Posts tagged ‘Matthew’

July 18, 2014

843 Acres: Your Work Is Not in Vain

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Jer 14 (txt | aud, 4:07 min)
Mt 28 (txt | aud, 2:37 min)

Commissioned: Jesus walked the way of suffering and then died on the cross. After he was killed, his body was prepared for burial and laid in a tomb. Three days later, when everyone was celebrating the Feast of First Fruits, Jesus was raised as the first fruits of our resurrection. [1] He then appeared to his disciples, saying, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” [2]

Meaningful: This “great commission” shows us that we are not merely forgiven in Christ; we are commissioned in him, too. We are the ones through whom Calvary’s victory is lived out in the world. Thus, when Paul writes of Jesus’s resurrection, he doesn’t say, “Christ is raised. Therefore, be assured that there is life after death”—even though that is true. Instead, he says, “Christ is raised. Therefore, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” [3] In other words, his resurrection propels us to live today.

Work: How does his resurrection connect with our work not being in vain? Wright explains, “In the Lord, your labor is not in vain. When God’s new world is finally revealed, what you have done to bring healing and hope, beauty and joy to your bit of the world will shine out as a glorious part of the rich tapestry of the new creation. And the wounds and scars which result from announcing Jesus’s lordship in a world where other lords guard their territory with tanks, bombs, and laws will be the sign that we have fought Jesus’s battles with Jesus’s weapons.”

Prayer: Lord, You call us to make disciples of all nations, living out the gospel in our lives. In Christ’s resurrection, we know that our work is not in vain. Therefore, we are your hands and feet to bring the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven, knowing that you are making our work into a glorious tapestry that will be unfurled at the end of this age. Give us, then, a vision of that future kingdom so that we might endure today. Amen.

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M’Cheyne Weekend Readings

Saturday, July 19: Jer 15 (txt | aud, 4:00 min) & Mk 1 (txt | aud, 5:08 min)
Sunday, July 20: Jer 16 (txt | aud, 3:49 min) & Mk 2 (txt | aud, 3:58 min)

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Footnotes

[1] 1 Corinthians 15:23 | [2] Matthew 28:16-20 | [3] See 1 Corinthians 15

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July 17, 2014

843 Acres TBT: The Fountain of Life Opened Up

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Jer 13 (txt | aud, 3:51 min)
Mt 27 (txt | aud, 8:22 min)

Matthew 27:46, 50

And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” … And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

John Flavel, The Fountain of Life Opened Up (1671)

How inflexible and severe is the justice of God! No abatement! No sparing mercy; no, not to his own Son? This creates a double impression on the heart.

(1) Just and deep indignation against sin; Oh cursed sin! It was you who used my dear Lord so; for your sake he underwent all of this. If your vileness had not been so great, his sufferings had not been so many. Cursed sin! You were the knife that stabbed him; you the sword that pierced him … When the believer considers and remembers that sin put Christ to all that shame and ignominy, and that he was wounded for our transgressions, he is filled with hatred of sin and cries out, “O sin, I will revenge the blood of Christ upon thee! Thou shalt never live a quiet hour in my heart.” And,

(2) It produces a humble adoration of the goodness and mercy of God, to exact satisfaction for our sins, by such bloody stripes … When that surpassing love breaks out in its glory upon the souls, how is the soul transported and ravished with it! Crying out, what manner of love is this! Here is a love large enough to go round the heavens, and the heaven of heavens! Who ever loved after this rate, to lay down his life for enemies! O love unutterable and inconceivable! How glorious is my love in his red garments! Sometimes the fruit of his death are there gloriously displayed; even his satisfaction for sin, and the purchase his blood made of the eternal inheritance: And this begets thankfulness and confidence in the soul, Christ is dead, and his death has satisfied for my sin. Christ is dead, therefore, my soul shall never die. Who shall separate me from the love of God?

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July 16, 2014

843 Acres: On the Life of the Mind, Desire

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Jer 12 (txt | aud, 2:56 min)
Mt 26 (txt | aud, 9:05 min)
Highlighted: Mt 26:36-46

Cup: When Jesus announced the kingdom of God, his followers imagined him as their triumphant ruler, and they talked about sitting on either side of his throne. But he himself knew that things weren’t going to be like that. Yes, the kingdom would come, but it would come through suffering, not subjugation.

Evil: In the garden, Jesus shrank from the cup of suffering: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” [1] N.T. Wright reflects, “If there was another way, Jesus would grasp it eagerly. Everything inside him recoiled from the cup that was held out to him. This is no heroic scene, with a brave martyr going fearlessly to his death … This was the place where the kingdom was to be battled over in tears and in the face of disloyalty. It was not just human adversaries Jesus was facing—soldiers, guards, even one of his own friends turned traitor. It was the concentration of all those unseen forces that opposed the kingdom of God because they knew it to be the powerful opponent of their own kingdom-dreams.” [2]

Battle: Today, we pray in the garden, struggling for the kingdom of God in our hearts. On our knees, we tell him what we want—world peace, healed bodies, hopes realized, tears dried. We do not hide these things from him. Yet we pray, “Not as I will, but as you will.” When what we want is different from what he wants, this is an extremely difficult prayer because the Enemy is real. We may want that expensive item, but it would leave no room for us to tithe. We may want to marry that person, but they do not trust in Christ. We do not hide our desires; we surrender them. We pray in the garden, “Not as I will, but as you will,” and then we obey in faith. We take him at his word, that his promises and plans are good.

