Tag Archives: matthew

Search Inward

Many of us are celebrating the Lenten season. It is a season of fasting and renewal, a season that reminds us that we are but dust. Life is fragile. Life is but a breath. It is a season that looks to the Cross. We spend these weeks mindful of the shortness of life, but even more mindful of the One Who poured out His blood at Calvary so that we could have new life—life in Him. As Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the Wilderness, so we spend this time in self-reflection, repentance, and prayer.

Some people are trying to stick diligently to the removal of some item from their life. Some people may have even publicly noted an ongoing battle with trying to stay true to a vow to give up this thing for Lent. It is important to remember some things about Lent and fasting, because many get lost on the journey to the Cross. Lent instructions are not found in the Bible—it’s something that was instituted by the Church. However, with the fasting, one should be mindful that publicly boasting or grumbling is not applauded (see Matthew 6:16). Fasting is personal. The idea of fasting during Lent is to remove something that is getting in the way of your relationship with Jesus, and then replace that thing with something that will bring you closer to Jesus Christ.

Remember, Lent is all about Jesus. If you are keeping yourself from drinking soda or eating sweets but that doesn’t interfere with your relationship with Jesus, and you have not supplemented these things with more time in prayer, reading God’s Word, or spending time doing something that brings you closer to Jesus, then you are missing out. This is a time to search inward, a time to repent and renew yourself in Him. Today, whether or not you celebrate the Lenten season, take time to look inward. What is getting in the way of your relationship with Jesus? What has become a stumbling block? Pray for the removal of this from your life. Pray for a closer relationship with Jesus. Seek Him diligently today. Pray for your heart to open and spend time in the Word. Ask Him to speak to you in a new and awesome way.

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh faints for You, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” – Psalm 63:1 [ESV]

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for You, O God.” – Psalm 42:1 [ESV]

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” – Hebrews 12:1-2 [NLT]

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No Way

As we read Matthew 9, we find numerous accounts of Jesus healing people. One of the narratives describes Jesus visiting a synagogue leader’s home where a daughter “just died.” People were gathered around this home mourning. We read the crowd was noisy and the pipes were being played—this is something we all can imagine. Funeral music. Sorrowful moment. But then laughter?!?

When Jesus arrives on the scene, He tells everyone to stop the funeral. “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep,” He says (v. 24 NIV). The crowd laughs. No way. How can that be possible? Indeed, she is dead.

We get to see the story in context. We read often of the healings done by Jesus so it’s possible that we don’t get the reason for the laughter. Of course, Jesus is the great Healer. Why are you laughing? This chapter alone contains numerous stories of healing. But when we take a moment, when we evaluate our own lives, we laugh too. We have many “no way” moments. When the world is crashing down upon us and the Spirit speaks the Truth—we respond with a doubtful “no way.” When we look at the facts, when we see what is in front of us, we respond with the faith lacking “no way.”

Today, be reminded that our God is God of the impossible. He says “yes way” in response to our doubts.  He says, “Take heart.” Remember what He says to the two blind men—“According to your faith let it be done to you” (v. 29 NIV). They believed the “yes way.” Friends, He knows your needs. He knows your heart. He knows your struggles. Have faith. Take heart. Yes way.

“Jesus replied, ‘What is impossible with man is possible with God.’” – Luke 18:27 [NIV]

Live for Today

Today is today. Live for today. The Bible tells us that we are given all we need to handle today, and today alone. We should not be worrying about tomorrow, for we have today to live (Matthew 6:34, Luke 12:34).

At the same time, when we start a new day, we are reminded that it is a fresh day—a day that should not carry over the dust of yesterday. Shake off your shoes. Don’t carry over the anger, the hurt, the pain, the burden, the stress of yesterday. Start the day fresh. Forgive those who have hurt you, as you too have been forgiven by your heavenly Father (Colossians 3:13). Holding onto unforgiveness is bringing bitterness into this new day. Just the same, clinging to past hurt, living in the past today, destroys the promises of today. The Lord has set you free from your past, so live free (John 8:36)! If you have sinned yesterday, repent and be forgiven. Receive His forgiveness that He pours out in abundance and move onward and upward (1 John 1:9)!

Today is a new day my friends. His mercies are new each morning! Live for today! God has a great plan for your life. He has awesome things to reveal to you today, and much work is still to be done! Today is a day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad (Psalm 118:24)!

“The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in Him!’ The LORD is good to those who depend on Him, to those who search for Him.” – Lamentation 3:22-25 [NLT]

Stay True

Paul told the Philippians to “stay true to the Lord.” This is all about being totally committed to God, not letting anything come between you and your relationship to God. In Matthew 5, we read that those who are pure in heart are blessed. They will see God! How awesome is that?! Staying true to the Lord is having a pure heart—a heart for Jesus.

James speaks of a divided heart, a heart that is for the world and for God. This isn’t a pure heart. This is not staying true to the Lord. In James 4:7, we read that we should submit to God, resist the devil, wash our hands, and purify our hearts. We should stop being double-minded, and stay true to the Lord.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Do all you can to stay true to the Lord. When you find your heart divided between God and the world, ask that He give you a clean heart and a steadfast spirit (Psalm 51:10).

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work.” – Philippians 4:1 [NLT]

All Else Worthless

One of things that grieves me the most is seeing people who are not passionate about Jesus. I remember a time when I neglected to live for Jesus, when I was neglecting the Word, neglecting a lot of things. One day priorities changed. I had a thirst for Christ Jesus. I wanted nothing more. If I didn’t get to read my Bible, I felt starved. If I hadn’t taken the time to pray, I felt lacking.

