Friday, November 30, 2018

Matthew 9

Today's reading...
Matthew 9:1–38 (NLT)
1Jesus climbed into a boat and went back across the lake to his own town.
2Some people brought to him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Be encouraged, my child! Your sins are forgiven.”
3But some of the teachers of religious law said to themselves, “That’s blasphemy! Does he think he’s God?”
4Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you have such evil thoughts in your hearts?
5Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’?
6So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”
7And the man jumped up and went home!
8Fear swept through the crowd as they saw this happen. And they praised God for giving humans such authority.
9As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.
10Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners.
11But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”
12When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.”
13Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
14One day the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and asked him, “Why don’t your disciples fast like we do and the Pharisees do?”
15Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.
16“Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before.
17“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”
18As Jesus was saying this, the leader of a synagogue came and knelt before him. “My daughter has just died,” he said, “but you can bring her back to life again if you just come and lay your hand on her.”
19So Jesus and his disciples got up and went with him.
20Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe,
21for she thought, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”
22Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment.
23When Jesus arrived at the official’s home, he saw the noisy crowd and heard the funeral music.
24“Get out!” he told them. “The girl isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” But the crowd laughed at him.
25After the crowd was put outside, however, Jesus went in and took the girl by the hand, and she stood up!
26The report of this miracle swept through the entire countryside.
27After Jesus left the girl’s home, two blind men followed along behind him, shouting, “Son of David, have mercy on us!”
28They went right into the house where he was staying, and Jesus asked them, “Do you believe I can make you see?” “Yes, Lord,” they told him, “we do.”
29Then he touched their eyes and said, “Because of your faith, it will happen.”
30Then their eyes were opened, and they could see! Jesus sternly warned them, “Don’t tell anyone about this.”
31But instead, they went out and spread his fame all over the region.
32When they left, a demon-possessed man who couldn’t speak was brought to Jesus.
33So Jesus cast out the demon, and then the man began to speak. The crowds were amazed. “Nothing like this has ever happened in Israel!” they exclaimed.
34But the Pharisees said, “He can cast out demons because he is empowered by the prince of demons.”
35Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness.
36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
37He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few.

38So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”


Thoughts... (chapters 8-9 are discussed together in With the Word)

In these two chapters, Matthew assembled several of our Lord’s miracles and recorded them as proof that Jesus is the promised Messiah (1 Cor. 1:22; Isa. 35:4–6). In 8:17, he quoted Isaiah 53:4 and applied it to Christ’s healing ministry while He was on earth. Some helpful lessons are evident in these miracles.

God is concerned with individuals. Jesus did not minister only to crowds (8:1; 9:36); He had time for individuals. He had compassion on people shunned by others. Peter and John had this same spirit: they ministered to thousands (Acts 2) and also took time for one beggar (Acts 3).

God can meet every need. Nothing is too hard for the Lord (Jer. 32:17). He can heal the sick and afflicted, calm the storm, cast out demons, and even raise the dead. Do you cast every care on Him (1 Pet. 5:7)?

God responds to faith. The centurion had great faith (8:10), while the disciples were guilty of little faith (8:26). The men who brought their friend exercised cooperative faith (9:2), while the sick woman had almost superstitious faith (9:21). Christ asks you the same question He asked the two blind men: “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (9:28). What is your reply?

God’s greatest concern is the salvation of sinners. The healing of the sick is a great miracle, and the raising of the dead an even greater one; but the salvation of the lost soul is the greatest miracle of all. Jesus is the Great Physician who came to heal sinners (9:12–13), the Bridegroom who invites sinners to the wedding feast (9:14–17), and the Good Shepherd who has compassion on the struggling sheep (9:35–36).

