January 25, 2022

Faith or security?

As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him. Matthew 9:9

Matthew was a tax collector, a position despised by his fellow countrymen.  He probably never imagined that Jesus would select him to be part of His ministry.  Many of His other disciples had followed John the Baptist, so when John announced that Jesus was the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world, some of John’s followers immediately left him and began to walk with Jesus.  They had John’s word that this was the Messiah and the assurance that it was right to move from the forerunner’s ministry to the coming One’s.  Matthew didn’t have that announcement to attach his faith to.

In today’s scripture we read that Jesus passed by Matthew at work one day and told him to “Follow Him.”  What great faith it took for Matthew to immediately get up, leave his job to joined Jesus’ mission that day.  How many of us would have been that bold?  Think about what Matthew was doing.  He walked out on a job that had made him rich beyond most of the Hebrew people.  He had financial security and always had food, clothing and shelter.  He was set up for life.

Today, if Jesus were walking the earth, how you and I would respond to His call.  Would we be willing to walk off a job?  Would we be willing to give up our home and possessions?  Would we even be willing to stop scrolling, set down our devises or walk away from our favorite binge series?  It’s safe to say it would be hard, even impossible for some people.  The reason is faith. 

Do we have faith, or do we need security?  Yes, I know most Christian depend on God to put them in a place where they have a steady paycheck and job security.  This is so they are not wondering where their next meal is coming from or how to pay the bills.  Certainly, there is nothing wrong with that. God blesses His people and provides positions of employment for His children.  However, the reason is not so that we can sit back and take our ease.  Our place of employment is our mission field.  When we step into a job that we have prayed and ask our heavenly Father to give, He opens up the way for us to have a ministry for Him there.  We are being called to “Follow Him” in that place.  So the next time you have the opportunity to encourage a fellow worker, invite someone to church or share the love of God with, don’t pass it up.  Walk out the mission Jesus has called you to, right where you are.  Then when He says “Follow Me” to the next place, you will be ready to walk away from that secure position and on to the next by faith.

Today I want to encourage you to first of all surrender all to Jesus.  Tell Him you are willing to follow Him.  Second, spend time with Him growing your relationship and your faith.  Set aside some of the distractions that consume all your “free” time and make His agenda be your priority.  Lastly, begin your mission where you are today.  You do not have to go to a foreign nation to minister, you can do it in your everyday walk starting now.  Decide today that you are going to follow Him no matter what the cost is.

Today’s scripture reading: Matthew 9:1-13

1 So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city. 

2 Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”

3 And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!”

4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 

5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? 

6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 

7 And he arose and departed to his house.

8 Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.

9 As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him.

10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 

11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 

13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

January 24, 2022

Even the demons believe

And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”  Matthew 8:29

In chapter 7 of Matthew Jesus told some “believers” that did works in His name to depart from Him and that He never knew them (see vs 23).  In the passage today, there are two demon possessed men that run to Jesus and the demons begin a conversation with Him.  They asked if He came to torment them before it was the appointed time.  This only happened after they acknowledged that He was the Son of God.  They never questioned who He was and they didn’t even wonder about it.  They knew who He was the moment He got out of the boat.

In James 2:19 the scripture says that the demons believe there is one God and they are afraid of Him, but that does not give them a saving relationship with Him.  No matter how much you believe and even talk about God or do great things in His name, that will not save you from the punishment of sin.  You must enter into a personal relationship with God, and walk with Him day to day through the blood and sacrifice of Jesus to cleanse you from the sin of this world.

It is frightening to me how many people believe in God and even try to please Him by being a good person.  And don’t get me wrong, your actions are important in this world, but the only action that can save you from an eternity of separation from God is inviting Jesus to come into your life to be your personal Savior. He is the only one that can open the door for you to have a relationship with God the Father.

God isn’t hard to access.  If fact He made it as easy for us as He possibly could.  He said:  Anyone who opens the door and invites Him in, He will come in and live there with them (Rev. 3:20).  He will walk through the storms and trials of life with you and He will be a personal guide to all who enter into that relationship with Him.

