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!

You Desire to Change

JULY 2

MATTHEW 6:16_Moreover when ye fast…

Another Biblical principle for times of fasting is remorse – a deep, heartfelt, sorrow for something wrong in your life. The Holy Spirit convicts your heart with guilt. When you have enough sorrow, you desire to change. 

Another time for fasting is for a memorial or preparation for certain religious days or seasons. This kind of fasting is a time of serious mindedness – turning your mind away from the world to the spiritual realm of life.

Seeking God’s guidance for a certain decision or direction is another call to fast. Acts 13:2-3 (KJV) records this incident in the early Christian church, “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate [to] me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”

When Queen Esther faced a life and death situation not only concerning the Jewish nation, but her personal life as well, she called for a fast. Esther 4:16 (KJV), “Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.

PRAYER

Lord God, You call me to worship and follow You, fasting or not. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ calls me to worship and follow—I will!

Amazing and Miraculous

JUNE 4

MATTHEW 6:9_Our Father which art in Heaven…

Jesus begins by recognizing who God is. Remember how Elijah began his prayer in I King 18 (KJV), “36 And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel.”Recognizing God through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would be important to the Jewish community. Jesus’ recognition of God as Our Father which art in Heaven, opens up a prayer path for Gentiles. This says God is the Father of all mankind—not just the Jews. All people are made in His image. 

God’s creation is amazing and miraculous. God’s DNA can connect you to your biological parents, whom you may have never met. You may blame God if you’ve never known your parents, or if you know them but have a poor relationship. Don’t blame God for the mistakes of people. Rather, praise God that He can help you overcome – anything. 

Without the Savior people are sinful. They cause pain – lots of pain. Your Father, which is in Heaven, wants to love you through the pain.

Include Him in your sorrow – don’t blame Him for it.  

PRAYER

Father God, I worship You as the One True God, Creator of all of Heaven and Earth. I praise You there is nothing I face in life that You cannot give me the ability to overcome. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ wants me to know God is my Father—I do!

A Specific Commission

MAY 29

MATTHEW 6:7_as the heathen do…

Jesus goes from reproaching hypocrites to reproaching heathens. The word heathen in this verse can be translated as Gentile. Remember, Gentiles are not Jews. They were not under the covenant God made with Abraham. Nor were they under the laws God gave to Moses.

The Jews considered the prayers of Gentiles to be great babblings. Since Gentiles did not serve or have a relationship with the One True God, their prayers were not directed to Him. Therefore, to whatever god or idol they prayed, all they could offer was empty babbles.

After Jesus conquered death and was about to ascend into heaven, He gave His disciples a commission. Mark 16:15 (KJV), “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Jesus gave Peter and Paul a specific commission – to share the gospel of the resurrected Jesus with the Gentiles. Praise God Peter and Paul obeyed the call!

We are no longer heathen just because we are Gentiles. Those of us who answer the call to become salty-lit-up disciples can enter our closet, shut the door, and commune with the Holy God of Heaven!

Hallelujah!

PRAYER

Lord Jesus, Praise You for being the God of all mankind. Praise You for making a way for Gentiles to enter Your presence . In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ loves Gentiles—He made a way for me!