Your Secret Admirer

Scripture: Matthew 6

Observation: “Don’t do your deeds publicly-to be admired by others.” When I have an eternal focus, my heart is bent toward pleasing God. When I have an earthly, temporary focus, my heart is bent toward pleasing other people. Do they admire me? Appreciate me? Affirm me? Like my status on Facebook? Retweet me? Even bother to read my blog after I put out the effort to pour my very heart out to the worldwide web!? lol

Me, me, me…My, my, my…mi, mi, mi, mi, mi (and I’m just getting warmed up!) This attitude is a setup for a first class pity party of mardi gras proportions.

Application: I need to ask myself, what is my motivation? Do I seek to do good things only to be noticed or even respected? These may be good things, but their reward (as gratifying as it may be) is experienced now…earthly.

God notices EVERYTHING, and my rewards are eternal when actions are done for Him and all for Him. If it’s noticed and mentioned, praise God. If my life is an obscurity, unnoticed by all but Him, GREAT is my reward-in heaven (where it really counts anyway).

Prayer: Lord, this life you’ve given I return to You…all of it. If any notice or admire anything done (which is all by gift from You to begin with), then may it all reflect back directly to You.

Advertisements

Live Like Heaven

Scripture: Matthew 5

Observation: In Jesus famous “Sermon on the Mountainside” he talks up how differently the natural man thinks vs. the Kingdom of Heaven. The humble, the dependent, the peaceful, the persecuted-all these are the weak of the world…they’ll be Darwined out of here. It’s survival of the fittest; you gotta swim with the sharks!

Not so in God’s thinking; these that are the suckers of the world are the honored in His Kingdom. And true reward is ahead for those who place righteousness, purity, no drama relationships, a committed marriage, and integrity of their word above pridefulness.

Application: “Have it your way” is a good slogan for ordering a cheeseburger, but insisting on it for all of life will lead to a self-destructive misery now and a massive loss of reward in the Kingdom of Heaven. I must remember that I’m a foreigner, even an ambassador, of heaven in this land and not permit the obsessions and pursuits and ways of doing business and relationships here affect me into going with their flow.

Prayer: Jesus, give me your mind to view all things as You do…and your heart to love all just as You do. 

Prepared for Eternity

Scripture: Matthew 4

Observation: Jesus headed to the desert for a time of focused prayer and fasting and the notorious Stinker showed up. Each of the Enemy’s temptations were focused on the here, the now, the temporal…shortcuts. There were shortcuts for physical needs, to power, to a following… Jesus’ values were on the eternal. Momentary needs: physical, emotional, even perceived spiritual needs are put in a totally different light when I live life knowing I am prepared in THIS life for eternity. Jesus knew eternal life, even from before the beginning…and he gave it freely. First, he offered this eternal life focused way of being to his first twelve disciples. There was no contract, no details of the future…just “follow me.”

Application: I am an eternal creation. Everything I do, I think needs to be examined in the light of eternal value, reward, preparation. That is where I will exist most…beyond THIS earthly life. There is a NEW earthly life (Revelation 21) ahead where I will live, work, and worship.

Prayer: Jesus, as you did on the cross, “for the joy that is ahead” of me I endure and persevere through the pain of this life. I live aware, alert to the reality that I have life with You forever beyond this test called life. 

It’s All Heart

Scripture– Matthew 3 (  http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew%203&version=NLT)

Observation:  I’m sure John preached others before, but the first sermon recorded by John was simple: repent.  I remember my first sermon and I hope all copies have been burned- burned I tell you! John’s message? Turn from sins and go to the heart of following God. Funny, some of his audience were the Pharisees: super moral people…and he called them a den of rattlesnakes. Because they were immoral? Yes! In God’s way of thinking SELF-righteousness is as or more dangerous than plain old filthy UN-righteousness. The Kingdom of God is a matter of the heart; that’s where Jesus said the laws of His Kingdom are written.

Good fruit comes only from the source of its life: God Himself. Our purpose is found in Him, our Creator, and only Him. And His power to live is available. Jesus baptizes us, immerses us, overwhelms us with His Spirit-and fire and passion and desire to live life FROM Him. It only comes to me when I am IN him…not in myself.

Application: I choose to reject Pharisaism in a morally bankrupt world. The unrighteousness of the culture is not to drive me on one extreme of apathy or flippancy toward sin to the other extreme of cynicism and a loss of love for others enslaved by sin. Righteous anger toward injustice may be from God’s heart, but self-righteous disdain is quite another thing altogether.