Today I want to encourage you to invite Jesus into your life if you have never done that before.  Enter into that personal relationship with God the Father through His provision of Jesus blood.  Then spend time with Him each day to grow that relationship and press into the love and direction He has for your life.  Pray this prayer today and start your new life with Him as your guide:

God in heaven, I know I’m a sinner and I need a Savior.  I want to turn away from my sinful life to the life You have planned for me.  Please forgive my sins, cleanse me from my past, and make me new.  I know Your Son, Jesus died for me.  I believe in my heart that You raised Him from the dead.  At this very moment, I accept, confess, and proclaim Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior . . . to be Lord of my life from this day forward.  I now have a right relationship with God my Father through this salvation in Jesus. I thank You for giving me Your Holy Spirit to guide and empower me to do the things that You have planned for my life in Jesus’ name, Amen

Today’s scripture reading: Matthew 8:28-34

28 When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way. 

29 And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”

30 Now a good way off from them there was a herd of many swine feeding. 

31 So the demons begged Him, saying, “If You cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine.”

32 And He said to them, “Go.” So when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine. And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water.

33 Then those who kept them fled; and they went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 

34 And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region.

January 23, 2022

No Retreat

And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”  Matthew 8:20

I have always heard it said about this passage that Jesus was telling the scribe that He was homeless, or He didn’t have a place to sleep.  That may or may not be true, I don’t know.  However, it doesn’t mean that it is wrong if you do have a home.  It doesn’t mean that you have to be homeless to be a disciple.

What Jesus was telling the man was a little deeper than that.  Jesus wanted him to consider the lifestyle that was lived as a disciple or one who stayed with Jesus all the time.  It was constant.  This wasn’t a time for retreat or for relaxation, it was full time ministry.  Jesus knew that he was here in the world for a short time and pressed hard to ensure that He completed His mission down to the last detail.  He never said to His disciples, “Tomorrow, I’m taking the day off to go be by myself for a while.”  He did get up early to spend quiet time with God before the day started, but that was by far anything like a vacation.

Jesus said: “Even animals have a place of rest and retreat, but there is no time in this ministry for your own agenda.”  In the very next section of this chapter, Jesus is on a boat laying His head down to sleep. So, we know that He took time to give His body rest.  What He didn’t do is take time to go off on His own to pursue His dreams and aspirations.  We know this because His focus was the cross and the mission He came to earth for.  But He didn’t dream about that day. In fact, right before it was time for Him to be crucified, He pleaded with His Father to come up with another plan to provide redemption for people.

How does this apply to us today?  What message is Jesus sending to His disciples of that day and this one?  Certainly, He doesn’t expect us all to sell all our belongings and walk around homeless, reaching out to people?  What He does expect is that we are on His mission.  We are here in the world on assignment, and that is what our day-to-day focus should be.  God’s plan is not for His children to live this life the way someone without Him does.  He never planned that we would settle down, have 2.5 children, work a job for 40 years and then retire to travel the world on vacation at the end.  His plan is for us to reach this lost and dying world every day, wherever we are.  Just as Jesus was on mission right where He was by teaching the crowds, training His followers and ministering to the broken ones, that is what He expects us to do.

Today I want to encourage you to stop walking around people and ignoring those who clearly need a Savior.  Make it a priority to notice who is around you each day and what they are going through.  Don’t look at others and judge if they are worthy of your attention or love.  Make all people that you come into contact with feel the love of God in your presence.  Then be ready to share His love when the opportunity presents itself.  Decide today to get off of your agenda and mission and walk out the assignments you were designed to complete before your time here runs out.  Seek His direction each morning before you go out into your day and then check inward often to make sure you don’t miss any detail of what you are here to do.

Today’s scripture reading: Matthew 8:18-27

18 And when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side. 

19 Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.”

20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

21 Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”

22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

23 Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. 

