Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Matthew 23:13-15


13 ``But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people ; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14 ``Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore, you will receive greater condemnation.

15 ``Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

Here Jesus directs a series of seven woes against the Scribes and Pharisees. Each one begins with "Woe to you!" The word connotes anger and sorrow. The word hypocrite occurs here several times. In the Greek, the word 'hupokrites' had to do with a dialogue on stage, which described an actor. Later, the word had a negative connotation which meant a pretender, one who acts a part, one who wears a mask to cover his true feelings, one who puts on an external show while inwardly his thoughts and feelings are very different. To Jesus the Scribes and Pharisees were men who were acting a part. Their whole idea of religion consisted in outward observances, the wearing of elaborate phylacteries and tassels, the meticulous observance of the rules and regulations of the Law. But in their hearts there was bitterness and envy and pride and arrogance. To Jesus these Scribes and Pharisees were men who, under a mask of elaborate godliness, concealed hearts in which the most godless feelings and emotions held sway.

There is even an earlier understanding of 'hupokrites' and that is to be hyper-critical. This is precisely what these religious leaders were all about. When people tried to find entry into the Kingdom, the Pharisees presented them with these hypercritical rules and regulations, which was as good as shutting the door in their faces. Jesus accused these Pharisees of being missionaries of evil. The sin of the Pharisees was that they were not really seeking to lead men to God, they were seeking to lead them to Pharisaism. This is the same as being more concerned about getting people into church rather than being into a personal relationship with God.

The greatest of all heresies is the sinful conviction that any Church or people has a monopoly of God or of his truth, or that any Church is the only gateway to God's Kingdom. We must come to grips with the fact that Christianity doesn't own Jesus! Jesus is God's Messiah to the entire world-to every culture and to every people group.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Matthew 23:1-12


1 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, 2 saying: ``The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; 3 therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. 4 ``They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling, to move them with so much as a finger. 5 ``But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. 6 ``They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7 and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. 8 ``But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 ``Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 ``Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. 11 ``But the greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 ``Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

Remember that Jesus grew up in the Pharisaical culture of Judaism. He knew it well and is here beginning to point out the distortions.

The Pharisees did three things that were a constant distortion of following the Christ:

FIRST--They made religion a burden upon everyone! Their whole outlook on religion had one fundamental effect. It made it a thing of thousands upon thousands of rules and regulations; and therefore it made it an intolerable burden.

SECOND--They made religion into a show! The religion of the Pharisees became almost inevitably a religion of ostentation. If religion consists in obeying countless rules and regulations, it becomes easy for a man to see to it that everyone is aware how well he fulfills the regulations and how perfect is his piety. Jesus selects certain actions and customs in which the Pharisees showed their ostentation.

THIRD--They elevated one above another! They lifted up the "holy" ones who performed this externalism best. They graded totally on the curve.

Do you see any of these things going on today?

Jesus' classic statement, "Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted." Is forever true. Humble yourself and be exalted by God Himself or exalt yourself and be humbled by God Himself!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Matthew 22:41-46


41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question: 42 ``What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?'' They said to Him, ``The son of David.'' 43 He said to them, ``Then how does David in the Spirit call Him `Lord,' saying, 44 `THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, ``SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I PUT YOUR ENEMIES BENEATH YOUR FEET'''? 45 ``If David then calls Him `Lord,' how is He his son?'' 46 No one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question.

We have seen again and again that Jesus refused to allow his followers to proclaim him as the Messiah until he had taught them what Messiahship meant. Their ideas of Messiahship needed the most radical change.

The most common title of the Messiah was Son of David. Behind it was the expectation that one day a great prince would come of the line of David, who would shatter Israel's enemies and lead the people to the conquest of all nations.

The Messiah was most commonly thought of in nationalistic, political, military terms of power and glory. Here is another attempt by Jesus to alter that conception. He asked the Pharisees whose son they understood the Messiah to be: they answered, as he knew they would, "David's son." Jesus then quotes Psalm 10:1: "The Lord says to my Lord; Sit at my right hand."

All accepted that as a Messianic text. In it the first Lord is God; the second Lord is the Messiah. David calls the Messiah Lord. But, if the Messiah is David's son, how could David call his own son Lord?

The clear result of the argument is that it is not adequate to call the Messiah Son of David. He is not David's son; he is David's Lord. When Jesus healed the blind men, they called him Son of David (Matt 20:30). When he entered Jerusalem the crowds hailed him as Son of David (Matt 21:9). Jesus is here saying, "It is not enough to call the Messiah Son of David. It is not enough to think of him as a Prince of David's line and an earthly conqueror. You must go beyond that, for the Messiah is David's Lord."

