April 19, 2022

Next Steps

“You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”  Matthew 26:2

As a leader I am often encouraged to help others move on to their next step.  Mainly in their Christian walk.  Whether it is baptism, serving on a team at weekend service or attending a small group to connect with other believers.  It has only occurred to me recently, that I too need to be taking next steps regularly.  If fact, we should all be taking steps not only in our faith walk, but also in our life walk to grow in all areas.

Today’s passage is about Jesus telling His disciples about His next step.  A step that no one wanted to hear about or even believe.  They didn’t understand and they didn’t get it, but Jesus did.  I like how He starts it out with “You know” like He has already told them about this step before and reminding them now that the time is here.  What really gets me is that Jesus knew His next step.  He didn’t wonder what was coming up next and He didn’t go in a different direction to avoid the reason He had come in the first place.  He walked out the remaining days and prepared for His next step.

On this side of the scriptures, we know how it played out for Jesus and His disciples, but on that side, the disciples just had to continue on in faith and believe that God was working out the details in these steps.  They were on their own course of “next steps” and that was carrying on the ministry that Jesus had started 3 years earlier and being witnesses of His resurrection and ascension into heaven.  They just didn’t realize it, yet.

Thankfully, our next steps will not be as excruciating as Jesus’ were.  We don’t have to go through the torture that He went through, and our mission is not to die for the sin of the world, but it is to love the world just as Jesus did and still does today.  Our mission is critical though and it is vital that we do what we are born here to do for God’s kingdom.  He set it up that His plans would be accomplished in this world by His people.  He needs each one of us to be doing our part and to be growing into the places that the previous generations have passed on.  This is an ongoing mission and for things to be wrapped up here, this message of the gospel needs to reach to the ends of the earth.  Our part is to make sure that happens whether by supporting missions around the world or simply sharing the message in our own neighborhood.  We are to be the love of Jesus to the world around us today and every day.

Today I want to encourage you to seek out your next steps.  Whether in your church or your community, in your job or with your family.  Ask the Holy Spirit to make your part plain and clear to you so that you know what you are to be doing here.  Don’t act like it is all up to God to get the work in this world done.  Yes, He is working, but He is working through those who are available to partner with Him in these final days.  Press into Him today and start stepping into what He has next for you to grow into.  Jesus completed His assignment down to the last detail, and He expects us to complete ours too.

Today’s scripture reading: Matthew 26:1-5

1 Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, that He said to His disciples, 

2 “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”

3 Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, 

4 and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him. 

5 But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”

April 18, 2022

You are blessed

And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’  Matthew 25:40

Some day we will face our Lord and He will say “You are blessed from the foundation of the world because you fed me when I was hungry, you gave me a drink when I was thirsty and you took me in and clothed me when I was cold and naked. You visited me when I was imprisoned.”  You may not understand when you did all these things, but the reality is that in your kindness to others, you are doing it until the Lord.

This should be an encouragement to us today to look for opportunities to share with others.  To share kindness in a smile or a kind word with the hurting.  To share love with those who may be unlovable.  Sharing resources with those who lack and sharing God with anyone needing a Savior.

It doesn’t matter if your kindness praised, and it is not important that others know.  You are simply showing the love of God wherever you go.  This is what life is all about, showing grace to people.  Not to make yourself look good, but to bring those from the edge into God’s loving arms.  It isn’t hard either.  Simply decide that you will be loving everyday.  Give love from your heart, give time from your space and give resources from your gifts.  Don’t be afraid of rejection, that is not your part.  If your giving is not received, you shake it off and move on to the next.  Pray over that seed and know you gave your best.

Today I want to encourage you to have a loving and giving heart for everyone you know and meet.  Decide that you will be the same person no matter who you are with.  Show love and kindness as you represent God to all people that comes into your day.  You are a blessing and He planned that you would be before you were ever born. If you life is about blessing others than your life is about blessing God!

Today’s scripture reading: Matthew 25:31-46

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 

32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 

33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 

34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 

35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 

36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 

38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 

39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 

40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 

42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 

43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 

45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 

46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

April 16, 2022

Your assignment

‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.  Matthew 25:29

Have you ever been given an assignment either at school or work?  Sure you have, we all have at one time or another.  A task to do that was needed to complete a project or a report to write that required time and research.  I know everyone has been given the assignment at some point in life to study for a test.  So, how did that go for you?  In my case I’ve done some assignments very well, but others not so much.  I suspect that is the case with most people.  I think it is fair to say that it would be extremely difficult to find someone who has completed every assignment in their life on time and perfectly.

