God’s Ratings

What do you do to process the opposition that comes into your life? The Bible teaches us that we are to scrutinize our daily opposition that comes our way by processing the information. (20:17-19) In Jericho, Jesus shares His travel plans with the twelve. Matthew 20:17-18~Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death. (ESV) 

This is Jesus’ 4th, and most specific, prediction about His approaching crucifixion and resurrection. The First is found right after the second “from that time.” Matthew 16:21~From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. (ESV) The next is found in Matthew 17:9~As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” (ESV) 

Then later in the same chapter of Matthew 17:22-23~When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief. (ESV) Although it is common knowledge the Jewish leaders want to have Jesus killed, Mark tells us Jesus’ prediction strikes fear in the hearts of the Twelve Mark 10:32~They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. (NIV) 

According to God’s divine plan, Jesus is leading His disciples to Jerusalem for the Passover. Being delivered to the chief priests implies His betrayal. Where they will condemn him to death, this refers to the legal proceedings of a trial. Jesus knows every detail. Psalm 22 asks My God, my God why have you forsaken me. These are the words we hear spoken from the cross. Listen as Jesus adds this in Matthew 20:19~and they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day, he will be raised to life! (ESV) 

How would you feel or even respond if you were a disciple 2000 years ago? You had given up everything for Messiah, believing He would set the world right and rule. Only He begins with what is most important, our hearts, which is to say our relationship with God. They struggle with this, just as we do walking through some of our own struggles, problems, people, difficulties, and life lessons. We simply do not understand all that God is doing on, in or through our lives. This is why a growing faith is such a vital part of a believer’s life.

Well Seasoned

Jesus has finished His ministry in Galilee and is continuing His final journey to Jerusalem. Matthew 19:1~When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. (NIV) Our pericope reveals He is headed for Jericho, which is at the north end of the Dead Sea. Whose shoreline is the lowest elevation on earth, standing at 1,388 feet below sea level. This sea is dead because it contains no life due to its 33% salt content. You may know many salty people, but this is the saltiest of seawater. 

Now the city of Jericho sits 850 feet below sea level and is the oldest continually inhabited city on earth. It’s about fifteen miles northwest of Jerusalem, that’s like Clover for us. Since Jerusalem is about 2,500 feet above sea level, they go up over 3,300 feet from Jericho. That is taller than Kings and Crowder’s Mountain stacked on top of each other, and the climb is done in just 15 miles. Feeling vigorous on a Saturday? Then you may want to summit both in one day, it is completely doable. 

However, for most that is not even a temptation. But for each person who lives life on this earth, we all face 3 types of temptations. Though they may come to us veiled in various forms tailored by our enemy and adversary the devil, they all fall into 3 categories. Listen as John shares this fact with us in 1 John 2:16~For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. (ESV) 

If we want to overcome temptation then we are going to have to walk with Jesus. Today, why not take a few moments to ask the Lord to reveal anything that may be hindering your Christian walk. Then sit still for a few moments and listen for any feelings, intuitions or thoughts that come to mind. This will do two things. First, it will help you learn how the Lord speaks to you and second, it will let you know what you need to confess and begin to work on in your life. Then take time to thank the Lord for sharing and helping you be who He created you to be.

The First

Jeremiah 17:9~The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (NIV) If the word of God is to be believed then we must make the examination of our heart a part of our daily devotional life. (Matthew 20:16) The principle is everyone receives the same gracious gift of salvation from God through His Son Jesus. Some believers come to salvation as small children and live good, strong Christian lives till death. Others come to Jesus as teenagers, young adults, middle-agers, and some in their senior years. A few even come to Christ on their deathbeds, like the thief next to Jesus. Luke 23:43~ Jesus answered him, Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise. (NIV) What reward do you think the dying thief received? I’ll tell you it was the gift of grace. Grace means not getting what we deserve. So, whatever God wanted to give him, is none of our business! We should all be happy that God shows amazing mercy and grace to whomever He chooses. Jesus ends the parable by repeating His last statement of 19 Matthew 20:16~So the last will be first, and the first will be last. (ESV) 

This means even in God’s kingdom many who have prominent places, perhaps pastoring mega-churches and having vast religious empires—will receive no more than the latecomer into the kingdom who has done far less. Many believers are unhappy because they can’t rejoice at their own blessings, instead of desiring to compare their blessings to others. Let me remind us of the ole old childhood adage, It’s unfair to compare. In modern speak, you get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit. That is certainly true when it comes to God’s blessings. Psalm 146:5~Blessed (Happy, Joyful) are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God. (NIV)

When is the last time you told the Lord, Thank You? This is what the upright in heart do, and they live in His Joy. happy every day. Instead of comparing, why not obey? Psalm 32:11~Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart! (NIV) As you begin to pray today, ask God to flood your life with His unexplainable joy, as you embrace His sovereignty today. May the Lord bless you and fill you with the joy of His presence.