A rich young ruler asked Jesus, "Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life:" Jesus told him to keep the Ten Commandments including "love your neighbor as yourself," and the man said he had done this since he was a boy. As far as he knew, he did ...

 

Love of Money or Idolatry? (Matthew 19:16-26) and more...



Love of Money or Idolatry? (Matthew 19:16-26)

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A rich young ruler asked Jesus, "Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life:" Jesus told him to keep the Ten Commandments including "love your neighbor as yourself," and the man said he had done this since he was a boy. As far as he knew, he did everything right, but his question shows the emptiness he felt.

Then Jesus said, "Go sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

​Still empty, the young man walked away sad. He thought he could earn a place in heaven, but Jesus said something different. First he said, "Love your neighbor as yourself," and then "Sell what you own and give to the poor." Do you think if the man loved his neighbor as he loved himself he would have hesitated to give to the poor? Do you think everyone should sell what they have and give the money away? I do not think that is the point of this lesson. The point is, God wants to be our God with no other gods before us (idolatry), whether it is fear, anxiety, money, time, relationships, health, service or anything else that stands in the way of our fellowship with Him.

Think About It
​ "Jesus said to his disciples, Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me" (Matthew 16:24). This is the same message Jesus gave the rich young man--humble yourself, take up your cross by being willing to give your all to God and others, then follow Jesus. This is the pathway to heaven.

Pray About It
Holy Father, teach us what it means to follow Jesus so we can be with you forever. Amen.


    
 

Stairway to Heaven (John 1:36-51)

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After Jesus called Philip to be one of his disciples, Philip went to his friend Nathanael. "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets wrote--Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph," he said.

"Nazareth!" Nathanael exclaimed. "What good can come from there?" Nazareth was not an important city so he wondered how could the Messiah come from there?

Philip persisted. "Come and see!"

Jesus saw the two coming toward Him. "Here is a true Israelite, an honest man," He said.

This took Nathanael by surprise. "How do you know me?"

"I saw you under the fig tree before Philip came to you," Jesus said.

Nathanael recognized Jesus then as the Savior, the Son of God. Jesus said, "You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that. I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

Think About It
Jesus referred to Jacob's Ladder in Genesis 28:12, because He is the link between heaven and earth. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one goes to the Father (in heaven) but through Him (John 14:6). Nathanael would walk with Jesus and see Him in all his glory.

Pray About It
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for our connection through you to our Father in heaven. Make us aware of your glory, even today. Amen.


    
 

Why the Cross?

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Have you ever wanted to ask God, "Why did you choose the cross?" I have, and it went something like this:

ME: Thank you for my salvation, O God. Thank you for love and grace, hope and peace. Thank you for eternal life, but the way you chose, the cross, is so brutal. Couldn't you have thought of an easier way? What about personal sacrifice instead of Your Son?

GOD: I used the blood of goats and lambs for my people to sacrifice for their sins, but it became tradition and lost its meaning.

ME: Couldn't you have established some guidelines, a few rules to teach us how to live?

GOD: I wrote the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone, but when people thought they kept them, pride grew in their hearts, not love for me or for others. If they truly followed the commandments, they would have grown to love me and each other. They learned to love themselves.

ME: Well, couldn't you have sent people to warn us about choosing our ways instead of your ways? 

GOD: I sent the prophets. People persecuted some and killed others. I finally sent my only Son to teach, to set an example of how to love each other and finally, to be their sacrifice, to redeem them from their sin nature.

JESUS: For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should to perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). 

Think About It
God's ways are higher than our ways. He thinks of everything before we do. Although the cross is brutal, Jesus bore our sins there so we wouldn't have to. Many people do not believe this, but one day they will. It is written: 'As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God’ (Romans 14:11). When that day comes, I hope you will bow and confess out of love for Jesus, not as a stranger to Him. He loves you and waits for your response to His love. Say His name, confess that you have not lived according to His ways, and ask Him to help you love as He has loved you.

Pray About It
Thank you, Holy God, for redeeming me from a pit of despair and raising me to the hope of your salvation. The cross was 
brutal, but thank you for taking my place and giving me your righteousness--something I do not deserve. I love you and I am yours. Amen.

    
 

The First Christmas Gift

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Mary wrapped the first Christmas gift when she wrapped Baby Jesus in swaddling cloths. John 3:16 says it was God's gift to the world. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

God loves us so much He gave . . . He gave His only Son. And His only Son gave His life for us on the cross so we would have forgiveness and eternal life with Him.

What do you do when you love someone a whole lot? Since we are created in God's image, I think it is natural for us to want to give. What will you give to God for such a Great Gift?

I asked myself this question and decided to give God my life. In turn He gave me more! Imagine that. Instead of hopelessness and stress, I have hope and peace and purpose. God gave me a love for Himself and others. God is helping me become more like Jesus.

Think About It
How will you respond to God's gift of love? Here are a few suggestions:
Love others.
Obey your parents.
Help others.
Give a smile.
Give an offering.
Be a friend to a lonely person.

Pray About It
Thank your, Father God, for the gift of Jesus. Thank you for loving me and for giving me loving parents. Help me to learn to give. Help me to be more like Jesus. Amen.



    
 
   
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