Sunday Devotional: Matthew 13:44-46

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure, buried in a field, that a man found and reburied. Then in his joy he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one priceless[ pearl, he went and sold everything he had, and bought it.” (Matthew 13:44-46)

Jesus here shares two short parables to the disciples and the crowds gathered to hear him.  Both of them involved talking about the kingdom of heaven and how precious it is.  He uses first a treasure.  It is not mentioned as to exactly what the treasure is but is valuable enough that the man who found it sold everything he had to buy the field where he found it.  The second was a priceless pearl, one so fine that the merchant who found it sold everything he had to buy it.

The kingdom of heaven is that and so much more.  To be in fellowship with God is to have the finest treasure, the most priceless pearl.  It is something that should be desired above all things.  Because with God there is life, true life, everlasting abundant life.  And through Jesus Christ, we get to participate in that.

This week, let us be mindful of the treasure that we have as followers of Jesus.  Let us tell others of the priceless joy and hope we have. And may we never grow tired of sharing that good news with others.

Sunday Devotional: Matthew 21:1-11

When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives, Jesus then sent two disciples, telling them, “Go into the village ahead of you. At once you will find a donkey tied there, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to Me.  If anyone says anything to you, you should say that the Lord needs them, and immediately he will send them.”

This took place so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled:

Tell Daughter Zion,
“Look, your King is coming to you,
gentle, and mounted on a donkey,
even on a colt,
the foal of a beast of burden.”

The disciples went and did just as Jesus directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt; then they laid their robes on them, and He sat on them. A very large crowd spread their robes on the road; others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them on the road. Then the crowds who went ahead of Him and those who followed kept shouting:

Hosanna to the Son of David!
He who comes in the name
of the Lord is the blessed One!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!

When He entered Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds kept saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee!”  (Matthew 21:1-11)

Today is Palm Sunday.  This day recognizes the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem prior to his death and resurrection.  It is both a reminder of His Glory as well as what is to come for Him.

Everything surrounding his entry into Jerusalem both was prophesied and also foretold the future.  It was prophesied in that He would ride into the city on a donkey, not a horse as a king would normally ride into a city.  But it does foretell in his return (as prophesied in Revelation) that He will triumphantly ride in on a white horse.

His disciples that were with Him shouted praises and sung joyfully entering the city.  It is an interesting contrast between the beginning of the week and how joyful the disciples were to the end of the week and the sadness that had taken them with the death of Jesus.  But the great reminder of for us today is that just as Jesus was triumphant entering Jerusalem on that day, He is still triumphant today.  And one day He will return triumphant riding on a white horse to fully establish the kingdom of God here on earth.

Sunday Devotional: Matthew 1:1-17

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon,  and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse,  and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah,  and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah,  and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah,  and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.”  (Matthew 1:1-17)

This is the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew.  Matthew (who was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus) began his Gospel by writing down the genealogy of Abraham to Jesus.  In this he wanted to connect between the promise that God had given to Abraham and how that promise led to Jesus.

In this list of names there are some pretty well known individuals (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Boaz, Ruth, David, Uzziah) and some not well known (Shealtiel, Abiud, Zadok, Matthan).  There are some reminders of God’s work in the midst of it (Boaz and Ruth, protection through deportation to Babylon).  There are reminders of redemption (Perez from Judah and Tamar, Solomon from David and Bathsheba).  Throughout all of this genealogy, God is constant.  He was at work in maintaining and fulfilling His promise to Abraham, to Issac, to Jacob.  He kept His promise to David and to Solomon.  That promise culminated in Jesus.

As we enter into this advent season again, we are reminded again of the birth of Christ.  In that, let us remember that God was faithful in keeping His promise.  He fulfilled that promise by working in and through the lives of well known and not well known, through flawed and imperfect people.  He kept His word that a Messiah would come.  And that Messiah was Jesus.

Sunday Devotional: Matthew 14:53-58

“And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works?  Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?  And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”  And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.”  And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.”  (Matthew 14:53-58)

What happened in this portion of Matthew is a reminder that not everyone that heard the message that Jesus preached believed.  He went back to the city of Nazareth in which he grew up and did the same thing that he did in other cities, preached and taught in the synagogues.  However, the people there didn’t believe.  They grew up with Jesus but they did not see Him as the Son of God.  So he moved on from Nazareth and continued on His mission.

Even Jesus was rejected.  We see that numerous times throughout the Gospels.  There were those that heard the message and rejected it.  Yet there were others that heard the message and gladly received it.  It is through God’s grace and mercy that we have that message today.  So as we share the good news of Jesus, let us remember that we may be rejected for it.  However, the Gospel is worth continuing to share to all.  Let us be encouraged this week in being about sharing that good news.

Sunday Devotional: Matthew 18:21-35

“Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.  And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.  So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’  And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.  But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’  So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’  He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.  When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place.  Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.  And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’  And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:21-35)

Forgiveness.  I shared in a previous Sunday Devotional about a year or so ago on verses 21-22.  I was reminded again about these verses this week with what happened with the church shooting in Charleston.  The family members of the victims showed an amazing example of what forgiveness is when they forgave the shooter.

That type of forgiveness comes from the Lord.  Because He has forgiven us of our sins, He gives us the ability to forgive others of wrongdoing to us.  Jesus, in talking to Peter and the rest of the disciples, reminded them that we are to continually forgive.  We should have a heart of grace and mercy because we have been shown grace and mercy from God.  As Christians, living with the Holy Spirit inside of us, we are to forgive.  Jesus gave the parable of the debtor who had been forgiven much but didn’t want to forgive.  Let us not be that way.  Let us show forgiveness to our friends, our family, to strangers.

This week, let us love one another.  Let us forgive one another.  Let us be a reflection of God and Jesus to this world.

Sunday Devotional: Matthew 28:1-10

“Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:1-10)

Today is Resurrection Sunday.  Today is the day that we as followers of Jesus celebrate the hope of new life because of Christ rising from the dead.  He is risen!  He is risen indeed!