Are You Ready?

Matthew 25:13
“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

2015/01/img_1375.jpgChapter 25 seems to be about being ready. Jesus warns about a final day of reckoning, when the sheep will be separated from goats. To ensure that we are ready for what is coming, Jesus gives two parables. The first explains the need to be born again, the second the need to be busy about the Lord’s business.

In the first, five of the ten virgins were not prepared when the groom arrived. They may have been dressed, even excited, but they did not have oil in their lamps. Oil is used throughout Scripture as an illustration of the Holy Spirit. It seems, the main message is that these woman were not born again. It is also worth noting, that while saved, the other five were certainly neglecting their responsibilities. They slept while their friends remained ill prepared.

In the second story, we are introduced to three men, each of whom had been given varying sums of money to invest. The first two made investments, and were handsomely rewarded by the king. The third failed because of fear. It should be the desire of every Christian to use what we have been given to make investments in eternity.

Every promise given in Scripture will come to pass. One day, Jesus will fulfill His promise and return for His church. The question should not be ‘Is He coming?’ but rather ‘Are you ready?’ If you have not received Christ as Savior, do so right now. If Christ is your Savior, seek to use all He has given you to make investments in eternity.

Pastor Jim

Questions for chapter 25

  1. What did the virgins do that made them wise?
  2. According to verse 13, what application should we draw out of the story?
  3. What did the 3rd man do with the talents he was given?
  4. What did the first 2 do with theirs?
  5. How are you using your resources to further the Kingdom of Heaven?
  6. Who do the sheep represent?
  7. Who do the goats represent?
  8. How can we show the love of Jesus to strangers?

Old Testament:
Genesis 49- Blessed
Genesis 50- Meant For Good

Hope In God

Matthew 24:3
“Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

2015/01/img_1369.jpgThe Psalmist, in a time of great despair, wrote, “Why are you cast down oh my soul, and why are you in turmoil? Hope in God…” (Psalm 42:5).  Hope serves as an anchor when the storms of life seem as though they are going to overwhelm us. As a child of God, we have the hope that His Word is eternal, and while circumstances may change, His promises remain trustworthy. We have the hope that in the midst of life’s hardships, He will never leave us, but will walk through the fires with us, even carrying us. Perhaps our greatest hope, is that Jesus has promised He will return for us. There is a time coming, perhaps in the very near future, when “as the lighting comes from the East and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” This great hope was foremost in the minds of the disciples, as the events of Matthew 24 unfolded, and the chapter is Jesus’ answer to the question, “when.”

Instead of giving a date, Jesus begins with a warning, “Take heed.” Essentially, He is exhorting His followers to be on the lookout for the events that foreshadow His return.

He begins with a description of the world:

Many false christs
Wars
Famine, pestilence, earthquakes in various places
Persecution – “then they will deliver you up . . .”

After answering the initial question about the signs, Jesus gives a series of warnings:

Be familiar with the Word of God, vs 15
Be a person of prayer, vs 20
Know Jesus well, so as not to be deceived, vs 23
Pay attention to the signs of the times, vs 32
Be ready – parable of the faithful servant (vs 45-51). Notice he is faithful when the master finds him “so doing.” We are ready when we are getting orders from the Master and doing them. When we lose sight of Him, that is when we begin to misbehave.

Perhaps you are cast down. Perhaps life is beating you down. Take time today to sit at the feet of the Master and get your orders from Him. He not only has a plan for your life, He also wants to use you for the furtherance of His Kingdom, in preparation for His return.

Pastor Jim

Questions for chapter 24

  1. What does Jesus predict will happen to the Temple?
  2. In 70 AD the Temple was destroyed after the Jewish people rebelled against Roman occupancy. The Temple was leveled fulfilling the words of Christ.
  3. Notice that chapter 24-25 is an answer Jesus gives to the questions of verse 3, what are the questions?
  4. In verses 4-8, how does Jesus describe the world leading up to His return?
  5. What promise does Jesus give in verse 14?
  6. Jesus warns concerning false Christs. What is a false Christ?
  7. What lesson should we learn from the parable of the fig tree?
  8. Why does Jesus bring up Noah?
  9. How can you apply verse 44 to your life today?

Old Testament:
Genesis 47- Association
Genesis 48- Reflection

He Wants You

Matthew 23:27
“How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings…

2015/01/img_1366.jpgPaul prayed for the Ephesian Christians that they would comprehend the love of God which he described as beyond our ability to understand.

That you “may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height, to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge…” Ephesians 3:19

His love is beyond comprehension, partly because there is no other love like it. We get a glimpse of His love by the way a mother cares for her infant son, or the way a groom looks at his bride, or the way a grandparent dotes over her grandchildren. But those are only glimpses, because His love passes knowledge. It will take us all eternity to delve into the great chasms of His love.

