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Friday, November 29, 2013

"So they might accuse him""

He went on from there and entered their synagogue. And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse him.
The Gospel According to Matthew (ESV)

The Pharisees were always looking for a way to trap Jesus. This time they wanted to see if they could accuse him of wrongdoing, by healing a man on the Sabbath. What a mindset these spiritual leaders had. Everyone is gathered at the synagogue for the Sabbath and yet these men are not focused on why they are gathered. They are focused on what they can do to get rid of Jesus. They are so wrapped up in legalities and how they can be used to their advantage they are blind to the purpose of their gathering. What a sad commentary, the Lord’s people are gathered to honor him and yet they are focused on ridiculing and accusing one who is modeling the very word of God. They are so wrapped up in being religiously right they don’t see the words they live by being lived out in their presence.

Ultimately the Pharisees, Sadducees and the religious leaders of Jesus day lost their place. The law they had distorted and misused so badly was done away with under the New Covenant in Jesus blood. The temple was destroyed, the genealogical records were destroyed and their rule ended.

Woe to those of us that behave this way today. Because, there are times when we too are blinded by jealousy and self righteousness. We too sometimes gather to worship with a critical eye on those around us. Looking to find fault in others rather than giving praise to the one due them. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16 (ESV) The Lord knows our hearts. We must know them as well.

The Pharisees knew the law, but they didn’t know God. They wanted to hold others to a list of rules and regulations without concern for the individual. Think about the man with  the withered hand. He probably had been praying for healing for a long time and had suffered with loss of the use of his hand. He stood to benefit greatly from Jesus responding to him on the Sabbath. The Pharisees didn’t see the man, they saw an opportunity.

So today, let’s mind our hearts and the intentions of our hearts. Let’s not criticize those that do good. Let’s look for where good is needed and act on it. Let’s encourage good works in others. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” Hebrews (ESV) Let’s be servant hearted not hard hearted.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"But the Pharisees said..."

As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him. And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.” And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.
The Gospel According to Matthew (ESV)

No jealousy here. As the scene unfolds we see the people awed by the things Jesus does, yet the religious leaders only find fault. When they see Jesus cast out a demon, they give satan credit. It obvious that this is out of jealousy, because the statement makes absolutely no sense.  “He cast demons out by the prince of demons”. If that isn’t a knee jerk reaction to a situation, I don’t what is.

The problem the Pharisees had was they were afraid of evil. Rather than confront it they ran from it. But, in all their running, they ran right into it. The people that witnessed this man begin to speak they said; “Never was anything like this seen in Israel”. That’s because they were seeing God at work in their presence. The Pharisees were so wrapped up in religious behavior and the pretense of the lack of evil they did not see what God was doing before their eyes. Jesus was confronting evil and improving a man’s life. They had gotten so far off track that they are calling good evil and evil good. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah ESV) The Pharisees are losing their power over the masses to God and are outraged by it. They want to be the authority in Israel and God is reclaiming it through Jesus.

The lesson we can take away from this is that we must relinquish all power and authority to Jesus as our Lord and Master. Jesus sees evil and confronts it. He drives it out. Eventually that included the Pharisees themselves. God doesn’t want manmade religion. He wants obedient servants. Jesus was that and set the example for us in what we are to do as his disciples. Let’s see that example and follow it. Let’s confront evil in our lives and let him take care of it and follow him.

Today, let’s see what God is doing in us and praise him for it. Through Jesus lives are changed, sins are forgiven and evil is put in its place. Let’s preach Jesus to the world. Let the healing begin!

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Monday, November 25, 2013

"I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."

But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The Gospel According to Matthew (ESV)

                                          photo  ©2013  Chris Parker, Flickr

Jesus deals with the Pharisees concerning mercy in this passage. They had been criticizing Jesus for eating with sinners. In other words Jesus was eating with those that the Pharisees looked down on. They thought themselves to be righteous and all others to be sinners. When Jesus tells them he came for the sinners, not the righteous he let’s them know they perceive themselves as righteous, so they see no need for his services.

They are quick to criticize Jesus for working with those they have no use for. They believe they have distanced themselves from sin and everyone associated with it. Yet, they don’t see that they too are in need of the Great Physician. They are counting on their religion and outward piety to convince themselves and everyone else they are not sin sick.

The shame of the situation is that they are in more need of Jesus attention than those they despise. The reason the tax collectors and sinners gather around Jesus is because they know that they need him. They seek the mercy that Jesus offers them. Its sad to see that the Pharisees show no mercy to others, because they so desperately need mercy themselves.

