“And Pharisees came to Him and put Him to the test by asking, Is it lawful and right to dismiss and repudiate and divorce one’s wife for any and every cause? He replied, Have you never read that He Who made them from the beginning made them male and female,” Matthew 19:3-4 ->me: When I was reading this passage the other day it struck me what Jesus said here – “Have you never read…?”. The Pharisees were probably some of the most Bible-Read people on the planet during Jesus time. What the Pharisees had done was conformed the scripture to their purposes rather than God’s true intention. This goes to the pride of these very religious men. The Pharisees were known for dictating law through the interpreted word of God toward their own edification. I know churches right here in our surrounding area who have spun God’s word in such a way that they claim supports a social issue or cultural shift. This is so very dangerous…and I have no hill to stand on. I can think of various passages where I ‘chose’ to take a certain viewpoint because the spirit of the passage felt unfair…well, this is me being no different that these Pharisees. It is easy to sit back and see Jesus smack down these religious leaders but I better take a step back and make sure the Lord isn’t trying to point to something in His word that I am trying to massage into something more comfortable and fitting to the culture and society I live in.
“And He will establish you to the end [keep you steadfast, give you strength, and guarantee your vindication; He will be your warrant against all accusation or indictment so that you will be] guiltless and irreproachable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah). God is faithful (reliable, trustworthy, and therefore ever true to His promise, and He can be depended on); by Him you were called into companionship and participation with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:8-9 ->me: These verses are so powerful! Last week in our Young Marrieds Life Group, we started a study of 1 Corinthians. This week was spent on the first 9 verses of chapter 1. The amount of theology and significance in the words of Paul and the heart of God is amazing. Just in these first verses, Paul sets the stage for the entire epistle but these 2 verses are just so influential right now. Notice how there are no conditions – God WILL keep us to the end and there, when Jesus returns, we will be without reproach and guiltless! Do I represent in deed, action, and living what I receive in grace? It isn’t just that God is faithful…oh no, He has also called us into fellowship with His only Son…the same one who paid the price for my guiltless, blameless, and shameless status when He returns. I am NOT without sin, no, but I am without the penalty for that sin. Will I be able to look at the face of my returning Savior representing the guiltless life He bought for me?..or will He find me embroiled in a striving for earthly greatness and self-worth?
“And Pharisees came to Him and put Him to the test by asking, Is it lawful and right to dismiss and repudiate and divorce one’s wife for any and every cause? He replied, Have you never read that He Who made them from the beginning made them male and female,” Matthew 19:3-4 ->me: When I was reading this passage the other day it struck me what Jesus said here – “Have you never read…?”. The Pharisees were probably some of the most Bible-Read people on the planet during Jesus time. What the Pharisees had done was conformed the scripture to their purposes rather than God’s true intention. This goes to the pride of these very religious men. The Pharisees were known for dictating law through the interpreted word of God toward their own edification. I know churches right here in our surrounding area who have spun God’s word in such a way that they claim supports a social issue or cultural shift. This is so very dangerous…and I have no hill to stand on. I can think of various passages where I ‘chose’ to take a certain viewpoint because the spirit of the passage felt unfair…well, this is me being no different that these Pharisees. It is easy to sit back and see Jesus smack down these religious leaders but I better take a step back and make sure the Lord isn’t trying to point something in His word that I am trying to massage into something more comfortable and fitting to the culture and society I live in.
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” Matthew 18:35 ->me: Today I finished up the parable of the servant who did not show mercy after receiving mercy himself. The first servant (who received mercy from the master in a cancelation of his enormous debt) sought out someone who owed him and then showed zero mercy and even locking the fellow servant away until the debt was paid. 10,000 Talents is what the first servant had owed and received a cancelation of that debt. 10,000 Talents is roughly $7.5 Billion in today’s dollars (a person who could pay that amount of debt back would be number 101 in the Forbes list of wealthiest people). This servant WENT OUT and FOUND a fellow servant who owed him 100 denarii (Roughly $32,000 which is 1/225,000 of the debt that was canceled by the master) and proceeded to choke him! He had no mercy when the fellow servant pleaded for patience and time to pay him back; and had him thrown into jail. The other servants who witnessed this were super rattled and told the master what this servant had done. The master was furious and threw him into jail until he was able to pay his $7.5 billion dollar debt back. So, how is this me in my daily walk? What are the ways in which I act that would bring about this kind of wrath from my Master? Simple -> any time I fail to forgive a brother or sister in Christ when they have wronged me. I think this can simply happen in my mind; it is a condition of the heart that Jesus is calling out here. The other servants saw the audacity of what he had done, but he didn’t see it. He was consumed with the application of power over another…so much that he was blinded by it…the evil had consumed him. I think this a place I can get when I feel justified in my execution of justice…but justice is not mine to apply, it is the Lord’s I serve. This love of others through understanding what Jesus has done for me is super convicting.
“And now there remain: faith [abiding trust in God and His promises], hope [confident expectation of eternal salvation], love [unselfish love for others growing out of God’s love for me], these three [the choicest graces]; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 ->me: Today was my time finishing up my week one of the 1 Corinthians study we are starting in our Life Group. It was an overview section in which you read the entire book and then allow God to reveal to you what He weaves together in your theology just from a quick contextual read through. For me, this verse has weight. Multiple times Paul stresses how much more important unselfish love is than even other spiritual gifts. Transparently, this is also an area that I need to ask God to work on in my life. According to Paul I need to be ready to suffer with the sufferings of many in order to win a few for the Kingdom. This is love – a reckless approach to serving others where the earthly return on investment is small but the heavenly return is huge. This is also where faith and hope come in. I will be ready to serve with this type of love when I have the faith and hope in what is to come…I will realize that this time under the sun is an opportunity to tear down the greatness I might have here on earth in order to win glory for God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven. I have to ask myself – “Am I ready to seize the greatest of these choicest graces? Am I ready to sacrifice more earthly gain for the winning of souls to heaven?”
