Insights For Living!

by Pastor Ken Gray

October 20, 2016

Ecclesiastes 3 “Overcoming a Depressing Perspective”

While Solomon sees the order established on earth for man, at this point, his life he is entirely focused on his present. Though eternity may be in his heart, his eyes are focused on life under the sun (16). He sees no distinctions between the life of man and the life of beasts for they all share the same fate of death. Consequently, for him there is nothing more important than being happy in his activities. This depressing perspective will only be corrected when our eyes are lifted to the hope [involving eternity] we have in our Creator and Redeemer.

Matthew 26:1-13 “Extravagant Worship, Effective Evangelism”

Jesus’ now shared openly with His disciples regarding His coming crucifixion. Jewish leaders were actively seeking opportunity to kill Him to fortify their positions of power. At this time a woman approached Him with a very costly perfume [life savings] and poured it on His head. This infuriated the disciples for it had much value to meet the needs of the pour. Even Jesus’ own disciples failed to understand the value of costly worship, so He rebuked them for failing to recognize her good deed to Him. We do not have endless opportunities to worship our Lord. Besides, extravagant worship is a powerful testimony of our value of Christ!

October 19, 2016

Ecclesiastes 2 “Overcoming Misery”

A key word in the futility recorded here is the word “myself.” “I said to myself…”; (1) “I enlarged my works: I build houses for myself, I planted vineyards for myself;” (4) The pursuit of pleasure, possessions, wisdom and work are meaningless being motivated by self and viewed in the light of this life alone. This narrow perspective leaves us empty and unfulfilled. No wonder Paul said, “If we have hope in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:19) May we live in light of eternity serving others above ourselves so we are freed from this miserable and narrow perspective.

Matthew 25:31-46 “Are We Serving Jesus?”

This teaching of Christ reminds us we will be held accountable for our use of time, finances and energy. Those motivated to serve the “least of these” will be rewarded as serving the needs of our Lord. Those failing to serve the “least of these”, will receive eternal punishment. When we are preoccupied with our own interests, we miss abundant opportunities to serve Jesus. Failing to serve others reflects self-interest and failure to serve Christ with eternal consequences. May God give us an eternal perspective and a heart to serve others as the Lord Himself.

October 18, 2016

Ecclesiastes 1 “Satisfied or Empty?”

This book of Solomon reflects the frustrating perspective of life on earth outside of God. All our works and the greatest pursuits of wisdom do not yield satisfaction, but in fact leave us empty and frustrated. The limits of an earthly perspective, regardless of our work ethics or pursuits of wisdom and knowledge, are futile leaving us empty: “‘Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher, ‘Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” (2) Only a focus rooted in a Divine and eternal perspective will ever lead to a truly full and satisfying life.

Matthew 25:14-30 “Good & Faithful or Worthless?”

This parable of talents [money] entrusted to slaves, reveals to us some important truths. First, we receive from God as stewards of what belongs to Him. Nothing in this world belongs to us but is entrusted to us from God. Second, will be called to account in this stewardship for what God gifts to us. Third, we are rewarded NOT according to the amount of our gift, but for our stewardship of the gift. Are we good and faithful or worthless? God is not looking for people with great gifts, but for our faithfulness to what God has given us.

October 17, 2016

Proverbs 31 “She’s A True Beauty!”

King Lemuel was taught by his mother. She warned him not to fall into the trap of giving his strength to women, over indulging in strong drink and not to ignore the rights of the needy. She also gave him a picture of the kind of woman he should pursue as a special and rare treasure. She is trustworthy, seeks his good, hard working, sharp in business, giving of herself for her family, sacrifices to serve others and other great qualities. She is focused on obtaining a good future and full of wisdom and kindness towards others. Here is the bottom line… “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” (30)

Matthew 25:1-13 “I Need More!”

At the return of Christ God’s kingdom is compared to ten virgins, five foolish and five prudent. Yes, they were all virgins, but the five foolish were content with the oil in their lamps and the prudent, thinking of the future, sought more oil taking it in flasks. We must be careful not to embrace spiritual contentedness, but alway seek for more of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, we will be unprepared to meet our coming bridegroom. May we have the posture of confessing our need and pursuing God for more of His Spirit.

October 14, 2016

Proverbs 30 “A Beauty From God”

From Agur we learn the way to wisdom requires a confession of our own poverty of knowledge and focusing on God’s greatness (1-6). He points to factors in creation revealing His greatness. Today, Pam and I got up to a beautiful bouquet from God as the morning sun kissed the intensified colors of fall. Even in regards to personal purity, we must guard ourselves from our own assessments. “There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes, Yet he is not washed from his filthiness. There is a kind – oh how lofty are his eyes! And his eyelids are raised in arrogance.” (12-13) May the grace of God to shift our focus to the beauty surrounding us and the inward beauty available to us.

Matthew 24:42-51 “Stay Alert!”

“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.” (43) No one but God knows the timing of Jesus’ return. We, therefore, must stay alert and not be found wasting the time God has gifted us with while on earth. Two attitudes prevail at the return of Christ. First, there are the faithful and sensible servants tending to the needs of others. These will be blessed. Second, there are those who have the philosophy of partying and enjoying life. These will be severely punished and given the reward of hypocrites. The first is ever conscious of His master’s return, but the second is focused on celebrating life now. The first mindset equips us to stay alert, but the second intoxicates us with distractions insignificant to eternity. May God give us wisdom to stay alert!

October 13, 2016

Proverbs 29 “Disciplined for a Happy Life”

Discipline needs to start young and continue through our lifetime. “The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.” (15) “Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; He will also delight your soul. (17) Undisciplined young people often reject wisdom and reproof as they age. But when we accept correction, we will have great joy. The disciplined person looks beyond the moment and pain to his rewards in the future. “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law.” (18) May we have the grace to embrace correction and wisdom so we may have a happy present and future.

Matthew 24:29-41 “Get Ready, Get Ready, Get Ready!”

While Jesus warns us not to be distracted by false prophets and teachers, He assures us that He will return. His return will not be a secret but visible to all (29-31). Yet, there will be a great distinction between those who are prepared and those who are of the tribes of the earth. Those of this world will suddenly be filled with mourning for the fearful nature of their coming judgment. But those who are prepared, will be filled with joy anticipating great reward for their faithfulness. Whether we are afraid of the coming of the Lord or look forward to Jesus return, depends on whether we are living in light of His return or going the way of this world.

October 12, 2016

Proverbs 28 “Honoring God’s Word”

“He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, Even his prayer is an abomination.” (9) God is not impressed with our religious activity unless we have a heart to hear and obey His word. In fact, religious activity without repentance and compliance disgusts God because it reflects a lukewarm disinterest in Him. We must be cautious not to trust our own heart, but look intently into the law of liberty. “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But he who walks wisely will be delivered.” (26) May we continuously humble ourselves before our God and His word.

Matthew 24:15-28 “May God’s Rule Prevail in Us”

What is the Abomination of Desolation (15) spoken of by Jesus. It is forms of idolatry which replace God’s rule in our lives with self-rule. It is not forms of wickedness of which we commonly think. It is not just lying, immorality or perversion [all of which are evil], but the exaltation of self which pushes aside the rule of God. Yet, we who adhere to Christ’s words of warning, will not be led astray by those promoting self-centered forms of Christianity. Jesus said, “Behold, I have told you in advance.” (25) May God give us a passion for His word so we will not be mislead by the abundance of false prophets and teachers in this world.

October 11, 2016

Proverbs 27 “True Friends!”

Friendships are key to healthy and wise lifestyles. What should we look for in a friend? He or she is not one who gives hearty approval to all we do or say. “Better is open rebuke/Than a love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” (5-6) Many seek friends who will agree and sympathize, but a true friend will not be silent when we are off track. A true friend is closer than a brother and will not fear our disapproval (10). “Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.” (17) Love is reflected more in honest reproof than in affection and sympathy. Though, at times, this kind of friendship is very uncomfortable, it is much healthier for our long term well-being.

Matthew 24:1-14 “Avoid Distractions & Stay On Mission!”

The disciples asked Jesus about the sign of His coming and the end of the age. His first concern was, and is: “…See to it that no one misleads you.” (4b) False religion, wars, famines, earthquakes and other distractions are NOT signs of the end, but distractions from our mission of taking the gospel of the kingdom to the world. We guard against these and the influences of lawlessness, so we may persist in love and complete our mission

October 10, 2016

Proverbs 26 “Hope in God Alone!”

Wisdom and proverbs are entirely useless to the fool. And even worse than a fool is one who is confident in himself. “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” (12) It is not self-worth or self-confidence we need, for these are obstacles to learning and wisdom. Awareness and acknowledgement of our wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked condition helps us open the door to Jesus to receive true wealth and worth (Rev. 3:14-220. May we turn to God to receive His wisdom. Our hope is in God alone!

Matthew 23:37-39 “Divine Destiny or Desolation?”

Rejection of God’s invitations through His servants ultimately leads to divine judgement. Christ’s heart toward Jerusalem was filled with love and compassion, but their rejection of Him not only led to their devastation, but to the desolation of their children (37-38). Until we are open to God and His messengers, we remain hopeless and potentially leave a legacy of desolation to our children. “For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!” (39). We will experience desolation or Divine destiny based on our response to Christ & His servants.

October 7, 2016

Proverbs 25 “God’s Ways Are Not Ours”

Here we are exhorted to not self-promote, not to be quick to argue, to be cautious about context in speaking, and to note the value of reproof to the wise. The effectiveness of our speech is not in a good forceful argument, but in gently spoken words reflecting love and concern. In place of revenge, we are to embrace acts of kindness as the most effective tool in dealing with enemies. These words summarize an important truth: “It is not good to eat much honey, Nor is it glory to search out one’s own glory. Like a city that is broken into and without walls/Is a man who has no control. over his spirit.” (27-28) May God grant us grace for wise living!

Matthew 23:13-36 “Lessons from Bad Examples”

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” These leaders of Jesus’ day pursued the honor of men and neglected the honor of God. They were active evangelists, but sadly produced disciples after their own examples. They manipulated people and the word of God for personal gain and focused on the easiest elements of the law while neglecting those of greater significance. Jesus’ words were strong: “…, how will you escape the sentence of hell?” (33b) Rejecting God’s messengers they became trapped in self-deception. May God give us the grace to learn from their mistakes.

