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Matthew 14

September 29, 2009 Leave a comment

surfingMatthew 14

I love to surf. If you’ve never been, you have to go surfing before you die. It is one of the greatest feelings ever. I can’t explain the feeling when that wave catches you, and you pop up onto your board. Gliding across the water, you’re doing something you shouldn’t be able to do, because it’s not natural to walk on water. Yet it is very natural because it’s just you and that wave. It’s exciting, invigorating, and even somewhat spiritual.

And that is what a relationship with Jesus is like, except multiplied times a billion. I can’t even begin to explain the feeling of truly walking with Jesus. The closest I can come is “walking on water.” And since surfing is the closest anyone can come to walking on water, and chances are you have never surfed, you can’t really understand it. That’s why I want you to go surfing. Then you will understand what it’s like to have a relationship with Christ.

Let’s just say it is completely awesome. I know it sounds cliché, but it is a rush. When you surf, you completely rely on the wave’s power to move you. Sure, you have to paddle to catch that wave, but when that wave catches you, it’s all about the wave. The wave is what moves you. There is no one pulling you behind a boat. There is no engine. It’s you relying on the power of that wave. It’s like you become one with the wave.

That is how it is with Jesus. Jesus is this huge wave of power and energy and excitement. He catches you, and the rush is on. You walk on water. You experience life at its fullest. You become part of something hugely powerful. When you put your trust in Jesus, you become one with him, and he leads you into a life of meaning, adventure, and pure joy. You walk on water.

But some of you are still in the boat. My high school English teacher would say I’m mixing metaphors, but I think you get it. You’re like the other disciples. You’re too afraid to get out of the boat because you don’t trust Jesus. And you miss out. Peter experienced something truly awesome, but the others were too afraid to walk on water.

Some of you are drowning. You were like Peter and decided to jump out of the boat. It was great trusting Jesus at first, but then it got a little scary. You took your focus off Jesus and started looking around at all the difficulties in your life. You think that walking on water is hard, and you begin to sink.

But that’s part of what makes it so exciting. Surfing is exciting because there’s a chance of wiping out. And believe me, sometimes you do! But if it were safe, it would be boring. Following Jesus is messy and scary and sometimes dangerous. But it is also the most exciting thing in life. And if you trust Jesus, he’s not going to let you drown. He is always right there to pick you back up.

Don’t miss out on the adventure. Put your trust in Jesus, allowing him to guide your life. Jump out of the boat and walk on water.

 

Prayer for Today

Jesus, I want out of this boat! I want to trust you. I want to experience the excitement and joy of a relationship with you. I admit it is scary, but you say you will be there for me, that you will never let me down. Help me to get over my fears so that I can walk on water with you! Amen.

 

“Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” 1 John 2.6

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Matthew 11

September 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Matthew 11

Yoke

This chapter ends with one of the coolest yet most misunderstood passages. For the longest time, I had a hard time understanding what Jesus was saying. Look again at what Jesus says in verses 28-30:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Jesus says he’s going to give us rest, but then he says he’s going to put his yoke on us. If you don’t know what a yoke is, it’s not the inside of an egg. No, it is a thick piece of wood which links two animals used to pull something like a plow or carriage. So Jesus is going to give me rest by putting a big piece of wood on my shoulders? That doesn’t make sense.

Well, let’s explore this a little deeper. First, we need to remember that Jesus is a rabbi. A rabbi is a Jewish teacher. Jewish boys would start school at the age of six, and begin learning (and memorizing!) the Scriptures. At about 13 or 14, most boys would finish school and learn the family business from their father.

But those who showed great potential would be chosen by the rabbi to continue their learning. They would spend the next several years following the rabbi and learning about God and the Scriptures. Their goal was to become just like their rabbi in everything.

And when the rabbi chose someone to follow him, this is what the rabbi would say: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” The yoke is his teaching, or understanding of the Scriptures. So Jesus is a rabbi, and he’s telling these young men who have been rejected by the other rabbis, “I’m choosing you to be my followers. I believe you have what it takes to be like me.”

And Jesus says it to you. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” He is choosing you. It is incredible when you think about it.

“But I don’t want to carry a yoke. I’ve got enough stuff going on in my life. I already feel dragged down.”

The purpose of a yoke isn’t to burden an animal. The animal is already burdened; he’s pulling a plow or wagon. No, the purpose of a yoke is to allow that animal to share the load with another animal.

So the other thing Jesus is saying is “I know life is tough. Let me help you. Link up with me, and we’ll do this together. Put my yoke on, and we’ll be a team. Life will be easier, not because I’ll get rid of your problems, but because I’m going to be with you every step of the way to carry those burdens with you. Learn from me how to deal with life.”

Are you burdened? Are you stressed? Worried? Worn out? Accept Jesus’ invitation. Follow him. Learn from him. Spend your time with him. Become just like him. He will help you with life. He will give you rest.

 

Prayer for Today

Jesus, I’m tired. Life is stressful. It’s tough. And I need help. I need your help. Jesus, I want to take your yoke upon me. I need you to help me with life. I want to learn from you, and I want to become like you. Help me to do that, Lord. Help me to be like you, Rabbi. Amen.

 

“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.” Psalm 62.1

Matthew 6

September 17, 2009 Leave a comment

Matthew 6

When reading through the Sermon on the Mount, it seems like Jesus just jumps from topic to topic, none of which really have any connection to each other. But look again at Matthew 6. The first four sections all mention “reward” or “treasure,” and the final section sums it all up by urging us to seek God first.

Hopefully, you have never had to worry whether or not you would have food to eat for the day. However, I would guess you have worried about clothes or other things. The word here that is translated “worry” can also mean “give thought to.” It means to think about or concern ourselves with something.

As a teenager, your mind starts to change, and you start being concerned with what people think about you. “Am I wearing the right clothes?” “How can I get that person to like me?” “Will my friends think I’m a loser because I like the Jonas Brothers?”

If you want people to look at you and think you’re a great person, Jesus says you can do that, and that will be your reward. But it is shallow and temporary. It’s like trying to grasp sand. When you grab hold of it, it just slips through your fingers. Chasing after the things of the world will only leave you frustrated and feeling empty.

But Jesus says in Matthew 6.33 to seek God first. That word “seek” can also mean “desire.” Jesus says that if you make God your primary desire, if you want him and seek him, then you will be fulfilled. God will take care of the details of your life, and you will experience a joy and a peace that nothing in this world could ever give.

Seek God first.

 

Prayer for Today

Heavenly Father, I want to seek you. I want to know you better. God, show me just how awesome you are, and show me how insignificant everything else is. Help me to give my worries to you, and help me to trust you to take care of me. Amen.

 

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5.7