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Category Archives: Matthew

My God is…desiring mercy, not sacrifices Matthew 9:10-13

Matthew 9:10-13 – And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were mercy sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, 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, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

Jesus is hanging with the “wrong crowd”

In this verse, we meet up with Jesus as He is eating with the tax collectors and sinners. He has just called Matthew to follow Him, and Matthew did. Now the Pharisees were freaking out because of the company Jesus was keeping. They didn’t like the idea that someone who spoke with such authority, who was teaching and leading people would spend His time with people who clearly had not been living well. They thought they should be getting a nod for their good behavior. Hadn’t they always tried to do what is right? Hadn’t they always given what they should to the Lord? Hadn’t they always gone and worshiped when it was required, and even when it wasn’t? Why would Jesus, if He was such an important religious figure hang out with people who were known to rip people off? People who had cheated on their spouses? People who hadn’t made it to the synagogue in quite a while? They asked His disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.

What the pharisees didn’t get was that God came to save the lost. He came to help those who are helpless. He came to save the sinner from their sin. That each of us (because we all have fallen short of the Glory of God), each sinner, might be forgiven for their sins, and instead of spending an eternity in hell, we would be forgiven and be able to have everlasting life with Him in Heaven.

Here’s the crux of the problem. The Pharisees didn’t think they needed a savior. They felt they had done enough to secure their fate with God. After all, they had done all that was expected of them. They went to church, gave to the church, supported their family, stayed away from drugs and alcohol, didn’t have wandering eyes. Basically they were stand up guys. They weren’t used to having their self-worth questioned. So what was the problem? What was standing between them and God?

Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’

Jesus quotes His Father (Hosea 6:6). God was telling the people of Judah and Ephraim that He desired mercy, not sacrifice. The people of that time had been constantly distracted from their relationship with God. They were concerned about themselves and nothing else. They ignored the warning signs God had given them through prophets. They ignored God’s wishes. They would attack people, murder and other sins. They completely disregarded God. The pharisees in Jesus day would have known these stories well. They had done a lot of study of the Bible. They were the one’s teaching everyone else what the words of scripture meant. For Jesus to tell them to go and learn what is meant by “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”, means they clearly weren’t demonstrating it’s meaning. The pharisees were concerned with fulfilling the letter of the law, but not the intent behind it. God’s intent was not about the law, but that the people He loved (and loves) would be able to have the best relationship with Him as possible. His laws were intended to keep people safe, point them back to Him and to bless them. They weren’t intended as check boxes to be marked off. They have value, but when they are used to measure one’s salvation, they are misused.

For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners

The truth is we are all sinners. Should we be striving to be more like Christ? Yes, of course. The problem is, many of us think that what we do is what is going to get us into heaven. We think that our good has to outweigh our bad and then we’re set. I have heard many people say, “I’m a good person, I’m sure I’ll get into heaven.” Sadly that’s not going to work. Being a good person is not a requirement. Believing that Jesus died to save us from not being a good person is what is required. Faith in Jesus’ saving grace is the only way to get into heaven. It’s not only unbelievers who cling to this idea, those who profess to believe in Jesus also struggle (just like the pharisees). They are working themselves to death, trying to do the “right thing”. They help at church, give a lot of money to charities, sit on boards they hate, why? Often it’s because they feel it’s their duty. God isn’t interested in our duty. He only wants us to do these good things (very good things) if the reason we’re doing them is because we are so grateful for what He’s done for us. We’re not supposed to do them in some misguided attempt to earn our way to heaven. God has done everything necessary for us to get to heaven. We need only believe in Him and trust that He’s got us covered in His redemptive blood. So don’t worry if you make mistakes. God knows you. Instead of putting your faith in your actions, put your faith in Him.

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Posted by on September 27, 2013 in Matthew, not sacrifices

 

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My God is…our instructor Matthew 23:10

Matthew 23:10 – Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah.

