DO YOU NEED A FRESH WORD?

DO YOU NEED A FRESH WORD?

For the past year and a half, I’ve been positively captivated by Matthew’s Gospel, specifically how he crafted the material about Jesus’ life in between Matthew 4:23 and 9:35. What Matthew states in 4:23 he repeats in 9:35: Jesus went all over Galilee “teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.” Matthew tells us in both verses what he shows us in between—that Jesus’ ministry was made up of both healing and teaching. In Matthew 5-7 we get Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (the teachings of Jesus), and in chapters 8-9 we get an assortment of His miracles and healings.

MORE THAN MIRACLES

I’ve been moved and inspired by Matthew’s writings because he’s reminded me that Jesus’ teachings are as majestic as His miracles. So often I’ve prayed for Jesus to move spectacularly in my life and the lives of others, to do the marvelous, to work miracles. But do I see the power of His teaching, and incidentally my obedience to His Word, as important as His supernatural workings? For clarity, I think it is good and right for us to long and pray for Him to do great and mighty things that are absolutely outside of our abilities to accomplish. After all, Matthew goes out of his way in chapters 8 and 9 to highlight the extraordinary power and authority that Jesus has over sickness, disease, darkness, and sin. They’re astounding chapters that I’ve benefited from reflecting on and studying over the past several months. But we can’t forget that Jesus’ teachings are as powerful as His miracles. They both hold tremendous power to change our lives.

ASTONISHED AT HIS TEACHING

After Jesus gave His Sermon on the Mount, Matthew records that “The crowds were astonished at his teaching” (Matthew 7:28). Jesus taught with a power and authority that the crowds had never before experienced. He spoke with a conviction the scribes and Pharisees couldn’t begin to rival. Jesus’ miracles were astounding to the crowds, but so were His words! Being reminded of the preeminence of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew’s gospel has inspired me to better learn from Christ, not only so He can change my life, but also so I can articulate His words to others. I’m thinking of the broken marriages around me, the fractured friendships, the jealousy that festers and steals our joy, the unforgiveness that robs us of moving forward. Wherever we find ourselves Jesus has hopeful and restorative words for us—we must listen and put them into practice.

To emphasize this truth, a bit later in Matthew’s gospel Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). I was freshly reminded of the significant place that learning from Jesus must have in our everyday lives. Our rest, restoration, and direction are dependent upon it. Sometimes we want the miracle when the miracle is that God spoke to us through His Son Jesus, and we simply need to listen and obey.

No doubt Jesus calls us to a radical obedience of loving those who have betrayed us, putting away our anger, making things right with our neighbor, forgiving as we’ve been forgiven, ceasing to worry, generously giving, and so on… We can’t miss that the grace Jesus gives us to obey His words is a miracle in itself.

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This post was originally seen on lifewayvoices.com.

STUDY THE BIBLE FOR THE SAKE OF OTHERS

STUDY THE BIBLE FOR THE SAKE OF OTHERS

I grew up in a church environment where a “Plan of Salvation” was regularly presented. If you prayed the sinner’s prayer, it was generally understood that no matter what happened from there on out, you were saved and good to go. Bibles were sometimes passed out with...

THE SIMPLE SECRET TO BEARING THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

THE SIMPLE SECRET TO BEARING THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

“Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12).

As followers of Jesus, we’ve all had the feeling of grasping for one of these fruits of the Spirit while wondering if we had a single one to give. A reader once wrote to me, “I think I have plenty of each of the fruits when I don’t need them. It’s when I’m in a trying situation that I discover the fruit I need is the one I’m short of.” I’ve always loved this woman for her honesty because we can all relate to her sentiment. I have patience in droves when everything is going my way. I’m the kindest person I know when people are treating me well. I’ve got humility for days when no one is challenging my pride. You see where I’m headed here…fruits are not fruits until they’re tested.

Which leads us to another challenge: What do we do when we’re trying to heed Paul’s advice to wear these fruits, yet we have very little compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, or patience growing in our hearts? Not to mention, when we study these fruits we realize that each has a powerful meaning, and Jesus embodied all of them (perhaps another post for another day). In other words, when Paul asks us to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, he’s asking something extraordinary of us. This way of living and being around others isn’t something we can simply will ourselves into. I tried to do this for the longest time until Paul’s opening line grabbed my attention: “Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved…”

“When I truly believe I’m significant to my Savior, the fruits flow more freely from within me.”Click To Tweet

For most of my life, I’d inadvertently leaped straight over these doctrinal principles, not realizing that these truths are the very basis for being able to love one another with the fruits of Jesus. And oh the difference this has made.

TO BE CHOSEN

The Greek word for chosen is eklektos. It means picked out, chosen to obtain salvation through Christ. When we sit in the reality and mystery that God chose us before the foundations of the world to be His adopted son or daughter (Ephesians 1:4-5), our heart can’t help but soften and enlarge. When I truly believe I’m significant to my Savior, the fruits flow more freely from within me.

