How to take a Cheap shot at Satan Matthew 11:25-30

My family and I love going to local events. Every year here in Saginaw, TX we have what is called “Taste of Northwest”. It is a vendor fair that hosts the local restaurants and businesses and is similar to a carnival. This year was a little less exciting but it is still good to eat dinner from all of the samples.

One particular booth was from a local church. I usually pay particular attention to the church ones to see how they evangelize or recruit for members. This one had a punching buddy (a punching bag that looks like a person) with a red cape around it and horns on his head. When a person would pass by they would say “Hey, take a shot at Satan!” “Punch him out!” Then they would give out some pamphlets about their church. I didn’t have any contact with them so I do not know if there was any evangelizing going on.

In today’s passage Jesus prayed to the Father and thanked Him for revealing who He was to the people. Then he says something like; “Come to me all who are tired and weary and I will give you rest.” Does this mean that after a hard days work that we go to Jesus and He will restore us? Well, He could but in this context Jesus is referring to those that have been battling the BONDAGE of Satan. You see many people think that they have to CLEAN UP THEIR life BEFORE making the decision to follow Jesus. But Jesus says in this passage that it is HE that can and will free us of the bondage and we can REST.

I do not believe that we have to battle Satan at all. Yes the Bible says that we have power over scorpions and snakes but the source of this power does not come from us. It comes from Jesus but I do not think it is actually us but rather Him working through us. Remember when the disciples came to Him and said that they had a hard time getting rid of a demon? What was Jesus’ reply? “This type can only be done with prayer and fasting.” Prayer and Fasting are the two acts that we can do to refocus our source of strength, God. So is teaching people to hit or battle Satan biblical? I do not think so. I believe that our job is to “GO” and “TELL” people about Jesus. The fight between Satan and God is handled by God. Although we can be used by God to do this it is not our mandate.

Kind of freeing huh?

Fire Insurance Matthew 11:16-24

Today’s Reading: Matthew 11:16-24

Back in the 90’s there was a controversial archaeologist who claimed many finds that “proved” the Bible to be accurate. His name was Ron Wyatt. One of his claims was that of finding Sodom or Gommorah. As you can see form the picture that it burned from sulfur pellets that rained from heaven. It was a pretty bad situation as you can read it in Genesis chapter 19. The men are described as intentionally and continually sinning against God.

If we look at how the world is today, do not we see “sinning” against God willfully, intentionally, and continually? We live in the world after the revelation of Jesus Christ. Sodom and Gomorrah was before. How much worse will God punish those of today?

In today’s passage, Jesus is making the point that all of the miracles that He performed in Chorazin , Bethsaida, and Capernaum did nothing to sway them to repentance! He them proceeds to tell them how bad it could be. Picture this! You are sitting with your family and in an instant it starts raining “FIRE PELLETS” everything starts to catch fire; the house, the fences, crops, even the ground and the drinking water. Pretty bad huh? Jesus said that that will not compare to the destruction that is coming. It would be more tolerable for Sodom than for them.

Shouldn’t his put the “Fear of God” in us? Shouldn’t we get motivated and tell people? Of course we should. We need to stop living in spite of God but live FOR God.

Announcing the One the Only the…Matthew 11:1-15

Today’s Reading: Matthew 11:1-15 I occasionally love cheesy movies. OK I admitted in earlier posts that I like the old black belt theater movies but now I’m going a step further and saying that I love goofy, dumb, no sense, cheesy movies like “A Knight’s Tale” with the late Heath Leger. My favorite character is Geoffrey Chaucer played by Paul Bettany. The running theme is that he is the flamboyant herald to the Knight Von Leichtenstein. He is envied by the antagonist’s herald who tries to outperform him at the jousting events. Heralds were very important in those days. It was them who would announce the coming of the sovereign. When the sovereign was heralded by the herald everyone stopped and paid their respect by bowing or getting low to the ground. In today’s passage it would be appropriate to tell the story from a perspective other than Jesus but still highlight Him. John the baptist is in prison at this time and he is feeling a little unjustified. Remember this is the same John who was Jesus’ cousin and “leaped” in the womb when his mother Elizabeth was around the pregnant Mary. (Luke 1:41) The same John who ate locusts and honey while living in the desert. This is the same John who wore camel skins for clothes. Also the same John who was foretold that he would  be the forerunner to Christ. He was also the one appointed to baptize Jesus. He was put in jail because he was the one who told Herod that it is wrong to “be” with his brother’s wife. While he was in jail he probably was at an emotional low. (Ya think?) He probably experienced doubts about what he heard about Jesus. He probably wanted a vindication of what he was teaching was true. So John sent some of his disciples to Jesus to ask Him if he IS the Messiah or should they seek another. Then Jesus replied to the disciples and instructed them that “Go and report to John what you hear and see the blind see, the lame walk, those with skin diseases are healed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news. And if anyone is not offended because of Me, he is blessed.” Then He goes on to add that those who went to see that which was in the was greater than what they expected. It was Jesus’ own herald, the one who was prophesied about by the prophets – John. When we go to evangelize we are in a sense heralds. We are commanded to “proclaim” that the Messiah has come and is coming again. Can you picture if we heralded the coming Messiah like Chaucer did in the movie mentioned above?

