Greater than family | Matthew 12:46-50

Scripture:Matthew 12:46-50 [NLT]46 While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. 47 Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.” 48 But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49 And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:46-50, New King James Version)

Observation:(What do you see when you read this scripture?) It is interesting how people can interpret scripture. So many of us will look at this passage and say, "Whoa! He sure did disrespect his mother." I think that maybe they are putting themselves into the story and projecting too much of their own experiences. What I see here is something else, and I think other biblical evidence proves my case. See Luke 2:51 and John 19:25-27

I see Jesus speaking to a crowd of people and diligently "working" to draw them into the Kingdom of God. He is informed during this time of the appearance of His mother and brothers. Possibly in the culture of the day it would have been important that He respond to their appearance in a specific way. However, I see Jesus taking advantage of the opportunity to teach the crowd, and us, a lesson.

Dear and tender were the ties that bound him to his mother and brothers, yet those which bound him to his disciples were more tender and sacred. How great was his love for his disciples, when it was more than even the love for his mother! And what a bright illustration of his own doctrine, that we ought to forsake father, and mother and friends, and houses, and lands, to be his followers!

Apply(How can I apply this to my life?)

Jesus wants all of me. He is not asking me to forsake my family or turn away from them, but to instead put Him first. By putting Him first I may very well, create in my family new disciples. It is a matter of putting the "cart before the horse".

Prayer:(Speak to Him from the heart)

Dear Lord,

Thank you so much for being willing to let us play a part in drawing others to You. Help me Lord by giving me strength to always put You first. Thank You for Your promise to never leave me of forsake me. Please be with my family and friends Lord; draw them closer to You and help them to see Your love as it really is...full of grace and mercy.

Teach us forgiveness Lord, and help us to be forgiving. Protect us from the enemy and help us to love one another more and more. Please be with Carissa in her trip to Alaska and keep her safe Lord. Please be with Tristan and help him to grow into the young man You see in him.

Bless our small bible study groups, and help them to grow. Bring new people to us and teach us to love them in Your power.

Thank You for all that You provide. If the new job is something that You want me to do then I ask that the interview goes well. If it is something that You don't want me to do then please gently shut the door.

I love you Lord, Amen.

Show us a sign so we can believe | Matthew 12:38-45

Scripture:Matthew 12:38-45 [NLT] , or , [NKJV]Due to the size of this passage you can read it by clicking on one of the links above.

Observation:(What do you see when you read this scripture?)

Jesus is once again accosted by the religious elite. They challenge Him to prove He has authority by giving them a miraculous sign, one that will "make" them believe. Possibly they would want Jesus to turn a rod into a snake or to cause fire to come down from heaven. Apparently healing blind, deaf, leprous, and the dead just wasn't quite enough for them.

Jesus sees straight to the heart of the matter. He understands that nothing He could ever do, no "miracle" He could ever perform would get them to repent of their sins and really follow Him. He understands that if He had performed a big "wow" factor miracle, say maybe fire from heaven, that they may have started to follow Him, but it would have been for the wrong reason. They would have been following His power to destroy, not His power to save from sin. I get that now.

How frustrating that must have been for Him. He could have easily had the whole nation of Israel following Him where ever He went, but they all would have been following THEIR idea of who He should be and not what He really was. I fully believe that if Jesus had at that very moment called down fire from heaven and destroyed some local Roman pagan statue and then said "Everyone, follow me. I am the Messiah and I'm here to kick some Roman behind!" they would have been falling all over themselves trying to be His right hand man.

It was the fact that His ministry did not fall into their ideas, their teachings, their religious concepts, precepts, and requirements that made them unable to see who He really was.

It could be for the very same reason that some of us will miss the later rain or the TRUE revival of repentance (also called for by Jesus here during His first appearance and outpouring of the Holy Spirit), because we have not searched the scriptures to find what Jesus wants from us, but we have only looked for what we are willing to give.

Consider the people out there who will travel miles and miles to see an apparent image of Jesus burnt into a piece of toast. What are they really looking for, and are you after the same thing with just a different face...?

