Matthew 17-19 by Jodi Rinke

Have you ever been reading the Bible and thought, “How in the world can I relate to this parable/story/verse?” Or has anybody ever said, “The Bible was written a long time ago and the things in that book don’t apply to our world today.” As most of you already know, these statements couldn’t be more wrong. There was so much great stuff in these three chapters that it took me a while to narrow my focus for the blog. So let’s get started… How do these stories we read actually apply to our daily lives?

 

Jesus warns against temptation (Matthew 18:7-9)

It’s inevitable. We all face temptations of many kinds. The real question is, how do we handle those temptations? When you read this story it seems pretty intense. I mean, Jesus is telling us to cut off our arm or gouge out our eye if those things tempt us to sin?? Woah buddy! Now, of course, he doesn’t mean that in a literal sense. What he means is that we, as believers, need to do whatever is necessary to remove those stumbling blocks that cause us to sin. Maybe for some of you, that means you need to end a relationship that is bringing you down spiritually. Maybe it means that you have to change your social crowd because they bring to too close to sin. Maybe you need to get rid of social networking sites that cause you to gossip. You may have to have some pretty serious talks with yourself and with others. Will it be tough? Yes. But will it be worth it? Of course! Think of the long term affects of these things. By removing those stumbling blocks, what does your future relationship with God look like?

 

Jesus teaches how to treat a believer who sins (Matthew 18:15-20)

We are human, and disagreements are bound to come up in our lives. How do you handle disagreements? I remember getting in arguments with friends in high school. I never went straight to that friend to try and work it out. First, I told other friends about it. It turned into gossip. I brought people into a situation that had nothing to do with them. I know that when we are frustrated or angry with someone it is so easy to run to our other friends and “talk trash” on that person. When disagreements happen (and they will) bring it straight to the source. No only will this affect your relationship with God, but with others too!

 

Jesus tells the parable of the unforgiving debtor (Matthew 18:21-35)

Forgiveness is tough. Especially when someone has really wronged you. But think on this… How many times has Jesus forgiven you? Too many times to count, right? Even crazier… Jesus knew that you would sin and he still went to the cross and died for you! Now that is forgiveness at its finest! I mean seriously, what positives come out of holding a grudge anyway? None. Shine Christ’s light and forgive those who are truly repenting of the wrongs they have done!

 

Jesus speaks to the rich young man (Matthew 19:16-30)

We live in a world that is obsessed with wanting more. More money, better technology, bigger house, nicer car. What people have is never enough to satisfy them. The more you have the more you want. Jesus is not telling us that it is bad to have a nice house or good paying job. What he is warning us of is our dependence on such things. Let’s look at this from a perspective we can all relate to. Our cell phones. It is not a bad thing that we all have cell phones. But I want you to think about how much you rely and depend on that little piece of technology. How hard would it be to go without your cell phone for an entire day? That means no Facebook, Instagram, or Snap Chat too. Now think about this… How hard would it be to go without thinking of Jesus (whether through our prayer life, Bible, or actions) for an entire day? I am almost positive that many of us would say it would be a lot harder to go without our phones. Where do your priorities lie? In material things or in Jesus? Things aren’t bad. Our dependence of things is what causes us to stray from Jesus’ purpose for our lives. Remember, HE always provides!

Matthew 14-16 : Brent

Has it ever happened to you where you’re reading something in the gospels, and come across something that Jesus said and are suddenly hit with the thought, “I don’t feel like I know the real Jesus at all!”?  This happens to me quite a bit.  To say I don’t know him at all might be a little dramatic, but every time through the gospels Jesus manages to shatter the little image I have of him in my head as he shows me more of his character and personality.  And this is a pretty important thing; Jesus told his disciples that those who have seen him have seen the Father (John 14:9).  Therefore, our view of Jesus is ultimately responsible for our view of God.  So our challenge is to get a look at Jesus the way he actually is; not as we would like him to be.  Let’s look at the amazing and perhaps surprising things about Jesus that are revealed in these chapters.

