Dogs At The Table

Dogs at the Table

Daily Reading: (Matthew 15:25-28):

“The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

In this text Jesus is telling this woman to stop pretending to be someone you’re not. Because if you keep pretending to be someone else you won’t be able to receive the help you need most.

A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”Jesus did not answer a word (Matthew 15:22-23).

Many people don’t understand why Jesus would ignore this woman who was in great need. Jesus’ response was purposeful and powerful and it produced the faith she needed to receive the salvation she sought.

So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

The Law says in Deuteronomy 7:2-3: “And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them.”

So the disciples response is Law based and should come as no surprise but in the end, she is in the presence of grace and the voice of grace will deal completely differently with this Canaanite woman in need of help.

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment (Matthew 15:24-28).

The takeaway of the story of the Canaanite woman is for us to come as we are to the Lord with our need. Lean on His unfailing and unconditional love for you. You don’t have to pretend to be more than you are to receive the blessing you need from God. And you don’t have to pretend to be someone else to appear more deserving to receive from God. It is not the cleverness of our prayers or the accomplishments that we have made that gives us an audience with God. Simply come to God in all honesty with your need. Lean into Jesus to receive His unconditional love for you, come boldly because Jesus is our High Priest, and be ready to receive grace in our time of need.

A Canaanite woman who is desperately seeking healing for her demon-possessed daughter came to Jesus (see Matthew 15:22–28) the first part is great. The problem is in how she came to Jesus, this is where the train comes off the tracks. Knowing that He healed and did miracles among the Jews, she pretended to be a Jew, calling out, “O Lord, Son of David!” Only the Jews addressed Jesus as the “Son of David.”Yet this Canaanite woman used that term to appear as though she was also a Jew. She believed Jesus would refuse to heal her daughter because they were not Jews.

“Jesus did not answer her.” The purpose for His silence was to lead her to drop her pretense and cry out, “Lord, help me” (Matthew 15:23,25)! Only when her pretenses had melted away did she see the grace of God extended to her, that He is willing and wanting to help and heal her Canaanite daughter. Jesus is so good that what He actually did here is that He made a way for her to receive her miracle even though it was not yet time for the Gentiles to receive His blessings.

We have a cultural difference that Jesus capitalizes on, to the Jews at this time- dogs were dirty, unpleasant, beasts. The woman immersed in Greek culture gave her an appreciation of the positive qualities of dogs. Only a Gentile, perhaps only a Greek influenced one, could have spoken the memorable words about dogs eating the scraps under the table, for no Jew would have allowed dogs to be there. So, Jesus uses her own culture as an aid to lead her to the place to receive salvation for her daughter (Matthew 15:26-27).

This woman’s faith is incredible, because she sees something here, she sees grace. Look at the transformation, “even if I am a puppy and not a Jew, I am close enough to receive from the Master.” I know if I get close enough to Jesus, I could receive healing for my daughter because even puppies get to eat what falls from their masters’ table. When the Canaanite woman took her place by dropping the title “Son of David” and just leaned on Jesus’ compassion for her, her daughter was healed.

Come as you are to God your Father and lean on His grace. If He has delivered Jesus up for us, “how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). Jesus does not want anyone to come to Him in falseness, pretending to be something they are not. He wants us to come as we are, in whatever our condition is. Only when we are honest with ourselves, He can come rescue us for “when we are weak, He is strong”.

Pigs and Pearls

Pigs and Pearls

Daily Reading: (Matthew 7:6):

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

To understand the meaning of these words of Jesus we have to look at the context to bring clarity to our understanding.

So, let’s look at verses 1-5 for some more context.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5).

The clear context leading into our verse is the statement not to judge others. What becomes confusing is the very next thing Jesus says would appear to have us make a judgment of others. “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.” What is important to know is that the mention of dogs and pigs throughout the Bible is used to speak of non-believers. This seems not only to be a complete contradiction to what we just saw in verses 1–5, it also seems to go against many other places where Jesus seems to be saying, “take the Gospel to everyone.” 