24 And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. 

25 Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”

26 But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 

27 So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”

January 22, 2022

Don’t settle

That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.” Matthew 8:17

Chapter 8 of Matthew continues with Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law and then healing and casting demons out of people.  In fact, He did these things and many other wonders all through His ministry.  In all the gospels, Jesus only turned one person away, and it was because she was not an Israelite, but then He ended up healing her daughter anyway when she pressed Him. (see Matthew 15)  My point is that Jesus healed all people that came to Him.  He didn’t tell anyone that their sickness was to teach them something or that He didn’t have time for them.  Not at all.  The key verse today said that He fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah that said He came to take sickness and infirmities for people, so we don’t have to bear them ourselves.

The very next verse in the Isaiah prophecy says: But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.   Yes, it is true that Jesus paid the penalty for our sin on the cross, but He also took sickness, disease, infirmities and sorrows there too.  Everything that sin brought into the world, Jesus suffered and died to eliminate.  He also provided peace for us. Even death has no sting now, for those who live in His salvation. (1 Corinthians 15)

Jesus’ payment on the cross not only brought us into a right relationship with our Heavenly Father, that payment also made provision for every suffering here in this world.  Jesus suffered, died, was buried, rose up from the dead and resurrected into Heaven, to restore those who would receive His sacrifice back to God’s original intent for people.  Oh, I know we will never live in paradise in this world.  The curse of sin is so heavy that the scripture says all creation is groaning under the pains of it. (Romans 8)

This is what makes us as God’s children different than the people lost in sin.  We are not subject to the effects of sin in this world because Jesus redeemed (bought us back) us from the curse of it.  In the same way that you ask Jesus to come into your life and save you then believed by faith that He did when you invited Him, is the same way you receive your healing and deliverance.  By coming to Him and asking.  John 6:37 says that everything that God gave to Jesus we can have by coming to Him. When you go to Jesus, He will in no way cast you off or turn you away.

Today I want to encourage you to walk in your salvation, Yes!  But also walk in the wholeness that Jesus died to get back for you.  Oh, there will be days when you don’t feel so well, but when they come, quickly receive your healing by asking Him for it.  Then remember to be thankful when you ask (not when you see it) only then your wholeness will show up.  Don’t settle for part of your salvation, receive all the Jesus died to get for you.

Today’s scripture reading: Matthew 8:14-17

14 Now when Jesus had come into Peter’s house, He saw his wife’s mother lying sick with a fever. 

15 So He touched her hand, and the fever left her. And she arose and served them.

16When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, 

17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.”

January 21:2022

Marvelous Faith

“The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant will be healed.”  Matthew 8:8

Have you ever thought about having great faith?  How about marvelous faith?  What about having faith so big that it makes Jesus marvel?  That is some great faith.  There are only to places in the gospels that Jesus marveled at someone’s faith.  Today’s passage is one of them. 

The centurion asked Jesus to speak the word and His will over the centurion’s servant.  He had heard about Jesus’ ministry and how many people had been healed when Jesus spoke “the Word”.  He knew that Jesus’ words had power and were able to change circumstances.  He was prepared to set himself in agreement with Jesus’ words even to the point of carrying that word back without Jesus being present with his sick servant.  He understood from his own position as a centurion how authority worked and perceived it to be the same in the spirit world.  He said to Jesus, You are the one with the power, so speak the Word of God over this situation (command) and I will carry that message back to be activated.  He so believed this that Jesus marveled at His faith.  Jesus basically said, “I have never seen anything like this before.”