This love is expressed in the statement Jesus makes as He looks out over the city of Jerusalem. He says His desire is to gather them unto Himself, as a hen gathers her chicks. He wants to care for them, instruct them, and protect them from the natural consequences of living apart from Him. That alone is a wonderful expression of His love; but this statement does not stand alone. Chapter 23 describes some of the people He wants to gather to Himself. He wants the hypocrite, who loves the attention of being a godly man, while his example is actually keeping others from Christ. He wants the blind guide, who thinks he has heaven and earth all figured out, while rejecting and ignoring the Word of God. He wants the one who uses religion as a way to get things from others. He wants the one who will practice a few select religious observations, while neglecting to love God and others. He wants those who clean the outside of the cup, so others will think they are godly, but their lives are filled with hidden sin. And most importantly, HE WANTS YOU!

Don’t let your failures keep you from Him. He loves you and wants to gather you to Himself, and transform your life. Will you let Him? Take some time right now to offer yourself to Him, as if you were a living sacrifice.

Pastor Jim

Questions for chapter 23

  1. What modern saying do you know that sounds a lot like verse 3?
  2. Sum up the way the Pharisees are described in verses 3-7
  3. In contrast, how are we to behave, verse 11?
  4. According to verse 12, what should motivate us to humility?
  5. Jesus described the behavior of the Pharisees in verse 24, what do you think He meant?
  6. Hypocrisy is not behaving one way when you feel another; Hypocrisy is behaving ungodly while claiming to be a follower of God. The Pharisees were the group that Jesus was most upset with, because of their hypocrisy. Are there areas in your life that this addresses?
  7. Why was Jesus so upset over Jerusalem?


Old Testament:
Genesis 45- Perspective
Genesis 46- Egypt

Who’s Image Is This?

Matthew 22:20 ”
“And He said to them, ‘Whose image and inscription is this?’”

2015/01/img_1362.jpgAs the cross approaches, so does the opposition to Jesus. The religious leaders are desperately trying to turn the people against Jesus. In this case, they sent the young Pharisees, and the Herodians, a political sect that favored the Jews being ruled by Rome. When they arrived, they must have thought they had come up with the perfect question. No matter how Jesus answered, He would end up polarizing himself. “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?” If Jesus says “yes”, he will find himself at odds with the people. They will think of Him, and all He has done and said, as simply a political movement in support of Rome. If He says “no”, He will find himself the enemy of Rome and be a wanted man. I can almost feel the excitement of the religious leaders as the question is posed.  Jesus’ response is as insightful as it is brilliant.

“Whose image and inscription is this… Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s”

Jesus draws their attention to the coin. He wants them to notice whose image it bears and what has been written on it. Since it bears the image and text of Caesar, render it to him. Jesus does not stop there, He adds, “Render to God the things that are God’s.”

It strikes me, as I think of holding a coin, that today, like then, coins bear images and inscription. They both show and tell to whom they really belong, and so do we. The Bible tells us we have been created in the image of God, and when we receive Christ, we are born again in His image.

“. . . put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, . . .” (Colossians 3:10)

And as we walk with Him, He writes upon our hearts. We actually become living love letters from God; written for the world to read.

“You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.”            2 Corinthians 3:2-3

Let’s be sure, today, that we are rendering to God what belongs to Him. He created you, redeemed you, and desires you. Give unto God what is God’s.

Pastor Jim

Questions for chapter 22

  1. Who do you think the characters of the Parable in verses 1-14 represent?
  2. What seems to be the desire of the King?
  3. Where were the people invited from?
  4. Why was one of the guests removed from the feast?
  5. What does Jesus tell us to do with the things that belong to God?
  6. What things of yours belong to God?
  7. What is significant about the statement “God is the God of the living?”
  8. In a word, what is the greatest commandment?
  9. To who is that love to be directed?
  10. In what way are you showing love for God and others?

Old Testament:
Genesis 43- Don’t Wait
Genesis 44- That’s Heavy Man

Rejected Stone

Matthew 21:42
“The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”

2015/01/img_1357.jpgJesus told a story that the original audience understood to be speaking of how they were rejecting the Son of God. In response to the story, Jesus refers to builders who had rejected the “chief cornerstone.” In many ancient buildings, the foundation was supported by a cornerstone, without it, the foundation would not be able to support that which was built upon it. Jewish lore tells the story of the building of Solomon’s Temple, a project that took many years. The massive stones for the Temple were quarried some distance away from the Temple site and delivered to the builders. As they were laying the foundation, a very oddly shaped stone,that did not seem to fit, arrived. The contractor, thinking the quarry had made a mistake, had the stone thrown away. It was pushed down a hill into the city trash dump. Sometime later, the contractor sent to the quarry asking for the chief cornerstone. The quarry sent back a message saying it had already been delivered. When the contractor argued that he had never received the stone, someone reminded him of the oddly shaped stone, the one that did not seem to fit his plans, that he had thrown in the trash. Sure enough, that was the stone that would support the whole building. With great effort, they raised the stone out of the rubbish heap, and continued erecting what would become a building which would bring glory to God and salvation to man.

