Monthly Archives: April 2012

Emails to God – Good Intentions, Disappointing Results (Matthew 26:31-35)

31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:

“‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”

34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”

35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.

Dear God, there are so many times when my intentions are great, and my expectations of myself are really high, and then I end up falling way short of both. It plays into my relationships with those around me. It shows up in my relationship with you and the time I intend to spend with you, studying your Word and experiencing you in prayer. It even shows up in how much I intend to exercise during a given period. I expect to do great things, but I often fall short.

While some may see this story as a story of Peter’s hubris and overconfidence, Matthew is careful to tell us two things about this exchange:

  1. Jesus knew that Peter would fail and it was okay.
  2. The other disciples were just as overconfident (or at least overconfident in their words) as Peter.

Father, I know I am overconfident and that I often fail. I understand that I need your power and redemption over my failings. But I am also grateful that you know my weaknesses and you allow for them. You don’t like them, and you want me to do better, but you know they lay of the land and what is going on with me. You know my heart and its love for you. You also know the laziness of my heart and how I sometimes just give up. Please forgive me for my weaknesses and help me to reflect you to others.

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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Matthew


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Emails to God – The Last Supper (Matthew 26:17-30)

17 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

18 He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.

20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”

23 Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”

Jesus answered, “You have said so.”

26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Dear God, this is a tough scene to watch. We know what’s coming, but the disciples don’t. Jesus is trying to prepare them for what is about to happen, but there is no real way to do it.

I am curious that he took the opportunity to call out Judas. I wonder if he just couldn’t take it anymore. The anguish must have been tremendous. Sitting there at the table with Judas, watching him try to tact normal, but exhibit signs of guilt. The other disciples were probably so confused that they didn’t notice, but Jesus knew. I wonder how the other disciples responded to his exchange with Judas. I don’t think any of the other Gospels give us an insight into their reaction. They only tell us that all of them were only thinking of themselves and whether or not it could be them that would do it.

Father, I don’t so much have any real revelations for myself in this passage. My thoughts are mainly about trying to get in the heads of each person in the story and empathize with them in some way. I don’t have nearly as much judgment in my heart for Judas as I did when I was young because I can see the wickedness in my own heart that isn’t all that different from his. I also don’t judge the other disciples as much either. Perhaps that is the point of most of these stories—that eventually we grow to the point where we see ourselves in their weaknesses and strive to improve ourselves rather than judge them. Maybe we can do the same with those around us in our everyday lives too.

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Posted by on April 28, 2012 in Matthew


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Emails to God – Making the Big Mistake (Matthew 26:14-16)

14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Dear God, Matthew does a really nice job of letting this narrative flow together. Because we rarely read these passages as a whole we don’t usually see how one story leads to another. In the run-up to this betrayal Jesus had spent a couple of chapters insulting the Pharisees and chief priests and told the disciples that he was about to be crucified. Then Matthew wants to let us know that after the incident with the woman with the perfume Judas had had enough and was ready to betray Jesus. He probably thought, If he wants to be crucified I can help make that happen.

Of course, Judas had so much regret for his actions later that he killed himself. He was an angry guy who made a really bad, impulsive decision that he couldn’t take back.

Right now, I have some friends whose daughter is in a difficult spot. The girl lives with her mother in another town, and is about to graduate high school next month. I don’t know what happened, but the mother kicked her out of the house, so this friend is going to his daughter to figure out how best to take care of her. I have seen something like this happen before, and I know how anger can drive a parent to do something foolish. Then the moment of regret comes, but they have gone too far down the road. Pride, principle, or both gets in the way. Now, much like Judas, the parent and everyone else involved is left to deal with the fallout from a bad decision.

Father, I first want to pray for my friend who is going to his daughter. Be with each of them. Love them and encourage them. Be with his wife. Be with the girl’s mother and step-father. Reveal yourself to them and use this awful circumstance as an opportunity to draw them each closer to you. I also want to pray for myself. There are times when I make impulsive decisions that need to be more prayed through. I have a situation at work right now that I am facing. I don’t know how to respond, and I can see where my decision will knock over a lot of dominos in a lot of people’s lives so I need to tread carefully. Help me to do that so that your wisdom, love and mercy might completely show through this place and your glory might be magnified in ever life that comes to us.