Imagine you have animals in your care, like pigs and dogs. You give them something which is very, very valuable, but it’s something they cannot digest. What Jesus is saying is, “don’t be surprised if they attack you. Don’t be surprised if they turn on you.”

The pig is expecting corn husks but in comes a pearl. Of course, the pearl has a value. It’s immeasurably more valuable than a corn husk, but the pig doesn’t have the ability to either perceive or assess that value.
What does this tells us? These animals are acting in accordance with their nature. Matthew 7:6 is about spiritual reality. What is a human being like without eternal life? A human being without eternal life looks at the holiness of God and says, “So what am I supposed to do with that?

That’s the difference between a human being with eternal life and a human being without. To have eternal life means you sense the awesome holiness of God and the sweet grace of Jesus Christ. You understand the astonishing death for us on the cross. You recognize the eternal value of the human soul, that God would give such a great price to rescue and redeem us. The dogs and the swine do not have the ability to take in spiritual truth so don’t be surprised if they attack you for it.  

In Matthew 7 Jesus is talking about human nature without eternal life. How do we move beyond being a dog or a pig, spiritually speaking? How does that happen? The answer comes with the pearl. The pearl is the Gospel of the Kingdom. It’s the good-news message of repentance, redemption, and restoration offered by God to all who will receive Christ.That’s the gospel of the kingdom. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:45-46).

The dog and the pig want to know, “does the pearl, does the Gospel of the Kingdom fill my belly? Does it make me popular? Does it build me a social media following? The message of the Gospel is that Jesus is all you need. He is your success. The beauty in the connection Matthew 7 has with Matthew 13 is the change in the way the man looks at the pearl compared to how the pig looks at it. The pig says, “Will the pearl enable me to get more of what I have?” However, the man gets rid of all he has to get the pearl.

Two utterly different approaches. The pig asks, “Is Jesus useful?” The man sees Jesus is beautiful. The pig tramples the pearl under foot, the man sells all he has because He perceives the value of the pearl. The man responds favorably to the Gospel.


Sparrows and Ravens

Sparrows and Ravens

Daily Reading: (Luke 12:6-7,24):

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.”Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

“Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!”

One of the most enjoyable activities for me is to watch birds come and eat out of a bird feeder. Taking care of God’s beautiful creation is part of what you and I were created to do and it can be so rewarding. As I was looking out at the bird feeder, the Holy Spirit reminded me that even in a difficult time in our life, God will care for me as He does even the birds.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.” Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7).

Sparrows were a very cheap bird to be bought in Israel. You could get for one penny two sparrows, while for two you could get five. What a deal!  Adam Clarke Commentary said: “yet even it, so valueless, was not forgotten of God.”

“Not forgotten by God,” the word forgotten (epilanthanomai) can mean to forget but an even richer definition of the word is not cared for. Worry stems from forgetting about, not being mindful of, or doubting God’s care for you (Luke 12:6). Another way to say it is when you receive God’s love, when you wrap yourself in it, the things that trouble you will leave (1 John 4:18). That is why the next verse, Jesus tells us to “fear not” (phobeō). You could have a phobia of a lot of things- but gaze out at the bird feeder at those tiny little birds getting their needs met and remember God has promised to do the same for you. A skeptic would say, “well you are the one caring for the needs of the little birds, what does God have to do with it?” Do you not think that God worked on my heart to be mindful of the birds? God gave me the mind to think of them, the resources to purchase the food, and my reward was the joy of seeing the birds be feed through the provision of what God has given to me, bird seed. As I view the birds being fed, I can think,” how much more valuable am I to God?” I used my resources to assist the birds because I believe in the promise that God will meet my needs. And I can use my resources to help others because I believe God’s supply doesn’t dry up.

Later in the same chapter we move to another bird, the ravens.

“Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds” (Luke 12:24)!