What did Jesus mean? He can have meant only one thing--that the true description of him is Son of God. Son of David is not an adequate title; only Son of God will do. And, if that be so, Messiahship is not to be thought of in terms of Davidic conquest, but in terms of divine and sacrificial love. Here, then, Jesus makes his greatest claim. In him there came, not the earthly conqueror who would repeat the military triumphs of David, but the Son of God who would demonstrate the love of God upon his Cross-His sacrificial love for the entire world.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Matthew 22:23-40


23 On that day some Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to Jesus and questioned Him, 24 asking, ``Teacher, Moses said, `IF A MAN DIES HAVING NO CHILDREN, HIS BROTHER AS NEXT OF KIN SHALL MARRY HIS WIFE, AND RAISE UP CHILDREN FOR HIS BROTHER.' 25 ``Now there were seven brothers with us; and the first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother; 26 so also the second, and the third, down to the seventh. 27 ``Last of all, the woman died. 28 ``In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had married her.''

29 But Jesus answered and said to them, ``You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 ``For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 ``But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: 32 `I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.'' 33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at His teaching.

34 But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together,. 35 One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36 ``Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?''

37 And He said to him, `` `YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' 38 ``This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 ``The second is like it, `YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' 40 ``On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.''

NOTE Jesus was very simple and straight-forward as He was attacked by differing factions. 1-You are mistaken. 2-You don't understand the Scriptures. 3-You don't understand the power of God. 4-God is not the God of the dead, but of the living! 5-The bottom-line is to LOVE GOD AND TO LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF.

There is nothing complicated about Jesus or His message. He is irresistibly simple-just the opposite of what our nature seems to be-to complicate most everything. This is why Jesus always unites and religion always divides!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Matthew 22:15-22


15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said. 16 And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, ``Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any. 17 ``Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar or not?'' 18 But Jesus perceived their malice , and said, ``Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? 19 ``Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.'' And they brought Him a denarius . 20 And He said to them, ``Whose likeness and inscription is this?'' 21 They said to Him, ``Caesar's.'' Then He said to them, ``Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's.'' 22 And hearing this, they were amazed, and leaving Him, they went away.

There is nothing like a stroll into the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem to be able to picture this encounter! The competition among the rabbis in much the same way as we all experience the constant comparison between theological positions. Jesus refuses to be caught up into the fray. He uses what I call a CS approach to the question-COMMON SENSE. Jesus goes right to the heart of the issue and blows away their pretence and all of their traps and theological positions by pointing out the down-to-earth, obvious. Jesus refuses to step in the crapola they are spreading before Him, but answers the question cleanly and clearly!

NOTE they were amazed! They weren't used to this kind of CS approach. I see it more clearly every day. Jesus is the irresistible One! So, lift Jesus up whenever you can without any religious trappings and you will be amazed at how attractive He really is.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Matthew 22:11-14


11 ``But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, 12 and he said to him, `Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?' And the man was speechless. 13 ``Then the king said to the servants, `Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 14 ``For many are called , but few are chosen.''

This is a second parable, but it is also a very close continuation and amplification of the previous one. It is the story of a guest who appeared at a royal wedding feast without a wedding garment. One of the great interests of this parable is that in it we see Jesus taking a story which was already familiar to his hearers and using it in his own way.

"The Rabbis had two stories which involved kings and garments. The first told of a king who invited his guests to a feast without telling them the exact date and time; but he did tell them that they must wash, and anoint, and clothe themselves that they might be ready when the summons came. The wise prepared themselves at once, and took their places waiting at the palace door, for they believed that in a palace a feast could be prepared so quickly that there would be no long warning. The foolish believed that it would take a long time to make the necessary preparations and that they would have plenty of time. So they went, the mason to his lime, the potter to his clay, the smith to his furnace, the fuller to his bleaching-ground, and went on with their work. Then, suddenly, the summons to the feast came without any warning. The wise were ready to sit down and the king rejoiced over them and they ate and drank. But those who had not arrayed themselves in their wedding garments had to stand outside, sad and hungry, and look on at the joy that they had lost. That rabbinic parable tells of the duty of preparedness for the summons of God, and the garments stand for the preparation that must be made."

FIRST--The local lesson is that Jesus has just said that the king, to supply his feast with guests, sent his messengers out into the highways and byways to gather all men in. That was the parable of the open door. It told how the Gentiles and the sinners would be gathered in. This parable strikes the necessary balance. It is true that the door is open to all men, but when they come they must bring a life which seeks to fit the love which has been given to them. Grace is not only a gift; it is a grave responsibility. A man cannot go on living the life he lived before he met Jesus Christ. He must be clothed in a new purity and a new holiness and a new goodness. He is a new creation-old things pass away and new things come!

SECOND--Then there is the permanent lesson. The way in which a man comes to anything demonstrates the spirit in which he comes. If we go to visit in a friend's house, we do not go in the clothes we wear in the shipyard or the garden. We know very well that it is not the clothes which matter to the friend. It is not that we want to put on a show. It is simply a matter of respect that we should present ourselves in our friend's house as neatly as we can. The fact that we prepare ourselves to go there is the way in which we outwardly show our affection and our esteem for our friend. So it is with God's house. This parable has nothing to do with the clothes in which we go to church; it has everything to do with the spirit in which we go to God's house. There are garments of the mind and of the heart and of the soul-the garment of expectation, the garment of humility, the garment of faith, the garment of reverence-and these are the garments without which we ought not to approach God.

