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Five Minutes with God

Five Minutes with God is a distinct and exciting approach to daily Bible devotionals. Instead of a lofty goal of going through the entire Bible—or even the New Testament—in one year, Five Minutes with God focuses on shorter passages so that the reader can absorb more of the text and apply it to everyday life. This daily podcast will step you through the Gospel accounts of the life of Christ. Each day’s podcast also ends with a thought for further reflection and a call to prayer. By reading, reflecting, and praying, Five Minutes with God will help you come to know Him, love Him, and follow Him like never before.
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Now displaying: Page 8
Jun 4, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Children are special, not only in our eyes, but also in the eyes of God. They possess traits that God desires for all of us to have in our lives. Their innocence, honesty, forgiving nature, and joy are all characteristics that we should aspire to. But there is one child-like quality that stands above the others. Jesus says, “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” As humans, we come into this world in humility. We have nothing of our own and can do nothing for ourselves. Children readily accept that dependence on their parents, and in their relationships with others, they are willing to share, serve, and quickly forgive. Oh, that we could become more like little children, recognizing and accepting our dependence upon our heavenly Father and being willing to share with and serve those around us. Only in this humility can we hope to find greatness in the kingdom of heaven.

Why is humility such an important trait of the Christian life?

 

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Jun 3, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.”

Jesus, here, teaches us a valuable lesson concerning our relationships and influence on others. As the Son of God, He was not obligated to pay the temple tax. He had every right to refuse. But lest He cause offense to the Jewish leaders, He paid the tax with the coin that was miraculously placed in the mouth of the fish that He instructed Peter to go catch. So often, we are prone to passionately defend our rights and do so regardless of the effect that our stance might have on others. When we adopt this mindset, our “rights” become more important than someone else’s well-being, and possibly their soul. Certainly, there are times when our faithfulness to God depends on our standing up for what is right and putting God’s will above all else. But there are many times when proper discretion would urge us to put aside our rights, such as Jesus did, in order to avoid the negative influence of offense. As Paul would later write: “‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful; ‘all things are lawful,’ but not all things build up” (1 Corinthians 10:23).

Why should we be concerned about offending others with our “rights”?

 

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Jun 2, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

 

They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.

We are reminded in this passage of the ultimate purpose of Jesus’ life in this world. While He came to show us God, to do good, and to leave an example that we might follow, He came ultimately to offer Himself as an atoning sacrifice on the cross. Even while in the midst of the demands of His daily ministry, His eventual death and resurrection was never far from His mind. As that time grew ever closer, Jesus began to try to prepare His apostles for it. On this occasion, He avoids the crowds in order to spend some private time with those closest to Him in order to teach them about His coming sacrifice. He wants them to understand. He wants them to be prepared. He wants them to find comfort in the fact that His death, while harsh and brutal, would not be final. Unfortunately, the apostles were not yet ready to understand, and Jesus would have to continue to patiently prepare them for His coming death.

Why do you think the apostles did not understand what Jesus was telling them?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Jun 1, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “ ‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”

Though there are many lessons to be learned from this text, I would like to focus on one statement made by the father of the possessed boy. “I believe; help my unbelief!” What a beautiful statement both of faith and of his struggle with faith. He believed. He had brought his son to Jesus for healing. He had trusted in Jesus’ power over the demon that was afflicting his child. But he struggled. He struggled to believe that his son could really be freed from the evil spirit’s grasp and made whole. He struggled to trust that the nightmare that his family had been living could really come to an end. He had faith, but he needed for that faith to be strengthened. The thing that impresses me most about this man is the brutal honesty with which he responds to Jesus. How many of us can relate to this man and his struggles? We trust God. We know that He hears our prayers and answers according to His will. We know that He knows exactly what we need and when we need it. We know that He loves us and is caring for us. Yet we worry, we question, we struggle. Lord, we believe. Help our unbelief!

What can we do to help overcome our struggles with faith?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 31, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” And the disciples asked him, “Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” He answered, “Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.

“Listen to Him!” This command of God concerning His Son was brief but full of meaning and power. As Jesus stood, transfigured before them, talking with Moses, the giver of the law, and Elijah, the greatest of the prophets, Peter, James, and John must have been overwhelmed with awe at the great site before them. Their response, worded by Peter, was the suggestion that they build three tabernacles, giving equal honor and allegiance to each. God’s response was that Jesus was His Son and worthy of their undivided devotion. To the Jews (which the apostles were), there was no one greater than Moses, the friend of God and great lawgiver. Among the prophets, no one was exalted in their minds as was Elijah. But God makes it abundantly clear to them that His Son was greater than either Moses or Elijah. No longer was Moses’ law to be their guide. No longer were the prophets to be their basis of belief. They now had the Son of God Himself, and it was He that they were to hear and follow. The same is true for us today. There is no teaching, no creed, and no philosophy that is to come before, or even stand on common ground with, the teachings of Christ.

