29.5 BSF Matthew Week 29, Day 5

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

“And they lived happily ever after. The End.”  Lot’s of great stories and tales end with those words.  But not this one.

Matthew kept things very simple and faithful.  Keep in mind, he was primarily speaking to an audience of Israelites, the descendents of Abraham, who had been marinating in the words and activities of the Law and the Prophets for centuries.  But, Jesus’ resurrection changes everything!

It doesn’t invalidate all of what they have known and practiced, it fulfills it.  They have been on a journey to the promised land their entire existence and the resurrection parted the river to give them (and us) entry.  Not a promise that is tied to a piece of land, but a promise that is tied to eternal life. But there is work to be done.

So, then, once someone commits their life to Christ, once they are saved from the penalty of sin=death, why don’t they just immediately go to heaven?  Think about it for a second, if our life is about us and our own salvation and eternity, then, why doesn’t it end and we go to heaven the moment when we believe?

The answer is that our life is NOT about us and our own salvation.  Our life is about Jesus and His glory.  Matthew, quoting Jesus, is brief but clear about what we are supposed to be doing.

1. ALL authority belongs to Jesus.  Heaven and Earth.  ALL.  There is no one to appeal to.  There is no second choice.  He is simply in charge.  Period.  He commands, we follow.

2. Go.  It doesn’t say plan to go, or think about going.  It also doesn’t say when you go to another country.  It simply says “go”.  We all “go” every day.

3. Make Disciples.  Not just converts, but disciples.  Jesus’ disciples where those who followed him and continued to learn and grow and understand and praise Him.

4. Of all nations.  Not just some, not ones that look and think like me, but all nations, all people.

5. Baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Cleanse them of their sins and burdens, their iniquities are forgiven through the Trinity (not just one part, but all 3, equal, God).

6. Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  Engaging and teaching in word, in action, in daily life, is a critical component of the commission.  “Everything” is emphasized as well.  We aren’t just to teach the easy stuff, the non-confrontational stuff – but everything Jesus has commanded.  Don’t dumb it down or water it down, just teach what it says.

7. I am with you always.

There can sometimes be a tension in Christianity about “works.”  Do we do works to earn something?  Are we required to do certain works or obligations?  But it does not need to be so complicated.  If you love someone and they have authority – you obey.  It is that simple.  In these last verses of Matthew we are given our marching orders – we must obey them.

So let me close our study of the book of Matthew by asking these application questions:

1. Where are you going today and what are you going to make there?  You are probably going somewhere today, the question is what are you going to make there? (right answer: disciples)

2. What if instead of just going to church we actually became the church and took it with us everywhere we went?

3. What is holding you back from obeying the one with ALL authority?  Is it fear? Lack of knowledge? Power?  Do you feel uncomfortable? Shy? Self-Doubting? Are you ashamed of the gospel?  Whatever it is, that is holding you back – He is with you and He can handle it because He is God.  Feel the fire burning in your heart and let It shine!

4. How is your life, your daily walk, the things you do, think, and say, the decisions you make and where you spend your time – how are those things teaching others about being obedient to all that Jesus has commanded you?

So, let’s not complicate it – it really is simple:
Go, Make, Teach, Obey, and be with the One who loves you and will be with you always, no matter what, to the very end of the age.

Amen

My Answers:

11.
The right and power to give commands and require obedience

12.
a.
Go and make disciples – I will be with you

b.
All: All authority, all nations, Father/Son/Holy Spirit, obey everything, with you always (to the very end of the age)

c.
baptize them and teach them to obey everything He has commanded

d.
teaching the truth of His word.  Modeling

e.
He has the right and power, both heaven and earth – he will be with me always

13.
Rom: even while sinners he died to reconcile me to him – saved now through his life
2Cor: give over to death of myself to allow His life to work through me
Gal: I no longer live, Christ lives in me – he gave himself for me
Phil: I want to know Christ, power of resurrection, participate in suffering, become like him in his death
Col: Set my focus on things above.  I died and now my life is hidden in Christ-I will appear again w/him

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29.4 BSF Matthew Week 29, Day 4

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

What is your line in the sand?

