Chapter-a-Day Matthew 18

At about the same time, the disciples came to Jesus asking, "Who gets the highest rank in God’s kingdom?" Matthew 18:1 (TM)

The Top 40
Today’s Top 10
Best in Class
Magna Cum Laud
Mega-Church
Top Sales
World-class

Our culture is obsessed with success. There’s nothing wrong with striving for excellence, but our pursuit to be excellent at what we’re doing can easily become a desire to feel better than others. Instead of striving to please God we strive to feel superior. Jesus makes it clear that our attitude should be the exact opposite of the world. We should humble ourselves, serve, and lift others up – not ourselves.

Who can I serve today?

Chapter-a-Day Matthew 17

Peter broke in, "Master, this is a great moment! What would you
think if I built three memorials here on the mountain—one for you, one
for Moses, one for Elijah?"

While
he was going on like this, babbling, a light-radiant cloud enveloped
them, and sounding from deep in the cloud a voice: "This is my Son,
marked by my love, focus of my delight. Listen to him."

Matthew 17:4-5 (TM)

It’s funny how we humans think in comparison to God. The Son of God  stands in His Glory and the world is on the verge of experiencing the one act that will be the salvation for all mankind. The disciples reaction? Let’s memorialize the event!

This moment was so not about Peter and the boys. God even interrupted him. Jesus presence on the Earth was about action and the disciples part was about action:

Be my witnesses.
Go out into the world.
Preach the Message.
Heal the sick.
Feed the hungry.
Clothe the needy
.

How often it is that we prefer to sit and build memorials to God rather than doing what we are called to do.

Word of the Day: Pontificate

Pontiff
Pontificate
is my word for the day. Wendy used it last night and all of a sudden my brain and my mouth are having fun saying it. It rolls off the tongue in three glorious syllables filled with edgy consonants.

 
Wendy’s use of the word came on the way home from church. She asked the question, "Why do church leaders always feel the need to pontificate?"

It’s another reason we’re such a good match for each other. We think alike in so many ways. If we’re having an organizational meeting, then let’s organize. We don’t need a ten minute devotional thought on the Apostle Paul’s admonishment to do things decently and in order. If we’re getting together to make a decision on the building project we don’t need a mini-book study of Nehemiah. It’s especially unappreciated when the mini-sermon was, itself, hastily organized and thrown together. Then it’s more aggravating because they are obviously doing it out of some sense of obligation, not because they have something on their heart they really want to say. Seriously, I won’t think less of you as a member of the church staff if you skip the homily.

Chapter-a-Day Matthew 15

Jesus replied, "You, too? Are you being willfully stupid? Don’t you
know that anything that is swallowed works its way through the
intestines and is finally defecated? But what comes out of the mouth
gets its start in the heart. It’s from the heart that we vomit up evil
arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and
cussing. That’s what pollutes. Eating or not eating certain foods,
washing or not washing your hands—that’s neither here nor there
." Matthew 15:16-20 (TM)

The religious leaders of Jesus day were great at passing judgment and pontificating on things that were easy to see. Did he wash his hands? Did they give their tithe? Did that person avoid associating with ‘unclean’ peoples? Did she eat only foods that have the priest’s stamp of approval?

Actually, we do the same thing today. It’s easy to preach about the evils of drugs, alcohol, or sexual sin. When was the last time you heard a sermon talking about the evils of gossip? slander? malicious conversations? a critical spirit?

God is as concerned about what comes out of us as he is about what we let in.

Chapter-a-Day Matthew 15

Jesus replied, "You, too? Are you being willfully stupid? Don’t you
know that anything that is swallowed works its way through the
intestines and is finally defecated? But what comes out of the mouth
gets its start in the heart. It’s from the heart that we vomit up evil
arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and
cussing. That’s what pollutes. Eating or not eating certain foods,
washing or not washing your hands—that’s neither here nor there
." Matthew 15:16-20 (TM)

The religious leaders of Jesus day were great at passing judgment and pontificating on things that were easy to see. Did he wash his hands? Did they give their tithe? Did that person avoid associating with ‘unclean’ peoples? Did she eat only foods that have the priest’s stamp of approval?

Actually, we do the same thing today. It’s easy to preach about the evils of drugs, alcohol, or sexual sin. When was the last time you heard a sermon talking about the evils of gossip? slander? malicious conversations? a critical spirit?

God is as concerned about what comes out of us as he is about what we let in.

Chapter-a-Day Matthew 14

Fish
Jesus said, "Bring them here." Then he had the people sit on the grass.
He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in
prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples. The
disciples then gave the food to the congregation. They all ate their
fill. They gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. About five thousand
were fed
. Matthew 14:18-21 (TM)

The miracles of Jesus had a point. In a grand scale, the miracles provided the "credentials" (the Pharisees were asking for in Chapter 12) of who He really was. Here Jesus adds to the resume that He is Jehovah-Jireh (Hebrew: "God Provides"). Jesus also wanted people to learn spiritual truth from a temporal experience. In the miracle of the loaves and the fish, the message is clear: God will provide what we need each day. But, it’s not just about our immediate needs. In fact, that’s the secondary lesson.

In John’s telling of this story (John  6), Jesus goes on to teach the crowds that the point isn’t that He can conjure up a few fish sandwiches at will. The physical shore lunch isn’t the focus, though it was certainly the thing the crowds were interested in. Certainly, the immediate temporal need is often the thing on which we’re focused. Jesus’ focus is on spiritual food that provides eternal sustenance.

For that meal, He will give up his own body and blood to be our bread and wine.

Chapter-a-Day Matthew 14

Fish
Jesus said, "Bring them here." Then he had the people sit on the grass.
He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in
prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples. The
disciples then gave the food to the congregation. They all ate their
fill. They gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. About five thousand
were fed
. Matthew 14:18-21 (TM)

The miracles of Jesus had a point. In a grand scale, the miracles provided the "credentials" (the Pharisees were asking for in Chapter 12) of who He really was. Here Jesus adds to the resume that He is Jehovah-Jireh (Hebrew: "God Provides"). Jesus also wanted people to learn spiritual truth from a temporal experience. In the miracle of the loaves and the fish, the message is clear: God will provide what we need each day. But, it’s not just about our immediate needs. In fact, that’s the secondary lesson.

In John’s telling of this story (John  6), Jesus goes on to teach the crowds that the point isn’t that He can conjure up a few fish sandwiches at will. The physical shore lunch isn’t the focus, though it was certainly the thing the crowds were interested in. Certainly, the immediate temporal need is often the thing on which we’re focused. Jesus’ focus is on spiritual food that provides eternal sustenance.

For that meal, He will give up his own body and blood to be our bread and wine.