The Family of God

“And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said: ‘Behold My mother and My brothers!'” (Matthew 12:49)

This passage is just one of many in the New Testament where Jesus turns the traditional values of this world upside-down.  Verse 47 says that while Jesus was speaking to the crowds, someone informed Him that His mother and brothers were outside seeking to speak to Him. Undoubtedly they thought that His flesh & blood relatives would have a special “inside” connection with the Lord — but Jesus’ words were surprising: Continue reading

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Why “Turning Over A New Leaf” Is Never Enough

“Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.” (Matthew 12:43-45)

This sobering scripture shows us why “self reform” or what people call “turning over a new leaf” is never enough to really save and change a person.  In Jesus’ story, a person has tried to “clean up” their life and “put it in order” — but the demon returns and finds everything temporarily clean — but still empty and unocccupied!  So he brings along more demons and the person ends up worse than they were before.

This is the picture of the person who tries to “get their life in order” apart from Christ. They try to “reform” themselves: to get everything “swept and put in order” and “cast the demons out” of their life. But those demons will return if there isn’t Someone there who has taken their place, and who will keep them out!

This why genuine salvation through Christ is vital. When a person is truly saved, they do repent of their sin — somewhat similar to the one who “sweeps and puts in order” his life — but there is one more vital step: instead of merely trying to “reform” their life on their own, they ask Christ to come take up residence in their heart, through the presence of His Holy Spirit. There is now a new occupant residing inside them!  And as I John 4:4 says, “Greater is he who is in you, than he who who is in the world” so there is a new protection and power against those enemies and bad habits which would return.

“Turning over a new leaf” doesn’t work. It’s who so many people try, and try, and try again to reform their life — always failing. It is never enough to just try to stop certain bad habits in your life — you must REPLACE that spot in your heart with something — better, SomeONE! — the Lord Jesus, who comes into your life not only to forgive you, but also to give you a new power and protection against the enemy.

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The Heart of Our Evangelism Problem

“For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” (Matthew 12:34)

Jesus spoke these words to the Pharisees, who accused Him in :24 of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub. He turned the focus back on them, saying that their hearts were not right with God, which is why they spoke against Jesus, and blasphemed the Holy Spirit.  They spoke out of that which filled their hearts.  And of course the same thing is true for people today. We don’t accidentally “slip” and say bad things. “The mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” Our words reveal what is inside us.

But this principle can also be true in a more positive way. Continue reading

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Will You Pay The Price For Unity?

“Jesus said to them, any kingdom that is divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand.” (Matthew 12:25)

Many churches, organizations — and even our nation — need to give heed to this word from Jesus today. “Any” kingdom that is divided against itself will not stand. The word “any” here is literally “every.” No group of any kind that cannot unify around their common cause will succeed.  This is a principle that applies in many ways: Continue reading

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Are You Neglecting Your Mission To The Nations?

“And in His name the Gentiles will hope.” (Matthew 12:21)

The present verse is actually a quote from Isaiah 42 about the coming Messiah, and how the Gentiles (the non-Israelite nations of the world) would put their trust in Him. It is striking how many times the OLD Testament refers to the mission to the Gentiles. In fact, from the very inception of Abram’s call in Genesis 12, God declared how He would use him and his offspring to reach the nations: “And in you ALL the families of the earth will be blessed.” Following that initial prophecy, numerous other verses declare how God’s blessings would reach the nations through His chosen people: Continue reading

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An Outrageous Claim

“But I say to you that something greater than the Temple is here.” (Matthew 12:6)

From time to time we hear the assertion that Jesus never claimed to be God. Anyone saying such things demonstrates gross Biblical illiteracy. Passages such as this one demonstrate clearly Jesus’ claim to deity: Continue reading

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Compassion, Not Criticism

“But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, ‘Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath.'”  (Matthew 12:2)

“When (they) saw … they said …”.  Seeing, and then being critical, was a mark of the Pharisee.  They SAW what Jesus’ disciples were doing — and then proceeded to SPEAK against it, and criticize it.  And this was not the only occasion on which they practiced this.  Seeing and then criticizing was their “modus operandi.”

The characteristics these Pharisees exhibited should make some of us today very uncomfortable — Continue reading

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