dailybiblereader2012

Putting God's Word into Practice…

Matthew 28-Life on Purpose

Easter is a special day.  Extra people come to church.  Little girls wear “Easter” dresses, while the boys wear new sweater-vests and ties.  The pastor shouts, “He is risen!”  And the congregation responds, “He is risen indeed!”  Then everyone goes home and hunts for eggs (In our family the boys’ grandma fills plastic eggs with money.), eats chocolate bunnies and Peeps, overloads on ham, and takes a nap.  HAPPY EASTER!

The resurrection is an everyday celebration of new life with power and purpose!  Jesus rose from the grave–He is alive!  That should change everything for how we live our lives!  We have victory over sin and death(1 Corinthians 15:57)!  We have the same power that raise Jesus from the dead living inside of us (Romans 8:11)!

Three times in this chapter we see the command to come and see, then go and tell.  In verses 6-7 the angel tells the women to come and see the empty tomb, then quickly go and tell the disciples.  Verses 9-10 tell of the women’s encounter with the risen Lord Jesus.  They came, saw and worshiped.  Then Jesus said “go and tell.” Once the disciples saw Jesus, He told them to go and tell the world.  The mission is for me too!  I have encountered the living Christ in my own life and He is telling me to quickly go and tell.  There is a real sense of urgency and enthusiasm in this chapter–there is quickness and running.  We have Someone powerful and life-giving to offer our hurting and hopeless world.  Hell is forever and people are going there everyday.  Our mission is ongoing until we see Him face-to-face.  But there is also a great promise that is a source of confidence, “Jesus is with us always (20).

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58

If you don’t know if you have hope, power and purpose in Jesus Christ; but you are longing for that Romans 10:9-11, 13 says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord (ruler of your life) and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified (made guiltless before God), and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.  For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame….everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

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Matthew 27:32-66

My heart is broken…not over the picture of Jesus on the cross, but the picture of me not being willing to take up mine.  This is a more personal post.  Anyone who reads this section of Scripture may not see what I’m about to write.  But it’s how the Holy Spirit used these God-breathed words to break my heart today.

Matthew 27:41-42 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked Jesus, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself.”  He didn’t save Himself, because He came to save others!  He knew the only way to save others was to lose his life!

If I want to be a follower of Jesus, I am called to deny myself and take up my cross daily.  Unless I die to myself, no one will see Jesus living in me.  I can’t point people to salvation unless I lose myself for the sake of the gospel.  Instead, I’ve wanted the good life–no suffering, no sacrifice!  I feel like the ignorant disciples who heard over and over again and never got it.

2 Corinthians 5:20-21 says, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.  We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  For our sake he made him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him (Jesus) we might become the righteousness of God.”

Lord, make me Your ambassador, whatever the cost!  Because You gave everything for me, I want to give everything for You; because You willingly laid down Your life, I willingly lay my life down for You.

“Make my life a prayer to You.  I want to do what You want me to.  No empty words and no white lies.  No token prayers no compromise. I want to die and let you give Your life to me so I might live.  And share the hope You gave to me, the love that set me free.” (Keith Green)

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Matthew 27:11-31 Why I’m Thankful to God for Mel Gibson

I’m thankful that God moved Mel Gibson’s heart to make The Passion of the Christ.  Although I had to watch it through cracked fingers at some points, the graphic nature of it allowed me to see more clearly the abuse and agony that my Jesus suffered.  I couldn’t read this section of verses without weeping.  I didn’t know if it was better to race through it and get to the glory or to linger and experience the fullness of the anguish.  Choosing the latter, let me share the impact it has had on my heart so far.

The Passover Feast commemorates the Israelite’s exodus from slavery in Egypt. The shed blood of a pure, male lamb was spread over the doorposts of the house, so the death angel that was taking the life of the first-born would passover their houses and save their lives.  The pure, male lamb died in their place.

Barabbas, a murderer, sentenced to death.  Jesus, the “righteous man” (pure, male) was about to shed His blood in someone’s place.  The crowds cheered for the release of Barabbas and the death of Jesus.  Barabbas walked free, but a price was paid.  

I am a sinner who has been set free because Jesus died in my place.  The gift of freedom is free for me, but it cost Jesus something…His life.

Hateful vs. Humble:  When Pilate didn’t want to have anything to do with the death of Jesus, the people called out, “His blood be on us and on our children!”  The very thing they needed most in life, they called out for with hatred and contempt.  This is the exact opposite response to their ancestors who humbly accepted that the shed blood of an innocent lamb was their only hope for life.

He left His Father’s throne above

So free, so infinite His grace!

Emptied Himself of all but love,

And bled for Adam’s helpless race!

This mercy all, immense and free,

For, O my God, it found out me.

Amazing love, how can it be?

That Thou my God should die for me!

 

Long my imprisoned spirit lay

Fast bound in sin and nature’s night.

Thine eye diffused a quickening ray;

I woke the dungeon flamed with light!

My chains fell off, my heart was free

I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Amazing love, how can it be?

That Thou my God should die for me!

(Charles Wesley)

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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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Matthew 18

I’m so convicted by the immediate patience and mercy that I want God to give me and how unwilling I am to offer it to others. These last few days of parenting a pre-teen boy have been hard. It’s so easy for me to respond to him in a way that is ungodly (sarcastic, harsh, insensitive), send him to his room, ask God to forgive my initial response, expect His mercy and then go into his room and scold him to death!  Lord, make me merciful!  Help me to steward your grace and be as quick to forgive as You are.

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