Archive for the ‘Matthew’ Category

Word for Today – Matthew28:20

He is with You

Is there light at the end of the tunnel? I have to believe that there is or why else strive in this life? Maybe another word for this state of mind is “hope”. As Christians, Jesus is our hope.

After his crucifixion, his followers were devastated. For the disciples, Jesus had been their best hope of social and religious reform. For the hopeless, he was there healing, and for regular folks he was the embodiment of love and compassion. When he died on that cross, so did the hope of many.

But, hallelujah, the Resurrection soon followed, and hope abounded: hope for the hopeless, hope for healing, and hope for every day. Along with renewed hope, a new song was born . . . the beautiful melody of world-wide salvation.

Jesus’ new command was for his followers to sing the song of salvation everywhere and make disciples of all the nations. How blessed are the people of the world because they are welcomed in the Father’s kingdom by the sacrifice of the Son. Jesus also gave us this note of hope:

“And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 NRSV).

So even on the darkest of days, we have a light at the end of the tunnel – we have hope. Hope for:

  • Social and religious reform
  • Hopelessness
  • Healing
  • Love and compassion
  • Salvation

Our flesh will struggle with darkness of all kinds from time to time, but we cannot let our emotions usurp the reality of hope in our hearts and minds. Jesus is stronger and more stable than our emotions. This is what gives us hope. And Jesus says it himself, he will always be with us.

Word for Today: Hope is always available, because he is with you.

Posted by on September 17th, 2010 No Comments

Word for Today – Matthew 27:30-31

Expect to be Mocked

Mockery goes on everyday and everywhere. No one is exempt form the taunts of others whether is on the playgrounds of elementary schools or the halls of the most pious churches.

In their most crude form, taunts spew from the mouths of playground “cherubim” when someone is different, lacking, or has drawn the envy of their peers. Taunts of the most refined nature are harder to identify and often manifest themselves in the form of personal attacks or unjust actions affecting their victim.

They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. (Matthew 27:30-31 NRSV)

During the events leading up to his crucifixion, Jesus experienced both crude and subtle mockery: subtle in the form of the kangaroo court that bounced him around Jerusalem under the cover of night, and crude as displayed by the cruel and unfounded taunts of the people the following day.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say Christians will be spared similar treatment. Although most of us will never have to sacrifice like Jesus did, many of us will be mocked. I can only speak from my own experiences, but maybe you can relate.

  • I’ve been negatively categorized because of the simple fact I love the Bible, believe in the Second Amendment, and don’t drive a green vehicle. (At one point, we were a four-truck family!)
  • Because I believe that defending my family and my nation is important, I’ve been called a war-monger. (Seriously, in a letter from some anti-nuclear group based in Santa Fe, New Mexico!)
  • Those of us who respect the sanctity of life are considered a danger to women. (Hello . . . I’m a woman, I just happen to feel everyone deserves a chance at life.)
  • I’ve even been relieved of teaching duties in the church for drawing the compliments from the parents of teens I taught and planting a desire in the kids to come to class. (Oh yeah, I was teaching truths from the Bible . . . that must have been where I went wrong!)

Much like Jesus was mocked with the injustice displayed in a kangaroo court, his followers can expect much the same. Much like he was mocked by the people with nothing but unfounded attacks, so will be the experience of Christians.

When people with big ideas have no foundation to support their vision, they tend to resort to personal attacks to defeat their opponents. Don’t take my word for it, look around our society. The people who have nothing concrete to throw into the arena of ideas are the first to start shooting mocking salvos from the gutters. Just as Jesus stood firm on the Truth, so must we.

Word for Today: If you stand for truth, expect to be mocked.

Posted by on September 13th, 2010 No Comments

Word for Today: Matthew 26:30-31

Be a Christ Follower

Did you know they sang at the Last Supper? For as many times as I’ve combed through Matthew’s account of that historic event, that fact never registered.

