Tag Archives: Matthew

Isaiah 17-19; Psalm 62; 1 Corinthians 1

18The teaching about the cross seems foolish to those who are lost. But to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19It is written in the Scriptures:

“I will cause the wise men to lose their wisdom.

I will make the wise men unable to understand.” Isaiah 29:14

20Where is the wise person? Where is the educated person? Where is the philosopher of our times? God has made the wisdom of the world foolish. 21The world did not know God through its own wisdom. So God chose to use the message that sounds foolish to save those who believe it. 22The Jews ask for miracles as proofs. The Greeks want wisdom. 23But we preach Christ on the cross. This is a big problem to the Jews. And it seems foolish to the non-Jews. 24But Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God to those people God has called—Jews and Greeks. 25Even the foolishness of God is wiser than men. Even the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26Brothers, look at what you were when God called you. Not many of you were wise in the way the world judges wisdom. Not many of you had great influence. Not many of you came from important families. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. He chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28And he chose what the world thinks is not important. He chose what the world hates and thinks is nothing. He chose these to destroy what the world thinks is important. 29God did this so that no man can brag before him. 30It is God who has made you part of Christ Jesus. Christ has become wisdom for us from God. Christ is the reason we are right with God and have freedom from sin; Christ is the reason we are holy. 31So, as the Scripture says, “If a person brags, he should brag only about the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 (ICB)

The Cross.

The symbol believers look toward for redemption. The knowledge that God’s Son, come to earth in the form of man, willingly laid Himself down as a sacrificial Lamb, so that all mankind could be saved for eternity.

In one of my ministry school classes, we were encouraged to really study the Cross, to be CSI as it were-to get intimate with the bloody crime scene of our Savior’s death; to truly understand the lengths that Jesus went to because He loves us SO much.

My favorite biblical movie to date is The Passion of the Christ. It’s my favorite because the graphic portrayal of what happened that day over 2000 years ago. For the first time I truly understood the anguish, the pain, the suffering that Jesus chose to experience for me. The childhood pictures of a pristine Christ with a crown of thorns around His curly locks, nails in His very white hands and feet, and a thin line of blood in His side blinding me to the horrors of that day fell like shackles off the eyes of my heart.

The Cross…foolishness.

In no other religion, that I have studied, do the ‘gods’ sacrifice themselves for their people. In many of those religions, the ‘gods’ actually require the people to do heinous things to their own bodies. Things like walking across fire, leaving the feet with third degree burns, or putting metal hooks in the skin and pulling their god’s chariot through the village.

And, yet, Christ did what made no sense to the wisdom of man. He laid Himself down, humbled Himself, as low as a man could go, into death, a thief’s punishment, so that upon His resurrection, everyone could be restored into right relationship with God.

Nothing I can do makes me right with God, only Jesus revives my connection to Him. It doesn’t matter how hard I try to be sin-free, only my Savior makes me blameless before the Father. No matter how righteous I act, only Christ makes me holy. Only He redeems my life and makes it truly worthy.

Yesappa, Thank You for the foolishness of the Cross.

 

Blessings, Julie

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Jonah; Matthew 11

“But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” Jonah 1:3

“…and Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three days and three nights.” Jonah 1:17

Jonah finds himself at the lower end of the food chain and in the belly of a whale. I may laugh at the ridiculousness of Jonah attempting to flee God, but I have done the same. I have fled His presence and found myself consumed by personal drama and busyness. God offered to let me bask in the truth of the resurrection and I have told Him that He is not enough. I have gotten caught up in trying to make the world turn as I would have it.

Later, Jonah finds himself pouting and complaining to God that He is a just and merciful. Does’t he want God to be just that? God isn’t his puppet. Jesus accuses the crowd of similar behavior, “But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not dance; we wailed and you did not mourn.’ ” Matthew 11:16-17

How often do I tell God He isn’t who I want Him to be? And where does all that get me? Exhausted, angry, spent, far from my true home…his Presence.

God allows me to reject Him in ways both large and small. He allows me to choose, but as soon as I repent of my foolish notions and stubborn ways, He welcomes me home.

