Posted in Devotions

Matthew 28 part 1–He Has and Is Risen

I love a happy ending.  In all great stories, there is a point where all seems lost, then, the Hero swoops in and saves the day.  The true story of the Lord’s ministry on earth is no exception.  All was lost for Israel, then he came. All was lost for the disciples, then he rose from the grave. Christ is the ultimate hero.  He lived to show men the heart of God.  He taught the truth and preached a message of freedom.  He confronted the religious leadership and tried to realign them with the God they claimed to represent. He served, healed and taught every man, woman and child he could reach in the brief 3 years of ministry.  He accepted the death and humiliation required to redeem us from eternal separation.  Then it was finished—and yet, it was really just beginning.

Now, Jesus, as a risen savior, was no longer separated or constrained.  He was free to make us free.  He was starting his bid to change the world.  All he asks from us is to surrender and follow him.  When we do, we begin to experience the same freedom he experienced when he was released from the grave.  Jesus still looks forward to welcoming us into the family and ultimately into the kingdom.  We are no longer slaves of death any more than he is.  Go and meet him today.  Seek him out in prayer—he patiently awaits.

God Bless You

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

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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.

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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

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Mattew 18 Final–Forgive Me!

How could we ever be anything but grateful and graceful. Jesus needed to make clear what forgiveness is about.  Peter took the “religious position”  Should I forgive someone 7 times?  Jesus put it succinctly and bluntly.  If you want to make it fair, here it is–God has forgiven you for an enormous debt of rebellion and sin—You best be willing to forgive others for their minor wrongs to you. They may not seem minor, but compared to the great volume of grace we have received they always are.

In addition, when we are unwilling to forgive, we become trapped in our own cage of bitterness.  When we forgive we not only free the debtor, but we also free ourselves. It is not a license to sin or betray each other, it is a call to be like God in our dealing with others.  We are his ambassadors (2 Cor 5:20) and when we represent him, we need to model his attributes. Grace is clearly one.

Father, thanks for your grace.  Help me to show grace to others as you have shown it to me.

God Bless You

21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone[i] who sins against me? Seven times?”

22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven![j]

23 “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. 24 In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars.[k] 25 He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.

26 “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ 27 Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.

28 “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars.[l] He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.

29 “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. 30 But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.

31 “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. 32 Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ 34 Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.

35 “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters[m] from your heart.”

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Matthew 17 part 1–Jesus Lets the Friends Take a Peak

Why? Why did Jesus go meet with Moses and Elijah? Why did he take Peter James and John? One of the overwhelming truths of the Bible and the amazing Journey that we are on—is that God does not make a practice of telling why he does what he does.  But, just imagine being Peter James and John.  You are finally getting a glimpse of Jesus as God.  You are watching your friend chatting it up with two great patriarchs of the faith.  If that would not seal your faith…Nothing would.  I am sure that in the difficult days ahead the three of them talked about hangin’ with Elijah.  I always figured Peter for the “Moses, Can I have you sign my tablets?” Truth is the universe was about to change.  Jesus met with two amazing men of God—Peter James and John were reassured that Jesus was God. There are a lot of Y’s right there.

I am encouraged because God did not hide from this. Jesus did not hide this either—God wanted this story told as much as he did the feeding of the 5000.  We need to know that Jesus deity did not attach after death. He was born God, grew up God, was baptized as God and ministered as God.  Now as the day approached, he had to prepare to die as God. We should take three things away—1.Jesus did not need to earn his Godhood- it was there all along. 2. Jesus never tried to hide his authority or deity from the world—they simply could not accept it. 3. The road to the cross was not an easy thing for the Lord—he tuned to Moses and Elijah for support—NO man is an Island.  We need to seek support through the journey.  We cannot adopt the I’m in this alone posture—It leaves us vulnerable to attack and defeat.  Reach out and do not be afraid for your special folks to see God at work.

Transform me Lord—help me to be ready for whatever you have next.

God Bless You

Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.

Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials[a]—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground.

Then Jesus came over and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” And when they looked up, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus.

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Why did they run? Genesis 31 part 2

Why did they run?  Well they were simply afraid.  Jacob was fearful that he would lose his family and accumulated wealth.  Rachel took her father’s idols because she was afraid that they would lose their family continuity.  Laban was afraid—he would lose whatever blessing he had enjoyed the last 20 years.  Amazingly God intervened and warned Laban not to intervene and to be very careful about his treatment of Jacob.  If we wonder if God is interested in the plan, he showed it once again in Jacob’s Life. 

He will show it in our lives as well.  Although we do not always enjoy the path we are on, we can never doubt the path is covered and protected by our father.  We have to fall on our face and surrender to his leadership.  But as we do we can trust he will be there for us.  We need no other idols, not wealth, not security not position; we only need his hand and his leadership.  Help me Lord, to trust you and you only for my protection and my provision.

God Bless You

17 Then Jacob put his children and his wives on camels, 18 and he drove all his livestock ahead of him, along with all the goods he had accumulated in Paddan Aram,[a] to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan.

19 When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father’s household gods. 20 Moreover, Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not telling him he was running away. 21 So he fled with all he had, crossed the Euphrates River, and headed for the hill country of Gilead.

22 On the third day Laban was told that Jacob had fled. 23 Taking his relatives with him , he pursued Jacob for seven days and caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead. 24 Then God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and said to him, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.”