I consider how many times we speak exactly what we see over our circumstances instead of getting in agreement with what God says about the situation in His Word!  He has given us the authority to speak His words and promised that they will have the same effect when we speak and believe them. In getting a scripture or hearing a “Word” in your heart from the Holy Spirit about the situation, God is giving you the words to speak.  Don’t negate that word by speaking what you see and feel in the natural.  Change what you are seeing now by “speaking the Word of God, only.”  Then carry that word to the problem every time you speak about the situation to any one or even think about it. Thank God that the scripture and “word” He has given you, is at work and turning everything around for His glory.  The centurion even said to Jesus: “Speak the word, only”

This is so important!  You cannot speak God’s Word one day and then the trouble the next day.  Just believe what God says and keep speaking His promise.  Even when Jesus heard the man say this, the scripture says He marveled.  He said he hadn’t seen such a great faith.  Marvelous faith!  Matthew 8:10 says, “When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”  Whatever you do, keep speaking God’s Word on the problem and only God’s Word.  Jesus ended His conversation in this passage by telling the centurion what he believed would be done for him (vs. 13) Wow! That is powerful. He put the healing power of God in the man’s ability to believe it!

Today I want to encourage you to walk in marvelous faith by speaking the Word only.  Make the decision, even before trouble comes, that you are going to speak God’s Words over any and every problem or stress life throws your way.  You may not have a choice in what comes your way, but you do have a choice in what you say. Release the power of God’s Word by saying and believing it over every area of your life.

Today’s scripture reading:  Matthew 8:5-13

5 Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, 

6 saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.”

7 And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”

8 The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. 

9 For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.

10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! 

11 And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 

12 But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 

13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.

January 20, 2022

Compassion

Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.  Matthew 8:3

Compassion.  Something I have always struggled with.  I tend to be preoccupied with me, my stuff, my things, and my issues.  It is like wearing blinders because as I go through my daily life, sometimes I don’t even notice the struggles others are going through around me.  I have considered this and purposefully plan to be intentionally more aware of others that are hurting around me.  Recently, I came across an individual holding a sign that said, “homeless and hungry”.  I asked the LORD (in my heart) if this is a place I should be giving into. (I have a tendency to be skeptical and sometimes see these occasions as a scam or even self-inflicted problems that many bring on themselves). I felt like God’s Spirit prompted me to give so in obedience I did.  Generally, I like to give with a scripture or word to encourage, but this time the giving was for me.  I could say nothing because the instant that he took the money from me, compassion hit my heart.  I was overwhelmed with the pain and suffering of this hurting individual.  No matter if self-inflicted or if there was a scam in his heart, he was lost and in a trap, deceived and didn’t even know it.  Like all of us once were, he was lost and alone, far from God.  No matter what the intention of his heart was at that moment, he was still loved by God.  So loved that God sent His very own precious Son to die for this person and pay the penalty for all his sin.

Today’s scripture is about Jesus and the compassion He had for a leper.  His compassion produced healing in this man because healing was his immediate need.  However, like those we often come across today, this man not only needed healing, he needed a Savior, too.  By giving to those in need, we may be helping with an immediate need, but if we give purposefully and with the message of love and salvation, we can also be pointing them toward the salvation they so greatly need.

Today I want to encourage you to intentionally become more compassionate.  Ask the LORD to make you more aware of the hurting and lost ones around you.   Purpose ahead of time a gift amount and words of encouragement.  Lastly, ask the LORD to lead you to those who are ready to receive His love and be ready to be obedient when He shows you who to reach out to.  You can be the one who changes someone’s eternity.

Today’s scripture reading:  Matthew 8:1-4

1 When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. 

2 And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”

3 Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

4 And Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

January 19, 2022

Build on the Rock

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:”  Matthew 7:24

Before you can build any structure, you must have a foundation.  The foundation is what holds the building in place and keeps it secure.  If the foundation is weak and unstable, a house will not be safe.  It is only at strong as its foundation.  The ground is also a factor.  It built on a hill side, the understructure will become threatened and even crack when the earth shifts.  The dangers go far beyond a cracked wall in the basement, the safety of home and life is at risk.

In today’s scripture, Jesus says that His teachings are the rock/foundation that a wise person will build their life on.  Since this is at the end of a 3 chapter sermon, it is safe to use the previous chapters as that base. Below is a brief list of some of the highlights.