The Hidden Golden Rule Matthew 10:40-42

Today’s Reading: Matthew 10:40-42

I like to run occasionally  Very occasionally and when I run my favorite part is about half way when the water station is there. I don’t necessarily like trying to drink the abnormally small cups of water but rather watching the other people trying to drink theirs.

When you go another state whether for vacation or for visiting family do you go to another church? How well do they treat you? Good I hope. In this passage Jesus is trying to tell His disciples that He represents the Father and they represent Him. So they should act like it but also they should treat those who are also Christians.

How well do we fit this? Do we treat all Christians as representatives of Christ? Do we ACT like representatives of Christ?

Quick! Duck! Here comes Jesus! Matthew 10:32-39

Today’s Reading: Matthew 10:32-39

Have you ever been somewhere and seen someone you know but hide because you don’t want people to know that you know that person? It’s usually someone who embarrasses you. This person may be a rather LOUD and IN YOUR FACE type. Come on you know the type of person I’m referring to. Kind of the Cousin Eddie from “Christmas Vacation”.
What about the people from your church? You know the ones that are a little “too Christian”? Do you duck out of the way so you don’t have to be seen with them?
Jesus made a comment just after He taught that the disciples what it means to fear God. He said that anyone  “who will acknowledge Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven.” You might be thinking “I would NEVER deny Jesus”. But we have to some extent. Have you ever felt that you should have told a person about Jesus but instead made an excuse? “They probably already go to church” you might say. Or, “They might already be Christian and I might offend them”.
Jesus addressed this. He said to the disciples that they should not think that He came to bring PEACE and HARMONY to the world. Father will be against daughter and son. Brother will be against brother. All types
of relationship will be broken because of Him and what He is.
Anyone who “doesn’t take up his cross and follow HIM is not worthy of HIM. Anyone finding his life will lose it, and anyone losing his life because of HIM will find it” (capitalization mine and changed ‘me’ to HIM).
How often do we think of this? How often do we “Deny” Jesus. If He were in Walmart you you want to be seen with Him?

How to have the Right Fear Matthew 10:26-31

Today’s Reading: Matthew 10:26-31

One of the objectives of Marine boot camp is to eliminate the fear of dying. A soldier who is afraid is also reluctant to go into battle and therefore useless. These guys train volunteers by putting them through “Confidence Courses”. It’s amazing to see young men clam up when they are asked to climb a 20 foot wall with no safety rope. Then after they complete the course most break down into a giddy laugh. It is then when they realize they are fearing the wrong things. They no longer fear death but rather fear that the person next to them will die. Any soldier will tell you that they don’t do the things they do for themselves, it is for the guy next to them. This attitude change and change in what they fear is what makes them so effective.

Yesterday we read about how Jesus sent his disciples out with instructions. He told them that it was not going to be easy and they will face hard times against people that will not like them very much. Now, in this passage Jesus is laying the “get over it” factor. He puts into perspective of Whom they SHOULD be fearing.

“Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul;o ratherfear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” 

Who do you fear? The one who is making fun of you when you are trying to do the right thing? How about the one who threatens to harms you or your family? OR
Do you FEAR the one who has the power to speak eternity into existence or oblivion? How about the One who’s very name has more power than all of the suns in the universe. How about the One who “thought up the universe and how it is all held together? How about the One who knows the thoughts we have and still loves us?
Isn’t it freeing and liberating that we FEAR the One who loves us and knows our name? Isn’t it good to know that we can call Him “Father”?
This is the same type of “Healthy” fear that the soldiers have. We shouldn’t FEAR God because HE is able to do these things but rather we should FEAR Him because of the person next to us. We should FEAR Him enough to tell that person about what Christ has done!
So, what are you afraid of? GO!

We’re on a Mission from God! Matthew 10:16-25

Today’s Reading: Matthew 10:16-25
If someone told you that if you followed him that you would be made fun of, beaten, out-casted, bullied, thrown in jail for false accusations, or killed… would you still follow? What if the person promised that if you did these and endured he would reward you? You would probably base your decision on what that reward is wouldn’t you?

What if that person was Jesus?
Jesus told his disciples at he was sending them out into hostile territory. He says that the tasks that is before them is an impossible task should they choose to accept it (cue Mission Impossible music) was NOT going to be easy. In the book “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs” by John Foxe illustrates and records that the words Jesus spoke were correct. They were beaten, fed to lions, crucified, and hated. 
Today we do not hear about the same type of persecutions BUT they still happen. You see the world is an enemy of God. If we live like the world, talk like the world, then we will NOT experience the blessings of God and we become an “enemy” of God. However, if we live for God, follow Him, obey Him, we become the enemy of the World. Jesus says that because of Him we will experience persecutions such as the aforementioned. I have heard it said that if you are not being persecuted you are not portraying Christ. Does this mean that you are constantly going to experience trials? NO! Not at all but Jesus did promise that “those that ENDURE to the end will be delivered.” I think that Jesus means that we go through persecutions so that we may SEE God’s work more clearly. 
Think about this! There was once a man who was so hated that he was constantly on the move for fear of his life. He was “with far more labors,many more imprisonments, far worse beatings, near death many times. Five times I received 39 lashes from Jews. Three times I was beaten with rods by the Romans.Once I was stoned by my enemies. Three times I was shipwrecked I have spent a night and a day in the open sea. On frequent journeys, I faced dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, dangers from the Gentiles,dangers in the city,dangers in the open country,dangers on the sea,and dangers among false  brothers;  labor and hardship,many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, cold, and lacking clothing.” 1 Corinthians 11:23-27
Yet he still served God and NEVER waivered. How much more should we?
As you go through your day today, think about how many times you “follow” Jesus and how many times you notice that the “world” is against you.

Commissioned by Jesus! Matthew 10:1-15

Today’s Reading: Matthew 10:1-15

During World War II General Patton was know to give lengthy but inspiring speeches to the troops. He would be blunt and harsh with his words. However effective as these were he was contributed as to building up soldiers to fight with fervor and honor. He was also known for his berating soldiers who were cowards and gutless.
Jesus in this passage gave a similar speech to his disciples, without the harshness and berating. He commissioned 12 soldiers …er um… disciples. He told them to go into their own people, the Jews. He gave them power to heal and drive out demons. Some have commented that they were probably reluctant in going out but I beg to differ. Jesus Himself gave the command to go. He told them to their face to go. I believe that they were so anxious to go that they didn’t hesitate at all.
Also Jesus told them to not take any money or an extra set of clothes. Why? So that they were COMPLETELY dependant on God. If they had brought items on their trips it could be said that they did these things under their OWN power. Who gets glory in that? Right they do, but the person who should get Glory, Honor and Praise in this God. So it was necessary to bring NOTHING.
As you go about your day today observe things you do under your own power and things you do under Jesus’ power. Which is better? What is your motivation for your actions? (This is one that I struggle with ALL the time).
 Here are a few questions that I think will help with your study this morning:

What does this passage say?
What does this passage mean?
What is God telling me?
How am I encouraged and strengthened?
Is there sin in my life for which confession and repentance is needed?
How can I be changed, so I can learn and grow?
What is in the way of these precepts affecting me? What is in the way of my listening to God?
How does this apply to me? What will I do about it?
What can I model and teach?
What does God want me to share with someone?

If you are keeping a journal, write these in there and your answers.

(PS It’s good to be back)