Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

160. In Gethsemane- Matt. 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42, Luke 22:40-46, John 18:1


-Jesus, in the night, takes His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray earnestly for the cup of the Lord’s wrath on Him to be removed. Nevertheless, the Christ wanted the Father’s will over His own will in this matter and was obedient to the plans of God. He brought Peter, James, and John into the area about a stone’s throw away from where He was praying. They were tired, weary, and sorrowful at this point and could not resist sleeping in their physical bodies even though the Lord said their spirit was willing (Matthew 26:41, Mark 14:38). This happened three times as Jesus went to pray, came back, went to pray, came back and went to pray and came back a third time. He was deeply grieved and sorrowful to the point of death, the Word tells us, in His final hours before His crucifixion. The stress was enormous as we read about as the perspiration of blood dripped from His body while He knelt in prayer. Luke tells us that an angel came to strengthen Him in these moments. Jesus was in the presence of the Lord, but He was suffering terribly. The realization that His disciples were sleeping probably caused Him even greater rejection sorrow because He knew the supreme significance of this hour and the spiritual warfare that was present. He warned them to pray so that they would not be overcome with temptation. The truth was, Peter would draw a sword and cut off the ear of a servant of the High Priest (Malchus, John 18:10), and the rest of them would scatter in fear. They succumbed to the temptation of the moment, but God eventually restored them and not one of them was lost other than Judas Iscariot (John 17:12; 18:9). *Application* How often does the Lord call on us to do difficult things for His Kingdom and His purposes here on earth? The answer is all the time if we are sensitive enough to hear His voice and obey. It is never easy to completely follow the will and the direction of the Lord, but it will yield the harvest of righteousness and goodness in the end when you do. There is always sacrifice in the offering, but the reward is tremendous as we see in the final victory of Christ Jesus after He had gone through His torture and death but resurrected with power and glory. Obey the Lord in all that He is asking you to do in His Name. Answer the call willingly as Jesus did and put aside your own will. The Lord’s example should inspire our complete devotion (1 Kings 8:61, 2 Chronicles 16:9, Hebrews 12:1-3).


Verse to Memorize- Matthew 26:39


161. Judas’ betrayal by a kiss- Matt. 26:47-49, Mark 14:43-45, Luke 22:47-48, John 18:2-9


-The crowd of people from the chief priests, scribes, and elders of the people came at night with Judas Iscariot, swords, clubs, and torches to possibly do battle with the people of Jesus and bring Him into custody. Several, if not many, of the disciples probably thought at the time that the Kingdom of God would have to be won by force such as is common to man and the natural order of things on this earth. The Lord turns this potentially violent scene into a virtually harmless event with His words and healing action after the cutting off of the ear of Malchus by Peter (Luke 22:51, John 18:8-11). Judas Iscariot betrayed His Lord with a kiss as a sign in the dark night as to who His Rabbi was for all the throng of captors. The Christ asked him the question, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss (Luke 22:48)?” The Lord, as we see in the book of John, was willing to go with them without a fight and readily identified Himself to the shock and awe of those around (John 18:6). The falling to the ground and back may have been proof of some Divine revelation, which is not uncommon in the Scriptures (Ezekiel 1:28; 44:4, Daniel 2:46; 8:18; 10:9, Acts 9:4; 22:7; 26:14, Revelation 1:17; 19:10; 22:8). Jesus was now in the hands of evil men for the purpose of humanity’s salvation. *Application* I doubt many of us have been in a physical situation like this where people are coming to capture or detain us. The presence Christ had in this tense moment, however, should give us confidence in stressful situations we sometimes face in life. I’m sure we can identify with altercations with mean spirited and angry people who intend to disrupt our peace in stressful environments or situations. Let the serenity of Christ overwhelm you in those moments and put on the Spirit-filled fruit of self-control when these temptations arise. Don’t freak out, stay cool under pressure! It will be a testimony to all.


Verse to Memorize- Luke 22:48

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

158. Peter’s fall foretold- Matt. 26:31-35, Mark 14:27-31, Luke 22:31-34, John 13:33, 36-38


-After the disciples had sung a hymn, they were at the Mount of Olives when Jesus told them that the Shepherd would be struck down and the sheep would scatter. Peter, speaking for the entire group piped up and said that he would go to the death with Christ promising to never leave Him or forsake Him. However, Jesus, knowing the heart of man once again, predicted that in that very night before the rooster crowed (Mark says twice, Matthew gives three times) he would deny Him three times. This in fact happens as Jesus is taken into custody, and Peter realizes the truth of the Lord’s claims to the point of immense grief (Matthew 26:69-75, Mark 14:66-72, Luke 22:54-62). However, just as Jesus also predicted, Peter is restored and his faith turns again to the Christ (Luke 22:32). His faith ultimately does not fail and he becomes a tremendous leader in the church as the gospel goes out to the world. *Application* The Lord deals in reality and truth. Optimism without reality and truth produces no hope. The reality in Peter’s life was that there were deficiencies, which he was not even aware of. Jesus pointed out his condition and brought His beloved disciple to the point of brokenness and the realization that he wasn’t as faithful as he thought. Allow the Lord to shape your life in the same way. Ask Him to expose the weaknesses and reveal all to you for the purpose of repentance and restoration in Him. You will arise a spiritual giant once the Lord has refined you for His purposes. This is a difficult process, but absolutely rewarding. It is the death to self and the resurrection in His power that we need.


Verse to Memorize- Matthew 26:34


159. The true vine- assurance for the disciples- John 15:1-27; 16:1-33


-Christ Jesus’ discourse with His disciples brings assurance for them in the midst of this time of coming tribulation and scattering. The promise of the Holy Spirit is given as an advantage of His physical incarnation due to the wide ranging possibilities through this manifestation of His goodness. *Application* The key theme for us to ponder here is that we are not alone. God is always with us and gives us His continuing presence to obey His commands and walk in His love without compromise no matter what the situation.

-The Lord gives beautiful figurative language in comparing us to branches in the vine. He is the vine and we are extensions of His grace and mercy to the world bearing much fruit. This is where our joy is. It is in Him. The Vinedresser is key for us to understand as well. The Father prunes us as believers to purify and complete us in Christ. There are those who spring up alongside the vine that appear to be branches, but are unproductive and need to be cut off for the health of the plant. These reference the unbelievers that the Vinedresser gets rid of that were never really part of the plant. *Application* Jesus reminds His disciples, and in a greater sense us, that we are His children in all of His love and care. He answers our requests as done, and He gives us joy to the full. He calls us friends rather than servants at this point because we know Him and are called according to His purposes. This will bring on the hatred of the world, which we should expect. Jesus said this hatred is without cause, just like He experienced, which was prophesied in the written Word (Psalm 35:19; 69:4). However, throughout the passage there is hope, peace, and reassurance that all will be well in the resurrection, which overcomes this world that has in it intense tribulation (John 16:33). Jesus becomes more and more plain to the disciples and us as He makes His will and plan known as the only begotten Son of God. Victory is in Jesus!


