Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Commands of Christ - Matthew 15:10-14

"When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, "Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man." Then His disciples came and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?" But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch." -Matthew 15:10-14

To whom are these commands spoken?

The first command is spoken to the multitudes. The second is spoken to the disciples.

What do these commands require?

1. Hear and understand.
2. Leave the Pharisees alone.

What truths do we learn here?

Jesus uses the first command to emphasize what He is teaching. The following words are of utmost importance. "Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man." This truth is foundational to salvation. All who will be saved must realize that they are defiled from within--from the heart. We all need a heart-change. Our unbelieving heart of stone must be changed by God for a new heart.

The Pharisees didn't understand this truth. They focused on keeping the exterior points of the law and forgot about the laws pointing to the heart. In order to accept Jesus teaching here, the Pharisees would have to admit that their outward actions were of no value to God. They would have to admit that they were wicked, unregenerate men. This would completely destroy their 'spiritual' image they had worked so hard to build up.

Jesus teaches to let the Pharisees alone. Let them go their own way. The blind will lead the blind into a pit. This reminds me of Matthew 7:6 where Jesus said not to cast your pearls to the swine. The Pharisees will be offended by this teaching. Leave them alone. If they want to follow their own blind leaders, let them. It is comforting to know that Nicodemus came to Christ by night to find out the truth. And it is comforting to know that the apostle Paul came to Christ. Let them alone. Let the Spirit of God open the eyes of the blind.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Commands of Christ - Matthew 14:22-33

"Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid." And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!" And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God." -Matthew 14:22-33

To whom are these commands spoken?

One to the disciples: "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid."

One to Peter: "Come."

What do these commands require?

Its fairly simple. Jesus wants His disciples to be happy and not afraid. He wants Peter to come out on the water, just like Peter asked.

What truths do we learn through these commands?

Even in the most turbulent times, we can look out across the waves and see Jesus. What are the waves that are tossing you around in life? Can you take a quick look outside the boat and see Jesus? You know what He is saying, don't you? "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid." Listen to Jesus. Obey Him. Let Him carry you through this storm. The disciples were terrified. They didn't even recognize Jesus. They thought He was a ghost. But when Jesus finally got in the boat and the wind stopped, they realized who Jesus really is: the Son of God.

Secondly, Peter teaches us a lesson. When Jesus tells you to do something, keep your eyes fixed on Him. Peter was doing just great until he got his eyes on the situation around him. Peter saw the waves and that the wind was boisterous, and he became afraid. When he did this, he began to sink. Jesus was their to rescue Peter. We have no need to doubt Jesus. He is the Almighty. He is the Son of God--the Maker of all things. While you are peering out of the boat to see if Jesus is really there, stop and ask Him if He wants you to get out of the boat. Humanly speaking, getting out of the boat is probably the dumbest thing that you could do. But look to Jesus and see what He wants you to do.

What were the blessings of obedience and the consequence of disobedience?

Peter learned that when he disobeyed he began to sink. Jesus told him not to be afraid and Peter was afraid. Peter also teaches us that the blessing of obedience is learning who Jesus really is. He is the Son of God. When we obey Him, we learn this.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Commands of Christ - Matthew 14:13-21

"When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, "This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food." But Jesus said to them, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat." And they said to Him, "We have here only five loaves and two fish." He said, "Bring them here to Me." Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children. -Matthew 14:13-21

To whom are these commands spoken?

Jesus' disciples

What do these commands require?

These commands fall in the midst of a dialogue between Jesus and the disciples:

D: This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food
J: You give them something to eat.
D: We have here only five loaves.
J: Bring them here to Me.

What truths do we learn through this command?

First, we learn that we can do nothing apart from Jesus. The solution to the hunger problem that the disciples found was small, meager, and inadequate for what they needed. But when they gave the small lunch to Jesus, great things were accomplished. We are much like the disciples. On our own, all we have is a small pittance to offer. Even the most talented and gifted among us cannot accomplish much alone. When we give our talents and gifts to Jesus, we can let Him use them in mighty ways.

Second, we learn that Jesus is interested in people. The disciples wanted to send people away to let them search for food, but Jesus wanted to feed the people. The disciples couldn't think of a suitable solution, but Jesus had a plan all along. Jesus cares about the multitudes and the individuals. He ministered to His disciples here and also the crowds following Him. 

What were the blessings for obedience?

It is always a blessing to witness a miracle of Jesus. The disciples got to witness this miracle and be a part of distributing the food. They were blessed for obeying Jesus commands. There were also 12 baskets of food left over when it was all said and done. I wonder if each disciple got to take home a basket of food and tell their families, "Look what Jesus has done!" 

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Commands of Christ - Matthew 13:9, 18, 43

"He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" -Matthew 13:9
"Therefore, hear the parable of the sower." -Matthew 13:18
"He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" -Matthew 13:43b


To whom is this command spoken?


The first two are to the multitudes and the third is to Jesus' disciples

What does this command require?


If you have ears, listen up!

What truths do we learn through this command?


Jesus' words are important. He desires that all listen to Him. His teaching is open to anyone who will listen.

Do you listen to Jesus words? Do you intently listen to Him with the purpose of obedience? Just stop and evaluate whether or not you listen for entertainment or listen to obey. Where do you stand?

What are the consequences for disobedience and the blessings for obedience?


The consequence for disobedience is that you will miss the point of Jesus teaching because you weren't really listening. And the blessing for obedience will be as Peter said in John 6:68 - "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."


Lord, make me attentive to Your words. Give me ears to hear and a heart to obey.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Book Review: The Enemy Within

Straight talk about the power and defeat of sin
By Kris Lundgaard
P&R Publishing, 149 pages

If there is one area of the Christian life that gets neglected, it is killing sin. Yet there is no more important thing in the Christian life than killing sin. Think about it. You cannot worship with sin present. You cannot pray with sin present. You cannot walk in darkness and have fellowship with God. Killing sin is primary in the Christian life. So why is it that so many of us neglect it?