25 Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country of Gilead when Laban overtook him, and Laban and his relatives camped there too. 26 Then Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done? You’ve deceived me, and you’ve carried off my daughters like captives in war. 27 Why did you run off secretly and deceive me? Why didn’t you tell me, so I could send you away with joy and singing to the music of timbrels and harps? 28 You didn’t even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters goodbye. You have done a foolish thing. 29 I have the power to harm you; but last night the God of your father said to me, ‘Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.’ 30 Now you have gone off because you longed to return to your father’s household. But why did you steal my gods? ”

31 Jacob answered Laban, “I was afraid, because I thought you would take your daughters away from me by force. 32 But if you find anyone who has your gods, that person shall not live. In the presence of our relatives, see for yourself whether there is anything of yours here with me; and if so, take it.” Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the gods.

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God’s Compassion vs. Our Realization Genesis 29 Final

This Bible account is an amazing picture of God’s Love for us and our discovery of that.  Leah simply wanted to be loved.  She was a faithful and fruitful wife.  As God saw her pain, he allowed her to produce sons.  Each son was clearly a gift.  The response by Leah, however is the most gripping part.  For her first three sons her response was “Now my husband has got to love me.”  But, as if by prophecy—the birth of Judah elicited a different response.  She said at his birth, This time I will praise the Lord—How appropriate, the lineage of our savior—was when Leah submitted to God and realized his Love was sufficient.

 We pray for so many things, and as God supplies those needs, we thank him, but look for the earthly returns his provision brings.  Then at some point, we finally surrender and accept that God Loves us and that is enough.  Then as he provides, we are grateful and still focused on his love and not on the provision.  Finally, we can walk by faith with the ultimate goal of being like him.  He will provide, he will attend—but we choose each day whether we seek him or his provision.  Help me, Lord to seek you and not your provision.

 God Bless You

The LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. 32 Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”  33 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon. 34 Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi. 35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.

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Right Back at You, Lord–Genesis 28 Final

Giving back—It is a great challenge as we encounter trials and push through the journey to remember to give back.  When we are blessed, we often times forget that as we are blessed, we have to bless others.  Each gift looks a little different.  The over involved person, may need to give time, the wealthy person, money, the listener, prayer  and the talented people their talents.  What we really need to give back is our submission.  Until we can agree to give up our lives to God—our time, talent and money are secondary.  The question is—what is controlling us, whatever it is, we need to give it back to the Lord.  As for tithing, God will absolutely bless those that tithe.  He longs to bless us.  So give him a chance.  Malachi 3:12—Trust me , Try me, Prove me says the Lord of Hosts and see if a blessing, unmeasured blessing will not fall back on you!

 God Bless You

20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God 22 and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth. ”


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Really, The Sister Line Again? Genesis 26 part 1

Isaac was faced with famine—just like his Dad.  God directed him not to go to Egypt he obeyed.  Isaac was not only saved from the famine, but blessed besides.  The change in areas helped him to grow rich and powerful.  His Godless neighbors saw God’s blessing and tried to destroy him.  God did not allow it.  As we journey with God, we see him make provision again and again—yet when things get tough, we fold or at least hedge to accommodate our fear and insecurity.  When we do, it never plays well. 

But, if we stand firm, God ultimately shows his covenant and commitment.  When he does, the world looks at us with amazement and jealousy.  They often want to distance themselves or even undermine God’s work in our lives.  We have to stand firm and wait patiently for him to act.  His acts are always better than ours.  His way always makes sense.  We can never lose hope or lose faith in God’s commitment to us.  Help me, Lord to walk in your plan, by faith and without my own plans in hand.

God Bless You   

10 Then Abimelek said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the men might well have slept with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.”11 So Abimelek gave orders to all the people: “Anyone who harms this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.” 12 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him. 13 The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. 14 He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. 15 So all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth.

16 Then Abimelek said to Isaac, “Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us. ”17 So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar, where he settled. 18 Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.

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A House Divided-1 Corinthians 1 part 2

A house divided cannot stand. A Family at odds with itself is neutralized from having influence. When will we as a family of believers remember that our war is with a world culture that wants to see the church obliterated. The world believes the world would be so much happier, if the followers of Christ would simply disappear. The sad news is that part of the reason is our own infighting. The obvious conflicts between denominations and branches of churches are bad enough, but, even within different local fellowships people are at each other’s throats over huge issues like critique of music, carpet or even volunteer leadership.

Truth is this has happened since the first century—It never honors God. If we remember we are families—and while the little dysfunctions within our congregations (while sometimes hurtful, but mostly just annoying), can be a reason to vent, cry or pray–they should never be a reason to leave or quit. Staff aren’t perfect, every message won’t be the sermon on the mount, volunteers will be cranky and sometimes undependable. but, as Christ’s followers we are called and must be the safe haven for our other imperfect family members. God calls us to love them, pray for them but stick by them! If you go to Church this week–look for all the dysfunctional family members and pray for them…oh by the way stop in the rest room and face the mirror! I know I will!!!!!!!!!!

God Bless You

I Corinnthians 1

10 I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. 11 For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters. 12 Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow only Christ.”

13 Has Christ been divided into factions? Was I, Paul, crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul? Of course not! 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 for now no one can say they were baptized in my name. 16 (Oh yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas, but I don’t remember baptizing anyone else.) 17 For Christ didn’t send me to baptize, but to preach the Good News—and not with clever speech, for fear that the cross of Christ would lose its power.