Today’s reading is again a parable (an earthly story with a heavenly principle) that Jesus told those who were with Him.  He told them about a man that was going to be traveling for a while, so he gave to each of his servants (employees) an assignment of talents.  One was given five talents to watch over.  The second was given two talents and the third was given the assignment to watch over one talent.  When the master returned, he found that servants one and two had gone beyond the assignment they were given and doubled their talents.  To which the master responds “Well done good and faithful servant.” He was very pleased with their progress, but when he came to the third servant all that person had done was hid what was given to him so no one could take it or use it.  The master calls this man a wicked and lazy servant and takes his assignment to watch over a talent and gives it to the one that now has ten talents.

Here is another one of those kingdom of heaven rules that are guaranteed to be successful in this life.  Be faithful over little and you will be given more! However, if you are not faithful in the little things, even what you have will be taken away.  It is sad that there are some people and even Christian people out there in the world that do not want to increase in responsibilities and commitments.  Especially when it come to serving others.  Many and I dare say most are happy to live in their own little world with just “me and mine.” They never step into the greater assignments in life because of hiding from their higher calling.  Hopefully, no one reading this message falls into that category, but there is a warning in this passage if you do.  The master banishes the servant that was afraid and selfish and calls him unprofitable and useless.  He throws him into utter darkness of torment and anguish.

Today I want to encourage you to increase in your assignment to multiply your gifts and talents.  Wherever you can use them to help others, take that step of faith.  Don’t worry about being compensated extra, do it because you are willing to go the extra mile to bless someone.  The Lord, who sees what you do in secret will bless you openly.  He will increase your opportunities and you will be able to continue to be a good and faithful servant of the most High.  If you have buried your gifts in the past, it is not to late to turn this thing around.  Surrender your talents today over to your Heavenly Father and ask Him to help you use them in a way that honors and blesses Him and others.  He will lead you to the next assignment and you will be able to begin increasing all that He has blessed you with.

Today’s scripture reading: Matthew 25:11-30

14 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. 

15 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. 

16 Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. 

17 And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. 

18 But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. 

19 After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.

20 “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ 

21 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ 

22 He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ 

23 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’

24 “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 

25 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’

26 “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. 

27 So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. 

28 Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.

29 ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. 

30 And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

April 15, 2022

Be Prepared

And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.  Matthew 25:10

Have you ever known someone that was always late?  Someone who struggled with getting going at the right time.  Someone that no matter how much advanced notice you gave them, you could never depend on them showing up on time?  Or maybe you are someone like that.  There are actually people out there that think you should know and depend on them being late for anything they say they will do.  What about those who always have an excuse for not getting a job done?  You know, the ones who are so wrapped up in their own circumstances, that they never get around to doing what they say they will do? The reason they are always late is because they do not prepare ahead of time.

Today’s reading is about some that showed up too late.  Jesus is explaining what it is like to live in the kingdom of heaven.  He is not actually talking about living in heaven, but He is talking about the kingdom principles that we live our life by in this world.  He told about ten people who look the same and hold the same station in life.  They seem to be equipped the same, but five of them are wise and five are foolish.  The thing that sets the wise apart from the foolish is that they were prepared.  It’s not that some were watching, and some weren’t.  They were all sleeping when the call came, but the wise were able to get up and go immediately because they had equipped themselves for the event ahead of time.  When the foolish finally did show up, they were not allowed to enter, not because they were late, but because they were not prepared.  They did not have the oil that their lamp required to be burning when the groom arrived. Interestingly enough, when they did arrive, they could not go in because they were told “I do not know you.”

2 Timothy 3:17 tells us that we are to be equipped/prepared for every good work that God has called us to, and with God’s help, we are well able to do that.  As a Christian and as God’s people, we are not only to be ready for the Lord’s return, but we are also to be ready each day to complete the assignments that our Father has called and equipped us for.  This is one of many principles that He set up at the beginning to enable people to succeed in the things they put their hand to.

So today I want to encourage you to start making a plan to be prepared and ready on time.  I like to call it margin.  That is when you leave enough space and time to get ready and arrive at appointments not just on time, but before on time.  Ask the Holy Spirit to help you come up with a plan and then empower you to stick with it.  Don’t let your reputation be one of always being late and making others wait for you to arrive unprepared. Start being the one who is the first to show up and able to help prepare that place for the meeting to come.  Take on this kingdom principle today and your life will begin to shift from the stresses of rushing to the peace of being ready ahead of time.