October 5, 2016

Proverbs 23 “Healthy Hearts Receive Discipline”

Here we see the danger of envy to our hearts (1-12). Nothing impoverishes us like discontentment. Yet, the reception of discipline strengthens our hearts and gives joy to those who love us. “Do not hold back discipline from the child, Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. You shall strike him with the rod/And rescue his soul from Sheol [abode of the dead].” (13-14) A good father encourages his children to learn from the pain of discipline. Yet, if we are distracted or intoxicated, there is no end to our pain. A healthy heart accepts discipline though painful and avoids the relief of distraction.

Matthew 22:34-46 “Real Hunger, Real Love”

A lawyer asked Jesus which commandment was the greatest. He summarized them by commanding them first to love God, and then to love each other. Their insincerity was obvious, so Jesus asked them a question to shut them down from any further inquiry. We, like Jesus, need to know when people are really interested in learning or just want an argument to make them “feel” right. Also, if we are “commanded” to love God and each other, than love is not so much an emotion as it is a choice to value something highly. May God give us discernment to see genuine hunger to learn and express genuine love in our choices and priorities in life.

October 4, 2016

Proverbs 22 “Present Inputs Determine Our Destiny”

What we choose for our influences greatly impacts wisdom and discernment. “The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, But the naive go on, and are punished for it.” (3) Prudence is the quality of evaluating our present in light of its impact on our future. As our Brother Clark Slone said Sunday, prudent people live in the light of eternity! We guard ourselves against all influences contrary or hindering our eternal destiny. Our ability to trust God greatly depends on our inputs. “Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, And apply your mind to my knowledge;” (17) May God grant us grace to bend our ears toward healthy influences so we secure a hearty future.

Matthew 22:23-33 “How Do We Look to God?”

Jesus greatest conflicts were not with sinners, but with religious people. He addressed them as scribes, hypocrites, blind guides and even serpents. They focused on looking right [before others], but inwardly were dishonest, self-serving and dangerous. They even sought ways not to keep God’s word. They were evangelists, but were putting people on the road to hell. Their righteousness was outward, but inwardly they were full of death and defilement. They were concerned about how they looked before men, but not before God. May God give us the grace to go beyond outward religion pursuing inner righteousness for His glory.

October 3, 2016

Proverbs 21 “Honor God & Government!”

“The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.” (1) Obviously a good leader is sensitive to God’s directives, but is God actually over evil leaders? In the New Testament, Paul exhorts us to honor and pray for our governmental leaders. This is especially difficult when so many are full of corruption and crimes without repercussions. While disobedience to a corrupt leaders may be occasionally necessary, disrespect for those over us is always to our own detriment. By knowing God’s sovereignty and love for His people, we can be at peace even when surrounded by injustice and wicked leaders. God’s purposes will prevail and we rejoice in Him alone.

Matthew 22:15-22 “Trap Questions”

Questions are not always properly motivated. Here some sought to trap Jesus in what He said, but were not genuinely interested in His answer. Like Jesus, we must be wise in addressing ill-motivated questioners. Are they seeking truth or presenting a trap? Jesus detected their “malice” and responded with a question leaving them without an answer: “…Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (21b). They went away in wonder of His response. May God give us wisdom to discern the sincere.

September 30, 2016

Proverbs 20 “We Need God’s Judgment”

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler. Whoever is intoxicated by it is a brawler.” (1) Avoiding certain influences is central to wisdom. When our emotions rise within [for arguing] our external influence is diminished. Our inner motives, plans and ambitions need Divine inspection, guidance and enablement. If we fail to invite God’s input, we do not posses the light when needed most. Yet, if we listen to what God is saying in our adversities, we will be cleansed in our inner being (30).

Matthew 22:1-14 “God Wants to Meet With You!”

The parable of a King’s wedding feast invitation illustrates our need to respond to God’s invitations to dine with Him in festive celebration. Many were “unwilling” to come and he sent others to invite them, “…But they paid no attention and went their own way,…” (5a) They did only what they wanted and would not pull away from their jobs, mistreated his messengers or showed up without appropriate attire. All these responses reflect ignorance of the importance of this great event. May God grant us the grace and wisdom to respond with excitement to His every invitation to dine with Him (Rev. 3:14-22).

September 29, 2016

Proverbs 19 “Are We Growing in Wisdom?”

The characteristics of wisdom and foolishness are contrasted here, but a key threaded throughout is repeated three times: “He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; He who keeps understanding will find good. (8) “Listen to counsel and accept discipline, That you may be wise the rest of your days.” (20) “Cease listening, my son, to discipline, And you will stray from the words of knowledge.” (27) Wisdom is not simply acquired and achieved, it must be sought, maintained and increased or it will be lost. May God give us the humility and grace to continuously pursue Him and His word for wisdom throughout our lives.

Matthew 21:33-46 “Ownership Is God’s Alone”

In this parable, Jesus points out how Israel’s leaders drifted into the misconception of thinking they were owners and not stewards entrusted with a task. The vineyard and everything in it comes from God, belongs to God and He expects fruit from it at the proper seasons. If we do not yield fruit to the Lord in season, His kingdom is given to a people who will do so. Only God’s will can prevail. Our wills need to be broken, but if they are not we will reap the harvest of judgement. We have a great and wonderful privilege of serving in God’s vineyard, so let us show respect to His ownership of all.

September 28, 2016

Proverbs 18 “Inputs & Outputs of the Wise & Foolish”

Distinctions between wise and foolish people are enumerated by their inputs and outputs. Fools separate from the input of others to seek their desires arguing against sound wisdom. They are want to promote and protect their desires and ways. The wise always grow and pursue knowledge in humility. The foolish love to share their own mind, but the words of the wise are a fountain of life giving water. The wise are cautious in seeking not to offend, but the fool only cares about speaking his mind. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” (21) The wise man is careful in picking friends, but the foolish man is reckless in his associations.

Matthew 21:28-32 “Consent or Obey?”

In this simple illustration of two sons and obedience, Jesus expresses concern for those who claim to be “followers” but are really only “consenters.” The first son rejected his father’s will, but later regretted it and obeyed him. The second agreed with his will, but did not follow through by obedience. We do not enter into God’s kingdom through the faith of agreement with God, but with the repentance bringing us into obedience to God!

September 27, 2016

Proverbs 17 “Distinctive Characteristics of the Wise”

The contrasts in this chapter between the wise and foolish are many. The wise are restrained, but the fool speaks his mind. The wise embrace adversity and correction and become wiser. Fools ignore any lessons to be learned. The wise avoid the presence and association with fools as more dangerous than a mother bear robbed of her cubs. The wise avoid quarrels, but fools love to argue. The wise are settled in their spirit, but a fool is always unsettled and looking for something to satisfy them. May God grant us the grace to pursue the path of the wise and avoid the influences of the fool as dangerous to our eternal destiny.

Matthew 21:23-27 “Accept Correction or Create Deflection?”

When Jesus entered the temple, the leaders where challenged by His ministry and teaching. He brought serious reproof to them. They asked a question not looking for an answer, but with the intent of silencing His reproof. Many times we reject correction not challenging the correctness of its content, but by challenging the right, or motives, of its presenters. This self-destructive tactic has eternal consequences. It takes the light off our error and deflects it toward the messenger of life. May God grant us the wisdom and humility to embrace God’s correction without attacking His messengers.

September 26, 2016

Matthew 21:18-22 “Power for the Unusual”

One morning, Jesus came to a fig tree in leaf without fruit. He publicly cursed it and it withered. This shocked His disciples. He responded to them “…if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen.” (21) Some have turned this into a metaphor and missed the point. It was a literal fig tree and He was likely pointing to a real mountain. Jesus is simply saying if we have faith and do not doubt, we have the power to do unusual things.

Proverbs 16 “We Can See Clearly”

Two verses here are similar: “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the LORD weighs the motives.” (2) “There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” (25) Here we see clearly that we cannot see clearly without God. We cannot trust our own judgement. However, another verse shows how to remedy this: “He who gives attention to the word will find good, And blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.” (20) By the input of God’s word and the illumination of His Holy Spirit we can see clearly. May God grant us the wisdom to see our inability to see without Him and to trust in His word completely

September 23, 2016

Proverbs 15 “Life-Giving Instruction”

Our speaking, whether gentle or harsh, influences the response of others (1-7). It also reflects our awareness, or lack thereof, of God’s loving concern for our lives. Sometimes we contend for what will not profit us: “Better is a little with the fear of the LORD/Than great treasure and turmoil with it. (16) Joy and peace flow from a heart sensitive to correction in humility: “He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof/Will dwell among the wise. He who neglects discipline despises himself, But he who listens to reproof acquires understanding. The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes humility.” (31-33).

Matthew 21:12-17 “Welcoming Jesus”

These sobering verses show us the compassion of Christ to those in need. He condemned the religious who had made a business of God’s house: “…It is written, ‘My HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER’; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.” (13b) In the place God intended people to meet with Him [in prayer], religious leaders had turned it into a business where thieves were protected. While they were disturbed about Jesus powerful ministry to the needy, they were even more disturbed by His reception of praise from children. Jesus told them their praise was prepared by God for God. While Jesus met the needs of the humble, He left the presence of the self-righteous.

September 22, 2016

Proverbs 14 “Leaving A Legacy of Wisdom”

Distinctive characteristics of wise and foolish men are enumerated here. Injected among them are a number of sobering exhortations to keep us on track: “Leave the presence of a fool, Or you will not discern words of knowledge.” (7) Wisdom is not what “seems right” for trusting our own judgment is folly (12). Wise men cautiously avoid all evil, but foolish men are prideful and reckless (16). Our pursuit of wisdom is critical to our children and the legacy left to them: “In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And his children will have refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, That one may avoid the snares of death.” (26-27) May God in His mercy grant us the grace to walk in the wisdom of the fear of the Lord.