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Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Matthew


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Emails to God – The Interconnectedness of our Lives (Matthew 26:6-13)

6 While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, 7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

8 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9 “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Dear God, I wonder how much of the disciples’ response was indignation and how much was them responding out of the stress they were feeling over what Jesus had just told them about being crucified and all of the conflict He was stirring up with the Pharisees. That’s the interesting thing about reading this stories in order. I start to get a context for each one, and this story takes on a different view when I see that it comes immediately after Jesus tells them about being crucified.

The things going on in my life often impact other areas. Troubles with parenting can bleed over into work. Trouble at work can bleed over into my home life. I have a coworker whose husband is sick. They were supposed to hear yesterday about his prognosis. I am sure that whatever she learned yesterday will have an impact on her day today. How can it not?

Father, help me to be at peace, and help me to administer your peace to those around me. I am especially thinking about my coworkers who are facing personal trials. Love and encourage them. Give them your peace. Help everyone at work to rise up around them and be your hands and feet to them. Show us how you would have us serve them.

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Posted by on April 24, 2012 in Matthew


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Emails to God – Missing the Big Picture (Matthew 26:1-5)

1 When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2 “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”

3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4 and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 5 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.”

Dear God, I never caught the subtlety of all of this before, but Matthew is pretty clear in how he lays this out—Jesus said what he did in chapters 24 and 25 in order to set up verse two here. He knew it had to happen. He knew he needed to be crucified. He knew that I needed him to be crucified.

I wonder what the disciples were thinking while all of this was going on. They had to have been uncomfortable while Jesus was sitting there and saying such provocative things. Then it had to have really disturbed them when he so plainly told them, in essence, “I know they are mad, and now they are going to crucify me.” At that point they must have been confused and scared. They couldn’t see the big picture that Jesus could see. They couldn’t understand the plan.

Father, I know that, as I look around my life, I can’t see the big picture. I have no idea what your plan is. The trick is to come to terms with that and live in peace regardless of what is happening around me. So help me to do that. Help me to be your example in the lives of those around me. Draw others to yourself through me. Help me to decrease as you increase. Be glorified through me so that others might be drawn to you.

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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in Matthew


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Emails to God – Being Found Unfaithful (Matthew 25)

1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Dear God, I must confess that I have not felt very motivated to pray this week. I decided to do all of chapter 25 here (even though it is 46 verses) because the three stories here (bridegroom and virgins, the three servants, and the sheep and the goats) are all linked by the theme of your return. They talk about faithfulness, and, for whatever reason, I haven’t felt very faithful to you this week.

I wonder why there are times when I just can’t bring myself to stop and spend time in prayer. It’s almost like I am avoiding you, but I don’t understand it. I can’t think of anything about which I was feeling guilty or ashamed. Maybe I was just tired. Frankly, I had a hard time motivating myself to do much of anything this week. I wasn’t excited about work. I didn’t really exercise. I didn’t eat particularly well and lost a little ground on my efforts to get back in better shape. It was just a week where I kind of went off the rails a little.

I mention this in relation to these passages because they all seem to talk about you finding us faithful, and, while I normally think of myself as being faithful and working as unto you, I can say that if you had come back this week you would not have found me faithful. I think (and hope) I would have still made the sheep group, but it was certainly not a week where I lived in your victory or joy.

Father, it’s early on a Saturday morning and I pledge myself to you today. I pledge myself to your glory. I pledge myself to your plan and purposes. I pledge myself to praying for my friends who I neglected this week. I pledge myself to praying for and serving my wife and children. I pledge myself to denying myself for your glory’s sake. Find me faithful.

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Posted by on April 21, 2012 in Matthew


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Emails to God – Ignoring Being Left Behind (Matthew 24:36-51

36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Dear God, I have a friend who has been reading the Left Behind books lately. The series has been out for a while. Personally, I haven’t read them. I haven’t really felt the need to. When I work as unto you, I can’t have it be for the day when you return. It has to be because I feel you with me at the moment. You’re still my inspiration, but it’s because you are here with me now and not because you might come back while I am alive.

