Archive for : January, 2019

01/16/19 – Matt 11:7-30; Psalm 14:1-7; Proverbs 3:19-20

In Matthew Chapter 11, following His praise for John the Baptist, Jesus states:

16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: 17 “‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.

Have you ever met (or been) a person who just cannot be satisfied?  The could unexpectedly inherit (not earn) large sums of money but would then complain about the taxes or shy they were not given more.

I think William Barkley’s captures the essence of what Jesus was teaching:

Jesus was saddened by the sheer perversity of human nature. To him men seemed to be like children playing in the village square. One group said to the other: “Come on and let’s play at weddings,” and the others said, “We don’t feel like being happy today.” Then the first group said, “All right; come on and let’s play at funerals,” and the others said, “We don’t feel like being sad today.”

John came, living in the desert, fasting and despising food, isolated from the society of men; and they said of him, “The man is mad to cut himself off from human society and human pleasures like that.” Jesus came, mixing with all kinds of people, sharing in their sorrows and their joys, companying with them in their times of joy; and they said of him, “He is a socialite; he is a party-goer; he is the friend of outsiders with whom no decent person would have anything to do.” They called John’s asceticism madness; and they called Jesus’ sociability laxness of morals. They could find a ground of criticism either way.

The plain fact is that when people do not want to listen to the truth, they will easily enough find an excuse for not listening to it.

Are we prepared to listen? …

 

 

01/15/19 – Matt 10:24-11:6; Psalm 13:1-6; Proverbs 3:16-18

As you have probably experienced there are some people who feel that it is just not right to question God — that we are to accept his will in our lives roboticly.  But we do not see that in scripture — remember Ezekiel, Elisha, Job & several other patriarchs of faith all questioned God at points in their lives.  And in today’s reading we see the leader who sought God’s own heart, David, poignantly, do the same.

Psalm 13: 1 How longLord? Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?  How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Coffman writes:  Four times the cry, “How long?” rises from the plaintive lines, the evident distress of the psalmist deriving from his impression that God has forsaken him, hiding his face from him, and that somehow God’s favor at the moment does not rest upon him. This consciousness of separation from God has indeed brought an agony of near-despair to the psalmist.

David inspired words remind us that at time we will “feel” lost, forgotten, frightened.  And questioning is inevitable.  Then, in the last two verses we see the answer to our questions.  In the Lord — trust, rejoice, praise, recognize our blessings.

Psalm 13But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.

 

01/14/19 – Matt 10:1-23; Psalm 12:1-8; Proverbs 3:13-15

Psalm 12:1  Help, Lord, for no one is faithful anymore;
    those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.

Do these words remind you of the experience of another of the spiritual leaders of Israel?  How about:

1 Kings 19:13  Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

v.18:  18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”

And, as we see that the Lord has preserved a “remnant” of the faithful during the time of Elijah we see the response of the psalmist in Psalm 12:7 You, Lord, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever from the wicked

We are assured that we share in this promise — a remnant will remain and the Lord’s church will endure until His return.

01.13.19 Matt 9:18-38; Psalm 11:1-7; & Proverbs 3:11-12

Have you ever contemplated just what faith entails?  In the past several days we have read about examples that define faith and serve as models for all us us.

First in Matthew 8:10 we read of Jesus’s recognition of the absolute faith of the centurion seeking healing for his servant:  Matthew 8:  For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”  10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.

Then today we read of the faith of the woman afflicted with the bleeding disorder:  Matthew 9:   20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”  22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, your faith has healed you. And the woman was healed at that moment.

01/12/19 – Matt 9:1-17; Psalm 10:16-18; & Proverbs 3:9-10

Matthew 9: 14-17     “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” 

15 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fastNo one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17 Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

So, what does this answer have to do with John’s disciples straight-forward question on why they fast but Jesus’s disciples do not?

A commentator from “Answers from the Book” writes:  The Lord pointed out that it was unsuitable to mourn in the presence of the bridegroom.  The joy of the wedding feast and mourning just do not belong together.  In the Lord’s illustration here, he points out how inappropriate it is to mix certain old things with certain new things.  Sewing a new piece of cloth onto an old garment will only make the tear in the old garment worse.  To put new wine in old bottles would only cause the bottles to burst as the fermentation process caused too much pressure for the old bottles.  It is proper to put new wine in new bottles.

 

 

01/11/19 – Matt. 8:18-34; Psalm 10:1-15; & Proverbs 3:7-8

Matthew:8  29 What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”

As I read this passage the phrase “before the appointed time” caught my eye — what does this mean?  I read a few commentaries and feel that Coffman summarized it well.

The kingdom of evil, at this point, was fully aware of WHO Christ was (and is). If Satan had any doubt prior to this, Christ’s rebuke of the winds and the sea removed it. These demons freely admitted and, in a sense, confessed Jesus as the Son of God, admitting that he had the power to torment them “before the time.” This shows that the time of ultimate judgment and punishment of the condemned is set for future fulfillment and that the whole demonic world is fully aware of it.

01/10/19 – Matt. 8:1-17; Psalm 9:13-20 & Proverbs 3:1-6

The first three chapters we have been reading in Proverbs have dealt with wisdom.  But there is a passage in Chapter 3 that deals with “trust” and the verses provide some of the best instruction we can put into practice:

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart  and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

01/09/19 – Matt 7:15-29; Psalm 9:1-12; & Proverbs 2:16-22

Often when we hike the trails present several options.  Some are wide and well maintained.  Others are a bit unkempt, narrow and in the early morning I try not to be the first hiker to prevent running into spider webs spun during the night.  We usually find that the narrow trails are more difficult than the wide ones and may require more focus on our footing and a steeper climb (which is probably why they are narrower.)    But once we reach our goal, be it a seldom seen breathtaking mountain view or just a chance to sit in in absolute silence, we realize that the narrow path and the extended challenge (and multiple rest breaks) was well-worth all of our efforts.

