ANSWER THIS QUESTION

The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked. —Matthew 21:10

This is a question that needs to be asked about Jesus. There was a Pharaoh of Egypt who said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go” (Exodus 5:2). The stubborn ignorance of Pharaoh led to the destruction of his army and his country. So will be the end of any nation whose leaders do not know the Lord and are against His people. It will only lead to eventually destruction.

“Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance. From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth—he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” —Psalm 33

Pharaoh should have put his hope in the Lord and not in himself. His choice brought destruction upon his people. So it will be for any nation. Godless leaders will only do harm to their people because they have their own interests in mind and not the best interests of the people or of God’s.

“Who is this?” And the crowds replied, “Its Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” He is Light, Life, Love, Bread, Water, Righteousness, Justification, Redemption, Salvation, King, Christ, Lord, Friend, Forgiveness, Truth, Creator, Sustainer, First-Born from the Dead, Savior, Word, Compassion, Peace, Lamb, Shepherd, Son, Comforter, Corner Stone, Servant, Captain, Head, Vine, Judge and so much more! Do you know Him? I truly hope so. He is man’s only hope in this life and in the life to come.

Dear Father, thank You for sending Jesus that we could be saved from our sin and saved to a relationship with You through Him. Out of the gratitude of my heart may I live as You desire in the Holy Spirit’s power. May it be so!

AN AUTHENTIC LEADER IS A SERVANT

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” —Matthew 20:25-28

How do you think our world would be different if everyone had a servant’s heart? Instead of wanting people do something for us, what if we did something for them? How about this one— instead of wanting government to do something for us (entitlements), why don’t we do something for them? Yeh, life would be different, wouldn’t it?

But the selfish nature of man desires to be served and not to serve. Countries with dictators bear this out. China, Cuba, Egypt, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Vietnam, Iran are just a few countries that rule with tyrants. Take a look at those leaders. What are they doing for the people? What are they doing for themselves? What is the motivation of their leadership?

If there was a list of the top ten tyrants of all time, Hitler would probably be in that list. A survivor of his brutal reign talks about her experience, but also gives a warning to those of us in America. Here’s what she says http://www.wnd.com/2015/01/holocaust-survivor-booted-from-public-schools/#TxUwckE81c7gUijV.01 and I hope you think about this. But when you think about tyrannical regimes we must take a hard look at what we have done to children in the womb here in the United States. We can point the finger at other countries, but look at the dastardly selfishness which, as a nation, has killed well over 50,000,000 children in the womb. As a nation, would we be in the top 10 list from God’s perspective?

Tyrants do not extend liberty to those under them. They like to be in control. They keep tabs on people. They are ever watching for people to step out of line— the line the tyrant has drawn. Here in the U.S. we have lost economic freedom. “The United States has ranked 12th in the world in economic freedom, according to an annual report compiled by the Heritage Foundation. The country remained out of the top 10, despite small improvements to its score”— http://rt.com/usa/227247-us-economic-freedom-ranking/. This should be concerning.

Jesus told His disciples in the context of the verses above to not seek to be served, but instead we are to seek to be a servant. We are to look out for the interests of other people and not just for our own interests (Philippians 2:3-4). Just gives us the top priority in being a leader when He told the disciples “Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave.” Wow, if world, national, state, city & town, school, church or any leader on this planet led like that— this would be a different world! Of course, it will never happen perfectly until Jesus comes back to reign. Then we will see it!

Dear Father, please help me to have a servant’s heart in Jesus’ authority.

BE JOYFUL, NOT JEALOUS

Should you be jealous because I am kind to others? —Matthew 10:15

How do you feel when someone else gets a promotion at work? How do you feel when someone’s business is doing much better than yours? How do you feel when another person gets a better grade or whose place is higher at graduation? How do you feel when another team takes the championship? How do you feel with others seem to be in perfect health and your health is failing? How do you feel when others seem to have things going better in their life than the things in your life?

