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Archive for November, 2011

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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November 9.11 ethot

Matthew 12:10 (1–14) “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?

The Pharisees will continue to follow Jesus everywhere He goes (where it is lawful for them to go). They had, apparently, completely forgotten why the Law was given in the first place.

The original purpose of God’s law was to get His people to behave the way He had always wanted them to. That behavior was to love their God and to love for each other, Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:37–40.

It seems unimaginable that anyone would even question whether it was right to do good, on any day. But that is what the Pharisees had succeeded in doing. They had rested control of interpreting what the Law meant to themselves, consigning it to the realm of the mystical.

There are always exceptions to the rule as long as the exception doesn’t become the rule. Jesus, being God, qualifies as an exception (Matthew 12:6–8), yet even He observed the intent of the Law in every way, Deuteronomy 23:25; Exodus 20:10; Matthew 12:3–5.

Responsibility involves learning to establish personal disciplines to help you become the person God wants you to be.

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Matthew 11:25 (20–30) “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.

As we look at Jesus’ words of encouragement to John and his disciples and the words of condemnation to all who rejected the Gospel message, vs. 11:2–24, we can understand His word in today’s key verse better.

Both Jesus and John had met with resistance and usually from the same factions, the religious elite (Pharisees and Saducees). They considered themselves as superior to Jesus, in part, because He had not come from their group and made no effort to join them. What’s worse is that Jesus and John made every effort to show the people that these two groups were way wrong.

So, when Jesus calls them wise and intelligent, He was using their thinking. They viewed the people of Israel as infants that needed to be spoon-fed spiritual truth. In contrast Jesus and John wanted to talk to those who were open to the possibility that they might be wrong, and not those that had already decided they couldn’t be wrong so everyone else must be.

Alertness is not just to danger. It involves paying attention to opportunities God presents for real change, right now.

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Matthew 11:16 (16–24) “But to what shall I compare this generation?

As I was reading this passage I was trying to figure out what quality of character Jesus was exemplifying? Then I realized, none of them. Jesus was stepping out of His roll as deliverer and into His roll as Judge. Remember that in the parable of the Sower the lesson was that you reap what you sow.

Jesus had shared the Gospel with these people in their towns and cities and they had not responded correctly. Jesus compares them to kids who go to the market place where kids went to play, but they wouldn’t play. No matter what games were offered they refused to play, vs. 11:16–17. This is why Jesus is judging them, because those presenting the Gospel went out of their way to get people to respond, but they refused it. So, they will reap what they sow.

The question for us as believers here for the purpose of sharing the Gospel to others is; what efforts have we made to get others to listen and respond? It is very easy for us to fall into the trap of day-to-day survival and forget the real reason God left us here. As we reflect on our lives and see how God has blessed us when we were being responsible, it should encourage us to stay that way.

Responsibility involves learning to establish personal disciplines to help you become the person God wants you to be.

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November 4.11 ethot

Matthew 11:6 (1–19) “And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.

I’m glad that the guys who numbered the Bible put this teaching session in the one chapter (10) so we know that this was a specific lesson aimed at just the twelve, 11:1. It shows us that Jesus spent time training the twelve to do a work after He left.

When you’re sitting in prison with nothing to do you have a lot of time to think and rethink issues you have already resolved. John was wondering if Jesus was the One they had all been waiting for the One that would free them from Roman oppression. They had all been taught to focus on the conquering, liberating aspects of the work of the Messiah (that is One specially anointed or called out).

Jesus points out to John’s disciples that Jesus was the Christ he was waiting for, One who would fulfill Scriptural prophecies to the letter, Isaiah 61:1. But, in Jesus description we don’t see the liberator they were waiting for. What we do see is the work of the Messiah to win over His people. Jesus did what He could to win the hearts of the people by what He did as well as what he said. If we want to be like Jesus then, what are we doing and saying to win the people we know to Him?

Decisiveness involves maintaining our commitments in spite of the distractions of life.

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Matthew 10:40(37–42) “He who receives your receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.

What I have been stressing these last couple of eThots is what is called “doctrine”, that is a fact we believe can’t be changed. Jesus came with many objectives, one of which is to find those of us who were once lost and make us found. Once we are found we then become Jesus agents on earth looking for the others who need to be found.

Naturally, we will be different from the lost in that our motivations for living have changed. We are not here occupying this planet as if this is all there is. Something greater is coming and we will be a part of it, then. But for now we need to focus on the job at hand and if as we work we meet with resistance, it is not unexpected.

As we get together (church meetings on Sundays or whenever) to help each other out in the work assigned to us we will find some fellow believers we can’t stand to be with. Most of the time believers can’t seem to get along with each other is because we are not focusing on our job to find the lost and help them help us, but are more interested in ourselves and how we feel.

Decisiveness involves maintaining our commitments in spite of the distractions of life.

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November 2.11 ethot

Matthew 10:34 (32–39) “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

In Luke 2:14 the peace on earth the angels announced Jesus would bring was to be among those who please God.

Today’s key verse tells us that Jesus came not to teach us all how to get along with each other in spite of our differences. Jesus says He came to divide us, essentially into two groups: those that belong to Him and those that don’t.

Jesus is here to call us out of the world, separating us from that way of life. From this new vantage point we can see Him better and what we have left behind. We are to live a life of separation from the ways of the world, 1 John 2:16. This is why we meet regularly, to become more like Jesus (Matthew 5:3–12), dividing us from the world.

This in no way means our job is to stir up trouble, no. We must simply be aware that since Jesus is here calling only those “with whom He is pleased”, we will encounter those with whom He is not. So then the peace Jesus brings is between our God and us, not between men and us.

Sensitivity involves caring for others with the same passion you care for yourself.

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