Today’s scripture reading: Matthew 25:1-13

1 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 

2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 

3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 

4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 

5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

6 “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ 

7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 

8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 

9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 

10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 

12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’

13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

April 14, 2022

Feed the household

Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Matthew 24:46

Do you consider yourself to be faithful and wise in all you do?  Are you confident that when you meet the LORD face to face that He will say “Well done?”  Will He find you giving “food” to His household when He comes back to get us?  Well, according to today’s passage, those are the ones that He considers to be wise and faithful.  Those who are taking care of His people and contributing to the needs of His household.

The passage actually says that God’s blessing is on those who are watching and taking care of His people.  That person will be made ruler over all His goods.  So now we know what we are supposed to be doing until Jesus returns.  We are to be tending to the needs of God’s people and being watchful for His coming to the very end.

Likewise, if there is evil in a person, they will doubt that the Master will ever return and begin to treat other people badly and take care of their own selfish needs.  That person will be caught off guard when He comes because they are not looking for Him.  That person will be cut off from God’s blessing and have their portion with the hypocrites.  It will not be a good ending to this life.

Now we know the reason why it is important to fix our heart and eyes on His plan and purpose.  The reason that it is vital to be always ready for His return.  It is to be found faithfully doing His work of encouraging and building up the body of believers and feeding others by spurring them on to their mission of helping and loving people.  We are here in this world at this time for each other, not for our own gain and not for our own pleasure.  You may be enjoying life and that is ok, just make sure you are complete in this world by surrendering your all to what He has for you to accomplish. That is reaching lives with the good news and making sure that the household of God is being nourished.

Today I want to encourage you to consider where you are in your walk with helping others.  Do you make it a priority to build up and encourage your brothers and sisters in the LORD?  Are you watching for His return and taking the message of the good news to the outside world?  If you answered any of those questions with a “no”, it is not to late.  Begin today to turn your focus onto the people that are within your sphere of influence.  Start becoming a blessing to the lost and hurting people around you.  You have the power of the Holy Spirit to help you, Ask Him today to empower you to reach your corner of the world.  Be that faithful and wise servant that when He come He finds you watching and ready because you are tending His flock and walking in His blessing!

Today’s scripture reading: Matthew 24:42-51

42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 

43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 

44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

45 “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? 

46 Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. 

47 Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. 

48 But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ 

49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, 

50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, 

51 and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

April 12, 2022

The days of Noah

For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Matthew 24:38-39

If I spend much time with the news and current world events, I can feel a little stressed and concerned about what is going to happen in the world.  Even in America, there are many opportunities to wonder about the survival of this nation.  I pray often for God to hang on to us and don’t let us fall but pull this nation back close to Him because it is easy to be fearful in the current condition we are in right now.

Then I remember this passage in Matthew 24.  Jesus, talking with His disciples about the end of days, told them before He would come back for His people, it will be like it was for Noah before the flood came.  He told the disciples that up until He comes back it will be business as usual.  People will be living life.  They will be eating and drinking (celebrating events) and getting married in the traditional way.  As long as we are here in the world, Jesus said life as we know it will continue.

He goes on to tell them that suddenly, things will change.  It will not be a gradual decline like we see things going today, but it will like the flood that came suddenly on the earth. It will be a surprise to those who are not watching. However, Noah was expecting it to rain one day, and 7 days before the rain came, God securely separated Noah and his family from the coming devastating events.

God has a similar plan to protect us from the evil days that are coming.  He wants us to be ready just as Noah was before the flood.  He wants us to be watching and He wants us to let others know to watch too.  We can see the days unfolding even now and we are sure it will not be long.  Keep your eyes open to His direction and your heart open to His instructions.  Make sure you are in step so that you are not taken by surprise with the day of His return does come.

Today I want to encourage you to, first of all, do not worry!  Don’t worry about what might happen here in the earth and in America.  Yes, pray for our nation and our leaders.  Pray for Israel and the events that are happening in that area of the world, but don’t worry.  These things are no surprise to God.  In fact, He told us all through His Word that these days were coming.  It is the most exciting time to be alive on this planet.  We are in the final days of the church age, and we are called to be His voice to the lost so that they can enter the “ark” at the appointed time, too.

Today’s scripture reading: Matthew 24:15-44

15 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 

16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 

17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 

18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 

19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 

20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 

21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. 