Maybe today as we consider the ravens and we consider the sparrows, believers and non-believers alike might see God’s care for them. For the believer their trust in God will grow and for the non-believer their restored relationship with God might begin. Consider the ravens how they don’t have to plan, they just go about their lives and know that what they need will be there.

So how does prayer fit in if God already knows you need something but you don’t seem to have it and now you are worried about it? This is an excellent question where the answer is directly in the text. “But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” Prayer will focus our hearts on the Kingdom (Luke 12:31). When we know that God knows what we need and has promised to supply it, we will use what we have for the Kingdom.

Remember the raven and the sparrow have little monetary value, yet God cares for them. How much more valuable are you to God? Have confidence that your loving Heavenly Father will care for your needs. This will free us from worry. As we put our minds on the Kingdom we are enabled to live lives of generosity, storing up for ourselves treasures in heaven.

Consider the Ant

Consider the Ant

Daily Reading: (Proverbs 6:6-8):

“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!It has no commander, no overseer or ruler,yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” (Proverbs 6:6-8).

Did you know that Scripture tells us to consider the ants (Proverbs 6:6-8)?Take a moment and marvel at how incredible they truly are. Here are some amazing ant facts:

  • There are more than 12,000 species of ants all over the world.
  • An ant can lift 20 times its own body weight.
  • Some queen ants can live for many years and have millions of babies!
  • Ants don’t have ears. Ants “hear” by feeling vibrations in the ground through their feet.
  • When ants fight, it is usually to the death!
  • When foraging, ants leave a pheromone trail so that they know where they’ve been.
  • Ants don’t have lungs. Oxygen enters through tiny holes all over the body and carbon dioxide leaves through the same holes.[1]

Proverbs 6 shows us how God views these amazing creatures He has made.  

“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!What is a sluggard anyway? In the Hebrew the word (atsel) means sluggish or lazy.  When it comes to the provisions of God don’t be lazy, look all around you, see it, take hold of it, and use it to prepare you for the seasons ahead (Proverbs 6:6-8).

The text says, “It has no commander,no overseer or ruler.”This reminded me of another verse in Scripture: “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23). Be like the ant. If you are working for the Lord, oh the things you can accomplish, oh the obstacles you can overcome (Colossians 3:23).

Even the mundane tasks at work, do it as unto the Lord. You will receive your reward from the Lord, not your boss. When you do it unto the Lord, He sees and rewards. Jesus said in Luke 16:10, whoever is faithful with very little will also be faithful with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Matthew 25:21: “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master!’” I believe those who are diligent like the ant with their time on earth are going to be entrusted to an awful lot of great stuff in heaven. What joy!

The text tells us that if we consider the ways of the ants, we would be wise (Proverbs 6:6) The ant is diligent and has initiative. It knows that it has to consistently prepare for the future. It doesn’t procrastinate or wait until the last minute to prepare its provisions. That’s the practical life wisdom we can learn from the ant. The provisions God has given you today, how super abundantly blessed we are, (taking care of our needs) also propel us forward into what plans He wants to accomplished in and through us. God’s supply doesn’t run out, it is consistent and constant and like the ant we should be diligent in spending time with our Savior receiving from Him so we are prepared to move forward by faith into the prosperous path He is leading us forward in.


[1] Ants: Fun Facts About Ants & Ant Information For Kids. https://www.pestworldforkids.org/pest-guide/ants/

Jesus’ Love

Daily Reading: (John 11:34-36):

“Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept.Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him” (John 11:34-36).

It is healthy to cry when a loved one passes as we are following Jesus’ example. It isn’t that we are forgetting the Resurrection, but we are moved like Jesus by the love that we have for the one who has passed. Even before Jesus would die on the cross, we are told who He is and what He can do. However, some Christians will take the Martha approach in this story.