Jesus has emotions, just like us.  He mourned for his friend and cousin.  When he heard about the death of John the Baptist, he got into a boat and tried to get away to a quiet and isolated place.  Jesus relied on the Father.  He drew away like this frequently to spend time with the Father.  He did it right before he started his ministry (Mat. 4).  He did it before he chose his disciples (Mark 3:13).  If Jesus relied on God, how much more should we? 

Jesus is extremely compassionate.  As he tries to get away, people follow him.  Anyone with younger siblings can attest to how annoying this can be, when you’re trying to be alone and they just keep following you.  But as Jesus approaches the shore, and expects to see a desolate place where he can be alone and mourn and pray, he sees a huge crowd.  I know my response would be anger, followed by turning the boat around to find a different place.  But how did Jesus respond?  “He had compassion on them and healed their sick”.  Amazing.

Jesus has authority over everything on earth.  In a couple short stories, you see Jesus multiplying food miraculously in order to feed thousands of people multiple times, you see him walking on water, calming winds, and healing diseases.  Sometimes because we’ve heard these stories so many times, or because they’re confusing, we can quickly read over them without thinking about how amazing this is.  Warning:  I’m going to nerd out a little.  He multiplied the cells, amino acids, vitamins and minerals inside a few loaves of bread and a couple fish in order to feed thousands of people until they were full.  Jesus has authority over vitamins and minerals.  He walked on water, changing the surface tension of the molecules so that they could hold weight.  Jesus has authority over atomic particles.  Once in the boat, the winds stopped.  Wind is not only a product of the immediate surroundings like the ocean, but also temperature differentials, changes in atmospheric pressure, and even the rotation of the earth.  Jesus has authority over atmospheric circulation.  You also see Jesus healing diseases.  Now I’m not going to even pretend like I have the slightest understanding of how the body works.  But I know that there’s crazy amounts of complexity that goes into the simplest of biological systems; things you don’t even think about, like how blood clots.  And yet Jesus healed people.  Jesus has authority over biology.

Jesus takes the word and command of his Father seriously. Did it shock anyone to see how harshly Jesus responded to the Pharisees here?  Yes, they were trying to trick him, but did he have to call them hypocrites?  Or an evil and adulterous generation?  His disciples even seemed surprised by this, asking him if he realized that he had offended the Pharisees.  How about this one: did anyone catch how he called that woman a dog?  Jesus takes the word and command of his father seriously.  He was sent on earth to redeem the lost children of Israel.  It was through his sacrifice that the whole world would be able to come to God, but his mission was the Israelites.  When this Canaanite woman (not Jewish) came to him asking for his help, he was torn.  He knew his mission, and he couldn’t be distracted from it.  But God is the father of all nations, and upon seeing this woman’s humility and faith, he had compassion on her and healed her daughter.  For we are children by faith, and not by works of the law (Gal. 2:16).  So what about the “dog” thing?  In the Jewish culture at the time, that’s how Jews referred to gentiles.  Before the age of political correctness, it wouldn’t have been taken as insulting even. At a time when Jews could not come into contact with gentiles without being considered unclean, Jesus was still being compassionate even through his somewhat surprising response.

So I’ll wrap this up.  Jesus is awesome.  Let’s never stop trying to know him better.  Since we don’t get to see him anymore, we want to make sure we’re worshiping the right guy.  And let’s live with the confidence that this awesome guy has defeated our sin, towered over all opposition, is seated at the right hand of God, is still in authority over all things, and calls us brothers and sisters(Hebrew 2:11) and friends (John 15:15).  We can have full confidence because of how great he is.

 

Brent

Matthew 11-13–Jessie Noblitt

      One of the coolest parts of the life of Jesus was that it was planned. Not only did his Father have it all in mind when he sent Him to be born of a virgin, prophets such as Isaiah had written about many of the exact things Jesus would do during his time here on earth. One of these such behaviors was teaching in parables. While these stories can be some of the most inspiring words that Jesus ever uttered, they can also be super difficult to understand. Like, wouldn’t it be way easier for Jesus to just say what he meant. But, hey, they challenge us to deeper our understanding of the scriptures and, to be honest, parables are some of the coolest stories and teachings in the Bible. 