Let’s start by looking at Matthew 27:41-43, “41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”

The chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders are the ones speaking in these verses.  In their words they communicate their “burden of proof”, their line in the sand.  “let him come down from the cross and WE WILL BELIEVE IN HIM.”

So now, on Sunday morning, the sunrise after passover, these same chief priests, teachers and elders receive unbiased third party  testimony that Jesus has, in fact, just crossed their line in the sand.  He has met their request and come down from the cross.  So, they believe, right?

I think this is important for us, as we talk with others, to keep in mind.  Accepting Christ and believing in Him is not about “proof”, it is about accepting the gift.  The proof is there, but how often do people today continue to draw one line after another in their own hearts.  I would believe if..  But like the leaders of that time, those conditional statements, those promises of belief, are just lies.  They aren’t lines to be crossed, they are walls built up to keep the truth out.

If you want proof, it is amply abundant.  There is no other way of explaining why, 2000 years later, millions accept this as fact other than the truth that it is.  Jesus walked this earth, suffered, died, and rose again.  What more proof could there possibly be?

If you want joy and salvation and eternity and peace and love, it is even simpler than that.  Let the walls you’ve built up crumble down and accept the gift of the sacrifice that Jesus has made.  The price is paid in full because God so loved you.

My Answers:

9.
a.
M28:9 spoke, 9 they clasped His feet, presented himself, Acts 1:3 gave many convincing proofs, appeared over 40 days, A1:4 Ate with them , 1 C15:5 appeared to 12, 6 500 more most still alive

b.
It is the pivotal point of Christianity.  If Christ isn’t risen, then He did not fulfill scripture, He is not in Heaven, He is not coming

10.
John: lay down life of own accord, only to take it up.  “I have authority”
Acts2: Not abandoned to realm of death – body decay
Acts17:given proof of appointed judge by raising him from the dead
1Cor:the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, mortal with immortal, defeat death
Eph1:hope, riches of glory, power – to raise from the dead
1Ths: don’t grieve the dead – God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him
Heb: High priest in heaven – intercessor to God on our behalf, one time sacrifice
1Pete: new birth into living hope through resurrection – never perish, spoil or fade

 

29.3 BSF Matthew Week 29, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

The message I took from today was to really listen to my heart and let it speak to me and others.  Luke 24:32 says, “They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?””

I have been working on changing my language and thinking to better reflect this.  In the past, I would experience something and think and comment, “wow, that was cool” or “wasn’t that amazing?” or on the other side of the coin “man, this is too difficult for me to do” or “I don’t think I can do this on my own.”  But now, I’m trying more and more to get my thoughts and my words aligned with what my heart is telling me, which is simply, “this is God’s work.”

The more I do it, the more I realize just how many times throughout the week my “heart burns”.  When you watch for it and acknowledge and praise Him, God opens your eyes more and more to see fire he has placed in your heart.  That fire is called the Holy Spirit and it lives and burns in all believers, but, so often we hide it under a basket instead of letting it shine and fill the whole room and our whole lives with Light.

Give it a try.  The next time you find yourself in one of those moments of wonderment, don’t hide it simply say – “That’s God!”

My Answers:

6.
A grave robber would not have taken the time to fold and place the linens and cloth from his head.  Gone or strewn, not left

7.
a.
Despite the shock and concern and lack of understanding, as soon as He spoke her name she knew Him and grabbed Him

b.
Seeing the pure love and passion of the children as they devour God’s word.  Seeing them on fire with joy when I get out of the way and let the Holy Spirit flow.  The amazing readership and comments from this blog.

