Thursday, June 6, 2013

Lessons for Disciples from the Book of Matthew

As I have been writing each week through the gospels, I have made it a pretty typical pattern - one week for one chapter. But, as I read through Matthew 5, I realized how much the next 2 chapters in this book tie into what Jesus was saying in this chapter. Therefore, I knew I needed to hold off and wait to get the bigger picture before I put pen to paper. And, I am so glad that I did hold off, because in doing so I feel like the full lesson before me is what I really needed to write about.

I guess what really stuck me a couple weeks ago that started this thought process is when I read the following verse:

And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated, His disciples same to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying...” Matthew 5: 1-2

Maybe that doesn't say a lot to you, but with the following commentary on those particular verses I had to stop: “This verse implies that Jesus left the multitude. Evidently He went away from the crowds so that He could instruct the disciples...” and then “...As He taught the disciples, the crowds came to where He was.” (quote from the Nelson Study Bible) What came to mind, and thus made me stop, was that the teaching to follow in chapters 5 through 7 in Matthew were really meant for Jesus' hard core followers, not the crowd. I also read in another place that what is covered in these chapters was probably a series of lessons Jesus taught His disciples over and over again, not just once as it is written in a few of the gospels. This too made a lot of sense to me since I know I hardly ever learn anything very well the first time I am told them. Rather, time and repetition are the key to making a lesson really stick in my life (a lesson I have also learned well in home schooling my children and getting facts stay with them long term).

I know for those of you who have read these chapters through many times over the years, you may tend go though these verses as you skim them, saying “Yep, know that one...yep, that one too...oh, yes...” and so it goes. So, for that reason, I decided to encapsulate each lesson. My hope was to put these verses in a new light and be helpful with my personal application of them. Also, it makes a good list to just keep before me as I realize these were some of the most important things Jesus wanted His disciples to know and remember as they continued to follow Him.

So, here is the list:

You are blessed, therefore be joyful.
You are salt, therefore choose to flavor enhance the situations you are put into.
You are light, therefore shine God's light into this dark world.
You are living in revelation of God's completed plan, therefore forgive, be thankful, live in faith, give freely, love without concern.
Your right relationship with the Lord is of much more importance than religious observations, therefore do only those things that please Him and He asks of you.
Your faith is secure in God, therefore trust Him in all things.
You have access to God, therefore do what you need to keep that path open on your end, keep the conversation going, stay on the path, and work out your faith so that YOU may be perfected.

These lessons, when put into action in your life, are a secure foundation on which to build your faith.

Therefore, whoever hears these saying of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock; and the rain descended, the floods same, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.” Matthew 7: 24-25

Wouldn't you agree that if we all lived with these principals as our consistent foundation that we could weather anything that came our way? Jesus knew this fact to be true because it was the way He lived and it is to be a life that we constantly strive for, with His help. I hope this post was as much of an encouragement for you to read as it was for me to realize, and then write. When those sinking sands of life seem to creep under my foundation because I have not been diligent to live in the full truth that Jesus has given, I realize now I need to be quick to do what is necessary to stay secure and strong in Jesus and how He wants me to live so I am not taken off guard when, not if, the next storm blows through.

Thank You Jesus for always being there to help me get back on my feet and keep living for You!

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