The Powerful Word of God: A Scalpel or a Hacksaw

33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.

35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.

38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”

41 “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

“‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet. Matthew 21:33-45

Jesus was in fact talking about the religious leaders persecuting the Son of God. They knew the truth but refused to believe it. They were so caught up in their traditions and self-promotions, that they endangered themselves and many others.

The Word of God is powerful, I don’t need to tell you that. It slices through arguments and long-held beliefs for both believers and non-believers.

Jesus quoted the Scriptures that cut those leaders to shreds.

How is the Word of God working in your life today?

Is it troubling you?

Are you finding it hard to apply?

Are you memorizing meaningful passages (meaningful to you)?

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If They Only Knew….

23 Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”

24 Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?”

They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”

27 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”

Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things. Matthew 21:23-27

Give the religious leaders credit for their tenacity!

If one of them had actually figured out that He was the Son of God – the living Word of God – he would have realized that the Second Person of the Trinity knew all of their schemes and tricks.

He knew them better than they knew themselves.

He knew how to counter them.

He knew how to address them.

And yet they questioned His authority.

If they only knew!

As a friend once said, “He had the power to call down 10,000 angels – minimum – to show them His authority.”

There is still power in the Name of Jesus.

It’s something we have to learn to embrace over and over again in our lives.

If we only knew!

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Of Figs and Faith

18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.

20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked.

21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:18-22

Recall that not long ago Jesus had cleansed the temple of money changers. The nation had devolved so much that spiritual things weren’t a priority anymore.

In the Old Testament, figs symbolized the nation of Israel (Hosea 9:10, Jeremiah 8:13). It’s apparent that Israel had become spiritually barren.

Jesus also took the opportunity to teach them more about faith and belief in prayer. He had about four more days to instill the great principles of the faith into His disciples. In the upcoming months and years their faith would be tested like no other. They had to have a solid foundation before He left the earth. He was preparing them with each lesson. These would be the lessons and stories they would need to impart to hungry souls. The disciples would be the body of Christ until more and more followers were ushered into the faith.

It’s a bit like the Christian faith, isn’t it?

If we were to get a fire hose dosage of teaching all in a month, we wouldn’t know what to do with it all. It would be too much too soon. Instead we get bits and pieces because it’s all we can process.

Many people have told me that they feel bad that they can’t even remember the preacher’s sermon from the week before. I simply ask them what they had for lunch 3 weeks ago Friday at lunch time. Obviously they don’t remember.

The point isn’t exactly what they ate on that Friday but THAT they did in fact eat.

Likewise, they were spiritually nourished by the preachers and the Word of God whether or not they remember sermons or Bible passages they’ve read.

Take heart, my friends. Keep plugging away one day at a time.

Seek God.

Draw close to Him.

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Encouraging the Children of Tomorrow

14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.

16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.

“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,

“‘From the lips of children and infants
you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”

17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night. Matthew 21:14-17

Once again the religious leaders were indignant, this time about the children loudly praising Jesus.

I love to hear a group of kids sing praise and worship songs. There is just something wholesome and refreshing about it. It brings us back to an earlier part of our faith when everything was brand new and exciting.

Even though more and more statistics are showing that fewer people are attending church in America, we can do what we can do with the children who are in our care. We can lament all we want about the kids not coming, but our focus should be pouring the Bible and good biblical values into the lives of these children.

As our parents said about us, so we say about this generation of children, “They’re going to have it tough as they grow old.” Knowing that, we should continue to pray for their growth in Christ as well as a hedge of protection around them.

The enemy wants nothing more than to destroy them and he’ll use any means at his disposal.

Consider ways you can teach Biblical principles and Bible stories in a way that they’ll remember even as they grow old.

God is setting apart children and youth for great things in this country. They need to know that their parents and authority figures are behind them as much as possible.

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The Ministry of Sacrifices

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.'” Matthew 21:12-13

I’m positive this action did not endear Jesus to the leaders or the merchants. I’m certain it shocked all who were following Him because up to this time, he healed, prayed, performed a few miracles, and was gentle towards women, the infirm, and children.

It seemed to be out of place, but it wasn’t. It was totally in His character to be upset about spiritual things and those who abused them.

People came from all around for the Passover, and they were to bring their sacrifices with them. Since many came from long distances, it was very convenient that someone at the temple would have such sacrifices for sale. The temple priests probably made some money by renting out space to the merchants.

They were all missing the point of the sacrifice. It should cost them something. If that something was walking the sacrificial animals along for 30 miles, then that was part of the sacrifice.

There is truth in that for us as well.

Sacrifices should not be easy or free. They should cost us something.

Things you sacrifice will be very different than what I would sacrifice because we’re at different parts of our spiritual journey and socio-economic stages. Quite frankly, it may not always be about monetary values of something either. Sacrificing time, resources, education, training, and gifts, they’re all a part of our spiritual makeup.

Sacrifices, of course, do not add or subtract from the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. They are gifts we bring to others.

And in the end, isn’t that what Christian ministry is all about?

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