Are you content with what God has graciously given you or are you jealous over what He has given others? Are you joyful when good things happen to others but not to you? Are you content with whom God has made you to be or do you wish you were someone else?

According to the context of the verse above, the foreman in the parable was told to pay each person a day’s wage. The owner wanted to be gracious to each one. So those who worked from early morning, from 9am, from noon, from 3pm and from 5pm all received the same pay. Those who worked from early morning were not happy about it even though they were paid what they agreed to. Just because the others were paid the same, even those who only worked for one hour, those working from early morning believed they should get paid more and because they did not they said the owner was unfair. But this was not the case. They got paid exactly what was agreed upon. The owner was gracious to those not working all day. He was not unfair.

So it is with us. Just because someone else is blessed doesn’t mean that we are not. They may be being blessed in a different way, but that does not mean God has not blessed us! Maybe we would understand this more if we looked at how good God has been to us and not to measure that by how good God has been to others. Let us be joyful for how God is blessing other people, but let us not forget how He has blessed us and be joyfully thankful for that as well. Besides, what greater blessing for the believer than that which is still ahead— heaven where we will be with Jesus forever and with all those who love Him!

Dear Father, may I ponder the ways You have graciously blessed me through Your Son, Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit. May joy fill my life and may I be joyful also for the way You bless others. May it be so!

THE LOVE OF WEALTH ETERNALLY DESTROYS

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. —Mathew 19:23

Let’s say right now you were given the opportunity to receive $1,000,000 or eternal life through Jesus. Which would you take- the money or eternal life through Jesus? Unfortunately, the vast majority would take the $1,000,000.

But this is not new. The lure of wealth, or I should say the love of wealth, has destroyed many lives. It is not wealth itself. Wealth itself is neutral. It is the love of wealth that people are lured by. They think “If only I had $1,000,000 life would be so much better.” I could help other people. I could… But why not do that now with what you have? Life does not consist in wealth. It could include wealth but real life is known only by a relationship with God through Jesus Christ (Matthew 4:4; John 10:10; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Romans 6:23). Unfortunately the vast majority of people, regardless of how much or little wealth they have, depend on that wealth and not on the Lord Jesus. Deuteronomy Chapter 8 shows how this can happen.

Jesus had much to say about wealth being the focus of one’s life. In Luke 12:13-21 Jesus told the Parable of the Rich Fool. This man was only focused on material possessions, not on others and surely not on his relationship to God. Just when he was entering into a self-satisfying early retirement he suddenly died. Unfortunately, he only thought about himself. Now he would face God’s judgment. It would not be good.

Going along with this, Jesus told the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. Again, this super wealthy man had all the world could offer, but he did not heed God’s messengers or God’s Word. The severely sick beggar, Lazarus, just desired crumbs from this man’s table. The story never mentions whether he received any or not. The point is, like all of us will do, the wealthy man died. He faced God’s eternal judgment in hell because of his non-existent relationship with God. Lazarus, on the other hand when he died, was a believer and went to heaven. Yes, the love of wealth eternally destroys many lives.

Dear Father, please help me to focus on that which is eternal and not the temporal. May I live wisely with the wealth that you have given me, but may my focus be on what You desire to be done with that wealth in the authority of Jesus.

FORGIVE!