Verses to Memorize- John 15:5, 11, 13; 16:7, 33

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

156. Jesus washes the disciples’ feet- John 13:1-17


-Jesus gives a teaching to His disciples and all of us in humility and service unto others by washing His disciples feet at the Last Supper. Peter, wanting to show Him respect, told Him not to wash his feet ever, but the Lord told him he would have no share (part) with Him if he didn’t allow this. Peter recanted his demand at this point, and Jesus declared His disciples clean except the son of perdition (John 17:12). Jesus at the end asked them if they understood what He did to them and then instructed them as their Lord and Teacher to do the same for others. He had given them and us an example of servitude to follow unto all generations. Some denominations have gone so far as to make this a church ordinance in their liturgical practices (The Church of God is one). *Application* Whether or not your church practices feet washing as a sign of humility and a servant’s heart should make no difference in your attitude towards helping others just as Jesus did. This teaching should prick our consciences to look for needs in our brothers and sisters and to be self-sacrificing to the point of meeting those needs that we perceive. We are not our own in the body of Christ. Serve one another (Galatians 5:13-14).


Verse to Memorize- John 13:17


157. A new commandment- John 13:34-35


-Jesus gives His disciples and all of us who follow Him a new commandment, which is really an ancient one (Leviticus 19:18) that summed up what the LORD was all about (1 John 4:8). He told them to simply love one another just as He had loved them. He instructed that if they do this, all people will know that we are His disciples. *Application* This is simple, straight-forwarding teaching, but it has proven difficult to carry out for us stubborn, hard-hearted, and self-seeking people. Too often we want our own way and don’t care enough about our brothers and sisters here in the world, especially of the household of faith. Let love be your overriding emotion and action throughout the course of your journey through life. It is what the Savior commanded, isn’t it? Love brings healing, hate and selfishness brings hurt. Let your forbearing spirit be of love (Philippians 2:1-2).


Verses to Memorize- John 13:34-35

Friday, October 26, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

154. Last Supper- Matt. 26:17-29, Mark 14:18-25, Luke 22:7-23


-This last supper with the disciples occurs on the Thursday evening before the Christ’s crucifixion, Nisan 15, which is the first day of Unleavened Bread. Jesus instructs Peter and John to go and prepare the supper in an upper room in the city of Jerusalem at an unknown man’s guest room whom Jesus directed them to, either prearranged or supernaturally. When it was evening they ate the meal together as to the custom of the Jews reclining at the table. It is at this time that Jesus reveals that one with them will betray Him. He dips in the dish bowl with Judas Iscariot, and He pronounces woe upon him saying it would have been better if he had not been born. Ouch! The Lord reminds us that all had been written and determined beforehand concerning His going to the cross.

-The communion is given for the first time here in this occasion. They eat the bread of the body and drink the cup of the blood of the New Covenant together for the last time before Christ’s sacrifice for the salvation of all mankind unto the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28). Jesus prophecies that they will not drink of the fruit of the vine again until they drink it new together in the Father’s Kingdom. This refers to the Messianic wedding banquet in the eschaton (Matthew 8:11, Revelation 19:9). *Application* Communion is a holy, somber, and righteous act done in remembrance of the Son and His salvific activities at the cross. It represents how the Lord has reunified us together with Him and each other as believers in perfect union. It is the consummation of the New Covenant ratified in His blood shed for us in pain and suffering for the purpose of justification from all sin in the Father’s sight unto the believer. Never lose sight of the importance of this offering God in His grace bestowed upon us, His beloved. Some have wrongly taken communion unto serious consequences in the spiritual realm (1 Corinthians 11:27-31). Don’t be flippant when partaking of the Lord’s bread and cup.


Verse to Memorize- Matthew 26:26-28


155. Jesus betrayal foretold- Matt. 26:20-25, Mark 14:18-21, Luke 22:20-23, John 13:16-30


-During the last supper together with the disciples Jesus forecasts His betrayer with specific woe upon Judas Iscariot. Satan enters him in a powerful way as Jesus takes some bread and dips in the bowl with His betrayer. This was in fulfillment of the Scriptures more than likely speaking of the suffering servant prophecies in Isaiah 42-53 and perhaps some of David’s writings (Psalm 55:12-14). Judas hurriedly leaves the meal after these words into the night. Christ’s time was at hand, and He would be delivered into the hands of evil men. The disciples did not recognize what was going on at the time and thought Judas was going out to get more supplies as he was the one with the money bags or perhaps give something to the poor. *Application* Be on guard against Satan’s attacks to enter you and make you do things that are against the will and purposes of God. The Bible tells us to resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7). Judas allowed that evil spirit to run his life and it brought upon him disaster. Learn from his massive mistake.


Verses to Memorize- John 13:21

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

152. Anointing- Matt. 26:1-16, Mark 14:3-9, Luke 7:36-50, John 12:2-8


-We start with what appears to be the first of two incidents where Jesus was anointed by a woman. The first was in a Pharisees’ house where the woman came in and wiped His feet with her remorseful tears and kissed His feet and anointed them with an alabaster flask of ointment. The Pharisee had not given Jesus water for His feet, no kiss, and did not anoint His head with oil when He entered his house. In comparison the woman went out of her way to attend to the Christ’s needs. The Lord’s point is clear with the Pharisee in His illustration story, the one who is forgiven much will love much and the one who is forgiven little will love little (Luke 7:47). Jesus forgave her sins, which caused quite some controversy, and His final statement is important, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace (Luke 8:50).” *Application* This instance demonstrates the thankfulness we need to have toward our Lord and Savior for all that He has delivered us from. Also, it should remind us that those who have had a horrible past can be restored and are many times the ones that are most thankful and most effective in service for the King. Don’t be arrogant concerning a person’s past and discredit their future. With God all things are possible in the reconciliation process (Matthew 19:26, Mark 10:27).

-The other instance of an anointing occurs right before Christ’s crucifixion and burial in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, where Mary (simply indentified as a woman in Matthew and Mark), the sister of Martha and Lazarus (John 11:1-19) pours the alabaster ointment on the Head of Christ in preparation for His burial, as Jesus puts it. He assures the guests that observed this act that it was righteous and that it would be remembered throughout the course of gospel history in the whole world (which has certainly come to pass). The disciples, with the spokesman being the pilfering betrayer Judas Iscariot, were indignant and deceitfully remarked about using the money from this having greater potential with the poor. Jesus rebuked them and let them know that there would always be opportunity to help the poor, but He was only with them at this particular time. Had they really realized the significance of this moment and the fact that they were in the presence of Almighty God, their reaction would probably have been much different. Their eyes and ears were still somewhat dull and unperceptive. Jesus corrects them on this and commends the woman’s act of kindness done unto Him. *Application* The issue for us here is to consider our love and devotion to the King of kings and Lord of lords. We must anoint Him as God and Lord every day in our lives by coming into His presence and worshipping at His feet. For Mary to wipe the feet of Jesus with her hair, she had to bow before Him. We must also come humbly before Him every day and all the time for recognition as to who He is. It is only in this manner that we can rise up and do the service of our great and mighty King in the world in which we live. “Bless the LORD O my soul and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name (Psalm 103)!”


