November 30, Monday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Pastor Peter Yoon of Kairos Christian Church in San Diego, is an updated version of his blog first posted on May 22, 2014.  Peter is a graduate of University of California, Riverside (BA) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.). 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“At the Very Least, Obey the Part that You Understand”

Titus 3:9

But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.

The first century believers finally understood that they were justified through their faith in Jesus Christ. However, after thousands of years of observing the Law, they naturally had questions, concerns, opinions on the matter of the Law. Thus, conversations among the church members sprang forth at times getting heated, but eventually becoming fruitless “arguments and quarrels” about the Law. Paul saw these as “foolish” arguments because they were unprofitable and useless. 

The benefits of our knowledge and our response to God’s grace were so great that Paul makes it clear that no other priorities should creep into our ministries. He tells Titus to avoid such useless and even divisive issues, because those who engage in such arguments only distract the church from its mission and purpose. Paul tells Titus to warn “a person who stirs up division” up to two times and after that to “have nothing more to do with him.”

Admittedly, there are some passages in the Bible that are not easy to interpret. It is not without reason that Peter said, “His [the apostle Paul’s] letters contain some things that are hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:16).  Culture and language gaps sometimes make it difficult to come to a dogmatic conclusion and can lead to controversial arguments and quarrels today. However, there is still a wealth of passages that are easy to comprehend. 

Are you sometimes tempted to overlook some of the most basic and easy to understand commands of Scriptures in search for some deeper understanding of obscure passages? A lady boasted to an old seminary professor, “Brother Hendricks, I’ve been through the Bible 17 times.” Not impressed, the professor responded, “Good. But how many times has the Bible been through you?”

The Word of God points us to many plain commands that calls for simple obedience. To obey the Father’s will was food to Jesus’ ministry and life (John 4:34). Imagine how full and satisfied you would be if you’d simply obey the obvious commandments. Let’s place aside our complaints that we just aren’t getting fed by pastor so-and-so because he does not expound on the theological importance of the spirits that “look like frogs” (huh?) in Rev. 16:13. Rather, when the preacher calls us to love another, forgive one another, serve one another for the umpteenth time, let us obey and be spiritually fed. 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I know that in this life, I don’t live on bread alone but on every word that comes from Your mouth. Thank you for making Your word so accessible and so clear to me. Enable me to obey Your commands daily as I receive from You revelations and reminders of what pleases You.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Corinthians 1


Lunch Break Study  

Read Matt 22:15-22: Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” 18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” 21 “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” 22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

Questions to Consider 

  1. How was this controversial question about taxes to Caesar an attempt to entrap Jesus?
  2. Jesus’ reply to the question not only amazes the inquirers, but it sends them away. What does Jesus’ reply reveal about the hypocritical and greedy nature of the so-called “religious leaders”?
  3. Do you sometimes raise controversial matters as a smokescreen in an attempt to divert what the Lord truly wants to teach or do in your life? 

Notes

  1. The unlikely coalition of the Pharisees and the Herodians hoped to trap Jesus. Either he would support taxes to Rome, undercutting his popular messianic support, or he would challenge taxes, thereby aligning with the views that had sparked a disastrous revolt two decades earlier. In the latter case, the Herodians could charge him with being a revolutionary-hence showing that he should be executed, and executed quickly.
  2. It shows that while the Israelites resented Caesar and his Roman army for having occupied their land, they didn’t mind using and hoarding the very coins that bore his image.  In other words, their dislike of the Romans was a distant second to their greed. By contrast, surrendering to God what is God’s implies the surrender of all one is and possesses.
  3. The Pharisees and the Herodians brought up a controversial matter to Jesus; however, Jesus wanted to deal with the hypocrisy and greed in their hearts. 

Evening Reflection

How were your words used today? Were they foolish, unprofitable and useless? Or were they full of wisdom, edifying others? Reflect on Proverbs 17:28: “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.” 

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