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New Testament Study

The Confirmation (Mt. 11)

Read Matthew 11.

A lot of times I feel like I can resonate with John the Baptist to some degree. (Note: I am far from being persecuted for the sake of the Gospel. Being persecuted is far worse than any trial we could endure. But even trials, help us to need that confirmation too). I mean, he is sitting in prison. He is awaiting what is going to happen to him. He is probably wondering how long it will last. Yet, he is needing the kind assurance that Jesus is who He says He is.

“When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else (vv. 2-3)?”

Let’s be real: Even if we aren’t in prison, we are facing different circumstances where we are wondering…

  • When will this be over?
  • How will I get through this?
  • What will happen?
  • How will my heart survive this much aching?

We need the calm assurance of Jesus the Christ! We need Jesus to speak His amazing words of truth into our midst. It doesn’t matter what we are facing right now, we all need the healing words of Jesus to spur us on. And how awesome it is that even the forerunner needed confirmation from Jesus too!

In Luke 1, we learn about John and all God designed him to be. He would be used greatly in God’s Kingdom. Yet, he still needed confirmation. It’s okay to ask God to give you reminders of who He is.

It is welcomed, in fact!

The Confirmation

Let’s glean, alongside John the Baptist’s crew and hear what they heard. Jesus told them –

“Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me (vv. 4-6).”

This is the God we serve!

The blind receive sight.

The lame walk.

Those who have leprosy are cleansed.

The deaf hear.

The dead are raised.

The Good News is proclaimed to the poor.

How have you been blessed by the Lord Jesus?

The Message We All Need

In our times of struggle, we need to have this confirmation.

In our times of success, we need to hear this message

It does not matter who you are, because this is one message your spirit desperately needs to hear!

Lord Jesus, fill our hearts with hope even when discouragement surrounds us Even when stuff is going on in our lives… Even when the noise is 100% louder and longer than the silence… Keep reminding us of Your eternal hope. You are the Good News we need to hear about.

When the trials seem unending.

When kids are loud and you crave silence

When your spirit is broken.

When your spirit is excited.

…. We all still need the words of truth that Jesus provides hope for the believer.

For those who plant their trust in Christ, we enter a beautiful place of hope. Jesus’ hope can outshine any circumstance. Even prison. Even illness. Even financial hardships.

Whatever we face, Jesus and His hope is still greater – and can reach us in the deep places of our hearts and lives.

How can you plant your trust in Jesus today, and receive His everlasting hope?

About John and the Kingdom

Jesus describes John the Baptist, as a great man. He was handpicked by God as “the forerunner”. In Malachi (3:1), we are reminded that John was prophesied about beforehand. Jesus knew John was great. Yet… Jesus uses this opportunity to share the Gospel.

“yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he (vv. 11b).”

The Kingdom of God has been subjected to such violence. Many have been killed, because they not only know the truth – but they also proudly declare it to the world. The Gospel is going forth. But, people must decide. How will they respond to the Gospel? How will they respond to the confirmation that Jesus is who He says He is? How will we respond to the Gospel on a daily basis?

“Whoever has ears, let them hear (vv. 15).”

Jesus is the Son of God, who willfully eats with tax collectors and sinners.

We need to really ponder in our hearts how we have respond to Jesus.

We need to consider how we have rejected Jesus Christ as the great Savior of the world! Even when met with miracles powerfully declared by God, folks are rejecting Christ as Lord. They have rejected the One who came to save them from their sins and give them new life – including a love relationship with their Savior Jesus!

In everything Jesus does, He brings glory to God. He does it for God. He is seen living in action about everything the Father has told Him about.

Jesus doesn’t skip a beat. He is there reassuring us of the truth found in our heavenly Father. He is encouraging us and giving us strength for the journey!

We need those truths. We need to remember the Jesus we serve! We need to remember how Jesus ends this chapter.

We are called to come.
We are invited to come running to God through Jesus.

Come, Oh weary soul, and find rest.
Come to Jesus. You don’t need perfect circumstances. You simply need Jesus Christ and the everlasting hope that He provides.

“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 (vv. 28-30).”

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New Testament Study Uncategorized

When Jesus Comes to Bring a Sword (Mt. 10)

Read Matthew 10:22-42.

Truth

Jesus says something profound in this chapter. Something we can’t miss. Something we should not miss. Though, perhaps, it is a truth we might want to miss or skip over. In verse 34, we are reminded that earthly peace is not something that is on Jesus’ agenda.

“Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.”

Hope

Yet in the depths of these words, there is still an abundance of hope. There is hope found in Jesus Christ.

Father will be against his children.
Siblings against one another.
Children against their parents.
Nations will be against us.