Did you know that Judas was not the only one who deserted Jesus in the hours preceding the crucifixion? Most of us are aware of Peter’s denial, but it seems the betrayal of the other disciples gets lost among the swirl of activity that darkest of nights.

When they had sung the hymn, they went to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters because of me this night”. (Matthew 26″30-31 NRSV)

Jesus’ words probably stung the ears and the hearts of his devoted followers, but Peter was the only one whose response is recorded. “I will never desert you,” came the famous, yet hollow, words of the always impulsive Peter. Jesus assured his devoted disciple the he would desert him no less than three time before the cock crowed that very night.

It is easy, 2000 years later, to judge Peter for his actions. We look at him and wonder, how could he deny the living Savior that he served with for three years? But, anytime we look at others with a critical eye, we need to apply our judgment to ourselves. In this situation we may just find that we desert Jesus much like Peter did.

The night before Jesus’ work on the cross he spent time with his spiritual family. They feasted. They had fellowship. They shared a bit of theology. And, they sang. That sounds a bit like our modern-day church service: time with our spiritual family, fellowship, communion, and a few hymns.

What a wonderful way to honor our Savior and be with other believers, but just as Jesus told his disciples they would “all become deserters,” is there any application to us today? Do we attend church services professing undying devotion to Jesus only to look like the world the rest of the week when living our faith gets a little difficult? Do we betray or desert Jesus?

I’ve witnessed faithful church attendees turn into obnoxious beasts at their child’s sporting events. I’ve heard stories of teenagers going on mission trips to impoverished areas only to return home and brag about the things they stole from those they went to serve. I’ve been guilty of throwing my devotion to Jesus out the window and biting off the head of a customer service representative who had nothing to do with my useless product.

No Christian is perfect, but it’s important to look at how often we we feast, fellowship, and sing in honor of our Savior only the desert him and everything he represents when we step outside the formality of church. Peter ultimately made amends for actions, and we can learn much from his example. It is hard to be 100 percent devoted to Jesus 100 percent of the time, but we must guard against a flippant attitude and deserting his ways when it seems the like easy way out.

Word for Today: Don’t desert Christ, be a Christ Follower.

Posted by on September 8th, 2010 No Comments

Word for Today – Matthew 26:21

Rise Above Betrayal

Ah, the Last Supper: the glorious origins of our modern-day communion ceremony. The place where the King of Kings and Lord of Lord humbly washed the dirty and well-worn feet of his disciples. But, it was also the place of deception rivaling the best intrigue Hollywood has to offer.

Satan was lurking among shadows and in the heart of a man named Judas. Jesus wasn’t the only one donning the mantle of servant hood; the cloak of betrayal securely rested on the shoulders of a man who decided to serve Darkness that day.

“Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” (Matthew 26:21 NRSV).

These difficult words straight from Jesus greatly distressed the men alongside him at the feast. In today’s vernacular the immediate response probably would sound something like this, “No way, Dude!! We’ve got your back!”

Even the man Jesus identified as his betrayer (the one who dipped his hand in the bowl with Jesus) denied the possibility. I don’t think anyone ever aspires to traitorous greatness, but somehow it happens. I often wonder if slithering into that role comes from a moment of weakness, poor judgment, or both. I think even sincere hearts can succumb to an intoxicating vision lulling them towards an ego-centric, and often insidious, end result.

A few months ago my son experienced betrayal by ones he considered a good friends. The far-reaching tentacles of intrigue prevented my son from going on a school trip he had been looking forward to; nothing was done to confirm my son’s guilt or innocence. Additionally, the validity of his accuser’s claims was not pursued. It was then that my lessons of graciously handling a grave injustice began for my disappointed son.