Kris Lundgaard tackles the subject of indwelling sin head-on and sheds light on what indwelling sin is, how indwelling sin works, what indwelling sin does, and how to have power over indwelling sin. Lundgaard basically takes the teaching of John Owen from his works The Nature, Power, Deceit, and Prevalency of the Remainders of Indwelling Sin in Believers and The Mortification of Sin. This book is highly readable and captivating. I finished it in less than 4 hours time.

This book will make you feel like garbage. It will push you out on the ledge of despair. It will help you see your sin for what it is--wicked, powerful, deceptive, and contrary to the Spirit within you. But this book will also give you hope. Hope that is found in God's grace. Hope that is found in knowing the very Spirit of God resides within you. Hope that the blood of Jesus has atoned for your sins and His resurrection has defeated the power of sin.

So dear brother or sister, don't be too easily satisfied with just a little holiness, just a little sanctification, just a little grace, just a little fellowship, just a little prayer, just a little bible reading. Rid yourself of all the sin in your life. The battle rages within you. The Spirit of God wars against the flesh and the flesh against the Spirit. Put to death the flesh and let the power of Christ live through you. This is more than just moral reform. It is sanctification that can only come from complete reliance upon the grace of God. There is no such thing as 'just a little holiness.' God says 'Be holy, as I am holy.' 

This book will help you understand the battle that rages within and help you engage the flesh with the determination of Samuel who hacked Agag into pieces.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Greatest Command - Deuteronomy 6:1-9

Deuteronomy 6:1-9
1“Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the Lord your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess,
“Now” – This is the beginning of a new paragraph, a new section in the book of Deuteronomy. Chapter 5 contains a review of the Ten Commandments, and the experience of hearing the voice of the living God from the mountain. One way to think about these two chapters is Chapter 5 is fear without love and Chapter 6 is fear because of love. Moses turns his attention to the heart of the Law.
It seems that there are three topics or headings being taught here by Moses: commandments, statutes, and judgments. Perhaps we can see the distinction better in Leviticus 26:15 – “and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break my covenant,”
Matthew Henry says this concerning the distinction of ideas here: ‘“commandments” seem to denote the moral law, the “statues” the ceremonial law, and the “judgments” the law by which the judges decided.’
Moses is the spokesman, but God is the source of the commands. In other words, God wrote the textbook, and Moses is the professor. Deut. 4:1 – “Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and judgments which I teach you to observe…” Essentially, Moses is obeying the Lord by teaching the people all that the Lord had commanded.
Notice that there is only ONE commandment. “this is the commandment” – God has made things simple. He has given one over-arching command that is worked out through all of the little commands.
Purpose in the commandment – ‘That you may observe them in the land’ - The goal in Moses’ teaching was obedience, not just knowledge. The goal was to put them into practice as they entered the Promised Land. The goal was that the commands of the Lord would become the lifestyle of the people. Moses didn’t say “that you may remember them,” he said, “that you may observe them.” The word, “observe” in Hebrew means, ‘to produce, to make.’ Obedience to these commands should have become so much more than just doing a list of chores. It should have become a wellspring of good deeds and good fruit.
2 that you may fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.
Motivation for obedience – ‘that you may fear the LORD your God’ – the fear of the Lord is the source of obedience. The only reason for the Israelites to obey the commands was because of the fear of the Lord.
What is the fear of the Lord? The following quotes help us understand a bit better what is meant by the fear of the Lord.
“That thou mightest fear the Lord - Respect his sovereign authority as a lawgiver, and ever feel thyself bound to obey him. No man can walk either conscientiously or safely who has not the fear of God continually before his eyes. When this is gone, more than a guardian angel is fled.” –Adam Clarke
“That thou mightest fear the Lord thy God,.... Being taught to know the greatness of his being, and the nature of his mind and will, and the manner of his worship; and not with a slavish fear, but with …a reverential affection for God; being instructed in their duty, as of children, to their God and Father” -John Gill
On a side note: In Scripture we find that the fear of the Lord is the source of life, love, wisdom, knowledge, faith, obedience, service, sanctification, length of days, and confidence.
When a man has a healthy fear of the Lord he will teach his children and grandchildren to fear the Lord. It will affect the generation to come – “you and your son and your grandson.”
Adam Clark said this: “Whoever fears God will endeavor to bring up his children in the way of righteousness, that they also may fear God, and that pure and undefiled religion may be preserved in his family through all its generations, not only in word, but in practice also.”
If you don’t fear God, you will not train your children.
“all the days of your life” – observe the commands of God and teach them to your children until your dying breath.
Teaching your children doesn’t stop when your kids turn 18; it doesn’t stop when your kids get married; it doesn’t stop when your kids have children of their own, it doesn’t stop until you are dead.
Results of obeying God’s commandment –
1.        ‘that your days may be prolonged.’ – God’s desire was that His people enjoy a long life of obedience in the land of Canaan. He wanted to bless them and bless each family’s obedience to Him. But, just as their obedience would cause length of days for them, their disobedience would bring life to an end. Deuteronomy 4:26 says this in reference to idolatry: ‘you will soon utterly perish from the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess. You will not live long it in, but will be utterly destroyed.’ Proverbs 10:27 - The fear of the LORD prolongs days: but the years of the wicked will be shortened.
3 Therefore hear, O Israel, and 1be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the Lord God of your fathers has promised you— ‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’
2.        ‘that it may be well with you’ – Not only will observance of God’s command prolong days, it will cause well-being and prosperity in those days.
3.       ‘that you may multiply greatly’ – God is going to fulfill His promise to make them a great nation.
Summary: Putting the command into practice, motivated by an active fear of the Lord, resulting in length of days, fullness of days, and to make them a great nation is God’s goal in giving this command to His people.
What is the command?