… Because we are making the bold choice to follow Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. The One who is all powerful, loves us, and is for us!

Jesus Christ is our Risen Savior that can transform a prostitute into a saint, a wanderer into someone with a family and permanent home. God can do amazing things, and He chooses to do them within the context of a love relationship through His Son Jesus Christ.

Faith

What is keeping you from stepping out on faith to follow Him? Maybe, you are a follower of Jesus. But, maybe, life is getting tough. The road is looking long with little rest in store for you. Blessed are you, child of God. It means God is working hard on your behalf!

As we pursue a life with Christ, this world will rise against us. But, we have the Most High standing on our side. God is fighting for us. God is loving on us. God is strengthening us. And, He will keep doing His good work in our lives. We just need to keep following Him. We need to keep trying. We need to keep remembering the hope we have in Jesus Christ!

Live Fearlessly

This hope is exactly why we can live fearlessly. We are told to not be afraid and that God’s got our backs in verses 26-31. We need to keep living unashamed in our love relationship with Jesus Christ. Because we know what will be the end result.

“Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven (vv. 32-33).

Jesus wants us to know and rest in the truth that we are valuable in His sight. He wants you, but you have to be the one choosing Him. He refuses robot Christians. He wants a genuine love relationship with Him. How have you allowed your value to be determined by your circumstances? How are you allowing your love relationship with Him to be set by His love for you?

Who God Is

He is God!
He is good!
He does good!
He is working behind the scenes! We may not know what in the world our God is doing at this very moment, but it is enough to know that God is on the throne and He has not given up on us. And, He won’t give up on us. He is invested in our lives for the long haul. God is our forever God. He is the Lover of our soul and great Redeemer!

Circumstances

While we may hate our circumstances (and it’s okay to do that), they show us something sacred. They have a definitive way of showing us where our love for God is. How are we loving God more than our parents? our kids? our friends?

When we receive Christ, we are rewarded. While being a Christian may not remove our earthly circumstances (though He can definitely give us healing of all sorts!), our eternal ones have been greatly altered. Jesus Christ came to give us new life, which is a sacred gift. We have been given the forgiveness of our sins, which is the great indescribable gift. How are we choosing to receive Jesus Christ into our lives?

Rewards for Christ’s Followers

Then, we end the chapter with rewards. How are you staying mindful of the rewards found in Jesus Christ? Read what Jesus says below:

“Anyone who receives you receives me, and anyone who receives me receives the Father who sent me. If you receive a prophet as one who speaks for God, you will be given the same reward as a prophet. And if you receive righteous people because of their righteousness, you will be given a reward like theirs. And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded (vv. 40-42).”

Closing Thought

I want to close with this thought: It’s totally okay if our families are oblivious to why we do what we do. If they don’t understand the ways of Christ or why we are acting in obedience in a certain way, it is okay. It is even expected, because many are on different levels in their commitment to Christ. We need to live for our audience of One, not concerning ourselves with what others’ do.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people (Gal. 1:10)?”

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile (Rom. 1:16).”

Hard times will come, but God is coming even faster than hard times do. He is working everything out for the ultimate good of those who love God.

Categories
New Testament Study

The Gospel in Persecution (Mt. 10)

Read Matthew 10:16-21.

Jesus invites us to know what moments of our lives look like – as followers of Jesus Christ.

Persecution

There will be times where we are persecuted, because of the One in whom our faith rest.  In those times of persecution, God will use it to spread the Gospel,grow us closer to Christ, arm us with His power, and give us the words to speak. Even the most difficult of circumstances, can be used to share the Gospel. Even in the most trying of times, the Good News is still very good news.

Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world!
No matter what happens, God is still who was and will be.
God stays the same, and the One who is absolutely for us.

The World

This world has sought to kill and destroy the One whom they cannot kill – Jesus, the King of Kings. They wanted nothing to do with Him, and yet they cannot stop His name from being proclaimed from the rooftops.

The world only wants to hear Jesus’ name as a curse word, and not as the One who breathes life into aching souls.

Weapons We Need

As we face trying times and persecution, we are reminded that we need to do a few things –

  • Be on our guard (“wise as serpents”).
  • Be good and kind (“innocent as doves”).
  • Watch the power of God flow in and through our words.

How have we done these things?

  • Acted wisely, as we live and operate in a fallen world with keeping God first?
  • Displayed His loving-kindness to those who do not believe?
  • Watched for His power at work in trying times?
  • Kept our eyes on this very Good News?

God’s Very Word

In our times of trials and persecution, we are encouraged by the Creator of our souls to not worry. Instead of worrying, we are reminded we are not alone. As Jesus instructs us on persecution, He gives us something that can cause us to leap with joy. Because we are not alone. Again, He reveals “I am the One fighting for you!”