So we see a contrast in these last two parables between joy and judgment! In some sense, it is like the balancing act of Law and Grace. We receive Jesus with all of the benefits, yet there are some demands upon our lives from that day forward. He has given me all of these amazing things by grace-unmerited on my part-and now He wants me to act like it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Matthew 22:1-10


1 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, 2 ``The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. 3 ``And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast and they were unwilling to come. 4 ``Again he sent out other slaves saying, `Tell those who have been invited, ``Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.''' 5 ``But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, 6 and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. 7 ``But the king was enraged and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire. 8 ``Then he said to his slaves, `The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 `Go therefore to the main highways and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.' 10 ``Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.

There are two parables back to back here in verses 1-14. The events of the first of the two were completely in accordance with normal Jewish customs. When the invitations to a great feast, like a wedding feast, were sent out, the time was not stated and when everything was ready the servants were sent out with a final summons to tell the guests to come. So, then, the king in this parable had sent out his invitations long ago, but it was not till everything was prepared that the final summons was issued-and insultingly refused. This parable has two meanings.

1. It has a purely local meaning. Its local meaning was a driving home of what had already been said in the Parable of the Wicked Vine-Growers; once again it was an accusation of the Jewish leadership. The invited guests who when the time came refused to come, stand for the Jewish leadership. Ages ago they had been invited by God to be his chosen people; yet when God's son came into the world, and they were invited to follow Him they contemptuously refused. The result was that the invitation of God went out direct to the highways and the byways; and the people in the highways and the byways stand for the sinners and the Gentiles, who never expected an invitation into the Kingdom.

2. This parable also has much to say on a much wider scale.

a. God's invitation is an invitation to joy, not gloom!

b. It reminds us that the things which make men deaf to the invitation of Christ are not necessarily bad in themselves. One man went to his estate; the other to his business. These weren't bad things, but normal things, when the good gets in the way of the best!

c. It reminds us that the appeal of Christ is not so much to consider how we will be punished as it is to see what we will miss, if we do not take his way of things.

d. It reminds us that in the last analysis God's invitation is the invitation of grace. Those who were gathered in from the highways and the byways had no claim on the king at and they could never by any stretch of imagination have expected an invitation to the wedding feast, much less could they ever have deserved it. It came to them from nothing other than the wide-armed, open-hearted, generous hospitality of the king. It was grace which offered the invitation and grace which gathered men in.

The only way anyone will get into the Kingdom is by the grace of God-unmerited favor from God, Himself!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Matthew 21:42-46


42 Jesus said to them, ``Did you never read in the Scriptures, `THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone; THIS CAME ABOUT FROM THE LORD, AND IT IS MARVELOUS IN OUR EYES'? 43 ``Therefore, I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people , producing the fruit of it. 44 ``And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever, it falls, it will scatter him like dust.'' 45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them. 46 When they sought to seize Him, they feared the people, because they considered Him to be a prophet.

Leadership is always the problem! As was prophesied in the Scriptures, the builders (leadership) will reject God's Messiah (the stone) and this Stone turned out to be the chief corner stone, which is the foundation for the building itself! Builders, the leadership, tend to like that position of the "vine-growers" we saw in the preceding paragraph. They tend to like that position, that power, that place of influence. It's a "safe" place for them never to share their vulnerabilities (in fact, they must cover them up), never to share their hearts (this would be too 'out of control'), rarely to be in a place of learning, unless what I'm learning also strengthens their position of power (besides, the leaders ought to know most everything worth knowing).

I have found the kingdom kids to be really super, loving and vibrant people as long as they are careful to walk like Jesus, talk like Jesus, think like Jesus and love like Jesus. However, if kingdom kids take on the attitudes of the local "vine-grower" even when they are in opposition to that of Jesus, it is an ugly thing to behold or experience! This is why Jesus warns the leadership that they will be given the worst judgment, if they lead the little ones (young believers) astray, away from the person and teachings of Jesus.

It all comes down to the same thing. It's all about Jesus!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Matthew 21:33-41


33 ``Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who PLANTED A VINEYARD AND PUT A WALL AROUND IT AND DUG A WINE PRESS IN IT, AND BUILT A TOWER, and rented it out to vine -growers and went on a journey. 34 ``When the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce. 35 ``The vine-growers took his slaves and beat one, and killed another, and stoned a third. 36 ``Again he sent another group of slaves larger than the first; and they did the same thing to them. 37 ``But afterward he sent his son to them, saying, `They will respect my son.' 38 ``But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves, `This is the heir; come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.' 39 ``They took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 ``Therefore when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers?'' 41 They said to Him, ``He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons.''

BINGO! They got it right! Remember that every parable, even every story is about Jesus. No matter the incident, you will find that you can get to know Jesus better as you reference Him in the passage. This one is quite direct!