They can't put it on the internet if it isn't true

They can’t put it on the internet if it isn’t true

Definition of INSTRUCT

1: to give knowledge to : teachtrain
2: to provide with authoritative information or advice <the judge instructed the jury>
3: to give an order or command to : direct

To give knowledge to : teachtrain
There is a lot of information out there that people want to instruct you on. There are books on nearly every topic known to man. Ever heard the phrase – “Everyone’s an expert”? The thought is that everyone knows a lot about something. Knowledge is a very important thing for us. We need information to work, live and provide for our families. We educate ourselves in numerous ways (computer, school, reading, tv and more). In the verse above, Jesus is reading the pharisees the riot act. He’s giving them a piece of His mind.

He’s giving them a piece of His mind. 
Jesus was warning the disciples and the people listening that the teachings of the Pharisees was true, but that their actions didn’t match what they taught. People looked up to them and followed how they were leading. Check out the preceding verses:
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

A lot of what we’re taught is true, but not all of the actions of those teaching us are right. Many of the books we read, the schools we attend, and the self help books we read speak some truths. Some of the information is useful and necessary, but often they draw our focus away from what we’re really supposed to learn. It reminds me of classic parenting phrase, “Do what I say, not what I do.” Obviously that’s not a fantastic way to parent, instruct or teach. Just because someone calls themselves a guru, doesn’t make them one.

Bonjour

Have you seen this commercial http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DZbSlkFoSU? It’s the commercial from State farm where the man is showing the girl some apps, and she says she didn’t think State Farm had apps? She says she read it on the internet. Then she says she’s meeting her date – a french model – a man (clearly not a french model) walks up and says “Bonjour”. She says in the commercial, “they can’t put it on the internet if it isn’t true”. We are bombarded with untruths all around us. It is sometimes hard for us to discern fact from fiction, but for the Christian, there is hope.  

For you have one instructor, the Messiah
We don’t have to look to others to see what is true and good. The Messiah, Jesus Christ is the Truth. When we compare the things of this world to what we’re taught by Jesus through His word, we can find truth. This world cleverly disguises truth, but we know the source of all truth. When we’re able to keep our focus on our Lord, spending time in His word each day, we’re less likely to end up with a french model we met on the internet. There are some useful things in this world that are outside the Bible. I’m not saying that the Lord has not blessed some with true wisdom, but as Christians we need to check it against the Truth of Jesus Christ. If it flies blatantly in the face of that Truth, we need to consider ignoring that advice, that instruction. In the end we have one instructor: The Messiah, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
 

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My God is…rewarding you – Proverbs 25:21-22

Proverbs 25:21-22 – If your enemies are hungry, give them bread to eat;i-love-my-enemies
and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink;
for you will heap coals of fire on their heads,
and the Lord will reward you.

If your enemies are hungry, give them bread to eat; and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink

Definition of enemy: “one that is antagonistic to another; especially: one seeking to injure, overthrow, or confound an opponent”

Do you have any enemies? I pray that you don’t, but I would guess most of us could think of one or two people (maybe many) who would make our enemies list. You may have heard that someone was talking behind your back spreading lies. Someone may have given you the wrong time to be somewhere to thwart your day’s agenda. Someone may have given you the cold shoulder. It is really hard when someone is treating you poorly. You may feel mad, sad, hurt, insecure or dejected. Maybe you’re just tired of having to defend yourself at every turn. Feeling that way often leads us to say things and do things we would not usually do. We might even be embarrassed if someone saw how we treated those we consider enemies. Having enemies usually doesn’t bring out the best in us. But what does God want us to do?

Matthew 5:43-45 – Love for Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven

When I was going through a situation where I felt like people were treating me wrongly (like an enemy), I did what many people would do. I talked with my mom. We talked about how I didn’t want to dislike them, be mean to them etc, but that I was hurt and frustrated that even though I was being (in my mind) kind and supportive, I was having unkind thoughts. My dear mom suggested even though it may be hard to feel unloved, I should pray for them. She said that praying for them would push out the negative thoughts about them and allow me to move towards loving them. It’s not exactly what I wanted to hear (she didn’t encourage me to go off on them or ok my coming to fisticuffs over it), She was right (yes, I said it – my mom was right).