TO BE SET APART

In addition to being chosen, we’ve been made holy. The Greek word here is hagios, and it means to be set apart for God, to be exclusively His. The word can also mean sacred, unlike or otherness, different. When we’re grounded and settled in the reality that we’ve been set apart for special and sacred purposes within God’s Kingdom, the fruits come more naturally. When we’re secure in our calling, the posture of humility and the ability to cheer for others will flow more freely.

TO BE DEARLY LOVED

Some Bible versions say beloved instead of dearly loved. Both express the deep and beautiful meaning of the Greek word agapao, which is an active love. It means “to be fond of,” “dear,” “precious,” and “costly.” Growing up I sometimes felt more tolerated by God than I did precious to Him. As though I’d barely made the cut as His child. But Paul boldly declared that we are His beloved in Jesus Christ. We won’t be able to effectively embody the fruits of Jesus without first knowing how dearly He loves us.

Simply put, we often try to live the fruits of the Spirit in hopes of being chosen by God, loved by Him, and set apart by Him, when in reality it’s the other way around. Because we are chosen, made holy, and set apart, we are now able to bear the fruit as Jesus has taken up residence in our hearts. While sanctification plays a part in fruitful living, and sanctification takes time, the fruits of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience are always accessible to you, because Jesus is the embodiment of them all. And He loves you dearly.

Would you like an excerpt of Kelly’s Finding God Faithful Bible Study?

Click HERE to sign up and it will be delivered straight to your inbox.

 

 

This post originally appeared on lifewayvoices.com

STUDY THE BIBLE FOR THE SAKE OF OTHERS

STUDY THE BIBLE FOR THE SAKE OF OTHERS

I grew up in a church environment where a “Plan of Salvation” was regularly presented. If you prayed the sinner’s prayer, it was generally understood that no matter what happened from there on out, you were saved and good to go. Bibles were sometimes passed out with...

What I Love About 1, 2 & 3 John

What I Love About 1, 2 & 3 John

The letters of 1, 2 & 3 John  are—how shall I say this—blunt. Which is one of the reasons I’ve come to love them so much. Sometimes I just need someone to tell me the truth.

Well over a year ago, when considering where to land for this study, I began reading through these short letters. I hit points like what it means to walk in darkness versus light, how it’s incongruent to say you love God but then willingly go do a whole bunch of stuff that doesn’t please Him, how deception creeps in, truth versus heresy, what love really is and means—and I noticed my heart starting to pulse a little faster.

I realized that John’s message, though written 2,000 years ago, couldn’t be more timely.

So I decided to invite some people to my house for a bible study on 12&3 John and try it out. (It appears I’m wearing a name tag.)

https://www.addcolo.com/

Why John’s letters matter so much today

I had gotten a little lost in the vagueness of current culture. Even Christian culture.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but there are a lot of opinions out there. 

While I appreciate concepts like open-mindedness, progressive, forward-thinking, without any structure these ideas cast a hazy milieu over our belief systems. And if our belief systems are unanchored or unwittingly broad, our actions and the way we live become progressively unclear. As a result of that lack of clarity we lose our direction. My course had grown a bit murky. I wonder if you know what I mean?

So 1, 2 & 3 John cuts through this haze with a laser beam, but he doesn’t do it for self-righteousness sake or so we can “get it right” or live up to the rules. He speaks hard-lined truth for the most intimate and hopeful of reasons—so we can have fellowship with God, with His Son and with one another (See 1 John 1:1-5). Community with God and others is at stake. To know and be known. We don’t have to be alone anymore. What better reason for John to have written?

And so I decided to start writing this bible study and here’s what that looked like… (I pride myself on organization.) IMG_3313

What I hope you’ll take away

Carl F. Henry once said, “The early church didn’t say, ‘Look what the world is coming to!’ They said, ‘Look what has come into the world!’”

And from verse one, John reminds us Look Who’s come into this world! He teaches us what it means to abide instead of to strive, manipulate or control. He separates light from dark, truth from lies, and walks us through the foundations of our faith so we can rest our head on firmer ground. He offers us the gift of confidence and knowledge, assuring us that we really can know we know Jesus.

Perhaps more than anything, John shows us what true love is. That it really is more costly and loyal and pursuant than anything we can imagine. And so when talking about love, John always points to Jesus.

This is what happened when Bethany and I came home from an event and saw a box of THESE on my doorstep. We were excited, with our barrettes in our hair and all.

Cascade wedding veil

A Big Thank You

I so appreciate all the support you all have shown me over the years. I love getting to meet you on the road and hearing from you through social media. I have the most gracious audience out there. My prayer is that What Love Is reaches you in the deepest places, renews your faith, strengthens your confidence and helps you know Jesus more. I’m so thankful for you.

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