      Matthew 13 is no exception. Here Jesus told a story about some seeds. “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

      The four types of soil represent different responses to God’s message. People respond differently because they are in different states of readiness, Some are hardened, shallow, distracted by worries and worldly things, and some are ready. So this begs the question, How has God’s word taken root in our lives? What kind of soil are you?

      This story accurately depicts many of our walks with Jesus. There are seasons of doubt, seasons of joy, seasons of dark skies, and seasons with a bright sun. A common theme I have noticed in many testimonies I’ve heard throughout my time as an intern is “The BigStuf High.” Many of us, our students, and myself included have gone through the cycle of being on fire for God, and after a few months the flame burns out. We have the absolute perfect week with God, loved being in his presence, and then returned home only to fall back into our old routines. This regression is the epitome of the seeds that fell on rocky places. It sprouts quickly, but without the proper soil and nutrition it wilts in the sun (peer pressure, temptations, old habits, and business of life). I believe all of us, at some point during our journey, have related to the wilting that these plants experienced because of their weak foundation.

      This is what makes the internship so phenomenal. It grows our roots. It forces us to go deeper in our relationship with Christ through community, personal disciplines, and service. It challenges us in ways that we have never been before, and it inevitably allows us to grow in our love for our King. That is why I am so excited for this year. Not only to further strengthen my relationship with Jesus Christ, but for all of you to continue running the good race along with me. So let’s all dive into the word and become imitators of God. Let’s hold each other accountable, pray for each other, and cheer each other on.

      Every year this program leaves me speechless. The bonds that are formed, the lives that are changed, and the healing that occurs are all results of a group of young people focusing wholeheartedly on Jesus Christ. In the end, I pray each and every one of us cultivates our good soil, so that when the scorching sun full of temptation arises, we will have a foundation rooted in Jesus that will never leave us thirsty.

<3333 Jessie

Mathew 8-10. – Tony D’Angelo

Mathew 8-10. – Tony D’Angelo  

 
Amazing faith and incredible miracles are a few among the many beautiful themes recorded Mathew. It starts off with Jesus healing a man with Leprosy then transitions over to a the famous centurion who’s faith astonishes Jesus. 
 
8:8-10 Jesus had entered capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. Lord, he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.” Jesus said to him, “I will go and heal him” The centurion replied, “Lord I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For i myself am a man under authority with soldiers under me. I tell this one to go and he goes, and that one, come, and he comes. I say to my servant do this, and he does it 
 
Jesus is astonished by the mans faith and tells the man “Go and it will be done just as you believed it would.” 8:13
 
I want to talk about powerful this story can be to us. At the retreat last weekend we had stations with all sorts of cool names and thoughts that went into them. Station number 1 was all about making circles around our prayers. The idea of circling our prayers came from the book, “The circle maker” and its referencing how we need to surround our needs,struggles,fun times,good times,bad times, and our entire lives around prayer. That we need to be bold in our prayers and have faith that when we come to God, we don’t need to ask him for the same thing every prayer. We can come in boldness and in confidence that God is who he says he is and will do what he says he will do. God is not about us performing for him in order to get our prayers answered. As we all know he can’t love us anymore or any less no matter what we do. Our whole entire faith is based off of faith and not earning our righteousness with God. Its a lot easier to write about faith than to actually live it  out, but I know that God hears our prayers and knows what we need before we ask. 
 