4“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!

“Hear, O Israel:” – a call to attention

“The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”This weighty text contains far more than a mere declaration of the unity of God as against polytheism; or of the sole authority of the revelation that He had made to Israel as against other pretended manifestations of His will and attributes. It asserts that the Lord God of Israel is absolutely God, and none other. He, and He alone, is Jehovah (Yahweh) the absolute, uncaused God; the One who had, by His election of them, made Himself known to Israel.” – Albert Barnes
Note: the word, “one” is the same word used in Genesis 2:24 where it says that a husband and wife are to become ‘one flesh.’ The term suggests unity, not singleness. “While this verse was intended as a clear and concise statement of monotheism, it does not exclude the concept of the Trinity.” – John MacArthur
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is the first part of the ‘Shema’ (the Hebrew word for ‘hear’) – the Jewish confession of faith, if you will. The devout Jews would recite this twice a day along with Deut. 11:13-21 and Num. 15:37-41.

Jesus confirms this passage as the greatest commandment in Matt. 22:37-38; Mark 12:29-31.

5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

“love the Lord your God” – show affection for Him, esteem Him, worship Him, obey Him, fear Him, trust Him, delight in Him, rejoice in Him, LOVE HIM.

God is to be loved because of the perfections of his nature, and the works of his hand, of nature, providence, and grace; and because of the relations he stands in to men, and especially to his own people; and because of his peculiar love to them; and, indeed, he is to be loved by all men for his care of them, and blessings of goodness bestowed on them;” John Gill

We are commanded to love God, but how is God to be loved?

1.       “with all your heart” – the seat of understanding
2.       “with all your soul” – the center of the will and personality
3.       “with all your strength.” – all the energies of a person

The commentary of Adam Clarke is worth mentioning:
1.    He loves God with all his heart, who loves nothing in comparison of him, and nothing but in reference to him: - who is ready to give up, do, or suffer any thing in order to please and glorify him: - who has in his heart neither love nor hatred, hope nor fear, inclination, nor aversion, desire, nor delight, but as they relate to God, and are regulated by him.
2.    He loves God with all his soul, or rather, with all his life, who is ready to give up life for his sake - to endure all sorts of torments, and to be deprived of all kinds of comforts, rather than dishonor God: - who employs life with all its comforts, and conveniences, to glorify God in, by, and through all: - to whom life and death are nothing, but as they come from and lead to God, From this Divine principle sprang the blood of the martyrs, which became the seed of the Church. They overcame through the blood of the Lamb, and loved not their lives unto the death. 
3.    He loves God with all his strength who exerts all the powers of his body and soul in the service of God: - who, for the glory of his Maker, spares neither labor nor cost - who sacrifices his time, body, health, ease, for the honor of God his Divine Master: - who employs in his service all his goods, his talents, his power, credit, authority, and influence.
4.    He loves God with all his mind (intellect) who applies himself only to know God, and his holy will: - who receives with submission, gratitude, and pleasure, the sacred truths which God has revealed to man: - who studies no art nor science but as far as it is necessary for the service of God, and uses it at all times to promote his glory - who forms no projects nor designs but in reference to God and the interests of mankind: - who banishes from his understanding and memory every useless, foolish, and dangerous thought, together with every idea which has any tendency to defile his soul, or turn it for a moment from the center of eternal repose. In a word, he who sees God in all things - thinks of him at all times - having his mind continually fixed upon God, acknowledging him in all his ways - who begins, continues, and ends all his thoughts, words, and works, to the glory of his name: - this is the person who loves God with all his heart, life, strength, and intellect. He is crucified to the world, and the world to him: he lives, yet not he, but Christ lives in him. He beholds as in a glass the glory of the Lord, and is changed into the same image from glory to glory. Simply and constantly looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of his faith, he receives continual supplies of enlightening and sanctifying grace, and is thus fitted for every good word and work. O glorious state! far, far, beyond this description! which comprises an ineffable communion between the ever-blessed Trinity and the soul of man!
Does that describe you? Does that describe me? Does that describe someone you know?


Many people say that they love God. They go to church every week, they've been a Christian for 40+ years, they give an offering every week, and they don't curse. But do they really love God how God wants to be loved? Is it not possible that they are satisfied with what they've done and don't see that God wants all of their love. He doesn't just want first place in a person;s affections, He wants all of a person's affections.

6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.

Put them at the seat of your understanding! At the foundation of all you know and understand should be this: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

If it doesn’t reach your heart, it will not stay. The heart is the foundation of your life. Proverbs 4:23 says, "Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it spring the issues of life." All the issues of life spring from the heart. When this command is in your heart, everything you do will be laced with this command. Look at the following situations:

7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

Each parent is to be a great teacher; a diligent teacher.
“when you sit in your house” – Inside the home
“when you walk by the way” – Outside the home
“when you lie down” – From the beginning of the day
“when you rise up” – to the end of the day

8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.

“bind them” – give all diligence and use all means to remember
“sign on your hand” – put something there that is out of the ordinary. (also let them govern the actions of your hands)
“frontlets between your eyes” – put it right where you can see it. (also let them govern the desires of your eyes)

9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

“on the doorposts” – so the household knows
“on your gates” – so the neighbors know

There is no situation that is not covered here. Every area of life is covered. This is what will be the natural outflow of placing this command in your heart.

Every aspect of your life, every relation to your children, and every decision of each day should be permeated by this command: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

And God is looking for your consistency in it. He desires that we do our best and rely upon His mercy and grace when we fail.

Psalm 78:1-11 - "Give ear, O my people, to my law; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done. For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children; That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children, That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments; And may not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not set its heart aright, And whose spirit was not faithful to God. The children of Ephraim, being armed and carrying bows, Turned back in the day of battle. They did not keep the covenant of God; They refused to walk in His law, And forgot His works And His wonders that He had shown them." 