Resting in God’s love and grabbing onto the wonderful truth of the Resurrection is the path home. Why He has called me to follow Him is beyond my comprehension, but I will claim Him as my own and hold onto His Word;

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, an learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

Klueh

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Isaiah 4-6; Matthew 23

Maybe it was the emotion of the weekend – sending our oldest off to his first year of college, our second child starting her first official week of a paid internship in an area of God’s gifting, our third child getting baptized and publicly, clearly sharing her testimony.

Or, maybe it was the constant stirring of God and a teeny glimpse of His Glory as I sat and soaked in Isaiah 6 this morning:

  • his robe filled the temple
  • Above him stood the seraphim
  • And the foundations of the thresholds shook
  • the King, the Lord of hosts
  • I heard the voice of the Lord

Either way, God spoke afresh of the need to follow Him with a pure, motivated heart as I sang in church this weekend.

Arms high, heart abandoned, tears flowing – it would have been impossible to not worship.

Moving from a time of worship in His throne room, I then sat in on a scathing attack on hypocrisy in the lives of those that claimed to follow Him. Matthew 23 holds this rebuke, “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?

How had the Pharisees strayed so far from the heart of the law they claimed to follow? They stopped looking at God.

You can tell by their response. When Isaiah saw God in His holy temple he cowered as his own sinfulness became painfully obvious. Many generations before Jesus spoke these woes aimed at the Pharisees, the Jewish leaders had likely had a similar response as they responded by placing God’s Word physically close to their hearts and minds and putting boundaries in place to protect against sinful habits. Their faith drove them to do all they could to remove sin and follow God.

But, they didn’t stop there. They forced it on others. They looked at the habits and traditions as if they had some saving value. They forgot.

God, draw me close again, to see You, not just the law that You fulfilled, not just my own sinfulness that You already atoned, just You. And, then let me walk in worship, constant worship, all for You. ~Amen.

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Hosea 14, 2 Chronicles 26-27; Psalm 61; Matthew 20

“For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work.

“At nine o’clock in the morning he was passing through the marketplace and saw some people standing around doing nothing. So he hired them, telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day. So they went to work in the vineyard. At noon and again at three o’clock he did the same thing.

“At five o’clock that afternoon he was in town again and saw some more people standing around. He asked them, ‘Why haven’t you been working today?’

“They replied, ‘Because no one hired us.’

“The landowner told them, ‘Then go out and join the others in my vineyard.’

“That evening he told the foreman to call the workers in and pay them, beginning with the last workers first. When those hired at five o’clock were paid, each received a full day’s wage. When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage. When they received their pay, they protested to the owner, ‘Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.’

“He answered one of them, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?’

“So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.” Matthew 20:1-16

I am so intrigued by parables – the unique way of teaching through storytelling and the multifaceted truths that can be found depending on one’s perspective. Whenever I read a parable I want to better understand the layers of meaning. I can stay on the surface, looking at the outside layer that tends to pop out; I can go deeper, looking into the context within society during the time of Christ. And, I can go deeper still, to the heart of the parable, delving into the spiritual layer, asking God for insight into His heart.

As I was praying over the reading selection today, asking God to highlight what He wanted to teach me, I kept hearing the word “Grace”. When I look at myself honestly, I know I am not deserving of everything that God gives me apart from Him. In my humanness, I don’t even come close to meeting the requirements for perfection, and if I was earning a wage, my pay would be docked for all of my failings.

But fortunately, God’s grace changes everything; a gift, undeserved, makes all believers equal in God’s eyes. It doesn’t matter what the past looked like – someone on death row for murder, truly repentant before God is as righteous as someone who has gone to church her whole life, believing in Christ as a child. It doesn’t matter what the present looks like – being a missionary in a foreign country sharing Jesus with people who have never heard His name is as valuable as someone who serves the people in his church and community. It doesn’t matter if I am first in line or last in line or somewhere in the middle of the line, I will still receive the same “wage”.

