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Posts Tagged ‘relationship’

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 21

October 6, 2009 Leave a comment

Matthew 21Donkey

This is a strange episode from Jesus’ life. It’s a little weird to think about Jesus riding a donkey down the street, while people throw their coats and palm branches on the ground in front of him. It’s like a spontaneous mini-parade.

But a donkey? Really?

But Jesus did this to fulfill a prophecy. Zechariah prophesized hundreds of years earlier that Judah’s Savior and King would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey (Zechariah 9.9-13). Sure, Jesus could have ridden in on a majestic white horse, towering over all the people. But that’s not Jesus’ style. He rides in on a humble donkey. He’s riding what any other person would ride. He’s on their level. It’s like Jesus is saying, “Yes, I am your King, but I’m also one of you.”

That is so amazingly awesome! This is a perfect example of how Jesus is 100% God yet also 100% human. Jesus is God Almighty, but while on Earth, he chose to limit himself and be completely human. Any supernatural miracle he performed was only because he asked God, and God allowed him to do so.

Again, Jesus could have ridden in on a Clydesdale, a Rolls Royce, or a space ship. He could have flown into Jerusalem like Superman. He could have had the angels carry him into the city on a kingly platform. He could have had fireworks and lasers. He deserved it. But he chose to limit himself. He chose the donkey. He chose to be like us.

He did this so we could relate to God. God is huge. He is beyond our comprehension. Saying that God is complex is an understatement. But in Jesus, we can better understand God. He doesn’t seem so far off. He becomes tangible (that means something we can see and touch).

God doesn’t want to be far off. He wants to be near to you. He wants a real relationship. He wants you to know him, because he is so in love with you. That is why Jesus came. That is why Jesus died. That is why Jesus rose from the grave.

God wants to be in your presence. Will you let him?

 

Prayer for Today

Dear God, thank you for coming to Earth as Jesus. I don’t want you to be far off. I want to be in your presence every day. Your love is amazing. I can’t understand how you could love me so much, but I thank you that you do. I love you. Thank you, Jesus for choosing to become like me. Thank you for your life, your death, and your resurrection. Amen.

 

“Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2.5a-11

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 5

September 12, 2009 Leave a comment

Matthew 5

Matthew 5-7 is called “The Sermon on the Mount” because it is a collection of teachings Jesus gave from the side of a hill. It is one of Jesus’ most famous teachings. In fact, many of the teachings here are taught around the world, even by non-Christians.

No doubt, Jesus’ listeners were shocked when they heard this. Look back through this chapter. There’s a phrase you see over and over: “You have heard that it was said…But I tell you…” This teaching was—and still is—revolutionary. Jesus came to turn our world upside-down.

It starts off right at the start. In the first section, called “The Beatitudes,” Jesus uses the word “blessed.” This word is often translated “happy.” So Jesus says happy are the poor in spirit, those that mourn, and those that are persecuted.

Excuse me, Jesus?

And you want me to love my enemies?

This is completely upside-down. How can I be happy in those circumstances? Jesus says that we will have a great reward in heaven (verse 12), but I think there might be something more.

The word “blessed” really means joyful. What is the difference between joy and happiness? Happiness is dependent upon my circumstances. In other words, I’m happy when things are going well, but when things go badly, I lose my happiness.

But joy comes from the inside, not from the outside. Jesus fills me with joy; it does not come from experiencing good times. And it doesn’t disappear when bad things happen.

In John 10.10, Jesus says that he came to give us “life, life to the full.” He came to give us the life we were meant to live. He came to fill us with joy so we could experience the reward of heaven here on earth. Jesus doesn’t promise bad things won’t happen. But a true relationship with Christ fills you with a joy that cannot be explained.

Are you filled with joy? Have you allowed Jesus to turn your life upside-down? The more time you spend with Jesus, the closer you draw to him, the more like him you become. When you do this, you will experience that joy. Pray to Jesus, and ask him to help you live your life upside-down.

 

Prayer for Today

Jesus, I want to be filled with your joy. Help me to live my life upside-down. Help me to love my enemies. Bless those who treat me badly. Help them to come to know you. May I live my life in such a way that others will see God and worship him. Thank you for your joy. Amen.

 

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4.4-7