The generation that is not taught the fear of the Lord and is not discipled by their parents will turn back in the day of battle. They will lack courage. They will forget God. They will forsake God.

We must teach our children the ways of God. We must show them that our motivation for obeying is the fear of the Lord--not obedience from terror--but obedience from a fear that flows from love and respect.

Do you believe this? The true test of believing is whether or not you put this into practice. It must go from your head to your heart to your feet.

Are you training your children?

The Commands of Christ - Matthew 12:33

"Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit." -Matthew 12:33


To whom is this command spoken?


Matt. 12:24-25 tells us that Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees.

What does this command require?


I like the clarity that the Believers Bible Commentary gives here: "[Jesus] says, in effect, “Make up your minds. If a tree is good, its fruit is good and vice versa.” 


Make up your mind about Jesus. A tree is known by its fruit. You decide, is it good or bad.

What truths do we learn from this command?


The Pharisees just couldn't seem to call Jesus who He is. They saw the works that He did. They listened to His teaching. But they couldn't acknowledge that He was the Son of God. I think we learn here that each one of us must make a decision about who Jesus is. Either we side with the Pharisees, and conclude that Jesus is from the Devil; or we side with the disciples, who acknowledged that Jesus is, in fact, the Son of God.

The fruit of Jesus ministry was all good. There wasn't anything that was evil. The only negative side to Jesus ministry was the fact that He pointed out the sins of the hypocritical Pharisees. And is it really so bad that Jesus exposed sinners for who they were? If anything, He made the self-righteous see their unrighteousness and need for salvation.

He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I am?"
So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 
Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."


Jesus asks you, "Who do you say that I am?"

Friday, October 21, 2011

Book Review: Reverberation

How God's word brings light, freedom, and action to His people
by Jonathan Leeman
Moody Publishers, 197 pages

This is the first book I have ever won. A couple weeks ago, I entered a draw for this book on Moody Publisher's blog. I generally enter things like that quite often. But, to my surprise, I received an email the next day saying that I was drawn to win the book. So it is my first prize book.

I wanted to get this book ever since Pastor John Boyd recommended it to me a few weeks ago. He is a smart man, an avid reader, and an experienced pastor, so if he recommends it, I do what I can to get my hands on it. Pastor Boyd said that there is an ongoing debate over whether or not to read this book or 'The Trellis and the Vine' first. I have already read the Trellis and the Vine, so I'll leave that debate for another time.

This is a book about the Word of God. More specifically, it is a book about the reverberating effect that the Word of God has upon the lives of God's people. Leeman breaks this book down into three parts, The Word, The Sermon, and The Reverberation.

Obviously, the first part focuses on what the Word of God is and what it does. The Word invites and divides, and it acts, frees, and gathers. This section is a good description of what the word of God is.

Secondly, Leeman focuses on the sermon. Being a preacher, this is naturally my favorite section of the book. Leeman teaches how an expository sermon exposes, announces, and confronts us. This section alone makes the book worth it.

The third section takes some time to teach how the Word reverberates through our singing, praying, and discipling. Then the last chapter hones in on how through these things, the Word scatters abroad.

This book is worth every penny. Even if I hadn't won it, I would have bought it. I look forward to reading more from Jonathan Leeman in the years to come. Well done!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Commands of Christ - Matthew 12:9-14

"Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"--that they might accuse Him. Then He said to them, "What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath." Then He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." and he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other. Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him." -Matthew 12:9-14


To whom is this command spoken?


A man who had a withered hand.

What does this command require?


Jesus told the man to stretch out his hand.

What truths do we learn through this command?


Jesus had a specific purpose in this command and this miracle. He wanted to show that it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath, therefore exposing the legalism of the Pharisees. The Pharisees wanted to trap Jesus and have something to blame Jesus for. They just argued with Jesus about His disciples plucking heads of grain and eating them on the Sabbath. What they had chosen to ignore, was that Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath.

Jesus poses two questions to the Pharisees. First, "What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Secondly, "Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep?" Jesus sees their trap, and turns it on the Pharisees. The Pharisees prided themselves in their strict observance of the law. So what Jesus did with these questions is show them that they really weren't so strict as they seemed.

A man is of infinitely more value than a sheep. A man is made in the image of God, has a soul, and was created by God to give glory to God. Jesus gives the obvious answer to His rhetoric by healing the man's hand.

What is the blessing of obedience?


Participation in Jesus' teaching. The man is was a living illustration.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Book Review: Broken-down House

Living Productively in a World Gone Bad
By Paul David Tripp
Shepherd Press, 223 pages

I finished this book last week, but haven't had the time to write up a review of it. I got this book through a 'nicks and dings' sale on shepherdpress.com. Alicia and I are currently working on another book by Paul David Tripp which we like, so I thought this one would also be worth the read. I soon discovered that this book was not only worth reading, it was invaluable to understanding the brokenness of the world we live in.

Tripp starts out with an analogy. He describes how he and his father-in-law took him along to help him negotiate for a house. Tripp thought his wife's father was crazy when he drove into a driveway in front of a broken-down house. He ended up buying the house and doing a complete restoration of it.

There is a parallel between this house and the world we live in. The world we live in is broken and lying in shambles. This world is in desperate need of restoration. Just as the house needed complete renovation, the houses of our lives also need this sort of inside-out renovation.

The first half of this book focuses on knowing where you live, who you are, and who others around you are. It is foundational to life that we all keep at the forefront of our minds the brokenness of our lives and world. Don't forget that you are broken. Don't forget that God wants to do a complete renovation in your life. Know who you are. Know where you live. You live in a broken world, filled with patterns and practices that are broken. This will shape your worldview. It will shape how you respond to the world around you. Others around you are broken. They need God's renovation. When they act the way that they do, they are doing so out of brokenness. Knowing these things gives us compassion and understanding in a broken world.