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven! —Matthew 18:21-22
Have you truly forgiven that person? To forgive means to never bring it up again. We may not forget it and there may still be hurt that we have to work through, but to forgive is to “let it go.” To not forgive is to “hold on to it.” So, who is it you have not forgiven, but need to?
Forgiveness— we cannot really understand it until we understand the forgiveness that the Lord God Almighty extends to us. Nor can we understand that until we understand the seriousness of sin of which He forgives us… even the seriousness of just one sin! Nor can we understand the serious of sin until we understand somewhat of the holiness of God. Think about it. What is the sin a person may say is the least? Maybe it’s a so-called “little white lie.” Is water still water regardless of if it being a huge lake or one drop? Light is light and there is no darkness in it. The holiness of God is complete purity and there is no impurity with Him. For a person to be in heaven with God one day means that he cannot have any impurity in him at all. None! Not even a partial drop of impurity! So, how can a person get to heaven because we are all impure to one degree or another? We all are sinners.
Here is the marvel of marvels, the awesome love of God displayed, the forgiveness of God made possible to the least and greatest of all sinners through the final sacrifice of Jesus the Lamb of God. When He died on that cross we are told in First John 2:2 that He died for the sins of the whole world. The reason He did this was so that “whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Those who trust Jesus are forgiven because Jesus took the punishment we deserved and gave us the “righteousness of God” which we do not deserve (II Corinthians 5:21). Now we are to forgive as Jesus has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 2:13; 4:32).
For those of us who are following Jesus we need to understand the seriousness of forgiveness in our own lives. In Matthew 6:14-15 we read “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” May we ponder those words! They are life impacting!
Dear Father, help me to be a forgiving follower of Yours understanding how much You have forgiven me in Jesus. Oh, please help me not to harbor any type of unforgiveness, but in the power of You, Holy Spirit, to be able to forgive even those who desire to do me harm. May it be so!

LISTEN!

But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground. Then Jesus came over and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” —Matthew 17:5-7

Someone of importance comes to town people flock to hear what they have to say. It could be a world figure, a political figure or some other celebrity. Thousands of dollars are forked over just to have a meal in the presence of one of these people or to buy tickets to see them.

In the verses above the most important personage ever to be on this planet is largely ignored. Yet listen to what the Lord God Almighty said about His Son— “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” Are you listening to Him? Are you hearing Jesus?

“Listen to him.” That is not optional talk. That is a command to do so. We are commanded to listen to Jesus and to heed what He has to say. But, the majority of people take this as an option. Unfortunately, there is a large group that would call themselves Christians but they also do not listen to or heed what Savior Jesus is saying. It is a sad state to settle for.

May you and I hear what the Lord Jesus is saying and then be obedient to Him. This is what love for Him is (John 14:21) and how we show that we truly love His children (I John 5:2-3). May it be so!

Dear Father, may I listen to Jesus and live out what He desires through the power of the Holy Spirit. Yes, may this be the case!

DECEIVERS AMONG US

Watch out! Beware of … the deceptive teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees—Matthew 16:6, 12

There is much deception by communication. Many use their words to intentionally deceive others. We need not be paranoid, but we also don’t want to be gullible. It is the gullible that deceivers seek to deceive. Deceptive communication is when someone speaks what they appear to honestly believe to be true but they are intentionally misleading those they are communicating to. Today’s media does this all too often. I am very leery of today’s so-called journalism and do not take my “news” just from one source.

This type of deceptive communication not only occurs outside the Christian community, but also under the umbrella of those claiming to be Christians as well. Just because someone says they are a Christian doesn’t necessarily mean they are. This type of deception was happening in Jesus day with Judaism as mentioned in the verses above.

Just recently a Christian book that has sold one million copies was acknowledged to be a deceptive tale. One million people bought the book and I wonder how many thought it was true! There are many charlatans that operate as “sheep in wolves clothing.” For those of us who are truly seeking to be faithful to Jesus, this should be no surprise to us. God’s Word is clear that deceivers are among us (II John 1:7) and that wolves would seek to destroy the sheep (Acts 20:29). So, let us not be naïve, but may we be like the Bereans of Acts 17:10-12 who daily look into what they were hearing as to whether it was true or not. Yes, may we be like them.

Dear Father, please help me to not only communicate truth effectively, but also to listen effectively for truth. Oh, Holy Spirit, please help me to be discerning as to what is true and what is false. I am so grateful to know that Your Word is Truth. May I measure everything by Your Word and in the authority of Jesus.

