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. 

This Little Light of Mine

Daily Reading: (John 8:12):

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Something incredible just happened if you will go back and place yourself at the exact location of where Jesus spoke these words. We do as we focus on verses 2-4.

“At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery” (John 8:2-4).

The Court of the Women is the place where Jesus proclaimed that He is the light of the whole world.

The timing of this proclamation was during the Feast of Tabernacles. Which meant there was a brilliant menorah/candelabra that was lit. The candelabra provided light throughout the entirety of the Court. There was a great ceremony called the “Illumination of the Temple,” which involved the ritual lighting of four golden oil-fed lamps in the Court of Women. These lamps were huge menorahs/candelabras (seventy-five feet high). The reason they would light the candelabra was to remind God’s people of the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night that guided His people in the wilderness.

Here in one of the three most holy festivals Jesus pronounces that He is God. As God was with His people in the Exodus, Jesus is the Light of the World, tabernacling among His people now.

“When Jesus spoke again to the people,”the Greek word for “again” is (autos) and it means the same. So, if Jesus is speaking to the same people, they must have witnessed and heard something before the “I am the Light of the World” statement. In verse 3 a woman who was caught in adultery was brought before Jesus with the Pharisees (religious leaders) wanting to have her executed by stoning her to death. Have you ever wondered where is the guy who was involved in the same act?

When Jesus walked the earth, gender inequality was so entrenched in Jewish society that an adulteress could be stoned without trial and men could divorce their wives for virtually any reason. Some of the religious leaders taught that women were ignorant and that there was no point teaching them because they had weak minds. Then along came Jesus.

The Law states this woman could be killed for her adulterous actions. What does Jesus do? Jesus says: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7).If you want to bring her sins in front of everyone you religious leaders, how about we take a second and talk about yours first. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you” (John 8:10)?

What is so beautiful about this is the light of the world clearly is not there to expose our sins because that is not what Jesus did with the woman caught in adultery. Jesus is the Light that brings the lost out of darkness. Jesus’ light exposes our perfection in Him and unveils the truth that our sins have been completely removed.

This tells us that we don’t have to be fearful when we come into God’s presence. He is not there waiting to punish us for our mistakes and failures. His light is not for exposing our sins and shame, or for condemning us. No, Jesus’ glorious light (John 8:12) shows us how perfectly His blood has washed away our sins (John 8:10/1 John 1:7)! That is why Jesus could tell the woman that He did not condemn her—because He would be condemned for her at the cross.

“Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12b).

If you have lived long enough you probably have been a part of a remodeling project of some kind. What is amazing to me is the minute you redo one part of your house everything else stands out that needs to be redone. What has become beautiful has the opportunity to impact what is around it. What is beautiful can lead to what is near being redone and completely changed. Jesus, the light of the world, lifts us up and gives us a confident expectation of good even in our darkest hour. As we let our light shine before others, they may see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven.

Jesus said, “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” “Follows Me” it really isn’t the best translation from the Greek to English. “Follows” means whoever becomes my disciple. Because it isn’t that when we mess up or we make a mistake that God leaves us in the dark. Whoever is a disciple of Jesus will not pass one’s life in darkness or you won’t live your life having a want of light but will have the light always. It means as a believer in Jesus Christ you possess the Light of Life. In the darkness of the world, our lives are really able to contrast that darkness and bring forth the Light of the World. It gives those who are walking round in darkness an introduction to the Light of the World, and if they will receive the Light (Jesus Christ) they will never be in the dark anymore.

As a Man Thinks…

Daily Reading: (Proverbs 23:7): “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.”   

What you think has a great bearing on what you do. However, Proverbs 23:7 is not saying that you are what you think.

Think positive thoughts, make positive confessions and you’ll become a positive person. Whatever your focus on the inside is, will become the reality on the outside. Thoughts shape destinies. Of course, there’s truth to all of those sayings, however, this is not what Solomon had in mind when he wrote Proverbs 23:7. Solomon is referring to a specific kind of person in verse seven. But who? The answer is right there in the passage.

Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, or desire his delicacies; for as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink!” but his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten, and waste your compliments (Proverbs 23:6-8).

Clearly, this passage has nothing to do with positive thinking. This text gives a straightforward warning to keep your guard up around selfish people.

Now that we cleared that up, now I want to talk about the power of our thoughts. Our spirits are made new the moment we are born again, but from then on our minds have to play catch-up. They have to be renewed. We need to take on new attitudes, new ways of thinking. We need to cultivate the habit of saying yes and amen to the promises of God. We need to call things that are not as though they are. Because what we believe can be contrary to who we are or who Christ made us to be.

Your erroneous thinking does not change your identity of who you have become. For some reason, there is the tendency to think of saints as people who became saints, sainthood based upon what they have done in their lives. It’s not true. You don’t become a saint by what you do but by what has been done for you and what you received (2 Corinthians 5:21). Saints (holy people) are not a special group of people but are all believers. The qualification to be God’s holy people (saints) is that a person be in Christ (Ephesians 1:1).

The devil works hard to win the battle in our minds. He doesn’t want the church to walk in Christ’s victory. He wants you to believe the lie that you are defeated so that you don’t tap into the divine power you have to demolish strongholds he has set up (2 Corinthians 10:4).

Be encouraged to know that you don’t have to be afraid of the battles in your mind. Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Right believing is based on God’s Word and it is the key that unlocks the treasures of God in your life. Right believing gives you access to the fullness of His love, grace, and many blessings. The hindrance to your victory is found in your wrong beliefs. The battle has to do with your beliefs (John 8:32).

The enemy knows that if he can control your thought life, he can manipulate your emotions and feelings. If you entertain thoughts of guilt, failure, and defeat, you will begin to feel lousy about yourself, physically weak, and even depressed. Our emotions are the flags that indicate to us if our thoughts are negative or positive. Your emotions follow quickly after your thoughts. If your thoughts are negative, you will naturally produce negative emotions. If your thoughts are positive in Christ, you will produce positive emotions. That is why there is a battle for your mind. The devil wants to keep your thoughts negative so that he can keep you defeated. Through the power of right believing, you will win the battle for your mind.

Only By My Spirit

Daily Reading: (Zechariah 4:6-7):So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.“What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!’”

Zechariah Chapter 4 says:

Then the angel who talked with me returned and woke me up, like someone awakened from sleep (Zechariah 4:1).

I have woken up a little more than 14,292 times and I have not once been woken up by an angel before. Have you ever been woken up by an angel that spoke to you?  Probably not because this was the way God would speak to His people in the Old Covenant. In the past God would speak through prophets but the final word over our lives today is Jesus. God speaks to us primarily through His Word, and this is how we are to speak (grace) over our lives. Hebrews 1:2 tells us: “But in these last days” he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” Prophets still exist, we find this in Acts 2 and Ephesians 4 and if anyone claims to be a prophet or have a word from the Lord whatever they say will not be new, as in adding to Scripture. A word from the Lord through a modern-day prophet will be nothing in addition to what God has already spoken. A prophecy will always agree with scripture or what the Lord has previously spoken.

He asked me, “What do you see? ”I answered, “I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lamps on it, with seven channels to the lamps. Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left” (Zechariah 4:2-3).

Do you know what these are? That’s what the angel asked the prophet.

  • A gold lampstand, with a bowl at the top
  • Seven lamps on it with seven channels to the lamps.
  • 2 Olive trees one on the right and the other on the left. 

The golden candlestick is the Word of God, it is the Light of the World and it represents Jesus. 

The bowl on top held the oil to light the lamp. The fullness of grace in Christ, which is as “a fountain”, as the Word to supply His church and His people; We are the light of the world because Christ lives and flows in us Matthew 5:14.

