Daily Word

Matthew 26 part 2

Read Matthew 26:31-35 and :69-75 again. Jesus’s love of Peter is so wonderful to me. I just want to spend a little more time with them.

There is a verse in 1 Corinthians 13 that captures what is going on here. It says: FOR NOW WE SEE ONLY A REFLECTION, AS IN A MIRROR, THEN WE SHALL SEE FACE TO FACE. NOW I KNOW IN PART; THEN I SHALL KNOW IN FULL, EVEN AS I AM FULLY KNOWN. 13:12

Peter thought he knew himself, but Jesus knew him even beyond Peter’s own comprehension. I think I know myself, but sometimes I do things that take me by surprise. Can you relate to that?

Peter told Jesus he would stand with him, even if it meant death. I think that was meant to encourage Jesus. He was probably expecting Jesus to say thank you. It must have been bewildering when Jesus responded the way he did.

Jesus fully knew Peter and loved him still. Jesus fully knows you, and still loves you. Let’s be honest, that is amazing love!

And when Peter starts blending in with the crowd, saying Jesus who? I don’t know him, over and over again like Jesus said he would…. Oh beloved, what did that feel like? Think of a time when you disappointed yourself…. Is shame still ruling in your heart or were you able to bring your fall before the LORD in confession and repentance?

Think about the way Jesus loved and did great things through Peter even though this abandonment happened. What if Peter would have stopped there? What if he would have let shame hold him prisoner? We get to see the difference Peter made through the gift of Scriptures. What will your story say about your love for Jesus? Will you trust him and get up when you fall, knowing He still loves you and has great things to accomplish through your surrendered life?

Daily Word

Matthew 17:24-27

Read Matthew 17:24-27 – The Lord works in mysterious ways. Let’s take a look at this crazy unfolding of events that close chapter 17.

The tax collector raises a question with Peter over Jesus paying Temple tax. Notice that Jesus responds without Peter even asking a question(:25). And he makes Peter think through the logic… Rabbi’s don’t pay tax so why would Jesus? Yet Jesus would rather not cause offense, so he provides the tax by way of miracle(:26).

Lesson one, pick your battles.

Now, Peter is a fisherman. He fishes with nets and brings in lots of fish. Jesus tells him to simply cast a hook and catch only one fish, saying that he will find the money in the fish’s mouth. Peter’s obedience shows a sweet degree of faith and humility by not pointing out how weird and unlikely this is.

Lesson two, when Jesus speaks, just do it. Throw practicalities and ego to the side, and do what he says.

The last sentence in our chapter Jesus says to take the money and give it to them to pay for his tax and Peters. This is even bigger than it seems. Jesus didn’t owe the tax, but he paid it… much like he would lead a sinless life, but pay the cost of sin which is death. AND, he covered Peter’s tax as well much like his sacrificial death would pay the cost for my sin and yours.

Lesson three, Beloved believer, your sins are covered. You are free. “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:35

P.s. I’m going to a retreat this week and will be focusing on all that God has for me there. I pray you press on in your reading and we can catch up next week. God bless us all!

Daily Word, Uncategorized

Matthew 16

Read Matthew 16 – I had a hard time knowing what to say about today’s passage and was reminded that the important part is to keep going. The Holy Spirit will bring these words to light according to his plan and purpose. My job is to simply keep showing up and keep pressing on. Maybe you need to hear this today. Maybe you read the bible and the words seem to swim over your head. Keep pressing on.

In our chapter, the Pharisees and Sadducees try to test Jesus by asking for a sign from heaven. Jesus leaves them with an answer to wrestle with, ‘no sign will be given except the sign of Jonah.’

In the next paragraph, the disciples realize they forgot to take bread and get a bit nervous. Jesus simply warns them: “Be careful,” Jesus said, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” They were all caught up on a little thing like bread, after watching Jesus multiply a few loaves to feed thousands on two occasions.

Jesus shares some insider information with his disciples in verses :13-21, to which Peter responds, “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!” Jesus rebukes him… it is the strongest rebuke one could ever receive:

“Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.'” :23

Beloved, are you distracted by the little things in life, the ‘things of men’? Jesus tells us, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” :25 May you have eyes for what matters most and live unhindered.

Daily Word

Mark 16

Read Mark 16 – Resurrection Sunday!  Hallelujah, He is risen indeed!!!  And how wonderful for us to be setting our hearts and minds on our risen Lord as the Easter holiday approaches. 

Mark records, “Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body.” :1 Then, just before sunrise, the three set out for the tomb, wondering who would roll the stone away for them.  When they arrived it was already rolled aside and they discovered a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. (:4-5) 

Beloved, ponder the fact that Jesus did not need the stone rolled away to leave the tomb.  He could walk on water (Mark 6), escape crowds intent on killing him (Luke 4) and pass through walls (this happens later on this same Sunday, recorded in John 20).  The stone was rolled away to let the women in… to let us all in so we could better know that He is risen from the dead. 