As many of you saw I posted on the Facebook page about Watson. I believe Watson is chasing God with all of his heart and loves Jesus. It can almost be depressing at times to think how ungrateful and selfish i can be at times and then meet a man like Watson who was born a few feet from home base and no where close to first, while I started on 2nd base. With that said, I also believe we are all able to attain the same type of irresistible self sufficing faith in Jesus that the centurion had. We don’t all have to have a devastating tragedy, or pivotal circumstance to purse Jesus. He gave us the living word. A Holy book, an instruction manual for life that has more to teach us than we can ever learn in one lifetime. I will admit meeting Jesus would have been cooler than anything else ever, but we have something that just as real as he is and was and is going to be. The words in red are really Jesus’s words and there the same as yesterday as they were today. When we seem to be stuck in a rut, or we say we are not “feeling” God, lets start cracking open those bibles and softening our hearts for more stories like the Centrion
 
Fast forwarding to chapter 10 Jesus sends out the 12 disciples giving them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness, How crazy is that? Jesus gave them super powers(faith). Think how much faith it would take to heal a person of cancer, or to drive out an evil spirit. Jesus must have been a super encouraging person to be around because I would never feel worthy to do any of those things. Not only would I not feel worthy, but It would be even harder to have such strong faith in something and someone so powerful. My favorite part of Jesus’s pre game speech he gives them is when he tells them not to be afraid of those who will persecute them. Jesus tells them its going to be super tough at times and you will be punished and beaten and be mocked. Basically saying, you will be bullied throughout this journey and sometimes abused for believing in me. Sounds terrifying, but right when it sounds like it can’t get any worse to be a follower of Jesus he says something remarkable. 
 
10:26-28 “So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed,or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
 
Even when life seems tough and people don’t understand Christianity and think were weird or naive for doing what we do and believing what we believe, we have nothing to fear! Jesus tells us they can’t touch us, we are an unshakeable force for good. I think this applies to college students so much. At times we want to go for Jesus, commit to jesus, pursue Jesus, lift our hand for Jesus, but we don’t. We back off, we cower, we feel ashamed. We start to think what if my friends think I’m weird for inviting them to church and then even more weird for raising my hand? What if? what if? what if… What if we go for it! What if we pursue Jesus like the disciples! What if we change our families? What if we give hope to the hopeless? What if we take Jesus’s words to heart and find strength in the fact that we are untouchable by worldly standards.
 
Lets keep being lights in a dark world! 
9:37 “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few…”  
 
You guys are rockstars, keep up the good work
#TeamJesus

Matthew 5-7. — Julia Hagan

How in the world did I get stuck…blessed.. with having to blog about some of the most famous words in the bible. This is the scene where Jesus threw everyone for a loop and changed peoples lives, thoughts, beliefs, and values. This is where Jesus got real and a lot of people did not like what he was saying. 

Before Jesus, all of their laws were either from the Old Testament or things the Pharisees made up to keep people from even getting close to breaking the laws. These rules were set in stone, and they were very important to a lot of important people. So picture this, you have your ways. You know when you get up, what you can wear, who you can see, and what and when you can eat – then if you don’t do something correct or you break a law, you know exactly how to fix it and make things right with God again. But then this strange man comes in, all jacked and has a great stage presence and says “You have heard it said…BUT I TELL YOU..”. Holy Moly. These people were in for some change. 

That brings me to my own testimony and what my life was like when I first heard the word of the Lord. I was all into partying, boys, my looks, holding grudges, gossiping, and talking smack. I loved it. It was fun and I was good at it. Then my life had a sudden turn around and I was physically and mentally broken. I had no where to turn and someone in my life told me to come to church with her. I didn’t think much about it but when I got to the grungy, popcorn infested church called Oak Bridge, my life took a 180. I knew that in order to be popular and “loved” you had to fit in. You had to drink on the weekends, look hot, hate the weirdos, hate someone who is spreading gossip about you, become jealous when someone is better than you and try your absolute hardest to bring them down so you can rise up, and become to best you can be so you can be popular and talked about in school. Be the best and take all the glory. But what I didn’t know is that I, as well as my entire friend group, was extremely in the wrong. And boy, was I in for a rude awakening. 