Living in the Kingdom of Heaven is an equalizer not because of who I am, or what I do, or how hard or long I work; the Kingdom of Heaven is an equalizer because of the “wage”:

The“wage” IS Christ. There is no partial payment, there isn’t overtime, there is only a “full day’s wage” – His life laid down, His blood spilled, dead and buried, then risen in Glory to bring freedom and restoration – a gift of grace for everyone who accepts it, love, mercy, favor, honor, the same gift for all.

Yesappa, Thank You for Your gift of grace, the greatest, most undeserved wage I could receive. Thank You for loving me, for offering me mercy, for bestowing me with favor, and for honoring me as Your daughter. Thank You for giving me worth and making me a valuable part of Your Kingdom. Help me walk in this knowledge daily. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie, Sholavandan, India (written in the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Joel; Matthew 10

…I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.

Your sons and daughters will prophesy.

Your old men will dream dreams,

and your young men will see visions.

In those days I will pour out my Spirit

even on servants—men and women alike. Joel 2:28-29

…don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Matthew 10:19-20

12shepherdsvoice_niv500x373 Recently, I have been going to my parent’s house for small group. It isn’t a traditional small group where everyone gathers for Bible study; it is a group where people come to seek the voice of God, to quiet the soul and listen for His still, small voice.

There was a time that I believed that God didn’t speak to His people anymore, but I have come to realize that the only reason I can’t always hear what He is saying is because I’m not always listening, with my ears, my eyes, my mind, my heart. Life is SO busy, and it is very easy to get caught up in the day to day that it can be difficult to hear what God is saying to me.

Sometimes I wonder if it really is God’s voice speaking to me, sometimes I wonder, “Could it just be what I am thinking? My imagination?”

A mighty woman of God shared with me her revelation on God’s voice at the beginning of my faith journey. To paraphrase, when you answer the phone, without looking at caller ID, and it is your father, your mother, your sister, brother, friend, etc., you know who it is simply by hearing them speak. You recognized their voices and don’t need them to reveal who they are. It is the same with God. When you first meet Him, you may need introductions, but as you meet with Him more and more, it becomes easier and easier to identify God’s voice and differentiate between the many ‘voices’.

I have learned to pray for discernment when I am not sure of the source of what I am hearing or seeing – a good barometer is whether or not what I am perceiving is from the Lord is that it is encouraging, edifying, and exhorting and that it lines up with the things He has already told me in His Word.

Whenever I position myself to hear from God, I do, and last night was no exception. I want to share what He communicated to me, because I know that it isn’t just for me:


I see a picture of a person in a vast body of water, deep enough that there is no perceivable bottom. I know that this person has been swimming for a while because no land is nearby. The person has stopped – he or she can go no further and can’t go back. Exhausted the person is slowly treading water to conserve energy, understanding that it is only a matter of time before he or she is even able to tread water anymore. Some time has passed and the person begins flailing, a last ditch effort for survival. Out of nowhere a life-saving ring is tossed in front of the person. At first, the person doesn’t even see the floatation device in front of him or her and continues grasping at air in desperation. As I look closer at the floatation device, I see that there is a rope attached to it, but rather than the rope leading to a boat as I would expect, it reaches into the clouds and the other end can’t be seen. I am hearing the words “Life Line”. All the person has to do is realize it’s in front of him or her, ready and available to help…

”I’m here. I’m ALWAYS here – in good times and bad, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer – nothing matters but you – loving you, caring for you, providing for you – the struggles are nothing to Me – they aren’t greater than Me, they can’t defeat Me, they won’t overcome Me, they aren’t ‘too much’ for Me – I love you with and everlasting love, incomprehensible to you, but fully unconditional – reach out, reach out for the life line I’ve thrown you, grab on and hold on tight – I’ll rescue you, I’ll bring you away from the fear, away from the panic, far away from the feeling of defeat. Grab onto Me and hold on tight.