God calls us to help Him reach the lost. Peter opened his home and Jesus healed many there (8:14–16), and Matthew used his home to introduce his friends to Jesus (9:9–17). The blind men who were healed spread the news about Jesus to the whole country (9:31). Jesus is seeking disciples (8:18–22) and harvesters (9:37–38) to help Him get the job done.
--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, November 29, 2018

Matthew 8

Today's reading...
Matthew 8:1–34 (NLT)
1Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside.
2Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”
3Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared.
4Then Jesus said to him, “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”
5When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him,
6“Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain.”
7Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.”
8But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed.
9I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.”
10When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!
11And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven.
12But many Israelites—those for whom the Kingdom was prepared—will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
13Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, “Go back home. Because you believed, it has happened.” And the young servant was healed that same hour.
14When Jesus arrived at Peter’s house, Peter’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever.
15But when Jesus touched her hand, the fever left her. Then she got up and prepared a meal for him.
16That evening many demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. He cast out the evil spirits with a simple command, and he healed all the sick.
17This fulfilled the word of the Lord through the prophet Isaiah, who said, “He took our sicknesses and removed our diseases.”
18When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he instructed his disciples to cross to the other side of the lake.
19Then one of the teachers of religious law said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
20But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”
21Another of his disciples said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”
22But Jesus told him, “Follow me now. Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead.”
23Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples.
24Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.
25The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
26Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.
27The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!”
28When Jesus arrived on the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gadarenes, two men who were possessed by demons met him. They came out of the tombs and were so violent that no one could go through that area.
29They began screaming at him, “Why are you interfering with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before God’s appointed time?”
30There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding in the distance.
31So the demons begged, “If you cast us out, send us into that herd of pigs.”
32“All right, go!” Jesus commanded them. So the demons came out of the men and entered the pigs, and the whole herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.
33The herdsmen fled to the nearby town, telling everyone what happened to the demon-possessed men.

34Then the entire town came out to meet Jesus, but they begged him to go away and leave them alone.


Thoughts...
In these two chapters, Matthew assembled several of our Lord’s miracles and recorded them as proof that Jesus is the promised Messiah (1 Cor. 1:22; Isa. 35:4–6). In 8:17, he quoted Isaiah 53:4 and applied it to Christ’s healing ministry while He was on earth. Some helpful lessons are evident in these miracles.

God is concerned with individuals. Jesus did not minister only to crowds (8:1; 9:36); He had time for individuals. He had compassion on people shunned by others. Peter and John had this same spirit: they ministered to thousands (Acts 2) and also took time for one beggar (Acts 3).

God can meet every need. Nothing is too hard for the Lord (Jer. 32:17). He can heal the sick and afflicted, calm the storm, cast out demons, and even raise the dead. Do you cast every care on Him (1 Pet. 5:7)?

God responds to faith. The centurion had great faith (8:10), while the disciples were guilty of little faith (8:26). The men who brought their friend exercised cooperative faith (9:2), while the sick woman had almost superstitious faith (9:21). Christ asks you the same question He asked the two blind men: “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (9:28). What is your reply?

God’s greatest concern is the salvation of sinners. The healing of the sick is a great miracle, and the raising of the dead an even greater one; but the salvation of the lost soul is the greatest miracle of all. Jesus is the Great Physician who came to heal sinners (9:12–13), the Bridegroom who invites sinners to the wedding feast (9:14–17), and the Good Shepherd who has compassion on the struggling sheep (9:35–36).

God calls us to help Him reach the lost. Peter opened his home and Jesus healed many there (8:14–16), and Matthew used his home to introduce his friends to Jesus (9:9–17). The blind men who were healed spread the news about Jesus to the whole country (9:31). Jesus is seeking disciples (8:18–22) and harvesters (9:37–38) to help Him get the job done.

--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, November 28, 2018

Psalm 146

Today's reading... (last thanksgiving reading... tomorrow we will be back on schedule!)
Psalm 146:1–10 (NLT)
1Praise the Lord! Let all that I am praise the Lord.
2I will praise the Lord as long as I live. I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath.
3Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there.
4When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them.
5But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God.
6He made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. He keeps every promise forever.
7He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry. The Lord frees the prisoners.
8The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down. The Lord loves the godly.
9The Lord protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows, but he frustrates the plans of the wicked.

10The Lord will reign forever. He will be your God, O Jerusalem, throughout the generations. Praise the Lord!


Thoughts...
Praise is an evidence of life (vv. 1–2), not just physical life, but the life of God in the heart. In heaven, it is all praise; in hell, there is no praise; here on earth, you must make a choice.

Praise is an encouragement to faith (vv. 3–4). When you have faith in somebody—your doctor, for instance—you praise that person to others. When your faith is low, your praise will gradually subside, but when you major on praise, your faith will grow.

