Plucking Heads!

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This week’s devotional is from Matthew 12:1, “And His disciples were hungry and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat.” (New King James) Plucking heads would not have been a problem except that they were doing it on the Sabbath and the religious people got all upset with Jesus for allowing His followers to do this. How difficult it must have been to live under the microscope of the Pharisees. It is incredible to think that everything Jesus did was scrutinized and this was the worst thing they could accuse Him of doing. Jesus’ disciples were hungry and they were eating some food, but the religious leaders felt that because they plucked the heads of grain, which was considered work that was forbidden on the Sabbath. They completely misunderstood the 4th Commandment which forbade working for worldly gain on the Sabbath. It did not forbid any labor at all. God gave man this command to rest and relax on the Sabbath so as not to work himself to death pursuing after money. But the religious people made keeping the Sabbath a burden. If someone did something that they considered work, they were condemned. But that was never God’s intention. This is what happens when people replace their relationship with God with rules and regulations. They become oppressive. How sad that people can take God’s laws and use them to beat people down, when His laws were given to us to set us free! They are the principles to be used to guide our lives. Our relationship with God is supposed to be real and life giving. We should follow God’s laws but they should always be tempered with mercy not judgment. So the next time you see someone ‘plucking heads,’ ask them if they need help rather than judging them.

Winners and losers

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This week’s reading is in Matthew 10:39. “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” This is one of the more radical statements that Jesus ever made. In the church today, there is too much of self. Much of the presentation of the gospel is based on us. If you become a Christian YOU will prosper. If you become a Christian YOU will be happy. If you become a Christian YOU will be healthy. Now these statements do have an element of truth but we need to realize that the road to a better life is found through “dying to self” not exalting self. We need to learn how to die to self if we ever hope to find out what life is about. How do we lose our lives? We lose our by giving of our time to serve others.
Losing our life is not like losing our car keys or losing your wallet or losing your shoes. Losing our lives does not happen by accident. It has to be a conscious effort on our part. We have to be intentional about “losing our lives.” You don’t lose your life by mistake. It has to become a conscious act. It is a risky act, because we do give up our precious time, but when we ‘lose’ our life, and give our time to serve others, Jesus says something mysterious happens. We gain back, we get something. We get life. We get the time we need. Somehow it works out. Until we realize this truth, we will NEVER have enough time. Do you want to be a winner? Lose your life. What has been your greatest struggle when it comes to ‘losing your life?’

Yank the Plank!

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This week’s reading is from Matthew 7:1-5. Jesus warns us not to be critical and judgmental of others. This is a sin we are all very good at. It is important that we distinguish between telling someone that something they are doing is wrong and being judgmental. It is a fine line but there is a difference. There is a lot of confusion about this topic. Here is an illustration that might help. The Lone Ranger and Tonto stopped in the desert for the night. After they got their tent all set up, both men fell sound asleep. Some hours later, Tonto wakes the Lone Ranger and says, “Kemo Sabe, look towards sky, what you see?” The Lone Ranger replies, “I see millions of stars.” “What that tell you?” asked Tonto. The Lone Ranger ponders for a minute then says, “Astronomically speaking, it tells me there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Time wise, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three in the morning. Theologically, it’s evident the Lord is all-powerful and we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What’s it tell you, Tonto?” Tonto is silent for a moment, and then says, “Kemo Sabe, you are dumber than a box of rocks! It means someone stole tent.” That’s discernment! But when Tonto called the Lone Ranger “dumber than a box of rocks” that’s being judgmental. It is okay to correct people but we need to be careful it is done in a loving and respectful way. On top of that maybe we should be more concerned about correcting ourselves than we are correcting everyone else! Do you struggle with wanting to correct other people’s mistakes, especially your spouse or your children?

Does God still speak through dreams?

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This week’s reading is from Matthew chapter 1 and 2. God spoke to Joseph in a dream that he should go ahead and marry Mary, even though she was pregnant. Then God warned the wise men who visited the baby Jesus and told them not to go back and tell Herod that they had found Jesus. Then God spoke to Joseph again in a dream and told him to get out of Bethlehem immediately because Herod was going to try to kill Jesus. Then God spoke to Joseph again in a dream and told him it was safe to return to Israel, because Herod had died. Then God spoke to Joseph again in a dream and told him to move to Galilee.

One hundred and twenty times in the Bible, dreams are spoken of as a passageway through which God can speak. There are 25 different dreams recorded in the Bible that God gave to people, some in the OT and some in the NT. Some were given to god fearing people, some were given to kings, and some were given to people who did not worship God.

Does God use dreams today? This is a valid question, and people are asking it all the time. Let’s look at what Peter said in Acts chapter 2:17, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. Your young men shall see visions. Your old men shall DREAM DREAMS.” According to Peter, God would be speaking to men through dreams, especially as we get closer to the last days. God can and does use dreams today to reveal His will. I believe that God sometimes chooses to use dreams for different reasons. Maybe we are just not open enough for Him to speak to us through impressions on our spirit during the day. So at night when we are relaxed and less distracted He can speak to us through dreams. I believe God still speaks to the hearts and spirits of people more commonly than He does through dreams but in fact He does use dreams to speak to us. God uses dreams in many different ways. They can be an answer to our prayers. They can give us direction in life, or be a warning or way of saving His people from danger. They can be for comfort during discouraging times. Usually they are pretty significant events but not always. There have been several times in my life where God spoke to me in dreams. If you would like to find out more about dreams and what the Bible says about them I have written a book, “What’s Your Sign?” that has a lot of information that may be helpful in this area. You can purchase it on Amazon. Has God ever spoken to you in a dream?