The vine-growers (the established leadership of the vineyard, synagogue, spiritual directors) had a good thing going!

FIRST--They had a position in the community.

SECOND--They had the power to what goes in the community.

THIRD--They were fearful of losing this position of power.

FOURTH--They rejected those who spoke up of a better way to do life.

FIFTH--They then rejected the son, the heir, because of their jealousy and fear of losing their position of power.

SIXTH--What they didn't realize was that all they had-position, power, work-was given to them by the landowner-the Lord!

In this parable Jesus is referring to the Jewish leadership's rejection of His prophets and then the Son of the Landowner, Jesus. Once the Landowner returns, He will offer this position to other vine-growers (possibly to the gentiles).

All that we have is the Lord's and we are responsible only to Him and His Son, Jesus!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Matthew 21:28-32


28 ``But what do you think? A man had two sons and he came to the first and said, `Son, go work today in the vineyard.' 29 ``And he answered, `I will not'; but afterward he regretted it and went. 30 ``The man came to the second and said the same thing and he answered, `I will, sir'; but he did not go. 31 ``Which of the two did the will of his father?'' They said, ``The first.'' Jesus said to them, ``Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. 32 ``For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him.

GREAT STORY and so relevant today! The meaning is crystal clear! The Jewish leadership are those who said they would obey and then did not. The tax-gatherers and the harlots are those who said that they would go their own way and then came back home to God.

NOTE that the parable doesn't praise anyone. It is setting before us a picture of two very imperfect sets of people. One set was no better than the other. Neither son in the story was the kind of son to bring full joy to his father. Both were unsatisfactory, but the one who in the end obeyed was incalculably better than the other. The ideal son would be the son who accepted the father's orders with obedience and with respect and who unquestioningly and fully carried them out. But there are truths in this parable which go far beyond the situation in which it was first spoken. It tells us that there are two very common classes of people in this world.

First-there are the people whose profession is much better than their practice. They will promise anything; they make great claims of piety and fidelity, but their practice lags far behind.

Second-there are those whose practice is far better than their profession. They go out seeking anything but God and Godly things, but later come back to Him. The real point of the parable is that, while the second class are infinitely to be preferred to the first, neither is anything like perfect. The really good man is the man in whom profession and practice meet and match. OR, the really good man is the one who decides to come home to the heart of his Father-God. This is a prodigal son parable in a different format, without the specifics of the drama. All of us must come home-come back to our Creator God, our Father.

So, which one are you-the one who is home and walks away or the one who was away and came home?



⇒What does Jesus say is most important to enter the Kingdom?
Matthew 5:20: For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Focus your heart on a personal relationship with Jesus and make it your business to follow after Him. Don't allow yourself to be caught up in the religiosity of following a list or system of do's and don'ts, thinking that you are impressing God while you are impressing others. Jesus makes it clear here that He is not impressed with this kind of thing, so don't you be!

Matthew 7:21: Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

The context is fascinating! In the next paragraph it's clear what's going on. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

In the next paragraph Jesus illustrates exactly what He means by "doing the will of My Father", when He says: Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

In Matthew 18:3: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

Then, again in Mark 10:15 Jesus says: "I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." Luke repeats Jesus' words from Mark: "I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."

Then, in the Gospel of John, in a very familiar interaction with Nicodemus, Jesus uses a little different metaphor to say the same thing. He says in John 3:5: "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit." He goes on to say: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the spirit is spirit."

1. You don't know everything.
2. All that you have been taught needs to be stripped away.
3. You want to learn all you can about this new life with Jesus.
4. In order to learn more about the ABC's of walking with Jesus, it's most helpful to watch Him carefully and mimic what you hear and see.
5. Learn to simply trust Jesus for your life-your strength, direction and future.

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments." "Which ones?" he inquired. Jesus replied, " 'You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,' and 'love your neighbor as yourself.'" (NOTE that Jesus equates eternal life with entering life and then later in this passage he speaks of entering the Kingdom of God.)

The young man shockingly states: "All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?" Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." By "perfect" Jesus means to be complete and whole in your search for life.

Then, Jesus makes the following observation recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke: In Matthew 19:23-24:
Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

Then, in Mark 10:24-25:
 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!"
 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

Then, again in Luke 18:24-25: Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

Whether the image here truly is a camel or a rope going through the eye of a needle, the essence of what Jesus is saying is still the same. IT IS DIFFICULT FOR A RICH MAN TO ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD! The difficulty for the rich person is that he tends to trust in his riches for security and tends to think that people, places and things can make him happy or whole and complete.

Do you want to enter the Kingdom of God? If you are rich and have a lot of stuff, then hold on to that stuff "loosely", so that you are not trusting in your riches, but in God for a complete and full, eternal life.

The fifth reference Jesus made concerning what it takes to enter or not enter the Kingdom of God has a couple of dimensions. Both of these dimensions here contain direct warnings toward the religious. The first dimension is in Matthew 21:32: Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him."

