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Matthew 12

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

TUESDAY, APRIL 11

 

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 12

There is so much happening in this chapter, it is impossible to cover even half of it in the space I have available.  So after reading and rereading the chapter, I have settled on a section of the chapter that begins in verse 33 and concludes in verse 37.

This section follows an interesting discussion between Jesus and some religious leaders.  It seems the religious leaders were convinced that the only way Jesus could be casting our demons is if He were doing it through the authority of Beelzebub (that would be Satan).  Jesus literally destroys that argument but when we get to verse 33, He draws this line.

He said to the religious leaders and to us, for that matter, that we need to make up our minds about Jesus.  He is either evil and does bad things or He is good and does good things.  And the only way to truly decide whether he was evil or good was to evaluate what He did.  If He did good things, He had to be good and therefore could not be evil.  And the reverse is true.  If He did bad things, He had to bad and therefore could not be good.

Then in verse 34, Jesus gives us the ultimate test of good or evil.  He said that it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.  In other words, what was actually in a man was what would eventually come out of a man.  The things we say ultimately are evidence of the nature of a person’s heart.  If there is bad stuff in us, bad stuff will come out in our words.  If there is good stuff in us, good stuff will come out in our words.

Our words, then, are proof of our heart.  That’s why on the judgment day we will give an account of every careless word we speak (v.36).  The word careless here means useless.  So this is not necessarily using bad words. It is using worthless words.  Jesus takes it a step further and says it is those words that will either justify or condemn you.  But don’t miss the point that it is every careless word.  Maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to talk or talk so much when we do.

The reason our justification or condemnation flows from the words we speak is the words we speak flow from the heart we have.  The Bible says “the human heart is the most deceitful of all things and desperately wicked.” (Jeremiah 17:9)  This is the way the Bible views the unredeemed heart, the unsaved heart.  That’s why God promises to “give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you”. (Ezekiel 36:26)

As God changes our hearts that necessarily changes our words.

 

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Matthew 11

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

MONDAY, APRIL 10

 

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 11

Welcome to the third week of this discipleship strategy.  I have enjoyed reading these chapters with you.  There is something most encouraging about a bunch of us reading the same Scriptures together.  And I am most honored to provide a few thoughts for you.  Let’s look at chapter 11.

When the chapter opens, Jesus had finished a teaching time with his disciples and they were off to preach and teach in a variety of cities.  Along the way, Jesus and His disciples were intercepted by some of the disciples that followed John the Baptizer.  John sent a curious but important question to Jesus by way of his disciples.  

The question in verse 3 is: “Are you the one who is to come or shall we look for another?”  John was asking Jesus if He was the Christ or should they keep looking for the Christ.  This is an important question.  We need to know and be rock solid in our knowing that Jesus is the Christ.  So, bravo to John the Baptizer.  He asked a good question.

But this is an unusual question for John to ask.  In John 1:29, John the Baptizer saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”  After he baptized Jesus, he saw the Dove descend from heaven and he heard the Father say, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.”  At least during the baptism episode, John the Baptizer was convinced of the identity of Jesus.  

But now in Matthew 11, John isn’t so sure.  I am not picking on John.  After all, we read in verse 2 that he is in prison.  Whether he knew it or not, his death was imminent.  So there are a lot of reasons that he needed to be absolutely sure about the identity of Jesus.

As Christ followers, we have all been in a similar predicament.  Maybe we didn’t doubt the identity of Jesus.  After all we have a little more to go on than John did.  But we have all been in situations that shook our faith and flooded our hearts with doubt.  

Those periods of doubt actually often come on the heels of some pretty significant spiritual times in our lives.  Sometimes it is circumstances that weaken our faith.  Sometimes it is periods of exhaustion that weaken our faith.  Sometimes it is periods of uncertainty that weaken our faith.  Sometimes our faith just kind of wilts around us and we are not sure what to believe or what to do.

I absolutely love Jesus’ response in verse 4.  It is crazy to me that Jesus didn’t just jump all over John for this.  After all that John did, said, saw, and heard, he wasn’t sure about Jesus?  Come on.  Give me a Baptist Break.  But instead Jesus used the Scripture to reassure a struggling man and reaffirm a doubting man.  He told John’s disciples to go share that with John.

They did.  Then in verses 7-18, Jesus bragged on John.  He made sure the crowd knew how exceptional of a man John was.  He made sure they knew that John fulfilled Old Testament prophecies.  It would have been so easy for Jesus to use John as a negative example.  Instead He held John up to the masses and said you should pay attention to this man.  That’s way cool.

Here are a couple of things to take with you.  One, when your faith wanes, go to the Scripture.  Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.  When your faith wanes, don’t convince yourself that Jesus must be really put out with you.  Instead, realize Jesus wants to encourage you and even hold you up as an example.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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