Verse to Memorize- Luke 7:47


153. Judas Iscariot plans Jesus’ betrayal- Matt. 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-11, Luke 22:3-6, John 13:2


-Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, goes to the chief priests and works out a deal for his own personal benefit to betray the Lord Jesus Christ. He is awarded 30 pieces of silver for the delivering over of the Lord to the religious authorities by seeking an opportunity to betray Him in the absence of a crowd. Some have speculated that Judas may have had decent motives in this activity. They will give him too much benefit of the doubt and say that perhaps he was simply trying to usher in the Kingdom by force through instigating a conflict. This in my opinion is a short-sighted misinterpretation of the Scriptures. John and Luke are very poignant that Satan had filled his heart and only had greedy and evil intent with this betrayal (Luke 22:3, John 13:2). Judas Iscariot goes down as one of the greatest villains of all time by denying the Lord Jesus. *Application* Anytime greed and selfish motivation become our foray we are in deep trouble with the Lord. Be careful not to turn away from God and His plans for your life by seeking your own desires and the world’s pleasures. It could absolutely mean your demise and lead to your destruction.


Verse to Memorize- Luke 22:6

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

150. The ten virgins- Matt. 25:1-13


-Jesus, still within the context of talking about His second coming and the last things, compares the Kingdom of Heaven to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five of them were wise. The wise ones brought along oil in flasks for their lamps due to the uncertain nature of the length of time the bridegroom would take to come for the wedding feast. This was cultural and easily understood to those in the audience of Jesus’ teaching. This is a foreign concept in our day and bears some need for instruction here.

-Jesus explains the story of the Jewish wedding and the mirror image it portrays of the first and second coming of Jesus Christ the Messiah. Looking at the parable of the Ten Virgins it is easy to speculate that it only refers to the second coming of Christ.  But, for our edification, I am going to give the whole picture of the first coming of Christ, the Church, and the second coming for His bride.  The Jewish wedding in the time of Christ is different than a Jewish wedding in this modern age.  In Bible times the Jewish people were given in marriage by a betrothal (Kiddushin) which means to sanctify, this was the stage in which a covenant agreement was made for the marriage (Lamm, 146).  

-The marriage consists of three stages and is expressed by the Biblical term kichah. In the first stage, the man gives a women money known as a kessef. The kessef is usually a coin, or something of value. The man is to stand before two witnesses and say, “You are hereby betrothed unto me with this symbol in accordance with the Laws of Moses and Israel.”  The bride then agrees to the price given and accepts. This is an indication that she is willing to marry the groom (Lamm, 146).  The bride and groom are not allowed to be live together, but are considered married.  No intimate relationship occurs during this time of the marriage process.

-The second stage of the marriage agreement is the bond known as the she’tar. This pact is given by the man to the women as a contractual agreement which contains the names of the couple and the groom’s intent to marry. This contract does not give legal evidence for the marriage, but is done before two or more witnesses to move the marriage forward.   The second half of this stage is known as the Ketubah (Lamm, 197). This is an agreement before witnesses that he, the husband, will take care of his wife humanely and financially. This contractual agreement secures a certain financial obligation to the wife in the event of a divorce (Lamm, 198).

-The third stage of the marriage is the consummation known as the bi’ah.  This occurs after the wedding feast has taken place. The bride and groom go to private quarters and consummate the marriage with sexual intimacy and intercourse.  At this stage, the marriage is complete both officially and legally.

-The process of the marriage agreement is drawn out for several months. The longest period of time from the betrothal to the consummation period is twelve months.  The son returns to his father’s home until the time of the wedding feast. During this twelve month period the bride and the groom are immersed in water for sanctification before the wedding feast and consummation. Confession of any sin is stressed and emphasized during this period. Also, the bridegroom gets living quarters ready for his new bride, while the bride prepares and gets everything in order for her new married life.

-On the day of the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom fast for a cleansing of their sins and to avoid drinking or being stained by worldly temptations (Lamm, 189-196).  The groom has a table set up for the feast known as Kabbalat Panim (Lamm, 197).  A throne is set up at the feast for his bride where she can be surrounded by her bridesmaids (virgins) in honor. The groom sings praises to his bride and all that are present partake in a glorious banquet.

-Historically and biblically speaking, this is the picture of Christ. The betrothal is a picture of the covenant agreement the Lord gave to Abraham and the people of Israel.

Genesis 17:9   God said further to Abraham, "Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.”

-The prospective bridegroom would then travel to meet his bride and negotiate the price (contract) for her.  Christ came to earth to pay the price for His bride, the church, including both Jews and Gentiles. The price (kessef or mohar) that Christ negotiated for His bride was death on the cross, the ultimate gift (1 Corinthians 6:20, Isaiah 27:9). He then rose again on the third day.  

-The Period of Preparation - Jesus after paying the price for our sins, returned to the Father’s House for a period of time. This is the period of the church age. This, then, is the stage between the betrothal and consummation period.  In Matthew 25:1 it states, "Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went out to meet the bridegroom.”  The analogy given in this parable relates to people of the church.  Each one of us should be waiting for the second coming of Christ just as the bridesmaids did for their wedding feast.

-In ancient Judaism the bride and the bridesmaids did not know when the bridegroom would come. Signs and indications were given to the bride and her party that the bridegroom was on his way, but they did not know the day or the hour. As the days came closer the virgins (bridesmaids) would wait outside with their lamps.  The groom would always come at night, the virgins (bridesmaids) had to be ready to light the way to the feast.

-The bridegroom would arrive with a ‘shout’!  He was coming to get his bride. This is a picture of Christ returning for the second time: Matthew 25:6, "But at midnight there was a shout, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.'”

-The wedding feast and all who were ready for the bridegroom go into the wedding feast.  The bride was given a throne were the bridegroom would honor her. The virgins and bridesmaids would be all around her in the wedding feast.

-*Application* The most essential element to this parable is preparation. Is the church ready to meet the bridegroom? In answering the key questions of this passage one has to look at every aspect listed. The ten women in this parable were all virgins, equipped with a lamp and oil; all of them fell asleep waiting for the bridegroom. Let’s look at each piece and define the meaning.

-The lamp is a symbol of light. Each virgin, being pure and set apart, was equipped with the ability to produce light in dark places. Many scriptures can be cross referenced to back the meaning of the lamp. Let’s look at Psalm 119:105  Thy word is a lamp to my feet, And a light to my path.” The lamp is the word of God; each of the virgins was equipped with the ability to know the Lord. Other illustrations given in the Scriptures, especially in Matthew, make the point that the lamp refers to the soul. (Matthew 6:22, Luke11:25) Once a lamp is lit who would hide it (Matthew 5:15)? From reading the parable all were equipped with a lamp and oil. Each girl was set apart and pure (virginity) before the Lord. Yet, five unwise virgins were not prepared with extra oil.

-The oil- What is the meaning of the oil and the preparation of the coming of Christ?  Do we literally sell our homes, buy a virgin dress and sit outside waiting for our Messiah. Some have attempted this. However, this is not what the Lord meant by preparation.

-We must first take a look at Exodus and the meaning of the lamp stand and the oil in the Old Testament. Aaron was a required by the Lord to refill the lamp day and night to keep the flame burning at all times (Exodus 27:20-21). The people of Israel were to bring pure, crushed olive oil to Aaron daily. This refers to the constant presence of the Spirit of the Lord that is needed and essential if there is to be His indwelling blessing.

-The preparation for the five wise virgins illustrates how we are to honor the Lord with our lives and wait for His coming.  Those who are wise understand that the cultivation of the soul is essential to their walk with Christ. Having an abiding relationship should naturally result in the daily reading of the Word of God, prayer, and meditation, all of which are vital to being ready for the Messiah. As believers we are to let our light shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify the Father in Heaven (Matthew 5:16).  As Christians we cannot afford to grow complacent, drifting into worldliness while we are waiting. A good example of this is found in Matthew 24:35-51 referring to a servant who was caught unaware.

