January 10, 2012

Today you should read: Matthew 5:21-37

The beatitudes are full of great wisdom and instruction for us today.

This part deals with four issues, three of which are rampant in our society today.

Murder, adultery and divorce are out of control in our world today. The statistics about how many murders happen, how often men leave their wives for an affair and how many divorces are happening each day are staggering. These laws given to us by God have been clearly disregarded by our society. God has told us what would happen if we turn from His word (Deuteronomy 30:11-18). Sin against God is serious and we need to take it seriously.

Now, before we look at this and think to ourselves, “This doesn’t really pertain to me, I have never done these things and I don’t ever see myself doing them”, we have to take a look at the real issue here: and that is the heart.

The Pharisees may very well have thought those same things, “These laws are for sinners, not someone who follows the law perfectly like I do.” Jesus, however, sets them straight on each issue by telling them and us that it is not so much about what we do as it is about our heart attitude behind it.

You see, God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7) and He desires a pure, holy heart; not good deeds which are void of any real devotion to Him. So remember when you get angry, that is the heart of a murderer; when you glance at a person with lust in your heart for them, that is the heart of an adulterer; and when you begin to think that maybe the grass is greener on the other side and your marriage is beyond repair, that is not the heart God desires from us.

When you see yourself living with a heart that does not please God, you need to take immediate action. Get rid of all the things in your life that cause you to stumble. That could mean making hard choices, but they need to be made. Jesus made some pretty bold statements here about what we should do to remain pure. We have to be ready and willing to do what it takes to strive for a holy heart.

So this begs the question:

Are you?

Are you ready to make the tough choices?

To end the relationship?

To move?

To change jobs?

What are the choices you have to make to grow in holiness of heart?

Pray today and ask God to strengthen you today to make those choices and to have a holy heart.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

January 9, 2012

Today you should read: Matthew 5:12-20

As Jesus is teaching in Matthew 5, He compares believers to two things that are common – Salt and Light.  Jesus did this frequently – using familiar things to drive home a point.

You are the salt of the earth. (v.13)

Why salt?  What is the significance of that?

– Salt flavors

I love a good steak!  I also really like popcorn.  But I tell you, you can have both of them without salt!  Salt brings out the flavor of food.  Without it, food can be bland – even flavorless.  We are to do the same thing – bring out the flavor of Jesus in those we come in contact with.

– Salt preserves

Long before the days of refrigeration – salt was used to preserve meat.  Salt makes things last longer!  The Bible tells us that, because of the righteous, God is withholding His wrath on the world.

– Salt changes

Ever put salt on ice?  What happens?  It changes ice to water.  This is true when you mix salt with other substances as well.  As Christians, we should change our environments to be more like Jesus.  We should make a difference where we are.

Salt is important.   Verse 13 reminds us that we can lose our effectiveness and no longer flavor, preserve, and change.  What causes that?  Sin, Apathy, Disobedience….

You are the light of the world (v.14)

Makes me think of a song from my childhood…

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.  This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine – let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Hide it under a bushel no!  I’m gonna let it shine…

Won’t let Satan blow it out – I’m gonna let it shine…

How’s your little light?  Shining bright for Jesus?  A city on hill cannot be hidden.  Time to get out your light and let it shine.  The good news is, no matter how meager it may seem – a little light shines bright in a dark place.

How about today?  Spill SALT and LIGHT on everywhere!

Posted by: Tim Parsons

January 7, 2012

Today you should read: Matthew 5:1-11

The Beatitudes is a very fitting name for this section of scripture. This is a list of attitudes to have or be in different situations. In this passage we see two types of attitudes being presented. The first is that of the disciples and their attitude toward others who are less fortunate or struggling. The second type is the attitude of those who are experiencing the struggle.

Notice first that when Jesus saw the crowds he saw this as a teachable moment for his disciples (v. 1). Jesus wanted to develop the heart of his disciples for people who are hurting. Those who have the heart of God are those who thirst for righteousness, seek to make peace, and show mercy to others. Not only did Jesus teach them how to love others, but he encourages them to seek comfort in the realization that they are blessed when they face persecution on Christ’s behalf. Little did the disciples know at that moment how much persecution that they were going to face. I am sure during their hardest times they remembered this conversation with Christ. We too must take heed to this list because many of us have faced or will face one or more of the situations presented in this passage. The words of Jesus must give us comfort.

Second, Jesus gives encouragement for those who are experiencing different hardships. For those who mourn, who are poor in spirit and are persecuted. Not only does God recognize our struggles but Jesus says that you are blessed.

But how? It sure doesn’t feel like a blessing right? The blessing is the strength given to endure and the opportunity to be used by God. Often we feel as if God is punishing us when he allows hardships to come about in our lives. However, we are not being punished; we are given an opportunity. The opportunity to grow closer to the Lord and the opportunity to bless others by how you suffer. There is no question that at some point we will all suffer but our character is revealed by how well we suffer.

For example:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. (Acts 5:40-42)

Question to Ponder:

Do you suffer well?
How do you treat others in their time of need?
Is your character defined as Christ-like or world-like?

Posted by: Chad Wiles

January 6, 2012

Today you should read: Matthew 4:12-25

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” — Matthew 4:17 ESV
“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” — Matthew 4:19 ESV

Two huge statements by Jesus. Two statements that altered history forever. Two statements that can alter the history of any person alive. Two statements that are of enormous value to you today.

This section of Matthew marks the foundations of Jesus’ earthy ministry — all of the miracles, preaching, teaching… it begins here. Jesus had just returned from His great temptation, and it was just the right time for Him to get His work rolling. As He began, He gave us these two statements: REPENT and FOLLOW.

In this passage, they appear in that order. Ironically, I believe that they need to appear in that order in our lives as well. See, we don’t really follow the Lord in His ministry until we’ve truly repented. Our good works and our service don’t have eternal significance until repentance first happens; until faith is birthed in our hearts. Jesus calls us into a relationship with Him, and His offer — His gift — to us is repentance. When we turn from our sin and embrace all that Jesus is, we realize that there is a lifetime of glorious ministry ahead of us! We can now joyfully follow.

But now as Jesus’ followers, what do we get to do? What is our ministry? We get to tell people about Christ’s offer! And then we get to show them how to follow! Do you see that parallel?

Christ’s offer to us:
REPENT FROM OUR SIN >>>> FOLLOW CHRIST’S PLAN FOR OUR LIVES

Now we:
FOLLOW CHRIST’S PLAN >>>> BY ENCOURAGING OTHERS TO REPENT FROM SIN AND TEACHING THEM TO FOLLOW CHRIST

Crazy, isn’t it? Our ministry should look like Jesus’ ministry? YES. We are eternally indebted to Him for His ministry, which He ultimately accomplished through His death and resurrection, offering us eternal life. Now, He calls us to have a ministry like His! He called people to repent, and He called people to follow. Matthew 28:19-20 echoes this. Acts 1:8 screams this. He gave us the task of following in His footsteps. So, here’s some food for thought for your Friday, CPC:

Have you repented and turned to Jesus?

If so, have you followed Him and pursued the ministry He has for you?

If not, what are you waiting for?

Posted by: Todd Thomas