Matthew 21:1-11 “A Humble King”

In these final days of Jesus’ life on earth, He gave instructed His disciples to go into the village, find a donkey and bring it to Him. This, quite simply, was to fulfill prophetic scriptures. He would not come on a war horse, but in humility on a “BEAST OF BURDEN.” Jesus’ leadership was in stark contrast to the political and religious leadership of the day and is still so today. This brief moment of recognition and praise by His disciples would soon be interrupted by a series of events leading to His crucifixion. May God grant us the wisdom and grace to follow His example of giving His life for the well-being of God’s people.

September 21, 2016

Proverbs 13 “Love Correction, Live Happy”

Wisdom and righteousness have benefits reflected in attitudes toward correction, rebuke, work and honesty. For example: “A wise son accepts his father’s discipline…” (1a); “A righteous man hates falsehood,…” (5); “The one who despises [neglects] the word will be in debt to it, But the one who fears the commandment will be rewarded.” (13); “Poverty and shame will come to him who neglects discipline, But he who regards reproof will be honored.” (18); May God grant us a receptive heart and attitude toward those who love us enough to correct us.

Matthew 20:29-34

Large crowds followed Jesus as they were leaving Jericho, but two blind men received special attention from Him. These shouted “…’Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!’” (30b). Their cry reflects four key elements. First, upon hearing of Jesus’ presence near them, they shamelessly cried out in desperation. Second, they did not assert their worth, but their need of mercy. Third, they recognized Jesus for who He was. Fourth, they were persistent in their cry in the face of opposition. Too many of us are not desperate for Jesus’ touch, unwilling to acknowledge our unworthiness, fail to assert who Jesus is, and persist until He responds. May God grant us the wisdom of these two blind men so we may walk in the light of who He is!

September 20, 2016

Proverbs 12 “Humility and Legacy”

Here a rich contrast continues between the wicked and the righteous, the wise and the foolish. “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, But he who hates reproof is stupid.” (1) Pride and arrogance are stumbling blocks to learning, but the humility in receiving counsel and correction is key to growing in understanding and wisdom. Another verse says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” (15). The parallel here is obvious. We can arrogantly march forward in what we believe is right, or we can be wise by humbly seeking counsel and walk in the favor of the Lord (2). Our choice in this matter will result in great loss or a great and lasting legacy (7).

Matthew 20:17-28

As Jesus reveals to His disciples that He is about to suffer and die, His disciples are distracted with desire for positions of power and honor. Jesus takes this opportunity to explain to them that greatness is not revealed in position and authority over men, but in humble service of men. We do not strive to be leaders, but we strive to be servants. As we humble ourselves to serve others we achieve true greatness.

September 19, 2016

Proverbs 11 “Contrasts of Rewards”

These verses reveal a very important and fundamental truth: There is great contrast between the righteous and the wicked. This is true of their behavior and their reward. There is a sense of satisfaction and peace for the righteous, but the wicked suffer severe consequence in theirs. Wisdom leads to healthy decisions: “He who despises his neighbor lacks sense, But a man of understanding keeps silent.” (12) Speaking our mind is not always a good thing. Wise men have the understanding to know when silence is better. May God bless us with wise choices to walk in righteousness and restrain our tongues from evil.

Matthew 20:1-16 “Joy or Envy?”

This parable of laborers in a vineyard illuminates the subtle but very disturbing flaw of envy. God is generous to all by giving grace to all, but our sinful human nature covets recognition and position. They felt they were not being treated “equally.” The desire for our fair share is often a reflection of a sinful flaw in our nature called covetousness or envy. Instead of envying what God gives others, we should rejoice in His generosity. May God grant us the grace to glorify and give thanks to God for His great generosity to all.

September 16, 2015

Proverbs 10 “Important Contrasts”

Here we have a stark contrast between the righteous and the wicked. The righteous brings joy to their fathers, but the foolish are a grief to their mothers. The righteous walk in a satisfied life, but fools are always in want. The righteous receive commands, but fools simply babble on wanting to be heard. The wise are discerning in their words bringing life, but for those who lack understanding await harsh punishment. We know we are on the path of life because we heed instruction, but the fool proceeds rejecting reproof. May God give us grace to be quick to listen, obey and avoid all the wickedness of fools.

Matthew 19:27-30 “Great Gain”

After Jesus warns of the danger material wealth, Peter asks, “…‘Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?’” (27b). Jesus, tells them giving up all results in gaining great power with Him. Besides, what we give up to follow Christ pales in comparison to the increase of the same in every dimension of life: material, family, intimate and business. (29). But the greatest thing of all is the inheritance of eternal life. However, there is an order in heaven which is in contrast to earth. May God help us to see the value and treasure of our inheritance, that we can release all this world offers us.

September 15, 2015

Proverbs 9 “Do We Reject or Accept Correction?

Wisdom is appealing and inviting, but only those who acknowledge their lack will pursue her. Before we can embrace wisdom, we must forsake our folly and see the pursuit of it as valuable and essential. Correcting a scoffer or reproving the wicked is useless and results in insults and hate. Yet, we know we are wise when we accept reproof and love those giving it. Where do we start? “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (10) The benefit of wisdom is long life and great personal rewards. Those who follow folly of this loud and boisterous world will find themselves on a path of lies leading to death. May God illuminate our hearts to see the precious treasure of wisdom.

Matthew 19:16-26 “True Treasure!”

A young rich ruler approached Jesus regarding how he could obtain eternal life. Jesus gave him all the commands regarding human relationships and he enthusiastically said he had kept them from his youth. He then asked, “…what am I still lacking?” Jesus told him to give up his wealth, give to the needy, find his treasure in heaven and then follow Him. Unfortunately he left grieving treasuring material wealth more than Christ. Anyone can say they love God with all their heart, but when He calls us to release all and follow Him, are we quick to respond or do we walk away in sorrow? May God open our eyes to see what is truly precious!

September 14, 2016

Proverbs 8 “Wisdom Available to All”

Before we can obtain wisdom, there are a few things we must acknowledge: First, wisdom is available to everyone everywhere at anytime. It all comes down to our choices in life and what we truly value (1-11). Second, its nature and source are in God alone. “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way/And the perverted mouth, I hate.” (13) Third, There are many benefits to valuing and pursuing wisdom (14-21). Fourth, the very creation of the world we live in was by God through wisdom (22-31). Fifth, we will be blessed if we give careful attention and listen to it (32-36). “For he who finds me finds life/And obtains favor from the LORD. But he who sins against me injures himself; All those who hate me love death.” (35-36).

Matthew 19:13-15 “Childlike Dependence”

When children were brought to Jesus, the disciples rebuked them. Jesus, in turn, rebuked the disciples for hindering them for their very nature reflects qualities needed for entrance into the kingdom of heaven. Not only are children quick to receive and believe, but they are extremely dependence upon parents. Luke’s version brings this out as he refers to “infants” being brought to Him. In God’s kingdom we excel when we are fully dependent upon our Savior. Self-reliance eats away at an essential ingredient for spiritual growth. May God give us the wisdom to humble ourselves in childlike dependence on God!

September 13, 2016

Matthew 19:1-12 “Keeping Our Commitments”

As Jesus entered Judea, large crowds followed Him and He healed them. In contrast, some Pharisees asked Him if it was lawful to divorce a wife for any reason. They were not interested in His answer, but only in entrapping Him. Jesus said God’s intent for marriage was for life and no one should interfere or they are messing with God. Divorce, at times, is unavoidable, but never was it God’s intent. Keeping our word and not lying are essential to fulfilling God’s purposes for our lives. Deceit, dishonesty and division are hated by God (Proverbs 6). May God give us grace to be genuine.

September 12, 2016

Proverbs 6 “Listen Up!”

“My son, observe the commandment of your father/And do not forsake the teaching of your mother;” (20) Listening to parental figures in our lives will save us from a world of hurt and serious loss. Whether it be a foolish commitment (1-5), laziness (6-11), bad influences (12-15), avoiding what God hates (16-19) or immorality, attentiveness to caring leadership [especially godly parents] will guard us from the awful consequences of these things. In life, rarely does anyone really care about us like our parents. Even most bad parents want to protect their children from harm. So let us heed the instruction of fathers and mothers God places in our lives by His gracious love and concern for us.

Matthew 18:21-35 “God of Anger or Compassion?”

This question Peter brings to Jesus, He turns to illustrate the significance of forgiveness. The slave is forgiven a debt a lifetime of service would not pay back. But the slave then is unwilling to forgive a fellow slave of a repayable debt or one of relative insignificance compared to his own. This ingratitude changes the posture of his master from compassion to anger (34). Unforgiveness of others moves us from a place of compassion with God to a place of anger from God. May we ever show gratitude by mercy toward others.

September 9, 2016

Proverbs 5 “The Joy of Love & Faithfulness”

“My son, give attention to my wisdom, Incline your ear to my understanding; That you may observe discretion And your lips may reserve knowledge.” (1-2) These two verses set the stage for a sober warning against the influence of seductive people. Though it specifically applies to marriage, we are faced with a world of false religion [Babylon of Revelation] seeking to seduce God’s people from faithfulness to Him. Whether we look at this literally, as is likely intended, or metaphorically as often used in scripture, only our Father’s wisdom is able to equip us so we are not seduced by this ungodly world. Faithfulness to our spouses, and faithfulness to God are exhilarating and satisfying. Beyond this, nothing escapes the eyes of the Lord (21). Bondage and folly await all who ignore God’s instruction (22-23).

Matthew 18:12-20 “God’s Heart for the Lost”

These verses reveal Jesus’ deep love for those who go astray. He is not frustrated or angry, but searches for them in great concern. If they are found, he rejoices over them. Consequently, it is our responsibility to be equally concerned for one another, even to the point of correction for the purpose of restoration. In context, it is also important to address those who stray into sin for the sake of the spiritual health and strength of the church [body]. Beyond this, when this pattern in Matthew 18:15-20 is followed, it leads us to incredible power with God.

September 8, 2016

Proverbs 4 “Where Do We Start?”

“Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father;…” (1a). Solomon points out he was once a son and gave attention to his father. True fathers build a perspective based on critical criteria: 1) they once were young and know its limitations; 2) They have a lifetime of experience and learning; 3) They have been tempered and tuned by time and trials; As a result, they have a perspective of wisdom worth hearing, embracing and heeding. Where does acquiring wisdom start? “…Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding.” (7). First, we must acknowledge our LACK of these or we will not be motivated to pursue them. Second, “Prize her, and she will exalt you;…” (8a). God gives wisdom to those who persue, value and adhere to her. The great benefit of this pursuit is we grow in attraction, recognition and influence with God and men.

Matthew 18:7-11 “Discerning the Body”

Stumbling blocks to faith are to be expected in the world, but those through whom they come will face serious consequences. Jesus explains we would be better off without critical parts of our body, than to allow those parts to cause us to stumble. He may here be speaking of the metaphorical body of Christ for He goes on to say, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones,…” (10a). Causing God’s children to stumble does not go unnoticed. Despising them is not a matter of hatred, but a matter of not properly valuing them. We are called to value, encourage and war on behalf each another. We will give account for our treatment of God’s sons and daughters.

September 7, 2016

Proverbs 3 “Blessings of God First!”

“My son,…” These proverbs flow from a loving father so his son can enjoy long life and peace. Kindness and truth are to be inwardly engraved and outwardly displayed gaining favor and a good reputation with God and man. We are not to be reckless and arrogant, but cautious, humble and dependent. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (5-6). Another foundational principle is to honor God with our abundance [wealth] and the first of our income. Material needs are not met by accumulation of wealth, but by putting God first in our finances. May God be first in all our ways so we might enjoy His favor all of the time!

Matthew 18:1-6 “Being Great in God’s Kingdom”

Jesus addresses the question of greatness with a contrast to their expectations. Greatness is not seen in excelling in ability or asserting ourselves, but in humble dependence on God and a posture of learning like children. In fact, unless we become like children we are unable to even enter God’s kingdom. Another aspect of greatness is reflected in receiving “one such child in My name…” as receiving Christ Himself. Those who are great in God’s kingdom are very receptive and concerned for new/young believers. If we do not care for young believers, we will never know greatness in God’s eyes. In fact, if we cause these to stumble in their faith the consequence of such actions will be dealt with severely. True greatness will be reflected in humble dependence on God, as well as, tender care for God’s people so as not to cause them to stumble. May we thrive in His greatness!

September 6, 2016

Proverbs 2 “Are We On Track?”

This chapter begins by Solomon pleading with his son to pursue his instruction, treasure his commands, be attentive to wisdom, incline to understanding and treasure what is most valuable for true life. He points to God as the source of wisdom and outlines its benefits. It will protect us from all subtle and evil influences guiding us into ways of life and separating us from the coming judgment. In doing this, “Then you will discern the fear of the LORD And discover the knowledge of God.” (5). In other words, pursuing and treasuring God’s word gets us, and keeps us, on track to life abundantly!

Matthew 17:24-27 “Defending Our Rights?”

Peter was approached by people challenging him whether Jesus was paying the temple tax. So he went to Jesus who presented a principle illustrating His right not to pay. However, He told Peter to go fishing and the fish caught would contain a coin for the tax. He told him to pay the tax so as not to offend them. We often are so insistent on our being right, that we create offenses. Jesus saw creating an offense as not worth asserting His rights. May God give us grace to follow His example.

September 5, 2016

Proverbs 1 “Reward of Learning”

This first chapter of the book begins with an introduction to its intended purposes. It is summarized by saying, “To receive instruction in wise behavior,…” (3a). After stating a few benefits, Solomon gives this critical key: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (7). He then appeals to his son to understand the perspective of this book as from a caring parents. There is an abundance of information in this world proceeding from its own selfish interest, but the words of this book come from a God Who is deeply caring and perfect in understanding. Wisdom is readily available and rejection of it is dreadfully serious. However, the rewards of our attentiveness to this father’s instruction are rich with life and freedom from evil.

Matthew 17:14-23 “Faith and Focus”

Coming down from the mountain of transfiguration, Jesus was approached by a man falling to his knees begging for his son’s deliverance. The disciples were unable to heal him, so Jesus rebuked them for their unbelief and perversion. After healing him, they questioned Jesus why they could not drive out this demon. His answer was simple and to the point: the absence of faith. Their unbelief reflected a perverted perspective or focus [note verse 17]. Faith is not confidence in who we are, or what we have become, but in Who Jesus is and what He has done for us. The smallest amount of genuine faith in God’s Son and His work, is able to accomplish great things well beyond our natural ability and talents. May God give us grace to stay focused on Jesus!

September 2, 2016

Song of Solomon 8 “Leaning On Our Beloved”

As we conclude this book of love, more attention is given to the desire of the bride for her grooms affection and the desire of the groom to please his bride. “Who is this coming up from the wilderness Leaning on her beloved?” (5). There is only one way “out of our wilderness” and it is by leaning on our beloved Lord Jesus. We are able to rest in the overwhelming love and care He has for us. In Him alone is our freedom.

Matthew 17:1-13 “Doing For or In Obedience To?”

Jesus took three of His disciples to a high mountain to be alone. He was transfigured before them while Moses and Elijah spoke to Him. This supernatural experience prompted Peter to offer to build three tabernacles for them. Before Peter finished speaking, God interrupted saying, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” (5b). Note two important points: 1. Jesus is distinct from and above all others. 2. It is not what we do “for Him” that is significant, but what we do “in obedience to Him!” Let us listen carefully and obey Him fully.

September 1, 2016

Song of Solomon 7 “The Joy of Love!”

Again, the groom is enamored by his bride defining every detail of her appearance as something that draws him to her. She rests in his view of her, just wanting to do life with him. She says, “I am my beloved’s And his desire is for me.” (16). Our God not only desires us, but wants us to deeply desire to live life in His presence. When we live in God’s presence and awareness of His great love, our lives are filled with great joy.

Matthew 16:21-28

When Jesus told His disciples of His coming suffering and death, Peter objected vehemently. Yet Peter was not helping Christ in His journey, but actually hindering what was essential for our salvation. Following Jesus demands we deny ourselves and be willing to face the uncomfortable and the pain of death to self. It is only as we deny self that God’s perfect will can take hold of us to glorify our Father in Heaven.

August 31, 2016

Song of Solomon 6

The brides admiration of her groom causes others to want to see him. She is not dismayed by his absence, but rests in the confidence of his love and perception of her. The groom goes on and on about every detail of his bride as beautiful and unique. So our love for Christ should attract others to Him and His love for us removes every insecurity. He sees each one of us as beautiful and unique. Our groom [Christ] is taken by a simple glimpse of us. He longs to just “look” at us. All insecurity disappears in our awareness of God’s great love for us.

Matthew 16:13-20 “All Because of Who He Is”

Jesus asked His disciples what people “say” about Him, but was especially concerned about what His disciples say about Him. Peter’s confession, “…‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” (16). Peter knew by revelation from God who Jesus was and was blessed. Though he had many failures, it was not declaring “who he was” that was significant to his future or that of God’s kingdom. Knowing and declaring “who Jesus is” is key. The key to success is not declaring who we are, but who Christ is!

August 30, 2016

Song of Solomon 5 “Don’t Delay Your Response”

When the groom approaches his bride, she is asleep and very slow to respond to his knocking on her door. He speaks with loving tenderness of his perspective on her beauty. However, she delays in opening the door and when she finally responds, he is gone. She missed an opportunity for intimacy. God is a gentleman knocking on the door of our heart seeking intimate communion with us. Let us not delay and be regretful, but be quick to respond to His invitations.

Matthew 16:1-12 “Danger, Danger!”

The religious elite asked Jesus for a sign. They were looking for reasons to reject Him and were not genuine. Signs abounded in Jesus ministry, but they resisted the transformed life demanded by Him. Jesus gave them the sign of Jonah, foreshadowing His resurrection which they would also reject. He turned and warned his disciples of the subtle dangerous influence of their teaching. It is not the outright heathen posing danger to God’s people, but the religious influence resisting Christ’s transforming power being quite content in their sinful state. May God’s grace guard our hearts from such wicked influences.

August 29, 2016

Song of Solomon 4 “Love Is Attractive!”

Fifteen verses are given to the grooms admiration of his bride. He overflows with poetic details regarding various aspects of her beauty. Her eyes, hair, teeth, lips, mouth, temples, neck and her two breasts all are perfect to him making his heart beat faster at a single glance. Her words are sweet like honey. Her smell is inviting like a fruitful garden. She desires him to come and enjoy her intimately like a garden with choice fruits. This is a beautiful and erotic picture of love. When we know how God admires us in His Son, we also will be incredibly desirous of His intimate presence!

Matthew 15:32-39 “From Lack to Abundance”

Jesus is moved by compassion for those with Him for three days and had nothing to eat. The disciples responded by stating their lack of food or resources needed to feed this great crowd. Jesus turned their attention to what they had, and not what they lacked. They gave Jesus “what they had,” He gave thanks, blessed it and distributed it for all to eat and be satisfied. They had more “broken pieces” left over than when they started. When we stop focusing on our “lack,” bring what we have to Jesus, give thanks, break it and give to others, our lack becomes an abundance!

August 26, 2016

Song of Solomon 3 “From Distress to Rest”

The bride is distressed over loss of her groom’s presence. She pursues him until she finds him and then will not let him go. The groom’s love expresses his concern for her rest and not his own gratification. From the wilderness comes Solomon for his wedding day well guarded, beautifully adorned and prepared for this great union with his bride. Are we troubled by the loss of God’s presence? Do we understand His great concern for us and the preparations made for our final union? If we are, we will be like this bride who says, “…I held him and would not let him go…” 4b). We must not be weary in our wilderness for there we will discover God’s loving approach!

Matthew 15:21-31 “Faith Triumphs Over Unworthiness!”

Jesus had slipped away for rest when a foreign woman came to him pleading for her demon possessed daughter. At first, He ignored her (23). Then it He insulted her (24-26). But she refused to be offended persisting in faith. She was aware of her unworthiness, but focused on God’s abundance of power and love. Previously, the disciples were rebuked for their unbelief, now she is honored for her faith. We may be unworthy, but God honors those who persist in faith due to His great power and mercy.

