So You Want to Know What Lies Ahead??? Matthew 24 part 1

It is riveting to think how much Jesus knew. To have the mind of God and to know what would happen all the time—what a cool gift and onerous burden.  Jesus walked among us for Thirty-three years not only knowing what was to befall him, but also what was to befall the world.  Still he showed the world a glimpse of what God looked like on the inside and outside.  He showed the ministry, wisdom and absolute disdain for self-righteousness shared by the Father.  So this discussion about what was to come was a rare glimpse into God’s ability to see things with his omnipresent eyes—anywhere and any when.  God does not see time or space as we do—linearly.  He sees it all at once.  That is why he knew at the creation of time and space the ultimate end…an end where every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to God’s Glory and praise.

His prophecies are our hope.  His view of eternity our joy.  No matter how difficult this life becomes, we know he will have prepared a place for us for eternity with him in Heaven.

With that hope, we are armed for battle.  We can face the lies of the enemy, the trials of this world and the circumstances of this life with an assurance that this is not our home.  OR we can get lost in those battles, trials and circumstances and live a defeated and deflated life.  That is the other great gift, the Gift to choose this day whom you will serve.  My mentor YODA also known as pastor Don and I came up with the name CHOOSE-Day. When some person asks what day it is we tell them of course that today is Choose-day.  We have to walk by faith, stay in prayer and hide his word in our heart so that, on the especially grievous battle days, we like the great leader Joshua we can choose this day to serve the Lord.  No excuses, no free passes—we simply stat each Choose-day knowing he is God and we are not.  Choose this day whom you will serve…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

God Bless You

HAPPY CHOOSE-DAY

Choose this Day whom you will serve…as for me and my House we will serve the Lord

                                                                                  Joshua 24:15

24 As Jesus was leaving the Temple grounds, his disciples pointed out to him the various Temple buildings. But he responded, “Do you see all these buildings? I tell you the truth, they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!”

Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?[a]

Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

“Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers.[b] 10 And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. 11 And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. 12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations[c] will hear it; and then the end will come.

Matthew 23 part 1–IR-Religious Leaders

Jesus simply struggled with the religious leaders.  Not simply because of their arrogance and self righteousness—More because of the way they crushed the oppressed and lavished in their own show of religion.  Jesus always saw the men’s hearts first and foremost.  The hearts of these men were set on killing him and maintaining religion their way. It simply did not matter that he was speaking the truth, he was calling their lifestyles and practice into question and that simply was not acceptable.  He knew their plan and he was sickened that they would be so pious on the outside and so wretched on the inside.

 

In our lives we must first examine our hearts.  Are we committed to him and his leadership? If that is not the commitment, then whatever else we do is useless.  The number of services we attend and the number of activities we support become of no value without the desire to follow the Lord.  This is the crux of the issue, when we follow the Lord we look like him.  When we model him, we will do the things that honor him.  So, the actions will show our heart.  If we seek him with our heart, we will please him with our lives.  Help me Lord, to seek you with my heart and allow my life to honor you. 

 

God Bless You

23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses.[a] So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.“Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels.[b] And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues. They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi.’…13 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either…23 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens,[g] but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith…27 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. 28 Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness

Matthew 22 final–Ask a Lawyer

If God Had intended the navigation of Life to be extremely difficult, he obviously would have left its administration to men. The Jews proved the point extremely well. They took the original 10 commandments and expanded and clarified them into 673 separate laws, regulations and edicts.  It had to totally frustrate God—So, in the midst of that, the Lawyer asked Jesus the hardest question of all—which Law is the best…after all this is a carpenter, an itinerate preacher he is no match for a Lawyer…right?  Well Jesus made quick work of the question and set the stage for the new covenant—Love God and Love others if you do, the rest automatically falls in place.

If we realize his Lordship and follow him—Loving God allows us to live a life that is  honoring to God.  We simply honor him with our time, talents and treatment of those around us.  We are not reviewing the rules and regs, we are living in a selfless way that demonstrates his love and power.  That is why his life was simple.  He did not have to remember a scad of laws and neither do we.  If we seek first his Kingdom and righteousness then the rest is added (Matt 6:33). It does not take a lawyer to figure that out—trust me, I know.

God Bless You

34  Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”

“The son of David,” they replied.

