Tag Archive: Matthew

if Jesus never rushed, should we?

i am busy working through a 30 day devotional that is linked to a bible i downloaded for my tablet [not gonna be done in 30 days] and today’s devotional fit right in with the taking time to be still experiment that a bunch of us are doing and going to be reporting back on soon. here is part of that devotional and i hope you find it helpful:

25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.

27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Walk With J. Hudson Taylor

“Never, never did Christ send an over-burdened one to work; never did he send a hungry one, a weary one, a sick or sorrowing one away on any service.

“Yet how many can tell of a time of intense distress because they felt they ought to be speaking to others about their souls, but could not?

“Oh, how different it would have been had they but first come to Jesus and found rest. Then their happy countenance would have said more than the heartfelt words were uttering. No one would then have looked at the face of the speaker and felt, ‘What a dreadful religion his must be!’

“For the ‘come’ is not intended to exclude the ‘go,’ but to prepare the way for it.”

Walk Closer to God

There is nothing inherently spiritual about busyness. Christ reserved some of his strongest rebukes for the Pharisees — ​the spiritual workaholics of his day. They were so busy working for God that they had forgotten to follow him.

Nor is there anything inherently sinful about “unproductive” moments — ​if they are used to refresh and energize you for renewed service. Even the Creator of the universe set aside his labors for a day of rest.

And the beauty of it all?

While you are at rest, God is at work!

[YouVersion Bible – day 11]

this is so great – ‘the ‘come’ is not intended to exclude the ‘go’ but to prepare the way for it.’

in morning prayer this week we read from Matthew 9.27-34 about how Jesus heals two blind men and frees another man from some demon.

what was interesting about the translation we were reading from was that it said this:

‘As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed Him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”

When He had gone indoors, the blind men came to Him, and He asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”

“Yes, Lord,” they replied.

Then He touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith, let it be done to you.”‘

Wo! Wait one second. Can’t it be according to YOUR faith, Jesus? I think that question would cause me to take a moment and really consider the likelihood of the healing following my answer.

Because when it comes to faith for money or provision or God coming through with an answer on direction or something to speak into a situation, my faith is really strong and in any of those cases i think i would be good with His response or challenge?

But when it comes to healing… hm, not so fast. Do i believe that God CAN heal? Absolutely. Do i believe that He WILL heal?

Um… CHEQUE PLEASE, table 9!

i have prayed for a lot of healing in my life [for other people] and cannot remember ever seeing [beyond a headache or some mild pain] instant healing [in the ways i have heard stories of healing, like this one] and certainly no blind or dead people [yet!] i have seen people get better but i haven’t witnessed [as in personally] people really get healed… like categorically undeniable [oh me of little faith i hear you thinking out loud]

and i am not looking for answers to this question. i am just wanting to share that i have it. if Jesus’ healing of the people i come into contact with is “according to my faith” then they might do better moving on to the next person, cos my faith [in the healing department] has taken a few knocks.

BUT i still believe God can and i still believe He does and so every new time i come across someone who needs healing i try to ask them if i can pray for them and if they say yes [like two people did this last week] then i pray, believing that God can and hoping that He will heal. and the fact that He didn’t [in any discernible way to me] heal either of those two people [have seen at least one of them since] doesn’t make me stop believing. it makes me continue to hunger and question and trust and take opportunities because my faith, when it comes to healing, is more like the father of the demon possessed child in mark 9.24 – Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

i do believe.
but i still call on Jesus to overcome my unbelief.

and keep on, taking new opportunities as they present themselves in the hope that God will let me in on the secret, or the mystery of how it all works some day [not so i can do some kick ass miracles, but so His name will be glorified… and maybe He is still working on me to fully get me from the one to the other]

continuing my journey of reading through the psalms at a leisurely pace, making some observations as i go along, inviting you to jump in to the comments section with a verse or idea or question or wrestle that possibly jumped out at you as you were reading this particular psalm:

which is Psalm 4

vs 4 jumped out at me in this one: ‘in your anger, do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.’