COMPASSION ACTS!

I feel sorry for these people… they have nothing left to eat. —Matthew 15:32
Compassion—- When was the last time you had compassion for someone? Do you feel compassion for those who are hungry? For those who are thirsty? For those who are homeless? For those who need clothing? For those who are sick? For those who are in prison? For those who are facing injustice? For those who are oppressed? Do you have compassion on them?

Jesus did when people had been with Him for a few days, but they had nothing to eat. He was concerned for them. He had compassion on them and He was moved to do something about it. He asked the disciples how many loaves of bread they had. “Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.”

Jesus told the people to sit on the ground and He took the available food, gave thanks, broke them, gave them to His disciples to give to the people and everyone ate until they were satisfied. After everyone had eaten the disciples collected seven basketfuls of pieces that were left over. Jesus had feed 4,000 men plus women and children. Because He had compassion for the hungry He did something about it to help alleviate the problem.

Who are you having compassion on at this moment? Will you do something that will help with the situation? That is what true compassion does. True compassion does not just see a problem and walk away from it. True compassion seeks to help. May we do so!

Dear Father, may I be compassionate in practical ways in the authority of Jesus and for the encouragement of others. May this be so!

TRADITION

And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God? …And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition. —Matthew 15:2, 6

Hypocrites! Many people say that is why they do not want anything to do with church. Unfortunately, sometimes those who are “religious” do give opportunity for those who do not attend church to see their hypocrisy. Nobody is perfect so I am not talking about failing on occasion and we need to be transparent about that. No Christian is perfect. What I am talking about is not being obedient to the Word of God just to keep some “religious” tradition even though it can have a negative affect on those who do not attend church. Christians need to make sure they are being loving obedient to the Word of God and not to some tradition that can have a negative affect on people.

This is what Jesus was talking about in the context of the verses above. By keeping the tradition of ceremonial hand washing and wanting to force others to do the same, the religious leaders were violating the direct commands of God and making void the Word of God because of it. They were being hypocritical— claiming to be something that they were not. They were acting a part and it was having a negative affect on people.

May we as followers of Jesus live according to His Word faithfully so if anyone speaks against us it is for loving and living for Jesus and not for some man-made tradition that makes us look like hypocrites. There will always be those not following Jesus that will seek to find something wrong about those who are following Him, but let us not give them an occasion to do so. When we fail, may we be honest and up front about it and not make it look like we are something we are not—- perfect. That perfection will only be fully known once we get to heaven, but let us live faithfully for the Lord now. May it be so.

Dear Father, please help me not to cling to any tradition instead of Your Word. May I live faithfully in Jesus and not give an occasion for those who do not know Him to blaspheme His Name on account of me. Instead, by the way I live and by what I speak may I impact others in such a way that they would come to Jesus. May this be so!

BE AN ENCOURAGEMENT TODAY

Take courage. I am here! —Matthew 14:27

Discouragement is the lack of courage. Courage has left the person. To encourage someone is to put courage back into them. Will you do that today?

In the context of the verse above the disciples believed they had seen a ghost and were terrified. But it was Jesus walking on the water and He told them not to be afraid, but to take courage. Peter took courage and walked on the water toward Jesus. He was encouraged, but he lost that courage when he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the waves the strong wind was creating. He became terrified and started to sink.

Isn’t interesting that when Peter began to walk on the water looking at Jesus he was overcoming his fears and was encouraged. It was when he put his eyes on the circumstances he now found himself in, away from the relative safety of the boat and his feet now holding him up on the water, it was then that he began to sink. Fortunately he called out for Jesus to save him from drowning in the circumstance.

Today, may the Lord work through you to reach out to someone who may be “close to drowning” in their circumstances. Oh that He would use you to put courage back into that person. Yes, that you would encourage them.

Dear Father, help me to be sensitive to the person or persons I could be an encouragement to today. May I do so in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus. May it be so!