Category Archives: Matthew Study 2017

A quick Monday thought <3

As we swing into a new week I know all kinds of ways that the weekend was maybe wonderful and hard to leave ..

and that the week ahead could be the start of your much-anticipated summer vacation get-away or one that holds so much tension and foreboding you would like to pull the covers back over your head and ride it out in the safety of your own home.

Either way, child of God.

You are loved.

And you are blessed.

Sometimes we only believe we are blessed when we FEEL blessed.

But God’s blessing on us is something we can KNOW.

I am not doing a sermon recap (although it was a very good one…so if you missed it this week FCC people, do take time to listen online)…but…

As we were led through the Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountaintop as recorded in Matthew 17, I recognized a familiar phrase that was voiced out of heaven…

“This is My beloved Son..in whom I am well pleased.”  Matthew 17:5

I knew I had just read that same phrase earlier in the week in the opening chapters of Matthew.

In fact I had written them down in my journal because in Matthew 3, just after Jesus came up out of the waters of baptism…Heaven opened and the Spirit rested on Him and a voice came out of nowhere earthly and said…

sure enough…

“This is My beloved Son…in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3: 17

And how wonderful does all of that sound?

This ONE…right here…belongs to Me..is My Son…loved deeply by Me…and who brings me great joy and pleasure and I am putting my seal of approval on Him.

Blessed, right?

And yet in both cases, what happens next would most assuredly not FEEL like a blessing in our human terms.

Because the verse after the baptism proclamation tells us that the same Spirit that descended like a sweet dove as music played and the clouds parted and God boomed out His love…

LED…

Directed the feet of this same beloved Son…

directly and purposefully into…

the wilderness…

for the express activity of ….

being tempted by…

THE…

Devil.

And after the Transfiguration experience, Jesus began sharing that the Spirit was leading His feet once again to a place where He would face this same adversary and that it would appear He lost this time.

I have to say that the trials and the chaos of facing temptation and the daily and intentional dying to myself and crucifying my flesh does not smack of a perk of being a beloved child of God.

But if Christ is my example; then I must accept that it is indeed, because I am blessed, that I suffer.

That laying down my life to take up His is, in fact, the blessing.

That temptations will come, perhaps disguised as guilty pleasures but quite often as seasons that are barren and dry and lonely and hard.

Times when I will not walk by what I see…what I feel…but by what I know.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.  John 1:12-13

You are beloved, little child of God…walk as though you are blessed…up and down the mountains…in and out of the valleys…you are loved <3

 

And in conclusion….

If you hung in there with me from Monday, I am so glad you came back…

here are the last points from the sermon…

(and if you just showed up, you will have to backtrack and read Monday and Tuesday’s posts…spoiler alert…it’s worth it)

We have been revisiting the sermon from First Christian Church on Matthew 16 on the Cross…

the “Crown Jewel” of Christianity.

 

How there are facets to the Cross that help explain it’s paramount significance to what we believe and how we live our lives as followers of Jesus.

So without further ado…we will look at the last of the eight facets (plus the bonus application of these) as presented by Pastor Brian last Sunday.

6. Justification: the act, process or state of being justified (made righteous) by God

We know that all of us, every human being,  have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Romans 3:23

But….

[Jesus} who was delivered up because of our offenses and was  raised for our justification  Romans 4:25

Romans 5:1 Therefore [we] having been justified BY FAITH (our belief in Him and acceptance of His gift of salvation, His death in our place) we now have peace (reconciliation and wholeness with God through our LORD Jesus Christ.

7. Redeemed: purchased back; liberated, free, rescued form the consequences and rule of sin

Luke 1:68 Bless is the LORD God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people.

Romans 3:23-24 …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

Titus 2:14 – Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

8. Gift righteousness: the Great Exchange

Jesus traded His Perfect Righteousness for our unrighteousness

2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God IN HIM.

We are instantly made righteous ( salvation) AND progressively made righteous (sanctification).

And this brings us to our response to the Cross which is

9. Christ Examplar –  Christ our Example

We follow Him by example, laying down our lives and living His teachings. We take up our Cross, which means we die to ourselves…our natural desires, our preferences, our wants, our rules, our ways…and we let His life be lived by example in our daily lives.

It is good to review this as a believe because it helps exhorts us to remember what He did for us and to refocus on how we want to live in response to that.

I can only think of one thing in conclusion and it happens to be the signature line on all my emails because it is the call to believers and unbelievers that the Cross of Jesus The Christ demands a response…

For the Word of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,

but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.      

1 Corinthians 1:18               <3

May God bless each of you as you let these truths sink deeper into your souls…may they guide our daily decisions as we walk this thing out on planet earth until He comes again to take us Home ….

 

 

Because it’s not good to hurry…part 2 of 3

So yesterday I said I would give you the last half summary of our Sunday sermon, but as I am studying back over my notes…there is just too much info. I try to keep these short so you all will keep coming back (insert smile).

Hope you don’t mind if we stretch this into three days…but it is really good stuff!

