I no longer force things. What flows flows, what crashes, crashes. I only have space and energy for things that are meant for me.
The glare from the sun shone in as I opened my eyes to the sound of His voice. The voice was not audible but it felt like He was sitting right next to me on my bed. I will not fail you. I… will… not….fail…you… ran through my mind over and over again. The words were like a light rain that eventually turns into a storm; my whole being was soaked. Soaked in His presence and His power. How did he know I was scared the night before? How did he know I was restless through the night? Oh, yes because he made me! He knows all of me even the parts that I have yet to discover or maybe I have suppressed. HE KNOWS ME! HE KNOWS ME!
How could I not rest in that? Why do I obsess over the “what if’s ” This scripture came to mind like He purposely planted it there…In all things, God works for the good of those who love him.
Hmmm, In all things? For those who love him? I jumped out of bed, turned on some music and started dancing. My God will help me no matter what storm is raging.
“Jesus, this is your home too.” ” Jesus, I am making yummy coffee for us.” “Jesus, I am preparing a place for you each and every day by including you in my life and learning your ways, not the world’s.”
“Jesus, I love you!”
“Jesus, thank you for loving me.”
This spiritual meal is good for our souls. Every providence tends to the spiritual good of those that love God; in breaking them off from sin, bringing them nearer to God, weaning them from the world, and fitting them for heaven. There is order to this and corrections will be employed as needed. Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son. All that God designed for glory and happiness as the end, he decreed to grace and holiness as the way. The whole human race deserved destruction, but for reasons not perfectly known to us, God determined to recover some by regeneration and the power of his grace. So whom he predestined, he also called. It is an effectual call, from self and earth to God, and Christ, and heaven, as our end. Called according to his purpose. He also justified and glorified. The power of corruption being broken in effectual calling, and the guilt of sin removed in justification. Now, we may with holy boldness defy all the powers of darkness.
As God’s people, we are foreigners on earth because our loyalty is always to our real King, Jesus. Still we must cooperate with the authorities and be responsible citizens. Since we are Christ’s ambassadors, we need to know that we are being good foreign ambassador’s for him to the world. Ultimately, all we have comes to us from God’s supply, but he does want us to be active in the process.
When we don’t know Christ, we make choices as though this life were all we have. In reality, this life is just the introduction to eternity. How we live this brief span, however determines our eternal state. What we accumulate on earth has no value in purchasing eternal life. Even the highest social or civic honors cannot earn us entrance into heaven. Evaluate all that happens from an eternal perspective, and you will find your values and decisions changing.
Jesus Christ has been given the authority to judge all the earth. Although his judgement is already working in our lives, there is a future, final judgement when Christ returns and everyone’s life is reviewed and evaluated. This will not be confined to unbelievers; Christians too will face a judgement. Their eternal destiny is secure, but Jesus will look at how they handled gifts, opportunities, and responsibilities in order to determine their heavenly rewards. At the time of judgement, God will deliver the righteous and condemn the wicked. We should not judge others’ salvation; that is God’s work.
Jesus is more than just a great leader, a good example, a good influence, or a great prophet. He is the Son of God. God is the word and the word is God. When you understand this profound truth, the only adequate response is worship. When you have a correct understanding of Christ, you will obey him.
Jesus used a child to help his self-centered disciples get the point. We are not to be childish ( harming others for our own gain) but rather childlike, with humble and sincere hearts. In what areas of your life( mine too) do you tend to struggle with childishness? In what ways are you making progress with childlikeness?
The disciples had become so preoccupied with the organization of Jesus’ earthly kingdom that they had lost sight of its divine purpose. Instead of seeking a place of service, they sought positions of advantage. It is easy to lose our eternal perspective and compete for promotions or status. It is difficult, but healthy to identify with children- weak and dependent people with no status or influence.
Children are trusting my nature. They trust adults, and through that trust their capacity to trust God grows. Gold holds parents and other adults who influence young children accountable for how they affect these little ones and their ability to trust. Jesus warned that anyone who turns little children away from faith will receive severe punishment. Jesus warned about two ways to cause little ones to sin; tempting them and neglecting or demeaning them. We must remove stumbling blocks that cause us to sin. This does not mean to cut off a part of the body; it means that any person, program, or teaching that threatens spiritual growth of the body must be removed. For the individual, any relationship, practice, or activity that leads to sin should be stopped. Jesus says it would be better to go to heaven with one hand than to hell with both, Sin effects more than our hands; it effects our hearts, mind, and our decisions.