Father, this will be a short one today because I just don’t have much to say on this topic. I think the real message you are trying to get across to us here is that you want us to be faithful and work until the end—whether that is the end of my life, which could come at any time, or the end of time, which could come at any time. So be glorified through me. Bless others through me. And draw me into yourself so that I might experience your complete presence and peace.

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Posted by on April 17, 2012 in Matthew


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Emails to God – Ignoring the Second Coming (Matthew 24:1-35)

1 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.

9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.

26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

29 “Immediately after the distress of those days

“‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

Dear God, is it bad that I ignore passages like this one? Is it a problem that I have decided that I can’t make decisions about how to live my daily life based on the second coming and still keep my sanity? Nearly 2,000 years have passed since you spoke these words. I suppose a case could be made that we are closer now than ever so I should be aware (maybe it will be on December 21, 2012), but I just can’t live that way.

So how should I live? Is there a part of this message that is imperative for me to adopt. Beyond ignoring the false prophets, I think you are also calling me to not slumber. I need to pursue you. I need to know you and let you direct my path. Perhaps this passage was more about telling the disciples to not be so impressed with the buildings they were seeing at the beginning of the chapter and less about you coming back, riding on the clouds.

Father, I don’t want to miss the lesson of this passage, but I also don’t want to read too much into it. I guess the part that always amazes me, as I sit here at type, is that out of all of the billions of people in the world, you are interested in me. You are interested in these prayers. You are interested in the lessons I will learn from you and the actions I will take. You are interested in me getting to know you and having a relationship with you. You long for me. Basically, if I will take the lesson from the last chapter and love you with all my heart, mind, and strength then I will be okay. That’s what I’ll try to do.

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Posted by on April 14, 2012 in Matthew


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Emails to God – Hypocrisy (Matthew 23:13-39)

13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. [14]

15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ 17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ 19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22 And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.

23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started!

33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.

37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Dear God, wow, this is really something to read. I think it really picks up for me in verse 33. The first part of this is convicting because, as I see all of the areas in which Jesus is calling the Pharisees hypocrites, it makes me start to wonder about the areas where I am a hypocrite. Some of my most convicting moments have been when my son, in anger, has called me a hypocrite and I realized he was right.

But in verse 33 Jesus starts talking about the self-righteousness of the Pharisees and how they reject the idea of rejecting and murdering God’s prophets. But then Jesus, in verse 34, tells them that they are about to do the same thing, and I am pretty sure that verse 34 is about the apostles who will follow after him. I wonder how they felt in hearing this.

Finally, Jesus shows His love for all of us. He shows his longing for us. He shows His longing for me, a hypocrite. Well, Father, I am willing to be gathered. I am willing to repent. I am willing to rest under your wing. Forgive me for my hypocrisy. Forgive me for failing you. Forgive me for my sin and my failures. Be glorified in me and love others through me.

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Posted by on April 13, 2012 in Matthew


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Emails to God – Beware the Yeast of the Pharisees (Matthew 23:1-12)

1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Dear God, I find the first words of verse three to be a little contradictory to the rest of this passage: “So you must be careful to do everything they tell you.” It makes me think that the teachings were good, but the execution and follow through was bad. I think the thing that frustrated Jesus the most about the Pharisees, from reading this passage, was how much they loved the attention of their position. They were addicted to the respect.

I happen to have a fairly visible position in a small town. I work for an organization that has a noble mission and was started by one of the Godliest people I have ever known. In some ways, I have inherited her mantle, although I have also developed my own over the last six years. The hard thing is that I know that you are the reason behind so many of the good things that happen to us here, and yet people are constantly wanting to give me the credit. Frankly, I get a lot of love from people I hardly know, and it sometimes overwhelms me.

Father, I know you call me to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees. I know that you want me to be the least among the people with whom I live and work. I know you want me to decrease as you increase. So help me to do that today. Especially today. Help me to deny the ideas of self-pity, entitlement, and deservedness. Instead, help me to offer myself to others regardless of what it costs me. Help me to love our patients and give of myself to them, serve our staff and volunteers and help them draw closer to you, parent my children and offer myself for their good, and adore and nurture my wife as she begins an exciting and possibly overwhelming trip.

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Posted by on April 12, 2012 in Matthew


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