When I first heard the word of the Lord, I couldn’t turn my ears off. I felt convicted, but loved. Guilty, but freed. Upset, but hopeful. Upon hearing, I knew my life was about to be changed and I knew people were not going to like it. That is our Jesus. He convicts us, but loves us so much more. He shows us where we are sinning, but he gives us that hope that we will be freed from that sin as soon as we turn to him. He is the one who can get those tears flowing, tears that we didn’t even know we had because we didn’t know we were missing out on so much. Jesus. The world changer. The law breaker. Emmanuel. 

Matthew 5-7. What Jesus calls us to be and what he calls us to do. We are to be different. Instead of hiding our beliefs and “hide it under a bowl” we are to “Let our lights shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven.” Instead of hating our enemy we are to “love our enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Instead of worrying about every little thing in our little lives,  we are to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.” Instead of being afraid to ask God for things, he tells us to “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened for you.” Jesus, in these two chapters, intended to change our lives. I bet he knew the intense change and conversation that was going to happen after this sermon, but I bet he also knew that this was the start of something huge. His mission was on. Jesus is known. But what makes Jesus even more powerful, he said these words knowing that they were going to lead him to a tree. A tree where he would be scorn, shaken, spit upon, an crucified. But Jesus was on a mission to save his children. He could not stop. This is our Jesus. 

So in conclusion, for all those who are new to this or even those who struggle with anxiety, depression, giving, hate, adultery, or embarrassment, open your hearts to these chapters. Jesus calls us to change our hearts, which will lead to a better life and more glory to our God. When I was first experiencing Jesus, I didn’t take his Sermon on the Mount seriously. But when I started to really dig into the word and really want to make Jesus number one in my heart, these words struck me with an intense blow because this is what disciples of Jesus are called to be. This is now our mission. We are to take these words which will maybe take us to our cross. Take us to persecution. Take us to loosing friends and maybe family. Take us to a place where we are so uncomfortable. But we know that “in all things, God works for the good of those how love him.” With that said, this is how we are to make Jesus known. This is how we will continue the Jesus movement. Read. Reflect. Drink it in people. This is our Jesus – game on. 

05/25/14…Matthew 1-4 by Herc Noblitt

Herc Noblitt May 25, 2014…Matthew 1-4… I could write about a bunch of things from these four chapters. Obviously the events surrounding the birth of Jesus were extraordinary. John the Baptist was a pretty wild fellow…preaching repentance while wearing camel’s hair clothing and eating grasshoppers. I could concentrate on the baptism of Jesus. It would have been pretty wild to actually hear the voice of God blessing His Son. Jesus being tempted by the devil is a pretty tough passage to grasp. But what struck me the most as I was reading this afternoon were a few words from 4:20 and 4:22: “at once” and “immediately.” Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow and they followed “at once” and “immediately.” I am pretty sure that this was not their first time encountering Jesus. They had probably heard about Him or had seen Him do some pretty amazing things. Maybe they had already listened to Him preach and teach. In other parts of the Gospels, Jesus says that a wise man considers the costs before making a decision. Following Jesus will cost you. It is not a half-in/half-out choice. To follow Jesus means that we are to surrender to Him, to make Him not only our Savior but also our Lord. To follow Jesus means that it is His way…no matter what. I am sure that these four men had thought about their choice. I don’t think they dropped everything to follow someone they knew nothing about. It had to be an amazing moment for each of them as the Special One, Jesus personally invited them to hang out with Him. When the opportunity came, they knew that nothing else compared. Whatever they were leaving behind was so minor compared to what they were gaining. They decided Jesus was the one. They received an invite. They followed “at once” and “immediately.” No excuses. No hesitation. They went for it. They were all in. Their lives were forever changed. There were some rough times for each of them as we shall read about in the next few days. I am sure they were often confused. I am sure they were often afraid. I am sure they had plenty of doubts…but they continued to follow Jesus. They lived out an amazing adventure because of their response to the call of Jesus. So here are a few questions. Have you made your decision to follow Jesus no matter the cost? Since the Bible tells us that Jesus is always knocking at the door are you willing to follow “at once” and “immediately”? He doesn’t promise it will be easy, but He does promise He will always be with you and you will never regret being all-in for Christ! This will be a great summer!