  • Poor in spirit
  • Meek
  • Thirst for righteousness
  • Merciful
  • Pure in heart
  • Peacemaker
  • Salt of the earth
  • Light of the world
  • Keep Gods commands
  • Do not be angry without a cause
  • Cast sin from your life
  • Do not swear falsely
  • Go the extra mile
  • Love your enemies
  • Bless those who curse you
  • Pray for the ones who use you
  • Do charitable deeds in secret
  • Pray
  • Fast in secret
  • Lay up treasure in heaven
  • Serve God, not Mammon
  • Do not worry
  • Seek first the Kingdom of God
  • Do not judge others but love them
  • Ask and it will be given to you
  • Seek and you will find
  • Enter the narrow way
  • Display good fruit
  • Have a personal relationship with Him

That’s quite a list, and although this list will not save you from an eternity separated from God, the items will ensure that your foundation is strong and any ministry build on top will withstand the winds of life.

Today I want to encourage you to examine your foundation.  Review the list above and even read Matthew 5-7 again to strengthen and reinforce your footing.  If you are already in ministry, go back and assess the foundations that the mission was built on.  Secure your life’s work on the foundation of Jesus’ teachings and ensure that all your efforts will have eternal value.

Today’s scripture reading: Matthew 7:24-29

24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 

25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 

27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

28 And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, 

29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

January 18, 2022

     Do you know Him?

“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”  Matthew 7:23

Many people do a lot of great things to impact this world in a positive way.  There are philanthropists who give millions of dollars to fund orphanages and schools.  Some would give their lives to minister to the sick and even homeless people.  Others serve on Mission fields around the world separated from home and family all their lives.  While these are all honorable things and certainly worthy of recognition here on earth, it is interesting to hear what Jesus has to say about the day we finally stand face to face with Him.

In today’s scripture, Jesus is talking about the day when the books are open.  He says the only thing that matters on that day is that you know Him personally.  He’s not looking for you to tell Him how many souls you brought with you. He’s not looking for how many good deeds you have done while here on earth and He’s not even interested in how good you behaved in this life.  There will be those who come before Him saying they prophesied, cast out demons, and did many wonders in His name.  It is amazing to me that He will say to them I never knew who you were or in other words, they had no personal relationship with Him.  The point is that there is power in the name of Jesus, and even if you see great things being done in His name, none of these things will get you into eternity with Him, only that you know Him personally.  You must set aside time to cultivate that relationship by talking and listening to Him daily, thereby having an active relationship with Him.

Today I want to encourage you to remember the time that you personally invited Jesus to be the LORD of your life.  Remember the day that you first started following His direction and leading for your life.  Take this time to think about the day that you first started talking to God personally and walking with Him day by day, the day that you finally made Him the LORD over every area of your life.  Now think about the relationship you have with Him today.  Do you spend time growing that relationship each day?  Do you recognize Him and His Word as the ultimate authority in your life?  Are you looking forward to the day when you hear “Well done, My faithful one?”  Decide today that you are going to go deeper with God by walking and listening closer to the direction He has for you each day.  Your relationship with Him is, hands down, the most important thing in this life and the next.

Today’s scripture reading: Matthew 7:15-23

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 

16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? 

17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 

18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 

19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 

20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 

22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 

23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

January 17, 2022

The narrow gate?

Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.  Matthew 7:14

Life? What does it truly mean to live a good life?  What was God’s idea of a good life when He created people?  Is it to work hard to accumulate things?  Is it being entertained at every free minute?  Is it having a family, working until you are 65 and retiring to live out the rest of your life in comfort and leisure? Well, none of these things are bad, and there certainly are worse ways to live out your days, but today’s text gives us some hints on God’s idea of living life to the fullest.

