Love your neighbors

What does it mean to abolish obstacles? As we read in Matthew 19:16-22, we are confronted by our Lord who tells us that sometimes stuff can get in our way. It is at this time a rich young man comes to Jesus and asks what good deeds he must do to have eternal life. We’ve all wondered if we were doing enough, right? This young man calls Christ Jesus teacher, thinking Jesus is just a good human teacher. He is asking how he can become good enough to earn salvation. Jesus replies there is only One who is good Matthew 19:17b~And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? (ESV) This may have been Jesus’ way of making the rich young man verbalize who he thinks Jesus is. Does he recognize the source of salvation? Christ Jesus is not denying His own deity, but because this man views Jesus as just a good teacher. He explains no mere human is good. Psalm 14:3~All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. (NIV) 

You are not good, and neither am I. Matthew 19:17~And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” (ESV) The Pharisees had added much more than God intended to Ole Mo’s commands, making them too cumbersome. Therefore, the man asks in  Matthew 19:18-19a~He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother…(ESV) To sum it up, Jesus adds from Leviticus 19:18~Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. (NIV) What does it mean for us to love our neighbor as yourself?

Loving our neighbor as ourselves is found eight times in scripture. Not just once or even twice, but eight times. Guess God wanted to make it a point in our living. Loving your neighbor as yourself is so important to God that He makes it a command. Jesus coupled the command to love your neighbor as yourself with loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. James calls it the royal law. (James 2:8) It sounds beautiful, and it is when we obey it. But loving your neighbor as yourself is not always easy. That’s why God made it a command. He knew that we would struggle with it. Thus, making it a command is actually to our benefit. 

You are probably asking right now, Pastor how can that be? Making us love our neighbors as a command means that we have to do it on purpose, thereby being intentional about how we love and care for others. Sometimes we even do it out of our own need. Who in your life is a neighbor in need of love today? Why not take the time to let them know that they are not alone by helping them. And also be certain to pray with them, which will be another great way fo showing the love of Jesus.

Let the kids come…

As we grow in the Lord our faith is to mature also. While at the same time never letting go of the wide-eyed wonder of a faith that is childlike. So, how do we mature and show childlike faith? (Matthew 19:13-15) In Jesus’ day, it was customary for Jewish parents to bring their children to rabbis for blessings. Therefore, some brought their kids to Jesus in Matthew 19:13~Then children (παιδίον paidion) were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people. (ESV) The word (παιδίον paidion) or children gives us the word pediatrics and pediatrician. It refers to infants and small children. How many of you brought your children before the Lord to be blessed, dedicated or christened? The parents recognize the power and authority of Jesus and bring their kids to be prayed over. But the disciples rebuke the people—that doesn’t work for our Lord. Matthew 19:14~but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (ESV) 

This is great news for us, it means we can come, even though we do not completely understand the Bible or God before we are saved. Anyone and everyone who comes to Jesus with childlike faith can enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 19:15~And he laid his hands on them and went away. (ESV) It is important to notice that though Jesus is on a schedule, the timing already set, bound for Jerusalem where He will be arrested and crucified and yet He takes time. I understand what it is to have a schedule, but our emphasis in this life is to be on ministry. Heaven is not limited to adults, so our emphasis shouldn’t be either. To find your place in eternity we must all show childlike faith. 

Today, in an effort to stir up our most holy faith, take time to pray and ask God how you can take a simple step of faith. Just sit quietly as you reflect and listen to what He has to say. Then when you hear, respond. It may be a phone call, email, or text. He may ask you to write a card and mail it to someone, or the Lord may ask you to say something to a person along your day. Whatever it is, take the childlike step and do what the Lord asks and watch as your faith grows.

Your Place In Eternity

Eternity, by definition it means infinite or without end. For some, it is a very long time, as they think it can still be measured or understood in some possible human way. For others, eternity is to live an eternal life where we are to be with God as Jesus Christ is with Him, and not just ourselves but with each other whom Christ has redeemed. Eternity is where we live in the essence of time as God intended and not simply a progression of years added like candles to a cake in an ever-increasing fire hazard that needs its own permit for burning. The word of God is very clear, just as Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3, we must be born twice if we are to only die once. 

The gift of eternal life comes to those who confess and believe in Jesus (Romans 10:9), who is Himself the resurrection and the life, written in John 11:25~Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die. (NIV) The fact that this life is eternal indicates that it is perpetual life given to those who place their faith in Jesus, and it goes on and on and on, with no end. This week, we want to discuss our place in eternity. As Matthew 19 opens, Jesus teaches us about marriage, divorce, and singleness. He shares that none is better than another, rather we are to live up to the Biblical standards taught in scripture, saying that each is a gift. As we turn our attention to the incidents in the second half of chapter 19, we are provided with an opportunity where Jesus reveals for us, the reader, three requirements for obtaining eternal life. 

Life everlasting is a gift given to us by Jesus who takes our sin to the cross, dying in our stead. Instead of passing over this quickly, I want you to take time today to reflect on your salvation. Ask the Lord to reveal anything that might hinder your growing faith. Confess whatever He shares, placing it under the blood of Jesus, then ask Him to cleanse you from any or all unrighteousness. Make sure to pause and listen with intentionality. He may say something about a relationship or even something you said or may have done. What is crucial is that you respond. After you respond, thank Him for all He has done in your life. If you have time, make some notes on how it is that you came to know the Lord as you prepare to share what the Lord has done in your life.