“But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:11-12 NKJV
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen
Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen
Today’s reading is the Book of Matthew chapter 23 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV).
Woe to the Scribes and Pharisees
23 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, 2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore whatever they tell you [a]to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. 4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5 But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. 6 They love the [b]best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ 8 But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your [c]Teacher, [d]the Christ, and you are all brethren. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whoever exalts himself will be [e]humbled, and he who humbles himself will be [f]exalted.
13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14 [g]Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of [h]hell as yourselves.
16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.’ 17 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that [i]sanctifies the gold? 18 And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.’ 19 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? 20 Therefore he who [j]swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. 21 He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who [k]dwells in it. 22 And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it.
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and [l]self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and [m]adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’
31 “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. 33 Serpents, brood[n] of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? 34 Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, 35 that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
Jesus Laments over Jerusalem
37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ”
- aMatthew 23:3 NU omits to observe
- bMatthew 23:6 Or place of honor
- cMatthew 23:8 Leader
- dMatthew 23:8 NU omits the Christ
- eMatthew 23:12 put down
- fMatthew 23:12 lifted up
- gMatthew 23:14 NU omits v. 14.
- hMatthew 23:15 Gr. Gehenna
- iMatthew 23:17 NU sanctified
- jMatthew 23:20 Swears an oath
- kMatthew 23:21 M dwelt
- lMatthew 23:25 M unrighteousness
- mMatthew 23:29 decorate
- nMatthew 23:33 offspring
MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:
Matthew 5:16 – “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
I am still exhausted and not myself. I suppose slower and gentler on myself is the new me. I have been completely depleted and my trust is completely in the Lord. I thought it was before, but before I also had my own strength.
Literally a year ago (just over) I said to my accountability partner – God needs to move because I can’t go on like this anymore. So we prayed in agreement. I lost my job, and one thing by another and one blessings upon another began to crumble and be stripped from me. I focused on the good things. I focused on starting a business. I focused on victories…. While more and more was taken away. And the victories did not hold the yield as promised in the Bible and although God gave me a business and an amazing business plan… it seems to have something blocking it. I had signed up for a “Winter Camp Meetings on Double Blessings and Double Fire” for my business. I thought for sure I just need a break through. And then I got sick and could not attend. I was able to participate via webinar, camera off because I was (still am) prone to falling sleep. Every day I hear testimony: I did this for Jesus and I did that for Jesus and I thought I snored and I didn’t even snore for Jesus – no, I was selfishly begging for healing while snoring.
I am still processing it. I have nothing left. The things I do have left I have literally given to God, so I live as a servant to Him in stewardship of them. I point it all out because it is a Job like season in my life. And from it I still say: God is Good.
Today’s reading Jesus is speaking to the multitude declaring woe after woe on the Scribes and Pharisees. Their lives seemed meaningful, full, with human interaction that felt warm and routines. Here my life feels like it desperately needs a breakthrough – but their lives must have seemed to themselves as just fine.
SO – Jesus carefully pulls back strip by strip, exposing how it was all just a carefully crafted mask. And don’t we all have a new insight into masks. We can read this chapter looking at the broad – the scribes and Pharisees as a whole with Jesus exposing them for the snakes they are (Because of all the cross prophecy which is about to be fulfilled). But we can also look at each detail individually.
In my life, where each thing is being evaluated for if it can stay or not, it seems a great opportunity to get some help and an early jump on spring cleaning!
Verse 3 – do I say and not do? Verse 4 – do I make obeying God a more heavy burden? … Verse 6 – do I like the best table at the feast? (Honestly after yesterday’s feast, I am afraid to sit anywhere! What If I am not dressed right? Lol)
Woe to those who swore by the temple, the gold, the altar, etc. This section always seemed so ironic. It was such an important rabbinical law of the time and would be altered forever in a few short years when Rome destroyed the temple. Yet, Jesus takes the time to correct the thinking around this practice.
Verse 23-24 are a state found in the modern (global) church. We pay our tithe, kinda, sorta to the bit we can enough so that we are not accused to robbing God. Justifying that Tithe is actually an Old Testament requirement. But what of Justice, Mercy and Faith? Not long ago was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the USA. I shared a poignant quote on Justice. I watched people share it, then the thing before or after it on their wall was very much the opposite!!! And had no mercy or faith – just fear and selfish demands.
“First cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.” Matthew 23:26
This needs to be one of those cute word art or signs that people hang in their house!!! I’d hang it over the kitchen sink! Hopefully, it would serve as a soft reminder.
Phew, Jesus just keeps going with these woes! Dead bones and graves. Partakers in the blood of the prophets. Murderers, Vipers, Hell – a crucifixion prediction and Jesus puts it all at the feet of them who He said woe! Woe.
Today is difficult. And if you do not have a relationship with Jesus or are just starting out – it is hard to understand and reconcile this version of Jesus with the watered down hippy fake Jesus the world offers. We do not need a weak God. Just go back to the thinks I have been through as an example. I do not need a weak savior, a weak Jesus. I am weak – I need a strong and mighty Jesus.
And as fully man and fully God He finishes these terribly hard words and looks at His Holy City and Laments. This is the God we serve. A living God. One who rejoices with us and laments with us. But moreover rejoices when He rejoices and we can join him as well and laments when He laments and we can join. God and Jesus are beings and we were created in God’s image – so He has feelings and thoughts and plans.
Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!