Matthew 26 Part 3–Sweet Hour of Prayer

Jesus was about to be arrested and crucified.  He knew it, he had planned for it, and He prepared His men for it.  Still, as the hour approached, the sense of dread and reality of what was ahead bore down on Jesus like a vise. He took his men to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray with him.  He had to go to His father, one more time.  As Jesus grieved and prayed, He longed for the support of those men He had raised and befriended. 

Sadly, each of the three times Jesus returned to the guys, they were fast asleep. They neither sensed the pain the Lord was going through, nor did they feel the sense of urgency that Jesus felt. They had a full belly and that was the most important thing to them. Had they known that in only moments their world would be forever turned upside down, then they probably would have been in an intense prayer of support for the Master. Still, Jesus knew that his guys were going to be shaken to the core, and He was about to suffer and die–so on he prayed. “Not my will, but Your will be done!”

Like Jesus, we need to remain on our face before God. We live in a time where the church is feeling the increased pain of a world that has abandoned God. The devaluation of Life, marriage and family has reaped unprecedented violence, arrogance and selfishness in all corners of the globe. It is only a matter of time, until worship of our Lord will be considered illegal, and the church an enemy.  Then, like the disciples, we will be shaken to our very core and driven to our knees to worship the Lord. We will then seek his protection, provision and preparation for what lies ahead. We need to sense the urgency that is upon us, and like Jesus, pray this very hour for God’s intervention and our nation’s revival.  Don’t let our full tummy and sense of invincibility, fool us into thinking that we will never lose what we have. Things can always change in a minute, and we must be ready for that eventuality!!! Wake up and pray.

God Bless You

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Matthew 26 Part 2–The Last Supper

Time was running short.  Jesus, of course, knew the events that lay ahead–but His disciples did not have a clue. Judas had already made a deal with the Jewish elite to betray Jesus. So, as they began the Passover feast, Jesus began preparing His men for the betrayal, and preparing them for what was about to change. It was probably clear that Jesus was hated by the religious leaders. No one would have thought, however, that they would intentionally try to end the life of God’s Messiah.  

Jesus knew, however. He watched these men; picked to lead the Church after his death and resurrection,and while He knew they would be OK, He also knew what was to come would be difficult for them and horrendous for Him.  Still, He soldiered on and blessed them that night. He called Judas out, He prepped Peter for his denial of Jesus, and Jesus let the rest know that, after He was gone, they needed to remember the communion they shared with Him.

In our lives, we attend our various congregations, and every so often, usually the 1st Sunday of the month, we take communion in remembrance of that last supper. His body broken for us, His blood shed for us. He was separated from God, albeit only briefly, for the 1st and only time throughout eternity.  He was tortured, killed and discredited–all for us.  So, as we pause, ever so quickly to take communion–we need to examine our lives and ask the question, was Jesus sacrifice for me, enough.  The answer is technically yes, but, it must be a yes for each of us, personally.  

He gave all He could give to restore what had been taken by man’s sin. We are called to accept our Lord’s gift, follow His lead and allow Jesus to transform us into His image; from the day we receive Him until His return.

God Bless You

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

18 He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.

20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve.21 And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”

23 Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him.But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”

Jesus answered, “You have said so.”

26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the[b]covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Matthew 26 Part 1–Jesus Anointed

You can never underestimate the things God does through His people.  The religious elite had plotted to kill Jesus and the day was fast approaching.  Jesus was at a party in the home of one He had healed, Simon the “Leper”; when out of the blue a lady anoints Him with expensive perfume.  Everyone was surprised and a bit taken aback–if not annoyed. The perfume was valuable and could have been used for a number of things.  Also’ it totally took the focus off of the party.

Jesus, knowing what the people were thinking, took a moment and cleared the air.  Look, He said, leave her be.  What she has done was beautiful, she has anointed Me for burial.  You may think it an annoyance, but, history will remember it as a great gift from God. It is a story that has been forever entwined with the last days of Jesus ministry on Earth.  No one could have known the significance that was about to be realized.

In our lives, we follow God–and if we are sensitive to His lead, we act in ways that honor Him.  In that process, we weave in and out of the lives of folks whom we touch and who touch our lives. Some say a kind word, give a small gift or help with a need, never once considering the implications of their help.  Only later, when we stand before God, will the significance of those gestures be realized.  That is why it is critical to be faithful, kind and selfless.  You will never know the lives your behavior will affect.

My family has had a host of angels touch our lives in so many ways, that I have lost count.  Kind deeds, financial assistance, faithful prayer and loyal friendship have shaped our lives into a place of complete faith and dependence on God. I would have given up long ago, except for the way God has used folks to keep me moving forward.  For all of you that have “anointed” my family, I thank you, and will never be able to express the deep gratitude I feel. please allow this word to stand as a tribute to your love and sacrifice to Him and for me.  I am truly grateful, and praise Him for all the anointers that walk among us each day!!!

God Bless You

While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you,[a] but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Matthew 25 Final–The Least of These

In my life, there is no parable that has gripped my heart–like this parable. In short, God separates people into two groups, (Sheep and Goats).  The sheep are the people that God has prepared for his kingdom and the goats are the folks that He has no place for.  It is a sobering thought, but God does not allow everyone into His kingdom.  What is more sobering, is the determining factors for entrance.  First, it truly is a matter of the heart.  The sheep were the folks that acted like God acted–they fed the hungry, satisfied the thirsty, welcomed the stranger, clothed the needy, cared for the sick and even visited the prisoners. Their’s was an active faith based upon a selfless desire to be like the Father. 