The second half of this book focuses on doing. The chapter titles are: Reject Passivity, Pursue Community, Determine to Love, Celebrate Grace, Minister Everywhere, and Examine Your Legacy. Each title is self-explanatory, so I won't take the time to dive into the details. My favorite chapter is Minister Everywhere. I enjoyed how Tripp explained our responsibility in a broken world is to minister everywhere we go. In our marriages we need to minister to our broken spouses. In our homes, we must minister to our broken children. In our jobs, we must minister to broken employees and employers. In our churches, we must minister to broken parishoners and broken pastors (imagine that!). We must minister God's healing Words everywhere we go, in everything we do.

It is possible to live productively and successfully in a broken-down world. The great news is that you and I can have a part in God's renovation through ministering His Word to the broken. And it starts with you.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Jodie's 1st Haircut...and other Fall photos!

 My two beautiful ladies!
 I swear, she didn't eat it!
 Getting a picture where Jodie is standing still is a difficult task.
 Our visit with Nana and Pa was exciting!
 Jodie and I both enjoyed this fluffy hat in Target! I think she'd make a good Royal Guard.

 Ready for a new doo!

She's so cute!

The Fear of the Lord


There are 27 verses in the NKJ that use the phrase 'fear of the Lord.' There are listed below. Following that is each time the phrase 'fear of God' appears. There are 8 occurrences of that phrase. Be sure to check out the context of these passages to get a fuller understanding of what each one really means!

The 'fear of the Lord' passages:

  • 1 Samuel 11:7 -  So he took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, "Whoever does not go out with Saul and Samuel to battle, so it shall be done to his oxen." And the fear of the LORD fell on the people, and they came out with one consent.
  • 2 Chronicles 14:14 -  Then they defeated all the cities around Gerar, for the fear of the LORD came upon them; and they plundered all the cities, for there was exceedingly much spoil in them.
  • 2 Chronicles 17:10 -  And the fear of the LORD fell on all the kingdoms of the lands that were around Judah, so that they did not make war against Jehoshaphat.
  • 2 Chronicles 19:7 -  Now therefore, let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes."
  • 2 Chronicles 19:9 -  And he commanded them, saying, "Thus you shall act in the fear of the LORD, faithfully and with a loyal heart:
  • Job 28:28 -  And to man He said, 'Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding.' "
  • Psalms 19:9 -  The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
  • Psalms 34:11 -  Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
  • Psalms 111:10 -  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.
  • Proverbs 1:7 -  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
  • Proverbs 1:29 -  Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD,
  • Proverbs 2:5 -  Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God.
  • Proverbs 8:13 -  The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate.
  • Proverbs 9:10 -  "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
  • Proverbs 10:27 -  The fear of the LORD prolongs days, But the years of the wicked will be shortened.
  • Proverbs 14:26 -  In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And His children will have a place of refuge.
  • Proverbs 14:27 -  The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, To turn one away from the snares of death.
  • Proverbs 15:16 -  Better is a little with the fear of the LORD, Than great treasure with trouble.
  • Proverbs 15:33 -  The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom, And before honor is humility.
  • Proverbs 16:6 -  In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil.
  • Proverbs 19:23 -  The fear of the LORD leads to life, And he who has it will abide in satisfaction; He will not be visited with evil.
  • Proverbs 22:4 -  By humility and the fear of the LORD Are riches and honor and life.
  • Proverbs 23:17 -  Do not let your heart envy sinners, But be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day;
  • Isaiah 11:2 -  The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.
  • Isaiah 11:3 -  His delight is in the fear of the LORD, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;
  • Isaiah 33:6 -  Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, And the strength of salvation; The fear of the LORD is His treasure.
  • Acts 9:31 -  Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.


The 'fear of God' passages:
  • Genesis 20:11 -  And Abraham said, "Because I thought, surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will kill me on account of my wife.
  • 2 Samuel 23:3 -  The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spoke to me: 'He who rules over men must be just, Ruling in the fear of God.
  • 2 Chronicles 20:29 -  And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries when they heard that the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel.
  • Nehemiah 5:15 -  But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people, and took from them bread and wine, besides forty shekels of silver. Yes, even their servants bore rule over the people, but I did not do so, because of the fear of God.
  • Psalms 36:1 -  To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David the Servant of the LORD. An oracle within my heart concerning the transgression of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes.
  • Romans 3:18 -  "THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES."
  • 2 Corinthians 7:1 -  Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
  • Ephesians 5:21 -  submitting to one another in the fear of God.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Do You Love God Like This?

"1. He loves God with all his heart, who loves nothing in comparison of him, and nothing but in reference to him: - who is ready to give up, do, or suffer any thing in order to please and glorify him: - who has in his heart neither love nor hatred, hope nor fear, inclination, nor aversion, desire, nor delight, but as they relate to God, and are regulated by him.
2. He loves God with all his soul, or rather, with all his life, who is ready to give up life for his sake - to endure all sorts of torments, and to be deprived of all kinds of comforts, rather than dishonor God: - who employs life with all its comforts, and conveniences, to glorify God in, by, and through all: - to whom life and death are nothing, but as they come from and lead to God, From this Divine principle sprang the blood of the martyrs, which became the seed of the Church. They overcame through the blood of the Lamb, and loved not their lives unto the death.
3. He loves God with all his strength who exerts all the powers of his body and soul in the service of God: - who, for the glory of his Maker, spares neither labor nor cost - who sacrifices his time, body, health, ease, for the honor of God his Divine Master: - who employs in his service all his goods, his talents, his power, credit, authority, and influence.