If you didn’t read yesterday’s post we are going over my notes from Pastor Brian Talty’s sermon from July 16th (firstdecatur.org/sermons) on Matthew 16 about the many facets of the Crown Jewel of Christianity – the Cross <3

I am adding some of my own reflections and some other material so I am putting my notes in Italic to protect Pastor Brian from anything I would add to his words that he may or may not agree with!!!

Today we pick up with #5….

Propitiation: the act of appeasing an offended party.

As Pastor Brian pointed out, the thing that makes God’s grace, mercy and love so special IS the TRUTH of His judgment, wrath and anger.

His anger is because of His protective love. 

He gave us examples of God’s Active Wrath in the Old Testament (Sodom and Gomorrah/fire and brimstone) and the New Testament (Ananias and Sapphira/lied about tithe and were instantly killed).

Then there is God’s Passive Wrath outlined in Romans 1: 18-32. 

I must tell you that this passage would be the reason you are not getting all four points today.

These verses bring me to my knees as I look around the spiraling mess of our culture. We surely have, in our prosperity in this land that we love, become a people who have worshipped the creation and not the Creator and we are reaping the harvest of death daily as a result.

God’s passive wrath in New Testament is when he hands you over to your evil desires to face the consequences of your choices. And we ALL deserve the wrath of God because of our natural tendency to go our own way.

AND YET through Christ’s propitiation – God’s wrath against our sin is absorbed by Jesus on the Cross. 

1 John 2:2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins and not only our sins but also for the whole world.

1 John 4:10 In this is love – not that we loved God – but that HE loved US and sent His Son to be the propitiation of our sins.

This is the only way because God is Holy, Just and Righteous.

As only God could do, I received a book for my birthday and have begun reading it and the passages I read yesterday speak so clearly into this very subject.

So I am going to stop here with my sermon notes and share from the pages of this book to help solidify the powerful truth of what Jesus did for us as giving Himself to appease the wrath of God against us.

In the book No God but One, author Nabeel Qureshi explores the paradox of the Absolute nature of God and how can He be both fully/completely just and fully/completely merciful?

He points out that a completely, perfect Just Judge would rule guilty on every infraction of the law, from the least to the greatest 100% of the time, just as a completely perfect Merciful Judge would forgive every infraction of the law, from the least to the greatest 100% of the time.

God is our perfect Father and He loves us with both mercy and justice.

In our offenses, He must extend justice (would we not want that as the victim??) and yet mercy (don’t we need that as the perpetrator??)

So how does God “draw the line”?

Listen to the words of this man, who has come to understand the gift of grace and transformation:

“Herein lies the genius and infinitude of the love of God: He does not draw the line. He offers mercy to everyone who has ever sinned while also demanding justice for every sin ever committed. He does this by offering to bear the consequences of our sins himself. The consequences of our sins is death, and God is willing to die on behalf of all of his children.”     page 41

This is what the Cross is.

This is what Jesus Christ, THE Messiah, has done for us.

For you.

For me.

For the sins of a whole world that has rebelled against the Loving God who created us.

I cannot add to such a profound thought.

It brings me to my knees.

May I encourage you today to examine your own heart in light of Romans 1: 18-32 and ask God to show you where you have worshipped creation instead of Him who created you?

Let the precious Blood of Jesus Christ wash away the shame and guilt of those transgressions as we turn our grateful hearts to Him.

“He loves us, and we are forgiven.

When we realize the depravity of our sins and the depths of our rebellion against God, it exceeds the minds capacity to grasp this grace. 

He engulfs us with his infinite love and absolute mercy, though we cannot earn it.

It is into that overwhelming flood of grace that our hearts release their poison.” Nabeel Qureshi, No God but One  page 46

 

Repetition aids retention <3

We listened to a great sermon yesterday and let me tell you, I had to just retype that intro because I first wrote that we heard a great sermon…but no..no..we LISTENED to a great sermon.

And there is a world of difference.

I am still chewing on it this morning and have decided to bless you with the Reader’s Digest version of it.

I encourage you to check out firstdecatur.org sermons sometime this week and listen to it yourself but here is Part 1 of the notes I took:

Pastor Brian Talty led us through a clear study of the different facets of The Cross and why THE CROSS is the main thing about Jesus being THE Messiah based on Peter acknowledging Him as “the Christ” in Matthew 16:13-18.

He pointed out that Peter got the “Sunday School” answer right when Jesus asked who the disciples thought He was…and how we often, in the Church, get that answer right as well…and yet like Peter, turn around and show that we have no clue what it means.

Messiah – Greek word for “anointed one”, so could be used generically for a king…but Jesus is THE MESSIAH.

He is God’s Anointed One who is the Only One who has earned the right to be both our Savior AND our LORD.

And it is all based on The Cross.

Pastor Brian then pointed out that it is paramount that we examine the Cross and what it means.

But the Cross is more than a symbol hanging over a pulpit or around a believer’s neck and so he broke it down into eight components.

1. Atonement: to cover; the quality of being at one or alike. Through the Cross, our human nature and sin have been covered over by the blood of Christ and we are seen as pure and holy.

Genesis 2:17 – but of the tree of knowledge of GOOD AND EVIL you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.

Death is the result/consequence of sin. It is what happens.

