All posts by JT

Christian. Husband. Dad. 911 dispatcher. Baseball fan. Horror nut. Music nerd. Bookworm. Time Magazine's 2006 Person of the Year.

The Blessing of Compassion (Psalm 41)

Psalm 41

I. The Lord’s view of the compassionate

    A. Repay the mercy that was shown to you (Psalm 41:1a)
    B. Six manifestations of the Lord’s mercy (Psalm 41:1b-3)

II. Enemies will mistreat you

    A. A penitent prayer for mercy (Psalm 41:4)
    B. Our enemy’s unwillingness to forgive (Psalm 41:5-8)
    C. A betrayal of close friends (Psalm 41:9; cf. 2 Samuel 15:1-12; John 13:18)

III. Men can be fickle, but God is faithful

    A. God’s justice will be served (Psalm 41:10-11)
    B. Integrity based on repentance (Psalm 41:12)
    C. Praise the One who shows compassion on His creation (Psalm 41:13)

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 135/260: Read Matthew 10

Context is vitally important when studying the Scriptures. When considering the context of a passage, you must ask, “Who is being addressed?” God was talking to Noah when he said to build an ark. That command does not apply to us. Likewise, Jesus said some things to His apostles that do not apply to us today.

The Lord said to the apostles, “But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.” The apostles were inspired to say what they said.

That does not apply to us. We must be diligent in our study to be sure that what we say lines up with the revealed will of God. He is not going to whisper in our ear and tell us what to say. We must prepare ourselves to tell the good news by feasting on the Word.

Paul told Timothy, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If God still spoke directly to man today, there would be no need for the inspired Word; there would be no need to study at all.

Remember context, and prepare yourself to teach others.

Memory (Recite to a friend without looking)

Matthew 10:39. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

Pray

Pray for wisdom and discernment when studying the Word.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 134/260: Read Matthew 9

Don’t you just love talking about yourself? When you tell stories about things that happened in your life, you load those stories up with details, don’t you? And you always make sure to include details that make you look especially good.

That’s not how Matthew went about it. When Matthew wrote his account of the gospel, his focus was on Jesus, not on himself. Consider the incident related in this chapter of Matthew’s call to follow the Lord. Now read Luke’s account of the same incident in Luke 5:27-31. Keep in mind that “Matthew” and “Levi” are the same person. Do you notice any differences?

Based on Matthew’s account, what happened when Jesus said, “Follow Me”? Matthew says that “he arose and followed Him.” Pretty straight-forward, isn’t it? But Luke adds one other detail, saying that the tax collector “left all.” He made a great personal sacrifice in his decision to follow Jesus, but Matthew didn’t want to brag on himself.

Look at Matthew’s account again. Whose house did they eat in? He doesn’t reveal that information, does he? But Luke does! “Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house” (Luke 5:29). Matthew did not mention that it was his house; he humbly left himself out, wanting the focus to be on Jesus.

Where is the focus of our story? Let’s give Jesus the position He deserves—front and center. Put Him in the spotlight, and let us stand in the shadows. It’s not about us. It’s about Him.

Memory (Fill in the blanks)

Matthew 10:39. He who finds his life will ____________ it, and he who loses his life for My sake will ____________ it.

Pray

Pray for humility when spreading the gospel.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 133/260: Read Matthew 8

Living the Christian life is not an easy task. Following Jesus does not guarantee wealth or safety. A scribe came to the Master and said he would follow wherever Jesus went, but Jesus warned, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” You will face difficult situations in this world if you follow Jesus.

One of the Lord’s disciples said that he would not be free to follow Jesus until after his father had passed away. “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus rebuked the man’s procrastination. Following Jesus is an urgent matter and may require us to sacrifice personal matters. “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” Again, living the Christian life is not an easy task.

Matthew relates the incident on the tempestuous sea. The disciples were freaking out, but the Savior was asleep. They frantically woke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”

Sometimes it may feel like we are perishing, crushed under a load of worry and care in this life. Stress pushes us to what we think is our breaking point. But Jesus says, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?”

Jesus is able to calm whatever storm you are facing. You will face difficulties every day, but Jesus is right by your side. Focus on Him. Focus on the faith. Be at peace knowing that you have a powerful friend named Jesus.

Memory (Fill in the blanks)

Matthew 10:39. He who ____________ his life will lose it, and he who ____________ his life for My sake will find it.

Pray

Pray for peace in your life’s situations, focusing on Christ.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 132/260: Read Matthew 7

What is your reaction to the teachings of Jesus? Do you read an incident from His life, read what He said, and think, “That was a nice story”? Perhaps you are drawn to His love and grace, or perhaps to His compassion and humility. And certainly, those are excellent qualities that we should all strive to emulate. But do you dig in to the actual words He said? The demands that He makes on His followers?

In the first century, when people heard this Man teach, they were “astonished.” The things He taught were so radical when compared to what the religious elite taught that it blew their minds. He wasn’t just reading from the Old Law, but He was applying the principles of God to the life of individuals. The gospel writers said that “He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”

Do we read the words that Jesus said and apply it to ourselves, or do we think they were meant only for the other guy? Do we honestly compare the way we live and interact with the folks around us to the way Jesus said we should live and interact with them?

If we hear and do the sayings of Jesus, He will call us wise. Our spiritual foundation will be built upon the rock of truth. Sadly, there are many who hear but fail to apply the Lord’s saying. Christ says such are foolish. Are you wish or foolish?

Memory (Copy into a notebook 5-10 times)

Matthew 10:39. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

Pray

Pray for a greater desire to live as Jesus taught we should live.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 131/260: Read Matthew 6

Motivations are important, aren’t they? In the famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks a lot about motivations. In the sixth chapter, He tells His followers that if their motivations are not proper, their reward will be non-existent.

