gospel challenge

Something About Jesus: random notes on Matthew 13-21

On December 1, I began a challenge to read through the gospels in 30 days.  Along with a few other good friends, it has been a great journey through the life and teachings of Jesus. My hope was to include reflections along the way and offer a place for those taking the challenge to post their reflections as well.

Due to the weekend, I read a lot and posted little. So here are just a few random reflections on I had from chapter 13-21 of Matthew.

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CHAPTER 13 13:20-21 - I don't want to be without deep roots so my faith may last longer...this soil speaks of those who fall away or walk away from faith as soon as there are problems or questions. This seems to define too many college and young adults without deep enough roots to last 13:33 - Do we permeate our world like yeast? Or are we clumped up? 13:38 - THE GOSPEL IS NOT THE SEED! WE ARE THE SEED!

CHAPTER 14 14:15-16 - How often we want Jesus to just do something instead of us actually acting on things we are not only capable of, but called to do.

CHAPTER 15 15:18 - How much of my worship do I offer with my lips but not my heart? 15:15-19 - the heart, the HEART, THE HEART

CHAPTER 16 16:4 - A wicked and adulterous generation looks for miraculous signs - in the age of the "new atheism", we are a generation...a culture...a mindset not only looking for miraculous signs but demanding them 16:13-15 - Who do YOU say I am? - some say a lunatic, some say just a good man, some say only a great teacher, some say a prophet...but who do YOU say I am?

CHAPTER 17 17:17 - How long shall I stay with you? - Jesus knows he has to leave and die, but I wonder if he wonders at this moment, "Is this a good idea; leaving my Father's message and mission in the hands of these people?"

CHAPTER 18 18:7 - Things that cause people to sin - this shows us that bad things do happen in this world, and people have the choice to do horrible and bad things. These things will happen, and it is no good for the one who makes those things happen...but it is not God or Jesus who makes them happen 18:10-14 - I must not be a shepherd, because I would "count my losses" in this situation. If I leave the 99 for 1, I leave 99 at risk for that 1. This has to do with the difference between how I see the world and how God sees the world. I see it as good vs bad and he sees it as lost vs found. If I could change my perspective of the world, perhaps that 1 would be worth the risk of the 99 18:21-35 - ANY TIME I DECIDE TO LOOK DOWN ON ANYONE FOR ANY REASON (especially for not following Jesus), it is a clear indication that I have forgotten the depth of my own failure. I have forgotten how amazingly good God is

CHAPTER 19 19:16 - I noticed the rich young ruler wanted to know "what good thing" he needed to do to get eternal life...so familiar to those of us today who just want to be good enough or do enough good to get into a perfect heaven with a perfect God 19:17 - and Jesus is quick to show him he certainly is NOT going to be good enough to get eternal life...only God is truly good enough 19:18-19 - so Jesus shows him ways to be good, and the rich young ruler thinks he can accomplish these things UNTIL Jesus sets the hook in verse 21 19:21 - a good reminder that no you are NOT "good enough" 19:25 - The disciples ask the right question: "then who CAN be saved" if nobody can be "good enough" ANSWER: 19:26 - With man, impossible! With God, always possible!

CHAPTER 20 20:10-12 - Christians always think they are entitled 20:15-16 - How arrogant we are! 20:31 - WHEN THE WORLD DROWNS OUT OUR CRIES for Jesus, we have a choice. Will we just give up...OR...will we shout all the louder?

CHAPTER 21 21:9 - HOSANNA = "Save us" 21:44 - I want to be broken to pieces as I fall on the solid Rock of Christ, but I hope not to be crushed UNDER the weight of that Rock.

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LISTENING TO: Sidewalk Prophets (self-titled album)

Something about Jesus: Matthew 7-9

My original intent was to blog every other day through the Gospels, but today was so rich I had to write. CHAPTER 7 7:5 - First take the log out SO YOU CAN SEE CLEARLY to remove the speck

7:15-20 - So a false teacher could NOT produce fruit...yet we like to attack people who are doing great ministry leading people to Jesus and discipleship, and we call them false prophets

7:24-27 - Storms come to ALL of us, but the question is, "What is your foundation?" And its good to answer that question before the storm comes.

CHAPTER 8 8:4 - Only a priest could determine a person's reintegration into the religious community. Jesus knew that and wanted this man to be reintegrated

8:20 - Homeless Jesus! Where is THAT Christmas card? Where is THAT Christian imagery?

8:23 - The disciples followed him. What kept any members of the crowd from following him? What kept a mass of people from trying to be one of those on the boat with Jesus whom they were all following and listening intently to?

8:29 - I'm always stricken by the fact demons know Jesus so well! I think, possibly, demons KNOW Jesus better than a lot of Christians.

