Archive for March, 2019

Where the Vultures Gather (Matthew 24)

March 29, 2019

28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. Matthew 24:28

They had to be the biggest vultures I had ever seen.  I am not exaggerating when I say, there were hundreds of these vultures in the tree-lines in the swamp behind our house.  We each knew there was something big that had died.  Our oldest son went to investigate.  A few minutes later he returned saying there was a large hog that was dead and the vultures were gathering for a feast.

As Jesus comes out of the temple for the last time(24:1) the disciples did not have the scene of vultures on their minds.  They had in mind that Jesus was going to establish His earthly kingdom.  There were several things they needed to get straight in their minds:

  • Jesus was going to the cross.

On no less than three occasions Jesus told His disciples, I am going to suffer, die, and be resurrected, Matthew 20:17-19.  Each time the disciples did not get it.

  • The disciples would face a corrupt world.

In verses 5-12 Jesus described the corrupt days they would live in and the same corrupt days you and I would live in.  They would face false teachers, constant wars between nations and hatred among its residence.  Families would be against each other and hatred and misery would increase.  This is our day as well.

  • Jesus would come again (His Second-Coming).

The Disciples thought He would establish His rule in their day, but for over 2000 years the corruption in the world has continued.  Jesus teaches us, Vs: 15-26, that there will be 7 years of heightened corruption (tribulation) before Jesus returns.  All will know when He comes, it will be as obvious as lighting traveling across the skies.

When he comes the vultures will gather to feast on the dead at the battle of Armageddon.  What a terrible picture this is, but what a sobering reminder of what the world is coming to.  But at the same time this is a gracious reminder of how good God has been to us.  Finally this is a warning signal for the church to be about the business of reaching people before the day of the vulture comes!!!

Brothers and sisters, I am ready because I have been to the cross!  Brothers and sisters, I am overcoming the corruption because I am abiding in Christ.  Brothers and sisters, I am prepared and waiting for the Kings arrival.

This is God’s Word to us on this Friday.

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Escaping Hell (Matthew 23

March 28, 2019

33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Matthew 23:33

Some people could read Matthew 23 and come away saying, this has to be the meanest writings in all of literature.  I understand this viewpoint.  When Jesus pronounces “woes” on the Scribes and Pharisees, He is pronouncing judgment upon them.

However, be assured this is not the words of a mean God, but of a merciful and just God. Jesus is pointing out the reasons why they would not escape hell (It is what will be just), but at the same time He was pointing out how they willingly and with malicious intent rejected Him as their Lord and Savior.

These leaders and their nation would not escape Hell!

Question: What do you know about Hell?

Here are three things I know about Hell:

  1.  Hell is a real place.

Never once did these religious leaders reject the reality of this place.  They even accused Jesus of being from hell.  Be assured the Bible over and over teaches us of the reality of hell, Check out Mark 9 for teachings regarding this place.

2. Hell will be the residence of all who reject Jesus.

Jesus is the only way to heaven (John 14:6).  He is the narrow way (Matthew 7:13-14). Be assured the one place our ever-present God will not be is in Hell.

3. Hell is at the end of the road  of a life lived apart from Jesus.

The religious leaders in Matthew 23 seemed to be living on the road of a good life.  They seemed to be traveling through life trying to reach others on the road, but they were really trying to win people to themselves and not to God.  Consider the following:

  • People deceive others through false teaching, Vs: 15.
  • People deceive themselves by creating false teachings, Vs: 3.
  • People are deceived by others who are empowered by Satan, Vs: 23-24.

In this moment I am almost inclined to agree with those who say, this is mean teaching.  But I now realize it is not true.  Notice how Jesus ends this teaching:

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38 See, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

These people had rejected Jesus who wanted to take them off the road to Hell and place them on the road to Heaven.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved,” Acts 16:31.  

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Romans 10:9-10

Brothers and sisters, through Jesus one escapes hell.

If you have not believed in Jesus, do it now!  If you have believed in Jesus live out His life now!!!

What are you wearing? (Matthew 22)

March 27, 2019

12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.  Matthew 22:12

I can still remember how my mother loved to make sure I was dressed properly before I would preach.  In those early days of ministry almost every preacher wore suits when they preached.  My mother wanted to make sure I was dressed in the best she and dad could offer.  I can still remember preaching in a little country church during the hot summer time.  The longer I preached the hotter it was getting.  I started to take my coat off just as my eyes caught my mother’s eyes.  I can still see her ever so slightly shaking her head from side to side.  I knew she did not want me to take off my coat.