The angel says it all, “Don’t be alarmed.  You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.  He isn’t here!  He is risen from the dead!  Look, this is where they laid his body.  Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee.  You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.” 

Beloved, spell check does not like where it says, “is risen”.  It wants to say “has risen”.  But I stand with Scripture, Jesus’s resurrection is eternally present and not past tense in any way! 

When the angel says, “including Peter,” my heart swells.  Peter would need special encouragement over the others as he just denied Jesus three times, as Jesus said he would (14:30). 

Beloved, have you wandered from your faith and returned?  Do you suffer from nagging guilt as I imagine Peter did?  Jesus left a special encouragement to His disciples, with the extra special point for the angel to say, “including Peter”.  Will you trust that Christ is risen for all, including you?  Why don’t you say it out loud right now with your own name, “including _______”!

Our next reading will be Philemon.  It is a short book with only one chapter.  You will find it towards the back of the New Testament, between Titus and Hebrews.

Daily Word

Mark 14

Read Mark 14:27-72 –  Timing is everything.   In 2004 I had just come to the realization that Jesus was real, and surrendered my life to His care and control.  Also that year,  THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, was released, and I went to see it on a layover in San Diego.  It was filmed in the Biblical languages of the time with English subtitles. I wanted to look away when the betrayal and brutal scenes played across the screen, but the foreign dialog would not give me any hints as to when to look up. I returned to the hotel aching and bewildered. I opened my Bible; surely the filmmaker exaggerated.  My tears streamed as God’s Word told me a truth I could hardly bear, my Savior endured this, knowing beforehand the cost of my sin.  

Jesus says, “Go ahead and sleep. have your rest.  But no – the time has come.  The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.” :41  The time has come… for betrayal, false witness, mockery and abandonment. The time has come for beating and persecution.  The time has come for Jesus to endure the unimaginable agony of laying His life down, that we might be saved.  Jesus endured this. He knew full well the cost, and He did it anyway.

As I write, I am again on a layover in San Diego.  Scripture blended with my memories.  I recall my younger self,  then an infant in the faith,  as you may be now,  Beloved.  Do your best to read the hard parts and don’t look away.  Remember Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” John 10:11

Jesus did all this with steadfast love and determination, for sinners like us. I pray these last chapters of Mark meet you in a personal and unique way, strengthening your faith and filling you with the desire to know Jesus even more. 

Daily Word

Mark 9

Reflections on Mark 9 – Wow!  Jesus gives us a glimpse of himself as he truly is – radiant and in the company of Elijah and Moses (two of the old testament heroes) .  

Peter, James and John were witnesses to His transfiguration. Sweet Peter didn’t know what to say; it seems like he just wanted to seem useful without understanding how when he offered to build shelters.  And then God’s voice is heard from the cloud,  “This is my beloved Son; listen to him. ” And then the moment was over as Jesus stood with Peter, James and John,  instructing them to stay quiet about these events until He had risen from the dead.

Beloved, can you imagine? Do you imagine?   I encourage you to do so. 

Next,  Jesus heals the boy with the unclean spirit.   The boy’s father asked Jesus to heal his son, and adds ‘if you can’:23.  Jesus calls him out on this to which he responds,  ‘I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!’ :24.  Isn’t that an encouragement?   I have something I’ve prayed for a very long time, and there is a measure of unbelief,  but Jesus,  I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!  How about you,  Beloved? 

There’s more treasure to uncover.   What spoke to you most in Mark 9? I would love to hear from you. 

Now,  on to Mark 10!

Daily Word

Acts 12

Read Acts 12 – part one.   Let me explain the cast of characters before we dive into the awesome miracles. 

Herod was the grandson of Herod the great, who ordered the Jewish babies execution when Jesus was born.  He was also the nephew of Herod Antipas, who ruled over Jesus’s trial… all of them were evil.

James is the brother of John,  the sons of Zebedee, the sons of thunder – not the author of the book of James (that James was Jesus’s half brother).  

Okay, ready?  James is the first martyred apostle.  This would have shaken the apostles from the illusion that they had divine protection… if James could be killed, they all could.

Peter was also imprisoned and Herod had every intent on killing him too because it pleased the Jews. It was a good political gesture. Isn’t that sickening? 

Meanwhile,  the rest of the church is fevrantly praying for Peter at Mary’s house (she is Marks mother – there are 6 Mary’s in the Bible – that’s a whole rewarding study of its own). Okay, exhale,  Beloved. This is the end of part one. Good job! 

Acts 12 – part two. Picture Peter in prison.   He’s not a violent man. Yet he is chained between two soldiers, behind a guarded door within a locked and secure prison. It was a humanly hopeless situation, but God didn’t think so.

The Lord heard the prayers and sent rescue.   He loosened the chains, unlocked the doors, kept the guards asleep, and Peter simply walked out with angelic protection!  

