An Ultimatum

DECEMBER 30

MATTHEW 7:29_and not as the Scribes.

Jesus’ authority came from His Father in Heaven. We need earthly authority during our days in this world, but ultimate authority reigns in heaven.

The Scribes and Pharisees craved…no…the better word is lusted, for power and authority and for admiration and respect. They wanted exactly what Jesus had.

Admiration and respect encourage and build up those in authority. When the authority desires to place fear in those they rule, respect becomes an ultimatum. It does not administer love.  Remember, sometimes love is administered with a firm hand. Since the people were astonished by Jesus’ kind of teaching, and saw it as totally different from the Scribes’ teaching—they obviously had not been administered love by their authorities. Their respect must have been more of an ultimatum. 

Jesus’ teachings led to truth and freedom. It gave the people answers to their struggles and created freedom in their souls.

This authority loves.

The Scribes’ teachings led to fear and bondage. The people feared the consequences if they rejected their teachings. It created bondage of the soul.

This authority oppresses.

 PRAYER

Good Shepherd, I respect and admire You because You give love to me! In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.          

Christ has the ultimate authority—He uses it to love me!

Nothing Ho-Hum

DECEMBER 26

MATTHEW 7:28_the people were astonished at his doctrine.

Absolutely one of my favorite portions of scripture! This divine encounter did not end with some ho-hum, blase kind of feeling among the crowd. It ended with shock! 

Wonder!

Amazement!

All of which come from great power!

From great love!

From great truth!

From something…topsy-turvy…something 180 degrees from life’s norm!

All this came in one package—delivered in one sermon.

My brother, Ted, sent me a text recently: Truth is not a meandering river. It is a rock. And Jesus is the only sure footing in a world filled with gravel. I think that is exactly what the Jesus listeners experienced. They, like we, were always searching for truth.The Scribes and Pharisees meandered around truth, but never landed on it. The Scribes and Pharisees were blind.

Matthew 15:8-9(KJV), Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah, “This people draweth nigh unto me [God] with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

When they finally heard truth—the people were astonished!          

 PRAYER

Strong Tower, You are my only sure footing. Your truth astonishes me! In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.          

Christ’s words are genuine truth—They astonish me!

A Spiritual Encounter

DECEMBER 24

MATTHEW 7:28_when Jesus had ended these sayings…

What has come to pass at this time is Jesus has ended His sermon. God gathered exactly who He wanted to hear this sermon—just as He gathers exactly who He wants to read this blog. You are not reading these devotionals by some kind of random happenstance—it is a divine encounter planned and orchestrated by God.

God has a spiritual encounter for you from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

Even those who came with wrong motives were a part of God’s gathering. He had a message for them.  

Mark 2:16-17(KJV), “And when the Scribes and Pharisees saw him [Jesus] eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, ‘How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?’ 17 When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, ‘They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’”    

As religious leaders the Scribes and Pharisees should have had love and concern for the publicans and sinners. Yet they condemned Jesus for ministering to them.

Jesus’ interest in sinners is to set them free.  

 PRAYER

Lord Jesus, I hear Your words and know You want me to live free. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.          

Christ taught me to live free—He will help me live it!

In a Tight Spot

DECEMBER 14

MATTHEW 7:26_And everyone that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not…

In Mark chapter 8 (KJV) Jesus feeds over four thousand people with seven loaves of bread and a few fish.  “So they [the people] did eat, and were filled: and they [the disciples] took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets.”

Later, when Jesus was wearied of the Pharisees’ nagging, He enters a boat with His disciples, “14 Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf.” Jesus begins to teach the disciples about the character of the Pharisees. The disciples thought He was fussing at them for forgetting the bread. “17 And when Jesus knew it [that the disciples were nervous], he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? 18 Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?”

We feel like criticizing the disciples. They not only had witnessed the miracle of feeding over four thousand, and previously witnessed Him feeding over five thousand, but —Jesus used them to pass out the bread!

Let’s not be too hasty to criticize. In a tight spot, we quickly tend to side with anxiety over the power of our Rock.

PRAYER

Righteous Lord, Help me remember Your greatness and power every day. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.          

Christ wants us to remember His power—I will!

Many

NOVEMBER 27

MATTHEW 7:22_Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord…

Jesus begins this verse with the word many. I already feel bad that not everyone will go to heaven, but now I feel worse that the not everyones are many. 

This reminds me of the narrow path, when Jesus says few will find it. It also causes me to think about how He said many will go in at the broad gate.

From His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has taught me who comprises the many:

Those whose righteousness does not exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees (chapter 5:20),

Those who cause others to believe they are empty-headed idiots (chapter 5:22),

Those who profit from the bondage of human trafficking (chapter 5:29-30),

Those who do not forgive (chapter 6:15),

Those who choose the broad path to destruction (chapter 7:13),

Those who are ravening wolves and bring evil into the world (chapter 7:17).

None of these actions exclude anyone from heaven by the action alone. The exclusivity comes from the heart. The heart which excludes Jesus.

The actions can all be forgiven and erased when the heart opens to include Jesus.

The actions reveal the heart.                    

PRAYER

God of All, You have taught me to include You in my heart. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.             

Christ desires to be included in my life—I will let Him!