A Command – An Invitation

“As he walked along, he saw a tax collector, Matthew, son of Alphaeus, also called Levi, sitting at a place where people pay taxes. ‘Follow me,’ Jesus said” (Eyewitness Matthew 9:10).

Eyewitness: p. 56
In Your Bible: Matthew 9:9,10

Command

The word “command” implies to direct, instruct, give an order, or imposition of a task, duty, or responsibility. Jesus speaks to us as well as The Twelve he started with. He speaks to mankind with a command – he doesn’t need to plead. He’s gentle, meek, yet God all powerful and incarnate. Why do we balk and take so long to grasp this?

Many who encountered Jesus became followers. The first Twelve got hands-on training and teaching, saw miracles, and observed people receive God’s compassion.

God did this in the Old Testament times – He commanded the creation process (Genesis 1:1-31). But he did not live among them and teach them daily face to face. He used Abraham, Isaac, Joshua, and King David to list a few. God taught his Law, statutes, and expectations on how to live, do good and confront evil.

Living for God – Kingdom Living – is a theme Jesus dwells on throughout the Gospels. We may claim we cannot understand it. But more often we just don’t want to exchange our culture – what we’re doing – for Kingdom Living. It takes time for the concept to sink into our spirit and allow our thinking to be spiritually focused/Bible focused.

Jesus Dining With Matthew


Jesus told the Pharisees and teachers of the Law truth but they didn’t understand it. When they saw Jesus eat with Matthew and outcasts, they were sure he made a mistake. They observed his teaching and living, they knew he was a righteous man. They asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such people?” (Eyewitness Matthew 9:11).

Even though what the Pharisees and teachers said wasn’t spoken to him, Jesus heard it. He replied to them, go learn what the prophet [Hosea] said, “I wanted to show you love, not make sacrifices–to know God, not make burnt offerings.” He goes on to say, “I have not come to invite repentance to those who think they are righteous. I have come for those who know they are sinners” (Hosea 6:6).

Jesus speaks to everyone, but when minds are closed, only the heart can be reached – through the Spirit of God. The searing truth remains, God’s love can overcome any barrier.

Application: We must understand our culture is not an excuse to sin. As followers of Jesus we must reach for the Kingdom of God in righteous living – Kingdom Living. Yes, you belong to Jesus……Live for him.

Prayer: Father, thank you for providing a way to remove my sin, stay close to you by your love through Jesus – then begin Kingdom Lifestyle. I want to obey and follow you.

The Baptism of Jesus

“This is what should be done,” Jesus said. “We must do all that God requires of us” (Eyewitness Matthew 3:15).

Eyewitness: p. 33
In Your Bible: Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-23a

The record of John the Baptist’s ministry is very brief. The account of Jesus baptism is shorter! John the Baptist’s message, a call for repentance directly addressed what to do about our sin problem. Look closely at what John the Baptist preached. He and Jesus both emphasized Kingdom lifestyle and righteous living.

OXYGEN VOLUME 13John the Baptist knew Jesus was from God. When Jesus stepped into the water and came to him, John objected and said, ” I should be baptized by you. Why are you coming to me?” “This is what should be done, Jesus said, We must do all that God requires of us” (Eyewitness Matthew 3:14,15).

John the Baptist brought the revelation that repentance and baptism were critical to being a Jew and serving God. Prior to that a Jew did not need baptism. Notably, they did baptize and circumcise proselytes who came to Judaism from other faiths. Baptism was for sinners, the Jews were the Sons of Abraham. A dilemma. Why should a Jew be baptized?

WHY DID JESUS NEED TO BE BAPTIZED?

Was it because Jesus was in the form of a man or born of a woman? Or because Jesus identified with mankind’s need for repentance? Or was it to grasp John’s baptism (for repentance) is part of God’s work – physically and spiritually cleansing of man’s body, soul, and spirit? Jesus said it should be done. Something to ponder. Do all God requires.

The voice of God is of supreme importance when Jesus comes out of the water at his baptism. God said, “You are my Son, whom I love. I am well pleased with you” (Eyewitness Luke 3:22). The first statement is from Psalm 2:7 which is a verse every Jew knew as the description of the Messiah. The second statement is from Isaiah 42:1, a description of the Suffering Servant, and culminates in Isaiah 53. God affirmed Jesus!

ADDED INSIGHT FROM LUKE’S ACCOUNT

* Jesus came for baptism after everyone else had been baptized that day (only in Luke).
* John baptizes Jesus.
* Jesus prays (only in Luke).
* Heaven opens up and the Holy Spirit descends as a dove.
* Then God speaks and affirms Jesus as His Son.

In the baptism of Jesus these certainties are revealed:
* Jesus was indeed the Chosen One of God.
* The way in front of Jesus was the way of the Cross.
* The King’s throne must first be a Cross.

After this momentous occasion, Jesus began his public ministry, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and in continuous in communication with his Father. He made many disciples, taught additional hundreds who flocked to hear him, healed all kinds of diseases, raised the dead, cast out demons, and showed the Father’s love for man. What a beginning after being ministered to by John the Baptist.

Application: Jesus said it succinctly, “We must do all that God requires of us” Our task – don’t balk when God says to do something and don’t be discouraged in doing good. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Learn of Him.

Prayer: Father, help me to keep asking you, learning from you, and seeing what you want me to do. I praise you God.

Photo courtesy of Dunatos777 via flikr

What About Salt and Light?

YOU ARE HERE TO BE THE SALT-SEASONING THAT BRINGS GOD-FLAVORS TO THIS EARTH…  Matt 5:13 THE MESSAGE

THE MESSAGE: Matthew 5:13-16
In Your Bible: Matthew 5:13-16

Have you wondered, “Why am I here?” We’ve all thought that in times of questioning, loneliness, trouble, or despair. It’s not a new question!

In the first part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks to the disciples and the crowd. He’s just completed lessons on how to act to be blessed by God. Then he continues with profound directives on how to live with a purpose, using salt and light as vivid examples.

Salt

Salt

WHY ARE YOU HERE?

Jesus speaks right to this question, “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors to this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?” (THE MESSAGE Matthew 5:13)

He says we should live our lives so people can taste and see godliness in mankind. Wow, Jesus wants believers to be examples, not one flavor but many. Diversity is encouraged but the focus remains a God lifestyle….Kingdom lifestyle….serving God’s purpose.

Diversity of Light

Diversity of Light

ILLUMINATE–EVERYWHERE

Jesus encourages believers to live out their devotion to God. You are that illuminating light. Let your light shine everywhere you go, that you may illumine creation, so men and women everywhere may see your good actions, may see creation at its fullest, may see your devotion to Me, and may turn and praise your Father in heaven because of it. Matthew 5:16  (The Voice Bible version)

Here is a short list of how to let your light shine:
* Be morally excellent
* Be generous
* Be hospitable
* Do honor and praise the Father
* Don’t keep God a secret

People watch believers–actions speak louder than words.

Application: This is why we are here. Jesus showed us through his compelling words, actions, and compassion that we have a purpose on earth. Be generous with your life, resources, and time. Jesus was.

Prayer: Father, I want to show people who you are……you are not a secret. Let your love shine through me for others to see and then seek you.

Photo-Salt courtesy of Carlos Porto FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Photo-Light Bulb courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net