For you will heap coals of fire on their heads
I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite parts of our verse for today is this section, “for you will heap coals of fire on their heads”. I am sure it’s probably not in the most Christian of ways either. I truly love the idea that being kind to those who don’t like you would be its own punishment for them. In most of the examples of enemies I listed, it was people wrongly attacking you, but truth be told we often have done something that is unkind as well (even unknowingly sometimes). They may feel they are the ones who are being attacked by you, and  being kind to them may lead to some sort of reconciliation or at least respite from the painful attacks. Truth is, besides heaping coals on their heads, I don’t want to detract from my God. I don’t want my petty differences to become something bigger that means people are watching to see how I’ll react to someone instead of growing in their faith or their relationships here on earth. I want them to not be surprised when I respond in love no matter what is being said. I would love for that to be the truth in my life.
The Lord will reward you
Now, I’m pretty sure that God is not going to reward me with winning the lottery for not being mean to my enemies, or even if I’m taking it all the way to being nice or loving my enemies. I think the reward for us is that we are able to reconcile with them. That we might be able to grow and learn about the forgiveness our Lord gives us. We might find we have more in common with our enemies than we would have ever imagined. If nothing else, we would get the joy of knowing that by reacting differently than the world expects, we have an opportunity to reflect the Glory of our Lord, and that is a great reward.
Are you loving your enemies?
 

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My God is…giving me rest Matthew 11:27-29

Matthew 11:27-29 – All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except silent, pause or break time hand gesturethe Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Come to me

Jesus says, “Come to me”. We are to come to Him with all things. He doesn’t tell us to go talk to your best friend, sister, brother or mother. He tells us to come to Him. Why? Because He’s the only one who can actually do anything for us that will have eternal consequences. God is not only concerned with the struggles you’re going through now, but He is also concerned with the condition of your heart and soul. He wants you to come to Him, because coming to Him is a confession of faith. If you come to the Lord, you are showing that you put trust in Him to handle your situation. Coming to the Lord in prayer takes faith. It’s not necessarily a measure of how much faith you have, but when you come to Him, you acknowledge that He exists, and that you think He can change things for you.

All you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens

If you’ve never been weary or carried a heavy burden, this verse is not for you. Read no further. Wait, you’re still reading, I bet you are. No one I know has not gone through a time of weariness. Most have had some very heavy burdens to bear. Some are because of their own actions and some are of other peoples making, but we’ve all had struggles. We’ve all been in pain and hurting. God wants us to come to Him. We don’t need to be hopeless, because we know that God is there for us. He is going to strengthen us and preserve us in all things. He doesn’t get weary or tired, so you know He’ll always be able to help.

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and strengthens the powerless.
Even youths will faint and be weary,
and the young will fall exhausted; Isaiah 40:28-30

I will give you rest

I don’t know if any of you have suffered with insomnia. I have only battles with short bouts of it in my life, but even those short lived struggles show you how much you need your rest. In fact, here are 10 Surprising Effects of lack of sleep. (click on the link for more information)

1. Sleepiness Causes Accidents

2. Sleep Loss Dumbs You Down

3. Sleep Deprivation Can Lead to Serious Health Problems

4. Lack of Sleep Kills Sex Drive

5. Sleepiness Is Depressing

6. Lack of Sleep Ages Your Skin

7. Sleepiness Makes You Forgetful

8. Losing Sleep Can Make You Gain Weight

9. Lack of Sleep May Increase Risk of Death

10. Sleep Loss Impairs Judgment, Especially About Sleep

Now in our verse above, God doesn’t promise us sleep. He’s not talking about sleep deprivation alone, but also our souls being deprived of rest.