this is a tricky one because generally we think of anger as the bad guy, but there are places in the bible where we see righteous anger in force [the story that comes to mind is Jesus clearing out the money lenders in the temple [Matthew 21.12] and as it explains here, don’t let anger drive you to sin… similar to temptation which is not sin, but unless we deal with it defiantly when it rears its ugly head, it quickly leads to sin, which James illustrates graphically:

‘When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.’ [James 1.13-15]

in the same way anger can give birth to rage and violence and bitterness and resentment if it is allowed to conceive… we need to learn to respond well to things that make us angry.

and they should – rape, sexual abuse, racism, christians not living out Christ-following lives, unforgiveness – these things should all make us angry… but in our anger we must never sin – does the anger drive us to action, positive action and radical acts of justice, grace and mercy? it should when we invite the Holy Spirit to take control and direct us.

the image of the second part of the verse – ‘when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent’ – i like that because it gives me the idea of someone who is angry, but struggling to not sin as a result and so the advice is hey dude, go chill, take a time out, regroup, still your heart, create some silence and listen to the voice of God over the voice of how the world is screaming you should respond [revenge, mob justice, retaliation…] and then later, when that has been achieved go out and act wisely but still driven by the same passion that was driving your anger.

another danger can be when people add the word ‘righteous’ to plain sin-enducing anger to justify why their brand of un-love is acceptable and that might be another great opportunity for some lying on the bed and stilling of the heart…

there is a lot more in this psalm, but that’s one thort that inspires me and i’m very interested to hear what stood out to you?

also if you know of anyone else who might be interested in this walk through the psalms, please pass on the link – the more people jumping in and commenting and sharing their thoughts and observations the better, don’t just be a sponge, share with us what you got…

[To continue on to Psalm 5, click here]

[To return to the start of this series on Psalms or some other Bible things, click here]

my good buddy rob lloyd just got me a new bible because my old one was literally falling apart and i like the idea of starting again in a sense – rediscovering old favourite passages, underlining new ones, breaking the bible in so to speak…

and as i sat and thought where to begin i decided to start with the psalms, and i don’t know that i will necessarily read one per day but i am going to start today and see how it goes and i thought it might be nice to bring other people with me, or maybe you were looking for a new place to read and want to read along with me – i am going to read a psalm and write a comment or a thought or reflection and would love it if you wanted to write yours in the comments below so together we can learn from what God is saying to us as we take this journey…

so today, starting with psalm 1, what jumps out at you? what don’t you understand? what has God whispered as you read it? what is one idea you just really enjoyed? i would love to hear what you got out of it…

this is a great psalm – first thing that jumped out at me was line 1 ‘blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked’ – and to be honest i think i always read that as ‘council’ as in meeting-place or gathering, instead of counsel which surely means ‘being advised/counselled by’ which changes it completely… complete tie-in to one of my favourite proverbs ‘wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses’ [27.6] or ‘they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear’ [2 Timothy 4.3] and a reminder that even though it might look strongly appealing to have yes-people around us, it will be a blessing and better life choice to not live life being advised/counselled by these people but rather people who will speak truth in love.

and then verse 3 which talks about being ‘planted by streams of water’ – the result being that whatever you do will prosper – echoes of being firmly rooted like in the story of the house built on the rock [Matthew 7.24] or the need to be in constant connection to the vine which is God [John 15] and how as a result the fruit will naturally happen – not so much by work or effort but by inviting God to work it through you as you stay holding on to Him.

so that’s a good start to this journey – the reminder that as a Christ follower my number one focus must be on being nourished by my Father in heaven and that i should look to surround myself with people [at least in terms of those who advise/bring counsel to me] who actively follow Christ and will unashamedly speak truth in love to me [even if sometimes that might be hard for me to receive]

[To continue to Psalm 2, click here]

[To return to the start of this series on Psalms as well as some other Bible things, click here]

so back in new year’s times i met a guy called gabe at an event i was mc’ing and it wasn’t the greatest of meetings – we had a difference of opinion over some or other thing, i blogged about it without using his name (altho everyone who had been at the event knew who i was talking about) and he (and more particularly his friends) didn’t like that i did that so much (some of his friends got quite pissed off with me telling me what a solid follower of Jesus he was and how i didn’t know him and how could i say stuff and blah blah blah)…

turns out funnily enuff that despite the event being on the other side of the country, Gabe is from nearby to where i live and so when i finally was able to get hold of him, he very graciously agreed to meet (slash take me out for pizza) and we met and chatted and got to know each other better and dealt with the new year’s vibe and put it behind us… which was pretty cool.