You want to do good by giving to charity? Don’t seek praise for doing it. You want to pray to God? Don’t do it so everyone else can hear you. You want to fast? Don’t make a show of it. If you do these things to glorify God, that’s good; if you do these things to receive the praise of men and to show how holy you are, then that is all you will get out of it. God will not reward you because your motivations are misguided.

A lot of people are motivated by money. Paul warns against the love of money, calling it “a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). Jesus warns against making money a priority in one’s life.

Yes, we need money to live, to provide shelter and food for our families, and God approves of such proper use of money. But there is a warning against hoarding riches. Jesus says that we must focus on spiritual treasures rather than earthly treasures, and promises that God will take care of His faithful children.

The bottom line is this: be motivated by God; be motivated by eternity. Don’t worry about the things of this life to the point that you take your eyes off Jesus.

Memory (Read aloud 5-10 times)

Matthew 10:39. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

Pray

Pray for a sharper focus on the things of God.

The Christ and His Kingdom (Luke 9:18-27)

The Christ and His Kingdom

Luke 9:18-27

I. Who is Jesus? (Luke 9:18-20)

    A. John the Baptist declared Jesus’ divinity (John 1:29-30)
    B. His enemies spread lies
    C. His admirers stopped believing He was the Messiah, but still held Him in high regard (Luke 9:7-8, 18-19)
    D. His apostles declared “The Christ of God” (Luke 9:20)

II. Predicting His death and resurrection (Luke 9:21-22)

    A. A warning to tell no one (Luke 9:21)
    B. The apostles’ reaction (Matthew 16:22-23; Isaiah 55:8-9)

III. Submission to God’s will (Luke 9:23-26)

    A. Desire, denial, and daily walking required (Luke 9:23-24)
    B. Nothing in this world is worth losing one’s soul (Luke 9:25-26)

IV. The kingdom (Luke 9:27)

    A. The kingdom is not still-future-to-us (Acts 2)
    B. Premillennialism is a false doctrine

Jesus Is All The World To Me

Jesus Is All The World To Me

I. The importance of Jesus to the Christian

    A. “My life, my joy, my all” (Luke 9:23; Matthew 5:10-12; Mark 12:29-30)
    B. “He is my strength…” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
    C. “When I am sad to Him I go” (2 Corinthians 7:4; Philippians 4:4)

II. The continual friendship and blessing of being in Christ

    A. “My Friend in trials sore” (Romans 8:35-39)
    B. “I go to Him for blessings” (3 John 2; James 4:3; Ephesians 1:3; Luke 9:25; Acts 14:17)

III. Jesus is our guide and protector

    A. “He’s so true to me” (2 Thessalonians 3:3; John 14:15; 1 Peter 5:8)
    B. “Following Him I know I’m right” (Matthew 7:13-14)

IV. Christ is our trustworthy Friend

    A. “I trust Him now, I’ll trust Him when life’s fleeting days shall end” (Ephesians 1:11-12; Hebrews 6:13-18)
    B. “Eternal life, eternal joy” (Matthew 10:29; 2 Timothy 2:11-13)

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 130/260: Read Matthew 5

Do you want to be happy? Who doesn’t? Jesus gives the keys to eternal happiness in the Sermon on the Mount. He begins with what we commonly call “the beatitudes.” The word “blessed” carries with it the connotation of happiness.

So, do you want to be happy? Jesus says be humble (or “poor in spirit”). Mourn over sin. Be meek. Crave spiritual knowledge. Show mercy. Develop purity in your heart. Make peace with those around you. Stand for what is right, regardless of the consequences in this life.

How we respond to God and how we treat other people has a profound impact on our happiness. When we focus on our own desires all the time, negativity will creep in. We see what we have not accomplished, what we do not possess, and we develop a defeatist attitude.

But when we focus on serving God and others, we obtain so much joy. By making God and other people happy, we make ourselves happy.

While I am a firm believer in the necessity to know how to say “no” on occasion, that should not be our default answer to every request. Read carefully Jesus’ words in verses 38 through 48. We must be willing to make some sacrifices to help others, to go the second mile, to give up our coat along with our tunic.

Do you want to be happy? “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”

Memory (Recite to a friend without looking)

Matthew 5:9. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

Pray

Pray for your enemies by name.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 129/260: Read Matthew 4

The best defense against temptation is a proper knowledge and application of the inspired Scriptures, as demonstrated by Jesus when He was in the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. Three times Satan attempted to entice Jesus to sin, and three times Jesus resisted by recalling the Word of God.

We can do the same today, but only if we have a working knowledge of God’s revelation. The Psalmist declared, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11). Have you hidden the Word in your heart?

Here are some specific sins that many face to some extent, and passages that may help defend our soul against Satan’s assaults:

  • Foul language and dirty jokes (Ephesians 4:29)
  • Greed and materialism (1 Timothy 6:6-10)
  • Pride and selfishness (Philippians 2:3)
  • Poor attitude toward employers (Colossians 3:23-24)
  • Racism and sexism (Galatians 3:28)
  • Disobeying God (John 14:15)
  • Disobeying the elders in the church (Hebrews 13:17)
  • Envy (Proverbs 23:17)
  • Apathy (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Can we do better? We must! But we need God’s help, and that help is available in the inspired Scriptures.

Memory (Fill in the blanks)

Matthew 5:9. “Blessed are the ________________, for they shall be called sons of ________________.”

Pray

Pray for wisdom in recognizing temptation, and strength in overcoming it through God’s Word.