Praise is an encouragement to hope (vv. 5–7). When your hope is in the Lord, you can praise Him no matter what the circumstances may be. Faith is the upward look, and hope is the forward look.

Praise is an encouragement to love (vv. 8–10), your love for God and others, and God’s love for you. When you love someone, you trust that person, and greater trust brings greater love.
Life, faith, hope, and love—all are bound up in the experience of praise.
--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, November 27, 2018

Psalm 145

Today's reading...
Psalm 145  (NLT)
A psalm of praise of David.
1I will exalt you, my God and King, and praise your name forever and ever.
2I will praise you every day; yes, I will praise you forever.
3Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness.
4Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power.
5I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles.
6Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness.
7Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about your righteousness.
8The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
9The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation.
10All of your works will thank you, Lord, and your faithful followers will praise you.
11They will speak of the glory of your kingdom; they will give examples of your power.
12They will tell about your mighty deeds and about the majesty and glory of your reign.
13For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. You rule throughout all generations. The Lord always keeps his promises; he is gracious in all he does.
14The Lord helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads.
15The eyes of all look to you in hope; you give them their food as they need it.
16When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.
17The Lord is righteous in everything he does; he is filled with kindness.
18The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth.
19He grants the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cries for help and rescues them.
20The Lord protects all those who love him, but he destroys the wicked.

21I will praise the Lord, and may everyone on earth bless his holy name forever and ever.


Thoughts...
David extols the Lord for His greatness (v. 3), grace (vv. 8, 17), goodness (v. 9), glory (vv. 11–12), and generosity (vv. 15–16). If you are having a hard time praising the Lord today, that should help get you started! God’s people will praise Him forever, so we had better learn to do it day by day (v. 2).

David extols the Lord as an encouragement to others. Members of each generation need to learn to praise the Lord (vv. 4–7), so your praise is an example and witness to them. Are others growing in their worship because of you?

David hears all God’s works praising Him (v. 10). Nature takes on new meaning and new beauty when you realize this (Ps. 19:1–6).

When you live a life of praise, you have the Lord’s help in every situation. If you stumble, He helps you up (v. 14). If you are hungry, He feeds you (vv. 15–16). If you call, He draws near (v. 18). No wonder David blessed the Lord so much!
--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, November 26, 2018

Psalm 139

Today's reading...
Psalm 139:title–24 (NLT)
For the choir director: A psalm of David.
1O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.
2You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
3You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do.
4You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.
5You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.
6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!
7I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!
8If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.
9If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.
11I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—
12but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.
13You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
17How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!
18I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!
19O God, if only you would destroy the wicked! Get out of my life, you murderers!
20They blaspheme you; your enemies misuse your name.
21O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you? Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?
22Yes, I hate them with total hatred, for your enemies are my enemies.
23Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. 


Thoughts...
If you are faithful to the Lord, this psalm will encourage you. If you are trying to hide from the Lord, this psalm will make you realize you are fighting a losing battle.

He knows what you do (1–6). He knows you personally and intimately, so do not try to fool Him. Be open and honest with God, and rest in His love (1 John 4:18). His eye is upon you, and you have nothing to fear.

He knows where you go (7–12). What a comfort to know that God is with you and cares for you! Whether you go up or down, east or west, He is there (Heb. 13:5). Sinners try to hide from God, but believers hide in God.

He knows what you are (13–16). After all, He made you, planned your potential, and ordered your days. This is not some kind of blind fatalism that paralyzes you. It is the wise plan of a loving Father who knows what is best for you. Accept what you are as His gift to you, and then use it wisely as your gift to Him. You are unique; God made you that way.

He knows what you think (17–18). The psalmist pondered the thoughts of God and in this way cultivated the presence of God in his life. “You are to meditate on these things” (Phil. 4:8).

He knows what you love (19–22). Take these words to heart: “You who love the LORD, hate evil” (Ps. 97:10); “Love not the world” (1 John 2:15–17).

He knows what you desire (23–24). You do not know your own heart as well as you may think you do (Jer. 17:9–10). Let God search you and deal with the things that make you anxious. Let Him lead you. He knows where you ought to go.

