbor as ourselves, would mean giving away our material possessions to help others because we know that eternal treasure is better, and Christ is enough.  I read a verse in Proverbs this week that goes with this–Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and He will repay him for his deed. (19:17)

Would the good deed of giving to the poor save him?  NO!  It would only demonstrate that he had his heart set on Christ and nothing was more valuable than following Him.

“No sane person on his death bed ever comforted his heart with his possessions that his life was well spent.”  (John Piper)  How sad that we cling to that which we can’t take with us!  Lord, help to give it all up for you!

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