When I read this section of Matthew recording Jesus’ unjust betrayal, it added clarity to a traitorous situation. When the dust settled around Jesus’ betrayal, his accuser was dead, but Jesus was still living the consequences. Yet, during his last hours of life, Jesus prayed that God would forgive everyone clambering for and responsible for his death. Folks, that not only included the hoards 2000 years ago, but that prayer included you and me because he died for sin, our treachery against our holy God (John 17:20-26). What a divine reaction to a multitude of betrayers both present and future.

My son’s flesh wanted to be all over his accusers and execute his own style of teen justice. Reigning him in has not been easy; thankfully, my son respects the guidance my husband and I shared. He’s handled the unfortunate events very well for a 17 year-old boy with plenty of testosterone coursing though his veins.

One interesting note comparing Jesus’ betrayal with what my son experienced: Judas killed himself. My son’s betrayers have had a different response (thankfully, because no matter the circumstances, I don’t want them to end up like Judas). One will not look him in the eye, and the other acts like nothing happened. I’ve experienced that before, and it usually reveals more about those who cast off the ties loyalty than it does the victim.

What can we learn from Jesus’ response to something most of us have experienced? Rise above it. Jesus rose above it and cast a shadow in the form of a cross on a world full of betrayal. Likewise, a Christian’s call is to rise above and not crawl into the gutter with those who decide there are things more important than loyalty.

Word for Today: Rise above betrayal.

Posted by on September 7th, 2010 No Comments

Word for Today – Matthew 26:8

Waste It Not!

Some things are obviously worth a small fortune. Diamonds, considered a girls best friend, are a costly and precious gem. What about perfume? I often wonder if that sweet-smelling, froo-froo water is truly worth the small fortune we ring up at the cash register.

And what about that stinky black gold that powers society, fuels our cars, and drives the world economy? It is amazing what things are valued by man.

During his time on earth, Jesus valued things that many cast into trash bins carefully placed on the outskirts of society: lepers, tax collectors, demoniacs, and Gentiles. These outcasts were precious jewels to him. On one occasion a follower of Jesus showed how much she treasured Jesus by pouring a precious ointment over his head. The disciples reacted with vitriol:

“Why this waste! For this ointment could have been sold for a large sum, and the money given to the poor” (Matthew 26 NRSV).

Jesus reminded them of the woman’s good service to him. You see, Jesus, unlike the disciples and many of us, sees the benefit of an act that others easily misinterpret as waste.

One precious resource that I often hoard is my time. I’m a busy lady! I am a wife and mother, a blogger (founder of two, editor for another, and contributing writer to yet another!). I also record a weekly radio show, do webinars, and speak. Time is a treasure in my life. However, I need to remember that as a Christian, it is never a good thing to be so busy for God that I forget to be with him or with those who need to feel and experience God through me.

Not only to I need to maintain the right relationship with God and my loved ones, but I need to be sensitive to friends and strangers. Just within the last month I have encountered a heart-broken mother, an elderly friend who needs moral support and assistance yet has no family in the area, and dear friend who is swimming through the thick waters of a life changing event.

Like the disciples who saw the ointment showered over Jesus’ head as a waste, we often feel our time is wasted if it isn’t producing something tangible or furthering our own agendas. We need to recognize time spent with others as a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow of relationships.

Word for Today: Time, waste it not! Share it with others.

Posted by on September 1st, 2010 1 Comment

Word for Today – Matthew25:15

According to Our Ability

I’m not an expert in word origins, but I’ve always been fascinated that this section of Matthew 25 uses the word “talent”. Sure, it is literally referring to a unit of money, but the spiritual implications of what is said here shows that God has invested certain “talents” in each us and expects a return on his investment.

“to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability” (Matthew 25:15 NRSV).

Have you ever heard or been guilty of saying, “I have no talents”? That line of thinking is contrary to what the Bible teaches. One well-known verse lays it out quite succinctly that God does have plans for every individual he creates:

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Anyone who thinks they are void of a divine talent from God denies his ability and questions his intentions. Why would God put a call on our lives and then not equip us for success? I’m not comfortable going there, are you?