I find myself being cynical about God’s willingness or desire to intercede in the craziness that is my life sometimes. I don’t doubt Gods power, but I am guilty of being self sufficient enough to think that I know better than God. It takes a daily focus to lean on Him and His sovereignty in everything my life has thrown at it. God grant me the strength to stay firm in You.
“Be merciful (responsive, compassionate, tender) just as your [heavenly] Father is merciful.” Luke 6:36 ->me: Today my reading was in Matthew 18:21-27 where Jesus is telling Peter the parable of the master who canceled the huge debt owed by his servant. The rest of the story is tomorrow but in this passage, the unforgettable commentary stood out for Luke 6:36. Peter starts out by asking Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother who has sinned against him? “Seven times?” he asks? Then Jesus says, “No, not seven times, but seventy seven times.” and then progresses to tell the parable. Here are the interesting tidbits: 1) Jesus starts the parable by saying “The kingdom in heaven is like a king…”. The moral of Jesus’ parables is to give a glimpse into the economy of justice in the Kingdom of God. 2) The servant owed the King 10,000 Talents. A talent is the highest denomination in Greek currency, and 10,000 was highest Greek numeral, so the point wasn’t that the servant owed the King something, it was that he owed him an ungodly amount of money. 3) The price of our sin, before confessed and repented, can have a profound impact on our family. To reclaim the debt, the king was ready to take the servants wife and children. 4) The king had mercy for the servant with a repentant heart. The servant fell to his knees asking for patience and promised to payback the amount owed. The King was not only merciful but in his wisdom he could see that the servant could never pay him back the amount owed. I am no different – God, through His Son, canceled my debt and placed it upon Jesus. That debt was so overwhelming that there would have been nothing I could have ever done to pay it back. Jesus call on me to be merciful just as my Heavenly Father is merciful. The context here is life changing.
“For WHEREVER two or three are gathered (drawn together as My Followers – in fellowship with Me) in My name, there I AM in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20 ->me: Today my reading was in Matthew 18:15-20 where Jesus is telling the disciples how to approach a way ward brother or sister who has sinned against them. The primary message here is the steps to take to bring the person into confession and repentance; healing of the relationship with the one sinned against is not the main focus. The approach is a slow escalation with each step having the goal of reconciling the way ward brother or sister to Christ, in right relationship with Him. Even though many churches use this passage as a way to articulate how to execute church discipline, the primary focus of the effort is driven by the disciple who was sinned against. Ultimately the disciple is the one who will resort to treating that person as an unbeliever (a tax collector or pagan). Then finally, there are verses 18, 19, and 20 which talk about the prayerful decision given to two or three who are in fellowship with the Lord Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit. What is bound by them in prayer in heaven is also bound on earth, and whatever they prayer for in agreement will be given by the Father. Then we come to my quiet time verse today -> when two or more Christians (in close fellowship with the Lord and drawn by Him) come together in the name of Jesus, He is there with them! Just dwell on that for a moment…
“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray and gets lost, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountain and go in search of the one that is lost? And if it should be that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not get lost. Just so it is not the will of My Father Who is in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost and perish.” Matthew 18:12-14 ->me: When I read this passage, I see both a comfort and a warning. It brings notes of the sentiment in the parable of the prodigal son. Just like in the prodigal son, there is more joy over the one who was saved and returned to the fold than the one who never left and got lost. But at the same time, Jesus is saying that it is not the will of the Father that anyone would get lost and perish in the first place. The shepherd leaving the 99 to find the one, shows the lengths the Lord will go to in order to get us back into the flock. It causes me pause to know that, as a man of God and a spiritually mature head of my household, I must be on the lookout for lost sheep. Sometimes it will require sacrifice (leaving the 99) to retrieve that sheep. Am I staying vigilant in looking for sheep that are missing in my life and if yes, am I doing something about it?
“Beware that you do not despise or feel scornful toward or think little of one of these little ones, for I tell you that in heaven their angels always are in the presence of and look upon the face of My Father Who is in heaven.” Matthew 18:10 ->me: Yesterday Brooklyn turned 1 week old. The addition of her to our family, even if it is temporary, has been an adjustment for everyone. After church the Lord laid it on my heart to circle the proverbial family wagons and discuss our situation (Marianne, Bella, Sophie, and I – Prim and Brooklyn were napping). We all went out to the backyard firepit, we started off in prayer, and then I shared. Two important things came out of this time together – 1) Marianne and I had the opportunity to talk to Bella and Sophie about taking a step in their faith by talking to God and asking for ears to hear His voice. 2) All together, we took a step back to admit that our lives are thrown up in the air a bit and we will all lose and gain things as we walk this road. It is so important for all of us to maintain perspective by taking in all that the Lord is doing through this amazing moment in the life of our family. It is just like God to give me this verse today, to help me remember that my girls, at their young age, have angels in heaven that have a direct presence with the person and face of God the Father…that is just a little humbling.