22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.

23“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. 

24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 

25 See, I have told you beforehand.

26“Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. 

27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 

28 For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.

29“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 

30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 

31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

32“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 

33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! 

34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 

35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. 

37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 

38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 

39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 

40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 

41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 

42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 

43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 

44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

March 11, 2022

When will it end?

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14

Surly we live in a day that the gospel of the kingdom of God is being preached in all the world?  Travel is available like never before; communication is easier than ever before and translating over different languages is within the reach of every individual.  The message of God’s love for the world and His provision of salvation is spreading faster than it ever has in history.

You are here specifically for this time and for this purpose.  You have a part in the kingdom message to share with everyone within your reach.  Whether sharing a website or online message, inviting neighbors to service with you or sending words to encourage a friend through a text, you can do your part.  Especially at this time of year.  Easter is one of the greatest opportunities to impact the world around you and the reason is because this is the time of year that we celebrate Jesus paying the price for our ransom and rescuing us from an eternity separated from the One who loves and the One we have been born of.

The end will come for everyone one day.  Maybe it won’t be when Jesus comes back to get His people, maybe it will be when you close your eyes for the last time and say goodbye to this world.  We do know what is next on God’s calendar.  It is the day that He takes us to be with Him before that great and terrible day.  The Great Tribulation.  I for one am glad that I don’t have to face that day and I hope you will not be left to live through it either.

My encouragement today is to step into the greatest ministry of all time by doing your part of sharing with your world the message of salvation.  Look for opportunities to share God’s love and love the people around you.  Let them see the goodness of God, your Heavenly Father in your life each day and when they ask why you are so blessed, tell them how God’s blessing flow because you have opened the door to Him in your life.  If you have never received this great gift from God, do it today.  He will come into your life and guide you through the struggles that come from day to day living.  He will lead you to others that you can help and encourage along the way, and He will keep you close when you feel like you are all alone.  Invite Him into your life today and be transformed into a new person born again in His arms of love. 

Pray: 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 me and to empower me to do the things that You have planned for my life in Jesus’ name, Amen

Today’s scripture reading: Matthew 24:1-14

1 Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. 

2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 

5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 

6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 

7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 

8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 

10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 

11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 

12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 

13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 

14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

April 9, 2022

A heart for America

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Matthew 23:77

Many times I feel this way about America.  I cry out to God and ask: “Please hold on to us!”  “Please get America back on track!” I consider that He feels the same way about America that He did Jerusalem in today’s passage.  Jesus actually laments over Jerusalem because God sent them many messengers to help them to get back on track and to show them the way back to God’s blessed/planned place.  Through the generations, the sent ones were rejected, beaten and murdered.

Thankfully, today, Jesus has already come to rescue us and has made a provision on an individual level.  We can personally walk with Him and even when it looks like those in power are rejecting His blessed path, there are still multitudes of believers praying for and loving the people of America. 

Just as it was in the Old Testament, we are now the prophets and we are the messengers that God is sending into our town, country and world.  Christians are the ones carrying the message of the good news of salvation from the enemy’s oppression.  God’s children are the ones empowered by His Spirit to pray and lead those around us out of the pit of destruction.  We are the ones for this generation to proclaim the love of God for all people.  Not just some and not just the “good” ones. God loves all people and wants them all to come to the knowledge of salvation through a right relationship with Him.

Now comes the realization that He is counting on His people to bring them in.  He has constructed a plan for us to reach those who are searching and even those who are not.  The power of the Holy Spirit to change a life is greater today than ever because the days we have left to reach them are shorter than ever.

Today I want to encourage you to pour out your heart before God for America!  Just as Jesus prayed for Jerusalem, pray for God’s Spirit to move on the heart of the American people.  Don’t be the one who looks at what is wrong and point the finger at who’s fault it is.  Instead, ask God to show you how you can be a part of the answer He has already prepared for this mess.  He stills takes what the enemy meant for evil and turns it for good and He still turns things around every day.  Don’t look at the world and American with the attitude that there is nothing that can be done about it.  Pray about it!  Make a commitment to pray each day for God’s hand to move in this world.  We are the force that God has placed here to make an impact with our lives, our prayer and our salvation message.

Today’s scripture reading: Matthew 23:31-39

31 “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 

32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. 

33 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? 

