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Monday, January 23, 2012

Come to Jesus: Rest

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest." -- Matthew 11:28.  Jesus, telling the people that what He has to offer will relieve the burden that has been placed on the Jews by the teachers of the law e.g. the Pharisees.  Jesus promises rest.

Rest.  This will be the first of a 3 part series involving Matthew 11:28-29.  In this first part we see that Jesus promises relief from the laws and traditions imposed by the Pharisees.

Rest.  The first thing we have to understand is that in one hand the Jews had the law as given by Moses.  On the other hand they had the extra traditions that the teachers of the law added on top of what was written in the law.  This of course became a burden.  Jesus came offering what I am sure was much desired relief or rest.

Rest.  Relief is just what rest refers to here.  This is what Jesus offers.  What Jesus has to offer us, while not always easy to carry out in our lives does bring us overall more relief in our lives.  It brings us rest.

Rest.  So the question we need to ask ourselves is do we want rest?  Life gets hard and sometimes it does not seem there is any relief in sight.  We become weighed down with our burdens and we get tired and worn out.  However, when we turn to God's Word and to God Himself in prayer we can find relief.  This is not to suggest that our problems will magically disappear.  However, with Jesus we can be reminded that the problems, worries, and cares this life brings will soon be over.  With Christ we have heaven to look forward to which promises eternal rest.  We will look more at this concept of rest in part 3 of this series but for now I leave you with the words of our Lord "Come to Me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest."


Friday, January 20, 2012

Point the way...

"This is the one about whom it is written, 'Behold I send my messenger ahead of You, who will prepare Your way before you." -- Matthew 11:10.  Here Jesus is discussing the fact that John the Baptist is the one about whom it is prophesied.  He would be the one who would point the way to Jesus.

Point the way. As I have already mentioned this verse is talking specifically about John the Baptist. However, this morning I would like us to consider something more about this verse aside from what it is telling us about John pointing the way.

Point the way.  Another aspect about John the Baptist pointing the way to Jesus is found in John 3:30 where John the Baptist says "He must increase but I must decrease."  These are the two aspects of John the Baptist we will explore this morning and how it applies to us.

Point the way.  First, we know that John the Baptist came to point the way to Jesus.  Something we should ask ourselves is are we pointing the way to Jesus?  What if your name was written down somewhere?  Would it be said of us 'This person pointed the way to Jesus?'  Would we be known as a generation who pointed the way to Jesus when we lived in a world that was so lost and confused in the direction it was headed?  But the question is how do we point the way to Jesus?  This brings us to our second aspect of John the Baptist.

Point the way.  In order to point the way to Jesus John the Baptist acknowledged that He had to decrease so that Christ could increase.   We too must do the same.  In order for Christ to increase, we must decrease.  This might mean making some adjustments to our lifestyle.  It might mean having to give up some of your time to help someone else.  It may even mean asking that person you want to see saved for a Bible study so you can share the gospel message with them.  We must point the way to Jesus.

Point the way.  This morning is simple and brief.  My encouragement to you is simply do whatever is necessary so that you are pointing the way to Jesus.  Show people the way to salvation.  Decrease so that Christ may increase.


Thursday, January 19, 2012


"And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me." -- Matthew 11:6.  Jesus, having finished giving instructions to His disciples begins to answer John the Baptist's questions as to whether or not He is actually the Messiah or as Matthew 11:3 puts it, "the Expected One."  Jesus confirms that He is the Expected One and concludes His answer by saying "blessed is he who does not take offense at Me."  We are blessed if we are not offended at Jesus.

Offended.  I don't think there is not a single one of us who are not familiar with being offended by someone or something.  But let me ask you this, have you ever been offended by Jesus?

Offended.  This might seem like an outrageous question to ask but bear with me, ponder this question as you read on.

Offended.  Before we explore this concept of being offended by Jesus I want to briefly hit on the two key words in this verse: blessed and offense.  The word blessed has to do not with physical blessing but with divine favor or approval from God.  This is similar to the way it is used in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12.  Second, the word offense here has to do with being repelled by someone, in this case Jesus.  This deepens the question a little bit.

Offended.  We not only need to ask ourselves if we have ever been offended by Jesus but we need to ask ourselves have we ever been repelled by Jesus? Again this might seem like an outrageous question but its completely valid and here is why.

Offended.  First of all I will be the first to admit I have been offended by Jesus and here is what I mean.  The broader definition of offense here in Matthew 11:6 has to do with sin.  What I am trying to say is I know there have been times in my life where I know Jesus expects one thing of me and I do another.  The fact is at some point in our Christian walk we have all been offended by Jesus.