Definition of REST

1: reposesleepspecifically : a bodily state characterized by minimal functional and metabolic activities
2a : freedom from activity or labor
 : a state of motionlessness or inactivity
 : the repose of death
3: a place for resting or lodging
4: peace of mind or spirit
5a (1) : a rhythmic silence in music (2) : a character representing such a silence
 : a brief pause in reading
6: something used for support
God knows that sleep an rest are necessary for us to function properly, and He wants you to get that kind of rest. Again as we look at the definition of rest, we see so much more to the word than just sleeping or winding down at the end of the day. “The repose of death” is an interesting one. Only in Christ can we truly “rest in peace”, because it is through Jesus that we receive eternal life and know what our future holds. He has provided us with peace of mind about death by saving us through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection. I also like “a place for resting”. What a beautiful image that brings to my mind! I picture myself leaning on God, sleeping with my head upon His shoulder (does God get coyote arm?). Of course the “peace of mind or spirit” definition fits here as well. It is the last one that really rounds out the definition for me. “Something used for support” is a reminder that God is going to prop us up and help us face the difficult time in our lives. We’re never alone, we’ve always God Him behind us, propping us up with His Spirit.
What are you using for support?
 
 

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My God is…the builder of all things Hebrews 3:3-4

Hebrews 3:3-4 – Yet Jesus is worthy of more glory than Moses, just as the builder of a house has more honor building-a-housethan the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.)

What deserves more honor? 

Just this morning I heard a story on the news (about making it legal to have cameras in the Supreme Court). They were saying how the Justices enjoyed their anonymity. One Justice mentioned how she was walking down the street in front of the Supreme Court and a gentleman asked her to take his photo. Just him. He didn’t know she was one of the Supreme Court Justices. If he had, wouldn’t he have wanted to be in the picture with her than having her take his picture?

Yesterday my son made a really good catch in his baseball game. It was one of those catches no one (maybe not even he) thought he would catch. It was a really great play, but it wasn’t the play itself that I was impressed with, it was the one who made the play.

Yet Jesus is worthy of more glory than Moses

For the Jews, Moses was a big deal. He’s still a big deal, but for them he was a really really big deal. God had used him as the deliverer of the Israelites. He was an archetype, or a representation of the one who would come  to deliver all people from sin and death. What was meant to be evidence that Jesus was the Messiah became a stumbling block for many Jews at the time of Jesus. They had a hard time putting anyone above Moses.

Just as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself.

Pretend you are going to see a special showing of your all time favorite movie. You know, the one with your favorite all time actor. Now pretend you’ve got VIP passes and are getting the royal treatment. Red carpet, paparazzi flashing shots of you, and of course special seating. Just before you get into the theater, Your favorite actor appears. He asks if you would like to forgo the movie and go to dinner with him at his favorite restaurant, his treat. Which would you choose? I know I would choose dinner. Even though the other is an awesome event, meeting the person who made the movie is a bigger deal. You can see the movie on DVD, but you may not meet the actor again.

For the Jews at the time of Jesus, it was pretty hard to choose Jesus over the VIP passes. They knew they already had it good, so why ruin a good thing and change their plans? They didn’t get that the feast they would have with Jesus would far outweigh the special treatment they would get from their peers and acquaintances.

For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.

A house can be beautiful, amazing even, but the amazing thing is that someone thought of it, and was able to carry it through. The builder is given the accolades, not the house. If you want a house that is really spectacular, you have to find a builder who is capable of creating such a home. Without that builder, you wouldn’t be as sure of getting a great house.

If you know the name Béla Károlyi, you can maybe understand this a little more. He’s a famous gymnastics coach (remember Mary Lou Retton?). He coached many Olympic athletes. If you were one of his gymnasts, you may get some accolades (OK, a lot if you’re winning medals). Who was usually the first person a gymnast would hug we she is done? Her coach. Why, because she knows without him, she wouldn’t be as great a gymnast.

Psalm 150:6 

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!”  No matter what we do, no matter how important we feel, our successes begin with God. He is the builder of all things. That’s why everything that breathes should praise the Lord. He is the builder of them. He’s the one who thought you up, drew the blueprints and erected the amazing person that is you. He deserves the praise for all of your accomplishments. Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

Who is your builder?

 

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My God is…Blessing Psalm 24:4-6

Psalm 24:4-6 – Those who have clean hands and pure hearts, blessing
who do not lift up their souls to what is false,
and do not swear deceitfully.
They will receive blessing from the Lord,
and vindication from the God of their salvation.
Such is the company of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.