I am to remember that my love, strength, and servanthood is only worth a dime in the eternal economy when it comes from the heart of God pumping His life in and through mine.

Prayer: Provider and Creator, forgive me for being religious without heart, “so called” serving without the immersion of life in the Spirit, for merely surviving and coping while the world persists blindly without Your love being shown through me, for making “religion “ all just a thing instead of ALL my life in You.

Wait to Obey?

 Scripture: Matthew 2

Observation: By all accounts of the circumstances, Jesus was born at the wrong time and place. His life was in danger from the get go; the family resources were depleted. In fact, Dad was paying out extra property taxes that couldn’t possibly have been planned for and you know how much those long trips back to the home town can get.  Not to mention wedding costs-O holy night my eye…O holy crud!

But the Father determined it was just the right time. He had it planned up; he sent some wise guys to fund an escape to Egypt (thank the Lord they didn’t have to go through customs back then. How much excise tax would they charge for gold, frankincense, and myrrh?). And all these “just not the right time” situations actually set up the perfect scenario for prophecies that were made hundreds of years before to come to pass (four were mentioned in Matthew 2 alone).

Application: I have a tendency to want to wait for things to be just right to do something. After Christmas….after the new year….when the kids are (fill in the blank)….when I finish this…when I’ve saved up this amount of money, on and on.

The time is ALWAYS right to do God’s will- His desires for my life. Waiting to obey is never the right choice. And when I pray, if it’s from Him, He is moving heaven and earth to turn the circumstances in my favor. He even uses the bad scenarios to set up what seems to us a last minute miracle, but are in fact nothing more and nothing less than plans he set in motion from our first breath of prayer to Him about it.  Things come to pass in God’s time, but never believe for a minute that He has been inactive.

When He says “obey this,” the time is always now to obey. When he says, “do this,” circumstances are just so to begin and take steps with Him. Waiting to obey is just another way of saying, “No.”

Prayer: Jesus, immerse me with your Spirit.  Without your Spirit and His power in me I am nothing at all and can’t do Your will. Yes…before You even ask Lord, yes. I trust You and I’m never in a better place than when I’m doing life in You.

Jesus’ Tainted, Sainted Bloodline

Scripture: Matthew 1

Observation: What a murky blood line Jesus had. Tamar: she had a husband who died (because he was such a worthless human being God decided he needed killing), so by law she was given his brother to marry (who God thought so highly of he knocked him off too), and by law she should have been given the third brother to marry. Dad in law, Judah, wouldn’t marry him off for fear he would be taken out too (apparently he was about as top notch a human being as his brothers). So she dressed up like a prostitute and seduced her Dad in law to get pregnant by him. Now, in my view, that’s a tidbit of genealogy we avoid and hide- but God said “that’s ancestor of my Son worthy.”

Rahab was a straight up ho who lived in Jericho (as in, Joshua fit the battle…the walls came tumblin’ down Jericho). She helped out the Israelite spies…Boom! Messiah ancestor!

Rahab had a son named Boaz. A widow from Moab (where they worshipped idols; sex rituals, human sacrifice, the works) named Ruth came home with her mother in law to Bethlehem. Ding ding! Family tree branch!

Immodest, married Bathsheba bathes in public, King David digs her and invites her over for a one nighter: she says sure thing, gets pregnant, David murders her ex, instant queenship. Booyah! Put her in the bloodline of God’s Son!

It all comes down to Matthew 1:21  21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus,[a] for he will save his people from their sins.” Footnotes: Matthew 1:21 Jesus means “The Lord saves.”

It wasn’t a   pure bloodline that was the point; it was that God’s Son came to rescue us from our sins. Sins are now in the past, forgiven, clean slate.

Application:  It is not that I’m free TO sin; it is that I am free FROM sin. It is not that I am flippant: “God forgives, no big deal.” It IS a Jesus executed, bled to death, hung on the cross for hours, shame, became sin, big hairy deal.

But the price has been paid, my guilt is gone….all things are new. Live free, live in Christ, live by the Spirit. The slate is clean.

Prayer: I praise you God for sending your Son into our messed up world. Thank you Jesus for paying the price for my sins. I confess and receive that forgiveness. I want to live free FROM sin and by Your power live FROM victory…the victory you’ve already won for me. Wow! Thank you Savior.