Offended.  Let's take a look at the other side of the coin though.  What is awesome about this verse is that we see that when we do not allow ourselves to be offended by Jesus but decide to follow Him, we are the recipients of divine favor or the approval of God.  Its an encouraging thought to know that whenever I put the will of Christ above my own, God smiles down on me.  This should be an encouraging thought to us all.

So in closing, I don't really have a practical application but I leave you with the question, have you ever been offended by Jesus?  Chances are the answer is yes but we can take encouragement in the fact that we can still do better next time by making a conscious choice to put the will of Christ above our own.  As a result we can be the recipients of God's approval.  May we remember, "Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me."


Wednesday, January 18, 2012


"He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet receives a prophet's reward." -- Matthew 10:41.  Jesus, describing to us the reward of discipleship.  He is also telling the disciples that whoever would receive them would also be receiving Jesus.  We find in this passage that he or she who will welcome a disciple of the Lord will receive a reward.  

Reward.  What do you think of when you think of a reward?  Maybe you think of the old west wanted posters.  Maybe you think of the reward posters you see now a days that are posted when someone has lost a pet.  Whatever the case, we usually associate a reward for something we have done.  

Reward.  Another thing we typically associate with reward is some sort of monetary reward.  Well as you may already know the reward spoken of in this verse is most definitely not of a monetary nature so if its a money reward you seek, I would suggest stop reading now :).  

Reward.  I wrestled with this verse because while I knew this was not speaking of a monetary reward, the question burned in my mind, what reward is Jesus referring to here?  A heavenly reward? Perhaps.  However, as I discussed this verse with my best friend, one of the most logical conclusions we drew was that this reward was not heavenly but something a little more immediate than that. 

Reward.  What I mean is this.  Think of the last time you got together with your brethren in Christ whether it was at church services or some other event where you were able to fellowship with the brethren.  I don't know about you but one thing that never fails after spending time with the brethren is that I walk away encouraged and fired up.  While Jesus could be referring to a heavenly reward here, we must also consider that we always get something out of being with other Christians.  We always get a reward. 

Reward.  Again, this reward is not monetary but it is something that helps us.   Being with the brethren and receiving the brethren makes us stronger.  Being with the brethren helps us become better Christians.  Being with the brethren is just plain AWESOME!  It really boggles my mind as to why many who claim to be Christians refuse to attend worship services and/or other fellowship events.  Being with the brethren is one of the most encouraging times a Christian could ever have. If that's not a reward I don't know what is :).  Don't pass up the opportunity. 

Reward.  Finally, you may be wondering why I chose a blank reward poster as my image for this blog.  Well besides the obvious in relation to the title of this blog, I chose the image because what I would like all of us to do is to take a blank piece of paper.  At the top of that paper write the word "REWARD" and start listing down all the benefits you could receive from spending time with the brethren.  After doing so post that paper somewhere visible and take the initiative to maybe invite some of the brethren to lunch after services this coming Sunday or even better have some of them to your home for a meal.  You can't go wrong with this because you are guaranteed not only a good time but also you will be able to encourage one another. So go get your reward! And remember the words of our Lord. "He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet receives a prophet's reward." 


Friday, January 13, 2012

Taking our cross...

"And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me." -- Matthew 10:38. Jesus making a very pointed statement in reference to the cost of discipleship. In order to be a disciple of Christ, we must take our cross.

Taking our cross.  The cross.  The cross is at the very core of our salvation as Christians.  Were it not for Jesus' death on the cross and the ensuing resurrection we would have no hope.  See 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, 12-14.  But before the resurrection came the cross.  Christ accepted the cross and here in Matthew 10:38 He calls us to do the same.

Taking our cross.  We know that the cross was an instrument of torture and ultimately death.Knowing that we can get a better idea of what it means to take our cross.

Taking our cross.  As Christians, it goes without saying we are followers of Christ.  However, being a Christian goes much deeper than that.  The word Christian by definition means Christ owns us.  We are to follow Christ and be like Christ in every way.  This is taking our cross.

Taking our cross.  However, in addition to the above I would like to make one more point.  Often times we look through the gospels and we pattern our lives after the way Christ lived.  This is important and good.  However, what we should ask ourselves is are we willing to follow Christ all the way to the cross?  Are we willing to be like Christ in that we too carry our cross just as Christ did?  Are we willing to be like the apostle Paul who said in Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ"?  This is taking our cross.

Taking our cross.  Taking our cross involves dying, no not a physical death but putting to death our old man  (or woman) of sin.  It's quite literally putting our own desires to death and putting the will of Christ before our own!  Is this easy? Of course not. I personally struggle with this day in and day out.  My point is if we are not willing to make that kind of commitment, Christ tells us we are not worthy of Him.  This is taking our cross.

