Leftovers – Matthew 16:1-12

“Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread?'” (Matthew 16:9-11, NIV).

When I was a kid my dad was a school teacher and since school teachers didn’t make very much money, my mom also worked to supplement our family income.

In the summer when school wasn’t in session my dad was a stay-at-home parent and it fell to him to fix lunch each day. He would always gather the leftovers from various, unrelated meals and warm them up for our lunch. Oh, how I loathed leftovers!

Perhaps the disciples felt the same way about leftovers in this story from Matthew 16 when they forgot to take food with them on their boat trip across the Sea of Galilee.

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What’s Really Important – Matthew 6:19-21

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21, NIV).

In this one concise statement Jesus reveals a fundamental attribute of human behavior: People do what’s important to them!

In other words, your priorities dictate your behavior.

Your life in this world is not so much a matter of what you get out of it as what you put into it.

All of us have plans for the future and goals we want to achieve in life. These could be plans for success in your career, a six or seven figure salary, a new home or maybe an exotic vacation.

Whatever the plans or goals are, we strive for those things that are important to us. And, Jesus makes it clear in this pronouncement that the things that we personally value are the things that control our lives.

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Faith And …. Philippians 3

“Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write to you again about this is no trouble for me and is a protection for you. Watch out for ‘dogs,’ watch out for evil workers, watch out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, the ones who serve by the Spirit of God, boast in Christ Jesus, and do not put confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:1-3, HCSB).

Most Christians today are probably more concerned about learning correct doctrine than they are about avoiding incorrect doctrine. And, as a result incorrect doctrine can sometimes weave its way into our theological understanding if we don’t beware of incorrect teaching about our salvation in Jesus Christ.

Avoiding false doctrine and its dubious teachers was a big deal to the Apostle Paul. So much so that he used some pretty strong language to call out these teachers of false doctrine.

Specifically, the teaching Paul was castigating in these verses was legalism–salvation that is rules-based and works-oriented. These deceitful teachers told the Philippians that as Gentiles they not only needed to accept Christ as Savior but they also needed to be circumcised and obey the law of Moses in order to be saved.

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Hard Work – Colossians 3:18-25

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:24-25, NIV).

In these verses from Colossians the Apostle Paul counsels people who are slaves and Christians.

Slavery in the ancient Roman Empire was a common practice and there was a vast population of Roman slaves. Slaves were most often prisoners of war but could also be the families of desperate Roman citizens facing hard times. Slaves were so commonplace in Roman society that in addition to being household servants and laborers, they could hold professional positions such as teachers or public servants.

Because of the preponderance of slavery in ancient Roman society, it’s only reasonable that when Paul addresses the subject of relationships in Christian families that he would also include the relationship between slaves and their masters.

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Inexorable Goodness

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:16, NIV).

GOD IS GOOD!

It’s a mantra that Christians often proclaim.

But, what do we mean when we say God is good? By good do we mean kind? Like God is a nice guy? Or by good do we mean virtuous? That God has no character flaws? Or maybe by good we mean mighty like God is the most powerful?

The first place the goodness of God is mentioned in the Bible is, consequently, at the first of the Bible. The goodness of God is first declared in the creation story, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31, NIV).

God’s creation was not just good, it was very good! So, it only stands to reason that if God’s creation was good–very good–then God must be good because only good can create good.

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Untold Tenets: Maintaining the Status Quo – Luke 8:26-38

“When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left” (Luke 8:35-37, NIV)

This series of devotions, Untold Tenets, captures its lessons from lesser-known and sometimes overlooked scriptures that are embedded within or immediately following a well-known bible story or biblical text.

In this well-known and powerful story of demonic possession and exorcism, Jesus purposely went to a Gentile region and ministered there. As He got out of the boat after crossing the Sea of Galilee, a man possessed by many demons ran up to Jesus screaming and begging Jesus not to torture them or send them to the underworld prison of evil spirits.

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Untold Tenets: Strategic Plan – John 4:1-42

“Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world'” (John 4:39-42, NIV).

This series of devotions, Untold Tenets, captures its lessons from lesser-known and sometimes overlooked scriptures that are embedded within or immediately following a well-known bible story or biblical text.

John 4:1-42 contains the familiar story of the Samaritan woman or the woman at the well. In this story Jesus spoke the renowned “living water” declaration: “Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (vs. 14). Jesus also explained to the Samaritan woman that “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (vs. 24).

Because of the spiritual sagacity of the living-water and Spirit-and-truth-worship declarations, what may go unnoticed in this story is the strategic relevance of Jesus’ meeting with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well near Sychar, Samaria, to His post-resurrection Great Commission to His disciples: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8, NIV).

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Untold Tenets: A Quick Look – John 3:1-21

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him” (John 3:14-15 NIV).

Untold Tenets is a series of devotions that captures its lessons from lesser-known and sometimes overlooked scriptures embedded within or immediately following a well-known bible story or biblical text.

John 3:1-21 records the well-known story of the conversation of Jesus with Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the Jewish ruling council. This story contains what are probably two of the most recognizable and often quoted verses in the New Testament: John 3:7 – “You must be born again” and John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son….”

Although the illustrious verses 3:7 and 3:16 usually draw most of the expository attention in the Nicodemus story, the more obscure verses 14 and 15 are actually the focus of this discussion. In these verses Jesus refers to an event in Numbers 21 in the Old Testament and uses it as a lead-in to His dramatic pronouncement in John 3:16.

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End Game: Part 15, Eden Reopened – Revelation 21-22

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” (Revelation 21:1-2, NIV).

The beginning of Chapter 21 reveals the conclusion of the book of Revelation. God has accomplished His purpose in saving his people and this is the fitting consummation to the story of redemption: God has brought His people home and He will dwell with them. Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:3, NIV).

We have now arrived at the cosmic event that divides time and eternity–the point in time where heaven and earth conjoin to bind the future to the present.

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End Game: Part 14, Pan-Millenialism – Revelation 20

“And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4, NIV).

The litmus test by which we classify our interpretation of Revelation is how we interpret Revelation 20:1-10., which highlights the thousand-year (millennial) reign of Christ. Our interpretation of the whole book seems to depend on when the millennium occurs in our end-time chronology.

Premillennial, amillennial or postmillennial are the eschatological labels some evangelical institutions and individuals use to define themselves or their eschatological belief system. The three terms come from the word millennium, meaning a period of a thousand years. Pre- and postmillennialism divide over the question of whether the second coming of Christ will take place before or after the thousand years mentioned repeatedly in these verses.

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