Paul wrote about everything being worthless when in comparison to knowing Jesus. Paul noted how he discarded everything so he could gain Christ. The person who sold everything to buy a field with hidden treasure had the same desire Paul had for Jesus (Matthew 13:44). Nothing else mattered.

Today, look at your priorities. Is everything worthless compared to Jesus Christ? How do you value your relationship with Jesus? Are you putting things before God? What matters most to you?

“Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ” – Philippians 3:8 [NLT]

Lasting Foundation

The Bible says that the godly have a lasting foundation. The foundation that is lasting is the one that is built on the Rock, Jesus Christ. We know that we have a choice. We can build our life on sinking sand or on the Rock. We can choose.

The Bible also tells us that if we build our house on sinking sand, it will surely not withstand the wind and chaos of life. But if we build our house on the Rock, it will not matter if the wind blows, the streams rise, or the rain pours down, we will not fall (see Matthew 7:24-25).

To build on the Rock, one must hear the words God speaks and put them to practice. It’s that simple. Faithful obedience. As you continue to hear the Word and allow it to guide your steps, you will be built on Him. When the storms of life come, you’ll have a lasting foundation because your foundation is the foundation of Christ Jesus.

“When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation.” – Proverbs 10:25 [NLT]

Divided Loyalty

Jesus said that we could not serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). We know it’s true. Time and time again we find ourselves with divided loyalty. The Holman Christian Standard Bible translates it as “an indecisive man… unstable in all his ways.” Other translations say “double-minded.” That wasn’t even a word until it appeared in the Bible!

All of us have a divided loyalty. We can say we are devout Christians and that we have placed God first, however, we are still in this world and we are still in the flesh. Romans 7:15 says, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate” (NLT). This is the Apostle Paul saying that he wants to do what is right, but yet he doesn’t do it. He recognizes that we have a sinful nature. The struggle is real. We keep on doing evil.

As we are living in this world, trying to live for Jesus, we need to keep in mind that our loyalties are divided a times. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Keep your focus on His Word. When the world tries to pull you closer, remember that we are not of this world. God has a bigger plan for you and I, and it requires a desire for Him. Always aim to take steps toward Him, and the loyalty will become less and less divided, and more and more God-centered.

“Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.” – James 1:8 [NLT]

Be Anxious

The Bible tells us not to be anxious (Matthew 6:25, Luke 12:25, Philippians 4:6), but there is a moment when the Bible tells us to be anxious. In 1 Peter 4, we are told to be anxious—to “be anxious to do the will of God.”

Peter warns us not to be spending our lives chasing our own desires. Remember that the desires of the flesh are contrary to the Spirit. We read, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh for the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want” (Galatians 5:16-17 NIV). Instead of “chasing your own desires,” you are to “clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14 NIV).

Do you anxiously pursue the will of God? Do you chase after the will of God? Or do you usually find yourself chasing after your own desires? Today, seek the will of God. Clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ.

“You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God.” – 1 Peter 4:2 [NLT]

Stirred Up

When Korah had a problem with Moses and Aaron, it wasn’t a matter of taking it to Moses and Aaron and dealing with it. Ironically, the problem wasn’t with Moses and Aaron, but with God, because He was the One Who put these two men in their positions. Nonetheless, Korah stirred up the entire community against Moses and Aaron.

We were created to be communal people. We have friends. We have people we go to about our problems, our worries, our joys, and life in general. Sometimes we get upset with someone, and we take that to our friends. In doing so, we often stir them up. It makes us feel better. Our friends agree with us. We have someone on our side. But what does it do to help the situation? Where is the relief? Now your friend is sharing your opinions about someone. Your friend is thinking poorly about this person who wronged you. By sharing all this, you have stirred up the pot. Now there is something between you and this other person, and something is between your friend and this other person. Stumbling blocks and more stumbling blocks. Imagine if your friend tells another person. Before you know it, everyone knows what this person did to you.

Proverbs 16:28 speaks about a troublemaker planting seeds of strife. This is exactly what Korah did– planted seeds of strife. We are called to be peacemakers, not troublemakers. If we are too busy making trouble, we will never be able to make peace. Remember, the fire goes out without wood. When you get upset with someone, go to the person and make peace. Ask the Lord to help you to forgive. Allow the fire to go out. Keep the peace. You will be blessed (Matthew 5:9).

“Meanwhile, Korah had stirred up the entire community against Moses and Aaron, and they all gathered at the Tabernacle entrance. Then the glorious presence of the LORD appeared to the whole community.” – Numbers 16:19 [NLT]

“A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.” – Proverbs 16:28 [NLT]

“Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.” – Proverbs 26:20 [NLT]

Let There Be No Strife

I love what happens in Genesis 13:8. Abram recognizes that the conflict or strife between Lot and himself could not continue. When we get wrapped up in conflict, it may keep us from keeping our eyes fixed on God and His call on our life. It also may cause division. God’s Word speaks a lot about unity, not division. He wants a united people, a united people with a heart for Him.

Abram takes the initiative to do something about it, rather than allow the conflict to continue. What a great example of a leader—one who can notice a situation and take steps to ensure it would not lead to something worse. This meant a separation from his nephew, but it was necessary. It reminds me of what Jesus says in Matthew, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

God has great plans for His people. It requires us to humble ourselves and have a unity of mind. What does this mean? It means we are united for one purpose – doing the will of God. We don’t allow ourselves to get in the way, to be a stumbling block, to what God is doing. We don’t put ourselves first, but we show brotherly love to others and look out for their best interests. We trust that God has the best plan, and we surrender to it.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” – Matthew 5:9 [ESV]

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” – 1 Peter 3:8 [ESV]