We that are in Christ must learn to show mercy to those that are not. We have received mercy, we must now give it. May we never look down on those we see still suffering in their sin sickness and leave them in it. Let’s be like Jesus and go to them and offer them the cure. Let’s seek them out like Jesus did and call them to something better.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Friday, November 22, 2013

"Why do you think evil in your hearts"

And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home.
The Gospel According to Matthew (ESV)

Jesus let’s the scribes know that he knows what is in their hearts when he asks; why do you think evil in your hearts. Here we have very religious men that in their hearts aren’t all they should be and Jesus calls them on it. They had evil thoughts in their hearts. They witness God in the flesh forgive sins and call it blaspheming.

What’s interesting about about their calling Jesus a blasphemer is that in so doing they are blaspheming in their hearts. To blaspheme is to speak irreverently about God. So as they think to themselves that Jesus is a blasphemer, they are really the ones that are speaking irreverently against God.

One of the biggest obstacles for the Scribes and Pharisees was that they didn’t notice God at work before their very eyes. They saw and heard things that Jesus was doing yet they did not have eyes to see and ears to hear. As leaders of God’s people they were blind guides. The way, the truth and the life stood before them and yet, they did not follow him.

Unless we want to fall into the same ditch as those blind guides did we must really pay attention to the word of God and the work of God. Everything we need to know about Jesus and his teachings is right there in our Bibles. All we have to do is become true students of the WORD. When we do we will see the work that God is doing all around us and we will want to participate in it.

So today let’s not stand back and criticize the work that God is doing in and through the lives of those around us. Let’s be thankful for it and praise him for it. Its too easy to have evil thoughts about those that are doing God’s work, when we don’t see it for what it is. Let’s open our eyes to God and his work.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

"Pleasing to God"

I tell you that you must do better than the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. If you are not more pleasing to God than they are, you will never enter God’s kingdom.
The Gospel according to Matthew (ERV)

There are many that want to be pleasing to God. The Scribes and Pharisees wanted to be pleasing to God. They thought that by being ultra conservative they were doing what was pleasing to God. In this passage from Matthew we see Jesus telling his listeners that if they want to be pleasing to God they have to do a better job in God’s eyes than what the scribes and Pharisees are doing.

Imagine how this must have taken his audience aback. Jesus saying that the Scribes and Pharisees weren’t pleasing God in all their religiousness. Many must have thought; how can we be even more religious than them? The Scribes and Pharisees knew the law and strove to follow it to the letter, yet Jesus said that those that wish to enter the Kingdom of God would have to be more pleasing. How perplexing this must have been.

I think its the same for a lot of us today. We think if we are ultra conservative religious examples to others, we will be pleasing in God’s sight. Jesus taught something different than that. He taught that pleasing God comes from the heart not from the outward appearance of religious ultra conservatism.

Jesus was not a religious leader, he didn’t belong to a particular sect he just came to do his Father’s will. In so doing he taught us what the Father’s will is. Entry into the Kingdom of God is not granted by the right religious practices or appearances, but by obedience to Christ teachings and those of his Apostles. So if we want to gain entry into the Kingdom of God we must learn from Jesus and his Apostles what is necessary for us to obey.

So it is up to us to study the scriptures and glean from them all that God has for us. Then we must make up our minds to follow those teachings and apply them to our lives.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Monday, November 18, 2013

"Go in peace"

And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
The Gospel According to Luke (ESV)

Jesus is recorded as saying “go in peace” several times in the Gospels of Mark and Luke. In all the instances he says this to someone, it is in response to their faith in him to heal them or forgive their sins. This speaks to what happens in a persons life when they have been relieved of their burdens by Jesus. Whether it be sin sickness or physical ailment, they are told to go in peace.

When one comes in contact with the healing touch of Jesus they find a new sense of peace. They have peace knowing that body and soul have been healed by the great physician. He says “go in peace”, that implies action. He tells them; from here on out go forward in peace, knowing your burden has been lifted. And What a peace that is.

When we have come to Jesus and we have begun anew because of his forgiveness, we go in peace. We must go forward and teach others that they too can enjoy this peace that we have.

Today share your peace with someone else.

© 2013

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013

"Correcting with gentleness"

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
(Paul’s second letter to Timothy ESV)

photo  ©2010  Rachel Titiriga, Flickr

What wonderful words of wisdom of wisdom Paul shares with Timothy in this passage. Paul wants Timothy to know how to best way deal with those that oppose his teaching. Paul says that the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome. Oh if we would take that to heart when engaged in conversation with others about the word of God.