-The unwise virgins, or fools, represent hypocrisy in Christianity. These women were not prepared; they had a form of godliness but denied the power (2 Timothy 3:1-5). During the great day of testing those who do not have an abiding relationship through the oil of the Holy Spirit will find their lamps going out. By studying Scripture you can observe that those whose lamps are going out cannot borrow at the time of Christ coming from the wise.  Each believer is responsible for attending to his or her own soul. Do not be like the unwise who is caught unaware with worldliness, complacency, and drifting in the faith.  You do not know the day or the hour in which the Lord will return. Are you ready?

-Source: Talmud, Jewish Tradition of Love and Marriage by Maurice Lamm



Verse to Memorize- Matthew 25:13


151. The sheep and the goats- Last judgment- Matt. 25:31-46


-This depicts the scene when Jesus, the Son of Man, comes in His glory with all the angels and sits on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will judge them separating the sheep (believers) from the goats (unbelievers). Sheep will go to the right into an inherited Kingdom with blessed eternal life and the goats will go to the left departing into accursed eternal punishment, which was prepared for the devil and his angels (notice it was not designed for mankind but his rejection of Christ led them there) (Matthew 25:34, 41, 46).

-The Lord makes the point that it was Him who these were ministering to, or not ministering to, in each situation whether it be feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, including the stranger, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, or coming to the prisoner for companionship and encouragement.

-*Application* It is obvious here that we will be held accountable for everything we do in the Name of Jesus Christ here on this earth. These acts of kindness come from a pure heart that has been changed by the love of Christ and extends to others who are in true and desperate need. Don’t reject the promptings of the Holy Spirit when He tells you to help people. You are actually doing it, or not doing it, directly to the Lord as we plainly see here in this passage.


Verse to Memorize- Matthew 25:46

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

148. The widow’s mite- Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4


-Jesus, the Master of all things including observation, notices a poor widow who put in two small and almost worthless coins into the offering box at the Temple. Jesus commends her for giving more than all the rich people who were distributing out of their abundance. Out of her poverty she had given all she had to live on to the Lord. *Application* From this we see that it is not the size of the gift, but the sacrificial nature, which comes from a devoted, sincere, and generously giving heart, that matters to God. Are you giving more than all the others in the Lord’s sight? He still takes notice of these things and He knows exactly how much you care about giving to Him. Has your wallet been saved as much as your soul?


Verse to Memorize- Mark 12:44


149. Jesus’ second coming prophecy- Matt. 24:1-51, Mark 13:1-37, Luke 21:5-36


-As Christ’s disciples and He were coming out of the Temple, the disciples remarked about the beautiful building and its adornment. Jesus prophesied that there would come a time when it would be destroyed with not one stone left upon another (this was fulfilled in 70 AD when the Roman army destroyed the Temple and brick by brick deconstructed it in search of its gold). The disciples privately asked Him on the Mount of Olives three important questions: 1. When will these things (destruction of the Temple) be? 2. What will be the sign of Your coming? 3. What will be the sign/signs of the end of the age?

-The Lord goes into a lengthy discourse to prepare them and the rest of the world as it is put into Scripture for the signs of His coming and the end of the age. Important things to note from His teaching are: See that no one misleads you, false Christs and false prophets will come and deceive many, wars and rumors of wars will occur along with famines, earthquakes, tumult on the seas (this is not yet the end though, just the beginning of birth pangs), a great persecution will arise against the elect delivering them to authorities and some will be killed, there will be a falling away (apostasy) and people’s love will grow cold because lawlessness will increase. Endurance to the end is reiterated over and over with a watchful, awake eye on the things that are transpiring. Alertness and readiness are the key components in Jesus’ preparation lecture. The ones who endure will be saved (Matthew 24:13, Mark 13:13, Luke 21:19). The gospel of the Kingdom of God will be preached and proclaimed throughout the whole earth as a testimony to the nations and then the end will come (Matthew 24:14, Mark 13:10).

-The end of the age is set in earnest by the act of the abomination of desolation (spoken of by Daniel, Daniel 12:11) standing in the Holy Place, the Temple. This is the middle of the tribulation period of Jacob’s trouble if we compare Scripture with Scripture in careful analysis, which this devotion does not have time for right now. Jesus tells them that when this happens, the people in the area of Jerusalem are best to head to the Judean wilderness to the east where they can hide and receive the miracles of God for survival (Revelation 12:6). This sparks the great tribulation period of 3 ½ years, which had to be cut short or else no human being would be saved (Matthew 24:22). At the end of this period and in an hour unknown even to the angels and the Son, the Father will send the Son to appear in the heavens coming in great power and great glory and with a trumpet call He will gather His elect (the faithful believers) from the four winds. *Application* The primary focus for us should be on the exhortation to be alert and be ready as we see these things take place with greater frequency and force. We must remain faithful and true to the Word, which will never pass away, and endure to the end no matter how difficult things become. O believer do not lose heart and let your love grow cold. Christ will return and all will be set straight. Our redemption and salvation is for those who overcome in faith by the blood of the Lamb (Romans 12:21, 1 John 4:4; 5:4, Revelation 7:14; 12:11; 17:14)!


Verses to Memorize- Luke 21:19, 28, Matthew 24:42

Monday, October 22, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

146. David’s son and Lord- Matthew 22:41-46, Mark 12:35-37, Luke 20:41-44


-In the Temple area Jesus asks the question to the Pharisees and all gathered around what they thought about the Christ and whose Son He was. When they replied that He was the Son of David, Jesus takes the opportunity to show them that the Messiah was actually David’s Lord as David wrote in the Spirit in Psalms 110:1. They were stunned and silenced by the Word’s of Jesus on this point and dared not ask Him anymore questions for they realized His mastery of the Scriptures and His wisdom. He had passed every test they could hurl at Him and then some. He attempted to teach them properly theology so that they might recognize Him as Lord and Savior themselves, but sadly most of them never accepted Him for fear of man and being cast out of the synagogue. They missed the King and His Kingdom to keep tradition and follow misguided teachers and leaders. *Application* Do you realize who Jesus actually is? Do you accept Him as the Lord and Savior of the universe, God’s only begotten Son with whom He is well pleased to give as a sacrifice for our redemption and reconciliation with Himself? Trust in Christ for salvation today if you have not already. The time will come when it will be too late and the day of your visitation will be over. Behold today is the day of decision (Isaiah 49:8; 55:6, 2 Corinthians 6:2).