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (John 11:21-24).  Martha believes Jesus will work a miracle in the future (in the Resurrection) but has doubt that God wants to work a miracle for her today. God wants us to know that He is still the God of miracles today. Jesus wants you to know what He told Martha that day: “I am the resurrection and the life.” We realize that the Resurrection wasn’t something Jesus did but it is who He is.

By the time Jesus arrived on the scene, Lazarus had already been dead for four days. Martha thought that Jesus was four days too late. That is why she said, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21). Lord if you would have acted sooner in my situation then I wouldn’t be where I am at today. She did not believe that the “I Am” was there to meet her present need. Today, God stands at the point of your need. What miracle do you need from Him? Believe that He is still the same miracle-working God today. Believe that you will see the glory of God, that is what Jesus says in verse 40.

“Father, I thank You,” is what Jesus said in the most dire of all situations. If thanksgiving can raise the dead (verse 41), then let us give thanks in all things so we might experience God’s victory in our lives. Unfortunately, the human tendency is to murmur and complain and not give thanks in all things. Complaining magnifies the problem, whereas thanksgiving pleases God because it magnifies Him. We should thank God that He is our answer and that He has already given every blessing to us (Ephesians 1:3)

Three different times Jesus’ love for Lazarus is questioned. What we learn from this is that the enemy will use circumstances to try to get you to doubt God’s love for you.

First was Martha in verses 20–21. The second person to confront Jesus was Mary inverse 32: “Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” The third group was the mourners in verses 36–37: “So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?’”

Jesus’ timing was always perfect. Why Jesus were you four days late? Four days is key to understanding the timing of the glory. The Jews say, that “for three days the soul goes to the grave, thinking the body may return (Job 14:22).” On the fourth day there is no coming back from death. The odor also proved that this was no magic trick or that that Lazarus might have just come out of a coma. Jesus arrived four days after Lazarus died so they might “see the glory of God” (John 11:40). Physical death was not the end for Lazarus or any other believer because Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life.

Who Are You Following?

Who Are You Following?

Daily Reading: (Luke 6:39):

He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?”

Following someone today doesn’t mean the same thing it did back some 2,000 years ago. With a click of a button, we follow lots of people on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok etc… Who you followed in Jesus’ day was way more involved. “In the first-century Jewish world, being a disciple/ follower was all about one key word:imitation.When a disciple followed a rabbi, the goal wasn’t merely to master the rabbi’s teachings, but also to imitate the way he lived: how he prayed, studied, taught, served the poor and lived out his relationship with God day to day. Following a rabbi meant living with the rabbi, sharing meals with him, praying with him, studying with him and taking part in the rabbi’s daily life. A rabbi’s life was meant to be a living example of someone who was shaped by God’s word. Disciples, therefore, studied not just the text of Scripture but also the “text” of the rabbi’s life.”[1]

This is why Jesus didn’t simply ask His disciples to listen to His preaching in the synagogues. He said “Come and follow me”.

In today’s text Jesus warns about how those we follow can have a dramatic impact on the path we are led down. Let’s put up our text see what I mean and then we will work back from it.

He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit (Luke 6:39)?

One of my favorite stories I like to share happened in the jungle in Grenada as I went on a Hash House Harrier trek. When we started our adventure of trying to find our way through the jungle to the finish line, a group of people decided to follow me as their guide to the end. To make a long story short, we almost fell into a pit. The idea that many people who were native to the island, would follow me to lead them out of the jungle was absolutely crazy. Why are you following me? God is so good, He gave me wisdom and somehow I found the paper trail that was hidden that led us to the right path. If you know me, you know that was a miracle. The beauty was in the simplicity that I knew my own limitations and it worked out because people followed my lead as I prayed and followed God’s lead. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

The pit that Jesus is talking about is not a literal cliff or pit but a destructive path that leads to ultimately the pit of hell. Jesus is talking about the spiritually blind leading others who are spiritually blind. They don’t know the path to life so they can only lead others down the wrong path (Luke 6:39).

