Friday, December 14, 2018

Matthew 21

Today's reading...
Matthew 21:1–46 (NLT)
1As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead.
2“Go into the village over there,” he said. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me.
3If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.”
4This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said,
5“Tell the people of Jerusalem, ‘Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey— riding on a donkey’s colt.’ ”
6The two disciples did as Jesus commanded.
7They brought the donkey and the colt to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it.
8Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
9Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise God in highest heaven!”
10The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked.
11And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
12Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves.
13He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!”
14The blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and he healed them.
15The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the children in the Temple shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David.” But the leaders were indignant.
16They asked Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” “Yes,” Jesus replied. “Haven’t you ever read the Scriptures? For they say, ‘You have taught children and infants to give you praise.’”
17Then he returned to Bethany, where he stayed overnight.
18In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry,
19and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up.
20The disciples were amazed when they saw this and asked, “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?”
21Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen.
22You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”
23When Jesus returned to the Temple and began teaching, the leading priests and elders came up to him. They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right?”
24“I’ll tell you by what authority I do these things if you answer one question,” Jesus replied.
25“Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human?” They talked it over among themselves. “If we say it was from heaven, he will ask us why we didn’t believe John.
26But if we say it was merely human, we’ll be mobbed because the people believe John was a prophet.”
27So they finally replied, “We don’t know.” And Jesus responded, “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things.
28“But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’
29The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway.
30Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go.
31“Which of the two obeyed his father?” They replied, “The first.” Then Jesus explained his meaning: “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do.
32For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins.
33“Now listen to another story. A certain landowner planted a vineyard, built a wall around it, dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice, and built a lookout tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenant farmers and moved to another country.
34At the time of the grape harvest, he sent his servants to collect his share of the crop.
35But the farmers grabbed his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another.
36So the landowner sent a larger group of his servants to collect for him, but the results were the same.
37“Finally, the owner sent his son, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’
38“But when the tenant farmers saw his son coming, they said to one another, ‘Here comes the heir to this estate. Come on, let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!’
39So they grabbed him, dragged him out of the vineyard, and murdered him.
40“When the owner of the vineyard returns,” Jesus asked, “what do you think he will do to those farmers?”
41The religious leaders replied, “He will put the wicked men to a horrible death and lease the vineyard to others who will give him his share of the crop after each harvest.”
42Then Jesus asked them, “Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.’
43I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit.
44Anyone who stumbles over that stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone it falls on.”
45When the leading priests and Pharisees heard this parable, they realized he was telling the story against them—they were the wicked farmers.

46They wanted to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowds, who considered Jesus to be a prophet.


Thoughts...
The King (21:1–11). The people were blind to their Scriptures (Zech. 9:9). They praised Him with Psalm 118:26 but overlooked verses 22–23, which Jesus quoted later (v. 42). Beware knowing the Bible but not knowing the Lord when He is at work in your midst.

The Judge (21:12–22). Jesus cleansed the temple and cursed the fig tree, two “unusual acts” for Him who came not to judge but to save (Isa. 28:21). Like the temple, Israel was corrupt within; and like the fig tree, it was fruitless without. A church can become a “den of thieves” if that is where we go to cover up our sins (Isa. 56:7; 1:10–20; Jer. 7:11). A person whose life is “nothing but leaves” is in danger of judgment, for Christ seeks fruit (Matt. 7:15–20).

The Son (21:23–41). Jesus has authority because He is the Son of God! The vineyard is Israel (Isa. 5) whose leaders did not respect the Son when He came. The nation rejected the Father when they refused the witness of John, and now they were about to reject the Son.

The Stone (21:42–46). The Jewish leaders pronounced their own sentence. Jesus quoted Psalm 118:22–23 to prove that their sins would not hinder His victory (Isa. 8:14–15; Dan. 2:34; Acts 4:11; 1 Pet. 2:9). If only they had become like the children and praised the Lord instead of fighting Him (Matt. 21:15–16; Ps. 8:2)!