Verse to Memorize- Matthew 22:44


147. Woes of the Pharisees and the Scribes- Matt. 23:1-37, Mark 12:38-40, Luke 20:45-47


-Jesus goes into a long discourse, which Matthew delineates to a far greater extent than Mark or Luke, on the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees who are blind and very prideful with exterior showings of righteous, but inwardly so vile and corrupt in their agendas and motivations. They love the recognition of being considered great, but do not practice what they preach. Jesus teaches that we only have One Father and Teacher, who is the LORD, and we are all brothers (sisters can be included here as well). We must humble ourselves to be exalted by God, which the scribes and Pharisees could not understand because of their blind pride. They manipulated the Law for their gain and misinterpreted its purpose. They strained out the small details to perfection, yet neglected the weightier matters of the Law like justice, mercy, and faithfulness (Matthew 23:23-24). They were full of greed and self-indulgence that was clean in appearance, but inside was corrupt, lawless, and dead spiritually. They did not think they were like their fathers who killed the prophets and persecuted them, but they witnessed against themselves in rejecting Jesus, the Son of God and were condemned to hell by the Lord, filled up to the measure of their fathers as serpents and a brood (children of a family) of vipers (Matthew 23:32-33). Jesus in the final analysis mourns over them in Jerusalem because it was His desire to gather them in for protection, peace, security, and comfort, but they were not willing (Matthew 23:37). *Application* The warning for us here is in the realm of hypocrisy or fake living. Pride makes excuses, humility make adjustments. Make the adjustment in your life to the things of Christ Jesus. He wants to take us and make us new (2 Corinthians 5:17). He desires justice, mercy, and faith as we see here, not self-righteousness that misses the whole point of His grace and protection.


Verse to Memorize- Matthew 23:37

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

144. Jesus corrects the Sadducees’ error- Matt. 22:23-33, Mark 12:18-27, Luke 20:27-40


-The Sadducees were a group who derived their power from their involvement in Temple activities and went strictly by the teachings of the Pentateuch had come up with the notion that there is no resurrection of the dead, which was a false teaching Jesus had to correct as they questioned in what they thought was an ingenious way. The Lord actually used their Pentateuch (the five books of the Law of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) to enlighten them on their misconception and bad theology. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. The Sadducees neither knew the Scriptures nor the power of God, which Jesus told them. And, He used the grammar of the Word to refute their doctrine using the burning bush experience with Moses (Exodus 3:1-15). He is the God of these patriarchs; as opposed to He was the God of them. *Application* How often do we negate the Scriptures in our own lives to follow a particular philosophy or doctrine that may be totally false. Pay attention to the direct and simple grammar of His message to you for clarity and theological instruction. Know your God well, and don’t be deceived in any way.


Verse to Memorize- Matthew 22:32


145. The greatest commandment- Matt. 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-34


-When the Pharisees saw that Jesus had sided with their position of the resurrection in His encounter with the Sadducees, they soften perhaps for a moment and tested Him with another question that they were in unity with Him as it turned out. When one asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus answered with the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-6) to love the LORD with everything and the command in Leviticus 19:18 to love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets’ teachings (Matthew 22:40). The scribe recognized that to follow these two commands were more important than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices because these commands were to be followed from the heart and was not an exterior expression. This led Jesus to comment that this person was not far from the Kingdom of God (Mark 12:34). This scribe had gotten the point and was near salvation. *Application* It really does come down to the matter of love, which is the most excellent gift (1 Corinthians 13:13). Love the LORD your God with everything you have and love your neighbor as much as you love yourself and you will find that you are fulfilling every Law of God in fullness. This is simple, but difficult to keep due to our own selfish nature. Only in the transformation that comes from Christ and His Spirit living in us can we really carry out these commands and fulfill the Law of Christ (Galatians 2:16-21; 6:2, Philippians 3:9). Love God and love people! To do that means that you must give up on pleasing yourself as top priority, but this is where real life begins!


Verse to Memorize- Matthew 22:40

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

142. The wedding feast and wedding garment- Matt. 22:1-14


-Here in this parable comparing the Kingdom of Heaven, which again exposed the unrighteousness of the Pharisees, Jesus explains how the invited guests refused to come to the wedding feast, and how one who was at the feast had no wedding garment (a picture of Christ’s righteousness, Isaiah 61:10, Revelation 3:5, 2 Corinthians 5:2-4, Galatians 3:27). We see the invitation of the king over and over, but excuses are made and apathetic responses are given. Servants after servants are sent to bring exciting and good news, but they paid no attention, went off to their farms and businesses, treated the messengers shamefully, and even killed them (Matthew 22:5-6). This rejection gave cause for others to be invited in both good and bad, so the wedding hall was filled with guests.

-The man who had no wedding garment is a difficult interpretation and bears some consideration. First, let us consider the facts. He was questioned as to how he got in without a wedding garment. He was speechless and had no answer. He was bound hand and foot and cast into outer darkness where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth. He, as there will be many (in fact all, Acts 15:17, 2 Peter 3:9), was called, but not chosen (“eklektos”, selected, Matthew 22:14). Now, let us consider what this means. We can say that proper wedding attire was still expected by all the guests. There is evidence that in the ancient world a king would supply all of his guests with the proper attire (Genesis 45:22, Esther 6:8-9) and God does the same for His people (Ezekiel 16:10-13). Thus by not wearing the garments provided, this guest highly insulted the host and received just banishment. We should then conclude that the garments refer to the righteousness of Christ that must be “put on” for the acceptance into the Kingdom of Heaven (Romans 13:14). Works will not get us there; it is receiving what the Lord has provided that will make the difference. The Pharisees were complacent in thinking they didn’t need the Savior, content in their good works, which Jesus is correcting them on if any were observant enough to pay attention to His wisdom and instruction. *Application* We have been graciously invited to the best wedding feast of all time (Revelation 19:7-9). God will clothe us in His righteousness as His bride for an everlasting union in paradise, but we must accept it for ourselves. Don’t be left speechless when the King of kings asks where your garments are. Put on Christ and His righteousness for the proper covering. Amen!


Verse to Memorize- Matthew 22:14


143. Paying tribute (tax) to Caesar- Matt. 22:15-22, Mark 12:13-17, Luke 20:20-26


-The Pharisees and Herodians (a loosely organized group who promoted Herod’s political and economic influence) approached Jesus for the sole purpose of trapping Him in His words so that they might deliver Him to the government authorities for persecution. The plan was to have Him choose one authority over the other, thereby exposing His allegiance to the other’s chagrin. Jesus brilliantly rightly divides authority lines between what has ordained on earth and what God expectations are from His Kingdom.

-Some observations, even though they were in pretense, are noteworthy here. Jesus was said to be true to the LORD, impartial, not caring about anyone’s opinion, or swayed by their appearances. This represents His fear of His Father and His obedience to Him rather than fearing the people, which is a major Scriptural theme.

-Christ Jesus rightly gives authority its proper place. The Lord sets up governments and we are expected to follow in subjection to them to live peaceful lives in the propagation of the Gospel of the Heavenly Kingdom within the context of human institutions (Romans 12:18; 13:1-7). *Application* Whereas it is true that we must obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29), the general practice is to obey their authority as given by the Lord and work within it to do the things God has called us to. It can usually be a both/and situation as we proclaim the impartial truth of His grace and mercy in Kingdom work not fearing people or being swayed by their opinions.