The way to righteousness lies in finding not other people’s sins, but our own. We will miss the path to life, Jesus Christ if we never come to the end of ourselves and see our own depravity. And when we begin to follow Jesus, we will imitate His life as ours. We do not judge. We do not condemn. We instead forgive and we give. This is walking with spiritual sight toward your fellow man. You can see the needs of others and help guide them to the path of life. You do this and you’ll experience the One who has given you everything good that you have, pour so much blessing into your life it will overflow. So much you won’t be able to contain it because the real overflowing blessing is found when we will bless others with Christ (Luke 6:38).

“The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher” (Luke 6:40). The question becomes who do you want to be like? If you want to be the best cake designer in the world it would help to have Duff Goldman as your teacher. Spent time with Duff. If you want to improve your golf game, you might want to hang around a PGA Pro. But if you want to live your life supernaturally where you don’t judge others, you forgive and you give, spend time with Jesus Christ.

God is strengthening you, perfect, whole, complete and as you ought to be. His desire is that we will be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18). We imitate or reflect Jesus as we do not judge, as we do not bring condemnation unto others, and we instead forgive and we give and we love. The incredible thing is as we follow Jesus and live as He lived, it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. So, we can now be givers. Blessed to be a blessing. When we give out of good motive to advance God’s Kingdom, we will receive overflowing blessings in return.


[1] Focusequip.org

I’m Not a Punching Bag

I’m Not a Punching Bag

Daily Reading: (Luke 6:29a):

“If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also.”

As we go to Luke 6:17 we learn who Jesus is talking to when He tells the crowd to turn the other cheek. “He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon.” People who were from Tyre and Sidon were Phoenician. Culturally, the Phoenicians were Canaanites and spoke a variation of the Canaanite language and worshipped variations of the same gods as the Canaanite people in Israel. The most commonly worshipped god was the fertility god referred to as “Baal”. The Romans took the ruined city as a colony in 64 BCE, when Pompey annexed the whole of Phoenicia to the Roman Empire. Tyre was re-built under the Romans. This will be key to know as we continue in the text.

The motive of the people of the large crowd is recording in the next verse, verse eighteen: “who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases.”

Jesus makes this profound statement about turning the other cheek to the people of Judea, Jerusalem, and the Roman colony of Tyre and Sidon that has Phoenician heritage. Now if we skip down between verse twenty-six and twenty-seven there is a sub-header inserted that says, “Love for enemies.”This is where we are led to the answer as to why did Jesus say something that sounded so outlandish in Luke 6:29. To come to our answer let’s consider who were the enemies of the audience that were gathered together? Each other. Jews and Phoenicians/Canaanites or Romans take your pick. But here they are gathered together to hear Jesus and receive physical salvation. “Love your enemies” goes beyond ethnic divide here because what Jesus is talking about is that if you are a Jew and you follow Jesus, you won’t just receive this harsh treatment from the Romans you will also receive some of it from a fellow Jew.

“If someone slaps your cheek” does not refer to physical injury, but to insults and indignity. In Jewish culture, the greatest insult, the most demeaning action possible, was a slap on the cheek. It was a deliberate gesture of disrespect. This was the way Jewish synagogue leaders put people out of synagogue – especially Jews who had converted to Christianity. So the slap on the cheek refers to receiving a deep insult. Turning the other cheek means that when you are severely insulted, you don’t trade insults.

Jesus gave us this example in 1 Peter 2:23: “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate.” That’s why Peter would say in 1 Peter 3:9, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.” Turn the other check simple means that when you are insulted, turn the other cheek or don’t repay evil with evil, insult with insult.

Love Your Enemies

Love Your Enemies

Daily Reading: (Matthew 5:44):

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

In the minds of the original audience there would have been no problem to identify an enemy. They probably turned their heads and glanced off in the distance and set their gaze upon some Roman soldiers. Their homelands had been invaded by the Romans. The Romans still allowed worship, they just charged a Jewish tax to do so. So, imagine you just heard Jesus’ words. “Pray for your enemies,” and the next day you are going to the Temple to worship, but before you can worship you have to pay tax to the Romans to do so. Now, go ahead and pray for those people who just taxed you to pray.