The Bridegroom (22:1–14). The rejected Son is resurrected and reigns in glory. He is the Bridegroom who wants everybody to come to His feast. Israel’s rejection of the invitation led to the destruction of Jerusalem (v. 7). But the invitation is still open today. Just be sure not to wear your self-righteousness (Isa. 64:6); let Him provide the garment of His righteousness (Isa. 61:10; 2 Cor. 5:21).
--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Matthew 20

Today's reading...
Matthew 20 (NLT)
1“For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard.
2He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work.
3“At nine o’clock in the morning he was passing through the marketplace and saw some people standing around doing nothing.
4So he hired them, telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day.
5So they went to work in the vineyard. At noon and again at three o’clock he did the same thing.
6“At five o’clock that afternoon he was in town again and saw some more people standing around. He asked them, ‘Why haven’t you been working today?’
7“They replied, ‘Because no one hired us.’ “The landowner told them, ‘Then go out and join the others in my vineyard.’
8“That evening he told the foreman to call the workers in and pay them, beginning with the last workers first.
9When those hired at five o’clock were paid, each received a full day’s wage.
10When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage.
11When they received their pay, they protested to the owner,
12‘Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.’
13“He answered one of them, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage?
14Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you.
15Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?’
16“So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.”
17As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to happen to him.
18“Listen,” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die.
19Then they will hand him over to the Romans to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead.”
20Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor.
21“What is your request?” he asked. She replied, “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”
22But Jesus answered by saying to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?” “Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!”
23Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. My Father has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”
24When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant.
25But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them.
26But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,
27and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave.
28For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
29As Jesus and the disciples left the town of Jericho, a large crowd followed behind.
30Two blind men were sitting beside the road. When they heard that Jesus was coming that way, they began shouting, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
31“Be quiet!” the crowd yelled at them. But they only shouted louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
32When Jesus heard them, he stopped and called, “What do you want me to do for you?”
33“Lord,” they said, “we want to see!”

34Jesus felt sorry for them and touched their eyes. Instantly they could see! Then they followed him.


Thoughts...
What shall we have (19:27–20:16)? The parable is not about salvation, for we cannot work for salvation; nor is it about rewards, for we do not all receive the same reward. The story concerns the selfish attitude implicit in Peter’s question. The key to the parable is that the first workers hired demanded a contract and insisted on knowing how much they would get. The other workers trusted the landowner. If you ask God for a contract, you will only rob yourself, for He is generous with His workers. Be faithful to do your job and avoid watching the other workers, and He will deal with you generously.

What do you wish (20:17–28)? Salome remembered His promise (19:28) and claimed it for her two sons. But she forgot what Jesus had just said about the cross (20:17–19). She should have known that the only way to glory is through suffering (1 Pet. 5:10). You do not pray for a throne; you pay for it. Beware selfish prayers: the Lord may answer them. James was the first apostle to be martyred (Acts 12:1–2), and John experienced great trial as a Roman prisoner (Rev. 1:9).

What do you want Me to do for you (20:29–34)? They knew what they wanted, and they trusted Him for it. Do you know what you want when you come to Him in prayer? Do you persist even if others try to discourage you? What a promise we have in Hebrews 4:16!
--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Matthew 19

Today's reading...
Matthew 19:1–30 (NLT)
1When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went down to the region of Judea east of the Jordan River.
2Large crowds followed him there, and he healed their sick.
3Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?”
4“Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’
5And he said, ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’
6Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”
7“Then why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?” they asked.
8Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended.
9And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful.”
10Jesus’ disciples then said to him, “If this is the case, it is better not to marry!”
11“Not everyone can accept this statement,” Jesus said. “Only those whom God helps.
12Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”
13One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.
14But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”
15And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.
16Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”
17“Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.”
18“Which ones?” the man asked. And Jesus replied: “ ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely.
19Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
20“I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?”
21Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
23Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
24I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”
25The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.
26Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”
27Then Peter said to him, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?”
28Jesus replied, “I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
29And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.

30But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.


Thoughts...
Let Jesus heal your marriage (1–12). Some practices are lawful but not biblical, so follow the principles given in Scripture. God’s original plan was one man for one woman for all of life (Gen. 2:18–25), but He made a concession for Israel and permitted divorce (Deut. 24:1–4). Divorce is not given as the solution to the problem. It takes a change of heart for two people to make a new beginning, and only Jesus can change hearts. Before you run away, run to God and seek His help.

Let Jesus bless your family (13–15). Children want to come to Jesus (v. 14), but too often adults get in the way. The best parents make it easy for their children to come to Christ, love Him, and receive His blessing.

Let Jesus have your all (16–30). The wealthy young man had much in his favor, but he thought too highly of himself and was not really honest before God. Money stood between him and salvation, and he would not repent and renounce his false god. You never lose when you give everything to Jesus. He blesses you in this life and in the life to come.

