Vs. 2, “How long will you torment me and crush me with words.” At this point, Job realizes that his friends are not completely right, but he also realizes his attitude isn’t great either. While Bildad gave us vivid pictures of death, Job gives us vivid pictures of the trials of life (vs. 5-12). From feeling like an animal trapped to a king dethroned, we get a good idea of Job’s perspective. Our hearts certainly go out to Job as he feels lonely and deeply saddened by what is going with his life. But, even in his struggles…Job finds a reason for hope.
Regarding application…Remarkable Faith. Vs. 25, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.” Since the recent youth retreat we had, I can testify of some wonderful faith displayed by the CTC Youth group! And that “mountaintop” feeling has still lingered in many of my students hearts, praise God! However, when we look at Job’s faith…this is truly remarkable. It’s one thing to have faith in the midst of good things (retreats, etc.), but to display faith when there is little hope like Job did….”Wow”. Question: How was Job able to do this? I firmly believe he was able to because of his desire to seek the Lord daily. We know that God himself looked upon Job as a righteous man. The more we walk with the Lord, the stronger we are going to be when trouble comes. And as many of you might remember Jesus telling us, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). Amen!!!
Vs. 5, “The lamp of the wicked is snuffed out; the flame of his fire stops burning.” Bildad is responding to Job’s comments from the previous chapter concerning death. Now, I know it’s been awhile since we’ve been in Job…but keep your hearts & mind open because there is still lots to learn. Bildad feels a bit slighted by Job’s apparent lack of respect towards his views. It’s safe to say that Job and his three friends are both a bit frustrated with each other. I can just picture the scene of them glaring at each other as they converse.
Regarding application…Picture of Death. Vs. 21, “Surely such is the dwelling of an evil man; such is the place of one who knows not God.” (Brrrrrrr)…Bildad’s gives us a chilling picture of what life is like without God! The recent retreat has given all who attended very warm hearts, but I think this is a timely reminder of the “reality” – (Be R.E.A.L) of the world we live in. It’s time to put on our “God Goggles” as we cannot forget this suffering world around us. One of my current students reminded us (James) in his QT reflection about remembering our freinds who are still lost. Jesus came to seek and save the lost from a dying world. The picture of death is something we should take seriously if we are to be a true light in this world.
Vs. 4, “But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.” Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus and Salome the mother of James and John ventured out the day after Sabbath to anoint Jesus’ body. All of them including the others had forgotten Jesus’ resurrection promise. To their suprise, the large stone had been rolled away from the tomb and a angelic messenger was there to greet them. As the rest of the chapter continues on with (vs. 9-20), there is a bit of mystery that surrounds this text. These veres (16-18) will need a bit of extra explanation. Baptism, is a sign of outward expression of faith…it is NOT a condition of our salvation (vs. 16). Many of these “sign gifts” align with what we read in the book of Acts (vs. 17-18)…however, we must remember that the full Bible (New Testament) as we know it was not completed. Many of the extra miracles were used to help attest to the Gospel message at this specific time. It gave them authority…but now we have the authority in the completed Bible and we do no need to perform miracles to serve the Lord now.
Regarding application. The Resurrection. Vs. 6, “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen…” Don’t ever forget the most powerful news we take away at the end of each of the Gospels. Jesus was not defeated on the cross, His resurrection testifies to us the promises and victoy we have in Jesus. It is not something we should just remember every Easter…Vs. 15, “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” As Christians we hold a precious promise and we are commanded by our Lord to not hide it! The CTC Youth experienced the love of Christ at our retreat this past weekend…it is now their turn to pay if forward and invest their lives in others!
Vs. 28, “One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” The teachers of the law are on the hunt as they are finding ways to indict Jesus. But Jesus takes the time to answer their questions and even reveal their own sinful hearts. In the Parable of the tenants, the vineyard is the nation Israel and the tenants are leaders (vs. 1-12)…Jesus was not pulling any punches. Jesus masterfully puts the teachers in their place when he addresses paying taxes to Cesar (vs. 13-17). Their ignorance is also on display when trying to catch Jesus with a hypothetical scenario involving marriage (Vs. 18-27) and the afterlife.
