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

Let It Go

Matthew 18:21
“Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’”

2015/01/img_1347.jpgI think Peter had a little more insight into the mind of God than he gets credit for. In the passage leading up to this, Jesus spoke regarding confronting those who are in sin. He spoke of going to a sinning brother, bringing others and going a second time, then telling the church of his sin, and finally treating the unrepentant as you would an unbeliever (which of course means that you want to do all you can to win them back to Christ). It is in response to this that Peter asks regarding forgiveness.

Not all sins are to be confronted. When a believer is committing a sin that endangers their relationship with God, we must do all that is available to us to warn them, instruct them, and win them back to Christ; but not all sin is like that. Some sins are what we might call the sins of humanity. They are sins that manifest themselves in things like forgetfulness, or being inconsiderate, or even unkind. We might also call these relational sins. Those are not the sins that need to be confronted, but forgiven. Many of us have had a well-intentioned believer come to us, quote Matthew 18 about confronting sin, then proceed to tell us of the recent times when we disappointed them by neglecting to call, seeming to ignore them, or sitting in a different location at church. I want to suggest that those are not sins to confront, but to forgive.

Forgiveness is really the key to relationships within the body. The longer we walk with Jesus, the more we will find that even the Christians we admire most will do things to let us down or hurt our feelings. If we carry those things around, not only are we disobeying Jesus’ example and command to forgive, but we are also carrying around weight that will slow us down in our Christian progress.  It will work like a poison, turning us from a sweet and fruitful tree that draws others to Christ, into a bitter root that others avoid.

Perhaps now would be a good time to examine your heart. Are you bearing a grudge? Is there anyone you are not forgiving? Is there anyone who you would like to see in debtor’s prison?

Paul said, “Forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.”  Ephesians 4:32

Look at the debt which you have been forgiven, and forgive!

Pastor Jim

 Questions for Chapter 18

1. According to Jesus, who is the greatest in His kingdom?
2. Verses 8-9 demand us to deal with personal sin in a radical way. If there are sins that you are struggling with, take time right now to cut them out by admitting them to Jesus and asking for strength to stay away from them
3.. According to 12-14, what reaction does God have when a person gets saved?
4. What are we to do when relationships between other believers have been broken?
5. Contrast “go to them” in verse 15, with “forgive” in verse 21
6. Are there people that have wronged you that you are holding a grudge against? RIGHT NOW REPENT, confess it to the Lord and choose to forgive them.


Old Testament:
Genesis 35- Go Back
Genesis 36- Choose Wisely

Glimpse Of Heaven

Matthew 17:1
“Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; . . .”

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This event had a tremendous impact upon Peter. Years later, when writing his first epistle, Peter recounts this event and how amazing it was to witness. I think some of its value is in the fact that it is a portrait of what awaits the child of God in heaven.

First, we read Jesus was “transfigured before them”. In other words, they saw the veil of humanity taken away and were able to see something of the deity and glory of Christ. We know heaven will be filled with glorious sites: streets of gold, gates of pearl, spectacular angelic beings, and so much more. But truly, heaven’s heaven, the great glory of eternity, will be the presence of Christ. There will be no need for the sun, for the glory of Jesus will illuminate heaven. The disciples got to see a glimpse of the glory of God.

Next, we read that Moses and Elijah appeared and were recognizable. Peter, James and John had never seen a picture or video, yet had no trouble recognizing these men. Moses represents, to some degree, those who will enter eternity through death; Elijah, those who will enter through the rapture. Upon arriving, we see that they are fellowshipping with each other and Jesus. Another of Heaven’s glories, is the fact, that we will fellowship together with all who have gone on before us. What a great joy it will be to gather with our longed-for loved ones, and together,enjoy the presence of Jesus.

Finally, we read that they heard God speak. We know from other texts, the voice of God is like the sound of roaring thunder, or the waves of the sea, or even of a multitude. But for most of us, all we have ever heard is that faint, still whisper. There is a day coming, in heaven’s glory, where we will hear the voice of God speaking loud and clear.