--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Matthew 18

Today's reading...
Matthew 18:1–35 (NLT)
1About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”
2Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them.
3Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.
4So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
5“And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.
6But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.
7“What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting.
8So if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand or one foot than to be thrown into eternal fire with both of your hands and feet.
9And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
10“Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father.
12“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost?
13And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away!
14In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.
15“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.
16But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses.
17If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.
18“I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.
19“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.
20For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”
21Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
22“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!
23“Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him.
24In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars.
25He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.
26“But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’
27Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.
28“But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.
29“His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded.
30But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.
31“When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened.
32Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me.
33Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’
34Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.

35“That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”


Thoughts...
Greatness (1–14). A child totally depends on others and must live by faith. An unspoiled child accepts his position in life, enjoys it, and does not try to act like someone older (Ps. 131). “He will be greatest who has the least idea he is great,” wrote A. H. McNeile.

The way we treat children (including those who are “children in the faith”) indicates how much humility we practice. Do we receive them (v. 5) or despise them (v. 10)? Do we imitate them (vv. 3–4) or cause them to stumble by our bad example (vv. 6–9)? It was a sheep, not a lamb, that went astray (vv. 10–14)!

Truthfulness (15–20). “Speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) is the secret of maintaining Christian fellowship. The longer we resist, the more people we involve in the problem (Matt. 5:21–26). Humility and honesty must work together in producing harmony.

Forgiveness (21–35). Peter wanted a rule to obey, which shows he was not in the spirit of what Jesus taught (Rom. 12:8–10). The parable is not about salvation but about forgiveness among God’s people. We are to forgive others because God has forgiven us (Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13), and He has forgiven us at great cost to Himself! It is possible to receive forgiveness but not truly experience forgiveness in our hearts; therefore, we have a hard time sharing forgiveness with others.

When you have an unforgiving spirit, you put yourself in prison spiritually and emotionally; you pay dearly for the luxury of carrying a grudge. Is it worth it?
--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Monday, December 10, 2018

Matthew 17

Today's reading...
Matthew 17:1–27 (NLT)
1Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone.
2As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light.
3Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.
4Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
5But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.”
6The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground.
7Then Jesus came over and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.”
8And when they looked up, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus.
9As they went back down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
10Then his disciples asked him, “Why do the teachers of religious law insist that Elijah must return before the Messiah comes?”
11Jesus replied, “Elijah is indeed coming first to get everything ready.
12But I tell you, Elijah has already come, but he wasn’t recognized, and they chose to abuse him. And in the same way they will also make the Son of Man suffer.”
13Then the disciples realized he was talking about John the Baptist.
14At the foot of the mountain, a large crowd was waiting for them. A man came and knelt before Jesus and said,
15“Lord, have mercy on my son. He has seizures and suffers terribly. He often falls into the fire or into the water.
16So I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him.”
17Jesus said, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.”
18Then Jesus rebuked the demon in the boy, and it left him. From that moment the boy was well.
19Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?”
20“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”
22After they gathered again in Galilee, Jesus told them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies.
23He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead.” And the disciples were filled with grief.
24On their arrival in Capernaum, the collectors of the Temple tax came to Peter and asked him, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the Temple tax?”
25“Yes, he does,” Peter replied. Then he went into the house. But before he had a chance to speak, Jesus asked him, “What do you think, Peter? Do kings tax their own people or the people they have conquered?”
26“They tax the people they have conquered,” Peter replied. “Well, then,” Jesus said, “the citizens are free!

27However, we don’t want to offend them, so go down to the lake and throw in a line. Open the mouth of the first fish you catch, and you will find a large silver coin. Take it and pay the tax for both of us.”


Thoughts...
Listen to the King (1–13)! This event was a picture of the coming kingdom (16:27–28) and a proof that Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of the living God. The Law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah) all converge in Him (Heb. 1:1–2). But the thing Peter remembered most was the emphasis on the unchanging Word of God (2 Pet. 1:16–21). The memory of visions will fade, but the Word endures forever. Hear Him!

Trust the King (14–21)! Jesus gave the disciples power to cast out demons (10:1, 8), but their unbelief and lack of prayer (vv. 20–21) robbed them of the power they needed. We cannot stay on the mountain of glory; there are needs to be met in the valley.

Obey the King (22–27)! The tax was an annual assessment of the Jewish men for the support of the temple (Exod. 30:11–16). Jesus affirmed His kingship by controlling a coin and a fish, but He affirmed His servanthood by submitting to their demands. “Lest we offend them” (v. 27) is a good principle when you lay aside your rights, but be careful not to set aside God’s truth (15:12–14).

