Walkaway Joes

Re: Verse reading–Matthew 18:21-25 (day seven)

“It is not the will of your Father. . .that one of these little ones perish.  And if your brother sins, go and reprove him. . .if he listens to you, you have gained you brother.”–v 14-15.

I like country music.  Don’t judge me.  Years ago, Trisha Yearwood had a song called, “A Walkaway Joe.”  Mom saw it.  Daughter didn’t.  The boy in question would eventually “walk away”.

Most of us have some of the same tendency. Someone in the church hurts our feelings.  We walk away.  Sin looks attractive.  We wander away, lose interest in Spiritual things.

Christ has instructions for this situation.  Those who love the Lord are to come to us and reprove us and help us and forgive us.  What good is a friendship so brittle that it breaks under tension?

God does not want us to perish.  When we walk away, He searches for us by sending the church.

Dying to Forgive

Re: Verse reading–Matthew 18:21-35 (day six) 

Forgiveness, whether we receive it or give it, springs from the infinite well of grace and mercy dug deep by the death and resurrection of the Son! If that is true, and it is, consider this. As Jesus is teaching his listeners about the nature of the Kingdom of God and forgiveness, he knows that the very basis of that reality hinges or is founded on his death and resurrection. The Father cannot forgive, nor can we, without the tragedy and joy of the Cross!

Our reluctance to forgive, or closeted resentment, is no small thing, it is a rejection of the Gospel, and reaps only separation from God and others. So perhaps, the most practical fruit that the Gospel produces in us is forgiveness!

How Much was That?

Re: Verse reading–Matthew 18:21-35 (day five)

The goal for the ride back to Ft. Worth from Odessa, was to see how high I could count. As a little boy, my counting skills were just blossoming.   With dad’s help, I think I surpassed a million. (It was a longer ride for him than for me) Numbers and digits I had never dreamed of were written on my notepad.

When Jesus values the debt at “ten thousand talents”, He’s doing the same kind of thing. It was both the largest amount of currency and the largest numeral known to the Greeks. How much was that?   It was a “ginormous” amount.

I had a college professor who always said, “If you never know how lost you were, you’ll never know how saved you are”. It’s same principle Jesus was teaching. “If you never know how much in debt you were, you’ll never know how forgiven you really are”.

Psalm 130: If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

Put Aside Bitterness

Re: Verse reading–Matthew 18:21-35 (day four) 

Bitterness…it can eat you up inside like a cancer! We can avoid bitterness through forgiveness. The Lord knew it…He told Peter to forgive endlessly. When we are unwilling to forgive, bitterness rushes in. It is why Paul, in Ephesians 4:26-27 said, “do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” Later, in that same chapter, he said, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (v. 32) Bitterness destroys relationships. No relationship…with God, with a fellow man or woman…none can survive the onslaught of bitterness. The slave in our narrative today was blinded by his unforgiveness. He failed to make the connection between the compassion shown him and the need to pass it on to others. He allowed the devil an opportunity and it did not work out so well for him. Bitterness…put it aside…forgive and put on the character of Christ!


Re: Verse reading—Matthew 18:21-35 (day three)

“Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” The ability to forgive does not come from mustering up the fortitude to forgive, or from trying really hard to forgive, or from reminding yourself that you need to forgive. The ability to forgive, Jesus reveals through the story he tells to Peter, comes from remembering how much you’ve been forgiven. Until you do that, forgiveness lies out of reach. Never forget how much you’ve been forgiven. If you will remember, you can forgive.

Keeping Calendars

Re: Verse reading–Matthew 18:21-35 (day two) 

And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.28 But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’

I keep dates in my head fairly well, that is I usually do. I find that when I am talking about family things I can recall the dates and times of events without referring to a written calendar. Then, when I am at church I have little trouble recalling dates and events relating to church. Where, I get into trouble is when I am at home planning a family event and I somehow forget there is already a church event scheduled. I know, I know this is easily solved by writing things down! Stay with the analogy for just a moment. We know that we have been forgiven. We have experienced the release of the burden by Jesus’ unconditional pardon. What happens, however, when we have the opportunity to offer grace and forgiveness. Have we placed that ‘calendar’ in another secret part of our brain? God’s forgiveness to us must be the catalyst to begin forgiving others.

Looking for a limit

Re: Verse reading–Matthew 18:21-35 (day one) 

“Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother?”–v 21.

I am sympathetic with Peter in this story.  Like him, I frequently (and unconsciously) come to God in search of some “reasonable” (my word) limit to what I am expected to do or be.  After all, “I am only human”.

Those who ask this question are always disappointed with Christ’s answer.  There are no limits!  None.  Not because it isn’t FAIR. Not because I am FATIGUED.  He asks of me the same kind of love that He has given me.  Boundless.  Infinite.  Free.  And promises to supply the living water flowing out of my innermost being making such miracle possible.  John 3:7.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace. . .against such there is no law, (no limit)–Galatians 5:22-23.

“Freely, freely you have received.  Freely, freely give”-Matthew 10:8.  Is there a reasonable limit to what He can ask of me?  No, no there isn’t.


One out of four

Re: Verse reading–Matthew 13:1-23 (day seven)

“Seeing, they do not see; and hearing, they do not hear or understand.– v 13.

Old joke.  Farmer goes to New York City.  Sees a huge office building.  “How many people work in this building?”, he asks an man walking out the front door.  “About half of them.” says the man.

Old truth.  Unchanging.  Preacher steps up to a pulpit.  Huge crowd.  How many people really hear what the Lord is saying?  Understand what the Lord is requiring?  “About one fourth of them”, says Jesus.

Probably can’t be reduced to percentage.  Even so, it is a sad story.  MANY people don’t hear God.  Either can’t or won’t.  More the second than the first.

But some do.  SOME DO!  And so, “the sower went out to sow” v 3.  Even with a 1 in 4 success rate, it is worth it to the Lord.

Let him who has ears, hear what the Lord is saying to the churches.

Hearing and Seeing Equals Fruit

Re: Verse reading–Matthew 13:1-23 (day six)

Have you ever stared and stared at one of those 3D holographic posters to no avail, only to walk away frustrated because the person next to you sees it immediately? And as you walk away they say, “What, you can’t see that? It practically jumps out at you.” Interestingly enough, parables are very similar. The truth is there, it’s right in front of you, if only you have eyes to see and ears to hear. So, parables either condemn or reveal great truth. They condemn those whose hearts are hardened to the truth and cannot see it, and reveal to those who are looking (asking, seeking, knocking) for the Kingdom of God.

So, how do you know if you see and hear with understanding? Well according to the parable of the sower, you can know by whether or not your life bares Kingdom fruit.

I Want to Hear!!

Re: Verse reading–Matthew 13:1-23 (day five)

Communication in its basic form involves 2 things: sending (speaking) and receiving (hearing). Jesus’ words in Matthew 13:9 “He who has ears let him hear”, express His concern and burden for those who are on the receiving/hearing part of the equation. Notice there is no mention or attention directed toward The Sender. There is no doubt or uncertainty in Jesus’ mind that God (the sender/speaker) is totally effective and completely capable in His part of the task in communicating His Character and Nature to the human heart. See Psalm 19, Hebrews 1 and, Romans 1.

Notice also the tremendous opportunity for all of us in verse 9.

Makes me want to say, “I WANT TO HEAR!!”

Anybody desperate and in need of a word or message from the Living God??