Sunday, January 22, 2017

Trust vs Manipulation

5Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“ ‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’c ”
7Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’d ” (Matthew 4:5-7)

Thoughts: This is the temptation to manipulate or control God.  Jesus was taken to the highest point around- where everyone could see Him.  He could prove God's existence if He jumped and an angel saved Him.  It was abuse of God's promises, and an effort to make God do magic to wow people.  But God is not concerned with show- but with the heart.  God wants us to do what is right and then trust Him.
     Jesus was always willing to say, "Lord, not my will but thine be done."  He said this in the Garden of Gethsemane right before the cross.  The way of love is to trust in the other instead of manipulate the other.  

Prayer: Lord, help me to trust and submit to your way.  

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The first temptation

1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempteda by the devil. 2After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’b ” (Matthew 4:1-4)

Thoughts: Right after Jesus declared his ministry beginning He took time out to pray and get His heart right.  This passage tells us that the Spirit led Him into the wilderness to be tempted.  Jesus asked His disciples to pray, "And lead us not into temptation."  Maybe that prayer came from this experience.  It was obviously not a pleasing experience to Jesus.
      This temptation was to use His power to magically satisfy His own needs.  This was to elevate His needs over the glory of God.  Jesus showed later He had this kind of power.  He turned the water into wine.  He fed the 5,000+ with just a few loaves and fishes.  But Jesus would rather be uncomfortable than to tarnish the glory of God to make His hunger go away.
     Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 8 in refuting and resisting this temptation. We should know scripture that well.  Psalm 119:9-11 says, "How can a young person keep their way pure?...By taking heed according to your Word.  I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you."  We can resist sin by putting God's Word in the forefront of our minds. 

Prayer: Lord, do not lead me into temptation.  But when I am tempted, help me resist.  

Friday, January 20, 2017

Three in One at Baptism

16As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17)

Thoughts: This is one of the great passages about the Trinity.  Here you see all three persons of the godhead in one spot.  Jesus, the Son, was in the water.  The Spirit, the second person of the Trinity, descended like a dove.  The Father's voice was heard saying, "This is my Son..."  This passage totally overturns the heresy that is called "modalism" that God is Father at Creation, that the Son came for 33 years, and then the Spirit carried on the presence of God afterwards.  Instead you see the three persons at once.  God is one essence but in three persons.  The Father is not the Son- but is pleased with Him.  The Spirit is not the Son- but descends blessing on Him.  The Son is the radiance of both.  

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your love and presence in Jesus.  Thank you that Jesus is my good Lord and as I follow Him may you also be pleased with me and may your Spirit descend on me with blessing and hope.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Rationale Behind Jesus' Baptism,

13Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
15Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. (Matthew 3:13-15) 

Thoughts: Jesus, as the pure and good soul he was did not need a baptism of repentance.  But he was willing to humble himself under the water as an example for us all.  Sometimes we need to do things whether we like it or not- or whether it is necessary at the heart or not.  Jesus was obedient to the idea that we need to be cleansed and we need to repent.
     Jesus submitted to John- the greater submitted to the lesser out of respect for his office as the baptizer and as a human being.  

Prayer: Lord, help me to respect others.  Help me to see the necessity of my baptism. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Real Baptism

11“I baptize you withb water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you withc the Holy Spirit and fire. 12His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:11-12)

Thoughts: Repentance is good, baptism is good, but the most important thing is when the Holy Spirit comes.  We can repent without meaning it from the heart.  We can be baptized and it means very little.  When Jesus comes- everything becomes very. very real.  There is no pretense, no fake shows with Jesus.  He knows the heart, sees the heart, affects the heart.  Jesus is the judge who can see what is really right and true.  We can fool each other- and put spin on things, but Jesus is fully discerning.
     There is a parable about the wheat and tares/weeds that Jesus told recorded in Matthew 13.  There Jesus advises not to separate the what and weeds until they are through growing and at the end of time when they are fully grown they are separated.  The weeds are burned up and the wheat is saved.  John the Baptist is saying here that God is coming- and when He comes there is no pretense.  

Prayer: Lord, come.  Help me to see the uselessness of pretending.with you.  Send your Holy Spirit to quicken my heart and love for you.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Cry of John the Baptist

7But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.9And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matthew 3:7-10)

Thoughts: The religious leaders were not interested in change for the better.  They were interested in keeping up appearances and holding onto the status quo and their power.  John the Baptist was saying that the time of God's wrath is coming.  This was a prophecy that came true.  John was speaking about 30 AD by 70 AD- less than a generation later- there would be a brutal war that the Jews would lose.  No more sacrifices would be made in the Temple ever again.  The Temple would be torn down, and the Jews tossed out of the land until 1878 years later.  The axe was a the root of the tree.  The call of John the Baptist was to repent while there was still time.
     The problem of living in an evil society, an adulterous society is we are lulled to sleep by evil, and buy into the illusion that God doesn't care about our spiritual and physical adultery.  In such a society standing on the precipice of destruction- without God's protection- our main duty is to repent- and produce good fruit in keeping with repentance.  

Prayer: John the Baptist's plea, Lord, rings true for me.  Help me to turn to you with my whole heart and to give myself fully to you.  

Monday, January 16, 2017

A Dream of No Color

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

Thoughts: Attitude, work ethic, love, respect for others, that doesn't know any color (Dabo Swinney- Football coach at Clemson University).  Once Martin Luther King said in his "I Have a Dream Speech", "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." The parable of hte Good Samaritan is about someone of a different country helping the total stranger- with a different religion and race.  Human beings need to treat other human beings with love and not hatred.  This is true of the things that divide us even now. Jesus came to preach love.  Human beings find ways to divide from each other.  The dream of Martin Luther King is the hope of love.  It is a love that involves sacrifice and wins by turning the other cheek.
    How can you be kind to someone today who looks different, thinks different, lives differently from you?  

Prayer: Lord, help me to be more loving- especially toward those who are different from me.