--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, November 24, 2018

Psalm 138

Today's reading...
Psalm 138:title–8 (NLT)
A psalm of David.
1I give you thanks, O Lord, with all my heart; I will sing your praises before the gods.
2I bow before your holy Temple as I worship. I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name.
3As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.
4Every king in all the earth will thank you, Lord, for all of them will hear your words.
5Yes, they will sing about the Lord’s ways, for the glory of the Lord is very great.
6Though the Lord is great, he cares for the humble, but he keeps his distance from the proud.
7Though I am surrounded by troubles, you will protect me from the anger of my enemies. You reach out your hand, and the power of your right hand saves me.

8The Lord will work out his plans for my life— for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.


Thoughts...
Walking “in the midst of trouble” did not hinder the psalmist’s worship (vv. 1–3). If anything, it helped him to pray and to praise the Lord even more. David could not go to the temple, so he worshiped “toward the temple”; and God helped him.

His troubles did not hinder his witness (vv. 4–6). David may have been among the Gentiles when he wrote this psalm, but he was careful to share the Word and instruct them on singing God’s praises. Trouble can be God’s way to open doors for you to share the gospel.

His troubles did not hinder his walk (vv. 7–8). God revived David and enabled him to defeat his foes. Best of all, God perfected His plan for David and made him a better man (Eph. 2:10; Phil. 2:12–13).
You may think that your troubles give you an excuse to stop living for the Lord. This psalm says that just the opposite is true! Read it again and follow David’s example.   
--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, November 23, 2018

Psalm 136

Today's reading... (a thanksgiving reading)
Psalm 136:1–26 (NLT)
1Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
2Give thanks to the God of gods. His faithful love endures forever.
3Give thanks to the Lord of lords. His faithful love endures forever.
4Give thanks to him who alone does mighty miracles. His faithful love endures forever.
5Give thanks to him who made the heavens so skillfully. His faithful love endures forever.
6Give thanks to him who placed the earth among the waters. His faithful love endures forever.
7Give thanks to him who made the heavenly lights— His faithful love endures forever.
8the sun to rule the day, His faithful love endures forever.
9and the moon and stars to rule the night. His faithful love endures forever.
10Give thanks to him who killed the firstborn of Egypt. His faithful love endures forever.
11He brought Israel out of Egypt. His faithful love endures forever.
12He acted with a strong hand and powerful arm. His faithful love endures forever.
13Give thanks to him who parted the Red Sea. His faithful love endures forever.
14He led Israel safely through, His faithful love endures forever.
15but he hurled Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea. His faithful love endures forever.
16Give thanks to him who led his people through the wilderness. His faithful love endures forever.
17Give thanks to him who struck down mighty kings. His faithful love endures forever.
18He killed powerful kings— His faithful love endures forever.
19Sihon king of the Amorites, His faithful love endures forever.
20and Og king of Bashan. His faithful love endures forever.
21God gave the land of these kings as an inheritance— His faithful love endures forever.
22a special possession to his servant Israel. His faithful love endures forever.
23He remembered us in our weakness. His faithful love endures forever.
24He saved us from our enemies. His faithful love endures forever.
25He gives food to every living thing. His faithful love endures forever.
26Give thanks to the God of heaven. His faithful love endures forever.

Thoughts...
Two choirs sang this psalm. One choir sang the first line of each verse, and the other choir answered, “For His mercy endures forever.” This was not vain repetition (Matt. 6:7), for the second choir was offering inspired praise to the Lord. You can never say too much about the mercy of God!

God reveals His mercy by giving you a wonderful creation to use and to enjoy (vv. 4–9). Just think, He had everything ready for our first parents when He made them! It is too bad that many people are such poor stewards of God’s creation gifts. Never take for granted the wonderful world you live in.

He reveals His mercy in His care for you, helping you fight your battles and defeat your enemies (vv. 10–25). Israel was not always faithful to God, but that is where His mercy comes in! He was faithful to them.

The God of heaven is caring for you on earth! His mercy endures forever!
--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, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving! 1 Chronicles 29:10-19

Today's reading...
so... I made an error in the daily readings. This week, we should have been doing readings about thanksgiving. I planned it that way when I made the reading schedule, but failed to look at the schedule. So... for a few days, we'll do the thanksgiving passages we missed. Sorry...  :)

1 Chronicles 29:10–19 (NLT)
10Then David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly: “O Lord, the God of our ancestor Israel, may you be praised forever and ever!
11Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things.
12Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength.
13“O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name!
14But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us!
15We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.
16“O Lord our God, even this material we have gathered to build a Temple to honor your holy name comes from you! It all belongs to you!
17I know, my God, that you examine our hearts and rejoice when you find integrity there. You know I have done all this with good motives, and I have watched your people offer their gifts willingly and joyously.
18“O Lord, the God of our ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, make your people always want to obey you. See to it that their love for you never changes.
19Give my son Solomon the wholehearted desire to obey all your commands, laws, and decrees, and to do everything necessary to build this Temple, for which I have made these preparations.”