So my encouragement to you this morning is simply this. TAKE YOUR CROSS.  We can take our cross by putting the will of Christ above our own.  This means putting others before self and making a habit of it.  Taking our cross means doing the will of Christ even in the face of the adversities, difficulties, and discouragements that can come our way.  So take your cross, and follow Him who died for our sins, Christ Jesus who said "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me."


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Our Value...

"Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So do not fear, you are more valuable than sparrows." -- Matthew 10:29-31.  Jesus, still speaking about discipleship but to not fear those who can kill the body but to fear the One who can kill both body and soul.  His point is that God is going to look out for His children even in the face of persecution.  Here we see our value to God.

Our value.  One of the biggest desires every human being has is to feel valued and wanted.  One among many tragic things to hear about in an extreme case is a suicide of someone who had been the victim of something like bullying or because for some reason the person did not feel valued or wanted by society.  I bring this out to illustrate the point that we all have an innate desire to feel valued and wanted and if that desire is not met to some extent, tragedies can happen.  But what does this have to do with what is happening here in Matthew and our value to God?

Our value.  What we have to realize is that we are immensely more valuable to God than we ever will be to anyone else.  God is the one and only person that knows us better than we know ourselves.  This is a comforting thought because since we know that our God cares about us so much we can rest assured that He will take care of us even when our walk with Him gets difficult.

Our value.  We must remember how valuable we are to God because we know from the Scriptures that being a disciple of Christ is not easy and it will come with its share of difficulties.  There may even be times when we are tempted to give up.

My encouragement to you this morning is simple.  Being a disciple of Christ is not always going to be easy and we will be faced with situations where we might be tempted to give up or give in due to peer pressure, difficulty or some other negative circumstance.  But we must remember that God will never allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear.  Why?  Among other reasons it is because of how valuable we are in His eyes and how much He desires to protect those who choose to follow Him.  So if you are feeling discouraged for one reason or another, remember that even when no one else seems to care, God always cares and desires to protect and deliver those who choose to follow Him and do His will.  This morning's message is simple but I pray you find it encouraging. Remember to encourage others with how valuable they are to God.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Our Teacher...

"It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master.  If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household." -- Matthew 10:25.  Jesus, continuing His teachings on discipleship.  He simply states here that it is enough for the disciple to become like his teacher.  The point is we are going to be like the master whom we serve.  We are going to be like our teacher.  

It is enough.  Many people in today's society have role models or mentors or something of that nature.  These people give us guidance and wisdom so that we can go a particular direction with our lives and they are meant to help us succeed in whatever field we are working in be it in school or in any given job or in just life in general.  We all have role models or mentors to some extent whether its parents or other family, employers, church members, preachers, or teachers.  Those being mentored more often than not strive to become like these mentors.  Well, while Jesus is much more than a mentor, He is God and Lord (John 1:1, 14) but Scripture also calls Him teacher. Being that Jesus is our Teacher, it is enough for us to be like Him.

It is enough.  Many times I will hear people say they want to be like such and such a preacher or teacher for whatever reason.  First and foremost, I am not suggesting there is anything inherently wrong with this.  But ultimately, we need to remind ourselves that it is enough to be like Jesus and Jesus only for He is our Teacher and we are His disciples.  As disciples of Christ, based on the definition of the word (BDAG 609), we ultimately ought to be learning from Christ and that is enough.

It is enough.  To elaborate a little bit more on my point learning from Christ means that we must look through the gospel accounts and study what Jesus has taught.  In addition to that though, we know that Christ taught additionally through the apostles as we leave the gospel accounts and begin reading Acts through Revelation.  When we learn from Christ, we will become more like Christ and according to this verse it is enough for us as disciples to become like our Teacher.

So what does this mean to us today?  Well we should take time to look at our lives and ask ourselves who do we look like?  Do we look like Christ or do we look like someone else when it comes to our behavior, our lifestyle and even the things we say?  While we have our role models and mentors, we must realize that our ultimate example of who we should be is found only in Christ, our Teacher.  My encouragement to you this morning is to continue to learn from Him by taking time to study through the gospel accounts and focus on the way Jesus lived His daily life and what He taught.  When you do so, strive to emulate that in your own life and it will make a world of difference and it can make a difference in your life and in the lives of others.  Ultimately, it will help bring more souls to an obedience of the gospel and help more people get to heaven. Being like our Teacher is enough but this again begs the question, who is our teacher? Christ or someone else e.g. Beelzebul as mentioned here in Matthew.  In closing, I leave you with the words of Christ our God and our Lord, "It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher..."