When we move beyond the crippling thoughts of having no gifts, talents, or resources from above, we can burst into the arena of blessing others and giving God a return on his investment in us.

How do we do this? First, what do you have an natural aptitude for? Are you compassionate, encouraging, great with numbers or words, or dealing with people? Those are just a few of the things that God needs help with here on earth.

Another clue: what does your heart yearn to do? Words burst forth from the heart of a writer. God makes beautiful music in the soul of a musician. He trains prayer warriors in the quiet battlefield of the mind. What does your mind, heart, and soul scream to do? Pay attention to that; it lives in you for a reason.

God gives to us so we can give to others. We cheat too many souls when we fail to tap into the many talents God invests in us. But most of all, we cheat God who sprinkled incredible talents into the lives of all his children.

Word for Today: God invests in each of us, let’s bless him back . . .each according to our ability.

Posted by on August 30th, 2010 No Comments

Word for Today – Matthew 24:4-5

Beware of Empty Promises

I hit Matthew 24 and thought I had stepped into the daily news cycle at FOX News Channel. Destruction, wars, rumors of war, nation rising against nation. I chuckled nervously. Torture, death, betrayal, lawlessness. The list continued.

However, I must admit that I almost busted up laughing when I read about people claiming to (or perhaps even acting) like the Messiah. That certainly broke the tension of the moment, because, whether or not people blatantly claim it, there are those who certainly think they are the remedy for whatever ails the world. So much so, that I wonder if we are going to be so desensitize when the real lawless one arrives on the scene that we don’t pay him any attention.

Several years ago I was watching a much anticipated event in Washington DC when I actually heard someone say that the Messiah had been born. This individual went on to indicate that the supposed Messiah was born on his birthday. Given the context and the way in which this announcement was handled, one was left to assume that this speaker thought he was the Messiah. Hmmm.

This is just one man, but what about others? What about politicians or world leaders? My observations tell me that these people promise things and act like they think the sit in the control room of the universe. In defense of some, they stop short of claiming to be the Coming One, but that doesn’t always prevent them from promising things only Jesus can deliver. Maybe the world needs fewer “promise-me-the-moon” politicians and more common-sense statesmen.

During his earthly ministry, Jesus sounded the following warning:

Beware that on one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah!’ and they will lead you astray. (Matthew 24:4-5 NRSV)

Don’t think politicians are the only ones spouting off empty promises or acting like they are the ones who hung the stars in the sky. It’s everywhere: schools, families, movies, print media,  news, and Internet. You name it, and empty promises abound!

Jesus warned us that the world would face scary things like war, and nation rising against nation. He didn’t get as specific as health care and the frenzy of global warming-type catastrophes, but they can be scary whether you believe they are real or you fear the consequences of society acting on them.

Along with these cries of doom and gloom, Jesus reminds us there will be those promising things they cannot deliver: “I am the Messiah!’, “I can fix it”, “Trust me, I’ll take care of you.” Of course these are empty promises when spouted by mortal man.

However, we can trust the promises of Jesus. He’s the real deal. He already told us we would experience scary things.  He is not taken by surprised as he looks down on this crazy place called Planet Earth. He’s not surprised, so neither should we. He told us all these things in his Word. He also told us that, “the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13). That’s a promise we can hold on to. And, as a result of that promise:

the “good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world as a testimony to all the nations” (Matthew 24:14).

Sounds like there will be a few bumps in the road between now and that day of proclamation, but if we hold on to the words of Jesus, we won’t be fooled by false messiahs and their empty promises.

Word for Today: Beware of empty promises and hold on to the truths Jesus offers.

Posted by on August 26th, 2010 No Comments

Word for Today – Matthew 21:5

What Are You Riding?

I am SO not a cowgirl, but if I was going to ride in one of those arena parades that kicks off a rodeo, I’d want the most beautiful palomino pony within a hundred miles. I would probably pass on a mule, a Shetland pony, or a donkey. Give me a high-stepping steed with a flowing mane and tail whipping in the evening air!

