“…without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 [ESV] ->me: The last two days God has been pressing on me to trust in Him. I am reading ‘Respectable Sins” by Jerry Bridges and am on the chapter about “Thanklessness”. I am also working to memorize a verse a week this year with FighterVerse. Today is one of the days where God was teaching to my heart, through multiple avenues, came together. I have have been praying for some things at work where God feels silent and the Brooklyn saga continues to get more crazy. My prayer times are saturated with the pleading of faith from my Father in heaven because I just don’t see movement or answers…so I am holding firm to this weeks FighterVerse (above). I am leaning on my Savior and touching all the stones of remembrance where God came through in non-coincidental ways, drawing close to Him and seeking His will and character. Lord help me to always be thankful for the blessings you have bestowed on me and recognizing the trials and unknowing places as opportunities to see You work!
“Truly I tell you, wherever this good news (the Gospel) is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will be told also, in memory of her.” Matthew 26:13 [AMP] ->me: Now is the point in Matthew’s gospel where prophesy is fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Here I sit during my quiet time reading this story about the occasion of the woman [John tells us it was Mary] who anointed Jesus with super expensive oil from India, just as Jesus said I would. For whatever reason, this has really connected me with these events today and I feel super close to this experience…It is likely that this ‘spikenard’ oil had been in Mary’s family for a long time and what she chose to do with it, is profound. I routinely find myself walking in execution mode of the areas of ministry I am involved with in the church; Life Group, mission trip planning, etc. This anointing of Jesus causes me to stop and be introspective of my mindset and the gravity of what I am doing. The Disciples chastised Mary for this act and Jesus had to correct them. They had lost sight of the priority of things. 1) Jesus was only going to be with them a short amount of time more so Mary taking the opportunity now is appropriate. 2) Jesus was likely going to get a criminal’s burial with no ceremony so the fact that Mary was anointing His body now was important to Him. Lord God please help me keep the important things in right priority, especially today/tonight, as I prepare for a very important meeting at church.
“Then they will go away into eternal punishment, but those who are just and upright and in right standing with God into eternal life.” Matthew 25:46 [AMP] ->me: Today was the parable of the separation of the sheep and the goats. Jesus says that when the Son of Man is seat on His throne, all of the nations (no exceptions) will be gathered before Him and HE WILL separate the people (not nations) one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats (sheep on the right and goats on the left). Then He says to those (sheep) on His right “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” Jesus then essentially says that when you pour out love in the form of helps, support, care, clothing, feeding, and accepting on those around us, we are doing those things as if those people, we are helping, are Jesus Himself. This passage when not taken in context of the rest of the parables here in Matthew, has confused Salvation by grace alone with getting to heaven by works. Lets summarize – [Wedding Banquet] Coming to the wedding feast by following everyone else in is not good enough, you must be wearing the wedding clothes representative of your committed heart to the groom. [Greatest Commandment] Love your God with all your heart, mind and soul and love your neighbor as yourself. You can’t love God with all your heart and consistently chose a lifestyle that is against Him. [The Ten Virgins] You must be prepared for the coming of the Bridegroom; you heart must be sold out in a love and worship of Him way before the day He comes. [The Talents] Salvation produces a heart that understands the responsibility and stewardship of the gifts God has given you. I should be working to double God’s initial investment in me toward profit for His kingdom alone; without an expectation of reward (ultimate worship). [Primary Point] Jesus will be separating sheep and goats based on who has been called (blessed) by the Heavenly Father (people in right standing); those will have hearts that in worship of Him have helped and cared for others with a Love produced and put in us by God alone.
“To one he gave five talents [probably about $5,000], to another two, to another one—to each in proportion to his own personal ability. Then he departed and left the country.” Matthew 25:15 [AMP] ->me: The parable of ‘The Talents’ is a well known story. In the story, as you likely know, the first 2 servants doubled their money and the third opted for security over service by burying his talent into the ground. Upon the masters return he commended the first 2 and chastised the 3rd. In regards of the first 2, the praise from the master was exactly the same “Well done my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share in your master’s happiness.” Matthew 25:21 & 23. The things that stand out to me are 1) that the master knew the abilities of his servants and gave them purchasing power relative to those abilities. The first 2 received identical commendations, despite the different scale of responsibility originally given to them; their reward is proportionately the same, but different than their original endowment. 2) The reward was not things but more responsibility. There was no expectation from the servants that they would partake in the profits they earned the master. 3) The religion of the 3rd servant was playing it safe and therefore achieving nothing…a religion concerned only with not doing anything wrong. He failed to grasp the nature of his responsibility. ‘Being Ready’ consists not only in keeping my slate clean, but in active, responsible, faithful service which produces results.