“… don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you (Mt. 10:19-20).”

The Holy God of the universe, is the One who wants to speak in and through you. God can use even the smallest mouse, to voice His mighty words that shake up this world and build up His heavenly kingdom. When you have needed to speak, how has God fueled you with the right set of words?

For His Sake

Jesus Christ endured the unbelievable, to reconcile an unholy people to a holy God. God’s love is so very present for us.  He came, for us. How are we responding to the opportunity to follow Him and enjoy Him? He wants to pour His life into us, and give us all we need – for whatever thing we face. Particularly, persecution. Fierce persecution will come, but God can prepare us for it. As God prepares us, we can experience victory. Even in persecution, we can experience glorious victory and “usher others into a love relationship with Jesus Christ”.

Categories
New Testament Study

Note//The Beautiful Good News (Mt. 10)

Before we jump into today’s Scripture reading, I want to share my plans for this summer. As I have discovered lately, the summer time is a very rough time for me – physically speaking. Over the past few weeks, I have struggled immensely. If I am not careful, that physical struggle is going to impact my spiritual life – meaning my quiet time. I need to make my Jesus time a serious priority – even when I find myself utterly exhausted.

Earlier this year, I begun studying the New Testament. Then, I got off course when between kids and chronic illness. Well, I am going to try and reignite my engagement with this choice method of study. I cannot predetermined to make this a daily study. But, I want to utilize this pursuit of the New Testament as a way to meet Jesus. To enjoy my God. To enjoy His will for our lives.

Today’s Scripture Reading

Read: Matthew 10:1-15

The Good News

Today, I have been reminded of what the Good News (the Gospel) truly is. We find Jesus pouring into the crowd saying and doing what really matters.

“Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. News about him spread as far as Syria, and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon possessed or epileptic or paralyzed—he healed them all. Large crowds followed him wherever he went… (Mt. 4:23-25a)”

This puts us in the proper frame work for what Jesus is talking about today. The crowds saw where Jesus went, and followed Him. They brought their affliction, and were healed. They brought to Jesus the truth that they were spiritually dead and He would eventually heal them – through Jesus’ death and resurrection (see Mt. 27-28).

Jesus Taught

Jesus showed these men the truth about the power of God. They were given this breath-taking glimpse of what God can do in our lives, when we surrender our lives fully to Him. This is why later in Romans 6, we are encouraged to – “give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life (Rom. 6:13b).”

Jesus has lovingly taught us the essence of the Gospel. It is to be reconciled to God. And, the joy is – we can bring people with us.

The Christian Faith Leaders

This is the place where the Christian faith leaders are given a sweet taste of what it looks like to follow Jesus the Christ. Even Judas was given this opportunity.

I want to ask why Jesus would allow someone like Judas the opportunity to have “authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.”

But if I ask why concerning Judas, I risk missing the grace of God. Because, we are no better than Judas was – in reality. We are sinners, saved by the grace of God.

God has chosen us not because of our good works, because of His love for us. He filled every gap that kept us away from Him due to the penalty of sin.

God lovingly chooses people like you and me to come near to Him and know the power of God. Jesus Christ is full of grace and truth (see Jo. 1:17).

This is the only answer we ought to need, because we are no better (or different) than the heart of someone like Judas.

The Grace of God

Based on the grace of God and the sweet fellowship these men experienced with Jesus, they were called to “go”. Jesus called them to… go and share the Good News of Jesus Christ with fellow Jews who were lost and in need of God’s saving grace through Jesus Christ.

‘Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions: “Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, but only to the people of Israel—God’s lost sheep (vv. 5-6).”‘

Sharing the Good News

“Whenever you enter a city or village, search for a worthy person and stay in his home until you leave town. When you enter the home, give it your blessing. If it turns out to be a worthy home, let your blessing stand; if it is not, take back the blessing. If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave. I tell you the truth, the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah will be better off than such a town on the judgment day (vv. 11-15).”

As we share the Good News of Jesus Christ, we are encouraged to find those who are worthy of hearing the Gospel. We need to find those who are willing to hear the Gospel. The only instrument we need in sharing the Gospel is Jesus Himself. We don’t need to over-analyze or bring extra gear “just in case”. We just need Jesus Himself.

We just need to be drenched in the ever-loving grace of Jesus Christ, which is what happens every time we come to Him.

Our job is to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, so others can respond to their Creator who gives them life. The same Gospel is found throughout the pages of the Bible. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world awaiting for us to finally come to Him and accept His invitation for new life.

We just need to come to Jesus, and bring our friends with us.

How has God taught you His Good News?
How has He shown you His design of grace?