8.
a.
Answering prayers about finances and college decisions

b.
In prayer, in study, in teaching, in daily walk

29.2 BSF Matthew Week 29, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

When I was growing up I would take trips with my Grandmother to visit her relatives that still lived in the farming community where she grew up.  One of the people we would always stop and visit with was Aunt Lea.  Aunt Lea would often start a story by asking my grandmother if she remembered a certain person from far back in the years.  “You know, Red,” the story would start.  “He lived down the tracks from Mary Jo.  Mary Jo had the brother who drove the red pickup.  He was the one who was injured in the war.”  On and on it would go, stretching into several minutes of tracing between houses and neighborhoods and years and events until my grandmother would finally say, “oh, sure, I remember Red.  What about him.”  To which, Aunt Lea would always reply, “him died.”  And that was the end of the story.

Except for the story of Jesus.  This is the pivotal event of Christianity:  That Jesus Christ, of His own divine power, without outside intervention, raised back to life after 3 days dead.  Without the resurrection, there is no risen Lord, there is no ascent into Heaven, there is no authority, there is no judgment day.  There is only life that ends in death.  Death wins.  But the power of the resurrection changes everything.  In science, a theory needs only be proven false once for it to be forever invalid.  Death was believed to be the end.  Death is not the end, therefore, there is more.

That more is the glory that we get to experience for all eternity.  This is the story we must tell because it is the truth.  Holding to a theory after it has been proven false is foolishness. “YOLO and then you die” is not the whole story, because, death is not the end.

I loved the last question about “how would you answer…”.  I think the best approach is to simply ask what they believe about the resurrection and on what facts do they base their belief.  There are only 2 paths: either you believe it did happen or you believe it did not.  Either path requires basis of fact to support the belief and “doubt” is not a basis of fact.

My Answers

3.
a.
3rd day – Sunday

b.
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary

c.
A violent earthquake, an angel came from heaven, the angel rolled the stone away, the guards were shocked like dead

4.
a.
They had just had a conversation with angels, things were not as they were expecting them to be

b.
clasped his feet and worshiped him

c.
“Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

d.
He provides peace.  I can rely on His strength and power

5.
a.
friends: afraid yet filled with joy, ran to tell others, clasped Jesus and worshiped him
guards:shook became like dead, reported to chief priests, took bribe to lie and save self
leaders: colluded to bribe guards and deceive jews and roman leaders
people: did not understand, were confused, accepted the lie

b.
He appeared to many.  If they were inventing a story, they would make themselves heroes not slow-witted group who didn’t understand  and were rebuked for lack of faith and stubbornness

28.5 BSF Matthew Week 28, Day 5

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

5 days earlier, when Jesus entered and was chastised for the crowds calling out His glory He said, if they stayed quiet the rocks would cry out.  When he died, they did.

The curtain was torn, top to bottom, from heaven to earth.  Direct access to God was again restored.  No longer do we need to go through an intermediary to sacrifice animals.  Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient.

But do we treat it that way?  No.  We continue to act like we need to “do our part.”  We “earn our way” into heaven.  This is such an insult to Jesus.  When we believe that our good works have some part in our salvation, we diminish the sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice.  If we have a part, His part was not good enough.

This past week, the former New York Mayor Bloomberg, was quoted as saying, “I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close,”  It is not my place to judge, but by my reading of scriptures that attitude would be such a blatant insult to Jesus. 

The price is paid in full.  The only wise response is to accept the gift and live a life in appreciation of His sacrifice and love.

Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, Mary, Martha, all understood this.  That is why they were willing to give up their ability to participate in the required festival of Passover to care for the body of Jesus Christ.  It was not a sacrifice to give up a tradition that was now only a foreshadowing of the real sacrifice of the Son of God.