“While the bridegroom lingered and was slow in coming, they all began nodding their heads, and they fell asleep. But at midnight there was a shout, Behold, the bridegroom! Go out to meet him! Then all those virgins got up and put their own lamps in order.” Matthew 25:5-7 ->me: This is the parable of the 10 virgins setting out to meet the Bridegroom; 5 of which went out foolishly without oil for their lamps and the other 5 were wise in taking oil in jars along with their lamps. The story goes (after the verses above) that the Bridegroom came but the 5 foolish virgins had to go looking for oil to purchase and in doing so missed the Bridegroom altogether. What really hit me about this story is that ALL of the virgins slept when the night got long and Bridegroom had not come. Sleep in this case, was no fault in itself. Both ‘wise’ and ‘foolish’ did so; during the ‘delay’ life must go on, and we cannot live on constant alert. The difference was whether they had already prepared for the coming. Here is the money question -> am I engaged in action appropriate to my professed status? Am I carrying with me the oil of faith, witness, prayer, and forgiveness through grace, as I go out, prepared for when the Bridegroom comes? Is my lamp of the Holy Spirit lit with this oil so that I may easily find my way when my King comes returns?
“Who then is the faithful, thoughtful, and wise servant, whom his master has put in charge of his household to give to the others the food and supplies at the proper time? Blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) is that servant whom, when his master comes, he will find so doing. I solemnly declare to you, he will set him over all his possessions.” Matthew 24:45-47 [AMP] ->me: Today I spent the whole day praying over our church and the many people who came forward over the past 2 Sunday’s to be saved, recommit their lives, and to say ‘yes’ in obedience to baptism. In my quiet time here this evening I reminded through this passage that time is soooo short and that the Lord could return any moment. Would I be embarrassed by how I am living my life is Jesus returned right now? I feel very good about where the Lord has me, but I have not even come close to living the sanctified life I am pursuing through God’s strength and will in my life. Spending the time in prayer today and then reading this passage tonight has reinvigorated me to press/lean into all that God has to show me and be available for any way He needs to use me. God give me the strength to choose you and your way at every turn. Here my prayers for my church and the people who are starting a new walk in Your Name this year.
“For our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory [beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!], Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 ->me: This scripture has held me these last several days since transitioning Brooklyn. The heaviness and void we feel is palpable, BUT GOD is here and we feel His presence and hand in our moments of grief and longing for this little bundle we miss so much. God’s word is such a comfort and even more importantly I have found that lifting others up in prayer and leveraging every opportunity I can to share how God has held our family in His hand during this ordeal, has brought peace, comfort, solace, and confidence in God’s provision and almighty power. Thank you all for your prayers – they have been felt and we know that through God’s touch, He is responding to your requests.
“Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.” Isaiah 41:10 ->me: Today was a very tough day. Saying goodbye to Brooklyn was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Her life verse above gave us strength as we honored God through obeying Him and trusting Him is this process. It is ONLY by His strength I made it through today. I don’t think I have ever spent a day in living prayer like I did today. This all happening before a day in His house was also a great provision.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, pretenders (hypocrites)! For you give a tenth of your mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected and omitted the weightier (more important) matters of the Law—right and justice and mercy and fidelity. These you ought [particularly] to have done, without neglecting the others.” Matthew 23:23 ->me: This passage today really points at how damaging legalism can be to one’s faith. I am currently reading through the “7 woe’s” and this one just reinforces that my heart has to be right and the motives behind my worship be true. Reading through Matthew has been such a great time of my theology flowing together to help reinforce the heart behind how I follow God. Jesus’ instruction, even on just one topic, can span multiple chapters. Justice, mercy, and fidelity – these combined with “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind”…”love your neighbor as you yourself want to be loved”, is really poignant. Remembering these throughout the day helps me stay on the right track!
“…you are not to be called rabbi (teacher), for you have one Teacher and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone [in the church] on earth father, for you have one Father, Who is in heaven. And you must not be called masters (leaders), for you have one Master (Leader), the Christ.” Matthew 23:8-10 ->me: This is Jesus talking to the disciples. These are the men (witnesses of Jesus), including Peter, who would carry the gospel forward, be filled with the Holy Spirit, able to perform miracles, speak in tongues, and lead people into an eternal relationship with God….but, they would not be called ‘teacher’, ‘father’ (I wonder if catholic priests have read this passage), or ‘leader/master’. These were personal monikers of status that the Pharisees sought to have – doing everything to raise themselves up and get the best seats in the synagogues. The following verse Jesus says “the greatest among you will be your servant”. With everything I have going on in my life right now, I can sometimes have a mind that seeks entitlement -> I worked hard for this….I have put up this treatment too long….I deserve better. These thoughts are toxic and counter to the attitudes Jesus calls me to have. I need this reminder today -> He is my Rabbi/Teacher, God is my Father, and Christ is my Master/Leader. I have one role on this earth, to serve my brothers and sisters in Christ and to never seek a place status or position over them.