Today’s reading is in Mark 10:14. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.” A few verses earlier, the disciples rebuked the parents for bringing the little children to Jesus and here Jesus says we all need to become as little children if we want to be a part of His Kingdom.
Is it possible that sometimes we get to ‘big’ for God to use? Sometimes we think we have it all figured out and we start becoming bossy and making assumptions like we know what God really wants. The disciples meant well chasing away these parents and children but they got a little ahead of themselves and Jesus in so doing.
Children are not bossy. As a matter of fact, they are used to being told what to do. They rarely assume they know what their parents want. Maybe we need to get back to this kind of relationship with Jesus. Maybe we have gotten to ‘big’ for Jesus to use and we need to get ‘little’ again or at least have a child’s approach to life. Can you think of some other characteristics that children have, that could be helpful in our spiritual relationship with Jesus?
This week’s reading is from Mathew chapter 26. In verse 39 we find Jesus praying in the Garden. He was greatly troubled, knowing what was about to happen. He did not want to go through with the horrible crucifixion that was awaiting Him. He was praying to His Father, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless, not as I will but as You will.” This was the moment of decision for Jesus. Was He going to go through with this or was He going to do what He wanted to do?
I believe at some time in everyone’s life we all come to a place like this. We are challenged to let go of the control of our lives and surrender our wills to the will of God. This is never an easy thing to do, especially the older we get. We like to be in control of our lives and make our own decisions. But there will come a time when we have to decide who is going to be the boss or the Lord of our lives. Jesus was struggling, as we all will, but He finally came to the right decision, “Not my will, but yours be done.”
It may not be the easy road that we are called to walk, but if God is calling us to surrender it is always the better road to walk. Have you surrendered your life to Him yet? If not, why not? If so how has it been?
Today’s reading is from Matt 24:37-39. Jesus said in the last days it would be like it was in Noah’s day; people just kept doing their own thing right up until the flood came. What happened to all the other godly people in Noah’s day? Somehow they ‘missed the boat.’ It is possible to get so out of touch with God that you don’t know what is going on and what God is doing! It is possible that God’s Holy Spirit was speaking to them, surely Noah preached to them. Yet they were too caught up in the ways of the world. They didn’t think judgment was really going to come. They didn’t think they were that bad! People tend to ignore the reality of judgment. This is true in almost every age. It was true in Noah’s day; it is true in our day. In Noah’s day people were breaking the laws of God’s, and did not even consider the possibility that the Lord would punish them for their disobedience.
Even as the culmination of history approaches, when Jesus Christ will return to earth, people will still go on living in rebellion against God, giving no thought to the consequences of their sin. Certainly we see this in our day. Many people want nothing to do with God, they never go to church, and never read the Bible. They don’t hesitate to violate God’s laws, and some even claim the Ten Commandments and the Bible are outdated and irrelevant. Most never seem to consider the possibility that God will punish them for their behavior. The moral decay in our society is obvious. Living together before marriage, divorce and homosexuality has become so common that many folks no longer think it is wrong anymore. Honesty, simply telling the truth is becoming a lost virtue. Many young people seem to be unable to distinguish between right and wrong. A big reason for this type of epidemic of immorality is that people ignore the reality of God’s judgment. They were breaking every one of God’s commands, but did not even consider the possibility that the Lord would punish them for their disobedience. Many folks are uncomfortable with the topic of God’s judgment and even the concept of hell. They prefer a nice, loving God, who is always trying to help everyone. But God will punish evil. That is an important part of His character. Exodus 34:6,7 “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished.”
What are you doing to make sure you don’t miss the boat?
Today’s reading is from Matthew 22:35-40. When Jesus was asked the question what is the most important command He answered, “Love God and love neighbor as yourself.” Jesus’ simple, clear answer to this question is a powerful statement about what God really values. The number one lesson that a person should get from the Bible, Jesus is saying, is simply this: “Nothing is more important than relationships!” This is the summary of the entire Bible! By choosing these two commands as the most important of all of the OT commands, Jesus tells us how deeply He values relationships. Notice that Jesus actually gives TWO commands but says they are really ONE command, because to God, loving God and loving our neighbor is one thing! They cannot be separated. You can’t do one and then NOT do the other.
