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Jesus Christ loves you.
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Author Topic: Words Of Christ Devotions  (Read 41147 times)
nChrist
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« Reply #300 on: March 12, 2007, 11:45:29 PM »

January 27

Lord of the Sabbath
Mat_12:1-8

One of the most annoying things in life is discovering a hole in your theory.  The temptation is to patch the hole—or shoot the one who found the leak.

The Pharisees have that problem.  They have built up, over time, an elaborate set of rules of conduct.  Their theory—that the rules are everything—is full of holes, and Christ takes no effort to avoid pointing them out.  Indeed, the Pharisees practically hand him the opportunity here.

Christ points out two inherent problems of legalism:

First, sometimes the rules just don't cover all situations.  That's the point of
his reference to David.

Next, even when they cover a specific situation, the exception clauses actually point out the principles behind the rules.  The priests had to work hard on the Sabbath, with all those sacrifices.  The principle—a day of rest for man, looking to God—is shown clearly by what they are allowed to do.

In Mark's parallel account, he tells us that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  What does that mean?  It means that the rules God has given are for our benefit, not for our annoyance.  Traffic rules prevent accidents, which is why you obey them.  And just as the traffic rules are set aside at the sound of the fire engine's siren, so the rules of life are set aside when the Lord of Life is present.

That must have shocked the Pharisees.  Perhaps they understood the argument about the rules, but the statement about the person can be interpreted only one way—here is a man who speaks with God's authority, who is God in the flesh.  Which brings us to the questions:

Have you tied yourself up in your own set of rules?  Don't associate with "that"
kind of person—even to the exclusion of love and mercy?

Do the rules you have in your life bind you—or bless you?

Do you follow the rules—or follow the Ruler?

Some view the Christian life as one in which we drag a sled loaded with rules, uphill.  But Christ said his burden was easy, his yoke is light.  Take him as Lord, abandon all else, and you will see that his way is the one of blessing.

____________________

Words Of Christ Devotions

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
e-Sword by Rick Meyer: http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
Full Featured - Outstanding - Completely FREE - No Strings Attached

(The goal of Rick Meyer is to distribute excellent Bible Study
Software to every country on earth in their own language FREE
of charge, and that goal gets closer by the day.)
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nChrist
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« Reply #301 on: March 12, 2007, 11:46:39 PM »

January 28

Counsel With the Herodians
Mar_3:1-6

Often Jesus performs his miracles quietly, out of a desire that healing should not become a circus.  But sometimes he does the opposite.  He makes a show of his work—for a purpose.  Not for the purpose of ostentation, but that those around may see and learn.  The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.

We can imagine that the man with the withered hand was a member of the synagogue.  Likely enough he had been coming there for years, and the Pharisees may have come because they knew he would be there.  It would be easy for Jesus to be elsewhere.  Note the first requirement of righteousness:  courage.  Jesus does not hide his work in the corner, but confronts the hypocrites directly.
His question—"Is it lawful" - may be taken in two ways:

It can certainly be argued that if you are able to do good for someone, and fail to do it, that this is sin.  The circumstances may admit some excuse, but in this instance the circumstances were contrived to prevent any such.  Jesus could heal;  would it not have been sinful for him to refuse?  If you went to the emergency room of a hospital, what would you think of a doctor who refused to treat you—because your accident happened on a Sunday?

It can also be argued that having the ability to do good imposes an obligation to use it.  Remember the parable of the Talents?  The master gave no specific instructions, just the trust given with the money.  But he condemned the servant who failed to use the money in any way.  Jesus is the Great Physician;  how could he not heal?

There is a certain sadness in this little story.  We see Jesus grieved—not at their doctrine, nor at their regulations, but at their hard hearts.  Their actions showed this.  Their next move was to meet with the Herodians, a political party which would normally have been a stench in their nostrils.  The poverty of their doctrine is shown in how much they must compromise it to get rid of the one who showed it to be false.

The Gospel is like that.  If your heart is open and accepting, it is indeed Good News.  If your heart is hard and unyielding, the Gospel will drive you into opposition.  When it does, you grieve the very heart of God Himself.  This is true when we first hear it, and when it is brought to mind by hearing it again.  May your heart always be open to hear the Good News.

____________________

Words Of Christ Devotions

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
e-Sword by Rick Meyer: http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
Full Featured - Outstanding - Completely FREE - No Strings Attached

(The goal of Rick Meyer is to distribute excellent Bible Study
Software to every country on earth in their own language FREE
of charge, and that goal gets closer by the day.)
____________________
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nChrist
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« Reply #302 on: March 12, 2007, 11:47:58 PM »

January 29

Behold My Servant
Mat_12:15-21

It is a characteristic of small dogs that they bark.  They bark continuously, as if afraid of being ignored.  Large dogs are content to bark only upon the occasions it seems both fitting and dignified.

Have you ever noticed that people are often the same way?  Those who truly have strength in themselves, who are confident, complain little, while those who are nervous and afraid complain constantly.

The Prophet Isaiah, quoted here, draws us a word picture of a servant of immense strength, indeed, the Christ himself.

A bruised reed he will not break.  A reed is like a hollow straw.  It is strong until you bend it at a particular point.  Then the bend is a point of weakness.  Some see the weak of this world as targets to be destroyed.  Our Lord sees the weak as those whom he wants to befriend and help.

A smoldering wick he will not snuff out.  Anyone who has ever attempted to light a camp lantern knows the problem of the smoking wick.  The light is flickering and the smoke annoying.   To leave it alone requires great patience, and Christ has great patience with us.

