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Posts Tagged ‘change’

Matthew 23

October 6, 2009 Leave a comment

Whitewashed tombsMatthew 23

Matthew 23 is some pretty heavy stuff. Jesus goes off on the teachers of the law and the Pharisees—the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. Take a moment to read through this chapter again slowly. Be sure to take it all in.

 Jesus is fed up with their façade. They look holy and righteous on the outside, but inside, there is no relationship with God. They do it just to look good to the people. They are only going through the motions, performing rituals without thinking about the God behind the rituals.

In verse 27, Jesus compares them to whitewashed tombs. On the outside they look nice. They’re a clean, bright white color. But that does nothing to change what is on the inside of a tomb: death.

Jesus is more concerned with what is on the inside than what is on the outside (see Matthew 15). He is concerned with your heart and soul—who you are inside—rather than what you do.

You see, we can do good things (go to church, pray, read the Bible, give our money, not have sex before marriage, not cuss, etc.), but not be good on the inside. Our hearts may be full of envy, bitterness, or pride. But if we fill our hearts with Jesus, if we focus on being who he wants us to be, then we will naturally do good things.

What is in your heart? Is it full of death (jealousy, hate, arrogance)? Or is it clean? Take the time to look into your heart and ask God to clean it out.

 

Prayer for Today

Jesus, I want to be clean on the inside. I don’t want to pretend that I am good. I want to be good. I want you to come inside and remove anything that isn’t clean: pride, selfishness, anger, jealousy, etc. Fill me with your Spirit of Holiness. Change me on the inside that I may be who you want me to be. Amen.

 

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51.10

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Matthew 15

September 29, 2009 1 comment

superkidMatthew 15

Do you remember dressing up for Halloween as a kid? Did you ever feel like putting on that costume turned you into that superhero or princess? Maybe you put on that Superman costume, and you really thought you could fly. Or you dress up like Cinderella or Ariel, and you automatically feel like you get to run the show now.

I heard that they actually had to put a warning label on Superman costumes which says that wearing the costume does not give you the ability to fly. I’m guessing some little boy got a Superman costume and then climbed on top of his house. Empowered by this newfound sense of power, he leapt off the roof. It’s kind of funny to think about this kid hurling himself off the roof, until you think about his painful meeting with the ground below.

We know better though. We are old enough to realize that putting on a Superman costume does not make us Superman. Superman’s powers came from something inside, not spandex pajamas and a cape.

But for some reason we struggle with this as Christians. Jesus challenged the religious leaders of his day for their lack of understanding on this idea. They thought that looking good on the outside—by following certain religious rituals—made them alright with God.

We can be guilty of this as well. We may think that being a Christian means going to church, wearing a cross necklace, not cussing, and putting a Jesus fish on our car. But going to church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than wearing red underwear over blue tights enables you to fly.

Jesus told his followers that they will know that they are truly his follower by the love that flows out of them (John 13.35). We can go to church every week (which we should), but if we don’t love the people around us, we aren’t his followers. We can wear a Christian T-shirt, but if we don’t show compassion by helping people in need, we aren’t being Christ-like. We can never say a cuss word, but if we’re rude to others, are we clean? Or would Jesus say we are unclean?

When we truly allow Christ to take over our lives, we don’t just change a few things like going to church and not having sex before marriage. We allow Jesus to change everything. Then we will see love, compassion, mercy, and justice flowing out of us.

 

Prayer for Today

Dear God, I don’t want to be fake. I don’t want to just look like I am a Christian. I want to be like Christ. I want you to change me completely, so that I am clean on the inside. I don’t want my life to be just about rituals, but I want your goodness to flow out of my mouth and out of my life. I no longer want to go through the motions and just worship you with my lips. I want to completely give you my heart and worship you with my life. I ask this through the power of your Son, Jesus. Amen.

 

“These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.” Isaiah 29.13

Matthew 8

September 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Matthew 8

Matthew 8 contains five of Jesus’ miracles—four of which are healings. The last one he casts demons out of two men and sends the demons into a herd of pigs. I have to admit, this is one of the strangest stories from Jesus’ life.pig-fly

Why did he send the demons into pigs? I have no idea. The demons asked him to, but I don’t know why. I also don’t know why Jesus did what the demons asked. And I don’t know why the demons made the pigs leap to their death.

Maybe Jesus had been teaching some really hard things, and one of the disciples said they’d believe that “when pigs fly.” I don’t know. But it happened nonetheless.

But something else weird happens after this. The entire town comes out to see Jesus, but instead of asking him to teach and heal, they beg for him to get out of town. They’ve just witnessed this awesome display of power, healing these two men who had been suffering (and causing everyone around them to suffer), and they want Jesus to leave.

Maybe they were ticked because Jesus had just ruined their barbeque. Maybe they were afraid of the power Jesus had. Either way, they didn’t want to have anything to do with Jesus.

Sometimes we’re like that. We want Jesus to save us from hell, but we don’t really want him messing with our lives. We want everything to be the way we like it, and we don’t want Jesus coming in and changing stuff around. We’re afraid of his power. We’re afraid he might get rid of some stuff we like.

But you can’t have it both ways. Jesus is God, and God isn’t safe. (Think Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia.) The Bible calls him a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4.24) and a lion (Hosea 5.14). He’s powerful and dangerous and mysterious. And when you invite him into your life, it’s not neat or safe. It’s messy and scary. But it is also wonderful and exciting.

Continue to explore this dangerous mystery who is God. I promise your life will never be the same.

 

Prayer for Today

Jesus, I don’t always understand you. You are much bigger than my mind can understand. And that is scary, but it is also exciting. Help me to have deeper faith in you. Help me to trust all of you with all of me. Help me to have enough faith to let you change me completely, no matter how messy it might get. Amen.

 

To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain.” Exodus 24.17