From the beginning of the Bible to the end, the same message is preached, nothing is more important than relationships. We are told “in the beginning,” God created you for relationship. He made you to relate to Him. Then we read the story of how even though Adam had relationship with God he had no other human to have relationship and God said it was not good, meaning Adam was lonely, so God created Eve. If a person lives their life and misses out on relationships, they will be missing the CORE reason for which God put us on this planet. In the end, nothing is more important, because nothing will last longer than relationships. Your relationships with God and others will last all the way into eternity. The main reason that Jesus came to this earth was to offer an opportunity for all people to establish a relationship with God, which had been broken by sin. This relationship with God would also strengthen all your relationships with others. Relationships are the number one priority to God. Jesus came to show us how to enjoy a new way of relating to God and to others. Why do you think that so many people, even religious people, miss this? Why do we let things get in the way of building healthy relationships?
Today’s reading is from Matt 20:1-16. Jesus told the story about the workers who worked a different amount of hours but at the end of the day they all received the same pay! This made the workers who worked all day mad. They felt that it wasn’t FAIR that people who worked less than they did got the same amount of money that they did. It didn’t matter that they got what they had been promised. It didn’t matter that the money was the landowner’s to spend however he pleased. Somehow, they DESERVED better, because the other workers had worked less than they had. I love this story because it reveals the heart of God in such a shocking way.
Jesus is letting us know that when it comes to rewards, He is not fair. He gives people more than what they deserve. He won’t ever short change anyone. Each person will get at least what they deserve, but some people will actually get MORE than what they deserve! Actually that is the definition of grace. Grace is getting something we did not deserve. Mercy is not getting something we do deserve, like being let off the hook for something we did and not getting punished. But grace is all about getting more than we deserve and this is the heart of the Father. For some reason we all like it when that happens to us. Don’t get ripped off of your blessing when you see God blessing others more than they deserve!
Have you ever experienced times in your life when you got more than you deserved? Have you ever experienced times in your life when you saw others get more than they deserved?
Today’s reading from Matthew 16:15. Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” Some say, “John Baptist, or one of OT prophets” But then Jesus says, “Who do YOU say that I am?” This is the most important question we will ever have to answer. We will answer it, either now in this life or after we die. The way we answer it will determine our eternal destiny. Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” This revelation can only come when a person has a divine encounter with God through His Holy Spirit. This is not some correct answer to a true or false test or fill in the blank test that you study for. This is an answer that comes from a heart that has realized their need for God.
All of my life I grew up knowing that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, but that knowledge was just head knowledge. Then there came a day when I encountered God and realized what that actually meant, that Jesus came to die for My sins and that I needed a Savior. On that day, I got the revelation from God in heaven who Jesus really was! Then I answered that question correctly, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” On that day I bowed my knee to God and to all of His ways. How about you? Who do you say that Jesus is?
Today’s reading is from Matthew 14, when Jesus fed the multitudes. Jesus had been preaching all day and at the end of the day the disciples think they should send the people home so they can get something to eat. Jesus decides to feed them, over 5,000 men plus women and children, with just five loaves and two fish. These people could have gone home and eaten. It would not have been a big deal for them to not eat for one whole day! But Jesus just wanted to bless them. This kind of miracle was motivated by kindness, not need. He wanted to give them a picnic lunch for free. Not only did He feed all of them, but it says they were ‘filled.” The Greek word used here means ‘glutted!’ It means they were filled like you are filled at Thanksgiving! This was an ‘all you can eat’ buffet! Then on top of that we read that they had twelve baskets left over. I can only guess that each of the twelve disciples got to take a basket home to their families as well. For those who think that God is only interested in our ‘needs’ this story shows He is a God who sometimes just wants to abundantly bless people beyond our needs! Go ahead and ask Him!