Matthew 7: 13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

We should never forget that the reward at the end is more than worth the effort …

01/08/19 – Matt 6:25 – 7:14; Psalm 8:1-9; & Proverbs 2:6-15

Psalm 8: 1 Lord, our Lord,  how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory  in the heavens.

How inspiring is it when you step outside on a clear and moonless night at this time of year and just look at the sky!  We are blessed at times to see that faint cloud-like image of the Milky Way and, very rarely, a hint of the threadlike magnificence of the northern lights.  I am humbled by tiny hint of God’s glory, particularly when I think of how many stars there are and the unfathomable distance they are from us.

Charles Spurgeon captured this emotion far better than I can when he penned: “There is much in the scenery of a nocturnal sky; to lift the soul to pious contemplation. That moon, and these stars, what are they? They are detached from the world, and they lift us above it. We feel withdrawn from the earth, and rise in lofty abstraction from this little theatre of human passions and human anxieties. The mind abandons itself to reverie, and is transferred in the ecstasy of its thought to distant and unexplored regions. It sees nature in the simplicity of her great elements, and it sees the God of nature invested with the high attributes of wisdom and majesty.

 

 

 

1/07/19 Matthew 6:1-24; Psalm 7:1-17; & Proverbs 2:1-5

Matthew 6:   “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.

In Jesus day the Lord was spoken to using words such as the “Creator,” the “Almighty.”  He is these things but we hear Jesus teach that He is also a loving father, “knowing what we need even before we ask Him (v.8.)”

Coffman writes: “God is man’s Father because he created him, sustains him, and provides all that man needs.”

 

01/06/19 Matthew 5:27-48; Psalm 6:1-10 & Proverbs 1:29-33

You have always been taught that the world is flat but I tell you that it is round.

You have always been taught the the planets circle the earth, but I tell you they circle the sun.

You have always been taught that surgery patients develop infections from something like a vitreous humor in the air, but I tell you that it is from your own unwashed hands.

When you read the history of scientific advancements you often see that someone has to have the courage to counter the “knowledge and teachings” of that time.  And even more importantly they also have to have the scientific basis and authority to back their revolutionary truths.

How much more radical could Jesus’s teachings have been to the nation of Israel?  And as He taught I am sure the crowds were astonished at the way he was correcting the teachings of their day by His authority as the Son of God:

Matthew 5: 27 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you

31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’  32 But I tell you …

33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’  34 But I tell you, …

38 You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you,

43 You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, …

 

 

 

01/05/19 Matthew 5:1-26; Psalm 5:1-12; Proverbs 1:24-26

Matthew chapter 5 begins the “Sermon on the Mount,” which will continue through chapter 7.  One of the first teachings we see are the “Beatitudes,” each beginning with the word “Blessed.”   Have you ever reflected on the word “Blessed?”  The Greek word used is makarios and the translation implies “happy – regardless of the circumstances.”

A precept to remember — even when some of the situations appear dire we are blessed because we are loved …

Matthew 5:  He said:  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,  for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

 

 

01/04/19: Matthew 4:12-25; Psalm 4:1-8; Proverbs 1:20-23

 We read of the miracles of Jesus and are amazed at the specific examples of individuals that are recorded in Scripture.  But do we really know the extent of the number of people he touched?  Just focus on the following verses from Matthew 4 and some of the the key words:

23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.

 

 

 

 

01/03/19 Matthew 3:7- 4:11; Psalms 3:1-8 Proverbs 1:10-19

Have you ever been unable to sleep due to worry?  Maybe it is an unfinished task or an upcoming task that you just not want to do.  Or maybe you feel threatened or afraid?   In these times I think we need to be a like David in Psalm 3:1-6

Lord, how many are my foes!
    How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
    “God will not deliver him.”[b]

But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
    my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord,
    and he answers me from his holy mountain.

I lie down and sleep;
    I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands
    assail me on every side.

01/02/19 Matthew 2:13-3:6; Psalm 2:1-12; Proverbs 1:7-9

Has the inspired Word of the Lord ever spoken to you and you knew what you were supposed to do but just did not do it?  If you (like me) have had this experience marvel at the faith & actions of the man Joseph:

Matthew 2:14  So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt,

Matthew 2:21  So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.

Matthew 2:22  … Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth.

Our prayer — like Joseph may we not only hear but let us act in faith.

 

01/01/19 — Matthew 1:1-2:12; Psalm 1:1-6; Proverbs 1:1-6

Hello everyone!  In 2018 we read through the entire inspired Word of God in the chronology of when the events occurred (per the developers of the reading program.)  This year we are providing several options via the handout provided at church.

Four options & combinations are presented.  You can read the entire Bible; just the New Testament; just Psalms; or just Proverbs.  Or you can create your own combination.

I have selected reading and commenting on the New Testament, Psalms & Proverbs.

In daily Bible reading the importance is not the “quantity” read but the focus we place on the meaning and application of God’s inspired Word in our lives — whether the reading be one Book or just one verse.  So, our goal for 2019 is to read the chapters and then reflect on how we are or could improve the impact on our lives.

In today’s reading I found a single, short verse that we need to apply nearly daily if we are to continue in our walk:

Proverbs 1:10    “My son, if sinners entice you do not give in to them. 

To me this verse speaks to both the “free will” we have to make decisions and the need for internal strength to withstand the temptation.