Conversely, the goats did none of that.  They may have been to church every week, they may have not committed any “bad sins”…They may have known all the right phrases–but, in the end, their faith did not show up as they dealt with the people in the world.  Jesus was clear, as His own, we are to be reaching out to those in need. The needs vary, as do our gifts–but at days end, we are to be the ones who show God’s love to those in the world that need it. It is truly what sets us apart.  The phrase that should be our motto–“As you have done to the least of these–you have done to God!

God cares most for the least of these. God gives most to the least of these.  The least of these are the ones that He has a special VIP section for.  As such, we need to treat the least of these like the best of us.  Our church attendance, our religious talk, our conservative lives are important, however, what God sees as critical,  is that we live selfless lives–that touch the least of these–God’s VIP’s.

God Bless You!

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Matthew 25 Part 2–Parable of the Talents

God calls His people to be ready and to use the gifts entrusted to them.  The type and number of gifts vary, but, God’s expectation is that no matter the gift, each be used effectively.  In the parable of the bags of gold, each servant’s gift were different; one was given 5 bags of gold, one was given 2 bags and one was given 1 bag.  The first two servants took the gifts they were given and put them to use; doubling their value.  The third servant simply hid his gift–returning it unused.

In the parable, the master rewarded the two servants that used their gifts, accordingly. He was equally pleased with the first two servants, not because of the amount of gifts they started with, but, because they took what they had and made the most of it.  The master was exceedingly angry with the third servant–not because he expected a great return, but because the servant failed to even try to use what he had been given–as such, that gift was taken away.  It was an issue of trust, of desire and of the attitude the servant had about his master.

In our lives, God makes us unique. Each is given a different set of gifts and talents. Some are multi-talented superstars; while others are simply great at one thing. In God’s eyes both are equally valuable.  Where the distinction comes, in God’s eyes, is in what we do with what he has given us.  His desire is that we use what ever talent we are given to further the kingdom. It does not have to be a showy gift like preaching, leadership or teaching, it may simply be the gift of prayer, service or giving. In His eyes, it is simply that we use the gift to further His kingdom.  Failure to do so, will be a great disappointment to God and a waste of a great life.

God calls us all to minister.  What that ministry is, varies–all are needed. The only wrong answer is to take the gifts that you have been given–and simply set them to the side because of fear or the failure to see one’s gift as valuable.  D. L. Moody was a shoe salesman that simply had a heart for the poor kids in his Chicago neighborhood.  He loved them and taught them about God and his word.  His ministry to those poor kids turned into an international ministry and college.  He was not given a huge number of gifts and talents; but, he used what he was given to change the world. Go and do the same!

God Bless You

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Matthew 25–The 10 Virgins (A Story of Preparation)

The parable of the 10 virgins was an alarming one.  The story simply put; talks of being ready for the bridegroom to appear. Half the group was ready, and half fell asleep on the job.  The troubling part was twofold–1st, half the group did not come prepared for the delay in the bridegroom’s appearance. The second problem, the half that missed the return, were out of luck to experience the relationship with the bridegroom. 

In that time, being a part of such a celebration was a big deal. To be invited was itself an honor, but to be invited and not be ready was a huge insult.  The people that heard that story–knew that in real life such an event would be treated as an audience with the king. All that received it, would come ready and stay on edge–no matter how long it took. 

In our lives, the meaning is clear, be prepared for Christ’s return. It may seem as though it will never happen, but to be unprepared for it would be devastating.  Preparation for Christ’s return is simple. Trust Him, follow Him and allow Him to be Lord of your life. As you do, He will lead, guide and protect you. He will prepare you for the life ahead. He will provide and transform you into an amazing person; full of the Spirit and ready for His return.  It is a difficult process; but, it is also an Amazing Journey!!!

God Bless You

At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

Matthew 24 Part 1–The End Of Days

There is no doubting that Jesus spoke of an end of days.  Theologians through the years have debated the validity of the discussion of end times and what it means for the church.  Jesus was clear to his disciples–there will be an end of days, and the people of God will suffer and be tempted to walk away from God to avoid the pain.  As he taught the group, much of what he discussed could easily apply to the modern times. The important thing that the disciples needed to hear was not the circumstances surrounding the end times, but that they needed to be ready when the end of days, does in fact,come.

That message plays as loudly today as it did when 1st delivered 2000 years ago. We, as a body of believers, need to live as if each day could be the end.  We, in America, still have the amazing gift to worship God freely and openly. Across the globe, not so much. Europe, Asia and the Middle-East continue to grow more antagonistic to the Church and to Israel. What used to be a sad but secret truth, has now grown to become the norm and not the exception. Whether or not, however, Jesus returns in our lifetime, the critical thing is that we live ready for his return.  Our faith is an active one–one that not only requires commitment, but it also requires preparation by seeking him in fellowship, prayer and study of his word.  We cannot take for granted the fact that the freedom to worship is a gift–one that could be taken away in a heartbeat. 

The bottom line is simple–we need to walk and live as though each day could be the last and we could become a persecuted church. Trust God, follow him, fellowship with other believers, and remember, this world is not our home.

God Bless You

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’[a] spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak.