All posts by John (HFJ Director)

HFJ News: Ministries

We are continuing our weekly Friday extra post of “HFJ News” which is intended to introduce our Christian community to different parts of the website that many find useful.  Links are provided for your convenience or you can just visit the site directly at www.HearingFromJesus.org and look around on your own.

Today’s highlight is the section of our site that identifies a host of other genuine Christian ministries that collectively provide a lot of resources for you to connect with and use in your search to understand and apply God’s word to your life.

Scripture warns us about false prophets and wolves in sheep’s clothing… we are to use discernment in assessing what ministries or teachers we listen to. In other words, not all ministries represent the genuine Christian faith and authentically. This is not to be confused with perfection… none of these ministries or Hearing From Jesus are perfect. But we are submitted to God.

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Ministries

Many claim to bring a Christian message, but far too often there are false prophets mixed amongst the true Christian ministries. We are called to study God’s word and use discernment to determine which ones  line up with the Bible and reject the rest.

I have found several mature Christian ministries that provide robust material to help support us in our Christian walk.  Resources range from radio broadcasts to online material as well as books and more.

There are also some good ministries that provide a specific focus area such as family or women’s ministry.

If you have identified Christian ministries you recommend for inclusion on our website, please submit via our Contact Us page.

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May the grace and peace of our lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Note: HFJ News posts are always supplemental and never replace our daily devotions, so please be sure to look for your daily devotion from Hearing From Jesus (HFJ) as well.

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Faith Is The Confidence That What We Hope For Will Happen

Hebrews 11 provides a wonderful summary of great examples of faith in God and faith that what He tells us is trustworthy and true. Faith in God should not be confused or misrepresented as a “blind faith”, but rather faith supported by the overwhelming evidence around us… in creation itself… in the authenticity and timeless relevance of the Bible… in the study of historical events including the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

11 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.

By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith.

It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.”[a] For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. 10 Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.

11 It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed[b] that God would keep his promise. 12 And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.

13 All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. 14 Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. 15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. 16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

17 It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, 18 even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.”[c] 19 Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.

20 It was by faith that Isaac promised blessings for the future to his sons, Jacob and Esau.

21 It was by faith that Jacob, when he was old and dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons and bowed in worship as he leaned on his staff.

22 It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, said confidently that the people of Israel would leave Egypt. He even commanded them to take his bones with them when they left.

23 It was by faith that Moses’ parents hid him for three months when he was born. They saw that God had given them an unusual child, and they were not afraid to disobey the king’s command.

24 It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward. 27 It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible. 28 It was by faith that Moses commanded the people of Israel to keep the Passover and to sprinkle blood on the doorposts so that the angel of death would not kill their firstborn sons.

29 It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground. But when the Egyptians tried to follow, they were all drowned.

30 It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down.

31 It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

32 How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. 33 By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. 35 Women received their loved ones back again from death.

But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. 36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. 37 Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half,[d] and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. 38 They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.

39 All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40 For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.

Verse 3 highlights that by faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.  The more we learn about the universe them more it provides evidence for its creation by God. 

Based on observable evidence, credible  scientists virtually all agree that the universe had a beginning. It is not eternal. Basic laws and logic which are foundational to all science require that the law of causality is true. Said more simply, all “effects” must have a “cause”. Everything that has a beginning is an effect that requires a cause. Additionally, something that does not exist can not create itself. Thus we see fundamental laws of logic and science require a supernatural cause (in this case God as creator) that created the universe. Evidence leads to God.

Many argue against God because they can not “see” Him. I can not see gravity, but I recognize and accept it is real based on the evidence. When I look my car, I can not see the person who invented the first car or the person who designed or built my car… but I know from the evidence that someone designed and built my car.

Others argue that God is not real because they do not understand His reasoning for aspects of creation (e.g. “Why is there suffering?). I do not understand aerodynamics but I can not deny that evidence supports that planes fly.