The passage starts with “Enter by the narrow gate.”  It goes on to say the narrow gate is difficult but leads to life.  So why is the narrow gate difficult?  Well, first of all, if you picture an actual gate that is narrow, you could imagine that it would require you to unload anything that wasn’t actually part of you to get through it.  You would have to put down things that were heavy and burdensome.  In today’s world, you would have to enter on foot, not driving a vehicle through or bringing any of your possessions.  Mostly, it is taking a path that is purposeful and planned out by the Creator Himself.  Most people would follow the path of least resistance.  It can seem easier to coast or drift through life without purposefully pointing your life in a direction of intentionality.  Some would even purpose to pursue the things of this world that are fleeting and temporary but will dissolve away when they are done here.

I see this as a spiritual gate.  Living your life growing your spirit person, that is what gets through the narrow gate.  You can spiritually sense laying down your cares and burdens and trusting in the God of the universe to get you through.  Notice that He is only interested in a relationship with you, not the things of this world.  Of course, it is wise to properly maintain your physical body, but this is not what actually goes through the narrow gate.  To truly live this life to the fullest, an individual must have a personal relationship and fellowship with the Father of love.  The wide gate is for the masses which many can fit through all at once.  Those headed toward this gate give no consideration to a connection with the God of creation, they are only trying to get to “mine” first. 

Today I would encourage you to take a look at which gate you are heading toward.  Are you seeking out the precious personal time to fellowship and commune with your heavenly Father?  Or are you with the masses trying to secure what is best for me and mine.  Have you stored up for yourself treasures in this world, or do you place your treasure and resources in His kingdom where it cannot be eaten away by rust and moths?  Decide today that you are going to start making an eternal investments by helping others and using your resources to promote God’s agenda.  Then spend time each day purposing to press into Him through the narrow gate of relationship and being an example of His love everywhere you go.

Today’s scripture reading: Matthew 7:13-14

13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 

14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

January 16, 2022

How much more

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Matthew 7:11

This verse was part of yesterday’s scripture reading, but I don’t want to skip over a discussion about it.  Mostly because it likens our heavenly Father to how we love here in the world.  When you consider how much you love your own children, or if you do not have children yet, how much your parents love you, why would anyone think that God wants to harm or hold back how much He loves us.

It says that if we as fallen, imperfect people know how to do good for our own children, certainly God gives so much more love to His children.  It actually says He gives good things when we ask for them.  Not just the good things that are in His heart to give. This message is reinforced throughout scripture.  Romans 8:32 says it this way: He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?  He didn’t even keep for Himself His greatest and best gift, His only Son.  Think about it, if He were going to withhold something from us, wouldn’t it be the One thing that was most precious to Him?  Or look at it the other way.  He made provision for us in Christ Jesus, the greatest, perfect gift.  Is that gift lacking in anything that we need in this world?  Our salvation includes forgiveness, but it also includes His Spirit, His love, goodness, power, blessing, strength, peace and well being.  There is nothing lacking because He is our good Father that has given us all things the pertain to this life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3)

Jesus goes a step further in the very next verse.  He said: so whatever good things you want people to do for you, do that for them.  I consider this in my own life.  Because I like to give, I am now asking myself are the gifts I give the things that I want/would like or are they things I want to get rid of and am finished using.  Are they things that don’t cost a lot so I can give the appearance of being a giver, but I hold on to the good stuff for myself?  This is a tough question and one that deserves thorough examination, especially when it comes to loving those who are not yet children of God.  Am I willing to be a generous giver to show people what God, my Father, is really like?

Today I would encourage you to do two things:  First, become more aware of how much God, your heavenly Father loves you and want to give you the good things you need and desire in your life.  He is not holding back, and He is not hiding them from you.  Ask today for the things you require and the things you even want.  Then ask Him to show you the path to take to get in line with all the blessings He has stored up for your life.  Second, ask Him to strengthen and empower you to be a generous giver also.  Ask Him to show you when and what you can give when the opportunity is there.  Show the world around you the love and generosity of God by being a generous giver of all things like He is.

Today’s scripture reading: Matthew 7:7-12

7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 

8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 

9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 

10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 

11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! 

12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.