Paul says we Christians are running a race. Here's what I'm looking at on my run toward Christ.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Matthew 6

Jesus continues his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6.  This chapter is full of great, applicable, everyday truths.  I will touch on a few.  If you want to read an in-depth blog on just The Lord's Prayer check out patrickrussellray.blogspot.com

1) In Matthew 6 Jesus tells us to be careful who gets the glory.

Jesus says, "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them.  If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in Heaven.

When we give to the needy, when we pray, and when we fast (notice Jesus does not say 'if') we are to do so for the glory of God.  We don't need to make an announcement.  Jesus knows the identity of an anonymous giver.  Jesus knows when you fast even when you don't exclaim, "I'm so hungry".  Jesus hears us pray in our room alone.

2) In Matthew 6 Jesus tells us to think about Heaven.

"Store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven... For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

If our thoughts are on Heaven our hearts will be in Heaven.  Heaven is real... the rewards of Heaven are real... and we can do something about that now.  Rather than serving money or our pride; do things in secret and trust in God for great is our reward in Heaven if we do.  And I don't know about you, but I can't wait to get to Heaven and I want to be able to hear God say, "Well done good and faithful servant".  I want treasure in Heaven.

3) In Matthew 6 Jesus tells us not to worry.

"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"

I come from a family of worry-warts.  We worry about what we will do this weekend.  What we're going to eat tonight.  We worry why so-and-so might be mad at us.  Well, we shouldn't worry.  Flowers don't worry about clothes and they are beautiful... because God wants them to be that way.  God's plan will prevail.  Worrying doesn't make a positive difference (if anything you'll die sooner).  Rather, "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."  If we are consumed by the Kingdom of Heaven, God will take care of the rest and then some.  This isn't prosperity gospel, it's truth.  As the old hymn says "God will take care of you".

So trust God, think about your treasure in Heaven and give all the glory to God today.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Matthew 5

This chapter begins Jesus' most famous sermon, The Sermon on the Mount.  There are many upon many great truths in this chapter.  This chapter is so fundamental to the Christian faith as Jesus is turning the world on its head setting up a new world order.

Let's look at a few difficult sayings Jesus has in this chapter.

1) "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me."

Are you serious?  Rejoice when we are persecuted?  Yes!  My football coach would say to our defense, "If you aren't getting blocked you're going the wrong way."  If the devil isn't bothering you then you aren't about to sack him.  When people persecute us because of Jesus it is a big road sign that says, "Right Way: No U-Turn."  Rejoice when you get blocked because the devil doesn't mess with Christian linebackers running the wrong way.

2) "You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men."

Don't lose your saltiness.  Hold on to your usefulness for Christ.  Keep your passion bucket full (for Dan Patrick fans).  How do we lose our saltiness?  A little at a time, so don't let go... endure.

3) "Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven."

Wow.  I don't get this one.  It is very hard to understand and if you get it help me get it too.  But I do believe this is Christ's way of saying that the law still is important and even with faith works are valuable to him.  Very valuable.

4) "If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away."

How can we gouge our eyes today?  I know I need to do some gouging.  This can mean putting the computer in a visible place where you wouldn't look at porn.  This can mean not reading that gossip magazine.  This means removing our stumbling blocks because purity is important as we are the bride of Christ.

5) "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

This is the most difficult saying of all.  I fall very short of jumping this hurdle.  But realize that this command comes after Jesus speaks about loving our enemies.  I can't achieve perfection like Jesus did, but he is saying that perfection starts with love.  If I can love my enemies I am closer to obeying this command.

Read the whole chapter (or hopefully you already have).  Realize that Jesus is serious about flipping this world on its head and start loving people and living for Jesus today.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Not Matthew

So, the Bible study on the Gospel of Matthew has gotten a week behind.  Therefore, no new Matthew post.    But I'd better write something or I'll be like Patrick (kid leaves me hangin').

Aren't good friends good?  I guess by definition, yes.  But have you taken time to thank God for good friends.  I have been looking around me lately and realizing how lucky I am to have friends who let me be a part of their life.

I have got to believe this is a huge gift from God because I need good friends.  I am the type of person (whoops, I'm talking about myself and not God.  I knew bloggers were full of themselves) who needs people in their life.  I get charged by people.  I get excited being around people.  I do like some alone time, but I love being with friends.

So thank you God for good friends and thank you friends for allowing God to use you in my life.

Having said all this, I've got to admit that I don't always love some people as a friend.  There are many people out there that feel alone today and I'm not loving them.  They feel that no one cares about them.  Friends, be to them what you are to me.  I want to be to them what you are to me: a reflection of God's love.

So reflect God's love and be a friend today, maybe even to someone you wouldn't normally think of.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Matthew 4

Matthew 4 is jam-packed so I can't possibly touch on it all, so read Matthew 4 you'll be glad you did.  I do, however, want to point out a few things:

1) What is Jesus' message?
We, as I mentioned in the post 'Hijacking Jesus', have answered this question many times on our own; but let's look at what Matthew says Jesus' message is.  Matthew says Jesus preaches, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven in near."  Jesus' main subject when preaching was repentance.  Christians many times want to get The Kingdom of Heaven without repenting.  Jesus says because The Kingdom of Heaven is certainly coming (near can be translated 'certain' from the Greek) we need to repent. Repenting is not fun and in fact many Baptist like myself shy away from the word because it makes grace sound works based.  Grace isn't, but true repentance produces fruit.

2) How can we be a disciple of Christ?
When we read about Jesus calling his disciples we will find some truths.  First, if you are a disciple of Christ you will value him.  The disciples valued Jesus so much that they left everything for him.  Is God calling you to leave everything?  I don't know.  But ask yourself: are you willing to leave anything to follow Jesus?  Many times we are not.  Secondly, to be a disciple of Christ you must have a heart for other people.  One thing that obviously appealed to the original disciples was the idea that they would be 'fishers of men'.  They wanted to save people.  Do you want to save you friends and neighbors and give them The Kingdom of Heaven?

3)  How do we beat the devil?
Quickly, the devil used many things to tempt Jesus.  One of those was scripture.  Satan knows how to use the Bible to trick us into sin.  How do we combat this?  We must know scripture too and be in tune with the Holy Spirit.  Know scripture in context.

4) Why was Jesus tempted?
The Spirit led Jesus into the desert TO BE tempted.  It was the Holy Spirit's goal that Jesus be tempted by Satan.  Why?  I'm not sure, but God is all about using tough times to grow us.  Before one of Jesus' greatest works (preaching) he endures one of the worst times in his life.  Before he preaches he battles Satan.  Later before he conquers death his is killed.  What's this mean?  The night is darkest right before dawn... hold on daylight is coming (to steal a Remedy Drive lyric).

God uses our tough times.  Hold on... daylight is coming.  We are running a race.  Endurance is key when running the race!  Rejoice when we are tested because through endurance and holding on to Jesus we will prevail!  We will do mighty, awesome work for The Kingdom of Heaven.

Endurance is key when running he race... hold on to Jesus today!