Tuesday, January 31, 2017

let go

Matthew 10:39

If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it. (NLT)

Whoever finds his life [in this world] will [eventually] lose it [through death], and whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake will find it [that is, life with Me for all eternity]. (Amplified)

Whoever finds his own life will lose it, but the person who loses his life for my sake will find it. (CJB)

If you try to save your life, you will lose it. But if you give it up for me, you will surely find it. (CEV)

Those who try to keep the life they have will lose it. But those who give up their life for me will find true life. (ERV)

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (ESV)

The person who tries to preserve his life will lose it, but the person who loses his life for me will preserve it. (GW)

Those who try to gain their own life will lose it; but those who lose their life for my sake will gain it. (GNT)

Whoever tries to hold on to his life will give up true life. Whoever gives up his life for me will hold on to true life. (ICB)

The (person) who has found (their) own life will lose it, but the (person) who has lost it for my sake will find it. (J B Phillips)

f you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me. (The Message)

Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. (NIV)

To find your life, you must lose your life—and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. (The Voice)

No matter how you shake it out, whether in a translation, or in a paraphrase, there is one basic thought here...

Don't cling to your life.

Let go of it, & allow God full expression of the life He dreamed up long ago for each of us, & real life will be found.

Carry those 5 words around in your heart today, & see what direction God will begin to point.

Don't cling to your life...

Monday, January 30, 2017


Matthew 9

9 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector's booth.

"Follow me and be my disciple," Jesus said to him.

So Matthew got up and followed him.

  10 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests,

along with many tax collectors and other disreputable & notorious sinners.

11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples,

"Why does your teacher eat with such scum?"

  12 When Jesus heard this, he said,

"Healthy people don't need a doctor—sick people do."

13 Then he added,

"Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture:

'I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.'

For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous,

but those who know they are sinners."

Let's face it...

If we deign to hang out with people who aren't followers of Jesus,

they have to look like us,

be of the same social & economic class,

& should be at least as smart as we are.

It's no wonder the world thinks white middle class evangelicals are middle class white supremacists,

because we are.

Of course, we'd never admit that,

because we know that that kind of blatant admission would reveal a deep, deep flaw in our religious thinking,

& as superior beings we couldn't possibly have that despicable a world outlook.

I wonder when we will drop our arrogance & actually start reaching out to the people around us with the incredible news that Jesus cares about ALL of us, no matter who or what we are.

I wonder if we will ever come to the point where we can admit we're really all rot-gut, despicable, notorious sinners,

saved from a justly deserved separation from God by His mercy & grace,

& start saying to people if God can forgive & forget OUR rot-gut sins, He can certainly do that for theirs.

I sometimes doubt we'll ever do that.

Maybe a few of us can break out of that smugness & self absorption, but it will be only a few.

We all tend to ignore the fact that the people today we consider inferior & lower life forms were the very people not only drawn to Jesus, but that Jesus Himself WANTED to be around & felt CALLED to love & connect with.

He did NOT want to be around the superstars of the church of His day because He saw them for what they were...

arrogant & insufferable supremacists who were too far gone in their arrogance & self centeredness to be reached by even the Son of God.

As for me, give me a “notorious sinner” any day.

Those are the people that were drawn to Jesus.

And they were the very folks Jesus felt called to connect with.

And if He felt that way, I figure so should I.

Sunday, January 29, 2017


Colossians 3

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves,

you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy,




and patience.

13 Make allowance for each other's faults,

and forgive anyone who offends you.

Remember, the Lord forgave you,

so you must forgive others.

14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love,

which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.

For as members of one body you are called to live in peace.

And always be thankful.

  16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives.

Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives.

Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

17 And whatever you do or say,

do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus,

giving thanks through him to God the Father.

I'm not sure many people in our world would say that those attributes listed above are being exemplified in Christians in America right now.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

last third

The 7th chapter of Matthew's account of Jesus' life is the final chapter of 3 chapters normally known as the Sermon on the Mount.

It contains all kinds of basic ideas that we unheard of in Jesus' time - & seem to still be unheard of by many these days too!