43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,

44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
under your feet.”’[e]

45 If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” 46 No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Matthew 22 part 2–Stewardship Unpacked

noble-metalIt is always amazing to see folks try to outwit God. These guys tried to trip God up on stewardship—really?!!! To grasp the senselessness one first needs to realize it is ALL God’s anyway. He does not need our money—BUT, we need his. Jesus in a phrase makes stewardship clear—Be free from the trap of trying to control your life with money. Their question was about loyalty to Caesar—his response was about freedom from the entanglement of finances. They had no idea that a simple answer would leave them speechless. Render to Cesar what is Cesar’s and to God what is God’s. It is humbling, it is integrity, it is freedom.
In the last few years, God has stripped us of our control of stuff. Losing our home and the majority of our possessions through various circumstances has caused a gambit of emotions and major change in our reliance on his provision. That reality has caused us to rely upon him for the very food we eat, the roof over our head and the clothes on our back. He has remained faithful and has provided for us and protected us in our weakest moments. We have to give back. Not because he needs our money—He desires our submission! As we follow him, and obey, then he blesses us with his provision and freedom. It’s hard, it’s scary, but, as we follow our loving and generous Father, he will meet us where we are and lead us through his plan.
Help me, Lord to trust and obey.
God Bless You
15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax[a] to Caesar or not?”
18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

Matthew 22 Part 1–A Feast by Invitation

weddingComing into relationship with Christ is not something to be taken lightly or for granted.  The parable of the wedding feast seems a bit harsh—the message is really one of hope and grace.  In the parable , Jesus talks of the invited guests and then the guests that were gathered afterward.  In the parable the original guests were too busy or made excuses not to come.  Then the King sent the servants to gather anyone that wanted to be a part of the wedding feast. But then the one guest came for the feast but not as a guest. 

In our culture, little has changed—God called his chosen nation Israel to be a part of the family, but they were too busy doing their religion to be bothered to submit to the Lord.  He Moved on and invited us—anyone who would come as a guest of the Lord.  When we receive him we become a part of the family and therefore an invited guest.  But some want to be a part of the feast, but not a part of the family—in our world that is the person that creates God in their image.  They are the ones that say Ï am a good person, I am as good as the next guy, surely God will let me in—Just like in the parable, God says, I love you and want you to be a part—BUT—not on your terms, on my terms.  If we confess with our mouth that he is Lord and believe God has raised him from the dead—you will be saved. On his terms—God gives us a free gift…One would be nuts not to accept!

God Loves us and wants to invite us to the wedding feast—please come, but don’t try to crash!

God Bless You      

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

“Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

“But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen

Matthew 21 Final–No More Mr Niceguy

Jesus was growing tired of playing nice.  It was time to tell the truth.  God had tried everything to draw his people back into relationship. Judges, prophets,  priests and kings. They were enslaved; then freed.  They were tested in the desert for 40 years, then given the promised land—Israel.  They followed Closely and took the Land—then, drifted quickly and lost the gains they achieved.  They chased all manners of evil, then turned back were exiled then returned and at Jesus time they were again under the thumb of the Roman Empire.

God finally did ALL he could do—Sent the Messiah.  In that move, he made his final effort to save his people.  Yet, the leaders, had, from the inception of his ministry, tried to discredit and destroy him. Now they were committed to having him killed—Seems like the making of a good parable…

God is incredibly patient—but, when we decide we must be separate from him, whether by sinning overtly or doing religion on our own apart from him; then he will allow us our wish and move on. He loves us, but is not willing to compromise on who will be in charge.  While it is by grace that we are saved, though faith –He made clear that the relationship was one that made him Lord, not equal or subservient.  We follow him not in reverse.  Until we realize that these are the terms—then we cannot enjoy the peace and provision of following him.  Outside of his Lordship we strongly resemble the tenants of the parable.  Our prayer needs to be one of submission to his leading and thanksgiving for his leadership—Thanks Lord for leading me toward the joys of salvation

God Bless You

There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.

35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third…37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said. 38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him…42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

“‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’[h]?

43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed

Matthew 21 part 3–Trying to Stump God

Men have thought themselves as smart as God since the day Adam and Eve had the fruit from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. They have worked tirelessly to shortcut his plan to equal and exceed his wonders and to discount his reality and relevance.  In the midst of the many attempts, one thing remains clear—God is God and we are not.  When men have tried—time and again they have failed.  Such was the case when the religious leadership tried to discredit Jesus.  Every attempt to stump Jesus only proved his deity.  He was never ruffled, taken by surprise or bested.  He had the mind of God.  He also had the patience of his father.

In our culture, the battle continues. We see attempts to remove God from every facet of the culture.  Schools, government, entertainment and politics all have attempted to marginalize and make irrelevant God’s impact on our nation and our people.  Rest assured—God Will Not BE Mocked! He will allow us to walk independent of him, but he will not abdicate his supremacy or power.  We need to seek him, not run away from him.  We need to humbly follow him, not act as though he is not there.  As the church—it is even more important that we follow and honor him.  We should not stand by as the world tries to disprove his existence and then act like he does not matter.