Beware of being so religious and self-righteous. Jesus became most disturbed and angry with those who didn't see their need for God-those who thought they were right and righteous because of their beliefs and practices. In this dimension Jesus points out that those who see their need most are the ones who are actually entering the Kingdom right now ahead of the religious and the righteous. In fact, He is not just saying that the most despised tax collectors and prostitutes will enter the Kingdom someday, but that they are entering right now!

The second dimension is in Matthew 23:13: "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to." Note the specifics of what Jesus is saying here. He is clearly saying that these religious leaders in positions of authority are not entering the Kingdom. He has made several observations at other times about the reasons why they will not enter the Kingdom, primarily the leading one is their religious pride-that they know it all and know they are right.

Now Jesus points out that these religious leaders who are not entering the Kingdom are also stopping others to enter by shutting the door of the Kingdom of heaven in their faces. How is this done? I think it's done by continually setting up certain restrictions and limitations on who can get in and who will not. I did this as a teenager. I had been taught that no one could come into a relationship with God, unless he goes down front at the altar call at the end of the service and confess Jesus publicly before men. Either you go down front at the altar call or "invitation" or you won't get into heaven. In many discussions with my good friends I made this clear to them and basically kept them from entering the Kingdom. The man-made "rule" or "requirement" I had embraced served to be a major barrier to my friends being attracted to Jesus.

Also, in much of my ministry over the years I shut the door of the Kingdom on many by sharing a chart regarding Jesus being either "liar, lunatic or Lord". I cleverly drew the chart and then made fun of anyone who tried to make up a different conclusion, other than liar, lunatic or Lord. I would say that many today see Jesus as just a good teacher or a great example and Jesus simply didn't leave this alternative to us. You must choose one or the other-liar, lunatic or Lord. Jesus was the Lord, the Son of God and there is no other alternative.

What I was missing was the simple and clear example of Jesus' early disciples. They didn't make the decision that Jesus was the Lord or the Son of God at first. They saw Him as a good example, great teacher and a great man of integrity-flawless in every way. They didn't see Him as the Lord or the Son of God, UNTIL sometime later. Then, Jesus asked them, "Who do you say that I am?" Peter said, "You are God's Messiah, the Son of God." Jesus strokes him for this answer, but points out that Peter didn't think this up on his own nor did he get it from any other person. God, the Father, gave him this insight and conviction. Why? Because Peter and the others had been following Jesus over these years and God transformed their thinking and their hearts to see Jesus as the Son of God. In other words, for a person to see and accept Jesus as the Son of God, it will be an act of God that will bring about this result. It is not something you are taught by others. This is not my thinking, but the thinking of Jesus.

So, why should we shut people down for not believing Jesus is the Son of God right from the get-go? Why not let people follow Jesus at their own pace? And as they follow Jesus, God will change their hearts just as He did the disciples. This is how we shut the door of the Kingdom on well-meaning and interested people in Jesus. Do you see how easy it is to do?

By the way, missing this understanding of how a person's heart is transformed or "converted" causes a lot of problems. How haughty is it to think that anyone-Christian, minister or missionary-is able to "convert" or transform another person's heart. It is and must be a work of God.

Recently, a Buddhist friend, seeking to know Jesus and His teachings, decided to attend a bible study in her community. She went out and bought a bible to read and take with her to the study. When she showed up, she was initially welcomed and then was told that she had the "wrong" bible and she must go get a different one. At the Christian bookstore someone had suggested to her that she might enjoy starting out with "The Message". Now, this group of Christians essentially shut the door of the Kingdom in this young lady's face. I don't think Jesus is lifted up by this kind of thing and it certainly is not perpetuating the Jesus movement!

This fifth reference to entering and not entering the Kingdom boils down to this: 1. Those who don't have it together will enter the Kingdom first.

2. Those who think they have it together through what they know/believe and what they do may not enter the Kingdom at all.

3. And these religious "know-it-alls" tend to shut others out of the Kingdom, too.

Two things to beware of: FIRST-Don't deceive yourself into thinking that your belief system or your behavior will get you into the Kingdom.
SECOND-Don't divert others away from Jesus, because of your dogmatic belief system.

Be careful to follow Jesus and put your trust in Him and Him alone. He is the only way you'll ever get out of this world alive! That's why He said: "I am the way, the truth and the life."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Matthew 21:23-27


23 When He entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him while He was teaching, and said, ``By what authority are You doing these things and who gave You this authority?'' 24 Jesus said to them, ``I will also ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 ``The baptism of John was from what source, from heaven or from men?'' And they began reasoning among themselves, saying, ``If we say, `From heaven,' He will say to us, `Then why did you not believe him?' 26 ``But if we say, `From men,' we fear the people ; for they all regard John as a prophet.'' 27 And answering Jesus, they said, ``We do not know.'' He also said to them, ``Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.

The Temple leadership questions Jesus' authority. "Where did you go to school?" In order to be a teaching Rabbi, you were to have 2 to 3 witnesses who affirmed you-witnessed you. They want to nail down Jesus' authority as to who were the ones who laid their hands on Him in order to teach with authority. Jesus gained His authority on the day of His baptism. There were 3 witnesses present from heaven-the Father's voice, the dove (Spirit of God) and John who was the primary baptizer.