P.S.  some may wonder about my answer that Shirley was present at the crucifixion.  I am basing this on the statement of the Centurion when he turned and said, “Shirley, he was the Son of God.”  <grin>

My Answers:

9.
a.
High priest, once per year

b.
blood, the way into the holy place had not yet been disclosed, gifts and sacrifices were not sufficient

c.
The path to God became open, Man could again approach God in communion with the Holy Spirit

10.
a.
Revelation – Nature spoke to Jesus’ majesty, the very rocks cried out

b.
Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James and Joseph, Mother of Zebedee’s sons, apostles, disciples, Shirley

11.
a.
Ability to participate in passover, His own tomb, place on the council, wrath of fellow jews

b.
Prophecy fulfillment, remnant who loved Him – did not speak up before, but now did

c.
wanted guard posted for Him rising on the 3rd day.  They understood it better than apostles

28.4 BSF Matthew Week 28, Day 4

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

There are only three possibilities.

1. Psalm was rewritten to match Jesus’ time at the cross
2. Jesus’ time on the cross was changed to match prophecy
3. These things actually happened and the prophecy fulfilled

Let’s investigate:

1. Psalm 22 was written somewhere between 700 and 1000 years prior.  It was published and existed in numerous places.
2. The gospels were published during a time that many eye witnesses were still alive.  If the account did not match the facts there would have been widespread uproar and there would not have been such growth of the early church.
3. As Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote, “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”

The fact that Jesus life and death follows point by point the prophecy is not just coincidence, it is a foreshadowing, a real prophecy.  The odds of someone fulfilling every prophecy, other than by divine structure, is unfathomable.  Not only that, but we see that Jesus must have known everything that was going to happen.  Not only by divine revelation, but also because it was in writing.

But what about the resurrection?  Psalm 22 ends before the climax of the story.  But, the numbering of the Psalms came later.  If you read Psalm 22-24 in order you see the death, the walk through the valley of the shadow of death and then, “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?  Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart.”

My Answers:

7.
1.my God… words Jesus spoke on the cross
1-6. scorned by everyone, despised by the people, cry out but you do not answer
7-9. all who see mock me, hurl insults, let the Lord rescue him
12-13. bulls surround, roaring lions open their mouths against me
14. I am poured out like water and all my bones are out of joint, heart melted wax
15. mouth dried up like a potsherd
16. dogs/villains pierce my hands and feet
17. all my bones are on display, people stare and gloat over me
18. divide my clothes and cast lots for my garment
19-21. but you, Lord, are not far, you are my strength, come quickly to help me

8.
a.
line by line direct prophecy

b.
Not only lived, but lived exactly the life foretold, there has not been and cannot be another

28.3 BSF Matthew Week 28, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

How do you approach difficult situations?  I asked myself this as we studied our lesson this week.  I tend to shy away, to hide, to pull back.  Given a painful procedure, I am first in line for anesthesia or anything else to numb the pain.

But our Lord’s approach was different.  He knew exactly what would happen, but did not shy away.  He entered it naked, boldly, without anything to numb the pain.  He had come to this planet to suffer and die.  This was his mission, his purpose for taking on human flesh.

Adam and Eve had hid and clothed themselves out of shame when they committed original sin.  Jesus now, for all humanity of all time, shed that hiding and clothing to take the full shame for our sin.  None of it did He deserve, since He was without sin, but all of it he did and took on to fully pay the price for us.

Through Moses, God’s chosen people were instructed to take hyssop branches and paint the blood of the perfect lamb across the door.  With God’s only son, the perfect lamb of God, hanging on the cross, we took hyssop branches and dipped them in bitterness and painted it across the lips of our Messiah.  We had nothing to offer and what we did offer was of no value and actually caused pain.

My Answers:

5.
Fulfillment of prophecy.  He did not choose to be drugged, he kept his senses and chose when to release his life.  He took the bitter drink of the cup.  The wine turned to vinegar.  He had prophesied at the last supper would not again until entered the kingdom – that was this point.

6.
a.
soldiers cast lots for them (not torn)

b.
Adam & Even clothed themselves out of shame.  Jesus returned to original state of being to remove original sin.  He took on our shame that we tried to hide.  He had no need to clothes because he would soon be clothed in robes of righteousness