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, November 21, 2018

Matthew 7

Today's reading...
Matthew 7:1–29 (NLT)
1“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.
2For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.
3“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?
4How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?
5Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
6“Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.
7“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.
8For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
9“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead?
10Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not!
11So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
12“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.
13“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.
14But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.
15“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.
16You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
17A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.
18A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.
19So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.
20Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.
21“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.
22On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’
23But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
24“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.
25Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.
26But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.
27When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”
28When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching,

29for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.


Thoughts...
Judges (1–12). One of the easiest ways to cover our sins is to judge others. It is not wrong to exercise discernment (v. 6), but we must start with ourselves. Often we are guilty of the sins we think we see in others (Rom. 2:1–3). We need prayer and love if we are to perform successful “eye surgery” on our brothers and sisters. We must treat them the way we want them to treat us.

Pilgrims (13–14). The gate into real life is narrow, and the way is difficult, so don’t try to carry a lot of excess baggage. False teachers make the way easy and popular; if you truly follow Jesus, you pay a price and the way sometimes becomes lonely.

Trees (15–20). Life produces fruit, and good trees produce good fruit. There was a great deal of profession in the lives of the scribes and Pharisees, but no evidence of spiritual fruit.

Builders (21–29). To “build on the rock” means to obey the Word of God. Saying is not enough; there must be doing (James 1:22–25). If you claim to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, expect to have your profession tested in this life and the next. Fair-weather faith will not pass the test.
--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, November 20, 2018

Matthew 6

Today's reading...
Matthew 6:1–34 (NLT)
1“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.
2When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get.
3But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.
4Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
5“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.
6But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
7“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.
8Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!
9Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.
10May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
11Give us today the food we need,
12and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.
14“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.
15But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
16“And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.
17But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face.
18Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
19“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.
20Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.
21Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
22“Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light.
23But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!
24“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.
25“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?
26Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?
27Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
28“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing,
29yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.
30And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
31“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’
32These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.
33Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

34“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.


Thoughts...
Praise (1–4). We should give only to please God and receive His praise. If we give to win the praise of others, or to be able to compliment ourselves (v. 3), we get the immediate reward—praise—but we lose the eternal reward. We cannot get our reward twice, so we must decide which one we want.

Prayer (5–15). Our public praying is only as good as our private praying, and our private praying should be secret (vv. 5–6), sincere (vv. 7–8), and systematic (vv. 9–13). The Lord’s Prayer is a pattern for us to follow so that we will put God’s concerns first and not forget to forgive others.

Possessions (16–34). We need things to live (v. 32), and God provides these things for us (v. 33); but acquiring things must not be the main goal of life. You are living for things when they capture your heart (vv. 19–21), divide your mind (vv. 22–23), and control your will (v. 24); and the result of this is worry. The solution is to put God first and start living with eternity’s values in view.
--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, November 19, 2018

Matthew 5

Today's reading...
Matthew 5:1–48 (NLT)
1One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him,
2and he began to teach them.
3“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
4God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.
6God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.
7God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
9God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
10God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
11“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.
12Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
13“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.
14“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.
15No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.
16In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
17“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.
18I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.
19So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
20“But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!
21“You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’
22But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.
23“So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you,
24leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.
25“When you are on the way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly. Otherwise, your accuser may hand you over to the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, and you will be thrown into prison.
26And if that happens, you surely won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny.
27“You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’
28But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
29So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
30And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
31“You have heard the law that says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce.’
32But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery.
33“You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the Lord.’
34But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne.
35And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King.
36Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black.
37Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.
38“You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’
39But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.
40If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too.
41If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.
42Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.
43“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy.
44But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!
45In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.
46If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.
47If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.

48But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.