The 7 lamps represent the seven churches written about in Revelation 2 and 3. The 7 channels or pipes to the 7 lamps lets the oil into the lamps. These are the various gifts given by the Holy Spirit to the members of the Body of Christ.Each lamp is supplied perfectly. The lamps were fueled by pure, specially prepared olive oil that came from the trees and when you know what the trees represent than you will see how this is the gifts the Holy Spirit has given the members of the church flowing into the seven lamps. This gives us a visual of limitless oil and a constant supply.

If you read the entire text, Zechariah only struggles with one symbol, and he asks about it over and over again. This one symbol would have made no sense to him. All he knew is God’s people at that time are the Israelites. He knew nothing about God’s plan to include the Gentiles into His kingdom. So, let’s observe his bewilderment.

Then I asked the angel, “What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lampstand?” Again I asked him, “What are these two olive branches beside the two gold pipes that pour out golden oil?” He replied, “Do you not know what these are?” “No, my lord,” I said. So he said, “These are the two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth” (Zechariah 4:11-14).

The “two olive trees” are the natural branch (physical Israel), and the grafted in branch (spiritual Israel), the church. These are the two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth” (Zechariah 4:14). Zechariah was looking ahead to the day we live in.

So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it! (Zechariah 4:6-7).

When you look in a mirror, what do you see? If you look a little closer in the mirror, you will still see yourself, but you might also notice things that you don’t really like so much. Wrinkles, age spots, perhaps you might look a little depressed. Maybe when you look in the mirror you see a person who appears weak or you see a person who is broke. Did you know that God does not want us to look at ourselves in the natural way? God wants you to see yourself the way He sees you (Colossians 1:27). God wants you to see yourself as strong, as favored and whole because you reflect Christ.

Let’s go back to a portion from our main verses:“What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it’” (Zechariah 4:6-7)!

This isn’t supposed to read, “God bless it. God bless it.” I know that is how the text might read in your Bible but when you study the original text, only one Hebrew word is used twice. The word is (Chen). Shout to your mountain grace, grace! Which means to shout to your obstruction God’s favor, God’s favor! Do you see it? What is your hindrance? What is your mountain? What is the area you need a breakthrough in? Shout to it God’s Word. Speak grace to it. God’s favor is on me and over this hindrance. Speak God’s grace over that thing against you and watch as God levels it. Isaiah 26:7- “The path of the righteous is level; you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth.”

Look in the mirror today and behold as in a mirror the glory of His Son who is in you by His Spirit. As you do this, His Word says that you are being transformed from glory to glory—sick to healed, broken to whole. Mountains before you will be leveled not by anything other than by the Spirit of the Lord.

Take Up Your Cross

Take Up Your Cross

Daily Reading: (Luke 9:23): Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”   

How do you react to this text? “Whoever wants to be a disciple of Jesus must… take up their cross daily and follow Him.” The way I have heard this verse commonly and incorrectly used is in the preaching of self-denial. If this were true then the Gospel would not be good news. If we had a bad day or screwed up and didn’t properly deny ourselves, well I guess we’re just not a disciple of Jesus anymore. If this were the case it would mean that Christ’s death on the cross was not needed. It would also mean that the more you deny yourself the holier you’ll be. But go ahead and deny yourself from anything and everything and that won’t make you anymore righteous or holy, Isaiah 64:6 tells us that.

Another problem with this interpretation of preaching self-denial as a way of becoming righteous is that it will leave you anxious and insecure. “Have I denied myself enough?” Jesus suffered and die on the cross so that we might be free from this sort of religious way of life.

So, when we come to Luke 9:23 we must ask two very important questions if we really want to understand what Jesus is saying.

  • Question 1: Who is Jesus talking to in this verse?
  • Question 2: What Covenant are we now living in?

In verse 18 it says- “Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?” this progresses until we get into our verse.  If you want an even clearer answer where you don’t have to back up a few verses to understand who Jesus is referring to just read Matthew’s version (16:24).