Application:(How can I apply this to my life)

Plain and simple. No more goofin' around. I need to find out what Jesus wants from me. I need to have a repentant heart and turn to Him for strength. I need to be in His Word. I need to know Him more, and me less.

Prayer:(Let Him know what you think)

Dear Lord,

I know that time is short and I know that I have NONE of the answers. I need Your strength and guidance and I want to do Your Will. PLEASE help me to know Your will and then PLEASE give me the strength to follow it. I am so very sorry for hurting You as I know I do when I sin. Please forgive me and help me to turn from my sin. Thank you for your forgiveness and the cleansing that it brings.

Lord, please help me in my job. I am really struggling right now and I need Your guidance.

Please be with my family and friends and keep them all safe. Bring them home to You. Amen.

What is your heart condition? | Matthew 12:31-37

Scripture: Matthew 12:31-37 [NLT]31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. 33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:31-37, New King James Version)

Observation:(What do you see when you read this scripture?)

Here Jesus continues to teach about the truth of what is in the heart. It is by what comes out of our mouths (the direct megaphone of the heart) that we are condemned or saved, not by our actions.

I see him standing in the midst of a crowd of people, many of them scribes and Pharisees. The S&P's have been plotting His murder and seeking to discredit Him with stupid questions and accusations. This cartoon actually depicts the situation well, with humor. They were all standing around Him, in a visual state of condemnation and self importance. They were self made men, not chosen by God, but made "Godly" by themselves in the eyes of other men. A bunch of religious gangsters, addicted to their own lies.

Now Jesus steps on their street corner and starts selling something new. Something the people are responding to. Something real. It threatens the very core of what they have spent so much time setting up. They are so blinded by their desire to hold on to this facade that they will plot murder to keep it.

Jesus sees right through the lies and goes straight to the heart. "You brood of vipers"! Another way of saying "You generation of snakes"! He identifies the very problem that they don't realize or would never admit to having; a heart problem. They think that whatever other people see is what makes them holy. They may even think that whatever God sees them do is what makes them Holy. The problem is that God can see the heart, and they have forgotten to let that be changed. They, in essence, are trying to "fool" God. Not possible. So Jesus explains to them that a good tree produces good fruit and a bad tree produces bad fruit. He even gives them the opportunity to understand that there is hope for them as well. They can blaspheme against even the Son of Man (plot His murder, seek to discredit) and be forgiven, it is only the heart change against the Holy Spirit that cannot be undone, because it sticks. Finally He gives a warning. He reminds them that this heart stuff is important and determines how we stand at the Judgement day.

Application:(How can I apply this to my life?)

I need to check my heart condition on a daily basis. Why am I going to church? Why am I reading my bible? Am I allowing my heart to be changed or am I just going along for the ride? I want to be used by God, but I have to be careful that my heart doesn't get in the way.

Prayer:(Let Him know what you think)

Dear Lord,

Please change my heart. Make me more like You. I don't want to be a hypocrite, but it is so much easier sometimes. Help me to be genuine. Help me to have good things come out of me that help others. Help me to love my enemies.

Today I give You my life to use as You see fit. I am not even going to guess at what you want me to do, but I am willing. You know what it will take to put me on the right path, so I ask that you will put me there.

Thank you for all that you provide in my life. Help me today at work and help me to be a light to someone else. Be with my children. Keep them safe Lord and bring them home to You. I love You. Amen.

A kingdom divided will not survive | Matthew 12:22-30

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Scripture:Matthew 12:22-30 [NLT]22 Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. 23 And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” 24 Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.” 25 But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. 30 He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad. (Matthew 12:22-30, New King James Version)

Observation:(What do you see when you read this scripture?)

We see Jesus standing in the midst of a crowd healing the sick. A demon possessed man is brought to him that is both blind and mute. Jesus heals him so that he can both see and speak. The key to this scripture is what happens next. The crowds are now starting to give a louder voice to the idea that Jesus might just be the very Messiah that they have been waiting for.

