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Thursday, December 10, 2009

More Controversy & Bad Attitudes

Unfortunately, the "shine" is starting to wear off this new study for me. I was gangbusters when I first started doing it. I could tell an immediate difference in how I felt and in how I reacted to my kids and my husband, but now that it's been over a week, the stresses of everyday are taking their toll. My goal to be more supportive of Joe's ridiculous schedule is waning since he had to leave this morning at 8AM and has no clue when he'll be back tonight. I know it'll be a good 12 hours that I will be solely responsible for these kids and meeting their every need. It's exhausting.

But, this is when I will really grow-when I'm pushed outside my comfort zone and have to make it past where I usually stop.

So.....here we go on to Matthew 9. I'm ready for some truths that will speak to my weary heart today.

In chapter 9, Jesus is met by some men who bring a friend of theirs to see Him. Their friend is a paralytic and they can't get him to Jesus by the regular route because the crowd is too big. So, what do they do? They climb up on the roof, carrying their friend (I think he was probably terrified) and dig a hole in the roof to lower their friend down to Jesus. Jesus saw how badly they were trying to reach Him and He was moved.

**I hope I have friends who would lower me down to Jesus to be healed. They went to a lot of trouble to make sure he got healed. They must have reallly cared about him. I wonder if he went willingly, excited at the idea of being healed or if he was dragged against his will?**

So, Jesus heals him. He tells him that his sins are forgiven and he can pick up his mat and go home. There are teachers of the law in the crowd and they think Jesus is blasphemeing. Jesus asks them which is easier, to say that the man's sins are forgiven or that he is healed? He says that He said "your sins are forgiven" because He wanted to make it clear that the Son of Man had authority to heal on earth. The people in the crowd were amazed, of course. I imagine the teachers of the law were pretty ticked. Not only did Jesus call them out for upholding a law they felt was valid, but He did it in front of all the people they were supposed to have authority over. It was probably embarrassing and only fueled their resentment of Jesus.

I think it was probably so hard for them to believe that Jesus was who He said He was. They watched Him grow up from a little boy to a man. They knew He was Joseph and Mary's son, a carpenter, etc. The Bible says that Jesus was an average man-nothing outwardly special about Him, so imagine that after 30+ years, NOW they are being shown up by Him in their "territory." I don't know why-but I can see a little scene where all the teachers of the law meet together before going to see Jesus teach. Maybe they stand in a circle with their hands in the center; cheering one another on saying, "This is OUR House!" Kind of like how athletes do before a big game at home...only to have their hides handed to them time after time and their own laws and words used against them. Bet that tasted bad in their mouths...

After Jesus heals the paralytic, He travels off to find Matthew. Matthew was a tax collector. People hated tax collectors because they worked for the hated Roman government. Tax collectors were also allowed to set their own rates, which means they usually ended up robbing the people blind. To put it simply, they were usually dishonest and unethical. Jesus walked up to Matthew and said, "Follow Me." And Matthew
did! That means, Matthew chose to follow a nomad with no possessions or home and leave his job where he most likely made a really nice living. Even though there was nothing 'special' about Jesus' looks, there MUST have been something special about his personality...

Jesus went to Matthew's house to have dinner. The Bible says, "...many tax collectors and 'sinners' came and ate with Him and His disciples."(verse 10) Love it! Even Matthew used 'quotations" to make a point here. Aren't we all sinners? The term used for thses people most likely came from those on the outside looking down their noses at Jesus for eating with that motley crew. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples (why not just ask Jesus, Himself?) "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" I love that Jesus answers them directly by saying, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means:'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (verses 12-13).

I think we do this a lot as a church. The whole "preaching to the choir" thing. We take to heart the verse that says "bad company corrupts good character" (1 Corinthinans 15:33), which we should, but we take it out of context and stay only with "our kind" so that we will not be sullied. I think there's a difference between hanging out for the purpose of having a good time and allowing others' warped views to take over God's in our lives and sharing the gospel with those who need to hear it. What good does it do to share the gospel only with those who have already accepted it? The church would never grow. Eventually, we would become extinct. Eventually, Christianity would stop being...maybe that's what is happening to us as a nation right now. Diversity is so embraced now in the mainstream, and Christians are looked at as biggoted and small-minded that most are afraid to share their faith for fear of being labeled. Gosh, see the previous posts I made. Looks like I am pointing in a mirror with that last comment. Seems kind of like a vicious circle...Christianity is looked down upon and those who profess the faith are becoming quieter and quiter that pretty soon, no one will be sharing the gospel, so, consequently, there are less Christians to share the faith, and with less Christains to share the faith, the mainstream thinking will take precedent. And there we are back at Christianity being looked down upon...See the problem?

It's going to take some pretty bold people to stand up and profess the faith. If we "all" say we want prayer back in schools and "In God We Trust" on our money and the 10 commandments outside the Supreme Court, why???? Most of America doesn't even hold to the Bible anymore. We are so afraid of offending someone else that we don't even think about how we are offending God. We barely give a second thought to how we are offending the man who actually gave His life for us.

Forgive me if I am spewing venom today...It's a frustrating morning...just all caught up in how hypocritical we are as a nation and as followers. That includes myself. I'm doing this study to honor God and learn about Him so I can become a better Christian, a better wife, a better mom and a better human being, but all the while, I am yelling at my kids, getting frustrated and feeling so irritable. Probably not the heart of thanksgiving I should have when I come before God.

This chapter has taken a lot of time. I think I'll break it up into two days. I don't want War & Peace on here...Tomorrow I will pick up with verse 14 and finish out chapter 9. Hopefully I will be in my right mind by then, but no promises...
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