Why is it important that we place Christ above all other teachers?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 30, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Jesus’ words in vv. 24-26 are challenging. Discipleship is not easy, and it is not cheap. It requires conviction, sacrifice, and commitment. In order to be a true disciple of Jesus, we must be willing to put Him first, walk away from the world, and devote ourselves to Him completely. That does not mean, however, that we do not continue to live in the world or be a part of it. Therein lies the difficulty. Discipleship demands that, even while living in this world, we die to ourselves and allow Christ to direct our lives. Conforming to His will must affect every aspect of life, from work to family, to social activities, to relationships. Why would or should we make that kind of commitment? Because there is nothing that this world holds that is more valuable, precious, or permanent than our eternal souls. It is that truth that prompts Jesus’ powerful questions: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” The blessing and reward of giving our lives to Christ is the wonderful relationship that we enjoy with God and the blessed assurance of knowing that our soul is eternally safe in His hands.

Why does discipleship require such strong commitment?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 29, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

This passage marks a turning point in Jesus’ ministry and in His relationship with the apostles. It also reveals to us the vital importance of our belief in and confession of Jesus Christ. “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” It was a simple question that led to a great confession of faith. After giving several different ideas that men had about who Jesus was, Peter says with confidence, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” It is that great truth confessed by Peter that Jesus says would be the foundation of His church. It is that same confession of faith that each believer is asked to make before becoming a child of God. There is power in that confession. If one does not believe in Jesus as the Son of God, then he will not take advantage of the saving power of Jesus’ shed blood, and therefore cannot have the forgiveness and salvation that He offers. If one is not willing to make that confession of faith in Christ, then he, as we have read recently, will be denied by Christ before the Father. Oh, that we all might be fully convinced of Christ and have the courage to confess Him before men.

Why is our willingness to confess Christ so important?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 28, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”

This is a curious miracle in that the blind man was not totally healed by Jesus’ initial action. The obvious question is: Why? The answer to this query is not given in the text, but it has been suggested by many that Jesus healed this man in stages in order to demonstrate His full power over the healing, to heal partially or completely. Jesus was fully in control of what He did and of what the results were going to be. It has also been suggested that He may have healed this man in this way in order to build his faith—partially at first to strengthen the blind man’s faith in Jesus’ power, then fully to validate and further build his faith. Whatever Jesus’ purpose might have been, one thing is for sure: as always, Jesus showed compassion and demonstrated great power in helping this blind man to see clearly. He always knows exactly what we need and how best to provide for us—not only to meet our physical needs, but to strengthen and build us up spiritually. What an awesome Savior!

What encouragement do you receive from this passage?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 27, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.” But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Confusing the spiritual with the physical. It was a common problem with the apostles. Like us, they tended to let the physical world they lived in dominate their thinking and focus. They struggled to properly understand Jesus and His teaching because of this worldly-mindedness. When Jesus spoke of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees, their minds immediately went to physical bread for that was the physical understanding of leaven and its use. By bringing up the feeding of the 5,000 and 4,000, Jesus reminds them of His ability to meet their need for bread with abundance, thus negating any cause for concern over those things. The leaven that He was warning them about was spiritual in nature. It was the ungodly influence of the Jewish leaders who had turned the law of Moses into something to be used for their own purposes and gain. Today, our concern is not with the Pharisees or Sadducees, but with any number of people who would, in the name of religion, twist and corrupt the word of God into something that will only lead us away from Him. Like the apostles, we must beware of their leaven (influence) and its potentially devastating effect on our lives.

What can we do to protect ourselves from negative influences?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 26, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.

The ironic thing about the request of the Pharisees and Sadducees in this passage is that Jesus’ ministry had been full of signs (we have read about many of them lately). On a daily basis, Jesus displayed power over the elements, the human body, and even life itself in ways that were not possible by human means. He had proven, over and over, that He was the Holy One of God. The problem was that these Jewish leaders simply refused to see the signs. They refused to allow themselves to believe that Jesus was who He claimed to be. They wanted something greater, something unmistakable. They wanted Jesus to bow to their will and provide a sign that was grand enough to be worthy of their belief. But Jesus refused. He refused to offer them any sign other than the sign of Jonah, that He would spend three days in the earth as Jonah did in the belly of the great fish, and then be raised to life once more. May God help us to “see the signs” and believe in the Lord Jesus with all of our hearts, giving our lives fully to Him.

