All-Star Team

Matthew 10-12

jesus-disciples

Sunday, April 30

Suppose you were given the task of building a team that was responsible for learning some teachings and convincing everyone else in the world that those teachings were true.  What kind of people would you pick for this team?  I would go with an all-star team of doctors, lawyers, scholars, politicians, successful business people, and someone famous.  Jesus had this same task, but he built an all-star team of fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot, probably some tradesmen, and more fishermen.  These were the occupations of the twelve disciples.  Think about how unremarkable this group was, and yet they were chosen to carry out probably the most important job in the history of mankind, to spread the gospel to the whole world.  They were ordinary people on an extraordinary mission.

And guess what…the mission is not over, especially considering there are about seven billion people alive today that were not living a couple thousand years ago.  I’m pretty sure all of the disciples died so they are not able to help with the work anymore.  God needs a team now to carry on the mission and I suspect he is still counting on ordinary people to join the team.  Yes, I am talking about you.  God wants you to help preach the gospel to all of the nations.

But what is the message?  In Matthew 10:12, Jesus said he wanted them to go out and preach about the kingdom.  He wanted to make sure that everyone knew about the coming kingdom.  Is everyone going to accept the message?  Absolutely not.  Jesus said if they don’t accept the message, shake off the dust of your feet and move on to the next place.  It might seem odd that Jesus was sending them to places where they would be rejected, but he still thought it was important that everyone should hear the message so they can make the choice themselves.  If someone doesn’t hear about the kingdom, they don’t have a chance to accept the kingdom message.

Is it going to be easy?  Nope.  Jesus said we are like sheep in the midst of wolves.  He told us that it won’t be easy, and in fact, it could be dangerous.  Moreover, if you choose to be on this team, the message is not always viewed favorably and your own family may hate you for it, even to the point of your own family having you killed.  Jesus said in Matthew 11:11 that no one was ever greater than John the Baptist, yet his life ended when they chopped off his head.  However, Jesus tells us the good news in Matthew 10:39, “He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for my sake shall find it.”

In Matthew 12:19, it talks about Jesus’ approach.  He won’t quarrel or cry out, and nobody in the streets will hear his voice.  I believe this is our model of how to spread the gospel message.  We are not looking for a fight.  We don’t have to get angry with people because they disagree with us.  We do not have to stand on street corners and scream at people that they are going to hell if they don’t repent.  We just need to speak the truth in love.  Explain to people what is going to happen in the future, especially what happens to them after they die.  Tell them about the kingdom and how to attain salvation.  If they are not interested in what you are saying, move on.  There is no need for a heated debate and there is no need to keep pestering them.  Just shake off the dust and move on.  You can feel good that you gave them a chance for eternal life.  The only time you should feel bad is when you had the opportunity to talk to someone and kept silent.  What if they would have embraced the gospel message, but nobody ever gave them that chance?  That would be a tragedy to let someone die eternally without ever trying to save them.

Fortunately, it is not our responsibility to make sure others attain salvation.  It is only our responsibility to make sure they hear the gospel message.  Don’t put any pressure on yourself for results.  It is only your job to make sure that people have a choice and they don’t have a choice unless someone tells them about the choice.  Matthew 12:50 says that whoever does the will of Jesus’ Father is a brother, sister, or mother of Jesus.  That is a family I hope you want to be a part of.

-Rick McClain

Bio:  Happily married, 4 kids, and 0 pets.  Enjoy sports, vacations, and romantic comedies.  Blood type is A positive.  Life Goal:  Get as many people in the kingdom as possible.

 

 

The Authority to Forgive

Matthew 8-9

matt 9

Saturday, April 29

In Matthew 8 and 9 I notice two themes:

  1. Healing of the sick
  2. Jesus’ authority established

In these two chapters he healed one person after another, a woman bleeding, a dead girl, blind men, a paralyzed man, the list goes on and on. His healing did two things:

  1. Helped establish and recognize his God given authority
  2. Show that he can heal our physical human needs but also our spiritual needs, the forgiveness of sin

In Matthew 9:2-8 we read about a paralyzed man who had both physical and spiritual healing given to him by Jesus.

2 And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, “Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 And some of the scribes said to themselves, “This fellow blasphemes.” 4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, “Why are you thinking evil in your hearts? 5 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, and walk’? 6 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—then He *said to the paralytic, “Get up, pick up your bed and go home.” 7 And he got up and went home. 8 But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

 

Jesus’ authority was God given and proven through his ability to heal. He makes it clear though, he isn’t here just to heal the physical needs of the people but the spiritual ones as well.

 

-Elleigh Dylewski

 

(Photo Credit: http://crosstownfamily.org/sermons/the-authority-to-forgive/)

 

One Bad Apple

Matthew 5-7

bad apple matt

Friday, April 28

A couple weeks ago a co-worker of mine came into my office with her apple. She’d cut it in half to eat and to her disbelief found it rotten and brown on the inside. We both couldn’t believe it considering it came from a brand new bag of apples and looked completely edible. From the outside this apple looked perfect to eat but inwardly it was tainted and deceiving.

 

In Matthew 7:15-23 Jesus warns us of false prophets who are very similar to my co-worker’s bad apple. “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.” (Matt 7:15)

 

My bad apple story finishes with my co-worker and I discussing if she could eat around the inner brown spots or hope it doesn’t taste as bad as it looks. In the end we both decided it’s best to just throw it out.  

