God’s Glory Matters; God’s Authority Matters

Today’s reading is John 7.

Why does the issue of authority matter? Is it because we have to prove we are better at keeping rules? Is it because if we don’t cross all the Ts and dot all the Is we’ll go to hell? Is it because we have to earn our way into heaven by following the pattern? No. None of these things is the reason. The reason authority matters is because God’s glory matters. When I act on my own authority, I’m seeking my own glory. When I’m seeking God’s glory, I act on His authority. It’s just that simple. Whose glory are you seeking? How can you tell?

Tomorrow’s reading is John 8

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A Modern Pharisee

Today’s reading is Matthew 23.

“Then Jesus said to the crowds and his disciples, ‘The Pharisees do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their social media reach wide and the posts of their actions long. They love the likes and retweets they receive. They love to have the place of honor on the internet, competing for friends and likes. They love to have the greetings of those who agree with what they say and jump to their defense when someone disagrees. But you are not to be called Teacher or Father, for you are all siblings. And you have one Teacher who is Jesus. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.'”

So says the guy writing a blog post. Yes, I get it. And I’m talking to me as much as to anyone else. This platform can accomplish great good. At the same time, it can lead us down a subtly dark and sinful path. As we navigate it, let’s be fearlessly and thoroughly honest about what we are doing here. And let’s make sure it is always and only God whom we are glorifying.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 24.

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Whose Leaven?

Today’s reading is Matthew 16.

If I were a betting man (which I’m not, but that is a different post entirely), I would bet my last dollar you have heard about, thought about, even talked about the leaven of the Pharisees. We know those jokers. Hypocrites, legalists, loophole seekers, all around jerks. But that isn’t the only one Jesus mentions. He also says we are to beware the leaven of the Sadducees. Now, I wouldn’t bet my last dollar on this next one, but pretty close. If I were a betting man, I would bet you haven’t spent any time contemplating the leaven of the Sadducees. Of course, with you individually, I might be incorrect. However, ask around. See how many people have thought about that at all. My point today is not to define the leaven of the Sadducees for you. Rather, it is to highlight something we all need to be careful about. We all do it sometimes. We all skip bits on occasion. We all gravitate to the easy part we’ve heard about a lot and read past the parts that don’t get discussed much. For many people. This is one of those things. Granted, it is probably not essential to your salvation to know exactly who the Sadducees were or what their leaven and influence might specifically be. Well, not anymore than knowing the leaven of the Pharisees. But, of course, we won’t know how essential it is until we ask the question. My encouragement: keep your eyes open while reading. What are the questions you haven’t asked about the verse, paragraph, chapter, book you are reading right now? Why not ask that question and see what you learn?

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 17.

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Surpassing Righteousness

Today’s reading is Matthew 5.

Try to imagine how the Jews heard Jesus’s statement that their righteousness really needed to surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees. Today, their hypocrisy has been so highlighted, it doesn’t seem that hard to surpass them in righteousness. However, when Jesus said this, their seeming strict adherence to the Law, their Bible knowledge, their ability to argue the finer points, seemed to set them far ahead of all their compatriots. They were the cream of the spiritual crop. But Jesus says despite all the righteousness they seemed to have, our righteousness must surpass theirs. Then He gives a list of comparisons to shine the light on surpassing righteousness. Don’t just avoid murder, avoid anger. Don’t just avoid adultery, avoid desire. Don’t divorce, stay married. Don’t just keep oaths, always mean what you say. Don’t even the score, sacrifice. Don’t just love those who love you, love your enemies.  Then, and only then, will our righteousness surpass the Pharisees’. Uh oh. I’m in trouble. I’ll never make it. And that is why I need Jesus. If my path to God is my surpassing righteousness, I’ll never make it. If Jesus is my path to God, He will grant me and grow me in surpassing righteousness. I can’t out Pharisee the Pharisees; even if I could, it wouldn’t get me any closer to God. I need Jesus. How about you?

Monday’s reading is Matthew 6.

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Today’s reading is Luke 18.

Do you see the thread of trust throughout the stories in today’s reading? In the first, we can trust that God will deliver His elect. Perhaps not in our time, but in His. It will happen, so hang on to Him. But don’t trust in yourself and in your own personal righteousness. Honestly, you simply cannot be righteous enough to deliver yourself. Don’t trust in riches. They will not buy your way into the kingdom no matter what else they will buy for you. Don’t trust in the crowds, they will steer you wrong. Keep calling out for Jesus. You can trust Him. And smack in the middle of these stories, the little children. The little children who don’t know any better than to trust their Father. The little children who humbly depend on their Father no matter what. That is to be us. We know that for some children of human fathers, that trust can lead to terrible tragedy, but never with our Father. We can be like little children. He cares for us. He knows the way. He is the way. Trust Him no matter what.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 19.

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Today’s reading is Luke 7.

What a powerful contrast. The Jews came to Jesus saying the centurion was worthy of a miracle. The Gentile centurion, however, says, “I am unworthy for you to come into my home.” And this gets to the heart of the gospel. Sadly, too many people today take the view of these Jews. They are busy trying to be worthy or satisfied that they already are. Like Simon the Pharisee at the end of this chapter, they see themselves as righteous enough, worthy enough to touch Jesus, looking down on all the sinners around them as unworthy. But instead of Jesus giving the lesson on worthiness, he lets the Gentile centurion give the lesson of faith. “I am unworthy, but I believe in You and Your worth, Jesus.” And based on this faith, Jesus healed the servant. I am unashamed of the gospel because it is not about my worth, but His. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 8.

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