Today’s reading in Matthew chapter 13:45-46 is a parable about the Kingdom of God. Jesus said it is like a merchant who finds a valuable pearl and goes and sells all that he has just to own that one pearl. For many years I believed that Jesus was the valuable pearl and that I should be willing to give up everything just to have Him in my life. Then one day I had an epiphany! I realized that I was that pearl and that Jesus was the merchant who gave up everything just to have me! This totally changed my understanding of the Kingdom of God.
It isn’t about how much I love God or how much I am willing to give up for Him. It is all about how much God loves me and how much He gave up to get me into His Kingdom. He calls us His pearls. Just a like a pearl has no real function but just has inherent value so it is with us. There is nothing we can do that adds anything to God’s kingdom; we are just inherently valuable to Him. How do you see this parable? Is it about us finding God or God finding us?
Today’s reading is in Matthew 11:28-30. “Come to Me all you who are weary and overburdened and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me for My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Many people do not realize that Jesus is a weight lifter. He is a world champion weight lifter. He is the original “Mr. Universe.” He lifted the weight of the sins of the world on His shoulders with one straight press. There is no weight that is too heavy for Him to lift. In order for Jesus to be the world champion weight lifter we need to cooperate with Him. We must come to Him. Too often when He is calling we are walking the other way. Too many times we are determined to do life our way. We don’t want to give Him our problems. This especially applies to people who have not truly humbled themselves and been born again. You wonder why you are still having the same old problems. It is simple. You are still carrying the weight of sin on your shoulders. Now the question is what is God going to do about this problem? Well He invites you to come to Him. Jesus is not going to force Himself upon you and make you give Him the weight off of your shoulders. The choice is yours. If we choose not to come to Him then we end up carrying all this weight of sin and guilt around on our shoulders. Once we are willing to give Jesus our sins, an exchange takes place, “take My yoke upon you.” We give Him our heavy burdens and He gives us a light burden to bear. Jesus said, take My yoke because, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Jesus was saying that the yoke He wore was easy. His own experience was that the yoke He wore and the burden He bore was light. What was His yoke? His yoke was to serve His Father and serving God is not a heavy burden. It is light! There are only two masters in this world and we will serve one or the other. Jesus is letting us know that serving our heavenly Father is the better way. If we chose to serve ourselves our yoke will be heavy. If we are willing to serve God and do His will our yoke will be light. Which do you chose?
Today’s reading is in Matthew 10:39. “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” This is one of the more radical statements that Jesus ever made. In the church today, there is too much of self. Much of the presentation of the gospel is based on us. If you become a Christian YOU will prosper. If you become a Christian YOU will be happy. If you become a Christian YOU will be healthy. Now these statements do have an element of truth but we need to realize that the road to a better life is found through “dying to self” not exalting self. We need to learn how to die to self if we ever hope to find out what life is about. How do we lose our lives? We lose our by giving of our time to serve others. We only have so much time, especially when you consider how much of our time is wasted on trivial things. Here are a few things we spend our time on:
sitting at stoplights: almost a year
opening junk mail: almost a year
searching for misplaced objects: 1 year
returning phone calls: 2 years
doing housework: 4 years
standing in line: 5 years
on the internet or watching TV: 7 years
reading forwarded emails: almost 2 years
When you add to this list how much time you spend eating and sleeping, about 25 years, and about 25 years working that would be around 72 years. Since the average lifespan is around 73 years, no wonder there really is not much time left to do anything! No wonder people are tight when it comes to giving of their time!
Losing our life is not like losing our car keys or losing your wallet or losing your shoes. Losing our lives does not happen by accident. It has to be a conscious effort on our part. We have to be intentional about “losing our lives.” You don’t lose your life by mistake. It has to become a conscious act. It is a risky act, because we do give up our precious time, but when we ‘lose’ our life, and give our time to serve others, Jesus says something mysterious happens. We gain back, we get something. We get life. We get the time we need. Somehow it works out. Until we realize this truth, we will NEVER have enough time. Do you want to be a winner? Lose your life. What has been your greatest struggle when it comes to ‘losing your life?’