Matthew 12:22-50; Leviticus 15-16; Proverbs 27
It’s become almost a cliché among some of my students. While they are supposed to be working they’ll call me over and say, “I love you, sir.” These are the students who are constantly giving me problems. I usually tell them, “I love you, too. I love all my students. Now, act like you love me.” While none of my students are my enemy, I thought of that when I read “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful,” (Proverbs 27:6) today. To continue on the school theme when a principal or fellow teacher lets me know how I can improve, usually by telling me what I’m doing wrong, I’m grateful for their help. They’re friends who want to see me improve. When those students tell me they love me, it’s obvious that they are just doing it to annoy me or, perhaps, get out of trouble. The difference in all of that is the relationship I have with the people speaking. God’s word always has a way of describing real truths of life.
Lord, let me always build strong relationships with all people, especially my students and co-workers. Let me accept the “wounds” of my friends and not be swayed by those who seek to use me.
Matthew 12:1-21; Leviticus 14; Proverbs 26
The Pharisees really wanted God to love them and the nation of Israel. As they remembered history they understood why God brought judgment on the nation. One of the reasons for judgment: not keeping the Sabbath holy. So they developed their own additional laws to make sure they didn’t break God’s Law. The Sabbath was a touchy issue for them. And so they were extremely scandalized by the actions of Jesus’ disciples as they worked on the Sabbath, picking and eating grain from the fields and at Jesus who healed a man on the Sabbath. This teacher, who was gaining popularity, was teaching and acting in a way that would lead to the destruction of Israel. The teacher, Jesus, shocked them even more by blaspheming and claiming affinity with God by saying “For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:8) In their desire to make God love them, they overlooked the fact that God loved them. Jesus and His disciples didn’t “work” on the Sabbath for personal gain. They met personal needs and took care of others. Jesus tried to show them that Sabbath, that day of rest, was a gift to them from God and not a prison designed to hem them in. In our world that emphasizes work we need to remember the joy of Sabbath: a day to worship God and withdraw from the cares of the world. Some Christians still worship on Sabbath – some have changed to the Lord’s Day to celebrate the resurrection weekly. Whatever the case, that day of worship and rest is designed to draw us closer to God and recharge our spiritual batteries to live in this fallen world of ours. Happy Sabbath!
Lord, remind me always to take time to worship You and rest. You have given us a great gift in Sabbath. Let me experience the joy of coming closer to You during the time of Sabbath.
Matthew 11:20-30; Leviticus 13; Proverbs 25
The greatness of any ruler is often established by his or her counselors. Tolkien demonstrates that in the story of King Theoden. When we first meet the king, he is weak and has given up. Gandalf realizes the problem and gets rid of the king’s confidant, Grima Wormtongue. The confidant had fallen in league with evil and his counsel was destroying the king. Once Wormtongue was run out, Theoden became strong and courageous again. “Take away the wicked from before the king, And his throne will be established in righteousness.” (Proverbs 25:5) Solomon and Hezekiah, whose men copied these Proverbs, understood that. It is a truth of life as well. As a teacher I have many parents who are shocked at the behavior of their children. So often good kids fall in with troublemakers to look cool and before you know it, they are headed for trouble. If we can convince the student to find good friends – life improves. Who helps you, leads you or guides you? Is it someone drawing you closer to God or someone drawing you away? Take away the wicked from your life and you will soon see that your life will be established in righteousness.
Dear Lord, give me the wisdom to follow those who seek You. Let my life Honor You and let me be a wise and godly counselor to others.
Matthew 11:1-19; Leviticus 11-12; Proverbs 24
Blood may be thicker than water, but imprisonment can really lead to discouragement. John had poured out his life proclaiming the coming Messiah. When Jesus came to be baptized John demurred, recognizing who Jesus was. John heard the voice from Heaven that proclaimed Jesus to be the Son of God. Yet, as John sat in prison he was discouraged. He heard about the works of Jesus and had to find out if his life and work had been worthwhile. “And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’” (Matthew 11:1-2) I’m not exactly sure how close the blood relationship between these two was – perhaps they were second cousins. The spiritual relationship was even stronger than the blood relationship. John had done amazing work preparing the way of Christ. The crowds had come to him. Many thought John might be the Messiah – John set them straight. He had actually baptized Jesus the Messiah and proclaimed Jesus as such. Now, however, he was languishing in prison. There are times in our lives when we are so sold out for God that we are able to do great things under his leadership. Once that work is accomplished though, the exhaustion sets in and we wonder if it was all worth it. Even Elijah prayed for his own death after a great victory. So, if you, a worker in the Lord, are discouraged – take heart. You are not alone! You are feeling the same as the saints through the ages have felt. Then rest, wait on God and slowly build up your physical and spiritual strength for the next time.
Dear Lord, thank You for the opportunity to serve You. I admit that I am weary and worn. I’m exhausted spiritually and physically. I wonder if it was all worthwhile. Fill me with Your Spirit again and remind me of Your presence. Let me seek You as I recover from the effort. Thank You that You still love and encourage me.