Mark 12

Vs. 12, “Then they looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away.”  Sinners and murderers, yet….cowards!  Jesus called them out in the parable of the tenants (vs. 1-12).  But they were persistent and continued to try to trap Jesus to get the momentum on their side.  They would go on to challenge Jesus on paying taxes (vs. 13-17), the Sadducees would give a hypothetical scenario based on the Old Testament law of marriage…with a twist of afterlife.  Yet, they didn’t believe in the resurrection, so they used this story in a way to mock Jesus.  But Jesus would reveal their ignorance of Scripture.  We are reminded of the greatest commandment question (vs. 28-34), Jesus being the son and a Lord (vs. 35-40) and lastly, we are reminded of what is honoring to the Lord in what we give (vs. 41-44).

 

Regarding application…Giving Rightfully.  Vs. 44, “They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”  Question: How much are we to give to Jesus?  Whether we give 10%, 20% or give our time and devote to church…in the end it is inconsequential.  Believe me…God doesn’t need our money or our time to further His church.  God is honored when we give with the right heart!  Question: What kind of heart are you giving God?  A child that spent a whole hour coloring a page on a book to give to their daddy can be far more touching to him than somoene who gives him a $100 gift card for his birthday from his corporate job.  As we grow in the Lord, don’t let the enemy fool you into a wordly view of giving.  When you come to church this weekend, check your heart and give your spiritual offering and you’re physical offering with a right heart!

Matthew 12

Vs. 12, “How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”  In yesterday’s reading, we were reminded how Jesus would tell us that we could find rest in Him.  Now on the Jewish day of rest (Sabbath)…they challenge Jesus because they believe they already have their rest day.  But over the centuries, their version of rest added so many man-made regulations and rules, they make a mockery of it.  Instead of being joyous of Jesus healing a person, they used this to accuse Jesus of being in the league of Satan.  Through all these miracles and signs, this still wasn’t enough for them.  Jesus would remind them of Jonah’s 3 days in the whale and compare his evemtual death on the cross.

 

Regarding application…Recognizing Fruit.  Vs. 33, “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.”  Often when we go to the grocery store to buy fruit.  We will take a bit of extra time picking out our fruit.  Those of us who are seasoned will be able to tell the good fruit vs. the bad fruit.  Sadly, many people would reject the truth of the Gospel and live out their own righteousness.  In USA Today article this past week, the Barna Research did a survey on American faith.  While people were confessing their faith in Christ, many people stopped going to church.  As we start out a new week, let’s be ready to bear good fruit.  Not out of obligation or attaining a righteousness by works…but let’s do it out of faith and love.

Jeremiah 12

Vs. 1, “You are always righteous, O LORD, when I bring a case before you.  Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper?  Why do all the faithless live at ease?”  Question: Why do the wicked always seem to prosper?  But Jeremiah would not be the only one to ask such a question.  We probably have all asked such a question and we know Job did too.  No matter how strong we are in the Lord, sometimes our human intellect will conjure doubts in our minds.  Jeremiah wanted God to just get it over and the unrighteous dealt with.  But God would respond with a reminder that our life will not always be easy…in fact, it will become increasingly harder as you walk stronger with the Lord (vs. 5).  We see the utter sadness that God would have to watch His creation reject Him.  Yet, once again, we see God’s faithful promises shine in the darkness of men. (vs. 15)

 

Regarding application…Questions. God is patient with His children.  Jeremiah trusted in the Lord but still wondered why the wicked seemingly were not being affected.  While we can sit and anaylze the word of God to satisfy our curiosity regarding such questions, It really just comes down to trusting His promises.  It’s not that it is inherently bad to ask questions…but sometimes we are faced once again with the task to believe in something we don’t understand = Faith!!!  It doesn’t matter if we have all the answer so much as it matters that our faith is increasing our character.  Whenever you have questions…ask…but remember that ultimately, we were never intended to know everything.  That is why God is God and we are His creation.

Hebrews 12

Vs. 2, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Question: Why do we fix our eyes on Jesus?  Because, He endured the cross…endured the shame…and Jesus is now victorious!  It’s almost as if the author is speaking directly to us….there is so much passion in the exhortations!  When we are tempted to give up…what a wonderful passage to turn to for inspiration!  Be ready to be shaken out of your reverie (Vs. 26)…God is shaking things up!  None of us like things shaken up…we like stability, we like security…but God would indeed shake up Israel.  They would lose their city, their temple…many of their lives.

Regarding application…God Disciplines Us.  Vs. 11, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”  Suffering is not punishment.  God allows suffering and often disciplines us through suffering….Why?  So that we may produce good fruit!  Punishment is the work of a judge…disipline is the work of a loving parent to their child.  Punishment is to uphold the law…discipline is a proof of God’s love.  Rather than rebel from God in suffering, we should draw ever closer for His comfort.

Question: Why is this happening to me?  If we respect those who discipline us in this world (Parents, Coaches, Teachers, etc.)…than we need to respect God and stop complaining and throwing “Pity Parties” for ourselves when times get tough.  We talked last Sunday about growing up.  If Isaac rebelled against Abraham…we wouldn’t even have the preview of Abraham’s possible sacrifice.  If Jesus rebelled against God…we probably wouldn’t even be here.  As teenagers we adopt the philosophy of the world when we say it is okay to rebel…that’s what teenagers do.  Okay…while that may be true…is that what children of God do?  I think not.  Whether we are 5 years old, 15 years old, or 55 years old…we all have the tendency to want to rebel (it’s our sin nature)…but let us learn to submit to God’s love & discipline so that we can truly live a life that is honoring to God.  Don’t forget that the last verse in this chapter reminds us that God is aConsuming Fire (Vs. 29).  We need to have a Godly Fear.