Archives For Matthew

We all worship something. It’s how we were created. Whether we realize it or not, we are worshippers. The only question is what, or who, is it we are worshipping? Saying we worship something or someone other than God is an uncomfortable admission. We don’t want to believe we worship unworthy objects.

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Many people and things will demand our worship, but only God is worthy of it. In fact, he demands we worship only Him. This goes all the way back to the Ten Commandments. Somehow, thousands of years later, we still haven’t been able to honor what He requires.

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I’ve been attending church almost my entire life. Being a preacher’s kid will do that to you. Don’t get me wrong, I believe the local church has played, and will continue to play, a critical role in the advancement of the gospel. Still, I’ve become increasingly frustrated with the direction the modern Western Church seems to be heading. Maybe it’s me. Perhaps I’m just on a rant. But it seems the church (and I realize I’m painting with an incredibly broad stroke here) has fallen into a formulaic approach devoid of passion and urgency.

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Our mission is to take the message of Jesus into all the world (Matthew 28:18-20), but we seem determined instead to preach a gospel of self-improvement and feel-good adherence to a script Jesus never embraced.

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Are you available to be used by God? Before you answer, understand when God looks for an available person, He is looking for 100% availability.  Being half-committed isn’t committed at all. God is constantly seeking those who have left everything behind, taken up their cross, and declared their availability for the sake of the Kingdom.

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It’s easy to say we’re available for His service. It’s much harder to actually live an available life. A disciple of Jesus is available for anything at any time. Disciples don’t weigh the cost or try to see all the angles before answering the call. They simply proclaim their availability, and move the moment they are called.

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I’ll admit it. I’m desperate. Contrary to what you may be thinking, I think it’s a good thing. While desperation usually carries a somewhat negative connotation, I believe it’s a necessity for would-be disciples of Jesus. Until we come to the point where Jesus is the only thing of value to us, I question whether we are full-fledged disciples of His.

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Desperation may in fact be the key to living a life that looks like Jesus. Chances are, if we aren’t desperate for Him, we’re probably desperate for something or someone other than Him.

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Why do we sin? Perhaps if we could understand why we sin, we could begin to limit how often we do it. My experience has shown me all sin can be traced back to either selfishness or pride. We want what we want and we want it now. We want what we want regardless of whether it is pleasing to God or beneficial to our spiritual walk. What’s going on here is indicative of both selfishness and pride.

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We determine our personal desires are more important than God’s plans for us. This is the height of arrogance and pride. In essence, we are telling God we know better than He does. Our selfishness causes us to focus on ourselves instead of on God.

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Who is it you want to be? More importantly, who is it God wants you to be? If the answers to both questions are not aligned, you are setting yourself up for a life of frustration and emptiness. No matter how far you advance on your dream of becoming who you want to be, if it isn’t the person God wants you to be, there will always be a gnawing hole inside. There will be an ache none of your success can fill.

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We were designed and created to serve and love God, to live in relationship with Him. Our thoughts were meant to be as His thoughts, our actions and motivations the same as His. Until we reconcile who God wants us to be, we will never become who we truly desire to be.

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I’ve been told I look like Jesus dozens of times in my life. At face value, it’s something every Christ follower wants to hear. In my case, it tends to be because I happen to bear some physical resemble to some of the more famous paintings of Jesus. While hearing someone tell me I look like Jesus never gets old, what I truly long for is someone to tell me I look like Jesus based on how I live, not on how I look.

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Every time someone tells me this it makes me stop and ponder if the way I am living my life is worthy of such a comment. It’s a question we would all do well to ask ourselves. Physical characteristics aside, do you look like Jesus?

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One of my favorite Bible verses is James 1:27, which says, “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” As religions go, this list of requirements seems extraordinarily short. Yet there’s so much to discover in this little verse.

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Jesus didn’t come to instill a new religious order on earth. Rather, He came to establish a way of life. All Jesus wanted, and still wants, is for people to seek God with all their hearts (Matthew 6:33). Everything else falls into place once we get that part down. Why then does James call out requirements for religion God will accept, a true religion?

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Much of our lives are spent chasing the myth of security. We seek to live in safe neighborhoods, work in good parts of town, and save to achieve financial security. So much time is spent pursuing the myth of security we rarely have time to think about living dangerously. Unless and until we are ready to sacrifice our own comfort and security, we will never be able to take the light of Jesus into the darkest places on earth.

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If we won’t shine the light within us, who then will go and rescue the hopeless, the desperate, and the lost? Instead of pursuing the myth of security, we should be bounding headlong into the certainty of risk and danger.

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Most Christ-followers are familiar with the Biblical command to tithe the first ten percent of their income. We can debate the various nuances of the tithe – and we will in an upcoming post – but today I want to discuss giving beyond the tithe. Some struggle with the concept of even giving ten percent back to God, so talking about giving even more may be uncomfortable.

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If you are in that camp, please don’t tune out yet. These articles aren’t long, and I believe it will be worth five minutes of your time to take away something to chew on. Giving beyond the tithe isn’t mandated in Scripture, but there are enough examples to make it something we should consider.

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