Everyone Has It!

MARCH 2

MATTHEW 5:19_and shall teach men so…

Jesus teaches something worse than to break even the least commandment – teach others to do the same. You can directly teach someone, or you can teach by influence. The power of influence is tremendous – and everyone has it!

You can’t keep commandments and make wise decisions in your own strength. When it comes to sin there is a one-size-fits-all consequence – eternal separation from God. Romans 3:23 (KJV) “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” James 2:10 (KJV) “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” God’s compassion and forgiveness make a way to fix that. You need Jesus!

A hypocrite is a professing Christian who lives contrary (including influence) to the principles and teachings of the Bible. In other words, to be a Christian who is void of salt and light. The hypocrite will not cause anyone to thirst for truth – salt contaminated by the lures of the world and lost savor. No weary traveler will find the path to freedom through the darkness of a hypocrite.

You may not believe you are accountable for your influence. If someone makes a poor decision because of your influence, it is no different from your direct teaching. Everyone is responsible for their decisions – they can’t blame anyone else. But you are accountable for your contributing influence. And this is Jesus who says there will be a consequence.

Your call to be salt and light includes your influence. Contribute a salty-lit-up influence!

To really know Jesus is to know He is not about judgment and punishment. Jesus is the very embodiment of love, mercy, and grace. But it is also Jesus who warns there are consequences in life. This is why He draws attention to the importance of living in accordance with the commandments.

Just as the laws of the land, God’s laws are for your safety and protection. 

PRAYER

Precious Jesus, I want my life to be salt and light to those thirsty and in darkness. I want this to be true in whatever You call me to do in life. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ is mercy and grace—I want to live like that!

Jesus’ Destructive Agenda

FEBRUARY 22

MATTHEW 5:17_I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

There was hardly anything destructive about Jesus’ earthly life. He came to heal the sick, give hope to the destitute, set demonic captives free, raise the dead, and above all else, freely give eternal life. His earthly purpose from beginning to end was mercy and love.

However, He did have one destructive agenda – hypocrisy. This would be hypocrisy among the God followers, salt that’s been contaminated with arrogance and lust, and lost its savor. Lights that shine only to bring self-glory. Those were things for which Jesus showed zero tolerance. 

He did not hesitate to call the guilty appropriate names, and in one instance physically remove their presence from the temple.

To destroy the law or prophets was far from Jesus’ purpose. He made it clear He was their fulfillment. The balance Jesus brought between the judgment of the Old Testament and the mercy of the New Testament was something Jesus alone could achieve.

To have too much of one and not enough of the other is destructive. Salt and light require the perfect balance of each.

PRAYER

Righteous Jesus, Help me to never fall into hypocrisy. Make me aware if I’m heading in that direction and re-direct my steps. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

 Christ balances judgment and mercy—Praise Him!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

A Servant Heart

NOVEMBER 21

MATTHEW 7:20_Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Jesus applied this principle to the Scribes and the Pharisees. They used their power to hold worshipers in bondage to fear. Jesus exposed their hypocrisy numerous times. Hypocrisy is definitely a way of knowing false prophets by their fruit. Those who talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk—a dead giveaway.

People in the public eye are generally there because of their political or financial power, or because of their celebrity status. In either of these cases, you know them by their deeds. If you happen to be a fan, be careful to not only watch their abilities, but listen to their views. If their views don’t line up with your Biblical convictions—don’t become an imitator (doesn’t mean you can’t still be a fan of their talent).

The greatest power figure of all time was Jesus.  Mark 10:42-45 (KJV), “42 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, ‘Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: 44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.’”

PRAYER

Holy Jesus, Please give me a servant heart that bears fruit for You. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.                                                                                                                                   

Christ had great power – And a humble heart!

Jesus Gives Back Life

SEPTEMBER 24

MATTHEW 7:5_and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Only the Pharisees and Jesus knew why they did not bring the man to their stoning party. Perhaps the woman had been lured into a carefully planned trap? We don’t know. But regardless of the circumstances of the event, we know this—she left that day free. 

She was guilty. She stood before powerful figures who could lawfully execute her, but she walked away unharmed. Those powerful figures were unable to complete their scheme because their own hearts condemned them. The Pharisees’ guilt hit them squarely in the face and there was nothing they could do but walk away.

When Jesus sent the woman away He said to her “go, and sin no more.” Those who want to look at this as Jesus excusing adultery miss the mark. Jesus didn’t excuse anything—He freed a woman from bondage. He gave her back her life with instruction to live it differently in the future. From the day we receive Jesus into our hearts, He does the same thing for each of us.

He was also pointing out one more thing. The hypocrisy of the Pharisees was so great it overshadowed the sin of the woman. She walked away free, and they guilty.           

PRAYER

Lord of All,                                                                                                              

You have given me life and set me free—praise Your name! In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.   

Christ gives back life to the lost—He says sin no more!

Convicting Power

SEPTEMBER 23

MATTHEW 7:5_first cast out the beam out of thine own eye…

There were some missing parts of John 8 in our September 19 devotional. Let’s read them now: “6 … But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.”

I can’t help but see some humor in this. Knowing their hearts and the hypocrisy of the entire incident, Jesus ignored them. Perhaps He hoped that if He ignored them they would go away. No such luck. Since they wouldn’t go away, Jesus addressed them, “So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, ‘He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.’”

Talk about hitting the nail squarely on the head! Jesus sent conviction directly to their hard hearts.

Wouldn’t you love to know what He was writing – I would! Perhaps He was writing the man’s name. Maybe the man was even … a Pharisee! One thing is for certain, the Scribes and Pharisees cared nothing about the woman and intended for this to end in her death. She was only a pawn in their game to ensnare Jesus.

Regardless of what He wrote, it had enough convicting power to cause them to drop their stones and walk away. 

The religious leaders blew their whole scheme. They were the ones humiliated before the crowd in the temple, not Jesus.        

One last teaching about this lesson – tomorrow!

PRAYER

True Shepherd,  Lead me to the place of freedom! In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.  

Christ is the True Shepherd—He defends me against evil!