What “signs” do you see in the life of Christ that help you believe?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 25, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?” And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. And after sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.

More than enough. It is interesting to me that in both this event and in the telling of the feeding of the 5,000 (Matthew 14), the gospel writers make a point to tell us that several baskets of leftovers were collected. Why? Why is it important that there was food left over? Is it not spectacular enough that Jesus fed thousands with a very small quantity of food? While I don’t pretend to understand exactly why God chose to include this detail in the telling of these events, there is one thought that comes to my mind. Jesus certainly could have turned the small amount of food into just enough so that everyone was filled and satisfied without one morsel remaining, but He didn’t. He created an abundance of food, more than enough, maybe to make the point that He is not only able to meet our needs but that He can bless us with abundantly more than our needs require. If Jesus can feed thousands with a few loaves and fishes and have baskets of leftovers to spare, surely there can be no limit to the blessings that He can provide in our lives (see Ephesians 3:20-21).

How has God blessed your life abundantly?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 24, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain and sat down there. And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel.

Many commentators believe that this is the same occasion as yesterday’s reading. While Mark, writing to a Gentile audience, chooses to focus on one particular example of Jesus’ healing power (and that toward a Gentile), Matthew gives us the bigger picture of the many who came to Jesus for healing on that occasion and received it. As we have stated before, Jesus always had a purpose. Every word, every action, every teaching was carefully crafted to bring about God’s will and to fulfill His earthly purpose. So if not simply to restore health and life, what was His purpose in healing so many? I believe that this text states that purpose: “And they glorified the God of Israel.” Beyond His ultimate mission of becoming the perfect sacrifice for our sins, Jesus came to this world to bring glory to God, and that He did. Every word and action pointed to and illuminated God. He caused people to think about and see God in a different way than they had before. He renewed their faith and zeal. He gave them hope. And He calls us to do the same in our lives—to glorify God as we point people to Him. “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

How can we glorify God in our lives?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 23, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software 6

Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

As we read through the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, we see many examples of Jesus healing those who were sick and afflicted with different infirmities (and remember that we are given only a small sampling of the many healings Jesus performed). While amazing and miraculous, these healings can become somewhat commonplace to us as we consider the ministry of Jesus. “Oh, it’s another healing” may become our attitude. But it occurs to me that the people of Jesus’ day never lost their fascination with Jesus’ power to heal. Wherever He went, people came to Him in droves to be healed or to witness healings. Then, even when commanded to not tell anyone about the healing, they could not keep the amazing news to themselves. The excitement over being healed was more than they could contain. I think that there is a spiritual parallel here for us. The spiritual healing Jesus offers us is something that oftentimes becomes commonplace in our thinking. We don’t rejoice in it or tell others about it as we should. May God help us to regain the excitement of having our souls healed and lives renewed by the saving power of Christ.

What are some things that can help us be more excited about our spiritual healing?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 22, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

The words and attitude of Jesus in this encounter seem to be harsh and unloving, but we must remember that, as we have stated before, Jesus always had a purpose for everything He said and did. It is often revealed in the gospels that Jesus knew the hearts of those whom He encountered, and there is no reason to believe He did not know the heart of this woman. His words and actions toward her were intended to develop and deepen the faith that He knew already existed in her heart. She came to Him in humility and reverence, acknowledging Him as Lord and as the Messiah of Israel. She did not presume to stand in the place of the Jews, but rather trusted in the compassion of the Lord. Jesus commends her great faith—one of only two such commendations of faith given by our Lord in the gospels (both to Gentiles)—and He grants her request and heals her daughter. There may be times in our lives when our faith is challenged, when God doesn’t seem to be listening or responding, but those are times when our faith can be developed and deepened if we will continue to trust in the Lord as did this woman.

What should we do when our faith is tested?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 21, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Most of us pay some attention to what we eat. Maybe you are on a special diet because of a health issue. Maybe you are trying to lose weight or just be healthier. Maybe there are certain foods or ingredients that you are allergic to and, therefore, must avoid. Regardless of the reason or motivation, many of us pay attention to the foods we eat and consequences of eating certain things. If you understand that concept, then you understand what Jesus is teaching in this passage. In contrasting the physical with the spiritual, He is saying that, in reality, the food that you eat does not defile you (i.e. make you spiritually unclean or impure). It is what you put into your heart and mind—the images, thoughts, attitudes and influences—that can defile you. Who you are and what comes from you in your life is a product of what you put into your heart. Therefore, we need to be very diligent, much more so than with our food, to guard our hearts against those things that would defile us.