The headings are provided by the translators of the New Living Translation website.

Maybe after reading this you might want to go back & read all 3 chapters in one fell swoop – it can be a bit daunting as well as a sensory overload, but I'd recommend it. ;-)

Matthew 7

Do Not Judge Others

1 "Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.

2 For you will be treated as you treat others.

The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

  3 "And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye* when you have a log in your own?

4 How can you think of saying to your friend,

'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,'

when you can't see past the log in your own eye?

5 Hypocrite!

First get rid of the log in your own eye;

then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye.

  6 "Don't waste what is holy on people who are unholy.

Don't throw your pearls to pigs!

They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.

Effective Prayer

7 "Keep on asking,

and you will receive what you ask for.

Keep on seeking,

and you will find.

Keep on knocking,

and the door will be opened to you.

8 For everyone who asks,


Everyone who seeks,


And to everyone who knocks,

the door will be opened.

  9 "You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead?

10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake?

Of course not!

11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children,

how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

The Golden Rule

12 "Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.

This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.

The Narrow Gate
13 "You can enter God's Kingdom only through the narrow gate.

The highway to hell is broad,

and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.

14 But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult,

and only a few ever find it.

The Tree and Its Fruit

15 "Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep

but are really vicious wolves.

16 You can identify them by their fruit,

that is, by the way they act.

Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?

17 A good tree produces good fruit,

and a bad tree produces bad fruit.

18 A good tree can't produce bad fruit,

and a bad tree can't produce good fruit.

19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.

20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit,

so you can identify people by their actions.

True Disciples

21 "Not everyone who calls out to me, 'Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.

22 On judgment day many will say to me,

'Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.'

23 But I will reply, 'I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God's laws.'

Building on a Solid Foundation

24 "Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise,

like a person who builds a house on solid rock.

25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the flood waters rise and the winds beat against that house,

it won't collapse because it is built on bedrock.

26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn't obey it is foolish,

like a person who builds a house on sand.

27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house,

it will collapse with a mighty crash."

  28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching,

29 for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.

Friday, January 27, 2017

second third

The 6th chapter of Matthew's account of Jesus' life is the 2nd chapter of 3 chapters normally known as the Sermon on the Mount.

It contains all kinds of basic ideas that we unheard of in Jesus' time - & seem to still be unheard of by many these days too!

The headings are provided by the translators of the New Living Translation website.

Take your time reading this. There's a lot in this...

Matthew 6

Teaching about Giving to the Needy

1 "Watch out!

Don't do your good deeds publicly,

to be admired by others,

for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.

2 When you give to someone in need, don't do as the hypocrites do;

blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity!

I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get.

3 But when you give to someone in need,

don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.

4 Give your gifts in private,

and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

Teaching about Prayer and Fasting

5 "When you pray,

don't be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them.

I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.

6 But when you pray,

go away by yourself,

shut the door behind you,

and pray to your Father in private.

Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

  7 "When you pray, don't babble on and on as people of other religions do.

They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.

8 Don't be like them,

for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!

9 Pray like this:

Our Father in heaven,
  may your name be kept holy.
10 May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
  as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today the food we need,12 and forgive us our sins,
  as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13 And don't let us yield to temptation,
  but rescue us from the evil one.*

  14 "If you forgive those who sin against you,

your heavenly Father will forgive you.

15 But if you refuse to forgive others,

your Father will not forgive your sins.

  16 "And when you fast,

don't make it obvious,

as the hypocrites do,

for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting.

I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.

17 But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face.

18 Then no one will notice that you are fasting,

except your Father,

who knows what you do in private.

And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

Teaching about Money and Possessions

19 "Don't store up treasures here on earth,

where moths eat them and rust destroys them,

and where thieves break in and steal.

20 Store your treasures in heaven,

where moths and rust cannot destroy,

and thieves do not break in and steal.

21 Wherever your treasure is,

there the desires of your heart will also be.

  22 "Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body.

When your eye is good,

your whole body is filled with light.

23 But when your eye is bad,

your whole body is filled with darkness.

And if the light you think you have is actually darkness,

how deep that darkness is!