1 John 2:2 And He Himself is the COVERING for our sins, and not for ours only BUT ALSO for the WHOLE WORLD.

2. Substitution: the act of replacing one thing for another

Isaiah 53:5 But He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities; the punishment for our peace (reconciliation to God) was put on HIM and by HIs stripes we are healed (made whole, forgiven, restored, completed to our pre-sin state)

Galatians 3:13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law; having become a curse for us

3.Ransom: sum paid for the release of a prisoner

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 9:15 And for this reason (vv. 13-14 His sacrificial death is 100% effective for the cleansing of our sins, unlike that of any other sacrifice either we could make or that could be made for us ie. the animal sacrifices of the Old Covenant Law or our own attempts to cleanse ourselves of sin and unrighteousness) He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of His death, for the redemption of the transgressions/sins under the first covenant that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

4.Expiation: to be cleansed

Leviticus 16:30 For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD>

Zechariah 13:1 In that day (the day of Christ’s sacrifice for us and the sins of the world) a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleaness.

Jeremiah 33:8 I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned and by which they have transgressed against Me.

I will give you the last four tomorrow.

But please absorb this into your heart, mind, soul and spirit.

I hear people who do not or will not understand the Cross saying things that show their ignorance…

whether it is completely disregarding what God has called “sinful” and so hardened in their hearts that they are embracing and celebrating sinful choice.

Or…somehow believing that God is expecting them to work hard, harder and even harder still to wash away their own sin.

It is clearly NOT what God has said AT ALL.

I grew up in a mainline church and loved Jesus with all my heart.

But somehow the idea that permeated all the teachings and applications reinforced the lie that God was keeping a score card…and we just needed to do our very best to make sure that in the end we had more tally marks under the “Good” than the “Bad”.

Others I know were raised believing that because they are in church, they are destined to salvation and there you go. Done and done.

It is the mystery of the Gospel…the paradox that we can do NOTHING to cleanse our selves of sin except do the ONE THING…

receive His gift of salvation by accepting that we do sin and we are separated from our Holy God and there is One, only ONE who is able and who is worthy, who paid the price that we cannot pay…

Jesus Christ…THE Messiah…

To believe in our hearts and declare with our mouths…

Jesus Christ paid the price for my sin.

He took my place.

Died for me that I might live in Him.

God bless you as you apply the Word to your Monday <3

Along the way…

As I continue to use The Message for a journey through Psalms during Lent, I found this jewel in Psalm 69:9.

“I love you more than I can say. Because I’m madly in love with you, they blame me for everything they dislike about you.”

Packs a punch, doesn’t it?

Of course the “you” is God.

And the “they” is those who are convicted by the Light they see shining in those who love God and have chosen to walk with Him.

The psalmist, in acknowledging his deep love of God, recognizes that the animosity he encounters by others who DO NOT share this love of God is going to manifest as a personal attack on him.

We see it out there in the world but sometimes fail to comprehend it as the basis for some of the uncomfortable tension we encounter on a more personal level with those who share our bubble.

As I meditated on this concept today, I thought about how difficult it is to feel truly and intimately close to someone if I have to subtract my love for our LORD from that relationship equation.

I can be left feeling defensive, judgmental, critical, cold and even question if I am hypocritical…as in…”I love this person. I love God. God loves this person. Why do I feel this huge wall? Why can’t I express His love to them unconditionally?”

From there my mind rabbit-trailed to looking for an example and here is what I came up with.

It doesn’t fit perfectly because it is a picture based on humans, but here we go…

I love my husband AND I am in a covenant relationship with him.

In all my other relationships, that part of me, that is joined to him, is interwoven into the fabric and context.

If you were, for some reason at odds with him, it would affect our relationship because of the very nature of my love for Russ, expressed in the commitment he and I made to each other.

Any depth to the growth of relationship with someone who is at odds with my husband will be stunted at best and severed at worst.

And here is where my example will need a bit of expansion and fails to be a perfect comparison to what God laid on my heart about this passage.

While the verse helps me realize that my love for God can not be separated from who I am…

AND…

therefore, will just BE a factor in all my other relationships…

my covenant with God DOES include unconditional love for all people.

I would naturally take your rejection of my husband personally because, well, he’s my better half and to continue any depth of friendship would smack of betrayal to him.

But this is not how it works in relationships marked with tension because of my love for Jesus.

As we are studying the book of Matthew in our current sermon series, Jesus warned us we would encounter this kind of tension in relationships with non-believers.

His words encourage us to model God in how we respond to those who are not warm toward the God-loving part of who we are.

We are to love them and show grace and mercy to them because He has shown grace and mercy to us.

It isn’t easy but it helps to know that we are not dishonoring God when we extend His love to those who do not love Him back.

I believe as we begin to understand that the issue is not rejection of us but rejection of His Love in us, our hearts expand to see their resistance with God’s eyes.

He desires that none should perish.

So let’s brave a cold shoulder as we continue to extend wide open arms to all people in His Name.

The ability to love those who reject the thing that matters most to us is another Grace-gift from our loving Father.

If you are struggling in this tension in any of your close relationships, ask Him for His love to be poured through you.

I believe this is a prayer He delights to answer.
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