August 25, 2016

Song of Solomon 2 “Winter Is Past”

The bride’s self-image is improved by the declarations of her groom. She is greatly attracted to him because of how he feels about her. When we understand how God feels about us, we are overwhelmed with affection for Him. His every move, and even His delays, thrill us. He takes us from hard winters into the most enjoyable springs. “For behold, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone. The flowers have already appeared in the land;…” (11-12a). When we are focused on God’s love for us, He changes the way we perceive ourselves!

Mathew 15:15-20 “Free Indeed”

Peter is confused by Jesus’ words regarding defilement. Jesus addresses this is a very basic principle. It is not what we eat that makes us dirty, for food is processed and what is unhealthy is eliminated. Yet, what comes out of our mouth comes from our heart, such as evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lying, slandering and other things like this defiles us. Sin is not a mere issue of behavior, but a contaminated heart. Only God can address this issue by His Son so we are free indeed.

August 24, 2016

Song of Solomon 1 “Everyone Is Beautiful!”

This Song is an very intimate expression of love between a bride and groom. It both foreshadows the love between Christ and HIs church, and reflects God intended love relationship between a man and woman in marriage. Their love for each other is not distracted, but focused and persistent in spite of her awareness of personal flaws. We need to understand God looks beyond our flaws and sees our potential in Christ. So in marriage we need to look beyond one another’s flaws and see our potential. Again, the significant parallel is that our God is not discouraged by our flaws, but gave His only begotten son to make us beautiful!

Mathew 15:1-14 “Genuine Love for God’s Word”

The Pharisees and scribes [religious elite of Jesus’ day] were so focused on traditions they failed to discern God’s heart in God’s word. In fact, they actually exempted themselves from God’s commands by corrupted “reason” and “logic.” Jesus said their worship was mere lip service reflective of hearts far away from God. While they were focused on diet details, they left out the basics of God’s word. When we love God, we are devoted to His word and our traditions can be adjusted. However, when our religion is a collection of externals, our traditions become inflexible and we drift far away. May God give us hearts passionate in our pursuit of God and His word.

August 23, 2016

Psalm 150 “That Must Be Me!”

This last psalm of praise addresses four issues: 1. WHERE to praise; 2. WHAT to praise God for; 3. HOW to praise God; and finally, 4. WHO is to praise God. First, we praise Him in “His sanctuary” or among His gathered people. We also praise Him in “His mighty expanse” or anywhere in creation. Second, we praise Him because of His great works and His excellent greatness [who He is]. Third, we praise him by various visible, observable and loud ways, such as: trumpets, harps, timbrels, cymbals, other instruments and dancing [Every way possible]. Finally, who is to praise God? “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!” That must be me!

Mathew 14:22-36 “You Raise Me Up!”

Jesus sent His disciples ahead of Him in a boat, sent the crowds away, and went up to the mountain by Himself to pray. While the disciples struggled with contrary winds, Jesus passed near them walking on the water. We must remember Jesus is on top of [walks on] whatever hinders our progress in His will. At first terrified, Peter asked if this was truly Jesus, that He ask him to come to Him and so He did. When Peter saw the waves, he began to sink. But when He called out to Jesus, He reached out and raised Peter up. When we are focused on our storms, our faith dwindles, but when we are focused on Jesus, He raises us up!

August 22, 2016

Psalm 149 “Beautiful People, Joyful Praise”

These songs are marked with the command to “Praise the LORD!” (1a) at beginning and end. Sandwiched in between are the reasons and benefits. Here we are to praise God with fresh [new] songs with great joy. Why? He is our creator, redeemer and King. How? Our songs are to be expressions of gladness, rejoicing, dancing and instruments. Why? God takes pleasure in us and makes us beautiful with His salvation. We are blessed with great responsibility characterized by great joy. His praises are in our mouth and His sword [Word] is in our hand. What is more beautiful than God’s people overflowing in praise characterized by great joy?

Mathew 14:13-21 “From Sorrow & Lack to Abundance for All”

At the news of John’s death, Jesus got in a boat seeking a place to be alone. However, when He came to shore, a crowd gathered and He was moved with compassion to heal their sick. He did not allow personal loss to cloud His awareness of others’ needs. Here He taught His disciples how to turn personal lack into abundance where all were satisfied. Not only this, but they picked up twelve baskets of “broken pieces” after feeding 5,000 men. Like Jesus, even in our place of sorrow, we can serve others as He turns our lack [when brought to Him] into a surplus.

August 19, 2016

Psalm 148 “Praising God Keeps Us Strong!”

As we near the end of this wonderful book called the Psalms, a greater emphasis is made on Praising God. All creation, heavens, earth and all they contain, are called to praise the One who created and established them. This is beautifully summed up in verse 13 “Let them praise the name of the LORD, For His name alone is exalted; His glory is above earth and heaven.” We are strongest when we are focused in praise on God as our Creator and Redeemer. Praise the LORD.

Mathew 14:1-12 “Led by Faith or Governed by Fear?”

Though Herod held the powerful political position, He was governed by fear. When he heard of Jesus miracles, he feared John the Baptist was raised from the dead. John had told him it was not lawful for him to have Herodias, so he arrested him for fear of losing the relationship. Herod kept him alive because of his fear of the crowds. But he killed him because of the fear of looking bad after giving his word. Fear is a horrific consumer of lives and is never satisfied leading us to decisions damaging to ourselves and others. May God give us the grace not to be governed by fear, but be led by faith in Christ.

August 18, 2016

Psalm 147 “Praise the LORD!”

Why should we praise the Lord? “…For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant and praise is becoming.” (1b,c). We are created to praise God and we are never happier or more fulfilled than when we are doing what we are created to do. Besides this, we praise Him for all His greatness, goodness and lovingkindness. God does not favor those with great possessions or abilities, but those who fear the Lord and those who wait for His lovingkindness. Beyond this, He gives His word to the flawed [Jacob] and His principles to all His people. We are overwhelmed with reasons to praise Him. Let us Praise the LORD!

August 17, 2016

Psalm 146 “Value of Persistent Praise”

This psalm begins with the command [and ends]: “Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul!” (1). There is great benefit to praising God and not looking to man or the created realm. We must be determined to praise God in good times and bad. Looking to men, regardless of our need, eventually leads to disappointment. However, the blessing of God rests on all who find their help in Him. He is Creator of all things, brings justice in all matters, provides for us all, and sets us free from all bondage. He intervenes for the oppressed, loves the righteous, protects strangers and supports the helpless. Yet, He thwarts the wicked. Our God reigns forever and, as His people, we praise Him to all generations.

Matthew 13:44-58 “Honoring Jesus Facilitates Miracles”

The first two parables here show the surpassing value of God’s kingdom. Those who know the value of God’s kingdom, will be “sold out.” Their joy is not extinguished by loss of anything in this world. Nothing compares to the treasure of God’s dominion. Beyond this, we have perfect peace knowing there will be perfect justice. Jesus calls teachers to articulate these “treasures” of truth. Yet, the problem of familiarity by people in His hometown, caused them to miss His kingdom and its value. Their failure to honor Him, resulted in restraining the demonstration of His power among them. Jesus shows up in power wherever He is honored and valued!

August 16, 2016

Psalm 145 “Passing on Our Faith”

David begins by lifting up God as His King and committing to bless Him forever. We will ever be learning of His greatness, mighty acts, glory, power, goodness and righteousness. We, by our praise, declare who God is to other generations. Our praise is reflected in joyful shouting. We are constantly amazed by God’s nature and works. His reign and provisions never cease. Everyone who looks to God is satisfied. All His ways are right and He promises to be near to all who call on Him in truth. “The LORD keeps all who love Him, But all the wicked He will destroy.” (20). Our joy filled praise rings out, and so passes our faith on to others.

Matthew 13:24-43 “Healthy Roots, Healthy Fruit”

The parable of wheat and weeds is Jesus’ explanation for how to deal with opposition. If the wicked are uprooted it would uproot the righteous also and growth would cease. We are to leave judgment to God and His angels. The parable of the mustard seed illustrates how healthy growth leads to a strong nest where new life begins. The parable of the leaven reflects the inner invisible nature of God’s work. We must trust God in all our opposition and not get distracted by trying to deal with it ourselves. Let us continue to be nurtured maintaining healthy roots for healthy fruit.

August 15, 2016

Matthew 13:1-23 “Don’t Mess with the Seed!”

Jesus had faithful followers but many rejected His ministry. To explain this, He spoke to them the parable of the sower and seed. The same seed was sown in various places, but it produced varying results due to the condition of the soil [hearts]. The problem was not His message, but with the soil of human hearts. We often doctor the seed of God’s due to lack of results. We seek to make it more relevant, interesting or even entertaining. All these methods do nothing for the soil of men’s hearts. May God give us the wisdom to be faithful to the seed of God’s word and entrust the results to Him.

Psalm 143 “Humility & Favor”

The theme of extreme dependence is expressed by David in this Psalm. His prayer is based in an awareness of God’s faithfulness, righteousness and his own unworthiness as God’s servant. He confesses being overwhelmed in soul by his enemies, yet also focused on what God’s past works. He long’s for Him as “parched land.” Without God’s intervention, he will fail so asks for His lovingkindness in the morning as he relies on and takes refuge in God. He also seeks God to be taught to do His will and give him victory for the sake of God’s honor [name]. He concludes this prayer again appealing to God’s lovingkindness to deal with his enemies as His servant. This humble place is one that gains much favor with God.

August 12, 2016

Psalm 143 “Humility & Favor”

The theme of extreme dependence is expressed by David in this Psalm. His prayer is based in an awareness of God’s faithfulness, righteousness and his own unworthiness as God’s servant. He confesses being overwhelmed in soul by his enemies, yet also focused on what God’s past works. He long’s for Him as “parched land.” Without God’s intervention, he will fail so asks for His lovingkindness in the morning as he relies on and takes refuge in God. He also seeks God to be taught to do His will and give him victory for the sake of God’s honor [name]. He concludes this prayer again appealing to God’s lovingkindness to deal with his enemies as His servant. This humble place is one that gains much favor with God.