In Matthew 22 Jesus gives a parable of a wedding feast.  The first part of the parable is directed to the Jewish people who had rejected Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  Jesus is reminding them of the Kingdom Life they had rejected and the Kingdom Life they would not experience because of their rejection.

The second part of the parable turns our attention to those Jesus now invites to the kingdom.  Notice they are described as “both bad and good.”  This suggests that all people on either side of the track of life need the Lord.

When a person receives Jesus as their Lord and Savior, he or she receives the righteousness of Christ.

filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Jesus illustrates this by a picture of a robe being placed on a person signifying who they
had become.
We see all the guests standing at the party.  But then we are called to look at the one who
came to the party without receiving a robe.  Suddenly we are shocked at how he is cast
out.
Did you get this.  He was cast out because He did not have the righteousness of Christ!!!
This is how we get to heaven, not by works of righteousness which we would do.
the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. 
I am sitting here with a lump in my throat because of the love of God for me. I am so
thankful for my mother and father who gave me their best so I could be robed in a suit
that said, God is worth my all.
I am even more thankful for a God who gave me His best so I could be robed in the righteousness of God!!!
As you walk in the world today, what will you be wearing?

Which Son Are You? (Matthew 21)

March 26, 2019

32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him. Matthew 21:32

Years ago when my dad’s mother passed away (my grandmother) I knew it would be a very large funeral.  My dad has 15 brothers and sisters.  At the funeral there were many people who came up to me and asked, which son are you?  The truth is, I look like my day and the older I get the more this is the case.  Each time I would share who’s son I was.

In Matthew 21 Jesus gave a parable in Vs: 28-32.  The story is an easy story to follow.  A father has two sons.  On the outside it seems as if the sons are different as day light and dark.  The first son is openly rebellious to his father.  His father gives him an assignment and he firmly refuses to do it.  The second son is secretly rebellious.  His father gives him an assignment and he firmly says, I will do it.  But then he goes off and thinks his father will not know that he did not do it.

The scene becomes even more intense when the first son, suddenly changes directions (repents) and does the will of his father.

Jesus parable struck a deep nerve to those who were like the second son.  They were also secretly rebellious.  We are reminded in this moment that God does not look at our outward appearance.  God looks at the heart.  God does not count what we say we are going to do as righteousness, He count’s what we do as either righteous or unrighteous.

So, here is our question:  Which son are you?

I can say for my life, I grew up like the second son.  I always went to church because my mother and then my father took me to church. I do not have the record of the first son. I never openly rebelled, but on the inside I was just as rebellious.  Just like the first son, I had to come to repentance.

As I write this, I am extremely afraid there are many church goers who are secretly just like the first son.  If this is you today, come clean before God.  Unless He has your heart He has none of you.

Isn’t it time that all of us have a tax-collector experience?  Remember Matthew.  Here was his story:

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

10 And as Jesus[b] reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Oh that all of us would have the story of repenting and following Him!!!

Better than I deserve (Matthew 20)

March 25, 2019

”And am I  not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?  Or do you begrudge my generosity?” Matthew 20:15

As I sit here reading God’s Word, I am blessed more than I deserve.  I am having a cup of coffee in a motel lobby waiting for the others to come down.  Across from me are many different types of people.  Occasionally I look up from my Bible to notice people.

There is a guy close to me who is cussing every other word it seems. He is laughing and cutting jokes (I guess).  Down from him is another man who is opening a briefcase (I didn’t know they still made them). He is quit and being kind to all walk by him.  Farther away is a father doing his best to feed the two little ones.

Each of these people and many more are blessed more than they realize.

As I consider all of this, it is out of the parable Jesus is giving here in Matthew 20 (The Labor in the vineyard). The vineyard belongs to God and He is the one selecting labors to work in his vineyard.  He selects some at the beginning of the day and others throughout the day.  Suddenly the day is over and even those who were lazy and came to work for only one hour received their wages.

The people who had been there all day were upset because they thought they deserved more.  We certainly see the picture of Israel who thought she deserved more than any other people group.

The point for us is clear.  God is a gracious God who gives each of us far more than we deserve!

The deep cut in me is clear:  God is far more gracious than I can comprehend.  He is a God who offers gracious mercy to all each day and then He offers salvation to all who ask.  So it is clear, the man who is cussing can be saved.  The man who is quite can be saved and the father with his children can be saved.

But wait, they cannot without an invitation.  Brothers and sisters, that is our job in the vineyard, so I need to stop blogging and start sowing!!!  I pray this will be your day as well.

