BIBLE READING: MATTHEW 17
5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
This is a special exchange between God the Father, and His son, Jesus. I had a pastor friend tell me one time that this verse is an example to parents of THREE things that they should say to their child every day. I can’t say that I’ve done it every day, but I have tried to say it more frequently and I think it’s a good idea.
1. I AM THANKFUL FOR YOU
“This is my…Son.” God was letting everyone know that Jesus was His Son. I hope that our children know that we are thankful that they belong to us. I hope they know that we are thankful that they are in our home. I hope they know that we are thankful that we get to raise them, protect them, and love them. Today, make sure you let your children know that you are thankful that they are “your” children.
2. I LOVE YOU
“This is my beloved Son.” God wanted Jesus to know that He loved Him, and God wanted everyone else to know that He loved his Son. If God felt that he needed to say that to his son, should we not say that to our children. Maybe that is something that is difficult for you as a parent to say. Everyone is different, and everyone communicates differently. But your children need to know and hear you say that you love them. Make sure you tell them today.
3. I AM PROUD OF YOU
“In whom I am well pleased.” It’s a difficult job raising children. It is that fine line where you feel guilty if you’re not constantly instructing, then you feel guilty that you are constantly instructing. Where does mercy and discipline intersect? All I know is, we all need to be told that someone is proud of us. It is a natural, innate need in all of our lives. It’s important for children to know when they’ve done wrong, and to correct them for that. Make sure they know that you are proud of them. Make sure they know that they do not need to earn or perform in order for you to be proud of them. Make sure you tell them today that you are proud of them.
BIBLE READING: MATTHEW 16
15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven:…..
21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Things can change quickly, can’t they? One minute, Jesus is giving a great complement to Peter, and just a few verses later Jesus calls him Satan, and rebukes him. One minute, Peter is getting the keys to the kingdom, and the next he is offending Jesus.
We are all like that, sometimes aren’t we? One day we are on the mountain top, and the next day we are in the valley. One day we are shouting the victory, and the next day we are drowning in defeat. One day we are on fire for the Lord, and the next day the fire has burnt out. This does not surprise Jesus. He knows us, and He knows our faults, failures, and tendencies.
Because of this, Jesus gives the way to prevent some of these ups and downs:
* “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
Denying ourselves is a difficult task. Our flesh likes to have the preeminence. I guess just about everything in our Christian life boils down to this. Either we’re going to make it about the Lord, or we are going to make it about ourselves. The Christian life is not an easy one. It takes work, sacrifice, and great effort. If we’re going to faithfully serve the Lord, there is a cross that we must bear. We must take it up and carry it as we follow Christ. Our flesh does not want to do these things, but Jesus said that these are things we must do if we are going to “follow” Him. Let me simplify it this way:
* Lose yourself, Lift your cross, and Look to Jesus.
BIBLE READING; MATTHEW 15
1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,
2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
Don’t you just love how Jesus always handled Himself. Jesus was always one step ahead. Jesus truly is wisdom. Jesus was never intimidated. He was in the minority while He was here on earth, but Jesus was always the one really in control.
The Pharisees come thinking they have a legitimate complaint. “Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.” Here they go on their traditions again. This time they thought they were ahead of things. A real big complaint, this one, the disciples not washing their hands. Their indictment was “why do the disciples transgress our tradition”? Jesus response was “why do you transgress God by your tradition”? See what Jesus did there? Jesus placed God as more important than their tradition, as He should be.
You and I need to be careful to be more worried about pleasing God, than keeping a tradition. The Pharisees were governed by their traditions, we need to be governed by God. We should live our life, not worried if we are breaking some rule, but if we are breaking God’s heart. What was worse in this passage, the disciples having dirty hands, or the Pharisees having dirty hearts?
BIBLE READING; MATTHEW 14
1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus,
2 And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.
3 For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife.
4 For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.
Some things never change. The first 12 verses of this chapter are a horrible story. John is in jail because he spoke the truth. Herod wanted to kill him but knew that the people saw John as a prophet, so he didn’t. Then Herod is seduced by his own niece as she danced provocatively for him and promises her she can have anything she wants. And she said she wanted the head of John. So, he had him killed him over something like that. It’s a sad story.
It all started because John was put in jail by Herod for telling him something he did not want to hear, the truth. Some things never change. People still do not like the man of God to tell them what they do not want to hear. No one likes to be told that they’re wrong. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Preachers don’t enjoy telling people that they’re wrong. Preachers like me know that we are wrong ourselves on things, so it is never enjoyable to do that. What John told Herod was the truth, but Herod did not like it and threw him in jail. Any preacher worth his salt always tells the truth, but that does not mean that people enjoy it.
Each of us need to make sure that we are always open to being told the truth. Even if it hurts, we must obey God’s Word. We should always be thankful for someone that is willing to tell the truth. I imagine that Herod is burning in hell right now. If only he had listened to the man of God. Some things never change!
BIBLE READING; MATTHEW 13
3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
We know the parable. We are to sow the seed and whether or not there is growth or not depends on the type of ground that the seed falls on. When we sow the seed of God’s Word, that is why sometimes there are individuals that grow and do well, and then other individuals that hear the same thing and never really grow. When the heart is fertile, the seed can grow. When the heart is hardened, the seed cannot.
I want us to briefly look at verse eight. Here we are told about the “good ground”. Good ground brings forth fruit. It is interesting to me that even when good ground grows fruit, we are told that some grows more fruit than others. He says, “some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold”. I do not know why it is that some people bear more fruit than others. Not everybody is going to do the same thing. Not everyone will grow the same way. Not everyone will bear as much fruit as others. I guess each of us today need to consider, how much fruit are we going to bear. Are we going to be the thirtyfold the sixtyfold, or the hundredfold type of Christian? I think each of us need to make sure that we are the “good ground” type of Christian, but we also need to try to be as fruitful as possible. I believe every Christian should bear fruit, but there are just some that have decided to bear as much fruit as possible. May we be that kind of person today. Not everybody is going to be a hundredfold type of follower, but some need to be.
“Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
BIBLE READING; MATTHEW 12
43 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.
44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.
45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.
We have seen this scenario over and over. An individual that tries to clean up their life, change their habits and perspectives, and working hard to “sweep clean” their life. Usually in the process, they weep, cry, and beg God for mercy and forgiveness. Then it seems when the house gets cleaned up and straightened out, they grow comfortable, lazy, prideful, and go right back to the dirt they were in.
It is sad, and yet we all have been there. We all know the misery of looking around and realizing how badly we have messed up our “house“ and how we feel like such failures. We all have experienced the long-suffering mercy of God, and the forgiveness He freely gives. We have all experienced the patient “sweeping” that God does of the dirt in our life. We’ve all had our house put back in order through God’s grace. The problem is that so often we have gone right back to the mess. We have proceeded only to dirty the house worse.
Jesus makes an interesting statement here, He says, “the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation”. Jesus says it will grow more and more common to see people do this. The problem is that the last stage of their life ends up worse than the first. The mess gets worse and worse. I encourage you today, get your house clean. I also encourage you today to keep it clean. When you and I resort back to past sins, it always gets worse each time. We do not need to be part of this “wicked generation”.