Seeking first

My notes on Matthew 6:19-34 are here. I was privileged to teach on this today.

Being a fully integrated citizen of God’s kingdom frees us from the rat-race that the human race has been frantically running since the Fall. Here Jesus offers a beautiful promise: if we will be about God’s work and Kingdom living, and will make those things our focus, we will be free from anxiety. The Lord will provide.

So true, though it’s tough to live like it.

Forgiveness

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” – C.S. Lewis

Can we get this?

In my observation, one of the most deadening poisons to a Christian soul is the inability, or rather unwillingness, to forgive. Hurts and wounds, that are often (but not always) very real, can be nursed, nourished, watered, and tended for years.

We’ve been working through the Sermon on the Mount in the College and Young Singles class for the past few months. Last week I got to teach on Matthew 6:1-18 (my notes here). It contains this jarring statement from Jesus:

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Jesus makes a point in this passage to reiterate that aspect of the Model Prayer (Matthew 6:8-13) that deals with forgiveness.

I’ve learned, when teaching on Jesus, to pay close attention to the things He chooses to repeat in His teaching.

I’ve discovered that forgiveness is a favorite topic of repetition for Jesus. For example, consider Matthew 18:21-22, which is followed by the devastating parable of the unforgiving servant starting in verse 23.

Jesus wants us to forgive. He knows how much forgiveness costs. He knows the agony of the whips and the nails. But that was His mission. Thank God He didn’t consider forgiving us to be impossible.

Why do we so often feel that forgiving others is an out-of-the-question non-starter?

Forgive.

Beaten into submission

Now and then I get an email stating that someone is following a Twitter feed that I didn’t even know I had. I guess I just don’t remember setting it up.

I thought tonight that I might start tweeting a bit.

Here’s my profile.

I’m still not quite sure what Twitter is for. It’s embarrassing: I’m supposed to be technical and on top of all the latest internet doings. But this one has somehow passed me by.

Summer’s over

Molly’s settled at UMHB and appears to be enjoying herself and making new friends. Yesterday, we hugged Andrew and he got in his car and drove himself up to Baylor to begin his sophomore year. Tomorrow they will start classes, as will Bethany, who is now a Junior in high school, and Blake, who is – I can hardly believe it – going into junior high.

God has been very good to us.

Continuing the Sermon on the Mount

I’ve been privileged to be in the teaching rotation in our College and Young Singles class as we’ve been exploring the Sermon on the mount. Today we were on Matthew 6:1-18. My notes, if you’re interested, are here. An excerpt:

6:1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

This statement sets up the rest of this section. The key phrase is “to be seen by them”. This passage is not to be mistaken as a contradiction to the “let your light shine before men” command in chapter five. Both have as their aim the same thing – glory to God, rather than to us.

In context, this follows directly after the holy life described by Christ in chapter five. Jesus knows our hearts; the first sin we commit once we’ve achieved any measure of righteousness is pride. This passage offers a corrective to our pride.

Continue reading . . .