The disciples were still living in the Old Covenant system. The New Covenant we live in was enacted after the death of Jesus. One purpose of the Old Covenant was to make it absolutely clear that no man is righteous before God and that no one can save himself (Romans 3:10–11, 20). “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” There are no off days if you are living according to your righteousness. The ultimate purpose of the Old Covenant was to point people to Christ: “The law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian” (Galatians 3:24–25). The Old Covenant established our guilt before God and our need for a Savior.

So. the correct translation of what Jesus is saying in Luke 9:23 happens as we continue moving forward in the text in the next two verses, verses 24 and 25.

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self” (Luke 9:24-25)?

When Jesus says, “Follow me,” he’s saying the way to salvation is through Him and His cross. In the New Covenant taking up your cross daily doesn’t make sense and is impossible to do because you were already crucified (Galatians 2:20). I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me… (Gal 2:20a). The reason most Christians struggle to live the Christian life is they look at Luke 9:23 and are trying to die daily, they do not know they have already died with Christ.

“To deny yourself” (Luke 9:23) means to trust Jesus instead of self. Live each and every day out of the glorious relationship you have with the Lord. This Greek word “deny” (aparneomai) is to forget one’s self, lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests. This denial of self is the same thing for all Christians that the cross was for Jesus, namely, the submission to God’s will, not one’s own will.So, in our text Jesus made the cross central. Our Lord’s death was an absolute requirement and precondition of human redemption. As long as the will of man opposes the will of the Lord, salvation for that individual remains impossible.

Take Up Your Cross

Take Up Your Cross

Daily Reading: (Luke 9:23): Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”   

How do you react to this text? “Whoever wants to be a disciple of Jesus must… take up their cross daily and follow Him.” The way I have heard this verse commonly and incorrectly used is in the preaching of self-denial. If this were true then the Gospel would not be good news. If we had a bad day or screwed up and didn’t properly deny ourselves, well I guess we’re just not a disciple of Jesus anymore. If this were the case it would mean that Christ’s death on the cross was not needed. It would also mean that the more you deny yourself the holier you’ll be. But go ahead and deny yourself from anything and everything and that won’t make you anymore righteous or holy, Isaiah 64:6 tells us that.

Another problem with this interpretation of preaching self-denial as a way of becoming righteous is that it will leave you anxious and insecure. “Have I denied myself enough?” Jesus suffered and die on the cross so that we might be free from this sort of religious way of life.

So, when we come to Luke 9:23 we must ask two very important questions if we really want to understand what Jesus is saying.

  • Question 1: Who is Jesus talking to in this verse?
  • Question 2: What Covenant are we now living in?

In verse 18 it says- “Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?” this progresses until we get into our verse.  If you want an even clearer answer where you don’t have to back up a few verses to understand who Jesus is referring to just read Matthew’s version (16:24).

The disciples were still living in the Old Covenant system. The New Covenant we live in was enacted after the death of Jesus. One purpose of the Old Covenant was to make it absolutely clear that no man is righteous before God and that no one can save himself (Romans 3:10–11, 20). “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” There are no off days if you are living according to your righteousness. The ultimate purpose of the Old Covenant was to point people to Christ: “The law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian” (Galatians 3:24–25). The Old Covenant established our guilt before God and our need for a Savior.

So. the correct translation of what Jesus is saying in Luke 9:23 happens as we continue moving forward in the text in the next two verses, verses 24 and 25.

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self” (Luke 9:24-25)?

When Jesus says, “Follow me,” he’s saying the way to salvation is through Him and His cross. In the New Covenant taking up your cross daily doesn’t make sense and is impossible to do because you were already crucified (Galatians 2:20). I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me… (Gal 2:20a). The reason most Christians struggle to live the Christian life is they look at Luke 9:23 and are trying to die daily, they do not know they have already died with Christ.

