Archive for October, 2011

October 31.11 ethot

Matthew 10:16 (16–23) “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves;

In the first 15 verses of this chapter Jesus has told His disciples that their message was to be restricted to Jews only. Now He tells them that as they go out, even with all their power, that some of the people they will encounter will only be interested in using and abusing them.

These men would be smarter than the disciples so they should take every precaution. More shocking is that some of these people will be their own family members, v. 10:21. Yet, they shouldn’t be afraid when they get taken into custody and falsely accused. The Lord will tell them what to say and when, v. 10:19.

Today we should be aware of the fact that some of the people we will encounter as we seek to share the Gospel with others will be like wolves looking to take advantage of us. They will be more astute than we can imagine and they may very well be from our own families.

When we find ourselves having to defend our faith, we know that the Lord will give us the right words. But, we should also know that the suffering for His name is real. Just as Jesus disciples had to be ready to suffer, so we do too.

Endurance involves staying focused on our God given objectives in spite of all the distractions Satan will throw our way.

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Matthew 10:8 (1–15) “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.

Yesterday we saw that Jesus directs the message of the disciples only to the Jew and no one else. And, we understood that the message we deliver is to all because we live in a time where there is no distinction between Jew or gentile.

Jesus also empowered His disciples to deliver the message, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand”. We too have been empowered to deliver the same message, John 14:15–26, 16:7–15. All the work the disciples did was in the power of the same Holy Spirit that worked in Jesus. He is still working in us, but only for a time.

The miraculous power the disciples had (the twelve) was to prove Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah they had all been waiting for. Since being the Messiah means very little to the gentile the power we have today is to change our lives so that others can see that Jesus can change the lives of men now and after death.

So, when we witness we never stand alone, we stand with the Holy Spirit.

Diligence involves focusing on the job the Holy Spirit has given us and getting it done.

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October 27.11 ethot

Matthew 10:6 (1–15) “but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

In chapter 10 Jesus is giving the Twelve their assignment, which was to go and preach to Jews and Jews only (probably because their assignment was to represent God to a lost world and had failed ). It is interesting that at the end of chapter 9 Jesus essentially calls for prayer for what we know today as missionaries and now here He sends out those first missionaries.

Today our assigned target audience is everyone we come into contact with. We don’t know who has been called or selected for God’s salvation. We need to find them.

Yet, as they went from house to house, they were looking for those who had been called or chosen. Just as we don’t know who is to be saved today, they didn’t know either. Just as not every Jew was to be saved, not every gentile is to be saved.

Our job is to present the opportunity for change, not to save people. In a sense, just like the Twelve, we are just sharing what we know with whom we know. The decision has always been out of our hands.

Courage involves setting your fears aside so you can do what is right.

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October 25.11 ethot

Matthew 9:28 (27–38) “Do you believe that I am able to do this?

Although it appears that for the most part Jesus was just randomly healing and casting out demons, Matthew here emphasizes the idea that these people were being saved from their spiritual not just physical condition. In vs. 37–38 of this chapter Jesus points out that the harvest of souls needing to come back to God was plentiful, because He understood His real purpose.

The whole purpose of Jesus coming was to point out to all (v. 35) that God had decided to give man a second chance, v. 36. A chance that could only happen with a person’s display of faith, belief that Jesus was and is that agent of reconciliation between man and God.

The opportunity to establish a right (before God) relationship with God is still active today. If you’re aware of your needs, both physical and spiritual and realize they are related, then you understand that there is a way out of trouble. Remember Jesus said, “It shall be done to you according to your faith.

You are the only limit to what God can do through and with you.

Availability involves getting and staying busy with God given priorities and getting rid of those things that would get in the way.

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October 24.11 ethot

Matthew 9:18 (18–26) “But come and lay Your hand on her, and she will live.

Although there are two different stories about the miraculous in this passage they both show that without faith, that is believing that Jesus can actually do something there can be no healing of any kind, miraculous or not.

Here faith is setting aside those things you know to be true and unchangeable and stepping into a world where the God of the creation you live in can make adjustments. That is all that miracles are, they are adjustments God makes in His creation. As the Creator He has the right to make adjustments to His creation whenever He chooses.

So for those of us who believe that the creator of the universe exists and is still active in His creation, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we can approach Him (our heavenly Father) and get a response either way. Sometimes God will adjust His creation for us and sometimes He won’t, 2 Corinthians 12:7–9 .

Yet, Faith has to be seen before it can be heard.

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Matthew 9:14 (9–17) “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?

This morning’s passage is related to yesterdays in that both talk about rituals. As mentioned yesterday there is nothing necessarily wrong about rituals. We all have our daily rituals, which may include some religious aspects.