We are not asked to have blind faith… but rather faith based in evidence… faith in God as revealed through scripture and the life of Jesus Christ and through creation itself. When we live our lives filled with faith in God we are able to submit to and serve Him even when we do not understand all the details. In many cases, we will not even see the end result of our faith… like ripples on a pond that go far out of our limited sight. But we can trust that God uses our faith to His glory!

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I said to the Lord, “You are my Master!”

I always find the Psalms of David encouraging. He truly was a man after God’s own heart. Even in difficulty and suffering he sought refuge in God and found peace, hope, and reason to rejoice.  Psalm 16 is no exception.

Keep me safe, O God,
    for I have come to you for refuge.

I said to the Lord, “You are my Master!
    Every good thing I have comes from you.”
The godly people in the land
    are my true heroes!
    I take pleasure in them!
Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods.
    I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood
    or even speak the names of their gods.

Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing.
    You guard all that is mine.
The land you have given me is a pleasant land.
    What a wonderful inheritance!

I will bless the Lord who guides me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
I know the Lord is always with me.
    I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.[b]
    My body rests in safety.
10 For you will not leave my soul among the dead[c]
    or allow your holy one[d] to rot in the grave.
11 You will show me the way of life,
    granting me the joy of your presence
    and the pleasures of living with you forever.

David begins with a request for God to keep him safe and provide refuge. This beginning gives us insight that once again David was in need of protection and turned to God.

The next statement is  powerful. David exclaims that God is his master and give credit to God for all good things. Then he takes time to appreciate and focus on the godly people in the land. He takes pleasure in them!

By contrast, David rightly declares that he will not be part of worship and practices of false gods and idols. He refuses even to speak the name of their false gods.

David is content and thankful for what God has given him. He looks only to God for provision and seeks to bless God in return. He seeks and accepts God’s instruction and guidance. He takes courage in knowing God is with him through difficult times.

David finds peace and rest in submitting to and serving God. He confidently proclaims the promise of God for eternity with God and finds great joy in this! David clearly understood the existence of the soul of each individual and how it may go to be with God when the body dies for those who submit to and serve God.

I am striving to personally model the heart that David showed toward God, even in difficulty and suffering. I am not there yet, but am on the right track. The more time I spend studying God’s word, seeking Him in prayer, and submitting my life to serve Him and follow His instructions the closer I get. I still have a long way to go, but praise God for showing me the path to follow!

I encourage each of you to take on that same challenge… seek God’s help for refuge and security, follow His instruction, remain separate from worship of false gods, find courage and peace and rejoice in knowing the Lord our God even in difficult times!

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Isaac Keeps Peace with Abimelech; Esau Marries Hittite Wives

Genesis 26:26-34 continues after Abimelech had asked Isaac to leave his land because he feared how wealthy and powerful Isaac was growing. Isaac left peacefully and resettled elsewhere. We see that Isaac, though he continues to be blessed and grow stronger, remains peaceful in his dealings with Abimelech, even entering into a treaty with Abimelech despite feeling “hated” by Abimelech.

26 One day King Abimelech came from Gerar with his adviser, Ahuzzath, and also Phicol, his army commander. 27 “Why have you come here?” Isaac asked. “You obviously hate me, since you kicked me off your land.”

28 They replied, “We can plainly see that the Lord is with you. So we want to enter into a sworn treaty with you. Let’s make a covenant. 29 Swear that you will not harm us, just as we have never troubled you. We have always treated you well, and we sent you away from us in peace. And now look how the Lord has blessed you!”

30 So Isaac prepared a covenant feast to celebrate the treaty, and they ate and drank together. 31 Early the next morning, they each took a solemn oath not to interfere with each other. Then Isaac sent them home again, and they left him in peace.

32 That very day Isaac’s servants came and told him about a new well they had dug. “We’ve found water!” they exclaimed. 33 So Isaac named the well Shibah (which means “oath”). And to this day the town that grew up there is called Beersheba (which means “well of the oath”).

34 At the age of forty, Esau married two Hittite wives: Judith, the daughter of Beeri, and Basemath, the daughter of Elon. 35 But Esau’s wives made life miserable for Isaac and Rebekah.

Isaac does not appear to hold bitterness against Abimelech, and if he does… he gets over it and is willing to interact peacefully with Abimelech. Isaac does not have a mind for revenge. He demonstrates the wisdom to avoid unnecessary aggression. In this situation, Isaac is not threatened and has no need to defend himself. Continuing in peace with Abimelech is a wise decision.

At the very end of the scripture we see quick mention of Esau marrying two Hittite wives, who then made life miserable for Isaac and Rebekah. It is a very quick mention on the surface. However, once again we see the importance of wisely selecting your spouse and the negative impacts that a poor choice can have on the family.

For background on the Hittites… their religion was a pluralistic worship of nature. They believed in various gods over the elements of earth, sky, weather, etc. As with most pagan religions, the religion of the Hittites incorporated detestable practices that were offensive to God. For the family of Isaac and Rebekah, a choice for Esau to marry Hittite wives was a very poor choice. The circumstances and reasons for why Esau married Hittite wives are not revealed in this scripture.

God warns us in scripture to marry someone who shares our faith in God. This instruction is foundational to a good marriage and essential for someone who follows God to avoid the risk of being drawn away from God toward pagan practices.

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Responding To Hostility

We continue in Genesis 26:12-25, after Abimelech, the King of the Philistines, has issued a proclamation to protect Isaac’s wife, Rebekah. Isaac was living in Philistine land. Jealousy of others toward the success of Isaac (due to God’s blessing) drives conflict which ultimately leads to Isaac’s departure from the area.

12 When Isaac planted his crops that year, he harvested a hundred times more grain than he planted, for the Lord blessed him. 13 He became a very rich man, and his wealth continued to grow. 14 He acquired so many flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and servants that the Philistines became jealous of him. 15 So the Philistines filled up all of Isaac’s wells with dirt. These were the wells that had been dug by the servants of his father, Abraham.

16 Finally, Abimelech ordered Isaac to leave the country. “Go somewhere else,” he said, “for you have become too powerful for us.”

17 So Isaac moved away to the Gerar Valley, where he set up their tents and settled down. 18 He reopened the wells his father had dug, which the Philistines had filled in after Abraham’s death. Isaac also restored the names Abraham had given them.

19 Isaac’s servants also dug in the Gerar Valley and discovered a well of fresh water. 20 But then the shepherds from Gerar came and claimed the spring. “This is our water,” they said, and they argued over it with Isaac’s herdsmen. So Isaac named the well Esek (which means “argument”). 21 Isaac’s men then dug another well, but again there was a dispute over it. So Isaac named it Sitnah (which means “hostility”). 22 Abandoning that one, Isaac moved on and dug another well. This time there was no dispute over it, so Isaac named the place Rehoboth (which means “open space”), for he said, “At last the Lord has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.”

23 From there Isaac moved to Beersheba, 24 where the Lord appeared to him on the night of his arrival. “I am the God of your father, Abraham,” he said. “Do not be afraid, for I am with you and will bless you. I will multiply your descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will do this because of my promise to Abraham, my servant.” 25 Then Isaac built an altar there and worshiped the Lord. He set up his camp at that place, and his servants dug another well.

We see that human nature has not changed in thousands of years. When we experience God’s blessing and succeed, fools will look to  harm to us out of jealousy. The wise will instead seek to understand how we have prospered so they can learn and replicate it. Abimelech becomes concerned by Isaac’s great wealth and commands him to leave.

Isaac respected Abimelech’s authority and relocated to where Abraham had previously settled. When he dug wells he was met with more adversity and hostility from those nearby who challenged his rights to the water there. Isaac avoided conflict again… and again… and eventually found open space. He gave glory to God. He was not complaining about all the hostility he faced but rather thanking God for providing space for him to occupy.

Later God revealed Himself to Isaac at Beersheba and affirmed the promise to Isaac that was first given to Abraham. Isaac responded by building an altar and worshipping God.

I have a lot of respect for Isaac in that He did not try to react in this situation to hostility with violence. He sought open space to peacefully flourish and God granted it to him. While there are times when it is appropriate to fight, as Abraham demonstrated in Genesis 14,  Isaac demonstrates that there are times when the best response is a peaceful one. In this case Isaac was in someone else’s land under Abimelech and then moving into land near where others already occupied. He avoided a conqueror mentality in both cases. With his great wealth it is reasonable to conclude he could have mustered a significant fighting force. Else, why would Abimelech have been concerned?

God provides many examples in scripture where fighting is appropriate and others where a peaceful solution is best. We should be careful not to gravitate to easily toward a one-size-fits-all  solution of violence or peace and try to fit it to every situation. Instead, we should study God’s word and seek Him in prayer for wisdom in how to respond to adversity and threats in our lives as individuals, families, and nations.

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Repeating Mistakes of Our Parents

Sometimes we seem vulnerable to repeat the same mistakes our family has made before. Twice Abraham deceived people in a foreign land by claiming Sarah was his sister and not his wife. Once while in Egypt (Genesis 12:10-20) and a second time deceiving Abimelech (Genesis 20). In both cases, Sarah was taken from Abraham and God intervened directly to salvage the situation. Despite having faith for which God declared Abraham righteous, he could not seem to rely on God in this one area.

We learn in Genesis 26:1-11 that Isaac was prone to the same mistake. Fortunately God in His grace is able to use those who are faithful, despite our mistakes and weaknesses! 

26 A severe famine now struck the land, as had happened before in Abraham’s time. So Isaac moved to Gerar, where Abimelech, king of the Philistines, lived.

The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt, but do as I tell you. Live here as a foreigner in this land, and I will be with you and bless you. I hereby confirm that I will give all these lands to you and your descendants,[a] just as I solemnly promised Abraham, your father. I will cause your descendants to become as numerous as the stars of the sky, and I will give them all these lands. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed. I will do this because Abraham listened to me and obeyed all my requirements, commands, decrees, and instructions.” So Isaac stayed in Gerar.

When the men who lived there asked Isaac about his wife, Rebekah, he said, “She is my sister.” He was afraid to say, “She is my wife.” He thought, “They will kill me to get her, because she is so beautiful.” But some time later, Abimelech, king of the Philistines, looked out his window and saw Isaac caressing Rebekah.

Immediately, Abimelech called for Isaac and exclaimed, “She is obviously your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?”

“Because I was afraid someone would kill me to get her from me,” Isaac replied.

10 “How could you do this to us?” Abimelech exclaimed. “One of my people might easily have taken your wife and slept with her, and you would have made us guilty of great sin.”

11 Then Abimelech issued a public proclamation: “Anyone who touches this man or his wife will be put to death!”

It is not clear what leads up to Abimelech witnessing Isaac caressing Rebekah. Was it just probability and enough time that it was bound to be observed? Was it God providing for Isaac and Rebekah through Abimelech? Was it the fact that Abimelech was wary of these things having been fooled by Abraham in the past?

Abimelech genuinely seems to be concerned about a code of honor and accountability regarding this specific issue of another man’s wife. Once he is aware of the situation, he clearly handles it in a way that will help protect Isaac and Rebekah, despite the deception. I genuinely appreciate Abimelech’s response.

At first, I find it hard to understand how Isaac can, in such a short span of time, both receive God’s promise directly from God and then not rely on God to protect him and his wife. Then as I reflect on my own life I can see the same pattern. I know I have heard from the Lord through the Holy Spirit and through His word in scripture. Yet, I still prepare to protect my family through my own actions.

I understand the mind set that Isaac wants to protect himself and his family.  Perhaps he could have sought to do it a better way. He made his wife vulnerable to being taken, as his mother had been twice before.  He repeated a situation that twice required God to directly intervene.

I can only speculate… had Abraham or Sarah shared these past experiences with Isaac? Had they shared with Isaac how they led to bad results and God had to intervene to redeem her? Perhaps if they had shared their mistakes with Isaac then he would have chosen not to repeat them?