Matthew 12:46-50 “Church Family”

While Jesus was speaking to crowds, He was told His family was outside wanting to speak with Him. They expected Him to give preference to them, but Jesus pointed to His disciples, who did the will of His Father in heaven, as His family. One of the greatest blessings to becoming a follower of Jesus is we get to be a part of His family. The church is Jesus’ family and we are valuable and precious to each other. The sense of family is one of the greatest attractions to Christ and His church.

August 11, 2016

Psalm 142 “Liberation for Celebration”

Though David received an anointing to be king, he ran and hid to preserve his life. He did not complain to men, but to God. Though his spirit was overwhelmed, he declared God knew his path and the traps of his persecutors. He had no avenue of escape and no one truly cared for his soul but God. He not only cried to God, but cried out for Him to give heed to that cry knowing his lack of strength before his enemies. He asked for his soul to be released from prison so he could give thanks to God’s name. May the Lord liberate our souls for the celebration of Who He is!

Matthew 12:38-45 “Humility & Hunger”

Many religious leaders asked Jesus for a sign. Jesus said the only sign they would get would be His death and resurrection. In contrast to Nineveh who repented at Jonah’s preaching, and the Queen of the South who traveled a great distance to hear Solomon’s wisdom, they did neither. Yet He was greater than both of Jonah and Solomon. Lack of HUMILITY seen in repentance [when hearing God’s word] and HUNGER seen in the pursuit of wisdom [found in God’s word], will result in the demise of many.

August 10, 2016

Psalm 141 “The High Place of Prayer”

As King of Israel, David was in the highest office in the land. Yet, he regularly bowed himself in humility before his God by prayer. His dependency was a reflection of his awareness of his need for God’s presence. He carefully prayed as incense [pleasing aroma] to God. He asked the Lord to guard his mouth and his heart against all wicked influences. He valued the correction of righteous people even at the expense of personal pain. His focus was on His God and he relied fully on Him to defend and protect him from all evil. The more we grow in God the greater our reliance on Him in prayer will be.

Matthew 12:33-37 “The Power of Words”

After severely rebuking very religious people, Jesus said our words reflect our true nature. Who we are is revealed in what we say. Scripture teaches us words are very powerful and can bring life or death. Consequently, Jesus says, “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for in the day of judgment.” (36) It is often in the heat of emotions we speak revealing our true nature. May God’s grace abound to us to speak words of love and life. Like the old song says, “Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life.”

August 9, 2016

Psalm 140 “Who Has Our Reputation in Hand?”

At a time of attack, King David appeals to God to rescue him. He does not retaliate or rely upon his own devices, but asks God to Him to deal with them according to their mischievous words. He pleads with God to deal with them in severity especially in regards to their the slander. His confidence is in God who maintains the cause of the afflicted and the poor. Our reputation [name] should be in God’s hands and not ours. We must turn to Him and refrain from all self-reliance.

Matthew 12:22-32 “Danger, Danger, Danger!”

Jesus had no greater controversy than with the religious elite. Jesus functioned in power casting a demon out of a deaf and mute man. In their minds they attributed this power to the ruler of demons. Knowing their thoughts, He addressed the foolishness of this idea. In fact, he corrected their theology by saying he had bound the strong man and was establishing God’s rule by God’s Spirit. This was blasphemy of the worst kind and cannot be remedied for it is rooted in self-rule rejecting God’s rule and kingdom.

August 8, 2016

Psalm 139 “Search me, O God,…” (23a)

God knows every detail of our lives, even those hidden to us. We make no movement or speak no words of which God is not completely aware. He formed us and there is no place we can go to escape His loving presence. The most incredible thing about this is His posture toward’s us remains only good. We need to avoid every evil influence! Yet, we do need Him to reveal our true selves for our eternal benefit. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” (23-24).

Matthew 12:9- 21“Moving On!”

Certain religious people challenged Jesus with questions with no desire for truth, but to defend their own comfort zones. They were not concerned about a man with a withered hand, but with defending their religious borders to maintain their positions and power. Jesus withdrew from them and healed all who came to Him to fulfill God’s word bringing justice and hope to the Gentiles [unbelievers]. It is easy to be distracted by opponents, but like Jesus, we must persist in our mission entrusting our attackers to God.

August 5, 2016

Psalm 138 “Giving God Thanks”

“I will give You thanks with all my heart;…” (1a) Offerings of thanks, songs of praise and bowing before God is key to our spiritual health. Here the psalmist is focuses on who God is and what He has said in His word. God’s word is a key to us discovering and staying focused on the nature of God and His works. When we know who God is, we are bold even in our times of trouble knowing God is over every adversary. Our concerns are God’s and we can rest in His care for us.

Matthew 12:1-14 “Understanding God’s Intent”

Jesus was frequently attacked by the religious people of His day regarding details and particulars of the law. This debate over proper Sabbath observance revealed that the Pharisees had missed God’s purpose in giving the Sabbath. Another issue was their failure to truly understand God’s word. Their interpretation even exempted them from having to be responsible to serve those in need on the Sabbath. Jesus showed them they were more concerned for their animals then their fellow man. Only a humble approach to God’s word can keep us from such erroneous interpretations.

August 4, 2016

Psalm 137 “Our Chief Joy?”

Babylon is a place of captivity to God’s people who disobey Him persistently. Here God’s people long for Zion [place of assemble worshippers/church]. There are some in the church content in “Babylon.” These have no desire to return to “Zion.” Today there is a lack of concern for assembling together, and see “church” as a mere option. May all who rise against the church be dealt with severely (7-9). But as for us, “May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth If I do not remember you, If I do not exalt Jerusalem Above my Chief Joy.” (6)

Matthew 11:25-30 “Is Your Burden Light?”

Jesus is not in need of more intelligent, wise and talented people to advance His kingdom. He chooses to reveal it to the “infants” or, we might say, the ones who are totally dependent upon God. Only when we are “yoked” to the Son of God will we genuinely know the Father and have perfect peace. When linked inseparably to Jesus, we have all the wisdom and strength we need to carry the burdens of life. If our burdens are heavy and overwhelming, we are obviously yoked to the wrong thing! His invitation stands, “Come to Me,…”

August 3, 2016

Psalm 136 “Something Worth Repeating!”

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” (1). This summarizes the chapter and we are exhorted to “Give thanks” both in its beginning and its conclusion. Much is said regarding God’s greatness in power as creator and redeemer. However, the basic key ingredient to God repeated 26 times is, “…For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” When we begin to comprehend this basic nature of God, we will overflow with gratitude and praise. God is sooooooo good! Let us remind each other continuously, “…His lovingkindness is everlasting.”

Matthew 11:20-24 “God’s Kingdom or Ours?”

After speaking of the rejection of God’s word through John, Jesus denounced the cities where He did miracles for failure to repent. When we reject the supernatural demonstration of God’s love, He has no choice but to pronounce judgement. There is nothing more disturbing or scary than walking away from undeniable demonstrations of God’s love and greatness. This failure to repent is seen in rejecting God’s rule and clinging to self-rule. This is the essence of the spirit of anti-christ. Let us give thanks for God’s lovingkindness by repenting and turning fully toward Him.

August 2, 2016

Psalm 135:8-21 “No One Like Our God”

The call to praise God is also rooted in the history of God’s work for our deliverance from Egypt [ungodly world] and bringing us into our inheritance [righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit]. All the enemies we face in entering into God’s promises, He will deal with effectively. All this world relies on is useless and ineffective. What this world serves is a distraction from the one true God who loves, protects and provides for us. Consequently, we fear and praise our God for salvation. There is none like our God.

Matthew 11:7-19 “Effective Ministries”

Jesus refers to John as one who was not politically correct, nor a celebrity, but a voice for God preparing people to receive Christ. Though John’s greatness was greater than those preceding Him, the least in God’s kingdom is greater. God’s kingdom suffers violence, but men who, like John, press on to obtain it are even greater. The rejection he faced was not a weakness of ministry, but an unwillingness of people to receive him or the Christ. We do not judge a ministry’s value by its popularity, but by its faithfulness to God [His Word] and its fruit.

August 1, 2016

Psalm 135:1-7 “A Happy Life Is a Life of Praise”

“Praise the LORD. Praise the name of the LORD; praise him, you servants of the LORD. (1 – NIV ) We are never happier than when we are doing what we were created to do: Praise God. We are effective servants of God and His people as we praise Him. Here we have listed a few reasons for praising God. 1. He is good; 2. Praise creates a pleasant atmosphere; 3. God has chosen us and we are His treasure; 4. God’s greatness and power; 5. The sovereignty of God over all creation. Note praising God is not about how we feel, but about who God is. Praising God for these reasons lays a solid foundation for a happy and fulfilling life.

Matthew 11:1-6 “Focus Our Expectations”

John the Baptist witnessed the supernatural at Jesus’ baptism. It was a thrilling moment when God spoke audibly of His Son and John saw the Holy Spirit fall upon Him like a dove. What caused him now to doubt Jesus as the Messiah? His imprisonment was not a part of his expectations. Jesus sent word to John of His supernatural ministry as evidence of His kingdom. His kingdom was not political, but spiritual. Looking to the political realm for hope breads false expectation leading to doubt. We must stay focused on the spiritual, supernatural and eternal nature of God’s kingdom!

July 30, 2016

Psalm 134 “Blessed from Zion”

When we praise and serve God and His people in the “night” season, we get God’s attention and blessing. Our service needs to proceed from the love of God and His people. We are not primarily concerned for self, but the well-being of God’s house [church]. When this is our posture, the Lord Who made heaven and earth will bless us from Zion.

Matthew 10:34-42 “The Enduring Family”

Unfortunately not everyone receives the gospel. Consequently, there are times when we receive Christ, we are divided from those we care about the most. If we are not willing to put Christ before every earthly relationship, we are not worthy of Him. Yet, if we do receive Him and embrace the pain and death to self our cross brings, there is great reward. If we embrace those who represent Him [prophets and righteous men] we will also share in their reward. God’s family is the only lasting one.

July 29, 2016

Psalm 133 “Unity & Blessing”

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity!” (1) Here our attention is drawn to the value of unity among family who “dwell” together. This unity is not due to common interest, but among those who live together. It is precious or of great value. It is thorough like the dew settling on God’s mountains. When we are aligned with God, we are united together. Here God “commanded the blessing – life forever.” (3b). This is not a unity of compromise, but a unity from surrendering to God. This is not a unity achieved by men, but received from God.

