Daily Nuggets

Jan. 27, 2022

Matthew 18:1-20 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And He called a child to Himself and set him among them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you change and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. So whoever will humble himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name, receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depths of the sea.

“Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to the person through whom the stumbling block comes!

“And if your hand or your foot is causing you to sin, cut it off and throw it away from you; it is better for you to enter life maimed or without a foot, than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye is causing you to sin, tear it out and throw it away from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fiery hell.

10 “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones; for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.

12 “What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains, and go and search for the one that is lost? 13 And if it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that have not gone astray. 14 So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven for one of these little ones to perish.

15 “Now if your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that on the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be confirmed. 17 And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, he is to be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.

19 “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. 20 For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

 

In today’s text Jesus says: “Now if your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that on the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be confirmed. And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, he is to be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”  It is vital that we understand that Jesus says: “If your brother sins…”  Sin is an offense against God. This showing someone their fault is concerning an offense against God and His commandments, not an offense against ourselves, our feelings or our preferences. If someone offends or even sins against us, our responsibility is not to point out their fault, but rather to forgive. In Luke 17:3-4 Jesus says: If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”  Jesus gives us the perfect example of forgiveness, when on the cross in Luke 23:34 He said: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”  We forgive others between ourselves and God. There is no need for us to point out their faults, or how they offended us. Galatians 6:1-2 says: Brothers and sisters, even if a person is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual are to restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you are not tempted as well.  We should always approach others in a spirit of restoration, not judgment or condemnation regarding their sin. In Matthew 7:1-5 Jesus says: “Do not judge, so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye!”

Proverbs 18:21 says: The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences. In Matthew 12:36 Jesus says: I tell you that for every careless word that people speak, they will give an account of it on the day of judgment.” Psalm 141:3 says: Set a guard, Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.  In the text Jesus says: Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” Leviticus 26:8 says: Five of you will pursue a hundred, and a hundred of you will pursue ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you. There is an exponential increase in our power and authority when we are in agreement with other believers. May we never increase the consequences of our idle words through slanderous gossip. Jesus says: “Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to the person through whom the stumbling block comes!”  

Set a guard, Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. May I forgive as I have been forgiven. May I seek to restore others and help them see clearly only after I have removed the log of judgment and condemnation from my own eyes. When I speak with others, may my words of agreement with them also be in agreement with You. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.  

 

 

Jan. 26, 2022

Matthew 17:10-27 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

And His disciples asked Him, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” 11 And He answered and said, “Elijah is coming and will restore all things; 12 but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wanted. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist.

14 When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, because he has seizures and suffers terribly; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 And I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” 17 And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was healed at once.

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 And He said to them, “Because of your meager faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

22 And while they were gathering together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be handed over to men; 23 and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day.” And they were deeply grieved.

24 Now when they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?” 25 He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?” 26 When Peter said, “From strangers,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are exempt. 27 However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a stater. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.”

 

In today’s text it says: When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying,  “Lord, have mercy on my son, because he has seizures and suffers terribly; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was healed at once. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” And He said to them, “Because of your meager faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”  As with the disciples, there are often things that we pray for, or that we struggle with, which we are unable to cast out or overcome. Is it that we too have meager faith? In reality, it is not about the amount or size of our faith. A mustard seed is tiny. Surely, we have that much faith. Why then can’t we move mountains, or at least heal the sick? It’s really not that our faith is too small. It is that our faith is misplaced. If we trust in our own strength or ability, our faith is rightly meager. In John 15:5 Jesus says: I am the vine, you are the branches; the one who remains in Me, and I in him bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” We can do nothing apart from Christ. We only need a small amount of faith that is focused on and established in Jesus. In John 14:12-14 Jesus says: Truly, truly I say to you, the one who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in My name, this I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” Our faith must be in Christ, that He will do it. Even more, when He was on the cross, Jesus said: “It is finished!” (John 19:30) He already fully paid for and accomplished everything we need. Isaiah 53:5-6 says: He was pierced for our offenses, He was crushed for our wrongdoings; The punishment for our well-being was laid upon Him, And by His wounds we are healed. All of us, like sheep, have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the wrongdoing of us all To fall on Him. “It is finished!”