Peter didn’t even know it was real; he thought it was a vision,  :6-11.  He goes to Mary’s, where the church is praying for his safety,  and…. Were you giggling just a little at the details? It was like a comedy skit! 

Beloved,  have you ever had your prayers answered and it took you a while to realize it?   I look back in my journals every now and then and God amazes me… he’s broken more than a few chains in my life too.

Evil Herod investigated the breach and it cost the sentries their lives, but his wickedness catches up with him and he is struck down be an angel, eaten by worms, and breathed his last.

Things end on a high note for the church,  :24-25.  Beloved,  when life gets crazy, God is still working all things out for your good and His glory. Praise God! 

Daily Word

Acts 10

Read Acts 10 – God is always at work.  We have two parallel events taking place that will come together and accomplish what the Lord intended. 

Meet Cornelius, a centurion, a devout man who feared God, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed constantly.  The Roman officers were hated by the Jews and it would have been totally inappropriate for a Jew to associate with one.  Yet Cornelius is boldly different.  An angel visits Cornelius in a vision and tells him to send for Peter. 

Notice, my friend, there are some tasks the Lord reserves for humans… the angel visited Cornelius, but he does not give him the gospel message.  He (the angel) instructs him (Cornelius) to send for Peter. 

Meanwhile, Peter goes up to the rooftop to pray at the tanners house in Joppa.  (The rooftop was a patio for many homes).  He gets hungry – I love that the bible makes note of this.  Beloved, when you set out to pray, you can expect any number of distractions, like hunger. 

Peter falls into a trance and has a vision of a sheet being lowered with creatures, clean and unclean under Jewish law to eat, and he hears a voice say, “Rise, Peter, kill and eat.” (:11-16).  Peter understandably says no way, but the Lord repeated the vision three times.  There was no mistake.  What the Lord calls clean is clean.  Then the voice tells Peter about Cornelius’s men downstairs and that he is to go with them. 

Peter’s life is brand new.  He is talking to people he never would have associated with before Jesus.  Beloved, is your life the same or boldly different with Jesus?  Keep reading and marvel at what God did next in our chapter.

Daily Word

Acts 9

Read Acts 9 – Calling all skeptics (as I once was).  Saul has been our silent villain for a few chapters now.  He was first introduced in 7:58, as Stephen was being stoned, the accusers laid their coats at his feet.  In 8:1 he gave approval for Stephen’s murder.  Now in chapter 9, the Lord deals with him in an incredible way. 

Saul is all set with letters permitting him to persecute Christian men and women when Jesus meets him on the road to Damascus.  Jesus asks, “Saul!Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” :4  Beloved, when a believer is hurt for their faith, it is Jesus who is hurt.  We do not suffer alone.  They have a chat, Saul is blinded and told to go into town.  Then Jesus speaks with a believer named Ananias (different from Ananias and Sapphira from chapter 5) in a vision and tells him to go to Saul.  Ananias has heard about Saul and questions Jesus (:13).  Beloved, questions are not disobedience.  Ask your questions,  but like Ananias, be obedient to follow Jesus when he confirms. 

Meanwhile, Peter is going about the Lord’s business in Lydda.  He healed a lame man, Aeneas, by telling him, “Aeneas, Jeusu Christ heals you!  Get up, and roll up your sleeping mat!”  Notice that Peter takes no credit for the work of Jesus through him.  Beware of anyone who does! 

Then Peter raises a woman named Tabitha/Dorcas from the dead, and many believe as the news spreads.  We are told he stayed there a long time with Simon the tanner… this was a step in the right direction of uniting jews and gentiles.  A devout jew would not defile himself by staying with one who handles dead animals.  Beloved, we are to lay down any prejudices against people and simply love well, as Jesus does.  Love without boundaries. 

Daily Word

Acts 5

Read Acts 5 – There will be no phony-baloney business before God. 

It was a time when the church was being established and believers were freely sharing all of their possessions so that no one lacked anything.  Ananias and Sapphira were caught up in the spirit of giving and sold some property, giving part of the money to the apostles, but claiming it was the full amount.  They exaggerated to seem more generous, to look good.  Why? Why would they do this?  Peter was quick to see the heart issue of this lie and called Ananias out on it.  He dropped dead in response.  Peter then confronts Sapphira and she supports the family lie, testing the Lord as her husband did, and meets the same fate.  Beloved, God judges the heart.  May the motives of your heart always be pure. 

Next, the apostles are arrested for performing miraculous signs and wonders among the people, causing many people to believe.  The Sadducees let their judgment be clouded with jealousy (:12-17).  But there is a clever Pharisee named Gamaliel, an expert in religious law and well respected.  He proposed the phony-baloney test (my paraphrase), saying the men would either fizzle out, as others had, or, if their movement was from God, they would not be able to stop them.  Gamaliel was shrewd, but not godly in motive, yet God used his counsel to free the apostles and fuel the message. 

Beloved, may your heart always be true.  Integrity matters.