Book of Matthew
We associate one year ending and another beginning with the hope that something new and wonderful will happen in our lives. People will say, “Oh, 2016 was a terrible year so 2017 has to be better!” I am a big believer that things will and do get better if we are open to receiving and not shut down by bitterness and fear. Many people have had their lives turned upside down in a blink of an eye. They realized that nothing in this life is a sure thing; Not health, people, jobs, nature, or possessions. When pain strikes we begin to reevaluate where our time, resources, and energy are placed. There is a quietness that rises up in us as we try and make sense of something that may at the time seem so senseless. We know we are no longer what we used to be. We are numb to the shallowness around us while acutely aware of the sound of the wind. Our time now is very precious and we want to use it wisely by holding our children a bit longer as we hang on every pleasing word that spills from their tiny mouths. Our senses have been awakened from absorbing this truth- we are not in control nor powerful. We are brief and small but exude deep inner strength that comes from another source altogether.
We do not have the energy for close relationships that are confusing. If those relationships drain us, bring division, or exploit then we choose to lovingly separate from others. We are not mad anymore, we just know our time is sacred and God is working on something in us. We cannot afford to keep unhealthy relationships around. Our boundaries become very clear when we have suffered.
The rebuilding is taking place and we know we must let go of anything that is holding us back from our recovery and rebirth. We are laying down our childish ways so we can be ready for the goodness only God can bring. Trust in Him because He knows what’s to come.
To build on the rock means to be a hearing, responding disciple, not a phony, superficial one. Practicing obedience becomes the solid foundation to weather the storms of life. The two lives Jesus compares at the end of the Sermon on the Mount have several points in common: they both build, they both hear Jesus’ teaching, and they both experience the same set of circumstances in life. The difference between them isn’t caused by ignorance but by one ignoring what Jesus said. Externally, their lives may look similar; but the lasting structural differences will be revealed by the storms of life. The immediate differences in your life when you follow Jesus may not be obvious, but eventually they will turn out to affect even your eternal destiny. To what degree does your life reflect the directions Jesus gave in this sermon?
Like a house of cards, the fools life crumbles. Most people do not deliberately seek to build on a false or inferior foundation; instead, they just don’t think about their life’s purpose. Many people are headed for destruction, not out of stubbornness but out of thoughtlessness. Part of our responsibilities as believers is to help others stop and think about where their lives are headed and to point out the consequences of ignoring Christ’s message.
Jesus didn’t need to quote anyone because he was the original word. The centurion ( Roman Military officer) could have let many obstacles stand between him and Jesus- pride, doubt, money, distance, time, self-sufficiency, power, race. But he didn’t. If he did not let these barriers block his approach to Jesus, we don’t need to either. What keeps you from Christ?
Roman soldiers, of all people were hated by the Jews for their oppression, control, and ridicule. Yet this man’s genuine faith amazed Jesus. This hated Gentile’s faith put to shame the stagnant piety of many of the Jewish religious leaders. Jesus told the crowd that many religious Jews who should be in the kingdom would be excluded because of their lack of faith. Entrenched in their religious traditions, they could not accept Christ and his new message. We must be careful not to become so set in our religious habits that we expect God to work only in specified ways. Each individual is to choose to accept or reject the gospel, and cannot become a part of God’s kingdom on the basis of heritage or connections. Having a Christian family is a wonderful blessing, but it won’t guarantee you eternal life. You must believe and follow Christ.
Following Jesus is not always easy or comfortable. Often it means great cost and sacrifice, with no earthly rewards or security. Jesus didn’t have a place to call home. You may find that following Christ costs you popularity, friendships, leisure time, or treasured habits. But while the cost of following Christ is high, the value of being Christ’s disciple is even higher. Discipleship is an investment that lasts for eternity and yields incredible rewards.
The decision to follow Jesus should not be put off, even though other loyalties compete for our attention. Nothing should be placed above a total commitment to living for him.
Jesus cannot be contained, controlled, or appeased. Human beings are created in God’s image and have eternal value and Jesus commands our time and devotion. Are you more concerned about property and programs than people? How foolish and yet how easy it is to value possessions, investments, and hobbies above human life? Would you rather have Jesus leave you than finish his work in you?
Coming to know Jesus and his ways will be the most important decision you make this side of Heaven.
Book of Matthew