4. He loves God with all his mind (intellect) who applies himself only to know God, and his holy will: - who receives with submission, gratitude, and pleasure, the sacred truths which God has revealed to man: - who studies no art nor science but as far as it is necessary for the service of God, and uses it at all times to promote his glory - who forms no projects nor designs but in reference to God and the interests of mankind: - who banishes from his understanding and memory every useless, foolish, and dangerous thought, together with every idea which has any tendency to defile his soul, or turn it for a moment from the center of eternal repose. In a word, he who sees God in all things - thinks of him at all times - having his mind continually fixed upon God, acknowledging him in all his ways - who begins, continues, and ends all his thoughts, words, and works, to the glory of his name: - this is the person who loves God with all his heart, life, strength, and intellect. He is crucified to the world, and the world to him: he lives, yet not he, but Christ lives in him. He beholds as in a glass the glory of the Lord, and is changed into the same image from glory to glory. Simply and constantly looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of his faith, he receives continual supplies of enlightening and sanctifying grace, and is thus fitted for every good word and work. O glorious state! far, far, beyond this description! which comprises an ineffable communion between the ever-blessed Trinity and the soul of man!"

-Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

The Commands of Christ - Matthew 11:28-30

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." -Matthew 11:28-30


Who is this command to?


All who labor and are heavy laden.

What does this command require?


Come to Christ. Take His yoke upon you and learn from Christ.

What truths do we learn from this command?


Jesus' invitation is universal. All who labor and are heavy laden are invited to come to Christ to find rest. I'm so glad that Jesus doesn't put a limit on who can come to Him. He doesn't require you to reform yourself before you come to Him. He doesn't expect you to meet a certain set of requirements. The only thing Jesus says is, "Come to Me".

Jesus gives rest. Are you weary and burdened? Find rest in Jesus. Are you tired and burnt out in ministry? Find rest in Jesus. Are you discouraged? Does it seem that there is no hope for your situation? Are you exhausted from all the trials and tribulations you have been through? Find rest in Jesus.

Jesus is gentle and lowly in heart. He cares for you. When you come to Christ you are not coming to an aloof unconcerned King, you are coming to a King that is compassionate and tender. Christ will wrap His arms around you when no one else will. Christ will pick you up and lift up your soul. He will carry you when you have no strength. His Yoke is easy and His burden is light. Dear brother, come to Christ. Forsake those things that have distracted you from Him and have discouraged your soul. Find rest in Christ. Sinner, come to Christ. Trust in Him for salvation. He will carry you.

What are the consequences for disobedience?


weariness of the body and soul, discouragement, despair

What are the benefits of obedience?


Rest...simple, restful rest; Care from a compassionate Savior.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Thoughts Men Don't Like to Think

In American culture, men are taught to be independent. Men are portrayed as not needing anyone, any place, or anything. All men need is themselves. In fact, the most iconic illustration of an American man is still the western cowboy, totally free from all cares. He is a man's man--independent, self-sufficient, and free. All the cowboy needed was the horizon to ride into. The problem with this cultural mindset is that no one can live an independent life. The image that our culture wants to put on men is not real. The fact is, even the manliest of men have needs that they cannot meet. We all need clothing, shelter, food, and more. Even the breath we breathe must be given to us.

David records in Psalm 139 a meditation that men in American culture don't like to think. But Psalm 139 opens our eyes to a reality that we must face in order to live successfully as Christian men in a society that desperately wants us to believe in a false reality. The reality is that we are not autonomous. We are dependent. We are not the highest beings in the universe. We are all under God. I've broken following psalm down into four basic points:

1. God knows us completely - v. 1-6

Verse one is a summary statement for the following 5 verses. David reflects, "O Lord, You have searched me and known me." God knows everything about me. He has searched me out. Nothing is hidden from Him. He knows our sitting down and rising up. He knows our thoughts before we think them. He knows and understands the paths we take. Proverbs 16:9 even tells us that God directs our steps. God is acquainted with all our ways. He knows our words before we speak them. His hand is upon our lives.

Men in our culture are not trained to think this way. We are trained to think that we are not known by anyone. We are trained to think that being completely known is a weakness. But being fully known is not weakness. The fact that God fully knows us ought to be a relief. We don't even fully know ourselves. Being fully known by God is proof that we are dependent upon Him.

David's conclusion in verse 6: "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it." What a glorious, unreachable--nigh incomprehensible thought. We are fully known.

2. God surrounds us completely- v. 7-12

Again, verse 7 serves as a summary statement for this section of verses. David writes, "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?" Anywhere we could go, God would be there. Follow David's thoughts here: If we were to go up to heaven, God is there. If we were to go down to Sheol, God is there. If we were to fly away or go to the deepest part of the sea, God is there. If we were to try to hide in the darkness, we would see that even the darkness is as light to God. Darkness cannot hide us from Him. We cannot flee from God's presence.

If being fully known is anti-cultural to our western, independent, self-sufficient minds, than being completely surrounded by God is worse. We like to think that we get alone when we want to. If that were true, we could to whatever we wanted to with no consequence. But we need to realize that God is everywhere we go and He sees everything we do.

I like what Spurgeon says here: "We must be, whether we will it or not, as near to God as our soul is to our body. This makes it dreadful work to sin; for we offend the Almighty to his face, and commit acts of treason at the very foot of his throne. Go from him, or flee from him we cannot: neither by patient travel nor by hasty flight can we withdraw from the all-surrounding Deity. His mind is in our mind; himself within ourselves. His spirit is over our spirit; our presence is ever in his presence."

We are completely known and completely surrounded by God.

3. God makes us completely - v. 13-18

This next stretch of verses also challenges our American independent manly mindset. The American man is a self-made man. The American man is who he is because he has done what he has done. While there is some truth to that statement, it is not true that the American man is self-made. All mankind, according to David (and God), has been intricately created by God.

Look at David's description of God's creative power in verses 13-18: "For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with You."

God is intimately involved in the forming of each and every person. But it doesn't stop there. God is also intricately involved in every person's life. Indeed, He knows the number of our days before we even experience one of them. David realized how involved God was in his life. From beginning to end, God was his Maker, Sustainer, and God. The self-made man rejects this truth. To admit that God created him and even numbered his days before he even knew one of them goes against the very nature of the autonomous, independent man. But reject it or not, every man has been completely formed by God.