All too often we find ourselves being quarrelsome rather than gentle. I know from personal experience, gentle teaching works far better in most cases than confrontation does. Patience and gentleness with one’s opponent certainly takes effort sometimes, but it is worth the effort. Correction need not be harsh to illicit a response from someone. Harshness drives people away, it does not bring them around to your view on a matter.

When someone is steeped in a false teaching it will take time to help them see God’s perspective. We must remember that it is our goal to teach them God’s ways. Not “our” ways. We have to bare in mind when teaching someone that we are trying to impart God’s word to them and how we do it will have a lasting effect on them. “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” Psalm 16 ESV Teaching is feeding, force feeding is not the best way to give someone the spiritual food they need. Gentle persuasion will get them to open up to all that God has for them.

So, when we engage an opponent let’s do it with gentleness and kindness. We have the example of Jesus to follow, He showed us the best way to teach, let’s follow in His steps.

A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” Psalm 15 ESV

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"There is Freedom"

Now the Lord  is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
The Apostle Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians ESV

There is freedom in Christ, because we have the Spirit of the Lord. When we were baptized into Christ we received the gift of the Holy Spirit marking us as belonging to God, setting us free from sin. Free to walk in newness of life, as stated in Paul’s letter to the Romans. In Christ we are free!

We are free from all that, that had bound us in the past. Jesus has set us free through His sacrifice. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (The Gospel according to John ESV)  What are we to do with the freedom we now enjoy? The Apostle Paul gives us the answer; “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Paul’s letter to the churches in Galatia ESV)

Our freedom in Christ calls us to service. Service done in love for one another. So we are to have a servants heart. We are to want what is best for one another. We are to do what is best for one another. As Paul says in his letter to the church at Philippi; “Do all things without grumbling or disputing”, we need to serve happily.

So today, let’s exercise our freedom in Christ and serve. Let’s serve everyone we come in contact with today and let’s serve happily, with love. Let’s not quench the Spirit.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Monday, November 11, 2013

"Is it time to do some logging?"

5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. Matthew 7:5 ES

Jesus addresses hypocritical judging in a straight forward way. Any of us can get the contrasting visual between a speck and a log. Jesus criticism of our criticism is just and fair. He, as God has a clear view of what sin really is. He points out that we must look at ourselves before we begin to judge others sins.

The true judge tells us to judge ourselves. He does this knowing that if we are honest with ourselves we will be more merciful toward others.

When we clear up our view of ourselves, we will get a clearer view of similar weaknesses that we all share. With a clearer view we will be more likely to help others rather than hinder.

So today, let's begin doing the necessary logging in our lives so we can help others   rather than judge them.

(C) 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 1 Peter 3:8 ESV
photo  ©2010  Tim Green, Flickr

This is an emphatic statement that Peter makes to the church in his letter. The emphasis is on “all”. He wanted all that read his letter to have all the things he lists in this sentence; unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart and a humble mind. The letter is an open letter to the congregations in the areas he lists in verse one; in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. The church at large if you will.

Peter is calling all disciples of Christ to have these qualities in their lives. We too should have these qualities in our lives. Every congregation of the Lord’s body everywhere should possess these qualities on an individual and group level. Just think what the Lord’s body would look like to the world today if we “all” strove for these qualities in our lives. The world wouldn’t be asking why there are so many churches, because there would only be one church.

In the first century there was only one church. Today it would appear to the world and to the disciples of Jesus that there are a multitude of churches. In reality this is not true. There is only a multitude of opinions on what the Lord’s church is or how it should look and function. It shouldn’t be this way, but it is. Jesus HImself prayed that we would be one; “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John 17:20,21 ESV

One of the reasons people doubt Christ and His church is because of the lack of oneness amongst His disciples. Jesus wanted His disciples to be one as Jesus and the Father are one. Our differing opinions about being “The Church” cause confusion and doubt. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. Paul wrote that sentence to the church in Corinth because there was too much confusion in the body there. There is far too much confusion in the Lord’s body everywhere today. We that claim the name of Christ must learn from Jesus and His Apostles what the church is, how it looks and functions and live that out for the world to see.

Its been said; when it comes to matters of opinion, your opinions don’t matter. That’s not true. Our opinions do matter, because our opinions have shaped the image of the Lord’s body of believers before the world. We need to put our opinions aside and learn from The Master what we are to be as His disciples.
So today, let’s realize the effect our opinions have on the world's perception of Jesus and His church. Let’s strive to come to one opinion, the only one that matters; HIS.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman