Not a Piece of Cake

 JULY 7

MATTHEW 6:17_and wash thy face.

Maybe Jesus added this instruction just in case you did pour that bucket of oil on your head! More likely He added it as a way of saying, “Get up and prepare for the day just as you would any day.”

Food is the source of the body’s energy. When that source is denied energy begins to deplete. When you feel tired and lack energy, the sad, disfigured face could come naturally. Whether it is natural or not, Jesus does not want you to draw attention to your fast. He wants you up and at it. Jesus wants you to receive the blessing He has in store during this time of self-denial. 

Self-denial is not easy for whatever reason you are denying yourself, and certainly denying the body of its food source is no piece of cake. Hmm, probably not the best wording when discussing fasting. If the purpose of your fast is to be spiritually strengthened, trust that will happen. Once the fast is over, you may glean from your spiritual benefits for months to come.

Transformation is progressive. Some parts are instantaneous (like your love for Jesus), some come short term, and some transformations are a long term process. Only the One who loves and wants your very best will re-create you – so your spirit, not physical, controls your actions.

PRAYER

Loving Jesus, Please give me the strength when I need to deny myself. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ denied Himself—He did it to love me!

No Trespassing

JUNE 28

MATTHEW 6:15_But if ye forgive not men their trespasses…

God’s path for life is freedom – you will never find a No Trespassing sign on God’s path. Feel free to roam, explore, and enjoy His path.

But God definitely places some No Trespassing signs. You will find them on the paths which lure from His path.

God empowered Joshua to lead His people into the Promised Land. In Joshua 1:7 (KJV), God says, “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest.” There is an obvious plan here. You will need strength and courage to stay on God’s path. Do not stray – at all.

Moses was called to continue Abraham’s job. Joshua was called to continue Moses’ job. A new country for God’s people – designed by God, and for God. There were to be no other gods, no other laws, no other forms of worship – God’s only. To allow anything apart from God’s design was to stray.

When you set up a life designed by you and for you – you’ve strayed. You have decided straying a little to the right or left is not really a bad thing. 

What becomes of God’s wanting to bless you wherever life takes you?           

PRAYER

One True God, Thank You for Your path that causes me to be blessed. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ knows the path I should take—He will guide me!

The Win-Win

MAY 17

MATTHEW 6:4_and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

Proverbs 15:3 (KJV), “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.”

God is omnipresent. He never lets you out of His sight. Some people can be intimidated by this verse thinking God keeps check on everything they do. He does! But, that’s a very good thing!

God loves you enough to prod you when you’re headed astray, and to bless you when you’ve done a good deed. II Chronicles 16:9 (KJV), “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him…”

Jesus says your Father is everywhere, showing His strength. Let there be no doubt about it. There isn’t any place, or any way, you can hide from God. Why would you want to?

To hide from God would be like trying to outrun love.

A love that never fails.

A love that draws you close to your Creator.

A love that would die for you.

A love that did die for you.

A love that gave you eternal life.

God sees in secret and rewards in the open. Live out the creation principles Jesus teaches! Become a salty-lit-up disciple who gives God glory.

That’s a win-win!

PRAYER

Jesus God, Thank You that You are always with me—anytime, anywhere. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen. 

Christ is omnipresent—He will never leave me!

What Jesus Wants

MAY 13

MATTHEW 6:3_But when thou doest thine alms…

Jesus wants you to receive heavenly rewards. Jesus wants you to be generous. Jesus wants you to do good deeds. Jesus wants your righteousness to shine in the darkness. Jesus wants your blessings on others to salt their faith as a preservative. 

The truth is, Jesus doesn’t need you to do any of these things. Jesus loves and desires you. Jesus allows His love to flow through you. Jesus chose to let His power be a part of who you are – not something He needed to do. He chose you to do alms (charitable works and giving) for Him. To do alms for Jesus is enough in itself. How incredible is it He wants to reward you for it?

The great evangelist John Wesley caught hold of this teaching. Check out his famous saying:

Do all the good you can                                                               

By all the means you can                     

 In all the ways you can                                                 

In all the places you can      

At all the times you can                                                                           

To all the people you can                                                                            

As long as ever you can

PRAYER

Lord Jesus, I want to do good in the world. Please help me use my life in a way that brings glory to the Bible. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ does good to all people—He helps me do good!

A Salty Residue

MAY 2

MATTHEW 5:46_For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?

We like rewards, especially when we have worked hard to receive them. We like to see an accomplishment receive its due credit. 

In the kingdom of heaven, we don’t necessarily work to be rewarded – but God does use that system. Our work for God is to love His people by being salt and light in a dark and thirsting world. The fact that God rewards us for that is a blessing.

Just because we love those who love us does not win a blue ribbon. Jesus said even tax collectors (publicans) can do that. Let’s take a moment and clarify tax collectors. In case either or both of your parents work for the IRS, don’t think they are the chief of sinners. During Jesus’ earth time, Israel was occupied by the Romans. The Romans demanded taxes from the Israelites. Tax collectors were considered enemies. Hebrews who worked for the Roman government to collect taxes from their fellow neighbors were considered traitors. Rome allowed the Hebrew tax collectors to charge extra for themselves (under the table). Therefore, if Jesus wanted to leave a graphic image of the worst of sinners, tax collectors were a good choice. Jesus says even bad or weak people can love those who love them.

And for the record, Jesus taught to pay taxes – even they went to Caesar. But He did not defend the Hebrew who stole extra tax money.

Returning good for evil leaves a salty residue.

PRAYER

God of Love, Please don’t let my love be weak, let it be powerful. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.                                                                                                             

Christ loves those who don’t love Him—He helps me to!