However, most of us, including me, don’t need a rodeo to mount our high horses. It’s sad, but true. I’m pretty easy-going, but there are a few things that make me saddle up my high horse and prance around that silly little arena of pride.

Lest I come across too  petty, I won’t list all my pet peeves, but this list will give you some insights:

  • when I call customer service and they cannot talk to me because I’m not my husband.
  • when my family does not close up the computer cabinet when they are done
  • when I’m running late and hit every red light and turtle car between me and my destination.

I don’t deserve those things, and I’ll bet you don’t either.

But before we ride into the sunset on our respective mounts, let’s look at someone else who didn’t get what he deserved.

“Look, your king is coming to you humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Matthew 21:5 NRSV)

Despite being the King of Kings, Jesus lead a rather simple life on earth. His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem was no exception – instead of entering as a conquering king on a fiery steed as sought by people, he arrived on the foal of a donkey. Not much pomp and circumstance in that, now is there?

His arrival was a departure from what the Jewish people wanted and were looking for, yet it proclaimed his messianic royalty, as well as his humility. (Interesting Note:  Before all was said and done, Jesus WAS the conquering King by defeating death so that mankind could live.)

Jesus deserved better, but he did what was best. We often think we deserve more and have no qualms jumping on our high-horses of folly brandishing our demands. Do you agree that something doesn’t add up when Jesus deserves way more and accepts less, and we expect much more and choose to commandeer the stomping, snorting ride of pride to satisfy our whims? What’s up with that? Our temperatures, perhaps?

Instead of focusing on our own little fits, we need to remember Jesus and reflect his humility (which often requires climbing into the saddle of patience.) Let us remember what HE rode so we can keep a proper perspective when choosing what WE are going to ride.

Word for Today: Jesus rode the foal of a donkey. What are you riding?

Posted by on August 24th, 2010 3 Comments

Word for Today – Matthew 20:31

Let Our Eyes Be Open

People say the darnedest things. It’s been my observation that verbal doozies often stem from arrogance and/or ignorance. Nothing is safe from the vocal folly of mortal men. . . politics, any kind of study ending with “ology”, the human observation of others, and, yes, Christianity. Actually, I’m going to focus on Christianity because, judging from what I see on TV, experience, and hear, it’s an easy target.

I must admit, I’ve target Christianity in the past. And, get this, I was a professing Christian at the time! I’m embarrassed to admit that I once made the statement, “No one knows how God is going to judge.” I would say that statement stemmed from my own ignorance. Thankfully, I’ve since learned that there is no judgment for those who are in Christ Jesus, and those who will ultimately stand in judgment, cannot meet the standard of God’s righteousness. Whew, I’m glad my ignorance was set straight by grace.

Now, I could go into an entire theological discourse here for those who may not understand the concept of grace, but that is not my purpose. My purpose is to share a verse that, as usual, struck me in my Bible reading. But, before we go there, I need to lay the groundwork for my thoughts. For those Christians reading this, have you ever felt marginalized just because you are a Christian? I have. Terms like redneck have been used to describe those of us who love our Bibles and other things that go along with the territory.

It happens on news shows when, during some debate, the Christian in the arena of ideas is dismissed because of their faith. I see it in real life when supposedly brilliant people in the name of tolerance say awful things about Christianity without understanding or the desire to even listen. They often are not intellectually honest or open when conversing with a believer (this is assuming, of course, that the Christian is not acting holier than thou). I’m not sure, but can the avoidance of meaningful dialog and the plethora of personal attacks be attributed to arrogance and/or ignorance? I’m thinking ignorance is a good bet, because I’ve been guilty of that wielding that dull sword.

