Saturday, March 31, 2012

Believe What We Pray


Matthew 21:18-22

The Lord Jesus stayed in Bethany, 2 miles outside of Jerusalem.

This is a fig-growing area.

Bethphage means ‘house of figs’.

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They returned to Jerusalem the next day.

Jesus saw a fig tree which stood out for its rich foliage.

It should have had its early crop of small figs from the previous year’s shoots.

These would have been ripe and ready for eating.

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Jesus was hungry.

But He found nothing but leaves on the tree.

Jesus cursed it.

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The barren tree provides a solemn lesson.

Israel, planted by God and cared for as no other nation, was barren and was ripe for judgment.

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It is also a solemn lesson for us.

We must question ourselves if our religion is all outward show, but bear no fruit!

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The disciples marveled that the fig tree withered so soon after Jesus cursed it.

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Jesus told them that if they had faith and did not doubt, they could do similar miracles.

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Faith is essential when we pray.

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Great faith was linked with moving mountains.

This is an encouragement to trust in God when we pray.

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But this is not an encouragement for selfish prayers.

"Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4)

It is important for us to take delight in the Lord .

Then our desires will be God-centered rather than self-centered.

Then God will answer our prayers, since we ask according to His will.

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us."
(1 John 5:14)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Den Of Robbers


Matthew 21:12-17

The Jews had become so corrupted in their religion that the temple precincts were more like a market-place than a place of worship.

The priests sanctioned those animals or doves that they deemed acceptable for sacrifice.

A Jew could bring his own sacrifice, but this was not practical for those pilgrims who had traveled hundreds of miles.

Those who had permission to sell sacrificial animals were obliged to pay a generous commission to the temple authorities.

Animals and birds were sold at about 80 times more than their true value.

Male Jews were obliged to pay a half-shekel temple tax (Matthew 17:24-27; Exodus 30:13).

And it had to be paid with Jewish coins.

Roman coins were inscribed with the head of the Roman emperor whom the Romans worshiped as a god. Theses coins were strictly forbidden in the temple building.

The money-changers charged exorbitant exchange rates.

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Religion was used as a means of fraud!

The precincts of the temple which had been consecrated for the worship of God had become little more than market place.

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The Lord Jesus drove out all the traders and overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves.

He quoted the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah saying, “It is written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’ (Matthew 21:13; Isaiah 56:7; Jeremiah 7:11).

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The blind and lame came to the Lord Jesus, and He healed them.

The children, taking up the words they had heard from the multitude, cried out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David! (Matthew 21: 9, 14-15).

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The chief priests were very angry.

They rejected the holy Son of God.

They were more at home in their ‘den of robbers.’

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We long for revival.

But when the Holy Spirit comes in power, shallow religion is exposed and cleared out and it is painful.

Let us be sure that our Christianity is living and real.

Let us make the house of God into a house of prayer, and not into a den of robbers!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Who Is This?


Matthew 21:1-11

The Lord Jesus reached the Mount of Olives near the city of Jerusalem.

He sent two of the disciples to bring Him a donkey with its colts.

The animals could have belonged to a follower of the Lord Jesus.

The man responded immediately to the disciples’ words, “The Lord needs them”.

There is a lesson for us: We must respond immediately to needs in God’s work which we are able to meet.

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The Lord Jesus went into the city of Jerusalem, riding on the young donkey.

There are two reasons why.

  • It was to fulfill the Scripture. The events were foretold by the prophet Zechariah. The waving of the leafy branches from palm trees is associated with joy (Leviticus 23:40). The Lord Jesus was welcomed as the messianic King, fulfilling the Old Testament prophecy (Zechariah 9:9).
  • He went to Jerusalem to die. He did not go secretly into Jerusalem to avoid being arrested. He went openly because it was God’s time for Him to go to the city. He went to Jerusalem to die on the cross as a sacrifice for sinners. He died as the Lamb of God to take away sin.

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The entry of the Lord Jesus into the city of Jerusalem made such an impact that the Passover pilgrims asked, “Who is this?”

The multitudes answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee”.

The people acknowledged that the Lord Jesus was no ordinary man. He was a prophet. But they did not see Him as the King who would save sinners through His death on the cross.

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How about us?

Do we only acknowledge the Lord Jesus as a prophet?

Or do we know Him as our personal Lord and Savior?

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Who is This?