34 Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, 

35 that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 

36 Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 

38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 

39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ”

April 8, 2022

Walk the walk

Therefore, whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.  Matthew 23:3

Matthew 23 starts with Jesus giving direction to His disciples and also correction to the Pharisees.  He told the disciples that it is the right thing to do what the Pharisees tell them to do, but it is not the right thing to do what the Pharisees were actually doing.  He goes through a long list of what the Pharisees do that should not be duplicated which include:

1. lay burdens on people that are hard to bear and will not help in any way.

2. They do good deeds only when others are watching.

3. They make sure they get the best spot to be seen in synagogues and at the feasts.

4. They make sure that all the people address them by their superior title.

5. The pray long prayers to appear to be more spiritual than others.

Then Jesus called them blind leaders making more blind followers.  He told the disciples that anyone who exalts himself will be humbles and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.

So this is the message of encouragement that I want to share today.  True humility is in serving others. Exalting yourself is pride.  You are boasting “look what I have done” and promoting your good work to bring glory to yourself.  Jesus said if you do that, that is all the reward you will get. (see Matthew 6)  In contrast, He said if you humble yourself by being the servant of all, your will be great in God’s kingdom.  This is the place where we as God children should be. 

As you go about your day today, look for opportunities to serve others.  Show those around you that you care and love just by the way you help and do for them.  Humble yourself by being kind and loving and put boasting and sarcasm far from your words. You may not see immediate results of recognition and praise, but you will have the satisfaction that your Lord is watching and will reward you openly one day soon.

Today’s scripture reading: Matthew 23:1-36

1 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, 

2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 

3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. 

4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 

5 But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. 

6 They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 

7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ 

8 But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. 

9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 

10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 

11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 

12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 

14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.

15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.’ 

17 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? 

18And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.’ 

19 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? 

20 Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. 

21 He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it. 

22 And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 

24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. 

26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 

28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 

30 and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’

31 “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 

32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. 

33 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? 

34 Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, 

35 that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 

36 Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation

March 7, 2022

His enemies are His footstool

‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool” ’?  Matthew 22:44

I’m struggling with this one, in fact I have been struggling for days.  It’s the reason why I haven’t written a message of encouragement this week.  So I am going to discuss this portion of Matthew 22 with you and please comment if you can provide insight to the questions and context.

In the last section of Matthew 22, Jesus poses a question to the Pharisees that were gathered together at that time.  He asked them what their thoughts were about the Messiah and whose Son is He?  I think the right answer is He is the Son of God.  However, the Pharisees answer Him from the scriptural and genealogy perspective.  They say He is the Son of David.  So then Jesus quotes a portion of scripture that is originally from Psalms 110, but also shows up many times in the New Testament after Jesus ascended into heaven.  He quotes that David wrote about the Christ that the LORD said to David’s Lord (the Messiah) Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.  Then He asked the Pharisees if David calls the Messiah Lord, how can He (the Messiah) be David’s Son?

If Jesus was trying to silence the Pharisees, He accomplished what He set out to do.  He also insulted them because He basically said that if you are My enemy, you will be made My footstool.  Then He gave them the picture that HE would sit at His Father’s right hand.  Another reason why they hated Him.

Mostly, I believe He wanted to let them know that the Messiah/Christ was indeed the Son of God and not just a man born from the line of David.  He was declaring His Lordship to them and letting them know that if they take the side with His enemies, they would be put under His feet.

This is contrasted with who we are today as Christians, Believers and Children of God.  Ephesians 2:6 says we sit together with Him in heavenly places.  We are not under His feet, but we are, as His body, under His head.  He is the head of the church the body of the anointed Christ and as the head, He directs and moves the body to complete the mission we have been placed here to walk out.  We don’t always get it perfect, but the message of the gospel has successfully survived for 2000 years as His Spirit has given utterance to spread the good news.

So I guess my encouragement today is if you are a part of His body, the body of believers in the world today, then get in line with His plans for the role you play in the days we are living.  Step away from the distractions of this world and begin to make His Word, His heart and worship your priority.  Join together with the rest of the body to lead the lost ones to the knowledge of salvation in Christ Jesus and use your gifts and talents to invest in your eternal future by serving others in love.  If you do not know Him personally, then start that conversation today.  Invite Jesus into your life and world by praying this short prayer right now:

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 me and to empower me to do the things that You have planned for my life in Jesus’ name, Amen

Today’s scripture reading: Matthew 22:41-46

41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 

42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” They said to Him, “The Son of David.”

43 He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying:

44 ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool” ’?

45 If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?” 

46 And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore.