Matthew 15:10-11 NIV
Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand.  What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”
To give these verses some context we might look at what Jesus said further on down the passage.
19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander. 20These are what defile a man, but eating with unwashed hands does not defile him.”
What do you think? Are there still traditions that we hang on to? How can we keep these traditions from taking first place in our hearts, over the love and instructions of Jesus? How can we keep our traditions from taking root in our hearts?
Matthew 7:3-5 NIV
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Large lumber being sawed by a chainsaw
What do you think? What would be an example of a “plank”? Can you think of an example of a “speck” in someone else’s eye? How does grace fit into this?
(I can think of lots of planks I have had in my own eyes at times – bad attitude, wrong thinking about myself and others, minimizing my sin or God’s grace, wanting blessing for me and cursing for them. And, yes, these words are convicting.) Lord, have mercy on us all.
Luke 15:3-6 NIV
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.
Let me ask you a few questions about the passage above and see what you think. Ready? Go.
(Please “Leave a Reply” below the post and mark which question(s) you are answering.)
- What kinds of trouble might a sheep (or a person) get into if they are separated from the flock and the shepherd? How could they be harmed, or do you think they would be okay?
- Does this verse indicate that the shepherd is aware of where each sheep is? What does this tell you about how Jesus looks at you and me?
- Have you ever felt like the lost sheep? I know I have. How does this verse help you in your walk with Jesus? What questions or comments does this passage bring up?
One thought: In today’s society the shepherd might be encouraged to think “Oh, the sheep is just exploring his or her options. They have to discover things for themselves before they can really learn it. Maybe the one sheep thinks they can find a new path. After all, we want to encourage their creativity, right?”
What do you think?
In the download available from http://www.bryanchapell.com, we can find scriptures that help in times of crisis, specifically in times of national disaster, death of a child, suicide, and funerals. These scriptures would be helpful to any of us for our own use or to build up and encourage others in their times of crisis. I am going to give you one scripture from each category to get you started. You can find more helpful resources by following the red link below.
National or community disaster:
Gen. 5:20 – “You intended to harm me, but God meant it for good.”
The loss of a child:
2 Sam. 12:18-23 – David, after the loss of his son: “I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”
Job. 19:23-27 – “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.”
Gen. 1:26 – “Let us make mankind in our own image.”
Find all the scriptures at this link:
God bless you in your journey of faith, as you continue to rest in Him, to strive to enter the Sabbath rest. (Hebrews 4:11)
Without giving any names, I am asking you to join me in going to the Father for these requests. Remember that we have full access to go to Him in prayer through Jesus. Lord, we pray for:
- a site member with a special needs daughter with multiple challenges of body, mind, and spirit. Pray for mom S. and daughter E.
- a site member who has crisis level needs for housing. He is living in his shop, which is leaking. He wants and needs a small house of his own. It is the rainy season there and that makes things very difficult.
- several site members with long term medical issues who are looking for relief, wisdom, and healing. My wife still has a cold. I am awaiting surgery. others have mobility issues and pain. Lord, please bring your healing and peace to all these needs. Let us hear the good reports so we give You the credit for answered prayers.
- What do you want me (us) to pray for? To let us know, just “leave a reply” right below this post. (You must be signed in to make any comments.)
Thank you for your prayers for all site members. Let’s lift each other up and then look for how God is going to answer these prayers.
Two tricks of the enemy we need to be aware of and resist
What this lamb needs to be aware of
Sometimes we get into a mess and we don’t know how we got there. All we know is that we somehow got into our own private battle and we have to figure out a way to cope with the battle scars and escape the flaming arrows of the enemy. The enemy? Yes, the enemy of our souls loves to lead us into trouble, and he is really good at it. As I have been reflecting on this strategy, I notice (and I know from personal experience) that there are tricks he likes to pull on us that keep us going the wrong direction.
One of the things that we (and the lamb above) need to be aware of is isolation. If you ever watch any shows on the Animal Planet or other networks, you will notice that when a predator is after a herd of animals, it will look for the one that is separated from the pack. It is alone and it is vulnerable. Do you know anybody like that? Reach out to them. Are you in that vulnerable position? I urge you to reach out for support. Contact me. Call a prayer line. Write a prayer request on DAB friends or other support group. Stop and pray. Pour your heart out to God. I double dog gone guarantee that He will listen. You will not be alone. You may feel alone, but I promise you on the authority of the Word that God will we with you in the middle of your mess. If you are alone, isolated, vulnerable, tell someone. Please don’t let yourself be a lone ranger Christian that cuts himself or herself off from all support, both human and divine.
Secondly, the enemy will look for those that are weak. I am not talking about physical weakness. I am talking about those who are weak in faith, or weak in the Lord. Dear Reader, you and I need to prevent this weakness by stepping outside our comfort zone and doing things that will help us get stronger in the Lord. We need to eat (take in, absorb) His word. We need to drink of His love. We need to exercise our faith in Him and seek His leading and favor. And sometimes we just need to rest in His arms and let Him carry us and guard our souls.
I am here for you and I will listen. Others in this community are here for you as well. And I know God is there for you, even right now. Don’t let yourself crawl into your own hidden world. That is very dangerous!
You and I need to keep looking to Jesus, the Good Shepherd. We need to keep following Him, and keep walking with Him, one day at a time. And sometimes we just need to rest as Jesus watches over our soul.
Thank you, Jesus, for being the Shepherd of our soul that keeps us safe from the attack of the enemy. Jesus, you have the last word on this. I believe that last word may very well be … “not this one, devil. This one belongs to me!”
The three steps to renewal. What step are you on?
The first step is hard but necessary. It is called “repentance”, which is a change of mind, heart, or direction. It is a realization that there is something in your life that needs to change, something that just isn’t working. Something is off, and you know you need to turn away from it, reject it, push back against it. It could be a thought, an unhealthy lifestyle, an attitude, or an action. Whatever it is, it has to go. Right now.
The second step in this process of restoration and renewal is “return.” You’ve already turned around (repentance). Now return to where you belong. Return to God. Return to your family, your good habits, your healthy way of thinking and living. As the song says “get back to where you once belonged.”
The third step, and the result of the first two, is to “rest”. Jesus said “Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Mat. 11:28) Rest in the presence of Christ. Rest in the peace of God. Rest in the assurance of God’s unconditional love. Rest in knowing you are on the right path. You may have failed in the past, but now you are in good fellowship with the Father, who loves you unconditionally and will always welcome you back. Rest in the assurance of His love
Repent. Return. Rest.
One big pile of limbs and what it means for us
What debris is in our lives?
Just yesterday a tree trimmer took a huge crane and cut off a big bunch of limbs … I mean a BIG bunch of limbs. They very carefully cut them up into smaller pieces and placed them on the road, ready for the next crew to pick up the huge load.
As I looked at that huge pile of limbs, I thought about the things we sometimes let into our lives, the stuff that just keeps accumulating for days and weeks and years. What limbs? What debris? What excess?
Self is probably at the core of it – fear, selfishness, greed, pride, control, looking to things to comfort us instead of God. We (I) pile up the approval of others to sustain me instead of seeking God’s approval. I also look to food for comfort, which caused me to gain three pounds this week. Not good. Some of that I had no control over, but some of it … Of course, I could also put all the focus on that and get my mind off of walking with the Lord, one day at a time, by faith, walking in His grace and love.
We can accumulate things, people, control, feelings, positions of power and leadership, pride, knowledge, or any number of things that we just don’t need … but to what end? No, instead we need to just settle in to a deep, quiet relationship with Jesus – one where we sit down at His feet. I don’t think we can get too much of that.
If you are in the trimming / pruning stage of life, rest assured that the end of the pruning is a vessel thats fit for growth and for bearing fruit. May that be true for all of us.
Is it time for a trim?