“To deny yourself” (Luke 9:23) means to trust Jesus instead of self. Live each and every day out of the glorious relationship you have with the Lord. This Greek word “deny” (aparneomai) is to forget one’s self, lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests. This denial of self is the same thing for all Christians that the cross was for Jesus, namely, the submission to God’s will, not one’s own will.So, in our text Jesus made the cross central. Our Lord’s death was an absolute requirement and precondition of human redemption. As long as the will of man opposes the will of the Lord, salvation for that individual remains impossible.

Two or Three Gathered…

Daily Reading: (Matthew 18:20):

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

You must have heard this before, but where? Not in a sermon typically. Perhaps when you were praying with other believers. What many have done is to take this verse to mean is that prayer with more people means an increase in the likely to gain God’s attention. This is not what Jesus is talking about here.

The truth of this passage is really good news because while it is powerful and important to pray together, in my greatest times of need, when an emergency situation arises, I don’t necessarily have the luxury of calling everyone over for a middle of the night prayer. Does that mean that when I pray by myself, God is not with me or will hear me? Does it mean that my prayer will be less powerful when I cry out to God alone and in distress? Jesus said on the Sermon on the Mount the following:

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:6).

Do I need at least two or three people, should I just always pray in secret, by myself? Obviously, context is important but the simple answer is. Pray all the time (1 Thessalonians 5:17) with others and by yourself.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 is the greatest and most simple instruction for prayer. When should I pray…always! How should I pray? Rejoice always and give thanks in all circumstances. Pastor Matt I am supposed to give thanks in a bad diagnosis at the doctors office. How does that work? You aren’t giving thanks for the cancer because that is not from God. Thank Him that He is your Prince of Peace, and that His peace will arise in you and still the storms in your life. Thank God for being in the situation with you. Thank you for His divine healing made available to you in Jesus’ name.

Pray always with other believers whose prayers can bring encouragement and comfort and also pray by yourself. God hears you and is with you and your prayers are powerful with or without others. “The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect” (James 5:16).

So, going back to our original text- what is up with that statement that when there are two or three gathered that Jesus says He is with them? Jesus is not saying we need to have three people to be with us in prayer in order for it to be worth Jesus time to show up. Did you know that in Matthew 18:20 Jesus wasn’t talking about prayer?It wouldn’t make sense if He was.

So, what was Jesus talking about if it wasn’t about prayer? In Matthew 18, He’s referring to an important part of Old Testament Law, the part about church discipline.

Jesus is explaining that if you have an issue with someone in the church…

  1. Talk to him or her privately about it.
  2. If they don’t want to hear it…Take two or three believers with you

*The heart of this approach is restoration. 

You know there is a chance he/she might not even be aware of the wrong they did. The word fault here is the Greek word (elegchō) meaning bring to light, expose it (privately). Bring the Word of God, who is the Light of the World into their situation to bring them to repentance, a change a mind about what they’ve done and are doing. If they listen to you, you have won them over. This is a Greek metaphor which means you have helped them escape from evil. You helped them from continuing to sin in that area and sin is destructive and it not only hurts them it hurts others as well.

“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:18-20).

Jesus is giving His disciples instruction (Matthew 18:1) about restoring someone who has gone astray (verses 12-14), and offering forgiveness (verses 23-35), and in between these parables of the wandering sheep and unmerciful servant, how the process of reconciliation works (verses 15-20). God assures us that as we go through the process of bringing our brother or sister in Christ back into the fold of the church, God will be a part of it and bless us for it.

I know that ultimately we want to put a number on how many times we should be willing to go through this process with someone. How many times if someone has wronged us should we extend forgiveness? That is what Peter is thinking and asks and that might be your next question too.

“Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

70×7= 490. 490 is the numerical value of the biblical Hebrew word “tamim” which means to “complete,” “perfect,” or “finished.” A person who chose not to forgive will live a less than abundant life or incomplete life that lacks a true understanding of the “finished” gracious work of the cross.

