Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God


Leave a comment

18. Matthew – Student of Sin or the Savior? – Part 1

Matthew 9:9-13

9 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him. 10 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. 11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum? ”12 When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 13 Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

What do we know about Matthew? Like many of the disciples he is called by 2 names and most likely got a new one from Jesus. The Gospels of Mark and Luke refer to him as Levi his Hebrew name but in the Gospel of Matthew he is called by the Greek name Matthew meaning “Gift of God.” He wrote the first gospel account of the life of Jesus, yet he only makes one appearance on the stage where we really get to see him. His response to Jesus’ call to follow is his one and only time to step forward into the spotlight. The other 2 times he is mentioned are in the gospel lists of the 12 disciples and the list of who was in the upper room in Acts after Jesus ascended. That’s it and in those lists he is way down the list coming in at 8th. His story starts with the:

  • CALL– Vs 9

Notice the details Matthew gives concerning his calling: It starts with Jesus, and two simple words “follow me”. Matthew did not go seeking after Jesus, Jesus came to him. This is important, because none of us can come to God on our own we can only come through Jesus. As John 14:6 says, Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” So, let me ask you have you responded to Jesus invitation to follow him? Who are you following today, self or the Savior? Scripture also tells us that Jesus saw a man named Matthew, often we overlook these simple words. But it’s here that we discover two powerful truths, first that Jesus sees us. Do you know that Jesus sees you? Sometimes we can shuffle along in this world feeling unseen and uncared for. We can begin to believe that nobody sees us, and nobody cares. Not only does Jesus see us but the second truth is that He knows us. He saw Matthew and He knew Matthew. Yet unlike us who tend to define people by what they do, which is just like the Pharisees, scripture says Jesus saw a man named Matthew who was sitting. It doesn’t say Jesus saw a tax collector who was sitting! You are not defined by what you do, but by who Jesus says you are. Why do we let the world and our work define us instead of God’s Word? Many of us are driven more by our work than God’s Word. Which leads to a performance-based life instead of purpose driven life. We start to live for money instead of the Master. We are excited when the weekend comes not because we will gather with other believers to worship Jesus but because we get to quit working! Our lives become driven by work instead of worship. But living for money leads to misery where living for the Master leads to meaning. Because instead of life being about ME it becomes about ministering to others. Where Jesus saw a man the Pharisees saw a tax collector, who do you see when you look at people? Do you see a struggling mother or a woman on welfare? A prisoner or a person? Prejudice will poison your perception and instead of seeing people you will only see problems. In Philippians chapter 1 we see Paul a prisoner chained to the palace guard. But Paul does not see the palace guard as a problem he sees them as people who need Jesus. This proper perception leads to witnessing not winning. What about you are your prejudices leading you to see others as people or problems? When we see people as problems we tend to avoid them or talk about them instead of talk to them. But when we see them as people who need Jesus we tend to introduce them to Him. Are there any prejudices in your life that are causing you to judge people instead of share Jesus with them? Jesus saw Matthew and he sees you. He cares about you as a person and wants to bring purpose into your life. Will you respond and follow or are you going to ignore his invitation?

 

 


Leave a comment

17 – Thomas – The Twin Within – Part 3

John 20:18-31

18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her. 19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” 24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

After connecting and comforting Christ now:

  • Commissions

When you’re running on empty Jesus wants to give you a new reason to live. When your life has been disrupted even destroyed you begin to question who you are and the life you’re leading. Many people are running on empty because they don’t know their purpose. They’re doing what they think they’re supposed to do or what will pay for their standard of living. But you were made for far more than money you were made for meaning. So, what do you do? You have to turn to God and let Him give you His purpose for your life. You’re not an accident. All of us need something greater than ourselves that pulls us beyond these little self-centered, meaningless, shallow lives. We need to discover what God meant for us to be in the first place and that’s something greater than we ever thought. God’s plan for your life is greater than any plan you could ever think of for yourself. Your plans are puny, compared to what God wants to do with your life.  That’s what Jesus did with the disciples. Crushed, guilt-ridden, fearful and defeated, Jesus comes to them and says, “As the Father sent Me, I now send you.” In that moment, he recharged them by redirecting them from their problems to His plan. He knew they blew it at the most critical time but instead of chastising them, he says, I’ve got a plan: we’re going to take on the world and transform it. And they did, this little group of 11 guys went out and soon the Gospel was all over the Middle East and within 300 years it had overtaken the Roman Empire. Today 2.3 billion people claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. Who are you living for? What are you living for? Jesus didn’t just come to rebuild our lives He came to reclaim them. The presence of Jesus reveals the plan of Jesus. After being with Jesus they had to go out and face their fears! They had to unlock the door and go out in order to tell Thomas. After they told their friend Thomas that they had seen the resurrected Lord how did he respond, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”  He replied the same way that they had to Mary, why because he too needed a real encounter with the Resurrected Jesus. Thomas not only wanted to see he wanted to touch. How did Jesus respond, He showed up after 8 days. Those of you who have read the bible have read about 8 days before, where in Genesis 17:12 God commanded Abraham that from generation to generation, every male child must be circumcised on the eighth day after his birth. Luke 2:21 tells us that after 8 days Jesus was circumcised. Circumcision represented the cutting away of the flesh, Thomas made a statement of doubt and 8 days later the presence of Jesus cuts away the doubt allowing him to make a statement of devotion. What doubts need to be removed from your life? Notice the disciples were all together but the doors were still locked it’s a process. The Christian life is a journey not a destination. Jesus doesn’t get mad and pound the door down He just shows up. It’s His presence that we need. It’s here that we see the:

  1. Conviction andConfidence (Vs 27-28)

Jesus told him “Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” and Thomas replied “My Lord and my God!” Jesus brought Hope because nothing drains your tank more than a lack of hope. Hope sings when all melodies are gone. Jesus doesn’t want us hiding behind locked doors trembling in fear, He wants us set free by faith. In Romans 4:19-21, the Apostle Paul points to Abraham and describes the patriarch as being fully aware of his own advanced age and of the fact that Sarah his wife had gone far beyond menopause. Physically the facts are clear: no child can possibly be conceived by these two. Yet God appears to them and promises that Abraham will father a nation. Paul says of Abraham, “Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old and Sara’s womb was also dead. Yet he – Abraham – did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God …, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised” The reality of God rules over your circumstances because God has power to do what he has promised. Jesus revealed God’s will for their life, and that was evangelism. Today the church is so locked up that we are not living out God’s will for our lives. Jesus didn’t just come to communicate with them and comfort them and commissioned them, but He empowered them to fulfill their calling, He breathed on them. Today the reality of the church is that many won’t communicate with Jesus and won’t be comforted by Jesus, so we carry our own concerns and we refuse to be commissioned. In short, the church is crippled, locked up, today would you let Jesus breathe fresh life into you? The breath that transforms death into life, the breath that can give life to dirt.  We don’t need more locks we need the Lord! Thomas wasn’t satisfied UNTILL he SAW and TOUCH Jesus himself, today there are some of you that are having a THOMAS TWIN moment. You are locked up, in your marriage, in your pain, in with your parenting, in your past. It’s not that you won’t believe, it’s just that you will not be satisfied until you have touched the scares of the Savior. Today I’m asking you to stop hiding behind your locked doors because the answer is not to try and prevent the pain by locking the world out its to embrace the presence of Jesus, so you can live life in the power of His name.