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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

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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

Matthew 13

September 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Matthew 13

There are so many good things in this chapter I could write several devotionals. You have the famous parable of the sower, the confusing parable of the weeds, the parable of the mustard seed, the parable of the yeast, and more. Jesus packs an amazing amount of teaching into this chapter.

But tucked in the middle of all these parables are two tiny parables with gigantic significance: the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price.

Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven is like buried treasure that a guy finds in a field. The treasure is so valuable, that he sells everything he has to buy the field. Once he has the field, he has the treasure.

Jesus says it’s also like a fine pearl that a collector finds. The collector also sells everything he owns so he can buy this pearl.

Wow. That is huge. Why would someone sell everything to buy a field? Because the field is worth more than that. It costs the man everything, but he gets so much more in return.

Why would anyone sell everything to buy a pearl? Because it’s priceless. The man has to have it, and he will stop at nothing to get it.

God’s kingdom is like that. It’s priceless. It is of so much value, when you know what it is, you have to have it. And it’s worth giving everything in order to get it.

But people don’t realize how valuable it is. The owner of the field didn’t know what he had. There was this huge treasure in his field, and he let it slip through his fingers. The store-keeper didn’t know how valuable that pearl was. Other customers had looked at it, but decided not to buy it. Why? Because they didn’t realize what was right in front of their noses!

Don’t miss out! God’s kingdom is priceless. It is life-changing. It costs you your life, but it’s worth even more than that. God gives you so much more in return. He gives you eternal life, and he gives you the blessing of spending your life on earth in his presence. Just like the field and the pearl, its value can’t be explained. You have to experience it for yourself. Don’t let it slip through your fingers!

If you haven’t truly given your life to Jesus, do not hesitate any longer. Give it to him, and he will give you back a life that is worth so much more.

 

Prayer for Today

Father, I want to be part of your kingdom. I don’t want to foolishly hang on to my life. I give it to you because I know that life with you is worth so much more. Thank you for giving Jesus to die so that I can have eternal life with you. Amen.

 

 “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Matthew 16.25

Matthew 11

September 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Matthew 11

Yoke

This chapter ends with one of the coolest yet most misunderstood passages. For the longest time, I had a hard time understanding what Jesus was saying. Look again at what Jesus says in verses 28-30:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Jesus says he’s going to give us rest, but then he says he’s going to put his yoke on us. If you don’t know what a yoke is, it’s not the inside of an egg. No, it is a thick piece of wood which links two animals used to pull something like a plow or carriage. So Jesus is going to give me rest by putting a big piece of wood on my shoulders? That doesn’t make sense.

Well, let’s explore this a little deeper. First, we need to remember that Jesus is a rabbi. A rabbi is a Jewish teacher. Jewish boys would start school at the age of six, and begin learning (and memorizing!) the Scriptures. At about 13 or 14, most boys would finish school and learn the family business from their father.

But those who showed great potential would be chosen by the rabbi to continue their learning. They would spend the next several years following the rabbi and learning about God and the Scriptures. Their goal was to become just like their rabbi in everything.

And when the rabbi chose someone to follow him, this is what the rabbi would say: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” The yoke is his teaching, or understanding of the Scriptures. So Jesus is a rabbi, and he’s telling these young men who have been rejected by the other rabbis, “I’m choosing you to be my followers. I believe you have what it takes to be like me.”

And Jesus says it to you. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” He is choosing you. It is incredible when you think about it.

“But I don’t want to carry a yoke. I’ve got enough stuff going on in my life. I already feel dragged down.”

The purpose of a yoke isn’t to burden an animal. The animal is already burdened; he’s pulling a plow or wagon. No, the purpose of a yoke is to allow that animal to share the load with another animal.

So the other thing Jesus is saying is “I know life is tough. Let me help you. Link up with me, and we’ll do this together. Put my yoke on, and we’ll be a team. Life will be easier, not because I’ll get rid of your problems, but because I’m going to be with you every step of the way to carry those burdens with you. Learn from me how to deal with life.”

Are you burdened? Are you stressed? Worried? Worn out? Accept Jesus’ invitation. Follow him. Learn from him. Spend your time with him. Become just like him. He will help you with life. He will give you rest.

 

Prayer for Today

Jesus, I’m tired. Life is stressful. It’s tough. And I need help. I need your help. Jesus, I want to take your yoke upon me. I need you to help me with life. I want to learn from you, and I want to become like you. Help me to do that, Lord. Help me to be like you, Rabbi. Amen.

 

“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.” Psalm 62.1

Matthew 7

September 19, 2009 Leave a comment

Matthew 7

This is the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus wraps things up by saying that the person who does what Jesus says in this sermon is truly wise. They are like the man who builds his house on a solid foundation. That solid foundation keeps his house standing when the storms batter it.

But the person who doesn’t follow Jesus’ words is foolish. They have tried to build on a weak foundation. When it storms, there is nothing to keep their house standing firm. The house collapses.

So the question is: Are you going to be wise or foolish? You have heard Jesus’ words. Are you going to follow what he says, or will you ignore it? I invite you to continue in this joustormrney through the Gospels—to learn the teachings of Jesus and put them into practice. There is so much wisdom contained in these books. If you follow his teachings, your life will truly be blessed.

I want you to notice that Jesus doesn’t say that the storms don’t hit the wise man’s house. They still do. But because he has built on a solid foundation, his house doesn’t collapse in the storm.

Following Christ doesn’t mean you won’t face storms—times in your life which are difficult. But when you build your life on Christ and his teachings, your world won’t fall apart. He will give you wisdom to make wise decisions and give you strength to face tough times.

Don’t be a fool. Follow Jesus.

 

Prayer for Today

Jesus, give me wisdom. Life is hard, and sometimes I don’t know what to do. I realize that true wisdom only comes from you. I am going to build my foundation on you and your word. Give me strength to deal with life’s storms. I know you will always be with me. Thank you. Amen.

 

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1.5