Regarding application…Greatest Commandment. Vs. 30-31, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. ‘There is no commandment greater than these.” There were 613 commandments found in the law…they were certain Jesus would be stumped on this topic. There are many things we must do right and things we must avoid doing. But if we remember the greatest commandment and live it out in our lives, all the other do’s and don’ts will naturally work themselves out as we turn the Lord each day.
Vs. 1, “As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples.” We are now starting the “Passion Week” as Jesus would enter Jerusalem for the last week before the crucifixion. Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was the only time he allowed for such a public display in His honor (vs. 1-11). The fig tree event represented Israel and the tree was not bearing any fruit (vs. 12-14, 20-26). We also see Jesus cleansing the temple for a second time (vs. 15-19) as people used the temple’s purpose for their own gain. Lastly, the persistence of the religious leaders to find ways to question Jesus was thrown back at them when Jesus would not answer them clearly (vs. 27-33)
Regarding application…Key to Prayer. 24, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” The key to prayer is to “believe.” Many have lived just like Israel without true belief in their faith…their faith was not real. Jesus would remind us that believing in faith is so important that it would be like being able to throw “Big Bear” mountain into the Pacific Ocean. As CTC Youth will be going on a retreat tomorrow, we need to believe that God will work powerfully in our hearts! I ask that you all pray for us and I ask the CTC Youth to truly believe Jesus’ promises.
Vs. 1, “Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them.” Even as Jesus was on the road to the cross, He took the time to love and teach. Throughout this chapter, we see many come to Jesus with many requests. The Pharisee’s came to request Jesus’ stance on the controversial topic of divorce (vs. 1-12) and He would answer it by reminding us all the binding relationship that marriage entails and why we should do everything to keep it together. Keeping the family theme, the disciples felt Jesus would not have time for the children (vs. 13-16), but Jesus would point out the importance of being child-like. The rich young man comes to request eternal life, but realizes his love for money would keep him from the Lord (vs. 17-31). James and John’s request would give Jesus the opportunity to teach about humility (vs. 32-45). And lastly, Jesus would heal Bartimaeus because of his faith (vs. 46-52)
Regarding application…Serving. Vs. 45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” From the beginning of life, we learn how to be served. Our parents feed us, our parents raise us, our teachers teach us, our pastor’s admonish us, etc. We have expectations that people should serve us well. But, we were also created to serve! I remember when I began to wait tables in restaurant and how hard it was to meet all the customer’s expectation. I think it’s not easy to serve in any area in life because its very underappreciated. People take each other for granted and those who serve can begin to get discouraged. Perhaps that’s why harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Let us always find ways in our lives each day to serve the Lord with compassion and sacrifice.
Vs. 7, “Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him.” Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem to die on the cross…and we have a few more events before His arrival. The Transfiguration was a time for Jesus to be encouraged, a time to fulfill prophecy, and a time for confiming the future promises (Vs. 1-13). Moses & Elijah would represent the law and the prophets which both point to Jesus. While good things were happenning at the Transfiguration, the other disiples were having a difficult time with a demon possession (vs. 14-29). Remember, Jesus had given them the power earlier…but their lack of prayer and faith on this particular situation stumbled them.
Regarding application…Stumbling Block. Vs. 42, “And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.” This is such a vivid picture that Jesus paints in our minds as we consider this very serious topic. When we sin we not only affect ourselves, we can actually cause others to stumble. We pray that Satan would not get a “foothold” in our lives, but little do we realize that we unknowingly can work for Satan when we choose to allow our failures to affect others. Question: How does this look? Our actions and words can be a living testimony to our faith. When those actions and words do not lineup with God’s standards, we can cause new Christians to stumble. I often see this on social networking sites like “Facebook” where this is the new form of communication. Because so much of what we say is basically “public” to so many, we must be careful how and what we say. From using profanity, gossiping, slandering, poking fun, etc…much of this comes from those who claim to be Christians. Let’s be mindful of our actions and deeds in all areas of life so that we would not cause precious new Christians or anyone for that matter from sinning.
