2021 Good Morning Church

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March 25, 2021

Matthew 13:3  He told them many things in parables, saying "A sower went out to sow."

What year was Johnny Applessed born? 1774. In what state? Connecticut. What was his real name? Johnny Chapman. What did he wear for a hat? A tin pot. What year did he die? 1845

In 18-1, Johnny Appleseed began planting apple seed in Ohio. Five years later, he navigated west along the Ohio River with two canoes tied together, carrying tens of thousands of apple seeds. His goal? Plant apple trees throughout the new American west.

That's what the parabl;e of the sower is all about. In spite of great danger and turmoil - just like Johnny Appleseed - this Sower, Jesus, keeps sowing his seeds.

The parable describes four types of soil/people. Hard-soil people have no interest. Rocky-soil people have no conviction. Thorny-soil people have no priorities. Good-soil people have no compromise.

No compromise because God's love in Jesus compels them to display the fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5:22-23 - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
 


 

March 24, 2021

Matthew 12:29  How can someone enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man?

The strong man is the devil. The greek word for "devil" is diabolos. Diabolos comes from the Greek verb diabolos, which means "to split." The devil is a splitter, a divider, a wedge driver. The diabolos divided Adam from Eve, Jacob from Esau, Absalom from David. The diabolos divides spouses, families and friends.

When did Christ plunder the strong man's goods? Remember Matthew 4:1-11? The devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights. Three times the Savior pushed back, saying, "It is written!" There, in the wilderness, Jesus plundered the strong man;s goods - his lies and his wicked temptations.

Jesus had an even greater victory over the devil when he died on the cross. IN John 12:31-32, Jesus says that when he is lifted up from the earth, the prince of this world will be cast out. The Savior's shed blood means victory over the devil and his demons. Christ's forgiveness and love plundered the strong man - all for you!
 


 

March 23, 2021

Matthew 10:1  He called to him his twelve disciples.

Selection. It's a major part of our lives. We squeeze tomatoes and kick tires on a car. Every day we make choices about money, movies, the financial market and so much more.!

Whom does Jesus select to be his disciples? First-century Jewis rabbis would select men who kept the 363 prohibitions and 250 commandments in the Mishnah, of "Tradition of the Elders.: Anyone who didn't keep these 613 laws was called a "sinner" and never, ever selected!

None of Christ's twelve disciples kept the 613 Traditions of the Elders. None of them had prominent places in the synagogue. What in the world did they bring to the table? Nothing. And that's the point. Jesus selects those who have nothing so he can be for them absolutely everything.

March 21, 2021

Matthew 6:33  Seek first the kingdom of God.

When Susan and I toured in Israel, we often saw people selling jewelry, postcards, purses, trinkets - you name it. They would say, "For you? One dollar!" In Israel, people love to wheel and deal. "Take a look! It cost you nothing!" Then there was the standard line, "You're my first customer of the day. So special price! I make nothing!

At first, I wanted to say, "Just give me your best price and I'll pay it." But after a few days we decided to play the game. Don't show too much interest. Look at other items. Make your starting price half of what you're willing to pay. And, when your first price is rejected, begin walking out the door. What's the goal? Never pay the full price!

Thank God, Jesus paid the full price for our redemption. We, in turn, seek first his kingdom. By his grace, we are willing to pay the price for his glory.
 


 

March 22, 2021

Matthew 9:9  As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, "Follow me."

Has anyone ever invited you to follow them? 

Jesus says, "Follow me." He doesn't say, "Follow your feelings," "Follow your dreams," "Follow the crowd." Jesus says, "Follow me." When we follow Jesus, we get off the bench and onto the field. We get off the couch and into the game.

Matthew was a Jew, working as a tax collector for Rome. Matthew made his living by forcing Jews to fork over their hard-earned money to despised Romans. And if the Jews didn't? Matthew had the authority to throw them in jail, or worse - violators could be crucified. That's why Jews considered tax collectors to be like lepers and prostitutes - unloved, unwanted and unrighteous!

You're Matthew. So am I. But, miracle of miracles, Jesus loves us and wants us. Jesus forgives us and declares us his own. Jesus calls us to follow!

March 18, 2021

Matthew 6:12  Forgives our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Matthew 5-7 records Christ's Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount presents the heart of Christ's teaching. What's at the heart of Christ's teaching? The Lord's Prayer. What's at the heart of the Lord's Prayer? This message: the forgiven forgive.

Forgiveness is the foundation of everything Jesus teaches. Consider these two facts: First, after the Savior gives us the Lord's Prayer, he says, "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 6:14-15). Second, no other theme appears more often in Matthew's gospel than forgiveness. Matthew uses the word forgive 49 times, nearly one-third of the total number of its occurrences in the New Testament.

Jesus forgives freely, unconditionally and eternally. He also gives the power to forgive others.
 


 

March 17, 2021

Matthew 6:11

For 1,900 years, Bible scholars didn't understand the Greek word epiousious, translated in English to the word "daily." Scholars couldn't find epiousious anywhere else in ancient Greek literature. It only appeared in the Lord's Prayer. But in the late 1940's, archaeologists figured out that epiousious means "for the current day."

Christ doesn't teach us to pray, "Lord, give us this day enough for the next fifty days." Instead he teaches, "Give us this day enough for the current day." Epiousious! 

But then there's Costco! Costco isn't the size of a grocery store. Costco is the size of Rhode Island! You push a cart the size of a small Volkswagen. You don't buy individual items. You buy cases and cartons; bundles, bags, bushels and boxes. At Costco, and at every other store, we need to pray, "Give us this day epiousious -enough for the current day."

How can we know that God answers this prayer? The extravagant God of Genesis 1 gives us his most extravagant gift of all: Jesus. God gives us all of Jesus - all of our Savior's compassion, kindness and forgiveness.

I also have a personal request this morning. Please keep Tim in your prayers as he undergoes surgery today at St. Mary;s Hospital in Rochester. Please pray for a successful surgery and recovery. Thank you!

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