When it comes to forgiveness toward an offender remember how greatly and how much you have been forgiven.

Be Still… In Stillness is Strength

“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

The most common travesty committed toward Psalm 46:10 is that only a portion of it is quoted.  A portion of this verse is seen on coffee mugs, in artwork paintings, on fridge magnets, and other trinkets. Because only a part of the verse is what is often seen most don’t know how to “Be still, and know that I am God.”

The greatest justice we can provide for this verse is to actually quote it in its entirety. What an incredible comfort and reminder to know that we can be still and know that God is in control. Stillness indicates lack of movement but it does not indicate inactivity. We are able to be still as we wait on God’s plan to unfold. We do not have to try and manufacture the work that God is trying to bring forth. Christians who receive God’s rest are the most active people I know which is best illustrated in a story of a lumberjack competition.

There was a story of one man who challenged another to an all-day wood chopping contest. The challenger worked very hard, stopping only for a brief lunch break. The other man had a leisurely lunch and took several breaks during the day. At the end of the day, the challenger was surprised and annoyed to find that the other fellow who took breaks constantly had chopped substantially more wood than he had. “I don’t get it,” he said. “Every time I checked, you were taking a rest, yet you chopped more wood than I did.”

“But you didn’t notice,” said the winning woodsman, “that I was sharpening my ax when I sat down to rest.”[1]  The sword of the Spirit, your spiritual ax is sharpened as you rest and receive from the Word of God, Jesus Christ.

When we are still and surrendered to God, we find peace even when the earth gives way and the mountains fall (Psalm 46:2), or the nations go into an uproar and kingdoms fall (verse 6). Be still and know that He is God and your axe or your Sword of The Spirit will be sharp to take down those troubling things that come against you as you speak out verses like our verse today in Psalm 46.

The words “Be still” is raphah which means relax.Relax and know that your God is with you. He is our refuge, our strength, and our ever-present help in time of need. Crazy stuff happens in the world and in our lives, but through it all, watch God work. When trouble comes you have an ever-present help in your time of need. Find shelter, take refuge in the shadow of His wings.

How does acknowledging God impact our stillness?

Acknowledging God implies that we can trust Him and surrender to His plan because we understand who He is. His plan for you and me is so much better than anything we could devise on our own. Stillness significance trust. We can look to other things to help us and God can use people to help us in our time of need, but ultimately, I have been at peace and find rest and can relax even in intense moments is when I remember that God is my refuge and strength, an ever-present help in my trouble.

It isn’t into we relax in His presence and we receive His peace that we become at peace. Allow God’s universal triumph to take hold of you and change the outlook of your very life. God’s desire is for rest and refreshment of our soul. What we need is spiritual rest from God’s Word which will lead us to physical rest. How well are you going to sleep at night if you are not relaxed and your spirit is troubled?

Many people in our world today are exhausted, fatigued, and frustrated. Those emotions would describe Peter who had labored all night and caught nothing in his fishing net. What turned it around was the words of Jesus. Because Peter followed Jesus’ guidance, he caught so much his boat began to take on water. Whatever your struggle is today, you can know that God is with you (ever present) and knows exactly how to help (He is your help in time of need).


[1] Source Unknown. https://bible.org/illustration/i-was-sharpening-my-ax.

All the Promises of God are Yes in Jesus

Daily Reading: (2 Corinthians 1:20):

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.”

In this verse we discover that we can’t receive any spiritual promise apart from or outside of Jesus. If we aren’t receiving a promise God made it isn’t that God isn’t sending it, our faithfulness to God is an Old Covenant problem that is solved by the New Covenant. So, if we aren’t receiving from God what God wants to give us, it doesn’t mean we are no longer in Christ, what it means that we need to get to the amen part of the verse in order to receive it. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God”

Amen is a declaration of our faith. The word “Amen” comes from the Hebrew word for faith. When we say, “Amen,” we are saying, “I agree, Lord. Be it unto me as it is in Your Word!”