Matthew 10:24-33 “Overcoming Fear of Men”

Jesus warns us not to be naïve regarding peoples’ reaction to our message. Like Jesus, if we are faithful to Him, we also will experience rejections and accusations. Yet, we are not fear them for they will be exposed. We are not to fear those who can kill our body, but fear the One who has the power to send body and soul to hell. Our suffering, even death, is not unnoticed by God and we are of GREAT value to Him. Consequently, we are to be bold and speak what God gives us for this world! To overcome the fear of men, we put our faith in God alone!

July 28, 2016

Psalm 132 “God’s Place”

David understood the essential need for God to dwell among His people in a place of worship. He fought and worked for this place. He would not rest “Until I find a place for the LORD,…” (5a). David is a prophetic symbol of the coming King, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is for His sake and by God’s word, we call upon God to help us be established in His church. God has chosen Zion, His church to be His dwelling place forever. From here the strength of Christ will spring forth, the light of Christ will shine and He will reign over all His enemies.

Matthew 10:16-23

Jesus sent His disciples out as sheep among wolves. They were to be on guard against men knowing they would come under attack. Though brought before men of power, they were not to worry, but rely on the Spirit of God. They will be betrayal even by family and they will experience the hatred of this world even being put to death. Endurance will result in salvation. When persecuted, we are not retaliate but move on in our mission. One of the hardest things for us to do, is not retaliate. Yet, if we are caught up in defending self, we will be unable to complete our divine assignments.

July 27, 2016

Psalm 131 “Hope in God”

“O LORD, my heart is not proud. nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me.” (1) Success and position breed arrogance in the fool, but wise men know their limitations and remain completely dependent on God. Like a young child attached to and dependent upon its mother, so David clings to God. There is great hope for those who know their limitations and remain in childlike attachment to, and dependence upon, their God. Our hope is in God alone continuously.

Matthew 10:1-15 “Preparation for Ministry”

“Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority…” (1b) Before sending out the twelve, Jesus gave them authority, direction, instruction and strategy. They were told what to do, where and where not to go and how to respond to rejection. Success in any mission is directly related to time with Jesus receiving these things. So many today are ministering without essential preparation time with Christ. Note also the strategy of Christ involved a demonstration of supernatural power of the kingdom based on authority received [freely]. Any strategy based on methods without the supernatural is doomed to fail.

July 26, 2016

Psalm 130 “Run to God Alone!”

“Out of the depths I have cried to You, O LORD..” (1) We need to learn to turn and cry out to God in our low places [depths]. We especially need God when we are impacted by our own failures [iniquities]. Our tendency is to turn from God in these because of our shame, but if we understand the greatness of God’s love we would turn to Him no matter how deep our valley is. Our hope is in who God is and what He has said [word]. We long to hear from God who alone is full of lovingkindness and redemption. Instead of our failures turning us from God, they should cause us to run to Him as the only place of hope and salvation.

Matthew 9:18-38 “Overwhelmed or Obedient?”

Jesus was on the way to an official’s home because his daughter dying. He was interrupted by a woman so desperate to be healed, she violated Jewish law by approaching Him. He stopped and ministered healing and redemption to her. Here He was interrupted by a message the official’s daughter had died. What looked like a failure was an occasion for a greater miracle. He put out the voices of unbelief and raise her up. In the face of the impossible, false accusation and an abundance of need, Jesus persisted in following His Father’s plan. He encouraged His disciples to see these great needs as a motivation to pray and seek the Father’s directives in the harvest. Instead of being overwhelmed He was obedient.

July 25, 2016

Psalm 129 “Trusting God’s Righteousness”

We do not deny there is persecution of God’s people from those who reject Him. We stand praying trusting in the righteousness of God Who has authority over all and binds any lasting effectiveness of wickedness. As we pray, we confess God will deal with them accordingly and their time is very short. They have no lasting security, prosperity, legacy or blessing. Though we expect it, we walk free of any fear of persecution.

Matthew 9:14-17 “New Wine Demands New Wineskins”

John’s disciples, along with the Pharisees, judged Jesus’ disciples for not fasting. Jesus said it is inappropriate to mourn when the bridegroom is with them, but the time for fasting will come. Beyond this, an apparent transition of “form” [wineskin] is taking place. It is not appropriate to add to, or adjust, the form [wineskin], but there is a need for a fresh wineskin [structure] so both are preserved. When we cling to “old forms” or ways of doing things, we are in danger of loosing the fresh outpouring. We must remember, it is not the forms we cherish, but the precious oil of the Holy Spirit.

July 23, 2016

Psalm 128 “A Key to Happiness!”

“How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, Who walks in His ways.” (1) The fear of God is a key to true happiness. The fear of God is manifested in obedience. When we lay the foundation of fear and obedience, we have happiness in our work, marriages and our families. Again, God blesses us from our place of worship [Zion] and we have the pleasure of seeing its prosperity. My dad always said he was a rich man, but not in material wealth. He was rich in his family and children who serve the Lord.

Matthew 9:9-13 “What God Desires!”

Jesus invitation to Matthew to be a disciple shocked the religious Jews. As a tax collector, he was considered the worst of sinners. Why? They used an evil system to make themselves wealthy by taking advantage of other Jews. There is a tendency in religious people to justify themselves by finding sinners worst than themselves. The problem with this, is the failure to perceive their own degree of sinfulness. Also, God desires us to express His compassion through us far more than receiving gifts from us! Having compassion on others reflects an awareness of our need for Jesus!

July 22, 2016

Psalm 127 “A Great Reward!”

“Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it;” (1) The word house is often a term for family, group or nation. We are God’s house. Our efforts to build a house are a waste unless we have God as our master builder. The same is true of our security. Without God’s presence, our “houses” are vulnerable to destruction. No effort or skill can compensate for the lack of God’s presence! In fact, the birth of children is God’s gift and reward to us. They are not an inconvenience, but a blessing. They are not a burden, but a reward. Our children are to be viewed as a gift of God and an expansion of our house! As my daughter and her husband visit this week, I realize what a blessing and reward our children, and their children, are to us!

Matthew 9:1-8 “Authority to Forgive”

Jesus had just come from a place He was rejected and asked to leave [Gadarenes] because of a miracle of deliverance. This did not dissuade Him from continuing in the ministry of miracles. Jesus, seeing the faith of men who brought a paralytic, spoke forgiveness before healing the man. Here, religious leaders of the day accused Him of blasphemy in their hearts, but He healed the man to demonstrate His authority to forgive sins. The crowd was awestruck and glorified God for giving this kind of authority to men. Today, many struggle with God’s ability or willingness to forgive them, but we have a responsibility to demonstrate God’s love and power by miracles. Jesus gave this authority to His church to continue this revelation to a sinful world. His great love and mercy are rich toward sinful humanity. He did not come to judge the world, but to show mercy. Are we continuing this message?

July 21, 2016

Psalm 126 “No Greater Joy”

There is no greater joy than when God restores us from a captivity of our own doing. Laughter and joyful shouting are the fruit of a restoration visible to even unbelievers [heathen nations]. Our joyful celebration honors God before the unsaved. We experience a sudden release like the flood streams covering the desert South. Yet, preceding this harvest of joy, was a persistent sowing in sorrow and tears. What we sow in our times of sorrow determines our harvest. Some sow complaint, vent to friends or some other ungodly activity. But, the one who sows confessing and taking responsibility for their sin and resulting captivity, will reap a harvest of great joy.

Matthew 8:28-34 “Jesus Disrupts Lifestyles”

When Jesus came to the Gadarenes, he was confronted by two demon possessed men tormented by His presence. Jesus presence torments evil. Thinking they could avoid destruction, they sought to be sent into a herd of swine. Yet they were destroyed and a lifestyle of disobedience was disrupted. Consequently, rather than being grateful for His presence, the entire community begged Jesus to leave. This community never had the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of God’s rule because they clung to their lifestyles [self rule]. Jesus presence in our lives will expose every evil thing. Will we welcome Him, or beg Him to leave?

July 20, 2016

Matthew 8:18-27 “Jesus Is Over Our Storms”

When a religious scribe approached Jesus to be a disciple, He laid out no promise of earthly provisions, but a sense of being a foreigner. Another man wanted to follow Jesus as soon as he would bury his dad. Jesus, however, said following Him had to be his first priority. When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. Following Jesus did not lead to a peaceful journey, but a life threatening storm. All this took place while Jesus was asleep. Fearing for their lives, they woke Him up thinking He did not care. Yet Jesus rebuked their lack of faith before He rebuked the wind and the sea. When following Jesus, we know it will not always be a smooth ride, but Jesus is in our boat, we can rely on His direction and He has authority over the storm.

Psalm 125 “Trust Yields Peace”

Mount Zion was not only a place of worship but a stronghold against the rule of wickedness. God grants to those who trust Him a peace and stability beyond anything this world can provide or even envision. Regardless of the advance of wickedness, it will have no lasting impact on those who Trust God. We pray for God’s good to rest on the good and the upright. While the crooked and workers of iniquity will face God’s wrath, there is peace for all who trust God.

July 19, 2016

Psalm 124 “Had It Not Been…”

“Had it not been the LORD who was on our side, Let Israel now say,…” (1) Attacks on David rose like a flood and he knew if God had not intervened on his behalf, he would have drowned in them. Though he was a king in Israel, David always maintained a humility and dependence on his Lord. He, therefore, persistently praises Him for the help essential to his life. When we realize that ‘had it not been’ for God, none of us would live in true victory, then we also will be a well of perpetual praise.

Matthew 8:14-17 “Foundation for Great Works”

The record of Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law is not very dramatic. Jesus noticed her sick in bed, touched her hand, the fever left and she rose to wait on Him. Yet by evening many demon-possessed were delivered by a simple word and He healed all who were ill. Why? Not for His self-promotion, but from a passion to fulfill God’s word regarding Him. Jesus foundational passion was to do the Father’s will and great works flowed out of this. If our motivations are likewise, we also can do great works which will not exalt self but honor God, His word, and His will.

