February 13, 2012

Today you should read: Matthew 20:1-19

In chapter 19 Peter asks Jesus a question:

“We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” (v.27)

Jesus answers him:

“Everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.” (v.29-30)

Then Jesus illustrates this through the parable we read in chapter 20:1-19. What can we learn from this story that Jesus told?

1. God’s grace extends beyond us. Often we feel like we’re the only beneficiaries of His grace. It’s so much bigger than us.

2. God rewards who and how He chooses. He lifts some up to new endeavors and positions, and lowers some down. He’s sovereign. God doesn’t owe us an explanation. He’s not obligated to explain Himself in any way.

3. Instead of worrying about God’s blessings on others – enjoy His blessings on us. We must be thankful that God would use and bless us – in spite of us.

4. God’s rewards are rich. They are more than we deserve and more than we can imagine.

It’s not so important when you begin – just begin now! Serve the God who gave everything for you!

Posted by: Tim Parsons

February 11, 2012

Today you should read: Matthew 19:16-28

So I used to have a retirement plan.

Before going into ministry full time, I worked with Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky and with their benefits package came a retirement plan that they helped put money into. One of the things that I had to do when I left was switch the money from the retirement account that they had provided into a private one for myself. So they sent over an agent and while we were working on my account we started talking about his job and how difficult it can be at times. He told me that when the recession hit a lot of his clients lost a lot of money because their accounts were based on investments into different stocks. A couple of his clients came into his office furious to the point where he was a little threatened and scared for his safety. I remember thinking how extreme people can get when money is involved.

In our passage today we meet the rich young ruler. He has everything except for the security of eternal life. Now we know that the rich young ruler was pretty smart because he went to the right person to find out the answer to his question. Jesus first tells him the obvious answer, “Keep the commandments.” These were given to Israel by God through Moses at Mt. Sinai and every Jew knew exactly what commandments they were supposed to follow.

Well, all of them except for this one, I guess, because he responds with “which ones?” So Jesus names a few of them and the young ruler responds with, “I have kept all of these.” At this point Jesus had to be smiling because we all know that the rich young ruler did not keep these commandments perfectly so he has already lied to Jesus. He is blind to his sin and most of us relate because before we gave our hearts to Jesus you and I were blind to our sin as well.

Jesus was not fazed by the blindness of the ruler. Instead Jesus did what he always does and exposed the rich young ruler’s heart. V.20:

The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

Jesus knows that the rich young ruler is bound by one sin, Money. So, Jesus offers the young ruler an opportunity to be free from that bondage, but the response of the rich young ruler was to walk away sorrowful. Why? Because Jesus was taking the one thing away that the rich young ruler trusted in. Money was security for him and for many of us that is the case. That is the same reason why the agent in my opening illustration found himself threatened by clients. Money is a source of security, control, and power in our world.

Now if we get honest with ourselves this is true about many Christians as well. I know that right now some of you are reading this and are feeling convicted because you don’t tithe the ten percent that is God’s in the first place. Some of you are members at this church and you do not tithe. (Note: I have never seen any giving statements so please know that I do not have any one person in mind). Why? Because money is your security and not God. We trust in the mighty dollar more than we trust in the creator of the universe. I beg you to examine your heart on this because we cannot serve two masters and God wants your complete heart and trust. He wants your worship.

Challenge:

Meditate on Matthew 6:24 and ask yourself which master will I serve.

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

Posted by: Chad Wiles

February 10, 2012

Today you should read: Matthew 19:1-15

Divorce is such a tough, sticky subject. Every one of us has dealt with it on some level either in our own relationships, in our family, or in the lives of close friends. It hurts. Most of all, it saddens the heart of God.

In Matthew 19, the Pharisees desired to trap Jesus into contradicting in His own teachings, and apparently they though the subject of divorce would be extra tricky. What a display of arrogance! They were addressing the very God of the universe who promised to redeem His harlot Bride (us, the Church) regardless of all she had done against Him, and they want to win an argument about divorce? If anyone has ever had a right to divorce, it is God. He is holy, perfect, and pure. He relentlessly pursues His Bride and how do we respond? With sin, disobedience, and adultery. Wrong choice, Pharisees.

Jesus sternly reminded them of God’s perfect plan for marriage. Marriage = one man & one woman, committed for a lifetime.

He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:4-6 ESV

“But what about Moses? He said it’s fine in some situations. Are you against Moses?”

He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. Matthew 19:8 ESV

If you are reading this today and you are married, stay committed to God’s plan in verses 4-6. Do whatever it takes to make it work. Remember the covenant you made before God. Husbands: love your wives. Wives: respect and submit to your husband’s leadership. Do life God’s way.

If you are reading this today and you have been divorced, let the loving arms of the Savior wrap around you. Let Him heal the wounds that divorce has left behind. Trust what the Lord said in Psalm 3:3.

For all of us today: stop and pray for someone you know who has been through a divorce. Whether it seemed “mutual” or not, whether it was hateful and ugly or “clean and easy”, it has left a scar. Pray that they would draw near to Christ. Pray that they would turn to Jehovah-Rapha, the God who heals.

Posted by: Todd Thomas

February 9, 2012

Today you should read: Matthew 18:15-35

Today’s reading is a great passage! It’s very important for us today. Why? Because we don’t seem to follow it – and always remember – things go better when you do them God’s way!

What do you do when someone offends you or does something to hurt your family? Most people… gossip about it, say slanderous things to others about them, and most often – run away.

What should you do? Verses 15-20 say we are to CONFRONT it. After much prayer – we must go to the person.

1. You confront it alone – just you and them. Be careful not to gossip and run their name into the ground. At this stage, it is completely between you and them. Isn’t that how you would want someone to treat you? (Matthew 7:12) If they repent… it’s over – and you must begin restoration.

If they don’t repent and it’s not resolved – move to step 2.

2. You confront it with one other person. The purpose of this is establishing it with a witness (a very scriptural idea) and also the other person may hear something you miss and be able to bring clarity. But just the two of you – don’t bring others into it – that’s sin. If they repent, it’s over – and you begin restoration.

If they don’t repent and it’s not resolved move to step 3.

3. You meet with your church authority and involve them. After two attempts, it’s time scripturally to involve the authority of the church. Talk with your Connect Group leader or if necessary, make an appointment with someone on the church pastoral team. They will take this to the next level. If the person repents, it’s over and restoration begins. If not, you must leave this to the authority of the church to deal with.

You must remember the real goal – it’s not vindication – it’s restoration. Paul says… “restore such a one…” If you were to cut God’s heart open it would bleed restoration.

The last few verses of this chapter will ring your bell.

Verses 21-35 tell a story of a slave who, although forgiven a great debt by his master, refuses to forgive a small debt from his fellow slave. Jesus makes the point crystal clear.

He has forgiven us a massive debt and continues to – why can’t we forgive others? This lack of forgiveness blocks our fellowship with God and even our ability to worship effectively.

What is God trying to say to you today? Do you need to forgive someone? Let go of a grudge that’s destroying you? Forgive – it’s the best gift you’ll ever give yourself!

Posted by: Tim Parsons