Marriage, still a mystery? (Matthew 19)

March 22, 2019

He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.  Matthew 19:8

They sat there in my office (Many years ago) and would not look at each other.  She was done with the marriage, he had been done but now wanted to turn it around.  They were both filled with hate.  As I gently asked about their marriage, it was clear, they had no clue as to what a Godly marriage looked like.  To them, marriage was a mystery that was turning into a tragedy.

The above story could have been me and it may have been many who read this today.  The world has little clue if any about marriage.  To them it is a mystery.

In Matthew 19, it seems as if the Pharisees come with a genuine question about marriage, but they are as usual baiting a trap for Jesus.  I thank God for the bait because we get Jesus answer.  What was the bait?  It was this question:  “Is it ok to divorce for any reason?”

I have been asked this question so many times.  Let me word it a different way: what are the proper grounds for divorce?  To such people, they still see marriage as a mystery.  To those who understand the mystery of marriage, they know the following:

  • Marriage is a calling from God.  He ordained marriage, not for everyone, but for most.
  • Marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman who make a covenant with God for lifetime.
  • Marriage requires a commitment to loving God and loving each other.
  • Marriage requires daily work in forgiving, releasing, and growing in the Lord.
  • Marriage must have short lists of wrongs.  Each day both parties need to end the day free and clean in the heart.
  • Marriage is a warfare with sin, self, and the Devil.  These are our enemies, not our spouses.

When we forget these things, our marriages become a place where the Devil drives a wedge in our hearts that splits one life (true marriage) into two separate lives under one roof.  It will be the hardness of heart that leads to divorce.

I remember how the couple I mentioned before both felt it was over for them.  But they both were willing to obey God.  Over the next six months, I watched as God turned their tragedy into triumph for one reason.  Both of them fell in love with Jesus which lead to them falling in love with each other.

Loving Jesus always leads to loving others!!!

Causing Others to Sin (Matthew 18)

March 21, 2019

“Woe to the world for temptations to sin![b] For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! Matthew 18:7

It was not the co-workers intention for the co-worker to get hurt.  In his mind he thought, I will come back and put up this chain barrier in a few minutes, surely no one will come into my area.  But as soon as he went for the sandwich another co-worker came by carrying a heavy box through his area.  The co-worker did not see the edge because the barrier was not up.  Suddenly he realized it, but it was too late.  He fell 60 feet and almost lost his life.  To this day the co-worker has been unable to go back to work.

Was the co-worker intending for his friend to be hurt?  The answer is absolutely no!  But still yet the co-worker was responsible for being negligent in his duties.

Question:  Are you and I ever negligent in our duties?

In Matthew 18 Jesus is asked a question by those who were on duty (His disciples).  They wanted to know who would be the greatest (rewarded the most) in heaven.  Jesus response humbles these men.

Jesus placed a child before them as His illustration for greatness.  Those who want to be rewarded in heaven must have a child-like dependence on God knowing their place in heaven only comes to them through Jesus Christ.

Next, Jesus gives  a strong warning about being negligent in our duties as believers.  God has called each of us into a life of holiness.  When we walk in holiness we are a billboard for Jesus.  When we allow sin to control us we are now a billboard against Jesus.

Jesus teaches of the severity of judgment for such a life:

  • For the Christian there will be severe loss of rewards in heaven, I Corinthians 3:11-16.
  • For the non-Christian there will be severe judgment in hell, Matthew 13:41-44.

Christians are to be people who do not give people reasons to sin.  We are to be a people who rescue sinners.

Here are 3 takeaways for today:

  1. Take seriously all you say, think, and do.
  2. Take seriously your responsibility to go after those who are going astray.
  3. Take seriously the call to disciple others.

Planted in the correct place (Matthew 17)

March 20, 2019

 20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

Yes, it is true, I admit it, I love to plant seeds and watch them grow.  This past spring and summer Sherry and I had a very small garden.  One of the seeds I planted was corn.  Corn is my favorite vegetable to grow.  I planted enough seed for a small crop.  The seed quickly came to life (God’s Work Alone).  The tiny stalks came up through the dirt and began to grow.  As they grew it became clear, the soil was not very good.  I tried different things to strengthen the soil, but by mid summer it was clear, the corn would not bear fruit.

As Jesus continued to grow His disciples in Matthew 17, we find a deep water moment on the Mount of Transfiguration.  However, there were 9 disciples who were in the trenches back down the mountain.  They were planting seeds in prayer that did not work.

