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Archive for November, 2011

November 18.11 ethot

Matthew 13:18 (10–23) “Hear then the parable of the sower.

This is not a parable about how to share the Gospel, although we have already learned a few things. This parable is really more about what the sower (the one sharing the Gospel) can expect from the seed sown.

As Jesus was sharing the Gospel He always understood that there would be those who would not listen (they would hear, but not listen), v. 13:19. Then there would be those who would seem to accept the message but difficulties and the cares of the world would be more important to them so they would leave, v. 13:20–22. But, there were those who would listen and accept what Jesus offered no matter what it might cost, v. 13:23.

So the parable is really for the sower of the Seed. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to be discouraged or encouraged by the reaction our message has, because we are just planting. It is, in a way, as an encouragement to us to be able to see that what Jesus said would happen is true and if His word is true in this area it can be trusted in every area.

Faith involves investing my resources and myself in things that will matter for eternity.

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November 17.11 ethot

Matthew 13:11 (1–17) “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.

Yesterday we saw that one of the reasons people don’t respond to the Gospel is because we are not living it out therefore creating opportunities to speak. Jesus now gives the main reason.

And, that is because it has not been granted to them. When a farmer decides to plant a certain crop he makes sure the land he has can handle that kind. If it can’t then he plants something else. Jesus says that the people of His day are not interested in what He has to say; they don’t want to come back to God. It sounds a lot like our country, today.

So Jesus spoke only to those who can handle the truth. I don’t and can’t fully understand why God has had mercy on me, but He has. Since we’re not the Great Farmer God is we can’t hope to really know what He does or His reasons (apart from His great love). But what we can do is be grateful for His election and hope and pray that all my friends and family will one day be included also.

Gratefulness involves expressions of appreciation for His faithfulness in spite of our hardheadedness.

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Matthew 13:8 (1–9) “And others fell on good soil and yielded a crop,

At one time or another we’ve all heard the Parable of the Sower and pretty much understand that it is talking about how we share the Gospel message. That message basically says that since man went against God in the beginning, he has lived under the judgment that one day he will have to reap what he has sown, a permanent death. But, God has mercifully given man a way out of that fate and it is in believing that Jesus has paid his debt, and so doesn’t have to live with that burden anymore.

What we should notice about sharing that message is that the ground, which was prepared gave much fruit and the ground, which wasn’t prepared didn’t. When we share the Gospel we should always temper our expectations. If we haven’t prepared the ground before us with our behavior and words, then we shouldn’t expect large crowds to follow us hanging on every word.

The good farmer knows that after all the work he does he has to wait for good rain and good sun before anything good can happen. Genesis 26:12 tells’ us that after we do our part God will do His.

Patience involves giving God the same amount of time you would like to fulfill a commitment.

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November 15.11 ethot

Matthew 12:48 (46–50) “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?

Most of us understand that Jesus wasn’t denying that He had a mother or brothers. Actually this passage verifies that fact, because Mark and Luke tell us that Jesus family came to see Him. What’s more we see here that Jesus father (Joseph) is not present.

Remembering that Jesus has been contrasting those who accept Him against those who reject Him, then Jesus is talking on a more spiritual than physical level about family. All of us who believe that Jesus is our Savior become members of a new family, a spiritual family, and related to each other in that way, v. 12:50. Again, not that our physical family is not important. It should be an example.

So Jesus comparison of a physical and spiritual family help us to understand better how we should treat each other, say for example when we meet at church. My hope is that we’re not treating each other as the dysfunctional family the Pharisees were, but as those who care for the safety and success of each other in everything we do.

Compassion involves seeing the hand of God in the life of others and becoming part of that solution.

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November 14.11 ethot

Matthew 12:39 (38–45) “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign;

After trying to prove that Jesus was a tool of the devil and failing (Matthew 12:25–37) they decided to try another tactic; they asked for a sign, a miracle.

Hadn’t they been paying attention? Jesus was performing miracles almost everywhere He went; everyone had seen a miracle or two from Him. But, what they were asking for was a miracle on demand like cable On-Demand.

I know that most of us are not like those Pharisees (trying to prove Jesus wrong); we’re just confused in today’s complicated world and looking for direction. Most have asked God for a sign at one time or another. Yet we do live in a world today that is only interested in themselves and what they can get.

Jesus answer was not what they expected. He told them they already had a sign, Jonah. Jesus connected the prophecies concerning the Messiah (the Son of Man) to the story of Jonah, saying that He would die and in three days be raised again. Jesus shared another perspective on the Gospel message and the story shows they had no answer.

Yet, the Gospel is the answer to every question when you sit down and think it through. The other day I had to explain to my mother why she had to stay in a nursing home. I asked God for help, a sign. So, as I was walking with her she stopped me and asked directly what she was doing there and it came to me that she was there to share the Gospel with a fellow patient or to a worker, even the doctor. She was very happy with that thought. Thank You Lord!

Attentiveness involves looking, listening and learning the will of God, the way of God and the commands of God.

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November 11.11 ethot

Matthew 12:37 (25–37) “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

Jesus argument against the charge that He cast out demons by the power of Satan (v. 12:24) was that the proof was in His fruits. First of all, if Satan were empowering Jesus, then what would be the reason, since he’s only harming his own efforts? So then the only way Jesus could cast out Satan’s demons is if He had power greater than he, v. 12:29.

The next logical step is to conclude that anyone not accepting that reason stands against whatever Jesus is trying to do and with whoever is trying to appose Him, v. 12:30. Jesus is then telling us that it is important for us to stand by our words, because it’s by them we will ultimately be judged, v. 12:37.

That being the case we need to watch carefully what we say. Rather than allow ourselves to be caught in the emotion of the moment and blurt out what we will regret later, stop and think. As we listen to the presidential campaigners this year we’ll notice how careful they choose their words and how quick they are to correct themselves when they slip.

Cautiousness involves seeing the consequences of speaking or acting without thinking.

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November 10.11 ethot

Matthew 12:19 (14–24) “He will not quarrel, nor cry out; nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.

While I was reading Jesus quote from Isaiah 42:1–3 I was confused because it seemed that Jesus had quarreled with the Pharisees and to preach to the crowds he would have to had raised His voice. Was there a contradiction?

Then it occurred to me that unlike the Pharisees who liked to draw as much attention to them selves as possible, Jesus was trying to draw the people’s attention back to their God. Again the Pharisees needed this, artificial, attention to prove their worth.

In contrast Jesus already knew who He was and His mission. He had no need for verification of that from anyone on earth. In like manner we believers today should understand that our approval has come from our Lord and Savior, we need nothing else, from this world, to prove our worth or value. Only our gratitude for His election motivates us to prove His decision was right.

Gratefulness implies my willingness to pay Him back although I know it’s not possible.

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