What are some of the things that we need to beware of allowing into our hearts?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 20, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban” ’ (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”

As creatures of habit, we like traditions. They are comfortable, familiar, and easy. They have a way of imbedding themselves in our thinking and practice and quickly become an indelible part of who we are and what we believe. In that mindset, “the way it’s always been” becomes the standard by which our decisions are made, and the line between tradition and doctrine is easily blurred. If we are not careful, those traditions come to identify us and become more precious and binding than even the doctrinal teachings of God’s word. This is the very sin the Jewish leaders were guilty of, and Jesus gives them, and us, a grave warning about the danger of this mentality. The truth of the matter is that there is nothing wrong with traditions. They provide roots for us and give us a pattern of order to follow, but traditions must never be more important to us than are the teachings of God’s word. They must never interfere with our carrying out of God’s will, and they must never form a basis for making doctrinal decisions. May God’s word always be our first and only guide and creed.

Why do you think traditions so easily become so important to us?

 

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 19, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him.

In today’s thought, I want to focus on the words of Peter in response to Jesus’ question, “Do you want to go away as well?” Peter quickly responds, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life...” At this point in his relationship with Jesus, Peter did not fully understand Jesus’ mission or his place in it, but there was one thing that he understood very clearly: there was no one else on earth—no Jewish leader, no teacher, no prophet—who could offer him what Jesus could: eternal life. Though the way might be rough at times, though Jesus’ teachings might sometimes be difficult to understand or swallow, Peter was committed to following Him. There was nowhere else and with no one else that he wanted to be. There are still many people who walk away from Jesus because He asks more of them than they are willing to give. If only we too could be convinced that there is nowhere else to go and no one else to go to who can offer what Jesus Christ offers: eternal life.

What are some of the reasons people leave Christ today?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 18, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.

As we read these verses, our minds most likely go immediately to the Lord’s Supper, the communion that we share with Christ each Lord’s day as we remember His death through the memorial feast that He instituted (e.g. Matthew 26:26-29). While there may be an application of these verses to the Lord’s Supper, it is not that memorial that Christ is referring to in these statements. To “eat” His flesh and “drink” His blood is symbolic language that represents the “taking in” of Christ. To take Him in means to make Him a part of your life and inner-most being, to make His life one with your own. There is also an allusion here to His death on the cross and our willingness to take up our own cross and follow after Him. The lesson is this: if we want to have eternal life, we must accept the crucified Christ, give our lives to Him, and become obedient to His will and teaching. As Paul would later state: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me…” (Galatians 2:20).

In view of all that the New Testament teaches, how does one become obedient to Christ?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 17, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

Much of John 6 deals with the attitude of unbelief expressed by the Jews of Jesus’ day. Despite His many acts of power and His teaching of the truth of God, His audiences in large part were unwilling to see Him as anything but a man, a son, and a teacher. But Jesus wanted them to see so much more. He wanted them to see Him as the bread of life, as the giver of eternal life, as the Son of the Father. But even beyond these things, Jesus desired that, as they witnessed Him and heard His teachings, they would see God. He desired that they know God and His love for them through His words and actions. He desired that they see in Him the way to God and to an everlasting abode with God. Jesus still allows and encourages us to see God. Even as we take this journey together through the life of Christ this year, we have the opportunity to peer through the window of Jesus and see the Father—His righteousness and holiness, His love and mercy, His care and concern. While Jesus’ life was ultimately about His atoning death, it was also about giving us a picture of God and allowing us to know Him through His Son. What a wonderful opportunity!

What are some things that we can know about God through Jesus?

 

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 16, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

It must have been frustrating for Jesus to deal constantly with people who, despite the many miraculous works they had witnessed by His hand, continued to doubt and demand more proof. This particular audience had witnessed many sick and infirmed receive health and strength by Jesus’ power. They had eaten a meal that He had provided by miraculous means. There was plenty of proof, yet their curiosity and fascination with the spectacular had motivated them to ask for still another sign. Jesus responds to them by simply saying that He is the one they should be seeking and, though they had seen Him, they still did not believe. What they needed—what we all need—is not to be found in signs and wonders but in Jesus Himself, the bread of life. It is in Him and Him alone that eternal life can be found, and it is He alone that should be the focus of our search.

What are some things that people search for today instead of Jesus?