Thoughts...
Citizens (1–12). We enter the kingdom through the new birth (John 3:1–16), but we enjoy the kingdom by living for those things that please God the most (6:33). The world (and worldly believers) would disagree with Christ’s description of a blessed (happy) person, but the description is true just the same. God majors on character, and so should we.

Salt and light (13–16). Tasteless salt and hidden light are good for nothing! Salt arrests decay in our world, and light banishes darkness. Salt is hidden, but light is visible. Both are needed in the world, and both must give of themselves in serve.

Worshipers (17–26). If you bring anger to the altar, you cannot worship God, so get rid of the anger quickly. Angry feelings lead to angry words and deeds, and the result could be murder. (See Eph. 4:25–32.)

Surgeons (27–32). Obviously Jesus is not suggesting literal surgery, for the real problem is in the heart (v. 28). This is a vivid reminder that sin is terrible, and we are better off “maimed” than whole and going to hell. Deal drastically with sin!

Children of the Father (33–48). “What do you do more than others?” (v. 47). We must measure ourselves not by others but by the Father (v. 48). This includes our words (vv. 33–37), our responses to injuries (vv. 38–42), and our dealings with our enemies (vv. 43–48).
--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, November 17, 2018

Matthew 4

Today's reading...
Matthew 4:1–25 (NLT)
1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.
2For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.
3During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”
4But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple,
6and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’ ”
7Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”
8Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.
9“I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.”
10“Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”
11Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.
12When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he left Judea and returned to Galilee.
13He went first to Nazareth, then left there and moved to Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali.
14This fulfilled what God said through the prophet Isaiah:
15“In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali, beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River, in Galilee where so many Gentiles live,
16the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined.”
17From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
18One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living.
19Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”
20And they left their nets at once and followed him.
21A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too.
22They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind.
23Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness.
24News about him spread as far as Syria, and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon possessed or epileptic or paralyzed—he healed them all.

25Large crowds followed him wherever he went—people from Galilee, the Ten Towns, Jerusalem, from all over Judea, and from east of the Jordan River.


Thoughts...
The Victor (1–11). Public ministry is built on private victory. Our Lord was not tempted so that God could examine Him, for the Father had already approved Him (3:17). He was tempted for our sake, that He might personally know temptation and be able to help us when we are tempted (Heb. 2:17–18; 4:15). He overcame the devil by using the same weapons available to us today: the Word of God (“It is written”), the power of the Spirit (v. 1; Luke 4:1), and prayer (Luke 3:21; 1 Cor. 10:13).

The Master (12–22). Having defeated “the strong man,” Jesus now invaded his house and began to spoil his goods (12:24–30). He both obeyed the Word (vv. 15–16; Isa. 9:1–2) and preached it, calling men to become His disciples. Everyone must decide whether to follow Christ or make bargains with the devil (vv. 8–10). What is your decision?

The Healer (23–25). Our Lord’s main ministry was teaching and preaching, but His compassion moved Him to minister to the needs of the people. How tragic that most of the people who followed Him wanted His services but not His salvation, the gifts but not the Giver; and these people are with us today.
--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, November 16, 2018

Matthew 3

Today's reading...
Matthew 3:1–17 (NLT)
1In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was,
2“Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
3The prophet Isaiah was speaking about John when he said, “He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for him!’ ”
4John’s clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey.
5People from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John.
6And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.
7But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to watch him baptize, he denounced them. “You brood of snakes!” he exclaimed. “Who warned you to flee the coming wrath?
8Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.
9Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones.
10Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.
11“I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
12He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.”
13Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John.
14But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?”
15But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him.
16After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him.

17And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”


Thoughts...
John the Baptist was a model preacher. He was a road builder who prepared the way for the Lord (v. 3; Isa. 40:3), and an axman who got to the root of sin and exposed it (v. 10). He was not intimidated by people, nor was he afraid to preach about judgment (v. 12). He was obedient to his Lord and magnified Him in all things (John 3:30).

Some people heard God’s Word and confessed their sins (vv. 5–6), while others heard it and covered their sins (vv. 7–9; Prov. 28:13). The first group became children of God, but the second group were children of the devil (v. 7; John 8:44).

Jesus is the Son of God. The Scriptures (v. 3), John the Baptist (v. 11), the Holy Spirit (v. 16), and the Father (v. 17) attested to that truth.
--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. :)