PATCHES

Matthew 9:16-17

“No one patches an old coat with a new piece of cloth that will shrink. When the patch shrinks, it will rip away from the coat, and the tear will become worse. Nor do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins burst, the wine runs out, and the skins are ruined. Rather, people pour new wine into fresh skins, and both are saved.”

PATCHES

Sometimes, after Jesus had given a parable or analogy as an answer, he should take his disciples aside and explain its meaning. He did not do that here, and I wish he had!

John’s disciples had asked him why his disciples didn’t fast. He had answered with an analogy about a bridegroom. I understood that answer. However, he went on to say today’s scripture about patches and wineskins. While what he said made sense in the natural world, I didn’t understand how they answered the question about fasting.

So, since I was missing the spiritual meaning, I considered what his answer meant in the physical world.

  1. New cloth on an old coat. Tailors and dressmakers know that many fabrics need to be laundered before cutting and sewing. Washing the fabric causes It to shrink. Therefore, it should be preshrunk so that measurements remain accurate. Knowing that, it makes sense to not use a non-preshrunk fabric to path fabric that had already shrunk.
  2. New wine into old wineskins. Wineskins are exactly what It sounds like, a container made of skin that its used to hold wine and other liquids. As anything made of leather ages it becomes thinner and brittle. New wine is still fermenting and releasing gasses. If you pour new wine into an old wineskin the gasses would cause the skin to expand like a balloon and rupture which would destroy both the bag and the wine.

Now I believe that I understand Jesus was saying that adding new to old can be destructive. His disciples were rough men of the world, not raised in the strict religious practices of the Pharisees. To impose such strict practices as fasting on them, when they are not ready for them, would be counterproductive.

Notice that Jesus said, “The time will come when the groom will be taken away from them. Then they will fast.” (Matthew 9:15) There would come a time when his disciples lives would lose their worldly ways and would become more able to accept such spiritual practices as fasting.

Prayer:
Lord, give us wisdom and maturity in the faith that we may full partake of all you’ve laid before us.
Amen.

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I Know Him

1 John 2:3-6

We are sure that we know Christ if we obey his commandments. The person who says, “I know him,” but doesn’t obey his commandments is a liar. The truth isn’t in that person. But whoever obeys what Christ says is the kind of person in whom God’s love is perfected. That’s how we know we are in Christ. Those who say that they live in him must live the same way he lived.

I Know Him

I’m sometimes amazed that I see people who claim the salvation that Christ offers but do not seem to accept the duty to change, to live the life that he lived, to love the way he loved. Friends, I have to tell you this, you cannot live with one foot on the path of righteousness and the other foot on that worldly path that leads to destruction. I know. I tried. If you take the name of Christ upon you (Christian), you must also take his lifestyle upon you. “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” 

(John 14:15)

Prayer:

Jesus, teach us to study as you studied, to speak as you spoke, to live as you lived and to love as you love, to forgive as you forgive and to grow ever closer to being Christ-like.

Amen.

Priestly Duties

Malachi 2:1-9
“And now, you priests, this warning is for you. If you won’t listen and if you won’t consider giving honor to my name,” says the LORD of Armies, “then I’ll send a curse on you, and I’ll curse the blessings you give. Yes, I’ve already cursed them because you don’t carefully consider this. “I’m going to punish your descendants. I’m going to spread excrement on your faces, the excrement from your festival sacrifices. You will be discarded with it. Then you will know that I sent you this warning so that my promise to Levi will continue,” says the LORD of Armies. “I promised Levi life and peace. I gave them to him so that he would respect me. He respected me and stood in awe of my name. The teaching that came from his mouth was true. Nothing unjust was found on his lips. He lived with me in peace and honesty and turned many people away from sin. “A priest’s lips should preserve knowledge. Then, because he is the messenger for the LORD of Armies, people will seek instruction from his mouth. “But you have turned from the correct path and caused many to stumble over my teachings. You have corrupted the promise made to Levi,” says the LORD of Armies. “So I have made you disgusting, and I have humiliated you in front of all the people, because you have not followed my ways. You have been unfair when applying my teachings.”

Priestly Duties

The prophet Malachi lived about 400 years before Christ was born. He was the last prophet before John the Baptist. The warning that he gave was to the priests, not the people, nor the king as other prophets had been.  

The condition for escaping the wrath of God was simple, listen and consider giving honor to His name. God certainly wasn’t asking a hard thing of them. He only asked that they, as His messangers, preserve knowledge and give good instruction to His people. 

And what were the consequences of disobedience? They were harsh, very harsh

  • their blessings become cursed
  •  excrement from there sacrifices smeared on their faces
  • Discarded with the excrement.
  • punispunish even to descendants

Why was the punishment so harsh that even their descendents were punishment? These priests had not only turned away from God’s path but they had also lead others astray by giving false teaching.

As a preacher I am very aware of my duty and responsibility to God and my listeners and readers. I would never intentionally lead others astray and I pray that, no matter what words I speak, that the people hear the message that God has for them. I also stress that it is each persons responsibility to do their own study of the scriptures and to pray for and listen for the Holy Spirit’s leading. It is their eternal soul at stake.

Now hear this, being a child of God and a follower of Christ cuts two ways. We are responsible to God for ourselves continuing on the right path AND we are responsible for not misleading others.

Prayer:

Father, forgive me for the times I’ve wandered from your path. Lord also forgive me for anytime that by my action or inaction others may have between lead astray. Also, Lord, don’t hold them accountable for my error. And more importantly, set their lives back on the path you have laid out for them.

Amen.