Desperation is no longer yours – you’ll no longer feel like you’re drowning; you’ll no longer be afraid because My life line is yours, grasped tightly in your hand – always there, always rescuing you – hold on tightly to Me – hold on, hold on”…

And then I saw this: CONNEXTION


Yesappa, Thank You for meeting me. Thank You for speaking to me and showing me a piece of Your heart. Allow this word to minister to Your children. Open ears to hear and eyes to see You; and give courage to share what You are speaking. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie, Sholavandan, India (written in the U.S.A.)

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Leviticus 20, 21; Matthew 28

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

A commissioning directly from the mouth of Christ…

He has authority in heaven and in earth and now He is passing on that authority to me.

GO. Make disciples. Baptize. Teach.

He will be with me forever.

As a teenager, I went on a mission trip to Guatemala. It was a life changing experience, as most mission trips are. It opened my eyes to a different world, to different customs, to different beliefs. It opened my eyes to lack – financial scarcity, shortage of love, and poverty of spirit – and to need. During that trip, a desire to serve people entered my heart. A short time later, at a Christian conference for teenagers, I felt God’s call to the mission field.

The timing wasn’t right…I was 16. I couldn’t just go. Though I applied for other mission trips, I was consistently turned down. It discouraged me and I gave up the dream. I turned away from my faith.

Fast forward nearly 15 years later. My passion for the Lord reignited, I was on fire. I went to every gathering, Bible study, or worship session I could go to. In one meeting, while Heidi Baker prayed for me, I heard the call to ‘GO’ once more. It was time.

I still didn’t know what it meant to ‘GO’. At first, I thought that it meant traveling to a foreign nation, going to an underdeveloped county in the third world. I though it meant living in a small pocket of the 10/40 window. I thought it meant going to Africa or China or India.

And, it does mean that…

But, it also means going to friends and family who don’t know Christ. It means going into my neighborhood, to the hospital, to the nearby retirement home or assisted living community. It means being a mentor to children who don’t have many quality role models. It means reaching out, giving my time, my energy, my talents, my money.

‘GO’ means loving the ‘unlovable’ no matter where I am and stopping for the one God asks me to stop for.

Yesappa, Thank You for stopping for me; for giving everything you have for my redemption, for my life. Thank You for making me holy, for separating me, and making me Yours (Leviticus 20:26). Thank You for calling me, for giving me Your authority to preach the gospel, and for sending me to Your children who have yet to recognize You as Father. Help me make disciples. Help me baptize in Your Holy Name. Help me teach Your commands. Thank You for Your strength, and for being with me forever. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan)

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Leviticus 18-19; Matthew 27:32-66

The description of the world’s inhumanity towards Jesus is dark and horrific. There’s pure meanness directed towards this sinless man who had been beaten, tortured and now has his body hanging from nail pierced hands and feet. First it comes from the Roman soldiers, then the passersby, the chief priests, rabbis and elders. Lastly, the insults come from the two thieves dying next to him on their crosses. What was to be gained from such cruelty? The extent of Jesus’s suffering is too much to comprehend. I can’t even begin to understand the pain of those who loved him and followed him to his death on the Cross. When I read and meditate on these passages, I am overcome with personal sorrow.  This is the God I love tortured and  hung to die on a cross.

Our earthly lives are precious, measured and finite. Two years ago, I sat beside my father-in-law as he fought for every breath before dying. He treasured his life on earth and did not want to die. His death left me realizing the enormity of what Christ has done for me. It would be unthinkable to ask an ordinary man to give his life for mine, yet the very the Son of God did that for me. Jesus chose the path of suffering and death so that those who put him on the Cross could choose eternal life and enjoy the blessings of knowing God. His death and resurrection broke the power of all the cruelty man could heap upon him. Everyday, His love for me breaks the power of the sin that once claimed my life.

Matthews words send my heart back to an old hymn I remember sung during Good Friday services, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. Isaac Watts says so well what my heart knows to be true.

When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died,

My richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it Lord, that I should boast save in the cross of Christ my God;

All the vain things that charm me most- I sacrifice them to his blood.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down;

Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown.

Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small:

Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life my all.

klueh

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

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