Vs. 27, “Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” As the disciples journey with Jesus, they are learning more and more about Him. In the beginning of this chapter, we see Jesus feeding the 4000 (Vs. 1-8)…there were definite differences in this miracles compared to the 5000. For one, the main audience this time around were Gentiles. With the continued opposition of the Pharisee’s, Jesus would use the example of bread to teach the disciples about false teachings (vs. 14-21). And lastly, we see Jesus really explain in detail his impending death…though the disciples still did not understand (vs. 27-39).
Regarding application…Seeing is Believing. Vs. 11, “The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven.” The philosphy of so many throughout the ages is “seeing is believing”. Yet, that goes against the very essense of faith: believe in something we do not see (Heb. 11:1). Besides, as I have said before…miracles do not save us. If our Father in Heaven decides to show us a sign of His love in a supernatural way…than who am I to say otherwise. But, I think the important lesson here is to not be so presumptious as to expect God to do something for us (the emphasis of sign gifts) in an “extra”ordinary way. The true miracle lies in Jesus dying on the cross so that we would have a “second chance”…if we need more than that, than shame on all of us!
Vs. 5, “So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with ‘unclean’ hands.” Question: What really was going on here? The Jewish religious council would send people to observe Jesus and His disciples. In this case, they had not ceremonially washed their hands before eating. It seems a a trivial thing, but the origination of this man-made tradition was based on prejudice towards Gentiles and Samaritans (half-Jew and half-Gentile). Since Jews came into contact with them, they had to clean themselves off. What a messed up tradition! Jesus would expose the true condition of their hearts as He revealed their hypocrisy. Jesus would also go on to two Gentile regions and heal a woman and another man. Both healings were significant to share because of the faith displayed in these two people.
Regarding application…True Worship. Vs. 6, “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Jesus directly quotes Isaiah concerning their hypocrisy. When I think about this verse, the picture of worship comes to my mind. Jesus would tell us from Gospel of John 4, that He is looking for true worshippers who worship in Spirit and in Truth. Singing praise songs is one of the most incredible things we can do and yet we do it so tamely. We honor God by singning the songs, but often I feel that we are not truly drawing our whole heart to Jesus. I pray that when God goes and seeks for worshippers, He would find it in our hearts. He would find it at my church, He would find it at your church, He would find it in every church that professes the name of the Lord Jesus Christ!
Vs. 27, “So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison.” Tragically, John the Baptist is beheaded. This chapter is all about opportunities, some taken…some missed. Jesus would return to his hometown (Nazareth) only to find them continuing to reject him and see him only as Joseph’s son the carpenter (vs. 1-6). We also see the opportunity the twelve apostles had as Jesus commissoned to teach from village to village (vs. 7-13). Herod had the opportunity to save John, but gave into Herodias and would eventually be a part in mocking Jesus (Luke 23:6-12). Jesus also gives us an example of an opportunity taken to show compassion when He fed so many even though He Himself was grieving over John’s death (vs. 30-44). And lastly, we see Jesus give the opportunity of faith to the disciples as another storm comes but this time Jesus comes to them walking on water (Vs. 53-56).
Regarding application…Amazed (Badly). Vs. 6, “And he was amazed at their lack of faith…” We are told there were times Jesus was amazed at the faith of others in a positive way. But this verse shows us that Jesus was amazed in a bad way. I’ll be honest with you…I have felt the same way. When I look at myself, I am amazed how selfish I was and sometimes still am. There are times I go to church and I’m amazed at how the Spirit of God is working in the students. But there are also times when I’m amazed at their lack of enthusiasm and disrespectful attitude towards God. When we think about how Jesus views us, let us hope that we amaze Him in a positive way! Let’s be ready to worship Him tomorrow and amaze Jesus at our faith!