There is more though, remember that Jesus says: “The one who remains in Me, and I in him bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”  In John 14, after saying that we could do the works that He did because He will do it, Jesus says: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments… The one who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will reveal Myself to him… If anyone loves Me, he will follow My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our dwelling with him.” (John 14:15;21-23)  We cannot abide in Christ and do the works that He did if we do not also keep His commandments. In the meditation from Matthew 16, we saw that in verses 13-19 it says: Now when Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah, or one of the other prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you yourselves say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”  We often say that someone who is gifted in a particular area of ministry is anointed to do that ministry. In part, the anointing is the presence of the Holy Spirit, who gives us power. Moreover though, when Peter said: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,”Christ means: Anointed One.  Any anointing that a person has comes only as they abide in the Anointed One. If we would do the works that Jesus did, we must abide in Him. Our faith lies not in what we can do, but in what He has already done.

Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus, the Christ and precious Holy Spirit. I desire to abide in You. By the power of the Holy Spirit may I do the things that You call me to do. May I keep Your commandments. As the psalmist says: You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. (May Your anointing in me, overflow from me.) Certainly goodness and faithfulness will follow me all the days of my life, And my dwelling will be in the house of the Lord forever.  Amen.

 

 

Jan. 25, 2022

Matthew 16:13-17:9 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible 

Now when Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah, or one of the other prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you yourselves say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” 20 Then He gave the disciples strict orders that they were to tell no one that He was the Christ.

21 From that time Jesus began to point out to His disciples that it was necessary for Him to go to Jerusalem and to suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and to be killed, and to be raised up on the third day. 22 And yet Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You!” 23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s purposes, but men’s.”

24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what good will it do a person if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul? Or what will a person give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every person according to his deeds.

28 “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

17 Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James, and his brother John, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Peter responded and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If You want, I will make three tabernacles here: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice from the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” And raising their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.

When they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.”

 

In today’s text Jesus says: “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what good will it do a person if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul? Or what will a person give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every person according to his deeds.”  There are several very important elements to these few verses. There are many people who resist faith in Christ because they mistakenly believe that the Christian life is a life of denial. Our denying of self is not really about what we give up. Our cross is not a cross of suffering and sacrifice. Jesus Himself sacrificed all that was needed for us. When we deny self, it is really selfishness that we deny. Jesus asks the question, “what good will it do a person if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul?” The question could be asked in reverse, for what selfish thing would we be willing to forfeit our soul? When we choose to follow Christ, we exchange the twinkling of this uncertain finite time for the certainty of eternity. Jesus says that we will be repaid for our deeds. Psalm 14:1-3 says: The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have committed detestable acts; There is no one who does good. The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of mankind to see if there are any who understand, Who seek God. They have all turned aside, together they are corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one. None of us can possibly measure up to God’s standard of righteousness. The outcome will not be good if we are repaid for our deeds. The only deed that can save us from ourselves is to believe and receive what Christ did for us on the cross.

The text says: Now when Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah, or one of the other prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you yourselves say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” Not only do we receive eternal life in Christ, but through receiving the revelation that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, we also receive the keys to the kingdom of heaven. With the authority He gives us, we can be those who not only pray the prayer that Jesus taught us, Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, but also we are those who are part of the answer to His prayer. With the power to bind and loose, we are those who bring the realities of heaven to earth.

In the text, God spoke saying: “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him!”  We should listen to Jesus. We should: deny ourselves, our selfish desires; take up our cross, and follow Him. After all what could we lose but this little bit of finite time and in exchange we gain eternity. Listening to Jesus and recognizing that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God, that He is our Lord and our Savior, our Redeemer and the one who restores us, that we are His Church, His Ecclesia, those called and set apart with authority, the authority to bind and loose on earth and in heaven. We should listen to Jesus and be those who hear and respond to His prayer. In and through our lives may: May the gates of hell not stand against us. May Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Amen.    