anyways, i was invited a long time ago to speak at the Rondebosch/Rustenburg schools Christian Union camp which i did this last weekend, with the beautiful Val joining me in a really fun Relationships workshop and we had a complete vibe at the camp…

turns out, the other speaker on camp, was none other than mister Gabe himself – i had already gone to hang out with him in Jan at a camp he led worship at for one nite and so i’d seen him in ministry mode, but it was cool getting to see him ministering in another way…

and i learnt stuff… not necessarily new stuff i didn’t know, but in both of his talks there was at least one key thing that he unpacked differently to how i’d heard or seen it before and so it really was a growing situation for me which was really great – revelationary stuff…

the one was about Jesus being baptised in Matthew 3 (see title) which ends with “As soon as Jesus was baptised, He went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.” [Matthew 3.16-17]

and then Jesus heads out to the desert to fast and pray and eventually be tempted by the devil…

actually, as i’m writing this i remember two things that Gabe brought out of this passage…

[1] the first is to note how many miracles Jesus had done up to that point, how many great preaches He had done, how many of His acts of spending time with the people in society – women, children, tax collectors, lepers, samaritans – that no one liked or spent time with, and the answer is none. Jesus had not done any of His public ministry yet and He receives complete affirmation from God. God’s pleasure and love is a result of God, not of Jesus achieving or earning it. That is a pretty hectic picture of grace.

[2] and the second is that when the devil comes to tempt Jesus, he starts with the questioning phrase, “If you are the Son of God…” in the same way that he met Adam and Eve in the garden and questioned what God had said to them. But we’ve just witnessed it in Matthew 3 as did Jesus – heaven opened and God boomed out in a loud voice “You are the Son of God” – Jesus has heard that He is the Son of God, from His Father and so when the devil comes with his little “if you are the Son of God” He is able to stomp all over it and point back to what just happened. Because Jesus has His identity firmly wrapped up in God and who the Father says He is, the temptations and accusations of the devil fall completely flat.

So stop doing stuff to try and earn God’s love – you already have it [do stuff as a result of incredible gratitude and response to the love you have received – Christ’s love compels me…]

And find your identity in God, stop being sidetracked by the lying voice of the devil… if you follow Jesus, you have been made into a child of a king, live in that status…

let’s face it – Christians are not among the most loved and respected people when it comes to those outside of the church and i have often wondered why this is and so i started thinking about some of the core basics of this religion and suddenly it makes a lot of sense. when you look at what Christians intrinsically fundamentally believe (i’m not talking how some of them act or those who claim to be Christians but are living contrary to what being a Christian is meant to be but those who are actively living out what the bible teaches) then it becomes pretty obvious why we are despised and hated and regarded with suspicion

so let me take a couple of notes – purely by looking at the basics of what Christianity is about or meant to be about – to show why it is valid to hate Christianity…

part IV – It is all about others (or meant to be)

‘Then He (Jesus) said to them all: “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet forfeit his very self?”’ [Luke 9.23-25]

‘One of them, an expert in the law, tested Him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart  and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.”’  [Matthew 22. 36-40]

‘You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.’ [Matthew 5.43-45a]

‘The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” [Matthew 23.11-12]

‘Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.’ [Matthew 13.14-15]

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” [Matthew 13.34-35]

‘Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.’ [Romans 12.9-16]

and so on…

the most important commandment for a Christ-follower is to love God and love people (as he loves himself)

and then Jesus’ call to follow is essentially a call to die – to yourself, your pride, the it’s-all-about-me’ness that we grow up surrounded by and immersed in – and to follow Him and His example of being a servant to people who didn’t come close to deserving it

so as a Christian i am commanded to live a life predominantly about others – seeking their good above my own – meeting their needs… no wonder they hate us if that’s all we’re about.

for a last further different other ‘reason to hate Christianity’ click here.

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