God will Show himself to be Lord of All. 

Help me, Lord to follow you and preach about you boldly.

God Bless You

23 Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”  24 Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?”

They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”,27 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

Matthew 21 part 2–The Crescendo

He was welcomed as a king, then upon entering the Holy City, Jesus took charge. He first cleansed the temple-Don’t you know he had wanted to do that since he was 12! Then he set about healing the sick, restoring the lame and blessing those who would be blessed.  This was catching the eye of the entire city, but, mostly the kids. It made the religious folks livid and indignant–they thought, who does he think he is…God!

The stage was set for the ultimate victory but, not what we would expect.  We like his disciples thought this would be a clean takeover where Rome would leave and Jesus would run Israel. God’s plan was much grander. He was setting the stage for complete and utter restoration, not like the world would have it done, but, according to the plan drafted at the beginning of time.

God does not fly by the seat of his pants, he is not reckless or disorganized. He executed a plan that stands to his return.  We, as a part of that plan, do not understand it always–but trust him to do what he has always done, provide for and protect his chosen. We know he is Lord and Savior and become joyful when the truth of that is revealed.  We wait patiently to see what is next and joyfully follow. The story is again building toward the climax, are we ready to be part of the final act?  Help me, Lord to follow your lead..

God Bless You

Matthew 21:12-17

Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.

“It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”

The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them.

But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.

“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,“‘From the lips of children and infantsyou, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”

And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

The Triumphal Entry–Matthew 21 part 1

For one brief moment, Jesus was treated as a king.  His disciples fetched the appropriate mount to welcome a prince of peace.  The placed their robes on its back so a king would ride comfortably and in style.  The crowds formed and cheered his triumphal entry.  They covered his path with palm leaves to show their homage to his position and title. It must have been a glorious spectacle.  But, it was not real. Sure it was the fulfillment of prophecy—1 of over 300 he fulfilled. And sure he is the Son of David, the Messiah.  But this welcome was for an earthly king and prophet; not the Son of God.

He is returning.  His next triumphal entry will announce the restoration of the bond between God and Man.  His name will be above all names. At his name, every knee will bow in heaven, on earth and under the earth.  And every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord—to the glory and praise of God the Father. Philippians 2:10-11. Those who submit now–will welcome him as their Savior, Lord and family.  Those who refuse will bow as vanquished enemy. His glory will be unmistakable.  His Lordship crystal clear. But it won’t be only for a moment—it will be forever. I long for his return and joyfully follow him until that day!

God Bless You

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

“Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”[a]

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,  “Hosanna[b] to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[Hosanna[d] in the highest heaven!” 10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

 

Matthew 20 part 2–Cost of a Seat at the Head Table

LastSupperYou gotta love the boldness—the stereotypical Jewish mom… ”Sooooo Jesus—How’s about putting my sweet little angel boys at the head table with ya????” (Eye lashes batting rapidly).  Never hurts to ask—lol.” The irony is she really meant it.  Probably a mom that had not been denied much—but, she truly had no idea the cost of a seat at the head table.  Jesus told them, “I am going to die soon at the hands of the Jewish leaders.” He also told them, ‘that if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.’” Jesus made no illusions to the sacrificial nature of changing the world.  But, as the disciples watched in indignant disgust—none of them yet grasped the import of following the Lord.  It was a commitment to die a death of persecution 11 of the apostles died at the hands of the persecuting Jews and Romans, the 12th John—sweet little angel boy did not—but he was boiled in oil—God simply did not let it hurt him. Jesus knew these men would each lay down his life for the master—He chose well.

In our lives, we have not been threatened, persecuted nor harassed for our faith…But, at that point neither had they.  We have to realize, as did the apostles, that the cost of a seat at the head table is truly preparing to be a servant, sacrifice and soldier for the cross of Christ.  What is more, Paul reminded us we needed to be living sacrifices holy and pleasing unto God.  It is hard to die for the cause of Christ—but, it is even harder to live for him. Daily cross lugging requires endurance, focus and commitment. It is not for the faint of heart. When we seek him daily, often we feel weak and alone tired and defeated—BUT-we KNOW by faith that we will win.  Paul said it best, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race and have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord-the righteous judge-will award me on that day”.

We continue to strive to be like him daily—servant, soldier and sacrifice! Help me Lord to be that guy!

God Bless You

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.

21 “What is it you want?” he asked.  She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”

22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”

“We can,” they answered. 23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” 24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”