 

 

Jan. 24, 2022

Matthew 15:29-16:12 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

Departing from there, Jesus went along the Sea of Galilee, and after going up on the mountain, He was sitting there. 30 And large crowds came to Him bringing with them those who were limping, had impaired limbs, were blind, or were unable to speak, and many others, and they laid them down at His feet; and He healed them. 31 So the crowd was astonished as they saw those who were unable to speak talking, those with impaired limbs restored, those who were limping walking around, and those who were blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.

32 Now Jesus called His disciples to Him and said, “I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me now for three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.” 33 The disciples said to Him, “Where would we get so many loaves in this desolate place to satisfy such a large crowd?” 34 And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” 35 And He directed the people to sit down on the ground; 36 and He took the seven loaves and the fish; and after giving thanks, He broke them and started giving them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 37 And they all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, seven large baskets full. 38 And those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children.

39 And sending away the crowds, Jesus got into the boat and came to the region of Magadan.

16 The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and putting Jesus to the test, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but are you unable to discern the signs of the times? An evil and adulterous generation wants a sign; and so a sign will not be given to it, except the sign of Jonah.” And He left them and went away.

And the disciples came to the other side of the sea, but they had forgotten to bring any bread. And Jesus said to them, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” They began to discuss this among themselves, saying, “He said that because we did not bring any bread.” But Jesus, aware of this, said, “You men of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet understand nor remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets you picked up? 10 Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many large baskets you picked up? 11 How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you about bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

 

Today’s text says: The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and putting Jesus to the test, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but are you unable to discern the signs of the times? An evil and adulterous generation wants a sign; and so a sign will not be given to it, except the sign of Jonah.” And He left them and went away.  Keep in mind that this happened, the Pharisees and Sadducees made this request for a sigh, immediately after what we saw earlier in today’s text: Now Jesus called His disciples to Him and said, “I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me now for three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.” The disciples said to Him, “Where would we get so many loaves in this desolate place to satisfy such a large crowd?” And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” And He directed the people to sit down on the ground; and He took the seven loaves and the fish; and after giving thanks, He broke them and started giving them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, seven large baskets full. And those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children.  I’m not sure what kind of sign they were looking for, the miracles of Jesus were evident open and frequent.

Look again at what Jesus says: “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but are you unable to discern the signs of the times?”  Surely with all of our accumulated knowledge and technology, we can discern the whether far better than they could, but are we any better at discerning the times?  Matthew 24:1-14 says: Jesus left the temple area and was going on His way when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. But He responded and said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”  So, the disciples also asked for a sign.  And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will mislead many people. And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pains. Then they will hand you over to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. And at that time many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will rise up and mislead many people. And because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will become cold. But the one who endures to the end is the one who will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”   Like the miracles of Jesus in the time of the Pharisees and Sadducees, surely the signs are evident. Many today come in the name of Jesus and mislead many. Their deception is that they say that Jesus would tolerate, accept and embrace the immorality of our culture and society. They say that because of God’s love and grace, sin no longer matters. Many people are misled. Currently we are hearing of wars and rumors of wars. Russia and Ukraine, China and Taiwan, and of course the Middle East. The word translated as nation is the Greek word ethnos, for which we get our English word ethnic. These ethnic, racial and tribal tensions are increasing throughout the world and there are many in the media and government who continually fan the flames of the division and hatred. Famines and natural disasters have always been here, but it seems that we are seeing more people suffer despite our knowledge, technology and wealth. We are seeing persecution of Christians around the world. Governments are dictating what is acceptable to say and believe. Lists are being formed of those who claim religious exceptions to government mandates. False prophets are evident, saying they have the answer, or they are the answer. These manipulate the truth. They intimidate for the purpose of control. Surely there is no question that lawlessness has increased and the love of many has grown cold. Nearly every day there are new reports of random and senseless killings. Governments have contributed to the problem by being more concerned with the rights of criminals than victims. Their answer to the lawlessness in our cities is to stop prosecuting crime.

