Matthew 28

October 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Matthew 28

Jesus died a horrible death on the cross for us. His sacrifice means we have been saved from eternal death. But the story doesn’t end with Jesus dead and buried in a tomb.

On the third day, Jesus came back to life. But why?

The work had been done, right? He made the sacrifice. Our sins had been paid for with his death. So why did Jesus need to come back to life?

First, it is final proof that Jesus is who he claimed to be. If he had just died and been buried, he’s just some guy who died a tragic death. How are we to know that he was the Son of God who died for our sins? By conquering death, he shows that he truly is the Son of God.

Second, by displaying his power over death, Jesus shows us that he has the power to raise us from the dead. His resurrection gives us hope that death will not be the end for us either. We believe that we will be resurrected because Jesus was resurrected.

When the women discovered the empty tomb, they were filled with such joy, they had to tell everyone. They hurried back because they couldn’t contain their excitement. They wanted everyone to know that Jesus was raised from the dead.

Does Jesus’ resurrection fill you with such joy and excitement that you have to tell others?

 

Prayer for Today

Jesus, I am so glad that you conquered death! Your raising back to life gives me hope that you will raise me back to life. Your resurrection shows me the power you have to work in my life. I don’t want to keep this a secret. Give me the words to tell others this incredibly good news. Thank you for your death and your resurrection! Amen.

 

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” (1 Peter 1.3)

Matthew 27

October 14, 2009 Leave a comment

Matthew 27

Why did Jesus have to die?

It’s a valid question. Why did the Son of God have to come to earth and die? Was there not another way? He is God. Could he not have found another way to save the world?

We are all sinners (Romans 3.23). Sin is rebellion against God, and it separates us from him. The punishment for sin is death (Romans 6.23). Therefore, we deserve death and eternal separation from God.

But that presents a problem. God is love (1 John 4.16), and he created us out of love. He doesn’t want any of his children to die (2 Peter 3.9). In the Old Testament, God came up with a plan to save his people. They could use an animal as a substitute. The animal would pay the price of death so that the person wouldn’t have to die.

However, since the animal didn’t die voluntarily, it wasn’t a perfect sacrifice. Therefore, the people would have to make a sacrifice each year. This was all to foreshadow God’s ultimate plan.

The only way to have a perfect sacrifice, was if an innocent person (someone who had committed absolutely no sin) willingly died for the sins of everyone else. But how is that possible? We already know that we are all sinners, so how can there be a perfect sacrifice?

There is only one way. God himself had to die in our place. He had to become human and become our sacrifice. And that is exactly what he did.

That’s good news, right? We have been saved from eternal death because our God loved us enough to die in our place. Spend some time thanking God for his sacrifice, and let others know about this good news.

 

Prayer for Today

Dear God, thank you so much for loving me enough to become my sacrifice for sin. Thank you for sending your Son Jesus to die for me. Thank you, Jesus, for going through that horrible death so I could live. Thank you for taking my place. I cannot thank you enough, and I can never repay you. But I want to give my life back to you as a sacrifice. Help me to live for you. I love you so much. Amen.

 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3.16

Matthew 26

October 13, 2009 Leave a comment

Jesus prayingMatthew 26

Jesus was worried to death.

Have you ever been worried? I mean REALLY worried? We often say things like “I’m worried to death.” That is usually an exaggeration. Most of the time we say that, we don’t really feel like we are about to die. But perhaps you have been extremely worried about something in your life.

Jesus was worried to death.

Look at what he says in Matthew 26.38: “My soul is overwhelmed to the point of death.” Jesus was scared, no, he was horrified. He knew that he was about to be ridiculed and publically humiliated. He knew that he would be tortured. He also knew that he would suffer the most horrible death imaginable.

Jesus was worried to death.

He didn’t want to go through it. He wanted a way out. And he prayed to God all night long to get him out of it.

However, what he wanted more than anything was to please God. He wanted to do God’s will above all else. Look at what he prays: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26.39).

If someone you knew were going to be executed, and the only way to save them would be for you to go through hours of being whipped and beaten before being stripped naked and nailed to a rough piece of wood, where you would experience an excruciating death lasting several hours, who would you do it for? A friend at school? A girlfriend or boyfriend? A sibling? A parent? Would you do it for anyone?

Jesus did it for you.

 

Prayer for Today

Jesus, thank you, thank you, thank you! It is hard to believe that you could love me enough to go through what you did for me. I didn’t deserve it. I am so unworthy of your love. I am sorry for my sins. Please forgive me. You are so amazing. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I love you so much! Amen.

 

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5.8.

 

Listen to “Not My Will But Thine” by Acappella:

Matthew 25

October 13, 2009 Leave a comment

Matthew 25

Parents love their kids, at least the good ones (good parents that is). They love to do things for their children, and they love it when other people do something nice for their kids. When you give a kid a present, in a way, you are also giving their parents a gift. Parents love to see their kids happy. So when you make their child happy, you make the parent happy as well.

This is what Jesus is getting at in Matthew 25.31-46. He says that when you help other people by taking care of their needs, you are taking care of Jesus himself! We are all God’s children, so when we give to God’s children, we are also giving to God. He wants to see his children happy. When we bring joy and happiness to others, we make the Father happy.

Of course, parents also don’t like to see their children abused nor neglected. So when we ignore the needs of the people we see, it upsets Jesus. He tells us that we are ignoring him when we do that. Ouch.