Prayer: Lord, Thank you for Jesus’s prayer in the garden because it reminds us that “the real battle must be won on our knees in advance.” [3] Give us endurance to struggle in prayer, especially when we are afraid of what it means to obey. Help us to admit our desires, but—when they conflict with your will—to delight in your will over our desires. Amen.

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Book Recommendation: For a fantastic new book that is an extended reflection on desire, check out Teach Us to Want by Jen Pollock Michel. Book review by Bethany Jenkins at TGC: here.

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Footnotes

[1] Matthew 26:39 ESV | [2] N.T. Wright. The Way of the Lord: Christian Pilgrimage Today (pp. 89-90). Kindle Edition.  | [3] Id.

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July 15, 2014

843 Acres: What Matters Is the Life

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Jer 11 (txt | aud, 4:09 min)
Mt 25 (txt | aud, 5:16 min)

Life: One of the most ironic things about obituaries is how little they mention death. “The cause of death, of course, is always life,” writes Pete Hamill in his forward to The Obits. “We humans die, a fact to unremarkable that in these tightly rendered portraits of the recently dead, the technical reason for death is almost always covered in a single sentence. What matters is the life, and how it was lived.”

Righteous: In Matthew 25, Jesus says that, at the end of this age, when all of us have passed from this life to the next, he will separate the righteous and the unrighteous. Who will be the righteous? By illustration, he says that the righteous will be those who have invested, not hoarded, their resources [1] and those who have fed the hungry, given drink to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked, and visited the sick and the prisoner. [2] In other words, what matters is the life, and how it was lived.

Actions: Christian faith is more than cognitive belief that the person of Jesus exists. [3] It is a deep and abiding trust that clings to and relies upon Jesus as Lord. Believers are those who treasure God and seek to live out his word. For the point of hearing the word is not simply to know it, but to do it. As James writes, “Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Or as Martin Luther says, “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.” Saving and justifying faith is accompanied by actions—that is, “a faith working through love.” [4]

Prayer: Lord, Thank you for not just saying that you are love, but for coming in person to show us that you are. We praise you for giving us an understanding that, even though all of us will die (unless you tarry), this life matters. May we be people who incarnate Christ to others by investing our resources, feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, and visiting the sick and the prisoner. Make us doers of the word, not hearers only. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Matthew 25:23 ESV | [2] Matthew 25:33-36 | [3] For “even the demons believe—and shudder.” James 2:19 ESV | [4] See Gal. 5:6 ESV

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July 14, 2014

843 Acres: Friends Are a Means of Grace

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Jer 10 (txt | aud, 4:08 min)
Mt 24 (txt | aud, 6:00 min)

Friends: What kind of friends do you have? “When faced with a thyroid biopsy or an exasperatingly interminable divorce,” writes Edward Hoagland in The American Scholar, “it’s essential to have friends to call upon to squawk: Do you know what’s happened? And we triage them or triangulate them accordingly into good-news guys, bad-news guys, and others whose experiences somehow parallel ours. Intimates can be like money in the bank or names to drop, tipsters or bosom buddies of the sort you spout off to as a test audience before making a fool of yourself in front of a less charitable crowd.” [1]

Tested: In the last days, however, Jesus warns us that our friendships will be severely tested. That many will fall away, betray one another, and hate one another. That false prophets will come in his name and lead many astray. That we will hear of wars and rumors of wars. That we will be delivered up to tribulation, put to death, and hated by all nations for the sake of his name. Then he says, “And because lawlessness will increase, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” [2]

Fellowship: How can we fight for a white-hot love for Christ that will endure to the end? The writer of Hebrews tells us to consider how to stir one another to love and good works, to meet together regularly, and to encourage one another “all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” [3] The purpose of every group of Christian friends, therefore, is to keep one another’s love for Christ warm.

Prayer: Lord, Too often we ask the question, “What kind of friends do we have?” without ever asking, “What kind of friends can we be?” Forgive us for being bad friends, for approaching our friendships with too much levity and selfishness. In these last days, teach us to stir one another to love and good works, to meet together regularly, and to encourage one another. Give us a passion for helping our friends keep their love for you warm. For you have ordained that community, the church, is the means of grace by which we may endure to the end. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Edward Hoagland. “On Friendship.” The American Scholar. Winter 2013. | [2]Matthew 24:12-14 ESV | [3] Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV

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