4. God protects us completely - v. 19-24

This is a thread of thought that is woven throughout this meditation by David. Verse 5 - "You have hedged me behind and before". Verse 10 - "Your right hand shall hold me". God protects us completely. Consider these verses: "Oh, that You would slay the wicked, O God! Depart from me, therefore, you bloodthirsty men. For they speak against You wickedly; Your enemies take Your name in vain. Do I not hate them, O Lord, who hate You? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies.


David had plenty of enemies. David had victory in many battles and defeated many kings. There was no shortage of wicked men that wanted to see David dead. He needed protection. For his protection, David turned to God, the all-knowing, all-powerful, everywhere-present God. American, self-made, self-sufficient men don't think they need protection. They think that they are able to protect themselves. There is no danger that the self-made man cannot handle...so it seems. But sooner or later, the self-made man will realize that life can throw a mean curve-ball and this man will find himself in want of protection and provision. They must turn to God or face destruction--turn to God or face despair.

Not only did David have enemies seeking to destroy his life, David also realized that he had an enemy within--the sinful flesh--that was seeking to destroy him. David makes a prayer of commitment to end this psalm: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." 


We must all see the reality of life: we are not self-made, self-sufficient, autonomous men. We are men completely known, completely surrounded, completely made, and completely protected--both outwardly and inwardly--by the all-wise, all-powerful, everywhere-present, holy God. Reject what culture seeks to impress upon you. Reject the false reality that you are independent. Accept that you are completely dependent upon God.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Commands of Christ - Matthew 11:4-6

"Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me." -Matthew 11:4-6


Who is this command spoken to?


This is one of those commands that is for a specific set of people for a specific time. Jesus here speaks to two of John the Baptist's disciples.

What does the command require?


Go and tell John the things which you hear and see

What truths do we learn through this command?


By way of application, we can learn to examine the evidence surrounding who Jesus was. Look at the miracles He did. Look at the people around Him that are being made well. Jesus is the Son of God. All the evidence points in that direction and supports the fact.

We must all give testimony to who Jesus is. Others are asking who Jesus really is. We have the facts. Let's give witness and testify that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Commands of Christ - Matthew 10:34-39


"Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to 'SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW'; and 'A MAN'S ENEMIES WILL BE THOSE OF HIS OWN HOUSEHOLD.' He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it." -Matthew 10:34-39

Who is the command to?

Jesus is training the 12 disciples to be sent out for ministry.

What does the command require?

Do not think that Jesus came to bring peace on earth.

What truths do we learn through this command?

We learn that Jesus didn't come to bring peace. This is completely opposite of what the religious leaders of the day taught about the Messiah. They taught that the Messiah would be a King that would free them from Roman rule. Jesus takes some time to explain what He meant. The fact is, the gospel is a divider of homes. When one member of a family believes the gospel, it sets them at odds with their unbelieving family. The gospel introduces a change in worldview that is contrary to a secular worldview. Enemies will come from your own household when you believe the gospel. Indeed, after Christ's ascension, the first persecution recorded in Acts 4 came from the house of Israel.

Jesus teaches that following Him is more important than keeping peace with your family. "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me." A disciple of Christ must follow Him at all costs. Often, the cost is high. Often we must give up family relationships for the sake of Christ. It is the Christian's cross to bear to give up family for the sake of Christ. 

Now if you are completely discouraged at this point, take heart! Jesus ends this section with a promise: "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it." There is not a disciple of Christ that has not gained from following Jesus. You may be losing in the world's eyes by following Christ, but by following Christ you are investing your life in eternity. Living your life for Christ now guarantees reward in the life to come. He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

What are the consequences for disobedience?

Delusions about the Messiah, loss in eternity, 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Commands of Christ - Matthew 10:24-31


"A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. "Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." -Matthew 10:24-31

What does this command require?

Do not fear men, speak the words Jesus tells them from the housetops, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

What truths do we learn from these commands?

These last few commands have offered us some invaluable principles for ministry. Today, we learn that a disciple of Jesus need not fear men that persecute or seek to harm them. Jesus says, "If they called the master of the house Beelzebub (the devil) how much more will they call those of his household!" But we need not be afraid, even when men accuse us of working alongside the devil. Time will tell who is really of the devil. 

Jesus commands a boldness in proclaiming His words. He instructs us to speak in the light and to preach on the housetops. Jesus wants all to hear His message. Even if they just happen to hear it preached from the roof. Disciple, boldness in preaching is a matter of obedience to the Lord, not a matter of personality or experience. Our Master has commanded us to not be afraid and proclaim His words!

God puts a high value on His children. Look at the way that God cares for even the birds of the air. His children are of much more value than many sparrows. Our Father, who is in heaven caring for us will take care of us and protect us when we need it. We must be obedient no matter what the cost. Do not fear those around you. Fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell--be afraid of what could happen if you disobey.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Commands of Christ - Matthew 10:21-23

"Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes." -Matthew 10:21-23

Who is this command to?

Jesus is instructing his disciples right before he sent them out to do ministry in the surrounding areas.

What does this command require?

When the disciples were persecuted, they were commanded to flee to another city.

What truths do we learn through this command?

It almost seems that Jesus is teaching the disciples to avoid persecution. But He is not. Jesus starts verse 23 with a sure statement--'When they persecute you'. So this command is not about avoiding persecution. Persecution will come. When it does, run to the next city. We learn here that persecution is an excellent motivator for spreading the gospel. When Christ had risen, and Christianity was becoming more known, persecution started. This persecution caused believers to scatter to other towns, regions, even other countries. Because of this dispersion of the many disciples, and because these new disciples were faithful in making disciples wherever they went, Christianity spread like wildfire throughout the Roman world and even into Asia. Persecution is a great tool for spreading the gospel and growing the church.

I think that there is a question pressing on your mind at this point. Is this command relevant to us? When we are persecuted for preaching the gospel of Christ, are we to flee to the next city? This is a tough question. I have come to this conclusion: Your time is better spent finding a place to preach the gospel where the people will receive it, than to have the gospel message trampled by your persecutors and for you to be beaten and bruised for preaching. I say that cautiously, for many will be persecuted for preaching and will continue to preach faithfully in the face of extreme persecution. I come back to Matthew 7:6 and 10:14. Jesus gives permission for the disciples to 'shake the dust from their feet' when they left a city or a household that would not hear the gospel message. Just think about it and try to find a balance. Yes, we are called to endure through our trials, even persecution. But at the same time, we must have discernment as to whether or not the message is being received. There might be some households or cities in which it is impossible to make disciples because of their sinfulness and rejection of the gospel.

What are the consequences for disobedience?

I'm having a hard time putting this into words, but let me take a stab at it: If the disciples disobeyed this, they would face death for their preaching. The gospel message would not spread like Jesus intended.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Commands of Christ - Matthew 10:18-20

"You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you." -Matthew 10:18-20


Who is this command to?


Spoken to the twelve disciples, this section of verses is in the midst of Jesus' instructions regarding sending them out to do ministry.

What does this command require?


Do not worry about the words to say when you are delivered up before governors and kings for Christ's sake.

What truths do we learn through this command?


There is much practical advice about ministry in this chapter. These verses specifically tell us much about where we get the message that we preach in adverse circumstances. The context Jesus mentions is a promised situation. Jesus says, "You will be brought before governors and kings". It will happen. When it does happen, don't worry about the words to say. The Holy Spirit of God will speak in and through you. What a great promise! The Holy Spirit speaks through us so that we don't even need to worry about what to say.

Constant prayer and communion with God through His Word is vital to this sort of situation. Picture the above situation as an athletic event that you and I are training for. We must constantly exercise our spiritual muscles so that we will be prepared for the event. The man who fails to plan, plans to fail. Will you be ready when it is your turn to stand and give a defense for hope that is in you? We must always pray and spend time in the Bible so that we will be saturated with God's will and God's words when this sort of thing happens.

What are the consequences for disobedience?


worry about a situation that God already has under control

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Commands of Christ - Matthew 10:16

"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you to councils and scourge you in their synagogues." -Matthew 10:16-17


Who is this command spoken to?


The first part of chapter ten indicates that Jesus is speaking directly to the twelve disciples. Jesus is about to send them out for ministry.

What does this command require?


Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Beware of men who will treat you poorly.

What truths do we learn through this command?


Jesus doesn't hide anything from his disciples. He lets them know right away that the situation that he is sending them into is not a pretty picture. Sheep are helpless creatures. They have no natural defense. They generally flock together and try their best to avoid problems. Jesus sent his disciples out as 'sheep in the midst of wolves.' This isn't the nicest sounding situation.

We learn here that ministry isn't always an easy situation. In fact, if you find an easy ministry, let me know! Ministry is tough. The people that you get to minister to don't always believe in the gospel. They don't always agree with your methods. They don't always agree with your theology. They don't always want to replace the evil in their lives with good. It will be tough, and most of the time you will feel as helpless as a sheep in the midst of a pack of wolves. Praise God we have the Great Shepherd with us all the time (Matt. 28:19-20). Jesus even promises here that men will send us to the courts, and they will beat us up--get this--in the synagogues. The religious are the ones to fear. They will be the most adamantly against your ministry. Beware.

Jesus does give instruction in this situation He is sending them to. Be wise as serpents. Serpents are crafty creatures. If you observe them in the wild for any amount of time you will notice how subtle their movements are, how well they are able to disguise themselves, and how quickly they strike their prey. Jesus implores his disciples to be wise as serpents. I believe that this means they were to be skilled in their ministry and skilled in handling the sheep/wolves situations. We are to be cunning and wise enough to avoid senseless abuse. Be harmless as doves. In all the cunning and wisdom displayed in ministry, do not use it to attack those to whom you will minister. Be harmless. Don't lose sight of what it is you are trying to accomplish. You are seeking to win people to Christ, not win an argument.

What are the consequences for disobedience?


unprepared for the reality of ministry,

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Commands of Christ - Matthew 7:7

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." -Matthew 7:7


Who is this command spoken to?


Spoken to the multitudes listening to the Sermon on the Mount. The disciples seem to be sitting in the front row (see Matt 5:1-2)

What does this command require?


I did some digging, but I found that the verbs ask, seek, and knock are all in the present active imperative forms in the Greek. This means that each verb indicates an ongoing action. Perhaps a better rendering would be keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking.

The command requires that we keep on asking, seeking, and knocking. The context of the next few verses indicates that it is in reference to asking God for things in prayer.

What truths do we learn through this command?


God wants us to ask Him for the things that we need. He wants us to come to Him in prayer, especially regarding our requests. He gives good things to those who ask. Often, God does not answer our prayers immediately. We tend to grow impatient with God when this happens. But, here, God instructs us to keep on asking and to keep on seeking for answers. Eventually, we will see that God was simply waiting for His own perfect timing to reveal his answers to us.

What does 'knock, and it will be opened to you' mean? I like what Gill's commentary says here: "[Knock] as beggars do, who use much importunity for relief and assistance. So men should stand and knock at the door of mercy, which will not always be shut against them. Faith in prayer is a key that opens this door, when a poor soul finds grace and mercy to help it in time of need. Our Lord's design is to express the nature, fervour, and constancy of prayer, and to encourage to it."

Our prayer needs to be fervent and faith-filled. The Lord rewards those who diligently seek Him.

What are the consequences for disobedience?


Well, if you don't ask, you won't receive; if you don't seek, you won't find; and if you don't knock, it won't be opened to you.