Archive for : January, 2019

01/31/19 – Matt 20:29-21:22; Psalms 25:16-22; Proverbs 6:12-15

Have you ever had a teacher who assigned you a 500 word composition and then said “Reflect a minute and then give yourself the grade you think you deserve.”   Sounds simple, right – an “A. ”  But if you are like me I found this an extremely difficult question to answer.

In today’s reading I see a question that I found even harder to answer.

Matthew 20: 30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” 31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” 32 Jesus stopped and called them. What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

Jesus comes to you and asks “Jerry, What do you want me to do for you?”   Ponder — how would you answer? What are your priorities?

01/30/19 – Matt 20:1-28; Psalms 25:1-25; Proverbs 6:6-11

I think it is easy for all of us who have worked for a company to relate to the parable of the “Workers in the Vineyard” in Matthew 10:1-16.

Imagine that you had been working a full week, Monday through Friday. It is payday and you receive your check. A common thought (and not necessarily incorrect) is that I have earned my reward by all the work I have done.

If we approach our heavenly reward by thinking we can “earn it” by our deeds we are incorrect. Like the “late-coming” workers in the field we only receive our eternal reward by the grace of the Lord.

01/29/19 – Matt 19:13-30; Psalms 24:1-10; Proverbs 5:15-21

Matthew 19:  16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”  17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.18 Which ones?” he inquired.  Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother.’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’  20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?

Have you ever reflected on the fact that Jesus only quoted the last 5 of the 10 commandments?   In my opinion (and it is just my opinion) perhaps the young man was already keeping the first five commandments, related to the mankind to God relationship.

But what Jesus recognized in the young man was that the young man also needed to fulfill his mankind-to-mankind relationships — how we serve our fellow men.

A point to reflect — do we faithfully attend worship, Bible Studies, and fellowship activities but then fail to reach-out to a neighbor in need?

01/28/19 – Matt 18:21-19:2; Psalms 23:1-6; Proverb 5:22-23

As we have seen at times some of the parables of Jesus needed to be clarified for His disciples (and for us.)  But can you think of a more clearly stated and understandable analogy than the “Parable of the Wicked Servant” in Matt 18:21-35?  As amplified in this parable the need to forgive as we have been forgiven is critical & can be understood even by non-believers.

The question — if we understand this precept do we apply it?  And not just for major “debts” as we see in this parable but for the daily “transgressions” we encounter (the blowing horn, rude waitress, demanding boss?)

1/27/19 — Matt 18:1-20; Psalms 22:19-31; & Proverbs 5:15-21

Matthew 18: 15  “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

My notes entitle this passage “Corporate Discipline.”  But did you note where this correction of an apparent offense begins? Correct — not with the elders or the evangelist or gossip among members.  The Lord instructs us that it begins when two loving members of the Body talk directly to one another.

And from teaching the same concept in management training this is difficult.  The overwhelming majority of people just do not like “confrontation” and want to “be liked,” often ignoring or “sweeping issues under the rug.”

We have to keep in mind at least two elements in following this inspired word of God.  First, the person who feels “transgressed” needs to go to the other involved person(s) involved in love – not in accusation.  Secondly, and just as importantly, the potential “transgressor” needs t0 receive the  information in love & not as criticism.

1/26/19 – Matt 17:10-27; Psalms 22:1-18; Proverbs 5:7-14

Psalms 22: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me,  so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
    you are the one Israel praises.[c]
In you our ancestors put their trust;
    they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm and not a man,
    scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
    they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
    “let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
    since he delights in him.”

Yet you brought me out of the womb;
    you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
    from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me,
    for trouble is near
    and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me;
    strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
    open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
    it has melted within me.
15 My mouth[d] is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
    you lay me in the dust of death.

16 Dogs surround me,
    a pack of villains encircles me;
    they pierce[e] my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
    people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.

1/25/19 – Matt 16:13-17:9; Psalms 21:1-13; Proverbs 5:1-6

The following is a verse that I had found difficult to understand.

Matthew 16: 28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

But my misunderstanding was based on my belief that Jesus was referring to His “second coming” on the day of Judgement.  And we all know the disciples have all died.

Several commentators, including the following one from Coffman helped me see the true meaning:

Both the Herald [John the Baptist]and Christ preached the kingdom as “at hand.”  Why not merely “during their lives?” that is, the lives of all of them? That was because both Judas and Christ would die before the kingdom came. Thus, the words are circumstantially accurate and precise. The kingdom did appear on the day of Pentecost, during the lives of “some” of them, just as Jesus had said.

 

 

1/24/19 – Matt 15:29-16:12; Psalms 20:1-9; Proverbs 4:20-27

Proverbs 4

24 Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.

25 Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.

26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.

27 Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

 

Maybe I should just refer to them as “margin notes” as I have taken many from the excellent teachings I have been privileged to hear.  My notes for the above verses say that these verses provide three ways to maintain a Godly life.

(1) Be honest in what we say (2) Keep our eyes focused on what is good (3) Stay away from obvious temptation.

 

 

1/23/19 – Matt 15:1-28; Psalms 19:1-14 & Proverbs 4:14-19

Ansel Adams, Henry David Thoreau, Theodore Roosevelt, the Hubble Telescope, and National Geographic magazine all have one thing in common with our reading today from Psalms.

Through their words, photographs, and images all of these individuals/organizations help us capture just a whisper of how we are surrounded by the glory of God in His creation.  And personally, when your breath is taken by the view following a mountain ascent; or a calm, clear lake reflecting the sky above it; or the purple, orange and red hues from an ocean sunrise or sunset — Reflect on the glory of God and be thankful in that moment of reflection.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.

01/22/19 – Matt 14:13-36; Psalms 18:37-50 & Proverbs 4:11-13

When we read the inspired words from Matthew’s gospel today we are reminded, first of Peter’s faith in stepping out of the boat in the midst of a violent storm.  Then we are reminded about the necessity of focusing on Jesus to help us maintain our faith.

But when I read today I saw two verses of tremendous faith.

Matthew 14: 34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

Did you notice all of the “action words” related to faith?  Why would the people send for the sick and why would the sick be brought if they did not already have faith that Jesus could heal them?

01/21/19-Matt 13:47-14:12; Psalms 18:16-36 & Proverbs 4:7-10

Matthew 13: 51 Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked. “Yes,” they replied. 52 He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”

Again, this was a parable that I needed some help to better understand.  What does it mean when it says that “new treasures as will as old” will be brought from the storeroom?

The Biblehub Commentary helped clarify the analogy for me:  Just as the householder brings from his stores or treasury precious things which have been heir-looms for generations, as well as newly acquired treasures; the disciples following their Master’s example will exhibit the true teaching of the old law, and add thereto the new lessons of Christianity.

01/20/19 – Matt 13:24-46; Psalms 18:1-15; & Proverbs 4:1-6

Matthew 13:44  The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

I have read this parable multiple times and had missed one key point Coffman makes in his commentary on this verse.  He points-out that the man may not have even been seeking the treasure and, yet, when he found it he sold everything to buy it.

The following points are taken from Coffman’s commentary:
(1) The kingdom of heaven is a treasure. (2) It is hidden to some, indeed to many. (3) Some find it accidentally, or unintentionally, while doing something else. (4) Once found, a man should obtain it, regardless of cost.

01/19/19-Matt 12:46-13:23; Psalms 17:1-15; Proverbs 3:33-35

01/18/19 — Matt 12:22-45; Psalm 16:1-11; & Proverbs 3:27-32

As I read today’s passages I was taken by a verse in the passage from Proverbs.

Proverbs 3: 27  Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. 28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”— when you already have it with you.

What struck me?  The reality that we are to act when we see the need.  To not just “think” about what we can do and delay our response,  No, we are to act at that moment …

01/17/19 — Matt. 12:1-21; Psalms 15:1-5; Proverbs 3:21-16

In Matthew 12:1-13 Jesus explains that He is the Lord of the Sabbath and that actions taken by his disciples (picking & eating grain) were not unlawful.  I believe that many of us are familiar with the example Jesus used of David eating the consecrated bread.

But what about the example in Matthew 5: 5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent?  What did the priests do that was unlawful and how did it apply to the disciples? 

I needed to research this one a bit & Coffman provided his explanation:

This reference is to the fact than an exception was made for the priests who served in the temple, and who could, therefore, do work on the sabbath that would otherwise have been unlawful. Christ’s stress on that exception called attention to an analogy between himself and the temple. He referred to his body as “the temple,” stating that he would raise it up in three days.  The argument is that, just as the priests served the temple on the sabbath day and were guiltless, his disciples might also serve Christ, the Greater Temple, without incurring guilt.

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.