Thursday, June 30, 2011

Spiritually Reproducing

Matthew 21:43  Therefore I tell you the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing fruits.  (ESV)

In this parable (v. 33-46) Jesus gets the Chief Priests & Elders to proclaim their own ill fate (v. 41).  Note how masterfully here He turns it back to the vineyard analogy - those who do receive the kingdom will be a "fruit-bearing" people.  When those who were not worthy rejected the kingdom, God invites all to come (22:9).  It was the tax collectors and prostitutes who believed the message of John (v. 32).  "Many are called but few are chosen" (v. 14).  Of those who come, there must be a fruit-bearing transformation!

In Jesus, God takes the kingdom from the religious, legalistic, ethnically-pure, and offers it to all the world (Gentiles).  But those of us who are fortunate enough to receive it must be fruit-bearing people - spiritually reproducing!  Brad, go and make disciples - not disciples of you, followers of Jesus.  Point the way to Him.  Teach them His words, show them His way.

Who You love, I'll love.  How You serve, I'll serve.  Where You go, Lord Jesus, I will go.  I will follow You.*  You are my King, Lord God.  Come Holy Spirit.  Fill me and empower me to make disciples of Jesus.  For I have it not (this ability) within myself.  I present myself as as living sacrifice to bear fruit for the kingdom.

In Jesus' name - Amen,


*from the song I Will Follow by Chris Tomlin

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Matthew 21:13  He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you have made it a den of robbers."  (ESV)

In Jesus' day, temple worship had been turned into a money-making scam.  After tossing them out (apparently He had authority to do so), He quotes the prophet Isaiah who said God's house should be a house of Prayer to all nations (including foreigners).  Prayer is one of the key components of the New Testament church (Apostolic teaching, fellowship, prayer & praise - Acts 2:42, 47).  And the power of prayer (with faith) is the main point of Jesus teaching to the disciples that follows immediately (v. 20-22).

There is no temple in the New Testament, no sacred space, building or geographical location set aside (sanctified) for the worship of God.  We ourselves (believers) are the dwelling place of His Spirit.  So in His church (that's us) we ought to be regularly engaged in prayer - this key component of New Testament worship.  As Pastor Jeff said a couple of weeks ago - "Pray, pray, pray!"

Lord Jesus - its to You I pray.  Oh God my Father hear my prayer.  Holy Spirit make me a man of prayer - prayer without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17).  Oh God, hear my prayer.  Make me, this sinner, a bible teacher - for Your glory, for Your kingdom, for Your people.

In Jesus' name - Amen,


Monday, March 7, 2011

The Greatest

Mathew 18:10  See that you do not despise one of these little ones.  For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.  (ESV)

Jesus speaks here in response to the disciples question "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" (v. 1).  This whole secton seems to be about how we treat other people: Don't cause others to sin (v. 6); Forgive your brother (v. 15-35).  And here, God diligently seeks out the one lost little sheep (v. 12-14).

If someone is irritating you, you may need to do a heart check.  That "little one" is precious in the eyes of God.  They may be acting out because of some past hurt.  Try to understand.  Encourage and call to account: "admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all"  (1 Thes. 5:14).  You might be better to have a great millstone fastened about your neck and be thrown into the sea (v. 6) than to offend one of these little ones.

Oh God, grant me to be patient with them all.  That I might be humble like a child. I have been forgiven much.  Grant me a big, generous heart toward others.

In Jesus' name - Amen,


Friday, March 4, 2011

People vs. Religion

Matthew 15:5-6  But you say, 'If anyone tells his father or his mother, "What you have gained from me is given to God," he need not honor his father.'  So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.  (ESV)

It is interesting that God's command valued people (the parents) whereas the Pharisee's tradition valued religion above people.  So much so that if one made a religious vow they were accordingly allowed to ignore/violate one of the 10 Commandments.  Thus Jesus' indictment that they valued their tradition more than the word of God.  To be sure, our allegiance to God ought to exceed our allegiance to men (humans - Luke 14:26), but 6 of the 10 Commandments are concerned with horizontal relationships (i.e. with our fellow man/human).

Brad, there are things that God does require of you.  But don't let the word of God become void to you in respect to what He requires of you in human relationships so that you can fulfill religious duty or obligations.

God help me to see.  You make relationship a priority.  So ought I.  Let my time spent with You flow out into blessing for others I encounter.  God grant me disciples, if even I am worthy of such.

In Jesus' name - Amen,


Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Matthew 14:23  And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.  When evening came, he was there alone,  (ESV)

Solitude.  Time away, with the Father.  This was critical in the life and ministry of Jesus.  He does it twice here in a very short span (see also v.13).  And after each time of withdrawal a great miracle/time of ministry followed (the feeding of the 5000, v. 15f and Peter & Jesus walking on the water, v. 25f).  The second is not only a miracle providing "strong evidence for the divine identity of Jesus" (Literary Study Bible, p. 1480), but a time of ministry and teaching to Peter on faith.

Brad, you are certainly no better than Jesus.  An annual get away to reflect, pray, goal-setting, pray, read, pray (that's what Jesus did in His solitude).  This daily time is invaluable in your ability to minister to others.  You can't give what you don't have!

Oh God, fill me up.  I have no skills to lead a small group in my home tonight except the Holy Spirit.  Lord Jesus, give me wisdom I ask.  God my Father, strengthen me, for I know not what to do.  I am not an eloquent speaker.  Come Holy Spirit.

In Jesus' name - Amen,