ABC Oct. 9-15

October 9 — Matt. 12:1-21; Mark 3; Luke 6 — The Blasphemy.  There is a statement in Mark 3:29 that has disturbed many people: “… whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.”  There have been some Christians who have feared that they may have committed this “unforgivable sin” in the past.  Also, I have heard preachers give their own ideas about what constitutes this sin (e.g., never receiving Christ) but that is not what Jesus said here.  This sin is mentioned in Matthew 12:31 and in Luke 12:10 but only Mark offers a clear description of what it is.  Here, the sin-statement is followed immediately with the connecting clue: “… for they were saying, ‘He has an unclean spirit’” (Mark 3:30).  As the ESV Study Bible points out clearly, this sin has been committed “if a person persistently attributes to Satan what is accomplished by the power of God.”  The context of Jesus’ definition was preceded by the statements of the opposing scribes from Jerusalem: “He is possessed by Beelzebul” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons” (v. 22).  No person who is now sincerely following Christ has ever committed this “unpardonable sin” because if they had, they would have no interest in knowing Jesus.

October 10 — Matthew 5-7 — Shining Your Light.  Jesus gave a command for us to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works …” (5:16).  That is the approval for publicly showing good works.  Yet, later, He warned us to “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them …” (6:1) or not to be like hypocrites who pray publicly or fast openly that they “may be seen by others” (vv. 5, 16).  Those statements criticize the public display of good works.  The difference, it seems to me, is that of motive.  The first one is in the context of persecution by enemies (5:10-11) where one might be tempted to hide the fact that they are Christians in order to avoid persecution, so we should be open about it.  The second is in the context of a religious community of people who might be impressed with your commitment and sacrifice, so we should play down displaying before them the good that we do.  There is another hint to a motive in 5:16 with the addition of, “so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”  The motive there is wanting to see God glorified, rather than us.

October 11 — Matt. 8:1-13; Luke 7 — Faith in Jesus.  There are three people in our reading for today who possessed great faith.  The leper who met Jesus said, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean” (Matt. 8:2).  He had faith in Jesus’ ability.  The centurion from Capernaum was the greatest example of faith according to Jesus (v. 10).  Being a man with authority over others, he understood the chain of command, and told Jesus, “… only say the word, and my servant will be healed” (v. 8).  He had faith in Jesus’ authority.  The third person was the sinful woman who wept on Jesus’ feet and “loved much” (Luke 7:47) because she was forgiven much.  Jesus said to her, “Your faith has saved you …” (v. 50).  She had faith in Jesus’ forgiveness.  Jesus is still great in ability, in authority, and in forgiveness, and much more.  Whatever we need, we can trust Him to help us.  Nothing is impossible with God.

October 12 — Matt. 11 — Refusing Evidence.  As we read yesterday, so we read today, that John the Baptist had some doubts about Jesus, even after he “heard … about the deeds of the Christ” (Matt. 11:2).  Was this really the One?  In response, Jesus sent word back to John, pointing to His deeds: “Go and tell John what you hear and see” (v. 4).  The deeds were the evidence Jesus assumed would prove to be enough for John.  There were three whole cities, however, that were denounced by Jesus “because they did not repent” after seeing “most of his mighty works” (v. 20).  Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum just to the north of the Sea of Galilee had seen all the evidence they needed in order to acknowledge that Jesus was from God but they refused.  In fact, Capernaum became Jesus’ primary place of residence after leaving Nazareth.  Several of Jesus’ disciples came from Bethsaida and others from Capernaum.  These places knew about Jesus and His ministry.  They had heard His teaching and seen His miracles, but they still refused to believe.  Do you know people who claim that they would believe in God if they could see some clear, concrete evidence of His existence?  They are probably people like those in northern Galilee who wouldn’t believe even with the evidence.  The problem is not with evidence but faith.

October 13 — Matt. 12:22-50; Luke 11 — Woe to you, too!  The political climate in America and in the Philippines is quite similar right now (2018).  Each has a strong leader in power who is being bitterly attacked by the opposition.  I was reminded of this as I read today about the opposition of the lawyers and Pharisees to Jesus.  Their overall purpose in following Jesus around was because they were “lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say” (Luke 11:54).  They were not only criticizing His words; they also criticized His actions.  When Jesus first arrived at the Pharisee’s house who invited Him, he “was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner” (v. 38) in keeping with a ceremonial tradition.  Jesus, being no respecter of persons, rebuked his host three times by declaring, “Woe to you!,” for the hypocritical practices of the Pharisees as a group (vv. 42-44).  Then, the lawyers (scribes) were offended as well, saying, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also” (v. 45).  Doesn’t that sound just like our modern easily-offended political climate?!  In response, Jesus also gave them three woe-statements for their hypocritical actions (vv. 46, 47, 52).  Are you easily offended by others?  We should each check our “hypocritical quotient.”  Are we being critical of others when we hide similar faults?  Woe to us!

October 14 — Matt. 13; Luke 8 — Enduring Fruit.  I was interested today in Jesus’ description of the makeup of what might be considered the visible church today.  Jesus called it “the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 13:24).  Who are those people who sit around you in church every Sunday?  Are they all part of God’s kingdom or not?  It may be hard to tell.  Someone may be like the seed that fell on rocky ground that “endures for a while” (v. 21)—temporary believers.  Others may be like the seed threatened by “the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches” (v. 22)—fair-weather believers.  Some may be look-alike “weeds” that won’t be revealed for who they really are until harvest time (v. 26).  The key to recognizing the difference is the “fruit.”  For one, “it proves unfruitful” (v. 22), and for another, it “bore grain” (v. 24).  Our job in the church, however, is not to be so much fruit inspectors as it is to be plant nurturers.  Our attitude and action toward some of these people may help bring them into that vital relationship with Jesus that we enjoy.  We should obey God by doing good things to all church-goers around us, like loving them (John 13:34), instructing them (Rom. 15:14), showing care (1 Cor. 12:25), comforting (2 Cor. 13:11), being kind (Eph. 4:32), admonishing (Col. 3:16), doing good (1 Thess. 5:15), and encouraging them, all for this purpose: to “build one another up” (1 Thess. 5:11).

October 15 — Matt. 8:14-34; Mark 4-5 — Beggars.  Yesterday, we read in Luke about the demon-possessed man called “Legion.”  Today, the same story is told in Matthew and Mark but with some differences.  Matthew tells us that there were actually two men involved.  As I read the story again, I noticed that the word “beg” was used several times and in different contexts.  First, it was the demons who begged Jesus to send them into the herd of pigs on the hillside (Mark 5:12).  They were begging to leave.  Then, the townspeople who came to witness the aftermath of the drowned pigs and the healed man, “began to beg Jesus to depart from their region” (v. 17).  They were begging to be left alone.  Finally, as Jesus was about to leave in the boat, “the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him” (v. 18).  He was begging to be with Jesus.  The demons wanted freedom the townspeople wanted familiarity (the status quo), and the healed man wanted fellowship.  Which do you want today?  Do you wish Jesus would just let you do what you want to do?  Do you just want Him to leave you alone and quit bugging you about something?  Do you mostly want to be with Him?

Published by abibleread

This website honors the Bible as the inspired Word of God through which God speaks to us as we read and study it.

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