 

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 15, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

Here, Jesus speaks to one of the great challenges He faced in trying to reach the people of His day. Like many people today, they were more interested in the physical things than the spiritual. They followed Him because He fed them or because He healed them. They wanted the physical benefits of being a follower of Jesus. He quickly chastises them for that attitude and instructs them to seek (or desire) the spiritual food that leads to eternal life. Many in our world are no different. They are interested in what physical benefits might be available as a follower of Christ. Will He heal me or my loved one? Will He take my debt away or bless me financially? Will he protect me from the hardships and difficulties of life? But Jesus’ message is still true and relevant today. There is no doubt that God blesses us with many physical things, but it’s the spiritual blessings, not the physical, that are the most important. It is those spiritual things that we ought to seek as our priority, because it is those things that can and will affect our eternity.

How can we seek spiritual things?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 14, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.

This is a scene that we see repeated time and again during the ministry of Jesus—people from surrounding villages and towns flocking to Him wherever He is to have their sick and afflicted healed. It was a daily occurrence in the life of Jesus. As we have discussed before, Jesus possessed an ability and offered an opportunity that was not available anywhere or through anyone else. Through His healing power, He gave people the ability to return to a normal and productive way of life, to reenter their world in a way they never thought possible. Is there any wonder why so many came to Him, looking for healing? Did you know that Jesus still offers healing? The healing He offers us is far more effective, permanent, and important than the physical healing that He offered during His earthly ministry. Jesus, today, offers us spiritual healing. He offers to make our souls whole and pure and ready for salvation. The question is, why do people not flock to Jesus today for that healing just as people did in this passage? May God help us recognize the importance of spiritual healing and the desire to be made whole by Christ.

Why do you think so many people do not see the importance or need for spiritual healing?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 13, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Peter did the impossible! Can you imagine the feeling of stepping out of the boat and resting your foot on the unsteady surface of the wind-tossed sea? Just to take that step required an incredible amount of courage and faith. But Peter’s faith was no match for the boisterous wind. As the winds howled and the waves crashed, Peter lost his focus on Jesus and, with it, his faith. Just as his faith had allowed him to stand upon the water, his fear caused him to sink into it. In one final, desperate plea, Peter calls out to the Lord for salvation. As we consider this amazing event, there are so many parallels to our own lives for us to learn from. As we face the many storms of life—hardships, trials, sorrows—we are called to step away from the comfort of the familiar and trust God with our lives. But just like Peter, we can often find ourselves distracted by the chaos around us, losing our focus and faith, and sinking into despair and hopelessness. May God help us to be strong in our faith and, like Peter, to look to Him for help in our times of greatest struggle.

How can our faith in God help us as we face the storms of life?

 

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 12, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

We have already thought about Matthew’s telling of this event. We have considered the impossible command of Jesus and the doubt and frustration of the apostles. But in the midst of their skepticism, John reveals a shining example of faith in the response of Andrew. The only available food on that day was found in the possession of a young boy who was brought to Jesus by Andrew. He wasn’t completely confident that Jesus could feed the masses with these morsels. There was no grand pronouncement made by Andrew of Jesus’ power and miraculous ability. Instead, there was a simple query: “What are these among so many?” He wondered, questioned, maybe even doubted, but he brought the lad to Jesus anyway. His faith may have only been that of a mustard seed, but nevertheless, he acted on that faith and, in so doing, provided a means by which Jesus’ command could be obeyed and His will be done. What a wonderful example Andrew is to us. We may look at our abilities, resources, or opportunities and ask, “What are these among so many?” But we must never forget that God can use what we bring Him, in faith, to do His will.

What can you bring to God that He might use to accomplish His will?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

May 11, 2015

HOST: Michael Whitworth

SPONSOR: Logos Bible Software

Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

“You give them something to eat.” It was an impossible command. How could Jesus expect His apostles to feed thousands of hungry people? They had made no preparations and had no resources. They themselves were tired, hungry, and frustrated. What was the meaning of such an unreasonable request? What did Jesus hope to accomplish by putting His apostles in such a difficult position? The answer is simple. In His work to train the apostles to be the leaders and servants He needed them to be, there were two very important lessons they needed to learn. The first was that they needed to take advantage of opportunities to serve. The love of God could not be demonstrated by sending people away to fend for themselves. The apostles needed to develop hearts of service. Second, they needed to understand that the things that were impossible for them were altogether possible for Christ. There is no way they could feed this crowd, but with a very modest amount of food, Jesus fed them with ease. Likewise, we’re called to shine and serve for God, and in so doing, these same lessons are vital for us to learn as well. May God help us to be the servants and leaders He would have us to be.

What lessons can we learn from Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

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