For parents it is a good reminder that we should not try to hide our personal mistakes indefinitely, but rather look for the appropriate time and place to reveal them to our children so that they can learn from those experiences and not repeat them.

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Seeing From a Human Point of View, Not From God’s

Matthew 16:21-28 continues after Jesus has just confirmed to His disciples that He is the “son of the living God”. After this revelation, which God had revealed to Peter and then Peter shared in the presence of the other disciples, Jesus began to tell His disciples more plainly that it was necessary for Him to go to Jerusalem and suffer at the hands of the elders.

21 From then on Jesus[j] began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.

22 But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him[k] for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!”

23 Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?[l] Is anything worth more than your soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds. 28 And I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”

Peter calls Jesus to the side to reprimand Him for saying such things. Peter loved Jesus and did not want Him to come to any harm. Peter saw things from a man’s view. He got a very clear correction from Jesus. Then Jesus continued to explain.

We all see through the eyes of men. None of us can see through God’s eyes except perhaps through limited special revelation from God. We will all be subject to making Peter’s mistake when we see things around us that do not make sense such as death and illness, especially for the innocent and for those who serve God.

We must bring our concerns humbly before God and release them to Him, as we will see Jesus do later in scripture in the garden before He is taken into custody for crucifixion. We can ask for help, of course, but are called to submit to God’s will even when we do not understand it.

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“You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Matthew 16:13-20 directly confirms that Jesus is both man and God. He self identifies as the Son of Man and then also praises Peter when Peter identifies Jesus as the Son of the living God.

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”[c]

14 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

15 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah,[d] the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John,[e] because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. 18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’),[f] and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell[g] will not conquer it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid[h] on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit[i] on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

20 Then he sternly warned the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

We could have an interesting discussion on why Jesus told His disciples not to tell anyone that He was the Messiah at this time. Ultimately we can only speculate on this but perhaps a simple explanation is just that it was not yet time to reveal His full identity. In His later ministry He no longer warns people not to tell that He is Messiah… in fact He openly admits He is God.

Jesus makes a strong statement that He is founding His church upon a rock… a solid foundation. Observe that in context of how Jesus refers to church in the gospels He is not referring to a single congregation of believers or a building. Jesus refers to the church as those who accept Him as God, wherever they are across the world and across time.

Further, the rock, which is the foundation of the church can not be simply one man, Peter. Jesus did not come down to live and die among us for Peter to be the foundation of the church… the eternal fellowship of believers in Jesus as God. In context of other scriptures, we know that Jesus is the head of the church, not Peter. In another scripture, Jesus is presented as the groom and the church as the bride… once again clearly putting Jesus as the leader of the church.

The rock upon which the church is built, which all the power of Hell can never conquer is simply the truth that God revealed to Peter and Peter just used to answer Jesus a few moments earlier.

  16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah,[d] the Son of the living God.”

The rock that is the foundation of the church is that Jesus is the son of the living God… that Jesus is God.

One might also observe that Jesus did not say the church will not be challenged, but rather that it will not be conquered… destroyed. The church is always challenged and attacked… often by those who claim to be part of the church.

Reflect for a few moments…

  • How have you been thinking of Jesus’ earthly ministry? Did you realize He was fully man and fully God?  As you think about His earthly ministry, does this bring forth any new insights? What are the implications?
  • The most foundational principle for the church is that Jesus is God revealed to us. All Christians fundamentally accept this as fact… or they are not Christian.  Does this truth direct the choices you make in your life? Do you study His word daily? Seek Him in prayer as He instructed? Do you submit to Him or plan your own agenda?

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Beware The Yeast of The Pharisees and Sadducees

Matthew 16:5-12 continues after the Pharisees and Sadducees just demanded a miraculous sign from Jesus (again) to prove His authority in verses 1-4. Jesus pointed out that their motivation is evil and they had more than enough evidence in front of them to see He is from heaven but they refuse to acknowledge it.

