March 14, 2017
“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.” (Matthew 6: 22-23)
Someone has said that 5% of people think, 10% think they think, while 85% would rather die than think…. and the 10% who think they’re thinking are merely rearranging their prejudices! In the teaching of Jesus from Matthew 6, He tells us that the way we think can be the difference between a life filled with light and a life filled with darkness, depression and unhappiness. In this teaching, He is focusing a great question: “How do you see things?”
In this profound metaphor, Jesus is challenging us to join the 5% who think, and He is emphatically teaching the critical importance of thinking correctly. When Jesus refers to the eye He means our outlook and our mindset. In that sense, He is saying that if our eyes are good and healthy our lives can be filled with joy, but if our outlooks and mindsets are unhealthy our lives can be filled with the opposite.
The context in which Jesus shares this metaphor is the great discourse He gave to His disciples. The most sound and healthy truths for living in this world are found in what we call The Sermon on the Mount which is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, chapters 5-7.
The best way to have a spiritually healthy mindset is to align what we think with the values Jesus taught and modeled in this great discourse and in His other teachings.
Dick Woodward, 17 September 2010
June 10, 2014
“…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)
In Luke 19, verses 1 – 10, we encounter Jesus interacting with the tax collector, Zacchaeus. The beautiful part of the Zacchaeus story is when Jesus goes to spend His only day in Jericho with this little crook, and all the people are griping about it. It would make a great painting if an artist would paint Jesus who was a big man, according to Josephus, walking home with His arm around small Zacchaeus.
Here we see the strategy of Jesus. He is passing through Jericho. He obviously wants to reach the man who can impact and reach Jericho for Him after he has passed through and beyond the city limits. It must have made a big impact upon the city when Zacchaeus started calling in the people he had ‘ripped off.’ Imagine their surprise, joy, and awe when they, thinking he was going to get into their purses even deeper, discovered that he wanted to pay them back 400% because he had met Jesus! This is an illustration and an application of what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) to the effect that the solution, the answer, the salt, the light – is something we are, and that we simply must hear His word and do it.
Dick Woodward, MBC New Testament Handbook (p.142-143)
August 9, 2013
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
The applications of our Lord’s metaphors are almost endless. One application to the metaphor above is that for our candle to give light it must be consumed. Unlighted candles are not consumed, but the candles that shine are the candles that burn. There is no shining without burning.
In another great metaphor Jesus told us there is no such thing as a fruitless disciple of His. We are like branches and He is the Vine. As branches, if we are properly intersected with Him, we can draw from Him the life force to be fruitful. He promised if we are plugged into Him and are fruitful we will be cut back and pruned to be made more fruitful. Cutbacks and pruning can really hurt. They can come in the form of suffering but they improve the quality and the quantity of our fruit.
In light of these very clear teachings we should not be surprised when we find ourselves burning through suffering that our brightest light for Christ yields the best fruit.
Like many others I thought my most fruitful years were when I was able bodied and active. But I have been joyfully surprised to discover that my most fruitful service for Christ has been as a bed fast quadriplegic. Using voice activated computer software from my bed, 782 Bible studies have been produced and are being heard in 31 languages in 60 countries. Worldwide more than 45,000 small groups are listening to our studies on solar powered digital audio players I call “God pods.”
Have you discovered there is no shining without burning?
August 28, 2012
“Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life…” (Psalm 23:6 NLT)
Mercy is the unconditional love of God. This beautiful word is found three hundred and sixty-six times in the Bible. (Perhaps God wants us to know we need His unconditional love, every day of the year – and He even covers Leap Year!) Many people think we don’t hear about the mercy of God in the Bible until we get to the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew. However, two hundred and eighty of these references to the mercy of God are found in the Old Testament.
My favorite Old Testament reference to the mercy of God is found in the last verse of the Twenty-third Psalm. David ends his greatest Psalm with the declaration that he is positively certain the mercy of God will follow him all the days of his life. The Hebrew word he uses here for “follow” is a word that can also be translated “pursue.” David brings the most profound and eloquent description of the relationship between God and man ever written to a conclusion by making the declaration that the unconditional love of God will pursue him all the days of his life. By application, this is true for any of us who will confess our sins.
There are so many ways to fail. When we understand the meaning of the mercy of God, however, we should realize that we cannot possibly out-fail His mercy. As I place my failures on a scale, I like to place all those times the Bible uses the word “mercy” on the scale opposite my failures. I invite you to do the same thing no matter how horrible you think your sins are.