Definition of BLESS

1: to hallow or consecrate by religious rite or word
2: to hallow with the sign of the cross
3: to invoke divine care for <bless your heart> —used in the phrase bless you to wish good health especially to one who has just sneezed
4 a : praiseglorify <bless his holy name>
   : to speak well of : approve
5: to confer prosperity or happiness upon
archaic : protectpreserve
7: endowfavor <blessed with athletic ability>

Those who have clean hands and pure hearts, who do not lift up their souls to what is false, and do not swear deceitfully.

Ok, let’s clarify something from the get go, this is an Old Testament verse. Since it is from the Old Testament it may seem a bit heavy on law. You’ll see that it is telling us what seems like a list of things we must do to get salvation. It is not for our salvation, but rather because of our salvation through Jesus Christ that we can have clean hands, a pure heart, are not distracted by other gods and idols, and do not swear deceitfully. I think we can all agree these are good things to work towards doing (or not doing).

They will receive blessing from the Lord, and vindication from the God of their salvation

This verse is Old Testament, but speaks of the grace we find in Jesus Christ, the God of our salvation. I want you to take a look at the definitions of bless above.

1: to hallow or consecrate by religious rite or word
2: to hallow with the sign of the cross

When God blesses us, it is a call to live like the first part of the word. He is setting us apart for holy work. Not Holy with a capital “H”, but holy that means we do everything in our life with God in mind. God wants to be at the center of our life, with our eyes focused on Him. He doesn’t want us to turn our minds toward someone or something else to bring us our happiness. When we were baptized, the pastor makes a cross across your forehead and your heart. He is blessing you, marking you as part of God’s family.

3: to invoke divine care for <bless your heart> —used in the phrase bless you to wish good health especially to one who has just sneezed

We are also blessed by God that He cares for our needs. In Matthew 6:25-34 we read about the Lord’s provision for us, and a reminder that because we are set apart and blessed, we don’t need to worry.
Matthew 6:25-34 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?

5: to confer prosperity or happiness upon

archaic : protectpreserve
7: endowfavor <blessed with athletic ability>

God can also bless us in our earthly lives. Beyond supplying us with our needs, He works good things in our lives. He even takes situations that look like they have no hope, and give us hope. He promises to work all things for our good in Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” We are blessed by being set apart as His family. We are blessed to be set apart to do His work here on earth. We are blessed that in all things God is working for our best interests. We are blessed that though we are sinful, we have a God who provided a way out of death through His Son Jesus Christ. We are blessed to know we will spend eternity in Heaven with Him.

Do you feel blessed?
 
 

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My God is…Living Matthew 16:16

Matthew 16:16 – Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Cardiogram of love - vector illustration

Always a witness

I have been convicted by the phrase, “always a witness” a lot lately. I have thought about what my actions say about who I am. If people know I am a Christian, what am I saying about my God? If they don’t know, why not? In Matthew 16:16, Simon Peter gives an amazingly succinct answer to the question from Jesus: “Who do you say I am?”

You are the Messiah

Calling Jesus the Messiah was like drawing a line in the sand. He was saying that Jesus was the fulfillment of all of the prophecies they had learned about all their lives. He was also saying that Jesus is God, divine in

nature, because you cannot be the Messiah and not be God.

The Son of the living God

So why call Jesus the son of the living God? Well, because God is the God of life, He is eternal, Still active and still present in our lives today. But I think it also sets God apart from the idols, both of this world and era and of the time these words were spoken. He is not just a block of wood. He is not a rabbit’s foot. He is the living God.

God living in you

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” 1 Corinthians 3:16.

Always a witness. If I have the Spirit of the Living God inside of me, shouldn’t my actions and word
What’s alive in you? s match what I believe and confess? Oh Lord help me with the words of my mouth. This is such a place of struggle for me. I do not use good words. I fail so often to be God pleasing with my mouth and my actions. I want to remove everything from my vocabulary that can turn people off from the Lord. I don’t want to waste an opportunity to be a witness by swearing or using the Lord’s name in vain. I am convicted that each moment is an opportunity to be a witness, and I want to start living more in tune with the Living God inside of me. Lord grant this to me, please.

What’s alive in you?

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2013 in Matthew, My God is Living

 

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