Following that encounter, Jesus warns His disciples about the deceptive teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Later, after they crossed to the other side of the lake, the disciples discovered they had forgotten to bring any bread. “Watch out!” Jesus warned them. “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread. Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “You have so little faith! Why are you arguing with each other about having no bread? Don’t you understand even yet? Don’t you remember the 5,000 I fed with five loaves, and the baskets of leftovers you picked up? 10 Or the 4,000 I fed with seven loaves, and the large baskets of leftovers you picked up? 11 Why can’t you understand that I’m not talking about bread? So again I say, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’”

12 Then at last they understood that he wasn’t speaking about the yeast in bread, but about the deceptive teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Jesus once again uses a comparison of something his disciples are familiar with to demonstrate an important element of kingdom truth. Jesus compares of false teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees to yeast in bread. Just as a little yeast can change the character of the whole loaf of bread so too can even a little false teaching change how we understand the character of our worship and obedience to God. We must be careful to avoid any false teaching and avoid making excuses to accept “a little” false teaching.

If we are unsure of whether or not something is correct or false we are not called to just accept it because someone else said it was so, but rather study scripture and seek God in prayer to determine what is true and verify what we were told.

As a side note, I can easily identify with the disciples… starting to argue about who forgot the bread. All to often even those who genuinely love Jesus and desire to serve Him can miss the point or get distracted by events around them. Jesus is gracious enough to redirect us and get us back on track and focused… if we are submitted to Him and listening to Him.

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Show Me A Sign To Prove Your Authority

Jesus performed many miraculous signs throughout His earthly ministry, the most miraculous being His death and resurrection. Some saw and believed in Him as God and some rejected Him, despite the evidence they themselves witnessed.

In Matthew 12:38-45, we saw Jesus cast out demons only to be accused of being prince of demons and then immediately after that He is asked to show a miraculous sign. It is almost unbelievable that some are so convinced in their unbelief that they are not open to objectively evaluating the case for Christ, even when He Himself was right in front of them.

In Matthew 16:1-4, we see that the Pharisees and Sadducees once again come to demand a sign from Jesus. They have thus far ignored or attacked Him for every other miracle He has performed… but now they demand another.

16 One day the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus, demanding that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority.

He replied, “You know the saying, ‘Red sky at night means fair weather tomorrow; red sky in the morning means foul weather all day.’ You know how to interpret the weather signs in the sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the signs of the times![a] Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign, but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah.[b] Then Jesus left them and went away.

Jesus points out that they are smart enough to assess signs around them and draw correct conclusions. He gives an example regarding weather patterns. But then He rebukes them for not interpreting the signs and miracles He is performing all around them. His next comment about an evil and adulterous generation is likely specific to the Pharisees and Sadducees demanding a sign as they ignore the ones He  provided or worse, attack Him for the signs and miracles He has already given. Bottom line is that they are choosing to reject Jesus as God, despite the evidence.

Jesus once again, as He did in Matthew 12, points to the sign of Jonah, which represents His death and resurrection… a miraculous and publicly witnessed and well documented event.

Whether 2000 years ago or today… Jesus has provided and documented for us many signs for us to look to for evidence. Why do so many quickly reject the signs He provided only to ask God to give them a sign?

Each of us should reflect periodically on the following questions.

  • Do I really accept Jesus as God?
  • If not, why not? What is holding me back?
  • If so, does my life reflect that through my actions, thoughts, and priorities reflected by how I spend time and money and how I treat people? Be careful not to measure yourself against what others are doing or say you should be doing. The correct measuring stick is to compare ourselves to what God says we should be doing and the example Jesus set in His earthly ministry.
  • Are you still looking for a sign before you fully commit? Have you devoted time to really studying God’s word and other historical evidence to evaluate the signs He already provided?

To get a quick start on studying, please visit our Study the Word  section of our website for recommended resources, many of which are available online for free.

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Please share our devotionals with your friends and family and visit our website at www.HearingFromJesus.org to see more.

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