During Jesus’ ministry he received a variety of responses from the population. Some loved him. Others hated him. Still yet, the sick wanted what he had to offer without offering a word of thanks, while humility caused others to genuinely love him for the compassionate and caring person he was. One day while out and about a couple of blind men yelled at Jesus to have mercy on their souls. They caught his attention:

“What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him,” Lord, let our eyes be open.” (Matthew 20:33 NRSV)

These men didn’t have the benefit of a neatly bound Bible to learn from in Sunday school. But, they also didn’t dismiss Jesus because he was a religious man. They were not looking for intellectual honesty . . . they just wanted their eyes to be open. They wanted to see things as they were. Not only did they received physical vision, but they saw the truth, and all they had to do was ask.

Thankfully after my ridiculously ignorant pronouncement that no one knows how God is going to judge, I stuck with my blossoming Christian faith and, even though I still have much to learn, I addressed my ignorance and asked God to open my eyes. I’ve also learned that if I am not well-versed in any area (no matter what it is), I try to ask questions rather than make pronouncements or silly assertions.

Am I perfect? No. Are the Christians reading this post perfect? No. Are any non-believers or carnal Christians feasting on this article perfect? No. But, how many of us truly ask for our eyes to be open? Do we get comfortable running in the circles where everyone tends to agree with us? Naturally, we are going to be drawn to those who think and act similar to us . . . that is human nature. But, I’m glad that I made the request that the Lord open my eyes.

I challenge believers and non-believers alike to let their eyes be open; open to the truth. Not everyone will ask it in the name of the Lord, and that is OK. But, I think that those who genuinely seek will have their eyes opened.

Word for Today: Lord, let our eyes be open.

Posted by on August 23rd, 2010 No Comments

Word for Today – Matthew 20:14-15

Take What Belongs To You and Go

As I read Matthew today, it was just a little too easy to find the “Word for Today”. Before I cracked open my Bible, I asked God to bless with inspiration. Well, he did, and my attitude has become the subject of yet another post. So, here’s another humbling post I must write.

“Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?” (Matthew 20:14-15 NRSV)

Upon first glance it is easy to look at these two verses and walk off without giving “envy” too much thought. However, if we include it with the rest of the parable Jesus told, it opens up a whole new perspective when it comes to envy. I know . . .I lived it a few days ago.

The condensed version of the parable tells of a landowner who hired workers at four different times during the day to work in his vineyard: early morning, noon, about three o’clock, and about five o’clock. Not a big deal. However, when paychecks were distributed at the end of the day, there was some grumbling. Seems that the guys who were brought on later in the day received the same compensation as those who had worked all day! Needless to say, this seemed a gross injustice to the men who had put in a full day’s work.

Even though the circumstances were different, I recently displayed the same indignant attitude. I hadn’t actually worked all day, but I did feel that I had not been given the same consideration as those around me. I struggled trying to reconcile my feelings and not to feel offended, but my perception of being the “outcast” were hard to shake off.

This is what God showed me:

  1. You don’t know the motives of others, so don’t let preconceived ideas eat you up.
  2. It doesn’t matter what others think, or whether they are right or wrong in their assessment of you. I know what’s up.
  3. Do all your work as unto to me and be about your business. I’m the one you are trying to impress.
  4. It really isn’t up to you what others do. It is, however, your choice whether you are affiliated with them or not, and I will guide you in that area.
  5. My generosity is up to me. All you need to do is rejoice with those who rejoice.

So, there you have it. Envy isn’t just the act of coveting what others have. It is a lack of contentment with our own stuff. It also includes negative feelings or perceptions surrounding circumstances when you feel like an outsider. It includes wanting to match others “tit-for-tat” if you feel slighted. It is thinking that you deserve something that maybe you don’t. And, lastly, it’s about harboring ill feelings toward others whether they deserve it or not.

And, what makes this all even worse…if  that is possible…is when we act out of our perceptions and not facts!

This must have been a lesson I really needed to learn, because these words flowed just a little to easy this morning.

Word for Today: Take what belongs to you and go.

Posted by on August 19th, 2010 No Comments