Think about it. If you saw Jesus Christ, and he was hungry, would you share with him, or would you turn your back on him? When we don’t help others, we are turning our back on Jesus himself. But when we do help those in need, we are helping the Creator of the Universe.

What needs do you see around you? What specific ways can you help Jesus?

 

Prayer for Today

Jesus, I don’t want to ignore you; I want to serve you. I know that there are people all around who have needs. Help me to look for those needs, and help me to do anything I can to help. Use me as your instrument to serve others and serve you. Amen.

 

“He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” Proverbs 14.31

Matthew 24

October 7, 2009 Leave a comment

Matthew 24

People are lazy. I don’t care who you are, you like to be lazy to a certain extent. We will try to find an easier way of doing something. It’s what separates us from the animals.

It’s not always a bad thing. Laziness has led to some wonderful inventions: the remote control, automobiles, microwaves, and LA-Z-BOY recliners. (Of course, someone had to work hard to invent these instruments of laziness.)

Unfortunately, our laziness can have negative consequences. More than just procrastinating, which leads to stress and missed deadlines, our laziness often makes us miss out on life. You don’t usually hear people at the end of their life say that they wish they would have watched more television or taken more naps. You also don’t hear people saying that they wished they would have spent more time getting drunk and doing drugs.

Instead, people generally regret wasting their lives. “I wish I would have taken that opportunity.” “Why did I spend so much of my time doing this, when I should have been doing that?” “I could have done so much more with my life if only…” That is the sound of a wasted life.

In Matthew 24, Jesus tells us not to waste our lives. We don’t know how much time we have before our death or Christ returns. So don’t waste it! Use every minute to live for Jesus. I guarantee you won’t regret it. First, you will have a blast doing it. Your life will be filled with joy and peace. Second, at the end, you will be fulfilled, and you will have gained a priceless reward.

Don’t waste your life. Live it for Jesus.

 

Prayer for Today

Father, I don’t want to waste my life. I want to live like Jesus and live for Jesus. Open my eyes to the opportunities you give me to do something for you, and help me to take advantage of them. I want a life of joy, adventure, and excitement—the kind of life that only you can give. Then I won’t have to fear death or Christ’s coming because my life will be fulfilled. Amen.

 

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1.21

Matthew 23

October 6, 2009 Leave a comment

Whitewashed tombsMatthew 23

Matthew 23 is some pretty heavy stuff. Jesus goes off on the teachers of the law and the Pharisees—the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. Take a moment to read through this chapter again slowly. Be sure to take it all in.

 Jesus is fed up with their façade. They look holy and righteous on the outside, but inside, there is no relationship with God. They do it just to look good to the people. They are only going through the motions, performing rituals without thinking about the God behind the rituals.

In verse 27, Jesus compares them to whitewashed tombs. On the outside they look nice. They’re a clean, bright white color. But that does nothing to change what is on the inside of a tomb: death.

Jesus is more concerned with what is on the inside than what is on the outside (see Matthew 15). He is concerned with your heart and soul—who you are inside—rather than what you do.

You see, we can do good things (go to church, pray, read the Bible, give our money, not have sex before marriage, not cuss, etc.), but not be good on the inside. Our hearts may be full of envy, bitterness, or pride. But if we fill our hearts with Jesus, if we focus on being who he wants us to be, then we will naturally do good things.

What is in your heart? Is it full of death (jealousy, hate, arrogance)? Or is it clean? Take the time to look into your heart and ask God to clean it out.

 

Prayer for Today

Jesus, I want to be clean on the inside. I don’t want to pretend that I am good. I want to be good. I want you to come inside and remove anything that isn’t clean: pride, selfishness, anger, jealousy, etc. Fill me with your Spirit of Holiness. Change me on the inside that I may be who you want me to be. Amen.

 

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51.10

Matthew 22

October 6, 2009 Leave a comment

Matthew 22

I want to be like Jesus. Several times in Matthew 22, the religious leaders try to trap Jesus. They come up with these questions to try to outsmart Jesus. I can just picture them staying up all night trying to think of the perfect question. Then that little light bulb comes on. “Oh this is it! He’ll never be able to answer this one correctly. If he answers it this way, we’ll get him. But if he answers it this way, we’ll still get him! There’s no right answer. We’re geniuses!”

Then they come to Jesus. You can see them snickering a little while they ask Jesus their trick question. They just know they’ve got Jesus trapped now.

Then Jesus blows their minds. He finds a correct answer to a trick question. He makes the religious leaders look foolish. His wisdom leaves them speechless. That’s why I want to be like Jesus. I want to have wisdom like that to silence my critics.

Okay, maybe that’s a selfish reason to be like Jesus. Please pray for me.

One such episode occurs in Matthew 22.34-40. One of the Pharisees asks Jesus what the greatest commandment is. There’s no way out of this. There are over 600 commandments! Whichever one he picks, they can blast him for not picking any of the others. It’s the perfect plan.

But Jesus outsmarts them again: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (verses 37-39). Jesus says that all the other commandments are summed up in these two commandments.

What about not taking God’s name in vain? If you love God, you won’t take his name in vain. What about not lying? If you love your neighbor, you won’t lie to her.

He did it again. That Jesus is pretty smart. (That is a huge understatement.)

Jesus sums up the Christian life with these two commandments. We like to make things complicated, but it’s simple really.

Love God. Love others. That’s the challenge. It’s the goal. Put it into practice. If we are like Jesus, this is what we will do.

 

Prayer for Today

Dear God, help me to love you and love others. Amen.

 

“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4.16