July 18, 2016

Psalm 123

“To You I lift up my eyes, O You who are enthroned in the heavens! (1). As we face a variety of stressful situations, wise men turn their focus to God Who is above all. What should we do? Where should we go? How do we handle this? Like servants attentive to their masters, we look to God for every detail and directive. The humble posture of a servant enables the reception of directives from the One having superior knowledge and perspective. Here we seek God’s mercy to overcome the contempt of the world around us. Though we are immersed in the scoffing of the arrogant, God in His mercy will raise us up to a place of significance and impact on this world. Though we are not valued by this world, our impact is strengthened by our total dependence on God our creator, Savior and Lord.

Matthew 8:5-13 “Under Authority”

A Roman soldier approached Jesus due to a tormented servant in his house. Though he felt unworthy to have Jesus in his home, he understood the nature of his authority as coming from being “under authority.” He knew Jesus would have power in His word simply due to His being “under” His Father’s authority. As a result, Jesus honored his request and commended his great faith. Jesus’ power over disease flowed from His obedience/submission to God. May God grant us the wisdom to be “under” His authority for the power to serve others.

July 16, 2016

Psalm 122 “Peace for Assemble Worshipers”

David was excited about assembling with God’s people for the purpose of giving thanks because of who God is. Jerusalem represents the assembled worshipers of God in tight relationships. Here they receive encouragement, comfort and accountability in God’s presence. Here in worship God’s authorities are established. We pray for the peace of God’s church and prosperity for all who love her. This place is for our good and for a unique dwelling of God’s presence. May God’s peace be on His church!

Matthew 8:1-4 “Jesus Is Able & Willing”

After teaching, Jesus descended the mountain with large crowds following. A leper approached Him having faith He could heal him, but uncertain of His willingness to do so. Jesus said, “…I am willing; be cleansed.” (3b). Often our battle is not to believe Jesus heals, but to believe He is willing to heal us. At times this is due to awareness of our unworthiness. Yet healing is not based upon our worthiness, but upon the worthiness and work of Jesus Christ. After healing him, Jesus sent him to the priest to give the offerings commanded by the law as a testimony to them. Jesus sought the fulfillment of God’s word and the glory of God above all. We too, will see more miracles when we realize and embrace proper basis and motives for them.

July 15, 2016

Psalm 121 “My Help Comes From…”

From where do we receive help, the creation or the creator? Here the psalmist is resolute: “My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.” (2) Unfortunately many of us look to the created realm for help, but those who are wise understand truly beneficial help comes only from our Creator. He is more than capable and never sleeps on the job. He loves His people and protects them day and night from all evil. Our soul is safe and at rest knowing the Lord is with us every moment for the rest of our lives. In this world of turmoil we also say, “My help comes from the LORD,…!”

Matthew 7:24-29 “Information or Action?”

Life is full of storms and this story shows us two foundations on which believers build their lives to face them. Wise men both hear and act on God’s word, building on a rock [obedience]. Foolish men hear but do not act, building on sand [disobedience]. Everybody experiences the storms of life! Yet, only those who hear and obey will survive them. Some gather information, but those who survive take action based on the word of God they have received. Are we simply gathering information or are we taking action?

July 14, 2016

Matthew 7:13-23 “Beware!”

The exhortation to enter by the narrow gate leading to life rather than the wide leading to destruction, is followed by a warning against false prophets. Outwardly they look good, but inwardly are “ravenous wolves.” The telling factor is the fruit of their lives. Fruit is the outgrowth of our true inner nature. False prophets are not concerned for those they serve, but for their own selves. They promote themselves, their egos and what benefits them. They are good at religious language and activity, but are not aligned with God’s word. They promote religion, but do not embrace God’s rule in their lives. Let us avoid these influences and seek influences promoting God’s kingdom.

Psalm 120 “God Answers Our Cries!”

“In my trouble I cried to the LORD, And He answered me.” (1) The trouble experienced by the psalmist here is being attacked with lying lips and a deceitful tongue. I recently had a dream where such occurred and awoke in great emotional distress and pain. There is no retaliation suitable for those attacking with lies and deceit. Yet, we are “sojourning” [temporary living] among such people. Though we seek peace, we are surrounded by those who are for war. May we have the wisdom to turn to God who alone can adequately address and answer our cry!

July 13, 2016

Matthew 7:7-12

When we go to our heavenly Father asking, seeking and knocking, we will to receive, find and have open doors. If earthly fathers, flawed by sin, give good things to their children, how much more will our heavenly Father give us what is good when we ask Him. In fact, God knows better than we do what is best for us and will withhold no good thing. Since God is such a Father, we… “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (12).

Psalm 119:169-176 “God’s Word, Our GPS”

David asks God to hear his cry for understanding and deliverance according to His word. He desires to praise God for teaching him. His song rises in honor of His righteous commands seeking His help because he has chosen God’s ways. He longs for the Lord’s salvation because he has delighted in His law. Even though he has wandered like a lost sheep, he remembers God word and asks God to seek His servant. When we highly value God’s word, He will rescue us even though we have wandered from His ways. God’s word is our GPS in life’s journey. Without it, we are lost!

July 12, 2016

Matthew 7:1-6 “The Danger of Judging”

Nothing is more condemning of our lives then the judgment of others. When judging others, we are implying our superiority to them. Sometimes we do so to make ourselves feel better about ourselves. Jesus cautions us to focus on our own shortcomings which enables us to see better so we can truly help others. When judging, we do not help them but, in fact, we assert a hypocrisy regarding self which keeps us in bondage to a false perception. When our assessment of them is accurate, we waste time “venting” for it is like throwing pearls to pigs.

Psalm 119:161-168 “Stable Living!”

When under attack, we are not to retaliate or trash talk about our abusers. Why? Because we are in awe of God’s words and greatly rejoice in it as a priceless treasure despising falsehood. When so focused, we are able to stay in the place of persistent continual praise. Knowing and loving His word prevents us from stumbling for we are secure in our hope of God’s salvation as seen in His word. We live by faith in, and reverence for, His word!

July 11, 2016

Matthew 6:25-34 “Worry or Wait? Our Choice!”

One of the primary causes of anxiety is concern for material needs. Fear reflects a loss of faith in God as our Father and provider. Worry does not add life, but steals life. We are here commanded by Christ not to worry about earthly needs, “But to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (vs. 33). Worry causes us to take premature and wrongful actions, but faith allows us to walk in faith and wait for God’s provision. Worry keeps our perceptions in the sinful flesh realm, but faith elevates our focus to what is truly important!

Psalm 119:153-159 “Revive Me According to…”

At a time of great affliction, godly people seek the Lord because they have confidence in His word, principles and lovingkindness. No matter how “hard” it gets, we cling to His word. Three times David asks God to revive him and each time he reminds God of the love and value he places on His word. He concludes by saying, “The sum of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.” God’s word is often abused for selfish reasons because many avoid its totality and skew its meaning from its context. May we love His word in its totality!

July 9, 2016

Matthew 6:22-24 “Walking in Light”

The context of verses 22 is in the use of finances and wealth. “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.” (22). If our perception and focus [eye] are on heavenly concerns and not material needs, then we are seeing clearly in light. But, if our focus is on earthly needs and issues, we are in deep darkness blinding us from truth and reality. We cannot be devoted to two masters but must chose who we serve – God or wealth. Let us trust God and walk in full light!

Psalm 119:145-152 “God’s Word, Our Passion & Focus”

As David’s enemies draws near, he cries to the Lord declaring his allegiance to God’s word. He looks no where for help but to God. He rises early and looks forward to night so he can meditate on what God says. He asks God to hear him according to two things: 1) His lovingkindness [character] & 2) His word [promises]. While his enemies draw close, they are far from God’s word but he is close to it. Every command of God is truth and reliable! May we trust God and His word and not be distracted by any of the enemies approaches.

July 8, 2016

Matthew 6:19-21 “Where Is Our Treasure?”

We are commanded by Christ not to store up treasures on earth where they are subject to loss. We should store them in heaven where they are preserved for all eternity. But even more importantly we note, “…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” The condition of our heart is directly linked to where we place our treasures. By investing in heaven they are not only safe for our future, but we position our heart with an eternal perspective!

Psalm 119:137-144 “Delighting in God’s Word”

God is righteous and His judgements are without flaw. All His words flow from these realities in faithfulness. Our zeal should consume us lest we are distracted by those who disregard to God’s word. Because His word is pure, all true servants of God treasure it. We have a humble self-perception and, therefore, cling tenaciously to God’s precepts as truth. Though surrounded by trouble and anguish, we persist in delighting in God’s commands.

July 7, 2016

Matthew 6:16-18 “Rewarded by God or Men?”

Like prayer, fasting is not to be done to gain the attention of men. We do not put on distressed looks of agony to impress others with our spirituality. If we do, we have no reward with God! However, when we fast to suppress our flesh and to hear from God, He will reward us greatly. All spiritual disciplines are designed to enhance our relationship with God and not to enhance our reputation with men. God knows our hearts and our religious posturing before men does nothing to gain His favor. May God keep our motives pure as we seek Him.

Psalm 119:129-136 “The Wonder of the Word”

“Your testimonies are wonderful;…” (129a) What God speaks to us from His word is truly wonderful. We perceive a beauty in God’s word when our hearts are opened by it. This moves us to a hunger for obedience. It is like someone turns on a light and we suddenly see what we never saw before though it was already there. If we taste of God’s word, our hunger increases and we seek to please Him and not ourselves. We cry out for God to free us of all that oppresses us and seeks to disrupt us from a godly walk. We weep over those who are held in bondage and reject God’s law.

July 6, 2016

Matthew 6:14-15 “The Key of Forgiveness”

Now Jesus explains the importance of extending forgiveness of our transgressors. In forgiving others, we release God’s mercy on ourselves. However, withholding forgiveness, binds God from being able to release His mercy on us. We have received of God’s mercy and we show gratitude for this by extending mercy to others. We hold the KEY for the ongoing flow of God’s mercy in our lives.

Psalm 110:121-128 “Avoiding False Ways by God’s Word”

Doing ri