Monday, June 17, 2013

Jesus in the Wilderness

Jesus in the Wilderness
Ever been in the wilderness in life?  Ever faced a situation where you had need, but no possibility to fulfill it? Been faced with something that is out of your control, and you found yourself in desperation? 

It is a great place to be!  Because it is there where Jesus HAS to come through, otherwise you will be ruined. It is at this place, and only at this place, where we really understand the depth of the compassion and care of Jesus.

Story of hope coming through.
Todd, a teen.  His family was a struggling burnt out middle class family.  Alcohol, drugs, and despair were everywhere.  The family was on edge with one another and with life.  When I walked into their house I could feel the darkness, the weight, the emptiness.  Their countenance was worn, ashen faced & quick to anger.  Marijuana, alcohol, and television is how they coped with the growing despair. 
I began to pray for them.  But after a few years, I too gave up hope that even God would help them. 

Then, one day, I decided to attend a home Bible study. As I was sitting there getting to know everyone, someone said, “Here come the X”. 

I was stunned to hear that they were attending a Bible study. I looked out the window and saw Todd’s mom and dad headed toward the door.  They were carrying a Bible!  In fact, that gray desperate look had changed & I could actually see a light/glow on their faces, and smiles!  God had reached down from heaven and saved them both!  He saved Todd too & had given them real hope, and had provided so richly for them!! I told them I had lost hope & they all laughed at me.

This morning, we are going to look at a story of hope.  A story of when Jesus, was interrupted by the needs of other. Where He reached out & helped a group of people & taught a HUGE lesson to them.  A lesson that we need to understand as well.

1. Matthew, written with a Jewish audience in mind.  The more you are familiar with the Hebrew culture, the more you can understand the extreme depth of God’s word here.
2. The story here picks up with Jesus in the midst of mourning.  He just found out that his cousin John  had been murdered by Herod.  (read previous passages)  This is one of the times where Jesus is interrupted by the needs of others.  And we get to eaves drop on how he handles the intrusion on His time.

Verse 12 Later, John’s disciples came for his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus what had happened.13 As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone.

But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. 14 Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

-Compassion-the word splagxniza,  moved in the bowels- His heart was deeply moved.  Gotta stop here and mention this because it grips me.  What do you do when you get interrupted?
My thought process is typically “I want to do X.  If not Y will happen.”  X or the fear of Y becomes an idol.
I- Benjamin in walker, screaming his head off, me angry while trying to get grass seed down.
I- Doing family devotions on patience & getting angry at the interruptions from my family.

15 That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.”
16 But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.”
17 “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered.
18 “Bring them here,” he said. 19 Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. 

- Remember Hebrew thought here.  Numbers are important to them.  The readers would have, no doubt seen the depth of teaching here.  
.5- these people needed food and water! 
1. 5 loves= The Torah
2. 2 fish= The Law
3. Jesus is teaching them that they need to see through spiritual eyes.  The Torah & Law are enough.  Because man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
None the less, he feeds them to validate this point.
4. One thing that also stands out to me, as a Christian, is that he tells his disciples to feed the people.  I feel that this is my job.  To feed my family, my co-workers, my friends spiritual food.

20 They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. 21 About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!

 -The readers would have no doubt understood:
1. 2 Kings 4:42-44, Elisah-20 loaves to feed 100 people.  Jesus is greater than Elisah.
42 A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe grain, along with some heads of new grain. “Give it to the people to eat,” Elisha said.
43 “How can I set this before a hundred men?” his servant asked.
But Elisha answered, “Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the Lord says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.’”44 Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.

2. 12 loaves=the 12 tribes. What is Jesus saying here? 
                A. I am The LORD, God- this is a clear claiming of His deity!
                B. I care for and provide for the twelve tribes.  Reminiscent of Mt. 23, “O Jerusalem…”

22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.

Live it out
1. People are not an interruption to Jesus.
This hits me very deeply.  I tend to get very frustrated when I am interrupted. How do you do when God gives you a God-appointment?  Are the people, God loves, an interruption to you?  Do you need to create more margin for people, so you don’t get frustrated and reflect Christ poorly?

2. The disciples kept seeing things through physical eyes, Jesus wants us to see things with spiritual eyes.
How are you doing at keeping the big picture in mind?  Do you tend to see things from God’s perspective or do you lose perspective easily?

3. Jesus is the Lord, God.
Jehovah’s Witnesses twist Scripture to take the deity of Christ out of it, but they always miss this one & don’t take context into mind.  We know He is the Son of God.  And we know this because the Spirit has made it known to us. 

4. Jesus will provide for the needs of His people…even when they are in desperation. 
Are you His child?
Jesus, our advocate, our God, will supply all your needs from His glorious riches. (Php. 4:19)
Are you His child?
What are you struggling with? How you will respond when you find yourself in the wilderness of life & in desperate need?  Will you run to God for help?  A great passage to meditate on this week, and to memorize is Psalm 13, which I call “The Wrestlers Psalm”.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Don't Waste Your Life

Acts 1:8, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.  And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere-in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Ephesians 5:16, "Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days."

I want to live my life & make a splash.  Not a pebble-sized splash but a M1A1 Abrahms tank type of splash!
 If I could dream, and let "idealist Jeff" loose, I would teach Bible College in Georgetown, Guyana.  I would be a Pastoral Studies prof at Moody Bible Institute.  I would be a pastor who would care for others & help them realize their gifts & set them loose to make the splash God called them to do.  I would focus on helping people come to know and grow in Christ. I would write for a magazine, write a book, be in the world reaching South Bend area for Jesus.  I would be in the public schools, connect the kids of South Bend to Camp Ray Bird, speak to large groups of believers, pray with power, visit those in prison, feed the poor, help the homeless get established, help widows, take in the hurting, go to the bars to share Jesus, be a priest in the Catholic church to help them get back to the Bible, save children from the sex trafficking, stand outside the abortion mill, be a CPC, be on the sheriff's posse for St. Joseph county, work at C&B Optical, and share Jesus with Muslims in the middle east & tell Jewish people about their Messiah in Jerusalem.  I would also, disciple my own children, care for my family, and win my best friend to Jesus. I want to see each of my friends in Heaven, I want to win the wayward back to Jesus. Then I would travel with Dare2Share & speak, live in New Orleans and help establish the church there. Oh, and I would live in Florida and care for the beach bums.  I would be rich & give most of my money to missions, and enjoy shooting.  This would surely be a "big splash".  That's for sure.

But then my friend Becca really challenged me.  She asked, "Who wrote most of the New Testament?"  it was actually Luke (wrote Luke & Acts).  He was a physician who had a totally different focus than Paul, the traveler.  He did what God called him to do and did a great job of it.

Maybe my being pulled is a desire for significance.  Maybe it is that I get excited and see the nobility in things. Maybe I am like the blonde Miss America contestant who is starry-eyed & wants to do everything good under the Son (notice the spelling ;-)  )

Which brings me to 1 Corinthians 12:7, "A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.  To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the message of special knowledge; to another great faith...."
God gives you a special role.  And to be pinned down by everything will make you ineffective in doing that one thing God called you to.  I am still learning this.

But this I do know:
1. God has called me to shepherd my family.
2. God has called me to be a pastor and proclaim His words.
3. God has called me to follow Jesus.
4. God has called me to love the person in front of me.
I may not be called to the niche you are, but I will pray for you to be empowered in doing what the Lord has called you to.

Still figuring this out, along with you.