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Posts Tagged ‘Scripture’

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 17

October 5, 2009 Leave a comment

Matthew 17

Jesus is gradually trying to reveal to his disciples who he is and what his plan is. Six days earlier, Jesus told his disciples that he would be put to death but that he would be raised to life. Peter showed that disciples didn’t get it.

So now he takes his closest disciples—Peter, James, and John—with him up a high mountain. On this mountain, Jesus is transfigured (transformed, changed). The Greek word literally means “metamorphosis.” Jesus actually begins to glow, and there beside him, two very important figures in Israelite history appear.

Moses was the man God used to free the Israelites from Egyptian slavery and give Israel his law. Moses prophesized that God would raise up another prophet like himself (Deuteronomy 18.15). Elijah was one of the greatest prophets in Israel. God told his people that he would send Elijah back to them (Malachi 4.5).

Jesus is getting an endorsement from two of the most influential people in Jewish history. They are there to say, “This is the guy we told you about. He’s the One you’ve been waiting for.” Then God says to Peter, James, and John, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Sound familiar? This is exactly what God said when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist (Matthew 3.17). God is confirming, along with Moses and Elijah, that Jesus is God’s Son, and that he has been chosen by God to do something very special.

But God adds something at the end: “Listen to him.” Listen to what Jesus says. It’s important. It’s life-changing. It’s earth-shattering. Listen to him!

Are you listening? It’s not enough to just “hear” or “read” what Jesus said and did. Listening means you DO what he says. To listen to Jesus means that his word changes your life.

I hope that you have begun to see who Jesus really is. I pray that you understand that he is God’s Son, and that he came to change your life forever. Allow his teachings to impact your life. Put them into practice. Seek to become like Jesus. Listen to him.

 

Prayer for Today

Jesus, you are God. You are God’s special Son. You are the Christ, the Messiah, the Chosen One. You are the Savior of the world. You are the King of the Universe. I will listen to you. I want to know more of your teachings. I want to learn your ways. I crave your knowledge and wisdom. I want to be just like you in everything.  I will listen to you. Amen.

 

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1.22

 

Listen to this song, “Listen to Him” by Acappella. This is a powerful song about the transfiguration. Close your eyes and imagine yourself on the mountain along with them.

Matthew 4

September 10, 2009 Leave a comment

Matthew 4

Satan knows you. He knows your likes. He knows your dislikes. He knows what you were thinking before you fell asleep last night. He knows what makes you tick. He knows how to get you away from God. And he knows the Bible better than you do.

Scary, huh? This real account from the life of Jesus shows me how well tuned-in Satan is to our weaknesses. He knew where Jesus was at his weakest, and he hit him hard.

First, Satan tries to convince Jesus to turn a rock into bread. Doesn’t seem like a big deal does it? But Satan wants Jesus to do this to prove that he is the Son of God. He’s trying to get Jesus to question his identity.

Remember, he’s been without food for over a month. We say we’re “starving” when we skip lunch. To turn that rock into food would be to give into his selfish desires. It would be to honor himself by showing what kind of power he had and to get an easy meal instead of trusting God.

Jesus was physically and mentally weak, and I’m sure he thought, “Man, some bread sounds good. And, boy, I’d really like to show that devil what I can do!” But Jesus had spent the last 40 days alone with God, and was spiritually strong. His response came straight from “the mouth of God.”

So next, Satan tries a new approach. He still tries to get Jesus to question his identity. But he changes tactics after seeing Jesus quote Scripture. Satan uses the Bible to convince Jesus to base jump without a parachute. The Bible is our sword (Ephesians 6.17), and Satan is using it against us!

Again, Jesus was probably thinking, “That’s easy stuff. Pretty soon I’m going to walk on water, control the weather, and give life to a guy that’s been dead for four days. Flying is easy. I could do a lot more than this to show you who I am.”

But Jesus’ mission wasn’t to show how great he is. His mission was to save us from death. So again he quotes the Bible and tells Satan he will not test God.

Desperate, Satan tries one more temptation. He realizes that Jesus isn’t going to do anything to glorify himself. He knows that Jesus has come here to help the world.

So Satan proposes a deal with Jesus: “Bow down to me right now, and I’ll make you the king of every nation. Just think what you could do! If you were king of the world, everyone would follow you. Isn’t this what you want?”

But Jesus knew better. He wasn’t going to compromise. He could never worship Satan. And Jesus hadn’t come to force people to follow him. He’d come to rescue them. Again he uses God’s word to fend off the devil.

Satan wants to destroy you. Jesus says that Satan is a thief who has come to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10.10). He is on the attack. Are you prepared? I thank God that you are participating in this devotional. Spending time reading and meditating on God’s word will prepare you to fight off Satan’s attacks. I encourage you to continue to read the Bible and pray to God every day. The more time you spend with God, the easier it will be to fight the devil’s temptations.

 

Prayer for Today

Dear God, help me to be on my guard. Fill me with your strength and wisdom to face Satan’s attacks. Remove my selfish desires. I want to please you. Amen.

 

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5.8