Archive for the ‘Matthew’ Category

November 21st, 2015

Go, Therefore

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)

As Evangelical Christians, we often emphasize the need to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth. We must do this because the resurrection of Christ and the ensuing consequences of His resurrection (i.e. victory over sin and death) are the centerpiece to the beautiful, eternal plan of God to unite all things to Him in Christ Jesus. God is working all things for His glory and He has called us to be a part of this process, making disciples of all nations, baptizing them, and teaching them the overarching truths of scripture.

In order to do this effectively, however, we must remember the power that drives us. We are not proclaiming empty words; rather, we are going forth in the authority of Christ to speak Spirit-covered words that He uses to draw men unto Himself. Our task, then, should not be a source of fear nor an object of neglect, for Christ has empowered us to accomplish this great commission.

Are you proclaiming the truth of the gospel? Are you making disciples? Remember, disciple-making is a long process that continues long after conversion, and both are a part of the ministry Christ has given to us. Commit today to share the good news of Jesus with someone who needs it and help them walk worthy of the calling Christ has placed on their life.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, November 21st, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Discipleship, Great Commission, Matthew.
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November 19th, 2015

Give Us Barabbas

“The governor again said to them, ‘Which of the two do you want me to release for you?’ And they said, ‘Barabbas.’ Pilate said to them, ‘Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?’ They all said, ‘Let him be crucified!’ And he said, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Let him be crucified!’” Matthew 27:21-23 (ESV)

Oh, the depravity of man! What lengths we will go to in order to maintain our control and resist the convicting presence of Christ in our lives. As we read this passage, it would be very easy for us to look upon the chief priests, elders, and crowd with disgust at their choice. How could they choose a clearly innocent man over the “notorious prisoner,” Barabbas (Matt. 27:16 ESV)? Barabbas, seen from the other gospel accounts, was notorious because he had committed robbery, insurrection, and murder! Truly, he was the danger to society, and, yet, with a unified voice the crowd demands for the crucifixion of Jesus.

“How could any sane man make this decision?,” one may ask. Isn’t it true, though, that we choose as ridiculously every day? Don’t we compare seemingly terrible things to the glory and innocence of Christ on a daily basis and choose to indulge in them rather than in the complete sufficiency of Jesus? We choose to indulge our pride in the face of Christ’s humility. We choose to value material things over those spiritual. We choose to lust after temporary pleasures rather than embracing the sacrificial love of Christ, and in so doing we legitimize the need for Jesus to be crucified. We are as guilty as they.

The beautiful news of the gospel, though, is that precisely because of His innocence and willing death upon the cross, now you and I have the ability to be forgiven of our guilt and restored in right relationship to the Lord. Today, commit to choose Jesus; don’t get overwhelmed with sin and choose poorly, chanting as the crowd did so many years ago, “Give us Barabbas!”

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, November 19th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Choices, Crucifixion, Matthew.
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November 16th, 2015

The Familiar Kiss of Betrayal

“Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.’ And he came up to Jesus at once and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, do what you came to do.’ Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.” Matthew 26:48-50 (ESV)

The picture painted by Matthew of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus is especially tragic, given the intimacy of the scene. You don’t just kiss anyone on the cheek. While certainly kissing on the cheek was a customary greeting in the old world, it was usually reserved for friends. Further, this wasn’t just any random acquaintance of Jesus; rather, he was one of the twelve, specifically chosen by Jesus and given unique access to continue forth His ministry once He had ascended back into heaven. Judas was a friend; Judas was a confidant. He walked and talked with Jesus, witnessing countless miracles and displays of supernatural power, and yet in spite of all of that he chooses to betray Him.

Have you ever been there? Have you ever had someone near and dear to your heart abandon you in this way? I have and it is devastating. You move through a variety of emotions from despair to anger, all the while not knowing how they could have come to double-cross you in this way. If you’re not careful, this despair can turn into bitterness, resulting in a robbing of joy and contentment in the midst of this circumstance.

Take comfort today, dear child of God, that you have an advocate in heaven with whom you can identify! Jesus was betrayed and felt, undoubtedly, everything you have felt, and yet He allowed His betrayal to be used for the glory of God. Do not remain embittered toward your betrayer; rather release the feelings of bitterness and allow the situation to be used for the glory of God. The Lord always redeems hurt, if you let Him.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, November 16th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Betrayal, Matthew, Redemption.
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November 15th, 2015

To the Least of These

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:40 (ESV)

The Kingdom of God is about overcoming every effect of sinfulness in the world. The work of Christ overcomes spiritual death, of course, but in so doing it also brings about the restoration of all things physical, repairing relationships, poverty, sickness, among other various effects of depravity. This restorative work is the responsibility of the Church, as we continue the ministry of Jesus. We are to be concerned with the least of these, caring for the oppressed, imprisoned, poor, and sick. We do this not as a means to gain God’s favor or earn His grace but rather because we already have these things. This kind of heart for the less fortunate is characteristic of those who have been overcome by the gospel because of how Jesus cared for us. We were spiritually sick and poor; we were oppressed and imprisoned. Jesus, seeing us in this state, did not abandon us but rather in His mercy came to help us. His sheep will do the same.