Verse to Memorize- Mark 12:17

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

140. The two sons- Matt. 21:28-32


-Jesus paints a realistic picture of how people react to the message of the Kingdom of God and His righteousness using the illustration of the two sons. One began with a defiant attitude and said he would not go to work in his father’s vineyard, but he later regretted his rebellion and went and obeyed his father’s request. The other son said all the right things in the beginning with a yes sir, but he did not ever actually go and do the work in the vineyard. He lied and did not follow through on his promise before his father to pursue his will. Jesus summed it all up by saying that the tax collectors (this has significance to the writer Matthew here since he had been a tax collector himself) and prostitutes would enter the Kingdom of God before the chief priests and elders of the people (the supposed wise and spiritual leaders of the culture). He then denounced their unwillingness to believe John’s message or even feel any remorse about their plight even when they could plainly hear and see the call, whereas the tax collectors and prostitutes did and received forgiveness because of their repentance and faith (Matthew 21:32). *Application* It’s not how you start, but how you finish in the Kingdom of God. No matter what you may have done, God gives us all a chance to confess and return to Him in repentance and faith. No one is too far gone! Check out: (


Verse to Memorize- Matthew 21:32


141. The wicked husbandmen- Matt. 21:33-46, Mark 12:1-12, Luke 20:9-19


-Jesus now lays it all on the line in a parable that revealed the anti-Christ spirit of the religious leaders, which even went back to the prophets who revealed the Word of God in ages past. He compares them to rented laborers in a vineyard who were to keep the garden upright and productive. The owner went on a long journey (this depicts the distance between God holiness in Heaven and the activities on this sinful earth) and in time of harvest sent his slaves (doulos, servants, those under His command, i.e. the prophets of God) to receive his produce. They were treated harshly by rejection, beatings, stonings, and killings again and again. Afterward, he reasoned that he would send his beloved son who would surely be received, respected, and honored as an heir to the family. However, the wicked husbandmen conspired against him in an effort to seize the inheritance (a false, selfish, and wordly kingdom of this earth in Israel by the religious establishment). They took the son and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him (Matthew 21:39). The question is then asked by Jesus, what will the owner of the vineyard do when he comes to these hired vine-growers? The reply was that these wretched men will come to a wretched end and be cast out for others who are more worthy and will honor the owner. The scribes, chief priests, and Pharisees understood that Jesus was speaking of them and exclaimed, “May it never be (Luke 20:16)!” But Jesus cited Psalm 118:22-23 prophetically and added that he who falls (from pipto which also means: collapse, become invalid, be destroyed) on this stone (the chief corner stone) will be broken to pieces, and on whomever it falls (the Jewish people who trust in their leaders), it will scatter them like dust (the Jewish diaspora which happened shortly after Christ’s era basically continued until 1948 when Israel became a nation again). When the religious leaders ascertained that He was speaking of them, they sought to seize Jesus, but they feared the people because of Jesus’ popularity and their belief that He was a prophet. *Application* This remarkable parable should warn us to pay attention to the visitations of the LORD and not rely on religious leaders who have their own agendas and worldly purposes. How easy it is to be deceived and this is why Jesus’ parable is in the Scriptures in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. He wants us to be centered on Him as the Chief Corner Stone and Heir to eternal life as God’s One and Only Son. Don’t be scattered like dust yourself in this age of false teaching (2 Timothy 3:1-17; 4:3-4).


Verse to Memorize- Matthew 21:42

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

138. The grain of wheat- John 12:24-26


-Jesus explains why it is necessary for Him to die in an immediate sense (His hour had come, John 12:23), but this also has significance for us in the Christian walk. The seed analogy is used often in Scripture as an illustration of something which has died but has life in it inside which bursts forth with abundance and multiplicity (Zechariah 8:12, Matthew 13:18-32, 1 Corinthians 15:35-57, 1 Peter 1:23, 1 John 3:9) *Application* The teaching is that we must hate our life in this world (the sinful, natural man) if we want to keep our souls intact for an eternity with Him. If we love our sinful, natural, and physically temporary life we will lose it. If we are servants of the Most High, we must serve Him by laying down our lives just as Jesus did on our behalf. Where He is, there we will be also as His servants. Serving the Lord will bring His honor. Don’t you want to hear, “Well done good and faithful slave (Matthew 25:21, 23)” at the end of the journey? Die to self and live in His resurrection power!


Verse to Memorize- John 12:25


139. Jesus’ authority questioned by chief priests- Matt. 21:23-27, Mark 11:27-33, Luke 20:1-8


-As a part of the inspection process of the Lamb of God, the chief priests, scribes, and the elders confronted Jesus with questions about what authority He had to do the things He was doing (teaching, preaching the gospel, miracles, etc.) and who gave Him this authority. Jesus knew the intentions of their hearts and responded with a question of His own that revealed their hearts and at the same time actually answered their questions. He referenced the baptism of John as to whether it was from man or Heaven. They could not answer this because of their unbelief on one hand and their fear of the crowd, who regarded him as a real prophet, on the other. So they were stymied and could not answer, which gave Christ the right not to explicitly answer their questions as well. Jesus’ response did however reveal their unbelief towards the things of God and demonstrated His authority over the schemes of man (1 Corinthians 1:19-2:5). *Application* God is wiser than anything we can conceive in our finite minds. Don’t ever find yourself questioning God or His authority in your life. He has complete control and wisdom to handle any of your life situations. Never fear He is always near and will be your source of strength and wisdom in this world (Matthew 28:20).


Verse to Memorize- Luke 20:2

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

136. Fig tree with no fruit is cursed- Matt. 21:18-22, Mark 11:12-14; 19-24


-The fig tree, which is cursed, represents the unbelieving Israel that rejected her King. Even though they had an appearance of life and the potential to bear fruit, they had not produced the faith that was required to grow the Kingdom of God. Therefore, they would dry up and become unproductive in the economy of God during this time period by Jesus’ prophetic act. Mark’s gospel gives us a clearer picture of the time line of the cursing compared to the drying up of the fig tree. The act occurs, then Jesus goes into Jerusalem and drives out those who were buying and selling in the Temple overturning tables of the money changers (Mark 11:15). The “and at once the fig tree withered” that Matthew gives us in the text is relative (Matthew 21:19b). It was considered immediate because it was full of life in the time of Jesus’ hunger as they journeyed towards Jerusalem, but by the next morning, it was dried up (Mark 11:20).

-The disciples, led by the voice of Peter, were amazed at the miracle of the dried fig tree, and Jesus took the opportunity to once again teach them about faith and its power. His conclusion is that “all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you (Mark 11:24, Matthew 21:22).” *Application* What Jesus is talking about here is mountain moving faith that gets the response of Heaven. Notice that there is absolutely no room for doubting here. The man who doubts is like a ship tossed on the ocean and is double minded and unstable in all his ways (James 1:5-8). The lack of faith cost the children of Israel their righteous King for the time being. Don’t let unbelief rob you of all that God in store for you. You will bear much fruit if you abide in Him, which only comes through trusting Him (John 15:1-8, especially verse 7).


Verse to Memorize- Mark 11:24


137. Second cleansing of the Temple- Matt. 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-18, Luke 19:45-48


-Jesus is fed up with the abuse of the House of God. The money changers were profiting from the exchange rate and had impure hearts towards the worship of the Living God. Jesus sets the record straight by declaring His House as a House of Prayer for all the nations and that they had made it a den of robbers (Isaiah 56:7, Jeremiah 7:11). He overturned their tables in righteous indignation creating a powerful scene of the Lord’s fury over this matter. This drew the irritation of the religious leaders and they sought to destroy Him, but the people were hanging on every word that proceeded from His mouth and were astonished. His time was near, but it had not fully come and the chief priests and scribes were unable to find anything that they might do (Luke 19:48). Jesus was passing the test of perfection. *Application* This incident should be a warning to us in how we approach coming into the house of God at church. God’s house is to be a place where we gather in reverence and fear of His majesty with awe struck wonder and appreciation. It is a holy place of communication with Him on the vertical level and communication with other believers and guests on the horizontal level. It truly should be a place of prayer for all the nations to come and experience the glory and the power of the Almighty. Don’t minimize the importance of proper heart attitude every time you approach the house of God. Careless worship, as we see here, infuriates our Lord for good reason.