It is no wonder Peter wanted to build tents so he could have this experience daily.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Chapter 17

1. The word transfigured speaks of a change so that they were able to see Jesus in more of His glory.
2. Who appeared with Jesus on the mountain?
3. What does God declare to us about Jesus?
4. Why were the disciples unable to cast the demon out of the boy?
5. Where did Peter go to get the tax money they were required to pay?
6. Take some time to pray that God would provide for your needs, even if He has to do something supernatural.


Old Testament:
Genesis 33- Face Of God
Genesis 34- Double Standard

Gates Of Hell

Matthew 16:18-19
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘prevail’ as,

“to gain ascendancy through strength or superiority, . . .to triumph over.”

2015/01/img_1337.jpgThis verse has always fascinated me. Jesus is promising He is the one who will build the church. Since the church is not a building, but people, He is saying, He will add the living stones to the church of God. Jesus is also telling us, the devil and his forces seek to prevail against the church. The Bible gives us just enough insight into the realm of the spirit to know there are spiritual battles that take place. The battle is between the forces of God and the forces of Satan, and they are fighting over the souls of men. Jesus said He came to give us abundant life, while the devil is trying to steal, kill, and destroy us. The gates of hell will not prevail against the church. You can have great confidence this morning that the forces of Heaven are far superior to the forces of hell.

It also strikes me, the weapon which Jesus refers to the devil using, is a gate. In all of my experience, I have never heard of an army or even an individual soldier, going into battle carrying a gate. I have heard of people with guns, knives, swords, pitchforks and other farming tools, but never a gate. You see, a gate is not an offensive weapon, but a defensive weapon. A gate would be used to enclose the city and keep people in. Jesus is giving insight into what the devil is trying to do. He wants to keep people in bondage to sin and death. Jesus is also giving insight into the role of the church. We are on a mission to rescue people held captive to sin and death, by declaring to them the message of Christ

Take a few minutes this morning to pray for your sphere of influence; your family, friends, co-workers and neighbors who have not yet come to Christ. Pray that the gates of hell would not prevail, and that they would listen to the Gospel and be saved.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Chapter 16
1. What sign does Jesus give to prove that He is who He claimed to be?
2. Leaven is like yeast; a small amount permeates a dough ball and causes the whole lump to rise. Sin does the same thing in our lives. It starts out small and grows out of control. Have you
3. What important questions did Jesus ask the disciples?
4. How does Peter respond?
5. What promise does Jesus give to Peter regarding the church and the gates of hell?
6. What are the requirements if we want to follow Christ; verse 24?

Old Testament:
Genesis 31- God In My Pocket
Genesis 32- The Champion 

Ministry Principles

Matthew 15:36
“And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude.”

2015/01/img_1335.jpg
It is against the law to give away what you do not own. If it does not belong to you, it is not yours to give. That is one of the most basic principles that governs when serving Jesus. If we want to help others walk with the Lord, we must first receive from the Lord. The story of the loaves and fish illustrate that principle quite well. The disciples took what they had, brought that to Jesus; He multiplied it, and they distributed it to others.

If we want to be involved in serving the Lord, it starts with taking what we have and making it available to the Lord. Perhaps the most important commodity that we possess is time. When we make time to serve the Lord, He will always give us something to pass on. Over the years, we have seen this principle in action time and time again. Someone will venture out in faith and step into an area of service, they have an overwhelming sense of being unqualified, but as they spend time seeking the Lord and moving forward, God always provides more than what they needed to serve effectively.

We cannot neglect to take what we have and give it to the Lord, nor can we neglect to spend time with Him, if we want our service to be successful.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Chapter 15
1. Are there any traditions you are holding on to that transgress God’s commands?
2. Explain the contrast between what goes in a man and what comes out?
3. What does Jesus commend the woman of Canaan for?
4. Why do you think the disciples had a hard time believing the multitude could be fed with so little?
5. According to verse 32, how does Jesus feel about the unsaved multitudes?
6. How does that affect the way you view the lost?

Old Testament:
Genesis 29- Dysfunctional
Genesis 30- Plotting And Scheming