This upswing in support for Jesus is a threat to the power that the Pharisees currently hold. Now they start to actively work against Jesus and seek to discredit Him in any way that they can. They accuse Him of casting out demons in the name of the Devil.

Jesus knows their hearts. He sees their intent and simply explains a natural law. How can a kingdom that works against itself survive? He then, in a clear way shows His kingdom is at hand by explaining that if He is casting out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God is at hand. He further explains by basically saying that he has come to take the spoils (us) from the strongman (Satan) because He is stronger than the strongman.

Finally, Jesus explains another simple truth. Anyone who isn't with Me is against Me. Another way of saying, there is no middle ground...if you are not working with Jesus, you are automatically working against Him.

Application: (How do I apply this to my life?)

The simple truth of "either your with My or against Me" applies to everyone who lives or has ever lived, including me. Jesus wants me to know that unless I am actively working with Him I am doing the opposite; working against Him. I cannot simply, step aside from the "war" and not be involved. Sometimes are silence in a situation speaks louder than words. An easy example. If I see an atrocity or wrong being done to another person, do I not show my acceptance of that thing by not speaking against it or doing something to stop it? Today, I will actively seek out an opportunity to help someone else.

Prayer:(Tell the Lord of All what you think)

Dear Lord,

Today, I want to do something to further your Kingdom. I want so much to help bring someone else the comforting knowledge of Your love and forgiveness. Please help me to recognize a chance to help and to know what to do.

Thank You for caring for me and my family. Thank You for Your Word. Help me to change...never stop working on my heart and please never let me go.

Please be with my daughter and my son. Please be with Thomas as he enters into youth...help him to make good decisions and to see that You are the only way. Lord, help me to be better at showing You to others.

Protect me from the enemy today, protect my family as well. I love you Lord. Amen.

His Name will be the hope of all the world | Matthew 12:14-21

Scripture: Matthew 12:14-21 [NLT]14 Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him. 15 But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all. 16 Yet He warned them not to make Him known, 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: 18“ Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen,My Belovedin whom My soul is well pleased!I will put My Spirit upon Him,And He will declare justice to the Gentiles.19He will not quarrel nor cry out,Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.20A bruised reed He will not break,And smoking flax He will not quench,Till He sends forth justice to victory;21And in His name Gentiles will trust.” (Matthew 12:14-21, New King James Version)

Observation: (What do you see when you read this scripture?)

Jesus understood that what he was doing would make Him hated among the "religious" people so He leaves the place where they are plotting His murder and is followed by a large crowd. He goes among those sick and hurt people, touching them, talking to them, loving them and heals each one.

Knowing even now that His time is short and never wanting glory for Himself He asks those He touches to not reveal who He is.

Next we get a quote from Isaiah; a prophetic quote that delivers the character that Christ would have and what He would represent to all the world. HOPE.

Let me ask you a question reader. Can you think of any other name in all the world that supplies the level of hope that Jesus does. Obama? Does he give you hope for life eternal? What about George Bush? Does his name fill you with healing power and give you strength to face any obstacle? Give your heart to the one that cares for it so much that he would treat is like a tender reed or a flickering candle. Give it to the one that builds you up and never tears you down. If you're in need of hope, turn to the only one that can give you hope that fills the soul and springs eternally.Turn to Jesus dear friends...

Application: (Apply what you have learned to your life)

I am filled with hope by reading this. More and more I realize that I have chosen to give my heart to the only one that can fill it with anything of value. Today, I give my heart to Jesus and ask Him to fill me up.

Prayer:(Let Him know what you think)

Dear Jesus,

Thank you for giving me hope in this dying world. I give you my life today and ask that you use me in some way. Please watch over my family and please be with my wife as her job will soon become more of a struggle. Lord, you know that situation and I ask that You lead us to the answer we need.

Please care for my daughter and son. Keep them safe and bring them to You. Please bless this blog and our bible study groups. Reveal Yourself to us all in a new way. Fill us with your Holy Spirit and give us the power to do Your work. I love you Lord. Amen