Verse to Memorize- Mark 11:17

Monday, October 15, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

133. Pharisees conspire to kill Jesus and Lazarus- John 12:9-11


-The Pharisees were fearful of the power of Jesus to take away their positions and ruin their nation (John 11:48). They conspired together to kill Him as well as the resuscitated Lazarus because of this. Many were believing in Jesus on account of the raising of Lazarus in this highly populated and prolific area. This infuriated the religious leaders as a temptation of Satan that took root in them for sin, which also ironically carried out biblical prophecy and the Lord’s plan for salvation. *Application* Once again in Scripture we see God’s ability to work through the sinfulness of man in a bad situation to bring about His plans and His purposes. The conspiracy against the Christ was designed to destroy Him and His message, but it only saved the world and provided our avenue for redemption. God always wins! Woe unto those of us that fight against Him however. If you are in the place where you are God against the flow of the Lord and His Spirit, turn around! Get on the right side of the ledger and conform to His gracious offer for salvation unto you.


Verse to Memorize- John 12:11


134. The triumphal entry to Jerusalem- Matt. 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:29-44, John 12:12-19


-This event fulfills the prophecy of the Messiah in Zechariah 9:9 made around 500 years before this occurrence. The donkey colt was a beast of burden and illustrated the burden the Lord would bear to bring us back into reconciliation with Him. Ironically, this particular type of donkey has the shape of a cross on its neck in a different hair color that reminds us to this day of this event and its significance. Jesus came humbly into the world as a baby and went to His destination in Jerusalem and to the cross in the same way; although, there were those who recognized Him and praised Him as the King that He really was. This is a magnificent moment that preceded the week of Passover in which Christ would suffer and die for the sins of the world. He accepted the crowd’s exultation and joy as a coronation of the coming Kingdom and all that it would entail. This further infuriated the Pharisees that commented that the world had gone after this Christ (John 12:19). Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem as He approached because the Lord’s visitation was not recognized for peace and troubling times were coming because of this (at the hands of the Romans, 70 AD). *Application* Recognition is an important concept to consider here as we read and meditate on this account of the King’s coming into His city at this particular time. Do we in our lives realize what is going on with what the Lord is up to in us? Are we soooo preoccupied with doing things our way that we miss the blessing that is right before us? Don’t make Jesus weep over you and your situation because you didn’t recognize His visitation in your own life. He will come and go if you don’t pay attention. He will never force His way in, but subtly intervenes giving you a chance to respond positively. Don’t miss your opportunity!


Verse to Memorize- Luke 19:42


135. Voice from heaven before the multitude- John 12:20-33


-Many were seeking out Jesus at this time even among the Greeks that were in Jerusalem wishing to see Him. Jesus’ answer is a prediction of His death and the significance of it for mankind. He is relating Kingdom truth here in His dialog when suddenly the Father speaks to Him in the manner that most took as a sound of thunder. The Voice glorifies His Name and promises to glorify it again as a sign unto the people gathered there for their sake. God pronounces judgment upon the world and proclaims that the ruler of this world is about to be cast out as Jesus draws all men to Himself as He is lifted up on the cross for a chance to be saved (John 12:31-32). *Application* Be careful not to misinterpret this passage as a proof for universalism. Jesus is not saying that everyone will be saved because of His death on the cross and resurrection. He is saying that He will “draw” (or attract) all men (John 12:32). This means that we still have a response to the gospel as it is presented. We can accept it or reject it. Rejection means an eternity spent in separation from His love and goodness. Acceptance is union with Him in His paradise when this earthly life is over. The choice should be obvious for us, right? Accept Him today and be saved by His sacrifice for you personally!


Verse to Memorize- John 12:32

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

131. The talents- Matt. 25:14-30, Luke 19:11-28


-First of all in the parable of the giving of talents we see that the Lord’s Kingdom is compared to a man who went on a journey and entrusted his possessions to his servants (doulous, slaves). Next we see that there is a distribution given out according to each’s ability but in abundance (a talent, or resource, was a great amount of money). Then we see either the produce of effort, or the squandering of opportunity by the servants. There is a “long” time before the master comes back and settles his accounts with the servants blessing the first two who produced double and chastising the one who was lazy. The disciples were near Jerusalem and thought that the Kingdom of God was going to appear immediately (Luke 19:11), but Jesus says basically that He (as the nobleman in the story) was going to be going away to receive a Kingdom for Himself and then return (Luke 19:20). The focus is on how the stewards of the kingdoms treasures use their resources to increase. The king was so hard on the man who didn’t increase because: 1) he didn’t share his master’s interest in the kingdom; 2) he didn’t trust his master’s intentions; 3) his only concern was for himself; and 4) he did nothing to use the money. *Application* Like the king of this story, God has given you gifts to use on behalf on His Kingdom. How bad do you want His Kingdom to increase? You have been given much and have the power to make a difference. So you may not have all the talents in the world, but you have been given abundant measure. Don’t squander any prospect to do God’s work and especially don’t throw your opportunity for salvation away by neglecting what Christ has done for you. He who has done more in this realm will be given even more in the Heavenly realm if they produce.


Verse to Memorize- Luke 19:12


132. Lazarus raised from the dead- John 11:1-44


-Here in the account of Jesus raising the dead man, His friend Lazarus, we see God’s power over death by resuscitation. Jesus is the resurrection and the life ultimately and anyone who believes in Him will have live even if they die physically (John 11:25-26). Jesus waited two more days in the place where He was after receiving the news that His loved one was sick, and Jesus prophesied that this sickness was not unto death but for the glory of the Lord to be revealed by it (John 11:4). The four days of death is significant in this account because by then Lazarus was officially dead according to the culture and should have begun to decompose. The Christ was moved by emotion we see, but it is unclear as to exactly what made Him weep. Was it: 1) His love for Lazarus and grief over his departure?, 2) Him realizing he was in paradise and would have to bring him back to a sinful world?, 3) His realization that many were in disbelief? Whatever the case, God performed a great miracle and Lazarus was raised back to life and a great celebration occurred with more faith (John 11:45). *Application* Jesus is the resurrection and the life and we have eternal hope in Him even when things seem desperate and out of our control. Be patient, wait on the Lord and He will reveal His glory in your life and situation. Don’t ever give up hope! He can be trusted.


Verse to Memorize- John 11:25-26

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

128. James’ and John’s request of Jesus- Matt. 20:20-28, Mark 10:35-45


-James and John, with the help of their mom as Matthew indicates, make a request of the King of kings to sit at His Right Hand in the coming Kingdom. At this time they probably were actually thinking of an earthly Kingdom as well as the Heavenly One. For them the future was unclear at this point and their understanding was darkened. Jesus takes the opportunity to do further teaching on servitude and what it really takes to be great in the eyes of God. A couple of things we should take note of here in the text. First, Jesus pointedly asked them if they would be willing to drink of the same cup, or be baptized (immersed), with which He was about to drink. *Application* When Jesus tells us to take up our own cross, He is being quite literal and expects us to endure the same type or types of persecution He also endured (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23). James would be killed in Jerusalem for the gospel’s sake under cruel hands (Acts 12:1-2) and John would live a long life fraught with danger and imprisonments for the sake of Christ Jesus his Lord (Revelation 1:9). They followed through on their word and remained faithful to the call no matter what the cost. So should we.