It is not difficult to understand what Jesus is getting at. In the parable, the Son was rejected because the vine dressers saw no value in having Him rule over them. They thought their lives would be better, more profitable, and more successful without the Son. But they were, in fact, rejecting the most important aspect of life; relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Have you made Jesus the chief cornerstone of your life? Is the rest of your life built upon the solid foundation of relationship with Jesus? Take some time right now to surrender all to Jesus and to reflect upon how you can let Him reign in every area of your life.

Pastor Jim

Questions for chapter 21

  1. Riding into Jerusalem on a donkey was a public declaration by Jesus of being the Messiah. How did the people react?
  2. Why was it wrong for the Temple to be filled with all that stuff? See verse 13.
  3. What lesson do we learn about bearing fruit from the fig tree?
  4. Why do you think the religious leaders were afraid to answer the questions posed by Jesus?
  5. In the parable of the Vinedressers, who are the characters representing?
  6. What does the phrase in verse 42 mean?05

Old Testament:
Genesis 41- Prepare For The Future
Genesis 42- For Me Or Against Me

Many Are Called

Matthew 20:16
“For many are called, but few chosen.”

2015/01/img_1355.jpgThis verse is the conclusion of a parable Jesus spoke regarding God’s reward system. All those who responded to the offer of the vineyard owner received the same wage, whether they worked for a few hours or for the entire day. What a beautiful picture of God’s grace. Heaven is the great reward of all who respond to the call of God. Young Timothy and the thief hanging next to Jesus were both recipients of God’s manifold grace, both will forever live under the banner of King Jesus, walk the streets of gold, and experience the glories of living in glory.

That being said, I am struck by the condition of those who responded to the vineyard owners call. We read, they were “standing idle.” The word idle means to be free from work. We use the word to speak of a car that is sitting at a stop sign; the motor is running, but the car is going nowhere. It is not being used to its fullest potential or to accomplish what it was designed for. The person who responds to Christ in the eleventh hour will receive freely the gifts of eternity, but will have lived life idly, not fulfilling the purposes for which God designed them.

What about you? Are you living life for the glory of God? Are you storing up treasures in heaven, by living life to please King Jesus?
Take a moment to get today’s marching orders from the Lord.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Chapter 20

1. What would you say is the primary message of the parable?
2. Jesus says, “Many are called but few are chosen” According to Scripture who is the     person that God chooses?
3. What does Jesus tell the disciples will happen to Him when He arrives in Jerusalem?
4. What did Mom want for her boys in verse 21?
5. In verse 26, how does Jesus define greatness?
6. In verse 28, how does he illustrate greatness?

7. In a sense Jesus is asking you the same question He asked the Blind men, “what do you want me to do for you.” How would you respond today to that question? Take some time to talk to Jesus about what He desires to do in your life.


Old Testament:
Genesis 39- Overcoming Obstacles
Genesis 40- Eyes Wide Open

 

Thoughts On Marriage

Matthew 19:4-6
“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.’”

2015/01/img_1349.jpgWe understand that marriage was designed by God. He created man and woman, and designed marriage as the most intimate of all relationships. But why? What is the purpose of marriage? If we were to walk the streets and interview people, asking them, “Why did you get married?”, I think the most common reply would be, “I got married to be happy.” I don’t think every married couple is happy, but I think that it is the motivation behind most marriages. We think being with that person will make us happy. But I want you to notice what we read regarding God’s design in marriage: “It is not good for man to be alone…” (Genesis 2:18). It was not for man’s happiness alone that God designed marriage, but instead, for his good.

Let me remind you of another very familiar verse:

Romans 8:28
“And we know that all things work together for good for to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Paul is reminding us that God uses everything in our lives for good. But what is the good? Does he mean everything in our life is designed to make us happy, or healthy, or wealthy? If we look at verse 29, Paul continues:

Romans 8:29
“For whom he foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…”

What is the good that everything is working toward? What is the good that marriage was designed to provide? It is the good of being made more like Jesus. Everything in our lives is like a tool in the hand of God, which He uses in order to make us more like Jesus. The difficult boss, the rain on your wedding day, receiving the promotion, finding money you did not know you had, are all tools God uses to make us comparable to Jesus. What is the tool that He uses the most? Once you get married, I think that tool will be your spouse. In fact, the marriage relationship is the closest thing the unbeliever will see of a relationship with the Lord. The husband’s love is compared to Christ’s love for us, and the wife’s obedience is compared to the obedience the believer is to show to Christ.

We need to learn not to look to our spouse to make us happy. It is too great a burden for them to carry. We need to learn to look to the Lord, and allow the Lord to mold and shape us into the image of Christ.

Pastor Jim

Questions on Chapter 19

1. According to God, what is His design for the marriage relationship?
  a. Who is it between?
  b. How long is it to last
2. What trait does Jesus associate with divorce in verse 8?
3. What is the significance of Jesus blessing the children right after speaking concerning divorce?
4. Why do you think the young ruler went away sad?
5. Cana camel go through the eye of a needle? How is it possible for anyone to get saved? (See Romans 10:9-10)
6. How does the promise of verse 29 minister to you today?

Old
 Testament:
Genesis 37- Such Comfort
Genesis 38- Busted