If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles” (Matthew 5:41). Rome had passed a law where a Roman could force any Jew, at any time, to carry their belongings a mile down the road. We see an example of this in Jesus crucifixion scene. Roman soldiers pressed Simon of Cyrene into service of carrying Jesus’ cross (Matthew 27:32).

What Jesus said is the opposite of what the multitudes had expected to hear from their Messiah. Our Messiah should bring us freedom by destroying our enemies, not having us love and pray for them. 

Oswald Chambers said, “The Sermon on the Mount is not an ideal, it is a statement of what will happen in me when Jesus Christ has altered my disposition and put in a disposition like His own.Jesus Christ is the only One who can fulfill the Sermon on the Mount.”

It’s a crazy way of living that Christ was describing to them. It was something they really hadn’t thought of before. It was an impossible way to live. When we come to our text, don’t hate your enemies, love your enemies and pray for them. Don’t get even, forgive people, even when they don’t deserve it, even when they don’t ask for it. It is backwards to how we feel and to what we want to do. The Jews didn’t want to live in the first mile of servitude to the Romans, let alone the second.

Prayer for your enemies is one of the deepest forms of love, because it means that you have to really want something good to happen to someone who doesn’t necessarily deserve it. This is unconditional love. The kind of love that Jesus displayed as He hung on the cross:

“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

And it’s what Stephen did the first Christian martyr as he was being stoned to death for his faith:

“Falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60)!

I know we aren’t being forced to carry military supplies a mile for a foreign army. So, practically speaking how we live out Matthew 5:41 “willing to go the extra mile” is possible as we spend time with Jesus, allowing His love, grace, and forgiveness to flow from us.

Colossians 3:12-13:“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Christ is our example for all of this. The good news is that Jesus loves us at our worst and His love changes us.

The Sermon on the Mount and the command to love our enemies comes from the great foundation of grace in the life and teaching of Jesus. This is where we get the power to love; that he loved us while we were poor, helpless enemies of God (Romans 5:10), He gave himself for us.

Don’t Stay Thirsty

Don’t Stay Thirsty

Daily Reading: (John 4:13-14):

“Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Christianity is not an exclusive religion. This is so clear to everyone who listens to Jesus’ words because salvation is offered to any who will drink. This would have been scandalous in the first century what Jesus did. Because if you back up the story a bit Jesus is talking to a woman and not just any woman, a Samaritan woman. “The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”(For Jews do not associate with Samaritans”(John 4:9).

Jesus showed how true it is that God does not show favoritism (Acts 10:34).  In fact, God so loved the Samaritans, a despised half Jew half Gentile group of people that at the height of Jesus’ surging popularity God sent Him away from the crowds for the One Samaritan woman. It is a beautiful illustration of our Shepherd leaving behind the 99 for the one lost sheep. 

“Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.Now he had to go through Samaria” (John 4:1-4).

The route Jesus took was not necessary. Samaria was between Judea and Galilee. The direct and usual way was to pass through Samaria. Sometimes, however, the Jews took a detour route on the east side of the Jordan. Because they hated Samaria that much. See Matthew 2:22. “Had to go” through Samaria is speaking of a divine leading not an only route option. “He had to” is the Greek word (dei) which means must or it is necessary, there is need of. Jesus went through Samaria where He left the gaining popularity behind because there is one unpopular person who needed His salvation.

“So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon” (John 4:5-6).

This is a historical site from the Old Testament. Jesus is at a monument, not just any monument, a monument mentioned in Genesis 33:19. The promise of the blessing (Jesus) has arrived at the altar dedicated to the covenant keeping God of Israel who has promised to bless the world through the Messianic lineage (Genesis 33:19-20, John 4:5).

