Category Archives: Matthew

The Contender

pt testHebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us …”

Here is an allusion to the Olympic races. The contenders were often greatly animated by the consideration that the eyes of the principal men of their country were fixed upon them; and by this, they were induced to make the most extraordinary exertions.

In the military, we are equally watched but officers and NCOs over us, subordinates under us and a vast array of “cloud of witnesses” we are aware or unaware watching and listening to the things we do and say.

Do you know what you are running for and your motivation? Are you running for medals or ribbons. Don’t get m wrong, medals and ribbons are good things. They show that you can and will be recognized for doing above and beyond workmanship.

Paul tells Timothy about a different award he should run for, “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8

We should run the race God called us to run, whatever it is and do our best at it but always remember that justice, integrity, righteousness and honor are values more important than medals and ribbons. Godly right living trumps everything in the life a game of Righteousness, Awards, Advancement (Rock Paper, Scissors game in real life). As those who ran in the Olympic races, throw aside every thing that might impede you in your race.

As you cross the finish line, these are the words you want to hear, “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” Matthew 25:23.

Difficult Situation

In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus said: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

I found this today while reading a devotional from Kay Arthur with Precepts For Life and thought it was worth posting today.

Stress is everywhere! And it shows. It shows in our bodies, in our relationships, including our relationship with God.

Time is a commodity you wish you could buy, and if you could, you would use it simply to buy peace, quiet, leisure — to do some things you long to do and not have to do them in such a rush. Just having time to think and to have the right atmosphere for thinking would be nice, wouldn’t it?

There will always be tension to life. But it needs to be a healthy, creative tension, not life-sapping stress. Marriages, families, and personal lives are falling apart as stressed-out people run away, withdraw, explode, crash, burn out and eventually find themselves so very much alone.

I believe a major cause for our stress is that we react rather than act. We’re all moving so quickly that we don’t stop and consider our future. What will it demand of us? What will it cost? Are we willing to pay the price?

We simply move. We react to the immediate.

stressIs that you today? I know it’s an area where I really do battle. I want to do everything. I have so many ideas and I love the excitement and challenge of a new venture, the potential, the “project.” So I react in the moment. I say yes when I should say no, forgetting that my time is already allotted to other things. We react in a response of the flesh instead of acting under the Holy Spirit’s control.

You see, God knows what each one of us is dealing with. He knows our pressures. He knows our conflicts. And He has made provision for each and every one of them. And that provision is Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit, indwelling us and empowering us to respond rightly.

This liberating response is wrapped up in a single word, and if you grasp the meaning of it and put it into action in your life through the Lord’s grace and power, you’ll know how to walk with the Spirit in complete control, and not one single stressful situation or circumstance in your life will be beyond your ability to handle.

The word is meekness! Meekness is the key to acting rather than reacting when disappointments come. Meekness carries the idea of humility and submission and of bringing yourself low. God is at work to build meekness into our innermost beings. And the way He works meekness in our hearts is through disappointments and trials.

Meekness is born in stress, in trials, in affliction in conflict, in difficulties. Meekness is born in situations that humble you. This meekness that God so highly values in your life will show itself, prove itself, in oppression and pressure and disappointment. It was true for God’s people Israel, and it’s true for you and me.

Let me ask you, when do you run to God the most? When do you pray the most? Isn’t it when you’re hurting the most? When you’re disappointed, stressed, pressured, you fall back in dependence upon the Lord instead of upon yourself.

Are you going through a difficult situation, a trial? Does this stressful time seem more than you can bear? Whatever the situation, whatever the stress, it is designed to make you, not to destroy you. It has been permitted by God to mold you into the image of His Son rather than disfigure you for life. God doesn’t test us to see if we’ll fail, but to show us how strong we are. He wants us to score a hundred on the exam!

No matter what happens to us, God has totally and completely and absolutely equipped and prepared us for it.

So we’re not to fight these afflictions we encounter, the trials and disappointments, these oppressions, these humbling situations. God is in perfect control of them, and in His perfect design He’s permitted them to teach us to act rather than react. We’re in training.

Faith

“Wait for the LORD; be strong and courageous. Wait for the LORD” Psalm 27:14. “Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him” Hebrews 11:6.

candle 1What’s the longest you’ve had to wait for something? I imagine almost everyone has a memory of Christmas Eve as a child; squeezing your eyes shut, trying with all your might to go to sleep on Christmas Eve. For those of you with orthodox parents, you knew that even opening one present before Christmas morning was akin to high heresy. And so you counted sheep and waited.

Waiting is still difficult. We expect everything to be at our fingertips the moment we have the desire for it. It’s a world we’re growing into and it’s addicting. We live in a world of downloads, high-speed email, on demand, and Hot Pockets. Yet God finds ways of making us wait. Waiting and faith go hand-in-hand.

  • We wait for the baby we’ve dreamed we’d hold in our arms.
  • Some wait for a prodigal to come to the end of himself and return home.
  • Many of us are waiting for the phone to ring so we can return to a job with a normal salary and benefits.
  • Others are waiting for a spiritual breakthrough that will open our eyes. Waiting is the embodiment of faith.

