Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Seeking Righteousness

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them..........For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven...........But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be give to you as well" Matthew 5:17,20, 6:33
O - It seems harsh at first when Jesus tells us that our righteousness must surpass those who are our teachers and leaders spiritually. But as I reflected upon this, I realised that this this is true "life". When I allow my carnal nature to rule ( and sometimes I do), I know that it is always at a cost. I feel terrible later. I grieve that particular action, or thought or attitude, it always leads to a certain death of self that is not the surrender that Christ meant for us. Instead of my bad nature being "killed off", when I act unrighteously, I know instantly it is my "good" nature that is dying. This is not what I want. Jesus is right. And later on He tells us that that by seeking the things that He is concerned about gives us the life that we really need. These words are in the context of Chapter 5 & 6 of Matthew, which are words of life, which teach us about how to live life. The Sermon on the Mount are the greatest words ever uttered, in terms of instructions for living and Jesus gives us the standard he expects from these instructions. We need to "seek" righteousness constantly. And he has given us help to do this.
A - Last night, there were some actions I undertook which I knew were not pleasing to Jesus. This morning I repented , and undertook some actions which I knew were pleasing to Jesus. How different I felt! It really is true that when we seek the things He wants for our lives and his mission here on earth we benefit. How I want to keep living my life in more and more ways that will please Him.
P - Dear Jesus, Thank you so much for the amazing sermon you gave us to help us live life to the full in the way that you intend for us. Please help me to do this more and more in my life. I cannot do it on my own, but with your guidance, and your word to instruct me, and your free gift of forgiveness when I fail, it just might be possible. Help me to seek your kingdom first in my life.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Developing Spiritual Eyes

S - "Away from me Satan.....Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near"
Matthew 4:10,17

O - Jesus had fasted for forty days and forty nights. I have never fasted for this long (2 days has been my limit, or for a day over a longer period of weeks, in one case, for a year), but I understand people who have, have almost forsaken everything in order to give God the priority. I would understand that the spiritual life would become clearer, more tangible and the true reality when we have fasted for such a long time. It was in this context that Jesus met with satan. And satan uses his age old trick - he tempts Jesus (just like he did with Eve in the garden). He doesn't have to get physical with Jesus, or destroy Him, he merely goes for Jesus' pride. This is my biggest danger. Being unaware of motives and actions that really come from pride rather than from total surrender and obedience to God. But Jesus resists!. He resists by,

1. Clearly understanding the devil's ploy

2. Stating clearly for him to "Push Off!" Jesus knows our own hearts as well - when later on He takes up John the Baptist's cry and says, "Repent - for the kingdom of heaven is near". Here was the King of heaven, the King of glory, there before them - If only we had spiritual eyes to see, both the enemy - and his ways, and the King - and his victory and nearness in our lives.

A- I need to be more aware of how the enemy wants to "undo" me by appealing to my pride. I need to keep guarding my heart and see life with "spiritual eyes" and the pitfalls of the enemy, and possibilities of Jesus in my spiritual life - I need to see Jesus more!

P - Oh loving Lord Jesus. What an incredible model you are to us! Help me to develop spiritual eyes that cause me to understand the enemies ploys in my life, and in particular the way he appeals to my pride. Kill off the pride that entangles me and causes me to stumble, I pray. Help me to live more for you and to see only you, your majesty, your glory, your face. In your holy name I pray.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Keeping Humble

S "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance..."At that moment heaven was opened and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on Him, and a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased" Matthew 3:8, 16b-17

O It is such a contrast to see how the Pharisees approached John. They seem to need a caution from John perhaps their motives were not congruent with what they were allowing him to do - that is to be baptised for their sins. Previously in Matthew the scriptures said that "People were coming from everywhere". Perhaps they thought they had better do the same thing - but God judges the heart. It is the heart that is supreme.So John cautions them that it is the fruit of their repentance that needs to be demonstrated. In contrast, Jesus, who is God, allows John to baptise him and we see heaven open and it must have been a wondrous majestic sight and God is well pleased. Jesus' heart was right in humility and reverence. What a paradox - that God himself saw the need to humble himself in order to be God - and man saw no such need to humble himself because he thought he was God. Nothing has changed since The Fall.

A To watch my heart. To make sure I never get so proud that I don't need to be at the throne of mercy and grace daily. To watch that I don't start to believe that I am God , or that I start to live independently from Him, believing my status, my gifts, my skills, my talents etc are sufficient.

P Oh God, How I need you to stop me from falling into the same trap as the Pharisees. To believe that I am all sufficient. I desire to develop the fruits of repentance and not pride. To keep humble. I want you to be well pleased with me because of the state of my heart. Oh Jesus, I pray. Help me in this. Amen

Daily Readings - Matthew 2:13-3:17