#blessed

To be Blessed by God, we must learn how to get right and remain right. As we meet Messiah today, battalions of poor, desirous, and necessitous parishioners have stockpiled their great needs and longings brought from far and wide. Matthew 4:25~And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan. (ESV) They have come because Jesus Christ is performing many miracles. Ergo Our Lord, reading the circulating opportunity before Him, ascends a mountainside near Capernaum in Galilee (5:1). Although this mountain is really more of a large hill, history has dubbed the site Mount of Beatitudes.

There, devoid of muscular Marshalls, the warm tubes of Mesa Boogies, Lapels or Lavalieres, all yet to be invented, Messiah rocked the House of Faith using the hillside as a natural amphitheater. With people staking their claims in this divinely appointed moment, they posted themselves upon the slope without seat-backs or tray tables. Christ Jesus’s voice billowed, cascaded down the hillside like a waterfall, refreshing those dried and wearied journeyers of life and faith. On the mount, a sermon afoot, by a seated man. Matthew 5:2~And he opened his mouth and taught them:

Traditionally rabbis sat down to teach and stood to preach. Nehemiah 8:4~Ezra the teacher of the Law stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion. Beside him on his right and on his left…(NIV) (“I give respect to the various Bishops and their various ministry postings, to the angel of the house and to our only Living Lord Jesus, and now that protocol has been established…”) Nehemiah 8:5~Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. (NIV) In our pericope, we discover Being Blessed by God involves being right with God and staying right.

This week we are going to look at some requirements Jesus shares and the process of living in His purpose. Today take some time to follow Jesus in prayer. Pray for yourself, family, community, leaders, the unreached people groups, and the persecuted church. Let’s unite our prayers to God.



#follow

Jesus Christ’s one true desire is for all humanity is to Repent, it’s the heart of the Gospel. Repentance, turning from a life of selfishness and sin to a life devoted to God. Jesus’ message is still the same today. Our Lord calls to us just as he did Simon and Andrew in Matthew 4:19~And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (ESV) Are not you glad our Lord knows how to speak our language? He will walk a little further and call another set of brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee. The call of Jesus Christ is an invitation to follow, and change our lives forever. If we desire to be a spiritual success, one of the most important terms to we must understand is follow. In Jesus’ day, disciples would literally and physically follow their teachers, to learn from them and imitate them. 

Today, we follow Jesus through Discipleship: Bible study, small groups, and community worship. The word discipleship can be summed up in one word: follow. As Jesus walks along the shore He calls to Simon and Andrew who leave their nets and follow Him. Up the shoreline of life Jesus calls to James and John who immediately follow Jesus leaving the boat and their father behind (4:21-22). Has Jesus called you? I bet He has, Jesus calls each disciple to help Him in proclaiming the Gospel of the kingdom, and they must follow. To prove He is the Messiah, He heals people w/all kinds of disease and sickness, and news about Him spreads throughout the land. 

Most are not following Jesus for the words of life He shares or the relationship He offers, rather, like many today, they’re coming to receive a miracle He is performing in their lives. They trust Him to heal but are not ready to follow Him for life. The most important word in the Christian vocabulary is follow. Hebrews 11:4 says Able follows for a better sacrifice. Noah faithfully follows God’s instructions and receives life in the time of the flood. Elijah, a widow and her son follow God and live during a famine. Jesus chose 12 to follow Him, 11 give their lives for the cause of Christ. 

What I want for us to takeaway from our study of Matthew 4 is: Whose footsteps are you following? Our spiritual success isn’t determined by the number of: converts, miracles, dollars, or what we are even able to build. No, spiritual success is determined by our ability to follow God. Jesus did a lot of quoting today from Deuteronomy and so I found it only fitting to encourage you from Deuteronomy 5:33~Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess. (NIV) Where is the Lord asking you to follow? Is there a land He’s given you to possess? Why not become the Spiritual Success God has purposed you to be by fighting for and following the Lord Jesus? 



Call to Repentance

Today, let’s consider what it means to follow Jesus Wholeheartedly (Matthew 4:12-25). Christ Jesus hears John the Baptist has been arrested (4:12) by Herod Antipas, who arrested John for preaching that it is immoral for Herod to take his brother’s wife. Mark 6:17~ For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. (NIV) Jesus fearlessly returns to Galilee, the heart of Herod’s territory. He goes to Nazareth and then moves to Capernaum, the largest fishing town on the Sea of Galilee, which becomes His headquarters during His earthly ministry. This is a region of land given to the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali. Some may wonder why Jesus’ ministry is not centered in Jerusalem. It is because Isaiah prophesied the Messiah would be a great light. 

Isaiah 9:1-2~“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.” (ESV) (Matthew 4:12-15). 

Here in the middle of Matthew 4, we see a determined shift in the life and ministry of Jesus. Arriving at Matthew 4:17~From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (ESV) From that time, this is the first time we see this in the New Testament and in Matthew. It denotes the shirt forward by Jesus in ministry. We will witness this two more times in Matthew 16:21 and Matthew 26:16. The first shift is for Jesus to begin preaching. His message: repent the Kingdom of heaven is near. 

In Matthew 16:21~From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. (NKJ) The message Christ Jesus shares is the power of the Gospel, for He must die for our sins and be raised to raise us to new life. The third and final time we see this take place is found in Matthew 26:16~So from that time he sought an opportunity to betray Him. (NKJ) Jesus waits as we all do for the door of ministry to open when it does He enters through the process and then begins to preach. When the time comes near for the purpose of His being here, he shares diligently how God’s plan will unfold. Then He places Himself in the hands of man, to fulfill the process of His life.

Jesus understood what His purpose was and lived fully surrendered to God’s will and plan. That is a bit harder for us, because we do not always understand the purpose God has for our lives. Someday we are building an ark, other days we are sharing the Gospel. The thread that runs through these days is salvation. How God has purposed good things for us to do ahead of time (Ephesians 2:10). Why not take time to do the good thing God has placed before us and we will feel His embrace, assurance, and joy. May the joy of the Lord be yours today.