Jesus says: “But the one who endures to the end is the one who will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”    Fortunately we as believers can do more than just endure. In John 16:33 Jesus says: “These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

Can you discern the times? Romans 8:31-39 says: What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring charges against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, but rather, was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or trouble, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? Just as it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We were regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Amen.

        

Jan. 23, 2022

Matthew 15 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves also break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘The one who speaks evil of father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,” he is not to honor his father or mother.’ And by this you have invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy about you, by saying:

‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me.
And in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

10 After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, “Hear and understand! 11 It is not what enters the mouth that defiles the person, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles the person.”

12 Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?” 13 But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant will be uprooted. 14 Leave them alone; they are blind guides of blind people. And if a person who is blind guides another who is blind, both will fall into a pit.”

15 Peter said to Him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 Jesus said, “Are you also still lacking in understanding? 17 Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? 18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and those things defile the person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, acts of adultery, other immoral sexual acts, thefts, false testimonies, and slanderous statements. 20 These are the things that defile the person; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the person.”

21 Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely demon-possessed.” 23 But He did not answer her with even a word. And His disciples came up and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us!” 24 But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” 26 Yet He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 And she said, “Yes, Lord; but please help, for even the dogs feed on the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed at once.

 

John 11:2-6 says:  Now while in prison, John heard about the works of Christ, and he sent word by his disciples, and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or are we to look for someone else?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: those who are blind receive sight and those who limp walk, those with leprosy are cleansed and those who are deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is any person who does not take offense at Me.”  Many did and many do take offense at Christ. It was not and is not for the miracles and the healing that they are offended. Rather, it is that He speaks the truth. It is said that truth sounds like hate to those who hate the truth. Perhaps that’s why Jesus says in John 15:25: THEY HATED ME FOR NO REASON.’

In today’s text we see an account of a woman who was blessed because she took no offense at Jesus.  A Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely demon-possessed.” But He did not answer her with even a word. And His disciples came up and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us!” But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” Yet He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” And she said, “Yes, Lord; but please help, for even the dogs feed on the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed at once.  Rather than take offense at the truth of what Jesus said, the woman answered His truth, not with protest or indignation, not by being offended. Rather, she answered His truth, with additional truth. She understood that she was not worthy. That’s why she asked for mercy. She knew that all she needed was to be touched by the crumbs of the kingdom of heaven, to be blessed; not offended by the truth.

We each, in the same way, need to choose whether we will be blessed or offended by the truth. In John 3:16-21 Jesus says: God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him. The one who believes in Him is not judged; the one who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the Light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light, so that his deeds will not be exposed. But the one who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds will be revealed as having been performed in God.” We need to choose whether we will believe and receive the truth and be blessed, or take offense, choosing darkness rather than light.

The world, our culture and society, says that truth is relative, that each person can have their own truth. Jesus says: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)   Some are offended to hear that Jesus is the only way to the Father. They believe their own truth, which is really a lie. Like the woman in today’s text, based on our own heritage, we are not worthy of the blessings of Christ. Psalm 53:1-3 says: The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and have committed abominable injustice; There is no one who does good. God has looked down from heaven upon the sons of mankind To see if there is anyone who understands, Who seeks after God. Every one of them has turned aside; together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.  In spite of that, Romans 5:8 says: God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Like the woman, all we need are just the crumbs from the kingdom of heaven. Jesus though does not give us just crumbs. By His mercy and grace, through believing, we receive all that the kingdom of heaven has to offer. Ephesians 1:3 says: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. In Christ we are blessed with all that we need. It is not only in heaven though that we have those blessings. In John 10:10 Jesus says: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came so that they would have life, and have it abundantly.”  In Christ we have been given the abundance of the kingdom of heaven here and now.

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come.
Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.