It was customary for Rabbi's to sort of spar with one another by answering a question with a question. It's almost like a chess game. Jesus tied them in knots with His question, forcing them to either side with John as a man from heaven or as coming from men. Their predicament was that the people liked John and John identified Jesus as the Messiah.

NOTE that Jesus does not feel compelled to bring the conversation to some kind of conclusion, but lets it stay in the air for all to consider what was being said. It's like scattering seed indiscriminately to determine what kind of soil (heart) each person possessed. Jesus was content to let the seeds to fall where they will. So, don't you stress over "closing spiritual deals" with people. Just keep on planting the seeds and keep on watering. THEN God will work in their hearts and change them inside out!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Matthew 21:18-22


18 Now in the morning, when He was returning to the city, He became hungry. 19 Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, ``No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.'' And at once the fig tree withered. 20 Seeing this, the disciples were amazed and asked, ``How did the fig tree wither all at once?'' 21 And Jesus answered and said to them, ``Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, `Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it will happen. 22 ``And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.''

Fig trees were a common and important source of food for the Jews. The unfruitful fig tree that was promising something it couldn't deliver was an illustration of those who looked good on the outside, but were fruitless. The history of Israel is one long preparation for the coming of the Promised One. But the promise is unfulfilled in those who reject Jesus through unbelief. Jesus' cursing of a fig tree is an action against the faithlessness of those who rejected his message. For faith to be fruitful and productive, it must be nourished authentic and focused faith.

Jesus turns the incident into a teaching time for His disciples. He challenges them to "have faith in God." They are to pray with a stubborn faith no matter how difficult the situation may be. The phrase "to remove mountains" was a common Jewish expression for removing difficulties. A wise teacher who could solve difficulties was called a "mountain remover". If we pray with faith, God will give us the means to overcome the difficulties and obstacles.

This stubborn faith is what Brennan Manning calls "Ruthless Trust". It's really ACTING AS IF.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Matthew 21:14-17


14 And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple and He healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done and the children who were shouting in the temple, ``Hosanna to the Son of David,'' they became indignant 16 and said to Him, ``Do You hear what these children are saying?'' And Jesus said to them, ``Yes; have you never read, `OUT OF THE MOUTH OF INFANTS AND NURSING BABIES YOU HAVE PREPARED PRAISE FOR YOURSELF'?'' 17 And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany and spent the night there.

Note the sharp contrast between the children and the chief priests and scribes:

FIRST--The chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things Jesus did for the blind and the lame, yet became indignant and offended by it.

SECOND--The children saw the same thing and were praising Jesus as the promised Messiah-Hosanna to the Son of David.

What's the difference? The chief priests and scribes are in denial over their dependence upon God and His Messiah. In fact, God and His Messiah will easily mess up the "good thing" they had going for them. Whereas the children have no position to mess up, but are totally dependent upon God and welcome His Messiah. Take it one step further and note the desperate ones-the blind and the lame-who feel their dependent and desperate need to come to Jesus.

There are two ways to live your life: 1. You can be open, humble, eager to learn, and ready to listen.

2. You can be closed, prideful, defensive, and in denial and that's not a river in Egypt!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Matthew 21:12-13


12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. 13 And He said to them, ``It is written, `MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER'; but you are making it a ROBBERS' DEN.''

This was a real problem within the Temple. It was not simply selling CDs, DVDs and books in the back of the room as most churches do or through their church bookstore nor is it the many sign-up, register and pay booths we have at our local churches. This was a real defrauding of the people!

1. Each animal was presented for inspection to see if it was acceptable for a proper sacrifice. Not only did they have to pay the inspector, but they inspectors tended to reject most of them and offer to sell a better specimen back to them at a high price. Or, if a person didn't have an animal to sacrifice they were gouged when they bought one from the Temple authorities.

2. There was also a Temple tax that was imposed upon everyone who came to the Temple feasts. This tax was to be paid in exact half-shekels and nothing else, therefore there was a third offense.

3. In addition to being gouged, those who were from out of town had to get their moneychanged to pay for the sacrifices. In the exchange transaction there was also a gouging of sorts going on. Because of the vast amount of pilgrims which journeyed to Jerusalem for Passover from foreign lands outside the land of Israel where collections would not already have been made, the revenue from such a conversion of money would have been immense!

They were stealing money from those whose pure intentions were to come to the Temple and make sacrifices to the Lord.

All in all, it seemed to Jesus that this had the spirit of a busy swap-meet, a major distraction away from coming to worship the God of gods. Anything that brings this spirit with money and the exchange of monies is most demeaning to the holiness of our God. So, Jesus cleaned up a bit!