Through These Promises

2 Peter 1:4-9

Through his glory and integrity he has given us his promises that are of the highest value. Through these promises you will share in the divine nature because you have escaped the corruption that sinful desires cause in the world. Because of this, make every effort to add integrity to your faith; and to integrity add knowledge; to knowledge add self-control; to self-control add endurance; to endurance add godliness; to godliness add Christian affection; and to Christian affection add love. If you have these qualities and they are increasing, it demonstrates that your knowledge about our Lord Jesus Christ is living and productive. If these qualities aren’t present in your life, you’re shortsighted and have forgotten that you were cleansed from your past sins.

Through These Promises

Through the promises of Jesus, the Christ, we will share in his divine nature because we have escaped the corruption that sinful desires cause in our world. That is his promise to us.

We also have made a promise to him. We have accepted him as savior. We have promised to be called but his name, Christian. We have promised to be lead by his Spirit and his goodwill. These are the outward signs of the inward change in our lives:

  • integrity
  • faith
  • knowledge
  • self-control
  • endurance
  • godliness
  • Christian affection
  • love. 

These traits demonstrates that our knowledge about our Lord Jesus Christ is living and productive.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, give us your strength and your guidance to do your goodwill in our world today. Help us, we pray, to fulfill our promises to you.

Amen.

My Father’s Business

Luke 20:1-8 (NIV)
One day as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?”

He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me: John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin?”

They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.”

So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.”

Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”


My Father’s Business

Jesus could have replied to the chief priests and the teachers of the law the same way he had responded to his parents back at age twelve, when they had lost him and then found him in that very same temple. He was asking and answering the questions at that time also. When his mother asked him why he was in the temple, he answered, “I must be about my Father’s business.”

This time, however, he knew the evil in the hearts of these men who asked, who gave him the authority to teach like he was. He didn’t answer them but ask then a question that he knew they dared not answer. They refused to answer, so he refused to answer.

Jesus was constantly tested as these supposed religious men tried to trip him up. 

You may also find, as you are sharing your faith and the good news of Christ Jesus, that supposedly righteous people will try to entangle you in discussions of philosophy or doctrines. Pray for guidance and wisdom of the Holy Spirit so that you may not be deceived. Speak the truth that you know and don’t be mislead.

Prayer:

Jesus, you are the Truth and the Way, watch over us as we too are about the Father’s business.

Amen.

The Buddy System

Ezekiel 33:8-9

Suppose I (God).say to a wicked person, ‘You wicked person, you will certainly die,’ and you say nothing to warn him to change his ways. That wicked person will die because of his sin, and I will hold you responsible for his death.  But if you warn a wicked person to turn from his ways and he doesn’t turn from them, then he will die because of his sin. However, you will save yourself.

Galatians 6:1

“Brothers and sisters, if a person gets trapped by wrongdoing, those of you who are spiritual should help that person turn away from doing wrong. Do it in a gentle way. At the same time watch yourself so that you also are not tempted.”  

The Buddy System

There are scriptures that bother me. The two quoted here trouble me because they make me responsible (at least partially) for the sins of others. Isn’t it hard enough to be responsible for myself?

I struggle daily with “not my will, but God’s will”. Though I truly want to follow His leading, I am a strong willed (stubborn, pig-headed) child of God.

I remember holding my child’s hand as we walked through a busy parking lot. The child struggles to be free of my grasp so they can run on ahead. They would run and be completely unaware of the cars backing out of parking spots or suddenly coming around a corner. Often I am that child who would rush headlong into danger were it not for God’s hand holding me back.

These scriptures bother me because they tell me God wants me to be His hands and hold onto my brother’s or sister’s hand for their safety.

We are on the buddy system. You hold my hand and I’ll hold yours. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit we will keep each other safe.

Prayer:

Father, we your children are often willful and disobedient. We would have rushed headlong into trouble if you had not held us back. Sometimes it was your Spirit cautioning us and sometimes you sent your people to give us your wisdom and your warning. We thank you for them. Now we ask that you place your loving heart within us so that we might speak the words that could pull one of your children away from the brink of destruction. Amen. 

All content (except quotations) © 2019 Thomas E. Williams.

How to Praise God

Psalms 145:1-9

I will highly praise you, my God, the king. I will bless your name forever and ever. I will bless you every day. I will praise your name forever and ever. The LORD is great, and he should be highly praised. His greatness is unsearchable. One generation will praise your deeds to the next. Each generation will talk about your mighty acts. I will think about the glorious honor of your majesty and the miraculous things you have done. People will talk about the power of your terrifying deeds, and I will tell about your greatness. They will announce what they remember of your great goodness, and they will joyfully sing about your righteousness. The LORD is merciful, compassionate, patient, and always ready to forgive. The LORD is good to everyone and has compassion for everything that he has made.

How to Praise God

I love the old time hymns more than the modern praise music. The old hymns are based on scripture and are sound teaching put to music. On the other hand, I find much of the praise music filled with the repeated phrase, “Praise God” to be empty words. Saying, praise God, is not praising God. Think about it. If I were say to you, “Praise you”, would that mean anything? If, instead, I were to say to you, “Thank you for being there for me when I really needed you”, that would be praise to you.

The psalmist teaches us how to properly praise the Lord. He lists the reasons why he gives praises to God.

  • The LORD is great
  • His mighty acts
  • things He has done
  • His great goodness
  • His righteousness
  • He is merciful
  • He is compassionate
  • He is patient
  • He is always ready to forgive
  • He is good to everyone 
  • He has compassion 

Prayer:

I will highly praise you, my God, and king. I promise to bless your name forever and ever. I will bless you every day. I will praise your name forever and ever. I remember your help in times past. I remember when you saved me out of troubled times. I also remember your strength being with me through the tough times in my life. For these and so much more, I praise you, my rock and my redeemer.

Amen.