A Big Stick

SEPTEMBER 18

MATTHEW 7:4_and behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

According to Zechariah 2:8 (KJV), God considers Israel as the apple of His eye, “For thus saith the Lord of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me [an angel] unto the nations which spoiled you [Israel]: for he that toucheth you [Israel] toucheth the apple of his [God’s] eye.”

Paul saw Israel and the Jews as the apple of God’s eye. He saw Christians as a blot in God’s eye. He could not see the true blot – his own sect, the Pharisees.

God saw the fervor with which Paul attacked Christians. And because God sees the heart, it was clear Paul’s fervor came from love and devotion to God. It was that love and devotion which caused God to choose Paul (not the other way around) to become a two-fold fixer for His beloved Israel.

God used Paul’s great zeal to publically proclaim Jesus as the Messiah. This cleared away the beam from the eyes of any Pharisees with a true heart for God. God also used Paul’s zeal to bring salvation to the Gentiles – the Messiah died for the Gentiles as well as the Jews.

Because Paul was so far off the path, God used a big stick (discipline) to straighten him out.

Then God used Paul in an amazing way.    

PRAYER

Holy God, Please use my zeal to share Your truth. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.   

Christ chooses to use me in the world—I will let Him!

The Point Is …

SEPTEMBER 17

MATTHEW 7:4_and behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

Let’s begin to dig to the core of this whole judgment thing.

In the apostle Paul’s view, he was doing God’s work when he persecuted and condemned Christians. He considered Jesus and His teachings to be far too radical for the Jewish religion. After all, they had the laws God gave Moses. To turn some of the laws upside down as Jesus did had to be from the devil.

Jesus proclaiming He and the Father as one was blasphemy – to Paul. Merriam-Webster defines blasphemy as, the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God. Paul, a Pharisee, believed Jesus-followers should be annihilated.

The point is – Paul, especially as a Pharisee, should have recognized who Jesus was. It is understandable that Paul could have seen Jesus’ radical teachings as destructive to the Law – thus the mote. But it was Paul’s own beam which blinded him to belief in the physical presence of the Messiah. 

Paul was a fixer. Taking out Jesus-followers was his way to fix. Paul was also a disciplinarian, and his form of discipline on Jesus-followers was both brutal and deadly.

But God saw something in Paul which people did not see …    

PRAYER

Messiah, Please don’t let my beams blind me to truth. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.   

Christ wants me to have 20/20 vision—In the truth!

Tough Love

SEPTEMBER 16

MATTHEW 7:4_Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, let me pull out the mote out of thine eye…

There are times when disciplinary action is the best solution. Hebrews 12:6 (KJV), “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”  

Notice, God equates punishment with love.  Why? Because if I see you heading over a cliff I’ll run and knock you down if I have to – in order to save your life. It would not matter if I had warned you many times a cliff was ahead. It would not matter if there were warning signs posted along the way. If you have a problem with rebellion, you are blind – not physically, but spiritually.

Proverbs 3:12 (KJV) follows the same love theme, “For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” This is what is known as tough love.

Love is motivated by what is best for the other person regardless of what it may cost me. The Lord always administers discipline with love, but it doesn’t always feel that way. I’m sure the apostle Paul being blinded, half out of his mind, and unable to eat for three days, felt far from loved. He did not know if he would ever see again.

I’m sure he felt judged.   

PRAYER

Holy Redeemer, Help me know Your discipline comes from love. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.   

Christ loves enough to discipline—He loves me!

By Virtue of Being God

AUGUST 24

MATTHEW 6:32_for your heavenly Father knoweth ye  have need of these things.

If you have a pet, you are responsible for its care. You feed it. You water it. You wash and groom it. When necessary, you clean up after it. You train it in right and wrong. In the training process you have a way of discipline, and a way of rewarding – to complement the discipline.

What is the connecting thread for caring for your pet? Needs. Your pet comes with needs. It depends upon you to meet those needs. It is a pretty sorry owner who neglects the needs of a pet! The owner knows all these needs simply by virtue of being an owner.

Jesus taught us the depth of this concept when He referred to Himself as a shepherd and His followers as sheep. John 10:27-28 (KJV), “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” The sheep become acquainted with the voice of the shepherd because of his constant care for them. The Good Shepherd knows our spiritual need, 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

Our Heavenly Father knows all our needs simply by virtue of being God.

PRAYER

Good Shepherd, Help me be aware of Your care for me, and know Your voice. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ wants me to know His voice—I will listen!

He Teaches With Questions

OCTOBER 13

MATTHEW 7:10_a fish, will he give him a serpent?

Why all this talk about discipline? What does it have to do with Jesus’ teaching on asking between a father and children? In order for a child to feel free to ask anything of a father, the relationship has to be right.  In order for the relationship to be right, it must be founded on love. 

Jesus teaches this child-father relationship as He wants the relationship to be. He teaches with questions. A statement can be passed over, but questions require answers. Answers require think time.

Would a father give his child a serpent if the child asked for fish? You can’t just ignore a question—you are expected to give an answer. Notice, Jesus asks in a way to cause you to answer the obvious—of course not! No father would deprive his child of basic needs; nevertheless give his child something harmful!

I Timothy 5:8 (KJV), “But if any [father] provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” 

II Corinthians 12:14 (KJV), “Behold, the third time I [Paul] am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.”

PRAYER

Great I AM, Please bless my parents, or my authorities, with Your love. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.                                                                                                              

Christ loves families – He helps me love mine!