CHAPTER 9 9:2 - Amazing that FAITH is trusting hope in what we cannot SEE and yet Jesus can SEE our FAITH and perceive our thoughts (9:4)

9:4 - Why do you THINK evil in your HEARTS? - I wonder why we've so easily disconnected our brains from our hearts

9:11 - "Why does your teacher eat with...sinners?" I wish people would ask that about me, but alas, I'm often too afraid to eat there. I'm a pastor, for cryin' out loud! Think of the implications!

9:14-15 - Jesus' ministry provides what fasting seeks: communion with God's presence, forgiveness, salvation, guidance

9:18-26 - FAITH says, "If God...then it WILL happen." I am not so sure I have much faith in light of todays reading.

9:35-38 - It seems if it's not one thing its the next for Jesus in these few verses and these three chapters. Jesus is just going, going, going. Sometimes even while he's talking, someone comes to him in need. He is teaching, proclaiming, curing, and healing. He is curing EVERY disease and EVERY sickness.

When it would seem burnout is impending, you read verse 36.

"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them BECAUSE they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."

Basically he realizes the outrageous amount of hurt, disease and NEED in the human condition.

Then verse 37-38

"The harvest is plentiful" = there are A LOT of hurting people everywhere...always

"But the laborers are few" = but nobody else is meeting them in that hurt and need

"Therefore ask the Lord to send laborers" = ASK the Lord in faith and prayer that he would send people to serve the harassed, helpless, and hurting

BEWARE: Don't think you can pray for laborers in order to skirt your responsibility to BE a laborer

Something about Jesus: Matt. 1-6

Reading through the Gospels in 30 days. If you still want in on it, we are only 2 days in. Thats only 6 chapters to read today to catch up. 3 chapters a day, 4 Gospels, 30 days

* I got this idea from a friend of mine, Justin Wallace, who has done this challenge before and is currently doing it again with us.

I am including my quick reflections here on my blog. Please feel free to include your reflections here as comments for others to read.

CHAPTER 1 1:1-17 - It is always striking how many women are included in Jesus' lineage, but whats more, it is interesting to note that there are whores and other "questionable" characters  in that line

1:23 - This is why the Christmas story is so vital and crazy and wonderful. "...and they shall call him Emmanuel, which means God with us." Just take a second and reflect on how HUGE that is! GOD....WITH US!!  Here...in flesh...WITH US.

2:3 - The NRSV says that "Herod was frightened and all Jerusalem with him". I knew that Herod gets uber-pissed later, but I never caught that, at first, he was frightened...and so was all Jerusalem

3:2; 4:17 - The Kingdom HAS COME near. We misunderstand this verse gravely when we state that the Kingdom is near or that it is coming near...this is very clearly a past tense statement of a present reality...the Kingdom HAS COME...it is here...going on right now

3:8 - "bear fruit worthy of repentance" (NRSV) - what does that mean do you think?

5:6 - "If you HUNGER and THIRST for righteousness...you will be FILLED" - Could I really define my heart with a HUNGER and a THIRST?

5:11 - "Blessed are you who are persecuted...ON MY ACCOUNT" - NOT because you're an ass

- How would 5:19 compare and come alongside "the least of these"?

5:42 - "Give to EVERYONE...do not refuse ANYONE." - Another instance when Jesus is clearly stark where we like to be muddy and faint...I'm sorry; I mean where...I...like to be muddy and faint.

5:47 - "What more are you doing than others?" - A haunting question I am slow to answer today.

6:2-6, 16,18 - "They will receive their reward...you will receive your reward." They will receive the reward they wanted which was attention, but if we do as Jesus has called us, we will receive our reward as well. The question here is, "What reward do you seek?"

6:11 - "give us this day our DAILY BREAD" - this is to say, give us what we need and not beyond that. We do not seek to hoard and consume more than we actually need.

6:21 - "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be" - At Christmas time, I wonder how much we have connected LOVE to what sort of gift I get/give.

6:33 - If you choose NOT to worry, Jesus gives you an action plan.

WHAT ARE YOUR REFLECTIONS ON Matthew 1-6

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LISTENING TO: "Light" by Matisyahu

Something About Jesus: I heard this was good

Studies show that more and more people know less and less about the Bible. Less and less people read Scripture regularly enough to form even an elementary sense of what the Bible contains. Each generation knows less than the one before it, and that is unnecessary. What is more, there are less and less people who have a true and accurate understanding of who Jesus Christ is.

I do not want to be a part of that group.

So I am embarking on a challenge to read through the gospels in 1 month. Would you take the challenge with me and defy the growing statistics of people with little understanding of Scripture and our Jesus?

BEGIN TODAY, DECEMBER 1

3 Chapters, 4 Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), 30 days

Check in here for my reflections and please leave your reflections as comments.

Challenge others to engage with us!

Who's in?