 

Matthew 7:19-20  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  So then, you will know them by their fruits.
-Elleigh Dylewski

 

Promise Keeper

The Beginning of the NEW TESTAMENT – Matthew 1-4

matt 1

Thursday, April 27

So after years of prophecies and waiting, the Messiah is finally here!

Matthew 1: 21-23       21 “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,”

After reading through Zechariah and Malachi I’ve come to appreciate Jesus as the Messiah even more than I already did. Understanding the ups and downs of God’s relationship  with the Israelites helped me understand the need and reason for Jesus. He was born as a fulfillment of prophecy and that’s exactly the life he lived.

 

God keeps his promises.

 

-Elleigh Dylewski

 

 

heb 10

 

(Matthew 1:21 Photo Credit – http://my-savior-lives.tumblr.com/post/69954608098

Hebrews 10:23  Photo Credit: http://www.mygivingback.com/2016/08/)

Do You Get It?

Malachi 1-4

Malachi

Wednesday, April 26

Have you ever tried reasoning with someone who just doesn’t get it? After reading Malachi that’s exactly how I felt. At this point the temple is built and the Israelites are settled back into their traditions and way of life. They are now waiting for the prophecies of their Messiah to be fulfilled. But with this wait and settling in came the return of sin, doubt and once again a disconnection and separation from God.

The Israelites began to sacrifice improper animals, they were withholding tithes, they were marrying outsiders, they weren’t obeying and honoring the covenant they had with God. With all this corruption going on they refused to see themselves as the problem. Instead they put the blame on God questioning his very love for them (Malachi 1:2) . Almost desperately God points the finger back at them, reminding them of his great love and his promise of a messiah. He urges them to take responsibility for their actions and remember to obey the covenant they have with Him.

I found it interesting that the last book of the Old Testament left me with a feeling of desperation. You felt the need for the Messiah and I almost couldn’t wait for him to come, then I realized: wait, Jesus did come! Today we have a new covenant with God, one that is fulfilled by grace through Jesus Christ.

 

I hope you get it.

 

-Elleigh Dylewski

 

Refined or Destroyed

Zechariah 11-14

zechariah 13

Tuesday, April 25

The book of Zechariah brings a message of hope to the Israelites but also a dose of reality. The final chapters focus on two key elements: the coming Messiah and the Kingdom of God. Zechariah prophesies of a hope and salvation of the coming Messiah (Jesus, shepherd) but also of his rejection by the Israelites. He prophesies of a coming Kingdom where God will rule, but also the tribulation that will unfold for those that don’t believe.

 

Zechariah 13:7-9 says 7 “Awake, sword, against my shepherd,

against the man who is close to me!”

declares the Lord Almighty.

“Strike the shepherd,

and the sheep will be scattered,

and I will turn my hand upon the little ones.

8 In the whole land,” declares the Lord,

“two-thirds will be struck down and perish;

yet one-third will be left in it.

9 This third I will put into the fire;

I will refine them like silver

and test them like gold.

They will call on my name

and I will answer them;

I will say, ‘They are my people,’

and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”

 

Powerful words from a powerful God.

Here are the three things I took from Zechariah 11 – 14:

  1. God has a plan – some of which has already unfolded (Jesus’s first coming and the Israelites rejecting him).
  2. His plan is still playing out and yet to unfold (Jesus’s second coming and the Kingdom established)
  3. You and I have a role in His plan. Part of that role is to accept and believe in God’s plan with the faith to live it out. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Zechariah makes it clear that God has the plan.  It’s your choice to be a part of it or not. To be refined by fire or destroyed by fire is up to you. In the end I say, the Lord is my God.

-Elleigh Dylewski

 

(Photo Credit: http://w3ace.com/stardust/scripture/verse/Zechariah_13:9)

To Fast or Not to Fast?

Zechariah 7-10

zechariah-7-9-10

Monday, April 24

Do you fast? I’ve done it once, a 30 hour famine…it was rough…of course the promise of pancakes afterward helped! 😉

Zechariah Chapter 7 dives into the question, to fast or not to fast?. “Shall I weep in the fifth month and abstain, as I have done these many years?” The Israelites question whether or not they should continue to fast and grieve over the destruction of Solomon’s temple since the new temple was being built. God makes it clear that in this case fasting is essentially pointless. The Israelites chose to fast out of their own grief and sadness, they created that tradition not God. God quickly reminds them that there are more important, better ways to honor God than continuing their fasting.

The Israelites were following the tradition and rules of fasting that they created,  but not really doing anything for their relationship with God. In the next couple verses God lays out some simple truths: “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother.” Zechariah 7:9-10

 

Plain and simple. These are things God desires for us to do, to be. This reminds me of when Jesus was questioned about what the greatest commandments in the Bible are. Matthew 22:37 Jesus answers, ”Jesus declares, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.”

 

How great it is to have a God that desires more from us than our earthly traditions. He is a God that wants us to love and serve him by loving and serving others. Jesus’ very message.

 

To Fast or Not to Fast… do you have the answer?
Elleigh Dylewski

 

(Photo Credit: https://dailyverses.net/zechariah/7/9-10)