Are you burdened by the less fortunate? Are you striving to overcome the effects of sin by building the Kingdom of God? Are you warring against poverty and oppression? Are you championing the less fortunate? These are not just things we do as humans who have empathy for other humans. No, we fight these battles because they are the battles Jesus fought. He healed the sick and helped the oppressed, and we must as well. The gospel is about the work of Christ, yes, but it is also about the restorative effects of that work. Today, rejoice in how you have been restored and work to bring about that restoration around you.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, November 15th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Kingdom, Matthew, Restoration.
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November 14th, 2015

Will You Endure?

“But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:13 (ESV)

The world, indeed all of creation, is moving toward an end. There is a goal to creation and the Lord is working all things to bring about that desired end. That goal, of course, is His glory and every created thing is meant to reflect some divine attribute that displays more fully the glorious reality of our Lord. As the end draws near in which all things will once again glorify the Lord fully, there will be countless obstacles to the Christian’s participation in building God’s Kingdom, causing some to abandon ship as they decide the cost is not ultimately worth the reward. This abdication of Christian conviction and belief based on the circumstance of their time is a clear indication that these who have rejected the faith never truly had it at all.

The true believer, having been called from death to life, cannot commit spiritual suicide; rather, once he or she has tasted life they will cling to that life ultimately knowing that truly nothing else can satisfy them and that nothing this world offers has any meaning apart from its Creator. How could someone who truly met the Master reject Him? There are those, however, who have been converted in name only, never fully repenting of their sin and therefore never recognizing their great need for and provision from the work of Christ. These people should not make us fear that such apostasy is possible for the true convert but rather remind us of the difficulty of our task and the complete sufficiency of Christ in the midst of that difficulty.

Seek this morning to remember the gospel and your time of true repentance. Remember what Jesus has saved you from and how ultimately He will judge all of creation. Rest in that hope, enduring whatever comes your way, and be mindful of the future, remembering the need of those around you who will neither endure the tribulation to come nor the judgment thereafter.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, November 14th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Matthew, Perseverance, Second-coming of Christ.
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November 11th, 2015

The Greatest Commandment

“And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.’” Matthew 22:37-40 (ESV)

Our complete affection for the Lord and devotion to Him should be our primary concern as disciples, knowing that only as we love Him completely can we truly walk as we were created to walk. We must seek to love the Lord fully with every part of our being; it is not enough to only give Him part for He is worthy of the whole. Once we have learned to love Him completely, allowing Him to satisfy our every need, then, according to Jesus, every other commandment will make sense. Our ability, then, to walk in obedience cannot be motivated by simple obligation; rather, our ability to walk in faithfulness is directly proportional to the type of affection we carry for the Lord. Further, our ability to love others as Christ loved them and commanded us to is only possible once we have learned to love the Lord fully. We can love others because of how He has loved us.

Do you love the Lord fully? Have you completely surrendered the entirety of your self to Him, forsaking other temporary pleasures for the great reward found in Him? If you have not learned to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, then the rest of discipleship is meaningless. Only when you have obeyed this greatest command can you truly walk forward as a sincere disciple and follower of Christ.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, November 11th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Devotion, Love, Matthew.
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November 8th, 2015

More than Lip-Service

“‘Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.’” Matthew 21:31 (ESV)

What kind of faith do you truly have? Is your faith transformative? Does it cause you to live differently in light of the knowledge of Christ and His atoning sacrifice? Or is your faith empty? How do you know? James, the brother of Jesus, gives us some insight into the answer to this question in his New Testament work writing, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” (James 2:14 ESV). Is James saying that works are a necessary part to a truly saving faith? No. He is saying, however, that true faith leads to obedience, working for the Kingdom of God.

In the “Parable of the Two Sons” in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus essentially says the same thing to the chief priests and elders who are questioning His authority. These religious men may have the appearance of true faith, but their lack of obedience in spite of their language proves their heart is not fully devoted to the Lord. They say they love the Lord and will obey Him, yet they never truly act in alignment with their “faith,” meaning that it is dead. True faith transforms us and leads us to action.