What would Jesus do at your church service?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Matthew 21:1-11


1 When they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, ``Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me. 3 ``If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, `The Lord has need of them,' and immediately he will send them.'' 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 5 ``SAY TO THE DAUGHTER OF ZION, `BEHOLD YOUR KING IS COMING TO YOU, GENTLE, AND MOUNTED ON A DONKEY, EVEN ON A COLT, THE FOAL OF A BEAST OF BURDEN.' ''

6 The disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them, 7 and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their coats on them; and He sat on the coats. 8 Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road. 9 The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting, ``Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the highest!'' 10 When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, ``Who is this?'' 11 And the crowds were saying, ``This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.''

NOTE all the players in this drama of Jesus presenting Himself as God's Messiah:

1. A donkey and her colt. Jesus will use whatever is necessary to demonstrate Himself to those who need Him.

2. The owner or care-taker. Jesus is looking to use all that we have to show Him off.

3. Jesus' disciples. Jesus' disciples are always hanging out with Him as they enjoy the many field trips.

4. Crowds going ahead of Him. These may be the curious, but certainly the interested. This is all God requires-that we be interested!

5. Those who followed Him. Jesus continues to draw a crowd in every nation who will lift Him up and honor Him as the Messiah-Hosanna, Son of David!

This pageantry happens 24-7-365. Each of us has a role to play in this daily drama. What part are you playing? I want to encourage you to find your place in the life and teachings of Jesus. He will present Himself to everyone. Will you participate?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Matthew 20:29-34


29 As they were leaving Jericho a large crowd followed Him. 30 And two blind men sitting by the road, hearing that Jesus was passing by, cried out, ``Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!'' 31 The crowd sternly told them to be quiet, but they cried out all the more, ``Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!'' 32 And Jesus stopped and called them, and said, ``What do you want Me to do for you?'' 33 They said to Him, ``Lord, we want our eyes to be opened.'' 34 Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him.

What a powerful contrast! Jesus just finished handling personal ambition by James and John, giving them a new definition of true leadership. NOW, 2 blind men have nothing but their blindness, their vulnerability, their cry for mercy to the only One Who could restore their sight-the Messiah. Jesus' question to them is curious. He's speaking with 2 men who are obviously blind and asks them, "What do you want Me to do?" Again, this is in contrast to the two brothers who wanted something from Jesus-position in the kingdom. Their answer has nothing to do with anything unreasonable, but they ask for a healing of their brokenness-their blindness-their need.

Jesus' response to James and John was to re-teach them what leadership is all about. Jesus' response to the 2 blind men was to be moved with compassion, touched right in their area of brokenness and they regained their sight, then they followed Jesus from that time on.

So, what is it you want from Jesus? To be more comfortable or to have a more convenient or prominent position with Him or to have Jesus meet you at your level of brokenness. One will get you another lesson or sermon. The other will give you the healing touch of Jesus.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Matthew 20:20-28


20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, bowing down and making a request of Him. 21 And He said to her, ``What do you wish?'' She said* to Him, ``Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit one on Your right and one on Your left.'' 22 But Jesus answered, ``You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?'' They said* to Him, ``We are able.'' 23 He said* to them, ``My cup you shall drink; but to sit on My right and on My left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.''

24 And hearing this, the ten became indignant with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, ``You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them and their great men exercise authority over them. 26 ``It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many.''

John Calvin calls ambition, "a concealed flame." It exists in each of us, striving for acclaim, power, position, and attention. The concealed flame of ambition can be easily fueled when losing sight of the cross for visions of personal glory. If those closest to Christ fell prey to ambition, then we too must guard against its grip on our lives.

In my experience it is not just ambition that is the problem. The most extensive problem seems to be an optical one-THE BIG "I". So far in recent days in Matthew we've seen a man whose wealth had become his god and therefore came between him and following Jesus. We now see 2 brothers desiring certain positions in the kingdom-on the right and on the left. When it's all about ME, then it just isn't about JESUS.

Without a doubt the greatest disappointment to me has been watching men and women be more concerned about themselves and their conveniences than about spreading the movement of Jesus and His kingdom. There is more interest in a certain musical bent, the dazzle of a beautiful facility, the promotion of another program, the crowd--all giving a false sense of spirituality to spectating rather than participating! My heart continues to be broken by good people who want to sit in comfortable positions such as James and John, good people with a twisted perspective on what's most important.

Jesus makes it absolutely clear that we are hear, not to be served, but to serve. To be great in the kingdom is to find your position as a servant-that's a participator, not a spectator! So, are you in the stands watching or on the field in the action?

Monday, August 08, 2011

Matthew 20:17-20


17 As Jesus was about to go up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and on the way He said to them, 18 ``Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, 19 and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up.''

This is, at least, the 3rd, maybe the 4th time Jesus has revealed to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, be killed and be raised up again. (Matthew 16:21-23; Mark 8:31-33, Luke 9:22) Although the statement may have puzzled the disciples who were standing close to Jesus' revelation, it was, after all, not inconceivable that the Messiah would ultimately die at some point in time. Therefore, Peter's shock when hearing Jesus' new declaration in Matthew 16 is not based so much on the third day resurrection but upon the opposition to and persecution of the One who he'd just proclaimed to be God's chosen and anointed King-"You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God." (Matt 16:16).