In Hebrews 11:13 we are reminded that faith involves trust in God’s promise even if the promises of God are fulfilled long after we’re gone. The writer says, “These all died in faith without having received the promises, but they saw them from a distance …”

Advent is about faith and waiting. What are you waiting on God for this year? Remember the years of silence as God’s people waited for the Messiah. Take time today, right now, to reflect on the fact that God’s timing is quite different from ours. The story of Jesus birth gives us assurance and joy because even though the waiting lingered for decades, God broke through at just the right time.

Are you struggling with a lack of faith? That’s OK. It doesn’t take much faith to get God’s attention. Jesus encouraged his frustrated followers this way: “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” Matthew 17:20.

Most of us try to grow a forest in one day. Jesus, however, invites you to begin with a tiny seed. Watch it grow and wait for it to become all that you dreamed it would be.

  • An entire nation waited centuries before their eternal king appeared.
  • Mary wasn’t given a full-grown son.
  • The Wise Men from the east didn’t see the Messiah to appear at their front door.

Are you willing to plant faith and wait upon God? Nothing seems to be appearing on the horizon today, but just wait! God always keeps his promises, even to those who have little faith. Just wait.

 

*** Matt Tullos is pastor of Bluegrass Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee

Transformational Leadership

Practically every day of your life you are exerting some form of influence over someone else.

Army-ROTC

The Army defines leadership as influencing people by providing purpose, direction and motivation — while operating to accomplish the mission and improving the organization. Leaders are dealers in hope.

It’s true. We don’t even realize it most of the time. What’s worse, we don’t stop to consider whether that influence is good or bad. Our words, our actions, our reactions — almost everything we do is evaluated, processed internalized by those around us. It’s a tremendous power we don’t even realize we have.

In the military, we’ve not only considered that power, we’ve studied it and now we even teach others about it. As a leader you need to take hold of your influence and learn to use it for the glory of God. As the scripture says:

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” Matthew 5:13

Let us become transformational leaders who seek to be a positive example for others to emulate and imitate.

Servant Leadership

“Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave.” Matthew 20:26-27

servant-leadershipGod’s Kingdom operates by a different set of standards. Greatness is not found in position. Greatness is not found in the exercise of power. Greatness is not found in being served. Greatness is not found in commanding others. Greatness is not found in wealth. Greatness is not found in intellect. In God’s Kingdom, greatness is found in serving. If you are going to become greatest, you are going to serve other. It’s that simple. But in case we forget, God wants to remind us that the path of obedience, the path to greatness, the path of glory is found in serving others while we serve God.

Risen Today

The Resurrection
Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.  And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

Stand In The River

Joshua 3:8 “And as for you, command the priests who bear the Ark of the Covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’”

Joshua and all the Israelites were standing in front of the Jordan River. They were about to experience one of God’s miracles. From their story we can learn how Christians make God’s miracles happen.
The Israelites have to act; they have to go into the river first. I am sure they feared walking into a rushing river. They may have begun to doubt and think, ‘Will this river be cut off? Maybe we should wait until the river is cut off before stepping in!’ But God said to them that no matter what go to the river and stand in it first! That takes a true act of faith!

Many times we want verification before we try to something we are afraid of. We want to step into the river after it is cut off. We want to see first, and then believe. But God said to the believers, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
We have to act first. Often, we are unsure whether or not to step into the river, because we do not trust that God will cut it off as He said. But, we need to rely on our faith and go and stand in the flowing river. God will cut off the river, and we will cross it on dry ground. We will praise God on the dry ground!

A Bit Of Faith Goes A Long Way

Do you ever think along the lines of “If I could just get that new job I would be able to buy a better house, car or whatever?”
This is human nature. There is nothing wrong with having ambitions to better ourselves.
Matthew 9:22 “Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.”
This woman knew what her “If I could only…” was. It was if she could only touch the cloak of Jesus she would be healed. Nothing fancy. Nothing grand. Just a knowledge that faith in Jesus Christ would make her well again.
Do you have a “If I could only…” in relation to Christ? Mine is “If I could only study the Bible better and more indepth then I would be in a better place to teach others so that God’s Kingdom would be furthered.
If you have not considered this then take a few moments to think how your service or worship would be better “if only I….”

The Ultimate Question

Philippians 2:9-11 “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
When Jesus spoke to His disciples about His impending death and resurrection, it was lost in translation. They didn’t seem to get it. The problem was they had visions of grandeur. They envisioned Jesus establishing His earthly kingdom where they would rule and reign with Him, where everyone would live happily ever after. That is why, after the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus made them get into a boat and leave. The people had wanted to take Jesus and make him king by force.
Jesus was about to reveal something to His disciples they had not understood up to this point, and it was simply this: He would die on a cross. There would be a crucifixion. There would be a resurrection. There would be a Second Coming. And then His kingdom would be established.
So Jesus posed a very important question to them: Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13). This question is still being posed to us today, and it is the most important question anyone ever will respond to.
They are really only four options, four responses to that great question Christ posed. Either Jesus was a legend, a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord. We know that He was not a legend, because there is more than enough historical evidence to clearly confirm that Jesus Christ lived and died at a marked point in time. Others will say that He was lying about everything He said, while still others would say that He was stark raving mad.
But we have to respond to this question Jesus posed. And ultimately everyone, everywhere will say that Jesus Christ is Lord. Christians, skeptics, agnostics, atheists, everyone—regardless of their religion—eventually will say that Jesus Christ is Lord when they stand before God.
Jesus posed an important question to His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” What is your response to this same-asked question of you?