“When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink” (John 4:7)? This is an invitation to friendship. When Jesus asks the Samaritan woman for a drink, it is asking culturally if she will enter into a (saving) relationship with Him? The Gospel just seems too good to be true and we see this in her response, “How can you ask me for a drink?” You can’t possibly want to have anything to do with me. How could God love me?  Because I know what I have done. I know me. And the remarkable message of the Gospel is that God knows you better than you know yourself and He thought you were worth dying for. Jesus’ invitation is a life altering one of friendship- of salvation, everlasting life, a new life, a clean whole and righteous life before God.

This woman was searching for love in all the wrong places. She was drawing her self-worth from the wrong well. She kept going back to the relationship well and it never satisfied her soul. She remained thirsty. This brings us to the two verses we start with:Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman has encountered Jesus but is still living from her past instead of focusing on what is before her in the present, an opportunity for salvation and a new identity that brings new life. The genius of Jesus is that he meets every one of us at our point of need. The self-righteous need the law to expose their need for a Savior, what the hurting need is grace. The lost and hurting people of the world need a revelation of God our Father who loves us and does not treat us as our sins deserve as we receive the gift of His Son. When the woman finally sees Jesus for who He is her entire life changes.  

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he” (John 4:25-26). We find that the very reason for being at the well (to have her jug to be filled with water) is left behind. Her spiritual jug has been filled and is overflowing with living water and she has to let people know. ” Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people,“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him” (John 4:28-30). The woman who went to the well to avoid everyone is now seeking everyone out with the good news of Jesus Christ (John 4:28-29). That’s what grace does. The crowd that ridiculed you and tried to condemn you are the same ones you are now racing after with a message of hope.

My prayer is that those whose lives have been transformed by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ will respond in the same way as the woman at the well. Maybe there is someone the Lord is placing on your heart today that could use a message of hope. Would you introduce them to Jesus so they might never thirst again?

You Can’t Hang on the Law

Daily Reading: (Matthew 22:37-39):

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

What prompted Jesus’ reply? We learn in Matthew 22:34 that “Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together to tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

So, to begin with we have to back it up even further and see how Jesus silenced the Sadducees and why that might have embolden the Pharisees to ask Jesus a question as well?

It all starts in Matthew 22:23: “That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question.” We are presented with a hypothetical from the Sadducees, in an attempt to try and argue their belief system of why there can be no such thing as the Resurrection.

Because they don’t believe in the Resurrection (Matthew 22:23)they use a hypothetical situation of a woman having seven different husbands to show how messy it might be in the Resurrection, “whose wife will she be?”

It is important to notice that if there was no Resurrection, death would still have victory over us and we would all remain dead as a result of our sins, so what would the point of this argument even be (Matthew 22:23)? We’d all be in our graves.

So, Jesus says not only is the Resurrection real but….

At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30).

What you might not know is that not only did the Sadducees not believe in the Resurrection they also didn’t believe in angels (Matthew 22:30).

“But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

Did you catch that? God is referred to by both Sadducees and Pharisees as the “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”. All three of those men are dead, yet God is the “God of the living”, so they must have been resurrected to life (Matthew 22:32).

So now the Pharisees have a question. “Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

This question (Matthew 22:35) was founded on the false opinion that there are relative rankings of importance among God’s commandments. All of God’s commands are important, but they all have the common denominator of love. The law of the land was the law of love. But think about this we don’t need all 613 of them for us to be shown up. Have you ever done these two perfectly all the time?

I think maybe the most important part of what Jesus said is actually the last part and that is the part that is often ignored: “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The word “hang” (kremannymi) is the same word used for “one hanging upon a cross.”

You can’t hang on the Law. Some people try to. The only one who can hang on the Law must be blameless and pure. His name is Jesus. Jesus sums up the entirety of the law with 2 Commandments that we all went 0 for 2. We failed at following the Law. So, Jesus hung our law failings on Himself so that we might be given His life and truly live.