Some of us wake up most every morning and spend some time with God, before we break our sleeping fast and then go to work. That fast we use to get much needed rest. The question about fasting is; what are you using it for? The Pharisees used it to get recognition for being more spiritual than others (everyone knew they fasted twice a week). John’s disciples were in morning and fasted for that reason as a memorial to him (they weren’t fasting for a reward).

In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus told us that we get what we work for. This is why rituals like fasting are best done in secret so the Father, who sees all, can bless you in secret, Matthew 6:16–18. As believers trying to merge old practices (the broad way) with new practices (the narrow way) can only make life worse for you and all around you.

Self-control involves placing even our deepest longings under the control of the Holy Spirit.

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Matthew 9:13 (9–13) “I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,

Jesus quotes from the book of Hosea. Hosea was a prophet to the northern tribes of Israel after the nation had split in two. Israel had fallen under the influence of idolatry (ritualism). Under this system everything you do, religious, is done to appease or manipulate God. It is used to avoid having to becoming the person you should be, Matthew 5–7, 2 Peter 1:5–7.

This is why Jesus told the Pharisees to look up the scripture and read its context and understand that just as God wasn’t pleased back then with ritualism, He is still not today. If you ask how can I tell if what I’m doing is a mere ritual and not edifying, do what Jesus told the Pharisees; look at the scriptures for direction.

But, the Pharisees were so steeped in their rituals that they had forgotten their main job as religious leaders was to teach the tax collectors to stop sinning by collecting more than what was fair by Roman decree. Instead they thought themselves too clean to approach such filth. We need to remember that no matter how spiritual or religious we may get each of us is just one step away from sinning everyday, Genesis 4:7.

Humility involves recognizing the mercy and grace of God in our election.

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October 19.11 ethot

Matthew 9:3 (1–8) “This fellow blasphemes.

It was interesting to note that there were two groups of people present when Jesus performed this miracle of healing the paralytic. There were those who brought the man and there were those who came to criticize Jesus. That is that there were those who came with their minds open and expecting something amazing and those who came with their minds closed and suspicious of everything.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with being suspicious when it is warranted. If someone is trying to sell me something I’ll tend to be suspicious, but Jesus wasn’t selling anything. Jesus was trying to warn everyone of something that is going to happen that they all needed to be ready for, Matthew 7:21–23.

One group came looking for God to do something and found the Son of God ready to forgive them of their sins with a power that He rightfully held, Daniel 7:13–14. The other group came looking for just a man like them, selling something for themselves to a crowd of fools. Both groups found a man. But only one praised God for the man they found, 9:8.

Wisdom involves recognizing and rejecting my natural inclination to explain away what I know to be true.

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October 18.11 ethot

Matthew 8:24 (23–27) “And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.

Now here’s an interesting reaction to a miracle of Jesus. Everywhere else Jesus went people gathered round and wanted more from Him. They couldn’t get enough of Him. But here the people came out to tell Jesus to get lost, thanks but no thanks!

Well, I guess I can understand how they felt. Apparently the herd of pigs was their livelihood and Jesus had just destroyed that (the Gadarenes were probably mixed Jews). Yet, Jesus had not. This was done by the demons. Demons are naturally destructive as proved by their treatment of the two possessed men. Now previously we had seen demons producing disease (8:14–17) and now physical violence on those they possess. There is nothing wonderful about falling under the influence of the demons.

But, I guess as long as the demons hadn’t personally bothered them they could live with them even though, the demons, were destroying the lives of two of there own. The few would suffer for the sake of the many. How noble?!

Jesus is not like that. When He comes into a life things can get very disruptive. The old way of doing things (the broad way) is no longer good enough; things must change (the narrow way).

Courage involves being willing to stand alone on the side of right even when it requires personal sacrifice.

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October 17.11 ethot

Matthew 8:24 (23–27) “but Jesus Himself was asleep.

This is another one of those passages where the point of the story is really about your perspective on life now that you’re a believer. See while the disciples were all stressed out because of the storm, understanding it to be their last moments on earth, Jesus had no such delusion.

Yes, delusion! See Jesus was totally aware of the fact that God had sent Him to earth with a specific purpose, to save sinners from that final judgment day. In that moment Jesus did not see His death the storm. Dying there would not fulfill God’s purposes of a sacrificial offering. So there was no reason to worry, God had a different purpose for the storm.

Too many times, as believers, we forget our purpose here on earth, we forget our place and assume too much or not enough. There was nothing wrong with the disciples doing their best to keep the boat afloat and saving every life on board, but assuming they were going to die and that that would be terrible was too much.

Look at your life as a believer right now and ask yourself if God is finished with you yet. If as I suspect He is not then you need to stop worrying about death and start working on life. We are not Jesus, but just as He was focused on His mission we should be on ours.

Diligence involves applying the right amount of energy and concentration to the mission God has called us to do.

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