But when Jesus came back down the mountain, He said, “Bring the boy to me.”  We know the scene well.  Jesus cast out the demon.  Suddenly the boy was healed.

The nine disciples were confused.  They had prayed as well, but why could they not cast out the demon?  Jesus answer, “You planted in the wrong soil.”  What was this wrong soil?  The disciples planted in the soil of self-belief called pride!!!

R.C. Sproul comments on this truth: “A tiny grain of true faith, rooted in submission to God is effective.”

These men did not plant their faith in God’s ability.  They were planting their faith in their ability which is never the same.  You and I need to plant our prayers deep in the soil of faith in Jesus.  We need to pray seeking God’s plans and His glory.  Such prayers will yield mountain moving success.

If you seem to be wasting your time in prayer, adjust the place and the purpose for your prayers.  Take time to cry out, “Thy will be done in my time of prayer.”  Suddenly the soil is different.  You are now planting in the garden of heaven where the real fruit comes from.

I look forward to seeing you in the garden of submissive prayer!!!

 

The Correct Answer (Matthew 16)

March 19, 2019

17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.  Matthew 16:17

I can still remember the conversation our algebra one teacher had with our class about half-way through the semester. Here is what he said, Some in this class-room have figured out how to get the correct answer for each problem, but you have not been following the correct path to get the answer.   I can still remember the conviction I had because I was in that group.  He went on to say, unless you figure out the correct path you will eventually fail this class because at some-point the answers will be beyond your ability to figure out apart from the correct path to the answer.

By the time of Matthew 16 it is pretty clear, there is a great divide among the those who followed Jesus ministry.  The Pharisees were following along the road with Jesus.  They were seeking to prove He was not who He said He was.  All along the way they kept saying, if you prove you are God we will believe you.  But sign after sign did not convince them.  Finally Jesus says, “no more signs will be given you except the sign of Jonah (referring to Jesus death and His three days in the grave).  For these leaders, the correct answer was not in their ability to understand.

But what about the Disciples?  When Jesus asks them, “Who do you say that I am?”  Peter spoke for the group, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

Brothers and sisters, Peter got it right.  But I must ask, how did he arrive at the answer?

Jesus tells us in the very next verse:

17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 

Brothers and sisters, I praise the Father in heaven for revealing to Peter and to all who profess Jesus as Lord and Savior, the truth of who Jesus is.

Brothers and sisters, I praise the Father in heaven for making this truth real to us through the Holy Spirit.

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God, I Corinthians 2:10

 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. I Corinthians 12:3

Question: How did you arrive at the correct answer concerning Jesus?

Did someone tell you or did you figure it out on your own?  I am thankful for a mother, who led by the Spirit told me about Jesus day after day until the Holy Spirit promoted by the Father in Heaven opened my mind to the truth.  This day I have the correct answer because I walked the correct path given to me by God.  No one ever figures it out on their own!

If you have walked the correct path, should you not desire to lead others to walk this path.  Let me challenge you to be bold today in sharing your faith with others.  It is as simple as telling others about the correct path Jesus walked you down!!!

And by the way, I did learn the correct path in Algebra class. I passed!!!

It’s Already There (Matthew 15)

March 18, 2019

19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.  Matthew 19:15

Sometimes I forget what I am capable of doing apart from Jesus.  Jesus gave us a list of what we are capable of in Vs: 19.  I sometimes forget this when I read stories of other people’s failures. Just this past week I read about college coaches who paid for players to come to their school.  I read about pastors who fell in immoral acts.  In these moments I was reminded of how I have within me the same capabilities.

In Matthew 15 we see the Pharisees who are elevating tradition above truth.  Again, I must realize I am also capable of the same sins as they.

Brothers and sisters, pay close attention to Jesus teaching:

  • The Pharisees hearts were far away from God.
  • The Pharisees had not been planted in the Kingdom by God.  They were lost and headed to eternal judgment.

However, this does not have to be our lives.  The Lord Jesus offers each of us a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26).  The Lord Jesus plants the seed of the Holy Spirit within us making us new creations in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17).

Just as my old heart and old life are already in me, so also is a new heart and a new life given to me by God.  Now it is my task to daily decide how I will live.

Have you received a new life with a new heart?  If not, confess the sins of your old heart and old life and seek the forgiveness of the Lord (I John 1:9). Call out in submission to Him (Lord I surrender my life to you).

If you have confessed your sins, I must ask, are you living out the new life with your new heart directing your path?  If so, keep walking in newness of life, (Romans 6:4).  But if not, it’s time too repent and come back to newness of life.

Colossians 3:10 

10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.