  24 "No one can serve two masters.

For you will hate one and love the other;

you will be devoted to one and despise the other.

You cannot serve both God and money.

  25 "That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life;

whether you have enough food and drink,

or enough clothes to wear.

Isn't life more than food,

and your body more than clothing?

26 Look at the birds.

They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns,

for your heavenly Father feeds them.

And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are?

27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

  28 "And why worry about your clothing?

Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow.

They don't work or make their clothing,

29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.

30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow,

he will certainly care for you.

Why do you have so little faith?

  31 "So don't worry about these things, saying,

'What will we eat?

What will we drink?

What will we wear?'

32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers,

but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.

33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else,

and live righteously,

and he will give you everything you need.

  34 "So don't worry about tomorrow,

for tomorrow will bring its own worries.

Today's trouble is enough for today.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

first third

Matthew 5 – 7 is commonly called the Sermon on the Mount.

It is a 3 chapter talk Jesus gave – a talk that has many pivotal & foundational thoughts of Jesus.

I realize more & more that very few people have ever read all of this incredible talk of Jesus.

We are familiar with parts of it, but it seems few have read it all.

Here's what Matthew recorded Jesus said in chapter 5 – the headings are provided by the translators in the New Living Translation.

Matthew 5

1 One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him,2 and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes
3 "God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
  for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

4 God blesses those who mourn,
  for they will be comforted.
5 God blesses those who are humble,
  for they will inherit the whole earth.
6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
  for they will be satisfied.

7 God blesses those who are merciful,
  for they will be shown mercy.
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
  for they will see God.
9 God blesses those who work for peace,
  for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
  for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

  11 "God blesses you when people mock you

and persecute you

and lie about you

and say all sorts of evil things against you

because you are my followers.

12 Be happy about it!

Be very glad!

For a great reward awaits you in heaven.

And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.

Teaching about Salt and Light

13 "You are the salt of the earth.

But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor?

Can you make it salty again?

It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

  14 "You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.

15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket.

Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand,

where it gives light to everyone in the house.

16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see,

so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Teaching about the Law
17 "Don't misunderstand why I have come.

I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets.

No, I came to accomplish their purpose.

18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God's law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.

19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven.

But anyone who obeys God's laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

  20 "But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!

Teaching about Anger
21 "You have heard that our ancestors were told,

'You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.'

22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment!

If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court.

And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.

  23 "So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple

and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you,

24 leave your sacrifice there at the altar.

Go and be reconciled to that person.

Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.

  25 "When you are on the way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly.

Otherwise, your accuser may hand you over to the judge,

who will hand you over to an officer,

and you will be thrown into prison.

26 And if that happens, you surely won't be free again until you have paid the last penny.

Teaching about Adultery
27 "You have heard the commandment that says,

'You must not commit adultery.'

28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

29 So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away.

It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

30 And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.

It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

Teaching about Divorce

31 "You have heard the law that says,

'A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce.'

32 But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery.

And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery.

Teaching about Vows

33 "You have also heard that our ancestors were told,

'You must not break your vows;

you must carry out the vows you make to the LORD.'

34 But I say, do not make any vows!

Do not say, 'By heaven!' because heaven is God's throne.

35 And do not say, 'By the earth!' because the earth is his footstool.

And do not say, 'By Jerusalem!' for Jerusalem is the city of the great King.

36 Do not even say, 'By my head!' for you can't turn one hair white or black.

37 Just say a simple, 'Yes, I will,' or 'No, I won't.'

Anything beyond this is from the evil one.

Teaching about Revenge
38 "You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury:

'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.'

39 But I say, do not resist an evil person!

If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.

40 If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too.

41 If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.

42 Give to those who ask, and don't turn away from those who want to borrow.

Teaching about Love for Enemies
43 "You have heard the law that says,

'Love your neighbor' and hate your enemy.

44 But I say, love your enemies!

Pray for those who persecute you!

45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.

For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good,

and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.

46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that?

Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.

47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else?

Even pagans do that.

48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

And tomorrow... chapter 6!