When we believe for something that we don’t appear to have that God has promised to give, it says I trust in God’s faithfulness and it brings God glory. Amen means we take ownership of the promise God has made to us. Only you can “Amen” to what God’s Word says about you and your life. I can’t do it for you. Your grandparents or your parents or your friends can encourage you in it but only you can speak “Amen”.

Have confidence in God’s faithfulness to you. If He gave His only Son so that you might have life, will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things, especially those things He has promised to us?

One of the most common questions that I see in the Christian community is: “Why do some people experience their breakthrough but I don’t?” It all comes down to right believing. The word “repentance” is the Greek word “metanoia, which means “change of mind.” We repent by looking to Jesus and believing that all His promises are for us to claim.

If you belong to Christ by faith, then everything God could possibly give you for your good, He has signed over to your account in Christ. Is this promise in my account? Yes! “Every sinner who comes to God in Christ, with all his needs, finds God coming to him in Christ, with all his promises.” -John Piper[1]

Prayer is drawing on the account where God has deposited all His promises. Prayer is not hoping in the dark that there might be a God who could possibly provide us what we need, He already has and He will continue to do so in Jesus. Prayer goes to your spiritual bank account and draws on those promises. Amen spoken at the end of our prayer to God is affirming that God is faithful to deliver on His promises.


[1]John Piper. https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/all-the-promises-of-god-are-yes-in-christ. December 31, 1989.

The Promise of Resurrection

The Promise of Resurrection

Daily Reading: (John 5:28-29):

“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.”

Resurrection is promised to every single human being, however, the destination is not the same. So, the better question is not who will be resurrected- that is everyone. The better question is who will be resurrected to life?

If you have “done good” you will live, but what does it mean to do good? Jesus tells us a few verses earlier:

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).

They will never be condemned for their sins, they have already passed from death into life.” You stand right now with Christ’s life because you have already died and been born from above. Doing good, as Jesus defines it, is hearing and believing Jesus. Nothing more, nothing less. Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29).

The promise of Resurrection is for all humanity. But there are some who are resurrected to be condemned and some who aren’t, and that is why the usual Greek word (katakrima) is not used here. Remember there is absolutely no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). John is telling us that believers will not be judged based on wrong doings. We have been forgiven all of our sins, so our resurrection is a resurrection unto rewards.

So, the Greek word John uses here instead of katakrima is krisis which means a judgment of right or wrong. The righteous are judged on their rights, or a better way of saying it is they are receiving a judgment of rewards, the fruit Jesus bore in their lives. The non-believer is receiving a judgment based on their works, a judgment of wrongs. They have not received the forgiveness of sin, so sin remains and must be judged. I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19) says.

The outcome of the gospel is not merely the forgiveness of sins, as wonderful as that is. It is literally new life, His life.

Many Christians settle at the cross for grace and forgiveness and miss the resurrection.They lead others to the cross and no further and the result is powerless, fruitless Christianity. God saved us so that we might live, really live here and now. Eternal life is knowing God in your present circumstances and trials (John 17:3).

“This good news is about his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ! As a human, he was from the family of David. But the Holy Spirit proved that Jesus is the powerful Son of God, because he was raised from death” (Romans 1:3-4, CEV).

Confess Jesus as Lord and you shall be saved. Do you know what the word “Lord” means? It means Jesus has power and authority. It means He is the living king, on the throne, not on the cross.

When you proclaim the Lord Jesus over your addictions and failings, you are making a bold declaration of faith. You are receiving Jesus’ salvation over your trouble. I cannot defeat you in my strength, but let me tell you about Jesus, my Lord, at whose name every knee shall bow, including yours. Jesus is the powerful Son of God because He conquered death as He was raised from the dead. His salvation is available for you to receive today by faith.