--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Matthew 16

Today's reading...
Matthew 16:1–28 (NLT)
1One day the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus, demanding that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority.
2He replied, “You know the saying, ‘Red sky at night means fair weather tomorrow;
3red sky in the morning means foul weather all day.’ You know how to interpret the weather signs in the sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the signs of the times!
4Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign, but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah.” Then Jesus left them and went away.
5Later, after they crossed to the other side of the lake, the disciples discovered they had forgotten to bring any bread.
6“Watch out!” Jesus warned them. “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
7At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread.
8Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “You have so little faith! Why are you arguing with each other about having no bread?
9Don’t you understand even yet? Don’t you remember the 5,000 I fed with five loaves, and the baskets of leftovers you picked up?
10Or the 4,000 I fed with seven loaves, and the large baskets of leftovers you picked up?
11Why can’t you understand that I’m not talking about bread? So again I say, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ ”
12Then at last they understood that he wasn’t speaking about the yeast in bread, but about the deceptive teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
13When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
14“Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
15Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.
18Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.
19And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”
20Then he sternly warned the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
21From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.
22But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!”
23Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
24Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.
25If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.
26And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?
27For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds.

28And I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”


Thoughts...
Are you guilty of these misunderstandings?

About the times (1–4). People believe the weather report but not God’s Word! They fail to see what God is doing in His world. Keep your eyes open, and ask God for wisdom to understand His plan.

About false doctrine (5–12). Jesus compared false doctrine to yeast. It appears small and insignificant, but it grows secretly and soon permeates everything (Gal. 5:9). The only remedy is to remove it (1 Cor. 5:6–7).

About Jesus Christ (13–20). The crowd is confused about Jesus; do not follow it. Instead, let the Father reveal the Savior to you (11:25–27), and confess Him before others. He is the Son of God.

About discipleship (21–28). In his misguided attempt to keep Jesus from suffering and dying, Peter the stone became Peter the stumbling block. Confessing Christ must lead to following Christ. The world encourages you to pamper yourself, but the Lord calls you to deny yourself. The only way to live is to die to self and follow Christ by faith.
--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Friday, December 7, 2018

Matthew 15

Today's reading...
Matthew 15:1–39 (NLT)
1Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law now arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They asked him,
2“Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition? For they ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.”
3Jesus replied, “And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God?
4For instance, God says, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’
5But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’
6In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition.
7You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,
8‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
9Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’”
10Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand.
11It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.”
12Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?”
13Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted,
14so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.”
15Then Peter said to Jesus, “Explain to us the parable that says people aren’t defiled by what they eat.”
16“Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked.
17“Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.
18But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you.
19For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander.
20These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.”
21Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
22A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.”
23But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.”
24Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.”
25But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!”
26Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”
27She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.”
28“Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.
29Jesus returned to the Sea of Galilee and climbed a hill and sat down.
30A vast crowd brought to him people who were lame, blind, crippled, those who couldn’t speak, and many others. They laid them before Jesus, and he healed them all.
31The crowd was amazed! Those who hadn’t been able to speak were talking, the crippled were made well, the lame were walking, and the blind could see again! And they praised the God of Israel.
32Then Jesus called his disciples and told them, “I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry, or they will faint along the way.”
33The disciples replied, “Where would we get enough food here in the wilderness for such a huge crowd?”
34Jesus asked, “How much bread do you have?” They replied, “Seven loaves, and a few small fish.”
35So Jesus told all the people to sit down on the ground.
36Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, thanked God for them, and broke them into pieces. He gave them to the disciples, who distributed the food to the crowd.
37They all ate as much as they wanted. Afterward, the disciples picked up seven large baskets of leftover food.
38There were 4,000 men who were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children.

39Then Jesus sent the people home, and he got into a boat and crossed over to the region of Magadan.  


Thoughts...
Our Lord’s disciples never knew what would happen next! You can check your own responses to life’s challenges as you consider how they handled three different situations.

Offended people (1–20). Jesus rejected the man-made traditions of the scribes and Pharisees because they focused on the outside and ignored the inner person. These men were plants that God did not plant (13:24–30) and blind guides who were leading people astray. “Let them alone!” was our Lord’s counsel.

Persistent people (21–31). Again, the disciples were wrong. Jesus seemed to ignore the woman, but He wanted only to increase her faith. His delays are not His denials. Jesus was ministering in gentile territory, and the people “glorified the God of Israel” (v. 31).

Hungry people (32–39). The disciples had already forgotten the miracle of feeding the five thousand! When you are faced with a crisis, take time to review His past mercies; remind yourself that He does not change.

Try to respond to people today the way Jesus responded. Ask Him for discernment.
--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)