-Secondly, the manner of which we lead is important. Jesus taught His disciples that they were not to lead in the manner of the world (Gentiles, great men of the earth). Instead, they were to lead as servants from the bottom up. Jesus makes the fact clear that this was His chosen method of leadership and He expected the same from His followers. “Whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave (doulos, Matthew 20:27, Mark 10:44).” *Application* Jesus came to serve, not to be served in selfish adulation and neither should we. This request for authority made the other disciples indignant and it is interesting that Jesus did not rebuke them for their ire. We see the extent of Christ’s sacrifice delineated here as He teaches. He gives us example by obedience to the Father in all things pertaining to authority and gives up His rights without question or complaint. This is intended for us as well as the disciples we read about here. Are you frustrated with the place God has chosen for you in this world? Could this possibly be a test to see where your heart is and how much you have come into conformity to His will rather than your own? We must humbly submit to His authority in our lives and serve others with a pure heart if we are to be “great” in the Kingdom of God. This is the way of the LORD and it behooves us to accept it.


Verses to Memorize- Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45


129. Healing of blind Bartimaeus- Matt. 20:29-34, Mark 10:46-52, Luke 18:36-43


-Now leaving Jericho, which near the Jordan River Valley just north of the Dead Sea, Jesus encounters a blind man named Bartimaeus, and another blind man as Matthew points out, as a large crowd was following Him. They were persistent and undeterred by the stern warning from the crowd to shut it up with their praise of recognition (calling Him the Son of David) and requests for mercy. Jesus was moved with compassion for them and asks the question, “What do you want Me to do for you (Matthew 20:32, Mark 10:51, Luke 18:41)?” The answer should have been obvious, but the matter of being specific is emphasized here. *Application* Often the Lord wants us to absolutely specific in what we ask for. We have not many times because we ask not and with the wrong motives (James 1:5; 4:2-3). His Spirit will let you know when to ask specifically just as Jesus physically asked the question to Bartimaeus. Also, it is good practice to make people who are asking for prayer from you to be specific. You want them to identify their needs to you so that you know exactly how to pray. This is a communication issue and the Lord directs us here to be clear in it.

-Jesus heals them because of their faith we find out in the text (Mark 10:52, Luke 18:42). This caused quite a stir as you can imagine as the men and the crowd became excited and glorified the Lord! *Application* The Lord is still in the business of performing miracles today when He finds faith and specific requests. Go to the Lord and persistently cry out for His mercy and goodness on all of your needs. He will supply according to His riches in Heaven (Philippians 4:19).


Verse to Memorize- Luke 18:42


130. Zacchaeus- Luke 19:2-10


-Luke recounts a tremendous event in the town of Jericho as Jesus was passing through that no other gospel writer takes notice of. Zacchaeus, a man small in stature but rich with ill gotten wealth as a chief tax collector, wanted to see this Jesus who was coming through his area. Christ’s reputation must have been immense as we see here by the interest generated by His arrival and Zacchaeus climbs a sycamore tree in order to be able to see Him pass by. When Jesus gets to Zacchaeus’ spot on the path, He, having all knowledge, looks up and asks him to come down in a hurry for He must stay at his house that day (Luke 19:5). Notice that Zacchaeus immediately came down in obedience and received Jesus gladly (Luke 19:6). This is the response Jesus loves as we have noted in other accounts when the call to follow that He places on His disciples is made (Matthew 4:18-22; 9:9). *Application* Our response to the call of Jesus on our lives is paramount. His desire is for us to trust Him in all things and in all ways without questioning and without doubting. He wants an immediate positive response and will go on without you as He did with the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18-27) when you waffle or say no. Always say “yes!” to Jesus.

-The disdain for the sinner by the crowd is next noted by the author in this story. Jesus was not swayed by their opinion. He saw the heart of Zacchaeus and the potential this man had for salvation and good works. Jesus made association with a sinner to bring him into the Kingdom of God and goes into his house as a guest for the purpose of life change (transformation, reconciliation, exchange). Christ Jesus became Zacchaeus’ Lord and it radically changed his posture toward life as we see from his commitments to the poor and those he had defrauded (Luke 19:8). The comment Jesus makes at the end of the section says it all, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost (Luke 19:10).” *Application* Are we recognizing our opportunities to find Zacchaeus like people in our personal lives? Seek them out; look high and low, to the left and right. They are all around us, lost and afraid in a world of hurt and sin looking for the answer to all their questions. Don’t be too busy or too preoccupied by other, mundane, things to notice those who need Christ around you. He who wins souls is wise (Proverbs 11:30). Share the good news of a life in Christ Jesus!


Verse to Memorize- Luke 19:10

Friday, October 12, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

125. Workers in the vineyard- Matt. 20:1-16


-Jesus yet another parable to instruct on what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. It is like a labor situation where the helpers are called at various parts of the day with each one agreeing to go and work the field but at different times and with different workloads. The same wage is generously given at the end of the day to those who came in late when asked and beckoned. However, this caused jealousy and envy with those who had carried the burden in the scorching heat of the day. The owner (God) has the right to do what He wishes with His own and we should not be envious when He is generous. *Application* Often times the inequity we perceive may be the generosity of one rather than unfairness. When we agree to do the work the Lord has sent us out to do, the worst thing we can do is become complainers and envious of others (Philippians 2:14). The last shall be first, and the first last (Matthew 20:16).


Verse to Memorize- Matthew 20:15


126. Jesus’ death foretold on the way to Jerusalem- Matt. 20:17-19, Mark 10:32-34, Luke 18:31-34


-Now on the final approach to Jerusalem Jesus again prepares His disciples for what is about to happen. He prophecies, specifically to His 12 disciples who He takes aside privately, His deliverance into the hands of the chief priests, scribes, and the Gentiles for condemnation, mocking, spitting on, scourging, and death on the cross. He also predicted His resurrection on the third day. The disciples understood none of these things as to what they meant because it was hidden from them. Their comprehension was simply not there (Luke 18:34). *Application* Sometimes the truth is right before us and we let it pass us by without understanding. Ask the Lord to open your eyes and hears to the truths that He is trying to communicate to you each and every day. Later, after these events of Christ’s passion and as these apostles reflected with the Holy Spirit breathing understanding and revelation on them (2 Peter 1:21), they wrote of this occurrence with complete knowledge. Only through His Spirit can we comprehend the things of God. He is the One who brings clarity to any situation.


Verses to Memorize- Matthew 20:18-19


127. The master and servant- Luke 17:7-10


-Jesus speaks on servant hood here in this brief exposé. The master does not necessarily have to thank the slave for his work because he is doing exactly as he is commanded and expected. He will receive the reward in the end, but the focus is on doing the task that he has been given as an unworthy vessel who is doing only that which ought to be done. *Application* We see that having the right heart attitude in Christ’s service is vital to His favor here in this passage. He is the Master and we are His slaves just as the disciples and apostles. All of them referenced themselves as a doulos, or slave, practically every time they introduced themselves in Scripture. How much more should we die to ourselves and serve His glory? Trust Him in all the difficult things He requires of you for great will be your reward in Heaven (Hebrews 12:2).


Verse to Memorize- Luke 17:10