Each time Jesus mentions what's coming the disciples seem to be a little cloudy in their thinking as to what is meant. Maybe they are too frightened to ask Jesus what it all might mean.

Now, here before their final journey into Jerusalem, Jesus repeats what is about to happen. I can't emphasize enough the importance of their expectations of the Messiah. There were 2 roles for the Messiah to play. One was that He would come and reign forever (as the son of David). The other was that He would come to die as a sacrifice for the sins of the world (as the son of Joseph). When you are under the foot of the Romans, you are definitely not looking for the Messiah to come and die. You want the Messiah that is going to deliver His people from this oppression. We can look back on this scene historically without emotion, knowing the facts, that this had to happen this way. But to the disciples, this was emotionally charged with their hopes and dreams of the Messiah's power of deliverance.

It's a little like that when we are awaiting the Lord's deliverance in our own lives today. We are so emotionally involved with our pain that we can't see what is really going on. God is up to something. God is always up to something that will work out better for you-to deliver you from where you are now into where He wants you to be next.

"For we know that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). Easily said, but very difficult to trust in the middle of the conditions we may find ourselves. This is precisely the work that we are to do-to learn to trust that Jesus' loyal love toward us is eternally true. Nothing can separate you from the love of Jesus.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Matthew 20:1-16


1 ``For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 ``When he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 ``And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the market place; 4 and to those he said, `You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.' And so they went. 5 ``Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour and did the same thing. 6 ``And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, `Why have you been standing here idle all day long?' 7 ``They said to him, `Because no one hired us.' He said to them, `You go into the vineyard too.'

8 ``When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, `Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last group to the first.' 9 ``When those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius . 10 ``When those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. 11 ``When they received it, they grumbled at the landowner, 12 saying, `These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.' 13 ``But he answered and said to one of them, `Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 `Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15 `Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous ?' 16 ``So the last shall be first and the first last.''

As an illustration of the previous subject of being compensated by Jesus for our work in the kingdom, Jesus tells an interesting story--"the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard." Most pointedly Jesus is elaborating on the statement that many who are last will be first and the first last.

NOTE what the landowner does. He hires laborers to work for a day for a denarius. He hires laborers to work for him at around noon. He hires laborers to work for him at 3:00 pm. He hires laborers to work for him at 5:00 pm for only an hour.

THEN, the landowner paid them all a denarius. Those who worked an entire day were paid the same as those who worked one hour.

The symbolism appears to be straightforward-the householder or owner should be taken either as God the Father or Jesus (there is no real difference in meaning whichever is understood), the laborers are those who are called to become part of the Kingdom of Heaven (as opposed to being identified as disciples-they become disciples when they agree to work in the vineyard), the wages are eternal life or 'salvation' which has already been shown to be the subject of the one sentence warning of Matthew 19:30 and the vineyard is the world or Kingdom of Heaven (where Matthew 13:38 shows that Jesus taught that the entire world is God's Kingdom).

The overall thrust is that God calls laborers to work according to His own will and purpose and that He will reward them as He sees fit--a direct comment on Peter's question about what sort of reward they should expect for leaving everything and following after Jesus (Matthew 19:27). This parable seems to cut two ways: FIRST-Jesus will bring in outcasts and worse into the kingdom--those who have had little prior experience in good behavior. SECOND-Jesus is also speaking to the issue of those who have been with Him from the beginning, thinking that they are owed a bit more than the rest.

He's God and you are not!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Matthew 19:27-30


27 Then Peter said to Him, ``Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?'' 28 And Jesus said to them, ``Truly I say to you that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 ``And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name's sake, will receive many times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 ``But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.

Peter's question was "What about us, Jesus?" This is not a self-promoting question, but Peter is looking for some affirmation from Jesus, looking for Jesus to confirm Peter's hope that he has made the right choices in giving up everything to follow Him.

NOTE that Jesus does give Peter (and all of us who follow Him) several benefits for following Him:

1-You will sit in judgment of the twelve tribes of Israel. 2-You will receive many times more what you give up for Him. 3-You will inherit eternal life.

Then, Jesus ends with the powerful truth and most important principle of the kingdom, "The first will be last and the last will be first." That's the way it is in the Kingdom of God versus your kingdom. All is topsy-turvy!

You see, in seeking a pleasant, conventional life, we "nullify the commandment of God by our tradition" (Matthew 15:3-6). We tend to seek wealth and possessions, even though Jesus warned of the "deceitfulness of riches" (Matthew 13:22). We seek safety and security, though Jesus taught us to live by faith. We all are kings of our own kingdoms and when we meet King Jesus, we must sign off as king of our kingdoms and bow to Jesus as the King of our lives. No matter what His orders are, we are assured by Jesus' words that we will reap major benefits for our submission to Him.

You can be assured that it will be worth it all someday when the regeneration of the world takes place and when we see Jesus face to face!