“The Real McCoy”

Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew chapters five, six and seven is wholly original. Nothing like it had ever been preached before. While Pharisees and scribes almost always cited Old Testament references for their lesson points, Jesus used the Old Testament in a different way.

Six times in Matthew chapter five the phrases, “it was said,” and “but, I say to you,” were given by the Lord. Jesus was showing the truth of the Bible’s teachings in contrast to the narrow, limited and often mistaken applications of Jewish leaders. Continue reading ““The Real McCoy””

My stubborn will

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it!” (Matthew 23:37 NET).

Jesus knew the city of Jerusalem so well. He had witnessed its founding and watched as King David took the city and made it his capital.

But he had also watched Jerusalem overcome by the idolatry and sin that characterized it in the Divided Kingdom and saw it led into bitter captivity to the Babylonians. Continue reading “My stubborn will”

To see our faults

One of the most common problems people have is an inability to see their own faults.

It’s just like the man who always met the preacher at the back of the church on Sunday and said, “You really told ‘em good, preacher!” This went on several Sundays until one day in February when a deep snow fell and the only one in church was that man. The preacher thought, “Well, now’s my chance!” After a lesson designed to point out the man’s faults, the man met the preacher at the back of the church and said, “If they had all been here, you would have really told ‘em good, preacher!” Continue reading “To see our faults”

Home

In the April 2017 edition of Reader’s Digest, former Major League Baseball manager Rich Donnelly wrote, “Baseball is similar to life. You start out at home and get a little older (first base). Then, in adulthood, you’re the furthest from home you’ve ever been (second base). You get older and wiser (third base) and see home plate. Then, you realize that where you want to be is where you already were.”

As Jesus stood before the threshold of death on the cross, he told his disciples they could not go with him (John 13:36). Ever the brash one, Peter took exception. He told the Master that he would follow him anywhere and even give his own life for the Lord. Jesus knew what he said had caused his disciples to become apprehensive. Continue reading “Home”

Love through humble service

Mark’s gospel shows Jesus as God’s suffering servant on a mission. Eleven times in chapter one alone, Mark uses the word “immediately” to describe the action surrounding the son of God. Everything Jesus did seemed to happen quickly. He is shown as God’s inexhaustible servant.

In Mark chapter nine, the Master showed how our thinking sometimes gets in the way of being the kind of servant God wants. While on the way to Capernaum, Jesus’ disciples had been arguing. When they arrived, the Lord asked them what they had been arguing about. They had been fighting for prominence in the coming kingdom. Continue reading “Love through humble service”

Context is important

Context is important. If you heard the words, “dead dog,” all that would tell you is that a dog is dead. There is no other information. Yet, the more information added to that statement would bring out what happened to the dog.

Interpreting the Bible is a matter of understanding the context of a passage under consideration, and  the context of the chapter and of the book. Disregarding the context is one of the reasons why people can make costly mistakes in understanding God’s word. Continue reading “Context is important”

You people of little faith

Just before Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount, his disciples were with him (Matthew 5:1). From at least that point until Peter confessed Jesus is the Christ his disciples were constantly present. They heard lesson after lesson and saw miracle after miracle. So, why on three occasions in the book of Matthew did he accuse them as being people of “little faith?”

In Matthew 8, Jesus had been teaching people in Capernaum and then “got into a boat.” God’s word doesn’t say why Jesus got into a boat, but what happens afterward is good evidence why. Jesus was asleep when a storm developed and threatened to toss everyone overboard.  The disciples woke the Master saying, “Lord, save us! We are about to die! (Matthew 8:25 NET). Jesus said, “Why are you cowardly, you people of little faith?” Continue reading “You people of little faith”

“Go, your son lives”

The Gettysburg Address was only 272 words. It took Abraham Lincoln less than three minutes to deliver it. Edward Everett, the famous orator and U.S. senator who preceded Lincoln spoke for two hours from a prepared manuscript of more than 13,000 words.

After Lincoln’s speech, Everett wrote the president saying, “I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you did in two minutes.”

The Lord Jesus Christ said more in four words than some could say in 13,000. Continue reading ““Go, your son lives””

The burden of selfishness

People carry some very heavy burdens in this life. There are burdens they would like to drop, but sometimes they just do not know how.

The rich ruler of Luke chapter 18 had the heavy burden of his possessions. The Lord Jesus knew the weight this man was carrying. He tried to help him get rid of it, but the young man left with his burden intact. It must have been sorrowful, indeed, to watch this man leave eternal life behind to carry a burden that might result in him losing his soul. Continue reading “The burden of selfishness”

Abundant life is a life sacrificed

What is the abundant life?

Jesus said that he came that people might have an abundant life (John 10:10). The prosperity preachers think that Jesus meant he came so that we would be rich in money and possessions. How truly they misunderstand the son of God!

A study of John 10 shows exactly what Jesus meant. The Lord began by saying he is the door of the sheep (John 10:1, 7). After the sheep were placed in an enclosure for the night, the shepherd put his body across the entrance. Wolves would, therefore, have to take the shepherd’s life before gaining access to the sheep. Continue reading “Abundant life is a life sacrificed”