Christianity in America is in a dangerous place, composed of millions who claim a saving faith but relatively few who live out the gospel. Are you truly obedient? Are you truly driven to serve your Heavenly Father? Or is your Christianity more “lip-service” than substance? Commit today to serve the Lord, affirming your faith by your actions for the good of those around you and the glory of God.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, November 8th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Matthew, Obedience, Works.
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October 29th, 2015

The Necessity of Forgiveness

“Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.’” Matthew 18:21-22 (ESV)

Forgiveness is a hard thing, no doubt, but it is also an essential thing for Christians. Peter in our passage this morning asks a question many of us have asked in our lives. How many times should we have to forgive someone? If someone keeps offending us or betraying us, should we continue to forgive them? Jesus answers from experience. While to the human mind forgiving someone so treacherous seven times may seem extraordinary, Jesus more than exceeds that expectation suggesting 70 times that!

Why should we keep on forgiving? Why should we forgive so freely? Well, consider the example of the gospel set before us. Consider how many times you and I have offended Jesus. Consider how many times we have rejected Him. Consider how many times we have rejected Him, and yet He forgave us. Not only did He forgive us, He made the forgiveness possible by taking on the penalty of our transgression Himself. He who knew no sin became sin so that we might be the righteousness of God! How incredible is that!

You and I must forgive because of how much we have been forgiven. I assure you nobody can do to you what we have done to the Lord, and yet in spite of our rejection He loved us enough to send Jesus to reconcile us. Do not be like the unforgiving servant, who having been forgiven chose not to extend that forgiveness to others. Rather, in light of what you have been forgiven, seek to extend that forgiveness to others as an act of worship to One Who has forgiven us so much.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, October 29th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Example, Forgiveness, Matthew.
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October 27th, 2015

Who Do You Say That I Am?

“He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” Matthew 16:15-16 (ESV)

Throughout the centuries following the coming of Christ, humanity has been forced to make a decision as to His true identity. Who was He really? Was He another great prophet like Isaiah or Jeremiah? Was He simply a charismatic leader? Or was He truly the 2nd person of the trinity incarnate? Where you fall in this debate is of the utmost importance as the answer forms the foundation of saving faith.

Jesus was more than simply a prophet, and He was more than another charismatic leader. He came proclaiming Himself to be Lord! He came as the anointed one of God chosen to rectify the damage of sin and restore creation. Any other conclusion denies the testimony of Scripture. As C.S. Lewis famously wrote in Mere Christianity, anyone who claimed what Jesus claimed could not be considered a moral teacher, if indeed He was not the Son of God, for His morality would be rejected as He would be proclaimed either a liar or a lunatic. Lewis’ “trilemma” is simply stated: either Jesus was a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord!

My friends, there can be no marginal or mild response to Jesus. Either you proclaim Him to be the Christ, repent, and follow Him with complete devotion, or you reject Him as the Lord and choose to continue to follow the path of self-exaltation. He cannot be just another voice in the volumes of history. Either He is unique or He is not. Who do you say that Jesus is? Moreover, do your life and actions reflect that sentiment as true belief?

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, October 27th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Christ, Matthew, Profession.
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October 26th, 2015

Where Does Sin Come From?

“And he called the people to him and said to them, ‘Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.’” Matthew 15:10-11 (ESV)

The religious elite of Jesus’ time were under the false understanding that sinfulness or unrighteousness is a state that comes from the inside of man being influenced by his outside. When they ate or partook of unholy things, those unholy things made them unholy. Jesus, however, had a different message for the Pharisees and scribes, proclaiming to them that sinfulness was a result of inward rebellion that no amount of action could either lessen or even increase? Depravity was (and is) depravity and while certainly the requirements of the law withheld God’s judgement against that depravity, those actions in no way made the individual more holy.

This teaching is the dilemma for all mankind. We are sinful and there is no amount of religious activity that can fix that sinfulness. We can act holy and we can fake devotion, but that doesn’t mean that the core of who we are has been transformed. We are simply white-washed tombs, as Jesus would say. But this also is the hope of the gospel, in that Jesus existed in a way that we could not. He was not depraved; rather, He was inherently holy. Through His sacrifice, He now offers His perfect holiness to us, replacing our sinfulness and transforming our hearts. We no longer have to pretend to be holy or fight to earn it; it has been earned for us and given to us freely as a response to our repentance. We are sinful, but Jesus is holy. Through Him we who were sinful can be declared holy and restored to a right relationship with God. Rejoice in that profound truth today.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, October 26th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Holiness, Matthew, Sin.
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