Not quarrel or cry out.  A strong man arguing needs no megaphone.  The still, quiet voice of the strong is heard by the wise over the shrill voices in the street.  Such voices are always crying, but if you listen carefully you can hear the voice of the Lord speaking wisdom and truth.

God's strength is made perfect in weakness.  So we see it here.  Jesus has just had a confrontation with the Pharisees over the matter of healing on the Sabbath.  How strident they must have sounded when they saw that withered hand stretched out and healed.  But Christ did not "rub it in."  He withdrew quietly from the argument.  He did not come to win the argument, but to win souls to God.

Have you ever complained that you cannot hear what God is trying to say to you?  Perhaps you are listening to the wrong voice.  If you wish to walk in sweet fellowship with him, you must walk as he walks—quietly.  Is your friend weak?  Strengthen him gently.  Is your neighbor an annoyance?  Bear with her patiently.  Imitate your master and walk in gentle, quiet strength.  Then you will hear the still, small voice which speaks peace and wisdom to your very soul.

____________________

Words Of Christ Devotions

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
e-Sword by Rick Meyer: http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
Full Featured - Outstanding - Completely FREE - No Strings Attached

(The goal of Rick Meyer is to distribute excellent Bible Study
Software to every country on earth in their own language FREE
of charge, and that goal gets closer by the day.)
____________________
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nChrist
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« Reply #303 on: March 12, 2007, 11:49:13 PM »

January 30

Chosen in Prayer
Luk_6:12-16

Christians frequently complain that their prayer life is hollow, weak and meaningless.  We might observe, however, that the relationship between prayer and righteousness is not what we might think:

We feel that if a man is righteous, he has little need of prayer, for he must be in good touch with God.  By that test, Jesus would never have felt the need to pray.

Note, however, that the more righteous a man becomes, the sweeter prayer seems to him.  We think it a burden to endure the "sweet hour of prayer;" he thinks it a joy to pray all night.

In this simple section of Scripture, our Lord gives us a grand example of how to pray:

Note the time of day which he selects.  It is after the rush of business, when all distractions have left.  Ordinary men would rush to sleep, but the man of God has a more urgent appointment.  Now is the time with God alone.

Likewise, consider the place he selects—a mountainside.  Again, he separates himself from all others, to avoid distraction.  Also, in the dark of night he can see the witness of creation reminding him of his Father.

What impresses us most is the time spent—all night.  Evidently he had no fear of running out of topics for conversation with his Father.

Consider, though, the cause of this night of prayer.  It is the selection of the Apostles themselves.  We might think that this list of names would have been revealed to Jesus in an instant, but he takes all night about it.  Was it the selection, or was it our Lord taking each name to the Father, asking for protection and guidance for each man, one at a time?

Note that he selects them all at once.  The inner circle of four we are well acquainted with;  the next four are less known; the outer four are anonymous, except for Judas Iscariot.  Even those who are just a name to us were the cause of an all night prayer meeting for our Lord.

That is comforting, for we know he is our advocate with the Father.  He stayed up all night, praying over twelve men, some great, some unknown.  It is good to know that the "unknowns," like us, are the subject of prayer for our Lord and Savior.

____________________

Words Of Christ Devotions

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
e-Sword by Rick Meyer: http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
Full Featured - Outstanding - Completely FREE - No Strings Attached

(The goal of Rick Meyer is to distribute excellent Bible Study
Software to every country on earth in their own language FREE
of charge, and that goal gets closer by the day.)
____________________
Logged

nChrist
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« Reply #304 on: March 12, 2007, 11:50:38 PM »

January 31

Poor in Spirit
Mat_5:3

No section of Scripture, save Revelation, is as commented upon as the Sermon on the Mount.  Like all works of greatness, it is at heart a simple thing; simple, yet infinitely deep.

Notice how our Lord begins:  with the antidote to pride.  He lays out the foundation of service in the kingdom of God, which is to be "poor in spirit."  He calls it a blessing.  Why?

Perhaps it is because he understands us so well.  The thunder of "Thou shalt not" is not as persuasive—and likely to produce repentance—as the promise of blessing.  Which of us would decline the blessing of God?  We all want it—but are we willing to work for it?  Are we willing to change ourselves for it?

Change?  "I thought these things just sort of happened."  We seem to think that some people are born "poor in spirit." They must be the lucky ones, then.  It is not so.  We can, and should, become such people.

What does it mean, then, "poor in spirit"?  The Greek word literally means one who is a beggar.  One modern paraphrase puts it this way:  "those who realize their need for (God)."  Another says, "those who know they are spiritually poor."

John Chrysostom, commenting on this verse, reminds us of Isaiah 66:2.  He gives us three characteristics:

The one who is humble—not puffed up with pride and self worth.

The one who is contrite—repentant for the wrongs he has done.

The one who trembles at the law of the Lord—who knows that righteousness demands justice.

There is a picture of "the poor in spirit."

As Chrysostom says, "Humility is the fountain of all self command."  Have you ever had your pride offended, and then given way to anger?  Has your pride been insulted by another's wealth, and you've given in to greed, or envy?  Pride drives us into sin of all sorts, and these keep us from the kingdom of heaven.  Humility keeps these away, and opens the door for us.

Humility is nothing more than an honest estimate of your own self worth—in comparison to the God you worship.  It is impossible to look down on others when you are looking up to God.  Blessed are the poor in spirit—for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

____________________

Words Of Christ Devotions

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
e-Sword by Rick Meyer: http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
Full Featured - Outstanding - Completely FREE - No Strings Attached

(The goal of Rick Meyer is to distribute excellent Bible Study
Software to every country on earth in their own language FREE
of charge, and that goal gets closer by the day.)
____________________
Logged

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